Category Archives: hybrid elephant

i might have known…

so, the weird weirdness with my web site was ENTIRELY caused by the osCommerce web site…

which i haven’t even thought about since 2016, because the previous web designer was supposed to have deleted it, once i had successfully migrated to wordpress…

but which wasn’t deleted (despite the fact that it was one of the things i paid her to do 😠), and continued to “function”, without a “head”, for FIVE YEARS

if nothing else, i suppose, it says something about osCommerce’s resiliancy and ability to continue to function despite being headless and updateless for the past 5 years. i wonder if i could treat wordpress the same way, and expect the same result. i suspect, probably, not.

it’s still there, physically, but it has had it’s hooks into the system removed, so it is no longer functioning. the next step is to figure out which parts are wordpress parts and which parts are osCommerce parts, and delete the osCommerce parts.

in other news, ezra has come up with an idea that needs internet and a web host to work, and, well… i’m the next best thing to a web host, these days… apart from the FUMTU with osCommerce… 😉

bat out of database hell, sideways

in a new twist, the web designer that i worked with prior to the current web designer i work with — the one who blew a gasket for some still-unknown reason — was, as a part of what i was paying her to be a web designer, to delete the old web site files, once i had successfully been migrated to my new site.

unfortunately, apparently she blew a gasket before she actually did that.

and i didn’t know until… well… today.

my current web site is running PHP5, but there was an error which showed up in the log which was an uncaught variable that doesn’t exist in PHP5… in fact, it doesn’t exist until PHP7.4… and, upon further investigation, we discovered that it came from a document that is from osCommerce, which lead to other osCommerce documents, which lead, basically, to the entire osCommerce web site, which has been trying, and failing, to run PHP7.4, and generating WEIRD errors.

it had been beheaded — i.e. it didn’t have an internet-facing interface — but it is all still there.

it should be deleted. 😠

database hell updated

quoth the web developer: I’m going to guess, they’re going to come back and tell us they see nothing wrong. However, they will modify the server and then when I get back in there to test it again, it’s going to work. They just have a problem admitting when they’re wrong so they’ll fix it but tell us that it works fine.

quoth i: i don’t care how it’s fixed, i just want it to be fixed.

they have access to the dashboard, but they’re in a different time zone, so i have to be patient. 😒

ETA: i just got an email notification that says: A user with username “webhost-python” who has administrator access signed in to your WordPress site.

and then a note from YET ANOTHER technician who i HAVEN’T TALKED TO BEFORE (😠), who, apparently, tried the login, looked through the ticket history and decided that they don’t know enough to do anything about it, saying “I will assign this to our developers and they will get back to you.”

so, it begins…

tomorrow… 😒

database hell, okay?

i gave the web developer my login to the open support ticket at the host provider. there hasn’t been any obvious action yet, but i’ve emailed with the web developer, who worked out a temporary solution which may work out if his attempts to communicate with the host provider don’t work out… but, as i said, he hasn’t even logged in, much less done what the host provider asked of me, which was to “clearly lay out the issues you’re facing and the solution you need done to resolve this issue”.

210606 screenshot SQL error
210606 screenshot SQL error
the issues are that i can’t add new content (the “not HTML” difficulty and its results), and i get weird SQL errors, which only appear once, and then go away. i don’t get them on a regular basis: sometimes i get them the first time i hit the site, when i boot my computer in the morning, and sometimes i get them in the middle of the afternoon. frequently i get them when i’m hitting the base URI, but i’ve also seen them when i’m hitting deeper content.

i don’t know what the solution is, because i don’t know what is causing it. my web developer seems to think it’s the database engine at my host provider, because he has some sort of advanced tool that tells him when things aren’t working correctly. my host provider says he’s full of shit, that his proposed “upgrades” will break things for everybody else, and won’t even talk to the him unless he logs in as me. unfortunately, i know little enough about database engines that any input i can offer would be totally meaningless.

i feel a little bit better, because, now, instead of "doing this as a courtesy as this is not included as part of your Web Maintenance", they have now, actually charged me money, so i am, actually, paying them to fix my shit, and the temporary work around that he proposed, while not ideal, would certainly fix the problem for at least a year.

but i seem to recall going through another database fiasco last year around this time, and, if this is going to become a regular occurrance, i think i’ll pass, thanks. 😒

ETA: the web developer has logged in as me, and given a detailed description of exactly what is wrong, exactly why he thinks it’s wrong, examples of identical installations that follow his guidelines that don’t experience the problems i’m having, and a variety of different solutions to the problems he’s found. the host provider has yet to reply. because of the fact that they’re on eastern time, there’s a good chance we won’t hear anything until tomorrow.

blargh! 🤬

i’ve noticed a couple of things that are… screwy… about my web sites.

intermittently, i get random SQL errors. they only appear once, and when i reload the page, they disappear, but it’s sort of alarming.

and then there’s the “not HTML” FUMTU, which usually works, but has decided not to for a few days now.

so, i contacted my web developer, who said that my database needed “upgrading” to prevent these, and future problems.

not knowing that much about databases, i contacted my host provider, who said that the “upgrades” he proposed are actually DOWNgrades, and implementing them would break the databases for EVERYONE who shares the server i’m on.

so, i got back to the developer, who said that the reason he stopped using this host provider two years ago (which was about the same time i started using this host provider) was because “their policy” was to avoid communication with “third parties” (i.e. i’m a customer of the host provider, and the guy who i pay to know more about the web than me is a “third party”).

while they didn’t actually deny that this was “their policy”, the host provider went out of their way to emphasise that i am their customer, and if i wanted to include my web designer, i would have to give him my login, because they weren’t going to create a special login for him.

so i did that.

i figure, whatever happens, i can change my password once this whole thing is resolved. it is also A LOT easier than trying to convince the host provider to create a login for someone who is not a customer of theirs…

then they switched their tactics, and had a different technician chime in (one with whom i have not talked about this particular problem), who stated “let your developer know that it is already upgraded and using a stable version. If he is unable to diagnose this issue then another developer may be needed…”

this was AFTER i gave my web developer my login, so that he could participate in the “conversation”…

i wanted to say “HE’S RIGHT HERE! TALK TO HIM, NOT TO ME!!” 😠🤬😠🤬

but i didn’t…

but i wanted to… 😒

the web developer was busy yesterday, and (like most “businesses”) he doesn’t work on the weekend, so i’ve pushed back the impending storm until monday…

but…

the web developer has already said “we’re doing this as a courtesy as this is not included as part of your Web Maintenance” and “if they can’t do what we’re asking them to do our hands are tied.” AND the host provider has already said “we do not have a way to resolve something like this as the server itself is not causing the issue and the database server is already up to date.”, which gives me the very strong impression that, when monday comes around, the web developer is going to show up and make demands, the host provider is going to say no, and we’ll be right back where we started.

and all of this is IN SPITE of the fact that i am paying BOTH of these entities to make sure that my shit is kept up to date! 🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬

🤬

this morning is the second in a row that i have woken up at 4:00 in the morning, and can’t get back to sleep. 😒

it is THIS EXACT PHENOMENON that makes me want to give up internet forever and go live in the woods, like a hermit, not interacting with anyone! 😠

woo hoo?

the first HPOI that i bought, way back in april of 2018, included 26 kg of MSD 7 “Africanas” Powers.

i bought it because, at the time, i thought it was a requirement to order more than one scent, when you’re ordering in bulk from the manufacturer. i now know this to be false. i made a number of assumptions about the first HPOI that i, now, know are false.

nevertheless, today, 3 years and a few weeks later, someone actually BOUGHT ONE POUCH of 7 “Africanas” Powers…

and, oddly enough, i still have pretty close to 26 kg left. my guess is that it’s going to last me a while. 😉

another one

i now have four people on the Incense Of The Month list, one of whom is a person i gifted a membership to… so, three “random” people, and one “deliberate” person.

it’s a REALLY good thing i decided to keep records, because, otherwise, i would already be completely hosed. i’m still not sure what to do at the end of this year, when my original two have run their course… of course, i will send 12 months worth of incense to everybody, regardless of when they signed up, but how to deal with the ones who chose to sign up after two, three or four months is something i didn’t think about when i was first starting this… i suppose i’ve got the rest of the year to figure it out, but that doesn’t mean leaving it until the middle of december before deciding, as tempting as that sounds…

it also means that there are only 21 slots left before i close the IOTM club to new entries… 😉

that was way easier than it was the last time…

so, i went down to pick up my HPOI this morning.

i didn’t have to spend three quarters of the day dealing with testy customs agents, indifferent import brokers, and recalcitrant shipping managers, and paying almost $500 to various people i had never heard of before, who had practically nothing to do with my shipment…

i arrived, was directed where to go, submitted two documents, had the lady scan my driver’s license, and then she gave me a piece of paper (with my scanned driver’s license on it), and told me to go “down the hall, to your left”, where i walked into a big wire cage. on the other side was a warehouse, full of wares. a friendly-looking guy with a grey beard under his mask, came up, asked to see my paperwork (😉), and then told me to pull around to the sally-port and he would meet me there. i backed my car up to the sally-port, and the guy came with a forklift, carrying three big boxes… i loaded them into my car, and drove away.

total elapsed time, LESS THAN 20 minutes.

total money that exchanged hands, $0.00!

210320 HPOI
210320 HPOI
210320 HPOI
210320 HPOI
210320 HPOI
210320 HPOI
210320 HPOI
210320 HPOI
210320 HPOI
210320 HPOI
210320 paperwork
210320 paperwork

it’s SO! MUCH! EASIER!! when i know what i’m doing, have done “the needful”, and have everything ready BEFORE i show up… 😎

and, i think i may have enough incense, now… 😉

today is 210319, and asses have officially been kicked!

so, here’s an interesting twist…

the people i have been talking to on the phone, at US customs (two different CBP air cargo officers, to date), have all been demanding two things: one, that the document they need to see is the “bill of lading”, and the commercial invoice and the master airway bill that i have are not good enough (pay attention to that last one, because it’s important), and, two, that the shipment be manifest in their system, which (allegedly) doesn’t happen until the flight leaves the ground, before they can even think about releasing it.

okay, “bills of lading” are for ocean cargo. if it’s air cargo, the “bill of lading” is called a…

wait for it…

“master airway bill” 🤦

so the broker i’ve been talking to (the one who cleared my shipment the last time) recommended, now that i actually have an email address for US customs air cargo, that instead of going at them on the phone (her precise words were “Customs does not have much patience, and if they have to read too much or explain too much they will just send you to a broker, as they are not obligated to clear low value shipments.”), i should just send them the MAWB and the commercial invoice, with the flight information, and ask them to clear it “under section 321”. so i did.

half an hour later, this was their response:

> Please be advised that AWB 125-91897142, arriving today 3/19/21 on BA49, has been entered and released.

they got the date wrong. this is not for a shipment arriving TODAY, it is for a shipment arriving SUNDAY… 🤦🤦

however…

because of the fact that they actually GOT the master airway bill number correct, i SHOULD BE able to bypass customs on sunday, and just go pick up my shit.

and the broker agrees.

so, come sunday, one of two things will happen. either:

one, i go down to WWFS, pay them their cut, and pick up my shit, or…

two, i go down to WWFS, get the run around, leave, come back on monday (after having talked with a CBP officer on sunday about why their release wasn’t actually a release), and have to pay them their cut PLUS a 24-hour storage fee, before i can pick up my shit.

i pray to the incense god that it’s going to be the first option, because i really don’t have the energy for the second.

ETA: it’s not arriving sunday, it’s arriving TONIGHT! (which is why they got the date “wrong”… it turns out mr. joy gave me the wrong date). because of the fact that it’s already been cleared through customs, AND i have beat the rush (and the $36 extra charge for paying them in person, using CASH ONLY 😒) by paying my ISC online, i can go down FIRST THING TOMORROW and pick it up without incurring extra fees whatsoever!! WOOT!! 😎

today is 210318, and i feel like kicking some ass

the HPOI have left india, and are now in london. their estimated departure from london is 210319 14:25Z, and their scheduled arrival time is 210321 17:25PDT.

i’ve been on the phone since 9:00 am (it’s 11:00 am, now) and talked with two different customs agents, and four different… i don’t know what they’re called, but they work for US customs, WWFS, and british airways cargo service, and they are PARTICULARLY annoying… and i’ve FINALLY gotten someone who understands that i’m trying to avoid extra storage fees, understands that the US customs office is closed on sunday, AND has the ability to find, and send me the document (the bill of lading) that US customs says doesn’t exist in their system. as soon as that happens, the shipment can be cleared through customs before COB friday, so that i can pick it up sunday and avoid the additional storage fees! 👍

not only that, but i’ve got their name, phone number, email address and physical address, so if they DON’T send me the bill of lading in a timely fashion, i can, physically, go down there and STRANGLE them and STILL have all the paperwork before the US customs office closes for the weekend. 😈

as soon as i have the bill of lading, i can do everything but FORCE the customs flunkies to clear the shipment, in spite of the fact that they, pretty clearly, couldn’t give a flying fuck whether or not i will EVER be able to pick up my shipment.

GRR! 😠

it’s happening again! 😱

the HPOI is leaving bangalore tomorrow. it arrives in seattle on…

SUNDAY!! 🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬

and, because of the fact that it doesn’t leave until tomorrow, the people at US customs won’t even TALK to me, because my shipment isn’t in their system yet… despite the fact that i’ve got ALL the paperwork they want, plus a “Certificate of Insurance” which they didn’t ask for, but they want anyway. <grumble, mutter> 😒

so, what, exactly, is “the needful”?

i am now preparing for imminent arrival of HPOI

aside: study the etymology of the words “imminent”, “eminent”, “immanent”, and “emanant”. look for sources.

they sent me an air waybill… or an airway bill… or something like that… and are, allegedly sending me a commercial invoice tomorrow. the customs agent seemed to think that it was those two documents that i needed to clear the shipment myself, but, because of the fact that “TRITAN TRADEX, LLP” advised me to “do the needful” but didn’t tell me what “the needful” means (i’m assuming it’s because they think i know what i’m doing… 🤣), i’m getting anxious again.

i emailed the customs agent, but they haven’t gotten back to me yet, and, because of the fact that they mentioned that the air waybill and the commercial invoice are all i needed, i’m having to assume that means that i’m going to be receiving the shipment within a few days, i’m going to hope that they reply VERY soon…

but, on the up side, i’m getting 99 dozen boxes of ANOTHER incense that nobody else in the united states imports for resale on the web. 👍😉

that’s it…

i did it. i just paid $1,480 to be shipped three cartons, 99 dozen boxes, of an incense that, as far as i have been able to tell, you can’t get, online, ANYWHERE ELSE in the united states.

there must be something wrong with me. 😒

woo?

someone new just signed up for a VIP IOTM club account. i’ve had two members for two months, and now someone new signs up…

so, do i start them where i started everybody else? or do i start them at the same place as everybody else, and extend their account past the first of next year? or do i just arbitrarily end their account in december, because they were late signing up? do they even expect their account to end in december?

or what? 😕

for now, i’m starting them with everyone else, because that way i don’t have to figure out who has which account, but i imagine that i’m going to have to straighten this whole thing out, eventually.

and it couldn’t have come at a better time, because now i am even more confident that my impending purchase of HPOI will turn out well! 😉

there is something wrong with my head.

that is a statement, not a question. 😉

i am beginning the process of importing another HPOI in a few days. 999 Lord Krishna Puja Agarbatti has become one of my best sellers. it was part of the original HPOI, which arrived three years ago, and, while i have sold NONE of the other two incenses, i have almost completely sold out of 999: of the original 33 dozen, i’ve probably got 4 dozen left… so, this time, instead of getting one carton of three different kinds of incense, i’m getting three cartons of one kind of incense… 33 dozen boxes per carton, 99 dozen boxes total, $1.24 a box, with a 400% markup… and, if current trends hold, that should be enough to get me through the next few years… sending out one, two, or three boxes a week… 😉

and, once again, as far as i can tell, NOBODY imports 999 to the united states… NOBODY… 😕 it’s weird, but i’m not going to argue.

it seems odd, however, that i am not anywhere NEAR as worried about it as i was, even for the last HPOI, which was not even a year ago. i think part of this is because I gave the shipper some knowledge that he didn’t have: he was going to arrange ocean freight again, and i told him air freight would be better. he said that air freight wasn’t possible, because of the “flammable nature of the product”, to which i responded “that’s strange, because i just received the same product by air freight in october of last year”. he said wait, while he confirmed this, and a week later, he sent me an invoice, and it’s coming by air freight. 😉 then there’s also the fact that i made contact with the customs agent AHEAD OF TIME this time: she knows that i am going to be expecting a shipment which will need to be cleared, and as soon as i have details, she’s going to be available to make sure that i don’t have to go through the hassles that i did last time. 👍

we’ll see how it goes. the fact is, i could be a little short on money, which would mean that i would have to borrow from the home account, but even that doesn’t worry me that much. it would probably only be a couple hundred dollars, and, for sure, i could pay that back within a month or so. i feel confident that i’m going to have enough money to cover it, though, and that, in the end, it will be something that brings in money for a while. 👍

and it appears that the antidepressants are working. 😉

weird

i got 2 orders for one box of aparajita, each, yesterday.

i got 2 more orders for one or two boxes of aparajita last night. they both came from the U.S. (most of the time, when i get orders overnight, they’re from countries in the eastern hemisphere).

i didn’t take the first two to ship out because i wanted to fill the other two, and i had to go to my circus class this morning.

while i was at my circus class, i got another order, for one box of aparajita, and one other item.

ETA: while i was putting together the three new orders i got, i got ANOTHER order for two boxes of aparajita. 😕

as far as i’ve been able to tell, there’s no way of telling where people heard about Hybrid Elephant, short of asking them at check out, and there’s no way to guarantee that they’ll answer at all, much less answer correctly.

i find it very weird that i can go along for months with one order per week, or less, and then, suddenly, i’ll get 5 orders within 12 hours, and they’ll ALL be for one box of aparajita. 😕

the only thing i can figure out is that someone must have mentioned Hybrid Elephant, or aparajita, on their podcast — and i’m still not completely sure i understand what a podcast is, or how it gets distributed, so i have, literally, no idea whether or not i’m even CLOSE to correct. 😒

although i won’t argue with the money, that’s for sure. 😉

if anybody is paying attention…

the Incense Of The Month Club 👉SIGN UP SHEET👈 is now available. go and sign up for a year’s worth of rare, vintage, not-available-anywhere-else incense, and, maybe some other goodies, as well.

go… sign up now! you know you want to… 👍😉‼

also, i broke down and signed up for a facebook page. i am now @HybridElephant, so you can “like” me on facebook, and tell all your friends… or whatever you do on facebook these days… 🙄