Coastal Stuff, Commentary

Goodbye Gracie

12.27.12 | Permalink | Comments Off on Goodbye Gracie

Gracie Mabel aka “mudpaws” Harding
May 14th, 2001 – December 27th, 2012
Wonderful Friend and Companion.
Gracie the Dog

Business, Coastal Stuff, Oddyssea

Our First Holiday Season as a Retailer

12.26.12 | Permalink | Comments Off on Our First Holiday Season as a Retailer
A Tale of Two Cities Title Image

This month has made the classic book opening of a Tale of Two Cities ring true “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Since Half Moon Bay is really a Halloween town, we thought that perhaps we’d seen the peak of the season in October, particularly with an overall sluggish November from a sales point of view (excepting Black Friday which was our busiest day ever.)

We learned a bunch over this season doing some things well by plan, some things well by accident, some things poorly by plan, and some things poorly by accident. I would rather minimize the accidents, happy and unhappy and maximize the planned events – that’s all part of learning though.

From a sales volume perspective, if an average month’s sales equals 1, then December surprised us by being almost 2. That’s nearly a 100% increase over a normal month. While this is a great turn of events for a month, it does have some downside on the product/inventory side when that increase was far greater than forecast, we were scrambling to replenish inventory mid-season – something we’ll try to minimize going forward.

From a labor perspective, we did not adequately prepare for the busy week days we saw during December. Next year, we will beef up our staffing to accommodate the relative increase in business activity. We did OK over the weekends and with special events (Night of Lights, Winter Art Walk, Christmas Eve, and weekends) but we struggled a bit with normal week days where the sales activity far eclipsed “normal” levels.

One thing we think we did right was to establish, maintain, and continue to build relationships with our visitors. The busy December we had would not have been possible without the many return visitors, many of them local to the coast, coming back to do their shopping with us. This leaves us feeling ultra grateful to the community for their tangible support and even more determined to keep moving along this path.

While the macro level economists are saying this was a “lack luster” holiday season, we see it as a great success at the micro level. Not only was Oddyssea busy, but we noticed many of the Main Street merchants with full stores, cafes, and restaurants and that’s a very good thing. We’ll share more when we know more. We certainly learn new things each and every day and that makes it fresh and fun!

Thanks to everyone who has visited the shop, for your encouragement and patronage, it is deeply appreciated.


What Should We Do About Guns?

12.19.12 | Permalink | 8 Comments

The recent incidents involving death by firearm have the nation all riled up. And rightfully so. Though this seems to be a cyclical kind of thing that ebbs and flows according to current events.

Disclosure: I am a firearm owner. That firearm is a Remington Express 870, 12 gauge, pump shotgun. Primarily, this weapon has been used to shoot clay pidgeons, but also has been fired in the general direction of pheasants and ducks to little effect. Let’s say marksmanship is not one of my towering strengths. This legally purchased and registered firearm is stored in my home unloaded with a trigger lock. In other words, I’m responsibly exercising my 2nd amendment right to bear arms.

Since we have repeatedly seen the dark side of weapons mixed with unstable people and have seen it recently with graphic and horrible results, it does bring up the question “Is this the kind of society we want to live in?” A valid question and most reasonable people would say a society where unreliable people can easily be armed with powerful weapons is a stupid society.

The problem we have at present is the 2nd amendment:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Prior writings of mine (around the Aurora incident for instance) have been misconstrued. My position is that the law of the land unambiguously permits unrestricted firearm ownership and thus we should not be surprised by these incidents and we should adjust our outlook on these incidents to reflect that reality. This latest incident has perhaps created an environment where a change of the law of the land is possible.

Fortunately, the Founders of the United States of America put in place a mechanism to change rules that have outlived their utility or are no longer valid in the present context through the amendment process. As a matter of fact, we’ve seen instances where amendments have been made and then a few short years later repealed as a whoopsie (see the 18th and 21st amendments for instance.)

Since the politicians will now blow a bunch of hot air around this subject, I suggest that we embark upon the simple process of amending the Constitution repealing the 2nd amendment and replacing it with the 28th amendment that has more relevance to the age we live in. (And while we’re at it, we should seriously consider repealing the 16th amendment too and replacing it with some caps about how much and from whom the federal government can tax.)

What would the 28th amendment look like? I’d propose something like this: “US Citizens, free from conviction of felony offense or diagnosed mental illness, have the right to own and use firearms for the purpose of recreation and defense. Citizens who choose to exercise these rights bear the full responsibility for the use, storage, and disposal of these firearms. Ownership of weapons with military capabilities or design will not be permitted for Citizens.”

This approach creates a test for ownership, excludes ownership from high risk individuals, places responsibility (legal and civil) on the owner throughout the firearm’s lifecycle, and removes weapons with military applications from the discussion.

Now, we need to be realistic about enforcement. The relatively few regulations we presently have around firearms are routinely flaunted by the criminal element and we have every reason to believe that new, stricter regulations will also be ignored. We have to implement strategies and penalties to correct this situation consistently at the local level.

Furthermore, while this kind of approach could stem the tide of new weapons, it does nothing to address the vast pool of firearms already in the wild so to speak. An acceleration of firearm buy-backs, retirement, and disabling (in the case of a collector who wants to keep say an M-16 as a display item.) Given the sheer number of firearms in existence, this would amount to a multi-generational effort to be able to demonstrate progress and reduce the weapons population to a more reasonable level.

To be clear, I’d like to preserve the right to bear arms. But the 2nd amendment as written needs to be revised for our present context. Comment away.


Seeking Infamy

12.18.12 | Permalink | Comments Off on Seeking Infamy

I’ve been waiting for some of the hyperbole and emotion around the most recent mass shooting incident to quiesce before posting this. Back when the Aurora shooting happened I wrote about some thoughts that devolved into a gun control discussion in the comments. Let’s set that issue aside for a future post.

I’d like to explore the other aspects of this which deal with the culture in which we live. You don’t have to like them, you don’t have to agree with them, but the facts of the matter are these:

  • The purchase and possession of guns is legal in the United States.
  • The number of incidents where multiple people are killed/injured by a person (often using guns) is increasingly frequent.
  • The amount of attention garnered by these incidents is directly proportional to the shock value of the incident.
  • 24×7 news coverage of these incidents are big business.

Given these facts, we should as a society own up to the fact that we are unwittingly helping to achieve the objectives of the people who would perpetrate such violence upon others. Our thirst for news as it happens, stoked by television coverage and social media, takes a horrible incident and makes it worse by doing the unintended – seeding the next incident.

A potential perpetrator, someone mentally unstable or ill, who doesn’t “fit in,” who is a “loner,” devoid (at least in their mind) of attention or notoriety, can simply tune in and see the easy formula to change this situation by going out in one event and causing as much shocking damage as possible. It’s effectively domestic terrorism where the terrorist is using our insatiable appetite for media against us.

So what should we do? First, stop watching the news as these events unfold. Seriously, stop. If we stop the ad revenue drops off and we’ll get different programming (admittedly it is likely to be more stupid reality television.) Secondly, we should stop talking about these incidents and the perpetrators on social media. It only feeds into what they wanted in the first place, attention. I won’t mention the details of the latest incident for just that reason.

There’s another benefit to this approach as well, people seem to be traumatized by the coverage/discussion and incapable of doing anything other than immerse themselves in the drama playing out from the incident. It frightens them, causes them to think, feel, and say things that they probably wouldn’t under normal circumstances. It activates the flight or fight mechanisms and titillates the voyeur in people. Don’t let this happen to you!

People want to focus on the guns, and that’s fine to have a serious discussion about them, but we’ve got to realize that guns are only a part of this and perhaps the least part. The deadliest one of these incidents in US history occurred not using guns but explosives. Google it, you’ll find it. People who are seeking this kind of attention will use any means at their disposal to increase the shock value and insure that they have their day of infamy.

I firmly believe that the way to curb future incidents is to deny the perpetrators what the want. Let’s not talk about them. Let’s ignore them completely. Let’s not give in to 24×7 coverage – this is not good media content. This is the core issue and we can stop seeding these by denying our collective attention.

Meanwhile, I can’t imagine what the victims of the latest incident are experiencing – there are no words. My deepest sympathies are extended to them all and I hope we can work to prevent future incidents like this.