Estimating the value of a Marx train

One of the most frequent questions I see or receive directly about Marx trains is what a Marx train is worth, or the value of a Marx train. Of course without seeing the train, it’s nearly impossible to give a good estimate, but there are some general rules that you can follow, either to protect yourself as a buyer, or to keep your expectations realistic as a seller.

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Dave Farquhar, lunch ninja

My boss doesn’t think I’m human. His proof: He asks anyone who knows me if he or she has ever seen me eat. No one has.

They’ve seen evidence of me eating. But actually taking a bite? No. Not even the time we went out for BBQ.

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This one hurts.

I tried to write the day it happened. I couldn’t write anything that made any sense. Mostly I sat and stared. I told myself when the Royals made the Wild Card, I’d be happy with whatever happened, because it was postseason baseball for the first time in 29 years.

But as they kept hanging on and steamrolling opponents, I got greedy. And it’s hard to feel guilty for getting greedy. Because I don’t know when this will happen again. Read more

Attention St. Louis: Two shock jocks don’t speak for Kansas City, or for the Royals

I noticed a lot of St. Louisans were rooting for the Royals, then, suddenly, they turned into die-hard Orioles fans. That’s odd, especially considering the Orioles used to be the St. Louis Browns, who left town in 1953. That’s like Kansas City rooting for the Oakland Athletics or Sacramento Kings.

Then I found out two Kansas City shock jocks, Danny Parkins and Carrington Harrison, ranted and raved about St. Louis for about an hour one day, and a bunch of St. Louisans took it seriously.

Whatever.

OK, so Kansas City has a couple of guys with no class on the radio. So does St. Louis. What town big enough to have more than one radio station doesn’t? But let’s talk about class for a minute. Read more

The meaning of “That’s what speed do.”

You’re probably hearing Royals fans say, “That’s what speed do” a lot. With games on the line, they tend to slap the ball, get on base however they can, and score however they can, and that’s what the line refers to.

The origin was a game on July 27, 2013. Jarrod Dyson led off the 12th inning with a ground ball to Gordon Beckham, who bobbled the ball. The scorekeeper credited Dyson with a controversial single.

“That’s a single,” Dyson insisted after the game. “That’s a tough play. That’s what speed do. If you can’t handle the ball, put it back in the glove.”

Dyson knows speed. He once tagged up and scored the game winning run on a popup to shortstop.


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Remembering Dolgin’s

Growing up in Missouri, a lot of my Christmas gifts when I was young came from a catalog showroom called Dolgin’s. One of my earliest memories is going to Dolgin’s with my mom and aunt, who showed me some Tonka trucks and asked me which ones I liked best.

I know a lot of people remember going through Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs, but I remember Dolgin’s catalogs the best. Read more

Phil Kerpen, net neutrality, and socialism: A post-mortem

I learned the hard way a few weeks ago how net neutrality can be equated with socialism, an argument that puzzles people who work on computer networks for a living and see networking as a big flow of electrons. I think it’s very important that we understand how this happens.

Here’s the tactic: Find a socialist who supports net neutrality. Anoint him the leader of the movement. Bingo, anyone who supports net neutrality follows him, and therefore is a communist.

Political lobbyist and Fox News contributor Phil Kerpen told me Robert W. McChesney was the leader of the net neutrality movement, and he sent me a quote in the form of a meme longer than the Third Epistle of St. John. Yet in a Google search for the key words from that quote, “net neutrality bring down media power structure,” I can’t find him. So then I tried Bing, where I found him quoted on a web site called sodahead.com, but I couldn’t find the primary source.

For the leader of a movement the size of net neutrality, he sure keeps a low profile. Google and Netflix are two multi-billion-dollar companies that support net neutrality. I’m sure it’s news to them that they’re taking orders from Robert W. McChesney. Read more

The Ferguson race riots: An outsider’s perspective from not far outside

A Ferguson police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old African-American man, on August 9, 2014. The night after, riots broke out.

Ferguson is an inner-ring suburb in north St. Louis County. As such, Ferguson is now approximately 67% African-American, although the power structure remains mostly white.

I am a native of Kansas City who has lived in suburban St. Louis for a little more than 20 years. As a quasi-outsider, St. Louis has some quirks that I recognize and understand. It helps to understand that St. Louis is very divided, both along the lines of race but also along the lines of class. One of the first questions many St. Louisans will ask you is what high school you went to. This conveniently tells people how much money you grew up with. If you went to a private school, you’re good. If you went to a public school in an affluent area, you’re good. If you went to a public school in a poor area, I hope you’re living in a more affluent area now because there are people who will look down on you.

Sometimes the lines are fuzzy but sometimes they’re very stark. In north St. Louis, there’s an east-west street called Delmar. On the south side of the street are expensive houses. I won’t say they’re all millionaires on that side of the street, but many undoubtedly are. On the north side of the street, the houses that aren’t vacant are occupied by people who have minimum-wage jobs. The haves and have-nots can stare at each other from their windows, separated by five lanes of traffic. This oddity has even caught the attention of the BBC.

Ferguson is a step up from the wrong side of Delmar, but many St. Louisans would have jumped to conclusions about Michael Brown and his Normandy High School diploma for the rest of his life, regardless of how long that might have been. Read more

Gene Kim on scheduled maintenance

The excellent book The Phoenix Project has a choice quote that stuck with me.

In this scenario, the Yoda-like character asks the hero to imagine a company that makes deliveries. If the trucks break down, the deliveries stop, right? So you change the oil, since not changing the oil causes trucks to break down.

“Metaphors like oil changes help people make that connection. Preventative oil changes and maintenance policies are like preventative vendor patches and change management policies. By showing how IT risks jeopardize business performance measures, you can start making better business decisions.”

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Losing the luster of Christmas–and something of a cure

The Kansas City Star published a forlorn editorial this week about the struggles of many people this Christmas.

I can relate. I’m much better off than many people, but this is the third Christmas in a row where my job has a hard end date attached to it. And this year, for the first time in my career, I made less money than I did the year before. For me, Christmas has been the worst day of the year for a very long time, because I know I can’t live up to everyone’s expectations of me.

But I’m better off than a lot of people. Right now I have a job. Some of my former coworkers took bigger pay cuts than I did this year, or they’re still looking. And, as bad as this year has been, I think everyone needs to go without work for a month or so sometime in their life. I think I have something that can help, but I’m gonna make you read something first. Or at least scroll a lot. Read more

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