Build a Better Mousetrap for the End of the World

Would you even guess this is a mousetrap? It’s vintage, from the 1930’s approximately. I first saw it on a video from Shawn Woods and then I went looking on eBay out of curiousity. Shawn Woods makes videos of how mousetraps actually work at catching mice. If you are especially squeamish or strongly against killing rodents, don’t watch. 
I think people have been trying to catch rodents, mice in particular, from the earliest days of deliberately planting anything with the idea of farming. You might think we should let all the urban wildlife live and, I’m not out to kill them all, but I do think we need to find some balance. Some animals are very good at surviving, adapting and scavenging. I’d rather see other animals keep their foothold instead of the planet being overrun by predatory scavengers. (I do include ourselves among those). 
I enjoyed watching the mousetrap videos for the engineering aspects really. My Father was an electrical engineer and I also like seeing the mechanics of things and how all the little parts work together and rely on each other. Vintage things especially because they were still made to last then. I like the heavy, solid feel of them and 100 years later they made need a little cleaning up but will still work. Often any repairs are simple enough you can manage yourself. 
I like to imagine the mousetraps people would come up with if there were an end of the world, a zombie apocalypse, a worldwide disaster, or some other possibility like the end of all fossil fuels. Could you make a mousetrap if you had to design and build it yourself? Don’t go with the “let all creatures live” thing. If it came down to the mouse or yourself for the last of the food you have on hand, I don’t think you would feel quite so charitable about sharing with a pack of rodents.

I Want a Vintage/ Antique Library Cart

First, you should know, they are far more expensive than you would expect. (I was surprised). A new cart is also very expensive, plus there will be some assembly required with almost all of them. I can do the assembly, but… I’d still rather have an old cart assembled by someone else long ago. I don’t mind some wear, authentic wear, not contrived to look worn and aged. Fake aging is too artificial. Besides, wouldn’t an old cart be much happier cleaned up and given a fresh coat of paint? I don’t want a sad cart.

This one was on a site from the UK. Even pricier but I really like the look of it.

This one was found by someone else and done over. I would rather have it painted a nice showy red – make it look glamorous.

I found a few vintage/ antique carts online. Most are too expensive once you consider the shipping and the dollar difference from anything in the US. Paying double the asking price just doesn’t seem fair. Even when they say free shipping, that doesn’t mean they will stick to it when it comes to me.

So, I will continue to poke around on the Internet from time to time and see what I find.

The best bargain I could find online for a new book cart was from Wayfair. The company is new to Canada (or at least new to me in Canada). They offer free shipping and likely it is free shipping when it originates here. But, why is the price so much different just over the colour? I like the plain silver better than the white or black. I just think it’s odd. It’s not an old cart though, so no history to it. Likely I’d have to put the wheels on, if not more assembly. So… it is tempting. I’ve begun trying to let go some of my books and the cart would help in sorting them. Plus, I could keep it for the books I use most often and whatever I have on hand in fiction to be read.

For the Lost Art of Letter Writing

This Letter Writing Kit was made for those of us “born in the wrong century”! It is “All things Austen!!” With this kit, you or a loved one will be able to spend time relaxing and enjoying an almost ” Lost Art” of writing letters in the style of Jane Austen. Enjoy sealing your letter with a real wax seal and using all the Jane Austen themed ephemera! And while you are at it … Enjoy a cup of tea courtesy of me!

It contains:

1. Mini ceramic wax seal ( current stock: heart enclosed in a wreath).
2. 1 wax stick
3. Variety of Jane Austen Themed Stickers
4. 1 set (6) of Jane Austen Silhouette Stickers
5. 1 gorgeously illustrated ( from the beloved novel: Pride and Prejudice) blank note card/ envelope
6. 1 Unique, fill in the blank, Jane Austen Letter Writing Society Mail Tag card
7. 2 blank note cards/ with envelopes to decorate
8. 2 sheets of Victorian mailing labels
9. 2 Jane Austen quote post cards
10. 1 log book to record correspondence
11. Sample of Bakers Twine
12. Sample of craft lace or ribbon
13. 4 mini , stamped envelopes ( to hold a tea bag)
14. 1 vintage themed rubber stamp
15. An assortment of vintage die cuts ephemera
16. 2 large dimensional stickers ,includes 1 large oval Jane Austen Silhouette
17. 4 small doilies
18. 4 vintage circle letter seals
19. 1 package of “Forget -Me -not” seeds just for sentimental sake!
20. 1 roll of vintage paper or fabric tape

Source: On Sale Jane Austen letter writing kit letter by LostArtRevived

Write Dieselpunk

Dieselpunk is an alternate history/reality science fiction sub genre that takes much of it’s flavor and attitude from cyberpunk. It is usually set between 1915-1950 and like it’s cousin steampunk it is retro-futurism. Even though it is compared to and pigeon-holed with steampunk it actually has more in common with cyberpunk. Think of it as cyberpunk as seen through a pulp, art deco, filter. If you like all things early 20th century vintage and retro-future you’ll love Dieselpunk.

Source: Dieselpunk from Facebook

Get in the Road Trip Mood

Find a vintage motel or hotel postcard on eBay. Pick something from your local area so you will know the streets, more or less. Use Google Street View (find the location on the back view of the postcard) see if you can find the motel now. Is it still there at all? If so, is the name the same? Spot the differences between then and now.

Source: Caribou Motel Barrie Orilla Ontario ON Canada Vintage Chrome Postcard | eBay

Take it on the road and visit the site. Get a photograph and (if you have a site) post the then and now images. Find some history, if you can. Or design a history for the motel yourself. Who owned and operated it over the years? Did they love it, grow too tired to keep it going, run out of money? What changes happened around them in the local area?

I found the Caribou Motel in the present, it’s gone. Replaced by a new gas bar. Nothing left of the old motel and diner except the space around the new building. You can see some curb out by the road and the parking lot is bigger than the current commercial business would need. Small hints at what once was.


You can see what became of the Caribou in urban exploration photos from CopySix and other explorers who posted to Flickr and Ontario Abandoned Places. Note: the CopySix post has a comment from the original owner’s family.

Beware The Phantom of the Opera

I will never forget seeing The Phantom of the Opera in live theatre downtown Toronto years ago with my family. I loved it. The rest of them…. they mocked it and continued to mock the show for weeks afterward. Doesn’t it really bug you when someone else just doesn’t get (understand) something you love? Anyway, that was years ago.

Phantom of the Opera Live on Stage or Creepy on Film?

I don’t think anyone, having heard the music from Phantom of the Opera, will ever really get it out of their head again. The story is one which has been told and retold in endless versions and twists since Beauty and the Beast (likely there was an earlier version before then but we don’t know it).

Does anyone remember the Phantom of the Paradise which starred Paul Williams back in 1974? For me that was far creepier than the Phantom of the Opera performed live at the theatre. But, the theatre was meant to be for all ages. The movie was not. It had all the weirdness of a movie made in the 1970′s and then some. I still remember the feeling of being creeped out more than the movie itself.

I’d like to read the original book by Gaston Leroux.

The sad thing about reading books which were not originally written in English is having to trust the translator not to edit anything while they re-write the book for an English reading audience. No one should buy a book which has been translated without finding out about who did the work and how it was done. So much can be changed depending on standards and ethics at the time. I’d like to read the book as close to the vintage version (with all the signs of the times) left intact.

I’m adding Phantom of the Opera to my list of classic books to be read. It’s a long list but I’m getting there, one book at a time.

What Can you do with an Old Film Camera?

oldcameraI still have my 35mm (analogue) camera from college. I began using it about 20 years ago. It was a big purchase at the time, my Mother helped me pay for it when I was starting college and needed the camera for the Photography part of Corporate Communications at Centennial College (Warden Woods campus, which is now gone).

I can remember the teacher in the class talking about the future of film and photography. Computers were still pretty new then. Most offices had them for word processing but they were many years from being used in every home. The Internet existed, but almost no one knew anything about it. I can remember thinking how great it would be to have a camera which did not need film to be developed. The camera itself had been expensive but it was the cost of developing film and buying more film which was really making it hard to keep from falling behind in the class work.

Even though I have not used that old film camera for many years, I can’t quite let it go. I still have it in the case with the Canadian flag decorated camera strap. I could re-use the old strap for my new bigger digital camera but that just seems so wrong. Like deconstructing an old friend. I did let go of my old photography text book a few years ago. But that is as far as I have gotten to leaving behind the age of film.

What can you do with an old film camera, assuming you get the point where you can let it go?

There are a few people who still use the old film cameras? You could look for them (groups of them) and see if your camera is collectible or worth saving for posterity.

You may find a charity which will take them and be able to find people who will still use them. Or, an artist who wants to work with retro or vintage cameras.

Look for ways to repurpose them. Can parts be salvaged for other projects or for use with your new digital cameras?  A repurposed camera could be an interesting steampunk project.

Curating Cuteness: Building an Affordable Camera Collection for the Analog Enthusiast

Toronto Star: A Nerd’s World reclaims beguiling visions of our lives from old cameras

Atomic Vision: The Pleasure of Collecting Old Cameras

Camera Mods –  Take a vintage film camera that no longer works and convert it to digital.

Vintage Office

So much is advancing, crowding out the old typewriters, file cabinets and even the lowly trashcan may now have evolved into a recycling bucket instead. What vintage treasure do you keep in your office? There must be something. I know I cling to a few things which remind me of times past and the people who worked and wrote there. I used to have a pencil sharpener which my Grandfather bought me when I was a kid. But someone took it. They claimed their children were going to use it but, I just never saw it again.

Flickr: Vintage Office

Street Photography: Fashion Photography of the Ordinary

I see a lot of street photography when I look at photographs and sites that interest me. But, I never really felt they were interesting photos until today when I found the photos from Vivian Maier, vintage street photography.

Looking at those ordinary people from the 1950s was fascinating. I started with one photo and then clicked for another and another and another. Soon I had spent 20 minutes looking at street photography. I was surprised. Then I realized, street photography is like creating a snapshot of our lives, a time capsule that can be opened any day.

Without knowing the people I could see the character and the role they played in life. Seeing their background was more important than it seemed at first. The background shows other people, fashion, buildings, products for sale, and so on. Without seeing a date on the photograph you could guess when the photo was taken and where (in a general way).

I have new appreciation for modern street photography and street photographers now. We don’t have time machines so we have to record our own history as we live it.


Street photography gives us a look at ourselves, in our current time and (with vintage photos) our past.

Could you Sell Your Old Books?

I have a lot of books, too many books really. It’s so hard to resist an interesting book. I find them with the new books and I like the way they smell. I find vintage, retro and just plain old books at the thrift store and the second hand book stores (one of my favourite places).

I’ve begun trying to limit buying books. I really need to because I’ve got a hoard of books, more than I have storage space for really. So, I’m sorting my books and trying to part with some – even some that I would love to read but have to be practical and realize I will (in reality) never have enough time to myself to read all these books.

People who don’t love or hoard books don’t understand the love of books. My family are not book people. They read them and forget them. Some of them seldom read anything more than the occasional street sign or grocery flyer. But, I love the non-fiction books. I want to find out more about everything. As a kid I wanted to know about everything and I wondered how long it would take me to learn it all. I estimated I’d be in my thirties by the time I was done. As a kid, that seems old but, as a kid, the world seems much smaller too. In reality, as an adult, the more I learn the more I know I have yet to learn.

So then what…? I’m taking a look into selling my books. I bought them in the first place, who better than myself to know the advantages of owning such a great and interesting book?

My Friend (Deanna) Has Written about Selling Books Online and Kindly Gave me the Interview Below

An Interview with an Experienced Book Seller

Before we begin, please introduce yourself and give us a summary with your experience as a book reviewer and seller.

I’ve been reviewing books online for over a decade, and as a result, have review copies filling my mail box weekly. (Please note, there are precautions to selling review copies; not everyone knows or respects the rules!) I’ve been selling books as well as antiques and collectibles online since 1997, I believe it was… That includes buying, and then selling, entire estates full of books. And I’ve been reading and collecting books for decades, of course.

Do you consider yourself a book collector? What do you think makes one person a book collector versus someone who reads books or someone who hoards books – where do you draw the line?

I actually believe there are several categories of bibliophiles. There are readers, those who just love to read but do not need to keep or save books or periodicals. There are the book lovers, magazine lovers, etc., who need the objects themselves. Then there are the collectors, who consider the pursuit of works as important as the keeping of them. As for hoarding, there’s the seriously negatively impacting disorder which is pathologically compulsive (which I’m not capable of addressing) and the state hoarding which many of us joke about doing. As someone who professionally writes about collecting, I’d say the true distinctions between “collecting” and “hoarding” are about the focus in the accumulation of and care of that is given to the objects themselves.

For the record, I am a book-reading, book-loving, book-collecting bibliophile!

Are there different methods of selling books online, beyond using sites like eBay?

Oh there are likely hundreds of options! It depends upon what kind of books you have, as well as your personal goals and preferences. Each site or marketplace varies as much in audience (types of buyers) as they do in their terms or conditions and fees. It’s not just a matter of what sites you like or trust, but where the buyers are for specific types of books and how much they are willing to pay. This not only affects how much money you are likely to get for your book, but how quickly you are likely to get it too. Depending on how much you sell, these sites work perfectly for keeping track of your sales. This can come in handy for when you file taxes at the beginning of the year. Depending on how much you sell, these sites work perfectly for keeping track of your sales. This can come in handy for when you file taxes at the beginning of the year.

Along with online marketplaces, there’s also just tossing up your own site, using PayPal buttons for purchasing. Blogging software, like WordPress, now offers ecommerce plugins so that you can sell online easily. Of course, those options require you driving your own traffic to get sales, but the rewards can be greater too.

Where have you found your most success as a book seller?

Matching the book for sale to the appropriate sales platform in order to get it in front of the largest group of most likely buyers is really important.That’s how you get the best prices for your items.

Do you sell books offline, in flea markets for example?

I sell a lot of books at flea markets and at good old fashioned rummage sales in my backyard too. These books tend to be more common books; think “used books” rather than “valuable books”.

I also sell a number of books at the antique stores we have booth and case space in. These tend to be antiquarian books, rare titles, and other collectible works which are perhaps not as commonly sought after but fetch higher prices.

What are the extra costs for selling books online, like shipping?

Shipping is a cost — and that includes boxes and mailers, packing tape, shipping labels (the ink and paper you print them on), and other items for packaging. There’s also fees for shipping insurance and tracking options. If you don’t consider those costs, or are charging less than you should, those amounts can really eat at any profits you may have.

And then there’s your time. There’s the time it takes to ship items, but even before you get to that, there’s a lot of time invested in properly listing books to sell. You’ll need to research each book to have an idea of its value in order to set your price or start the bidding at. You’ll need to accurately describe the book and its condition; you may need to photograph or scan the book itself. You may need to respond to questions from potential buyers. And then there’s the time spent organizing your books for sale. (You have to be able to find a title quickly to answer questions and to ship it.) This time can add up surprisingly fast.

As the saying goes, time is money. If, after you take out the fees for listing and selling at a site, you find you are only getting a dollar or something for your book, it may not be worth your time to sell books online.

Is there a danger of being ripped off by a book purchaser?

Most sites have protections for both seller and buyer. Sites like PayPal favor the buyer a lot, which means you are best off using the insurance and delivery tracking options to protect yourself. But still, even when you’ve accurately described the item and taken the shipping precautions, issues may still arise. There are fewer scammers than one fears; but there is always the element of just bad luck with a sale or shipping. Sometimes things just end up going sideways and aggravating you, if not costing you money outright.

What advice would you give to someone starting to sell their own books online?

Whether you are simply down-sizing your book collection or planning on generating income by selling books, it’s really important to know what you have. Not just in terms of the books themselves and their values, but your time constraints, skill sets (or willingness to learn), and desire to want to do the work it takes.

It can all seem overwhelming, I know! But once you have realistic ideas and expectations, the right options for you are much easier to see.

Thanks for taking the time to be interviewed. Is there anything you would like to add?

Just that most of this information applies to used or past issues of magazines and periodicals as well — and anything vintage or antique, for that matter. While a lot of the collecting shows make it sound like there’s treasure in your attic or basement, it’s not as easy as many people think it is. Learning to identify and separate the “gems” from the “junk” takes time and experience, as does the act of selling it. There is money to be made, for sure; but, as the saying goes, there’s no easy money.

And thank you so much for including me in your discussion about selling books!