Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tangible Tidbits 2010 #42: Our One-Year Anniversary and My Hedgehog Concept

Greetings, one and all! :)

Something Tangible LLC celebrated its one-year anniversary on October 26. It was a low-key event...I didn't even remember it until just now! LOL :o I had a lot going on this week, both personally and professionally, so it just kind of fell off my radar. :\ My, how things change in a year! ;)

My older niece Jamie wanted me to tell you that she made some spiral coil beads for me this week. She was home from school with cough-variant asthma on Wednesday -- the poor baby has it rough this time of year -- and ended up at my house because both parents were working. She's on a Disney cruise this week with her parents and sister, so I can't feel TOO sorry for her. (Love you, Jamie!) ;)

I also came to a decision regarding the after care job at the Karate center. I got a call on Wednesday while I was at my chiropractor's office, asking about an incident that had happened the previous Friday. Someone on the street overheard me scolding an obstinate child on the way to the park. I was trying to be heard over the construction on Springfield Avenue and the child's "Don't talk to me" rants while covering her ears. Apparently, in this day and age, raising your voice to a child is considered verbal abuse. This is the second time the owner and I had this discussion...regarding this particular child. I decided right then and there that I didn't want to deal with this situation any longer. I don't agree with "the system" that reprimanding a misbehaving child is abuse. I also have a naturally loud voice -- as most of you undoubtedly know -- and when I raise it, it probably comes across as shouting to others, as my mother pointed out to me. In any case, the job was taking too much time away from my own work for Something Tangible, and dealing with this child was stressing me the point I dreaded even going there. So, that phase is over. Luckily, the owner understood my side and he also doesn't agree with the rule, although he does have to conform to it. Thankfully, I don't. I can just remove myself from the situation. He told me yesterday that he's been talking up the mother-daughter workshop to his members, so it looks like that will still happen. Keep your fingers crossed for me! ;)

Had I known about The Hedgehog Concept when I was mulling over the job opportunity, I would have turned it down. For those of you not familiar with the idea, it was originated by James C. Collins in his 2001 management book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't. I learned about it recently in a video by Gideon Shalwick. Anyway, you draw three overlapping circles, kind of like a pretzel. The first circle is "Things I like to do," the second one is "Things I do well," and the third is "Things I can get paid for doing." The middle section where all three circles intersect is called your Hedgehog Concept. I have learned over the past year that my Hedgehog Concept is making handcrafted jewelry. I never knew I had the talent until I tried, but I enjoy it and people do pay me for it. :D Since taking a job as an after care counselor does not fit in nor support my Hedgehog Concept, so I should have rejected it. Naturally, it is easier to make decisions about what direction to take once you know where you are going! ;) It's taken me almost 42 years, but now I know. :)

In other work-related matters, the November 2 workshop has been canceled because not enough people registered for it. I'm still holding hope for the November 14 one, but not a very strong hope. :\

I've been busily making wax models for my Monday night classes. I invested three more last week and I'm working on a special one at the moment...a promise I made to a friend earlier in the year. I will cast the three I invested last week in bronze tomorrow night. I'm running low on sterling silver, and I want to see how they turn out in bronze. ;) To date, I've made two rings, two pendants and a pin. The pin cracks me up. I just cast it to have enough pieces for a critique, which still hasn't happened yet. When I was cleaning it, I rotated it in my hand to see which way I liked it best. On the fourth turn, I noticed that it looks like a calf's head! I wasn't trying to make one, but it's a REALLY GOOD one! LOL Complete with a faceted black onyx eye. The funny thing about that is the Rutgers Marching Band Color Guard were called cows (a term of endearment, believe it or not!). So, I have a few friends who will laugh really hard when they see it. ;)

I got a response from "Mystery Moderator" last week. He claims he can't change his screen name, but he did see my point about transparency building trust. At least he wasn't singling me out, although he did delete my event listings without telling me. Not a big fan of that, either. :\ By the way, the group is Get Traffic 3.0 and they are a REALLY enthusiastic and supportive bunch! We're all posting our Facebook Fan Pages so we can "Like" each other's. The Something Tangible LLC page has 994 as of this morning (WHOO HOO!) and the Virtual Mall page has 378. The ad campaign I ran for that ended last week, so the new "Likes" are all probably from GT3.0 and new Friends on my personal page. :)

I still haven't received the price tags, bags, and boxes I ordered for next week's Holiday Bazaar on Saturday and Jewels of New Jersey on Sunday. I hope I get them early in the week, so I'll have time to price the items before Saturday morning! :o I have a lot of stuff I want to do before Saturday -- like making some chain maille bracelets and earrings in holiday colors, for example -- I just hope I have enough time to get everything done! At least I've gotten the 12+ hours back from not going to the Karate center in the afternoons. :)

One last note, as this message is pretty long already...I recently found out we can select personalized usernames for our Facebook Fan Pages, so I've done that for the two I have. These are much easier to remember than all of those numbers, etc. generated by Facebook:

I also did one for the Home page of the Something Tangible Application, in case that Facebook bookmark ever becomes viable again:

The application is back again, but I can't change the bookmark because the viable link starts with, and the settings won't accept that. :( Anyway, if you've never seen the application, check out the Home page link above (it works) and see if you can get to this page:

For whatever reason, I can't even post it as a link in won't work. :(

Happy Halloween, and go easy on the candy! ;)
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tangible Tidbits 2010 #41: I Probably Should Post Tomorrow, But...

Hi, everyone! I'm really annoyed at the moment because I just got a notice from someone who calls himself "Mystery Moderator" at a new coaching program group on Ning that I joined this week. I was told not to promote my products or services, or I would be suspended for spam. First of all, I think the moderator should have the guts to use his real name and show his picture. Everyone knew who I was when I moderated Michael's Retreat, and they respected me for being fair, as well as being upfront and open about what would and would not be tolerated on the board. Secondly, I do not recall "promoting" myself aside from telling people who specifically asked me what I do. I did post photos of my pieces and events on My Page, but it is MY PAGE. What should it reflect if not who I am and what I do? I did not invite anyone to the events...I just put them on My Page. I did not send anyone the photos...again, I just put them on MY PAGE. I replied to Mystery Moderator that I would be happy to leave the group if My Page offends him, once he refunds my money. I also asked what I did to deserve the "warning." Anyone who knows me knows that I am basically a rule-follower. I admitted I was not aware that promoting your business was against the rules -- generally, it is the point of groups such as this one. However, I also do not recall doing that beyond setting up my My Page. We'll see what happens next, but I'm thinking I may not want to be there after all. :(

But I, back to business (we allow that here)! My first critique at school is tomorrow night. I currently have five pieces to show the teacher, and two more wax models I finished up this week at home to cast after the critique. I had to clean up my newer pieces yesterday, so I wouldn't be embarrassed showing them to Dr. Browning. Did I ever mention he is the head of the Metalwork & Jewelry Department? :o One or two are not quite what I wanted them to be, but we'll have to see how nitpicky he is. My guess is very nitpicky. Wish me luck! ;)

I missed this month's Bead Society of New Jersey meeting on Thursday due to a migraine headache. My sister gets them on occasion, but I never have. When I was on Topomax -- the psychiatrist suggested we hold off going back on it when I saw her this week, BTW -- I did have bad headaches, but Topomax is supposed to help migraines. I often wondered how bad those headaches would be if I wasn't on Topomax. Now, I know! I was miserable from about 2:30 p.m. until 7:15 a.m. the next day! Slept a lot, thankfully. I'm not looking forward to getting one again, so hopefully I won't! >:

It looks like the Mother/Daughter workshop at Blue Life Karate and Fitness will be on Saturday, November 13. Time TBD. I will keep you posted on how that goes. My after care coworker is interested, and so is the owner's fiancee. Those are two good signs, IMHO! :)

I had a dry run teaching experience today, working with my nieces to make pearl and crystal rings from kits we got at Michael's. Given that working with two of them took maybe 45 minutes, I'm wondering if making a double-strand bracelet with my younger niece's 13-child Brownie Troop is a bit ambitious. I may have to rethink that one and switch to rings! :o

I'm getting ready for the back-to-back craft shows the first weekend in November. I bought a bunch of supplies from Staples and Walgreens, so I think I'm pretty close to set. I had a checklist I found online, so it helped me a lot in knowing what to bring...items I would not have thought about such as a mirror, first-aid and jewelry first-aid kits, etc. The only thing I don't have is back-up, unfortunately. My sister's family is away that weekend, and Mom has plans with her sisters. Hopefully, the days won't be too long. I'm used flying solo most of the time, but every once in a while, I really wish I had a wingman! ;)

Given that I was otherwise occupied most of the weekend, I'm still working on the photos for this week's Virtual Garage Sale, so I had better get back to it. Have a great week! Catch you on Halloween! :D
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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tangible Tidbits 2010 #40: From Factoidz to Facebook

Hey, everyone! I've been very productive this week...published a new article on Factoidz, signed up for a second holiday craft show, finished up my second class project, and invested three more last Monday night to cast tomorrow night! I'm also still auctioning off my TV fandom stuff, so that takes up most of my weekends these days between grouping items into packages and deciding what to sell each week, finding the items, photographing them, and then posting them on the message board. :p If I calculated the hours spent vs. the funds brought in, I think I would probably be in the red. :\

As I mentioned last week, I thought I would get more mileage out of the instructions I wrote for my November workshops by reworking them for Factoidz and YouTube. The Factoidz article was not too time-consuming, so that's here: How To Make A Twisted Wire and Bead Necklace -- No Tools Required! I've slipped to the #2 jewelry-making expert on Factoidz again, so I have to keep publishing to recoup and maintain the lead. ;)

As for YouTube, I started playing with a tutorial, but Windows Movie Maker projected it would be something like six hours long, so I may have to kill that idea. LOL If I get a Kodak Flip camera for my birthday or Christmas, as I don't foresee myself splurging on one between now and then, I will start making videos for YouTube and my blog in the new year. ;) "They" -- those in the know about internet marketing -- say videos are the way to go in order to reach your audience more effectively because it gives them a clear image of who you are...lets them get to know you and become comfortable dealing with you. The same "they" are also touting Facebook as "the next Google" in terms of network traffic and becoming the next pay-per-click goldmine. That might explain why there are ads ALL OVER my pages lately...and you can't even click them off! I don't mind them on the sides, but keep them out of the middle of my profile page, please! :( Ironically, I posted about the benefits of Facebook advertising in one of my early blog posts back in mid-January. My father always liked us to be "in the vanguard" as he called it. He'd be so proud of me! LOL

Speaking of Facebook, the Something Tangible application has disappeared completely. There's not even an error message anymore. And I can't find Gift Creator, which was the application I used to create it. I guess they got fed up with people complaining that their apps were going down all the time, so they pulled the plug. Nice of them to notify us, though. :\

As I said last week, I started some new Facebook pages for my workshops, since my phone hasn't been ringing off the hook with registrations. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the people responding "yes" are serious and not just being Facebook polite. LOL I also started running some Facebook ads to promote the Virtual Mall Fan Page. I think I came up with six for this campaign -- that option wasn't available last December, if I recall correctly. Anyway, one or two of them seem to be doing really well. I think I have something like 336 "people who like this" since the middle of the week. :)

Regarding the second craft show, it's the 2nd annual Jewels of New Jersey to benefit Monroe Township Library. Only New Jersey jewelry artists are invited, and I received the invite on the Bead Society's Yahoogroup. The terms aren't as good as the Round Valley United Methodist Church is offering, but it's the day after (Sunday, November 7), so I figured I may as well go while everything was still packed up. ;) I just realized that I will probably be exhausted on Monday and I will have class that night! I haven't gotten out of there before 10:00 p.m. (one week it was after midnight!) the past couple of weeks, but I think that week I'll call it a night early. :p

In addition, the owner of Blue Life Karate wants me to hold a one-hour Mother-daughter workshop there. He thinks it would be good to do it before the holidays to generate interest. Nothing's firm yet, so we'll see if it comes together. :)

I will be posting my first class project as the new Focal Piece of the Month -- I haven't written it yet, but I figured I may as show everyone what I'm doing this semester. :) The monthly website changes should be going up in the next two weeks, so keep an eye out for them. ;)

As for my personal life, my Virtual Garage Sale auctions have been a bit slow going, but I have enough stuff to raise a respectable amount for Fondation MIRA. No one's buying the "Moonlight" stuff so far, so we'll see what happens. I may just make a nominal donation to Donate Life America myself. ;)

Well, I think that's enough for now. Have a good week! :D
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tangible Tidbits 2010 #39: Blame It On the Cable Company & Calcium Oxalates

Hey, everyone! I'm really sorry to be so late this week, but we were without a land line phone and internet connection from Sunday morning until late yesterday afternoon. Lots of miscommunication with the cable company, so the services finally came back up just in time for me to leave for class last night. That's the trouble with having one provider for your phone, internet, and cable services -- if one service goes down, there's an increased likelihood another one will go down with it! :o Then, I didn't get home until approximately 1:00 a.m. from school! I went straight to bed, but I haven't slept well the past few nights because of an allergic reaction to calcium oxalates. If I have anything with calcium oxalates in it, my entire body itches 48 hours later. I mean, my ENTIRE body...inside my ears, inside my nose, my scalp. It's really irritating, and it sometimes keeps me up at night, too. :p I had vegetable soup on Friday night and a filet mignon prepared with some seasoning mix on Saturday night. Both contained black pepper, which is a no-no. Lesson learned...NO MORE BLACK PEPPER! I would say "I need my Mommy to take care of me so that I watch what I eat more closely," but she's the one who fed them to me! LOL :\ Anyway, I slept late because I was awake a lot last night, and I got up just in time to make an appointment. Now, I'm fitting this in before I go to the after care job. ;)

As a result of these delays, I will probably send out this week's Virtual Mall Discounts & Deals on Thursday or Friday. ;)

Quick rundown of what progress I made last week: I opened up a new Facebook Fan Page for the Virtual Mall, three Facebook Event pages for my November 2 and November 14 workshops and my Virtual Garage Sale, created a new necklace while typing up the instructions and taking step-by-step photos to use as a guide in my workshops, and spent the internet down time entering data into my database. I'm getting close to finishing that up! :D

I will probably post the instructions as a Factoidz article without photos at some point, and offer readers the opportunity to get the full version by email. I may also create a video from them, and post it to our YouTube account, making the same offer to viewers. :)

I also posted the back issues of the Virtual Mall Discounts & Deals emails on the new Fan Page, but the links don't show up in the Discussions section. I will have to suggest people receive them by email if they want the direct links, as it makes shopping easier than having to copy-and-paste the URLs or searching for the sites. :p

Oh! And a college friend is chairing her Church's Holiday Bazaar, so I will be taking a table there! My first live event will be on Saturday, November 6, at Round Valley United Methodist Church in Lebanon, NJ. Wish me luck! :D

Gotta run...have a good week! :D
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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tangible Tidbits 2010 #38: Feeling Frustrated

Hope everyone is having a better day than I am! :)

I've been having a lot of "technical issues" lately...and Mercury isn't even in retrograde anymore! That cycle ended in the middle of September. Regardless, I've been having trouble setting up a new application I bought for the website since the middle of this past week -- the technical support people have been taking up to two or three days to get back to me at each step. We also seem to have a problem with the Something Tangible Facebook application, as I am receiving a 502 error when I try to access the application itself (this is outside of my control, according to a Bing search. It seems to be a "bad gateway" error.). The set-up and home pages both appear to be working fine. :\

I also looked at the quarterly figures for the third quarter, and noted that we did not surpass last quarter's numbers. We came close to matching them, but fell about $11 short. I realize this is to be expected from time to time, but it's still disappointing to see it in (red) ink. :(

I've also decided that I should include photos of my inventory materials in the database, since there are a few with vague names or items that have similar names and descriptions, so I can't figure out which one was used in a given piece. The photos from the vendor websites will facilitate that, but it's adding a lot of time to the data entry process. :\

In last week's class at MSU, I invested the wax cast I had created the week before. My teacher is away for a few weeks, but the substitute professor (from the same department, so our paths will undoubtedly cross again) seemed to like my piece, as did my own professor. Investing is basically encasing the wax figure in a plaster-like substance. The hardened cast is then burned out so that the wax melts, leaving space for the molten metal to take that form. The professors do the burning out for us, so I will be attempting to create my piece in metal tomorrow night. We only get one shot, as the process destroys the cast. Wish me luck! ;)

As for my personal life, I've been keeping busy with the after care job and my Virtual Garage Sale...the auctions are taking up a lot more time than I'd anticipated. The results have been mediocre, but at least I am getting rid of stuff in each round. ;)

I spent all day yesterday in Piscataway at Rutgers University's Homecoming. I haven't attended since 2001 for personal reasons, but I'm glad I went...except for the sunburn on my face! :o Today, I saw the "Hairspray" matinee at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn -- I purchased a 4-show subscription, as Mom is taking my sister and me to the fifth show for our birthdays. :) The show was very good, but it would have been more fun if I could have found someone to go with me. I didn't realize the date of the tickets until the middle of the week because it didn't show up on my Palm calendar, although I do remember entering it. Anyway, I had seen the movie version of "Hairspray" starring John Travolta and Michelle Pfeiffer a few years ago with my sister and two nieces. I don't remember it too well, so I can't say how close this production was to the film. :p

It's definitely feeling like October here in New Jersey! It's gotten a bit chilly in the past week, which is a refreshing change from the heat of the summer months. :)

Take care, everybody! :D
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