Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Prepping, RV Style

You don't have to be some fringe lunatic to be a prepper. A lot of perfectly level headed folks are doing it. And you don't have to dig a big hole in the yard and stockpile it. IMHO everyone should have a "go" bag and a plan to egress, or exit, their home; especially a RV. Have undies, toothpaste, a bottle of water or two, medications, etc. (about a weeks worth) in a bag, ready to go. Have all your important papers in one place; we have a portable fire proof safe. There is more than the apocalypse to prep for. We have gate guards that have had to abandon their RV for all sorts of reasons; from floods to storms. We had to evacuate a gate due to a methane leak after the BOP failed. At the very least I would like for everyone to increase their situational awareness. Have a plan to get out should something happen. Finally, check ALL of your detectors and replace their batteries regularly.

Friday, March 25, 2016

A New Environment

The price of crude oil has recovered. Before you get all excited, let me say that that simply means it is no longer hovering at or below $30 a barrel. The bad news is that it seems to have found a ceiling of around $40. And, although its volatility seems to have settled a bit, it still has yet to level out. I stand by my prediction that it will take at least three years before things settle down. Unless there is some sort of apocalyptic event I also feel that the days of $100 a barrel (or more) oil are gone. The world of gate guarding is rapidly adapting to this new environment. I am very surprised that we have not seen more consolidation and bankruptcies with oil security businesses. Regardless, gate guards are feeling it as fewer and fewer gates are available and pay is starting to reflect the loss of demand. Twelve hour gates are paying $100 or less and 24 hour gates are trending downward. Gross pay for a 24 hour gate is actually lower because a lot of guards are sitting for longer periods between gate opportunities. How far are we from having security companies offering gates with hookups in exchange for your work? Sort of  like what we're seeing more and more in campground jobs. Scary, huh? It's past time to "batten down the hatches" in the gate guard business.

I leave you with this. Either Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be our next president. The ramifications of that on gate guarding should be a clarion call for all of us.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Flip Side of Retail

I have had mixed results trying to come up with ways to supplement my income. Most of my experiences have been negative. What I lack in business acumen I more than make up for in persistence. I seem to be able to come up with great ideas, but fail to bring them to fruition. Someone once said, "Do something you like or love and you'll never work a day a day in your life". As some of you know I have developed a fondness for drones. I have tried radio controlled helicopters and seemingly lack the coordination to fly them. Not so with drones, most of which have a 6 axis gyro system. Simply put, by nature they are very stable. It takes a bit to get the hang of it, but even I can fly them. There are three basic levels, or grades of drones; toy, hobby and professional. Before you laugh all this off, take note that the United States Air Force has sent recruiters into grade schools looking for future UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle or drone) pilots. It is one of the fastest growing career fields in the military. The hobby and professional level drones start at several hundred dollars per drone and climb (pardon the pun) from there. Other than a few basic models I have no desire to spend thousands of dollars on a drone. I also have no need to take professional pictures or to send a drone off on a GPS coordinated mission. As it turns out, like a lot of people, my interest was piqued by a drone I saw in a retail store. A lot of toy drones are sold this way and most are cheaply made in China. I bought and returned three to a store before I started serious research on the subject. After watching a ton of You Tube videos and spending hours researching, I finally found my way to Syma quadcopters. (quad, because of the number of propellers they have) I ended up purchasing Syma quadcopters because they support their products and parts are readily available. I'll not bore you, but here are other companies like Hubsan, UDI and World Tech Toys that equally support their products. Which brings me to my point, for those of you still awake out there. Most toy drones are manufactured in China and are cheaply made. They use brushless motors and cheap components, They can be fragile and their motors tend to burn out frequently. Unfortunately, it is at this point that a lot of folks return their toy drones. As a lot of people will tell you, I am always looking for a bargain. It was on one of these saving investigations that I stumbled on drones at cut rate prices on E Bay. Further research revealed that most of them were listed as inoperative, with some malady or another. It turns out that most of them were returns by dissatisfied customers. A light went off in my brain and I wondered how hard they would be to repair and resell? I purchased one and it arrived with a slightly dinged up propeller; but otherwise looked new. We changed out the propeller and it flew like a bird. Next came the big gamble. I contacted one of the resellers on E Bay and told him what I proposed to do. He wanted me to commit to a pallet load before making a deal! As most of you know, we live in a 5th wheel and that was not going to work. I finally got him to agree to send us a dozen to start out. I guess store personnel  are just as ignorant as their customers because we were able to get everyone of them flying in less than a half hour. Some were extremely simple (like knowing how to "pair" the transmitter with the drone) and none were more complicated than a motor replacement. We even had some that just had the propellers installed in the incorrect position! While both of us are good at making repairs, it is Missy who excels and enjoys repairing the drones. Next came the second big gamble; could we sell them? We spent the weekend at a local flea market and the answer is a decisive YES! We have tried a few other things at the flea market with little success, so this was a pleasant surprise. By Sunday afternoon we were sold out and had the frustrating experience of not being able to meet customer demand. Now, we just need to figure out how to work our regular job and get to the flea market on weekends.