Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Movies on the Lawn

I guess Tony'd been thinking about getting a projector thingy for a while, but he hardly ever lets on when he wants something, so it was kind of a surprise to me. So yesterday, we're driving around - I'd suggested we find a B&N so I could get Michel Thomas' Spanish lesson CDs (that's how I learned what Italian I know -- his stuff is great), and he stops off at a Best Buy.

"What for?" I ask.

"Oh, just to look around," he says.

Now, this is unusual in itself as Tony is not really a shopper. Let me repeat that. He's not a shopper. Like many guys, he formulates a plan in his head, goes to the store, spends as little time as possible there, and comes out with just whatever the thing was he wanted to buy. He's bought an entire wardrobe in, like, 5 minutes. I kid you not.

So we wander around Best Buy for a while. I find all kinds of stuff I wouldn't mind getting (I am a shopper, I'm afraid). Then he finally admits what it is he's actually looking for (after he couldn't find it -- they have the projectors hidden in a dark aisle at the back of the store where they were storing a ladder). Pretty pricey at Best Buy and we didn't really find anyone to give us any input (ha, ha, big surprise).

So we leave, me thinking he'll just do some research online or whatnot. We go to the Barnes & Noble over in the Summit Center off of Hurstborne, and I find the Spanish CDs (which I really, really need to start today -- I'm so behind....) Then he spies an Office Depot and we stop in there "just to see what they have."

Well, everything the OD has is w-a-y cheaper than what BB had. Even the screens (you know, the white screen thingies on a stand that you pull down, kinda like what they used to have in classrooms) was 1/2 the price. Tony finds an Optoma projector with great specs for 1/3 the price of a comparable thing at BB. And so we get it. Me, I hem and haw over stuff like that, but when Tony sees what he wants -- bam! Boom! The good news -- besides being so much cheaper at OD, I also already had an Advantage membership, so we should get 10% back in OD gift certificates. Works for me!

So, anyway...we make a pilgrimage...er, stop at Lowe's and get a large canvas dropcloth. Tony gets that all strung up between the pillars of our back porch and Alakazam! We have movies on the lawn! We watched Star Wars: Episode IV (A New Hope). How cool is that? I so wanna have a movies on the lawn party now. The projector is nice and portable at only 4ish pounds. Now we can watch movies anywhere! We still don't have cable, but movies are great. Got lots of DVDs that'll be fun to watch on the "big screen" :-) and a NetFlix membership that maybe we'll use more now.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I wish...

I wish I had something to say. No, actually, I wish I had something to say that I *could* say. Got lots of things I want to say, but nothing I can really actually post about in a public forum.

I shouldn't be typing anyway...had to get trigger point injections in my elbow yesterday. Been doing too much data entry or something...my elbow has been so sore you couldn't even touch it. Now, of course, it's the really, really sore you get from the shots -- i.e. "it gets worse before it gets better" thing. Lucky the bruise isn't too bad, so Tony won't get evil stares from passersby.

In writing news...been thinking about Abigail. And sent off the complete MS (as requested) and a synopsis of the next book in the To Suck or Not to Suck series (I re-titled This Bites because too many other books had similar titles). Keeping fingers crossed. This is to a publisher, rather than an agent. Don't really want to say more. Don't want to jinx myself.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

And the letters....are out!

The last few days have been a whirlwind of art show activity. After a brief interlude without it (Tony's sister and her family came for the weekend), everything went full force this week. Got all the jury scores entered in, determined the cut off point for jury invites, wait list, and rejections. Got the letters generated, stuffed envelopes, etc. etc. Mary and Lois came over the last part. I'm very glad to see that part done with. Whew.

Next up is just more work on the site, doing booth assignments and what not. Demoing to the consortium.

But, today, I'm going to Chicago to be with Tony for a while :-) A pre-anniversary celebration at a nice restaurant. It will be good to get away. Tony's mom is going to watch the cats while we're gone.

Just a short trip -- I leave this afternoon and come back Friday afternoon. He's up there already for work, so I'll be on my own Thursday during the day. Maybe I'll find a nice cafe and do some writing or, at the very least, some tourist-y stuff. Gah, or maybe I'll just sleep all day.

Friday, May 12, 2006

No help

Sigh. I don't know what to do about the YABC website. The Google adwords advertsing was going relatively well...and then, very strangely, as the pageviews went up, the clicks went down (according to Google). Of course, even more strangely, the Google reported pageviews went down...it makes no sense. The site has been getting well over 200K pageviews a month, but Google only reports a fraction of that and I have at least the banner ad on every page.

I've emailed them about it a few times and they basically say "Sorry." Which basically means, "We're a great big huge company now and we can't be bothered that you're giving us thousands of pages of free advertising that we're not going to pay you for. Sucks to be you! Ta-ta!"

Even using an average assumption based on how many clicks I was getting before (when Google's reported pageviews were at least closer to what my stats show), I should be getting about double what they are giving me.

I used to use FastClick, but they hardly paid much at all and had annoying animated ads and junk ads to boot. I just can't go back there. I spent more time reviewing the ads to make sure I wasn't displaying gambling or dating sites than working on the site. At least, if felt that way.

I may just have to cut back on the free books or something. I can't afford to keep running it at such a huge deficit. The Google $$ was covering the hosting costs (which were $40/month and are now $50/month) but now I'm only getting just over $30/month from them. Amazon income last quarter was just under $30, though it went up to around $70/quarter around Christmas. It's the shipping costs that are killing me. Shipping is costing me somewhere around $100/month (sometimes more, sometimes less). Then there's the other expenses - domain name, forum, newsletter...

At the moment, I'm in the red almost $800 so far this year.

I hate to do it, but the only thing that makes sense, if I can't find other ways to earn some income off of the site, is to start disengaging from the forum giveaway and maybe even the forum in general. It costs me money to run it and most of the people in the forum either never visit the site, or already did anyway. And before I re-instituted the forum giveaway, it was really quiet in there.

I may have to do away with the review giveaway too. I don't know. Ugh. Maybe it will just go down to the publisher sponsored contests (which I still pay shipping for) + the random newsletter giveaway, since that is only once a month. Though I still have to do something with the prize books. Maybe I'd just do a set giveaway instead of the review thing. I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.

Metal and Wood

I'm back to doing data entry -- had a brief break yesterday while I was getting the next book mailing together -- and I'm going through the Metal and Wood mediums today. All done with Mixed Media and Sculpture.

I've got mouse elbow. It's killing me. I'm going to have to start icing it, I swear. And no, that's not good yummy icing...

I've decided that artists, as a group, have terrible handwriting. And a lot of them have kind of elevated...er, healthy... self esteem. ("I need a larger booth space than normal because our booth is always crowded. We should be on a corner so other artists won't get jealous.") And they usually tend to be the ones that have really horrid art. We got a lot of good submissions this year, but some of 'em...whew. Ugly. No, wait...fugly.

I'm trying to keep things in perspective though. I need to not get so whelmed and annoyed by it all. After all, if I were dealing with what Saundra is dealing with right now...yikes. My thoughts go out to her. I would be totally freaking out if anything like that happened to Tony. My biggest worry with him is just being able to get some time with him inbetween his trips. Which sucks, but doesn't suck like what she's dealing with.

Anyway, back to work. I have to go pick up dry cleaning and hit the Post Office after 4, so I've got a good 2 hours to plug away.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Do da doo dee da

Listening to Luxuriamusic. Sadly, it isn't a Lounge King night. But it's still good.

We got through the jurying, now I'm in the middle of entering apps into the system. Have gotten through Mixed Media 2D and 3D and Printmaking and am about to finish Sculpture. Mary did Jewelry and I just need to go back and fix a couple of things (she couldn't figure out edit) and Rich is working on Photography, Fiber, Clothing, and Wood (I think).

Next, after all the apps are in, enter in the Jury scores, then generate address lists and letters. Stuff envelopes.

I just ordered a Papa John's pizza. I was going to just eat leftovers, but that's what I had last night. And hey, we're where PJ's was born and I don't think we've had one since we moved here. And you can order online without picking up the phone...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Outside Upside

I'm working outside today. It's mostly nice -- looks like it might rain, but I figured if I was going to be chained to my computer, I might as well enjoy the weather. Grace is hanging out with me too and she's enjoying it -- she likes to sit on the chairs under the table so she can see but no one can see her.

The garden is really coming along and the wildflower one has sprouted -- so the birds didn't get all of the seeds after all, the sneaky devils.

I got the YABC contest posted today (urk, a day late) and caught up on some of my email. Did a bit of work on the art show website and now...off to do some more getting the artists stuff ready for jurying.

Also helped clean out the laundry room a bit (Donna was here today -- she's the new lady I have helping me with the housework stuff I can't do). Fed the squirrels, fed the birds. I swear, they are eating more now than they did in winter. I don't get it.