sbell111's misadventures

Sunday, August 28, 2005

well, it happened

The surgery went as scheduled on Wednesday. Everything went smooth, except the neurosurgeon had to reposition a bundle of nerves. When we spoke to him the following morning, he was surprised that I was doing OK and had walked around some. He did warn us that, due to inflammation, I was probably in for a great deal of leg pain. He didn't lie.

Between the leg pain, site pain, and the highs and lows from all the medications, I doubt that I've gotten more than an hour of sleep in a stretch. Cathy has been a trooper. If it wasn't for her care and sacrifice, I don't know what I would do.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Long time, no blog

Wow. Its been a while since I updated my blog.

On the medical front, the stress fracture in my back turned into spondylolisthesis. This basically means that one vertebra is falling off the one below. I guess that explains the pain. On the 24th, my neurosurgeon is going to do a decompressive lumbar laminectomy with fusion and posterior lumbar interbody fusion with pedicle screw fixation at L5-S1. Basically, he's going to cut out the back of two of my vertebrae and fuse them together. Then, he'll drill two holes in each of the vertebrae and set screws in them. He'll attach rods to the screws which will assist in holding the two vertebrae stable. In his words, most people are back to work within 12 to 16 weeks and that 80% are glad they had the procedure done. Hurray.

Needless to say, I've been slammed lately trying to get everything at work ready to hand off to my boss while I'm away.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I'm such a slacker.

I've been lax lately and haven't gotten around to updating my blog.

The creep that was selling fake rocks on ebay quit after just a few. He probably realized that its actual work to make them and they can be fairly expensive to make and ship. I'm still looking into whether I should change my sales price on the nanos. They are still selling fairly well at the current price.

My first pinecone auction ends tomorrow. I think bidding is going ok for it. It didn't turn out exactly as I planned. I was going to create the molds using these cool pinecone macrame beads, but I didn't like them once I saw them in person. Instead, I plucked a green pinecone off a tree. It is about two inches long and perfect for to hold the containers that I had chosen. The mold turned out well and the first couple that I cast turned out pretty good. My wife was impressed with the final product, so I guess that it's good.

On the medical front, I'm going to PT three times a week. I have manual therapy at 9:15, then hydrotherapy at 10:00. From there, I rush to the office. I can't tell that its reducing my pain, but I think my mobility and strength is improving. I have a surgical consultation on the 21st. I can't wait.

I took the Jeep in and had the transmission serviced. It's somewhat better, but I'm probably going to take it back again. Last week, I (finally) put new tires on it. When I bought it last year, it had your average goodyear wranglers on it. I wanted BFG AT TA KOs, but the wranglers had plenty of life in them, so I waited. Last month, I got a flat, so I took the opportunity to order my new tires.

This morning, I went out to my Jeep about 25 minutes before I had to be at the PT office. Darned if it didn't have a nearly-flat tire. A quick inspection found a 2 1/2 inch screw in it. I didn't feel like changing it, so I quickly patched the tire. Unfortunately, my air compressor rolled over and died some time ago, and I never replaced it. I ended up using my mountain bike's CO2 inflater. It took me 9 CO2 cartridges to get my tire back up on the tread. The valve was pretty icy by the time I was finished even though it was in the 80s. I eased it to the nearest gas station and topped it off. I made it to PT on-time.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Time marches on...

Not much news here. My schedule, health, and attitude have precluded any caching. I want to get out more, I'm just too lazy.

Some lout bought a geocaching rock from me a couple of weeks ago and is now selling a similar item on ebay. I don't think his looks as good and I doubt that he is using the hardeners that I started using this year to keep it from eroding, but I'm biased. I'll let it go a few weeks before determining whether to adjust my pricing strategy.

The guy who is selling the nano caches is undercutting my pricing, but charging more for shipping. Hopefully, geocachers won't fall for it for very long. I considered dropping my prices, but I'm going to wait. Until this week, mine have still sold enough to turn a profit on the listings. Plus, I use the containers in my acorns, so I'm not going to get stuck with a bunch of unsold ones.

I think that I am about a week and a half from casting my first fake pine cones. If all goes well, I'll do two types; a skinny one and a fat one. The originals are going to be shipped to me, so I'm getting really anxious. I think that I can mold good copies, but time will tell. I have some .25 ml plastic vials that might be the perfect container for these. They are small with a tight fitting lid that I think I can drill a hole in to allow the pinecones to be hung. I have a plan for painting them that I hope will turn out well.

On the medical front: I visited my orthopedist the other day. He declared that he had tried everything he could and referred me to a surgeon. He also ordered more PT. His thinking seemed to be 'it probably couldn't hurt'.

I also have to take my Jeep to the shop. The transmission is slipping in first gear. What a pain, I almost always have to go off on my dealership to keep them from screwing me. I'm stuck, of course, because there is only one Jeep dealer in town.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Moving on...

I decided to start a new post. The other, while completely true, was too depressing.

I received an email from a fellow cacher who wondered if I could make a fake fir cone cache using the same technique as the acorn. I hadn't thought of this before, but I'm going to give it a try. She agreed to send me a cone to work with. If it has not opened, I think it might be doable.

If it has opened already, I don't think it will be possible to create the mold. If I was able to mold it, I'd never get it out in one piece. If I didn't destroy the mold taking the original cone out of it, I'd definitely ruin it trying to get a plastic duplicate out.

I've tried unsuccessfully to make pine cone caches before. I tried to drill them out, but they fell apart. A few people have cut cones apart abd put them back together around a micro container. I don't think that I would be able to get a realistic looking cone using this technique. It would probably be damaged easily also.

If I can successfully mold cones, I'll only have to work out how to paint them to be somewhat convincing. Trial and error should solve this problem.

Incidently, the acorns turned out great. I was worried that the paint wouldn't hold up well so I put it to a test. I've had one riding around in my Jeep's console for a couple of weeks. It is in a cupholder that is partially full of change. Everytime I rummage around in there for exact change, I'm sure that it's paint job takes a beating. So far it has taken no damage.

I haven't done anything else regarding my online store. I don't know when I'll get that done. In the meantime, my stuff keeps selling through ebay. Also, people keep emailing me for multiple item purchases. The rocks continue to sell well, the acorns are getting alot of attention, and the golf balls are moving. Sales of the nano caches have slowed recently. Someone has started to sell similar items at a lower price. People apparently don't notice that his shipping charge is quite a bit higher and he doesn't have as good of a multi-item discount. I took the bison tubes off of ebay. Many other people were selling these. There was such a market glut that sales became erratic.

In order to keep selling geocaching stuff on ebay, it will be important to continually come up with things that other sellers don't offer. I'll have to keep an eye on my prices and keep my service quality high. I also will continue to not expect my Shipping charges to be a cost center. Generally, I price shipping charges at actual (average) shipping charges plus the cost of the box or padded envelope. I then round up slightly to cover the cost of incidental items such tape, labels, packing materials, and a small amount to cover 'service quality' expenses. SQ expenses are those unforseen expenses related to service excellence such as reshipping, partial refunds, comped items, etc that are important to maintaining prefect customer satisfaction. I also won't hesitate to copy someone else's product if I can do it with better quality and sell it at a cheaper price. (maybe I did get something out of my MBA)

Still life, and not much of it

Time marches on. It amazes me how little I get done now days. I fool myself into thinking that I am active when actually I'm just going through the motions. Most non-essential activities don't happen. Every day, I'm surprised that the back pain hasn't diminished. I am very much not happy.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Coming soon...

I am slowly moving forward with setting up a page to sell my geocaching stuff from. It will be found at http://sbell111store.blogspot.com/.

Until it is up and running, my items can be found on ebay. To see what items I'm currently selling, click on this link: http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQfgtpZ1QQfrppZ25QQsassZsbell111.

I hope that you will like my hand-made geocaching rocks, tiny magnetic 'nano' caches, golf ball caches, and (coming very soon) the Acorn.

Monday, May 02, 2005

More ouchies, a new tool from my Pop results in a new cache and more ebay and a few laughs

Its been a few weeks since I posted anything. Sometimes, time moves on and I just sit there watching it go by. I got another ESI the Friday before last and will receive the last one in the series this Friday. I don't think that they are helping. I hope they do, though. I sure don't want to have surgery.

A month or so ago, my Dad sent out a email to just about everybody in the family announcing that he doesn't want his tools anymore, offering them to all takers. I pretty much had all the tools that I wanted and would fit into the tiny space set aside in the garage for them, so I pretty much took a pass except for offering to give his drill press a home.

I didn't think much more about it. Having quite a few things on my plate, this issue was quickly forgotten. I also figured that it would go to one of my stepmother's son-in-laws. (Angst-filled story to be held for a later date, probably around Christmas-time.) It was with much surprise that I received an early morning telephone call from my brother a couple weeks ago, announcing that he would be bringing the tool by that morning. He was nice enough to unload the beast and put it in my garage by himself, since I had to work. (Note to myself: Do something nice for both he and my dad.)

A few days later, I took a walk on a little trail near my subdivision's golf course. Noticing some a few wayward golf balls, I recalled all the posts in the geocaching forums denouncing used golf balls in caches. It got me thinking. What about a cache that was INSIDE a golf ball? I've had these tiny 1.2ml nalgene chryogenic vials for a while. They are quite small and waterproof, but I hadn't found a good use for them. They are the perfect size to put into a golf ball.

When I went home, I paid a visit to my golf bag. My clubs haven't had any use since my accident last December, so the loss of a couple balls wasn't going to kill me. I clamped a ball into the drill press and drilled a hole almost all the way through it. Next, I drilled out the hole slightly larger for the fist half-inch or so. This allows the vial to be recessed into the golf ball with only a small sliver of the cap showing, just enough to unscrew the cap easily. I used a strong adhesive and glued the vial into the ball, careful to not get any adhesive on the cap. It turned out very well.

I have the perfect place to hide it. In plain site, just off the trail in an area bordering a golf course, but on the opposite side of the trail. I tossed one on ebay, too. A couple of people have also expressed interest in buying a number of these. Cool.

Last Saturday night, my wife and I saw Dana Carvey perform at a local college. Since its a Christian college, he had to tone his show way down, but he was still quite funny.