Tag Archives: hybrid elephant

art? jewelry?

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

190618 gauri shankar sivalingam necklace

190618 gauri shankar sivalingam necklace
190618 gauri shankar sivalingam necklace

i can’t decide whether it’s art, or jewelry… or possibly both… and spiritually oriented, as well: the “penis” is a sivalingam, and the “testicles” are a gauri shankar, which is two naturally-joined rudrakshas.

it doesn’t have any real “traditional” meaning, at least not as far as i know, so it may represent what they call “cultural appropriation”, but, if it does, i don’t care, because it doesn’t represent that to me. to me it represents all of the best that can be represented by Ṣíva and Ganeṣa… and it looks awesome, and, perhaps, a little bit silly. 🤪 there is more about gauri shankar and sivalingam available for those who may be interested.

i might be convinced to sell it — maybe, at some undefined future time — but i think i would charge at least $500 for it… maybe more. 😉

Continue reading art? jewelry?

HPOI have arrived!

and there was much rejoicing…

180423 75kg of incense
180423 75kg of incense

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

180423 package numbers
180423 package numbers

they have weird packing in india… all of them are labeled “CNT:NO1/3” but each of them have a different CNT:NO… i would have thought that CNT:NO1 would be labeled CNT:NO1/3, and CNT:NO2 would be labeled CNT:NO2/3… but i have never shipped anything from india before, so who knows. what i do know is that i had to pay ANOTHER fee before i was able to pick them up, which brings the grand total cost to $1,815.75, or $1.12 per package…

which is still pretty respectable, considering that, as far as i have been able to tell, nobody else in the united states sells these incenses online, and i can probably retail them for $4.00 a piece, or wholesale them for $25 a dozen. 😉

180423 contents
180423 contents

i haven’t opened them all, yet, but i opened this one because it’s one of my favourite incenses. they used to make 999 Lord Krishna Puja Dhoop, but they don’t any longer. fortunately they use the same recipe to make sticks, so i’ve got my supply. 😉

i understand why mr. joy wanted to send me more incense. the three boxes didn’t even fill up one pallet, and it would cost pretty much the same to ship three boxes or thirty boxes. i can see that, now… of the $1,815.75 that i paid for it, only $771.00 went to MSDF, and $1,044.75 went to various different freight companies. it would have been much better for me to order twice or three times as much incense, because i would have had to pay the same amount to ship it…

next time…

or not… 😕

the continuing saga of the huge piles of incense

on 180329, i finally got some reliable information from the person i had been calling to find out about where the huge piles of incense were. they told me that i had to get in touch with the people who “owned the shipment”, which is a place called USL Cargo Services, in new jersey. the lady i finally reached at USL (a very pleasant, but intensely rushed lady named Roselyn Ramos) said that they had to have a copy of the OBL, and a payment of $221.50 before they could tell me where to pick it up.

great, i thought… it’ll be here soon. i had only called the shipping terminal people in kent (where the Sea Freight LCL Arrival Notice said it would be), THREE TIMES before he gave me that information. i contacted USL, sent the payment and the copy of the OBL, and figured that would be it.

then, on 180411, i got an email from Mr. Joy, the guy from whom i actually bought the huge piles of incense. i was not the direct recipient of said email, i had just been copied on it, because it was from somebody at the shipping port in india named “Parab”, complaining to Mr. Joy that the ISF had not been filed. Mr. Joy responded by saying “Hope the importer is doing the needful.”

so, i contacted roselyn, and she said that the ISF was supposed to be filed (i didn’t get exactly who is supposed to file it, but i gather that one of the options is me, and another option is Mr. Joy) before the shipment leaves the port of origin, and, because of the fact that it hadn’t been filed, i would be charged an extra $400 “fine”, for importing stuff without an ISF. she suggested that i contact Mr. Joy and see if he couldn’t work something out.

which, naturally, Mr. Joy was unwilling to do… 😑

so, with the broker’s fees, plus the $500 “fee” for a “continuous bond” (which, in spite of the name, only lasts for a year), i owe a further $685.55…

AND I STILL don’t know when or where i’m supposed to pick up the huge piles of incense.

presumably, the “where” part of it is at the shipping terminal in kent. the guy at the shipping terminal said that the shipment had arrived and was being “devanned”(?) today… he also said that, once it has been “devanned”(?), and the customs had been worked out, they would send an email to the shipper (Mr. Joy?) informing them of the fact. i’m assuming that the “when” part is going to be some time this week… but i’ve been assuming that for three weeks now, and it hasn’t happened yet.

today, 180416, i got email from “Ravi”, who is also known as “import4”. “import4” is the address i have been instructed to send to, when i am writing to roselyn, so that, when roselyn isn’t available, i can still get up to date information. it contained what i hope is the final “Sea Freight LCL Arrival Charge Sheet”, which totals $907.05… of which, i have already paid $221.50. it also contained a note that said “also we are pending OBL to release your shipment kindly send asap.”

in my communication with roselyn, last week, i was informed that i had to send the ORIGINAL OBL, and not a copy, as i had been told previously. i sent it, and it arrived 180413. i wrote back to “import4”, informing him of this, and he said, yes, they had recieved it… but, if that’s the case, why did he say that it was “pending”? 😐

one way or the other, it looks, at this point, like i’m still going to get 1,632 packages of incense for a little more than $1.05 per package… and NOBODY in the united states sells these incenses on line…

ETA: i sent what i hope is the last payment to people concerning the HPOI. now all i gotta do is wait for them to tell me when and where to pick it up. 😎

the saga of the huge piles of incense

i am collecting quite an admirable pile of documents related to my purchase and import of huge piles of incense into the country, and i keep finding out new things which were NOT related to me when i originally made the decision to start the ball rolling, back in january.

i got a “Sea Freight LCL* Arrival Notice” a couple of weeks or so ago, which listed a freight terminal in kent, under the heading “GOODS AVAILABLE AT:”, and an “upgraded” notice about a week ago, which contained the IT number — which, apparently, means “Inbond Transit”… i would have thought it meant “InboUnd Transit” but apparently not. the IT number is the one that the people at the terminal where i pick it up from, ultimately, have been asking for… however, now that they have it, they’re just as clueless as they were before, and they recommend that i contact the people who actually have the cargo, at this point.

i had to call them THREE TIMES before i learned that the people who have the cargo are USL Cargo Services, in east rutherford, new jersey, and when i called them, they were closing down for the (holiday 😑 ) weekend, and won’t be able to figure it out until monday, at the earliest.

they did, however, ask me if i had a “broker”, which i thought about, and then said no — because, technically, i am a “print broker”, but i figured that was not what they were asking about. apparently, one needs a “broker” to “clear” the shipment, at the terminal, before it can be picked up. not only that, but there was another page, labeled “Sea Freight LCL Arrival Charge Sheet” which added up a total of $231.20 worth of extra charges invoiced to me, which had to be paid before i could pick it up, once the “broker” is done “clearing” it. 😕 on top of everything else, apparently i have to mail them an original copy of the bill of lading, two copies of which were mailed to me from india, about a week into the whole process (i.e. about a month and a half ago). if someone had actually told me that i was supposed to do all of this crap ahead of time, it wouldn’t have taken me by surprise when i found out about it now. fortunately, i found out about it before the point where i went down to the terminal in kent to pick it up.

at this point, i have paid a total of $1,037.20 for 1,632 individual packages of incense, which STILL only amounts to 64¢ per package…

once i actually have it in my posession…

all of this meaningless (to me) fol-de-rol to import three huge cartons of incense from india… my guess is that i will actually have the incense some time next week, but i’m not going to hold my breath.

* LCL stands for “Less Cargo Load”, which means “less than a shipping container”. the other term is FCL, which stands for “Full Cargo Load” which means “a shipping container”. the people at MSDF REALLY want to send me FCL freight, but it’s simply too much product… 😕

it’s official

i got email this morning. this is the official word:

The shipment of 3 Cartons Incense Sticks has been arranged per vessel CORINTHIAKOS Voy. E091, sailing on 28/02/2018.

The delivery is expected by end of March.

i am, officially, getting three cartons of MSDF incense. it’s actually a lot less than they wanted to send me, but what they are sending me is making me a little concerned about where i will store it. it’s 33 dozen 999 Lord Krishna Puja, 63 dozen 7 African Powers and 40 dozen 909 Three Roses. in total, 136 dozen packages of incense, or 1,632 individual packages… which is a little bit less than half of the total incense that i CURRENTLY have.

there’s a chance that i can sell some of it, wholesale, to other agarbathiwalas (i’ve already been in contact with one, who said that she has a friend who might be interested, as well), but it’s still going to stretch my storage ability to the maximum.

i’ve got two print orders that total almost $350 that (supposedly) they’re going to pay around the end of the month… but the end of the month is in two days, so hopefully it’ll be soon.

inventory

new and replenished dhoop selections, a new nag champa, and a couple of new things to play around with: black copal resin and palo santo, which set off my new smoke alarm before i had the chance to adequately evaluate it. πŸ˜‰

inventory
inventory
coming soon, A LOT of incense from MSDF: 33 dozen 999 Lord Krishna Puja (the sticks, not the dhoop. apparently they don’t make the dhoop any longer), 63 dozen 7 African Powers and 40 dozen 909 Three Roses. πŸ™‚

wononskopomuc

Thonotossasa, FL 160530
Thonotossasa, FL 160530
i got an incense order, today, from lakeville, connecticut. lakeville is in the vicinity of two lakes which rival puyallup for odd native american place names: wononskopomuc, and wononpakook.

for a long time i was under the impression that puyallup was about as strange a native american place name as you could find anywhere… then i encountered thonotosassa, florida, and now this

wononskopomuc
wononskopomuc

Mysore Sughandi Dhoop Factory

i got an incense order from martinique, but the guy wanted me to ship it to indiana, and gave me a phone number that i should call before i shipped the order.

i called the number and had a very pleasant conversation with amanda, from Incense Incense, which inspired me to try, once again, to contact someone from MSDF. amanda gave me a phone number for someone named manoj, but i have some difficulty using the telephone to places on the other side of the world, primarily because of the time difference, so i went to MSDF dot com and clicked on their “contact us” button (because their web site has NO prices and looks like it hasn’t been updated in 20 years), just like i have done many times in the past with no response…

but, surprise! this time someone answered my email… and it just happened to be someone named manoj… coincidence? “manoj” is sort of like “jim” in the united states: every third guy, or thereabouts, has that name… but one way or the other, i had a contact at MSDF, who confirmed that they have NO US representatives, currently, and offered to send me cartons of incense, rather than shipping containers of incense, at OUTRAGEOUSLY GOOD prices… like 27Β’ a pouch for 7 African Powers, and 35Β’ a box for Lord Krishna Puja 999…

upshot of the whole thing is that i’m going in with amanda and buying around $500 worth of incense… and we’ll be THE ONLY ONLINE RETAILERS IN THE COUNTRY to sell it! 😎

in other news, the theosophical society has, apparently, discontinued their characteristic “Leadbeater” incense, otherwise known as Adyar Meditation Incense, by Shroff Channabassappa and Sons, and i have been trying to find shroff on the web, as well, to clarify why this is happening, but, so far, all i have found are people who are selling their incense, but no indication that Shroff Channabassappa & Sons are even still in business… which would explain why the theosophical society has discontinued their incense… but if that’s the case, i’m certain that the recipe for leadbeater incense has to exist on line somewhere, and that’s my next goal.

wow…

i actually got my first “paypal donation” from the button on the left… $1.11 from someone who i don’t know named zach edminster. whoever you are, if you’re reading this, zach edminster is appreciated… 👍 😎

i got some more training on the web site. i also got an order for $130 worth of incense and bric-a-brac from someone in north carolina.

my phone and incense

my phone is back in working order again.

the story they gave me, combined with what i suspected, is that the battery “gets used” to having a certain level of charge. the other day, when we were travelling, i didn’t actually plug my phone into the charger for a couple of days, and almost drained the battery before i finally plugged it in. apparently, in cases like that, it’s a good idea, when the phone is finally plugged in, to shut the phone down and restart it, otherwise the battery flips out and causes problems. when it caused problems on my phone, it restarted automatically, and failed to restart, probably because it was lacking power at the time (it was in my pocket). the story they gave me is that, when it fails to restart, it can drain the battery trying to “rescue” the operating system.

now i know: if it fails to restart, plug the phone in to power and hold down the “home” key and the “turn off the screen” key for 30 seconds or so. doing that will, frequently, save a trip to the real technicians.

i’ve gotten 4 incense orders in the past week. one of them i had to refund, because all of what they ordered hasn’t even been in stock for a bunch of years… like, at least two that i can recall, and possibly more than that. i HATE it when that happens. 😑

also, my new credit card service (YAY, NO MORE PAYPAL!) charges a fee, which i have been forgetting to subtract from the totals i have been writing down, which means that where i really am is about $10 less than where i think i am… which is confounded even further by the fact that i lost my tax spreadsheets a few months ago, and, while the electronic version i replaced it with is WAY easier to use, it missed a fair portion of the year because i was getting switched over, combined with the switch in web sites and general forgetfulness.

back to the grind

i got a big order the other day, and it wasn’t aparajita. somebody ordered about half of my remaining kala loban, and, in the process of discovering whether or not i had enough, i also discovered that the erstwhile re-designer of the web site didn’t do as good a job of transferring the old web site to the new one as i had initially suspected, which meant that, while i did have enough kala loban to satisfy this particular customer’s bizarre needs, there were many products that were listed as “In Stock” but they didn’t have correct quantity information… and there were also products listed as “In Stock” that didn’t have any quantity information at all… which meant that, theoretically, someone could order more incense than i have available to sell them…

and i HATE IT when that happens…

because i have to email the customer, apologise, explain the situation, etc., etc., et cetera… WAY more actual contact with the actual customers than i am comfortable having, especially when it would appear that it is because of my screw-up.

so, i’m taking inventory again.

one of the things that i realised, is that, this time, i can actually use the back end of the web site to help me keep track of inventory, so that, when i go to the FSM (for example), i won’t have to “wing it”. the new web site also means that i can, actually accept credit cards at the FSM, which is definitely an added benefit.

i’ll be glad when it’s over, though… it’s really a hassle keeping track of everything and trying to move around when you’re surrounded by stacks of boxes.

still very odd…

so i contacted a guy who was willing to help me with my web site. $200 later, i’ve got everything fixed that needed to be fixed, and had an hour’s worth of training on how to actually use it… which turns out to be WAY simpler than i imagined, although there are multiple, duplicate functionalities that, basically, i can’t remove despite the fact that i don’t use them, because they’re simply a part of the core functionality of the web site. if it were my own code, i would find some way to remove them so that they couldn’t be co-opted by evil crackers, and, if i were persistent, i could probably do it anyway, but i’m not.

i was only not able to resolve, immediately, one issue, which is figuring international shipping, and that is only because of the fact that it would cost me an extra $100 for a plugin that i don’t want to spend.

i still don’t know what offended the previous designer to the point that she didn’t want to do business with me any longer, but she’s been a good sport and “allowed” me to take her link off of my site (which i probably would have found a way to do, eventually, anyway), and i will, probably, never know how i offended her so deeply… which is too bad, because i might have been inclined to see if there was some way i could make it up to her…

the upshot of the whole miasma, apart from being $200 poorer, is that i’ve got a relatively modern version of skype on my tablet, so if you’ve got skype and can convince me that you’re someone i should talk to, now’s your chance… 😉

odd… very odd…

i finally reached the point where i have a modern version of skype that works installed on my tablet, and have enough money in my bank account to afford a consultation with the web designer who redesigned my web site back in july. so i hit up her calendly and made an appointment, which was immediately cancelled, because, and i quote:

I’m sorry, but we can not take on work from this account. We do not approve of talking down to anyone doing work on any site, especially women, in the manner which has been done.

um…

W. T. F.?!?!?!?!?

i wrote back to her and got essentially the same response… 😕

i still don’t know what kind of insect got into her bonnet, but pretty much regardless of what i say, at this point, she’s not going to listen, and i would be wasting my time trying to figure it out.

it’s pretty discouraging, though, because i still don’t know how to do basic things like create a new product page, and i’ve got a plugin that won’t update correctly… and there are some things on the back end that need to be changed, and i’m not 100% sure how to change them, and i’ve still got 4 sliders installed and none of them seem to work, and i only really need one… and this lady who very nicely redesigned my site for me, and received payment from me, now, no longer wants to work with me, and won’t even offer an explanations why…

i’ve contacted another designer, who might work out, but i haven’t heard back from him, either, despite the fact that he said he was going to send an estimate “right over”, when i talked to him six hours ago…

okay

i got the third order from the web site, which is very good. the lady ordered three rolls of tibetan simpoi, and paid $6.50 shipping, which i thought i had fixed, but when i looked through the settings, i discovered one place, on a deprecated page, that said $6.50, which was, apparently, where she was going through… so i fixed it, and then deactivated the page (because it is deprecated, and not going to be included in future versions anyway), so now, presumably, shipping will be charged correctly.

and i’m REALLY jazzed that people are ordering from the new web site. it gives me hope for the future.

wump

i got the second order from the new web site. somebody ordered $2.00 worth of incense. the minimum shipping charge was set to $5.00, and the total for shipping was $7.20.

so i updated the flat-rate shipping fee to be a minimum of $8.00, instead of $5.00. i also updated the minimum international shipping fee to $25.00 from $10.00. this will, hopefully, prevent people from ordering stuff that costs less than the amount that it costs to ship the order to those people.

i think, with a bit of fine tuning, the new web site will work out just fine, even if i don’t get to hire the web designer to teach me the things i need to know right away.

greep

so i finally got in touch with the web designer. i took care of the most urgent issue myself, and after going back and forth with her a couple of times, she offered to skype with me, so that i could share my screen with her so that i won’t have to re-create an admin account for her… except for the fact that 1) i don’t want her to fix the problems, i want her to tell me how to fix them, because, ultimately, that is what i originally hired her to do in the first place, and 2) i don’t have a computer that can run skype AND on which i can access the back-end of the web site: i have a four-year-old MacBook Pro that’s running Lion (because i don’t want to have to buy all new software AGAIN) which won’t run the current version of skype, and a linux machine, which won’t run ANY version of skype… i can run skype on my tablet, but it would take a good deal of kluging to get into the back-end of the site with any facility, and, while i could do it, it’s definitely not worth it.

she wants to charge me and i can’t afford it. the last time i had her do anything for me was right after the site went live and i mistakenly deleted all of the content (i was deleting the extraneous admin accounts that she had created and i deleted all of the content they created instead of re-assigning it to me). she had a working copy of the site, and she uploaded it and had the site up and running again in half an hour, and she charged me $126… and, to be honest, that cleaned out my bank account and i’m going to have to wait until next year before i’m going to be able to afford to hire her again.

i’m sure that, if i try, i can probably figure out the remaining issues on my own, but it’s going to take a while.

so…

i got the first order from the new web site the other day, and everything works exactly the way it is supposed to work, EXCEPT…

the customer made the order, and was presented with a payment option, which he chose, and made the payment, but it doesn’t show up on my new dashboard… it’s supposed to show up, but it doesn’t. instead, what shows up is a 404 error, and the suggestion that i might have it in “Test Mode”… except that the toggle at the top of the dashboard definitely says “Live” and NOT “Test”.

i wrote to the web site designer on sunday. it’s now after business hours on monday and i haven’t heard anything from them. they have a “commercial presence” and more than one employee, so i don’t think they won’t respond, but at the same time, the presence of more than one employee makes me suspect that they probably could have at least responded to me by this point… i’ve gotten an automated “we got your message” message, but nothing else. if i don’t hear anything by this time tomorrow, i think it’s going to be time for me to start calling and making an annoyance of myself until i get some answers.

ETA: i figured out how to change it from “Test” mode into “Live” mode by using google, but i still haven’t been able to figure out where my money is.

i’ve got a few questions about the inner workings of the web site, too… i get this customer who is in australia, and he orders $16 worth of incense. the standard shipping is to charge him $10, but when i get to the post office, it turns out that it costs $22 to ship his package. i’ll let it go this time, but that’s something that i definitely want to change.

also, i’ve got a “slider” on the front page. on the back end, there are settings for several different “sliders”, but none of them seem to have any effect on the front page “slider”. how do i add products to it, and make it actually move?

also, i’ve got a number of new products, but no clear way to add them to the catalogue. i’d like to know how to add products to my catalogue, and make them available to customers. as well, there are a few products in my catalogue that are, clearly, “default, generic” products that i don’t carry, will never carry, and don’t want in my catalogue. i’d like to know how to permanently remove them.

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! 😎