I go to the swap meet for a few reasons. First, it is a great place to buy my supply of batteries. Several vendors supply batteries of all types, including cell phone and camera batteries. I also go looking for books. One vendor in particular, brings hundreds of older, but still useful, science and math books. In the past, I’ve found some real gems like the 1st edition of the Halliday and Resnick physics text I used in college but unwisely tossed after graduation. I also found some great books on partial differential equations, statistical inference, and laser optics. For five bucks a piece, it is well worth the trip. On one visit I found a very cool digital circuits breadboard lab kit that I enjoy playing with. And then there is one vendor that just specializes in soldering equipment, tools, and accessories which is very handy for building my physics experiments.
The swap meet is entertaining for other reasons, namely the odd characters I encounter. There is a whole cast of regulars, so if you’re into geek-watching, this is the place for you. There is the “fallen body builder,” a snake-oil type salesman, about 6’2”, 250lbs. with bulging muscles that have seen much better days. He sells miscellanea such as digital meters, gloves, antennas, screwdrivers, etc. and he always drives a hard bargain. Then there is “the thing from Japan” a scruffy 4-foot man, or woman (really can’t tell), who speaks no English and spreads out a handful of ridiculous items like a rusty hammer, dirty power adapters, bars of soap, pens without their caps, and worn out bungee cords. I stand back to watch him/her like a train wreck. There is also the “gangrene man,” a long-haired, rotund, middle aged man who rides around in on electric scooter wearing just a hospital gown. For at least a year and a half now, one of his legs has been in a corroding cast with purple toes hanging out. It is a pretty disturbing sight.