Pete's random thoughts

Monday, March 01, 2021

Today's waste of time: email hackers!

 Today's misadventure was to clean up the mess when some Nigeria scammer managed to spoof my info@middlesexvillagetrading.com and send out emails to random people in my email address book.

People all over the world were writing to me and telling me that they couldn't figure out how to open the attachment and can I please resend.

Folks, never, ever open an email attachment if you are not sure what it is.

I managed to get down into the email server's security settings and set it so it couldn't be spoofed again...at least in theory.

So much of my time gets wasted by this kind of crap!

Just finished updating prices on the website

 It was quite a project, many hours of math and coding.

Some prices seem like they took a big jump, but it is because we absorbed increasing costs for too long and didn't raise them along the way.

Some things we were actually loosing money on by selling them because our costs had steadily crept up but I stubbornly refused to raise our prices for too long.

Our last price adjustment was over eight years ago.

When I was a kid, a new car was around $3000. Inflation happens and I just need to accept that.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Prices will be updated over the weekend

 This is long overdue. I hate to raise prices on anything, but I spent all day crunching numbers and it is unavoidable. Over the years my costs crept up. A little bit here, a little bit there, shipping costs went up etc, and for many years I absorbed them because I have a hard time letting go of the old days. Things were cheaper in the old days, but these aren't the old days any more.

In going over these numbers, I was actually LOOSING money on some products. No wonder people would buy them in bulk!

Our prices were last adjusted as of January 1st, 2013. That is over eight years ago and it is time to revisit it.

I'll spend most of tomorrow reworking prices on our website so it will be ready on Monday. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

It is officially mud season!

 Just got an email from the town.

The selectboard has officially closed the dirt roads here in town to vehicles over 6 tons until further notice which means mud season has begun!

This means spring is just around the corner.

Monday, February 22, 2021

I really could use another set of hands around here

 Right now I am so overloaded with shop work, paperwork, and so many other things that it is just overwhelming.

What I could really use is another set of hands around the shop.

To just hire someone SOUNDS like a simple solution, but it really isn't.

Here are some of the reasons why:

1. Bookkeeping. To hire someone means that there is MORE paperwork to be done on a regular basis. I'd need to keep track of payroll, withholding, unemployment insurance, and workman's comp insurance. That stuff uses up hours of time per payroll period.

2. Training time. Remember what you learned in 5th grade about the apprentice system? A tween or teen would be "bound out" to a tradesman to learn a trade in exchange for some cash (paid to the parents), the kid's education, room & board, and usually a new suit of clothes and set of tools at the conclusion of the kid's training. The training/education time was generally 7 years. Think about that....in the 18th century they didn't expect a new apprentice to be a gunsmith until he had SEVEN years of hands-on training under his belt.

The same lessons need to be learned by someone today, regardless of the fact that we have the internet and power tools. This means any new person hired here would not only NOT produce skilled, reliable work, they would also take up my time in training them. This would slow things down for a while as opposed to speeding things up.

3. Trust. The shop is on the first floor and our house is on the second. The bathroom for the shop is the same one my kids use up in the house. Breakroom space? My kitchen and dining room table. To have someone work here means it would need to be someone we could trust to roam freely in our home and be around our kids.

Years ago we hired a local guy, Jim Lamontagne. From all outward appearances, he was someone whom you could trust. They were a homeschooling family and active in their church. Turns out he was a kleptomaniac too, stole several guns and since he was an employee whose JOB it was to keep track of such things, he was able to doctor the books to make them disappear off of the record so the theft wouldn't be noticed. It was a long, complicated saga. Who knows what else he stole! After a long investigation, he ended up going to jail for six months.

The point is that if you can't assume a guy who is portrayed as the pillar of his community is trustworthy, who can you trust?


It would be great to spread out some of my workload to another set of hands, but these three issues would need to be overcome first.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

We no longer accept mailed in checks

 This morning I disabled the "send cheque" option in our online store. All online orders from now on will be via credit card using our website.

Of course in person, we still accept cash, checks, traded items, PMs, and whatever...after all, this is a "trading company", but keeping track of who actually sent in a check vs who just placed an order with a promise to send a check is just one more archaic practice that uses up too much of my time and it is stopping right now.

Don't trust credit cards on the internet? Would rather send a check? Sorry. Time to join the 21st century. I don't like change either and still have an 8-track player, but keeping track of checks that people mailed or not is just an extra pain in the ass that I just don't need.

Besides, our shopping cart program seems to have been written in England and seeing the word "cheque" instead of "check" sorta irks me. We won both wars with the people who write "cheque", so I see no point in adopting their misspelled language.

Almost half of my ancestors left that place when the chance to come colonize New England arose in the early 1600s, why the hell would I use the weird language that they left behind ON PURPOSE 400 years ago?

OK, sometimes when the mood strikes me, I'll drive on the wrong side of the road like they do, but it is just for fun.

Monday, February 15, 2021

About 1% of people waste 80% of my time

 Monday is paperwork day.

That means printing out the invoices that came in over the past week, sorting out the layaway payments, updating the work list and assorted other bookkeeping tasks.

What I noticed is that a very small percentage of dumbasses and general scumbags waste an amazing amount of my time.

At any given time, I am dealing with one to three scammers who place orders with the intent to rip me off by getting a double refund. They order something, act all squirrely, cancel the order, get their refund check and THEN file a claim with their credit card company that they didn't get their order so the credit card company refunds them. Each once of those assholes uses up about 4 hours of my time in doing all of the paperwork that is required to document that they did in fact get their refund in order to dispute their fraudulent claim with the credit card company.

That is four hours that I am not able to work on YOUR gun because scam artists from Houston, TX and Tuskegee, AL have nothing productive to do with their lives and would rather rip off small businesses than actually be employed. To be fair, the Tuskegee, AL scammer is a convicted felon, an open white supremacist whose email avatar is the KKK iron-cross emblem and probably NOT employable, but still.

The other group of people who waste a tremendous amount of my time are dumbasses who cannot follow simple directions. I'm talking about people who take advantage of our layaway program but won't follow the instructions to tell us what layaway they are paying towards when they make a payment. There are a few guys who have been told repeatedly to please include their invoice number with the payment but absolutely ignore it.

This is my day. Dealing with thieves and idiots who can't or won't follow directions.

If you send in you mortgage or car payment, you include a payment stub that has your friggin' account number on it, don't you? It isn't too much to ask for people to whom we offer a no-charge layaway plan to do the same thing: tell us the invoice number you are paying towards. I wonder if they mail in an envelope full of cash to their mortgage company without an account number and expect the payment to be credited to their mortgage?

I spend HOURS each week tracking down who these people are...and it is only a small number of people.

Just like when you belong to an organization like a gun club or whatever and 10% of the people there do 90% of the work....about 1% of my customers waste 80% of my time every week.

This evening, I reworked the web code on the layaway payments page to add a text box for an invoice number that must be filled out in order to proceed with making a payment. The goal is to make it idiot-proof. It is only a matter of time before someone accepts the challenge and builds a bigger idiot. I have my theories on who it will be....

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Decided to start blogging again

 Looking at the last post here, I guess I haven't made a blog post in six years!

I guess I wandered away from this format since social media like facebook was so much easier to use. Then facebook pissed me off by punishing me for posting a Kyle Rittenhouse joke. Screw 'em. I have just plain stopped posting there, at least on my personal page.

As someone who works here all alone, the internet is my connection to the outside world and I didn't really realize how important it was until I stopped using facebook in January.

Since I haven't posted here in 6 years there will be a series of post about stuff that has happened in that time to catch folks up on the MVTCo Saga, now in it's 28th year!

A lot of things have changed in the past 6 years and there is more change to come as we move forward with new plans and projects.