Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Some things I've learned...'bout scrappin.

So...I work part time at an LSS. LOVE IT. Love the paper. Love the ribbons. Love opening all the boxes and seeing what's new. Love my boss...nice lady who makes me feel needed.

Anyway...she got hired to do an entire scrapbook for a lady for Christmas who wants to give it as a gift to her son. I guess she did the same thing last year for a different son.

Lady doesn't want the album to be "pimped out." Just wants it simple and nice. (And, since it's for a 20 year old male, NOT froofy.)

Lady provides a STACK of 4x6 photos. Not even GOOD photos. Red eyes in a lot of them. Many out of focus. Some just random.

Anyway, boss asks me to help. (Our store does a HUGE amount of printing Christmas cards and wedding invites, so she was swamped.)

How hard can it be, right? Lady's not picky...not a scrapper. Should be able to just "slam" it out, right?

Oh. My. Heck.

Scrapping your average 4x6 photos is HARD.

Really, REALLY hard.

I am SO used to seeing (and using) nice, cropped photos that are sized for the layout design that I think I probably burned a few circuits trying to make my asthetics and the project parameters copacetic.

The number of photos per layout varied. Most groupings needed to be stretched out (or crammed into) a 2 page 12x12 spread. EVERY layout was a multiple photo layout. ALL the photos were 4x6. And there was NO journaling, NO outside information to work with. Occasionally I could use a title if one was included with the photo set.

The pages were plaaaaiiin. No flowers, very little ribbon and only a smattering of rubons. Most chipboard was used for titles...and hand die cut by little 'ol me...not premade.

The result was very "old-school."

Not that there's anything wrong with that....but I hadn't realized how spoiled I had become....with all my photo editing and cute trendy product. Without all that the result was....

Ugh.

Ugh for me, anyway. Not my style. Not fulfilling for me in a creative sense. And VERY restrictive.

But it is how the vast majority of people out there scrap.

4 x 6 photos. Lots per page. Grouped by events. Minimum embellishment.

And it. is. HARD.

Who'da thunk?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Some Thoughts on Service...

So...I do the Black Friday thing. It's like a tradition now. Even though I didn't go with a specific agenda this year, I still managed to spend waaaayyyy too much money.

Now, we all know that Black Friday is not for the weak of heart. Or of toes. (Mine were smooshed more often than I can count.) But STILL, it would be nice if the retailers on whom we drop all of our hard earned cash on would try to make the experience as pleasant as possible.

A girl can dream, right?

Let me tell ya a little story....

DH and I go to Circuit City and manage to find something on my daughter's list. We find what appears to be a short line...only to discover that it's short because it also happens to be the desk where they send everyone with a question. The poor, over-tired, over-worked cashiers are not only dealing with people grumpy because the 15 computers that they stocked for 299 were sold hours ago, they're also dealing with people grumpy because the register line is barely moving BECAUSE of all the grumpy people who thought they could score a screamin' deal without freezing their buns off.

Anyway, two people ahead of us is a man who appears to be either from India or Pakistan who speaks with an accent in a very soft voice. Apparently he has just purchased a computer. He gets ready to leave...and decides he wants a printer (one of the specials that day is that you can get a printer that is free (*after rebate) if you purchase a certain computer.)

Well, he proceeds to tell this to the cashier, who has already moved onto another customer. The cashier, obviously overtired and looking forward to working another 12 hours that day (true story!) seems to forget all manners and says "WHAT? WHAT?" to the overly quiet customer. (I commented on this to my DH...joking that maybe the cashier had been raised in a barn...only to discover a little later that we had personal knowledge that this was not the case.)

Anyway, the man finally communicates to the cashier that he wants the printer. The cashier grabs a Lexmark printer and rings it into the computer.

"No," says the customer, "I want the HP one."

Insert *heavy sigh* here.

Cashier grabs HP printer, rings it into the register, and tells customer that it is 89 dollars.

"Oh, no," says the customer, "give me the Lexmark printer."

Cashier trys, and fails, not to roll his eyes.

Cashier takes Lexmark printer, rings it in and tells customer that it is also 80-ish dollars.

"It is free after rebate?" asks customer.

"Yep." replies cashier.

"Is there a rebate with the HP printer?"

"I dunno," replies cashier. He turns to co-worker and asks about rebate. Co-worker says, "Not sure. Sometimes the HP ones have a $50 dollar rebate, but I don't know."

Cashier turns to customer and says, "Yeah, it has a 50 dollar rebate."

(I turn to look at DH, because that's not how I heard it from the co-worker.)

"Ok, give me the HP printer," says customer.

Cashier rings in printer, customer pays for the printer. Cashier stands, staring at the reciept printer for a minute and finally says...."It's not printing a rebate. I guess it doesn't have one."

"Well then," says customer, "I don't want this one. I want the Lexmark one."

"Sorry," says the cashier, "but we're not doing returns today. You'll have to come back tomorrow."

**************************************

Now if it had been ME, I would have pitched a fit to put Whitney Houston to shame. This customer, however, after a brief protest, left with his unwanted merchandise.

I noticed that the cashier failed to mention their 15% restocking fee.....

As we were paying for our merchandise, the cashier looked at my dh's ID and said, "I think I know you!" Turns out cashier is dh's cousin that grew up out of state.

In Washington, as it turns out, and not in a barn. ;)

Now, I KNOW that there are plenty of dishonest people out there, which is why it is harder and harder to return or exchange merchandise.

And I KNOW that it was very, very busy at Circuit City on Black Friday, which is probably why they didn't want cashiers tied up with returns.

But considering the circumstances, it seems an exception should have been made. It seems that not only is the customer no longer "right," but that they are an entity to be tolerated and whipped into submission to a plethora of rules and regulations.

Sorta takes the fun out of it all.

However, it would probably take a disaster of mythic proportions to stop me from shopping all together.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Speaking of drama....

Aforementioned teenage daughter is going to give me an ulcer.

Daughter is 14. Pretty. Attracts boys like bees to honey. (And, believe it or not, that's not even my main worry.)

Daughter is creative. Her English teachers rave about her writing ability. She was one of 2 students in her middle school last year to score full marks on a nationally graded essay. She's one of a handful of students in the entire high school (and the only freshman) to be ranked "fluent" in writing. Daugther also loves to draw and is especially good with manga. She is also the darling of her art class. The other kids call her Anime.

Daughter is SMART. Was in the gifted program. Scores in the top ten percent nationally on all standardized tests. (The complete battery. Not just one or two sections.)

Daughter just got a 2.7 on her first offical high school report card.

I do NOT know what to do with this child.

She is bright, caring, SO good with her younger siblings. She is sweet and stays out of trouble.

And she is the laziest little !@#$ when it comes to getting her homework done.

We had this problem in middle school, too. It seems that, no matter how much I try to impress upon her that it is HER future she's affecting, she doesn't seem to grasp the concept.

She wants to be a graphic designer when she grows up. And she could do it too.

But at the rate she's going, she'll also have to do it with thousands of dollars in student loans.

And that just sucks.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Drama Drama Drama

No, this thread isn't about my teenage daughter.

Though it could be.

She is quite dramatic.

No, THIS thread is all about the drama in the scrapbook "industry."

Typing the word "industry" makes me cringe a little. It makes Scrapbooking sound like Microsoft.

Or something.

Anyway...there has been MUCH drama abounding lately.

To sum up:

1) It is extremely stupid to hold a "contest" (and I'm using this word lightly) and not check your entries for compliance to your own contest rules. Creating Keepsakes, (if you're listening, which I doubt, because I have a very firm mental picture of y'all with your fingers in your ears and your eyes squinshed shut chanting "I can't heeeeaaarrr you!"), you can't post contest rules, clearly DETAIL those rules in a public forum, and then chose to ignore them when it suits your purpose. Much drama will ensue. (See? Drama. The running theme here.)

2) It is impossible to take a picture of yourself on a river run from the shore while being buffetted down rapids going at a hearty clip. Especially if both hands are on your oar. Especially if it's in the exact same spot that the professional hired photographer takes her pictures. Especially if the mad photoshop skills it would take to blend a series of blurry, imperfect photographs aren't sufficient to erase a few pounds and clone out a moustache. Positing such an implausible scenario will cause much detective work and endless drama. And if the drama gets to be too much, don't storm out in a blaze of glory claiming that you were misconstrued. It won't work. It will just cause MORE drama.

3) It is a bad idea to manage a message board and violate your own rules. Especially if your board has a "glitch" that allows people to see your potty mouth. Especially if it also allows people to read you possibly handing out personal member information. There will be ...you guessed it...drama. People will dramatically email your boss. Your boss will have to post on your board trying to appease the dramatic and angered masses. And I'm guessing he'll be none to pleased about it.

This is the scrapbooking "industry." It is NOT "scrapbooking." When did scrapbooking start becoming "These are the Days of our Acid-Free Lives?"

Sigh. I remember when we cut out photo mats with fancy sissors, sneezed some stickers around them and called it a day. HOF was the shirtless dude on Baywatch and smack was something you did with your lips after you ate something tasty.

Those were the days.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Confessions of a Reformed Scrap Snob.

A few weeks ago, there was a Scrap Expo in town. Anyone who knows me KNOWS that I'll be there unless prevented from going by a major natural disaster. And we never have hurricanes in Utah....

Well, most people who know me know I also hate going places alone. It's mostly because I hate driving, period. I always try to get someone to go with me so I don't have to drive.

Well, on this particular occasion I invited my sister. Now my sister has scrapbooked on occasion, but has never developed my enthusiasm (read "obssession") for the hobby and usually declines to scrap with me.

Recently said sister went on a cruise. And has lots of cool, cruise photos. And has decided she would like them scrapbooked. So she agreed to go (and drive) on the condition I would work on her album with her.

So we go to the expo. I bring my travel stash but don't have anything that I think would go with her photos. So we start wandering the booths looking for things we could use. Right away she finds some fish stickers and thinks they would work on one of the ocean pages.

"Uh," I say, "I don't really use stickers. Like that. With animals. Maybe letter stickers. But not really fish ones."

"Oh!" says sister. "Stickers aren't cool anymore?"

"Ummm....not really. Well, I mean, I don't use them, but if you want to, you can. I mean, it is your album."

"Noooo," says sister. "I want it to be cute."

So we look around some more and score some awesome Scenic Route chipboard letters for 2 dollars each. While I'm standing in line to buy more MME buttons than one person could ever use, sister goes and looks at the next booth.

And comes back with a laser-cut Cancun title with a silver dolphin on it.

"Look!" she says. "I thought this would be good for the Cancun page."

"Uh, OK." I say. "I don't really use stuff like that, but we could make it work."

"Oh," says sister. "Well, maybe I'll give it to Stephanie. She can use it on her album."

Finally we get settled and sister watches while I do this semi-artsy page for her trip to Hell. (It's a place. Really. Some guy was exploring it and said Oh HELL! and the name stuck.) Sister seems to like that page ok. Then I start working on her Margaritaville photos and pull out my sacred stash of Foofala tropical colored paper and my Queen and Co felt trim. I add some of my newly acquired buttons for good measure and am really liking the way it's turning out.

Sister seems underwhelmed. She's not happy about a"hole" in my design. And about the fact that by this point we've spent about $130 and have only 2 layouts to show for it.

Fast forward two weeks later. Sister tells me she's going to Roberts to get some more paper for her album for an upcoming crop. "Maybe I can find some life-preserver paper and we can put Stephanie's and my photos in the holes. I'm going to look for some beach paper and some other stuff I can use too." Sister seems excited to get her album going.

And all I'm thinking is..."Life preserver paper???? How am I going to make THAT cute?"

And it hits me. I am a scrapbook snob. And I don't think I like it.

Who am I to look down my nose at the things my sister wants to include in her album? Why does it matter to ME what things she wants to put on HER page?

When did it become SO important that the pages I create are "trendy" and use the latest product? Why do I worry if my layouts are "magazine worthy?" I don't even submit! Why does the thought of having to use themed paper send cold shivers down my spine?

Now, I'm not going to change the way I scrap, because I have my own style and I enjoy my pages. But I AM going to be more aware of how my attitudes might affect others with different likes and dislikes than mine. I AM going to leave MY own preferences at the door and help my sister create an album that SHE enjoys. And I AM going to appreciate other people's creations for what they are: an expression of themselves.

I WILL scrap with the life-preserver paper. And I'm gonna LIKE it! :D

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Kids.


Ok...I'd like to share with you some little tidbits of wisdom I have gleaned from my children and from the children I teach. Pay close attention....there will be a test.

My dd while watching a nursing mother: "My mom has some of those, but she doesn't use them any more!"

A preschooler watching me do jumping jacks: "My mom says that I won't get big boobs until I'm OLDER!"

A preschooler after being told about the nativity: "I already know that! We have the movie."

A little guy digging in the sand near me today: "I can't tell you what I'm doing...it's a LOOONG story. *pause* I'm making nothing."

A little guy after I had eaten some onions: "Miss Meridith, WHAT did you HAVE for LUNCH?"

My dd after I slipped on the stairs and told her I lost my balance: "That's ok, mommy, I'll help you find it."

Me at the doctor's office yesterday with my sons: "K, guys, they're going to check your peepers." DS (looking horrified) "MOM! Don't say that." Me (confused) *pause* *think* "Your EYES, Isaac, your EYES."

Kids crack me up. I never know what's going to come out of their mouths.

Maybe I identify with them. :D

Monday, September 10, 2007

I am a consumer...hear me roar!

I've been thinking about marketing.

Specifically, marketing to the scrapbooking consumer.

More specifically, the role of the scrapbook celebrity in marketing to the scrapbooking consumer.

The "scrap celeb" is a bizarre phenomenom to the world of scrapbooking. When I tole painted, I wasn't innundated with "tole celebs..." (well, there IS Donna Dewberry, but never once did I see her at a craft store signing her books while a gaggle of frantic women jocky for best photo position.) And to be honest, Donna probably wouldn't have made a good scrap celeb, anyway. First of all, she's not "hip." She doesn't use words like "uber" or "rawks." She doesn't call tole painting "life art" and she doesn't pretend that tole painting is going to revolutionize your life.

Second, she's, well, not 20. She doesn't have a short, spiky hairstyle or a nose ring. She may not even know how to clone out a blemish in Photoshop to save her life.

Scrapbooking, as a industry, is just...well, wierd. All of a sudden, it should matter WHO does a company's layout just as much as how well it is done. Design teams are filled with "names" (aka people who have won a major contest at some point...or who are very good at calling attention to themselves)..or at the very least, good looking people who at least LOOK good on your message board.

Now I, personally, have never bought a product because Lisa Bearnson used it...or Heidi Swapp made it, or Ali Edwards blogged about it. I HAVE bought products I've heard about online...but only because I thought they'd be something I could use.

I imagine MOST scrappers are the same way. We buy what we like. It doesn't matter if the layout in the ad was created by Debbie Designer or Quasimodo...as long as it's a good layout. My decision to buy the product is more influenced by seeing designs that inspire me to try the product than by who created the designs.

Something happened recently that made me think that the industry, at least, thinks that we DO care if the design teams are populated with young, attractive people who give good face. And it broke my heart...because a few people that I really like were caught in the crossfire.

If this trend continues...if companies start to market people more than their products, well, I'm not interested. I'm not scrapping pictures of your design team, I'm scrapping pictures of my family. I don't CARE who designs your products or your samples, as long as they are GOOD products or samples.

I don't want to feel manipulated, condescended to or marketed to. I want to feel respected. I want companies to realize that my money (and that of others like me) is what keeps them afloat. I want them to treat me as a capable, thinking adult who doesn't need to be sold friends. I'm perfectly capable of deciding whether or not I like a product or service without some perky, preppy little person pimping it out in their blogs or posts.

There's been speculation that a well known scrapbooker who has disappeared from the industry may have not continued to get work because she didn't fit that perky, young, skinny, hip mold.

If that's indeed true, I'm having none of it. I'm a one-woman boycott of companies that decide your worth as a professional scrapbooker is based more on your marketability than your ability. It's stupid and it makes no sense. When did scrapbooking become SO much about someone else's story? I *thought* it was about my story and the stories of those I choose to scrap about...not about the person who designed my product or who gave me an idea how to use it.

Probably a lot of this rant makes no sense without its proper context, which, unfortunately, I'm not at liberty to share. Just know that decisions are being made on criteria that have nothing to do with talent, dedication, or loyalty.

With that, I'm off to bed. Whether or not it makes sense to you, I, at least, feel a little better.

It's just like a trainwreck...

You know you shouldn't watch, but you just can't help yourself.

I watched Brittney Spears' VMA performance.

From the first stumble before the music started to the half executed dance moves and the aimless wandering around the stage, you just knew that not only was Brittney NOT back to form, she was also NOT better.

Which got my thinking about young Hollywood. The younger eschelon of stars seem to be one hapless trainwreck after another. All these famous teens and twenty-somethings popping pills faster than they can pop out of rehab.

Where are the parents?

These parents who probably watched with glee and a billion dollar sparkle in their eyes are now wringing their hands and wondering how their golden gooses turned out to be jail birds. Where was Dina Lohan when a 17 year old Lindsay was repeatedly photographed partying in bars? Where was Brittney's mom when Britt decided to marry a back-up dancer who left his pregnant girlfriend in the lurch? And why can't Hayden Panetierre's (sp) mother strap a leash on her born to be wild daughter before the same disasters happen to her?

I think we need a celebrity edition of Super Nanny. I can imagine Nanny Jo telling Dina: "Now Mum, you've got to be firm with Lindsay. Take away the Jack Daniels. If she tries to take it again, put her in the naughty corner and make her STAY there!"

I'd love to be there when Nanny Jo takes Lindsay's asbsentee, ex-con father and makes him cry on television because she made him feel like a bad parent.

In the meantime...well, we'll all continue to watch in fascination...wondering how those children born with such talent and good fortune can self-destruct on a world-wide stage.

And we'll pray to God we're smart enough not to let our own children do the same thing.