Friday, January 29, 2010

The USPS sucks

Why is the Post Office so bad at customer service? I spent 30min in line today waiting for someone to help. There were at least 20 people in line. There were six windows for Post Office employees to help customers from, but only one was open. There were staff members at two of the other windows, but they were not open and had that annoying "Next window please" sign that just made he want to hit them on the head with it. If I were at the end of the line I would have just left and come back another day, but I was committed because I was 4th in line. That's right. It took the single working staff person 25 min to help the three people in front of me. I think the automated postal machine is quicker to use. I would get fired at my job if our customer service was this bad. Now I know what it means to go "Postal".

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Feeling Old

I have been feeling old lately and I don't like it. I'm only 34 I shouldn't feel old, but for the last week or so, I have been feeling that way. May be it has some thing to do with my hair, or lack there of, or the fact that what little hair I have is starting to get gray flecks in it. Could be the gray chest hair. May be its from my dislike for loud noise. I have two, three year olds, and my house is not a quiet place. I work in a fire station where every thing and every one has the volume on max. I have started to ride in my car in silence over the last few weeks. Its the only place I can find that is quiet. Maybe its because my three year olds are learning to use a computer in preschool. We didn't have a computer in my elementary school until I was in 5th or 6th grade and then it was only one computer for the whole school. I think what really put me over the edge was a few days ago, in the nice quiet car, I started listening to talk radio. What am I thinking? I guess I should plug my ipod in and listen to some Led Zepplin. Wait, will that make me old too?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wow! Coupons really work.

Today I needed to do some grocery shopping and before I went I did a little planning and followed the recommendations of the "Coupon Mom" book that I read recently. I have to tell you that I save over 50% on my shopping today. All it took was about 30min to plan and I did go to Publix and Kroger. For me that works out great because they are only a few hundred yard apart. Here is the break down. At Kroger I spent $29.78, if I had paid full price it would have been $69.88. At Publix I spent $10.15, if I had paid full price it would have been $19.92. My total full cost price between the two stores would be $89.80. My actual cost between the two stores was $39.93. That is a total savings of $49.87. That is over 50%. For me, $49.87 is a great return on my 30min investment of time to plan my trip. Here is the funny thing. I usually by store brand food when I can to save money. Well today I purchased all national brand items and they all below the cost of the store brand. Above is a pic of what I got for my money. You will notice there is no meat. That is because I have plenty in the freezer, since I stock up when it is on sale. I ended up with 12 boxes of Kraft mac and cheese for the kids (with store savings and coupons 10 boxes were free). 4 bags of Kraft shredded cheese, 2 8oz Kraft Philly veggie cream cheese, 1 Birdseye Violia frozen meal, 1 30ct bag of Mission corn tortillas, 1 Chichi's salsa, 1 box of Ortega whole wheat taco shells, 1 Ortega taco seasoning, 4 cans Rosarita's refried beans, 2 cans Rotell, 4 jars Bertolli pasta, 2 boxes Barilla Pasta, 2 bottles of Kraft dressing, 1 container of CousCous, 3 16oz containers of Breakstone sour cream, 1 bag of carrots, 1 bunch celery, 1 head of iceberg.

Wishful Drinking

So. Being the Star Wars fan that I am, I decided to read Carrie Fisher's biography. This has to be one of the funniest things I have read in a long time. It was excruciatingly funny and made laugh out loud. I like that in a book. It is a very candid and open outpouring of her life. I never knew she had electro shock treatments. If you want a quick funny read, I would recommend this book.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


So, I have a lot of things that I need to do and want to do. I want to work on some art projects, but I need to clean out the garage. I need to clean out the guest room too, but that is another day. Because I have lots of things I need and want to do, I have started to look at everything as a project. Some projects are dependent on the completion of another project. I need to clean out the garage so I can do some of the larger scale art projects that I want to do. I don't want to clean out the garage, but until I do clean it out and get the workshop in a usable condition, I can not do the work I want to do. So now I have started to break down everything I have to do into projects. Don't worry, I'm not getting too crazy with it. But, in an effort to make time for the projects that I want to do I have to complete the projects that I need to do. It is a never ending cycle.

I really want to talk about how I am working on art projects. I have a document that I have created I keep adding to and tweeking as I think about what I want to do. I am doing like any good project manager would do. The document includes the following things that will help me, I hope, complete the projects.
1. Title: or at least a working title that is descriptive of the project, it can be changed later.
2. Description: A detailed description of the project. It should include the medium to be used, how it is used, how the work will be presented, etc.
3. Purpose: What do you want out of this in the end. A gallery show? A book, a magazine article, some thing to sell, you get it.
4. Motivation: This is the hard one for lots of us and easy for some. Why are we doing this project and creating this artwork. Is there some social issue you want to bring attention to? Do you just want to make money and sell the work? (perhaps this motivation is why some artist starve, for food and attention). Is it a personal issue.
5. Status: This is the kicker for me. I need dead lines to get things done. If I do not have a real deadline, I will not get the project done. Mostly because I want it to be perfect, and well it will never be perfect and I guess that is what makes it art. This is the section that gets updated. Am I finished? Am I in the final stages of completion? Am I in the editing phase of image selection? I need to define where I am so I stay on track and follow through on the next phase of the project. Think of a GPS, you hit the home button, but first the GPS unit has to figure out where you are.

This is just my little method to keep on track and actually finish an art project. It could be expanded and include more detail, but I like to have a little room for the project to evolve. When I work on a large project that has multiple pieces, I usually break out the dry erase board and track the progress of each piece. That way I know what needs to get done and what I can work on while something else is drying, setting, cooling, etc. I hope this may help some of you get things done. To bad I only have two followers....

Now if I could just get these house hold projects done, maybe I could start and art project.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Coupon Dad

So I have been reading the "Coupon Mom" book in an effort to help save money on groceries. When feeding a family of 5 you need all the help you can get. Well, it works. I went shopping yesterday and have started to use her method. I got $105.00 worth of groceries for $61.00. That is just over 40%. I actually got stuff for free. Its easy to do even if you do not have a lot of time. She has saving methods of "Busy Shoppers", those that only have a limited amount of time to shop and no real time to plan, "Rookie Shoppers", which have more time to plan and clip coupons(I fall into this class), and "Veteren Shoppers", who dedicate more time and planning. I spent about 30 to 45 minutes planning my shopping trip and it saved me $40.00. Thats a pretty good return for my time. I can see how it would be easy to save more as I get more into it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lens Work

My favorite magazine came today. Lens Work. It is a magazine about fine art photography. If your a photographer, artist or collector of photography I highly recomend getting a subscription. It is no long available at the new stands, but is well worth the subscription. It comes every other month and is the most well printed magazine I have ever seen. The quality of the printing is fantastic. If your looking for a techno speak filled rag full of adds, don't read lens work. There are no adds other than the ones selling special edition prints. The editor, Brooks Jenson, is a good writer and writes an esay for the begining of each issue. Again, no techno mumbo jumbo, the writting is about the process, the creativity, the emotions, and the motivations for art making. What he writes could really be applied to any medium.

This months issue, No. 86, has a great interview with photographer David Robin as well as a portfolio of a project he is working. While not some of my favorite images, they are interesting as far as the process of creating them goes. My favorite portfolio from this issue is from photographer Josef Tornick. His images of the Aran Islands of Ireland are well thought and perfectly executed. The portfolio on the Bowery Flophouse by John F. Conn is also well executed.

Lens work also offers several books for sale that are very good and have help me through some creative bumps in the road. Their titles are as follows: Single Exposures (by Brooks Jensen), On Being a Photographer (By David Hurn and Bill Jay), Letting go of the Camera (By Brooks Jensen). Brooks has a new book out called Single Exposures 2. After I read it I will post a review.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Well, here we go. This is my first post to my new blog and I feel like I should make some kind of profound statement, but I can't think of anything profound at the moment. Unless you count the discovery of my childrens love for M&M's while we are potty training. At first they did not want to go potty and told us there were monsters in the bathroom. Now that we have started a rewards program with M&M's, they have sort of set up camp in the bathroom. As long as they are going potty I guess it does not matter.

I guess I will review two books that I have read recently. The first is "Blood and Thunder: The epic story of Kit Carson and the conquest of the American West" Written by Hampton Sides. Wow, what a ride. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I read a fair amount of history books and this is by far one of the best. I never knew how much one man could shape and change history like Kit Carson. It really is an epic story. The book is about 500 pages long, plus it is anotated and has an impressive Bibliography. I would read this again, but alas there are too many other books to read.

The next book is "The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet". A novel by Reif Larsen. This was a pretty good read. Some times a little hard to follow with all the side notes, lines and arrows in the margins, but that does make it feel like it is the journal of T.S.. The story was great. It had strings of saddness, but was mostly funny with an overall sense of adventure. A 12 year old, hoboing across the country, makes for a good and entertaining read.

Well, making the first post was not as hard as I thought it would be. Now, if I could just get someone to read it.....