You Put One of Ours in the Hospital…

A great movie line; come to life.

First; the set up.

You put one of ours in the hospital

The 50-year-old suffered a severe allergic reaction after the creature gnawed him.

It happened as he tried to rescue it from under the floorboards at his home in Worcestershire.

The hamster had been accidentally let out of its cage by the man’s seven-year-old daughter.

And we’ll put one of yours in the morgue.

A British performance artist has eaten part of a corgi — the breed of dog that is the favorite pet of Queen Elizabeth II — to protest the alleged mistreatment of animals by the royal family.

Take that, Mother Nature! You wanna fight. We’ll give you a fight. Come get some.

Ron Paul Facts

Some interesting facts that you may (or may not know) about Ron Paul:

Ron Paul first ran for President in 1988, as a Libertarian, despite having no previous affiliation with the party. Silly Libertarians will let any kook run.

Ron Paul enables trutherism; the lowest for of conspiracy mongering by wanting a pointless new investigation. He’s on the same level as Kucinich in this regard.

Ron Paul’s job in the House has been, primarily, to keep his seat warm.

Ron Paul has had 312 sponsored bills die in committee during his House tenure, which gets him a terrible rating when compared to his peers.

Ron Paul has never sponsored a bill, gotten others to agree with him, gotten it out of committee had it passed and signed into law. This display of leadership clearly makes him qualified to lead the country.

Ron Paul isn’t even really a libertarian. He has voted for government funding of education, health care, and has voted against gun rights.

Ron Paul doesn’t like the Constitution, obviously.

Despite polling very well online, Ron Paul cannot pass 1% in a respectable nation-wide poll. Maybe it means one type of poll is wrong. Wonder which it is?

Ron Paul supporters act like lemmings even when they are told to act like lemmings.

Ron Paul supporters are really truthers, and over 90% of his support comes from truthers.

Ron Paul hasn’t distinguished himself as a Representative; why should anyone vote for him as President?

Even Ron Paul thinks that’s stupid; and that’s saying a lot!

Democrats love Ron Paul on stage, because he makes everyone else a little more kooky as well.

Must be a conspiracy to keep Ron Paul out of office, as there is no logical reason to be opposed to this time tested leader.

UPDATE!

Ron Paul is in the pockets of Big Oil (in my scary voice):

  • Voted YES on scheduling permitting for new oil refinieries. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted NO on passage of the Bush Administration national energy policy. (Jun 2004)
  • Voted NO on implementing Bush-Cheney national energy policy. (Nov 2003)
  • Voted NO on raising CAFE standards; incentives for alternative fuels. (Aug 2001)
  • Voted NO on prohibiting oil drilling & development in ANWR. (Aug 2001)
  • Voted NO on starting implementation of Kyoto Protocol. (Jun 2000)
  • Repeal the gas tax. (May 2001)
  • Given that his district is the Gulf Coast of Texas (where the refineries and oil platforms are); this is not surprising is it? Big Oil. Ron Paul.

    Pallet Racking, Storage Shelves and Warehouse Design

    Having upgraded my warehouse twice (from 1,200 sqft to 4000 sqft and currently at 6600 sqft), we’ve learned the warehouse layout is probably the most difficult part of managing inventory. With an ever growing product line, properly arranging shelves, rows and items is essential to an efficient business.

    We’ve made many mistakes in this regard, and are paying for this mistakes now. So here are some easy mistakes you can make:

    • Not anticipating growth (adding new skus, specifically)
    • Not preplanning product sizes
    • Not arranging shelves properly

     I’ll discuss these one by one.

    Not anticipating growth

    Each time we moved; we had to rearrange our products. When putting items on the shelves again, we never left open space which would allow for future skus that are related (thus making it logical to keep them together). Having to move large sections of boxes/items later is a real pain, and a needless waste of time.

    Not preplanning product sizes

    This was our biggest mistake, I believe. When we first started looking into shelving, we looked at auctions. We spent about $100 on shelving that would have cost us about $1000 regularly. A great deal – always check out local auctions before going to a retail outlet for racking (even if it used; auctions get you a FAR better deal). They were all pallet racking. We fixated on this and continued to buy pallet racking, even though many of the items we carry are very small. This results in not only making items hard to put on shelves but also leads to lots of dead space (air) that cannot be used.

    So, think about what you are selling, not only now, but in the future. Most pallet racking is between 36 inches and 44 inches deep. We’ll discuss problems and issues with this later. Pallet racking shelves are difficult to adjust after they are assembled (especially if you buy used ones!) so we recently purchased these (96 inches long x 24 inches deep x 84 inches tall). Shelves can be adjusted about an inch at a time and can be done in seconds, which makes it perfect when a product line changes or you want to put different stuff on the shelves. Buying extra levels is rather cheap too, so increasing the system from 3 shelves to 5, 6, 7 or more can happen very cheaply.

    These are perfect for smaller items as well, but Rick pointed me out to this item as well, which he says is perfect for even smaller items. Look at how many skus can fit into a small area. That’s awesome; but we don’t sell stuff that small. At least not yet.

    I guess the moral of this is; don’t get married to one type of shelf. I’d recommend buying shelves as you need them, rather than filling a warehouse with shelving in anticipation of future needs. Changing or moving shelves later on can be really difficult.

    Not arranging shelves properly

    When arranging the warehouse, I think its best to work from your walls and then move inward. The walls are the most difficult to arrange, and the biggest lost space in the warehouse. We currently have 44 inch shelves against the wall. This is stupid, because it is hard to reach items in the back of the shelf – if indeed items are even sitting back there. Unless you are going to put large box items against the wall, I’d recommend putting shelves against the walls that are about 24 inches deep.

    When working your inner shelves, think about your arrangement before you do it. This is probably part and parcel with buying shelves as you need them instead of buying them in advance.

    Are you planning on pulling product from one side of the shelf or both sides? Large items can typically all be pulled from the same side, smaller items probably from both sides. I’d try to keep a row consistent; if you make a section with items to be pulled from one side, do it all the way down the line. Other way around as well.

    So, if you have a row of shelves where you pull from one side, instead of making an aisle on the other side, back up another row against it. This lets you double your rows without taking up un-necessary room. With my excellent photoshop skills, I demonstrate how much more efficient this is:

    Warehouse Shelf Layout

    Each of these layouts features the same number of shelves and the same number of sides to pick product from. The one on the left has 4 columns of shelves – one against the wall (picked from one side), two in the middle (picked from two sides) and one on the left (picked from two sides).The one on the right has 6 columns of shelves. One against the wall (picked from one side), 4 rows of shelves in the middle (picked from one side each) and a row on the left (picked from 2 sides).

    Both setups – if given the same number and types of products – can hold the exact same number of items/skus. The layout on the left takes up about 20% less floor space, allowing you to maximize your total warehouse space far more efficiently. If you have a lot of large products (or ones that you stock a lot of), the layout on the left is more a far more optimal setup (and probably pallet racking is a good idea for those shelves). If you carry a lot of small products (and you can ensure picking from the right AND left sides of the row), then the layout on the right is better for you (and probably normal shelving – not pallet racking) is your optimal setup.

    Many companies will have a combination of this of course; but remember – think before you put down rows of heavy shelves that are difficult to move in the future.

    Boeing Dreamlifter – Flying Pig in a Blanket

    So Boeing unveiled its Dreamlifter aircraft the other day after a series of test flights. It can carry 65,000 cubic feet of cargo, double that of a 747 airliner. Shipping companies such as UPS, FedEx and others will surely want this for their international freight. It’s a great plane, sure. But why does it look like a pig in a blanket?

    Pig in a Blanket Boeing Dreamlifter

    What ever happened to aesthetics? This is an ugly sucker; but boy does it look delicious.

    Thought Police Win Case in California

    How many of you remember this story?

    A Mormon student got into trouble for saying “That’s so gay!” when another student asked her if she had ten moms. It was suggested at the time that the other student did not get into any trouble for lobbing a religious insult (which was based purely on ignorance) at the student. This has now been confirmed.

    The lawsuit also accused the public high school of having a double standard because, it said, administrators never sought to shield Rebekah from teasing based on Mormon stereotypes. It also alleged that the Rices were singled out because of the family’s conservative views on sexuality.

    So what we have here is a double standard. According to this school administration, it is okay to insult someone who is Mormon, but not okay to insult someone who is gay. If the Thought Police are going to come after someone for offending someone else; don’t they have to come after everyone? Apparently not; if you are a member of a protected class of people.

    The judge in the case even said that the punishment should not be removed from the student’s record. Which doesn’t matter, since she graduated anyways, but its the point of the matter.

    The judge added that it didn’t make sense to have the referral stricken from the girl’s school record, since she graduated last year.

    He went on to blame the victim here (the Mormon) for making a big deal of being discriminated against. Nice!

    Rushing rejected each claim, going so far as to suggest that the Rices had created a miserable situation for Rebekah by advertising their dissatisfaction with the school’s handling of the incident during her freshman year.

    I guess having unequal application of rules is legally protected in California. Open season on Mormons everyone!

    While a monetary judgement is silly in this case, how he went out of his way to blame the victim and her parents; well, that is so gay!

    Tampa: 16th Worst Driving City

    AutoVantage released their yearly numbers on the worst driving cities in the US and, sadly, Tampa only ranked #16. Surely we can do better people? I know I do my part. Do you?

    I’m out there cutting people off, flicking off drivers, making sure pedestrians are so scared they have to run across the street. But are you? If not? Why not?

    We’ve won a Superbowl, the NHL Stanley Cup, numerous Arena League Championships, etc. Can’t we win this too?

    Put your Tampa pride to work, people!

    For the record, here’s the top 25, from the AP:

    1. Miami (45th)

    2.  New York (1st)

    3.  Boston (24th)

    4. Los Angeles (2nd)

    5. Washington, D.C. (27th)

    6. Phoenix (6th)

    7. Chicago (3rd)

    8. Sacramento, Calif. (37th)

    9. Philadelphia (5th)

    10. San Francisco (14th)

    11. Houston (4th)

    12. Atlanta (35th)

    13. Detroit (11th)

    14. Minneapolis-St. Paul (48th)

    15. Baltimore (18th)

    16. Tampa, Fla. (not in top 50)

    17. San Diego (8th)

    18. Cincinnati (not in top 50 – surprising)

    19. Cleveland (39th)

    20. Denver (25th)

    21. Dallas-Ft. Worth (9th and 19th respectively)

    22. St. Louis (not ranked in top 50)

    23. Seattle-Tacoma (23rd)

    24. Pittsburgh (not ranked in top 50 – surprising)

    25. Portland, Ore. (30th)

    I did a little digging, wondering if the higher ranked cities just means more people live there. This is not the case. Some cities are just more angry than others. In parentheses, I am showing the ranking of the city amongst the Top 50 most populous cities according to this site.

    Actually, looking at the numbers again, there is a pretty good corrolation (not perfect, but visible) between city size and road rage numbers. I guess I’d be interested in a per capita road rage number so see how that changes the order and what cities drop out and which are added.

    Inventory Costs & Unique Product

    Just coming back from a tradeshow, I had some thoughts on what it takes to start up a business and grow a business, looking at it from a pure cash flow basis.

    If you are just starting out and do not have a lot of money to spend, you are going to have to resign yourself to carrying items that everyone else carries. Usually from dropshippers. A dropshipper is a company who is willing to ship product for you. They stock, you sell, they ship. The profit margin here is usually low and the costs involved are higher on a per order basis, usually because of shipping fees, handling charges etc. So, you will have a hard time becoming competitive. But; the initial risk is very low.

    As you start stocking stuff, costs go up, but profits do as well. Since you buy in quantity, you can get better prices on items, controlling your shipping costs better and maintain a more unique type of product. Less competition always equals better profits.

    As you get bigger, you can consider bringing in a container from overseas. You’ll have to buy -a lot- of stuff to do this; but your products are (possibly) even more unique than the previous two options. The downside here is initial investment. It can be very high. I’d have to say (based upon the 2 containers I’ve brought in) about $20,000 each time. Plus it takes more time to get the stuff in stock. But when you do, you usually have plenty to sell. And the profit margins are higher (about 50% higher than stocking product) – but it can put a crimp in your cashflow if you are not careful.

    Here’s the quick and dirty rundown of the concepts here:

    • Dropshipping: Low Investment, High competition, Low Uniqueness of Product
    • Stocking: Medium Investment, Medium Competition, Medium (to High) Uniqueness of Product*
    • Importing Direct: Large Investment, Low Competition**, High Uniqueness of Product

    * If you are a good buyer and find the right vendors; it is entirely possible to get product that virtually no one else sells online. Thus a “high” uniqueness is very possible.

    ** Keep in mind that no matter what you sell, if its popular enough the big monsters of competition will always be there (Walmart, Home Depot, Target, etc), but you have less competition from other small to medium businesses. And that is key.

    Mother’s Day Shipping Insanity

    Last year, Mother’s Day week was our biggest non-christmas day in terms of both orders and number of boxes shipped out. That was 170 shipments out the door. Given our size, that’s pretty good, I’d say. And I kept saying last year that if we did about 80 orders/day on average, I would barely even try to grow the business, just maintain its current level and be perfectly happy there.

    This year; things have changed quite a bit. I’m being a little more ambitious. We’ve added several new lines of product (bathroom and a greatly expanded kitchen line as well) and while that hasn’t paid off (quite yet!), all the work done last year is paying off in droves. This week is, again, Mother’s Day. We shipped out 299 boxes on Monday and we did another 177 boxes today. For comparison, our busiest Christmas shipping day was 400 boxes. So, quite an improvement and an accomplishment!

    It was unfortunate that the Hardware Show was in Orlando this week, which made it virtually impossible to attend; but all in all, I think it was worth it. A very hectic work week though. Our new employee has been doing great (only here a month and knows location of just about everything that regularly sells). But still, I don’t think we are quite set up for such a volume of orders. Running around like headless chickens; that was everybody today and this week. Fun, fun!

    I’m hoping for a little bump from the new sites we’ve just put our products on; such as Sortprice.com (can be seen here and also here). We’ve also signed up with PriceGrabber. I’m not a big fan of comparison shopping sites (the conversions are low), but we got a bunch of free clicks and will see if the conversion rate is steady or somewhat decent. 2007 is shaping up to be a good year.

    Can’t do it without all the wonderful (sometimes not) customers that shop with us and visit. And especially to those that recommend us to their friends/family. I know we get a few of those!

    CashCall.Com: A Cycle of Poverty

    I saw an advertisement on TV the other day, while getting my car repaired. It was an advertisement by Cashcall.com; which offers signature loans to people with poor credit. For credibility, Gary Coleman was the spokesman, claiming that he got $5,000 wired to his checking account within days of filling out the application.

    At the end of the commercial; I noticed the small print on the advertisement saying that the interest rate was 99.25%. I dropped by jaw; that had to be a typo, but it is not. Curious, I check out their website and go to the interest rates page. I certainly hope people realize what they are getting themselves into when they sign this thing.

    Let’s do some of the math: a $5,075 loan (at about 60% interest). 84 payments of $254.03 each. Total repayment is over $21,000. In 7 years, you have to come up with over 4 times the original loan amount.

    For a $2,600 loan the payments are a little better, because of a shorter payoff term. You only payback $9,100 on your loan. 3 1/2 year payoff. For a $1,075 loan, the repayment is about $3,500.

    Amazingly, the site even says that the rates can change “without notice” – so are you basking in a 99.25% interest rate. Well, I guess they can up it to 199.25% tomorrow and double your payments on you. Cool deal!

    The repayment on these loans are just shocking. I’m wondering the what default rate is; given that these are loans for people with bad credit. I guess Gary Coleman’s penalty for not repaying his debt was being the spokesman for this commercial, because who would willingly apply their name to a company like this?

    Reuters Lies About Bush and Kyoto

    From a story today on Yahoo News:

    President George W. Bush pulled the United States out of Kyoto in 2001, arguing it would cost U.S. jobs and that it wrongly excluded 2012 goals for poorer nations such as China.

    Uh. Reuters, please do some fact checking. Bush did not pull the US out of Kyoto. Even Wikipedia gets this one right. This is really basic fact checking. How can we take you seriously as a “news” company if you can’t get recent history correct?

    Without further adieu, here is the Wikipedia article; that is mostly correct:

    On July 25, 1997, before the Kyoto Protocol was finalized (although it had been fully negotiated, and a penultimate draft was finished), the U.S. Senate unanimously passed by a 95–0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (S. Res. 98),[40][41] which stated the sense of the Senate was that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing as well as industrialized nations or “would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States”. On November 12, 1998, Vice President Al Gore symbolically signed the protocol. Both Gore and Senator Joseph Lieberman indicated that the protocol would not be acted upon in the Senate until there was participation by the developing nations.[42] The Clinton Administration never submitted the protocol to the Senate for ratification.

    So Bush couldn’t have possibly pulled the US from Kyoto; since Clinton never submitted the protocol to the Senate.

    Reuters, give truthful reporting a chance, will ya?