Tag Archives: incense

et cetera (and others)

i broke down and paid for a year of VPN service. now the IP address of my linux box is in stockholm, sweden, the IP address of my mac (which is in the same location) is in southhampton, england, and the IP address of my phone is in austin, texas. i imagine that this may present a bit of a problem when i log into the moisture festival artist’s WIFI, but i’ll deal with that as it happens, rather than worrying about it now.

i got an order for 50 boxes of aparajita from essence of the ages, which is run by what appears to be a “christian” woman. i don’t know why she’s buying incense from me (apart from the fact that i am the only vendor in the western hemisphere who sells what she wants to buy, and she has customers who want to buy what i have to sell) but i think it’s pretty amusing. the up side of it, for me, is that it makes the occasion of my buying my first incense from the actual distributor for sri satyanarayana parimala factory EVER, possible… 😎

the panto starts next week. we’re doing amazingly well. we had our first official, complete run-through last wednesday, and there are still two more rehearsals before we open. we’ve still got one more piece to learn before we open, but that’s pretty standard. and the shows have been selling out really quickly, which is really good.

my “old school” stereo system works exactly the way i was hoping it would, and tomorrow (or monday, at the latest) i plan on making a trip to pacific custom cabling to get another ⅛"-mini-stereo-to-stereo-RCA cable, and then both of my computers will be hooked up to it. for the first time EVER i will have a decent-quality stereo behind my attempts to compose music with reason and/or sibelius. what is the world coming to? πŸ˜‰

growl

yesterday, i got an incense order for ambica hare rama special flora… over the telephone… 😐

first, the guy wanted to know if i had any hare rama incense. i told him that i did, then he hung up. then he called back, and wanted to know how many boxes i had. i told him, and then he hung up again…

so i went in to check and make sure that i actually had 41 boxes, and it turned out that i only had 34 boxes… but before i had the chance to call him again, he called back again, and wanted to know why he couldn’t pay without a paypal account. i told him that he could pay, even without a paypal account, and talked him through the process. paypal apparently wouldn’t accept his shipping address, about which there is nothing that i can do, and i told him so…

and he hung up again…

oops, i forgot to tell him about only having 34 boxes of incense. but before i could dig his phone number out of my semi-smart phone, he called back AGAIN, and told me that paypal wouldn’t accept his shipping address, and wondered if there was any way to place an order that didn’t involve the web site… πŸ˜›

i HATE taking orders from out-of-state customers over the telephone, principally because i don’t have a way to process credit cards other than through paypal, and i told him so. he suggested a snail-mail payment using a money order — i haven’t even heard of a money order for, like, 15 or 20 years… i didn’t even know they still existed… 😐 — but, apparently, they still exist, AND (apparently) they’re STILL a more trusted method of payment than a cheque.

they just take longer… because of the fact that this guy is ordering from bowdoinham, maine, it will take a week or so until his payment reaches me, during which time, theoretically, it is possible for somebody else to buy exactly the same incense, and (because i only have 34 boxes), if that were to happen, then it would take even longer for me to get his order to him.

after i took care of his immediate worries, i started calling around to find more ambica hare rama incense. both of my “regular” suppliers don’t carry it, so i checked, and the place i got it from last time (in 2006) was the “old time hippie” incense supplier with whom i originally started this business (in 1998), who is flakier than a croissant and doesn’t even answer his phone most of the time these days… and when he does, he inevitably wants to suck me into an hour-long, off-topic conversation about how durbar incense is much more preferable than masala incense, and nobody carries durbar incense any longer, and… which is one of the reasons i don’t use his services any longer.

so, once again, i am down to writing to someone with a gmail.com address, IN INDIA, to POSSIBLY get this obscure incense that nobody else carries in the united states any longer…

i really should start charging a lot more to do this… 😐

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… 😎

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

okay

moe has gone to southern oregon for the national sheep-dog handling finals — yes, we have not one, but two championship-quality dogs in this house, thanks, in part, to moe, who is the dog-whisperer to dog-whisperers… 😎 (and that guy who is “The Dog Whisperer” really doesn’t know what he’s talking about most of the time… really… you should hear moe rant about how cesar milan is wrecking dogs, when she gets to ranting about him)

but, of course, the down side to all of this, is that moe is gone for a week, and i have to stay here, because i have a performance on saturday and it would be too far to drive back from klamath falls for, especially since we’d either have to take both cars, or i would have to drive from klamath falls to seattle for a 2 hour performance, and then drive back to klamath falls to pick up moe and her dogs and gear… which would be especially important since we just bought a trailer/pop-up-tent/RV-like-thing, and that isn’t going anywhere without a vehicle to tow it.

so, the upshot of the whole deal is that i am alone for a week, with an ancient, decrepit dog, two ancient, decrepit cats, a bird (who is neither ancient nor decrepit), and an ancient, decrepit snake… i guess, since i am verging on ancient and decrepit myself, i’m in good company, but i would really prefer it if i was with moe, or she was with me… there’s nobody but stanley to talk to, and, while some of the things he says are definitely amusing, he doesn’t always respond the way a human being would…

the performance is with the sousa band, at Festa Italiana, and they’re probably going to feed us… which is always the right thing to do for musicians that you hire to come and play for your party… πŸ˜‰

apart from that, i’m still going back-and-forth with the incense guy from india. everything was going as expected until he quoted me a price that is essentially what i charge my retail customers for what would essentially be a wholesale purchace. when i responded, he didn’t come back with an answer for a few days, and then, this morning, he came back with a response in which he, basically, offered me the same incense for a quarter of the price, but only if i order more than a certain amount of it… which i would do, but i don’t want to seem too eager, because i know that if i can put him off long enough, the price has a very good probability of going down even further… and if not, it will also give me time to build up my bank account to the point where i can actually afford to buy a whole pile of incense from india… 😎

i still haven’t gone out to busk with my didjeri-flute/delay/amp setup yet, but i have been out busking with my tuba at least twice in the past week. a couple of days ago, i went out to the ballard sunday market, ostensibly to play with hobbit, but as we were getting set up, we were joined by julie b. who plays “delicious violin” (really, it says so on her cute little business card), who hobbit knows from the pike place market… and with a very little prompting from hobbit, we played quite acceptably, got a couple of inquiries about whether or not we were available for house parties(!) and made some generous tips for playing for a little less than 2 hours… i get the impression that, with a little more prompting, we could either add a violin to snake suspenderz (on a more-or-less temporary basis) or we could simply bill Accidental Rhino as a separate band and have twice as many gigs… either way is fine with me.

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… 😎

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! 😎

↑ ⅕

get it? up… date…

well, i thought it was amusing…

i am feeling a good deal better, although i am still not back to 100% health, yet. i still have a lingering cough that comes up at random times, particularly whenever i lie down, but i’m a lot better than i was a week ago.

the brakes in my car have to be replaced, to the tune of $800. moe claims that this car is “nickle-and-dime-ing” me, but the previous car (of which she approved) had already cost me almost $3000 by this point in our relationship, including $1500 for a replacement transmission, and this car has only cost me $450, plus the proposed brake work, and it appears, in spite of the fact that i’ve had to replace the timing belt, and now i have to get all four brakes and wheel bearings replaced, that this is going to continue to be a functional car for a lot longer than the previous one was. and, because of the fact that it’s a honda and not a ford (or whatever the previous car was, i don’t remember), i can actually take it to jack to have the repair work done for (hopefully) cheaper than edgewood tire quoted me. i’m also going to try to enlist the aid of the friend who worked on my brakes the day i had my brain injury (although, again, hopefully, i won’t have another brain injury), which has the definite possibility of saving me a good deal of money.

i got a reply from the incense people regarding the meaning of the word “pieces” and, as i suspected, it was entirely due to the fact that they were translating from hindi to english. if it weren’t for the fact that i have to think about providing at least part of the money for my car, i would already have sent the guy $100 for incense. as soon as i actually get paid for the postcards i made last month, i will probably do that anyway.

we had a recording session with a real, live, professional recording technician, last night, which went outstandingly well, and we’ve got another session with him tomorrow night, which, if it goes half as well as last night’s session did, will make a real, live CD of the fremont philharmonic a lot closer to being actual reality than it has ever been before. also, friday is a New Old Time Chautaqua benefit show in olympia, for which i have been recruited as a sousaphone player. it should be fun, if nothing else.

today is may day. everybody go home and don’t work. also, friday is Bongwater Day, for those of you who are interested.

more incense squee

dakpa tamdin kelsang dikibhatsoi got email, the other day, from a person who claims to be a representative of Dakpa Tamdin incense manufacturers in india. i have, in the past, carried a number of different dakpa tamdin fragrances, the most recent of which has been the “kelsang dikibhatso” cedar-sandalwood fragrance pictured to the right. unfortunately, it’s one of those incenses that nobody in the US carries in bulk, and is obscure enough that nobody wants to carry it, similar to aparajita. i wrote back to them with a request for more information, and received my reply today.

this is a good thing, because it means that they are actually at the address they gave me (unlike the guy who claimed to represent aparajita, but suddenly stopped replying to his email address after i sent him $500 for incense and he didn’t send the entire order)… however, because of the difficulties between english and hindi, i am not sure exactly what they claim to be able to send me, and how much it will cost:

Thribton Kuensel : 30-32 sticks – 80grams? :? Rs. 130/-
Shingkham Kuenkhyap I (maroon) : 30-32 sticks – 80grams : Rs. 90/-
Shingkham Kuenkhyap II (yellow) : 30-32 sticks – 80grams? : Rs. 60/-
Ribo Sangtsoe (red) : 30-32 sticks – 80grams? :? Rs. 30/-
Meenling Surpoe (black) : 30-32 sticks – 80grams : Rs. 20/-
Sambara? (red) : 30-32 sticks – 80grams : Rs. 15/-
Thribton Kuensel : 30-32 sticks – 80grams : Rs. 15/-

at the moment, 130 rupees is approximately $2.50, and 15 rupees is approximately 25¢, which sounds pretty good, until you get to shipping it from india:

Regarding shipping & packing, Normally, we use to pack in special made ply wood box, which consist of 200 pieces (?each bundle = 100 pieces). Then shipment goes upto Delhi, further cargo agent will handle it.

this sounds suspiciously like the arrangement that i got into with the दस्यु that claimed to represent aparajita, not to mention the fact that it’s not very clear whether his use of the word “pieces” refers to the same thing, which it appears not to in this case.

now i have to tread carefully, decide how much money i can risk sending to the other side of the planet with no assurances that i will ever see ANY return from it, and figure out how to ask this person to define the word “pieces” in their email to me, without offending them.

miscellaneous random

the entire Voynich Manuscript is now online, where intrigued people (like me) can pore over it, download pages and wonder what Emperor Rudolph II of Germany thought was worth 66.4 troy ounces of gold…

i bought some new stock: Golden Nag Champa and Woods, as well as some “reorder” stock, Pradhan’s Royal Life and Shivranjani. i’m really glad to have found a new supplier for pradhan’s royal life, as it is one of my best (and best selling) champa fragrances, and the supplier i was getting it from previously is the notorious sughanda prabhu, who is practically impossible to get in touch with, and has recently gotten out of the incense business(!) but used to provide the best quality incense i have ever found anywhere… but the shivranjani i bought was because i needed more, and it’s not that common in the united states, however once i bought it, i realised that the supplier i usually get it from sells it for about half the price that these new guys sell it for, so i think i won’t change suppliers for that fragrance…

bleh… seeds… πŸ˜› ptui…

i’m SO glad mother-in-law is gone… she’s my mother-in-law, and i’m grateful for her existence, without which there would be no moe, but if she can exist somewhere that’s far enough away from me that she can’t come over, rant about how my liberal views are going to make a mess of our country, decide our house isn’t good enough, try to make it better and end up making it worse, it would be just fine with me… her predictably abortive attempt at painting resulted in paint splashed from floor to ceiling, and ripped wallpaper where i took off the tape that she had me put down so that she wouldn’t paint beyond a certain, random point… it’s in the “spare” bathroom, that i don’t use very often, so i don’t have to see it every day, but it’s irritating that it was functional if consistently ugly, and now it’s functional and inconistently awful, and moe and i are left to clean up the mess.

i’ve got a busy few weeks coming up… i’ve got two rehearsals on wednesday, a gig on friday, a gig on saturday, and a gig and a rehearsal on sunday, then next monday (which is krampusnacht) there’s a rehearsal, wednesday there’s a rehearsal, friday there’s a gig, and next saturday is the start of the panto run, which is two shows saturday and sunday, excluding the 24th and 25th, and the 31st, and the 1st, and then two shows saturday and sunday for two more weeks, ending january 15th. if anybody is interested in coming better get your tickets soon, because we’re selling out very quickly. 8)

whuff

i realised, once again, why i don’t schedule more than one gig per day yesterday…

i’m beginning a couple weeks of relative busy-ness, and it started off with partying and not getting enough sleep saturday night, and continued abruptly yesterday, when i got up way too early and went to the ballard sunday market with snake suspenderz and busked for approximately 1½ hours before we were run off by a string quartet which was playing vivaldi and bach. while they were playing acceptably well, they set up 20 feet away from us and wouldn’t fess up when confronted with their rudeness… and then we discovered that it’s apparently a “new policy” that buskers have to get up and move every half an hour…

by the time we had played for half an hour or so with a classical accompaniment (which was really confusing, at best, and downright distracting most of the time) we decided to bag it, especially since i had to go to my second gig anyway, which was the ballard sedentary sousa band at the ballard locks… which was, fortunately, just down the street.

it was clear from the start that i wasn’t going to be able to play my best, because i had already been playing my best for an hour and a half at the previous gig, but this was on my trombone and that was on my tuba, and i figured that would account for something… but if it did, i probably wouldn’t have noticed anyway, because by the time we were done playing i was getting really tired… then the BSSB-at-the-locks concert was followed by the traditional beer-and-pizza-in-walter’s-back-yard, which got me home around 6:00 pm.

i actually tried to take a nap between 7:00 and 7:30 or so, but the doggie-alarm kept going off every time a twig snapped outside, until moe got home around 8:00. i finally went to bed at 9:30 and was asleep almost immediately.

i’ve got a ninja concert at the good shepherd center with the fremont philharmonic this evening, and a rehearsal with the sousa band on tuesday, wednesday i have a snake suspenderz rehearsal, and thursday is my “weekend” this week. then i’ve got a gig with snake suspenderz at chumleighland on friday… which has the distinct possibility of leaking over into saturday as well… and possibly another ninja performance with the fremont phil on saturday, then the ballard sunday market on the 14th, and on the 15th is the party that we were hired to do as a result of the sunday market…

and then there’s the “Garden Party” at krissy and chris’ on the 20th, which the fremont phil is probably not playing for in any official capacity, but we’re probably going to be there, and i’m going to bet that we’ll play a little. and then, next month, we’ve already got a two-gigs-in-one-day scheduled, on 18th september, when we’re scheduled for the pike place busker festival and the seattle symphony day of music at beneroya hall…

plus i got an incense order today, for the last of my old tulasi deepak stock, which, because, from what i’ve been able to find out, they don’t make it any longer is another incense that i have carried that nobody else carries…

daily bleh

i made my monthly backup, which is now in the process of downloading. i’ve discovered that, pretty commonly, and regardless of platform, if i download using http, i get about ¾ of the way through the download, and it just ends, for no obvious reason, but if i download using ftp, everything appears on the local end without a problem… thus proving, once again, that a simple, text-based application that is designed to do one thing perfectly will always beat out a big, bulky application, most of which is code for the GUI, which does a whole bunch of things, but there’s no guarantee that it does any of those things perfectly, when it comes to getting things done the right way, the first time…

listen to me… you’d hardly guess that, buried deep in the inner core, was a dyed-in-the-wool mac-head… πŸ™‚

rob sagan has been placed… yay!

i have had two “incomplete” orders for incense since the 1st of january, one from the netherlands and one from taiwan. they’ve ordered $4 and $12 worth of incense, respectively, got up to the point where paypal figures out shipping and realised that it would be 5 to 10 times as much just for shipping as they would be spending on actualy product. i’ve been wondering about why people do that for a while:to me it seems fairly obvious that, to someone outside the united states, a shop that is in the united states and sells things that are imported from india is going to charge a lot more to ship things outside the united states than some local shop that sells the same items imported from india. a friend of mine says that it’s because, overall, over the past 20 to 50 years, people, in general, have gotten stupider. i was talking with him about college experience these days (since moe is currently in college as well) and what it comes down to is that, even 20 years ago, expectations were a lot higher than they currently are, and i think that there’s a direct correlation to the general consumer on internet… no wonder there are so many people who think that the email message they got telling them that they had won $500 million dollars in the nigerian lottery is anything other than a scam… it definitely doesn’t say much for the education system, or internet – the “information superhighway”…

more turmoil in egypt, which includes the last of the internet connections finally going down… there’s a “million man march” scheduled, and the word is that the military has said that they won’t fire on civilians… but i’ve heard it all before, and until mubarak is under lock and key, either in egypt or elsewhere, i’m going to remain skeptical of anything i hear about the stability of the egyptian government…

ETA: apparently Egypt President Mubarak announces plan to retire in Sept. but i don’t think that’s going to be soon enough for most people… we’ll see how it all works out… fairly soon…

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! πŸ™‚

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… πŸ™‚ 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… πŸ™‚

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”.

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.

dreeb

i just got an incense order for $15 from denmark. according to USPS, the charge for shipping to denmark is around $70. i’ve got it fairly clearly spelled out on the site, but nobody seems to pay attention to things like that…

except for that one person who sent me an insulting message because they found my new page about K2 and didn’t like what it said, but that’s to be expected.

i’ve got the opportunity to be a part of the Great Peninsula Future Festival with my art car, but it’s still in the shop, and i’d have to come each day before 9:30 am, and then go home every night, because moe is going to be in atlanta at a conference. i’d be getting $25 for gas, and there would very likely be other people i know there, but getting there before 9:30 would be kind of a trick. of course i get to the fremont sunday market before 9:30, but it isn’t two days in a row… and the car is still in the shop, and given that it’s being worked on by jack, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to be ready in time.

aparajita

Mavana Aparajita

aparajita is one of the incenses that prompted me to go into the business of being an agarbatthiwala. it is an incense that is characteristically used by devotees of ravi shankar and george harrison. it used to be very common, and places like tenzing-momo and zenith supplies carried it as a matter of course, and even more obscure places carried it, along with a million other, less well known incenses.

that was then, this is now.

you would think that i could contact them through mavana dot com, but the first time i wrote them, about 3 years ago, there was no response from either of the two email addresses listed on their contact page, and the last time i wrote them, the message to one of the addresses bounced almost immediately. the last time i was able to find any aparajita at all, it was through an incense supplier i know in port townsend (who is also an old hippie, and beset by the health of an old hippie, which means that he has spent a large portion of the past 3 years in the hospital, thus making him somewhat unreliable as an incense supplier), who knows a guy in chicago who had a bunch of aparajita that he wanted to get rid of, and i bought all he had, which was 4 dozen boxes.

that was about 6 months ago, and i just sold my last box to a very disappointed customer in marietta, georgia, who had thought that i had more in stock.

to make matters worse, in my search for a reliable source of this smelly gold, i have discovered that there are at least two other indian incense manufacturers who have decided to take advantage of the situation by producing fairly sophisticated knock-off packaging which contains nothing like the authentic aparajita. the following is a picture of the packaging for one of the “knock-offs” which i bought a quarter kilo of before i realised that it was not the same thing:

Cauvery Arpitha

i have been looking for a reliable source for this incense for around 10 years, and i know that my search is not in vain. i have heard rumours from a couple of different customers that aparajita is apparently still available in india, but the manufacturer doesn’t want to send any less than an 8′ by 8′ shipping container of it outside of india. also, i looked for another variety of incense (amber aromatics “sital flora”, which is largely a neem scent) for 25 years before i found some, whereupon i bought a kilo of it, and still have more than ¾ of it left, so i know that eventually a source will be found.

i just currently don’t know who it is. if any of you get a crazy idea to go shopping in india for incense, let me know and i’ll put in an order.

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.

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.