Doyle's Fish & Hicky Bar


Sunday, March 28, 2010

DIY...... The Movement!

     I was off on more DIY chores this weekend.
Still working on my swimming pool.   Its normally clear blue visage had  assumed the look of milky dishwater with a greenish tint.    The leaves on the bottom were barely visible and looked uneasily like a body.    I had opened the filter assembly a couple weeks back and sprayed down the filters.   No, I didn't take them all apart.    The water was very cold so I rushed through it.    You can call it lazy.   I call it basic DIY survival.  
     When I reassembled the contraption the pump pressure wasn't too high at all.   About 18 psi.    Cool!   I let it circulate for hours.       I went out to check the pressure later and found it up to 24 psi.   Hmmmm.     I did notice a lot of dusty looking pollen in the pool water but didn't snap to it till later.    I set the pool on auto circulate for a few hours every morning and hoped the water would slowly clear.    No luck.    The pressure kept climbing and the next moment I had to mess with it was this weekend.   By this time the pressure was up to 30 psi!     I disassembled the filter again to find it totally coated in what looked like gold dust.    Pollen.     This time I totally tore the thing apart, sprayed everything down and cleaned all the crap out.     When I put it back together and test ran it, the pressure was 14 psi.    Way cool.
     I then added 6 quarts of DE material and let it circulate all Saturday.    That evening I added algae killer and then this morning I added a double load of shock.     I even bought a new floating chlorine tablet dispenser and anchored it to a brick in the spa.     I know it sounds weird but my dog Mixie has decided that she must save us all from floating aliens in the spa.    She has killed several chlorine dispensers in the past.    Hopefully the brick will keep the little terror at bay.
     The above isn't bragging about my DIY skills believe me.     I have had to do many of these odd jobs twice and sometimes three times due to my inexperience and even ineptness.    If I had just hired a pro it would have been done perfectly the first time I'm sure.     Still, I'm somehow driven to prove that I can do this type of thing.    It's power or empowerment of some sort with the topping of potential money savings.
     Just this weekend I heard from two friends on their DIY projects.    Neither of these guys would normally consider this type of thing so I was surprised to listen to their stories.    Both of these men make their living with their brains, not their brawn.     One dug a 40' trench and replaced a gas line at his pool heater.    Sounded like some serious work.    He spent several days doing the labor and hunting down the parts.    Was it to save some money?    Nah, he could have easily afforded to hire it done.   Of course the money savings is a great perk but that doesn't measure up to the sense of accomplishment he now has.    Money can't buy accomplishments of this nature.
     The second buddy carried 7  yards of mulch in his pickup and hand moved it all over his yard.   His only help was two very cute and skinny little girls.    Not sure if you have ever spread a yard of mulch but I highly recommend it once.    Just for the experience.    7 Yards!   I don't know.    I do know that he has now bestowed a tremendous sense of accomplishment to two little girls.    They and he have just finished a chore that most people would have dodged.    He too could have paid to have it done.   Instead he chose this hard way. 
       CRACK!   (That was a beer opened.   Properly earned and deserved.)
Kudos to the both of you guys.    Maybe what we have here is a movement!    You guys might put manual laborers out of work temporarily.    Just kidding about that.   The people that do that type of thing for a living are very fast and efficient.   Just the opposite of most of us DIY types.
     What we have here is a reclamation of power, muscle, determination, the direction of our money, and the face we show the world and each other.    Nothing feels better than a job done well and done with your own hands, back, and brains.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


     First lets start with plumbing.    I had a rough day at work last Monday.    I tried my best to be superman and you can imagine the outcome.   Far too many tasks to juggle because I was short handed and my ability to actually complete any of them sorely tested.     At the end of the day it was a marvelous whirlwind of activity and I paused for a moment in wonder at this business I've built.
     As I was leaving the shop at about 7 PM I noticed a large water leak in the mechanics bathroom.  "Mechanic's Bathroom" you ask?    Yeah, this building was a mechanic shop for the last 25 years.   A whole other rant believe me.
     I checked under the toilet and saw a steady drip.     The hose going into the tank itself.     The connection was loose.    Simple tightening did the job, thankfully.      I got some old shop rags and threw them all around to soak up the water.   
     Its all part of owning a building I figure and being blessed with handiness.   Like my Father before me,  I'm a pretty good handyman.
      Later,  as I was detailing this remarkable day to my close buddies in the TBG (a discussion group on Ebay) I had several mention that I should stop doing this type of repair and call a service person.   My time is too valuable for this type of thing and I should be doing far more important tasks.    I suppose if my entire day had come to a halt for major plumbing I could agree but as you've read the repair was small and quick.
     Now forward to the next Saturday morning.     I've reserved this part of my week for fence building.    It wasn't very much of a fence actually.    I measured the length at 28 feet.    I knocked down the old fence with a hammer and pry bar and found that I had to dig up the entire corner post, concrete and all.   All the other posts I could just break off at ground level and dig next to them with post hole diggers and set my new posts.  
     As I was was doing this chore I could just imagine the hoopla I would create with my business peers as they berate me for doing such work.      I actually chuckled.       I can't really think of another chore that I like as much.     Digging fence post holes is my least favorite part though.      Thankfully the ground was damp so it went pretty fast.     While I dug the holes and measured the ground my mind is  free of the  everyday worries of my business.     It's quite pleasant  JUST hammering away and watching the results of my labor.   No phones, no irate customers, no questions, no emergencies.      I'm able to think freely and work and concentrate on the small details of the fence.   I'm reminded of the old book, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance".  
     The outdoors can be cleansing mentally and emotionally too.   The smells, fresh air, and in my case rain.   It didn't rain hard but lightly.    Just enough to soak me pretty good but not stop me from my weekend chore.      After the posts had been leveled and supported with scrap wood to hold steady, I poured a small sack of concrete mix in each hole and shoveled a bit of dirt around.     The days work was done.    When the posts set up firmly I will build the frame work of 2x4s to hold the fence pickets.     I will wait overnight for the setting and install the pickets tomorrow afternoon.
     I highly recommend this chore to anyone who needs a bit of distraction from the daily zoo of business.   It is totally relaxing and enjoyable.     It costs a lot less than the gym and you get a lot more out of it.     Mainly peace of mind, tired muscles, money saved, and the joy of pure work and effort that pays off in a beautiful stretch of wooden fence.   

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bad Vendors

     New business rant this morning.    One thing I really hate is poor service.    Im not sure what it costs to get a new customer for some companies but I can only assume it is just a few pennies.    Seems like they don't care if they lose you as a buyer at all.

"Why care?   There are plenty more buyers where you come from!"

From the beginning.

     I travel to wholesale buying shows two or three times a year.    I generally go to Las Vegas but may include New York this year.   This is a considerable expense for me.   I must buy product to make the trip worthwhile.   I go to the     ASD/AMD show mainly.
There is a terrific assortment of items from military surplus, tools, dollar store, closeouts, toys, and even jewelry.   While the show may not be appropriate for a lot of ecommerce businesses, it works out well for me.  Many of the type of items can be seen on our site.

     However, some of the merchants leave something to be desired when it comes to service and warranty.   One such company is Gripon Tool.  These guys sell all kinds of hand and power tools.
     I bought a pallet of brand new laser levels from them last August.   Since I'm a retailer it may take me a while to sell that many levels.   I only have about 12 cases left.   Problem is the  levels starting having a problem.   I have had to warranty about 8 of them.    We are now completely setting them up and testing them before they ship.    Some are good, some are not.
     I called the company to ask about this problem.   I actually called twice and sent a fax once.   They finally  returned my calls today.     The company representative says the items I bought were a closeout with basically no warranty.    They don't carry the item any longer.   He said he apologized for the problem but there was nothing he could do and wished me a good day.
     I certainly am not starting out with a good day with this news.    I wrote him back and told him that I can see why they didn't order anymore of the levels and that I strongly doubted that I would do anymore purchasing from his company.    He again apologized and wished me a good day.
     I'm surprised some effort at placating me wasn't offered.    I obviously have little to NO value with this company.    Not only will I never buy from them again but I'm offering this blog entry as a review of their company.
     Luckily for me there are plenty more tool vendors out there.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Fragile Business--Losing Employees

     I didn't know it but my small business is really pretty fragile. One reason is that there is only four of us. But there are other reasons too.
     I generally prepare for every contingency I can think of. I keep extra printers on the shelf, extra ink, a separate laptop, netbook, and even an air card. Plus I keep extra boxes, tape, and every other conceivable supply that could stop our daily sales. I pay one of my guys extra to handle all incoming shipments. That frees up my time quite a bit.
     The fragile part that I should have expected to come apart is the couple I hired to handle my shipping and my office clerical work. A married couple in their fifties. Neither doing too well heathwise. Both have had cancer. My shipping guys has a bad back and has had a heart problem in the past. My office lady can barely walk with a bad hip.
     No problem though. It was a little charity on my part but surprisingly these guys performed well. I was very easy going too. I paid them both by the piece they produced so there was no stress for them. If they got tired they could just take a break. Which was pretty frequent. It's to be expected when disabled people are hired.
     As time went on I became more attached and tried to help these two in small ways. I gave them a bunch of frozen chicken, cash cards, extra work, a small loan and I even did their taxes. Just things I could do at the time that they needed them. They worked for me for almost two years.
Sadly enought they just told me they are quitting and going back to Ohio. It was a shock. I was right in the middle of finding them an apartment. They amount to 50% or more of my workforce leaving all at once so whatever I can do to help them also helps me. After talking with them a bit I finally realized they are just tired and are going home. Health problems can sap your energy so badly.
     I just hired a new guy and I will take over the office for the time being. I won't have as much free time, if I ever had it, as before. I will try and send my guys off this Friday and show them the appreciation they earned.
     Hopefully my business will get stronger because of all this.  Though I loved these guys  I won't hire a husband and wife team again. Having half my workforce quit at once is just too much risk.