Tag Archives: hybrid elephant

<sigh>… okay, i’ll update… 😒

we went to the campbell global snoqualmie tree farm, this morning, ostensibly to exercise dogs, but an ulterior motive was to scope out the “firewood” area, which is adjacent to the active logging, but they have logs pulled to the road and stacked, so that (if you’ve got a permit) you can go up there with a chainsaw and lop off firewood-length pieces, put them in your truck, and drive home without having to pay for it… thing is, the permit costs $300, which is about the same as a cord of firewood, but (if you’ve got a permit), you’re allowed to take up to 5 cords of firewood… plus, there’s literally 90,000 acres of trails that NOBODY else hikes on, because you’ve got to have a permit and a key… and, guess what? moe bought a permit when they went on sale, which is a little surprising because the permits sold out within a half-hour of going on sale… oh, and we have a pickup truck now… did i mention that before? we’ve had a ford f150 pickup truck for a little more than a year. it doesn’t get used for much — picking up loads of gravel, wood chips, or, soon, firewood (still got to wrassle up a chainsaw) — but it gets loaned to a whole bunch of different friends who need a truck for this or that…

230513 campbell-global snoqualmie tree farm
230513 campbell-global snoqualmie tree farm

i wrote to the newest member of the IOTM club last week, both from my hybridelephant.com account, and from my new hybrid elephant gmail account (because i’ve been having trouble with email, which is another story), and i have gotten no response, which makes me REALLY suspicious about this subscription… but, at this point, there’s absolutely nothing i can do about it, except to cancel the subscription and refund their money… which, at this point, is a little extreme, since, basically, the ONLY thing they’ve done is make me suspicious… but they’ve made me suspicious, which is very suspicious, and i really feel like there should be more than i can do to alleviate my suspicion.

the email thing is starting to grate on my nerves… fundamentally, there is NOTHING “wrong” with my email, but because of the fact that it doesn’t (by design) go through one of the “big guys” (i.e. micro$lut, yahoo, google, apple, etc.) i am finding that more and more services are either silently blocking my email, or producing more and more convoluted hoops that i have to jump through to get my email to… the people i do business with, my customers, suppliers, etc… 😒 at this point, i’ve gone back and forth with micro$lop so many times that my host provider is no longer willing to fight with them on my behalf, and has recommended that i route my mail through google or micro$hit to solve the problem… but i don’t see why i should have to pay — especially, i don’t see why i should have to pay micro$not — to solve a problem that micro$hite is causing to begin with. at this point, when i suspect that there may be a problem (like when a customer has an address @hotmail.com or @live.com, or something like that), i send them a response from my hybridelephant.com account, and if i think it may have been “interfered with” in some way, then i send them another response from my gmail account, which usually does the trick. but it’s grating on my nerves because it SHOULDN’T be this way, and i SHOULDN’T have to worry about whether or not my emails have gone through… it’s not like i’m running an open relay, or something like that, i’m just not willing to send my email through one of “the big guys” because, to be quite frank, i don’t trust “the big guys”… and it’s behaviour like i have seen from micro$leaze that causes me not to trust them. 😠

HMMMMM… 🤨

so i got another subscriber to the IOTM club, and at first everything looked okay… but the closer i looked, the more weird it became… everything came out the way it’s supposed to, so, technically, i am in the clear if somebody’s credit card was stolen and re-used, but i still wonder:

specifically, i wonder how a person with one name, in one location, can order something with a card that is for someone else’s name, in a completely different location, on the other end of the country. 🧐

this is very definitely not “normal”, if there ever were such a thing.

🤣🤪

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

Weโ€™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… ๐Ÿ˜ก

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”? ๐Ÿ˜

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. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

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 ๐Ÿ˜ก ) 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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 27ยข a pouch for 7 African Powers, and 35ยข 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. ๐Ÿ˜ก

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.

news

fairly soon, within the next 24 hours or so, the current Hybrid Elephant web site will go away, and will be replaced by the new Hybrid Elephant web site.

don’t be shocked, it’s actually a good thing. the old web site is made using technology that has reached its “Functional End Of Life” (as they put it when i was a tester), and, because of the fact that i’m a lazy bastard, i didn’t bother to even think about updating it until it was far too late to do any updating, from a practical point of view.

this will be the first web site i have on my server which was not “home designed”. i figured that it would take me a lot less time getting the bugs worked out of the site if i wasn’t already trying to learn the technology at the same time. it turns out that a lot of the new technology is stuff i already know anyway, which is a good thing from the “keeping the web site updated” point of view.

it also features a bunch of technologies that should have been implimented a long time ago (HTTPS, and stripe replacing paypal are the big ones), but, once again, because i am a lazy bastard, i simply never got around to it.

if previous experience is any indication, there may be some intermittent browser confusion, but that should all work itself out within 48 hours or so.

i’m excited! see you on the flip side! 😎

it’s time to get that negative horseshit off the top of my blog… 8/

OCF is fast approaching. today is the 26th of june, and i leave for OCF on the 5th of july. instead of driving, this year i’m getting a ride with michael marconi. the fremont philharmonic has several changes in personnel, and hasn’t had a single rehearsal. allegedly, we’re going to have two rehearsals with the cast members who haven’t already gone to the fair to set things up, and allegedly we’re going to have one or two rehearsals without the cast, presumably to rehearse for the ritz, which we haven’t heard from yet… in fact, i’m going to write to matt now…

i’m really trying not to stress too much about not having any rehearsal, but i guess what i’m saying is that, despite the fact that i know it won’t do any good, i’m stressing about it anyway. i’ve got two new pieces of music out of who knows how many more, and there’s a good chance that we won’t be able to rehearse this, even once, with the entire crew, until thursday evening, before we have to start performing on friday morning. it must be worse for kiki, since she is actually writing the new music. fortunately, it’s for the oregon country fair, so even if we totally screw up, it’s highly likely that nobody will notice.

i’m having the hybrid elephant web site re-designed. i decided that it would take a lot less time for someone who already knows how to use all of the new technology do it than it would for me to learn how to use the technology, and do it myself. it’s still not exactly what i want, but we’ve already put a method of payment in place that doesn’t involve paypal, so that’s a really good trade-off… and, while it is not exactly what i wanted, it largely has all of the things that i want, more or less where i want them, it’s got some really cool new features that i didn’t have in the old site (starting with a SSL certificate, so no more doing business over an unsecure network), it uses wordpress and woo commerce, so it will be really easy to add on to, and it’s going to be A LOT easier to keep up to date, so i won’t have to do this whole thing again in 5 years…

woo

when it rains…

i have nobody ordering incense for months, and then, when i’m on vacation, i get two incense orders which i can’t fill, because i’m on vacation… and besides which, one of them somehow ordered more than i have in stock AND he’s an international order for which paypal ๐Ÿ˜ก never figures the shipping, so yesterday i filled the order i could, and wrote the guy in england with further instructions…

this morning i got another incense order… for two dozen different kinds of incense… 👍 so i put together that order, and shipped them out this morning.

then, i got home and i had another incense order, so i put that together and shipped it out, as well.

👍

elephant

i got my annual enormous shipment of incense today, and turned around and got half of the shipment i received, ready to ship out again… it came from maspeth, new york, and is being shipped to minneapolis, minnesota, by way of seattle…

weird, but whatever works…

also, i got the latest Operation Mindfuck element today, which is a sticker that says “WARNING! This object does NOT exist!“. ๐Ÿ‘ฟ now i just have to figure out what to put it on… or, more acurately, what NOT to put it on… ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

i shipped out a devotional statue to basel, switzerland, after going back and forth with the guy in email since saturday. first he didn’t read the we DO ship internationally, BUT…” page and then he took his time when it actually came to making the extra payment, but it all worked itself out in the end, and his statue shipped out today.

catsup

i’m still more or less stuck on the new web site, but i’m not really worried about it, because i continue to get orders from the current one… yes, i’m not always getting all the emails i should be getting regarding customer orders, but i continue getting the most important ones. also i still haven’t discovered an alternative for paypal, but both of those things may be mitigated by the fact that i may be hiring a professional to “do it for me” at some point. at this point, such a thing would only happen after a disaster, such as somebody cracking the site in a way from which i can’t recover on my own, or something like the current version of PHP or the database no longer being supported, or something like that. it remains a fantasy, but part of the current fantasy for the near future.

today i helped ezra move a four-foot-by-four-foot “painting” from his apartment in the central district to a recording studio in fremont. it barely fit in my car. the word “painting” is in quotation marks because the object looks like, and functions like a painting, but is, actually, made from scraps of vinyl. we also spent some time wandering up and down the burke-gilman trail discussing recent events, future plans, fantasies and miscellania. he’s going to lisbon for a couple of weeks, and then he’s doing a residency in central oregon for a month… my son is thinking of moving out of state, and perhaps even out of the country, on a more-or-less permanent basis.

i’ve gone through one “artist” who said that they would make a vector representation of my raster-based file. i don’t know whether or not they actually made a vector represntation of my file, because they responded with a “proof copy” and then stopped responding… which, i suppose, i should have expected, considering that i found out about them on “fiverr dot com”, which is, allegedly, a place you can go to find just about anything for increments of $5. i’ve sent a preliminary file to a “professional” in florida, who claims to do the same thing, although more “reliably” and, predictably, for more money, but they, too, said they would get back to me in 24 hours, and that hasn’t happened yet. fortunately, i haven’t actually forked over any money, yet, but this person’s web site had many, glowing testamonials from seemingly responsible, professional businesses and suchlike, so i’m hoping that the only reason i haven’t heard from her yet is because it’s sunday.

once i actually receive a vector drawing based on my raster drawing, i’m going to give it to the local guy who does vehicle wraps, and get a proof from him, and then, if i like it, i’m going to get a vehicle wrap on my car. i may, actually, be able to fit all 1008 names of ganesha on my car, due to the fact that i can, more acturately, render the typeface size because it’s from an electronic file, and not painted by me… ๐Ÿ˜Ž

slowly…

one step forwards…

sometimes one step back, sometimes two steps back, sometimes more… but…

i’m actually making some significant progress on the new hybrid elephant web site.

of course, it doesn’t help that i’m also being forced to deal with the new problem, which is that the connection to the server is being reset, sometimes two or three times, before the page is loaded… and it’s not limited to the new web site, which means that if the new web site broke something, it broke it BIG TIME rather than just being a local phenomenon…

some day it’ll be done… i’m hoping that it will be sooner, rather than later. ๐Ÿ˜

customers are actually good for something other than income…

what do you know? ๐Ÿ˜Ž

i got a phone call this morning from someone who (judging solely by the way he spoke) was from india, although he told me that he was calling from new jersey, and his phone number is in western new york…

and, naturally, he was inquiring about aparajita — these days, when someone calls me from the web site, it’s guaranteed that they either want to talk about aparajita, or they’re wondering where they can get Spice

what i told him satisfied him that the aparajita i was selling was the authentic stuff, and he said he would place an order (which hasn’t arrived yet, but i’m sure it will), but the interesting part comes next.

he said that he knew the people who owned Sri Satyanarayana Parimala Factory, in Mysore, so i told him about my search for “The Real” aparajita, which included my finding out about Cauvery, and he said that Sri Satyanarayana Parimala Factory actually manufactures incense that is sold by Cauvery. he also says that he knows all of the incense manufacturers in mysore, and is available by phone if i have any questions about with whom to do business.

what i came away with, from that conversation, was that Cauvery, which i suspected was making erzatz aparajita, is actually re-packaging legitimate aparajita in “old style” boxes (which immediately disproves the 2 complaints that i have gotten in the past 5 years, that the aparajita i was selling “smelled wrong” or had a “moth-ball”-like smell), AND that the most recent purchase i made is ALSO “The Real” aparajita, and, as i said before, i will be able to sell it for significantly LESS than i am currently selling it…

and the only difference is that it will be in the “new” box. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

secret

i’ve begun updating the hybrid elephant web site. so far it’s still pretty much the default OSC installation. i have removed the right column, and haven’t done anything else, because the instruction manual i’m following says that it should fill up the entire screen, and what i’ve got fills up the entire screen in the header and footer, but the “content area” still acts like it’s got a right-hand column, which is kind of awkward… i’ll figure out how to fix it eventually, and then i’ll have an “up-to-date” web site…

but, to be honest, the one i’ve already got still works fine… more or less… it still doesn’t figure the shipping for international orders, and it still ONLY uses paypal which is not my first choice, but it’s the only one i’ve been able to force to work even slightly reliably…

however, i’ve discovered a number of things that the newer version does, which the older version doesn’t do, and there appears to be two ways of upgrading: one is to slowly and steadily upgrade, version by version, from v.2.2 RC2 to v.2.3.3.4, making whatever changes are necessary to the database so that it will remain "compatible" with the "new" web site… the other one is to do a complete, new install of v.2.3.3.4 and start over again from scratch… you can guess which one i chose.

but it’s not anywhere close to ready to give anyone a "sneak peek", so i won’t.

froward

i went on a “jaunt” today, to six “smoke shops” that i researched on the intar-toobs, and returned with one, solid “yes, sell me more!”, two “come back in a while/when the buyer is here”, two “i’ll pass, thanks” and one condescending old fart who wanted to pay half of what i was asking, and said he could do the same, because he had “a drill press and diamond tipped drill bits too”…

yeah, but i’d like to see how many you break or scar up in the process, mack… ๐Ÿ˜›

but the one “yes, sell me more!” was from a place that already had a lot of really good looking glass, and seemed fairly busy… he said he could get me a good deal on stems and actually gave me a “down-stem” to experiment with.

i learned a whole bunch of “new” terminology: the bongs i have been making have a “thumb-carb” which is considered “old school”. the “new school” way of doing it is to have what’s called a “slide-carb” which consists of a down-stem and a bowl. the rubber bit that goes between the bong and the down-stem is called a “grommet”, even though it’s not really a grommet. “thumb-carbs” are looked down upon by the younger folks, but us old-time hippies prefer them… ๐Ÿ˜Ž

acetocella

acetocella is the company that made Acqua della Madonna, a sparkling water that came in a gorgeous cobalt-blue teardrop-shaped bottle that i have been wanting to get more of, ostensibly to make bongs. the water is just sparkling water, nothing really special, but the bottle is a work of art…

although, if this photo, gleaned from googlemaps street-view, is any indication, acetocella may be out of business. i don’t really know what makes a place “no longer in business”, particularly in a case where that business is located in another country. if any of you out there have experience with this sort of thing, particularly in italy, could you tell me for sure whether or not this business is still in business, or whether it is an abandoned building that is being used for storage…

Acetocella

i don’t hold out much hope. i wrote to their “info @ acetocella dot com” address and it bounced almost immediately with a “sorry, no mailbox here by that name ” message, which is not a good sign…

things are winding down…

Hybrid Elephant has filled a number of incense orders in the last month, as well as dealt with people who order from outside the US and don’t read the shipping policy. i still haven’t figured out a work-around for it, even though i know one exists, because i haven’t been motivated enough.

there are now reviews for The Fremont Players, thanks to Æther Pie (otherwise known as “Princess Perpetua of Montague”). seriously, simon told me to “pick and choose” some “appropriate quotes” from the reviews, and post them on the web page. because of the fact that i’m doing this with HTML and not PHP, i made the copy changes, and then Æther Pie made the format changes… 121224 steampunk salamandiri’m also making some headway on the James L. Acord Bronze Foundry site, despite their lack of communication. there’s now a static page, and i’ve got a little more than half of the requests they made on the ‘redlines’ that they sent me working… although the other half are either not possible, or possible making more drastic changes in their template than i am comfortable making without some intensive research.

i was given a pair of steampunk goggles by my mother-in-law as a xmas gift this year. they’re made so that i can unscrew the frames surrounding the lenses and remove them… which means that i can replace the lenses with my prescription lenses (i just got new glasses a couple of weeks ago). i was also given a HD-PLC Ethernet Adaptor starter kit, so i now i can wire our entire house for ethernet — most importantly, the workshop, where the wireless adaptor reaches, but the OS9 mac doesn’t want to recognise our 50-character, un-changeable wireless security password. with the HD-PLC ethernet adaptor, i can make an end-run around having to wire separate ethernet cables, and i can move things like our two humongous hard disks out to the workshop, where they won’t take up as much room or accumulate as much stanley-dust as they do inside the house. i was also given a copy of The Practical Pyromaniac… heh heh heh… ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

we’ve done two weekends of performances of Sleeping Beauty & The Pea, and things are going well, in spite of the fact that i played my B♭ sousaphone a couple months ago, and i think i may have done more damage to my brain then i had done when i had my injury… seriously, ONE day of playing the B♭ fingerings, and now i CAN NOT remember the C fingerings… AT. ALL. ๐Ÿ˜ strangely enough, apparently the only way around this problem is to NOT think about it, and, as much as possible, NOT look at the music… the problem is that i’ve got three more weekends of panto performances, and two snake suspenderz gigs coming up within the next few weeks, and i’m not sure how i’m going to get through it.

i’ve got a Big Bois With Poise gig on new year’s eve, at the Hale’s Palladium/Moisture Festival Benefit party. because of the fact that we have been on national television twice now, we are billing ourselves as “The World Famous Big Bois With Poise”, and we were actually requested to come and perform for the new year’s party… of course they’re not going to be paying us anything, but we get into the party for free, where everyone else has to pay $50, so it’s an okay deal. because of the fact that we’re going to be performing indoors, we’re doing the “short dudes” act, rather than the “big boys” act — i.e. we’re going to be on “short” buckets, and dressed in diapers and bibs. we’re also going to try to memorise auld lang syne instead of our regular BBWP chant, but i don’t hold out much hope… ๐Ÿ˜Ž

grawlf…

i’m getting more and more convinced that what i really SHOULD do is drop kubuntu all together, and install debian with KDE. kmail is still doing bizarre, but not really obtrusive things, like “forgetting” my password, and losing mail if i move the folder that it’s in somewhere else. amarok still randomly stops playing occasionally, and crashes rather than shutting down “nicely” EVERY TIME… there are all kinds of minor annoyances that have crept into kubuntu that i strongly suspect would not be there in debian, and with KDE, i wouldn’t have to learn new software. the only thing i’m skeptical about is whether or not i will be able to transfer my mail to the new system, and (once again) whether or not i would be able to get all of my genealogical data back… both of those things are items that i could have the answers to, if i wrote to the appropriate user groups, i just haven’t gotten around to it.

i had two gigs over the weekend: one with snake suspenderz at the gage drawing jam, and one with the sousa band at the phinney holiday festival. the gage was more or less as advertised, i.e. we sat in the back of the room and nobody paid attention to us, but there was no free beer this year. we made $50 a piece (because our drummer was not there). the gig at phinney was more crowded and chaotic than it has been in the past, because they put in an elevator and a fire-escape in the places where we used to fill up the hall, so they had to twist everything ninety degrees, which made the stage about a quarter of the size it used to be…

really, honestly, if they don’t provide us more roomy accomodations next year, i won’t be going. it’s crowded and chaotic enough already, but expecting a 40-piece band to fit in a room that is only big enough for about 75 people, and then cramming 200 more people into the space (most of whom aren’t even attending the concert in the first place), SIMPLY DOESN’T WORK… ๐Ÿ˜

i’ve got a new web design client, for whom i’ve also (already) made business cards… and there’s a good chance that i will make at least 4 more business cards for him, and, once he gets is ducks in a row, there’s even a possibility that i will be doing a lot more printing for him as well. at this point, i haven’t done a lot with the web design part of it, in spite of the fact that he paid me what i consider to be A LOT of money up front which i haven’t even come close to spending yet… and it appears as though i may not have to do any of the actual design part of the job anyway. a member of the fremont players does web design “on the side” and knows A LOT more about HTML5 than i do, and, because of the fact that this guy has already paid me what i consider to be A LOT of money, i can actually afford to pay her $20 an hour to do the web design for me. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

more new incense! 8)

Incense!! 8)i went out today, and when i arrived home, i discovered that the mail delivery person had been there, and left me a note that said i had a package that was too big to deliver, and that it could be picked up at the post office (that is the 3rd closest to our house, but that’s another matter entirely). so i went down to the post office, where the korean person i talked to behind the counter informed me that, because of the fact that i received the notice today, the probability was very high that the package wouldn’t actually be ready for pickup until friday.

meanwhile, i could actually see the package on the shelf behind her… i mean, usually a package from india is pretty distinctive, and this one had bands around it that said “INDIA POST” in large, distinct, english and devanagari letters…

i said why didn’t she go and take a look anyway, and, so she went back to the shelves where the packages were, and, after staring at the package for about five minutes, she realised that it was mine… and then she spent another five minutes checking the serial numbers on the package against my drivers’ license, and having me hand write my address into their little touch-screen pad (which i deliberately made as illegible as possible), before handing over the 40-pound package.

which, naturally, was full of really high quality incense from india… ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Incense!! 8)
with my logo printed on them!
(yes, it’s on purpose)

week end

i went to deliver 10 “bottles with holes in the right place” to the pike place pipe palace yesterday, and came away with $100 american dollars and the promise of more in 3 weeks to a month or so… which makes me very happy indeed. now i wonder how many other smoke shops in the area would also be interested. i don’t drink that much beer, but my impression is that i’ve got friends who work at hale’s brewery, and, if nothing else, i’ve also got a lot of beer-drinking friends who would be more than happy to let me have their recycling. all of this goes towards the ultimate goal of “drink beer, get paid”… or to put it less succinctly, but more accurately:

  1. drink beer
  2. make bongs
  3. profit!!

next step is to get the fancy ones on the web site… ๐Ÿ˜Ž

OY! 8/

so i woke up yesterday and i immediately noticed that i was getting A WHOLE BUNCH of PHP “deprecated” notices on my web site.

i’m getting all these “deprecated” notices because my site has recently been moved to a server with a different IP address, because the server that i was on previously has been having MAJOR problems with the CBL, and the new server either ONLY serves PHP 5.3, or doesn’t have the notifications turned off, so that nobody sees the notices that the code may be deprecated. i’ve been fighting with my host provider (AGAIN ๐Ÿ˜ ) for the past few weeks to fix the CBL problem, so, now that it has apparently been fixed, i don’t want to ask them to go in and make a trivial change to something i can’t change myself, when i can do something constructive (which will also make my web site more compatible, for longer) anyway, so i set about doing something myself.

i rallied around and found the solution to that particular problem, fixed it, and was feeling pretty good about myself, because i had “successfully diagnosed and resolved an issue that i don’t quite understand” when i got an email from a customer of my web site, telling me that he had experienced A WHOLE BUNCH of PHP “deprecated” notices on my site… so i wrote back and told him that i had fixed the ones that i could see, and if there were more, i didn’t know about them, so any help that he could offer would be greatly appreciated. in return he sent me a link to the osCommerce public contributions page which had a zip file with precise descriptions for how to upgrade my site from PHP 5.2 to PHP 5.3 all at once, without having to track down and eliminate the deprecated notices one at a time…

and it turned out that it was A LOT more complicated than it first appeared… and it turned out that it was a REALLY good think i had specific instructions, because there were a few little details about PHP that aren’t really that intuitive, and, while i thought i had the problem fixed, what i had done, ultimately, made things worse. ๐Ÿ˜

ultimately, it meant making the following changes in about 100 different files, in multiple locations throughout the site:

OLD PHP5.2 NEW PHP5.3
ereg(‘whatever’) preg_match(‘/whatever/’)
eregi(‘whatever’) preg_match(‘/whatever/i’)
ereg_replace(‘whatever’) preg_replace(‘/whatever/’)
split(whatever) EITHER
explode(whatever)
OR
preg_split(‘/whatever/’)
DEPENDING ON OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES (which i still don’t understand)

the “whatever” parts were the ones that ecaped my attention originally… so, i got started fixing the problem for real, and then the power went out. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

this is september, there’s no snow… it hasn’t even rained for the past couple of months, and the power went out?!?

FRUSTRATING!!!!!!!!! ๐Ÿ˜ก

so i sat in the dark for a while and cooled my jets, then i went for a walk…

and when i got home, THE POWER WAS STILL OFF so i rummaged around in the workshop with a flashlight and located a couple of battery-powered lanterns, which made things slightly better, at which point i sat in the “dim” until moe came home, at which point we went to bed, because there wasn’t anything else to do.

some time in the middle of the night – i’m not sure when, because all of our clocks are electric – the power came back on. i remember getting up and stumbling around the house turning off the lights which were still on, but nothing more than that.

when i woke up this morning (and the power was still on), i went back to my PHP coding, and i think i’ve got it all fixed — after “thinking” i had it all fixed once before, only to discover that a single period – . – that was left out of one file meant that the whole site was replaced with an incomprehensible PHP error…

so if you notice something wonky about the main Hybrid Elephant site, i would appreciate it if you would send me a note, saying what the error is (copy and paste from the web page) AND (especially important) the URI of the page that you were viewing… hopefully it won’t come to that, but if it does, that would be good… ๐Ÿ˜Ž

thanks.

incense!

i got a notification from the letter-carrier yesterday, indicating that i had a package that they hadn’t delivered because i wasn’t home, and the package delivery required a signature… naturally, i wasn’t home, so i went down to the post office today to pick it up.

it’s really bizarre to me, because of the fact that we live so close to the border between king and pierce counties, that the post office to which i had to go to pick up my package, is the third farthest post office from my actual location: the first is in milton/edgewood, but that “doesn’t count” because it’s in pierce county, and the second is in federal way, which is in king county, but it’s on the “wrong side of the freeway” from where i am…

Incense!anyway, i went down to the post office, wondering what it was, because i wasn’t expecting a package. when i got there, they took a lot of information from me for a “normal” package – signature, printed name and street address – and the lady went back to retrieve the package… and it turned out to be from india, which i was totally not expecting at all. of course this made me wonder even more what it was, and i opened it up as soon as i got out to my car… after all, it isn’t every day that you get an unexpected package from india… ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Incense!

i seem to recall, a month or so ago, corresponding with a “mr. sriram” from india, regarding the possibility of my doing business with his company, and it may have been that i asked him if he could send me samples, but it was long enough ago that i don’t remember…

but the incense smells OUTRAGEOUS!! it smells like the kind of incense that i remember getting in the early ’70s when it’s not lit, and lighting a stick immediately transports me back to when incense actually smelled good, and not like it does today, which is like a chemical factory… the paperwork that came inside the package doesn’t have an email address, so i’m going to have to hope that my recollection is correct, and that i have an email address somewhere for “mr. sriram” at srinidhi solutions… ’cause their incense is AMAZING! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

stuff

moe has gone to san diego for a week, to attend a veterinary assistants conference… which means i have all four dogs to myself for a week… fun…

i don’t mind the dogs as long as someone else takes care of them most of the time (i was raised around dogs from a very early age), but i’ve never liked taking care of them that much… and, with a dog who is a little more than a year old and still very much a puppy (apart from the fact that he is a border collie and currently stands an inch and a half taller than his mother), and another, ancient and decrepit dog who likes to bark, suddenly and loudly, at nothing, for no very obvious reasons, my patience is being severely tried, and moe has only been gone for two days…

i have two gigs on sunday (again), one with the ballard sedentary sousa band (at the ballard locks, at 2:00 pm), and one with snake suspenderz (on mercer island, at 7:00 pm), which means that i’m going to be gone for longer than rye’s bladder will hold out, so moe arranged for some friends to come over and give the doggies some “relief” in the evening… which is absolutely okay with me, given the circumstances.

i had the windows in my car tinted the other day, which is very good, because now, when people are “just walking by” my car, on sunday, instead of being able to look in the car and see my new, fancy tuba in the back, they won’t be able to see anything… however, in the process of applying the tinting film, the guy broke the passenger side rear window… or something, it worked the last time i tried it, but i haven’t used it since i bought the car, which is when i “tested it out” the last time. my impression is that when the previous owner pulled off the not-professionally-installed (i.e. defective) window tinting film, it left a whole bunch of residue which, subsequently, gummed up the motor… anyway, they couldn’t tint that window, because it wouldn’t go up and down, so i took it over to edgewood tire last night, and had them “cut the cable and insert a wooden wedge” to make the window “go up and down” — sort of — but, because of the fact that it was held in place with a wooden wedge, there would have been no point in locking the door, or (for that matter) tinting the windows in the first place, so i ponied up another $250 to fix the window, which leaves me with very little money… but money has been coming in at a surprisingly high rate recently… not very large quantities (with one significant exception), but frequently enough that i’m not too worried about how little money is in my hybrid elephant account at the moment… ๐Ÿ˜‰

oh… crap.

i had to refund someone’s money the other day. they had ordered one box of incense, but, because of the fact that they ordered it from bizarre-istan, paypal neglected to figure shipping correctly, and as a result, they had only paid $1.50 for something that would cost me $35 to mail to them. i wrote and told them of my dilemma and said that if i didn’t hear anything from them, i would refund their money. i didn’t hear anything from them, so i refunded their money.

there would be nothing unusual about this transaction, except for the fact that it is exactly this type of transaction that is referred to in a previous interaction that i had with paypal, which wasn’t so cordial…

just what i needed… another reason to wish that i could afford to cancel my paypal account… ๐Ÿ˜

the week in review

i completed the replacement of the lead pipe on the ugly sousaphone. i have yet to replace the water key, and patch the split third-valve upper tubing, but those things shouldn’t take long at all, and then i will be able to deliver the ugly sousaphone to its rightful owner (thaddeus), who will, then, hand over to me the double B-flat tuba seen here… and i will play the HELL out of it! 8)

i was contacted by a person who claims to be my grandfather’s half-sister… but she’s around the same age as me… and for someone who might not be who she says she is, she certainly has an over abundance of trivial information and unimportant, but entirely, independently verified facts about people who would otherwise be completely unknown, so at this point i tend to agree that she’s probably my grandfather’s half-sister… but, because of the fact that my family is all that’s left of a bunch of massively inbred yokels and hillbillies, she hasn’t cleared up any of the “family mysteries”, and, in fact, has come up with several new ones that will, likely, never be completely understood, because they have to do with my family, who, traditionally, ignores, berates, or tries to shout down anybody (like me) who says that the way they live is not the best. rosemary, my great aunt, is also a child of the ’60s, and has a hippy heart, which is probably why she survived this long without doing the traditional family thing and going crazy.

seriously… there’s a family history going back almost 200 years, of family members getting killed or maimed by insane people, some of whom have also been family members… weird… ๐Ÿ˜

the moisture festival has been going well, but i haven’t started playing shows "for real" yet, despite the fact that i have already played 6 shows with two different bands… starting on saturday, i have 12 shows over the course of 8 days, with two different bands, so i’m going to be more than ordinarily busy. until then, i’ve got a rehearsal this evening, and a rehearsal tomorrow evening, and probably a rehearsal either wednesday or thursday.

i got the business cards i made for chris, which look astoundingly good, given the fact that the phone number is deliberately off center… supposedly he’s going to get back to me on a postcard, for which i sent out a preliminary draft on tuesday, and talked with him on wendesday, but haven’t heard anything since. i don’t want to hassle him too much, though, because apart from having a more-or-less full time job, he’s also got a new clinic that he’s in the process of opening up… at the same time, this postcard is “time sensitive” at this point, and i don’t want to wait too long, or i won’t be able to get them printed in time.

wow…

okay, i’ve been REALLY busy over the past week, ending with a snake suspenderz gig and four panto performances in the past three days… which, oddly enough, has already resulted in my having, in my hot little hands at this very moment (well, not this very moment, because i’m typing – and that rather badly, because of the fact that my hands are cold – but you get the idea) cash and checks amounting to more than $250… and i’ve got another $100 being transferred to my bank account from paypal…

today i took an order from Rev. Mary, who called me on the phone this morning inquiring about aparajita… she didn’t say who she was, but she was raving about how much she likes it, and said that she wanted to buy 5 boxes. we talked for about half an hour about how much incense has changed since the 1960s and the “new trends” in incense. she then said that she would order from the site. when the order came in, it was for 12 boxes, which makes me think that it may be about time to contact that guy in india who has been spamming me with requests for the past year, who i finally convinced to shut up and go away…

anyway, back to rev. mary… i had no idea who she was when she called. i have since (obviously) discovered who she is and where she’s coming from. i’m rather amused that an old-time gospel preacher’s wife has latched onto my incense, but i’m not sure that she could be even more bizarre than i first imagined. she’s an old lady (the picture on her web site was taken at least 20 years ago, judging solely by what she sounds like), and it could very well be that she’s a “reformed” hippy, or, possibly one of those weird cross-breed hippies that took jeezis instead of LSD… or, she could be pre-hippy, a real old-time gospel preacher and just really like quality incense regardless of what religion its maker and seller belongs to, OR she could be really ignorant of everything (although how one could order incense from hybrid elephant and not come away with the impression that i might be hindu is somewhat beyond me, it may be that i am a little too close to the subject to be very objective) and has no idea that i’m not a “christian” as well…

anyway, she ordered 12 boxes, which means that i only have 10 left… and that’s including my “personal” stash…

that was “interesting”…

if, by “interesting” you mean “screaming in mind-wreaking terror”… ๐Ÿ˜

i got cracked* this morning.

about 2:00 in the morning, someone compromised a “soft” password on one of my wordpress sites and defaced every PHP index page that they could find…111110 web site hack

when i started up my computer this morning, i was confronted by this, rather than the expected page on hybridelephant.com, przxqgl.hybridelephant.com and several other web sites that i host. it was a shock, let me tell you.

FORTUNATELY i have a backup… ๐Ÿ™‚ and a backup of a backup… 8) and i was able to put everything right within a few minutes of discovering that it was wrong, but finding out how was a little more tricky.

i logged into the administration sides of the web sites i manage, to determine if anything other than PHP pages had been tampered with, and i discovered that i couldn’t log in to one of them… so i clicked the “lost password” link and discovered that it didn’t know who i am… so i decided to get a bit more forceful: i logged into the database with MyPHPAdmin and discovered that the administrator account (which had a “soft” password that “could be remembered easily” by someone who has never had to do DBA stuff before) had been changed, and then deleted…๐Ÿ˜

once i regained control of the database (and DELETED the admin account with the soft password) and removed the file that he sneakily uploaded to a plugin directory that i had deleted (which is why i knew it was there), i went to work to discover as much as i can about the cracker as possible. i learned that he uploaded files from 66.23.237.186, which is located in new york, but he also has close associations with 46.38.130.10, which is located outside of louisville, kentucky, but he’s apparently all for iran and down on saudis, so it could be that he’s using those IP addresses as proxys, at which point he could be anywhere… i also have a “DecodedBase64.bin” file i retrieved from the file he encrypted and uploaded to the deleted plugin directory, which potentially has a little more accurate indications of who he might be, but executing it on any of my computers is totally out of the question. that’s probably as close as i’m ever going to come to actually knowing who he is, but that’s a fair amount more than i could have expected.

and the client gets a STERN talking-to about the value of very strong passwords… i’m fairly sure that she won’t do it again.

Continue reading that was “interesting”…

this is definitely NOT the way to start the week…

hybrid elephant had $0.00 in its paypal account (which is normal, i HATE paypal, and you’ll see why in a minute).

on 10th february, 2011, after someone made a $22.00 payment for something that they decided they didn’t want, i refunded $22.00 to that person, and had a $0.00 balance when i was finished. i consider this to be normal.

on 4th september, 2011 (the last time i had to refund any money), i had $0.00 balance, a person made a payment of $33.00, i refunded $33.00, and had a $0.00 balance when i finished. it was a nice, normal transaction.

today, i had a $0.00 balance, a person ordered $7.00 but didn’t include the extra $30.00 for shipping (they’re located outside the US), and so i refunded their $7.00 order… but now i have a -$0.30 balance: NOT a “nice, normal” transaction at all… but that’s not the part that makes it really bizarre.

i called them up, to find out what’s their problem. after 45 minutes of wangling around with an automated anti-service drone that wouldn’t let me talk to a real person and only wanted to give me my account details, i finally got a real person, who put me on hold for another 15 minutes while he got a “specialist” to help me.

the “specialist” told me that when a person’s money is refunded, there is a transaction fee of $0.30, and if i had never had to pay it in the past, that i was “lucky”. she said if she put my account on hold while they “investigated” it, that there is a good possibility that i will owe substantially more than $0.30, for previous refunded transactions that haven’t been charged the $0.30 transaction fee.

the only options i have are NOT paying the fee, and having my account put on hold, cancelling the account all together, or biting the bullet and paying the $0.30 transaction fee (which i have NEVER had to pay in the past).

if she had said that they didn’t charge a transaction fee for refunded transactions in the past, but that, as of some recent date, they decided to add a transaction fee for refunded transactions, i would very likely sigh and pay the $0.30, but because of the fact that she said they had ALWAYS charged a transaction fee for refunded transactions, i am livid.

i have been a paypal member for 7 years, and 7 years worth of $0.30 “forgotten” transaction fees, regardless of how few of them there have been, could potentially add up to substantially more than i am willing to pay, and my only other option is to close down the hybrid elephant paypal account and move to a “cash only” plan which wouldn’t be anything close to satisfactory for anyone.

at this point, i might as well just shut down the entire business. ๐Ÿ˜›

i’ve got a new client…

thanks to the people at edgewood tire showing off their fancy business cards, i got a business card order from this guy named lamar, who wanted his cards to say $$ CASH $$ FOR JUNK CARS & TRUCKS with his name and phone numbers. i didn’t actually talk to lamar, but he wrote down what he wanted on a napkin and the people at edgewood tire put in the order for him.

this, needless to say, is not the way i have done business with people who needed printing in the past. usually i’ve found that when people write something down on a napkin, that some time has to be spent figuring out exactly what is needed. i told sally (one of the owners of edgewood tire, i think) that, and she agreed that it was not exactly the best idea, so i left my phone number and told her to have lamar give me a call.

days passed by, and lamar didn’t call me.

i stopped by edgewood tire again, and sally said that lamar said (already you begin to see why i was leery of doing this) that what was written on the napkin was what he wanted, and that i shoud just go for it. i still wanted to at least talk to the guy before i typeset something, but when i called both of the numbers he gave, and asked for lamar, nobody had any idea who i was talking about, so sally actually called lamar while i was standing in her office, and then handed the phone to me. it didn’t take long. he gave me the impression that he wanted them in a hurry, and suggested the word CASH should be in red. i asked him if he wanted any artwork, and he said that the words should take up the entire card… in fact, he said “if there is any room left on the card, fill it with the words i gave you.” i asked him if he needed to see a proof copy before i sent them out, and he said no (which is another BIG RED FLAG in the “normal” printing industry). i said i would see that his need for cards was met, and that if he needed any changes, we could talk about it for the next time.

so i whipped out a card that filled as much of the available space as possible with words. and sent them off with faster than normal delivery service… which was a mistake, because UPS couldn’t find my address (which is a down side to living in the “unincorporated” part of king county) and the day they were supposed to deliver it, the status suddenly changed to “we don’t know where you are, delivery postponed indefinitely” and i actually had to go down to the UPS package center in pacific to get it.

armed with the business cards, i, once again, tried calling both of the phone numbers on the card, and got the answering service for pacific auto glass, who didn’t know who lamar was. i began to think that i may never see payment, but i took them to edgewood tire and said that lamar could pay for the replacement gear that my new car needed, and sally said that was an acceptable arrangement, so i left the cards with her.

but i got to thinking… i actually have a junk car that i need to get rid of, so i tried calling them again. this time, there was an answering machine that said that if you need a new windshield or have a junk car, leave your number… so i did.

this time lamar actually called back. we made all of the arrangements for him to pick up(!) the old ganesha the car before he asked for my name and phone number (heh heh). when he found out who i was, he immediately put in another order for 1000 more business cards. he really likes them, and says that the word “cash” is exactly what he wanted…111013 cash for junk cars & trucks business card

not so random rant about the shit box

the other day i was “confronted” by a customer (it’s sort of difficult to say that it was a “confrontation” in the normal sense of the word, because the entire interaction took place over email, but bear with me, because it was a confrontation) concerning the fact that, along with the religious items and incense i carry, “there is a product called a ‘shit box‘”. he was concerned that i am causing my customers offense, and he demanded that it be renamed or removed at once. when i told this customer that i didn’t have the power to rename the “shit box” he accused me of “writing an essay” about it, when, actually, i wrote three or four very terse statements. this is the “essay” that he accused me of writing.

thanks for the advice, buddy, but i don’t do business that way, and here’s the reason why.

St. Francis of Assisi said “when the devil says to you again, ‘You are damned,’ you answer him confidently, ‘Open your mouth and I will shit in it!'” and Yunmen Wenyan said, basically, “The Buddha is a dried shit-stick.” if such illuminated personages as St. Francis and Ummon used the word “shit”, then it’s apparently okay for me to use the word. not only that, but jesus said “that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man” and if saying the word “shit” defiled a person, then St. Francis would not have said it.

at the same time, i am quite familiar with people who are pretty well defiled, despite the fact that nothing but bible scripture spews out of their mouths: people like jerry falwell and james dobson and robert schuller and harold camping and creflo dollar and benny hinn and jim bakker and peter popoff and bob larson and…

on the other hand, if it is automatically assumed that anything with the exact combination of letters “S”, “H”, “I”, “T” defiles a person, then, automatically, that makes referring to shittim wood (a common feature of the old testament book of exodus) something that a “christian” would not want to recite, for fear of “the word”…

and that doesn’t even take into account those people for whom english is a foreign language, and to whom the letters “S”, “H”, “I”, “T” are meaningless and something else is used in its place… which includes, by the way, both St. Francis and Ummon…

further, if people are going to be offended by the “shit box” what would they have me call it? Eco-Friendly, Portable Toilet is an accurate description, but it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue the way “shit box” does, and calling it an “eco-friendly, portable toilet” won’t really help you when you need to go, and you’re in a tent, asking for it in the pitch darkness of the middle of the night…

not only that, but i didn’t actually name it myself, anyway. that honour goes to the people at The Brown Corporation and i wouldn’t presume to rename something simply because a person like one of these tells me to to do so… even if i did have the power to do so…

WHICH I DON’T!!

finally, i am a weird duck. i don’t do things for the same reasons that most other people do them, and that includes being in business. i am in business PRIMARILY to give thanks to Ganesha, and then to provide quality products and servies to my customers… and i do that in spite the fact that i use language differently than most people, and that i am not offended when someone says “shit”. if a person is offended by the fact that i carry the “shit box“, there’s nothing i can do about it, and if they’re so offended that they choose to buy their incense or devotional statues somewhere else, there’s nothing i can do about that, either… and, to be honest, i would rather that they go somewhere else anyway, because their uptight, holier-than-thou attitude is just going to piss me off.

The language and concepts contained herein are guaranteed not to cause eternal torment in the place where the guy with the horns and pointed stick conducts his business.
     — Frank Zappa

ketchup

If you go to the Third World and find 100 people who have never tasted ketchup before, you find out two things: one is that people don’t actually like tomato ketchup, the other is that they dislike all ketchups equally.
     –Rob Young

i downloaded a whole bunch of music from Sharps a burning-man related dub DJ with whom i am related – he’s either my fourth or fifth cousin, either twice or thrice removed… i’m not sure about the particular details, but our shared ancestor is my great-grandfather… or great-great-grandfather, or something like that… i find it somewhat incredible that i am related to so many people, most of whom i don’t know, and that there are other people, some of whom i am related to, who know a lot more about my family, even though they are completely unknown to me, than i do. it’s also good to see that i’ve got relatives who are not my immediate family (who all seem to despise me for not entirely unknown, but entirely unrealistic reasons) who, never the less, have the same predilictions for artistic expression as i do. it is definitely very grounding for me. i keep having to remind myself that i – and everyone else alive – has 1024 great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents, and the further you go back in time, the fewer people there are… eventually – and it’s a lot sooner than most people think – you’re bound to run into similar family relationships.

along similar lines, through another guy i met who is from whitecourt, alberta, i got a new pile of information about my mother’s family, and i now have more-or-less confirmed lineage back to the early 1600s, and a “home turf” in st. vigeans and arbroath, scotland. i’m still hoping that someone will come along and give me similar information about my father’s side of the family: i’ve only been able to trace them back to the mid-1800s, and, although possibly the father (or, possibly, grandfather) of the last guy in my current list was originally from “the old country” (whichever one that is), i don’t know anything about him… of course i am one of a long tradition from that part of my family, of oldest-children who have been estranged from their families for one reason or another, on top of the fact that the civil war put extreme pressures on family loyalties, and that part of my family was in the thick of the action on both sides of the conflict – which would mean that there are more-than-likely parts of my family history that were deliberately forgotten over the years.

i’ve been doing a lot of performances with snake suspenderz over the past couple of weeks. we’ve been busking at the ballard sunday market for a while now, and the past couple of weeks we haven’t been busking there, but we’ve made up for it by busking at the wallingford market on wednesday, and the interbay market on thursday… and hobbit and i went and busked at the phinney ridge market on friday last week. the fremont phil did a gig at the fremont outdoor cinema on saturday last week, and we’ve got another gig scheduled for the mobile food rodeo, coming up on the 17th… and the day after that, snake suspenderz is doing two gigs in the same day, at the pike place market and beneroya hall… and i’ve discovered that puyallup has a sunday market, which opens up the possibility of going to ballard in the morning and puyallup in the afternoon… 8)

i’ve also had a surprising amount of hybrid elephant business. i’ve got a button order in the process that’s 500 buttons, plus at least two international orders and at least two more domestic orders over the past few weeks, and another one just came in… but the reciept from paypal hasn’t come in yet, so it may not be a real order… ah, there it is… it’s a real order now… 8)

hybrid elephant rant

i’ve been getting A LOT of international orders over the past couple of weeks (i.e. 4, in the past two weeks). this is unusual for a couple of reasons: one is that i very rarely get four orders – period – in that amount of time, and the other is that it’s unheard of for me to get four international orders from different countries (germany, switzerland, great britain and france) in that short a period of time… it’s even more unheard of that i’ve also received orders from the netherlands and from russia(!) within the past month…

i’m guessing — maybe — a european blogger bought incense from me and then blogged about it, or something like that…

however, as much as i appreciate the business, the big problem with all of these international orders, at this point, is that i don’t have any reliable way of determining how much shipping is going to cost, because the orders are anywhere from less than half a pound (i.e. 2 or 3 boxes of incense) to several pounds, and the shipping rates, taxes and tarriffs, and so forth are different for every country that i send to, and the USPS makes figuring out what the shipping rates are as difficult as possible. i’ve found the USPS International Mail Manual, but every time i use that, the price they give me at the post office is different: anywhere from $15 lower to $25 higher depending on who waits on me… and the people at the post office don’t understand where i’m getting the prices i’m getting, and why i’m not getting “the real” prices online, despite the fact that i’ve given them the URL for the manual and had them look it up themselves a number of times.

and, the fact is, i know that it’s possible to set up international shipping with zones in OSCommerce, because Arbroath Fisheries uses OSC and they figured out my – international – shipping without a problem… ๐Ÿ˜

and, once again, not that i don’t appreciate the opportunity to communicate with my customers, but i think it would be really nice if i didn’t have to communicate with them because of the fact that, indirectly, i didn’t get their order right and they are going to have to pay me more money before i send it out. ๐Ÿ˜

recovering

sort of…

i’ve got a really busy weekend coming up, and i’ve had a really busy week already… i didn’t do much today: work on the snake suspenderz business card, laundry and spod… but i deserve a day off, especially since yesterday i filled two incense orders, one of which got shipped to the netherlands, and it’s really difficult to tell whether a person whose native language is dutch is being serious or not when he says that he wants to pay twice as much for shipping as he does for the incense itself, which meant that yesterday was the end of about two weeks of email negotiations…

growl…

i’ve used a URI-shortening service – snurl.com – for several years, so that i can put a short URI into my “shipped out” emails, rather than having my customers have to figure out how to click a URI that is so long that it breaks when i send it in email. i’ve done this for at least five years, and i’ve even made a “custom” short-URI to help people remember what it’s for.

i shipped out an order today, and, as i usually do, i check to make sure my custom-shortened URI still works, and… it doesn’t! instead of going to the correct place, it now comes up with this annoying little error message that says “we delete snips used in spam.”

they’re accusing me of sending spam!

so, after investigating how to do URI-shortening on my own, and deciding that, at least for the moment, it’s more complex than i want to get into, i bought a new domain and redirected it to the long URI that used to be a snurl.com address. it’s kind of round-about, and definitely not the way i want to do things, but for the moment it works exactly the way i want it to.

however i’m still pissed off at snurl.com for accusing me of spamming.

up… date…

i’ve been spending way too much time futzing about with the computers, and need to do something else some of the time.

it runs 24 hours a day, and there are people lined up 24 hours a day to fill their water bottlesto that end, i’m probably not going to spend more than a couple of hours or so in front of the computer today, because of the fact that i’ve got a bunch of stuff to do. i’ve got to drive to marysville (approximately 1½ hours each way), to pick up business cards from the printer. i’ve also got to take the empty water bottles up to the artesian well to fill them, which is in between here and marysville, so it’s convenient to do both at the same time. then i’ve got to package the cards and ship them to the guy who ordered them.

then, later on, i’ve got a fremont phil rehearsal, which usually gets out at 9:00. the moisture festival is at the end of the month. counting today’s rehearsal, there are only four rehearsals left until it opens, which is cutting it really close, especially considering that pam, our clarinet player, quit earlier this year.

this

PayPal has apparently frozen the account of the organisation raising funds for Bradley Manning’s legal defense, and they’ve admitted that they have no legal reason to freeze the account but that it is due to an “internal policy decision by PayPal”. that fact is exactly the reason why i don’t keep funds in my paypal account. when i get an order, i automatically transfer it to my checking account. if i have to refund a payment, i transfer it from my checking account. that way, in the not-unlikely event that paypal decides to freeze my account, all i will have to do to stay in business, is to arrange another payment method on my web site.

ever since the fiasco a few years ago, i’ve felt extremely suspicious about dealing with credit card companies, but i know that it is possible to do without getting scammed…

flurb

thanks to Howlin’ Hobbit, i was able to sort out the “hidden file” dilemma that i had yesterday – of course i could have edited the “live” version using vi, but i was feeling stubborn – and the immediate result has been that one person who has been spamming my web site for 3 days now is no longer able to. whee! ๐Ÿ™‚

my popgun is defective. i bought an orchestral-quality popgun, and i have been popping enthusiastically for around 10 years, mostly at cirque de flambé and fremont players functions, but it has been getting harder and harder to get a reliable pop out of it. first, the ball-end on the handle stripped its threads, which is understandable, since it is made of wood. however, i glued it back in place and the glue holds for about 5 pops at which point the ball-end comes off again. gluing the ball-end is an annoyance that i have learned to live with, although there have been a couple of times where i nearly lost the ball-end over the side of a ferry, or that kind of thing. completely replacing it involves coming up with another hardwood ball, and then drilling and tapping it out to the correct thread to match the otherwise very sharp end of the handle. then, the end-cap that holds the cork in place so that it doesn’t go “pop” and shoot the cork across the stage, disappeared. at the time, fred was a member of the band, and he volunteered to make me a replacement end cap, because he had the necessary tool (a metal lathe). then the bottom cap retaining screw disappeared, but i was able to make a replacement, because i have a tap-and-die set for miniature screws. of course the cork itself has been replaced two or three times, and i’ve got a collection of replacements in my workshop… but the problem i’m currently having is more insideous: the plunger has worn down to the point where it doesn’t seal. now it appears that i have a choice: i can either figure out some way to make two, perfectly circular washers out of something like linoleum, that are exactly .125″ larger than the inside diameter of the tube…

or i can buy a new, orchestral-quality popgun

apparently i have the skills and a steady-enough hand (everything is a lot more free-form since my injury) to cut new bits of linoleum that will work, and i have a leather-punch in the workshop that has a big-enough hole that i was able to create a new, more effective plunger, and now POP!! and all is right with the world again… ๐Ÿ™‚ which is a good thing, because i don’t remember where i got the popgun… there are a couple of possibilities (and i’m pretty sure i could order one online, which would take too long), but i know for sure that one of them has gone out of business…

i like tools that can be taken apart and fixed when they stop working. it’s so much easier and less expensive than buying a new one when the old one breaks… ๐Ÿ™‚

ETA: so this morning i got an order for one box of green rose incense from india, of all places. unfortunately, i would be willing to bet that one get green rose incense in india for a lot less than i have to sell it for in the united states. not only that, but the shipping costs alone, to get it to india, are more than ten times what the incense would cost, by itself. i wrote back to the guy, but, considering that it’s from india, the probability is fairly high that he doesn’t speak english, or, worse, speaks “hinglish”…

why do people do this? what is it that prevents them from thinking these things all the way through before doing something stupid? i suppose we will never know…

i’ve been very productive today, and it’s not over yet. i fixed my popgun, built a pig-rail for our whelping box, and fixed our front door so it closes reliably without having to be “finessed”.

the rest

i finished three gifts, which should be the last of my x-mas “shopping” yesterday… which is the reason i didn’t get around to posting until very late yesterday. i’d post pictures of them, but they’re gifts and i don’t want to spoil the surprise. i’ll probably post pictures after the holidays, if i remember.

i also cleaned up the remainders of several projects that had accumulated on my workbench, which involved sorting of a number of tiny, almost but not quite identical parts into piles, and storing them in film containers, which took quite a bit of time, because the parts were so tiny.

i sent a message to the manufacturer of the penatrating oil that i bought recently, because the directions for the use of the penetrating oil assumes that you’re going to be using it on engines of some variety or another, and i am working on a musical instrument. i’m fairly sure what they’re going to say, but i just want to make sure before i start pouring unknown liquid into my antique horn.

hopefully i’ve got an order of postcards that will be arriving tomorrow, that i will be delivering to florentia clayworks when i get them. i’ve got a rehearsal tomorrow, a rehearsal tuesday, two rehearsals wednesday, an appointment and an optional rehearsal thursday, and three shows saturday.

the next two days posts are already taken care of. nablopomo, if it has done nothing else, has taught me about the scheduling feature of wordpress. when you’re much more organised than i am (which isn’t hard) you can schedule posts ahead of time, instead of using the “Publish immediately” feature in the upper right of the “Add New Post” page. i’ve actually scheduled a few posts over the past month, but i have also been disorganised enough that i haven’t been able to schedule everything, because normally it’s not necessary, i would normally just not post on a day that i had nothing to say. hint: the posts that i scheduled are posts that appear at the same time, down to the second, every day.

friday of the fez and other stuff

#fezfriday photo#FezFriday with Stanley, who is suspicious of hats with brims, but has no problem with my fez, because it doesn’t have a brim.

i had another person who ordered $5.00 worth of incense, and then paid a $6.50 shipping charge. i sent it to them, because they’re from california and i don’t have any reason not to – a lot of times people will order a small amount of incense and then request that i ship it out of the country, at which point i usually tell them that they either need to order more, or buy it locally, because the shipping is usually a lot more – but at the same time, i have the shipping rates pretty clearly posted, so people don’t have an excuse if they order domestically and end up paying more for shipping than for their incense.

snow is mostly gone, but is still there in dirty piles along the edges of the roads. it’s currently 46°r; F and raining on and off, so what remains of the snow should be completely gone by tomorrow.

update

i got an order for 1000 postcards through a recommendation from a long time customer. i’m probably going to get a special order for a kilo of incense from somebody who doesn’t want to pay via paypal, so he’s sending me a checque, which will probably add around a week to the amount of time that it will take until he gets his order.

i got two emails within a comparitively short period of time from a former friend turned raging alcoholic. i’ve gotten three or four emails from him in the past 10 years, and suddenly i get two emails from him within a week. i also have a copy of the last letter i sent to him, almost exactly ten years ago, that starts out with the phrase “you’re delusional, and you’ve been that way for quite some time now.” and goes downhill rapidly from there. i’m glad i’m so obsessive about keeping personal correspondence, otherwise i might not have remembered that this is the same guy who stayed in my apartment for a week right after i had moved to seattle from bellingham, in 1996, and proceded to make a copy of the key to my apartment, so that when i finally threw him out because he was an irresponsible drunken bastard, he came back and cleaned out my apartment while i was at work, and then was surprised when i showed up at his residence in bellingham with the cops… or the fact that he, then, proceded to accuse me of stealing his cheap stereo and rusty scale, which i hadn’t seen in years… the same guy who tried to guilt me into shutting up by asking questions about me finishing my degree, and my relationship with my God and gurudeva…

i wrote a terse email back to him, but i’m not holding my breath.

thanks to xydexx (who falls into the category of people i have known for 25 years or more… scary, isn’t it?)

“You know how sometimes people on your friendslist post about stuff going on in their life, and all of a sudden you think “Wait a minute? Since when were they working THERE? Since when were they dating HIM/HER? Since when???” And then you wonder how you could have missed all that seemingly pretty standard information, but somehow you feel too ashamed to ask for clarification because it seems like info you should already know?”

FIRST NAME: salamandir
AGE: older than dirt
LOCATION: seattle area
OCCUPATION: brain injured, tuba playing freak with a taste for fire
PARTNER: yes.
KIDS: one and done.
BROTHERS/SISTERS: two sisters, one brother, haven’t seen or spoken with any of them for 25 years or more.
PARENTS: mother and father both living in bellevue. haven’t spoken with them in a few years either.
PETS: currently, four dogs, three cats, a parrot and a snake. soon to include a litter of puppies.
THREE TO FIVE THINGS GOING ON IN MY LIFE: 1) [REDACTED] 2) one of the bands i play in is getting more and more frustrating because the only language that all of us speak in common is music, which makes organising things like rehearsals and concerts almost impossible. 3) none of the bands i play in have a gig on new years eve. wanna hire me?
CLOSE FRIENDS: a very few people that i’ve known on and off for 25 years or more, a somewhat larger number of people who i’ve known for 20 years or less, and nobody in between.

also, ROTFLMAOWTIME

spoons, etc.

yesterday i got up at an ungodly hour (6:30 am) and went to pick up my wanna-be-art-car from one repair shop, and drove it 15 miles to another repair shop where they’re allegedly going to fix it. on the 15 mile drive from one repair shop to the other, the car almost overheated, and smoke was coming out the fresh air vents when i arrived, but ganesha is in charge of this car, so if it’s going to be fixed, then it’s going to be fixed, and if it isn’t, there’s nothing i can do about it.

anyway, that left me in burien with no car. i had my bicycle, though it’s around 30 miles home from there, so i rode to the burien transit center and took a bus from there to international boulevard, where i transferred to another bus that was going to the federal way transit center, and from there i rode my bicycle the remaining 8 miles home.

when i got home, i turned around and went out again, to get an ink cartridge for my printer, so that everything won’t print green any longer, and i also went to the copy shop to get photocopies of the panto music of which i need multiple copies. then i came home again…

when i got home, i used the new ink cartridge to print an invoice, and packaged an order that came in the day before, and went out again to the post office to ship the order.

then i came home again, and searched for, and found a guy who would fix the free lawnmower that i got on freecycle the other day. he picked it up(!) last night.

today, i went to the bank to get cash for the guy who fixed the lawn mower, and when he delivered it(!), i mowed the lawn, taking a break in the middle to go out and buy a gas can and gas, because it ran out of gas and i didn’t have any because my previous lawn mower was electric.

then i got most of the rest of my gear ready for OCF. i still have to pack clothes, and there are probably some miscellaneous things that i haven’t remembered to pack.

i keep finding myself amazed at the fact that in a little more than a week there are going to be feral hippie children immitating the play that i only saw for the first time on monday, and that was an incomplete show, because all of the music isn’t written yet, and we’re still putting the final touches on the script… the final dress rehearsal for the panto here is tonight. i believe the people who aren’t going down early are having another rehearsal on monday, but the next complete rehearsal we’ve got scheduled for the panto is at OCF, a week from tomorrow evening before the fair opens on friday. i’ve still got to determine whether or not i’m bringing my saw. also i’ve got a pink bandana and a trumpet that i have to remember to take for katy.

tomorrow there’s supposed to be a banda gozona rehearsal, but it’s for a performance that i have to miss because of OCF, so i’m not sure whether or not i’m going to it. friday there’s the final BBWP rehearsal before the fire show the night of the fair opening.

as long as we hold it together, the panto this year has the potential for being the best show we’ve ever done. we’re doing a mash up of Red Riding Hood and The Three Pigs: they’re both fairly simple, short stories that have some similar characters – the big bad wolf, and the woodcutter, for example – and they’re both ripe for tweaking the plots a little bit (or a lot) so that they’ll fit together. of course we’ve got the standard gender bending and off-colour jokes which should go over the heads of the smaller members of the audience. if we don’t hold it together, well, it’s OCF, so the probability is very high that nobody will notice, or if they do, they’ll think we planned it that way.

ketchup

it’s raining and blustery today, so i can’t work on my car, which gives me some time to catch up on some other things.

moe and i are getting an african grey parrot named stanley this evening, and i’ve been fixing up a corner of the living room to accommodate him. it’s exciting, but it’s also as though we were getting a 3-year-old child, in terms of intelligence and need for taking proper precautions. moe has been wondering how long it’s going to be until stanley learns how to bark like magick, and conversely, wondering how long it will be until he learns to yell at magick for barking… which, i suppose, is just as valid as me wondering how long it’s going to be before stanley learns to make the jews-harp noise, or the tuba noise, or the flex-a-tone noise, or the glass-marble-in-a-bottle noise, or any one of a number of other noises which usually results in one or more of us yelling at magick to quit barking and be quiet. moe says that parrots are kind of like kids, in that they’ll quiz you to find out what they shouldn’t do, and then focus all their time and ability to doing that very thing. exciting is one way of putting it.

i got a phone call(!) from india(!!) this morning, from a guy who wants me to consider becoming a customer of his enterprise, which is the manufacture and export (from india) of incense, murtis and other hindu/hippie stuff. i’ve gotten a number of email inquiries like this in the past, and while i generally delete them without responding, i perked up when this guy said that he could get aparajita. i still don’t know in what quantities or for what price, but this is a lot closer than i’ve ever gotten before, and if i play my cards right, it could mean a lot more than just aparajita, as he apparently also has lines on narmada shivalingams and rudrakhsha beads. 8)

3D printer could build moon bases – somebody’s finally taken this concept to a logical conclusion, and wouldn’t you know, it had to be an artist.

Briton ‘gets Chinese accent after bad migraine’ – more people having problems with their brain and ending up with problems with their language. i’m beginning to wonder if this is a new problem, or if things like this have been going on all along.

Burials in Tibet – the original headline included the words "not for sensitive souls"… it shows how a different culture chooses to honor those who have died. what’s wrong with that?

spoons &c.

i subscribe to a modified version of the spoon theory, and the past few weeks have definitely been ones in which i have pushed the limits of my spoons, traded one day’s spoons for another day, and that sort of thing. now that the moisture festival is over for another year, it is important that i rest up and gather my spoons for a spring and summer that looks exciting and frightening at the same time.

i am expanding hybrid elephant in a number of ways: i have gotten at least one and potentially three or more new web clients, which may mean that i’m going to need more web space eventually(!), and i have been talking with bfly about teaming up to teach some classes(!!).

i talked with dan from nanda about printing business cards and postcards for them.

i have also decided, now that moisture festival is out of the way, that i’m going to have my tuba “seen to” by someone that can re-solder the outside guard bracing that’s come loose, replace several missing braces that are currently being held together with zip ties, and tackle the third valve slide that is wider at one end than it is at the other, and is just waiting for me to bump it a little bit too hard in the wrong direction so that it will totally lock up and never move again.

i also have a new art car project to work on. i have every intention of putting all 1008 names of ganesha on my new art car, which, of course, will mean that i will have to write them a lot smaller than i did on the previous art car, which will doubtlessly mean more time spent on it. SACBO is in june, so that doesn’t really leave very much time…

i like that word ‘kleep’… it’s sort of like ‘telp’…

so the US copyright lobby is petitioning to put indonesia on the list of potential software pirates, because of the fact that its government supports open source software… if you don’t have your copy of linux and wordpress now, better get it soon, in case the US government decides that open source equals piracy.

i broke down and bought a price gun marker$125 for a little gadget that prints two lines of numbers on a price tag, and is designed to be used at inhuman speeds. presumably it will work, but i won’t be able to find out until after the weekend, because my mother-in-law is visiting for the weekend and her bedroom is also where i store the incense.

i’m playing for the “Vicars & Tarts” party at the palladium tomorrow (yes, we are taking my mother-in-law with us, which should be amusing). i am playing with a whole bunch of musicians i have played with before in various other configurations, but we have never played in this particular configuration, and there’s one guy, colin, who i’ve never played with before. it’s going to be colin on trombone, me on e-flat tuba and greg on b-flat tuba (two tubas! 8) ), roslyn on clarinet, joseph on saxophone, stuart on guitar and a drummer who stuart says i have met before, but i don’t remember who he is.

Continue reading i like that word ‘kleep’… it’s sort of like ‘telp’…

imogene cunningham

Fremont Sunday Marketwe had two people in the audience. thad’s new wife, ada, and halfway through the show, macque came in. there were more people on stage than there were in the audience. apart from that, it was a really fun rehearsal with a live sound system and a real sound guy running the board. if you didn’t come, although you could have, shame on you, and you missed quite a show. hopefully (for your sake) there will be more in the future.

FSM today. i started with $120, i spent at least $60, and i still ended up with about $160, so all in all, i would say that it was a fairly good day. i’m definitely going to have to do something about my boxes. i ripped out the handles of 3 of the 6 boxes of incense i brought today. the ideal boxes would be similar to the cardboard boxes i currently have (which are cartons intended for packing 12 tall glasses), but they would have stiffer inserts, so that things don’t get all mixed together at the bottom of the box, and they would have sturdier handles that aren’t so likely to rip out as the boxes are used. also i’m going to have to break down and invest in a price gun, because having to look up everything all the time is a royal pain in the ass, and i end up selling incense that should be $7.50 for $2.50 because i can’t find it in my price list, like what happened several times today. also i have to remember to bring stock for everything that i display, so that some guy doesn’t come in and ask for a Niruta Ganapathi, and the only one i have to sell him is my sample, like what happened today.

whooy… 8/

the past five days have been definitly ones where i spent way too many spoons.

i began a day before halloween by deciding to switch host providers again. the new old host provider had a strong tendency to flat out lie about their service: they say they don’t delete support tickets, but i have had no fewer than three support tickets mysteriously disappear from their server. they also say that they don’t block IP addresses from their support server, but i have documented no fewer than five different occasions where my IP address was blocked from accessing their support server and had to have their support technician – Zac O. – clear the IP block so that i could access their server.

so i researched and found another host server that was willing to take all of my domains. there was a bit of controversy over at web hosting talk regarding whether or not a host provider who is using litespeed web server is prohibited from hosting “blasphemous” or “adult oriented” content, but as far as i have been able to tell, according to the email that i recieved from a litespeed sales representative ” for general shared hosting purpose, or for general user contributed content web site, it is ok.” i’m still a little confused by the guy who said why do you mention this is a porno site?, and then requested a friend connection with me, when i very clearly stated that it’s not a porno site more than once, but i guess that’s what i can expect from a relative newbie.

anyway, i got the blog and the other web sites operating again, after going back and forth with the new new host provider about shell access a couple of times. they don’t provide shell access by default, and they’re a bit less responsive than the old new host provider, but they’re more honest about what they actually provide, and they’ve added WHMCS to the mix, which will ultimately improve the likelihood that i will be a successful web host myself some day.

meanwhile, i’ve also all but completed the clarinet that i’ve been working on for thaddeus. i also got started on the jewelry project that i’m working on for xmas presents. and, finally, i’ve finished the sticker project that i’ve been working on for howlin’ hobbit.

i still have to discover why, when you enter “https://przxqgl.hybridelephant.com/” into your browser’s address field, you end up at “http://www.hybridelephant.com/przxqgl” – which is actually where you go, but the subdomain is what it has been before, and as far as i’ve been able to tell, nothing has changed except the IP address of the host server, but i know from past experience that anything that changes could mean that the whole thing suddenly and mysteriously could decide to work entirely differently, so i’m not really worried about it at this point, especially when i know that if you enter the subdomain you’ll redirect to the correct place anyway.

also, the authority in england that said that alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than cannabis and LSD has been relieved of his position as an authority, which just goes to show that even when they do listen to reason, they don’t always hear reason. oh well, better luck next time.

my life so far has been one which hasn’t engendered much of a sense of hope for the future, or making of long term plans, which has resulted in my being fairly "depressed" (although i would call it "realistic") most of the time. it’s strange, when i go through a period where things go "my way", because i either don’t make any plans at all and patiently wait for things to change, or i make very conservative plans that are easily realised. it’s really strange now, because things seem to be going "my way" a lot more than i am used to: i qualified for disability, i have some extra money, i’ve got my own property with a workshop and plans to put it to good (i.e. profitable) use, i’m keeping very busy with four different bands, my business is growing… slowly, but steadily, etc., etc., et cetera… (which is latin for “and others”)

which is why i tend to be a bit superstitious when (for example) moe went down to big building to meet micah and his girlfriend this afternoon. the last time anybody in this family went to big building was the day i had my brain injury. i told her that she could meet him at big building if she promised not to have a brain injury.

at the same time, it’s really difficult for me to make plans. i have all these ideas for stuff that it’s impossible for me to do, primarly due to lack of materials at this point: i have an idea for a new art car, which (naturally) requires a car, i’m on the verge of going out and buying a pen lathe because i have a couple of different ideas for stuff i could make with it (seriously, at this point i’m thinking that it’ll either be a pen lathe or a 1.5" button press, with the other one coming in 6 months or whenever i can scrape together the money), there’s the outside of the workshop that could really use some artwork, and i have a fairly good idea of what i want to do, but it requires making stencils and i don’t have the material – and the weather really isn’t particularly conducive to working on the outside of my workshop at this time of year…

it leaves me feeling like i’ve forgotten to do something important, but i can’t remember what. i’ve been doing a lot the past few days, processing and shipping out incense orders, meeting with clients, preparing files for printing and sending them off to be printed, web-related updates, preparations for adding a new product line on the web site, photography for the same, rehearsals with snake suspenderz and banda gozona – for which i copied a book of trombone music, because i’m going to be playing trombone now… but i’ve got this uneasy feeling that something important has fallen through the cracks.

aha!

so i was going through the oscommerce forums last night, desperately searching for the solution to yesterday’s problem, and i came across this comment on a post whose solution i have already tried (and failed) to get working – despite the fact that the installation instructions are only in german, and they produce only a marginally understandable machine translation. however, the comment mentioned that paypal wants the shipping calculations turned off on their side if i’ve got the shipping calculations already figured out on my side – which sort of makes sense in a bizarre, round-about sort of way, so i tried it.

i have since gotten 3 orders – itself a bit of an anomaly, since i haven’t gotten more than 2 orders in the past 4 months – and all of them included the shipping charge information that used to be missing from the emails i get from paypal.

riiiiiiiight… turn it on and it’s broken, turn it off and it’s fixed… that makes sense.

and it is paypal’s fault. now the only problem is that when i tell them that, there’s a strong probability that they’re going to say that i’m doing it wrong… ๐Ÿ˜

oy…

so i have this problem: a customer makes an order from my web site. he puts products in his shopping cart and clicks checkout. he is taken to a page where he puts in his name and address, and chooses a shipping method, and clicks confirm. he is then taken to a secure paypal page, which allegedly confirms his order, and points him in the right direction for payment.

i say allegedly, because the past couple of orders i have received have had the right amount for the product that was ordered, but have had no shipping information… which means that i have had to write to my customers and convince them to send me more money before i send their order out… which is awkward, to say the least.

as far as i’ve been able to tell, after having read the oscommerce forums for a few months, i’ve got everything set up the way it’s supposed to be on my end, which makes me suspect that it’s a problem on paypal’s end. this suspicion has been strengthened by the fact that i’ve had no less than two different paypal tech support geeks confirm that they’ve been having a problem with shipping to oscommerce sites. their immediate solution is to change the way it’s integrated, which, in my case, requires a scrapping of my entire product line and starting again from scratch. obviously not an option in my case.

however, i just got off the phone with a paypal tech support geek who basically said ‘yeah, it’s our fault, but we’re not going to do anything about it, so you should really talk your oscommerce friends into changing their software to match what we’re doing now.”

<head desk><head desk><head desk><head desk><head desk><head desk><head desk>

the pile of shed

a pile of shedwith the help of St. Ian of The Holy Snake, we now have a quite large pile of shed in our back yard, and the place where the shed used to be is more or less clear and ready to have the new workshop(!!) built there. while i was at it, i removed the outdated and obsolete technnology otherwise known as a television antenna from the roof. i plan on re-using about 90% of the shed to make the new workshop even cooler than it will already be, and the pole from the antenna would be perfect for hanging a Hybrid Elephant banner from at the fremont sunday market… all i gotta do is actually design and produce a banner…

in other news, there’s a snake suspenderz gig at the issaquah art walk on thursday, a BSSB performance at the ballard locks on sunday, after which moe and i are leaving for a week of well deserved vacation at the doe bay resort, thanks to pliny the younger general manager.

grf…

the paypal module suddenly decided not to add the shipping to the total when people use paypal to check out. it’s always been somewhat wonky, and has required two separate emails and usually a trip to the administration interface, or to my paypal account to figure out exactly what they paid at checkout, but until now it has worked more or less. now, it’s definitely headed towards the “less” side of things. oddly enough, i know practically nothing about how the customer gets from my web site to paypal’s web site and back with presumably encrypted payment information, and now it’s cropped up and is biting me on the ass. i don’t want to have to put an extra page in explaining why i am deficient, especially since every other online company seems to do it more or less seamlessly. i suspect part of it will involve buying a SSL certificate, but i want to examine all my options (of which there may actually be none) before i spend the money to do so.

bleh

it’s only been less than a week, and the spam has already started regarding who killed michael jackson, or that michael jackson isn’t dead. he’s already had two autopsies and there’s already a number of tasteless jokes about him, like this one: since he was made of plastic anyway, they’ve decided to melt him down and make legos out of him, so that kids can play with him for a change. a legal battle going on over the custody of his kids between his ex-wife and his mother. if it weren’t so gawddamn predictable, it would be entirely awful for everybody. as it is, it probably is entirely awful for everybody involved, and predictably boring or sensational depending on whether you were a fan or not.

another order of business cards for NBAC is on the way, and one is in the works for MIVC. i can’t get helvetica narrow, narrow oblique, narrow bold and narrow bold oblique to load on my mac. i suspect that it is at least partially because of a font-type conflict with which i haven’t adequately dealt.

portland and in-laws saturday, OCF in a week.

shows and anniversary

snake suspenderz today (thursday) at the queen anne farmers’ market, 3:00 pm until (potentially) 7:00 pm.

SACBO, friday, saturday and sunday. busy. not posting anything unless it’s outstanding and amazing.

we’re not sure because they’re still deciding whether or not it’s going to include us, but at this point it looks very much like the fremont philharmonic will not be playing at the solstice parade on saturday, primarily because they haven’t decided where it would happen, if it does happen (peter toms is being pushed around by whatever council subcommittee is in charge of the parade), plus our trumpet player just had a baby yesterday and our saxophonist has another gig. that means that, potentially, i’m going to have two days of vending at the solstice festival. woo… hoo?

11th wedding anniversary sunday. still don’t know whether or not we’re doing anything special, because of SACBO and an agility trial that moe has scheduled.

the bbb

i got a call this morning from the better business bureau. at first i thought that they were exceptionally efficient in dealing with my 1&1 complaint, but this was the better business bureau of alaska, washington and oregon, and the bbb with whom i filed my complaint was the bbb of washington DC and eastern pennsylvania. nevertheless what they had to say was exciting… at first…

the upshot of the call is that i have been invited to become accredited with the bbb, at an A+ rating, based on the extensive background check that they did of hybrid elephant and its two DBAs, Nataraja Music Service (no web site, although i still own the domain name) and Rent-A-Geek.

the difficult part is that it basically consists of “free” advertising that they provide for me, if i pay them $550 a year for accreditation. i told the guy that, up until less than a month ago, i didn’t even have $550, and regardless, $550 would be a significant portion of my yearly income.

Ganesha the post

i picked up my PA speakers from TC Auto today, and i made an appontment at Car Toys on friday for them to upgrade my stereo and install the PA speakers with a switch, so that i can play music either inside, or outside the car. this is an upgrade that i’ve been dreaming about almost ever since i first painted Ganesha the Car – not least because of the fact that the current stereo has sticky buttons and when i use them to switch from one radio station to another, the buttons get stuck in the “activate” position and i end up with 3 buttons that all point to the same radio station… which is quite annoying.

in preparation for SACBO, i repainted a whole bunch of the car, particularly on the front and drivers’ side door, where the paint had come off. if i were to do it all over again, i would probably do something along the lines of taking emery paper to the parts of the car that i was going to paint. but it would have been difficult, because its not as though i would be painting a big area or a solid pattern, and sanding the entire car would have made the white parts dull in comparison to the bright, shiny black and red. i still need to redo the red lines of text, but i may or may not get to that before SACBO, simply because it really is rather difficult. i may have to borrow the community paint pot again some time, because the ganesha yantra on the roof is starting to flake off, and i don’t think i have the right colours to fix it without it being painfully obvious.

also, i found that costco carries aquapel which is the one thing i really missed about going to jiffy lube. now my life without jiffy lube is complete.

today is the last day of my “contract” with 1&1, and i haven’t heard anything from them about renewing. i’ll try to log into my account tomorrow, and if i still can i’ll probably call them and remind them that i am not a customer of their any longer. i still haven’t heard anything about pipeline data yet, but with a 5-figure bank account thanks to SSDI, i’m a little less concerned about $300 as i was previously. also the bank said that they wouldn’t be getting back to me for 90 days, so they’ve still got a month to go.

again…

it’s coming down to the time when i should start thinking about switching host providers again. at this point it’s down to either HostGator or HostMonster each of which has their own google “complaints” page – this time i’m doing at least that much more homework… – and both of which have almost identical articles on hostings that suck which is questionable, since it also recommends 1&1… the reason for thinking of hostgator is that they have the balls to post an forum of customer reviews and apparently don’t remove the bad ones. the reason for thinking of hostmonster is that i have a very good friend who is a web designer and he uses hostmonster and speaks glowingly of them. probably going to start the process during the coming week or so, so that when i cancel with 1&1 they can’t screw things up as badly.

pipeline data apparently is apparently aware of the fact that they are running a scam, because when informed that we were going to the police with charges of fraud, they suddenly refunded the $11.95 that they had withdrawn from my bank account after i had cancelled my account with them… up until they were informed that we were going to the police, they had steadfastly refused to refund the money – which they were entitled to because of the contract i didn’t sign – under any circumstances, but when we told them we were going to the police, that is a circumstance under which they will refund it. there’s still no word on the $300 “early termination fee” – i’ve put in a dispute with the bank, and they’ve already started an investigation – but this doesn’t make it look too good for them. it may be a while, but today i’m guessing that i’ll eventually get the “early termination fee” refunded as well.

also… <tee hee> Fart Intensity Detector complete with schematics.

damn!

i have recently discovered that i have been ripped off by two different companies since december. the first one was the host servicie that i was so excited about a few months ago, 1&1 internet, who, i have since discovered, earned an "F" from the Better Business Bureau for “Number of complaints filed against business, Failure to respond to complaints filed against business, Number of complaints filed against business that were unresolved and Overall complaint history with BBB”. they “bait-and-switched” me into a contract for hosting services that ended up costing 12 times more than i would have agreed to, and then, in spite of the fact that their headquarters is in germany, they claimed to not understand when i told them that 4/10 didn’t mean the 10th of april, it meant the 4th of october…

the second company is Pipeline Data Processing, otherwise known as SecurePay, which also has an "F" from the BBB, has a reputation for holding funds, and charging you for things after you’ve already cancelled your account – like they did with me. and they said that it was all in the contract i signed, but i never signed a contract. the contract they sent me when i complained about the $300 withdrawal had a scan of my signature that could have been off a check or something… but i NEVER signed a contract. i was actually lead to believe that there wasn’t going to be any long-term contract.

the thing that pisses me off so much, though, is the fact that i would have learned about these rip-offs simply by typing the name of the company and the word “complaints” into google. instead, i figured that it was okay because the people sounded sincere, and signed up with both of them, and got ripped off. i am not immune to the very big stupid… ๐Ÿ˜ก

i’m going to have to close my business account and open another one, because of pipeline data processing’s propensity for random charges well after my contract was cancelled, i’ve already got an investigation going at the bank, and the pipeline representative recommended that we file a police report for fraud, because they weren’t going to look into it otherwise.

The Shit Boxโ„ข!!

The Shit Box
The Shit Box
The Shit Box™ has arrived, and it is truely awesome. at this point, they’re $25 for pre-orders, and they’re already an indespensible item for camping, travelling and the Oregon Country Fair – no more long lines at the porta-pottys in the morning! i can poop when i want to, in the privacy of my own campsite, and dispose of the “evidence” in the food waste bin without a second thought. it would also be good for Burning Man, but i’m not looking for conveniences for a festival that i will never attend again, so i’ll pretend that i didn’t even mention it.

progress?

i’ve discovered what the problem is with my linux box: i tried to upgrade directly from hardy to jaunty without going through intrepid first. it really wasn’t my fault, i just did what the upgrade application told me to, but that doesn’t make my box any less broken. fortunately, i appear to have found a linux guru on kubuntuforums.net who is the eternal optimist and thinks that i can probably rescue my box without having to reinstall. i’m up for it, but i would also be up for reinstalling if it doesn’t work out. meanwhile i’m learning all about aptitude -f install and dpkg --force-overwrite -i and other arcane goodies that go over the heads of about 90% of the other kubuntu users out there. and my linux box is still broken. oh well…

i got an order for 3000 postcards yesterday, which will ultimately be sent to japan, and i mowed the lawn for the first time this year as well. also i’ve got a BSSB rehearsal later this evening, so despite my broken linux box and my ongoing depression, i’m keeping busy enough that it doesn’t hurt as much.

ETA, 5:00pm: the linux guru i met turned me on to skype, which i now have installed on my mac, so if any of you are inclined to actually talk to me, i can be reached at przxqgl. we didn’t get very far, but i am more convinced than ever that we will actually be able to rescue this box instead of reinstalling it. i’m now doing a remote ssh to the linux box and running all the commands on my mac, which saves me getting confused over which keyboard i’m typing into.

update

happy 4/20. i’d be consuming more holy vegetable, but i still am terrifically short of breath and coughing a lot as a result of being sick still. i’ve been vapourising a bit and even that has been causing me to cough. i suppose i could probably make some ghee or something…

they’re putting on a new roof, so that it won’t leak any longer. it’s only about two years overdue, but there’s no point in complaining about it now. the dogs are being quiet, in spite of the roofers right over their heads, making all kinds of noises which dogs would definitely find suspicious. we’ll see how long that lasts.

the $300 withdrawal from my bank account has had a band-aid put on it, but it’s still an open and sucking chest wound. at this point i’m done talking with people until i hear from the bank concerning my contesting of the charges. moe has taken over talking with the people who actually withdrew the money, and considering that i never actually signed anything, combined with the fact that the first time i ever even heard about an “early cancellation fee” was when i checked my bank account on thursday, she seems to think that there’s a more-than-likely chance that there will be a positive (for me) outcome. we’ll see about that, as well… 8/

maybe i’ll go to the fremont sunday market on sunday. one way or the other, i could really use a day of doing nothing but making money, and there’s a good chance, since i haven’t been there in a while, that fremont will be itching for some new incense.

i got another order on the web site, but no corresponding order from paypal, which makes me seriously wonder about whether or not i’ve got it set up right. it should be that you confirm your order on my site, and then transfer to paypal’s secure server to complete your order, and of the three orders i’ve gotten since the site upgrade, two of them have confirmed the order on my site, but not completed their orders on paypal’s secure server. i wrote to one of them, but she was located in the UK and never responded. the new order came in on friday, from a guy in california, according to the site, but i never heard anything from either the customer or from paypal, so i don’t know what happened. the next step is to write to the guy and see what happened.

i’ve got to get my tabs for ganesha the car. also, i have a fremont phil rehearsal this evening.

fucking cunt-shit on a gold-plated platter!!!

i decided to check my bank account. i have only had one order since i unveiled the new site, and i had around $200 the last time i checked, but i was shocked to discover that pipeline data processing – the company i thought was going to help me process credit cards, before they charged me $45 for a month’s worth of services that i didn’t use because my site wasn’t set up for it yet, and subsequently, on april 7th, cancelled the account without ever processing even one credit card through them – had withdrawn $300 from my bank account yesterday! of course, this left me with a -$100 balance, plus a $35 fee from the bank.

naturally, i called them up to find out what was screwy. i didn’t use their services, i hadn’t incorporated their services into my web site, i had been a customer of theirs for less than a month – i originally signed up for a merchant account on march 16th, and cancelled it on april 7th – and they were withdrawing $300 that i didn’t have from an account that, presumably, they didn’t have access to any longer.

they told me that the $300 was an “early termination fee” and that it was “in the contract you signed”.

i didn’t sign any contract.

the entire transaction went on over the phone, and through email, and they have no record of anything other than a typewritten signature, which was not written by me, on a mishmash of text that they said was a contract.

as you can probably imagine, i was not very happy. unfortunately, since my injury, instead of being able to discuss the reasons for my unhappiness in rational words that actually make sense to anyone (including myself) i raged and ranted and stuttered and drooled and made a complete fool of myself to at least 4 different “customer service” representatives, before i finally got fed up with attempting to find out why a company that makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a day was, apparently, unable to waive a $300 “early termination fee” for services that had never been used, and hung up.

i called the bank and told them that $300 had been withdrawn from my account without my approval. they said that someone would be getting back to me “in writing” – read “by snailmail”. they also said that if my account remained in an overdrawn state for more than 10 days, it would be suspended.

$#%&*@$!!%&*@?##!!!%!?!!

brain injury, paypal, credit card accepting, spam and frustration – in that order

so, now that the moisture festival is over with for another year, i decided to get to work on the “accepting credit cards using some other service than paypal” part of my web site. they have been sending me two or three messages a day concerning different aspects of getting my site set up. i had told the guy initially when i signed up that i wasn’t actually going to be able even to look at email about the web site until after the moisture festival was over, so i was somewhat surprised when i got a statement in the email this morning, saying that my checking account had been billed $33. i called them up, and the customer service lady said that she couldn’t help me, and transferred my call to a sales representative, who, after some convincing, admitted that he had the email where i said that i wasn’t going to be able to start until april, but said he couldn’t help me, and transferred me back to customer service.

this is after i got an email, last week, in my “spam” folder (in other words, it was downloaded directly from the server into my “deleted items” mailbox, which gets deleted when i shut down the computer). the email contained a “From:” address at CheckCare.com – which i seem to recall them saying something about when i signed up with the credit card accepting place – but nothing else that indicated where it was from or who i should contact if i had any questions – which was the primary reason it ended up in the spam box. the email also contained a “Merchant” identification which was “SPAY60102”, which i considered rather odd, and a list of fees, most of which were $0, except for the last one, a “Gateway fee” for $11.85. i called the credit card accepting place and went through a couple of hours of being connected to people who reputedly were going to be able to help me, but finding out that they couldn’t help me and putting me on hold while they transferred me to someone who could. at one point i ended up being put on hold, which was answered by someone who not only doesn’t work for either of the companies in question, but works for one of their competitors. needless to say, i hung up and called in again. as it is, the whole process of getting set up to accept credit cards is way more irritating than a person with a brain injury – such as myself – can handle, and i certainly don’t want to be the focus of two competing companies attempts to get me to give their company money i don’t have to begin with. eventually, after two hours and calling the main number 3 times, a guy answered who, before i had the chance to regail him with the entire sordid story, said that he “was aware of the situation” that had caused me to have to call back three times, and he would figure it out and get back to me… and i’m still waiting to find out whether or not it was spam or an actual bill.

you would think that a company which presumably does hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of business each day would be a little more lax about a $33 dollar refund, but no, the customer service rep that i was connected to said that i would have to talk with a manager if i wanted to complain about the sales representative’s misunderstanding. i said that if it was not resolved to my satisfaction, that i would gladly take my business to a service provider that cares about its customers, so she emailed me a (.doc file!!!) “Merchant Request to Cancel” – which has to be faxed or scanned and emailed back to them, but i don’t have either a fax machine or a working scanner.

they make it as difficult as possible – something which i don’t completely disagree with – to get an account in the first place, but once you have the account they start spamming you just like that was their business, and they make it even more difficult to cancel your account… it makes me wonder how any of these companies stay in business at all, especially with the economy the way it is these days.

coming to the end of another moisture festival

i met ukulele dick at the moisture festival the other day. his “real name”, acording to his schtick, is Banjo Penis. i traded him a copy of serpentine for a copy of his ukulele dick cd and a copy of his “Dick Dujour” cd, Music to Scare Children by. i’ve been listening to them on and off throughout the day, and i must say, the guy is more than just a ukulele player. i also made buttons for him that say “Act Dorky, Live Forever”. i’ve got performances on friday and sunday for sure, and possibly saturday.

the big news, or maybe not so big if you hang out with the right people, i guess, is that circus contraption is breaking up. i have no idea why, but i can imagine, as with most artistic organisations like that, that there were some artistic differences somewhere along the lines.

other news: my SSDI hearing is the 24th. i’m approaching it with an interesting mixture of hilarity and dread. i got to see part of the forms ned was filling out earlier in the week, and he said about 10 things, of which i would think that 1 of which should be enough to get me on the “disabled” list in a perfect world, but because of the fact that the world is decidedly imperfect, i don’t know if it will help or not. we’re going to work on it some more after the moisture festival is over.

also i’m getting ready to be able to accept credit cards on hybrid elephant, but i’ve only gotten one order since i went live with the new site, so i’m wondering if i can’t put it off for another month until i get more of an idea about whether or not people are going to notice it.

despite the fact that i won the battle of the computer in record time – this time – i learned a bunch of things that i didn’t know in the process. the main thing i learned is that the intermittent quiet scratching noise coming from the computer is the power supply fan, which, instead of turning on and doing what it is supposed to do when power is applied, in fact, it rotates weakly, not anywhere near fast enough to be anything like the heat sink that it’s supposed to be, and intermittently emits a scratching sound that makes me think that it, too, is not long for this world.

chautaqua elephant

i played in the Fighting Instruments of Karma Marching Chamber Band/Orchestra in the benefit show for the New Old-Time Chautaqua this afternoon. it’s a mass conflagration of incestuous artistic talent with which i have been associated on the edges of for the past 30 years or so: i play with eben, bernice, clayton and liz in the ballard sedentary sousa band, i’ve played music with stephan, kevin and karl from bellingham in a variety of groups since i was in college, i currently play with thad in snake suspenderz, i’ve played with heather in the fremont phil… the chautaqua has been described as a karass, which is, in fact, a very apt description. but i never realised how intimately involved i was with it until today, when i saw how many of my friends were all gathered together to do God’s will.

in other news, i finally got the problems that i’ve been having with Hybrid Elephant fixed. they weren’t serious or visible problems (the graphics were showing up in the store, but not in the admin part), but they were a concern, especially if i end up switching host providers again, which is not out of the question. as much as i was raving about 1&1 when i first signed up with them, they have pulled a slimy, underhanded move that makes me wonder how they stay in business: they pulled a “bait and switch” move where i thought i was signing up for a $10.00 a month deal with no monthly contract, and in reality i was signing up for a $20.00 a month deal with a $50 rebate, and a 6 month contract. furthermore, i’ve discovered a host service which actually charges $7 a month, and has unlimited disk space, bandwidth, and SQL databases. of course 300 GB is a lot, but there’s a big difference between 300 GB and unlimited, especially when they’re actually going to charge me less than 1&1 said they were going to charge me. so i’m going to wait until my 6 month contract is up, and then switch host providers again.

skip

new Hybrid Elephant site

okay, i’m getting really excited now. after what seems like years of not getting anywhere, i’m finally coming down to the last stretch of work on the new site. i’ve still got some products to add to the database, i’ve still got a few things that need tweeking, and i still need to add a whole bunch of content, but i have a fair idea of where that’s coming from and a fairly good idea of how to incorporate it into the site without too much difficulty. there’s still an annoying difficulty, which is that when i put the “ganesha” directory anywhere in the new site, for some reason (including permissions, which i have already checked and they’re all set correctly), the contents of the directory don’t show up, and links to within the “ganesha” directory come back as “403 Forbidden” which is exceedingly strange. furthermore, when i link to where the “ganesha” directory currently lives, there’s no problem, but i get the impression that it can’t stay that way, because when i “move” the domain from the old site to the new site, everything that’s where the old site currently is will be two directories in back of the root directory, and while i can develop that way, i’m about 50% sure that domain-forwarding will make it impossible in real life. i’m not worried, though. things will work out, as always.

ganesha the car got a tune up for the first time in 3 years today. it was close to $400, but the guy took off almost $100 of that because i paid in cash, and because i’m going to make him more business cards. he’s also got a flyer that i’m going to design and (probably) print as well. it was really strange, because i dropped off ganesha the car yesterday and he gave me a ride home in his huge-ass black cadillac with a license plate that says “CHR1ST”. this is the guy who, when i showed up wearing my “it’s just a vegetable” shirt, gave me evil looks all afternoon. i guess he’s willing to look askance at my propensity to sacrifice the Holy Vegetable when it means that he’s going to get kick-ass business cards.

i got a call from "the attorney" the other day, about the notice i received. he said there is nothing to worry about – like i believe that, especially coming from an attorney 8/ – but it was good to hear him say it if nothing else. he said that we’re one to two months out from "the hearing", and he needs to collect updates from me, and various other folks.

& stuff

me in 20 years

when you’re unemployed/unemployable/disabled, you get to a point where it doesn’t matter whether it’s the weekend or not. for me it comes down to working and doing what i do anyway, regardless of what day it is, or facing the possibility of even deeper depression because of the fact that i’m not really doing anything to bring income into the house. i’m a wage slave even when i deliberately try to remove myself from the cycle of wages and slavery.

along the same lines, i got a notice from the “Office of Disability Ajudication and Review” about my disability case the other day. a person who has never met me and knows nothing about me is going to decide whether or not i actually am “disabled”. thrill. if they decide that i am, then i’ll get disability retroactively from the time i first had my injury, a portion of which i will then have to fork over to the attorney who has sat there doing nothing for 2 years while the government decided to pull their collective thumb out of their ass and do something about it. if they decide i’m not disabled, then life continues exactly as it has been, except there is no further possibility of my being able to get disability from the government, ever. at this point, it’s still a 50/50 shot, which doesn’t make me feel particularly good about the chances.

meanwhile, i’ve been working hard on feeding the database, and i’ve run out of photos, which means that i’ve got to run another batch of product through the GIMP before going any further. i get the impression that i’m getting fairly close to being finished enough to go live with it, but there’s still darkness at the end of the tunnel. at this point, i don’t know if it’s because there’s still a long way to go, or if it will just be night when i reach the end.

the fremont philharmonic played at a benefit concert for HonkFest West at the Lo-Fi on friday. it went really well, despite having a substitute trumpet player. we had random dance/movement art going on while we played, including one piece that had a woman stripping, which was excellent. she said afterwards that she had only worked to a live band once before, and that we had blown them out of the water and wants to work more with us, which is amazing and exactly what i want to do – and it’s not because she’s a stripper, it’s because strippers always seem to have work, and if there’s money to be made, i wanna be a part of it.

moisture festival coming up. there’s a possibility that the circus contraption band has stolen april 1st from us, but i don’t know for sure.

boojum

new hybrid elephant logo

happy mahasivaratri last night. i thought i was going to stay up, but i was on the phone or in rehearsal from 9:30 am until 11:30 pm, and i was tired. i did aarati this morning, however. hopefully that will suffice.

i think i found a merchant account/payment gateway that i can afford that will also do away with paypal altogether, which is CardAccept, although i don’t yet know for sure if their gateway will work with my web site. i had a nice conversation with a representative on the phone, who looked at my site and listened to my story and lowered my monthly minimum without my even having to ask, and they’re also the only place that charges for the payment gateway, but doesn’t also have a monthly or annual fee. their charge per transaction is about average: 2.24% + $0.25, but the fact that they don’t charge a setup fee or a monthly fee beyond the gateway has me looking strongly in their direction.

i redid the Hybrid Elephant logo, as well. it’s basically the same as the old logo, but now i have the entire file as vectors, so i can make stickers, banners and other suchlike good stuff.

credit cards and firewood

i keep getting both closer and further away at the same time. i suppose the ultimate effect so far is that i’m getting neither closer, nor further away from going live with the new web site. i’ve arbitrarily decided that i want to go live with it around the middle of next month, but that’s an entirely arbitrary deadline and depends a lot on my getting past a couple of what appear to be impossible obstacles, only one of which i have the remote impression that i can fix. the optimist in me says that’s the reason why the business is named after the Remover of Obstacles, but the pessimist in me isn’t willing to concede defeat yet.

the other problem is a seemingly simple problem that gets worse once i actually got around to figuring out how to fix it: the total amount of the order in a customer’s shopping cart is transferred to paypal without any problem. i figured out how to get the shopping cart on my server to figure out the shipping charges without any problem, but when it switches over to the paypal servers, it somehow forgets to add the shipping charges to the shopping cart total, the result being that i would have to request that they fill out shipping as an extra charge again – which would make the customer suspicious, under the best of circumstances, and probably cost me quite a bit in sales, if nothing else.

to add to the problem, in a way that is entirely to my liking, but in a strange sort of way, i’ve actually got another incense order this week, which makes four in the past week (one of which i had to refund because it was made from a page that doesn’t really exist). i haven’t been talking too much about it because i don’t want to jinx anything just yet, but it seems like i’ve gotten far more business this year than i did during the same period of time last year. which means, of course, that the more i sell while i’m still getting the new web site ready, the more i’m going to have to update the new site when it finally goes live, because the amounts of product that i have at that time will be different than it was when i first entered it into the database. the longer time goes on after the database goes live, the less i will have to worry about discrepancies, but it’s likely to be a major headache the first couple of times i run out of product and have to cover my ass.

and that’s not to mention the fact that i’m getting more and more concerned about my relationship with paypal at all. it seems like when i first started doing business with them there wasn’t anywhere near the stigma that there is about doing business with them now. and, to top it all off, there have been things like PayPal Warning dot com, and feedback from people like the lady at the bank about paypal’s reputation suffering, frauds, ripoffs and other wonderful stuff that i don’t want associated with my business.

the obvious solution to the paypal problem mentioned above is to get a “real” merchant account from somewhere, get an SSL certificate – again, from somewhere, and who knows how i’m going to pay for it – and “roll my own”. there are a number of interesting alternatives, including ProPay, which requires that i limit my credit card transactions to $1,000 and has a $35 annual fee, along with the 3.5% + $0.35 per transaction fee, which i think is a bit much for me. there’s also National Merchant, which has no annual fee or signup fee, and has a “discount rate” which is $0.25 + “as low as 1.99%” – but there’s no obvious indication of how high that “discount rate” might go.

there’s also 2Checkout which i haven’t investigated yet, but i get the impression that it’s more of a replacement for paypal than it is a “real” merchant account. there’s also costco merchant credit card processing, which has no obvious way of connecting it to the web (is that what a “payment gateway” is? i’m still learning a lot of terminology for these sorts of things), and i understand that they pull your credit rating as a part of their verification process, which automatically makes your credit rating go down. and there’s also washington mutual, whose representative was way too ready to sign me up, assuring me that their merchant servies were the cheapest, and offering me $250 cash if they couldn’t meet or beat any competitor’s prices. the lady was eager enough to sign me up that i was a little suspicious of her motives. i said i would come back in an hour, but that was yesterday, and i didn’t come back.

instead i talked our neighbour into sharing their hydraulic ram firewood splitter and split the four big rounds of firewood that we’ve still got from last year into about the same amount of firewood that we already had. i figure i’ll go back on monday and actually talk with her about some of the details before i sign up with anyone.

whuff

i started working on the database at 9:30 this morning. around 12:00 i took a break to mail out an incense order that came in about 10:30. around 2:00 or so, i realised that i had better get working on the remaining graphics that have to be added, so i hooked up the scanner and took a whole bunch of photos, and did some design work, figured out some of the remaining things that i have to know before actually going live with this thing. about 5:00 or so i finished the basic design work, and tweakage, and went back to feeding the database. it;s now 9:30 pm, and i just finished

i read a web site the other day for a company that basically sells what i downloaded for free and am configuring myself. they want $50 a month for 100 products, and it has to be on their server. i’ve already uploaded 214 images, and i haven’t even started on the murtis, jewelry, shirts or buttons. i got a good deal. now that i’ve actually done one (and seen how ridiculously easy it is), i just might see if i can get a couple of clients like that myself.

either a very confused person who thinks that i still have a link to primo incense on the old web site just ordered $109 worth of primo incense, or, perhaps something more sinister is going on. i got an order for $109, but no email. i just happened to be looking at the paypal site and i noticed that an order came in an hour ago, but i never got an email for it… i have the primo pages there, but as far as i know, they’re not linked anywhere, and that’s primarily because i haven’t actually carried primo incense for a couple of years. i have a bunch of it. and i’ve been selling it at the FSM, but i don’t have it posted on the current web site, because it’s too confusing. it’s too bad i had to refund their order, because they ordered over $100 worth of incense, and with two exceptions, i was actually able to fill it. the exceptions were that they ordered a dozen primo mini-packs in amber and i only have the mini-packs in yellow rose, and they ordered one 15 gram magnolia, and i would have to make it up, because the only primo magnolia i currently have is a bulk pack of 125 grams.

hrmph

i was supposed to go to the FSM today. now that it’s later in the day and it’s raining, i’m kind of glad i didn’t, but i wasn’t so glad when i got up at 5:30 this morning and got about half a block down the road before i discovered that i had a flat tire. i was even more irritated when it cost me $100 to replace the tire, because it had a hole in the side wall. and to make matters worse, the guy said i need new brakes as well. it seems like i just got new brakes recently.

i suppose it’s just as well. i would much rather have a flat tire close to home, so that i can bring the car back home and go back to bed for a couple hours rather than being stuck somewhere. and it’s raining hard enough that it’s just as well that i didn’t make it to the FSM anyway.

hungary glasses sick

i’ve been sick since saturday, which means that i didn’t go to the FSM as planned on sunday. i suppose i could have gone, but getting up at some ungodly hour sunday morning and then driving for an hour and setting up is definitely not what i wanted to do, so i didn’t. i’m still sick, but i’m on the uphill side of it: i feel better than i did yesterday at this time, but i’m not back to 100% yet.

i picked up my new glasses today, and the world is significantly more visible, but only from a distance. i was actually prescribed either bifocals or “reading” glasses, but since bifocals give me a headache and my vision insurance only covers one pair of glasses, i’m going to have to tough it out until i get a spare $500 to spend on “reading” glasses. i’d just buy a pair of cheap reading glasses from the grocery store if they did any good, but they don’t.

i finally got things worked out with the customer and shipped a package of incense to budapest today. it’s the same person that ordered $4.25 worth of incense back in november. i know for certain that i am not the only business to carry the kind of incense they ordered, though, and i’m definitely wondering about how thoroughly they searched for it in hungary before ordering it from me… although i am willing to ship $30 worth of incense to hungary as long as they are willing to send me an extra $25 for shipping.

spam?

i got this very strange email today. it said:

you drive like you have sand in your vagina. your car smells like ass and I thougbt my friend crapped her pants but it was just your nasty car. I hate you.

i’m puzzled that anyone would respond that way to me. i’m not surprised that people react to my car, that happens all the time. what puzzles me is the combination of stuff that, if taken separately, would each represent a valid, if totally ludicrous complaint about my car and/or its occupants… but taken as a whole, i just have to sit back and wonder who they are and why they were so upset with me.

i don’t know what it must be like to have sand in ones vagina, but i can’t imagine that it would be very comfortable, and it would probably limit ones mobility quite a bit. i don’t know about anybody else, but i use my car to enhance my mobility, and if they saw me driving, then they would doubtlessly be aware of that. also, i am a very contientious driver: i make mistakes from time to time – i just got a ticket from one of those automated corner-watcher-robot-flashy things in federal way – but most of the time i’m a very safe driver, whether it’s on the street or on the freeway.

and if they saw me driving, then how can they be sure that it was my car that smelled like ass? i have driven through some mighty smelly areas within the past week or so, and the smell was definitely not coming from my car. if they saw the car while it was parked somewhere, i can understand why they might react that way, even though i know for certain that my car doesn’t smell like ass. it also doesn’t smell like what you would expect a car to smell like, and i’m pretty sure that some of the numbskulls around here would not be able to tell the difference. but at the same time, it makes me wonder how they saw me driving poorly enough to know that i drive like i had sand in my vagina?

and to wrap the whole thing up, they say “i hate you” – in case what they said previously hasn’t sunk in yet. well, personally, i would think that if a person was wound up enough to say the other things about me, saying “i hate you” is overstating it a little. it’s as though they thought they weren’t being clear enough about their feelings, and wanted to make sure that i knew what they were talking about. it also makes me think that they were just ranting to rant and picked me because my email form was easily accessible.

i think, and this is all just conjecture, because i’ll never know for certain (the return address on the email response form was [email protected], and i’ve already tried and failed to sent email to that address), but it’s possible that this was written by one of the teenagers that sped past me on the freeway this afternoon, only subsequently to get pulled over by the police. my guess is that they got pulled over for speeding and/or reckless driving because they incredulously and minutely examined all sides of my car – at freeway speeds – before blasting forwards at about 90 miles per hour… whereupon the fuzz, who was in an unmarked car to my right rear, and who i knew was there, flipped on their lights and went after ’em.

i guess feedback is one of the reasons why my feedback form is there, but sometimes i really wonder whether such things are good to have in a place where just anybody can get hold of them… 8/

slow progress

i’ve been steadily, if slowly, feeding the database. i haven’t done much with the actual site yet apart from changing the colour and making sure that i can get it to do what i want fairly easily. having not done any of it yet (which is why nobody is getting a sneak peek yet), i get the impression that it’s going to take a lot of work, but ultimately it will be very little to nothing that i haven’t done many times previously, and if everything works the way i think it’s going to, it has the option of being easy, or ridiculously easy. the more i work with this, the better understanding i have of why web sites and databases really should work together, apart from the fact that i know practically nothing about databases. it’s bizarre: i spent 5 years testing databases and database installations at three different companies, and i have installed and populated a bunch of different database software packages more times than i can count, but i never really understood how a database works, or why it is different from, for example, a spreadsheet. i wonder how much longer i can hold out before i really learn what it is that i’ve been doing all these years?

the snake suspenderz CD “Serpentine” is mixed down, we’ve decided on a track order, the cover and artwork has been designed and approved – complete with “What’s that on your floor? It looks like a dead mouse.” which has been a part of every recording that i have ever had my hands in more than just playing a part ever since i was just starting out as a musician. we had a rehearsal today, in preparation for saturday, to make sure that we could actually play the… stuff that we’ve been recording for the past month… which, of course, we could, but sometimes it’s nice to make sure, because you never know.