Category Archives: incense

gress

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

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.

why?

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.

woo hoo?

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

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

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

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

another one

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

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

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

that was way easier than it was the last time…

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

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

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

total elapsed time, LESS THAN 20 minutes.

total money that exchanged hands, $0.00!

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

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

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

today is 210319, and asses have officially been kicked!

so, here’s an interesting twist…

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

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

wait for it…

“master airway bill” 🤦

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

half an hour later, this was their response:

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

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

however…

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

and the broker agrees.

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

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

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

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

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

today is 210318, and i feel like kicking some ass

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

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

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

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

GRR! 😠

it’s happening again! 😱

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

SUNDAY!! 🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬

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

so, what, exactly, is “the needful”?

i am now preparing for imminent arrival of HPOI

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

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

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

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

that’s it…

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

there must be something wrong with me. 😒

woo?

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

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

or what? 😕

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

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

there is something wrong with my head.

that is a statement, not a question. 😉

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

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

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

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

and it appears that the antidepressants are working. 😉

weird

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

if anybody is paying attention…

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

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

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

so…

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.

good. 😒

1½" diameter buttons
1½” diameter buttons
pins & buttons
pins & buttons

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! 😉

201012 HPOI
201012 HPOI

Ă,-PĂ,-RĀ’-JĬ,-TĀ, agarbathiwalas

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… 😒

but…

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.

and then…

nothing.

no order, no more phone calls, or texts… nothing.

i will never figure out these people. 😖

sigh…

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″