Sunday, July 10, 2011

Have you ever had one of those days?


It started innocently enough. I got up, drank my coffee, watched "Sunday Morning". Little did I know what would happen after that. It is one of those days.

If you know me at all, you know that I have trouble with time and dates. On my last trip to Europe, a complicated deal, I flew into Geneva, took a train to Lichtenstein, back to Lichtenstein, flew to Rome, back to Geneva and then home. Everything was going along quite nicely until I realized in Lichtenstein, I'd booked my return from Rome to Geneva in November 2011, which meant I could stay in Rome an extra 6 months. I still have no idea how I did that, but I did it so I kissed an extra 400.00 good bye so I could get home on time. Once, I went to Sweden a day early. That's another story. Well, better than a day late. I now use a travel agent for complicated trips - I have learned that lesson.

So, I shouldn't have been surprised by the fact that I'd double booked myself for an upcoming trip. I do have a calendar but, of course, hadn't made the proper entry so it looked like I was totally clear. I need a secretary, a mother, something! Now, I have to take care of that and make amends.

After that shock, I decided to cruise on our community area. You know, some of our members had customized their pages and I thought I'd do the same. Little did I know that I, as an administrator, had the power to change the whole community, not just my page, but the whole community. So, with one "save" the old page was gone and a new one in its place. Vernon yelled a little, I apologized a lot and I learned another lesson. Don't touch it if you don't understand it. Now, I actually prefer the new look but I didn't mean to do it.

After I recovered a bit from that excitement, I thought "I'll read my email" - that seemed safe. One of my emails was from the wonderful Anita. It seems that somehow I own one of another CraftEdu's instructor's class. And, I might have been paid for its sales. Back to Vernon. He told me that I had, indeed been paid for the class so wrote an email to the instructor, wrote a check and it'll go out tomorrow for her fees. God love him, he didn't yell.

As I am writing this blog, blogster is telling me it can't save (maybe) and there is some problem. I think I'll go back to bed and it's only 11:33am.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

When "Free" isn't "Free"


Okay, I am on a tear about internet scams. If I can fall for something, then it's likely someone else can, too. So, today, I'm going to tell you about something that I did, so maybe you won't do it, too.

There is a make up company called Mineral Elements - it's powdered make up. They offer you a "free trial" of their product for just the cost of shipping. Not an uncommon set up, this happens all the time. Companies want you to try their products and most of the time, it means you keep the samples sent. "Trial" is the operative word here but you only realize the importance of that word later.

Now, they do cover their bases, with a tiny little link to their "terms and conditions" but most people don't read that. I didn't but, let me tell you, I will always read them from now on. If I had read that, I would have known that these trial samples were in fact, part of an autoship program and I'd just joined their "club".

Thankfully, I researched this company at complaintsboard.com so I didn't get taken.

What happens is this. They send you their product and you have 10 - 14 days to try it (depends on who is selling it - it seems they franchise their products out). If you don't like it, you can cancel and send it back but you have to pay 130.00 for it - this isn't a trial, it's actually your first shipment as a member of their "club". Here's the rub - and where it's particularly devious - while they give you 14 days in the trial, they only give you 5 days in which you can cancel the "club" membership and not be charged for the product they sent (which is this little kit).

I called immediately upon receipt of the shipment to cancel my membership. I had to also tell them I wanted to return the product. Well, the nice lady told me I could keep the stuff for 34.00 and not have to pay postage. No way, I said, this is going back to you.

She sent me 2 emails, one had their Return Authorization number and here's another technicality. If you don't prominently display that number on the package, they won't recognize the return and you'll be charged the 130. I did and they did not charge me for it. Actually, they couldn't, after reading on complaintsboard, I cancelled my cc number and got a new one.

Some, who have signed on to this can't seem to get out of it. Every two months there's a charge for 130 on their cc statements.

This seems to be a new strategy to separate us from our money, watch out!

Note: the picture is of a typical Mineral Elements seller - I couldn't find the exact seller I used but the terms and conditions are the same but shipping and handling are actually higher.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Keep the Door Closed!

Okay, friends, this is how I see it. There are so many offers of "free ipads" so many scams about friends in distress in Scotland needing you to send them funds. So many ways that someone is trying to get your money! And, then we get the legit but bothersome emails that seem to come at us out of nowhere. How do they find us?

One way seems to be data mining by legitimate sites we sign on to. Facebook, for instance. Now, I love facebook, it's a great way to communicate easily but they aren't immune to using our information to pad their bottom line.

Here's an article on the Huffington Post about Facebook's new plan to get our personal information - that will then be passed on to whoever is willing to pay for it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/18/facebook-privacy-breach-settings_n_766468.html#s159330&title=Change_What_Information

Now, right this minute, if you do apps like Farmville or Mafia Wars, you've opened yourself up to whatever you've written in the information you gave to facebook. I look at it like this. Facebook is like a room that belongs to you. There is one door to this room and only facebook has the key to come in and out (and your friends, of course). When you friend them, they got the key that enables them to communicate with you and you with them. This key gives your friends access to that personal stuff you've approved to be shared. Apps don't have the key. You give them the key when you click "Allow" before you give away those fish or flowers or rutabaga plants. I don't do apps, I refuse to give them the key to my room. For all I know, they could have the same key you gave to facebook, not your friends, but to facebook.

I've always accepted that I have to give facebook the key, otherwise I can't have the room. But, with their soon to be increasing need to have my information, I am thinking...I don't have to give them my real information, do I?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Devious Scam 1

With all the hacking and phishing and downright evil scams on the net, I'm going to start posting them when I find out about them. Maybe save someone from being victimized.

Here's a particularly devious theft scheme. This happened to a friend of mine but she didn't, in the end fall for it. Thank heaven for that.

You're contacted about art lessons for some very wealthy person's child (usually foreign). They've seen your work and you are the only artist (in the whole world) for their precious Nigel. They want you so badly, they will send you a cashier's check or money order to cover your services in advance. They send you the bogus whatever it is and tell you please, deposit it - they trust you - this is just the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

It takes the bank time to figure this is a bad check so they almost immediately contact you and tell you Nigel broke all his fingers playing cricket and so, they are so very sorry, in addition to his broken fingers, now it's breaking his little heart, but he cannot possibly attend your classes so would you mind returning their funds? The bank hasn't told you the check is bad yet and you think you should return this nice man's money, so you write him a check and send it back. Only, his check was never good and you just gave him your good money.

People prey on many things, appreciation of our talents. Trust - they trust you so why not trust them? Relationships, by now you feel like you know the broken Nigel and his dad. The only things you can really trust are your family and friends. If you get this one, give it a pass, fast!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

"Okay, Pard, load up the six shooters. There's a new clay in town."

Maybe that's what John Wayne would say, but that's John Wayne. And even he wouldn't say it as he's gone on to the big round up in the sky.

New products that directly compete with our products can be cause for alarm and worry. I find this rather pointless and counter-productive. This kind of thinking just stops my forward progress and takes my focus away from what is most important to me, my own product! I believe in my clay, so why worry. We do the best we can, there is always room for improvement and frequently a new player initiates innovation. So, I don't go there.

So, let's talk about Pardo clay. When I was in Germany teaching, a team of 5 artists - Bettina Welker, Martina Weller, Ulricke Schaffrath, Kersten Rupprecht and Anke Humpert were busy at work testing formulas and working with the company on this new formulation. These ladies asked for nothing from the company, they just wanted a clay like Kato Polyclay, that they could actually lay their hands on, in Germany. BTW, our distribution channels are much improved and you can now get our clay in Germany!

I know how hard the work they were doing is. Testing and more testing, discussing what they'd discovered, giving their input back to the company and getting another batch to test again. I'd done it when we formulated Kato.

The result of the countless hours of their labor is now available. It should, by rights, be called something including all their names or maybe their first initials but naming a product is a corporate decision and some companies won't put a name, other than their own, on any product.

Even though I have my own clay, I believe that not any one clay can possibly be perfect for everyone so, if you can, you should give them all a try. And, if you ever meet up with my hard working friends, give them a good pat on the back, they deserve it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

history

I'm a political person - I try to hold myself in check but it's part of who I am. Some people think my train has gone off the rails - politics, religion, too personal for public view. But, I guess I've never been particularly put off by this, as a child of the 60s, it feels like "selling out".

In putting my ideals and opinions out there, I've lost customers - because many hold their beliefs as dear and are as convinced of their "rightness" as I do. That's okay, I can handle that. Our beliefs are largely given to us by our parents. Their beliefs from theirs and, of course, those things that are out of our control, but affect us, factor in to what we believe is right and wrong.

In this environment, it's hard not to have some opinion about the many troubles we find ourselves in. The economy, jobs, homelessness, Arizona, the Park 51 Mosque. Big problems, huge problems. I want to talk about the Park 51 Mosque and the growing hatred of Muslims.

I'm Japanese-American. My parents and their families lived on the west coast - mom on Coronado Island and dad in L.A. My grandparent came to the US from Japan and my parents were born here, making them US citizens. That didn't protect them from being rounded up and put in internment camps - the constitution failed them, entirely. They were able to take only what they could wear, or carry with them.

Grandma was pregnant and my Uncle Paul was the first baby born at the Santa Anita racetrack. Grandpa was into the martial arts - Kendo - big long bamboo swords. I guess that was the reason he was taken from the family months before they had to leave Coronado Island - or was it because he was a gardener? For the duration of the war, Grandma and the family had no idea where he was - whether he was alive or dead.

When the war was over, each internee was given 25 dollars and a ticket to wherever they wanted to go. Good-bye.

So, when the tragedy of 9/11 occurred, my family were filled with not just the fear of attack and the grief of senseless loss of life, we were also filled with fear for the Muslims. Through the lens of our experience, we knew that what happened to Japanese Americans could happen to Muslim Americans. The one good thing that Bush did was to forcefully come out and state that we were not at war with Islam. President Obama has tried to do the same thing but with the unreasonable hate that is directed at him, his words have fallen on deaf ears.

I'm worried. I wonder if our Constitution will hold fast to its ideals or if it will fail as it failed my family. Park 51 is, from what I understand, a community center with a prayer room - isn't that the YMCA? But that isn't even the issue here. We are supposed to live in a nation that offers religious freedom. Believe what you will or don't - we have that right. And, I believe much of the ruckus masks a deep seated, fear of what people do not understand - that which is "foreign". My family were "foreign" and so are Muslims.

Will fear win? Will the Constitution be shredded to appease those who claim to honor it, but only when it serves them? For me, an exception here, an exception there and we're building camps again.

Monday, September 6, 2010

puzzles - an approach to design



Some people have an idea of exactly what they want to make. They sketch and labor over whether this goes here or there. I tried it but then struggled with the issue of scale. Looked great on paper but something was not quite right when I got it all together. So I changed my approach - not everything works for everyone.

I love puzzles and games. I play them all the time (when I have time) on Vernon's birthday present to me, My ipad! I make lots of components and then put them together. I take them apart, put them together. The process can take some time but I enjoy it because it's feels like a puzzle, a problem that I get to solve!

These earrings are the result of one of my polymer gaming sessions. I like them quite a lot.