Sunday, February 13, 2011

A turn for the pleasant

We finally got good weather today. According to my dashboard widget, the daily high today was 45 degrees F, which is not a temperature I would normally be happy with, yet after three weeks of sub freezing and often sub zero temperatures, it is a welcome change.

The funny thing about it is that it simply didn't feel that cold today. As such, I spent a good portion of the day outside. I don't really have anything to say here, but it's blog-a-day, even when I miss one here and there.

OH one thing I do have to say, welcome to the readers from MArooned, where JayG was so kind as to add me to his blogroll. Come on in, pull up a chair and stay a while.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fishkeeping is exhausting

I must say, I am impressed with ordering fish online. All of them arrived in good health, and all but one made it through the transition just fine. One of the cories got stuck in the bag on transfer and was injured somehow. He died in relatively short order, which makes me think it was probably spinal. The company has done well enough by me now to receive my recommendation. I heartily recommend Drs. Foster and Smith Aquatics for all your fishy needs.

One of my more unusual purchases was a Pygmy Pufferfish. This little fish is the most fascinating hunter I have ever seen, which is odd when one considers that he is less than an inch long. Considering he is a molluskivore, I stocked his tank with snails and let them run for a couple weeks. He has already dramatically thinned the population.

As I write this, I am watching him try to work his way into a particularly obstinate ramshorn. This snail is quite literally the size of his head, and not inclined towards being eaten. It is honestly as fierce a battle as a snail can be engaged in, at least until he gives up and wanders away in search of easier prey. (I actually rather appreciate this, as that snail is one of three breeding size)

I will see if I can get a video of his hunting style at some point. It's really quite fascinating.

The shrimp are most interesting after the light goes out. All three are slowly working their way across the back wall of the tank carefully picking off bits of algae that a scrubber didn't touch. They also seem to be able to stick to anything, in this case, sheet glass.

The danios have an interesting temperament change with the lights out. During the lights on, they all scatter about the tank, generally having a good time and not schooling even remotely. Lights out, and they are all arranged around the biggest one, moving in perfect unison around the tank.

The ram is just fun. Little skittish for the moment, but quickly realizing she's the biggest thing in the tank, and enjoying the associated immunities.

The cories are all three determinedly trying to get underneath one of the fake plants. I must only assume there's some tasty morsel down there. It is odd behavior for cats, and I will be curious to see how it ends.

It's 5 minutes to midnight, but I blogged today. Acclimating fish kinda sucks. Especially with 14 fish across four tanks in two different buildings. Geh. I don't wanna do that again. This week at least.


I need a bigger tank.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The customer isn't always right...

...but then again, neither is the seller. As something of an addendum to yesterday's post, I am expecting a new order tomorrow. FedEx tracking number and everything, rather fancy. Compared to my experiences with the old company, this is a dream of customer service. Most of the questions I had were answered quite well on the company site, and those that weren't were answered in about two minutes with customer service. I found it to be a frankly enjoyable customer service experience.

The difference in service between a dissatisfied customer and a satisfied one can be very small. One email in the right place, or one hold that didn't last very long, can turn an experience around. The service with the first company wasn't bad. It was lacking in a couple small areas, like having everyone on staff able to answer some basic questions, and not requiring lengthy holds between tries at finding someone who could help.

This new company didn't have those troubles. The customer testimonials both on their site and elsewhere speak not only of very healthy fish, but of good customer service. It is such a little thing, but can really turn a company around. I am sure that the product from both these companies is essentially equivalent. The new company ended up being somewhat more expensive. Yet, in future, I'm going to go to this new company first, because that extra money is worth not having to go through that customer service experience again.

In the assorted jobs I have held, three have been customer service. I have been a gem salesman, a receptionist, and I have cleared snowy sidewalks. In each, making sure the customer is happy and satisfied tends to be difficult. There are so many little factors at play. It's a very difficult job. As such, I really appreciate it when a company has good customer service. It's not an easy thing to do, and the effort is appreciated.

In other news, Laser Tag was much fun, though I tend to try to aim with guns without sights across a big room. Note to self, when there is no punishment for spraying lasers everywhere there might be an enemy, just do it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


So, that bit about fish coming in today? Yeah. Didn't happen. I failed to notice that overnight temperatures were supposed to drop as low as -22 degrees. This is generally a good reason to not ship fish. Fish that spend their lives never below 72 don't tend to take well to temperatures that low.

I honestly appreciate that the company's marine biologists delayed the order. I would have hated to open up a package of fishcicles. The problem comes from the fact that they didn't bother to tell me they had delayed my order. I made extensive arrangements to receive fish today, and wasted no small bit of time making said arrangements. This wasted the time of a few other people as well, as a friend had offered to help with getting the fish settled, the receiving department was expecting them, and started making inquiries when they didn't turn up, and the science office, who were supposed to receive the package, did much the same.

This is a forgivable lapse. The company is high output, and keeping track of that many notices can be difficult, especially as this was the second weather delay. The real problem is that when I called up to reschedule delivery (because of classes, receiving can be rather difficult for me) the livestock representative mentioned that a few of my fish were actually out of stock, and would probably be so for some time. If it was a single danio, or cory, or other fish I could get anywhere, i wouldn't have minded terribly, and removed them from the order. Even if one of the more specialty fish wasn't in, I would probably have the order go through anyway.

As is, all three specialty fish on the order, being the bolivian ram, bristlenose pleco, and dwarf puffer, were out of stock. Everything else on the order was essentially a case of "eh, I'm already paying shipping, I might as well get these while I'm at it." That's all that was left of the order. I canceled the order.

I don't quite understand how this makes sense. Every fish I ordered was listed as in stock when I put the order in. At the moment I submitted the order, I had purchased fish. Yet, the company is telling me that they do not have the fish that I bought. To me, this is either a case of them selling me a fish they did not have, or selling someone else my fish, which is another case of them selling a fish they did not have.

Everything I have heard about this company's fish is excellent. They seem to treat their livestock very well, and ship carefully. Their prices are fantastic. My problem is in the way they are running their business. I will probably not order from them again.

This may be an irrational response, as the recent ill weather has probably put them at a disadvantage, and hurt some of their organization. However, on a visceral level, I am dissatisfied with their service. It may come to be in future that comparatively, their service is acceptable, (there are very few online live fish distributors I have found) but until that time, I will not order again. I placed an order at a rival company, at a 40% cost increase, by merit of bad customer service. That's not a good result by either my or their standards. It is merely better than waiting weeks for fish to come available.

In other news, I am going Laser Tagging with my wing tonight. Should be a fun time.

P.S. I specifically have not included the name of this company. I don't want my dissatisfaction to reflect on the company as a whole. This is just reflections on a bad customer service experience.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Missed a day there. No matter, I'll just keep going now. Part of the reason yesterday's regularly scheduled programming was absent was my discovery of the web-comic "Digger," a thought provoking, entertaining, and generally good read. It has some of the most well developed and full characters I've read, and a fairly consistent fantasy world of interesting sensibilities. The mythologies are complex and well made, and the story is the sort to keep you reading. Give it a look. Shadowchild is awesome.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Thing a day 1

I could write about irritating bureaucratic policies here. I could write about homework. I could write about the refurbishment of the Mosin. I could try and tell a story about an interesting camping experience. I could write about Boy Scouting. I can't make any of it work. hmmm

The thing really on my mind right now is the US treatment of Hosni Mubarak. At first, I was pleased about the affair; by all accounts he wasn't much of one for personal liberties. That opinion started to flag when I considered the fact that we have been allied closely with Mubarak for the last 25 years. Whether or not we should have been is neither here nor there. As is, once again we have our sitting president failing to uphold our alliance with one of the very few friendly Middle Eastern powers. Mubarak may not be the nicest guy on the block, but those poised to take power in the Muslim world are distinctly Not Our Friends. As such, it is probably in the best interest of US foreign policy to NOT hang this guy out to dry. Whether or not you approve of Mubarak is not the question. The same thing happened before with the Shah in Iran. Look where that's left us.

Honestly, I don't like Mubarak. He's doing some decidedly creepy things in the interest of preserving order, and generally is somewhat objectionable. This to me though is more incentive for the US to uphold it's agreements, as we can restore order in manners not requiring his unpleasant methods. For more on the subject, is of interest.

Yay, I managed to keep up thing a day for the first day!

Saturday, February 5, 2011


On another note... Blogroll additions!

Jay G over at for all sorts of entertainment and insight;

MauserMedic at for Ugly Gun Sunday and interesting military posting;

Breda over at for bacon blogging, insights, and interesting stories;

Phlegmfatale at for a wide range of topics from healthcare to canning;

Tam over at for something to think about daily;

Labrat and Stingray over at for science, hilarity, and snark;

OldNFO at for thought provoking posts, sincerity, and generally good things.

All are well worth reading. There's something here for most people.

Try Something New

I think I’m going to try something a little different for a while with this. I’m going to just post something every day, if I can. May not be something of particular substance, but hopefully it’ll make me post more often.

In terms of gunnie goodness, being 18 now has led to some rather nice new acquisitions. I am currently looking at my new Savage BTVS .22 with NcSTAR 3-9X40 scope, with a 1938 Mosin-Nagant 91-30 downstairs. Finding a suitable place to shoot them is another question. I’ve found a place up in Kenosha, WI that may suit the purpose. Dad and I may need to make an expedition there in the near future.

In terms of life in general, it’s pretty good.

In terms of homework…. It is.

I made the mistake of trying to order fish online during the middle of a blizzard. The staff marine biologists politely informed me that my shipment would be delayed. This is probably smart. As is, I am getting 4 peppered cories, 3 amano shrimp, 2 zebra danios, and a partridge in a pear tree…. I mean Bolivian ram, and an Indian dwarf puffer on Wednesday. This is exciting. For those of you who do not know, which is probably all of you, I keep tropical fish. It’s fun.

I think this concludes tonight’s writing. See y’all tomorrow.