The first thing was that I accidentally provided some serious entertainment for an entire restaurant staff when I discovered that my knife was highly magnetized. This is not that unusual. It is also not that unusual that I'm the one that finds/notices such a knife. (Jeff says it's because of my magnet personality.) What was unusual is how the staff reacted when they saw me doing this:
The waitress was amazed and, as we were seated near the kitchen, so were the rest of the staff that could see. The ones who couldn't eventually came out to see what I could do with the knife and other silverware. I spent a lot of time saying, "It's not magic. It's just physics. Really. Steel and nickel get magnetized. Especially with older silverware." I even looked it up on my smart phone and gave the staff two different ways this could have happened. (MacGyver, season 1, episode 11 and large, powerful magnets in the dishwasher used to prevent the loss of silverware.)
Still, I was accused of doing magic and of bringing in a high powered magnet and "messing with" the silverware in some way. In the end, I gave the magnetized knife to the waitress and told her to have fun.
The second new-to-me thing I did was go to an auction. Boy, did I learn a lot about auctions, pricing and attending auctions.
Preview showings are important. For one to two days before the auction, many of the items in the auction will be available to preview. Do this. Know what's there and what kind of shape it is in. Know what you want, what its item number is and what you are willing to pay for it.
Bring water and snacks—you're going to be there for a while. There were over 500 items in the auction we went to. The main auctioneer tries to auction off 100 items an hour. If you want something in the 100's and something in the 400's, you are going to be there a long time and it is best for you to bring food and drink. Also, it is good to be there long enough to figure out how people are buying things and how the auctioneer works.
A good auctioneer is worth their weight in gold. The first guy was a marvel. I enjoyed him. The second guy had an accent that took me about 10 minutes to figure out and then get into rhythm with. I didn't realize how good they were until they let some lady come up and do her first time as an auctioneer. 30 minutes seemed like hours. It was like listening to a five year old try to tell a joke – she had no rhythm, no peripheral vision and, honestly, she didn't know what she was doing. She messed up a lot and it was really annoying.
There really are some steals. Sometimes. Know what you want and what you're willing to pay. The thing I thought was going to be HUGELY expensive based on the research I did went for 10% of the price I thought it would go for. The two chairs I thought would be a steal knocked us out of our range pretty quick. My advice: have a total budget you are willing to spend based on your previous viewing and research and just roll with it.
It is amazing what people will buy. Good gracious, there were some strange things bought and even stranger things fought over. Half the fun of going to an auction is the people-watching.
Cash/Check is King. The place we went had a special—payment and pick up within 24 hours using cash or check got 3% off the gallery fee. This place does Bid + 18% for the price. So, plan accordingly.