Welcome to Curious Business

Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, August 25, 2017

Christmas Is Coming

My sketchy open-to-buy calculation says that I should have $1,800 in the budget for new products. That would be a healthy number going into Christmas if it weren't more than wiped out by $3,000 in stubborn debt. Since I obviously can't buy any merchandise, the decision whether or not to support Christmas this year is moot. I'm just going to liquidate as much as I can while spending as little as possible. With some luck December might wipe out the debt.

I'm expecting my first really low-key Christmas since I started this company, even including last year's flop. Except for a relatively brief career in software development, I've worked in retail all my life, and I've hated every single Christmas. And yet, sitting this one out is already starting to feel bittersweet as my vendors start up their promotions, like the retail world is passing me by.

No: I'm passing the retail world by. My always-thin tolerance for retail is just about gone anyway. I work too much for too little, and I'm fed up with complaints and returns and voicemails -- especially voicemails; O how I hate those. I already have an extensive auto-reject list, and I never answer calls from my own area code (spammers spoof that). Now that they have figured out how to leave voicemail without ever ringing the telephone, they can't be blocked. If that becomes routine I will have to ignore voicemail entirely -- not even listening to, much less returning, calls. 

Making a list of my top 10 complaints might be cathartic. Maybe next week.

Speaking of nuisances, now PayPal wants me to put on my IT hat again:

As part of our on-going commitment to provide a more robust service, Payflow will be introducing additional IP addresses to both the production and pilot environments. To minimize potential impact, we recommend that you use Domain Name Service (DNS) host names instead of hard-coding Payflow IP addresses.
However, if you must allow particular IP addresses through your firewall or proxy servers, please review our list of Payflow IP addresses to ensure that the appropriate IPs are configured in your firewall/proxy settings before mid-October 2017.  

WTF does that even mean? Is it a server-side thing, or is it my shopping cart module? Do I even use the Payflow gateway? I don't know and I'd rather not care, but I'm going to have to find out or risk losing the ability to take payments. Once upon a time, a long long time ago, I used to find these challenges educational. Lately they're just a pain in the ass. 

I do, however, still need the paychecks. They're small, but they're regular, whereas Blue Hills is still lucrative but infrequent. A $800 kite sale made last week the best of the year to date...but Monday's paycheck was still meager because the previous week sucked. Kite sales will screech to a halt after Labor Day, and then I've got nothing going on.


On the Blue Hills side, I priced myself out of a job for the first time. An MIT researcher wanted a quote to copy edit his 5,100-word scholarly paper. I quoted the same $50 hourly rate that I charge other MIT entities and estimated just 3-4 hours since his document was in good starting condition. Never heard back. Oh well, can't win 'em all.

I do have one fairly major project nearing the billing stage. I completed the work a few weeks ago. It will come back to me for changes within the next couple of weeks. After they accept my final changes, they'll have 30 days to pay. Mid-October should bring a nice check for work that I started in early August. Delays like that wouldn't matter if I had a steady stream of projects ripening, but there's nothing else in the pipeline right now.

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