Sunday, January 25, 2015

Why I Do..., No. 1: Why I Bargain Hunt

In the late 1990s, kids all over the world went crazy for Pokémon, a set of Game Boy collection RPGs that became a media empire.  Though the franchise still exists, it was at its height around Y2K, when the games, trading cards, videos of the show, and various other memorabilia were flying off the shelves like crazy.  The object of the game was summed up in its slogan: Gotta catch 'em all! Seriously, your objective was to catch at least one of the 150+ species within the game.  The franchise made Nintendo and card makers Wizards of the Coast billions of dollars...but, it ended up falling out of favor with many kids.  Why? Simply because the big "N" dragged their feet about releasing new games with new monsters, and WotC did the same with the next generation of cards.  Once you had caught all of the various species, and collected all of the trading cards...what was there to do? I expect the games still sell--otherwise, Nintendo wouldn't bother bringing them to American shores--but most of my gamer friends gave up on those "pocket monsters" years ago.

You may wonder what in the world that has to do with bargain hunting.  Simply this: Like the usual Pokémon trainer, I am on a quest to obtain various items...but, instead of "pocket monsters," my quest is for entertainment: books, DVDs, and CDs.  Usually, when I go to garage sales, thrift stores, library sales, MovieStop, used bookstores, and similar places, that's all I buy.  Some items are very commonplace and easy to find; others are rare, usually because they're out of print, and difficult to get my hands on.  With many items, I find that if I don't pounce on it right away, I end up missing out.  Unlike that collection RPG, though, I'm not limited to just a set number of items; there's a nearly infinite amount of literature and audiovisual media that can be long as I seek it out.

Some people would argue that, when it comes to finding rare items, eBay is a better place.  Well, that's true...if you know what you're looking for.  At the kinds of places I go to, it's not what you know you want; it's what you didn't know you wanted.  I often end up seeing book series or DVDs that I've either never heard of or hadn't thought about in a while, ones that I'd never think to type into any kind of online search.  Plus, places such as eBay and Amazon Marketplace often include shipping fees that can be a doozy.

It's no secret that I love my entertainment, right? Of course, I have to find ways to get it within my budget; if I went around paying full price for every single DVD or book I wanted, I'd go bankrupt.  The library is a great place to get entertainment...but even they have their limits.  Plus, unless you idly walk down the shelves, just like on eBay, you have to know what you're looking for.  Sometimes, books and DVDs will get displayed, but, other than that, finding that uncertain item could be a needle-in-a-haystack search.  That's why I frequent garage sales, used bookstores, MovieStop, and similar places; you never know just what you'll find...and you can usually get it for very cheap.

In recent years, I've talked quite a bit about bargain hunting, both on Facebook and off.  Many of my friends have seen photos and lists of my latest hauls; sometimes, I wonder if people have unfriended me because of such posts.  To me, bargain hunting is like a sport; I have my victories, and I have my defeats.  Some days I make out very well, and sometimes I go a great distance and come home with almost nothing.  It's not really a competition, per se; I'm not trying to "keep up with the Joneses" by having the biggest book collection on my block.  I don't even know how much entertainment my neighbors own, and I don't really care; to me, I buy the books, DVDs, and CDs that I want, not every single one I see.  I just try and find the best deals on the items I want.

Some people--including my mom--have told me that I've become a bit of a "shopaholic," to the point where I go bargain hunting any chance I get.  It's true that I love it--I wouldn't do it as often as I do if it weren't fun--but, I think I do need to cut back at times.  Last year, I spent almost a whole month without bargain hunting, and it helped.  Currently, I have a bunch of books I'm looking to get rid of; I'm hoping to take them to the used bookstore, but, they only accept twenty-five at a time.  If I spent more time actually consuming the entertainment I obtain instead of completely non-constructive tasks such as poking around online or pacing and whispering to myself, I'd have more to get rid of...which would leave more space for the new stuff.  Let's hope I can change that in 2015.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Why I Do What I Do: Intro

In September 2000, after over 2.5 years of Cub Scouting, I transferred to the Boy Scout troop sponsored by the church I was attending at the time.  For a while, I went on camping trips, attended meetings, joined in on service projects, and did other Scouting pursuits...but, after thirteen months, my mom pulled the plug on the whole thing.  Why? Simply because my heart wasn't in it; since I was only doing it because my sister and brother-in-law insisted, I really didn't know why I was learning to pitch tents or tie knots.  My sister had told me that I needed to join because of my lack of a father figure; she believed I needed to do things with other guys.  However, that never worked for me, because the vast majority of my fellow Scouts didn't have that problem; I knew they had fathers, because it was the Scouts' dads who made up the vast majority of the troop's adult leaders.  In retrospect, I now realize that Scouting was a great opportunity for me to make new friends as well as learn skills that would serve me well in the future...but, at that time, I didn't really know why anyone was even bothering with the program.  If I'd known why Scouting was such a revered institution, not to mention how it would benefit me in the future, maybe I would have actually given it a fair shake; instead, I disliked it so much, when I was finally given the chance to leave, I felt as if I was being released from prison.

Scouting wasn't the only thing, though; over the years, I regularly wondered why everything from gym class to owning a dog was necessary.  When circumstances required me to participate in those activities, I usually did them, but my disdain for them was obvious; anyone who saw me there could tell that I much rather would have been watching television than looking after a mutt or "running" a mile.  To me, I just didn't see the purpose; it was one thing if one chooses to participate in those activities, but...I was doing them against my will.  Really, I was only hurting myself; I missed out on a great friendship with my would-be canine companion, and caused myself to gain weight in recent years, only because of a poor attitude.  Just like with Boy Scouting, if I had known why I was doing what I was doing, instead of merely doing just what I was told for fear of punishment, it could have produced much more benefits, for myself and others.

In recent years, most of you reading this have found out all about my hobbies.  You know my varied interests: family-friendly entertainment, libraries, bargain hunting, Apple technology, Disney Channel, old-school shows, Christian media, trivia, etc.  You may know what I like...but, you probably wonder why I like it, as most people--especially young adults--don't bother with such things; even if they do like it, it's not as important to them as it is to me.  I'm as enthused with my hobbies as most guys are with their favorite sports.  You might have already known that...but, you still probably don't know why.

That's just what this series of blog posts will explain! You'll find out exactly why I do the things that I do...and, also, why I don't do certain things that "everybody else" seems to do.  By the time this series is finished, you'll understand everything from my passion for bargain hunting to my love for the Disney Channel!

(The first post will hopefully be coming later today!)