Laura

Sizzix – I Gave It Away And Then I Learned

As a die cutter, this thing sucks. I mean, the dies DO NOT CUT anything. They PRESS an indentation into things, but the dies don’t even have sharp edges!

So I tried to sell it. Nobody wants it. I set it out to give it away. Nobody wants it. DI, here it comes.

Then I learn it does other things.

It can be used as a print press. Watercolor prints, transferred ink prints, and other types of prints that you dampen and then press into another piece of paper.

Not really my crafty thing. But hey, who knew?

It can be used as a flower press. You know those prints they make from fresh flowers? Lay then down, push them into the paper, and you get a print from the colors of the flower. This thing works for that.

Again, not really my thing, but I really just had to write about it in case you are one of those people who bought a Sizzix or some other kind of die cutter that doesn’t actually CUT anything.

Press it does. Cut it does not!

Dogface In The Morning

I ate some chicken. It doesn’t matter WHOSE chicken, or where, probably ANY chicken would have done it. (A few months ago the water went off here – smelled of chemicals, badly. I’ve been having severe allergic reactions ever since. Necessary backstory, I suppose.)

Somewhere  in the middle of the night I wake, and my lips feel funny. Sorta like the novacaine is wearing off, only fat and puffy. It happens sometimes, and it is never even. Various parts of my face swell up and itch – it isn’t hives, this is LOTS of swelling, and a little bit of itch. It hits one side of my lips (never the same one twice in a row), one side of the top lip, sometimes the other side of the bottom lip, sometimes my chin, sometimes my cheeks, occasionally under my eyes.

This time it is everything. But not on both sides. One side has more than the other, and it isn’t balanced at all.

I look like a dog.

A sad dog.

A St. Bernard.

I’m not quite drooling. Small blessings.

I take the Zyrtec. It isn’t quite up to it.

Oddly I can breathe through my nose for the rest of the night. The swelling doesn’t go down, but it doesn’t go up either. It does not progress to congestion and severe asthma. But my whole face has lumps and distortions.

I wake in the morning and it is still very swollen. I know how this one goes, as I move my face, the swelling will go down. Takes about an hour. This time it takes three… four. Geez. After about two hours I still looked like I had Bell’s Palsy on one side, sorta saggy. It isn’t that my face is saggy, more like there just isn’t room for it all up higher.

My lip still doesn’t FEEL normal, but my upper lip on the left, the last place to resolve, is finally NOT looking like a middle aged man who just shaved for the first time in 10 years and everybody can see how much his lip has grown.

I’m no longer a St. Bernard though. So that’s good.

The Loom That Laura Made

loomHandmade Shoelace (Band) Loom

The yarn here is handspun, and then plied, so it is a fine spun thread that has been plied into a two ply yarn.

I am using a single ply, thinner, weft thread, and this pulls it to give it a somewhat scalloped appearance on the sides of the finished ribbon.

This loom was made of thin wall trim, glued together with shoe goo. I made the shuttle and heddles also. More shoe goo.

The warp winds around another wood piece on the back, and I use the two clamps to anchor that wood piece so it won’t unwind.

I also peeled and scraped two pieces of elm branch, to use as raddles at the top. They separate the threads (use the heddle – drop it and insert one raddle, then raise it and insert the other raddle), so they don’t get tangled at the top of the loom. This is how I used it the first time.

Shown here is a SECOND heddle, right at the top of the loom, and I used that on this weaving, to see if it was easier to keep the warp threads from tangling as they unwound from the wood piece on the back. It did help – I didn’t use the raddles at first, but put them in later for this picture to show what they were supposed to be doing. Use of the second heddle there is not needed, it is just an optional thing. Once you start weaving, it doesn’t do anything to help things stay neater if the raddles are in use.

When warping the loom, the second heddle in the back can be moved out to the ends of the warp threads to keep them neat and even as you roll the warp onto the back stick. I kept that heddle just in front of the threads I was winding onto the stick, and it kept them neat and even as they went on.

I’m only using this for shoelaces. It is really too small for any other kind of compressed warp weaving, the heddles that fit it are just too narrow. I could use it for narrow balanced weavings that turn out the full width of the heddle, but it would still be mighty small stuff!

You can see the finished lace, and it is pulled down and wrapped around the back brace on the loom, and held there by a binder clip.

To advance the warp, I remove the binder clip, take off the two pink clips, and then unroll the warp stick. I then refasten the pink clips, and pull on the finished weaving to pull the unrolled warp thread up and over, through the heddle and raddles (again, only one or the other is really required at this point). I pull it very tight and re-clip the finished weaving to the back brace. All the rest of the finished lacing dangles off in a pile.

This loom is pretty tiny, and the working space (space between the obstacles at the top, and the frame at the bottom) where you can actually WEAVE, is very short. I have to advance the warp about every 4″. I think this is about as small as I’d ever want to make a loom for making ribbon or bands, or shoelaces.

People do use smaller looms – pin looms, tiny tapestry looms, H looms, and other little bitty things. They are used for small weavings, pieced projects, etc.

This little loom holds up to a 15 dent heddle – that means 15 holes, and 14 slots, for 29 threads total. If using larger yarn it makes a fairly wide piece, and the warp is not compressed. Once you go to band weaving with a compressed warp though, it narrows down considerably, and will only make half that width or narrower, depending on thread weight (the narrower the thread, the narrower the finished piece).

Is it fun? It is faster than I thought it could be – feels faster, anyway. The warping is tedious and awkward. The advancement of the warp is tiresome. The weaving itself is boring, as weaving tends to be. But it is a calm and simple thing to do when I’m tired, or when I’m occupied with something else and just need to keep my hands busy. I don’t really binge Netflix, I’m not the type anymore, but I do spin or weave in the evenings when we watch a movie, and sometimes during the day when I have to sit down.

I’ll be making another of these, much wider. I want to do wider pieces of compressed warp weavings, with band style straight weave and complex weave designs. I have more homemade heddles that have more than one row of holes in them, to vary the weave type.

UPDATE: I did make another wider loom to make wider weavings on, and when I made this first loom I had also made a beveled shuttle. It took several days of sanding and shaping (I only had hand tools to do it). It was pretty hard to do, and I had no motivation to do another one, especially the larger one I really needed. But I had a 4 inch one (Inkle style), when I discovered how to make a simple shuttle from popsicle sticks. I used the stick shuttle for several sets of laces, and found it to be functional, but sometimes awkward due to having to keep track of two ends as I worked it through the warps.

Today, three weeks after this initial post, I tried the beveled shuttle. It is FAR easier to use, it just slides through without hanging up. I’m really glad I learned to make the popsicle stick shuttle, but I’m much happier using the beveled shuttle.

Warp Speed

Weaving, that is. Star Trek never had this.

I don’t have pictures yet. Sorry. But I need to write anyway.

I have a SampleIt Loom. Have had for a few years now. I got it soon after I started spinning. If you spin, you have to USE the yarn you make, or the thread you make. But then, you also have to make ENOUGH thread or yarn.

Problem was, I didn’t have enough of any one thing to really DO anything with on the loom, and warping the loom requires space that I did not have. Still don’t. So my loom sits in the corner, lonely and abandoned looking, gathering dust. Too costly to let it do that forever, I WILL use it. But I need a project that I have enough yarn for first.

Stumbled on Band Weaving. Was not impressed. Then I was. It is quite lovely in many patterns. They used to call it Ribbon Weaving, and sometimes Tape Weaving. Look it up, it is easier than me trying to explain and you getting it all wrong.

Shoelaces. You can make shoelaces with this. Decorative ones. In any color you want, provided you can find the thread. I started with crochet thread, bedspread weight cotton. Works good.

It took WEEKS to get from “I want to do THIS” to actually threading a heddle.

First I had to make a loom. I did. A modification of the Beka 4″ wide loom, mine is wider, and shorter. Just 9″ by 12″. Works much the same, but has a design change on the warp board on the back to make it simpler for me to make.

Then I made an even smaller loom, just a 6X9″ frame. I tied on two raddles, and added a 3/4″ by 1/4″ board that is about 8″ long to wind the warp onto. Tied that on, strung the heddle, and made pink and yellow shoelaces. The colors I HAD that I didn’t mind using on a practice product. I now have two 30″ long striped shoelaces that someone in my family will find in their mailbox sometime around Christmas this year.  25 threads wide, ends up about 1/2″ in finished width.

Next are Kevin’s bootlaces. Navy, Light Blue, and Dark Green. These are about 3/8 of an inch wide. They are wool. Handspun wool. It is what I have on hand. I started these on the same tiny loom, but used some clamps instead of string, to make it faster to advance the warp. The loom suddenly went from simple looking to trashy – the clamps are large, with pink handles and grips.

The thing is, weaving by hand is SLOW. And this is a TINY loom. Even the larger one is SMALL. Weaving ribbon is pretty fast as far as passing the shuttle is concerned. The time is lost in advancing the warp .

Warp thread is the long thread that you put through the heddle (look it up). It runs from the back of the loom to the front, and however many warp threads you put on determines in part the width of the end product.

The threads that go back and forth in the shuttle, to form the rows from bottom to top are the Weft. So you weave the weft into the warp, again and again, until you run out of room. Then you advance the warp – you unroll more thread to use at the top, and you roll up (or just reanchor) the finished weaving at the bottom.

There are all sorts of ways that looms handle this one basic function. Some are easy, and some are hard. Some are simple, but take time. If you make a loom by hand, this is one area where you often have to compromise, and accept a more difficult or time consuming method, in order to simplify the pieces and assembly of the loom.

I’m faster now at advancing the warp than on the first set of shoestrings. With those, I wove about 3-4 minutes, and then spent 2-3 minutes advancing the warp. Now it takes less than a minute to advance the warp, but I’m also weaving wool, which is a bit slower since it likes to cling to itself and does not slip easily when the heddle is raised or lowered. It seems to be taking longer to weave this set of laces, even though I’ve gained so much speed on the warp advance.

Band Weaving is a great place to start, because it teaches you patterns in Straight Weave. Straight weave is just back and forth, every other thread, alternating row to row. So if you have a hole and slot heddle you just lift for one row, and drop for the next row. There are literally hundreds of patterns you can create with Straight Weave, just by varying the colors.

With Band Weaving, it is a Compressed Warp style weaving, so all the warp threads get pushed together tight, and you don’t even see the weft threads. It makes it so you only have to worry about the colors on the Warp, in order to work out a pattern. It can be simpler to start out than many other kinds of weaving.

Kevin is weaving on a Peg Loom, and it is Compressed Weft. So the back and forth threads compact down, and you don’t see the warp threads that hold them together. This simplifies the process for him, he only has to worry about getting things right one direction, not two.

There are other things I want to do. But I have to work out how to make the loom do them. There are problems with small looms that cause aggravation for weavers worldwide, and it makes it difficult to produce even work.  Wider and longer finished work compounds those problems, and it gets really awkward to first warp the loom, and then keep the warp from getting all tangled or having uneven tension. I assume there may be solutions. But I cannot find them.

Meanwhile, I CAN make small ribbons. And they make really cool decorative shoelaces.

I am either really crafty creative, or I am really pathetic.

Ever Wonder About Those Corncobs?

“I’d like to subscribe to your newspaper, what is the cost?”

“It is a dollar a week. But tell you what. You drop a load of corncobs behind my outhouse and I’ll give you that subscription.”

“If I had corncobs I wouldn’t need your newspaper.”

This is an old joke, and we wonder about those cobs. Surely that would tear you up so bad it would not clean you at all! And that’s the truth.

They didn’t USE corncobs, they only CALLED them that. The corn was husked dry, and the kernels were rubbed out, leaving the cob with the husks attached. You had a bucket in the outhouse, and you filled it, cobs down, husks up. You took off HALF of the husks, and that was your TP. If you were the second user, you tossed the cob into the can after you tore the husks off.

That isn’t all they used. Outer cabbage leaves, dried flexible, were an option, as were lettuce leaves, dock leaves, elk cabbage leaves, maple leaves, and other large leaves that were not scratchy. Newspaper was used, and was preferred because it was a softer paper. But the Wards or Sears catalogs would do just as well (once the new one came out you could use the old one, if you were still using the catalog you had to tear out the pages you did not need and put just those in the outhouse, otherwise you just left the catalog, a double benefit if you were a reading stinker thinker). Once they went to those glossy paper catalogs though, they lost their appeal as an alternative to paying for TP. Some families still endured it though, and remember it as a sort of punishment.

In the winter, rags were cut up into 4″ squares, and left in the outhouse. SINGLE USE! So you needed a lot of rags for a thriving family.

We are so pampered to have soft paper, and we don’t even know it. We complain if we are forced to use what my family called “Elephant Wipe” (paper towels). We don’t think about the privations of yesteryear, if we even understand what they were!

There are so many things we hear of and we can’t begin to comprehend what it actually meant. Corncobs are just one of those things that is misinterpreted regularly.

Becoming A Professional Artist

Back then, I could not do it. I could not even IMAGINE doing it.

In highschool, where I was taking art classes, and learning to paint with oil paints (they never introduced acrylics at all in those days), I could not envision myself picking up a paintbrush and wrestling with the canvas EVERY DAY as a full time artist. I could not imagine harnessing that kind of flow of creative inspiration EVERY DAY, let alone full time every day!

But life changed me. First off,  I learned a set of SKILLS and TECHNIQUES from Bob Ross, and other painting instructors. My teachers in school never even hinted at the wonders I learned – how to use a brush to create effects instead of having to paint each dot individually to create the same effect!

This changed not only HOW I paint, but WHAT I paint. I was never even able to TRY to paint some things, and I learned to paint them quickly, and easily, and the outcome became better with practice. I was still that artist that painted the thing that I was never satisfied with, but I could at least produce a thing that had merit.

I stopped painting when I got married. No place for a studio, not even a desk.

After the birth of my fourth child, I started painting again. That was the Bob Ross phase of learning, and I sold a few paintings, gave a few away, and kept a few. One portrait, in progress, never finished, lost in the great disaster. I learned to gain inspiration from the works of other artists, and a little from photographs.

But in the mean time, I became a successful home business owner, and webmaster. All my spare energy was funneled into that business. My reading was no longer novels and biographies, it was technical manuals. My art was headers and template designs and logos (I learned to be an accomplished computer graphics professional). My writing was all instructional. My hobbies were all technical and professional.

I became a type of Commercial Artist. I learned that when someone wanted a design from me, the thing I thought was perfect, which I created first, and knocked out of the park, was NEVER EVER the thing they wanted! I learned to satisfy the customer who thought entirely differently from myself.

About a year ago I started painting again. Kevin bought the supplies for me for my Birthday.

There’s a difference now. I can work daily at painting, and produce more than one painting a day, for weeks at a time, and not lose my enthusiasm for it, as long as there is hope of a customer at the end of the day.

I’m no longer the unfocused girl I was. I’ve learned technique, method, and skill. And I’ve learned not only the business and marketing side of things, I’ve learned two major skills that are ESSENTIAL for an artist, which I did not know I even needed, back when I just knew I’d never be talented enough to be a full time artist.

I know now that talent is only a small part of the equation.  Oh, you HAVE to have it, but it is nowhere near enough by itself.

I know TWO things that I did not know I needed to know.

  1. I know how to START when I feel absolutely uninspired. I know how to pick up the brush when it is the LAST THING I want to do, and GET STARTED on a thing I know I am capable of doing. I learned this troubleshooting databases, and installing and configuring website structures. I learned that if I just PICKED UP the task, and STARTED IT, then I’d be able to get inside it enough to FINISH it.
  2. I know how to GET PAST the stupor of thought in the middle of a thing that makes me feel unable to finish it. When things don’t go right, when I’m out of ideas, when I just can’t face wrestling with that again, right now, I know what to do. I either take a little break and go to do something else for a bit, or I just dive right back in, after a prayer for help. I know that 95% of the time, I can just KEEP WORKING IT, and something will change. So the solution is sort of the same. I just pickup the brush and KEEP GOING until I FINISH IT.

I used to have all manner of unfinished paintings laying around. I no longer do. I have a stack of unstarted items that are roughed out, but once I start it, I finish it.

I am capable now of doing things for a living that I never thought I could. I’ve walked the walk as a web designer, sufficient that I know that in the end, full time creative work is just a job, like any other, and a privilege to be able to do every day.

I also learned to be PRODUCTIVE, and I now approach art in the same way I did the $500 website (which was our bread and butter). I learned to create a $500 website in a matter of a few hours of my time. Far less time than my competitors. I also learned to give HIGHER VALUE to my client (we gave them EVERYTHING they needed for the website to WORK, at THAT price), and how to EARN MORE myself. I systemized and streamlined the processes, invented my own processes, and became something outside the mainstream.

So I now paint with an eye to efficiency, and I work on my OWN techniques to speed the processes without compromising the quality of the art. There are assuredly many growing pains. But I produce a painting of higher quality (for me) in 2-3 hours. I produce a rougher work in less than an hour, on average. These same things took 4-10 hours for me to do many years ago.

Once you learn to treat it like a job, instead of like playtime, you can do it full time.

Oddly, it doesn’t take the joy out of it. It only takes the joy out when you can’t treat it like a job!

When I have the brush or pen, or pencil in hand, I still lose myself in the work. I still delight when a thing turns out, and I still despair when it can’t get the magic working.

I became a Commercial Artist, as I said. Able to create according to someone else’s specification, within my scope of talent and skill. And it was VERY fulfilling.

And now, I can create “fine art” (a subjective term, to be sure) in a more intensive manner.

I can be a Professional Artist, and am working in improving my skillset within that capacity.

The Myth Of The “Ideal Customer”

There’s no such thing, folks!

All these so called marketing experts out there crying that they have the secret to endless buyers. They tell you one of the first steps is to identify your “Ideal Customer”.

Now they do this for all kinds of things, but I am seeing it lately with Art Marketing Coaches.

There’s no such thing! Ok, I already said that. But there ISN’T an “Ideal Customer” for ANY business.

There’s too much variety.

You can’t even isolate a set of characteristics that is valid.

You CAN isolate some NEEDS. But they vary also, and you can’t cookie cut your customers.

I decided I wanted to go after Assembly Line Art buyers.

But they are all different!

Some are brokers, some are gallery owners, some are boutique or even big box retailers. Some ware wholesalers, some are distributors.

There’s no “Ideal” because there are too many types.

Even among those types, the INDIVIDUALS will respond to different messages.

You don’t TARGET anyone.

You BE YOURSELF. (Ok, some version of nice, professional, informative, honest, etc, in case you aren’t those things, ’cause “yourself” only works when “yourself” is LIKEABLE.)

Talk to your audience like you do to your friends. Talk to them like you do when you are talking to an actual prospect, or customer.

And you find that you keep having to add little bits, because encountering new people to negotiate with or to inform, exposes you to versions of customers that you could not envision! They keep coming up with new perspectives that blindside you! You just can’t predict it!

So just tell the world about your product. Because THAT is something EVERY customer needs.

Just give good and honest details, and speak to the NEED that your customer is likely to have, that YOUR product provides for, ESPECIALLY when it is a unique product that meets the need better.

Speak from the point of view of THEIR NEEDS, and not from YOUR NEED TO SELL. It works better.

But don’t go trying to map out some mythical customer who only exists in the fragile minds of the mentally unstable.

That customer doesn’t exist except as a figment of your imagination, and you’ll just be wasting valuable time, that you could be using to present your product in a persuasive way to the general public. Let them choose. Don’t filter them (except for legal and moral reasons).

Let THEM decide if they are the winning customer that you never expected would be the one to buy your product or service again and again.

Pardon My Faux Pas

“Underwater Painting of Alexander Belozor”. That’s what it said. Really.

I’m browsing on Pinterest, looking for some inspiration for the next seashell thingy, and there it is.

And I must say, it didn’t look a thing like him! Truth is, I had a lot of trouble telling just which rock was supposed to be HIM. Maybe the artist didn’t have much talent…

I have great fun sometimes naming my paintings, titling my articles, and coming up with brand names for things I dream up. Occasionally I come up with a screamer – one that just makes people howl with laughter. Sometimes a scorner. But often just plodders.

So far though, I haven’t tried to name anything as a portrait of myself when it was just a scene of something else!

The CRIME Of Charging Sales Tax Across State Lines

No, folks, you CANNOT charge sales tax from your internet business in one state, to the residents of another state. I don’t care if you DO live in Chicago. I don’t care is some ignorant webmaster wannabe says you have to now because some law or another says so.

They are wrong.

NO INTERNET BUSINESS CAN, Nor SHOULD, NOR CAN BE REQUIRED to charge sales tax to ANY RESIDENT of ANY STATE where THAT BUSINESS does not have a PHYSICAL PRESENCE.

It is against the law to do so.

Which Law?

It is Contrary to the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution which PREVENTS any state from collecting sales tax from any resident of any other state! It GUARANTEES free trade between states, and this is part of it, and the Supreme Court has ruled on that, many times.

It is that simple.

It is NO DIFFERENT than if you have a mail order company that sends out catalogs. Online business is the SAME, and your website is considered to be nothing more to the courts than a MAIL ORDER CATALOG SYSTEM. This is also upheld by the Supreme Court.

The fact that the system is online, rather than hand processed by the business MAKES NO DIFFERENCE. It is still just a MAIL ORDER BUSINESS.

It is a CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATION, and a FEDERAL CRIME if YOUR BUSINESS charges sales tax to anyone outside YOUR state (tourists are IN YOUR STATE when the sale occurs).

In fact, it is TREASON to do so, and a CAPITAL CRIME. That means, if you are found guilty, the death penalty is mandatory.

Not only is this a crime Federally, but it is a crime in EVERY STATE to collect sales tax that is not legally due. Every state stipulates that you can ONLY collect tax on sales that occur IN YOUR STATE (with the customer present), OR from mail order with an in-state customer. It is a crime at the state level for which you can receive the death penalty also. THIS is Tax Fraud, and it is no small thing.

If your webmaster or accountant is telling you otherwise, THEY ARE A CROOK.

If a business is charging you sales tax for a state YOU DO NOT LIVE IN, then THEY ARE A CROOK.

No exceptions. No excuses.

This is a growing trend among dishonest businesses who charge you illegally, so they can skim that extra amount for themselves. You better believe they are NOT paying it to their state. There is NO STATE that requires that, they cannot without getting sued six ways to Sunday.

We are a Constitutional Republic. That means something. It means that the Constitution of the United States of America is the SUPREME law of the land. It holds. No state can just decide that they don’t want to do it that way anymore.

WE DON’T OWE IT!

Lessons From Solitaire

I admit it, I play Solitaire on my computer. It is one of those things that rests my brain, and brings order when I am in the middle of chaos, or when I’ve had a day that really took it out of me.

There are lessons in Solitaire, and some are fairly profound.

  1. Some people judge you if you play Solitaire. Life is full of people who judge you as inferior if you engage in certain activities. But there is no dishonor in Solitaire. It can be a great time waster if you lose yourself in laziness, but it can also be used in positive ways.
  2. There’s more than one game. Hoyle has more than 50, and it is generally accepted that there are around 150 games, plus variations on those, bringing the total with variants to over 500. Life should never lock us into just one game.
  3. Never play an unwinnable Hand. Experience teaches us that many games as laid out are unwinnable. We can recognize these with a fair degree of accuracy, and filter them out. No point wasting time playing the game we know we will lose.
  4. Choosing not to play the layout means you forfeit. It counts as a loss. Most people filter that out in their calculation of how winnable a game is, so their perspective on the game is skewed.
  5. Don’t get too attached to the draw. When we invest the time in playing the game, sometimes we want to really make sure it is not winnable. With a computer game, we can undo, and then replay certain parts. Sometimes this leads to a win. But there is a point where we have to abandon an unproductive game, and go on to something worthwhile, because a game we cannot win, or even one we spend too much time winning, is no longer worthwhile. Maybe you COULD win after all. But at what cost?
  6. Most people cheat. When you ask someone who plays Solitaire with actual cards, how much they win, they report higher win rates than they experience on a computer game. It is so simple to shift a card, shuffle a deck, or reverse a draw pattern, giving us a chance to win simply by breaking the rules in some little way that we excuse for ourselves. We always discount this, and count the win anyway. We cheat more than we acknowledge. My own person observation and analysis shows this is fairly universal.
  7. Cheating skews your perspective regarding the odds of winning. This means you will recommend a game as winnable that YOU, PERSONALLY have to cheat, to win at the rate you credit yourself with. It does not make you GOOD at it, it just makes you INACCURATE at teaching about it.
  8. Playing a hand with physical cards is DIFFERENT than computer Solitaire. You can cheat more easily with cards. The computer generally stops that, but you are limited by the programmer’s interpretation of the rules (and some are implemented incorrectly), and you are given additional tools to aid in playing more easily.
  9. It is HARD to play a new game when you don’t have a copy of the rules. Ponder that.
  10. The best games are the ones that are less popular. The games we love most are not Klondike or Freecell.
  11. We enjoy Solitaire more when we have a variety of games. We rarely love it when we lock ourselves into a single game.
  12. The game that is easy to win is not always the best game. Those games that require more skill to win are the most fun for me. Those that are easy to win are what I go to when my brain is overloaded, and I just need to be able to do something right.
  13. The “Best” game is the game YOU think is best. It is never the one someone else likes best.
  14. Winning is never just chance, and never just skill. It is always BOTH. Even with an “easy” game.
  15. If we pay attention, SKILL develops over time, and a game we could not win, becomes winnable. The skills may be somewhat different from game to game.
  16. The rules of the game, and the way it is played results in a WIDE variation of winnability. Some games are simply easier to win than others, even when we have no skill. We learn to filter for those games we consider to be WORTH trying to win.
  17. Sometimes the Undo command allows a more realistic life experience, and sometimes a LESS realistic one, depending on what you are relating it to. Sometimes errors can be undone and corrected in life. Sometimes they cannot.
  18. With Computer Solitaire, you get either a single game in an application, or a bundle of games. Your perception of Solitaire on the computer is strongly affected by the software you choose. The Programmer becomes the origination of your Definition of Computer Solitaire. In life, our definitions of various activities and endeavors may be defined by OUR programmers – our parents, teachers in school, college professors, employers, government, etc.
  19. If we approach Solitaire with a track record in analytical problem solving, we will develop our own set of guidelines to improve the odds of winning. Things like looking for a hand with aces showing, or simple rules for ourselves about when we play the drawn card, and when we pass on it, depending on the objective of the game.
  20. The way the computer automates the game is NOT always the best way. You can’t always let the computer do it for you, sometimes you have to place the cards yourself in order to get them to go in correctly.

So we do not intend to imply that all the world may be explained and rationalized through the lens of Solitaire.

But it does give one something to think about.

Etsy Fail

I had a product to sell. I finally decided to give Etsy a try.

Created the shop just fine. Loaded product. shop went live.

Minimal traffic. I have to market it, I know that.

Then the backend. You have to put in your bank account info. We expect that.

But it won’t validate. It says I have to sign up for Plaid. A third party payment gateway that I have not heard of yet.

Plaid does not like my bank account. It says give it another one. Yeah… right. I’m just gonna open my wallet and give them ALL my accounts? I have this funny smell in my nose. Sorta like fishy.

The thing is, they ALREADY deposited ONE deposit into MY bank account. They have to do two to validate. They already told me that when I entered my info in the OTHER Place. NOT where they want me to sign up for Plaid.

And I can’t validate. They only deposited ONE deposit. No place TO enter in the info until I am cleared by Plaid.

Upshot is that they can BILL me, but they claim they cannot PAY me. They have enough information to satisfy themselves that they can TAKE money from me, but not enough information to GIVE money to me if my goods sell.

And they DO take the fees. $5. For LESS than one month of nothing.

I closed the shop after three weeks. No way to do business there. So I removed ALL of the goods from the shop, and followed the procedure to close it. They inform me it can take a few weeks for them to do that.

It is nearly a year later, and I am STILL receiving emails from them. “This Week In Your Etsy Shop” emails.

I don’t have a shop, Etsy. I closed it. You failed. You failed to give me a platform that I could use to do business.

Something still smells fishy about it.

The Smell Of Rain

I grew up in Washington State. I was an avid reader, and I had read references to the smell of rain, but had never experienced it. Washington, you see, was always wet where I lived, so it never smelled of rain. It never even smelled wet. It just did not smell at all. Where I lived, nobody EVER prayed for rain, let alone held Ward Fasts for rain.

But Yakima smelled of rain if it had been dry for a while. The smell of wet dust. It happened just as the rain started. Or sometimes JUST before the rain hit.

Wyoming is where I really knew what rain smelled like. It isn’t rain, it is the dampening of layers of dryness. An earthy smell that rises as the dirt first gets damp. It happened a lot, because it rarely rained back to back, it almost always really dried out in between cloudbursts.

There are so many things like this in my life now. I know what they are. I have a metaphor for them. But most people have never smelled the rain I am talking about, so the metaphor does not work, except for THAT conversation. The one where the other person is experiencing a thing, and is not certain whether ANYONE else will get it. Then the metaphor works. The smell of rain is a thing they know I know.

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