Doyle's Fish & Hicky Bar


Thursday, December 29, 2011


Imagine.   You, we,  have a handful of pebbles.  There is only so many but...

Really, quite a few, so throwing one in the water  is no big deal. I mean, that's life, and what we ought to do.   It's the effort we make to live.
  One at a time at first.
You see the circles the waves make.  They are perfectly round and spread out till you can't see them anymore.  They move in all directions at once.
Even in directions we really had no intention.
It doesn't mean they are gone but only that we can't see them.
Each pebble is an effort.   I won't quantify it.   Something I've done.  People I said hello to.  Actions I've made.  Doors I've opened.  Chances I've taken.  The leftover circle widens and disappears in the distance.   I have no idea where it goes or where it lands or what stops it entirely.
That also is life.
The really cool part to me is when several of us throw our pebbles at the same time.   We are all in the same circle. It is a miracle.   We all make circles within circles and these spread out to touch others we may never even meet.   We are joined by the  waves and by the combined efforts in tandem with others.  We are each other's circles.  We are truly not alone.
It is my most favorite part of life.  It is something I've tried hard to keep going even when all trace of the circle is gone.  Like when I miss the water and my pebble lands on sand.  There is no reverbration or wave or anything that living things need.
Time moves on.   Seasons change.
The water in which I throw my pebble seems small and uninviting.  No one is here to make waves with me. This has been coming for a long time.   I could feel it.
Maybe my choice of pebble type is too discerning.  Or my choice of water.   None of it may matter anyway.
Still, I begin to see only my circle made from my single pebble.  Like when I was young.  Alone.
Then, I notice new Circles begin to show up and from the most unlikely areas.   I barely noticed them before yet they were there all the time.  Just like at the beginning I discover that once again I'm throwing my pebble into the same circle as my buddies.   Life is sweet and not lonely.
I do miss my old acquaintances and I miss the person I was when I was with them.  Yet, my water is stale and old to them.  It doesn't attract those I thought I needed so badly as I once did.
I do miss those days.  Badly.   As I miss my youth, and my middle age.  Maybe I will miss my old age one day too!
I'm at the point where I throw way out.   I can't even see where my pebble lands.  I know there is a wave. I have seen so many.    I have faith.   I will throw those pebbles for as long as I can and make all the circles there are.
I do love my circles.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Dead Months (tween summer and Christmas)

Ive been online with ebay,, amazon, and other online venues since 1999.   Not selling all that time, but almost.     The learning curve has drifted from benignly brutal at the beginning to outright torturous in these later years.  I began to see selling patterns that seem to follow certain months of the year.    The easiest pattern to see comes during Nov and Dec.   The holiday season is our largest selling opportunity for the year.    However, Jan thru Mar has proven itself to be a good strong selling session too.    The rest of the year is what I consider the plodding months.    Business is good  and we sell constantly now but it's just plodding along to our very busy end of year.
I'm beginning to see another pattern which happens along with the start of school.    That is a remarkable sales drop-off.    Ive taken to calling it the Dead Months.   This is when I have to buy tons of merchandise for the Christmas buying season even though sales are down across the board.
It makes it very hard.    How can I be so sure of the sales outcome in Dec when the economy is so bad all over the country and maybe even the world too?
How can I deplete my cash reserves and invest it in merchandise that just sits here in the warehouse and gathers dust?   How can I weaken my company overall by spending money in this wanton and careless manner?
While I'm in this two month time period paranoia creeps up and makes me second guess every move.   I cut expenses and corners on every conceivable outlay.    I double check my employees and their effectiveness.  I go over my notes every day to make sure I'm not forgetting something.   I still try and find deals  but I'm generally too scared to buy them for fear of running out of cash.
This is the time of year when I ought to take a vacation.    Sales are lower so we need fewer people here.   But being the business owner, and sales being slower, it makes it even more difficult to leave.
A quandry.
Then as the days move slowly by something begins to happen.  Sometime in Nov. our daily sales figures  go up a notch. (oh so slightly)    The packing guys don't finish up by 12 noon but by 1:30.    Our rolling shelves start filling up and take two guys to move them to the loading area.     Then Thanksgiving, and it's too late to change what I started in Sept.   Whatever stock I bought then, whatever plans I made, supplies I stored up------are all plunged into shipping chaos.   Everyone is working at max speed and max concentration.    We all run face-into-door of our own limits.   I'm cursing myself for not ordering more merchandise!   What was I thinking?    The whirlwind is upon us and we are on the edge of failure for 5 to 6 weeks.
I find at the end of this miraculous rush that the Dead Months are indeed real and terrifying.   At least for an online business owner like me. 
Looking into the face of terrible short term sales and forecasting a boomtime is just one of the things I've learned over the years.   The boom is coming, no matter how bad it looks now.       We all have to work through our Dead Months and have faith that the good days are right around the corner.
Prepare now!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Surpise! Your roof is gone!

After a wonderful and touching trip up north to see my nephew and his family, Sandi and I arrived on a delayed flight in Houston.    We were exhausted from the trip.    Delays of all kinds tortured us on our return home.   It was like God was reminding us that no matter our humanitarian and Christian intent, we still had business to attend to at home.    We loved on our little dogs Mixie and Max as hard as we could and collapsed in bed thinking that we both had to go to work the next morning and somehow be coherent.   It was about 1:00am I think.    During the night Mixie hopped up on the bed to snuggle between me and Sandi.    She was trembling and looking up to the ceiling.    I could see her worried little face and her laid back ears as she listened to the storm that was blowing through.    I calmed her as best I could and threw a sheet over her.
Sure enough, the next morning we awoke late feeling sore and out of sorts.    Still we got ready.   I kissed my bride goodbye wishing her a good day.   She gave me a wry smile as I headed out.
My guys were waiting for me at the overhead door of my shop.   Vince wanted to know how my weekend was and did I have a great time.   I was immediately wary.    Stoney pipes up "Cause if you did, Vince is about to ruin it".      Vince waved for me to follow and we walked out back.     The shop dogs were delighted to see me and were jumping everywhere leaving muddy paw prints all over me on the way to the back storage building.    Walking in I see that Vince has already started rearranging and moving pallets and boxes to get the dry.   Our skylights had blown out of the roof and let a considerable amount of rain in.    Lots of wet boxes and merchandise surrounded us.    Vince was in his element taking care of moving and organizing.    He is a natural born organizer.    I highly recommend a guy like him if you don't have one.
As far as calamities are concerned I suppose this was a minor one.    I can get the roof repaired for about a $1500.    However the issue was a lack of security on my part.   I had the building built but couldn't decide on the type of door so I just ignored it and basically allowed this to happen.    The door is fairly large at about 10' square so a lot of storm wind could enter to do damage.     The merchandise that got wet is hardy and will dry without loss.   The boxes are another story.   I will probably have to buy several hundred dollars of cardboard boxes to replace them.    
Another lesson.    Personal and business security needs to be addressed every day.     I'm lucky I didn't suffer the loss of the entire roof instead of just a few skylights.  
I look at the sky.  
"Ok, I get it.   It's a warning.     Thanx!"

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Epic Fail Sales Tactic from the Past

When I was a young oil field supply salesman in my 20's, I had a route I followed much like a bread or milk truck would now.    I had inventory at customers sites and would show up once a week to check the "counts".  Whatever was missing I would replace and give the customer an invoice copy on the spot.   Many times at these warehouses I was just one of many route salesmen and we competed for space, speed of delivery and depth of merchandise.      I drove a relatively new Ford van with shelves in the back that was sometimes dangerously overloaded with inventory.    I never wanted to miss a sale.   I was a kid and didn't have much mentoring, not to say I would have listened anyway.    I considered myself to be the BEST SALESMAN IN THE WORLD.   
About the only advice I would take from anybody concerned sales tactics.   For instance, while lame, sometimes gimmicks worked.   I mean, giving a pack of matches away in a bar probably didn't make any bar a penny.   While giving a coupon for a half price meal brings customers in.  Some things work and some don't.     I tried buying lunches, bringing lunches, delivering free beer, free Six Flags tickets, free hats, free Tshirts, pens, lighters, notepads, license plate frames, bumper stickers...........
Nothing worked.    So while visiting with an old salesman one day he mentioned that he would stick a piece of gum in each box he delivered.    That way whenever someone opened it they would get the delightful surprise of a nice piece of chewing gum.    Sounded really great to me  so I tried it.    After a couple of weeks and about $10 worth of chewing gum, sales hadn't increased at all.   $10 back then was probably comparable to $50 now.    So I decided that since my commission made it worthwhile I would tape a crisp $1 bill to the inside lid in each box.   I bet that would knock my competition totally out of the ring!
I made my delivery of the specially prepared boxes in my corner of the warehouse.   I could barely wait to see the sales figures the following week.   
As I drove into the yard the following week to count the inventory I was surprised to see a mound of boxes and other trash that nearly blocked the overhead door.   Two or three men were rummaging around in the hill of trash looking for something.    My contact  was standing there looking POd too so I began to kiss butt the moment I walked in.  I was in shock to see the entire warehouse had been ransacked from one end to the other.   Every box opened up and dumped on the floor, piles of boxes and litter everywhere, emptied shelving, and smashed Styrofoam like snow all over the floor.
" Hey Shorty!"  (for real)   What's going on, spring cleaning?"    He gave me a grimace and waved his arm at the mess. 
"I don't know exactly, but one of the hands must of broke in here and tore up everything.    Kind a weird that nothing seems to be missing though.   Maybe you can help me separate your stuff so we can get it back on the shelf."  
Sure I said  and started picking up boxes.     It was then  that I began to look for the dollar bills I had taped inside the lid.  None in that box, or that one, or this one.   It dawned on me.   Oh my God,  punks came in here and practically destroyed the warehouse looking for those dollar bills! 
I helped straighten up the warehouse most of the rest of the day.   I never mentioned that my dollar bill trick was probably what pushed the "worms" over the edge.    I learned a lesson like the sorcerer's apprentice.    I used just enough of the gimmick to get myself in potential trouble with my customer.    Giving stuff away for free generally attracts freeloaders.
And that just wasn't my customer.

Blue Marlin for the Wall

Nothing is more memorable to the fisherman than a big fish to hang on the wall.   Problem is that it winds up being one less trophy in the water.   After you've owned a wall mount for a while you begin to feel that, yeah, it's nice, but it would be better if the fish was still alive to be caught another day.  That's where our blue marlin wall mounts fit in so well.   Hand painted resin sculptures that look gorgeous on the wall and serve the exact same purpose of reminding the fisherman or fisherwoman of a great day on the water.   Plus they are remarkably less expensive than taxidermy mounts.    For the purist, taxidermy is probably the only way to go but in the end, the memory is the thing we treasure the most.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

How To Have A Terrible Garage Sale

I buy stuff from garage sales all the time.   For one reason it stokes my primal desire to get stuff cheap!   I also resell some of it on line.    A little extra cash can't hurt anybody.
     That's why it annoys me so much to see them done wrong.  If you really want to have a terrible garage sale please follow these steps.
1.  Use only one sign.  Be sure and place it on a pole that no one will see.  The lower to the ground the better.  Make sure that it can't be seen until the driver is past the turn.
 2. Also please don't use a large marker to write with.  Use pencil or a light colored crayon.  That way your buyers will have to slow down and obstruct traffic (possibly risking life and limb) to read the sign.
3.  Never use a sign larger than a child's paper plate or a single sheet of of school paper.  Write all over them in small print.  Also use a small stick to tape them to.  That way whenever the wind blows the sign will fold up and no one can read it.
4. Never use an "arrow" on your sign.  If you must, make it so small that the buyer can't see which way it is pointing till they are past the turning point.
5.  If you insist on using colored cardboard for your sign then please use black ink on blue, red ink on orange,  gray ink on green , etc.
Now that we have the rules for signage figured out here are the rules for setting up your driveway for the sale.
6.  Never put a large sign at your driveway.  No balloons on the mailbox either.  Don't do anything to draw attention to your sale on your own street.
7.  When laying out clothing to be sold be sure and throw them down in piles all over the driveway.  Never hang them up or arrange them by adult, teen, children, etc.
8.  Be sure and have lots of mixed up mismatched clothing, broken toys, inexplicable pieces of cracked glasses, plates, plastic, bent forks and spoons,  all in a jumble in a box.  Turn the box over so  they get stepped on a lot is even better.
9.  Let buyers kids play with whatever they can get their hands on.  The toys are pretty much used and worthless and the electronic items probably wouldn't have sold anyway.
10.  If you have books be sure and leave them in piles on the driveway.  If you treat them like trash then the buyers will too.
11.  If you are selling tvs, computers, toasters,  telephones, lamps, tables, etc.  never clean them prior to the sale.  Greasy fingerprints and cigarette tar/nicotine generally do wonders for sale items.
12.  If you are selling rugs and have dogs and cats in the house please remember to not vacuum them.  The new buyer loves to see thick animal hair all over their new purchase.  Makes them smell nice too.
13.  Hopefully there will be no parking on your street and you will have to stop every buyer from parking in your driveway just because you have that power.
14  If you can't speak English that will instantly cut down on a lot of your buyers.  Definite plus!
15.  Make it impossible to test electric items.  No extension cords, no outlets, no nothing.  Even better cut the plugs off all the appliances you are selling.  Just tell your customer to replace the plug and it will work fine.
16.  Never, absolutely never have any change.  Make it impossible to be paid with a ten dollar bill and expect change back.
17.  Always ask way too much (suggested retail is best) for your wore out crap.
18.  Never offer help loading, or bags, or extra boxes.  They should have brought their own.
19.  Never smile or say hello, and especially don't welcome anybody into your driveway.  Buyers are such an interruption anyway.
20.  Be sure and stop selling whenever you are tired of it. (no matter what the fine print on your sign says).  Remember to leave all your signs up too.  It's pretty funny to see your garage sale sign up for a month at a time.   Maybe you can mess up other garage sales just a little bit and they can have the same success that you had.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Another Sandi Quip

Ive been thinking about starting a workout routine at the local gym with Sandi. I asked her which machine I should concentrate on so as to impress the young ladies. She looked me up and down and said "the ATM".

Sandi Quips

I come in from outside and my hair is blown every which a way. One of my buddies says hey you are just like Einstein, and Sandi pops up with, "Only without the brains!"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Santa Works in Mysterious Ways

I tend to buy odd items that hopefully dont have much competition. So...I found these flying chickens that squawk when thrown. They actually have a rubber band throwing device built into them. I know, pretty silly, but we did enjoy throwing them around the shop. One problem is that the little squawk mechanism didnt work well. Hence the reason it was a closeout.
I called the company and complained and got a RTA.
We left the box open in the middle of the shop floor and went home that evening.
The next morning we arrived at the shop to find chickens scattered the entire length and breadth of the whole acre here. Our shop dog discovered the box and assumed they were 100 dog toys. He carried the chickens everywhere, buried some in the back, and dismembered quite a few all over. Most of the intact chickens were covered in mud and quite unsaleable or returnable. To top it off one of my Einsteins here decided the only thing to do was wash the chickens in a clothes washer, thereby ensuring the squawk mechanism NEVER works again, for any reason.
The only one really happy was the shop dog who now has a chicken dog toy for every nook and cranny of the place. 

Yes, he had a great little Christmas.

Monday, March 14, 2011

On Looking Like a Grandfather

     I travel to Las Vegas twice a year on wholesale buying trips as I am the principal buyer for   Generally it is a whirlwind trip and pretty hard work.    This year, however, I arranged to add another day which allowed me to slow down just a bit and not give myself a heart attack running around non stop for three days.
I have to travel between two convention centers and take the monorail most trips.   If certainly saves on shoe leather.  
As I was walking down a long hall at the Sands Convention Center late in the afternoon a beautiful young lady noticed me and came walking toward me with a warm smile.    I was taken aback, but I will admit I look pretty good for my 57 years.    I slowed my approach but she sped hers up.   It appeared this young and gorgeous girl was tipsy, which is not unusal to see in Vegas.   
She threw her arms open and with a great big smile said, "You look just like my GrandFather!"
At that moment two young men ran up and grabbed her before she fell down.    I must have had an odd look on my face as they both started apologizing for her explaining that she was drunk.
They led her off tottering and careening down the hall, giggles and singing followed them for a long time.
My time for that being past, I walked to the card tables and found comfort amongst the other gnarled and aged fellows.    
I fit right in with them.

Monday, February 07, 2011

I Remember

I remember when I felt that summer was a year.   It ended though and school began.
I remember when the fall semester was a year.   Christmas was the end of it.
I remember spring when green was the most impossible color and I couldn't help but stare at it.
I remember my first girlfriend, Sherry, and I loved her more than anything.   Except Momma.
I remember falling into the storm shelter when the tornado was coming and I went entirely under water and came up to see row upon row of pickles.
I remember my first day at school and being late, but loving it after I got there.
I remember the men running across a field to put a grass fire out and the sound of the old gasoline pumping units.
I remember the horror of seeing a cow eat my book off of a fence post just before the bus came.
I remember the sound of the brakes on the bus.   We could hear it from a mile away and knew it was ours.
I remember Momma washing my face with a wash rag moments before I was to do, meet, act, on anything.
I remember our old dog Buck and another dog Tuffy.    They were absolute equals to me and my brothers and sometimes held higher position.    Especially Buck since he was our Squirrel Dog and Dad loved him.   If Dad did we did too.
I remember Chester the Rooster.   The most lucky rooster that ever lived in our neighborhood on Whatley Road.  .   He learned to play piano at Randy's hands.  That was before he ate a whole box of rat poison.   He lived two more years still.
I remember how Danny could hoola hoop perfectly and I could hardly skip without falling down.
I remember asking Daddy what the "Red Light District" was at the end of our street.
I remember Randy being pushed in front of the right tire of the school bus and me screaming and the bus driver crying while he carried him in his arms.   He had just gotten his leg brace removed and Momma was terrified for him.
I remember my brothers putting a live chicken in our neighbor's mailbox.    Thankfully he saved the chicken.  Later he gave us a baby goat.    I cried when it didn't survive through winter even though I bottle fed it twice a day in the freezing cold.
I remember Officer Pitts coming to talk to Dad.  Again and again.
I remember the three of us going across the street with a hatchet and cutting down a pine tree in our neighbors front yard so we could surprise Dad with a Christmas tree.   He was very surprised, along with our next door neighbor.
I remember Dawson, with all her brothers.   And her famous Dad.   I remember Maurita and her sisters throwing us in the ditch if we passed in front of their house.    They had the best plums on earth and they were worth the punishment.   We called her Maurita the Mosquito Eater.    It kind of rhymed.
I remember the hot tamale man who got in trouble for selling some sort of drugs.   He must have been terribly unsuccessful as he lived in a house much smaller than ours.   He was not a Mexican so that probably didn't help at all.
I remember a man who pulled up beside me as I walked to the pool on a summer day and asked me if I wanted a ride.   He was very persistent.   Still, I was told to never take a ride with anyone I didnt know.   With time, afterwards, and now after all these years, knowing the heart of my Dad, I know I probably saved that assholes life that day.    
I began to feel that life had a charmed edge to it.    I had found a sort of religion by then.   I knew most of the required words, at least.   I asked questions and was verbally spanked.   I didnt ask them again till maybe,  now.
I was entrusted with guns.   I could run with the squirrel dogs with grown men.  I began carrying the squirrel bag if it wasnt too heavy.   Then  I began carrying an ax until I proved myself.  Modern children had no need to prove themselves as they were simply given guns like they were equal.
  We actually chopped trees down for squirrels in those days.   Afterwards, when the sun was down,  I held the legs while Dad cut and pulled the hide when we cleaned them.   He would pull me all over the kitchen as I wasnt very strong then.   I love the smell of the woods and of squirrels to this day.    It is home and safety and life somehow.   Momma was proud of us.
I remember when I got tired of the woods and aspired for something more.   Boy Scouts.
I discovered I could  make a camp and swim a mile.  And Camp cook which was no surprise really..   Me and my brothers were actually advanced woodsmen due to Dad.   We could find wild water to drink, Huckle
Berries, muskiedimes, and wild grapes.   We could even survive on sour weeds.
I remember digging muscles from the river bottom and Uncle Donny cooking them on the bank.   They tasted like crap.   Still we were foragers.
Then black kids were introduced into our school.
We were scared to death.   Hereto before, we were threatened with a beating if we should have even talked to a black kid.   They were respectfully called negroes by my parents then.   My parents didn't bad  mouth black people and neither did we.
I was forced into the choir, though I didn't fight really hard.    I wanted to take a shop class but  I discovered I could sing.
Still I played football for Dad.   If not badly.
I wasnt very good, at football.   I did however excel at singing.   I sung Latin, Italian and German songs that I didnt even know what the words meant.    No matter, I went to Region that year and failed in All Area.
That was also the same year that the junior high got air conditioning.    The elementary got nothing which was only right.
It was the year that blacks started carrying knives.   Or at least they acted like they did.   I don't know about the rest of guys but I believed them...   They were black after all!
A bunch of buses were blown up near by and we were wide eyed wondering what it was all about.
I remember Viet Nam and us boys being young and wondering if it would still be blazing when we were of age.   Sadly, we knew it would be over and we would have no war.   Somehow we would miss this great event.   We studied war comics and memorized weapons and vehicles nomenclature.
I remember the fear of the war looming up real and mysterious and my family being no safety at all.   We were supposed to go to war cause the government said so.    I learned my first lesson in how to say no.  If only very quietly and luckily since my lottery numbers were very low that year.    The next year Nixon was pressured to kill the draft.
I remember not trusting anyone older than me, for a long time.   After all, I didn't put them in harms way the way they willing put me.
I remember red lights in a pasture.  Me and my girl in the car seat trying to find the keys.   It was the cops, and they accused of us cattle rustling.  It wasn't funny that night.    I owe those old men an ass kicking to this day.
I remember forgiving all the older ones.   That was much later.   We are all pawns it seems.
I had a great many secrets to keep.   Some I had to swallow and  digest and some that are still like a rock in my shoe.
I was an actor and singer in high school.
I remember moving away to sing and dance in an outdoor theatre.   The money was so bad that I applied to the Marines.    The recruiter smiled after I took the test and said I had no business being in the Marines and suggested the Airforce.    I wish I had heard of the Coast Guard.
I starved awhile longer.
I found a job with a pizza place and met the mother of my children.   She was so quiet yet had her own apt with cat.   I met her little sister then running around naked after a bath.   One of my fondest memories of those days.  I carved my future wife a little guitar out of a piece of found wood.   We were pretty poor in those days.
This is ongoing.   I will be back. 3/14/11

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thoughts on Dogs

Sometimes I think dogs are us in smaller, freer form. They play as we wish we could play, they love as we wish we could love. 
--Doyle Carver