i just got a text message from DHL, saying that two cartons of aparajita are set to arrive at my house on friday! 😉👍👍
Category Archives: hybrid elephant
<sigh>… okay, i’ll update… 😒
we went to the campbell global snoqualmie tree farm, this morning, ostensibly to exercise dogs, but an ulterior motive was to scope out the “firewood” area, which is adjacent to the active logging, but they have logs pulled to the road and stacked, so that (if you’ve got a permit) you can go up there with a chainsaw and lop off firewood-length pieces, put them in your truck, and drive home without having to pay for it… thing is, the permit costs $300, which is about the same as a cord of firewood, but (if you’ve got a permit), you’re allowed to take up to 5 cords of firewood… plus, there’s literally 90,000 acres of trails that NOBODY else hikes on, because you’ve got to have a permit and a key… and, guess what? moe bought a permit when they went on sale, which is a little surprising because the permits sold out within a half-hour of going on sale… oh, and we have a pickup truck now… did i mention that before? we’ve had a ford f150 pickup truck for a little more than a year. it doesn’t get used for much — picking up loads of gravel, wood chips, or, soon, firewood (still got to wrassle up a chainsaw) — but it gets loaned to a whole bunch of different friends who need a truck for this or that…
i wrote to the newest member of the IOTM club last week, both from my hybridelephant.com account, and from my new hybrid elephant gmail account (because i’ve been having trouble with email, which is another story), and i have gotten no response, which makes me REALLY suspicious about this subscription… but, at this point, there’s absolutely nothing i can do about it, except to cancel the subscription and refund their money… which, at this point, is a little extreme, since, basically, the ONLY thing they’ve done is make me suspicious… but they’ve made me suspicious, which is very suspicious, and i really feel like there should be more than i can do to alleviate my suspicion.
the email thing is starting to grate on my nerves… fundamentally, there is NOTHING “wrong” with my email, but because of the fact that it doesn’t (by design) go through one of the “big guys” (i.e. micro$lut, yahoo, google, apple, etc.) i am finding that more and more services are either silently blocking my email, or producing more and more convoluted hoops that i have to jump through to get my email to… the people i do business with, my customers, suppliers, etc… 😒 at this point, i’ve gone back and forth with micro$lop so many times that my host provider is no longer willing to fight with them on my behalf, and has recommended that i route my mail through google or micro$hit to solve the problem… but i don’t see why i should have to pay — especially, i don’t see why i should have to pay micro$not — to solve a problem that micro$hite is causing to begin with. at this point, when i suspect that there may be a problem (like when a customer has an address @hotmail.com or @live.com, or something like that), i send them a response from my hybridelephant.com account, and if i think it may have been “interfered with” in some way, then i send them another response from my gmail account, which usually does the trick. but it’s grating on my nerves because it SHOULDN’T be this way, and i SHOULDN’T have to worry about whether or not my emails have gone through… it’s not like i’m running an open relay, or something like that, i’m just not willing to send my email through one of “the big guys” because, to be quite frank, i don’t trust “the big guys”… and it’s behaviour like i have seen from micro$leaze that causes me not to trust them. 😠
so i got another subscriber to the IOTM club, and at first everything looked okay… but the closer i looked, the more weird it became… everything came out the way it’s supposed to, so, technically, i am in the clear if somebody’s credit card was stolen and re-used, but i still wonder:
specifically, i wonder how a person with one name, in one location, can order something with a card that is for someone else’s name, in a completely different location, on the other end of the country. 🧐
this is very definitely not “normal”, if there ever were such a thing.
the next phase of operation mindfuck
now i have to (once again) pester the web designer into showing me how to make a product that has multiple purchase choices: one postcard, two postcards, three postcards, four postcards, five postcards, multiple 5-postcard packs… that sort of thing… he’s showed me how to do it once, with the jagannath pins that i had a few years ago, but they all sold out, and the item got deleted in one of my “clean up my web site” binges.
new scheme… will it work?
for a few years now, i have been playing around with this app for my tablet called FRAX, to which i was pointed by my friend gunnar, who is a fractal maniac. i find it really easy, and somewhat meditative, to generate an infinite variety (they’re fractals, after all 😉) of magnificently detailed, wildly psychedelic patterns, and i can crank out 4 to 6 images per hour, for several hours, before getting “bored” with it.
i have maintained for some time that “boredom is a state of mind i never visit”, and, while it’s true, from the outside one might presume that it’s boredom, when it’s really something else… but i digress…
the other day, i went through the photostream on my tablet (which i am finally getting organised enough that i can find what i’m looking for, some of the time), and discovered that i have 91 frax drawings in a directory, which started me thinking…
what if i made postcards out of these drawings, and sold them on my web site?
i’ve got more than enough raw material, and they wouldn’t take that much tweezing to get them to fit on a postcard…
and i can buy 100 18 point postcards (the really thick ones) for less than $20, which means that i can sell them for $1.00 a piece and make a profit (assuming that people buy them, about which i am not as certain).
not only that, but i can send them out to the IOTM club, which is coming up a lot sooner than i realised.
so, yesterday, i ordered 100 of five different fractal drawings (not necessarily the ones depicted here)… we’ll see what happens next.
in my attempts to break free of #twit™ #turd™, i have created a reddit profile. i joined the r/incense subreddit, and almost immediately got banned for “spam”. the “spam” i am guilty of disseminating was the phrase “i’ve got resins for sale: pure frankincense, copal, and loban (seperately)… i’ve also got a big chunk of palo santo.” which i posted in response to ONE person.
it’s not “spam”. i didn’t advertise anything, i didn’t include links to my business, and i didn’t “mass mail” anybody: this was in response to ONE person.
nevertheless, the moderator that banned me was disinterested in discussing it, because “we both know what spam is”, and, as i am a “newbie” at reddit, i didn’t feel like arguing about it…
i was searching for other subreddits which may or may not be similar to r/incense, when i came across this post… in r/incense 🤣
and it got 14 upvotes! 👍👍😉 this is, also, NOT spam (as it is on my own web site): a link to 999 Lord Krishna Puja Agarbatti, if anybody reading this is interested in purchasing some. 😉
i’ve had this sayagata-pattern iphone case for an iphone that i have never owned, and, probably WILL never own, simply because its got a cool pattern on it. i was showing it off to moe, a week or so ago, and complaining that i didn’t know of anywhere i could get an iphone case with pictures that i want on them, and moe recommended about a dozen places that make custom iphone cases… because, these days, her “google-fu” is orders of magnitude better than mine… 😖
so, i had one made. now my phone exactly matches my car. 😎
default title entry
last saturday and sunday were the first four performances of the panto during the winter holiday season, in three years. the last time we actually had a panto performance during the holdiay season was in 2019. the panto has been performed at the oregon country fair, last summer, but i missed it because i got COVID19 less than 12 hours before i was scheduled to leave. 😒 it was really fun to perform in a group for an audience again, but i was also acutely reminded of all the “politicial” horseshit that surrounds working for a group of actors and musicians. i was asked to provide a “5 minute warning” which, after two tries, no less than the stage manager told me not to make that noise any longer (this was one of the people on the board of directors, a few years ago, who screwed up the process of printing the posters because she refused to understand how the pricing breaks work, and almost screwed with the process of having the banners created in 2019, because she thought that grommets were not going to be necessary, or some crap like that 😒). also, i was asked to provide two different “ratchet” sounds, but, after two performances, they decided that the quieter of the two (the one that i had actually bought specifically for this performance) was loud enough that the actor couldn’t be heard above it, which means, not only that they don’t have two different ratchet sounds, but, because of the fact that i’m having to “mute” the remaining ratchet, i can’t match the ratchet sounds to the actors actions as well, which is, i’m absolutely positive, going to be irritating and a cause for a “note” later on.
monday (yesterday) i had to get up and take moe’s CPAP machine to the company that made it, because it has been making a strange noise for 6 months or so, and they’ve JUST gotten around to calling her back and making an appointment… but when i got there, they told me that the machine was beyond its EOL, and they would replace it, except that they didn’t have any machines, and didn’t know where to get one. i said, “so, what are we talking about, here? days? weeks? months?” and their response was “i’m not sure”. 😒 i thought it was somewhat unusual for them to have such a blasé attitude about moe’s prescribed medical device, but i brought it home… and, some time between then (around noon) and 7:30, they called moe and said that they had found a machine, which i picked up this morning.
the past couple of months i have been averaging about two incense orders a week. mind you, a lot of them have been for ONE BOX, but, at this point, i’ve stopped trying to get people to order more than one… if they want to pay twice as much (or more) for shipping, as they pay for one box of incense, it’s none of my business… or, i should say, it IS my business… which i would be driving away by telling them that it’s stupid to just order one box of incense. however, at this point, the price for a medium flat rate box is $17.05, my base rate for shipping is $16.50 (which is smaller than a medium flat rate box), and one box of incense is anywhere between $1.50 and $7.50 or so… it’s stupid… but it makes me money, so i’m not going to complain… after all, as far as i’ve been able to tell, i am the ONLY place they can get aparajita, or krishna puja 999 online… 🤷
the snow is mostly gone, but we’ve still got at least two more months of actual winter before things usually start getting back to normal, and despite what that “evangelical” preacher i saw a video of THIS MORNING says about “global warming doesn’t exist because it says so in the bible” (🤬), climate change has already had more than one negative effect on the environment around here, so i’m not going to hold my breath. it really astounds me that we are twenty years into the 21st century, and there are STILL people who believe in angels, demons, jeezis, and “de debbil”, but DO NOT accept the evidence of their own eyes concerning climate change, the economy, abortion, homelessness, health care, gay marriage… people in positions of authority whose word most other people treat with considerably more credibility than mine. 🗡🤬
↑ 221110 – HPOI (sort of)
i can’t use zelle for accepting payments, because it makes the customer have to go through an extra step, with which they are not familiar (and, i suspect, somewhat skeptical), but it turns out that i can use zelle for making payments to people in other countries — in this case, tibet — a lot easier and faster than i could using a wire transfer or western union.
it turns out i was somewhat skeptical, myself… i made a payment of almost $300 to someone i only sort of vaguely know, from tibet, and didn’t hear anything back from them for a few days, which made me wonder… and then, yesterday, i got an alert from my bank that the payment hadn’t been collected because the person i sent it to was not signed up with zelle, which made me very concerned, especially since i read the other day that zelle, and the bank that’s behind zelle (key bank? i don’t remember… one of the lesser-well-known ones) are being sued by… germany, i think, or something like that… because of all the zelle scams that have been cropping up.
it turns out that they were just getting their shit together, as well, and hadn’t completed the process of signing up, because i got a notice today that the payment had gone through, and then i got a response from the person in tibet, saying that they had received my payment, and would be shipping me a medium-ish pile of incense soon.
it seems to me to be a payment method that is RIPE for scams, but, when it’s not used for scams, it is a GENIUS way of transfering money. 😉
payment gateway and business update
officially, square works. i got an order for >$90 from hong kong transferred to my bank account today. i already confirmed that it works for domestic packages, but the fact that it also works on international packages is the final step. now, officially, the only thing i am using stripe for is IOTM subscriptions, and i’ve only got 15 of those left before i shut the whole thing down.
officially, zelle works, but not in the way i was expecting, nor the way that THREE representatives of BECU explained to me. there IS NO “zelle for businesses” (or, if there is, it’s not available from BECU, because it’s “not free”, or something like that… 🤷). what happens is that i, now, have two new accounts at BECU, a consumer savings account, and a consumer checking account (to go along with my “business” checking and savings accounts). when i want to use zelle, i have to transfer money from my business checking to my personal checking, and THEN i can use zelle to send money. i found this out because i ordered a smallish pile of incense from tibet, and they wanted me to use zelle for payment (which i think is a GENIUS idea, because it’s essentially instantaneous, and avoids all the fees that wire transfers or western union entail). so now i have a smallish pile of incense from tibet that i’m expecting some time within the next month or so.
uline has apparently been donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to republican/right wing/homophobic/anti-abortion/nazi/fascist horseshit with more and greater frequency, recently, and i finally got fed up with using their triangular boxes. i found another source of essentially identical triangular boxes, which are BOTH better AND cheaper, so the last 20 or so boxes from uline are going to be the last i use before i switch my brand loyalty to the boxery. i have a half a jillion uline packing slip envelopes, but i bought them before we moved, and i’ll be using them up for years before i’ll have to worry about getting more. 😏
moe went to las vegas today. she’ll be back wednesday. the puppy went to stay with someone who is more able to handle a rambunctious puppy who doesn’t realise how big he is. i’m supposed to pick him up on wednesday, before i pick up moe at the airport. the other two dogs are “adults” (and know how to behave), but they are already concerned that moe is gone and won’t be back for a while. under ordinary circumstances, this would be a minor inconvenience, but because of the fact that the north american continent is experiencing YET ANOTHER COVID surge (thanks, republicunt anti-vax morons 🤬), airports are going to be especially dangerous, and vegas (as always) is going to be full of tourists from who-knows-where, who all think that COVID is no longer a concern, because our extremely NOT #drumpf president, joe biden, said that COVID is over. 🤬 and the ones who think joe biden lost the election are the ones who got us this far into the pandemic without any hope in sight, to begin with! 🤬
yeah, i know, it has been a couple months and i really need a mushroom break, but i can’t really take a break from the dogs, and i can’t really take two dogs on a 4-hour hike in the forest while i’m on mushrooms… moe could probably do it… she doesn’t take psychedelics that often, but it’s my impression that the part of her brain that speaks dog isn’t that affected by them. 😉
my stripe problems have vanished. i swiched from stripe to square, disabled the stripe plugin, and that’s the end of it. i’m actually NOT going to cancel my account right away, because i’ve still got 15 IOTM accounts to sell, and i’m really not motivated enough to figure out how to do that on square, in the middle of the run (so to speak). but it feels REALLY good to be quit of them.
the most recent payment gateway to be tried is square. i checked authorize.net, but they want a $25 a month fee above and beyond the credit card processing fee, and sometimes i don’t make $25 in a month. square seems to be a viable alternative which comes highly recommended by at least one business-owner that i know personally (despite the fact that my web developer says “this one is one of the worse gateways” – he also accuses me of “refusing” to use paypal, however, which just goes to show how much he really knows) and i actually signed up for a square account a few years ago, when i bought a credit card reader for my phone… which i never used because i never needed to. apart from the fact that i have to go through all 323 products that i sell, one at a time, and mark them “sync with Square” (i’m still not certain what it even means, yet, but i’m sure i will find out soon enough…) i’m hoping that this will be the end of my credit-card-processor search for a while, because i’m done with it.
harvested one plant today. i was manicuring it, yesterday and today, and i found a small patch of mold on one of the buds, so i snipped it off, finished manicuring it, and gave it the chop. the other plant still has a couple weeks to a month before it’ll be ready, but, because of the mold on the other plant, i’ve got to be even more aware than i am normally, if i don’t want a moldy mess instead of nice fat buds…
however, currently, i have a fine crop of nice fat buds, so i’m hoping to keep it that way. 😉
oyoyoyoyoyOYOYOY!!! 😒 (part 2, continued)
so, i emailed woocommerce tech support. they told me that they didn’t see a zelle-compatible gateway installed. i told them that i was using “Direct Bank Transfer (BACS)”, according to THEIR instructions, which were given to me by an employee of THEIR company.
then they informed me that their plugin DOESN’T SUPPORT ZELLE…⁈
so i took them through the process of enabling zelle ON THEIR PLUGIN, and enabling zelle at my bank, and THEN they tell me… oh, if you do it that way, YOUR CUSTOMER has to go through this EXTRA STEP to send you the payment, and until THEY do this extra step, their order will be placed “on hold”.
which is NOT going to work on my web site: incense customers are impatient and flighty. if they have to go through this extra step to make a payment, they’re going to abandon their shopping cart, not make a payment, and not get any incense.
which is “BAD FOR BUSINESS™” 😒
i wish this little piece of information could have been conveyed to me A MONTH AGO, when i had three separate email conversations and a zoom call with a woocommerce representative, named bradley gilkerson, who ASSURED ME that it was fully compatible with zelle (false), and that all my customers would have to do was enter their credit card information (false) and it would instaneously (false) be transferred to my zelle account (false) without extra fees for credit card processing (false). 🤬
so, basically, i have wasted a month, and $200, getting a plugin that won’t work, installed and set up, only to discover that it won’t work, and now i have to UNINSTALL the plugin that won’t work, and find a new, different plugin that WILL work… and (hopefully) do it all before stripe decides that they’re going to cancel my account… AGAIN!! 🤬
will it ever end?
i got zelle enabled and installed on my web site. i tried to test it, by purchasing incense: entering my information, and checking out. i got a notification from the web site that i had received a new order. i got a notification from the web site that my order had been received, but it had been placed “on hold, while we confirm that payment was received”… and then…
i waited 24 hours.
no indication from the bank that either a withddrawal or a deposit had been made, no indication from the bank that either of those things were ABOUT TO happen, and, when i logged in to the web site, there was the order, in “on hold” status.
i contacted woocommerce, maker of the plugin i am using, but it is probably going to take them a while to get back to me, because all of my interactions with them have to go over email.
i actually called the bank, talked to their tech support which is (allegedly) the place to talk about zelle, and went through the entire process of creating a new order, with them watching the back end zelle interface. i got two notifications from the web site, but the bank was unaware that any transaction had taken place at all.
so the bank put in a ticket with zelle, to see if they can figure out what is going on. 🙄
THEN i got email back from woocommerce, which informed me that the woocommerce payments plugin wasn’t completely set up on my site, and that no account had been created. i checked, and the only part of the plugin that “wasn’t installed” was the part where i create an account — WITH STRIPE — so that i can use the plugin to process credit cards… but that’s why i’m using the plugin to begin with: to GET AWAY FROM STRIPE… and besides all that, i am not interested in stripe, i’m interested in zelle, which DOESN’T require that i sign up with stripe… AND i already HAVE a stripe account, and a stripe payment gateway plugin that is completely separate from woocommerce and zelle, and (for the moment, anyway) it appears to be working fine.
i gave them (some of) the information they were asking about, and fudged the rest, but it appears that they lay off work around 4:30 or so, so i anticipate not hearing anything from woocommerce until AT LEAST tomorrow. 🙄
Ƭȟȉȿ Ⱥǹƌ Țħăţ
today i talked, face-to-face, with an actual person at BECU, who told me that “zelle for businesses” is “not a thing”, and that there is ONLY zelle for personal accounts.
however, in order to open a business account at BECU, i had to open a personal account… which has never been used for anything, because i do business through my business account… but there’s no rule that says that personal accounts CAN’T be used for businesses, especially if the only transactions in that personal account are ones that ONLY apply to a business, so i activated my personal account for zelle, and made it so that any money paid to that account automatically gets transferred to my business account, where it belongs.
thus ends the stripe fiasco. all i gotta do now is switch payment gateways on my web site, and i’m quit of stripe.
and good riddance to bad rubbish! 😠
on the other paw, i got two incense orders today, one of which was for 5 boxes of incense, shipped to houston, texas, and one which was for 4 boxes of incense, shipped to ashanti, ghana. the one to houston was addressed to a person named “Nwogbo”, and the one to ashanti went to someone named “Agbogah”… and the one to ashanti was for $5.00 worth of incense! i REALLY DO NOT understand people from remote countries outside of the united states, who order relatively small quantities of incense that i’m POSITIVE are sold locally, and then pay more for shipping than they did for incense. it happens regularly enough that i’ve stopped asking why, and just sending it out, but it’s really mystifying to me.
oh, and on an entirely different subject all together, i have stumbled upon a RELIABLE, LONG-TERM source for mushrooms 🍄 on internet (of all places)… i got the first batch through a twitter acquaintance (which was REALLY weird), and the second batch i got “direct from the manufacturer” — a place called Matrix Genetix — which was an experience so far beyond “really weird” that it defies description… i got an ounce of APEs, which are a strain of cubensis. not my all-time favourite, but, at this point, any port in a storm…
on 220823, i received a notice from stripe, saying that they were going to cancel my account, because i carried “tobacco products”.
i submitted a request for review on 220823. they said that they would get back to me within 48 hours, to evaluate my request.
on 220826 (72 hours later, 24 hours BEYOND their self-specified limit), i still hadn’t heard anything, so i got in contact with them. they said “the review is taking too long as expected” (🙄) and told me to be patient.
on 220828 (120 hours BEYOND their self-specified limit 😒), i got a notice that said “We have successfully completed our review, and you are welcome to continue processing payments with Stripe.”
on 220829, i got a notice that said “We’re contacting you to let you know that we’ve successfully completed a review of your account based on the information you recently provided to us.” and my account status went from “in review” to “good to go”.
on 220901, i got a notice that said “Unfortunately, following an additional review of your account for Hybrid Elephant, we’re still unable to support your business as it falls under one of our restricted businesses categories. Specifically, we are unable to accept payments for tobacco products…”
i STILL don’t carry ANY “tobacco products”, and since 220826, i have REMOVED AND DELETED any products i carry which MIGHT BE MISTAKEN FOR “tobacco products”. 😒
so, i contacted their helpdesk.
the first person i spoke to said that there was no need to worry, that my account was “good to go”, and not to be concerned. when i asked them if they could explain to me why i received that notice this morning, they shunted me off to a member of their “specialised team”, who wouldn’t answer my question about why i received the notification this morning, but ALSO wouldn’t confirm that my account is “good to go”, either. he said ” I would like to make sure that I’ll provide you with the accurate information so please bear with me while we complete our review to your account.”
so, my stripe account has now gone through THREE (or four) reviews in the past two weeks, and they STILL can’t determine whether or not i carry “restricted products” (even though i clearly DO NOT).
once this whole thing gets settled, permanently, i AM going to switch credit card processors, because STRIPE SUCKS!!! 🤬🤬🤬
and that’s NOT TO MENTION the fact that stripe monetises white-supremacists and nazis, and i have been looking for a reason to dump them anyway. 🤬
what the fuck, stripe? 🤬
tuesday morning, i got an email from stripe, the credit card processor for hybrid elephant. it said:
[Please Read] Closure of your Stripe Account for Hybrid Elephant
We’re writing to inform you that we have determined your business, Hybrid Elephant, is in violation of the Stripe Services Agreement. Specifically, we are unable to accept payments for tobacco products, as mentioned on our Restricted Businesses list.
i don’t sell tobacco products.
repeat, i DO NOT SELL tobacco products, of ANY KIND!
never have, never will. 😒
i went to their list of restricted businesses, to see if i could figure out what was going on. they mention tobacco products, and e-cigarette juice (is it just me, or does the mere concept of “e-cigarette juice” sound just a little bit creepy?), and they also list businesses which sell “illegal drugs, items intended to mimic illegal drugs, and items intended for use manufacturing or using illegal drugs.”… which i take to mean that they’re down on “paraphernalia”, and i HAD a “Pipes” category on the site…
but, because of the fact that i actually haven’t sold a pipe in more than two years, i actually had the “pipes” category removed and deleted from the site today.
they said if i disagreed with their decision, that i could submit an appeal, which i did, on tuesday. they said they would get back to me “in 1 or 2 business days”. according to the way i figure it, “1 or 2 business days” should have been yesterday or today.
their web site DOES NOT list a phone number. moe said that they apparently have a “chat” feature, which i have used in the past, but i can’t seem to find it. if i can locate their “chat” feature, i’m DEFINITELY going to be in contact with them tomorrow. if i can’t, i don’t know what i’m going to do.
they gave me until 2nd september before they’re going to quit accepting payments from my site. 🤬🤬🤬🤬
it KEEPS! GETTING! WORSE!!! 🤬
and there doesn’t appear to be anything at all that i can do about it! 🤬
another weird incense customer…
i’ve had an incense customer since 2018. he has always ordered the same variety of incense and nothing else, and, except for his first order, which was for three boxes, he regularly orders 10 boxes at a time… but that’s not the weird part.
the weird part is that, apart from the time between 2020 and 2021, when his orders all came from the same location, he has ordered from a different residential location, in two different states, EVERY SINGLE TIME…
and, as i said, he regularly orders 10 boxes of the same variety of incense at a time. 😕
makes me wonder… is he an AirBnB owner, or something like that, and is stocking up for his residences? is he a renter that burns incense so much that he has been evicted, and has to find a new place? is he ordering gifts for random people? what? 😵
a long time ago…
a long time ago…
(and i know it was a long time ago, because it was when i put a lot more faith (or whatever) in such things, which i have not done since well before my injury…)
i learned that there was some sort of mystical presence unlocked when, instead of using yarrow stalks, you used hemp stalks to cast i ching hexagrams.
i have always thought it was an interesting idea, and, to that end, now that it’s legal to grow hemp, i have now accumulated 50 appropriately sized hemp stalks which are intended to be used to cast i ching hexagrams.
however, because of the fact that i no longer place much faith (or whatever) in “techniques for divination”, i wonder what i should do with them? 🤷
i understand that i ching, particularly, is used as a valid form of self exploration, as well as a meditative practice, especially when the ancient, and far more meditative form of casting (which uses yarrow/hemp stalks), is used… but i don’t feel tremendously inspired to take up, or incorporate, another ancient practice, along with the ancient hindu, taoist, and muslim practices in which i currently engage.
i could put them up for sale on my web site, but that would seem to imply that i have multiple sets of stalks… and, while i do, there aren’t that many, currently, and only one of them is prepared enough to sell…
they DIDN’T break the screen of my tablet, which means that i picked it up TODAY, and it charges, just like it should! 👍 now i KNOW i’ll be able to use it for the moisture festival!
and, speaking of moisture festival, i got a call YESTERDAY to determine if i was up for playing in a band for tim furst (fyodor karamazov)’s wedding TOMORROW, and, naturally, i said yes… because i haven’t played music for long enough that if i were a normal person, i probably would have forgotten how to do it by now… and the fact that they’re paying me $100 doesn’t hurt… 😉
also, i ordered 12 dozen boxes of Sugandha Shringar Gold incense, from india, at the beginning of march, and i just took delivery of what moe calls “a big box of incense” (but i know better, because i have gotten “BIG” boxes of incense, in the past, and they were more than HALF AGAIN as big as the one i got today)… but it’s for an “old time” incense, which has been around for AT LEAST 50 years, and it’s somewhat rare.
but it is a PRIME example of how “those indian people” use sanskrit… well, okay, devanagari, because hindi is written with the same alphabet, and i don’t really know which one they’re thinking of when they do this… but the insence is called “Sugandha Shringar Gold”, which it says on the english language side of the box. on the other side of the box is what one might assume is the name of the incense in hindi (or sanskrit), written in devanagari letters. if you don’t actually read devanagari letters, you might assume that it is the hindi, or sanskrit equivalent of “Sugandha Shringar Gold”… it says “सुगंध शृंगार गोल्ड” except “sugandha” is already a sanskrit (and hindi) word that means “incense”. “Shringar” is a place name, of a place in india… and the rest of the name? “गोल्ड” is the word “gold”, spelled out in devanagari letters — “GOLDD” — and they do this ALL THE TIME! i’ve seen NUMEROUS boxes of incense, and other things, which have devanagari writing on the box, but are, basically, the english words, spelled out in devanagari letters. they don’t use the hindi words, or the sanskrit words, they use ENGLISH words, spelled out phonetically, using devanagari letters. 😒
i got some more channabasappa & company incense today. this is probably the last of it, because the rest is all duplicates of stuff i already carry. i got a kilo of kapoor kacheri bathi. this is what i have distilled from the available “knowledge” about kapoor kacheri:
Kapoor Kacheri – Hedychium spicatum
Kapoor Kacheri may also be referred to as Spiked Ginger Lily, Kapur Kachli, Kapur Kachri, Perfume Ginger.
3rd Chakra – personal power, 4th Chakra – unconditional love, 5th Chakra – speaking truth, Grounding, Introspective, Purifying
Anti-allergenic, Anti-arthritic, Anti-asthmatic, Anti-bacterial, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-rheumatic, Anti-spasmodic, Decongestant, Expectorant, Mucolytic, Tonifying
Hydacheium Oil which is also known by the popular name Kapur Kuchari is extracted from Hydacheium that grows to up to 3 feet tall. It has loose terminal flower spikes that have individual flowers that are yellow with reddish stamens. Its antibiotic properties have also increased interest in the medicinal properties of the species.
The root stalk is useful in local inflammations, nausea, asthma, bronchitis, hiccups and in pain. The rhizome of the plant is said to be carminative, stimulant and a tonic. It has been described as useful, specially as an anti asthmatic agent. Clinical trials have been conducted in tropical eosinophilia, with promising results. It counteracts bad mouth taste and smell.
incense smells like the best qualities of camphor, sandalwood and agarwood. it is as though camphor and sandalwood had a baby, and that baby grew up, got together with agarwood, and they had a baby… that baby would be kapoor kacheri. it is quite subtle, and doesn’t hang around for very long. 😉
DASHANGA (“Ten Ingredients”) CONSTITUENT INGREDIENTS
6 parts kustha, 2 parts gur, 3 parts laksha, 5 parts nakhla, haritiki, and raal in equal parts, 1 part dapai, shilajay equal to 3 lav, 4 parts nagarmotha, and guggul one part
Kustha (Saussurea lappa C.B.Clarke) is an important medicinal plant which was mentioned in ancient Hindu literature and Ayurveda. It was considered as next to Soma plant which is best among the plants. It grows in the reigions of Himalayas and Kashmir and is used in Ayurveda for fevers, skin diseases, headache etc. Kustha is well known for its cures since the ancient times. Etymologically the word “Kustha” is derived from “Krushnaati rogam”. It means, one that ploughs out or drags out the disease from the body.
Dolomiaea costus, formerly known as Saussurea costus, commonly known as costus, Indian costus, kuth, or putchuk, is a species of thistle in the genus Dolomiaea native to South Asia and China. Rishi (Hindu) mystics of Kashmir especially ate this plant. Essential oils extracted from the root have been used in traditional medicine and in perfumes since ancient times.
Costus is the root of this plant. The root of the plant is the key part used for medicinal or homeopathic purposes. The root is also called by its Latin name radix aucklandiae (root of aucklandia).
It has a large number of names in other languages, including kuṣṭha in Sanskrit; kust or qust in Arabic and Persian; kut, kur, and pachak in Hindi and Bengali, kostum, gostham, and potchuk in Tamil; upaleta and kur in Gujarati; kot or kust in Punjabi; changala in Telugu; sepuddy in Malayalam; kostha in Kannada; kuth or postkhai in Kashmiri; and kosht (קשט) in Hebrew; koto in Swahili; mu xiang in Chinese.
GUR = jaggery
Laccifer lacca Kerr.
Coccus lacca, Kerria lacca.
English : Shellac, Laksha (Lac). Hindi : Lakh, Sanskrit : Laksha, Bengali : Gala, Gujarati : Lak, Telugu : Kommolakka, Lakka, Tamil: Komburrki, Malayalam: Arakku, Ambalu.
India and Thailand are the main areas in the world where lac is cultivated. Over 90% of Indian lac comes from the States of Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Orissa. Lac insects thrive on certain trees and the principal lac host trees in India are Banyan, Peepal, Khadira, Palash, Kusum and Ber.
Lac are scale insects (Laccifer Lacca) which live on trees called lac host trees where they secrete the lac resin which is scraped off and manufactured into shellac. To produce just 1 kilogram of lac resin around 300,000 insects lose their tiny lives. A scale insect is a common name for any of about 2000 insect species found all over the world that attach themselves in great numbers to plants and trees. Scale insects range from an almost microscopic size to more than 2.5 cm. They can be very destructive to trees – stunting or killing twigs and branches by draining the sap.
The life cycle of a lac insect takes about six months and consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. With this life cycle, the lac industry obtains two lac crops each year from each tree. Females lay up to 100 eggs, which hatch out into larvae. These small red larvae, roughly 0.5mm, long crawl out of the brood lac (or mother cell) and settle on the twigs. At this stage both the male and female larvae live off the sap of the trees. The lac scraped from the branches is known as crude lac or sticklac. Crude lac or stick-lac, consists of the resin, the encrusted insects, lac dye, and twigs. This is crushed, washed, dried to form Seedlac. Seedlac is then converted into Shellac by hand or machine.
The major constituent of laksha is the resin (70-80%); other constituents present are: sugar, proteins, and soluble salts, coloring matter, wax, sand, woody matter, insect bodies and other extraneous matter; a volatile oil is present in traces. Lac resin is composed of mainly hydroxy fatty acids of C14- C18 carbon chains, such as aleuritic, butolic, C14- C16 mono- and di-hydroxy acids along with hydroxy terpenic acids having the rare cedrene skeleton as jalaric, laccijalaric, shellolic, and laksholic acids.
Rasa : Kasaya, Guna : Laghu, Snigdha, Sneha, Virya : Shita, Vipaka : Katu, Karma : Kappa, Pitta.
Pachana, Depana, Apasmara, Kushta, Raktadosha, Kasa, Antrasula, Prameha, Atisara, Arocaka, Hidhma.
It is used for liver diseases, Diarrhoea, Dysentery, Intestinal parasites (worms), Injuries, Fungal infections, Eczema, Scabies, Herpes, haemostasis, Internal bleeding disorders, Hiccup, Cough, It is also used for Low bone mineral density, jaundice, dropsy, kidney disease, reduces fat the Adipose persons, joint disorders, osteoporosis, osteomalacia, osteoarthritis etc. It is also helpful in obesity, renal and spleen disorders, jaundice, backache problems, leprosy, ulceration, epilepsy and chicken pox.
NAKHLA = charcoal(?)
Terminalia chebula fruits – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminalia_chebula
Ral is the gum extracted from Sal tree (Shaala). It is the astringent Ayurvedic medicine widely used in diarrhoea, dysentery, skin diseases, stops bleeding, heal wounds, herpes, burn wounds, fractures etc.
Botanical name : Shorea robusta
Family : Dipterocarpaceae
Medicinal Qualities of Rala
Rasa (taste) – Tiktha (bitter), Kashaya (astringent)
Virya (potency) – shitha (Cold)
Guna (qualities) – Guru – heavy to digest, Snigdha (unctuous)
Karma (action) – Grahi – absorbent, Sthambana – styptic in nature
Indications of Rala
Visarpa – herpes
Vrana – It cleanses the wound and hastens its healing process.
Vipadika – cracks in palms or soles with pain
Graha – psychiatric disorders
Bhagna – fractures
Agnidagda – Burn wounds
Jwara – fever
Shoola – abdominal colic
Atisara – diarrhoea
Kandu – itching
Sphota – blisters
Effect of rala on Tridoshas
Vatapittahara – Balances vata and pitta dosha
Rala chemical constituents
It is composed of chemicals like hydroxyanone, dammarenediol II, Ursolic acid etc
Sarja rasa or sarjaniryasa refers to gum extracted from Copal tree – Vateria indica
Rala is gum extracted from Sal tree
How to get gum extract
How To obtain gum extract from Sal Tree?
A white viscous substance oozes out from sal tree when few strips of bark is removed. On exposure it hardens and change to brown colour. It is collected after 10 to 12 days. Again the substance oozes out and the procedure is repeated. This gum extract can be collected several times in a year.
Features of Sal dammar
Color – Yellow to brown color
Odour – aromatic
Nature – Brittle
NAGARMOTHA = cypriol
GUGGUL = bdellium
thistles and bugs… hmmmmmm… 🤔
okay, this is what i get for geeking out about incense:
(i ordered some opopanax oil! 😀)
oh… my! 😮
so, i got the channabasappa & company incense today, and it is OUTSTANDING! 👍👍
i got a kilo each of dashanga, and guggal bathi… the dashanga is powdered, with no stick. i’m not exactly sure how to burn it, but i suspect that charcoal tablets will work… and it is an OLD TIME HIPPY scent that i haven’t smelled in a LOOOONG time. because of the fact that i’m not sure how it’s burned, and the fact that it comes in 100 gram packets, i’m not sure if i’ll end up selling it on my web site, but it will DEFINITELY be an addition to the IOTM collection. the guggal bathi is… not what i expected: i knew the scent, but i expected it to be a dark, wet incense, and it is, actually, light coloured and fairly dry… but it, also, is an OLD TIME HIPPY scent that i haven’t smelled for many years, and, because of the fact that it is a bathi (comes on sticks), it will be a lot easier to put on my web site. 👍
THIS is why i made the effort to do business with this person, despite the fact that i KNOW her to be flaky… when she DOES come through, it’s always with SUPERLATIVE product. 😉👍
i FINALLY got shipping confirmation from the flaky incense lady from minnesota — the one who, two years ago, took my money and, 6 months later, STILL hadn’t shipped me the incense for which it paid, so i ended up having to go to the credit card company for help cancelling the order… this time, it only took her TWO months, and the USPS tracking number says that the “USPS in possession of item”, which means that it actually exists in someone’s mind OTHER THAN mine, and the flaky incense lady. i’ve known about her for
25 45 years or so (i’ve GOT to start remembering that my brain injury was almost 20 years ago! 🤕), as “another person who sells incense” like i do, and it seems to me that i used to do business with her a lot more frequently than i have in the past 10 years or so, but that’s only because, more and more in my dealings with her, she became the “flaky” incense lady.
i have actively avoided doing business with her for a few years now, because, back when i made my first bulk order from MSDF, she said she wanted to “go halves with me”, but, then, she “didn’t have the money, but would pay me later”, which she never did… and then, a few months later, said that she had a customer who wanted some bulk MSDF incense (which i had just imported), and she told them to contact me… and they never contacted me… 😒
but she’s “going out of business” — from my point of view, she’s SAID she’s been going out of business for at least 10 years, but whatever. she’s liquidating her supply of incense made by shroff channabassappa & sons — the same company that made “Leadbeater” incense, which is one of my two all-time favourites… and, while she doesn’t have leadbeater incense, she’s got a couple of other scents which i really like, i know would sell well, and, could possibly be additions to my “Incense Of The Month” selection, because, as far as i have been able to tell, shroff channabassappa & sons is out of business, as well. 😉
and, like i said, USPS is in possession of the item, and estimates that i will be receiving it on saturday. whee! 🎉
on the other side of the coin, i also just got email from Aravinda Parimala Works — makers of “Sugandha Shringar Gold”, which has been available from me since before i started the business (thanks to my association with Sugandha Prabhu) — informing me that, despite my inquiring about it 6 months ago and having them assure me that it would be available after the first of the year, at this point “Sugandha Shringar Gold” is completely sold out, and they will have to make more before they can even think about sending me some. 😠
at least they answer my emails in a timely fashion, unlike the flaky incense lady, who replies to my emails when she feels like it, which is, frequently, never. 😒
so, there’s this…
so there’s this, which is a prototype (flong!) of a 1½" button for next month’s IOTM VIP goodie…
however i’m not sure about it. it’s an absolutely delicious double (or triple!) entendre, for those few who “know about such things”, but how many people spent the first 30 years of their lives studying obscure religious facts? and, i’m afraid it could be taken to be VERY offensive to… um… just about anybody else…
under normal circumstances, i wouldn’t care in the slightest, but this is, allegedly, representing my business, and i would be sending them out to people who don’t know me…
[ETA 220114] — it’s an 18th century drawing of what the ancient roman god Priapus might have looked like. ΣΩΤΗΡ ΚΟΣΜΟΥ (soter kosmou) means “Saviour of the World”, and it was usually inscribed below the penis face. however, in a bizarre twist, the figure of “a man with the head of a rooster and an erect penis for a beak” may have also been a representation of st. peter, in which case, ΣΩΤΗΡ ΚΟΣΜΟΥ refers to jesus. it’s one of the reasons a penis is sometimes referred to as a “peter”. 🤣
i inducted another person into the Incense Of The Month Club yesterday, which means that i now have 20 slots left… and it’s further evidence that, while there may not be MANY incense fanatics out there, there are a few of them.
since 22 november (a week ago monday), i have gotten 8 incense orders, and i’m back to almost $500 in my bank account, after having been, basically, wiped out in june. i sent out the final incense of the month to my first two incense of the month clients, which means that i have, officially, been doing the incense of the month club for a year, now. my business is as strong and as vital as it has ever been, and i am beginning to rebuild from the cloud disaster in june, but, every day i realise there’s another picture, or document, or bit of information, that i HAD on my old cloud drive. i’m still reeling from the loss of approximately 50% of my music collection. 😒
i’m learning to free mount on the unicycle, which is an important step in learning to ride the unicycle while playing the tuba. i have to be able to mount with no hands, not holding on to anything except the tuba, and i have to be able to ride away, while holding the tuba, without falling down. at this point, i’m ALMOST to the point where i can mount the unicycle with no hands. at this point, i can mount the unicycle with a pole in my left hand, to help me balance. if everything goes EXACTLY RIGHT, i can ride away after a couple seconds of wobbling and balancing on the pole. also, i am pretty sure i have learned how to turn left… which is important. turning right is a lot easier. i’ve been able to turn right for a while now. it turns out, turning left involves looking left, preferably at where i’m intending to go, and adding a little bit of extra “oomph” with my hips at just the right time. who would have ever thought that riding a unicycle would involve looking as much as it involves balance?
nothing has been happening.
nothing has been happening politically, nothing has been happening socially, nothing has been happening musically, nothing has been happening in regards to the COVID virus… i now have A LOT of “free” time: every other week i have a one-hour appointment with kate, and every week i have my one-hour circus class, but that’s it. 😩
i’ve been spending a lot of time hiking on taylor mountain.
i shipped out two incense orders, today. i’m averaging between two and six orders a month, and, before i got cracked a few months ago, i actually had over a thousand dollars in my bank account… but then i got cracked, and spent it all on replacement hardware and a pile of recovered, possibly useful data.
i have expanded ZIP files for about a tenth of my fonts collection, from the recovered data. mostly TTF files, and just a small fraction of the fonts i used to have. fortunately, my recollection is that my entire >10,000 font library is backed up on CD, somewhere… i’m sifting through the rest of the recovered data slowly, and more or less randomly: it’s totally discouraging to look at this huge pile of recovered data, which took me a couple decades to accumulate, but which is now many, many schrödinger’s cats with random file names, EVERY ONE OF WHICH has to be opened to determine whether or not it’s corrupt, and if it’s not, what general pile it goes in, which all have to be sorted again, later on, and then, probably, sorted at least once more before they’re back in more-or-less the place where they’re supposed to be. 😒
so, it’s something to do, but, literally, i would rather be doing ANYTHING else… 🤬
i ordered some “performance masks” from J.W.Pepper a few weeks ago. they were back-ordered (without my knowledge), and, when i talked to a customer service drone on monday last week, i was assured that they would be shipping out later that week, but i still haven’t seen or heard anything. they’re called “performance” masks, because they look like you’re wearing a mask, but, in reality, the mask has a hole in the front, that your mouthpiece goes through, which makes it practically useless as an actual mask… but the new rule at the market is that the only buskers allowed MUST BE masked, so it’s either wear a “performance” mask, or don’t busk. 😒 but i can’t busk at all, until the “performance” masks are delivered, and, as far as i can tell, at this point, they’re still on back order, and who knows when they’re going to arrive. 😞
i just sold 10 boxes of Aparajita — an incense which, as far as i’ve been able to tell, is available NOWHERE ELSE in north america, and possibly the western hemisphere — to the Govinda Gallery in washington DC… which is the place that Astrid Kirchherr and Donovan exhibit their work…
why is the opposite of “progress” not “congress” rather than “regress”?
i got in contact with the vehicle-wrap artist that did the actual artwork for the previous car, and he, also, sent me an .eps file containing the original artwork, so i’m sure i have backed it up, now… although i haven’t backed it up to the cloud drive, yet, because i can still only access it through a web browser on my linux box, and not at all on my mac laptop… and i am worried that they’re not going to be able to make it work on my mac laptop, because i did the steps to auto-mount a network drive, at startup, and it took my password and chewed on it for 30 seconds or so, and then rejected it… i THINK it’s because the cloud drive wants me to login to /cgi-bin/ but the ancient mac will only let me login to the base server URI. and on the linux box, it allows me to specify the login directory, and accepts my password, but never gets beyond that, to actually logging me in — it just repeats its request for a username and password, over, and over, and over, and over… 😕 hopefully, when the guy comes over this evening to give me the keys, he will be able to conclusively address these issues.
ETA: he addressed those issues like a boss, and had BOTH the ancient mac and my linux box wrapped around the NAS’s little finger in about 10 minutes… the old mac, apparently, doesn’t like the domain name, and REALLY doesn’t like the fact that my username has an @ symbol in it, but it eats up the intranet IP address like it’s going out of style, and, because of the fact that it’s ONLY addressing the NAS from the intranet, i just gave it the administrator username instead of my username… and the linux box was, basically, the same, once we figured out how to do it… and connecting monique’s computer was easiest of all: just gave it the intranet IP address and everything was kosher. 😎
there’s A LOT of music in .zip or .rar archives in my recovered data, so, once i get to the point of actually expanding those archives, i will have a significant part of my music collection back… for that matter, i’m pretty sure i “backed up” my music collection to CD, around 10 years ago or so, which means that, once i find where i’ve put it, there’s a good chance that my music collection will be back to 75% to 80% of what it was prior to the crack.
the western digital support personnel that i talked to on 210724, who said that someone would be calling me “monday or tuesday” lied, because it is now wednesday, and i HAVE NOT received a call from them… which only strengthens my suspicion that they are NOT going to try to contact me until after 210731, which is their deadline for making a claim through their data recovery program. 😒
the process of categorising partially corrupt files is both time-consuming, and ultimately frustrating, because, once i have rough-categorised the files, i have to go back through, re-open every file again to determine what it is, re-name the file, and then categorise it AGAIN… and A LOT of the file names started with the date that they were last looked at, which, frequently, is a complete mystery from inside the document, so even when i have them renamed, and categorised, i still can’t complete a time-line for stuff that was modified more than once… which will, very likely, cause major headaches in the future, particularly with documens created for other peoples’ printing. 😒
seriously, whatever anonymous skript-kiddie did this to me — who has never even met them before — just for “lulz” — better hope that i don’t run into them late at night in a dark alley, because, if that ever happens, the result will NOT be positive for anyone. 🤬
on a lighter note, i got my physical copies of questionable content, the electronic copies of which were lost… i’m slowly getting everything put back together.
but i still have to rewrite the IOTM blurb about patchouli for next month, because it’s coming up really soon, and it’s the only IOTM blurb that i didn’t get back… which is a real shame, because the old one was really amusing, and i don’t know if i can remember all of what i said.
the answer is a 4TB NAS, two bays of 2TB each, in a RAID1 array.
this serves a dual purpose: the NAS is my “cloud drive”, and the RAID1 array is my backup.
i can “backup” the backup, to “the cloud” or to an external 2TB device (like a flash drive) on a regular basis if i want, at that point, for extra security.
the answer costs around $800, for them to come in, set it up, get all my devices talking to it, from the antique mac to the bleeding edge kubuntu box, and hand me the keys.
i can afford the answer, without having to get “household funds” involved.
because someone send me almost $1,200 for one of my huge boxes of incense, that’s why. 👍
in other news, i paid them $600 and they’re mailing me back the remains of the old NAS, and a disk full of either data, or not-data. 😒 whee.
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…
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”.
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.
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…
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! 😠
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. 😉
as soon as i figure out how to list “1 postcard for $1.50 or 10 postcards for $10.00”, they’re going on the web site. 😈
ETA: they’re up! 😉👍
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!
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… 🤦🤦
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.
it’s happening again! 😱
the HPOI is leaving bangalore tomorrow. it arrives in seattle on…
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. 👍😉
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. 😒
that makes it easy… 😒
the guy isn’t going to sign up. apparently he rents, and his landlord won’t allow burning incense indoors. 😒
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. 😉
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… 🙄
stuff & such
i got my first inquiry about the Incense Of The Month Club today, which is good, because i was beginning to think that nobody would respond. alledgedly, there will be something that i can actually see, rather than just conceptualise, later on in the week. also, i shipped out 3 packages this morning, including one that wasn’t aparajita.
someone must have mentioned hybrid elephant
someone must have mentioned hybrid elephant on their podcast or something like that, because i have gotten FIVE incense orders today, including two that were for one box of aparajita… yes, the way things work out, i charge them more for shipping than i do for the incense — does it sound familiar? 😉 — but i decided that i’m not going to argue with them any longer. if they want to order one box of incense, that’s fine… unless they order a box that costs $1.50 or less, in which case i’ll write them and find out if that’s REALLY what they want to do, because that’s kind of ridiculous.
one from spain, that came in over last night, and then four from north america that all came in within an hour of each other. in reality, i have no clue why they are clustered like that. the podcast thing is the only thing i can think of that would cause clusters of orders like that, but i really don’t know. if it is because of someone’s podcast, i wish they would let me know about it. i don’t have a lot of social media connections, but i don’t have none, either.
i put the preliminary Incense of the Month Club page up. nobody’s responded yet, but i haven’t mentioned it much, and it’s still not showing up where i thought it was supposed to, but that’s something i’m going to have to discuss with the web designer.
in other news, #drumpf still hasn’t conceded, and he’s filed a whole bunch of lawsuits,
most ALL of which have been tossed out for lack of evidence.
ETA: 201119 i’ve received two MORE orders, for one box each… REALLY weird… 😖🤯
the fence is (allegedly) being fixed on thursday, by the guy who is the friend of the neighbour who is (still) being a dick about paying for the fence, despite the fact that the dead tree which destroyed it was on his property. 😒
the guy who is (allegedly) fixing the fence has already run down a whole list of (bogus) complaints he had about the current fence — i get the impression that he’s not particularly impressed with the quality or consistency of the fence materials, despite the fact that we had the fence made by a different company than the one which made the gates, and that the whole thing was built during the peak of the first round of COVID…
but i get the very strong impression that the guy is going to do everything possible to get away with doing a halfway job and begging off, never to be heard from again, which is why i’m going to be keeping an eye on the work progress, when it happens. 😒
election day is (finally) tomorrow. in spite of the fact that he was impeached, we managed to survive (barely) four years of #drumpf, and i’m not sure, even now, that we’re going to vote him out tomorrow… and, even if we do, i’m even less sure that he’ll leave without making a BIG fuss, and/or flagrantly cheating… and even if we do manage to eject him into the sun, there’s going to be A LOT of #MAGA #chuds who will be stubbornly unwilling to accept it, and even if we are actually able to eject him into the sun, they’re not going to be so “easy” to deal with, nor will they just “go away”, once the solar ejecting has actually been accomplished.
i keep saying it’ll take us at least a hundred years to recover from #drumpf, and i’m not sure we have a hundred years left, even if we do, miraculously, make him and his cronies just vanish.
in other news, i made a new page for the Incense Of The Month Club, but i can’t figure out how to put the background image on it that i want, so it’s not linked anywhere, yet. i bought a 1½” diameter button press (because why not), and now i’ve got to round up some civic organisations which want buttons for some campaign or something.
also, i never heard back from kent.
actually, now that i come to think about it
i ended the last post with “i will never figure out these people”, and, after looking, half-heartedly, at the other options on the web for aparajita, i think part of what may be motivating people like kent is the box, and not the incense itself.
the old box is very distinctive, and it was used in, basically, the same form (they changed the colours, slightly, some time between the 1960s and the 1980s) pretty much ever since they started producing incense in boxes… the company has existed since the 1920s, so it’s a very distinctive and recognisable brand…
the new box is just a design change. the incense is exactly the same.
i had a customer a few years ago (who am i kidding, i haven’t heard from him in 15 years), who bought aparajita from me. he was a guitar player from new york, who had actually played with george harrison and ravi shankar, and he bought it from me because i was the only agarbathiwala who carried “the authentic” aparajita. it was through him that i learned about ALL the knock-off, “look-alike” brands of NOT aparajita that were out there. i learned a lot more, once i knew what to look for, and i’ve actually got a collection of “not aparajita” boxes. when mavana changed the box design, he was intensely frustrated, because he said the incense was different. as with everything from india, they have a very strict recipe that they follow to the letter… most of the time, ganesha willing… so the end product is 99.5% reliable… but that other .5% can be REALLY out there.
personally, i have NEVER noticed a big difference between the incense in the old box (yes, i still have several old boxes, and some of the “look-alike” boxes, for comparison) and the incense in the new box…
but, for some people, “aparajita” apparently stopped existing when they changed the box. i found at least two web sites where aparajita was listed, along with pictures of the old box, that said something along the lines of “out of stock, discontinued”…
but, look, people… i’ve got loads of it, right here! 😉
i had to go to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for moe. the pharmacy was closed for lunch, so i went across the street to the safeway, to get food. as i was checking out, my phone rang. it was an “unknown caller”, which usually means that it’s a robot/scam call, and i am usually able to tell this within a VERY short period of time after answering the call…
so i answered it.
it was NOT an automated fraud call at all, but i had some considerable difficulty understanding the guy, because of the fact that his phone was cutting in and out like a crazy monkey, not to mention the ambient noise at the checkout stand in safeway, but eventually i worked out that it was kent, from laguna beach, who is an agarbathiwala (he didn’t use that word, but that’s what he is) and he is interested in purchasing wholesale quantities of aparajita, for resale in laguna beach.
wonderful… i think… but… 😒
he can’t figure out how to use my web site. apparently he’s accessing the web site on the same cell phone from which he’s calling me. that, combined with the fact that i don’t use my cell phone for web access most of the time, means that he can’t find the incense he wants, and i can’t direct him, because i don’t know what he’s seeing.
also, i tell him that, as far as wholesale orders go, i already put the word out to a number of agarbathiwalas that i know, who, either, didn’t respond at all, or responded by telling me that boxes of aparajita aren’t available in the US, and the only way to get it is to go to india, buy it in bulk, bring it back, and put it into your own packages.
which is patently false, according to my own, personal, recent experience…
so i get the very strong impression that this guy may be one of those people who want to use me and my years of experience and connections to stock their own stores with exotic incense.
which is only exacerbated by the fact that he says, if it can’t be a “wholesale” order, he’ll just mark up my price (which is really reasonable, given what i had to go through to get it), rather than buying at a “wholesale discount”… 😒
he wants to make an order over the phone — another typical ploy used by these people. i, patiently, tell him that i can’t process credit card payments any way other than the web site, and if he wants to order over the phone, it will involve him snail-mailing me a check or money order, which will have to clear before i will ship out anything.
oh, he says, sounding disappointed…
okay, he says, he’ll check out the web site, and make an order.
i go to the pharmacy, pick up moe’s prescription, and am on the way home, when the phone rings, again. it’s kent, again. he can’t find the incense he’s looking for. also, he wants to know how long it takes me to ship things out, and how i ship things. i explain it as succinctly as i can, and get off the phone, because, well, i’m driving… 😒 but the phone rings again,it’s kent, again and he STILL can’t figure out my web site. 😒
i expect that, by the time i get home, he will have made an order, and called me to ask why i haven’t shipped it out yet… 😒
then he texts me. i’m back at the point i was at when i was checking out at the safeway, with all the ambient noise, but i’m at home, and there’s no ambient noise, there’s just this text message, which is a photo, and nothing else. i know it’s from kent, because it’s the same number that he has been calling me from, but there’s no text, just a photo. the photo is, from all appearances, a photo of a computer screen which has four overlapping photos of a VERY OLD box of aparajita.
by this time, i have gotten home. i text back that the manufacturers of aparajita changed the design on the box a few years ago, and text him a couple of photos, one of the new box, and one of the old box, with the reassurance that it’s exactly the same incense, only the box has changed.
no order, no more phone calls, or texts… nothing.
i will never figure out these people. 😖
getting old sucks. 🤬
i got home this afternoon, and took the small doggie outside, and, as i was going down the stairs from the deck, my right foot hit a slippery spot on the third step from the bottom, and i fell, bruising my back and legs, and scraping my right arm, which reached out for support, but reached in the wrong direction, because of my brain injury. 😒
the dog experienced a rather rough landing, but she wandered off without more than an “oof” when she hit the ground. she’s fine.
i lay on the ground for a few minutes, deciding whether or not anything was broken (as far as i can tell, nothing was), and breathing hard, because my back REALLY hurt, while the doggie wandered, obliviously, around the yard.
fortunately, i had my phone, so i called moe, who called the neighbour, who came to help me, but all she actually did was pick up the doggie, because i couldn’t bend over.
at this point, i have taken ibuprophen and applied ice, and i can sit down without too much difficulty, although i can still REALLY feel my lower back, and i probably will be able to do so for the next few days.
in other news, i got my first order for 10 boxes of aparajita today. the guy actually wrote me while i was in the process of updating my web site, and wanted to make a “special order”. my guess is that i’ll have two or three more orders for 10 boxes, before the week is out… at $90 bucks a pop… 👍😉
also, i got a new monitor. the old one is an VGA 17″ flat screen from a few years ago. the new one is a HDMI 24″ flat screen from this year… it’s awesome, how much real estate is in the difference between 17″ and 24″
the end of (this) saga
okay, as i reported here, the HPOI arrived on friday, at 1730. i went to WFS, but was informed that i had to get the shipment cleared through US customs, before i could pick it up.
customs operates under “normal” business hours, i.e. 9-to-5, M thru F, so i figured i was going to have to wait until monday.
the “carrier certificate” that WFS gave me said that i had to pay an ISC fee, which worked out to $89 if i paid it online, or $125 if i paid it in person, so, while i was waiting — saturday and sunday — i took the opportunity to pay it online, so that i would have yet another impediment taken care of before monday.
the “carrier certificate” also, CLEARLY said that the date that storage charges started accruing was 201012, which was further impetus to get things rolling as quickly as possible.
note, that THIS ENTIRE TIME i have been getting EXTREMELY CONFLICTED messages about whether or not i would need a broker. at this point, everything i have heard leads me to believe that i would NOT need a broker to pick up my shipment of incense.
this morning, i contacted customs, got their new address (because they just moved, and nobody at WFS knew where), and went down to clear my shipment.
when i got there, i talked with a US customs agent, who told me that, because my MAWB said that the value of the shipment was more than $800, but less than $1,000, i would have to have a broker clear the shipment.
way back when i was arranging all of this, i specifically remember (backed up by email from 200824) arun giving me precise numbers: “USD 7.45 PER DOZENS”, which amounts to $357.60 for 48 dozen boxes. i also specifically remember (backed up by a different email from 200824), arun telling me “Please note Air freight is additional.”, so when he sent me a proforma invoice that said $986.40, i presumed that it meant “$357.60 for the incense, and $628.80 for shipping”… but it wasn’t itemised, and i overlooked that point.
i SHOULD HAVE gotten an itemised MAWB, but i didn’t.
so, i spent some time on the phone, talking with brokers, who quoted me around $400 just to get my foot in the door, and then i connected with lisa, from Frontier North America — a very nice, helpful lady who is going to get my business the next time around — who assured me that, because i was actually paying more for shipping than i was for the actual product, that she would clear my shipment, and provide a surety bond, for $182.22, so i said go for it, and half an hour later, my shipment was cleared through customs.
then, i went back to the airport, to WFS, who informed me, because i didn’t have a broker, who could clear my shipment on friday, after business hours (despite the fact that customs was CLOSED for “normal people” like me), that i had to pay a $110 storage fee — which was EXACTLY the thing that i was trying to AVOID by picking up the paperwork on friday, after normal business hours — and then they had a problem charging me the storage fee, because i had already paid the ISC fee, and they couldn’t charge me as a “guest” because the computer wouldn’t let them create two different accounts with the same MAWB number. finally, they told me that their web site wasn’t meant for people with iphones, which meant that i would have to go home to use my computer at home to “set up an account” so that they could charge me a storage fee, before i could pick up a shipment that i was already there to pick up… 😒
fortunately, after talking to two other managers, i finally talked the third manager into waiving the $110 storage fee, and, after scanning my drivers’ license (because my passport wouldn’t fit in their automatic scanning device 😒) they “gave me permission” to pick up my HPOI.
and i managed to get through the whole thing without swearing, losing my temper, or stomping out of various offices, as good as it would have felt.
now i’ve got a web site to update. 😉
second to last HPOI post for 2020
the HPOI arrived yesterday.
according to the people at Worldwide Flight Services (which is the umbrella company that handles British Airways Cargo in seattle), i have to pick up documentation, take it to customs, so that it can be cleared, pay an ISC fee (Importer Service Charge, which is, basically, their way of “legally” taking a cut of my action), and then they can release the shipment to me.
customs is closed over the weekend. also, they just moved, and nobody at WFS knows what their new address is… 😒
and, because of the fact that WFS doesn’t accept credit cards, i would have had to pay $125 for the ISC fee, if it weren’t for the fact that i actually went down to the airport last night to pick up the documentation (so that i don’t have to go through that step on monday, when customs is open), the guy pointed out that i can pay the ISC fee online, and it will only cost $89… so i did that.
the “documentation” they gave me is, basically a “carrier certificate” which is a receipt for services rendered by the carrier (which is what i pay the ISC fee for), four copies (out of at least seven, total) of the MAWB, one for the destination airport, one for “my agent” (which is me), one for the consignee (which is also me), and one “extra copy”, a “MAWB/CBV Acceptance Statement”, which basically, says that the shipment isn’t anything vague or illegal, is being shipped by a legitimate shipper who is not a criminal, and is being received by a person who is not a criminal, and a MYSTERY ENVELOPE which is stapled shut, THREE TIMES ON BOTH ENDS, which, from indications of the writing on the outside, was stapled shut in india, when the shipment was loaded, and i have NO CLUE what it contains…
now, all that’s left is for me to wait until monday, contact customs, find out what their address is (i think it’s in burien, but i’m not sure), go down and get the documentation stamped, and then go back to the airport to…
PICK UP HPOI!!!‼‼‼😀😎👍👍👍
okay, this is an interesting development…
i got a phone call, yesterday, from suni, at CEVA Logistics, whose first language is english, and who doesn’t pepper her communications with bizarre, multi-letter acronyms that i don’t understand…
and, what she told me was, essentially, that arun has been right all along — which makes me VERY glad i didn’t send that email that i felt like sending him a few days ago…
basically, they’ve shipped out today, at 0700 bangalore time, on BA118, there’s a stop over at london heathrow, and then it’s on to seattle, on BA49, and i should have 31kg (68.34lb) of incense by friday at 1730. someone at the airline is supposed to contact me immediately upon arrival — although how is still somewhat of a question… they don’t have my phone number, and if they have my email address, it’s not on the MAWB. the only address that IS on the MAWB is my street address, so, theoretically, they could snail-mail me, but that would take longer than it took for the incense to get here, so i don’t think that’s a viable option… and i still don’t know exactly how they are supposed to contact me, but i suppose i’ll find that out on friday…
and a WHOLE BUNCH of my customers are going to be extremely happy. i guess this is probably as close to being a “drug dealer” as i will ever get… 😉
okay, that last bit is a lie… i actually was a drug dealer, for a while, about 30 years ago. i sold weed and acid to a few friends for about 6 months, until the supply dried up… but it’s that sort of feeling. 🤣
this is my imaginary response to the email that i got from arun’s customs clearing agent, melvyn.
obviously, since i’m posting it here, you can presume that it is because, if i actually sent it, i probably would NOT be receiving any incense from arun, any time soon.
On 03/10/2020 00:34, sspf wrote:
> Importer Security Filing (ISF)
> It is USA Govt Compliances. Hence consignee Clearing
> aware about this.
so, when you said, on 200930 that i wouldn’t need a customs clearing agent, you were… what?
On 30/09/2020 01:04, Arun Mysorein wrote:
> Hello, No need for any agent, you can talk to airline ,
> take delivery order
> and get the goods from the airport.
it should be fairly obvious, at this point, that this is NOT the way it’s going to happen… 😒
> It should filed
> online 72 Hrs before the last departure air/ seaport station.
meaning that, if you notify me when the shipment is loaded on the airplane, it’s already too late.
could you PLEASE notify me 72 hours BEFORE the shipment is loaded, so that i won’t have to pay more than i already do, for things that i won’t use?
> If we file from here the agent
> will take $ 100 for this service. It is better consignee
> Or their agents do at their end.
so, let me get this straight: $100 is too much for you to pay, but it’s perfectly okay for ME to be saddled with extra fees and fines because i don’t know these things, and, because YOU think it’s okay to tell me the EXACT OPPOSITE of what i should know in order to AVOID paying these extra fees and fines.
and, once again, MELVYN references an agent, which, you have assured me, i don’t need! 🤬
if i hadn’t already sunk more than $900 into this incense deal, i would cancel it right here and now. 🤬
this is NOT the way to do business and have me as a customer. 🤬
so i wrote to arun at mavana, concerning my impression that he had not given me all the information. he wrote to his customs clearing agent(!), melvyn — and copied me — who informed him (and me) that the consignee’s customs clearing agent(!) should have been aware of all this…
the immediately previous email i got from arun said that i would not need a customs clearing agent, or a single entry bond. now, his customs clearing agent tells me exactly the opposite! 😒
melvyn also said “If we file from here the agent will take $ 100 for this service. It is better consignee Or their agents do at their end.”
in other words, it’s better for the consignee (me) to pay this, rather than “us”, because “It is USA Govt Compliances.” and it costs “us” more money that the consignee could be paying.
the problem, if all of the web sites i’ve been reading are correct, is that, from the consignee’s (my) point of view, the customs clearing agent’s fee is $125, the single entry bond is a minimum of $75, and that’s before we start talking about fees for the ISF.
so, it’s an extra $100 from them for the ISF… which they are, apparently, unwilling to pay…
or it’s an extra $200 from me before we even get to the ISF… 😒
and i know, from past experience, that if the shipment gets loaded without the ISF being filed, then i have to pay $400 for a continuous bond, rather than $75 for a single entry bond, plus i get to pay another $400 (or more, the maximum is $10,000) for importing without an ISF. 😒
i’m guessing that i’m going to have to pay more money to get this HPOI into the united states. 😒
this had better be worth it. 😒
first the guy doesn’t know what ISF means, then he says i have to file an ISF, but doesn’t give me all the documentation to do so, and the only “resource” i have is a web site whose “toll free, 24/7” help line has a recording which says to leave a number, and they’ll call back (and they don’t), or leave a message that includes ALL of my contact information, including my social security number, on an un-secure (not https) web form — NO THANKS, FRANK! 😠
then, literally EVERYTHING i’ve read seems to indicate that, along with the ISF, i have to have either a “continuous bond” or a “single entry bond”, and a customs clearing agent, but the guy says neither of those things are necessary: “you can talk to airline , take delivery order and get the goods from the airport.” not only that, but i can’t even find where i’m SUPPOSED to file the ISF, except this, same “resource” that wants me to submit the information over an un-secure web form.
so i broke down and started up kmail, to retrieve the email addresses for the people i was in contact for the last HPOI go-around, two years ago, and contacted one of them, with the information i have… the last time i was in contact with them, they were USL Cargo Services, but i hit their web site, and it says that, as of a year ago, they’ve merged with another company, and are now CEVA Logistics… but their uslcargoservices.com web site and email addresses still appear to work, so we’ll see what happens… just to make sure, i also completed the easy-to-use form at cevalogistics.com as well.
as i suspected…
the information that the guy has been giving me regarding the ISF is, substantially, wrong… which leads me to believe that the other information that he has been giving me is also wrong.
hopefully, the whole story about how he’s the CEO of mavana is not wrong, as well, otherwise i’m going to be REALLY pissed off!
the main concern, at this point, is the “continuous bond” — which only lasts for a year, so it’s not really “continuous”, but only in relation to a “single entry bond” which costs $10 for every $10,000 worth of product imported, with a minimum of $75 — and the “customs clearing agent” fee, which is $125. both of these “extra, add-on” fees were sprung on me at the last moment, last time, and ended up with me having to pay “extra, add-on” FINES before they would let me have my stuff.
all of this information is coming from TurboISF, a web site that i found after the last HPOI came in, when i was still seething about having to spend almost the same amount in “extra, add-ons” as i spent for the incense itself. hopefully, i have been alert enough to avoid the fines, this time. 😒
part of what i am worried about is the ISF, which nobody told me about last time, which resulted in my having to pay a $400 fine for “importing without filing an ISF”… but, apparently, the ISF is only needed for ocean cargo… and, if it is needed for air freight, nobody has told me about it yet… but nobody told me about having a “broker” or a “continuous bond” last time, either, and i ended up having to get one at the last minute, at extra, added expense…
but, i paid the money this morning… i initiated an international wire transfer to india, so they’ve got my money, now, and if they don’t actually send me incese, at this point, i will be extremely pissed off.
the latest is that i send them $1,000 and they send me 48 dozen boxes of aparajita, by air freight.
i have to wait until tomorrow to wire them the money. i tried today, but international money transfers have to be done on the same day, and, apparently, that day ends at 1300 hours, PDT, so i have to try again tomorrow.
this appears to be A LOT easier than the HPOI that i ordered two years ago… and a lot less expensive… but i seem to recall that a lot of the charges the last time around were ones that were added on by freight companies, intermediaries, and the federal government, so it’s not over yet. 😒
incense of the month club
this is the basic layout, so far:
people sign up in one of
three two ways, either: 1) they pay $10, and get however many sticks of whatever the incense of the month is, that month. they can do this for as long as they like, up to $120, or 12 months. they don’t get anything extra.
not this… the “Incense Of The Month Club” is a subscription service. if people don’t want to “subscribe”, they can’t be a part of it.
also, it will make it SO much easier determining who gets what
21) they can pay $100 lump sum, all at once, for a “mundane” account, and get 12 months of however many sticks of whatever the incense of the month is, that month. that’s $10 a month, with 2 months free. they don’t get anything extra, but they do get 2 months free (woo hoo! free! 😒). this decreases in price by $10 a month, so in february, it costs $90, in march, it costs $80, in april, it costs $70, and so forth, until it costs $10 at which point it sticks at $10 and they can go month-to-month with the level 1 people. they get the first two months free, and after that, the price goes down $10 a month. basically, people who sign up in january get two months free, people who sign up in february get one month free, and after that, they pay $10 a month until december. 32) they can pay $8.50 a month, $102 total, lump sum, all at once, for a “VIP account”. they actually pay less per month, but, because of the fact that they’re actually paying more, overall, as well as getting however many sticks of whatever the incense of the month is, that month, they also get 🎉🎊EXTRA GOODIES🎊🎉, such as buttons, OM stuff, stickers, little good luck charms, random incense, and other bizarre stuff i have lying around. this offer is good for the first 3 months, and then it vanishes, leaving level 1 or level 2 for those people who want to sign up late, and as a motivation to sign up earlier.
i have 22 “limited edition, vintage” incenses, in packages ranging from 112 grams up to 750 grams, which means, theoretically, i could do this for two years (if i wanted to repeat two of them), but, for now, i’m a lot more interested in seeing how it works, and if anybody actually signs up, before i want to go making plans too far in advance. the incense i’ve got means that if, by some miracle, i actually get 25 people who sign up in january, i can send them anywhere between 5 and 15 sticks per month. if you count in the shipping, that comes out to almost exactly what they would pay for one pack of incense that you CAN find on the web.
this should be interesting. keep your eyes peeled for upcoming information about the Incense Of The Month Club‼‼😎👍
okay, here we go…
i have become more and more aware of the existence of “subscription services” (and have actually signed up for a few, myself), where you sign up, and pay a chunk of money, and then you get pins, or buttons, or stickers, or candy, or what-have-you, once a month for a year.
my impression is that they’re really “trendy”.
so, i have decided that i’m going to have a go at creating one myself.
mine is going to be the “incense of the month” club: you sign up and pay a chunk of money (i’m thinking between $75 and $100), and, in return, once a month, for a year, i’ll send you between 10 and 25 sticks of special, rare, unavailable anywhere else on line or off, incense… and maybe a little blurb about the incense, and a sticker or a button or something, if i want to add some extra zip to the whole thing.
at this point, i believe i’ve got enough “special, rare, unavailable anywhere else on line or off, incense” to fill 25 or so subscriptions for a year… honestly, i can’t imagine more than a handful of people subscribing, at all, but i’ve been wrong before…
i think, at this point, the hardest thing for me may be the fact that, in order for this to even come close to having a chance, i’m going to have to “talk it up” on “social media”, the whole idea of which turns my stomach.
so, anyway, look for the "incense of the month" club announcement coming in january.
today, i got two letters(!) in the standard mail(!).
one of them was an official letter from the DOR, telling me that i had, recently, assigned myself “administrator” of my account…
except that it was addressed to the wrong name…
the other one was an unofficial letter, in a hand-addressed envelope, from a rental company which now, apparently, owns the property that i lived in EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO(!), informing me that they had received a letter from the DOR at that address (seriously, i haven’t gotten mail there for EIGHTEEN YEARS 🤯), and that i should update my address with them.
they included the letter they received.
it was a letter, addressed TO THE WRONG NAME, informing me that my business account does not have an administrator, and gives instructions on how to apply for the position.
that’s not the bizarre part.
the bizarre part is that the return address on the hand-addressed envelope is “YDPAGES”, all in uppercase letters, with the address 12819 SE 38th St., Bellevue, WA 98006.
the letter is on the letterhead for RNR Property Investments, at the same address, and is signed by the CEO for RNR Property Investments, whose email address is at ydpages dot com.
is this starting to sound a little sketchy to you? it is to me…
that address is, now, a UPS store (which doubles as a post-office box location). that address is also, literally, RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from the place i used to work before i got my job at software.com (which became openwave)… according to my handy list of when things happened, i worked there from 1996 to 1998… at that time, there were no buildings there, just raw hillside, covered with second growth forest. i used to eat my lunch on that hillside. i found psychedelic mushrooms on that hillside…
this guy, who sounds REALLY sketchy, somehow got standard mail for my business, at an address i haven’t used in almost 20 years, and mails it to me, and it gets here at EXACTLY the same time as a message from “the government” about EXACTLY THE SAME THING…
if i weren’t already paranoid enough, as it is… 🤬
i got prices from arun this morning. it looks like around $300.00 USD plus shipping for 40 dozen units (which works out to around $1.75 retail per unit, before shipping). why they didn’t send me the shipping charges is still a mystery, but it probably has something to do with COVID19, as that is the excuse for just about everything, these days.
at this point, i’m going to assume that the shipping (air freight from bangalore) is going to be TERRIFICALLY expensive, possibly amounting to more than the total cost of the incense itself. if that is the case, i may want to get more incense, to even things out a little.
i should also get in touch with the three or four other incense sellers that have contacted me, recently, and see if they’re willing to front some money for some rare, desirable incense, at which point i could, theoretically, purchase more than 40 dozen.
they are still making aparajita! i can order directly from the manufacturer!
APARAJITA WILL BE BACK!🎉🎊🎈🎊🎉
the latest about aparajita:
no good news, i’m afraid. i’m down to my last two boxes of aparajita, and then i am COMPLETELY OUT… for retail sale.
(my “personal stash”, of around a kilo, is the exception, of course.) 😉
HOWEVER, i am cautiously optimistic. an email i sent on 12th april has JUST been responded to by mavana’s representative in india, a guy named arun, with whom i have dealt extensively, in the past… 15 to 20 years ago…
he didn’t respond to any of my direct questions regarding aparajita, he asked how i was getting along in these times of global pandemic…
the global pandemic is fine, and all that, but I WANT MY APARAJITA, GODDAMNIT!
and it’s not JUST for me: i’ve got two other retailers who are breathing down my neck for it, and, just a couple of months ago, i had to PREVENT some unknown
miscreant person from swooping in and buying ALL my remaining stock, just prior to ravi shankar’s birthday celebration — the only reason he wasn’t successful is that the first of his two credit cards was declined, which gave me the chance to go in to the web site and make the changes necessary to prevent him from doing so again — so i KNOW the demand is out there.
since monday, 200608, i have gotten SEVENTEEN new incense orders, which works out to 3.4 new orders a day, in 5 days. 🤨
under ordinary circumstances, i get 3 or 4 new orders A MONTH. 😖
someone must have mentioned my web site on their podcast, or something.
also, it may be that someone mentioned my web site on a podcast about ravi shankar or the beatles, because by far and away the most incense i have sold since 200608, has been aparajita. now there are approximately 35 boxes left before i run completely out. 😒
ahhhh! now we find out…
my newly redesigned site uses the enfold theme, which has faulty (under certain circumstances) caching and optimisation routines, so we use lightspeed cache, which doesn’t have those (particular) faults, and works better (under certain circumstances).
except, last year, prior to my site being redesigned (when i was still using the avada theme), i was told (by SOMEONE) to disable lightspeed cache, because it had some sort of incompatibility with… something…
so, i went through the site redesign with a disabled lightspeed plugin. no problem, until i put in the enfold theme, and whatever circumstances that cause the caching and optimisation routines to fail, were happening, which was the cause of the first go-round.
turning on the lightspeed cache fixed the first go-round, but whatever incompatibility i was trying to avoid by having the lightspeed plugin disabled, took effect, which was the cause of the second go-round.
which was further confused by the fact that part of my routine for fixing the first go-round was good enough that it fixed the second go-round well enough that i didn’t find out about it until it was too late.
what i found out, today, via my web developer, is that the people who make the lightspeed cache and webhost python (my host provider) have their own battle going on: on webhost python’s servers (which include mine), the lightspeed plugin causes expired transients to multiply and duplicate. lightspeed says it’s python’s fault. python disagrees…
on the record…
OFF the record, python agrees that there is a bug in their system that they haven’t found yet… compounded by the fact that it was THEIR ERROR which caused the third go-round… 😠 but it’s not for me to say “i told you so”, especially with my already somewhat precarious position with this particular host provider…
and so, i’m caught in the middle. 😒
apparently, for the time being anyway, the plan is to disable the caching modules on both enfold AND lightspeed, keep an eye on the database (which hasn’t blown up since implementing this plan), clear the expired transients manually, and examine other options for a cache.
oy! why won’t this just go away?
at midnight (which was 3:00 in the morning, florida time), i got a message saying that the database was blowing up again. they said it was 183 GIGABYTES…
because of the fact that i was asleep (thankfully), i didn’t actually read the message until 7:00 my time (10:00 florida time). i immediately logged into my web server, and discovered that the MySQL disk usage was lower than i have ever seen it before, which is to say 253 MEGABYTES
what this tells me is that there’s something else going on besides this whole “enfold-theme-not-caching-correctly” horseshit.
which is bad.
it also tells me that, whatever it is, we haven’t actually found it… we may have found another problem, but not the one for which we’re looking… yet…
which is bad, but not as bad as it could be.
it also tells me that, whatever it is that is going wrong, the cronjob that we put in place to solve the problem, works, REGARDLESS of the actual problem.
which is good.
but, when it comes right down to it, it is not good for me to be so stressed out about something over which i have very little control.
which is bad.
something has to be done. this is ridiculous.
oh, but it couldn’t have ended there, now, could it?
and the answer is, a big, fat, OF COURSE NOT! 😒
i woke up this morning, and couldn’t log in to my web site… at, like, SEVEN in the fucking morning, i was wide awake because i couldn’t log in to my web site.
at NINE, the web designer gets back to me. he can’t login either. apparently the host provider has disabled the config file that makes everything work — i login using SSH, and there’s the file… everything LOOKS okay, but… the host provider apparently did SOMETHING to my web site. as far as i can tell, everything works, sort of, until you get one or two pages deep, at which point it gives me a “unable to connect to database” error.
so, i file a ticket with the host provider. a couple hours later, (all the while, i’m sweating bullets) they get back to me, apparently, the database blew up AGAIN. they disabled the config file so that nobody could use the web site, because the database was growing by gigabytes A SECOND.
eventually (seriously, they took most of the day to UN-disable the config file), the web designer went in and turned off everything having to do with the built-in, screwy, does-not-work, enfold caching and optimisation routines, turned OFF “store transients”, and set a cronfile to delete three rows of a table in the database, every hour.
this better be the last of it for a while, because i’m just about ready to throw in the towel.
the database is fixed. 😌
what happened? that’s complex.
recently, i had my web site redesigned. the new design uses the “Enfold” theme, which uses a lot of what they call “transients” to maintain the look and feel of the site, regardless of the platform on which it’s being viewed. “transients” are sort of like cookies, except that you can’t opt out of them, and they don’t contain any personally identifying information. some of these “transients” expire immediately when a person leaves the web site, and others persist, for a few minutes to several days. they persist on your computer AND on my server… in the one of the tables in the database…
the “Enfold” theme has automatic caching and garbage collection routines that are supposed to handle these expired “transients”, but, because it’s a wordpress theme, it doesn’t do all the jobs very well… or, sometimes, at all… which is why i also use a caching plugin that actually, you know, works ALL the time, and not only some of the time… 😒
except that, for some reason, prior to my site upgrade, “someone” (and i have yet to identify who, but it was either my web designer or my host provider) recommended that i disable the caching plugin, because of some issue with the new version of wordpress… or something like that… as i said, i don’t remember. i distinctly remember disabling the plugin on someone’s recommendation, i just don’t remember exactly who, when or why. 😖
one way or the other, my caching plugin was disabled, which meant that, when i installed the new theme, it was relying on the not-working-the-way-it-should, internal cache… which, basically, didn’t work, causing the table in the database to expand beyond my disk space allocation. 🤯
it didn’t show up in my cPanel because i wasn’t looking at the SQL disk space, which is “below the fold” of my browser, and i just didn’t scroll down far enough to see it. 😕 during the nightly automatic backup, it was overwhelming the server for everybody, not just me. i had to pay my web designer for two days of poking through piles of arcane SQL code and deleting bits and pieces of it. it was not fun.
the solution was to enable the caching plugin(!), and to install a “transient manager” plugin, so that i can delete the expired transients from the wordpress dashboard, and not from the SQL database,… which requires A LOT more “knowing what to look for” and “knowing how to delete stuff without damaging other stuff” than i have on board, personally.
ravi shankar’s 100th birthday was the 7th of april.
ravi shankar’s favourite incense was aparajita.
at this point, i believe i am responsible for THE ONLY retail store in the united states which sells aparajita, online.
i am aware of several local retail stores which sell aparajita in their store, but not online. i’m fairly sure that there are others, in other cities. i am also aware of at least two retail stores (i won’t give them the satisfaction of a link) who say that they sell aparajita online, but they’re either perennially “out of stock”, or flat out rip people off, and hope that nobody notices. i have no doubt that there are others of that sort out there, as well.
recently, i had to prevent a guy from los angeles from buying ALL of my aparajita. he said he was working with ravi shankar’s family and the ravi shankar foundation on a special 100th birthday celebration. problem was, his credit card failed stripe, and the order was automatically cancelled… and then i learned how to set an item limit, so that people like him can’t just swoop in and buy all of my stock…
i’ve actually had this happen before: a few years ago, i stocked an incense that was made for the theosophical society by shroff agarbathies, that shroff called “Adyar Meditation Incense”, but the theosophical people called it “Leadbeater Incense”, and it was fantastic, rose, agar, and sandalwood, and i was the ONLY agarbathiwala outside of the theosophical society that carried it… but then the government of india put some sort of restrictions on the export of sandalwood, and shroff stopped making it. i found out about it when someone from florida (i suspect a theosophist, actually) bought TWO KILOS of adyar meditation incense, in 100 gram packages, and when i tried to order more, i couldn’t.
fortunately, i held back some for my own, personal “stash”, but since then i have been very wary of people who buy a huge quantity of one particular incense.
and, the fact is, i’ve been having some trouble locating a supplier of aparajita… AGAIN… 😒
my contact at mavana stopped responding to my emails, the mavana web site died, both of the suppliers (one in florida, one in new york) that carried it have gone out of business, and all of the other suppliers i’ve talked to say that they won’t carry it because aparajita smells too “medicinal”, whatever that means… 😟
my only hope is the fact that, in india, it is still popular enough that it’s being “copied” by at least two incense manufacturers… they haven’t got the recipe for the incense, but their labeling and package artwork is a direct rip-off of the authentic aparajita.
so, i guess i may have to actually travel to india eventually… 😒
my first direct experience with databases was in the late 1980s or early 1990s, when i got a “job”, “working” for this… guy…
i don’t remember his name — possibly “henry” — but i remember his attitudes: he was always right, nothing he thought of had ever been thought of before, he was the richest, smartest, trendiest, most “on-top-of-it” dude that ever hit the face of the planet, and GAWD HELP YOU if you EVER got in his way.
needless to say, the “job” didn’t last long. it started with him demonstrating how generous he was, by buying me a disk caddy, so that i would have somewhere to keep all of the disks i was going to accumulate working for him. then he started asking me about computers. at the time, i was NOT a “computer geek”, nor did i want to be one (my father was one of the original “computer geeks” and i DID NOT want to be like my father), but i knew about computers because i had been working as a typesetter for a few years. he asked me what i didn’t know about computers, and one of the first things out of my mouth was “databases”, so he signed me up for a week of training with “FileMaker”…
what i learned was a bunch of recycled stuff from my already ample knowledge of microslut word and excel, with a bunch of “hypercard-like” stuff which i sort of vaguely understood (but nobody i knew used hypercard for anything, so i never really knew what i had missed until years later), and, at the same time i was doing this training, i was helping this… guy… clean out his house, because he was going through a divorce, or some awful shit like that, and he, basically, had to move EVERYTHING that was “his”, out of one house and into another, that was a few houses down the street…
which is where i learned that his “rich” persona was heavily financed by several HUNDRED overdrawn credit cards — he had been using one credit card to pay off another credit card, and when he ran out of credit cards, he would just start up a new one, and use it to pay off the previous ones… FOR YEARS… — at which point i decided that working for this guy might not be such a good idea, if i wanted to get paid.
quite apart from the fact that working for him was REALLY annoying…
so, ultimately, i spent a week learning really complex software that i never got to use for anything, and that was it, until i got my job at software.com, testing email servers, in 2001.
and, for all of my work with databases at software.com/openwave, i still don’t have a really solid grasp of what they are… where they “live”, what they do, how they work… anything… all i know is that, under the right set of circumstances, you can give “commands” to a database, and it will perform certain functions with a variety of different “objects”, the outcomes of which can be used in a multitude of different ways, depending on what is contained in your database.
i get the impression that databases are a lot like the world wide web, in that they both have a lot of objects (web sites) that are linked together in a somewhat-haphazard, but definitely organised way.
so, you can imagine that it was something of a surprise when, the other morning, i woke up, checked my email, and discovered two somewhat alarming notices. the first was warning me that i had used up 90% of my disk space on my server, and the other was warning me that a “table” on my main database was malfunctioning… or something… and collecting 251 GB worth of data… which, somehow, was NOT showing up in my cPanel, which says “Disk Usage 18.43 GB / 292.97 GB”…
and, of course, it happened on a sunday, when nobody’s in the office, and on mothers day, when even fewer people are in the office, and during a PANDEMIC… 😒
so, first thing this morning, after waking up to a broken heat pump, and a wife who wrenched her back, i wrote to my web designer, who said, oh yeah, we’ve seen this kind of thing before, it’ll cost between $200 and $500 to fix it…
and I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT’S WRONG… 😖
this weekend, at “some point” — which means for 30 minutes, some time between 0:00 saturday and 24:00 sunday — the Hybrid Elephant web site will be updated to a new, more “appropriate” design in which i had A LOT more say than the previous one…
see this post for as much of a reason as i ever got.
thanks to rick cano at DesignWorks NW…
which means that, on monday, everyone should remember to flush your cache (all my browsers are set to zero cache, already) and buy some incense from my new web site, okay? 😉👍
i ordered a bunch of tibetan incense from Dakpa Tamdin, in India, this afternoon. it should be here in a couple months or less… it’s coming from india and i don’t even have the shipping details, yet. it may be sooner, but a couple of months sounds about right. keep an eye out here for further details as they become available.
before the mushrooms kick in…
#drumpf is in the midst of impeachment, but it doesn’t appear to be making a whole lot of difference (thus, the mushrooms), but there have been some good things happening.
i have been getting A LOT of incense orders: 13 since the first of october, compared to 5 or fewer per month from january to september. also, i’ve gotten more orders from england and germany, since the first of october, than i have in the entire year previous. i still don’t entirely know what’s happening, but the end result is that i’ve now got more than $4,000 in my hybrid elephant account… which is somewhat startling…
last weekend, moe and i took a mini-vacation to san diego, for one night. ostensibly, moe had to rack up enough airline miles to qualify for “gold status”, because she has been travelling A LOT recently — mostly because of her newfound notariety as the author of a revolutionary book on animal behaviour — which, naturally, means that i have to stay at home and look after the pets.
seriously, folks… i’m married to a famous author! this week, she’s staying at a hotel in times square! it’s probably about as close to famous as i’m ever going to be! 😎
so moe decided that she would find a pet sitter and we would go off on our own (which i really appreciate). she chose san diego because she has been there before, and i haven’t, but i realised that san diego is the home of not one, but two outlets of the Village Hat Shop, which is where i bought my red fedora, and it is also home to the naval amphibious base coronado, which is a building shaped like a swastika.
i saw where it was when we were flying in, but i didn’t actually see the building because we were at too shallow an angle, and you pretty much have to be directly overhead to actually see that it’s shaped like a swastika…
so we flew to san diego to go hat shopping. i bought a pork pie made out of paper (a paper pork pie), and exhibited a great deal of self restraint becauuse i really wanted to take home about half the shop.
we actually stayed on coronado island
we stayed in a hotel room that is so “far above our station” that i almost got a nosebleed. 😉
and we flew home the next day, which was sunday.
i went busking yesterday, which was good, despite the fact that we only made about $20 a piece for 2 hours of busking. today i took two packages to the post office to ship out, and went to the dispensary, where i spent it all on weed and weed-related products.
and no w m y jmushrooms have kikckedk in ahd i heeed to be g oijn go ut for a wal,,k oris oemething lll…. 😁
2019 panto banner
i got the green light to print the banners on tuesday. this is thursday…
i’m REALLY impressed: they took our artwork (me, norma, and mimi) and printed it at 300dpi on a 60″x90″ banner, and they did a GOOD job of it in a VERY short period of time: i sent them the artwork on tuesday, and, according to their web site, they had everything done and it was shipped by wednesday evening… it didn’t actually get to me until thursday morning, but even that is a lot faster than i was expecting… and two 5’x7½’ banners for $155 is astounding… seriously, i was expecting them to be at least $155 A PIECE… 👍‼‼
update to the update.
chris came over to talk about printing.
he actually convinced me to make some minor changes to the back of the postcard: i changed one typeface to bold, and increased it by one point.
it was more than i should have done, but i wanted to seem like i was giving in to at least one of his demands.
and the only reason i didn’t tell him to take the finished files and make the changes himself is because i’ve worked with him for a long time, and, allegedly, he’s my friend.
but, honestly, it seems like he has drunk the kool-aid a little bit on this one.
however, one way or the other, the postcards are currently at the printer, so no further changes can be made. and, as they’re getting 5,000 of them, there’s a good chance that there won’t be a second run.
still don’t know about the poster. leah has already printed some — who knows how many — so there might not be any more. 😒
i should update this thing again…
the most recent thing is that i have “volunteered” to help make the artwork that is going to be used for this year’s panto: the program cover, poster, postcard and banner. i put “volunteered” in quotation marks because it was presented as a fairly straightforward job that has turned into a nightmare of emails between me and norma, on one side, and leah and the steering committee — who pretty much don’t know what they’re talking about — on the other side… which i would very definitely NOT have “volunteered” for, if i had known about it ahead of time.
it started with me and norma. we, plus mimi, produced the artwork for last year’s panto (to great success, i might add), and we started out to make it largely the same…
then leah got involved. leah is the “publicity manager” this year, and she has very specific — if not outrageously wrong — ideas about how the artwork should appear. leah also set a deadline of october 3rd for all of this to be done, so that i could send it to the printer so that we could have posters and postcards by the first week of october.
on the first round of feedback in which leah was involved (third week of september), one of her “suggestions” was
Remove the Fremont Players website and keep the brown paper tickets (if people google us, they will find our web site)
she also wanted me to remove the fremont players’ graphic logo, remove the year, reduce the amount of text, and “integrate other stylistic suggestions from the steering committee”, who, like i said before, have NO CLUE what they’re talking about.
so, norma and i ignored about 90% of their suggestions, did what we could to placate leah (including taking the graphic logo off the front of the postcard and putting it on the back, faded behind the text so it’s “not noticible”, and, after a few more “back-and-forths” which didn’t include leah, we came up with what we thought was finished artwork.
meanwhile, on october 1st, leah wrote to me, asking how much it would cost — PER POSTER — to print them. this is a very complex question, which has a different answer based on whether you are using a small, local print shop (like the kind i worked in for 20+ years) or a large, nation wide printing house (like the kind i use these days), and if you are using a large, nation wide printing house, how much posters cost depends on whether you want a small number or a large number.
i tried to explain this to leah, but she was more concerned with the fact that
If I’m reading this correctly, 150 posters cost $210 but 250 posters cost only $40 more and ordering 4000 postcards is $465 but 5000 is $125 cheaper??
to which i responded “that’s right.”
i know, it’s weird, but it’s how large, nation wide printing houses do business, and it appears to work for them. you can’t get different specific-size jobs unless you’re willing to pay more than you would if you get an amount that the printers produce, which is usually more than you want, but “per poster” it comes in WAY cheaper than if you get a different, specific-size job.
so, she approved the artwork on october 2nd, and on october 3rd, she said that i should hold off on contacting the printer, because she wanted to see if it was possible to get an exact size job for a cheaper price.
to which i responded
yes, you can probably get cheaper prices from somewhere else, but keep in mind the quality of the printing i provided last year: posters on 100lb gloss stock, and postcards on 16pt gloss stock with UV coating. i’m pretty sure you’re not going to get anywhere close to the same quality anywhere else, for anything close to the prices i have quoted.
which was ignored… 🤦
a couple of days later, she wrote asking for the high res files, because she had found a “digital printer” (read “photocopy shop”) who would do EXACTLY the size job she wanted for half the price (on much lower quality paper, but she doesn’t know the difference).
so i uploaded them to dropbox, and washed my hands of the whole deal. 😒
it turns out that she had something printed — i still don’t know whether or not she used the correct files (if i had actually been there, and she had shown up with printing from the wrong files, i would have walked out and never gone back… 😒), but my guess is that either she didn’t use the correct files, or she whipped something together in microsoft publisher (or something like that) and used that instead.
then, on october 9th, i get a request for more changes to the postcard. apparently, now, they actually want the date on the front of the card.
i respond by telling maque that they have the high res versions of the artwork, and that they are welcome to make whatever changes they like to the card, BY THEMSELVES, because i am done with this job, and there is a very good likelyhood that i will not be available to “help” again next year, or going forward, because i felt like it was too much work for too little actual gain.
then, yesterday, i get a call from chris huson. he wants to meet me to discuss why i am so upset with the printing process. actually, he SAYS he wants to “discuss further changes” to the postcard, but i nip that in the bud right away.
i explain exactly what i (and mimi and norma) did, and exactly what leah did. i show him emails from leah. i show him the finished artwork — which he says doesn’t look like what leah had printed. i explain about the confusing pricing, and the quality differences, and how none of this seemed to make a difference to leah.
it turns out that leah actually asked chris to take over managing the artwork portion of the job. given what chris already knew about leah, and about the fact that i was upset about the way this whole thing was working out — AND because chris is on the steering committee AND the board of directors, he made the executive decision to take over managing the production of the artwork.
he’s coming over tomorrow to finalise the “already finalised” artwork, to talk about run amounts, and the schedule of when we might have things.
from the time i was born until the time i finally escaped my parents’ house, when i was 20 or so, the primary message i received, over and over, was that i was not good enough, that i would never BE good enough, and that, unless i worked VERY hard at “being normal”, nobody would ever like me.
it wasn’t always very subtle, but that was the underlying message, regardless of what i did: they said they were “proud of me” when i won awards, but they refused to do anything to help me win more awards, and shot me down every time i thought i might be able to succeed at doing… pretty much anything…
and when i wasn’t winning awards for playing trombone, or doing magic shows, i didn’t even have a name: i was “the crummy child”. oldest by 6 years of four children, the other three of whom were born two years apart, starting when i was 6, then 8, then 10, when they got old enough to realise what was happening, my siblings called me “the crummy child” as well. when my first younger sister was born, i quickly faded into the background. after that, the only times anybody noticed me was when i was winning awards or when i was getting into trouble.
this whole business of working with leah brought all that back in one fell swoop: regardless of how good the art was, it wasn’t good enough. 😠
it has begun to be worked out, now that chris is more involved than he was before, but i’m still quite shaken, and stirred up (at the same time) by this whole fiasco.
i made a necklace that i’m particularly proud of:
i can’t decide whether it’s art, or jewelry… or possibly both… and spiritually oriented, as well: the “penis” is a sivalingam, and the “testicles” are a gauri shankar, which is two naturally-joined rudrakshas.
it doesn’t have any real “traditional” meaning, at least not as far as i know, so it may represent what they call “cultural appropriation”, but, if it does, i don’t care, because it doesn’t represent that to me. to me it represents all of the best that can be represented by Ṣíva and Ganeṣa… and it looks awesome, and, perhaps, a little bit silly. 🤪 there is more about gauri shankar and sivalingam available for those who may be interested.
i might be convinced to sell it — maybe, at some undefined future time — but i think i would charge at least $500 for it… maybe more. 😉
i’m getting closer and closer to divesting myself of all of my web hosting clients. i’m hoping that my last day of hosting anybody except me, and people directly related to me (i.e. my wife and son) will be 190430. i’m still trying to get two domains off my server, and then there will be one, which i don’t know whether they are going to find a new server, or whether they are just going to let it die. either way, it’s SEP and i don’t have to worry about it…
although i am… 😒
we came back from the beach. it rained a lot. i planned on taking mushrooms, but it rained, so i didn’t. i did spent a lot of time sleeping… and other passtimes:
although the dog moved by the time i took the picture…
and, given that it’s the first time that i’ve drawn anything other than doodles since my injury, i kinda like it…
then, we came home, and went to a concert by The University of Washington Harry Partch Ensemble, with authentic Harry Partch instruments:
the instruments are the Cloud Chamber Bowls, the Adapted Viola, the Adapted Guitar III, The Kithara II, the Spoils Of War, the Bass Marimba the Harmonic Canon, the Surrogate Kithara, the Diamond Marimba, the Marimba Eroica, the Koto, and the Chromelodeons I and II
a close-up of the Spoils Of War, with the Cloud Chamber Bowls in the background, and the Diamond Marimba in the foreground
it’s STANDARD NOTATION!!! just sub-scripts and super-scripts to define the microtones and the rythmn… i never would have guessed… but, at the same time, when you’re already working with music that is THAT DIFFERENT from what we, in the west, think of as “normal”, i suppose it’s a lot easier to not have to learn a new way of notating that “abnormal” music, as well…
it turns out that the current Harry Partch Foundation is located at the UW, and all of his instruments are housed there. again, i never would have guessed, but… wow.
i told monique, when we walked into the concert hall, that they had not played a note and i was already ecstatic.
i started my third session of my circus class. it’s a “basic circus skills for handicapped adults” class — mostly people with parkinson’s — but, because of the fact that i took to unicycle, i started a unicycle class, as well: at first, i borrowed a unicycle from one of monique’s co-workers, but it was too short, so i went on craigslist and bought an almost-new, used unicycle, that was exactly the same size wheel but a longer seatpost, that is now my very own, personal unicycle.
i have this vision — my training from the flybottle class would say “fantasy” — of what i want to do with the unicycle: there’s this guy, in portland, who is known as “The Unipiper”. he rides around portland, on a unicycle, playing a flaming bagpipe.
i’ve wanted to make a flaming tuba for a long time. i’ve got all the necessary materials to make a flaming tuba. all i have to do is learn to ride a unicycle, and i can be “The Tubacyclist”.
i hope to be relatively stable on the unicycle by OCF this year. i’m GOING to do this! 🐉
the continuing saga of the mailing list fiasco has reached a new plateau:
so, it started out that one of the subscribers to the list sent a message to the list that didn’t go through, for some unknown reason (demons).
when his message didn’t go through IMMEDIATELY — as he was used to them doing — he started looking around for other addresses, and he found two of them. one goes to the list owner, and one is a “machine only” address that sends bounce notices to the owner. it is not for sending email TO, and it is definitely not for sending mail to when your message doesn’t go through, because that triggers the MTA on the user end to blacklist your message.
i found out about this whole fiasco about 6 hours into it, when he sent mail to my personal address, asking me if there was something wrong. i noticed that he had sent mail to the machine-only address, and got blacklisted by micro$awful, so i wrote to the host provider to see if there was something that could be done to reverse the problem.
the host provider’s response was to accuse me (and my mailing list) of sending spam, and they have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to sending spam. 😒
they generously offered to set me up with a new IP address instead of arbitrarily closing my account, but the new IP address they gave me didn’t have a PTR (pointer) record, or a RDNS (Reverse DNS) record, which only made the machine that controls the email list mad, because usual mailing lists have a PTR and a RDNS record, and the end result was that i was blacklisted by a number of services with which i have been exchanging emails without a problem for years.
fortunately, these other services were ones for which i could submit delisting requests myself, which takes the host provider and their sensitivity about spam and spammers out of the loop.
nevertheless, i started losing patience, and i might have said some things in my communications with the host provider which ended up making things a whole lot worse, ending up with yesterday, when they asked me to move my web sites to a different host provider immediately.
at EXACTLY THE SAME TIME, the PTR and RDNS records that they installed on my new IP address took effect, which meant that i can no longer send email from my local email client, because it’s not the same server that my VPN has been talking to for more than a year, and i lost it. i didn’t actually curse at them, but i did everything but that.
while i was in the process of figuring out that it was my VPN that was my primary problem, i had, simultaneously, to explain the mistake to the guy who sent the original message, re-assure the members of the mailing list who were trying — and failing — to send messages to the list that they weren’t actually the problem, despite the fact that their email addresses were not interacting correctly with the mailing list, and fend off the more and more insistent demands that i leave, immediately, from the host provider.
long story short, i didn’t sleep very well last night. 😠
at about 3:30 this morning, i finally wrote a letter to macque, saying that i was no longer able to host the web sites he has me hosting, i was no longer able to maintain the mailing list, and that i was retiring from the hosting business.
then i checked, once again, with micro$awful, and determined that I HADN’T ACTUALLY BEEN BLACKLISTED AT ALL!
the WHOLE THING had been caused by “demons” in the machine! 😖
and, to top things all off, we’re scheduled to go to the beach for a week, starting monday, which meant that, if i was going to move, i would have to find a new host and give them the information they need to move my web sites in 3 days, or wait a week, and do the same thing when i got back from vacation. both of these options made going on vacation TO BEGIN WITH not a very exciting prospect, and i was getting severely depressed about it.
and, to put the cherry on top, it turns out that sketch, the drummer for Snake Suspenderz, died yesterday, which made me even more depressed… primarily because he, being dead, didn’t have to worry about all the CRAP that has been going on in the world, while i, being not dead, had to deal with seven times MORE CRAP and had no say in the matter, whatsoever.
then, things started to get better… kind of…
the first thing that happened is that, when i told them that i would be moving my web site in two weeks, that micro$awful hadn’t really blacklisted my IP address, and that i had dumped the client that had caused the whole fiasco, they let up a little bit, and allowed that, since i had paid access until july, that i could stay until then. with a bit more discussion back and forth, they relented even further, and allowed me to keep my web sites where they are.
but i’m still giving up being a host provider for people who don’t know how it works, because it’s WAY too stressful.
so, in the end, i can go on vacation without having to worry about internet SHIT, either while i am on vacation, or after i get home; i will no longer have to deal with people who don’t know doing things that they shouldn’t do and feeling awful about it afterwards, and i won’t ACTUALLY have to move my web sites that aren’t going away anyway (which is an entirely different ball of wax)…
but sketch is still dead, which means that, either, Snake Suspenderz will break up, or that we will find a new drummer… neither of which are very attractive alternatives at this point.
i am done with the moisture festival for another year: 13 shares. we’ll see what a share costs in about a month, but i’m not holding my breath.
during the fremont phil part of the run, i broke my tuba: the mouthpiece receiver came loose, which made playing the instrument sort of interesting, but not absolutely impossible, which is why i took it to the repair shop today, instead of when it happened.
i’m still recovering from the flu. i’ve got a persistent cough which, according to what i’ve read recently, may never go away, although it seems to be, so i don’t know yet.
and, while i was busy with the moisture festival, a subscriber to one of the mailing lists i maintain, who has an email address at micro$awful, unknowingly sent email to the wrong address, and got the mailing list blacklisted from sending to addresses at micro$awful. the host provider’s response to this was to believe micro$awful, and to say that if i don’t move the mailing list to a third-party, commercial SMTP provider, that they were going to refuse to provide service to me any longer. i don’t want to do that, but i am running out of other choices very quickly, and informing micro$awful that their automated blacklister made a mistake is almost impossible. i’m getting really tired of dealing with other peoples’ screw-ups, and, once again, am debating whether or not to just toss all of my “web clients” except for my wife, and just deal with my own domains. it would be so much easier than explaining stuff to people who don’t understand, who don’t pay attention, and who do continue to do the stuff that makes problems happen which i can’t fix.
now that the moisture festival is over, i’ve got a band-mate’s saxophone to work on for a couple days, and moe and i are going to the beach in a week or so. hopefully that will give me the chance to get back to normal for a while. 😒
recently, i’ve been incensing the neighbourhood.
i’ve been taking my thurible outside (because, realistically, that’s the only place i can use it without setting off my smoke alarm), drinking beer, smoking pot, listening to frank zappa, and burning frankincense, benzoin and copal resin — rather like the ethiopian family that lived next door to us, where we used to live, in renton, did…
although i’m reasonably sure that the ethiopian family didn’t smoke pot, drink beer, and listen to frank zappa… 😉
but, basically, i really like burning incense, i really like burning frankincense, because it has the scientifically-proven ability to calm my anxiousness, and i really like “sharing” the good smells with my neighbours… whether they like it or not… 😈
which got me to thinking, yesterday…
i also REALLY like playing music for people. particularly, i really like playing my overtone flute at the oregon country fair, where people passing by have the possibility of hearing my music, but not knowing exactly from where it may be coming.
so, i thought, why not combine the two, and put together a “performance” or a “concert”, or something like that, where i set up somewhere, incense the whole place, and play my overtone flute?
it would have to be an outside venue, because nobody would want “concert” like this inside, where it would be extremely likely to set off smoke alarms, but that’s okay, because if it’s outside, there’s more of a possibility that people will experience the scent and not even be able to tell from where it’s coming… possible places are greenlake, volunteer park and gasworks park.
i would probably also want to set up a sign, or something, letting people know what i’m doing… but it would also be interesting to do that sort of thing without any clues, just to see how people might respond…
HPOI have arrived!
and there was much rejoicing…
it actually doesn’t look like that much incense, but remember… 75kg = 165.3467lb — these boxes are dense…
they have weird packing in india… all of them are labeled “CNT:NO1/3” but each of them have a different CNT:NO… i would have thought that CNT:NO1 would be labeled CNT:NO1/3, and CNT:NO2 would be labeled CNT:NO2/3… but i have never shipped anything from india before, so who knows. what i do know is that i had to pay ANOTHER fee before i was able to pick them up, which brings the grand total cost to $1,815.75, or $1.12 per package…
which is still pretty respectable, considering that, as far as i have been able to tell, nobody else in the united states sells these incenses online, and i can probably retail them for $4.00 a piece, or wholesale them for $25 a dozen. 😉
i haven’t opened them all, yet, but i opened this one because it’s one of my favourite incenses. they used to make 999 Lord Krishna Puja Dhoop, but they don’t any longer. fortunately they use the same recipe to make sticks, so i’ve got my supply. 😉
i understand why mr. joy wanted to send me more incense. the three boxes didn’t even fill up one pallet, and it would cost pretty much the same to ship three boxes or thirty boxes. i can see that, now… of the $1,815.75 that i paid for it, only $771.00 went to MSDF, and $1,044.75 went to various different freight companies. it would have been much better for me to order twice or three times as much incense, because i would have had to pay the same amount to ship it…
or not… 😕
the continuing saga of the huge piles of incense
on 180329, i finally got some reliable information from the person i had been calling to find out about where the huge piles of incense were. they told me that i had to get in touch with the people who “owned the shipment”, which is a place called USL Cargo Services, in new jersey. the lady i finally reached at USL (a very pleasant, but intensely rushed lady named Roselyn Ramos) said that they had to have a copy of the OBL, and a payment of $221.50 before they could tell me where to pick it up.
great, i thought… it’ll be here soon. i had only called the shipping terminal people in kent (where the Sea Freight LCL Arrival Notice said it would be), THREE TIMES before he gave me that information. i contacted USL, sent the payment and the copy of the OBL, and figured that would be it.
then, on 180411, i got an email from Mr. Joy, the guy from whom i actually bought the huge piles of incense. i was not the direct recipient of said email, i had just been copied on it, because it was from somebody at the shipping port in india named “Parab”, complaining to Mr. Joy that the ISF had not been filed. Mr. Joy responded by saying “Hope the importer is doing the needful.”
so, i contacted roselyn, and she said that the ISF was supposed to be filed (i didn’t get exactly who is supposed to file it, but i gather that one of the options is me, and another option is Mr. Joy) before the shipment leaves the port of origin, and, because of the fact that it hadn’t been filed, i would be charged an extra $400 “fine”, for importing stuff without an ISF. she suggested that i contact Mr. Joy and see if he couldn’t work something out.
which, naturally, Mr. Joy was unwilling to do… 😡
so, with the broker’s fees, plus the $500 “fee” for a “continuous bond” (which, in spite of the name, only lasts for a year), i owe a further $685.55…
AND I STILL don’t know when or where i’m supposed to pick up the huge piles of incense.
presumably, the “where” part of it is at the shipping terminal in kent. the guy at the shipping terminal said that the shipment had arrived and was being “devanned”(?) today… he also said that, once it has been “devanned”(?), and the customs had been worked out, they would send an email to the shipper (Mr. Joy?) informing them of the fact. i’m assuming that the “when” part is going to be some time this week… but i’ve been assuming that for three weeks now, and it hasn’t happened yet.
today, 180416, i got email from “Ravi”, who is also known as “import4”. “import4” is the address i have been instructed to send to, when i am writing to roselyn, so that, when roselyn isn’t available, i can still get up to date information. it contained what i hope is the final “Sea Freight LCL Arrival Charge Sheet”, which totals $907.05… of which, i have already paid $221.50. it also contained a note that said “also we are pending OBL to release your shipment kindly send asap.”
in my communication with roselyn, last week, i was informed that i had to send the ORIGINAL OBL, and not a copy, as i had been told previously. i sent it, and it arrived 180413. i wrote back to “import4”, informing him of this, and he said, yes, they had recieved it… but, if that’s the case, why did he say that it was “pending”? 😐
one way or the other, it looks, at this point, like i’m still going to get 1,632 packages of incense for a little more than $1.05 per package… and NOBODY in the united states sells these incenses on line…
ETA: i sent what i hope is the last payment to people concerning the HPOI. now all i gotta do is wait for them to tell me when and where to pick it up. 😎
the saga of the huge piles of incense
i am collecting quite an admirable pile of documents related to my purchase and import of huge piles of incense into the country, and i keep finding out new things which were NOT related to me when i originally made the decision to start the ball rolling, back in january.
i got a “Sea Freight LCL* Arrival Notice” a couple of weeks or so ago, which listed a freight terminal in kent, under the heading “GOODS AVAILABLE AT:”, and an “upgraded” notice about a week ago, which contained the IT number — which, apparently, means “Inbond Transit”… i would have thought it meant “InboUnd Transit” but apparently not. the IT number is the one that the people at the terminal where i pick it up from, ultimately, have been asking for… however, now that they have it, they’re just as clueless as they were before, and they recommend that i contact the people who actually have the cargo, at this point.
i had to call them THREE TIMES before i learned that the people who have the cargo are USL Cargo Services, in east rutherford, new jersey, and when i called them, they were closing down for the (holiday 😡 ) weekend, and won’t be able to figure it out until monday, at the earliest.
they did, however, ask me if i had a “broker”, which i thought about, and then said no — because, technically, i am a “print broker”, but i figured that was not what they were asking about. apparently, one needs a “broker” to “clear” the shipment, at the terminal, before it can be picked up. not only that, but there was another page, labeled “Sea Freight LCL Arrival Charge Sheet” which added up a total of $231.20 worth of extra charges invoiced to me, which had to be paid before i could pick it up, once the “broker” is done “clearing” it. 😕 on top of everything else, apparently i have to mail them an original copy of the bill of lading, two copies of which were mailed to me from india, about a week into the whole process (i.e. about a month and a half ago). if someone had actually told me that i was supposed to do all of this crap ahead of time, it wouldn’t have taken me by surprise when i found out about it now. fortunately, i found out about it before the point where i went down to the terminal in kent to pick it up.
at this point, i have paid a total of $1,037.20 for 1,632 individual packages of incense, which STILL only amounts to 64¢ per package…
once i actually have it in my posession…
all of this meaningless (to me) fol-de-rol to import three huge cartons of incense from india… my guess is that i will actually have the incense some time next week, but i’m not going to hold my breath.
* LCL stands for “Less Cargo Load”, which means “less than a shipping container”. the other term is FCL, which stands for “Full Cargo Load” which means “a shipping container”. the people at MSDF REALLY want to send me FCL freight, but it’s simply too much product… 😕
i got email this morning. this is the official word:
The shipment of 3 Cartons Incense Sticks has been arranged per vessel CORINTHIAKOS Voy. E091, sailing on 28/02/2018.
The delivery is expected by end of March.
i am, officially, getting three cartons of MSDF incense. it’s actually a lot less than they wanted to send me, but what they are sending me is making me a little concerned about where i will store it. it’s 33 dozen 999 Lord Krishna Puja, 63 dozen 7 African Powers and 40 dozen 909 Three Roses. in total, 136 dozen packages of incense, or 1,632 individual packages… which is a little bit less than half of the total incense that i CURRENTLY have.
there’s a chance that i can sell some of it, wholesale, to other agarbathiwalas (i’ve already been in contact with one, who said that she has a friend who might be interested, as well), but it’s still going to stretch my storage ability to the maximum.
i’ve got two print orders that total almost $350 that (supposedly) they’re going to pay around the end of the month… but the end of the month is in two days, so hopefully it’ll be soon.
new and replenished dhoop selections, a new nag champa, and a couple of new things to play around with: black copal resin and palo santo, which set off my new smoke alarm before i had the chance to adequately evaluate it. 😉coming soon, A LOT of incense from MSDF: 33 dozen 999 Lord Krishna Puja (the sticks, not the dhoop. apparently they don’t make the dhoop any longer), 63 dozen 7 African Powers and 40 dozen 909 Three Roses. 🙂
i got an incense order, today, from lakeville, connecticut. lakeville is in the vicinity of two lakes which rival puyallup for odd native american place names: wononskopomuc, and wononpakook.
for a long time i was under the impression that puyallup was about as strange a native american place name as you could find anywhere… then i encountered thonotosassa, florida, and now this
now that it’s over…
i discovered that the reason i, and, significantly, my clients, including the fremont players, were getting our emails “randomly” blocked by places like @gmail.com, @hotmail.com, @msn.com and so forth, was because my host provider’s data center was a known spam haven. my impression is that everybody knows to avoid Limestone Networks — the one admin i was able to convince to talk to me, said the following:
To give you an idea of the problem Limestone is we escalated the /18 your IP is in more than 6 years ago (March, 2011 to be exact), and despite rejecting several thousand emails a day since then in all that time I am aware of exactly one legitimate sender this has affected: You.
Limestone is not the worst spam haven on the Internet, but it’s not for lack of trying.
so they do business, or, more likely, have someone else do business for them, as IonBlade. i was desperate when they stepped in and assured me that they could fix everything — it turns out that my problem was my VPN provider all along, but i didn’t know that at the time — and i was already 6 months in before anything started to seem wrong.
so, i started looking for a new host provider in january, did my homework this time, and settled on WebHostPython, which actually offers me about 5 times what anyone else has offered, for a little bit less money… a definite step in the right direction.
however, i still had to notify the VPN provider of the change in my IP address, and while they dragged their feet getting it straightened out, i went for a couple of weeks not being able to send SMTP mail. of course i could use IMAP, but i don’t like keeping potentially incriminating evidence on someone else’s computer, and, these days, you just never know what they’ll decide is incriminating evidence… my SMTP started working yesterday, which brings to a close the battle of (someone else’s) computer, once again.
webhostpython has already helped me clear up a lot of IP and DNS cruft left over from 10 years of switching web hosts and not knowing what to clean up. i’m hoping that they’re still going to be my host provider 10 years from now, because, honestly, i’m FED UP with switching host providers. 😐
Mysore Sughandi Dhoop Factory
i got an incense order from martinique, but the guy wanted me to ship it to indiana, and gave me a phone number that i should call before i shipped the order.
i called the number and had a very pleasant conversation with amanda, from Incense Incense, which inspired me to try, once again, to contact someone from MSDF. amanda gave me a phone number for someone named manoj, but i have some difficulty using the telephone to places on the other side of the world, primarily because of the time difference, so i went to MSDF dot com and clicked on their “contact us” button (because their web site has NO prices and looks like it hasn’t been updated in 20 years), just like i have done many times in the past with no response…
but, surprise! this time someone answered my email… and it just happened to be someone named manoj… coincidence? “manoj” is sort of like “jim” in the united states: every third guy, or thereabouts, has that name… but one way or the other, i had a contact at MSDF, who confirmed that they have NO US representatives, currently, and offered to send me cartons of incense, rather than shipping containers of incense, at OUTRAGEOUSLY GOOD prices… like 27¢ a pouch for 7 African Powers, and 35¢ a box for Lord Krishna Puja 999…
upshot of the whole thing is that i’m going in with amanda and buying around $500 worth of incense… and we’ll be THE ONLY ONLINE RETAILERS IN THE COUNTRY to sell it! 😎
in other news, the theosophical society has, apparently, discontinued their characteristic “Leadbeater” incense, otherwise known as Adyar Meditation Incense, by Shroff Channabassappa and Sons, and i have been trying to find shroff on the web, as well, to clarify why this is happening, but, so far, all i have found are people who are selling their incense, but no indication that Shroff Channabassappa & Sons are even still in business… which would explain why the theosophical society has discontinued their incense… but if that’s the case, i’m certain that the recipe for leadbeater incense has to exist on line somewhere, and that’s my next goal.
i actually got my first “paypal donation” from the button on the left… $1.11 from someone who i don’t know named zach edminster. whoever you are, if you’re reading this, zach edminster is appreciated… 👍 😎
i got some more training on the web site. i also got an order for $130 worth of incense and bric-a-brac from someone in north carolina.
drumpf continues to be a gold-plated asshole. his “muslim/immigrant ban” has been halted, temporarily, but he’s still building a wall, continuing with construction of two major oil pipelines, removing restrictions on coal companies dumping waste into streams, removing the affordable care act, blatantly censoring publically funded government entities like the parks department, the department of agriculture, NASA, and the environmental protection agency, firing people who resist him, and filling all available government positions with his cronies, who he has been encouraging to do similar things. he has gone on record opposing environmental restrictions by saying that his “friends” have businesses and they can’t borrow… 😠
i am getting an upgrade on the hybrid elephant web site. should be ready monday, with no down time. i’m wondering how long i can do this before i have to go out of business. reluctantly, i’ve spent about $1,000 on my web site in around a year, and i am pretty sure the web site hasn’t provided me with a commensurate amount of income. 😒
panto check came in. $100 less than last year. i’m not sure why, but it’s still the single greatest source of income i have for the entire year. next up is moisture festival. i know of at least a week’s worth of performances with the phil, for sure, and i know that snake suspenderz is “in”, but there’s still no clue how many shows, and/or whether or not we’re going to be a “show band”. i really need to find a new band and/or get us playing more frequently. 😐
puppies are still alive. mother (sis) is also still alive. the puppies have turned into alligators, so when they’re not actually feeding, sis has to wear a t-shirt or something to prevent the puppies from biting her tits off. we’re going to either visit, or to pick up a puppy (depending on as yet unknown other circumstances) on the 11th, and if we don’t pick up a puppy at that time, presumably we’re going to pick it up on the 17th… and then moe is going to some conference, somewhere, and i’m going to be left by myself to take care of three adult dogs and one 8-week-old puppy… thrill…
seemingly in response to my comment yesterday that blocking unauthorised login attempts was annoying, there was an update in the security plugin today, and now, with a simple addition to a list, i can block these unauthorised login attempts automatically, with no further interaction on my part… 👌 👍
my phone and incense
my phone is back in working order again.
the story they gave me, combined with what i suspected, is that the battery “gets used” to having a certain level of charge. the other day, when we were travelling, i didn’t actually plug my phone into the charger for a couple of days, and almost drained the battery before i finally plugged it in. apparently, in cases like that, it’s a good idea, when the phone is finally plugged in, to shut the phone down and restart it, otherwise the battery flips out and causes problems. when it caused problems on my phone, it restarted automatically, and failed to restart, probably because it was lacking power at the time (it was in my pocket). the story they gave me is that, when it fails to restart, it can drain the battery trying to “rescue” the operating system.
now i know: if it fails to restart, plug the phone in to power and hold down the “home” key and the “turn off the screen” key for 30 seconds or so. doing that will, frequently, save a trip to the real technicians.
i’ve gotten 4 incense orders in the past week. one of them i had to refund, because all of what they ordered hasn’t even been in stock for a bunch of years… like, at least two that i can recall, and possibly more than that. i HATE it when that happens. 😡
also, my new credit card service (YAY, NO MORE PAYPAL!) charges a fee, which i have been forgetting to subtract from the totals i have been writing down, which means that where i really am is about $10 less than where i think i am… which is confounded even further by the fact that i lost my tax spreadsheets a few months ago, and, while the electronic version i replaced it with is WAY easier to use, it missed a fair portion of the year because i was getting switched over, combined with the switch in web sites and general forgetfulness.
more odd WTF…
there’s been some BIZARRE things going on with my old web-site designer… there was this thing, which resulted in this thing, and i thought that was the end of it…
but then, after installing a new web-site security plugin that actually logs IP addresses and usernames, i discovered that there are HORDES of cracker/script-kiddies who are trying to use my erstwhile web-designer’s username (which, of course, i deleted months ago) to try to break my site…
like, in the past two weeks, i have probably blocked at least 200 different IP addresses who tried to login using her user name, everywhere from the united states to nepal, iran, the philippines, australia, russia, israel, brazil, saudi arabia, india, greece, indonesia, italy, france, canada, britain, korea, belgium, barbados, malaysia, madagascar, pakistan, romania… moldova?!?
so, this is my working hypothesis:
i finished my initial work with her, originally, in july, when the web site had been finished.
some time between july and november, she was cracked (which is very definitely NOT a good thing, especially when the product you are selling is web design).
because of the fact that she recently finished working on my web site, she automatically assumed that the people who cracked her were related to me in some way or another (this is a prime example of the “post hoc, ergo propter hoc” logical fallacy).
i don’t actually know people who crack web sites (any longer), but that won’t make an awful lot of difference to a person who has just been cracked… they have to calm down and think logically, which a person who has just been cracked is not inclined to do.
and, of course, since i am no longer even allowed to work with her any longer, there’s no way of my finding out whether or not this is true… 🙁
back to the grind
i got a big order the other day, and it wasn’t aparajita. somebody ordered about half of my remaining kala loban, and, in the process of discovering whether or not i had enough, i also discovered that the erstwhile re-designer of the web site didn’t do as good a job of transferring the old web site to the new one as i had initially suspected, which meant that, while i did have enough kala loban to satisfy this particular customer’s bizarre needs, there were many products that were listed as “In Stock” but they didn’t have correct quantity information… and there were also products listed as “In Stock” that didn’t have any quantity information at all… which meant that, theoretically, someone could order more incense than i have available to sell them…
and i HATE IT when that happens…
because i have to email the customer, apologise, explain the situation, etc., etc., et cetera… WAY more actual contact with the actual customers than i am comfortable having, especially when it would appear that it is because of my screw-up.
so, i’m taking inventory again.
one of the things that i realised, is that, this time, i can actually use the back end of the web site to help me keep track of inventory, so that, when i go to the FSM (for example), i won’t have to “wing it”. the new web site also means that i can, actually accept credit cards at the FSM, which is definitely an added benefit.
i’ll be glad when it’s over, though… it’s really a hassle keeping track of everything and trying to move around when you’re surrounded by stacks of boxes.
still very odd…
so i contacted a guy who was willing to help me with my web site. $200 later, i’ve got everything fixed that needed to be fixed, and had an hour’s worth of training on how to actually use it… which turns out to be WAY simpler than i imagined, although there are multiple, duplicate functionalities that, basically, i can’t remove despite the fact that i don’t use them, because they’re simply a part of the core functionality of the web site. if it were my own code, i would find some way to remove them so that they couldn’t be co-opted by evil crackers, and, if i were persistent, i could probably do it anyway, but i’m not.
i was only not able to resolve, immediately, one issue, which is figuring international shipping, and that is only because of the fact that it would cost me an extra $100 for a plugin that i don’t want to spend.
i still don’t know what offended the previous designer to the point that she didn’t want to do business with me any longer, but she’s been a good sport and “allowed” me to take her link off of my site (which i probably would have found a way to do, eventually, anyway), and i will, probably, never know how i offended her so deeply… which is too bad, because i might have been inclined to see if there was some way i could make it up to her…
the upshot of the whole miasma, apart from being $200 poorer, is that i’ve got a relatively modern version of skype on my tablet, so if you’ve got skype and can convince me that you’re someone i should talk to, now’s your chance… 😉
odd… very odd…
i finally reached the point where i have a modern version of skype that works installed on my tablet, and have enough money in my bank account to afford a consultation with the web designer who redesigned my web site back in july. so i hit up her calendly and made an appointment, which was immediately cancelled, because, and i quote:
I’m sorry, but we can not take on work from this account. We do not approve of talking down to anyone doing work on any site, especially women, in the manner which has been done.
W. T. F.?!?!?!?!?
i wrote back to her and got essentially the same response… 😕
i still don’t know what kind of insect got into her bonnet, but pretty much regardless of what i say, at this point, she’s not going to listen, and i would be wasting my time trying to figure it out.
it’s pretty discouraging, though, because i still don’t know how to do basic things like create a new product page, and i’ve got a plugin that won’t update correctly… and there are some things on the back end that need to be changed, and i’m not 100% sure how to change them, and i’ve still got 4 sliders installed and none of them seem to work, and i only really need one… and this lady who very nicely redesigned my site for me, and received payment from me, now, no longer wants to work with me, and won’t even offer an explanations why…
i’ve contacted another designer, who might work out, but i haven’t heard back from him, either, despite the fact that he said he was going to send an estimate “right over”, when i talked to him six hours ago…
i got the third order from the web site, which is very good. the lady ordered three rolls of tibetan simpoi, and paid $6.50 shipping, which i thought i had fixed, but when i looked through the settings, i discovered one place, on a deprecated page, that said $6.50, which was, apparently, where she was going through… so i fixed it, and then deactivated the page (because it is deprecated, and not going to be included in future versions anyway), so now, presumably, shipping will be charged correctly.
and i’m REALLY jazzed that people are ordering from the new web site. it gives me hope for the future.
i got the second order from the new web site. somebody ordered $2.00 worth of incense. the minimum shipping charge was set to $5.00, and the total for shipping was $7.20.
so i updated the flat-rate shipping fee to be a minimum of $8.00, instead of $5.00. i also updated the minimum international shipping fee to $25.00 from $10.00. this will, hopefully, prevent people from ordering stuff that costs less than the amount that it costs to ship the order to those people.
i think, with a bit of fine tuning, the new web site will work out just fine, even if i don’t get to hire the web designer to teach me the things i need to know right away.
so i finally got in touch with the web designer. i took care of the most urgent issue myself, and after going back and forth with her a couple of times, she offered to skype with me, so that i could share my screen with her so that i won’t have to re-create an admin account for her… except for the fact that 1) i don’t want her to fix the problems, i want her to tell me how to fix them, because, ultimately, that is what i originally hired her to do in the first place, and 2) i don’t have a computer that can run skype AND on which i can access the back-end of the web site: i have a four-year-old MacBook Pro that’s running Lion (because i don’t want to have to buy all new software AGAIN) which won’t run the current version of skype, and a linux machine, which won’t run ANY version of skype… i can run skype on my tablet, but it would take a good deal of kluging to get into the back-end of the site with any facility, and, while i could do it, it’s definitely not worth it.
she wants to charge me and i can’t afford it. the last time i had her do anything for me was right after the site went live and i mistakenly deleted all of the content (i was deleting the extraneous admin accounts that she had created and i deleted all of the content they created instead of re-assigning it to me). she had a working copy of the site, and she uploaded it and had the site up and running again in half an hour, and she charged me $126… and, to be honest, that cleaned out my bank account and i’m going to have to wait until next year before i’m going to be able to afford to hire her again.
i’m sure that, if i try, i can probably figure out the remaining issues on my own, but it’s going to take a while.
i got the first order from the new web site the other day, and everything works exactly the way it is supposed to work, EXCEPT…
the customer made the order, and was presented with a payment option, which he chose, and made the payment, but it doesn’t show up on my new dashboard… it’s supposed to show up, but it doesn’t. instead, what shows up is a 404 error, and the suggestion that i might have it in “Test Mode”… except that the toggle at the top of the dashboard definitely says “Live” and NOT “Test”.
i wrote to the web site designer on sunday. it’s now after business hours on monday and i haven’t heard anything from them. they have a “commercial presence” and more than one employee, so i don’t think they won’t respond, but at the same time, the presence of more than one employee makes me suspect that they probably could have at least responded to me by this point… i’ve gotten an automated “we got your message” message, but nothing else. if i don’t hear anything by this time tomorrow, i think it’s going to be time for me to start calling and making an annoyance of myself until i get some answers.
ETA: i figured out how to change it from “Test” mode into “Live” mode by using google, but i still haven’t been able to figure out where my money is.
i’ve got a few questions about the inner workings of the web site, too… i get this customer who is in australia, and he orders $16 worth of incense. the standard shipping is to charge him $10, but when i get to the post office, it turns out that it costs $22 to ship his package. i’ll let it go this time, but that’s something that i definitely want to change.
also, i’ve got a “slider” on the front page. on the back end, there are settings for several different “sliders”, but none of them seem to have any effect on the front page “slider”. how do i add products to it, and make it actually move?
also, i’ve got a number of new products, but no clear way to add them to the catalogue. i’d like to know how to add products to my catalogue, and make them available to customers. as well, there are a few products in my catalogue that are, clearly, “default, generic” products that i don’t carry, will never carry, and don’t want in my catalogue. i’d like to know how to permanently remove them.
the new web site is kinda minimal… but it’s all there, and it all works, except for a few minor details, which i’m working out now…
but i’m still not sure i really need a web site, so it may all disappear after all of my current subscriptions run out.
fairly soon, within the next 24 hours or so, the current Hybrid Elephant web site will go away, and will be replaced by the new Hybrid Elephant web site.
don’t be shocked, it’s actually a good thing. the old web site is made using technology that has reached its “Functional End Of Life” (as they put it when i was a tester), and, because of the fact that i’m a lazy bastard, i didn’t bother to even think about updating it until it was far too late to do any updating, from a practical point of view.
this will be the first web site i have on my server which was not “home designed”. i figured that it would take me a lot less time getting the bugs worked out of the site if i wasn’t already trying to learn the technology at the same time. it turns out that a lot of the new technology is stuff i already know anyway, which is a good thing from the “keeping the web site updated” point of view.
it also features a bunch of technologies that should have been implimented a long time ago (HTTPS, and stripe replacing paypal are the big ones), but, once again, because i am a lazy bastard, i simply never got around to it.
if previous experience is any indication, there may be some intermittent browser confusion, but that should all work itself out within 48 hours or so.
i’m excited! see you on the flip side! 😎
it’s time to get that negative horseshit off the top of my blog… 8/
OCF is fast approaching. today is the 26th of june, and i leave for OCF on the 5th of july. instead of driving, this year i’m getting a ride with michael marconi. the fremont philharmonic has several changes in personnel, and hasn’t had a single rehearsal. allegedly, we’re going to have two rehearsals with the cast members who haven’t already gone to the fair to set things up, and allegedly we’re going to have one or two rehearsals without the cast, presumably to rehearse for the ritz, which we haven’t heard from yet… in fact, i’m going to write to matt now…
i’m really trying not to stress too much about not having any rehearsal, but i guess what i’m saying is that, despite the fact that i know it won’t do any good, i’m stressing about it anyway. i’ve got two new pieces of music out of who knows how many more, and there’s a good chance that we won’t be able to rehearse this, even once, with the entire crew, until thursday evening, before we have to start performing on friday morning. it must be worse for kiki, since she is actually writing the new music. fortunately, it’s for the oregon country fair, so even if we totally screw up, it’s highly likely that nobody will notice.
i’m having the hybrid elephant web site re-designed. i decided that it would take a lot less time for someone who already knows how to use all of the new technology do it than it would for me to learn how to use the technology, and do it myself. it’s still not exactly what i want, but we’ve already put a method of payment in place that doesn’t involve paypal, so that’s a really good trade-off… and, while it is not exactly what i wanted, it largely has all of the things that i want, more or less where i want them, it’s got some really cool new features that i didn’t have in the old site (starting with a SSL certificate, so no more doing business over an unsecure network), it uses wordpress and woo commerce, so it will be really easy to add on to, and it’s going to be A LOT easier to keep up to date, so i won’t have to do this whole thing again in 5 years…
and another incense order today for $50, which makes the total haul over $200… 👍
when it rains…
i have nobody ordering incense for months, and then, when i’m on vacation, i get two incense orders which i can’t fill, because i’m on vacation… and besides which, one of them somehow ordered more than i have in stock AND he’s an international order for which paypal 😡 never figures the shipping, so yesterday i filled the order i could, and wrote the guy in england with further instructions…
this morning i got another incense order… for two dozen different kinds of incense… 👍 so i put together that order, and shipped them out this morning.
then, i got home and i had another incense order, so i put that together and shipped it out, as well.
i’m pretty severely broken today.
i think that, possibly, the only reason i even noticed is because of the 5HTP that i’ve been taking for the past 6 months or so, but it hasn’t done anything to relieve the symptoms, which are: to start with, i wasn’t even motivated to get out of bed until well after noon, despite the fact that i woke up around 5:00, when moe left for a 5-day trip to alberta… in fact, it’s 7:00 pm now, and it feels as though it should be around 1:00, based on when i normally get out of bed.
and, sad to say, a majority of the time i spent in bed this morning was poking through farcebook, and checking email. then i got up, turned on the computer and started poking through my RSS feed, when farcebook got boring.
i’ve been reading a lot about micro-dosing with LSD, and the effects of mushrooms on PTSD survivors, and how LSD apparently cures farcebook addiction, and all of these things have driven me to the inescapable conclusion that i really should take those 100 dried mushrooms that i found a couple years ago… except that i don’t know whether they retain their potency, and i really need to do some more research before i actually do it, for my own comfort.
anyway, all but two of my plants have died, and, when i was kneeling on the floor scrubbing the toilet, it made my right knee hurt so much, when i got up, that it’s a miracle i didn’t fall. i hobbled over to the bed and it was 45 minutes of heavy breathing on my back before the pain had subsided enough that i could get up and hobble around again. then, after my knee had more or less recovered, i went to deposit one of moe’s $3,500 checks for all of the travelling that she’s been doing recently, and then i went down to auburn to the post office, where i hoped to ask them if they’ve seen the package for which i payed $35, which was shipped from italy on march 4th, and still hasn’t shown up at my house yet… but by the time i got there, it was closed. 😐
oh, and i haven’t even remotely been motivated to eat anything. i forced myself to eat at jack-in-the-box while i was out, and i’ve had a couple of protein bars. i really need to find out where i can get less than a dozen bottles of soylent, because i really like the idea, it’s probably 10 times more healthy than jack-in-the-box… and it’s named after a movie that gives most people the squicks. on the other hand, the smallest number you can buy on their web site is 12, and if i don’t like it, it probably wouldn’t do to try to foist them off on other people.
i’m having the hybrid elephant site redesigned. since i’m not doing it myself, i’m switching “platforms” from oscommerce to wordpress/woo-commerce. i don’t know if i like it so far, but i remember when i was working on oscommerce, at first it really looked horrible, but the closer i got to what i wanted, the more i liked it. an advantage to switching platforms is that i will have a way to process credit cards that is not paypal, about which i am REALLY jazzed, and, even if the site doesn’t come out exactly the way i like, it will be worth it, just for that.
i got up early because i was supposed to give a friend a ride to seattle, but when i got there, he told me that he had rescheduled for january, but that he could use a ride to the post office. so i took him to the post office, and checked my box, which was empty. 😒
i got an order for 13 boxes of incense, but when i looked at my active stock, i only had 5. because of the fact that i had to leave to go to seattle, i couldn’t figure out why. when i got back home, after not having to go to seattle, i was able to determine that, while i only had 5 boxes in my active stock, i actually had 30 stashed away in cold storage. so i packed up 13 boxes and made another run to the post office. kaching! $90… 😊
not only do i not have to figure out what’s wrong with the web site, i’ve got another example of how the web site is smarter than i am, despite the fact that it’s 6 years old. 😒
because of the fact that i don’t have to go to seattle, i don’t have anything else to do until my rehearsal this evening, but i also don’t have an excuse to go visit ezra and give him the last vestiges of his living in my house (a few posters, a couple CDs and a folder full of ancient stuff)… which means that i may go into seattle anyway, to deliver the stuff for ezra. 😊
oh yeah, todays the blog-birthday. happy birthday, blog. 😊
W. T. F??
so, i’ve got a new customer.
he’s from india. he’s a doctor. he wants me to ship him $100 worth of incense that, it is my understanding, is VERY easy to find in india, but which is practically impossible to find in the united states… in fact, as far as i can tell, mine is the only on-line, retail store in the united states which sells it…
here is a guy, who is 150 kilometers away from the manufacturer of this incense, who wants me to ship $100 worth of this exact, same incense to him, from half way around the planet…
i got my annual enormous shipment of incense today, and turned around and got half of the shipment i received, ready to ship out again… it came from maspeth, new york, and is being shipped to minneapolis, minnesota, by way of seattle…
weird, but whatever works…
also, i got the latest Operation Mindfuck element today, which is a sticker that says “WARNING! This object does NOT exist!“. 👿 now i just have to figure out what to put it on… or, more acurately, what NOT to put it on… 👿
i shipped out a devotional statue to basel, switzerland, after going back and forth with the guy in email since saturday. first he didn’t read the we DO ship internationally, BUT…” page and then he took his time when it actually came to making the extra payment, but it all worked itself out in the end, and his statue shipped out today.
so, about this time last year, or thereabouts, i got an order for aparajita from a customer who wanted to resell it. i made a deal to sell half of my existing stock to them at cost, but that left me with a quickly diminishing stock, and, because of the fact that i had bought the aparajita (in the “old” box) from a दस्यु who sent me 170 boxes of a 240-box order, and then vanished into the ethernet, leaving no forwarding address or any other way of contacting him, i was, once again, DESPERATELY searching for a new supplier of my best-selling incense.
shortly after that, i found one(!!), and ordered more aparajita at a cost that allowed me to reduce my price from $7.00 a box to $4.00 a box. 😀
fast forward to yesterday.
i decided, because of the fact that i was down to 4 dozen boxes, that it was time to order more aparajita. i figured i would duplicate my previous order, because, while aparajita is my best-seller, i don’t have any indication that it’s becoming more popular — i did have a supplier tell me that they didn’t carry aparajita any longer, because it has a “too medicinal” smell that “people don’t like”…
so i ordered 7 dozen boxes, and figured that would be good enough…
then, this morning, i got another email from the lady who originally wrote me back in the first sentance of this post, and she wants to order 50 boxes, like last time…
so i wrote her back with the good news about the new supplier, and she changed her order from 50 boxes (a little more than 4 dozen) to 100 boxes (around 8 dozen)…
which meant that i, then, had to call the supplier(!!) and change my order from 7 dozen to 15 dozen…
i don’t want to say too much yet, because everything’s still up in the air…
i don’t want to say too much yet, because everything’s still up in the air, but apparently there has been a change in the way paypal works with OSC, and i’m currently talking with a guy who says he can fix it. one way or the other, this is, at least partially, what could have been making paypal so inconsistent…
i’m still more or less stuck on the new web site, but i’m not really worried about it, because i continue to get orders from the current one… yes, i’m not always getting all the emails i should be getting regarding customer orders, but i continue getting the most important ones. also i still haven’t discovered an alternative for paypal, but both of those things may be mitigated by the fact that i may be hiring a professional to “do it for me” at some point. at this point, such a thing would only happen after a disaster, such as somebody cracking the site in a way from which i can’t recover on my own, or something like the current version of PHP or the database no longer being supported, or something like that. it remains a fantasy, but part of the current fantasy for the near future.
today i helped ezra move a four-foot-by-four-foot “painting” from his apartment in the central district to a recording studio in fremont. it barely fit in my car. the word “painting” is in quotation marks because the object looks like, and functions like a painting, but is, actually, made from scraps of vinyl. we also spent some time wandering up and down the burke-gilman trail discussing recent events, future plans, fantasies and miscellania. he’s going to lisbon for a couple of weeks, and then he’s doing a residency in central oregon for a month… my son is thinking of moving out of state, and perhaps even out of the country, on a more-or-less permanent basis.
i’ve gone through one “artist” who said that they would make a vector representation of my raster-based file. i don’t know whether or not they actually made a vector represntation of my file, because they responded with a “proof copy” and then stopped responding… which, i suppose, i should have expected, considering that i found out about them on “fiverr dot com”, which is, allegedly, a place you can go to find just about anything for increments of $5. i’ve sent a preliminary file to a “professional” in florida, who claims to do the same thing, although more “reliably” and, predictably, for more money, but they, too, said they would get back to me in 24 hours, and that hasn’t happened yet. fortunately, i haven’t actually forked over any money, yet, but this person’s web site had many, glowing testamonials from seemingly responsible, professional businesses and suchlike, so i’m hoping that the only reason i haven’t heard from her yet is because it’s sunday.
once i actually receive a vector drawing based on my raster drawing, i’m going to give it to the local guy who does vehicle wraps, and get a proof from him, and then, if i like it, i’m going to get a vehicle wrap on my car. i may, actually, be able to fit all 1008 names of ganesha on my car, due to the fact that i can, more acturately, render the typeface size because it’s from an electronic file, and not painted by me… 😎
one step forwards…
sometimes one step back, sometimes two steps back, sometimes more… but…
i’m actually making some significant progress on the new hybrid elephant web site.
of course, it doesn’t help that i’m also being forced to deal with the new problem, which is that the connection to the server is being reset, sometimes two or three times, before the page is loaded… and it’s not limited to the new web site, which means that if the new web site broke something, it broke it BIG TIME rather than just being a local phenomenon…
some day it’ll be done… i’m hoping that it will be sooner, rather than later. 😐
now i REALLY have motivation to work out the problems with the new web site! 8)
customers are actually good for something other than income…
what do you know? 😎
i got a phone call this morning from someone who (judging solely by the way he spoke) was from india, although he told me that he was calling from new jersey, and his phone number is in western new york…
and, naturally, he was inquiring about aparajita — these days, when someone calls me from the web site, it’s guaranteed that they either want to talk about aparajita, or they’re wondering where they can get Spice…
what i told him satisfied him that the aparajita i was selling was the authentic stuff, and he said he would place an order (which hasn’t arrived yet, but i’m sure it will), but the interesting part comes next.
he said that he knew the people who owned Sri Satyanarayana Parimala Factory, in Mysore, so i told him about my search for “The Real” aparajita, which included my finding out about Cauvery, and he said that Sri Satyanarayana Parimala Factory actually manufactures incense that is sold by Cauvery. he also says that he knows all of the incense manufacturers in mysore, and is available by phone if i have any questions about with whom to do business.
what i came away with, from that conversation, was that Cauvery, which i suspected was making erzatz aparajita, is actually re-packaging legitimate aparajita in “old style” boxes (which immediately disproves the 2 complaints that i have gotten in the past 5 years, that the aparajita i was selling “smelled wrong” or had a “moth-ball”-like smell), AND that the most recent purchase i made is ALSO “The Real” aparajita, and, as i said before, i will be able to sell it for significantly LESS than i am currently selling it…
and the only difference is that it will be in the “new” box. 😎
i just made my first order from the distributor for sri satyanarayana parimala factory!! it’s gonna ship tomorrow! i’ll have real aparajita by next week, and i’ll be able to sell it for a lot less! 😀
i’ve begun updating the hybrid elephant web site. so far it’s still pretty much the default OSC installation. i have removed the right column, and haven’t done anything else, because the instruction manual i’m following says that it should fill up the entire screen, and what i’ve got fills up the entire screen in the header and footer, but the “content area” still acts like it’s got a right-hand column, which is kind of awkward… i’ll figure out how to fix it eventually, and then i’ll have an “up-to-date” web site…
but, to be honest, the one i’ve already got still works fine… more or less… it still doesn’t figure the shipping for international orders, and it still ONLY uses paypal which is not my first choice, but it’s the only one i’ve been able to force to work even slightly reliably…
however, i’ve discovered a number of things that the newer version does, which the older version doesn’t do, and there appears to be two ways of upgrading: one is to slowly and steadily upgrade, version by version, from v.2.2 RC2 to v.18.104.22.168, making whatever changes are necessary to the database so that it will remain "compatible" with the "new" web site… the other one is to do a complete, new install of v.22.214.171.124 and start over again from scratch… you can guess which one i chose.
but it’s not anywhere close to ready to give anyone a "sneak peek", so i won’t.
et cetera (and others)
i broke down and paid for a year of VPN service. now the IP address of my linux box is in stockholm, sweden, the IP address of my mac (which is in the same location) is in southhampton, england, and the IP address of my phone is in austin, texas. i imagine that this may present a bit of a problem when i log into the moisture festival artist’s WIFI, but i’ll deal with that as it happens, rather than worrying about it now.
i got an order for 50 boxes of aparajita from essence of the ages, which is run by what appears to be a “christian” woman. i don’t know why she’s buying incense from me (apart from the fact that i am the only vendor in the western hemisphere who sells what she wants to buy, and she has customers who want to buy what i have to sell) but i think it’s pretty amusing. the up side of it, for me, is that it makes the occasion of my buying my first incense from the actual distributor for sri satyanarayana parimala factory EVER, possible… 😎
the panto starts next week. we’re doing amazingly well. we had our first official, complete run-through last wednesday, and there are still two more rehearsals before we open. we’ve still got one more piece to learn before we open, but that’s pretty standard. and the shows have been selling out really quickly, which is really good.
my “old school” stereo system works exactly the way i was hoping it would, and tomorrow (or monday, at the latest) i plan on making a trip to pacific custom cabling to get another ⅛"-mini-stereo-to-stereo-RCA cable, and then both of my computers will be hooked up to it. for the first time EVER i will have a decent-quality stereo behind my attempts to compose music with reason and/or sibelius. what is the world coming to? 😉
i was going to post yesterday, but then i spent two nights ago not sleeping very well and having dreams that i wished i wasn’t having — and waking up on more than one occasion, specifically to end a particularly annoying dream, only to have it resume, more or less, when i succeeded in getting back to sleep — so when i finally got up yesterday i was already in a sour mood… and then i turned on my computer and the sour mood increased about ten-fold, which was not made any better by the fact that i couldn’t get my backups to work the way i wanted to, because of the fact that the crack used a “new, different” way of intruding, which the host provider was less than forthcoming about explaining…
i actually had everything fixed by 11:00 am or so, but my mood was so bad, and it was so hot, that, by that time, all i wanted to do was watch the god-damned-noisy-box, smoke cannabis and drink… first mountain dew, then water, then beer. seriously, the temperatures have been in the low-90s and upper-80s, but it has been more humid than i have ever seen before (around here, it’s par for the course in illinois and alabama), and the overall effect is that the temperature is oppressively hot, which made the god-damned-noisy-box even more inviting… if i had a swimming pool, it be a lot better…
but, unfortunately, if i had a swimming pool, realistically, it would only get used a week or so a year, and the rest of the time i would have to maintain it… so it’s probably better this way… it’s a lot more realistic to dream of a sauna, because i’d use that year round EXCEPT for the really hot days…
anyway, if i had posted yesterday, this would have been that post:
the oregon country fair is in a little more than a week. i had in mind to distribute QR code stickers for music at the fair, but they haven’t even contacted me with a shipping date yet, and i placed the order almost a month ago. so THIS is the reason why NOT to use StickerRobot when time is sensitive. they may make the best stickers in the world (for all i know, they haven’t delivered them yet), but if a simple, square, black-and-white sticker takes them a month, i am less than impressed.
the panto this year is Dick Whittington, which i have wanted to do for two years now. it should be a great show, although i haven’t seen it yet. we’ve got some of the music, we’re getting more tonight, and, as usual, we’re probably going to get new music when we arrive at the fair… at this point, the fact that we’ve never performed the panto all the way through, even once, doesn’t faze me very much… we have almost exactly the same routine every year, and it invariably comes out on the other end as a finished work of art. the real fun is working together to make it a work of art… and the reactions of the audiences when we perform.
rick has been transferred to the university of washington medical center, because he is not losing fluid fast enough to suit his cardiologist. they’re planning on keeping him for at least a week, and then who knows what will happen. he’s already collected a pile of boxes at the facility that he’s staying at in puyallup, and that’s not to mention the stacks of boxes that fill his actual home. he may go back to the facility in puyallup, or he may go home, but that’s all dependent on whether he gets the fluid out of his legs. i don’t know much, and it’s hard for me to find out about his condition, because, despite the fact that i have been providing a lot of rick’s transportation the past month or so, i’m not related to him, so the doctors won’t tell me anything… and what i do know makes me wish i didn’t even know that much. 😐
between the fremont philharmonic, and snake suspenderz, i actually have a total of 15 performances at the moisture festival… i remember when the fremont philharmonic alone had 20 performances (and it wasn’t too many years ago, either), but things have changed, and i’m really lucky to have as many as 15 this year. we’ve had one fremont phil rehearsal, and the fremont phil shows start in 3 weeks. the snake suspenderz shows start in 5 weeks and we haven’t had any rehearsals at all… which i think is probably a mistake, but who listens to me anyway? 😐
i plan on trying to make contact (again) with the two smoke shops in the tacoma area that have said they’re interested in buying bongs from me. at one – Kronik – the owners (a husband and wife) just had a baby a couple weeks ago, and they said that they were going to be open the day after, but i went down there a week later and encountered the guy, who was looking rather dishevelled and disorganised, and he said to contact him again in another week. the other one – Sinful Glass – the manager said that she had to talk about it with the owner, who had just changed the schedules, so there was some internal confusion, and she hadn’t talked to him the last time i called. both places have had a couple weeks to “settle into the new routine”, and i definitely think it’s time to harrass them again. 😉
also, i’ve managed to reconnect with barbara, who is someone i know from bellingham. she is still living in northport, and now i have a current email address and phone number for her. 8)
i re-evaluated my bong-making facility, and modified it somewhat to accomodate some additions to the glass-bottle-drilling area so that i can actually fill the bottles with water while i am drilling them. apparently being full of water “stabilises the bottle on a molecular level” and makes them less likely to break. i haven’t really noticed that much of a difference yet, because i’ve only actually tried it with one bottle, but if i can break fewer bottles than i have been so far, it will be an improvement. i went to another smoke shop yesterday, and they responded positively, but didn’t actually buy anything. they told me to call again today, so i’m going to do that later this afternoon.
we’re gearing up for the moisture festival again. the first rehearsal was supposed to be yesterday, but, typically, it got cancelled at the last moment. the moisture festival will be 10 years old this march, and it’s actually smaller than it was last year. last year we had shows in four different venues, and this year we’re only filling two venues. it makes me wonder what they’re planning on doing with all the $100 “donations” they got last year, that they said were going to make this years’ moisture festival “something really special”… 😐
the fremont phil has 5 days of performances, which is two less than last year, which was three less than the year before… and i’ve heard some “rumblings” from the powers-that-be in the moisture festival that they’re thinking of getting entirely new bands next year… nothing official, at this point, but the fact that it’s out there is something to shudder about.
on the other hand, snake suspenderz is playing (on stage) two nights, on which i am also performing with the phil, AND we’re also “subbing” for stuart’s band, the Super 8s, one night as “the pit band” or “the house band” or whatever you may call it… so that’s something.
rick has been going through hell recently. it started when i dropped him off at the emergency room of good samaritan hospital (the same one i did my rehabilitation in, after my injury). he proceded to almost die and is now recovering at an “assisted living facility” in puyallup: basically it’s one of those “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” places, where 95% of the population is never going to be released… but at the same time, if rick were to be released, the only place he has to go back to is so moldy that it’s very likely toxic, and rick has a self-admitted ambivalence toward living in squalor… i remember thinking, as i was moving the boxes of crap from rick’s storage place to his house, that i could very easily be contributing to a future episode of Hoarders… i want to help, but i’m not sure how much good it will do… 😐 i’ve been taking him to various different doctors’ appointments, when he can’t arrange transportation, but i don’t know how much more i have in me.
i went on a “jaunt” today, to six “smoke shops” that i researched on the intar-toobs, and returned with one, solid “yes, sell me more!”, two “come back in a while/when the buyer is here”, two “i’ll pass, thanks” and one condescending old fart who wanted to pay half of what i was asking, and said he could do the same, because he had “a drill press and diamond tipped drill bits too”…
yeah, but i’d like to see how many you break or scar up in the process, mack… 😛
but the one “yes, sell me more!” was from a place that already had a lot of really good looking glass, and seemed fairly busy… he said he could get me a good deal on stems and actually gave me a “down-stem” to experiment with.
i learned a whole bunch of “new” terminology: the bongs i have been making have a “thumb-carb” which is considered “old school”. the “new school” way of doing it is to have what’s called a “slide-carb” which consists of a down-stem and a bowl. the rubber bit that goes between the bong and the down-stem is called a “grommet”, even though it’s not really a grommet. “thumb-carbs” are looked down upon by the younger folks, but us old-time hippies prefer them… 😎
yesterday, i got an incense order for ambica hare rama special flora… over the telephone… 😐
first, the guy wanted to know if i had any hare rama incense. i told him that i did, then he hung up. then he called back, and wanted to know how many boxes i had. i told him, and then he hung up again…
so i went in to check and make sure that i actually had 41 boxes, and it turned out that i only had 34 boxes… but before i had the chance to call him again, he called back again, and wanted to know why he couldn’t pay without a paypal account. i told him that he could pay, even without a paypal account, and talked him through the process. paypal apparently wouldn’t accept his shipping address, about which there is nothing that i can do, and i told him so…
and he hung up again…
oops, i forgot to tell him about only having 34 boxes of incense. but before i could dig his phone number out of my semi-smart phone, he called back AGAIN, and told me that paypal wouldn’t accept his shipping address, and wondered if there was any way to place an order that didn’t involve the web site… 😛
i HATE taking orders from out-of-state customers over the telephone, principally because i don’t have a way to process credit cards other than through paypal, and i told him so. he suggested a snail-mail payment using a money order — i haven’t even heard of a money order for, like, 15 or 20 years… i didn’t even know they still existed… 😐 — but, apparently, they still exist, AND (apparently) they’re STILL a more trusted method of payment than a cheque.
they just take longer… because of the fact that this guy is ordering from bowdoinham, maine, it will take a week or so until his payment reaches me, during which time, theoretically, it is possible for somebody else to buy exactly the same incense, and (because i only have 34 boxes), if that were to happen, then it would take even longer for me to get his order to him.
after i took care of his immediate worries, i started calling around to find more ambica hare rama incense. both of my “regular” suppliers don’t carry it, so i checked, and the place i got it from last time (in 2006) was the “old time hippie” incense supplier with whom i originally started this business (in 1998), who is flakier than a croissant and doesn’t even answer his phone most of the time these days… and when he does, he inevitably wants to suck me into an hour-long, off-topic conversation about how durbar incense is much more preferable than masala incense, and nobody carries durbar incense any longer, and… which is one of the reasons i don’t use his services any longer.
so, once again, i am down to writing to someone with a gmail.com address, IN INDIA, to POSSIBLY get this obscure incense that nobody else carries in the united states any longer…
i really should start charging a lot more to do this… 😐
musical instrument repair
a friend of mine came over this evening to have his clarinet repaired. the A key pad had come de-laminated (which happens to old clarinet pads occasionally) which interfered with his practice, and his avocation as one of the clarinet players in some local orchestra or another. it turned out that the G♯ key needed its pad replaced as well, so i did that, while i had it apart. in his words, “even with coming all the way here, it was cheaper and faster than other instrument services.”
i even let him watch, which is something he probably could not have done in any other musical instrument repair shop. 😎
acetocella is the company that made Acqua della Madonna, a sparkling water that came in a gorgeous cobalt-blue teardrop-shaped bottle that i have been wanting to get more of, ostensibly to make bongs. the water is just sparkling water, nothing really special, but the bottle is a work of art…
although, if this photo, gleaned from googlemaps street-view, is any indication, acetocella may be out of business. i don’t really know what makes a place “no longer in business”, particularly in a case where that business is located in another country. if any of you out there have experience with this sort of thing, particularly in italy, could you tell me for sure whether or not this business is still in business, or whether it is an abandoned building that is being used for storage…
i don’t hold out much hope. i wrote to their “info @ acetocella dot com” address and it bounced almost immediately with a “sorry, no mailbox here by that name ” message, which is not a good sign…
things are winding down…
Hybrid Elephant has filled a number of incense orders in the last month, as well as dealt with people who order from outside the US and don’t read the shipping policy. i still haven’t figured out a work-around for it, even though i know one exists, because i haven’t been motivated enough.
there are now reviews for The Fremont Players, thanks to Æther Pie (otherwise known as “Princess Perpetua of Montague”). seriously, simon told me to “pick and choose” some “appropriate quotes” from the reviews, and post them on the web page. because of the fact that i’m doing this with HTML and not PHP, i made the copy changes, and then Æther Pie made the format changes… i’m also making some headway on the James L. Acord Bronze Foundry site, despite their lack of communication. there’s now a static page, and i’ve got a little more than half of the requests they made on the ‘redlines’ that they sent me working… although the other half are either not possible, or possible making more drastic changes in their template than i am comfortable making without some intensive research.
i was given a pair of steampunk goggles by my mother-in-law as a xmas gift this year. they’re made so that i can unscrew the frames surrounding the lenses and remove them… which means that i can replace the lenses with my prescription lenses (i just got new glasses a couple of weeks ago). i was also given a HD-PLC Ethernet Adaptor starter kit, so i now i can wire our entire house for ethernet — most importantly, the workshop, where the wireless adaptor reaches, but the OS9 mac doesn’t want to recognise our 50-character, un-changeable wireless security password. with the HD-PLC ethernet adaptor, i can make an end-run around having to wire separate ethernet cables, and i can move things like our two humongous hard disks out to the workshop, where they won’t take up as much room or accumulate as much stanley-dust as they do inside the house. i was also given a copy of The Practical Pyromaniac… heh heh heh… 👿
we’ve done two weekends of performances of Sleeping Beauty & The Pea, and things are going well, in spite of the fact that i played my B♭ sousaphone a couple months ago, and i think i may have done more damage to my brain then i had done when i had my injury… seriously, ONE day of playing the B♭ fingerings, and now i CAN NOT remember the C fingerings… AT. ALL. 😐 strangely enough, apparently the only way around this problem is to NOT think about it, and, as much as possible, NOT look at the music… the problem is that i’ve got three more weekends of panto performances, and two snake suspenderz gigs coming up within the next few weeks, and i’m not sure how i’m going to get through it.
i’ve got a Big Bois With Poise gig on new year’s eve, at the Hale’s Palladium/Moisture Festival Benefit party. because of the fact that we have been on national television twice now, we are billing ourselves as “The World Famous Big Bois With Poise”, and we were actually requested to come and perform for the new year’s party… of course they’re not going to be paying us anything, but we get into the party for free, where everyone else has to pay $50, so it’s an okay deal. because of the fact that we’re going to be performing indoors, we’re doing the “short dudes” act, rather than the “big boys” act — i.e. we’re going to be on “short” buckets, and dressed in diapers and bibs. we’re also going to try to memorise auld lang syne instead of our regular BBWP chant, but i don’t hold out much hope… 😎
i just talked to a guy on the phone, who is in the united states, who RELIABLY (or so it seems) imports Aparajita Special Herbal Durbar direct from the manufacturer in india, and will sell it to me for a per-box price that means that i can actually reduce the price… and, presumably, is not the दस्युः i ordered from last time…
i’m getting more and more convinced that what i really SHOULD do is drop kubuntu all together, and install debian with KDE. kmail is still doing bizarre, but not really obtrusive things, like “forgetting” my password, and losing mail if i move the folder that it’s in somewhere else. amarok still randomly stops playing occasionally, and crashes rather than shutting down “nicely” EVERY TIME… there are all kinds of minor annoyances that have crept into kubuntu that i strongly suspect would not be there in debian, and with KDE, i wouldn’t have to learn new software. the only thing i’m skeptical about is whether or not i will be able to transfer my mail to the new system, and (once again) whether or not i would be able to get all of my genealogical data back… both of those things are items that i could have the answers to, if i wrote to the appropriate user groups, i just haven’t gotten around to it.
i had two gigs over the weekend: one with snake suspenderz at the gage drawing jam, and one with the sousa band at the phinney holiday festival. the gage was more or less as advertised, i.e. we sat in the back of the room and nobody paid attention to us, but there was no free beer this year. we made $50 a piece (because our drummer was not there). the gig at phinney was more crowded and chaotic than it has been in the past, because they put in an elevator and a fire-escape in the places where we used to fill up the hall, so they had to twist everything ninety degrees, which made the stage about a quarter of the size it used to be…
really, honestly, if they don’t provide us more roomy accomodations next year, i won’t be going. it’s crowded and chaotic enough already, but expecting a 40-piece band to fit in a room that is only big enough for about 75 people, and then cramming 200 more people into the space (most of whom aren’t even attending the concert in the first place), SIMPLY DOESN’T WORK… 😐
i’ve got a new web design client, for whom i’ve also (already) made business cards… and there’s a good chance that i will make at least 4 more business cards for him, and, once he gets is ducks in a row, there’s even a possibility that i will be doing a lot more printing for him as well. at this point, i haven’t done a lot with the web design part of it, in spite of the fact that he paid me what i consider to be A LOT of money up front which i haven’t even come close to spending yet… and it appears as though i may not have to do any of the actual design part of the job anyway. a member of the fremont players does web design “on the side” and knows A LOT more about HTML5 than i do, and, because of the fact that this guy has already paid me what i consider to be A LOT of money, i can actually afford to pay her $20 an hour to do the web design for me. 😎
after a short hiatus (during which i couldn’t remember how to reset my admin password), i now have the new incense available to everyone… so what are you waiting for? go and buy some! 😎
more new incense! 8)
i went out today, and when i arrived home, i discovered that the mail delivery person had been there, and left me a note that said i had a package that was too big to deliver, and that it could be picked up at the post office (that is the 3rd closest to our house, but that’s another matter entirely). so i went down to the post office, where the korean person i talked to behind the counter informed me that, because of the fact that i received the notice today, the probability was very high that the package wouldn’t actually be ready for pickup until friday.
meanwhile, i could actually see the package on the shelf behind her… i mean, usually a package from india is pretty distinctive, and this one had bands around it that said “INDIA POST” in large, distinct, english and devanagari letters…
i said why didn’t she go and take a look anyway, and, so she went back to the shelves where the packages were, and, after staring at the package for about five minutes, she realised that it was mine… and then she spent another five minutes checking the serial numbers on the package against my drivers’ license, and having me hand write my address into their little touch-screen pad (which i deliberately made as illegible as possible), before handing over the 40-pound package.
which, naturally, was full of really high quality incense from india… 😎
ooh! aparajita… AGAIN!
the real, authentic Aparajita Special Herbal Durbar, made by Sri Satyanarayana Parimala Factory
so i finally got in touch with someone from mavana regarding where to obtain authentic aparajita on this side of the world. they wrote me back and directed me to Wonder India (they have a couple of different URIs, but nothing is there), and they sent me a bunch of samples, including, most significantly, a box of AUTHENTIC aparajita special herbal durbar manufactured by mavana, doing business as the Sri Satyanarayana Parimala Factory in mysore.
notably, they are NOT cauvery, and have nothing to do with them… which makes me really wonder what is the situation with intellectual property in india, because the incense i got from mavana, today, is, substantially, the same incense that is produced with the same name by cauvery as well… 😐
however, and this is the big difference, this company is located in the united states, and has a relationship with mavana/sri satyanarayana parimala, and they CAN get, essentially, unlimited quantities of real, authentic aparajita!
and they are a lot less likely to rip me off, send me less product than i ordered, talk in some weird, foreign language, and all that other stuff that has frustrated me so much in the past.
don’t read this!
The Old Hippie over at Beyond Chronic has detailed instructions on how to make exactly the same bongs that i have been making recently… i want to say “great minds think alike” but i also want to make a profit with these things, and i can’t do it if everybody’s already out there making their own… 😐
ETA: here’s all four parts —
Part 1: Make Your Own Glass Bong for $37
Part 2: How To Choose Your Bottle.
Part 3: The Magic. And how to make it happen.
Part 4: How to smoke from your bong!
i need the 3rd trombone part for a march that we are playing in the Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band. i have searched all over internet for it, and finally i found a place that offers it for sale — by itself (i.e. i don’t have to buy the entire score) — but they only offer it through “digital print”, which is to say, i pay money, and they offer me a way to display it on my computer screen (i.e. “digital”) and supposedly print it once from my screen… which is fine, i can display it on my screen without a problem. the problem is when i come to print it, the software downloads, but then it flashes a message that says “There has been a download error. Do you wish to try again?” and doesn’t get any further than that. 😐 so i call them up, and tell them what browser i’m using and they recommend that i use internet
hah… hah… 😐
apparently their software that prints from an adobe acrobat file is ONLY usable on “windows and mac OS”…
cool, i have a machine that runs mac os… unfortunately their software doesn’t run on that, either. so i try a windows VMWare box on my wife’s computer (which is a mac)… with internet
exploder no less, but it doesn’t work there, either… 😐
so i call my friend rick, who owns an actual windows machine, with internet
exploder, and ask him to see if he can get the software to print. after some seemingly encouraging preliminary tries with the software, i even went and picked him up and brought him back to my place so that we could use my printer, because he doesn’t have one… however, it turns out that it doesn’t work on a dedicated machine running exactly the right software, either.
when i talked to the guy on the telephone, he said that “digital print is a new application that they’re trying out” and that “it doesn’t work for everyone”… at this point, i would be surprised if it worked reliably for anyone, but that’s also taking into account the fact that, when i was a software tester, all i had to do was be in the same room with a test machine in order to make it malfunction in some unexpected and entirely un-reproducible way…
at the same time, i understand that sousa was one of the founders of ASCAP, and that he was one of the progenitors of what we now know as copyright law, but at the same time, it was my impression that most of, if not all of sousa’s music was in the public domain, so i don’t really understand why this company can get away with being the ONLY source of this particular 3rd trombone part… and also i really wonder why they can ONLY sell me a “digital print” version, but they can’t send me a printed copy or a .pdf file that i can print outside of their defective web-based program.
i looked online to find out if there’s anybody locally that carries acqua della madonna, which made the extra fancy blue bottle out of which i made a water pipe. apparently, “THIS BRAND HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED“. the company that makes it, Acetosella, has a web site that is entirely made out of shockwave/flash applications, and when you click their “Acqua della Madonna” link, they come back with “Pagina in costruzione”… which, considering that the bottle i’ve got seems to indicate that it was filled in 1999, makes it very likely that they no longer make acqua della madonna…
to me this is an indication of one of two possibilities: the first possibility is that i keep the
bong water pipe for myself (which is extremely likely, since it is a very cute bottle-bong)… the second possibility is that i sell it for $75 pr more, because it is no longer made… which would be nice, but i don’t expect it to happen.
is this too much?
Bulleit Bourbon Water Pipe
$45 — 10″x4″x4.5″
is this too much?
i went to deliver 10 “bottles with holes in the right place” to the pike place pipe palace yesterday, and came away with $100 american dollars and the promise of more in 3 weeks to a month or so… which makes me very happy indeed. now i wonder how many other smoke shops in the area would also be interested. i don’t drink that much beer, but my impression is that i’ve got friends who work at hale’s brewery, and, if nothing else, i’ve also got a lot of beer-drinking friends who would be more than happy to let me have their recycling. all of this goes towards the ultimate goal of “drink beer, get paid”… or to put it less succinctly, but more accurately:
- drink beer
- make bongs
next step is to get the fancy ones on the web site… 😎
so the idea that i had for art the other day has taken on an entirely new, and monitarily positive aspect…
but i should start from the beginning, since this is being told for the first time.
i was sitting in my workshop the other night, and i had just finished a beer, and i realised: i have diamond-tipped drill bits, and a bench motor, and i know how to use them: it wouldn’t take much to take this otherwise useless empty beer bottle and re-purpose it for my own, moist, innermost desires… so why don’t i modify this beer bottle, and make an entirely new, “useful item” out of it.
so, i drilled a hole in the bottle, and rumaged around in the boxes of miscellaneous bits and pieces i have (quite well organised, mind you) until i found a glass pipe stem and a collet that the pipe stem goes through, that was left over from a water-pipe from years ago, which didn’t make it…
and i quickly discovered that i had drilled the hole in the wrong place, so, of course, i had to drink another beer, so that i could try it again. 😉
once i got it right — and verified that it was, indeed most exactly correct — i started casting about for
empty bottles likely candidates, and quickly came up with the first idea, which turned out to be an empty bulleit burbon bottle… which is part of the hoard of empty whiskey bottles i have been inexplicably saving for about a year and a half, not knowing exactly why i was doing it…
now i know… 😎
i figure i can easily retail devices like this for $25 to $50, or wholsale them for $10 to $20 a piece. so, i went to the pike place smoke shop and told them that i could drill holes in bottles, and wondered how much they would pay me for finished beer-bottle water-pipes. they were very excited to learn this, and it turned out that i don’t even have to hand over finished water-pipes. they are just as happy to receive bottles that have holes drilled in the right places, so that they can put in their own doo-dads and mark them up the way they want. they said they would pay me $10 a bottle, for regular ol’ beer bottles, and left the door open for negotiation on “specialty” beer bottles… which i am assuming includes the antique grolsch bottles, the “Arrogant Bastard Ale” and the “Dead Guy Ale” bottles…
and it also means that the really fancy ones, like the bulleit bottles, and the fancy italian water bottle and stuff like that can be finished and retailed at my own web site for whatever i think i can get for them. 🙂
so i dug around and actually produced 10 “regular ol’ beer bottles” — although i’m not certain that they won’t take the “new” grolsch bottle and the “Hobgoblin” bottle as “specialty” bottles (to be honest, if they do, i DON’T CARE) and drilled holes in all of ’em… i actually drilled holes in 13 bottles, but i broke three of ’em, because i was being impatient and working with tools that were almost worn out… diamond-tipped drill bits wear out really fast when they’re used for a project like this. i figure ⅜" and ½" diamond-tipped drill bits are going to become sort of like #2 jewelers’ saw blades, in that i will always have a whole bunch of them, and about half of them are going to be worn out, or almost worn out.
now all i’ve got to do is alert my beer-drinking friends to save their bottles for me… 😎
moe has gone to southern oregon for the national sheep-dog handling finals — yes, we have not one, but two championship-quality dogs in this house, thanks, in part, to moe, who is the dog-whisperer to dog-whisperers… 😎 (and that guy who is “The Dog Whisperer” really doesn’t know what he’s talking about most of the time… really… you should hear moe rant about how cesar milan is wrecking dogs, when she gets to ranting about him)
but, of course, the down side to all of this, is that moe is gone for a week, and i have to stay here, because i have a performance on saturday and it would be too far to drive back from klamath falls for, especially since we’d either have to take both cars, or i would have to drive from klamath falls to seattle for a 2 hour performance, and then drive back to klamath falls to pick up moe and her dogs and gear… which would be especially important since we just bought a trailer/pop-up-tent/RV-like-thing, and that isn’t going anywhere without a vehicle to tow it.
so, the upshot of the whole deal is that i am alone for a week, with an ancient, decrepit dog, two ancient, decrepit cats, a bird (who is neither ancient nor decrepit), and an ancient, decrepit snake… i guess, since i am verging on ancient and decrepit myself, i’m in good company, but i would really prefer it if i was with moe, or she was with me… there’s nobody but stanley to talk to, and, while some of the things he says are definitely amusing, he doesn’t always respond the way a human being would…
the performance is with the sousa band, at Festa Italiana, and they’re probably going to feed us… which is always the right thing to do for musicians that you hire to come and play for your party… 😉
apart from that, i’m still going back-and-forth with the incense guy from india. everything was going as expected until he quoted me a price that is essentially what i charge my retail customers for what would essentially be a wholesale purchace. when i responded, he didn’t come back with an answer for a few days, and then, this morning, he came back with a response in which he, basically, offered me the same incense for a quarter of the price, but only if i order more than a certain amount of it… which i would do, but i don’t want to seem too eager, because i know that if i can put him off long enough, the price has a very good probability of going down even further… and if not, it will also give me time to build up my bank account to the point where i can actually afford to buy a whole pile of incense from india… 😎
i still haven’t gone out to busk with my didjeri-flute/delay/amp setup yet, but i have been out busking with my tuba at least twice in the past week. a couple of days ago, i went out to the ballard sunday market, ostensibly to play with hobbit, but as we were getting set up, we were joined by julie b. who plays “delicious violin” (really, it says so on her cute little business card), who hobbit knows from the pike place market… and with a very little prompting from hobbit, we played quite acceptably, got a couple of inquiries about whether or not we were available for house parties(!) and made some generous tips for playing for a little less than 2 hours… i get the impression that, with a little more prompting, we could either add a violin to snake suspenderz (on a more-or-less temporary basis) or we could simply bill Accidental Rhino as a separate band and have twice as many gigs… either way is fine with me.
so i woke up yesterday and i immediately noticed that i was getting A WHOLE BUNCH of PHP “deprecated” notices on my web site.
i’m getting all these “deprecated” notices because my site has recently been moved to a server with a different IP address, because the server that i was on previously has been having MAJOR problems with the CBL, and the new server either ONLY serves PHP 5.3, or doesn’t have the notifications turned off, so that nobody sees the notices that the code may be deprecated. i’ve been fighting with my host provider (AGAIN 😐 ) for the past few weeks to fix the CBL problem, so, now that it has apparently been fixed, i don’t want to ask them to go in and make a trivial change to something i can’t change myself, when i can do something constructive (which will also make my web site more compatible, for longer) anyway, so i set about doing something myself.
i rallied around and found the solution to that particular problem, fixed it, and was feeling pretty good about myself, because i had “successfully diagnosed and resolved an issue that i don’t quite understand” when i got an email from a customer of my web site, telling me that he had experienced A WHOLE BUNCH of PHP “deprecated” notices on my site… so i wrote back and told him that i had fixed the ones that i could see, and if there were more, i didn’t know about them, so any help that he could offer would be greatly appreciated. in return he sent me a link to the osCommerce public contributions page which had a zip file with precise descriptions for how to upgrade my site from PHP 5.2 to PHP 5.3 all at once, without having to track down and eliminate the deprecated notices one at a time…
and it turned out that it was A LOT more complicated than it first appeared… and it turned out that it was a REALLY good think i had specific instructions, because there were a few little details about PHP that aren’t really that intuitive, and, while i thought i had the problem fixed, what i had done, ultimately, made things worse. 😐
ultimately, it meant making the following changes in about 100 different files, in multiple locations throughout the site:
|OLD PHP5.2||NEW PHP5.3|
DEPENDING ON OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES (which i still don’t understand)
the “whatever” parts were the ones that ecaped my attention originally… so, i got started fixing the problem for real, and then the power went out. 😮
this is september, there’s no snow… it hasn’t even rained for the past couple of months, and the power went out?!?
so i sat in the dark for a while and cooled my jets, then i went for a walk…
and when i got home, THE POWER WAS STILL OFF so i rummaged around in the workshop with a flashlight and located a couple of battery-powered lanterns, which made things slightly better, at which point i sat in the “dim” until moe came home, at which point we went to bed, because there wasn’t anything else to do.
some time in the middle of the night – i’m not sure when, because all of our clocks are electric – the power came back on. i remember getting up and stumbling around the house turning off the lights which were still on, but nothing more than that.
when i woke up this morning (and the power was still on), i went back to my PHP coding, and i think i’ve got it all fixed — after “thinking” i had it all fixed once before, only to discover that a single period – . – that was left out of one file meant that the whole site was replaced with an incomprehensible PHP error…
so if you notice something wonky about the main Hybrid Elephant site, i would appreciate it if you would send me a note, saying what the error is (copy and paste from the web page) AND (especially important) the URI of the page that you were viewing… hopefully it won’t come to that, but if it does, that would be good… 😎
i got a notification from the letter-carrier yesterday, indicating that i had a package that they hadn’t delivered because i wasn’t home, and the package delivery required a signature… naturally, i wasn’t home, so i went down to the post office today to pick it up.
it’s really bizarre to me, because of the fact that we live so close to the border between king and pierce counties, that the post office to which i had to go to pick up my package, is the third farthest post office from my actual location: the first is in milton/edgewood, but that “doesn’t count” because it’s in pierce county, and the second is in federal way, which is in king county, but it’s on the “wrong side of the freeway” from where i am…
anyway, i went down to the post office, wondering what it was, because i wasn’t expecting a package. when i got there, they took a lot of information from me for a “normal” package – signature, printed name and street address – and the lady went back to retrieve the package… and it turned out to be from india, which i was totally not expecting at all. of course this made me wonder even more what it was, and i opened it up as soon as i got out to my car… after all, it isn’t every day that you get an unexpected package from india… 😎
i seem to recall, a month or so ago, corresponding with a “mr. sriram” from india, regarding the possibility of my doing business with his company, and it may have been that i asked him if he could send me samples, but it was long enough ago that i don’t remember…
but the incense smells OUTRAGEOUS!! it smells like the kind of incense that i remember getting in the early ’70s when it’s not lit, and lighting a stick immediately transports me back to when incense actually smelled good, and not like it does today, which is like a chemical factory… the paperwork that came inside the package doesn’t have an email address, so i’m going to have to hope that my recollection is correct, and that i have an email address somewhere for “mr. sriram” at srinidhi solutions… ’cause their incense is AMAZING! 😎
moe has gone to san diego for a week, to attend a veterinary assistants conference… which means i have all four dogs to myself for a week… fun…
i don’t mind the dogs as long as someone else takes care of them most of the time (i was raised around dogs from a very early age), but i’ve never liked taking care of them that much… and, with a dog who is a little more than a year old and still very much a puppy (apart from the fact that he is a border collie and currently stands an inch and a half taller than his mother), and another, ancient and decrepit dog who likes to bark, suddenly and loudly, at nothing, for no very obvious reasons, my patience is being severely tried, and moe has only been gone for two days…
i have two gigs on sunday (again), one with the ballard sedentary sousa band (at the ballard locks, at 2:00 pm), and one with snake suspenderz (on mercer island, at 7:00 pm), which means that i’m going to be gone for longer than rye’s bladder will hold out, so moe arranged for some friends to come over and give the doggies some “relief” in the evening… which is absolutely okay with me, given the circumstances.
i had the windows in my car tinted the other day, which is very good, because now, when people are “just walking by” my car, on sunday, instead of being able to look in the car and see my new, fancy tuba in the back, they won’t be able to see anything… however, in the process of applying the tinting film, the guy broke the passenger side rear window… or something, it worked the last time i tried it, but i haven’t used it since i bought the car, which is when i “tested it out” the last time. my impression is that when the previous owner pulled off the not-professionally-installed (i.e. defective) window tinting film, it left a whole bunch of residue which, subsequently, gummed up the motor… anyway, they couldn’t tint that window, because it wouldn’t go up and down, so i took it over to edgewood tire last night, and had them “cut the cable and insert a wooden wedge” to make the window “go up and down” — sort of — but, because of the fact that it was held in place with a wooden wedge, there would have been no point in locking the door, or (for that matter) tinting the windows in the first place, so i ponied up another $250 to fix the window, which leaves me with very little money… but money has been coming in at a surprisingly high rate recently… not very large quantities (with one significant exception), but frequently enough that i’m not too worried about how little money is in my hybrid elephant account at the moment… 😉
okay, it is actually indian incense and shipped from kalimpong, but it was made according to tibetan traditions, with tibetan ingredients and under the supervision of a tibetan guru who was instructed by the panchen lama. they’re all available online, under the "Dakpa Tamdin" label. so far, my favourite one is Meenling Surpoa.
get it? up… date…
well, i thought it was amusing…
i am feeling a good deal better, although i am still not back to 100% health, yet. i still have a lingering cough that comes up at random times, particularly whenever i lie down, but i’m a lot better than i was a week ago.
the brakes in my car have to be replaced, to the tune of $800. moe claims that this car is “nickle-and-dime-ing” me, but the previous car (of which she approved) had already cost me almost $3000 by this point in our relationship, including $1500 for a replacement transmission, and this car has only cost me $450, plus the proposed brake work, and it appears, in spite of the fact that i’ve had to replace the timing belt, and now i have to get all four brakes and wheel bearings replaced, that this is going to continue to be a functional car for a lot longer than the previous one was. and, because of the fact that it’s a honda and not a ford (or whatever the previous car was, i don’t remember), i can actually take it to jack to have the repair work done for (hopefully) cheaper than edgewood tire quoted me. i’m also going to try to enlist the aid of the friend who worked on my brakes the day i had my brain injury (although, again, hopefully, i won’t have another brain injury), which has the definite possibility of saving me a good deal of money.
i got a reply from the incense people regarding the meaning of the word “pieces” and, as i suspected, it was entirely due to the fact that they were translating from hindi to english. if it weren’t for the fact that i have to think about providing at least part of the money for my car, i would already have sent the guy $100 for incense. as soon as i actually get paid for the postcards i made last month, i will probably do that anyway.
we had a recording session with a real, live, professional recording technician, last night, which went outstandingly well, and we’ve got another session with him tomorrow night, which, if it goes half as well as last night’s session did, will make a real, live CD of the fremont philharmonic a lot closer to being actual reality than it has ever been before. also, friday is a New Old Time Chautaqua benefit show in olympia, for which i have been recruited as a sousaphone player. it should be fun, if nothing else.
today is may day. everybody go home and don’t work. also, friday is Bongwater Day, for those of you who are interested.
more incense squee
i got email, the other day, from a person who claims to be a representative of Dakpa Tamdin incense manufacturers in india. i have, in the past, carried a number of different dakpa tamdin fragrances, the most recent of which has been the “kelsang dikibhatso” cedar-sandalwood fragrance pictured to the right. unfortunately, it’s one of those incenses that nobody in the US carries in bulk, and is obscure enough that nobody wants to carry it, similar to aparajita. i wrote back to them with a request for more information, and received my reply today.
this is a good thing, because it means that they are actually at the address they gave me (unlike the guy who claimed to represent aparajita, but suddenly stopped replying to his email address after i sent him $500 for incense and he didn’t send the entire order)… however, because of the difficulties between english and hindi, i am not sure exactly what they claim to be able to send me, and how much it will cost:
Thribton Kuensel : 30-32 sticks – 80grams? :? Rs. 130/-
Shingkham Kuenkhyap I (maroon) : 30-32 sticks – 80grams : Rs. 90/-
Shingkham Kuenkhyap II (yellow) : 30-32 sticks – 80grams? : Rs. 60/-
Ribo Sangtsoe (red) : 30-32 sticks – 80grams? :? Rs. 30/-
Meenling Surpoe (black) : 30-32 sticks – 80grams : Rs. 20/-
Sambara? (red) : 30-32 sticks – 80grams : Rs. 15/-
Thribton Kuensel : 30-32 sticks – 80grams : Rs. 15/-
at the moment, 130 rupees is approximately $2.50, and 15 rupees is approximately 25¢, which sounds pretty good, until you get to shipping it from india:
Regarding shipping & packing, Normally, we use to pack in special made ply wood box, which consist of 200 pieces (?each bundle = 100 pieces). Then shipment goes upto Delhi, further cargo agent will handle it.
this sounds suspiciously like the arrangement that i got into with the दस्यु that claimed to represent aparajita, not to mention the fact that it’s not very clear whether his use of the word “pieces” refers to the same thing, which it appears not to in this case.
now i have to tread carefully, decide how much money i can risk sending to the other side of the planet with no assurances that i will ever see ANY return from it, and figure out how to ask this person to define the word “pieces” in their email to me, without offending them.
aaaaaand, that’s a wrap!
the 9th annual moisture festival is history, and i’m currently wallowing in post-moisture festival exhaustion and depression, but i can’t let that keep me from doing stuff, because there is a lot to be doing…
moe came home yesterday and discovered that the thermostat had gone crazy and it was 91° in the house, which, combined with yesterday’s 60° temperature made it pretty damn toasty in the house, and no matter what she tried, the furnace simply would not shut off… so she killed the electricity, and opened all the windows, which meant that when i got home at 12:30, moe was asleep, having thrown off all the covers, and all the windows were open… which was really confusing, considering the weather the past few days… anyway, this morning i got up and researched getting our thermostat/furnace fixed/replaced. 😐
not only that, but i’ve got a computer to rebuild for my older, brain-injured client, which involves going over to his house and digging through the guts of his old computer to get part numbers, and specs so that when the computer i build for him actually gets to him, it will be compatible with what he’s already got… apparently just replacing the power supply wasn’t good enough. the power supply works, but the computer still doesn’t boot, and the guy who built the old computer says that the mother board is fried. he recommended getting an entirely new computer (starting at around $700) but i figure i can probably get a new mother board for around $250, build the computer around that, and save my (already low- and limited-income) client around $400.
and, i’ve got to go meet with the surly, moody son of the guy who got killed in the auburn top food and drugs last year, because he wants me to design a logo for his car-repair business… which would be fine, except that he wants to get this logo made into a rug, and he wants details about which i know absolutely nothing, so it’s going to be really interesting designing a logo that will both be to his liking, and be able to be made into a carpet… but the fact that i’m going to be doing work for him is good, because it means that i will be able to hit him up for some repairs on my car: the brakes are in need of new shoes, and there’s still this annoying loose-belt sound when i first start up the car in the mornings…
and snake suspenderz is gearing up again: we’ve got a gig at the can can on the 22nd, and, probably, we’re going to be busking at either the ballard or the fremont sunday market on the 15th, plus we’ve got a couple of rehearsals before then…
AND i’ve got a new tuba to figure out, because it is not the same as my old tuba… i imagine that a lot of learning it will be simply playing it and figuring out what the new fingerings feel like, but along with everything else, it’s going to be a major chore…
spoons… i don’t have them… 😕
i had to refund someone’s money the other day. they had ordered one box of incense, but, because of the fact that they ordered it from bizarre-istan, paypal neglected to figure shipping correctly, and as a result, they had only paid $1.50 for something that would cost me $35 to mail to them. i wrote and told them of my dilemma and said that if i didn’t hear anything from them, i would refund their money. i didn’t hear anything from them, so i refunded their money.
there would be nothing unusual about this transaction, except for the fact that it is exactly this type of transaction that is referred to in a previous interaction that i had with paypal, which wasn’t so cordial…
just what i needed… another reason to wish that i could afford to cancel my paypal account… 😐
the week in review
i completed the replacement of the lead pipe on the ugly sousaphone. i have yet to replace the water key, and patch the split third-valve upper tubing, but those things shouldn’t take long at all, and then i will be able to deliver the ugly sousaphone to its rightful owner (thaddeus), who will, then, hand over to me the double B-flat tuba seen here… and i will play the HELL out of it! 8)
i was contacted by a person who claims to be my grandfather’s half-sister… but she’s around the same age as me… and for someone who might not be who she says she is, she certainly has an over abundance of trivial information and unimportant, but entirely, independently verified facts about people who would otherwise be completely unknown, so at this point i tend to agree that she’s probably my grandfather’s half-sister… but, because of the fact that my family is all that’s left of a bunch of massively inbred yokels and hillbillies, she hasn’t cleared up any of the “family mysteries”, and, in fact, has come up with several new ones that will, likely, never be completely understood, because they have to do with my family, who, traditionally, ignores, berates, or tries to shout down anybody (like me) who says that the way they live is not the best. rosemary, my great aunt, is also a child of the ’60s, and has a hippy heart, which is probably why she survived this long without doing the traditional family thing and going crazy.
seriously… there’s a family history going back almost 200 years, of family members getting killed or maimed by insane people, some of whom have also been family members… weird… 😐
the moisture festival has been going well, but i haven’t started playing shows "for real" yet, despite the fact that i have already played 6 shows with two different bands… starting on saturday, i have 12 shows over the course of 8 days, with two different bands, so i’m going to be more than ordinarily busy. until then, i’ve got a rehearsal this evening, and a rehearsal tomorrow evening, and probably a rehearsal either wednesday or thursday.
i got the business cards i made for chris, which look astoundingly good, given the fact that the phone number is deliberately off center… supposedly he’s going to get back to me on a postcard, for which i sent out a preliminary draft on tuesday, and talked with him on wendesday, but haven’t heard anything since. i don’t want to hassle him too much, though, because apart from having a more-or-less full time job, he’s also got a new clinic that he’s in the process of opening up… at the same time, this postcard is “time sensitive” at this point, and i don’t want to wait too long, or i won’t be able to get them printed in time.
okay, here it is, all at once…
because the next few weeks are going to be tremendously busy, and i’m not sure how much time or energy i’m going to have for trendy computer gizmos…
i’m getting ever closer to finishing the repair work on thaddeus’ E-flat sousaphone, for which he intends to give me (on the condition that, when he absolutely NEEDS a tuba, it’s his) a BB-flat tuba that he is in possession of, which used to belong to hokum w. jeebs. i’ve finished the “hard” part, which was actually procuring the correct piece (the “mouth pipe” or “lead pipe” pictured here). the rest of the process, of course, is soldering everything back together… which i have done before, but it was a LOOOOOOOONG time ago, before my injury, and so i’m a little nervous about the whole thing… one of the good things, that i need to remember, is that this is thaddeus’ UGLY E-flat sousaphone, despite the fact that the lead pipe is brand new and shiny, and pretty much anything i do to it doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s playable when i get done… and it WILL be playable, i guarantee that… 8)
then, i’ve been working with chris, who owns neighborhood acupuncture, making a business card, and i’ve been going back and forth with him for about a week. he keeps leading me to believe that he’s ready to send it off to get it printed, and then, at the last minute, there are a bunch of minor changes… which wouldn’t be so bad if chris was more accessible by email, but he’s not… he makes changes, and then he might not check his email again until tomorrow… and if he really needed the business cards “last week” (as he assured me, when i asked him), that’s not the way to get it done…
also, while i was in seattle dealing with the illusion that chris’ business cards were ready to send out, my elderly, brain-injured client called me with news that his computer suddenly quit working. from his (hazy, inaccurate) description of what had happened to his computer, i deduced that he was very likely having power supply issues. so when i was done at chris’, i went to capitol hill and took out my client’s power supply which i suspected had gone tits-up, and took it down to RE-PC, where i confirmed that it had, indeed, gone tits-up: the guy plugged it in, listened to the (annoying, high-pitched) noise it was making, and said that it had at least two blown capacitors. so i recycled the old power supply and bought a new one, which i’m going to put in tomorrow, after the snake suspenderz rehearsal.
AND there’s the moisture festival, which starts on thursday. i’m playing 13 performances over 24 days with the fremont phil, and 4 performances during the same period of time, with snake suspenderz, two of which are “fluffing” the crowd pre-show, and two of which are on the stage with the rest of the performers.
so, without further ado, i’m going to morph into my alternate personality, one of the busiest low-brass players on the west coast… 8)
how secure is my password?
It would take a desktop PC About 408 thousand years to hack your password
i feel a little more secure, despite the fact that it also gave me two warnings about how easy my password was to crack (“Your password looks like it might just be a word and a few digits. This is a very common pattern and would be cracked very quickly.” and “Your password only contains numbers and letters. Adding a symbol can make your password more secure. Don’t forget you can often use spaces in passwords.”) but at 408 thousand years, it would still take a while.
i’m going to have to suggest this site to my elderly, disabled client whose password would take about five minutes to crack (if that)…
well, i haven’t heard anything from sri dhall in india, which leads me to believe that the probability that i’m going to hear from him again is remote… दस्यु 😐
i’ve got some new leads, however, so all is not completely lost.
aparajita again again again
so the guy from india (is name is sugam dhall) hasn’t responded to my email message concerning the discrepancy in quantity between what i ordered and what i was delivered, so i stripped out the domain name from his email address and plopped it into my browser… and it didn’t work. 😐
if the domain doesn’t work, there’s a really good probability that the email server doesn’t work either, which could explain why i haven’t heard anything from sri dhall in almost a month…
so, i went to the console, and typed in whois and got another email address for him (and, oddly, discovered that his domain name expires on my birthday), so i wrote to that one as well… we’ll see how that one works out… of course i probably won’t hear from him until monday, considering how 11:30 am friday, here, is 1:00 am saturday, there…
170 boxes of aparajita arrived today… but i ordered 240, and i haven’t heard anything from the guy in india since he said he would send me the tracking number three weeks ago… which he never did… 😐
at this point, i’m satisfied that the incense i’m getting is the authentic aparajita, but if the guy in india starts jerking me around with quantities, i’m not gonna be very happy…
i had my first, tentative experiences with SAAS over the past couple of days, and i can say, without hesitation, that if this is the direction computing is headed, i’ll get off the train here, because SAAS SUCKS!!
i was using the RVSiteBuilder that comes with my cPanel-powered web-hosting package. while cPanel does a very good job of making sense of the arcane unix commands i would have to be using instead, rvsitebuilder makes the job of creating valid html templates for web sites almost impossible.
i wanted to put in my own header, so i uploaded the graphic, which automatically got placed in the template i was working on… however, i come to find out that the SAAS has automatically converted it, resized it, and buried it under three html layers, so that when i “right-click” and choose “view graphic”, instead of getting the graphic i want, i get a thing called “headergraphic.gif” that’s one of those transparent, 1×1 pixel monstrosities, that gets resized to whatever you need. when i finally gave up on the thing, and dug my graphic out from underneath all that other crap, i found out it was resized in the html, which causes it to load more slowly, because the browser has to load the whole thing, and then figure the dimensions and resize it on the fly.
i told it that i wanted a template that is 1000 pixels wide, but because of the fact that the header graphic was resized, i had to narrow the template to 800 pixels. then, when i tried to add sidebars, they were the wrong size…
to make matters worse, it was just assumed that one (in my case, me) simply knows how the software works… that is, when it works… 😐 i actually had to start my “project” three times because the SAAS “froze up” and i had to quit the browser and re-start in order to go forward… if you have an application running on one server, that’s sending instructions to a machine that’s connected to another server over open internet, you’re GOING to run into problems when the server on which the application is running QUITS RESPONDING… 😛
and when the software was working, it gave cryptic and/or ungrammatical clues about what needed to be done next… several of the workspaces that i worked through had “Save” buttons that were different sizes and colours, and were located in inconsistent places.
if i were testing this SAAS, i would not give it a passing grade, however, unfortunately, i get the very strong impression that this isn’t going to go away. that impression is only accentuated by the fact that, when i was working as a tester of network-enabled software, i logged many, many, MANY bugs against such SAAS, and, for the most part, those bugs WERE NOT FIXED and the software was released to a population of users who didn’t care that the email software didn’t work because they were too busy playing angry birds (which does work).
by the way, i “rolled my own” template for the new neighborhood acupuncture clinic in ballard/fremont, and it works and validates (thank you very much), and it took me half as long as doing sort of, but not exactly the same thing with an application that is supposed to make it easier…
another week of performances finished
we’ve got one more week of panto left this year. i say this every year, but this year’s show is probably the best show we’ve ever done: the jokes that are supposed to go over the kids’ heads do so with much more accuracy than they ever have, and the fact that there are more than one dyed-in-the-wool brits add to the illusion that we are doing a “traditional” british panto… and we’ve even got a “I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major General” style “patter” song, which, despite the fact that ours is a “musical” and not an “operetta”, lends a very distinct “Gilbert and Sullivan” air to the show… i would say that if G&S defines the “high end” of panto, this year’s show may have qualified us for the extreme low end… which is about what we were aiming for anyway… 8)
also, Big Bois With Poise has got an audition for America’s Got Talent… of course we won’t win, but the objective is to get on television. chris is friends with a talent scout for the show, and they’ve already seen some of the (second- or third-rate) youtube videos (that there are more than one is a surprise to me, but whatever) and they’re very enthusiastic about getting us to audition… of course we can’t actually do our act for the audition, because they don’t want to set the hotel where they’re holding the auditions on fire, but they said that they want us to show up in costume, and then they’ll show a (first-rate, yet to be made) video of our performance.
i’m getting together with chris on tuesday to talk about doing some graphic design for his new(!) acupuncture clinic, which is not far from the palladium. i’m not sure where, because he hasn’t sent me the address, yet, but presumably he’ll take care of that before it becomes a problem. also i’ve got a tentative (we don’t know when yet) appointment with cedar, who needs some new business cards, and i’ve got a preview in to katy, who also needs new business cards (her old ones had the word “Inpisre” spelled wrong, which isn’t a thing that an educator of small children should have on her business cards).
what have i been doing the past few weeks?
after the panto ended for 2011 (it starts again on saturday, and runs for two weeks. get yer tickets now ’cause they’re selling out fast!) i got started making some hobo nickels. they’re not classic hobo nickels, of course, but they’re in a similar vein… and, hey… they’re only a nickel… and, as long as you don’t try to use the result as “currency”, they’re perfectly legal. 8) i broke most of my jewelers’ saw blades on the first couple of them, getting the technique right and re-adjusting my fingers. i went out to tacoma screw, to get more jewelers’ saw blades, and they didn’t know what i was talking about. i went to rockler, and they had them, but i’m not sure they’re the right ones, because they say they’re only for wood… and they’re 28 teeth per inch, and i’m pretty sure that the ones i need are more like 35 to 50 teeth per inch… i’m pretty sure that if i made the trip to hardwick’s, in seattle, that i’d be able to walk in and say i needed extra-fine jewelers’ saw-blades and they’d point me towards a bin of ’em… i went in there one time, and i said i was looking for a vice, and the guy asked me if i had considered smoking… 😉 i made nickels like this A LOT, between 1986 (when i got out of the tech school, and realised that i could make them) until 1994, when i started having to limit my workshop space because of where i was living. they just kind of faded into past memory, and were only re-realised a few weeks ago.
i put in the order for another 20 dozen aparajita on the 15th. i still haven’t heard anything, but they are making the incense to order (SQUEEEEE!!!) so i’m not being as paranoid about it… i’m still being paranoid (after all, it’s sort of a natural state of existence for me), just not as much. i’m probably going to email again on friday if i still haven’t heard anything by then.
i got this good-luck token in the mail the other day. it’s a little bit bigger than a US quarter, or a little smaller than a US half-dollar. i didn’t remember where it came from, at first, and because of the fact that i bid on it at ebay, it didn’t come from anybody i knew, or from an address with which i was familiar, which was pretty exciting, until i remembered where it came from.
after having gone to meet her, i figured out where the lady who knew who i am knows me from: she knows me because i am associated with Howlin’ Hobbit… although she was really disappointed when i didn’t drive up in my elaborately-painted art-car she was just as happy to take a picture of me wearing my hippy-hat
we spent christmas eve driving: we got up around 5:00 or so, and drove to salem, oregon, then we drove north and stopped just south of portland, then we drove into portland and visited a couple of different places before heading back, around 7:30 pm… by the time we got home, i had had about as much driving as i could stand for a while, so i spent most of the rest of xmas at home, being a hermit-crab. we took our annual trip to double-bluff off-leash dog-park on new-years’ day, and got there just as a polar-bear swim was getting over, which was kind of odd, because normally we are the only ones there on new years, and this year there were huge crowds of people, and music blaring… and an ambulance…
the second order of aparajita is in process. i may actually be able to lower the price by $1, which everyone should like… 8)
okay, i’ve been REALLY busy over the past week, ending with a snake suspenderz gig and four panto performances in the past three days… which, oddly enough, has already resulted in my having, in my hot little hands at this very moment (well, not this very moment, because i’m typing – and that rather badly, because of the fact that my hands are cold – but you get the idea) cash and checks amounting to more than $250… and i’ve got another $100 being transferred to my bank account from paypal…
today i took an order from Rev. Mary, who called me on the phone this morning inquiring about aparajita… she didn’t say who she was, but she was raving about how much she likes it, and said that she wanted to buy 5 boxes. we talked for about half an hour about how much incense has changed since the 1960s and the “new trends” in incense. she then said that she would order from the site. when the order came in, it was for 12 boxes, which makes me think that it may be about time to contact that guy in india who has been spamming me with requests for the past year, who i finally convinced to shut up and go away…
anyway, back to rev. mary… i had no idea who she was when she called. i have since (obviously) discovered who she is and where she’s coming from. i’m rather amused that an old-time gospel preacher’s wife has latched onto my incense, but i’m not sure that she could be even more bizarre than i first imagined. she’s an old lady (the picture on her web site was taken at least 20 years ago, judging solely by what she sounds like), and it could very well be that she’s a “reformed” hippy, or, possibly one of those weird cross-breed hippies that took jeezis instead of LSD… or, she could be pre-hippy, a real old-time gospel preacher and just really like quality incense regardless of what religion its maker and seller belongs to, OR she could be really ignorant of everything (although how one could order incense from hybrid elephant and not come away with the impression that i might be hindu is somewhat beyond me, it may be that i am a little too close to the subject to be very objective) and has no idea that i’m not a “christian” as well…
anyway, she ordered 12 boxes, which means that i only have 10 left… and that’s including my “personal” stash…
the entire Voynich Manuscript is now online, where intrigued people (like me) can pore over it, download pages and wonder what Emperor Rudolph II of Germany thought was worth 66.4 troy ounces of gold…
i bought some new stock: Golden Nag Champa and Woods, as well as some “reorder” stock, Pradhan’s Royal Life and Shivranjani. i’m really glad to have found a new supplier for pradhan’s royal life, as it is one of my best (and best selling) champa fragrances, and the supplier i was getting it from previously is the notorious sughanda prabhu, who is practically impossible to get in touch with, and has recently gotten out of the incense business(!) but used to provide the best quality incense i have ever found anywhere… but the shivranjani i bought was because i needed more, and it’s not that common in the united states, however once i bought it, i realised that the supplier i usually get it from sells it for about half the price that these new guys sell it for, so i think i won’t change suppliers for that fragrance…
bleh… seeds… 😛 ptui…
i’m SO glad mother-in-law is gone… she’s my mother-in-law, and i’m grateful for her existence, without which there would be no moe, but if she can exist somewhere that’s far enough away from me that she can’t come over, rant about how my liberal views are going to make a mess of our country, decide our house isn’t good enough, try to make it better and end up making it worse, it would be just fine with me… her predictably abortive attempt at painting resulted in paint splashed from floor to ceiling, and ripped wallpaper where i took off the tape that she had me put down so that she wouldn’t paint beyond a certain, random point… it’s in the “spare” bathroom, that i don’t use very often, so i don’t have to see it every day, but it’s irritating that it was functional if consistently ugly, and now it’s functional and inconistently awful, and moe and i are left to clean up the mess.
i’ve got a busy few weeks coming up… i’ve got two rehearsals on wednesday, a gig on friday, a gig on saturday, and a gig and a rehearsal on sunday, then next monday (which is krampusnacht) there’s a rehearsal, wednesday there’s a rehearsal, friday there’s a gig, and next saturday is the start of the panto run, which is two shows saturday and sunday, excluding the 24th and 25th, and the 31st, and the 1st, and then two shows saturday and sunday for two more weeks, ending january 15th. if anybody is interested in coming better get your tickets soon, because we’re selling out very quickly. 8)
that was “interesting”…
if, by “interesting” you mean “screaming in mind-wreaking terror”… 😐
about 2:00 in the morning, someone compromised a “soft” password on one of my wordpress sites and defaced every PHP index page that they could find…
when i started up my computer this morning, i was confronted by this, rather than the expected page on hybridelephant.com, przxqgl.hybridelephant.com and several other web sites that i host. it was a shock, let me tell you.
FORTUNATELY i have a backup… 🙂 and a backup of a backup… 8) and i was able to put everything right within a few minutes of discovering that it was wrong, but finding out how was a little more tricky.
i logged into the administration sides of the web sites i manage, to determine if anything other than PHP pages had been tampered with, and i discovered that i couldn’t log in to one of them… so i clicked the “lost password” link and discovered that it didn’t know who i am… so i decided to get a bit more forceful: i logged into the database with MyPHPAdmin and discovered that the administrator account (which had a “soft” password that “could be remembered easily” by someone who has never had to do DBA stuff before) had been changed, and then deleted…😐
once i regained control of the database (and DELETED the admin account with the soft password) and removed the file that he sneakily uploaded to a plugin directory that i had deleted (which is why i knew it was there), i went to work to discover as much as i can about the cracker as possible. i learned that he uploaded files from 126.96.36.199, which is located in new york, but he also has close associations with 188.8.131.52, which is located outside of louisville, kentucky, but he’s apparently all for iran and down on saudis, so it could be that he’s using those IP addresses as proxys, at which point he could be anywhere… i also have a “DecodedBase64.bin” file i retrieved from the file he encrypted and uploaded to the deleted plugin directory, which potentially has a little more accurate indications of who he might be, but executing it on any of my computers is totally out of the question. that’s probably as close as i’m ever going to come to actually knowing who he is, but that’s a fair amount more than i could have expected.
and the client gets a STERN talking-to about the value of very strong passwords… i’m fairly sure that she won’t do it again.
this is definitely NOT the way to start the week…
hybrid elephant had $0.00 in its paypal account (which is normal, i HATE paypal, and you’ll see why in a minute).
on 10th february, 2011, after someone made a $22.00 payment for something that they decided they didn’t want, i refunded $22.00 to that person, and had a $0.00 balance when i was finished. i consider this to be normal.
on 4th september, 2011 (the last time i had to refund any money), i had $0.00 balance, a person made a payment of $33.00, i refunded $33.00, and had a $0.00 balance when i finished. it was a nice, normal transaction.
today, i had a $0.00 balance, a person ordered $7.00 but didn’t include the extra $30.00 for shipping (they’re located outside the US), and so i refunded their $7.00 order… but now i have a -$0.30 balance: NOT a “nice, normal” transaction at all… but that’s not the part that makes it really bizarre.
i called them up, to find out what’s their problem. after 45 minutes of wangling around with an automated anti-service drone that wouldn’t let me talk to a real person and only wanted to give me my account details, i finally got a real person, who put me on hold for another 15 minutes while he got a “specialist” to help me.
the “specialist” told me that when a person’s money is refunded, there is a transaction fee of $0.30, and if i had never had to pay it in the past, that i was “lucky”. she said if she put my account on hold while they “investigated” it, that there is a good possibility that i will owe substantially more than $0.30, for previous refunded transactions that haven’t been charged the $0.30 transaction fee.
the only options i have are NOT paying the fee, and having my account put on hold, cancelling the account all together, or biting the bullet and paying the $0.30 transaction fee (which i have NEVER had to pay in the past).
if she had said that they didn’t charge a transaction fee for refunded transactions in the past, but that, as of some recent date, they decided to add a transaction fee for refunded transactions, i would very likely sigh and pay the $0.30, but because of the fact that she said they had ALWAYS charged a transaction fee for refunded transactions, i am livid.
i have been a paypal member for 7 years, and 7 years worth of $0.30 “forgotten” transaction fees, regardless of how few of them there have been, could potentially add up to substantially more than i am willing to pay, and my only other option is to close down the hybrid elephant paypal account and move to a “cash only” plan which wouldn’t be anything close to satisfactory for anyone.
at this point, i might as well just shut down the entire business. 😛
i’ve got a new client…
thanks to the people at edgewood tire showing off their fancy business cards, i got a business card order from this guy named lamar, who wanted his cards to say $$ CASH $$ FOR JUNK CARS & TRUCKS with his name and phone numbers. i didn’t actually talk to lamar, but he wrote down what he wanted on a napkin and the people at edgewood tire put in the order for him.
this, needless to say, is not the way i have done business with people who needed printing in the past. usually i’ve found that when people write something down on a napkin, that some time has to be spent figuring out exactly what is needed. i told sally (one of the owners of edgewood tire, i think) that, and she agreed that it was not exactly the best idea, so i left my phone number and told her to have lamar give me a call.
days passed by, and lamar didn’t call me.
i stopped by edgewood tire again, and sally said that lamar said (already you begin to see why i was leery of doing this) that what was written on the napkin was what he wanted, and that i shoud just go for it. i still wanted to at least talk to the guy before i typeset something, but when i called both of the numbers he gave, and asked for lamar, nobody had any idea who i was talking about, so sally actually called lamar while i was standing in her office, and then handed the phone to me. it didn’t take long. he gave me the impression that he wanted them in a hurry, and suggested the word CASH should be in red. i asked him if he wanted any artwork, and he said that the words should take up the entire card… in fact, he said “if there is any room left on the card, fill it with the words i gave you.” i asked him if he needed to see a proof copy before i sent them out, and he said no (which is another BIG RED FLAG in the “normal” printing industry). i said i would see that his need for cards was met, and that if he needed any changes, we could talk about it for the next time.
so i whipped out a card that filled as much of the available space as possible with words. and sent them off with faster than normal delivery service… which was a mistake, because UPS couldn’t find my address (which is a down side to living in the “unincorporated” part of king county) and the day they were supposed to deliver it, the status suddenly changed to “we don’t know where you are, delivery postponed indefinitely” and i actually had to go down to the UPS package center in pacific to get it.
armed with the business cards, i, once again, tried calling both of the phone numbers on the card, and got the answering service for pacific auto glass, who didn’t know who lamar was. i began to think that i may never see payment, but i took them to edgewood tire and said that lamar could pay for the replacement gear that my new car needed, and sally said that was an acceptable arrangement, so i left the cards with her.
but i got to thinking… i actually have a junk car that i need to get rid of, so i tried calling them again. this time, there was an answering machine that said that if you need a new windshield or have a junk car, leave your number… so i did.
this time lamar actually called back. we made all of the arrangements for him to pick up(!) the old ganesha the car before he asked for my name and phone number (heh heh). when he found out who i was, he immediately put in another order for 1000 more business cards. he really likes them, and says that the word “cash” is exactly what he wanted…
not so random rant about the shit box
the other day i was “confronted” by a customer (it’s sort of difficult to say that it was a “confrontation” in the normal sense of the word, because the entire interaction took place over email, but bear with me, because it was a confrontation) concerning the fact that, along with the religious items and incense i carry, “there is a product called a ‘shit box‘”. he was concerned that i am causing my customers offense, and he demanded that it be renamed or removed at once. when i told this customer that i didn’t have the power to rename the “shit box” he accused me of “writing an essay” about it, when, actually, i wrote three or four very terse statements. this is the “essay” that he accused me of writing.
thanks for the advice, buddy, but i don’t do business that way, and here’s the reason why.
St. Francis of Assisi said “when the devil says to you again, ‘You are damned,’ you answer him confidently, ‘Open your mouth and I will shit in it!'” and Yunmen Wenyan said, basically, “The Buddha is a dried shit-stick.” if such illuminated personages as St. Francis and Ummon used the word “shit”, then it’s apparently okay for me to use the word. not only that, but jesus said “that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man” and if saying the word “shit” defiled a person, then St. Francis would not have said it.
at the same time, i am quite familiar with people who are pretty well defiled, despite the fact that nothing but bible scripture spews out of their mouths: people like jerry falwell and james dobson and robert schuller and harold camping and creflo dollar and benny hinn and jim bakker and peter popoff and bob larson and…
on the other hand, if it is automatically assumed that anything with the exact combination of letters “S”, “H”, “I”, “T” defiles a person, then, automatically, that makes referring to shittim wood (a common feature of the old testament book of exodus) something that a “christian” would not want to recite, for fear of “the word”…
and that doesn’t even take into account those people for whom english is a foreign language, and to whom the letters “S”, “H”, “I”, “T” are meaningless and something else is used in its place… which includes, by the way, both St. Francis and Ummon…
further, if people are going to be offended by the “shit box” what would they have me call it? Eco-Friendly, Portable Toilet is an accurate description, but it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue the way “shit box” does, and calling it an “eco-friendly, portable toilet” won’t really help you when you need to go, and you’re in a tent, asking for it in the pitch darkness of the middle of the night…
not only that, but i didn’t actually name it myself, anyway. that honour goes to the people at The Brown Corporation and i wouldn’t presume to rename something simply because a person like one of these tells me to to do so… even if i did have the power to do so…
WHICH I DON’T!!
finally, i am a weird duck. i don’t do things for the same reasons that most other people do them, and that includes being in business. i am in business PRIMARILY to give thanks to Ganesha, and then to provide quality products and servies to my customers… and i do that in spite the fact that i use language differently than most people, and that i am not offended when someone says “shit”. if a person is offended by the fact that i carry the “shit box“, there’s nothing i can do about it, and if they’re so offended that they choose to buy their incense or devotional statues somewhere else, there’s nothing i can do about that, either… and, to be honest, i would rather that they go somewhere else anyway, because their uptight, holier-than-thou attitude is just going to piss me off.
The language and concepts contained herein are guaranteed not to cause eternal torment in the place where the guy with the horns and pointed stick conducts his business.
— Frank Zappa
i downloaded a whole bunch of music from Sharps a burning-man related dub DJ with whom i am related – he’s either my fourth or fifth cousin, either twice or thrice removed… i’m not sure about the particular details, but our shared ancestor is my great-grandfather… or great-great-grandfather, or something like that… i find it somewhat incredible that i am related to so many people, most of whom i don’t know, and that there are other people, some of whom i am related to, who know a lot more about my family, even though they are completely unknown to me, than i do. it’s also good to see that i’ve got relatives who are not my immediate family (who all seem to despise me for not entirely unknown, but entirely unrealistic reasons) who, never the less, have the same predilictions for artistic expression as i do. it is definitely very grounding for me. i keep having to remind myself that i – and everyone else alive – has 1024 great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents, and the further you go back in time, the fewer people there are… eventually – and it’s a lot sooner than most people think – you’re bound to run into similar family relationships.
along similar lines, through another guy i met who is from whitecourt, alberta, i got a new pile of information about my mother’s family, and i now have more-or-less confirmed lineage back to the early 1600s, and a “home turf” in st. vigeans and arbroath, scotland. i’m still hoping that someone will come along and give me similar information about my father’s side of the family: i’ve only been able to trace them back to the mid-1800s, and, although possibly the father (or, possibly, grandfather) of the last guy in my current list was originally from “the old country” (whichever one that is), i don’t know anything about him… of course i am one of a long tradition from that part of my family, of oldest-children who have been estranged from their families for one reason or another, on top of the fact that the civil war put extreme pressures on family loyalties, and that part of my family was in the thick of the action on both sides of the conflict – which would mean that there are more-than-likely parts of my family history that were deliberately forgotten over the years.
i’ve been doing a lot of performances with snake suspenderz over the past couple of weeks. we’ve been busking at the ballard sunday market for a while now, and the past couple of weeks we haven’t been busking there, but we’ve made up for it by busking at the wallingford market on wednesday, and the interbay market on thursday… and hobbit and i went and busked at the phinney ridge market on friday last week. the fremont phil did a gig at the fremont outdoor cinema on saturday last week, and we’ve got another gig scheduled for the mobile food rodeo, coming up on the 17th… and the day after that, snake suspenderz is doing two gigs in the same day, at the pike place market and beneroya hall… and i’ve discovered that puyallup has a sunday market, which opens up the possibility of going to ballard in the morning and puyallup in the afternoon… 8)
i’ve also had a surprising amount of hybrid elephant business. i’ve got a button order in the process that’s 500 buttons, plus at least two international orders and at least two more domestic orders over the past few weeks, and another one just came in… but the reciept from paypal hasn’t come in yet, so it may not be a real order… ah, there it is… it’s a real order now… 8)
hybrid elephant rant
i’ve been getting A LOT of international orders over the past couple of weeks (i.e. 4, in the past two weeks). this is unusual for a couple of reasons: one is that i very rarely get four orders – period – in that amount of time, and the other is that it’s unheard of for me to get four international orders from different countries (germany, switzerland, great britain and france) in that short a period of time… it’s even more unheard of that i’ve also received orders from the netherlands and from russia(!) within the past month…
i’m guessing — maybe — a european blogger bought incense from me and then blogged about it, or something like that…
however, as much as i appreciate the business, the big problem with all of these international orders, at this point, is that i don’t have any reliable way of determining how much shipping is going to cost, because the orders are anywhere from less than half a pound (i.e. 2 or 3 boxes of incense) to several pounds, and the shipping rates, taxes and tarriffs, and so forth are different for every country that i send to, and the USPS makes figuring out what the shipping rates are as difficult as possible. i’ve found the USPS International Mail Manual, but every time i use that, the price they give me at the post office is different: anywhere from $15 lower to $25 higher depending on who waits on me… and the people at the post office don’t understand where i’m getting the prices i’m getting, and why i’m not getting “the real” prices online, despite the fact that i’ve given them the URL for the manual and had them look it up themselves a number of times.
and, the fact is, i know that it’s possible to set up international shipping with zones in OSCommerce, because Arbroath Fisheries uses OSC and they figured out my – international – shipping without a problem… 😐
and, once again, not that i don’t appreciate the opportunity to communicate with my customers, but i think it would be really nice if i didn’t have to communicate with them because of the fact that, indirectly, i didn’t get their order right and they are going to have to pay me more money before i send it out. 😐
i’ve got a really busy weekend coming up, and i’ve had a really busy week already… i didn’t do much today: work on the snake suspenderz business card, laundry and spod… but i deserve a day off, especially since yesterday i filled two incense orders, one of which got shipped to the netherlands, and it’s really difficult to tell whether a person whose native language is dutch is being serious or not when he says that he wants to pay twice as much for shipping as he does for the incense itself, which meant that yesterday was the end of about two weeks of email negotiations…
i realised, once again, why i don’t schedule more than one gig per day yesterday…
i’m beginning a couple weeks of relative busy-ness, and it started off with partying and not getting enough sleep saturday night, and continued abruptly yesterday, when i got up way too early and went to the ballard sunday market with snake suspenderz and busked for approximately 1½ hours before we were run off by a string quartet which was playing vivaldi and bach. while they were playing acceptably well, they set up 20 feet away from us and wouldn’t fess up when confronted with their rudeness… and then we discovered that it’s apparently a “new policy” that buskers have to get up and move every half an hour…
by the time we had played for half an hour or so with a classical accompaniment (which was really confusing, at best, and downright distracting most of the time) we decided to bag it, especially since i had to go to my second gig anyway, which was the ballard sedentary sousa band at the ballard locks… which was, fortunately, just down the street.
it was clear from the start that i wasn’t going to be able to play my best, because i had already been playing my best for an hour and a half at the previous gig, but this was on my trombone and that was on my tuba, and i figured that would account for something… but if it did, i probably wouldn’t have noticed anyway, because by the time we were done playing i was getting really tired… then the BSSB-at-the-locks concert was followed by the traditional beer-and-pizza-in-walter’s-back-yard, which got me home around 6:00 pm.
i actually tried to take a nap between 7:00 and 7:30 or so, but the doggie-alarm kept going off every time a twig snapped outside, until moe got home around 8:00. i finally went to bed at 9:30 and was asleep almost immediately.
i’ve got a ninja concert at the good shepherd center with the fremont philharmonic this evening, and a rehearsal with the sousa band on tuesday, wednesday i have a snake suspenderz rehearsal, and thursday is my “weekend” this week. then i’ve got a gig with snake suspenderz at chumleighland on friday… which has the distinct possibility of leaking over into saturday as well… and possibly another ninja performance with the fremont phil on saturday, then the ballard sunday market on the 14th, and on the 15th is the party that we were hired to do as a result of the sunday market…
and then there’s the “Garden Party” at krissy and chris’ on the 20th, which the fremont phil is probably not playing for in any official capacity, but we’re probably going to be there, and i’m going to bet that we’ll play a little. and then, next month, we’ve already got a two-gigs-in-one-day scheduled, on 18th september, when we’re scheduled for the pike place busker festival and the seattle symphony day of music at beneroya hall…
plus i got an incense order today, for the last of my old tulasi deepak stock, which, because, from what i’ve been able to find out, they don’t make it any longer is another incense that i have carried that nobody else carries…
“incense” is now among the top 25 search requests that resulted in a hit on my site…
which just goes to show: you don’t have to have sophisticated SEO that costs a premium fee every month, you just have to have consistent, reliable web presence, and a small but satisfied customer base! 8)
i found out what is wanted with BSSB web site… it turns out that she likes the “fold-up navigation menus” and wants them on the BSSB site… and, when the BSSB site has enough content to permit “fold-up navigation menus”, that’s what she’ll get. of course, i’m in charge of web design… the actual content has to be someone else’s responsibility…
otherwise the site may well end up looking like The Church of Tina Chopp… 8)
i’ve been asked to make The Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band web site look “more like the Sweetgrass Rods web site”… except, to me, with the exception of the specific content, the two sites are actually quite similar: similar layout, similar breakdown, similar navigation… without changing the actual content, i don’t see how i could make the sedentary sousa site look more like the sweetgrass rods site… it’s a mystery known, at this point, only to the client, who knows what she wants, but can’t always convey what she really means… which means that it truly is a mystery…
we had a snake suspenderz rehearsal today. we’ve got a few gigs that we are talking about, including one tomorrow night at an open-mike in white center (not exactly “white”, not exactly “center”). also, there’s another open-mike that’s looking for fresh meat, and there’s a “pretty much sure thing” for a SACBO birthday party, next april, which is in the works. we added another song, and worked on a few endings that needed work. there’s a good chance that we’ll be at the ballard sunday market this sunday. all it took was a little shove in the right direction to get this band up and running again… i hope it’s more than just a few gigs this time…
10,150 spam messages… over ten thousand IDENTICAL messages… 😐
what on earth motivates people to do that? it’s SO annoying, and all it does is result in the email address and IP address being blocked from further communication… why? does somebody pay them to do that? if not, then why? 😐
i went busking with snake suspenderz this morning. we played for a little more than an hour, and i made $30, which i think is adequate. we got rained out, which isn’t fair: last time we busked, there was a 60% chance of rain, and it cleared up and was nice and sunny. today, there was a 40% chance of rain, and we got rained out. somebody said that 60% plus 40% equals 100% but i’m not exactly sure if i follow their logic…
one of my web design clients has asked me, twice now, how to “delete a youtube video posted by someone else”… it would be amusing if it wasn’t so sad.
i’ve been working on a business card, but i’ve needed important things like the location of hi-res images and the names of the fonts and stuff like that before i can actually create anything… which means waiting for them to get back to me… of course, once i actually have all those things it took me about 15 minutes to put together a business card that is like the example they sent me, and now i’ve got to wait (again) for the customer to either approve the card, or make changes… and, being that it’s a business card for an artist, if there are changes, they’ll most likely want something exotic, unusual and expensive…
we had a snake suspenderz rehearsal on tuesday. it’s really great to play with the guys again, but i’m afraid that, once we’re through with the (one) gig that we’ve got scheduled so far (28th june, at the can can) the band will fade from existence again… and, as much as some people complain that it’s a “hobby band”, i get the very strong feeling that it could very easily be a good deal more than that. we’re going to be playing for SACBO on saturday and sunday. i have my canopy, and i’m going to be there anyway, because of my art car, so i figured what the hell… we can busk, and because of the fact that it’s the fremont solstice festival, we’ll probably make some money, and it’s a couple more “rehearsals” before we have to do it “for real” at the can can…
i decided that, because of the fact that SACBO is imminent, and because of the fact that the continued working existence of the current Ganesha The Car is still very much in question (it’s still working – touch wood – but who knows whether or not it’ll be working tomorrow, much less next week), i decided that i was going to put “freeform” art on it, and save the complicated design work for a car that i have confidence is going to last me a little bit longer. i haven’t taken any pictures of it, yet, but it vaguely resembles this drawing from my sketchbook. it’s not nearly as “artistic” (read “exotic and unusual”) as i would like it to be, but it will have to do for the time being.
we had a fremont phil rehearsal on wednesday. there was a rehearsal last week, as well, but i was in the middle of preparing for my colonoscopy last week, so i didn’t go to that one. the phil has taken off in a new direction, which is interesting and intriguing, and not entirely unwelcome. we’ve gotten a couple of new flutists, a new trumpet player and the baritone player and the EWI player from last year, who are all dedicated musicians and very interested in moving forwards with the group. we’re playing a private “ice cream social” near edmonds on the 23rd, and we’re sounding surprisingly good, considering the small amount of rehearsal we’ve had.
speaking of the colonoscopy, the results arrived yesterday. the other two polyps that i had removed were benign as well, and there’s nothing to worry about, but they want to see inside my ass again in two years, rather than the three that they told me originally, because of the fact that the polyps were there to begin with.
i’ve been working on a new web site template for the mercer island vet clinic, which is essentially finished, but it hasn’t had the content added yet, so it’s not live.
i’m about a week away from my first colonoscopy, which starts in a week with multiple degrees of laxatives and purgatives and a clear-liquid fast… which should be a “thrill”… and then, to top it all off, i get an anesthetic that causes retrograde amnesia and i have to get a ride home, because i won’t be allowed to drive for 24 hours afterward, so i’m probably going to have to take the bus to the clinic, which is the same general location that they took me when i had my brain injury. 😐 then i have to schedule another appointment with dr. wackaloon to talk about my allegedly-high blood pressure. what i maintain, which is what i maintained before i tested “high” at his office the last time, is that i run a little higher than normal, which has been reinforced by the fact that i have been checking daily for 26 days, and my average is 143/95 – which is a little higher than normal… but my life is not as “relaxed” as i would like it to be, so it’s understandable…
the ballard sedentary sousa band is performing at the mural amphitheatre on sunday, for folklife. i pulled off a miraculous save and got the last remaining parking pass when it’s original recipient (clayton) wasn’t at the last rehearsal to claim it… which means that i’ll be able to park relatively close to the amphitheatre, for free, rather than having to pay to park a couple of miles away and take the bus there and back, which will also mean that i may actually spend more than the requisite hour or so that i have to be there.
the unauthorised authorisation dialogue went away when i realised that i have the leap.cc site in my RSS feed as well… i deleted the site, and the dialogue went away and has not come back. as far as i can tell, there’s still no site at leap.cc, although the domain itself doesn’t expire until 2013… weird…
my awesome web stats informed me that normally my bandwidth consumption is around 28MB per day, but on 16 may, 2011, i had 104.29MB of transfer, most of which were music files… in the past, i have posted links to Tenor Leak Fellatio, Cat Stretching, Wraith Ugly, DJ RX – White Lines and a bunch of other mp3 files, which were downloaded anywhere between 40 and 90 times, by people in the united states and china primarily…
of course, that was also the day when my friend Bunger Mulkin! downloaded the 75MB zip file i posted for him, as well… that may well have been part of it…
also the post from 080118 of my blog was visited by someone from pakistan at approximately 9:00 am this morning… weird…
i recognise that…
“For some reason I am not able to attach the 3’x8’ signs to the email, to send it off to be printed. Is there any way that you can change it to be ‘KB’, instead of ‘MB’? The ‘KB’ ones always seem to work better for me.”
spoons & web design
i am just now realising how many spoons i expended over the weekend. apparently, without realising it, at least monday was also involved. it’s a good thing that this is a slow week, which will give me the chance to rebuild my spoon reserve a little before the next time…
meanwhile, i have volunteered my services as a wordpress admin to seattleartcars.org which is currently run by a committee consisting of several (i.e. more than 5) highly creative people who don’t have any idea how technology works, and one or two curmudgeonly geeks who (understandably) don’t want to allow people they don’t know – or people they know, who they know have no clue how technology works – access to their computers, but don’t have the time or inclination to administer a wordpress site themselves… well, it turns out that the one curmudgeonly geek upon whose server seattleartcars.org currently lives, isn’t even really the host provider, but apparently he’s running WHM or something which makes pretending to be a host provider a lot easier than it would be otherwise… he doesn’t even have his own nameservers, which is something that i’ve had for 3 years, even though i don’t have something like WHM installed (because it’s not necessary for the type of web-hosting i provide)… in any event, what the committee plus geeks approach has bought them is a wordpress site with a bunch of plugins that nobody knows how to use, nobody who has the time to update the site, and a geek who hosts the site, but doesn’t want to give anybody new administration priveledges… i’ve already made some minor (i.e. for the most part invisible) revisions to their site, but i continually run up against at least one person who says that they’re “going to take care of everything”, and at least three others, including the geek/host-provider, who only read the first couple of sentences of their email messages and/or don’t respond to direct questions the first time… or the second time… or the third time…
i’m beginning to wonder if i really want this job, especially considering that, as far as i know, it doesn’t pay anything…
tuesday i was going to shoot a video with hobbit, but it didn’t happen. i also went to a sousa band rehearsal. while at the sousa band rehearsal i picked up a clarinet that needs repair from a fellow band member.
wednesday i went to see doctor wackaloon and found out that i’m probably “hypertensive” which means that i have to take my blood pressure for two weeks and then call for another appointment where he will probably prescribe medication that will give me nausea and a headache and make me more tired than i already am. whee.
thursday i fixed the clarinet and took the jeep that has been living in my front yard for the past year for it’s weekly drive (to make sure that it still works) to costco, and discovered that the thermostat is “intermittent”. joy.
friday i took the jeep in to get the thermostat changed out, because it has to be ready to go to the person who actually owns it on the first of june. i also got a business-card order from the new owner of the repair shop (who is the old owner‘s son), who wanted to change the email address on his card. i walked home, and when i got home i made the change and sent the business card to the printer, whereupon i discovered that i couldn’t find my wallet. i searched the house and the workshop, and called costco (the last place i remember having it), but it wasn’t in any of those places. i called the car-repair shop and the guy said that he couldn’t find it in the jeep.
if i wasn’t hypertensive before this, i sure am now… 😐
i had to go out, and i wasn’t completely sure that the guy had known what i was talking about, so i drove up to the car-repair shop, where i found my wallet, after a thorough search of the jeep. <deep breath> then took the clarinet back to its owner, and picked up a piccolo which needs repair, from another sousa band member. when i got home, the jeep was ready, so i walked up to the shop and picked it up.
today i straightened up the workshop and fixed the piccolo.
considering how “easy” my life is these days, how i come up with high blood pressure is beyond me. it’s probably genetic… i sent a vial full of my spit to some people who claim that they will test my DNA and tell me where i came from a few weeks ago. they haven’t produced a result yet, but it’s my understanding that “these things take time”… maybe they can tell me why i have high blood pressure while they’re at it.
IT WORKS! 8)
i just got my first “banned” notice from my web site, concerning an IP address in turkey that was poking around where they shouldn’t have been!
naughty naughty turk… you get what you deserve!!!
it works it works it works it works!!! <skipping and jumping around and giggling>
i’ve used a URI-shortening service – snurl.com – for several years, so that i can put a short URI into my “shipped out” emails, rather than having my customers have to figure out how to click a URI that is so long that it breaks when i send it in email. i’ve done this for at least five years, and i’ve even made a “custom” short-URI to help people remember what it’s for.
i shipped out an order today, and, as i usually do, i check to make sure my custom-shortened URI still works, and… it doesn’t! instead of going to the correct place, it now comes up with this annoying little error message that says “we delete snips used in spam.”
they’re accusing me of sending spam!
so, after investigating how to do URI-shortening on my own, and deciding that, at least for the moment, it’s more complex than i want to get into, i bought a new domain and redirected it to the long URI that used to be a snurl.com address. it’s kind of round-about, and definitely not the way i want to do things, but for the moment it works exactly the way i want it to.
however i’m still pissed off at snurl.com for accusing me of spamming.
security for the paranoid
i’ve been reading all about the hacks that are common on wordpress and OSC software recently and getting paranoid again. a while ago – after i was hacked the first time – i did some basic things to help me deter hackers: i renamed the OSC administration folder to something less obvious, and i wholesale deleted my file manager (which i never used anyway), but that did little to asuage my raving paranoia, so, along with more standard and practical approaches, like .htaccess, i have also installed a number of things to dissuade unfettered poking around my server, including (but not limited to) exploit scanner, NoSpamNX, and Simple Trackback Validation on my wordpress installation, and IPTrap, OSCSec, SiteMonitor and SecurityPro on my OSC installation.
i’m particularly proud of the “Banned” page, which you can find if you go poking around my server looking for links that you probably shouldn’t have… 👿
but despite all of this experience-based prophylactic action, i’m still paranoid, and it doesn’t help that my more sophisticated clients are expressing their paranoia as well.
i’ve been spending way too much time futzing about with the computers, and need to do something else some of the time.
to that end, i’m probably not going to spend more than a couple of hours or so in front of the computer today, because of the fact that i’ve got a bunch of stuff to do. i’ve got to drive to marysville (approximately 1½ hours each way), to pick up business cards from the printer. i’ve also got to take the empty water bottles up to the artesian well to fill them, which is in between here and marysville, so it’s convenient to do both at the same time. then i’ve got to package the cards and ship them to the guy who ordered them.
then, later on, i’ve got a fremont phil rehearsal, which usually gets out at 9:00. the moisture festival is at the end of the month. counting today’s rehearsal, there are only four rehearsals left until it opens, which is cutting it really close, especially considering that pam, our clarinet player, quit earlier this year.
PayPal has apparently frozen the account of the organisation raising funds for Bradley Manning’s legal defense, and they’ve admitted that they have no legal reason to freeze the account but that it is due to an “internal policy decision by PayPal”. that fact is exactly the reason why i don’t keep funds in my paypal account. when i get an order, i automatically transfer it to my checking account. if i have to refund a payment, i transfer it from my checking account. that way, in the not-unlikely event that paypal decides to freeze my account, all i will have to do to stay in business, is to arrange another payment method on my web site.
ever since the fiasco a few years ago, i’ve felt extremely suspicious about dealing with credit card companies, but i know that it is possible to do without getting scammed…
well, i’ve still got some details to work out – there are no visible transport controls, you have to right-click (or option-click) on the video to get it to stop playing – and i bit the bullet and bought some software to convert the video files to shockwave/flash in order to get them to stream and load in a reasonable amount of time. they’re here if you want to take a look. they’re kinda small, but they load a lot faster than yesterday…
i’ve been on a crash course about video conversion and coding for web presentation of video format files over the past three days. i’ve learned a lot, but i still have a lot more to learn, and i’m sort of wondering why i need to know this
i’ve currently got a video on the Sedentary Sousa web site, that works… if you give it a minute… i think… 😐
my guess is that the main problem is file size. the video i’ve currently got loading is the smallest i could make with this particular software (Toast) and for some reason i can’t even get it to import into something that is supposed to be for twiddling with video (iMovie), and, at 16MB, that’s not anywhere near small enough.
i know that YouTube uses flash (.flv) files, which cuts down on file size a lot, but i also know that flash is deprecated in HTML5, and, as far as i have been able to tell, .MOV, .M4V, .MP4 and such like are not deprecated, but the file size is ridiculous… nobody is going to wait around for a 16MB movie to load, unless they are there specifically to see that movie, and in that case a 16MB movie is not going to be satisfactory…
grumble, mutter… 😡
i made my monthly backup, which is now in the process of downloading. i’ve discovered that, pretty commonly, and regardless of platform, if i download using http, i get about ¾ of the way through the download, and it just ends, for no obvious reason, but if i download using ftp, everything appears on the local end without a problem… thus proving, once again, that a simple, text-based application that is designed to do one thing perfectly will always beat out a big, bulky application, most of which is code for the GUI, which does a whole bunch of things, but there’s no guarantee that it does any of those things perfectly, when it comes to getting things done the right way, the first time…
listen to me… you’d hardly guess that, buried deep in the inner core, was a dyed-in-the-wool mac-head… 🙂
rob sagan has been placed… yay!
i have had two “incomplete” orders for incense since the 1st of january, one from the netherlands and one from taiwan. they’ve ordered $4 and $12 worth of incense, respectively, got up to the point where paypal figures out shipping and realised that it would be 5 to 10 times as much just for shipping as they would be spending on actualy product. i’ve been wondering about why people do that for a while:to me it seems fairly obvious that, to someone outside the united states, a shop that is in the united states and sells things that are imported from india is going to charge a lot more to ship things outside the united states than some local shop that sells the same items imported from india. a friend of mine says that it’s because, overall, over the past 20 to 50 years, people, in general, have gotten stupider. i was talking with him about college experience these days (since moe is currently in college as well) and what it comes down to is that, even 20 years ago, expectations were a lot higher than they currently are, and i think that there’s a direct correlation to the general consumer on internet… no wonder there are so many people who think that the email message they got telling them that they had won $500 million dollars in the nigerian lottery is anything other than a scam… it definitely doesn’t say much for the education system, or internet – the “information superhighway”…
more turmoil in egypt, which includes the last of the internet connections finally going down… there’s a “million man march” scheduled, and the word is that the military has said that they won’t fire on civilians… but i’ve heard it all before, and until mubarak is under lock and key, either in egypt or elsewhere, i’m going to remain skeptical of anything i hear about the stability of the egyptian government…
ETA: apparently Egypt President Mubarak announces plan to retire in Sept. but i don’t think that’s going to be soon enough for most people… we’ll see how it all works out… fairly soon…
we had the second to last puppy potluck this evening. there is one puppy that had a home, but the new owner decided against it, so rob (the savage) needs a new home. he is available, if you’re interested.
i’m probably not going to go to the fremont sunday market tomorrow, because the weather has been rainy all day today, and it’s supposed to be rainy tomorrow as well.
egypt is still in turmoil. mubarak hasn’t quit yet, the people are upset, but
nobody only about 100 people have been killed. although there appears to be some looting and general thuggery, it’s still not immediately clear whether or not mubarak is behind it. there still is no internet, but news is still getting out the old fashioned way, by shortwave, ham radio, telephone and even by fax. i wonder how long it will be until they restore internet connectivity… or how long it will be until they have internet connectivity regardless of whether or not it is through “normal” channels. i can’t help but think that it won’t be that long.
pooples and stuff
the pooples are growing like pooples, and have gotten to the “chaos with teeth” stage, where they’re enthusiastically biting everything that they encounter, whether it is food, toys, doggie boobs, feet, hands, or what-have-you. they mob around my feet with their sharp little teeth whenever i go into their enclosure to feed them, or change their potty-pad… moe sez there’s two more weeks before they go to their new homes.
the black one has an official name. they all were called a name beginning with the letter R to help keep them separate when they were born, but the black one is now named Dash (he used to be Rave). the other ones are Reba (the only female), Rob (otherwise known as “the foot savage”) and Roy or Ray or something like that (Rye), which i call “Plug” because he was the one that was plugging up the works when they were being born.
only two more weeks, and then we go back down to a “normal” quantity (i.e. four instead of seven) of dogs again… 😉
in other news, i went to the fremont sunday market last sunday and renewed my membership, which means that, tentatively, i will be going to the FSM for real on the 6th of february, but i haven’t ruled out the 30th of january yet, or whenever the weather is nice enough to vend without getting too wet and miserable. i’ve made some minor changes in the way i present myself at the FSM, which, i’m hoping, will mean that i will actually make more money than i have in the past, because, now, people walking by will be able to come in and browse the products without having to ask me for a price for everything they pick up… or, conversely, they will be able to browse the product and not walk away so quickly because nothing has prices on it… i’m really excited to go to the FSM and try this out, but i’m also aware of the fact that, if i don’t grok the weather correctly, i will probably have to set up, tear down, or both, in the pouring rain, which would very definitely not be good for my product or my disposition…
now that’s out of the way…
i renewed my membership in the fremont sunday market this morning. the probability is high that i will be going to the FSM the first sunday of next month, but there’s nothing firmed up yet.
i did my business taxes today, and for the 10th year in a row, i have not had to pay any business taxes, which may seem like it’s a good thing until you realise that my business has been essentially failing ever since it started. at the same time, i made $1,200 in 2010, compared to $1,000 in 2009, and even though i had fewer sales, the total amount is approximately equal to my 2008 income, so at least i’ve been failing consistently well.
the second puppy potluck was last night. moe’s co-worker, a guy called flash, got his car well and truly stuck in the mud on the other side of our driveway and we had to call a tow truck to winch him out. fortunately, someone gave moe a membership in AAA for xmas, so instead of pissing everybody off and being a royal waste of time, we all joked and laughed about flash’s typical muddy exploits while we waited for the (free) tow-truck winch expert who removed flash and his car from our driveway without any problems. after the potluck, moe and i went bowling with the rest of her coworkers – flash showed up late, because he was stuck in the mud. 😉 because of the fact that i was intensely stiff and sore, i didn’t do any bowling, but i made up for it by devouring their catered dinner because doc C. was paying for it… 😉
i was stiff and sore because i spent friday doing something that i have been talking about for a couple of months, which was clearing the unwanted bric-a-brac out of the loft of the workshop. i started by carrying ⅘ of the stuff that was in the loft out of the loft, sorting through most of it, and then returning the remainder to the loft – which means about 50 trips up and down the ladder with heavy, bulky stuff. i now have a pile of freecycle and/or craigslist stuff (the DVDs are just the tip of the iceberg), and a bunch of stuff that’s either going in the trash or directly to the dump. i’ve also got enough space for a person to comfortably sleep in the loft, now. 🙂 i’m getting really impatient with the DVDs, however, and i may take them to seattle tomorrow and see what i can get for them at that used movie place on the corner of first and stewart.
but i’m still feeling the effects of over-exerting myself
so, back in june of 2010 i ordered, and received a shipment of aparajita from someone who was not the manufacturer. i figured this was as close as i was ever going to come to actually getting in contact with the manufacturer of aparajita, because i had emailed them pretty consistently over the past 10 years or so, with decreasing results (i.e. first no response, then bounced messages, indicating that the email addresses on their web site were no longer functioning).
however, yesterday i got what appeared to be spam (it was from someone i couldn’t place, to someone else i don’t know at yahoo.com.in – india – and it had a vaguely-holiday-like message), but upon closer inspection (which i do with every spam message that ends up in my inbox) i realised that it was from mavana.com – the manufacturer of aparajita!
anyway, apparently one of the reasons aparajita is so difficult to find in the US is because they don’t have a distributor in the US, and one of the first things that the guy said in his reply to me was that if i were interested, i could be a distributor for them.
!! ☺☺ !!
and not the search engine, thank you very much…
at this point i don’t even care whether or not there’s a demand for it, and i don’t even really care whether or not i actually end up as their distributor in the US (although that would be a perq… 🙂 ) but the mere fact that i have actually gotten in contact with the manufacturer of this incense, which i have been looking for, in wholesale quantities, for twenty years, is just fantastic!!
thanks to Howlin’ Hobbit, i was able to sort out the “hidden file” dilemma that i had yesterday – of course i could have edited the “live” version using
vi, but i was feeling stubborn – and the immediate result has been that one person who has been spamming my web site for 3 days now is no longer able to. whee! 🙂
my popgun is defective. i bought an orchestral-quality popgun, and i have been popping enthusiastically for around 10 years, mostly at cirque de flambé and fremont players functions, but it has been getting harder and harder to get a reliable pop out of it. first, the ball-end on the handle stripped its threads, which is understandable, since it is made of wood. however, i glued it back in place and the glue holds for about 5 pops at which point the ball-end comes off again. gluing the ball-end is an annoyance that i have learned to live with, although there have been a couple of times where i nearly lost the ball-end over the side of a ferry, or that kind of thing. completely replacing it involves coming up with another hardwood ball, and then drilling and tapping it out to the correct thread to match the otherwise very sharp end of the handle. then, the end-cap that holds the cork in place so that it doesn’t go “pop” and shoot the cork across the stage, disappeared. at the time, fred was a member of the band, and he volunteered to make me a replacement end cap, because he had the necessary tool (a metal lathe). then the bottom cap retaining screw disappeared, but i was able to make a replacement, because i have a tap-and-die set for miniature screws. of course the cork itself has been replaced two or three times, and i’ve got a collection of replacements in my workshop… but the problem i’m currently having is more insideous: the plunger has worn down to the point where it doesn’t seal. now it appears that i have a choice: i can either figure out some way to make two, perfectly circular washers out of something like linoleum, that are exactly .125″ larger than the inside diameter of the tube…
or i can buy a new, orchestral-quality popgun
apparently i have the skills and a steady-enough hand (everything is a lot more free-form since my injury) to cut new bits of linoleum that will work, and i have a leather-punch in the workshop that has a big-enough hole that i was able to create a new, more effective plunger, and now POP!! and all is right with the world again… 🙂 which is a good thing, because i don’t remember where i got the popgun… there are a couple of possibilities (and i’m pretty sure i could order one online, which would take too long), but i know for sure that one of them has gone out of business…
i like tools that can be taken apart and fixed when they stop working. it’s so much easier and less expensive than buying a new one when the old one breaks… 🙂
ETA: so this morning i got an order for one box of green rose incense from india, of all places. unfortunately, i would be willing to bet that one get green rose incense in india for a lot less than i have to sell it for in the united states. not only that, but the shipping costs alone, to get it to india, are more than ten times what the incense would cost, by itself. i wrote back to the guy, but, considering that it’s from india, the probability is fairly high that he doesn’t speak english, or, worse, speaks “hinglish”…
why do people do this? what is it that prevents them from thinking these things all the way through before doing something stupid? i suppose we will never know…
i’ve been very productive today, and it’s not over yet. i fixed my popgun, built a pig-rail for our whelping box, and fixed our front door so it closes reliably without having to be “finessed”.
i finished three gifts, which should be the last of my x-mas “shopping” yesterday… which is the reason i didn’t get around to posting until very late yesterday. i’d post pictures of them, but they’re gifts and i don’t want to spoil the surprise. i’ll probably post pictures after the holidays, if i remember.
i also cleaned up the remainders of several projects that had accumulated on my workbench, which involved sorting of a number of tiny, almost but not quite identical parts into piles, and storing them in film containers, which took quite a bit of time, because the parts were so tiny.
i sent a message to the manufacturer of the penatrating oil that i bought recently, because the directions for the use of the penetrating oil assumes that you’re going to be using it on engines of some variety or another, and i am working on a musical instrument. i’m fairly sure what they’re going to say, but i just want to make sure before i start pouring unknown liquid into my antique horn.
hopefully i’ve got an order of postcards that will be arriving tomorrow, that i will be delivering to florentia clayworks when i get them. i’ve got a rehearsal tomorrow, a rehearsal tuesday, two rehearsals wednesday, an appointment and an optional rehearsal thursday, and three shows saturday.
the next two days posts are already taken care of. nablopomo, if it has done nothing else, has taught me about the scheduling feature of wordpress. when you’re much more organised than i am (which isn’t hard) you can schedule posts ahead of time, instead of using the “Publish immediately” feature in the upper right of the “Add New Post” page. i’ve actually scheduled a few posts over the past month, but i have also been disorganised enough that i haven’t been able to schedule everything, because normally it’s not necessary, i would normally just not post on a day that i had nothing to say. hint: the posts that i scheduled are posts that appear at the same time, down to the second, every day.
friday of the fez and other stuff
#FezFriday with Stanley, who is suspicious of hats with brims, but has no problem with my fez, because it doesn’t have a brim.
i had another person who ordered $5.00 worth of incense, and then paid a $6.50 shipping charge. i sent it to them, because they’re from california and i don’t have any reason not to – a lot of times people will order a small amount of incense and then request that i ship it out of the country, at which point i usually tell them that they either need to order more, or buy it locally, because the shipping is usually a lot more – but at the same time, i have the shipping rates pretty clearly posted, so people don’t have an excuse if they order domestically and end up paying more for shipping than for their incense.
snow is mostly gone, but is still there in dirty piles along the edges of the roads. it’s currently 46°r; F and raining on and off, so what remains of the snow should be completely gone by tomorrow.