Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Calming of Chaos

My work life the past five months has ranged from famine to feast. Let's face it—my personal life has been running at the speed of light also. I'm hoping work stays at feast, but feast can be hard to manage.

My boss recently got a new client that seems to be needing my help a lot. I am getting eight-to-ten emails a day from this client with changes that need to be made to their site. All the subject lines end with "ASAP". And you know me—I want to make that happen.

But I'm having a hard time keeping track of everything. Until, that is, a couple of days ago when I realized how Google calendar can help me.

I'm pretty bad about checking my calendar. I keep everything in my head and just start to work on whatever's at the top of my mental heap. But if you go into your Google calendar and click the little gear icon on the upper right - Settings - you'll find your new best friend. (You all use Google calendar, right? You should! It's genius!!)

Click Calendar Settings. On the next screen, under the "Calendar Settings" heading, click Calendar. After the name of your calendar, click Notifications. On the next screen, you're going to specify how you want to be notified. I want a daily agenda, and I want it to hit my inbox before I even wake up. So I click the email checkbox to the right of "Daily agenda".

Genius! Pure freaking genius!! The first thing I do when I wake up is reach for my phone and hit my email button. Right there, in living color, are the items I've got to do. I can let my brain relax from trying to remember everything all night long. I'm good to go.

Try it. You'll like love it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Me, as Activist

Oh, stop laughing! I am well aware that I'm probably the most non-confrontational person you've ever known. But Jo-Ann's has pushed me over the edge, and I'm fighting back the only way I can.

A while back I discovered the iPhone app for Jo-Ann's. I was thrilled. The app would present the Jo-Ann's coupons to me and let me choose which ones I wanted to use and save them to my phone. Then, when checking out at Jo-Ann's, I could just show the cashier the code, which would be entered into the register and I'd get the discount on my purchase.

<Rant On>
Let me just say that Jo-Ann's coupons are frequently useless or good only for a small amount. The coupons state that they cannot be used on sale merchandise, so Jo-Ann's keeps most everything on sale, even for just 50 cents off, so the coupons are no good. It's a crock, really! Why can't all retailers just set a reasonable price and quit spending money on all the stupid coupons?!
<Rant Off>

I'm on Jo-Ann's hardcopy mail list, and their stinking flyers arrive in my mailbox once or twice a week. I don't care about the flyer itself, I just want the coupon. And I was so thrilled to find the app so I could get off their stinking mail list. I never can remember to take the flyers with me, or I'll pop in on a whim and not have a coupon with me.

So the app meant I didn't have to worry about that.

A flyer arrived last week offering 40% off a purchase, and I needed a hem marker, which cost about $35.00. When I was near Jo-Ann's running errands, I ran in, grabbed the only hem marker that was on the shelf, and proceeded to check-out. I pulled up the app and looked at the coupons, and the 40%-off coupon wasn't there!!!

There was a coupon for $5 off a purchase over $25. I opened it, and the dates on it said it was good from (for example) 9/15/2010-9/15/2011. Yea, I could use it. So I clicked on the coupon to bring it to the page where the cashier could see the code, and the date on it said it was good from 9/15/2011-9/15/2011. Huh?! (The date was the day after I was in the store.) I showed the cashier that discrepancy, but she said the only date that mattered was the one displayed on the final screen.

So I sighed and grumbled and paid the full price for the notion and went home. The next day I found an excuse to be in that area again (about 12 miles away from my home), grabbed the 40%-off coupon, took the notion back, returned it, then rebought it with the coupon.

And made a major life-changing resolution. I'm never going into Jo-Ann's again. NEVER.

Here are the issues:
  • They have several sets of coupons;

  • they insist on killing lots of trees to send these flyers to my physical mailbox;

  • the crap they advertise in the flyers is of no interest to me, only the coupons;

  • they have paid to have an app created, which includes coupons and the ability to save the coupons;

  • they have the ability to include all coupons in the app, and refuse to do so.

I'm sick of their crap and I'm not going to stand for it any more.

The pattern companies and offer pattern sales that are better than Jo-Ann's coupons. I can shop on their sites and will have the pattern in three days or less.

I almost never buy fabric at Jo-Ann's anyway, as I prefer natural fabrics, and the only natural fabrics they offer are quilting cottons (that are, as a rule, of lower quality than the quilting cottons offered at Sew Much More, a mile down the street.

The primary reason I go to Jo-Ann's is for notions — zippers, thread, fasteners, and so on. But there are other suppliers. There's a dry cleaner's supply that offers zippers at ridiculously low prices. I can wait a few days, and pay $.32 for a zipper instead of $2.39. And Nancy's Notions has every other notion I could want, at competitive prices, and with selection bar none.

For years my sons and I talked about "delayed gratification" versus "instant gratification". Put off buying something that you don't really need today. It's all about planning ahead.

So if I know I have a project ahead, I simply need to plan a few days ahead, order my supplies from an online source, and to hell with the insane marketing practices of Jo-Ann's. I'm not going to play their silly game any more.

Now I will admit that my activistic decision flies in the face of my other resolution: buy local. When I can't buy local, I try to buy at the local bricks-and-mortar of a national chain. In this way, I'm supporting the job of a local worker.

But I feel I can no longer support Jo-Ann's or the local workers in their stores. Would I go back? Would their putting all available coupons on my app cause me to renege and shop at Jo-Ann's again? I don't know.

Probably, by the time they get around to wising up about the amount of money they're wasting on ink and paper, I'll be sewing in my columbarium chamber!

I rarely rant. I rarely speak out about things that really upset me, as I'm always afraid of hurting someone's feelings. But this time, Jo-Ann's has gone too far for me.

One less place I have to waste gas driving to.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Personal Rants and Raves vs Artistic Joy

I've been renovating my lesser-used blog today, getting it ready to become a project gallery. And I've started posting the travel photos from Ireland, if you're interested. Travel photos at "Exploring Art, One Project at a Time".