Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Time to get to work!

Just returned from a golf trip to Sun Peaks Resort, near Kamloops B.C., and so far all our time since leaving home has been spent having fun. See Sandy's blog at http://canusamextravels.blogspot.com
Now it's time to get to work on the website. One of the first things we need to figure out is how to change our telephone help service. This aspect of the website hasn't been working that well as it seems every time the phone rings with a client needing help, I'm not in a good position to take the call, like driving, or visiting with someone, or I'm sleeping when the call comes in from an earlier time zone.
How it has worked before is when a call comes in, I answer it, or let it go to voicemail so that I can call the client back from a land line. Then I call back, get all the information from them, including credit card information, and then we begin timing the call when we get in to the client's question. After the call is finished, we would process payment through our other company's card terminal and transfer the funds to electrical-online.com. Now that we don't have a land line, or the other business, or a terminal now, this obviously won't work.
I'm not so sure the phone help is valuable, as many times I end up needing to create a diagram or drawing to get the question answered. I'm thinking that a timed session using chat software may be more useful and use a type of: "the electrician is in" button on the site to show when I'm online and available for a help chat. Any ideas out there? Feel free to drop me a line at terry@electrical-online.com if you have a suggestion.
Until next time.
Terry Peterman
The Internet Electrician

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Jumping from a functioning airplane, why you ask?

What would you do after selling your business and were getting ready to begin the next phase of your life? I chose to tempt fate and find a way to possibly end mine. One of the apprentices in our company is an accomplished sky-diver and has done this silly stunt hundreds of times, so she thought that it would be a great team-building exercise for the Olds Electric team. Many signed up (or did Cindy sign them up initially?), but few carried it through to the end, or what could have been the end. The D-day was set for September 14, 2008, and Jody needed the commitment. I struggled with this in a large way, but my sister Judy, always game for new experiences, which has also included Bungee Jumping, said she would go if I did, but if I didn't, she wouldn't go. Great. Now some peer / sibling pressure to add to the decision process. I said OK, and the die was cast.

The day started with gathering at the small airport outside of Innisfail Alberta. We milled around for a while until the short lesson in the classroom, followed by flopping around on the floor of the preparation room pretending to be flying towards earth at upwards of 220 km/hr. (130+ miles/hr.) We chose the tandem jump for our first dive. This is where you jump from 10,000 feet, strapped to the guy behind you called the: "Tandem Master". This kind of bothered me as I don't usually do any recreational activities in tight jumpsuits with another person of the same sex buckled tightly to my back! (insert the famous Seinfeld homosexual disclaimer tag line, "not that there's anything wrong with that") It's just not for me. The other choice is a solo jump from only (only?) 4000 feet, with little or no free fall experience. We felt that if this was to be our first, and if it turned out to be the last time for this stunt, then why not get the full meal deal and go from the higher height. I reasoned that I would make the same hole in the earth reaching maximum speed from either height, so with a quick check for a trap door in the rear of the suit and finding none, it was all systems go. K.K, my Tandem Master likely prefers females for these jumps as well, so this particular fear was no longer a factor.
There are some procedures that you are taught to perform after hurling out of the airplane, and I thought that I would be OK with remembering them and how to properly perform them. They involve checking your altimeter, and then reaching for the rip cord to ensure that it's there, and when you get to about 6500 feet, you should again reach for the rip cord and pull it out for a chute opening of around 6000 feet. If you forget any of these steps, that's what the Tandem Master is there for. He doesn't want to die either, so he will pull the cord if you don't. This is good, because in the words of K.K., I was fairly unresponsive for about 3000 feet of free fall, so he slapped my hand away from grappling for the cord after I saw the 6500 foot mark come and go, so he pulled the cord for us. Poof, jerk, then silence. Wow,.... that's what I signed up for! Now it was quiet, the view incredible, and we drifted safely and silently towards the airport.

Once the chute is open the fear is gone and I enjoyed the ride down. When we were close to the landing area, we did a couple of spins left, then right, which left me quite nauseated and looking forward to getting back on the ground. I was instructed to lift my legs for the landing, but if we were coming in slow enough to land on our feet he would let me know at the last minute to stand up. I lifted my legs, but when he said stand up, I didn't, and we skidded to a stop on our buts.

All in all, it was a great experience, and thank-you Jody for talking me in to it.

Will I do it again? I don't think so. For me it was one of those "been there, done that" things, and I won't make a sport of it. It was scary, but fun. I'm also glad that I shared the experience with my sister Judy. She probably will do it again, only likely with her son Greg.
Until next time.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Let's Make a Deal!

After a fairly long, drawn-out, and difficult struggle, the sale of our electrical contracting business is complete! As of this past Friday, Sandy and I are now full-time R.V.’ers, and are working full-time on the website, http://www.electrical-online.com/. Our plans are in motion, and we are looking forward to enhancing our on-line services, and to improving the content on our site.

The sale of the business has been in the discussion and planning stages for well over a year now, and with us and the purchasers in full agreement over almost all of the details, including the purchase prices of the 2-part sale (the buildings and the business), it was surprising how difficult the process was, not within the affected parties, but with the legal wrangling, and then the financing from the bank. The first stumbling block was the lawyer for the purchasers. I’m not sure if he was just too busy, or if he was out of his comfort zone with a “share sale” all tied in with a real-estate purchase that was to close at the same time, but the delays that he caused were extremely frustrating for all parties involved. Our lawyer was fantastic throughout the process for us, and held the deal together, coming up with a 23rd hour solution that saved the entire process from collapse.

The deal was supposed to close on June 30, 2008, so all planning was pointed at that closing date, including a 2 day shut-down of operations to take a detailed inventory of the shop, vehicles, and jobsites. Then with the delays inflicted by the purchasers’ lawyer, it became apparent that we needed a new target date. We were hopeful that it would only be a week or two, but soon we set a realistic new closing date of July 31, 2008. With the “offers to purchase” now signed and in place, and closing in on the new deadline, the documents were ready to take to the bank. Verbal approval of the financing had been given by the bank, but needed: “one or two days” to run it through the official approval process.

After waiting to hear back from the bank for over a week, and us amending the target dates on the offers to purchase, we still had no word from the bank. Then came the answer that no one expected. The bank reneged on the down-payment requirements and now were asking for over twice as much cash up front, only financing a small portion of the amount required. The deal was in serious trouble, to say the least. The purchasers found a solution however, and off to the “people upstairs” for the rubber stamp of approval, and a promise that we would have a letter to take to our lawyer, ensuring that the financing was in place and the deal was saved. After yet another week, we still had no letter, and then another road block was erected by the bank. In the meantime, since July 31 (which we had named “the effective sale date”), the purchasers assumed the role of new owners, and had moved in to the living quarters of the business (with our blessing, but against our legal advise).

To make a long story even longer, time marched on and with the ever changing closing date now moved to August 31, 2008, we still weren’t sure what was going to happen. Sandy and I had sold or given away all of our surplus possessions, stored things we couldn’t divest of, and had moved everything else in to our motor home at our lake property. The new owners were all settled in with no place to return to, having sold their home back in June. To go back now seemed unthinkable, unbearable, yet inevitable. Then our lawyer, with less that 24 hours to disaster, came up with another option that involved Sandy and I providing the financing for the deal and leaving the bank to wonder what happened. Our lawyer drew up the revised offers to purchase, and the papers were signed before the deadline, and a new closing date of September 4, 2008 was established. Of course, the other lawyer missed the deadline by about 27 hours, but by 3:00 P.M. on September 5, the deal was done. What a ride!

Sorry to bore you with the details, but I needed to capture the process for future reference, so what better way than to use my blog? Now, as I have promised before, but failed miserably, I will be making more frequent entries. Way more. Really!

Sandy and I are looking so forward to the next phase of our lives, and the time is now! We will be heading out west to British Columbia for a month or so, starting around the 22nd of September. Then late October, or early November we will head south down the Pacific coast with a meandering path that will eventually get us to southern tip of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. Sandy is going to start a blog that will document our travels, complete with pictures or video where necessary. I will up-date you with the location and a link to it when we get that in place.

We plan to be very focussed on the website, improving the content, and answering the client questions on a regular basis.

Let’s get it started!