And now here's a light-hearted beginning to the blogging week. Someone should have told those scientists who switched on the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland last week. This gigantic machine, the world's biggest physics experiment, is looking for the Higgs boson, a tiny sub-atomic particle that has been eluding physicists for decades. Well, they didn't have to spend billions of dollars and years of their time to build this behemoth -- they could have looked for it on eBay, where you can find great deals even at the sub-atomic level.
I found not one, but two listings for the Higgs boson, including one that boasts super-fast shipping, promising to ship the item "directly at light speed from Switzerland." The other seller, perhaps thinking of those people who felt that the LHC could have resulted in the creation of mini black holes, warns that "packing also presents problems as there is the possibility that the package may disappear into the particle itself." (Always a good idea to set buyer expectations).
Jokes aside, if last week's news has sparked (or rekindled) your interest in science, look no further than eBay for smart deals on understanding our universe. I wholeheartedly recommend two excellent books by Brian Greene, The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos, and pretty much anything written by Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
OK, it's not as much fun as smashing atoms against each other after racing them at near light speeds inside a vast 17 mile underground doughnut, but it's a start.
Hats -- or hard hats -- off to the members of United Auto Workers locals 659 (Flint, Michigan) and 594 (Pontiac East, Michigan). They built a truck that has truly withstood the test of time. On February 8th this year, the 1991 Chevy Silverado they built rolled past the million mile mark. Of course, a lot of TLC (Truck Loving Care?) from Frank Oresnik, the truck's proud owner since 1996, also helped.
Along the long and winding cruise to mile million, Frank lavished a lot of care on his "old girl," showing that the secret of a long life -- for trucks as for people -- seems to be a moderate lifestyle coupled with regular habits and plenty of healthy seafood. Oil changes every 3000 miles (Shell Pennzoil 10W-30 must be the red wine of the automotive world), regularly analyzing the oil to check for engine wear, and Frank's "easy" driving style also contributed to the making of this spry Silverado. Where does the seafood come in? Well, Frank's business is delivering seafood -- perhaps some of its health benefits worked on his old workhorse. (For more details of the day-to-day care of the truck, read the listing description.)
There's still a lot of life left in this truck, but Frank wants it to have a nice retirement, perhaps end its days as part of a discerning collector's array of American workmanship. As reported by the Associated Press, Frank says, "It deserves a retirement with a place of stature and display." No wonder Frank turned to eBay Motors to find a buyer who can drive it away gracefully into its sunset.
One of my eBay co-workers sent this in to The Chatter last week. Amy is a huge fan of Coldplay and had the opportunity of meeting the drummer when the band performed recently in San Jose. Her excitement doubled when she learned about Coldplay's eBay connection! Here's what Amy (looking suitably thrilled next to Will Champion) wrote:
Coldplay is one of my favorite bands and is currently touring to promote their new album Viva la Vida. I had the chance to interview drummer Will Champion when they came to San Jose to play at the HP Pavilion. I asked him a series of questions ranging from what food he would eat if he could only eat one thing for the rest of his life (answer: lasagna) to the significance of a smallish tattoo of a hand on his forearm (his baby daughter's). I also asked about their pre-gig routine which he jokingly said was pretty tame ("We don't sit around and do shots of Jagermeister or anything"). Actually before every show the band sits together quietly for a while and then spends a few minutes singing to get warmed up and ready to perform.
But the BEST part of my visit with him came when I asked him if he had ever bought or sold anything on eBay. Here is what he said: "Well, for our new single, Viva La Vida, we needed to find a big bell for me to ring. So we looked on eBay and found an old school bell that we bought. We used it in the studio and we use it during the concerts too. You will see it later on during the show on stage." I was absolutely thrilled that not only had they bought something but that they actually had the item with them. My only regret is that I didn't ask what their User ID was, so I could go check out their Feedback!
Unless you're living under a rock somewhere, you probably know that the Olympic Games are underway in Beijing, China. You can't turn on your TV, visit a news site, or generally do anything without seeing a reference to the Olympics, and the same seems to apply to eBay.
It's also a great time to sell your Olympics-related stuff. Sales of "Michael Phelps" items, related to the unbelievable American swimmer (who must be half-fish), have doubled to about 80 items sold per day so far since the Opening Ceremonies, according to eBay Marketplace Research. And "Olympics" items themselves, selling at about 2500 per day prior to the start of the Games, have shot up to about 3500 sold daily since. Even sales of the kinda-weird mascot from the 1996 Atlanta Games, "Izzy" are up, proving that no matter how obscure they are, Olympics-related items are as hot as the Olympic torch right now.
Doc Brown, everyone's favorite frizzy-haired, wild-eyed scientific genius, is probably wondering if the appearance of Marty McFly's hoverboard on eBay could "unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum, and destroy the entire universe." Well, Doc, in your own words, that's a worst-case scenario. "The destruction might in fact be very localized, limited to merely our own galaxy."
Don't bust your flux capacitor just yet, Doc, it's a prop. It's one of the survivors from the original set of hoverboards created for Back To The Future II. Quoting from the listing description, "This piece has the complete fully functional and rear ballbearing-mounted footpad that rotates 360 degrees, as well as the bottom 'magnet plates'."
Perfect to pretend-dodge your own slow-witted nemesis while nostalgically going back (or forward?) into the eighties.
And if Doc Brown's direst fears are realized and the universe starts to come apart like Biff Tannen under a truckload of horse manure, you can always save the present by tweaking the past or the future in this spiffy little DeLorean DMC-12, also listed on eBay. Of course, if you attempt to do 88 m.p.h. in it, you'll probably get little more than a speeding ticket. Nostalgia just isn't what it used to be.
The newest Batman installment, appropriately-named The Dark Knight, had my buddies and I buzzing this past week. None of us are particularly huge Batman geeks, but Batman Begins, the "we're kind of starting this franchise over" film released in 2005, was extremely entertaining. We also all happen be big fans of Christian Bale, the latest actor to portray Bruce Wayne (and if you are as well, check out The Prestige...and also The Machinist if you want to see someone take method acting to an insane new level).
But coming out of the theater (the movie lived up to the hype, by the way), we could only talk about Heath Ledger, who provided a chilling new twist on his character, The Joker. By now almost everyone knows about Ledger's tragic passing, and his fantastic performance here yet again underscores what a loss to the acting world that was. But it turns out that The Dark Knight is helping keep Ledger's legacy alive and well here on eBay. After I fired up eBay Marketplace Research, I saw that "Heath Ledger" items, of which between about 400 and 900 items had been selling each week over the past month, were taking off - in the week leading up to opening night, almost 1200 items had been sold. By comparison, roughly 150 "Christian Bale" items sold that same week. Just like in the movie, it looks like The Joker has stolen the show.
If you've ever had a hankering to ditch society and go live amongst some wild bears (and hey, who among us hasn't?), but are worried about getting mauled, what do you do? You check out this auction on eBay.ca, for the Ursus Mk VI supersuit that Troy Hurtubise wore in the 1997 documentary "Project Grizzly."
Basically, Troy built this suit of armor to protect him as he observed wild bears up close. There's an interesting video of him fire-testing the suit and giving you a glimpse into his psyche within this post on Wired.com, as well as a few videos included within the listing as well. He's apparently selling it to recoup his costs of making the suit in the first place, and suggests that the winner may want to donate it to a museum. That sounds a lot safer than using it for its intended purpose.
Notwithstanding the very bad pun in the title of this post (let the groaning begin), here's a summer event to put on your calendar. Better still, on your bidding calendar. CNNMoney.com reported today that, in June, bidders on eBay will have a chance to win a lunch with Warren Buffett, billionaire investor, stock market guru, philanthropist, and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.
Auctioning lunch with Warren Buffett has become a six-year tradition on eBay. The proceeds from the auction always go to The Glide Foundation, which provides services to the poor and homeless in San Francisco. Last year, according to the CNNMoney.com story, two investors paid $650,100 for the privilege of having lunch with the man often called the "Oracle of Omaha." Considering the value of getting to listen to Mr. Buffett's views on how the stock market was shaping up, it was probably cheap at the price.
This year's auction will begin at 7 p.m. Pacific time on June 22nd, and will end at 7 p.m. Pacific time on June 27th. Mr. Buffett will dine with the winning bidder and up to seven friends at Smith and Wollensky's steakhouse in New York on a mutually agreed upon date.
Hello everyone. I'm Katie Sween from StumbleUpon (an eBay company that helps users discover great websites) here to tell you about a cool Earth Day event that starts today and runs through May 2nd. Every day millions of StumbleUpon users discover great websites and give them a "Thumbs-up" so that other users with similar interests can also discover, or "stumble upon" them.
Starting this Earth Day, we want to harness the power of our Community and the "Thumbs-up" to plant trees for the National Forest Foundation.
Simply visit www.stumbleupon.com/Earthday and use the StumbleUpon toolbar to thumbs-up the page. From now through May 2nd, with every thumbs-up StumbleUpon will plant a tree with help from the National Forest Foundation. Your thumbs-up means more trees for America's National Forests and more awareness for this cause. Join the National Forest Foundation and StumbleUpon this Earth Day and help us plant thousands of trees for the National Forest Foundation. No digging required!
You might also want to join Tiki Barber's Earth Day campaign on eBay, sponsored by StumbleUpon. The retired New York Giants running back legend and media personality is supporting Earth Day through an auction on eBay -- the winner and three friends will get to spend a weekend with one of America's most beloved sports heroes!
In case you're not yet familiar, StumbleUpon helps you discover websites based on your interests, learns what you like, and brings you more. For example, say you are interested in the environment (and something tells me you may be). With StumbleUpon you will discover great websites, photos, blogs and news about the environment. All personalized for you. Clicking the Stumble button will bring you to one new website after another. You can rate the websites as you are Stumbling and we use your ratings to determine which sites are best for you.