Wednesday, April 09, 2008

In Which I Score Big on eBay

I love eBay. I have bought a LOT of stuff on eBay. I have sold a LOT of stuff on eBay. I love the 'thrill of the hunt' and sniping something away from another poor schmuck in the last 7 seconds of an auction. I've gotten quite good at it.

But I was denied today. DENIED. But it all turned out well. I love when that happens!

I was bidding on a set of Berkshire Hathaway 2008 Shareholder Meeting tickets this afternoon... What's that? You're wondering why in the world would I want these? Well, my friend... Mr. Buffet (as in Warren, not Jimmy) throws quite the party bash for his shareholders. We are talking a weekend of pure capitalist fun in Omaha, including a cocktail reception Friday, a Baja Beach Bash on Saturday night (2007's bash included the other Mr. Buffet - Jimmy!), and exclusive shareholder shopping day on Sunday and a DAY-LONG Q&A period with Mr. B and his crew. I heard from someone who's been there that it's better than an MBA.

...which sounds like a blast to me. I know, I'm a weirdo.

So, if you own at least one share of BRK stock, you get two tickets for free. The problem? The stock is currently trading at $4387 per share. No, I didn't forget a decimal point. Four GRAND and change = Too rich for me.

Luckily, Mr. B is generous and gives away some tickets each year at a nominal fee.

Which leads us back to this afternoon. I had found the tickets on eBay and was bidding. There was not too much action on the auction, so I wasn't worried (first bad sign). I waited until about 30 seconds were left in the auction and jumped in at $20 for two tickets. I was the high bidder for about 3 seconds, then I wasn't. ARG! I showed my hand too early! I tried to quickly re-bid at $26, was denied, and the auction ended. The tickets sold for $30.

Damn! I had really counted on winning the tickets. So I looked at my "Sorry you're a big fat loser" email auto-generated by eBay, and looked for 'similiar auctions'.

Lo and behold, there it was! A link to tickets offered directly from BH. No auction required, just "Buy it Now" for $3. SCORE!

So I lost, but then I won and saved $27 in the process. I love a happy ending! Squee!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Name Game - Part Two

Before we traveled to meet New Kid, I wrote about potential issues with names. Since New Kid comes "complete with name" we needed to decide if that name would "work" in the US.

As it turns out, his given name is Sergei. Not a bad name. It would work in the US with no problems. However, here's the rub: the kid does NOT look like a "Sergei".

I imagine a "Sergei" as a dark, swarthy, handsome and mysterious dude. New Kid is not that, even accounting for the fact that it's hard to be dark and mysterious when you're only two years old.

He is blonde. He has blue eyes. I just can't channel "Sergei" from that.

So the Name Chase has begun. We have a few potentials, but not many. Most the names we like are now attached to one of Alex's schoolmates. And typically not in a good way, if you get my drift.

Before we knew his name, we discussed coming up with something that sounds similar, since he knows his name currently. This would confuse him less. Hopefully.

Two problems with this:
(1) What in the hell sounds like "Sergei"?
Fergie? Surrey? Suri?!

(2) Russians don't typically use their kids' given names in everyday conversations. They are very big on nicknames.
I didn't hear anyone in the baby home ever call him "Sergei". That's too formal for kids. Sergei's nickname is "Seregozha". Huh? It took us two days to get the proununciation right. I'm not even trying to match that with another name.

I'm thinking "Bob" sounds about right at this point...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Cookies Make the World Go 'Round

We met with New Kid three times last week: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

On Wednesday (our first meeting), New Kid did not want to have anything to do with Mr. G. Typically all the staff in the Russian baby homes are female, so this was to be expected. Mr. G belonged to a new and unusual species, of which New Kid had never seen before. He kept a close eye on Mr. G and wouldn't let him get too close. At one point he actually pushed Mr. G away!

On Thursday, we were determined to have New Kid do a little more interaction with Mr. G. New Kid was playing with some blocks, so Mr. G moved up slowly and sat behind him. You could tell that New Kid was still not digging this. We decided a little movement was in order.

I took one of New Kid's hands, Mr. G took the other and we started walking around the room. After a few steps, New Kid pulled his hand away from Mr. G....Darn!

Then New Kid walked over to the table in the room, that just so happened to have a tin of butter cookies in it, from lunch. He stopped in front and stared at the cookies. I smelled opportunity...

Mr. G got a cookie, showed it to New Kid, then sat down and pulled New Kid onto his lap. And started feeding him bits of cookie. There was no whining! And no crying! New Kid happily munched his cookie, possibly thinking, "Hmm....I kinda like this new species. Yum!"

A little while later, we saw New Kid's first smile (of many to come!). And after this, New Kid's fear of Mr. G simply disappeared.

Looks like we will be stocking some butter cookies in the Goofy pantry from now on...

We are Home!'s so nice to be home. We were able to adjust our flights so that instead of getting home Sunday at 6:00pm, we actually flew to Chicago last night and got in this morning around 10:00am. This gives us an almost-whole day at home before the real week starts.

In the process of changing flights, we got bumped up to Business Class on Lufthansa. Let me tell this, this was kick-ass! More leg room than my living room and the seats have their own remote control that allows you to adjust almost everything. This includes a feature to make the seat lay all the way down into a bed. Flat! Which is pretty cool for a > 9 hour flight. Oh yeah, and there were about 20 movies to choose from. I had to keep my eyelids propped open to finish the two movies I wanted to watch ("National Secrets - Book Two" and "Golden Compass", if you're curious). And the food? Let's just say between us we had smoked trout, veal, lamb and tillapia. And tiramisu for dessert. On an airplane. Whoda thunk it? Oh, and the free wine (6 choices!) wasn't bad either.

I'll post more later - it's about midnight for me body-clock-wise, and we still have a dog to pick up and laundry to do.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Our Own Amazing Race!

Well, we finally made it to Russia. We have not had much spare time at all since we arrived.

Right out of the gates, things went wrong. Our flight from KC to Chicago was delayed FOUR HOURS because of thunderstorms in Chicago. And this is after getting to KCI TWO HOURS early (suggested for an international flight). Of course it took us only 15 minutes to check in.

I love sitting in airports waiting, don't you? GAH!!!!

Okay, so we finally got to Chicago. We thought MAYBE our flight to Munich would be delayed in leaving because of the weather. Nope. It left without us. RATS!

So another THREE HOURS waiting in Chicago for the next flight to Munich.

On the Munich flight they played two movies that you wouldn't want to watch before going to adopt: "Martian Child" (single guy adopts really weird child) and "August Rush" (mom thinks her son was born dead, but in reality he is alive and homeless). Both great movies, but I really wanted to get my mind OFF adoption. "Golden Compass" would have been about my speed.

So we get to Munich, wait only ONE HOUR this time, and jump onto our plane to Moscow.

Because of all the delays, when we reached Moscow, our poor driver had to drive really, really fast to get us to the train station for our overnight train to our region. No nap. No snack. No change of clothes in Moscow.

We finally got some down-time on the train. The train was cool. We had a sleeper cabin with two bunks (Ah....we got to actually lie down to sleep. Yeah!) and a small table. We had dinner in our cabin - yummy.

We slept well and in the morning we were in our region. Instead of going directly to a hotel to, I don't know...SHOWER, we headed straight for the Ministry of Education to get details about our referral child.

Only after this did we get to our hotel. For an hour. We showered, then jumped into our driver's car for a THREE HOUR trip to the baby home.

Yeah...and that was just the first two days.

More later....