Sunday, April 24, 2016


I've started to read "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" at a leisurely pace and will comment on it when I finish. There's not much to report otherwise. I've planted tomato seeds for the season, and the first one germinated in just four days. I now use a heating pad under the container, and this accelerates the process considerably. Most of the vegetable garden belongs to my partner, and she is way ahead of me with the cold-weather crops. Although we had a warm winter and the spring has also been warm so far, the plants are still emerging very slowly and it is only just starting to turn green outside.

For most of the time we've lived in Vermont I've fed the birds year-round, though technically you're not supposed to because bird feeders attract bears when they're not hibernating. We had some trouble in 2014, when a bear bent the metal pole holding the feeders, ate all the suet and crushed the tube feeder to eat the sunflower seeds. That happened twice, and I began to bring in the feeders at night, which worked for the remainder of that season. We didn't have any more trouble until this April 20. At 2:30 A.M. I heard noises in the yard and turned on the light to see a large black bear lying next to the bent pole and finishing off the sunflower seeds from the broken tube. It had eaten the suet first. I opened the sliding door and banged on it to get the bear's attention, and when it saw me it ambled off. Until November I'll be feeding the birds nyjer only, which the bears don't seem to like. The woodpeckers and chickadees will have to find food elsewhere, but they shouldn't have much difficulty now that insects are out. Fortunately the suet feeder is indestructible and the tube feeder manufacturer sent me a free new tube. I was able to fix the bent pole by breaking it off from the stand, removing the stub inserted into the stand, cutting off the damaged portion from the pole and reinserting the pole into the stand. The hummingbirds will be returning soon.

In other news, I sold my entire comic book collection in one lot for $1000. The buyer, who is a professional dealer, will make quite a profit from them, as I think he can sell them individually for more than $2000. Since this isn't really a hobby for me and the overall condition of the comics is poor, I didn't want to bother with putting in the time and effort to eke out the maximum possible profit. I bought the comics for a total of about $25 and they have been sitting in bags since I stopped reading them in 1964. When I was in high school I went with friends to Palisades Park in New Jersey, at which time I cut out several coupons from the comics, and this negatively impacted their value. My most valuable comic was Justice League of America #1, which I bought in 1960 for 10¢. If I had immediately put it into a plastic case and kept it for 56 years in good atmospheric conditions, I could have sold it now for more than $5000. If I had bought 100 of them for $10, they would now be worth $500,000! I always find it interesting how arbitrarily collectibles come to be valued. On the one hand this indicates how sentiments and emotions such as nostalgia influence perceptions, and on the other hand it shows how difficult it is to predict the future accurately. The unpredictability of comic book values can be seen as convincing evidence that no one is able to predict certain aspects of the future with much accuracy – if people were able to we would currently be witnessing not just more billionaires but a few trillionaires.

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