Tag Archives: hybrid elephant

🤣🤪

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…

but… 😉

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 🤣

someone else's reddit ad in a subreddit from which i was banned... 😉
someone else’s reddit ad in a subreddit from which i was banned… 😉

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. 😉

W000T!! 😎

221220 hybrid elephant iphone!
221220 hybrid elephant iphone!

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. 😎

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. 😏

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). 🤬

220909 how many things can you find wrong with this email?
220909 how many things can you find wrong with this email?

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!! 🤬

oyoyoyoyoyOYOY! 😒

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…

nothing.

i waited 24 hours.

still nothing.

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…

220923 1oz illegal mushrooms

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.

um…

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! 🤬

a long time ago…

229430 hemp stalks for casting  i ching
229430 hemp stalks for casting i ching
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…

🤷

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. 😉👍

incense

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…

220112 ΣΩΤΗΡ ΚΟΣΜΟΥ button
220112 ΣΩΤΗΡ ΚΟΣΜΟΥ button
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”. 🤣

derp

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?

i might have known…

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

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

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

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

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

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

bat out of database hell, sideways

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

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

and i didn’t know until… well… today.

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

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

it should be deleted. 😠

database hell updated

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

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

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

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

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

so, it begins…

tomorrow… 😒

database hell, okay?

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

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

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

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

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

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

blargh! 🤬

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

so i did that.

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

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

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

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

but i didn’t…

but i wanted to… 😒

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

but…

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

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

🤬

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

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

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. 👍😉

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… 🙄

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… 😖🤯

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.

sigh… 😒

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… 🤬

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.

deliberate misdirection

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? 😉👍

art? jewelry?

i made a necklace that i’m particularly proud of:

190618 gauri shankar sivalingam necklace

190618 gauri shankar sivalingam necklace
190618 gauri shankar sivalingam necklace

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. 😉

Continue reading art? jewelry?

HPOI have arrived!

and there was much rejoicing…

180423 75kg of incense
180423 75kg of incense

it actually doesn’t look like that much incense, but remember… 75kg = 165.3467lb — these boxes are dense

180423 package numbers
180423 package numbers

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. 😉

180423 contents
180423 contents

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…

next time…

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… 😕

it’s official

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.

inventory

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. πŸ˜‰

inventory
inventory
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. πŸ™‚

wononskopomuc

Thonotossasa, FL 160530
Thonotossasa, FL 160530
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

wononskopomuc
wononskopomuc

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 27Β’ a pouch for 7 African Powers, and 35Β’ 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.

wow…

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.

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.

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.

um…

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…

okay

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.

wump

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.

greep

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.

so…

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.