Saturday, November 19, 2005

Auction, Corn Oil, and Football

I'll try to keep this short & sweet. 'Try' being the optimal word.

Left the house this morning to go to a surplus auction: Various of the local aerospace, defense, and tech companies sell their surplus items at absolute auction every so often; this new auction company has just taken over after a hiatus, but they hope to have an auction every month.

So, I register to bid this morning: standard auction process: fill out the form, show ID, and tell 'em how you plan to pay. "Mastercard," says I. "Oh, we should be able to take that by the time the auction is over," says the auction lady. "Huh?" "Our credit card machine is still at the airport; UPS should have it here by 9:30am"---that was at 8:55am this morning, and it was presidential of things to come.

So about 8:56, I walk into the room with all the surplus, hoping to look around a bit before the auction starts at 9, but figuring that I can just look while the auction proceeds (just look over the lots a few minutes before the auctioneer gets to those lots). Except the auction rules are that once the auction begins, you must stay in the seating area, and can't wander around!!!--giving me less than 4 minutes to look over everything & decide what I may or may not want to bid on.

The reason they did it is because of theft & allegations of theft; not that they've had theft before (being their first auction of this type), but that the past companies doing this auctions (Bentley's, Auction Factory) have had complaints (Ex: "when I bid on this computer, it had 2 gigs of ram in it, and now it has none!"---completely unverifiable, except in cases where the computer is obviously too old to have ever had 2 gigs of ram in it). But it is not standard auction procedure; I've never been to an auction where they don't: 1) show you the items for bid 2) let you look at the items for bid on your own OR 3) some combination of 1 & 2.

Things only got worse from not being able to walk around.

Like, the biggest red-neck auctioneer, Colonel Bill or something, was god-awful-hard to understand; I mean, I've been to auctions plenty of times, and the auctioneer speaks real fast and rattles things out & never shuts up--fine--but add a portion of good-old-boy, Tennessee redneck, crappy PA system, and a huge cowboy hat to weigh down his old cranium (and I mean old), and you had something nearly incomprehensible.

So he starts the auction, but no one can walk over to see the items for bid, for "security" reasons, never mind the item is a block of aluminum that weighs 990lbs and can't exactly be stolen without anyone noticing. And they aren't showing the items (holding them up, pointing them out, describing them---nothing like that---just "lot 1").

Which is of course, why God invented auction catalogs; so you have a written description of the items contained in the lot. The auctioneer asks who else still needs a catalog--we'll get you one. Oops!--the owner of the auction forgot to print any out beforehand, so no catalogs! Sorryeeee! That, combined with other poor organization, lack of any spectacularly good items up for sale, and more smoke than a bar... well, it was a call for railfanning.

So I drove to Decatur, which wasn't that far from the part of Madison I was in.

Which leads to (keeping the details of railfanning short)... While there, CSX was switching cars at the Bunge plant along the river. They make crude corn oil at the plant, best I can tell. How do they make it? Read all about it.

(Kind of scary, corn oil extraction. I mean, you *ingest* the stuff).

After a couple of hours, I did go back to the auction. Cause there were people there I knew, and cause 2 or 3 lots were vaguely interesting, though by no means did I need to buy them (2 or 3 lots of insulation used in refridgeration systems, if you really want to know). I missed them by about 10 minutes, but no loss.

So I left again, to go see Bama lose.

At least John Parker Jose Enrique Frankie Aaron Biff Jones Smith Wilson showed promise for next year.

(WTF is the deal with everyone saying "John Parker Wilson"? Can't it just be John Wilson, or JP Wilson?)

Never did find out if the credit card machine arrived at the auction.

Confidential to BS: Next auction scheduled for Dec 17th. Consider this your invitation.


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