Thursday, August 31, 2006

marketing scams...

don't you just hate them! This all started a couple of weeks ago when I received a Simple Scrapbooks DVD that was the first in a series. It also included a free gift in the box. I was instructed that I either needed to pay for it or to send it back. That really struck me as odd because I never requested or ordered this product. In fact, I had recently let my Simple Scrapbooks subscription run out (or did I renew it? I should keep copies of these things!)Did anyone else out there receive this DVD and the offer?

This week, I received a kindly worded, threatening reminder letter that I needed to do either pay them or send it back. Well, I'm sorry, but I am NOT wasting my time standing in line at the post office to return a piece of unsolicited mail. Kyle told me to send it back but to do a cost calculation on the amount of MY money I was "spending" through the cost of my time per my salary and to send them a bill. Yes, he is an economist and he did quick calculation and derived a number for me. I, however, felt that that was too passive aggressive, so I have been sitting on this waiting to figure out what to do.

I kept hearing in my head "It was unsolicited mail. It was unsolicited." Then it struck me that I didn't need to do anything because it was unsolicited! I called the post office and confirmed that if it was unsolicited, then I owed them nothing. Yes, yes, by now I could have returned the darn thing, but it is the principle of the matter that counts!

I just got off the phone with the customer service rep from Simple Scrapbooks and explained that because it was unsolicited that I didn't need to do anything. The customer service rep said, "Yes, ma'am, we do realize that. I will remove your name from receiving future promotional offers such as this." First of all, I hate being called "Ma'am", isn't there a better word out there? Second of all, WHAT A SCAM!! I hate marketing tactics like this. I am going to re-read my letter from them and see if at any point they mention that I am legally not responsible for that piece of unsolicited mail. I feel sorry for the people who do not realize that they do not need to waste their time on junk like this! grrrrrr..........

I think what frustrates me the most is that this is coming from Simple Scrapbooks. Yes, it might be a little Utopian of me, but most scrapbookers I know are honest people. To me, this mailing was a blatant marketing scam tactic. I wonder if the editors know that this is going on. Maybe I should return to my utopian bubble and assume that they knew nothing about it.

the plagued house

Well, I should have added to my own project plan a couple of days for being sick. Things ended at the Command Center and *whack*, I was hit with a cold that knocked me off my feet yesterday. Even today, I have been a walking zombie. In two meetings my boss told me to wake up and add some input. Oh well, it was a low productivity day!

I should be better in a couple of days, but I'm not sure about Alexander. He was hit hard with a temp and tummy issues. He is still having the issues today. I guess it is better to have the issues this week rather than the first week of school which is next week!

Tonight is "Back to School" night. I think I had best send Kyle and Ethan to get things so that A and I can stay home and rest. Too bad. I love the excitement of the back to school night and picking up our "toolbox", a box full of their required equipment for the year. It just makes everything more official. Of course, I love it for the photo opportunities!! I will just have to take extra pictures next week on the first day of school.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

good morning

After a long day in the Command Center yesterday, I am here again from 5 am - 11 am. All is pretty calm which is very exciting. We have a few outstanding things, but I am not nearly as busy as yesterday.

I finally had some time this morning to follow-up on a couple of things that I have been meaning to do. One of them was to checkout and order from Scraploft. This is a new online scrapbooking store created by Sarah N and Jenni. It sounds so blandly put - it is really a dream come true for them. Congrats you guys! I look forward to receiving my order!

This week is the second week that Kyle is home with the boys. It is a great way for us to save some money (no daycare expenses for 2 weeks!) and I think that all three of my boys are loving it. E and A are playing really well together and Kyle is doing a great job of interspersing fun activities and structured activities in between the boys' play time. Yesterday, they spent a few hours dismantling and exploring (aka destroying) a radio. They also worked together to put together my new shelves from Ikea for my scrapbooking room. I got the new Lack bookshelf which should work really well for my scrapbooking bins and paperholders because the height of the shelves is 16.5 inches (I think that is right), so plenty of clearance!! I can't wait to get a little more organized, but I have been too tired from this upgrade project to play in my scraproom. Hopefully, I will have some time later this week!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Update #2 from the Command Center

I am pleased to report that all went well this weekend with the upgrade. There are a couple of open issues, but they are all under control. An issue of concern is that the first time people login, it takes a little bit of time for things to cache. This may cause a nervous reaction in people. To help quell any issues from this and to calm nerves, we have strategically placed team members in with the business units. Jeanne is sitting with the Merch group, so I am "on call" this morning in the Command Center in case she needs a backup. Tomorrow is my early morning in the Command Center starting at 5 am.

Sunday early morning (1 am) was the start time for those of us setting up the system (post-upgrade/DBA work) followed by Business User validations at 8:30 am. Here are some fun pictures from that night:

Command Center mania:

Nancy trying to convince me that she is awake:

Dave attempts a rest in his chair:

but eventually gave up and hit the couch:

Jeff didn't even attempt the chair and went straight to a couch:

and here is me pointing out the reminder to the users that they were validating and production:

Sunday, August 27, 2006

a sight on two wheels

Check this fabulous sight out:

That is Alexander on two wheels! Everything came together this evening and he is now stellar on two wheels. He did have a couple of wipeouts, but after a good cry and a check for blood, he hopped right back on the bike. After one particularly bad wipeout, I asked him if he wanted to walk the rest of the way home. He replied through his tears in a very adamant tone, "No! I like biking more than walking!" Too cute. I'm so proud of him!!

It is 2:13 and I am waiting to the setup portion of the upgrade. We are now 12+ hours behind schedule, but still on time for the business. The bummer for right now is that they called us in at 1am it doesn't look like they will be ready for us until after 3!! Oh well.... time to head back to playing some more games or reading my book.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

command center mania

I am sitting in the Command Center tonight. It is an interesting sight

Jeanne is wearing her tiara:

There is a ton of food to my right:

A nasty storm out the window:

and Jamie is working hard across the table from me:

I never thought that I would say this, but I LOVE having a camera on my phone!!!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

let the upgrade begin!!

I have been a bit quiet lately because we have been in the final stretch of a 9 month long project to upgrade our transactional system. The "festivities" begin tomorrow and I am one of the lucky ones on the first shift. The "lucky ones" phrase was said in a sarcastic tone in my head, but I am actually one of the lucky ones. My time is going to be spent at the Primary in the "Command Center" (insert doo do dooooo song of impending doom here). The only thing going on at the time is the final end of day process for financials before the switch is flipped and we begin the actual upgrade. So, I am hoping that my time in the Command Center is quiet and calm with the biggest decision being what we are going to order for dinner. Any suggestions?

Things have been good even though I have been quiet. Kyle is home with the boys this week and next and they are having a great time together. E and A have actually spent the last three days playing very well together! What a blessing!

We are also in the throws of the preparation for school. We had Alexander's Kindergarten assessment the other day. It was exciting and sad for me to watch him independently walk down the hall with his teacher to be tested. We still don't know what he did in his test except that when she asked him to count that he counted to 199!! Good job, Alexander! Oh, that reminds me - one of the first things his teacher asked him was what he wanted to be called. *GASP* WHAT? Does he have a say in this?! I want him to Alexander!!!! Nope, Mom does not have a say in this and he will be Alex. Ugh. I did NOT want him to be Alex. He only likes Alex because it is shorter to write. Hmmm.. Obviously, I have some pent-up feelings about this. Perhaps I should e-mail his teacher.

I need to get clothes for the boys for school, but there is zero time with this project. I think that I will spend some time this evening placing an order with Land's End. Alexander still prefers to way tie-dyed shirts and LE has three long-sleeved ones! He saw them and asked for them all! Hey, how easy is that? 3 shirts means that he only needs a couple of more!

Okay, I need to run! I will write more tomorrow and give a COMMAND CENTER (needs to be said in a loud, echoing voice) update.


Friday, August 11, 2006

a first

Yes, today was the first time that I ever "blew out" my pants. I did a really deep, wide-legged squat to unplug my laptop and RRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIPPPPPPPP. Nice. I am now wearing my cardigan wrapped around my waist - what a lovely look!

I am just giggling about this. I feel like Charlie Brown! Wasn't there an episode where he rips his pants?

Monday, August 07, 2006

pictures from the premier!

Minda posted a couple of pictures of our fun-filled Saturday night that I wrote about in my last entry. Thanks, Minda!!!

Here I am with my "dates" (l to r: Nancy, me, Minda, Kate) waiting for the doors to open outside of the Minneapolis Woman's Club:Here's my close-up. This is my fun top with sequins that I love and my fun $.99 earrings that I found the other day:

Here we are after the movie and enjoying the festivities. This is a photo in front of a layout already done for us! Don't we all look cute?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Red Carpet Extravaganza

Last night was my first red carpet extravaganza in the Twin Cities. Okay, I don't think that there was actually a red carpet, but it was a movie premier! Minda, Kate, Nancy and I headed to the Minneapolis Woman's Club to view the premier of Scrapped! The Movie.

Our connection with the movie started months and months ago when I received an e-mail with a link to a couple of fantastically hilarious movie promos for a movie about scrapbooking created by a hunting, biker guy. I loved him the minute that he shot his scrapbook and then made a great scrapbooking page by incorporating the holes made by the bullets into his layout. I forwarded the link to Minda. She had received the link from another scrapbooking group a little earlier and had just deleted it. When she received a second request to view it, she decided to give it a try. She, too, fell in love with the concept and she e-mailed Wes, the director and creator, immediately. An instant friendship sparked.

I really didn't know what to expect about the movie from the promos. Would this be a biker guy trying to integrate into the scrapbooking culture? Would it be a farce about scrapbooking (not that we have ever seen any of those!!)? Well, last night, I was blown away. Wes did a true documentary on the scrapbooking world by focusing on a couple of key areas: Why do scrapbooker scrapbook? What are the products used by scrapbookers? I was pleased with the diverse group of scrapbookers that he incorporated into his movie. He has men and women from different cultures who all scrapbook for different reasons. There were several touching personal documentaries from each of the contributors. The only thing that I was disappointed in was that the focus of the movie was primarily archival scrapbooking and there was only a small segment near the end of the movie about art scrapbooking and a small clip where Wes altered (ie. sandpapered, painted, etc.) his page. I suppose I am disappointed in the limited quantity of that type of scrapbooker because I am a mix of the two, so I don't feel that I was represented in the movie. However, as we learned from the movie, it isn't really about how we scrapbook, it is more about why we scrapbook and the connections with ourselves, our family, and our history that we make and discover during the scrapbooking process.

Talking about connections....
One of the things that I love about being part of the scrapbooking community is that almost everyone is a loving and trusting person. I have to include the "almost" because I have met some crabby people, but they are definitely the minority. There is something that opens you up to other scrapbookers when you have the commonality of understanding that this is something that we love and something that is helping us grow as people. We make connections and we even network through the scrapbooking community. Last night, I was able to reconnect with some women who I used to see all the time when I worked at a local scrapbook store. I haven't seen one of them, Julie, for probably a year or two. It was like we picked up right where we left off. Julie is one of the founding members of a scrapbooking sorority, Delta Phi Scrappa, and she told me a great story about women in her group networking. One of the husband's of a member of the sorority had a massive heart attack. When he was admitted into the hospital, the wife was thrilled to see two of her fellow "sisters" working as nurses on her husband's floor. The "sisters" helped to make the family more comfortable and made extra visits to their "sister's" husband while he was in the hospital. This is just one of the examples of the amazing network that scrapbookers have developed. I have to admit that I have pulled away from that arena a bit in the last year or so. I did this when I quit the store when I realized that I was attempting to maintain a crazy schedule between working full time, having a family with two small boys, and working at the store. I pulled away not because I didn't like the people, but more because I felt that it was becoming an obsessive part of my life. I needed to step back and actually start using some of the product that I had collected over the years that I worked at the store, but had no time to use. So, instead, I have focused my energy on going on one to two weekend retreats with friends. I have also started an evening scrapbooking group at my church. It has opened up a whole new world of friendships and connections within my church community.

Another aspect about the movie that I loved was a segment where Wes interviewed Christine Smith. I know Christine by name because she is an amazing digital scrapbooker who was helping me out when I was participating in the Designing with Digital challenge. I really need to re-watch her segment (luckily, we received copies of the movie in our goodie bags) because I feel that I connected with hers the most. She pointed out how she captures moments, good and bad, to record and remember the moment. It made me pause and think about why I scrapbook - I love to do the chronological pages because it brings such great pleasure to my children to see their pictures of their special events, but I have started to more non-chronological work and I find it very satisfying. Little pages about why I love to be a Mom. I also thought up another page the I need/want to do. It has to do with why I garden. My garden is a mess, but every year I plant a garden. We often don't even harvest the vegetables because we forget about them until they are too woody to even eat. I started to think about why I even bother and I realized that it has to do with the fact that it is my connection with my Great Grandmother Lena and my Grandmother Lula. I grow sunflowers every year because of my Great Grandmother. She grew one sunflower a year directly outside her kitchen window. I loved to watch it grow; I loved to view it from the kitchen window; and I loved to feel dwarfed by it when I stood under it in the fall. I grow beets because of my Grandma. I don't remember much about her, but I do have a vivid memory of her hands in the sink washing, peeling, and canning the beets that she grew. The work to can the beets destroyed her hands every year. They would swell and crack open (she must have been allergic to them), but she grew them and canned them every year. I was about to write that she loved them, but I don't really know that fact. I just know that it is a memory that I have of her being who she was.

Okay, I'm getting a little weepy and I have a house to clean, so I will write more about the festivities later.