Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday, Monday...

I took yesterday off. Yup, gave myself a day off. I only spent maybe a half-hour on the computer... shock! Went out to eat, watched Avatar on the tube, vegged all day. It was nice.

Noel November on Saturday night was fun. The food at the Towne Club Center in Peachtree City is superb! I thought the Noel folks had hired a caterer and went looking to find out who they were... only to be told it was the regular chef at the Towne Club. I told them the food was enough to make me want to sell my home and move in immediately . I did learn that the public can stop in for lunch or dinner, they'll let you hold meetings there, etc. A friend told me that they'd recently changed chef's and the food improved substantially. That's second-hand info...

I went to Noel November last year and it seemed to me that the money being spent by attendees at the auction this year was a LOT less. Last year trees sold close to a thousand dollars, this year they were getting $200 - $400. I left before the auction ended so maybe the prices increased later.

I hope they raised a lot of money for the causes. I know the Realtors who put on the event worked at the Clothes Less Traveled in Peachtree City to raise money prior to the event. The Clothes Less Traveled does a phenomenal job of supporting numerous local charities. Love the organization!

I spent the day-time on Saturday at the Apples & ArtFest in Fayetteville. It was also fun. The attendance could have been better. I think part of the problem is they're not on any main roads, you have to know how to get there. It was a lot of crafts. I came home with some cool pieces, sold a few of my own, spent a lot of time talking with friends who stopped by... It was a good day, think that if I do it again next year I'll make Christmas ornaments, smaller items in the craft-price range.

The apple cobbler and zucchini-apple muffins were drooling-good! Laurie Bean made them, sold them (with a little help from Mom and a cousin). They also sold red-velvet-cake-in-a-cup, which was a big hit. Laurie is a chef, caters... everything I've ever tried that she made is excellent.

I have one more charity to go this year and that's the Chair-ity Event to benefit The Children's Village at Christian City. Let me know if you'd like information, tickets, to make a donation..

It's Monday and I'm back at work. First thing I had to do was figure out what was eating up the memory on my computer, slowing my system. I think I may have it fixed, we'll see. I thought I'd fixed it once before and it came back...

OK, enough ramblin', I'm going back to work. Monday, Monday...

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's the giving time of year... local artists are giving, too!

Thought you might like to see a few of the chairs that will be auctioned at the Children's Chair-ity Event to benefit the Children's Village at Christian City. The event is December 2nd, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at the Dolce in Peachtree City.

I have tickets! Give me a call at 404-290-3638 and I'll be happy to deliver them (or send via snail-mail). The cost of the ticket equals the amount it takes to take care of one child for one month at Christian City. It's not as much as you'd think, it's only $30.

They're always in need of sponsors for the children so think hard about taking care of a child for the entire year by giving $30 per month. These kids have sometimes suffered horrific circumstances before coming to Christian City. I've been out there many times and met the kids, seen the love they receive... and met some of the grown-up kiddos who went on to live happy, productive lives as a result of the care they received at Christian City.



This is a favorite event of mine! It combines the talents of many local artists who donate their talents to paint the chairs with the big hearts of many in our community who volunteer, donate or attend the event.

I don't give to "big" charities any more. I worked with them for years, then realized how much of my efforts went into paying salaries and big taj-mahal type office buildings... I read the percentages they actually gave to the cause I was supporting, saw horror tales on the tube about problems, and finally decided my giving efforts would only go to local charities that I could visit, look into, get to know.

The people at Christian City are fabulous. They give, and give, and give... I hope you'll consider giving.

Just a footnote - while Southwest Christian Care (hospice, etc.) was started by the same folks that started Christian City, they are two completely different organizations. When you give to one, you're not helping the other. They work together, support each other, but have different functions. I support both.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A funny one from Jay Leno...

President Obama was in India yesterday, visiting our jobs. Tomorrow he goes to China, to visit our money.

Mystery missile an airplane?

A couple of days ago someone caught what appeared to be a missile launching just off the California coast. Everyone has been speculating about it, especially since the military, the Pentagon and anyone who should know what it is denies responsibility, or admits any knowledge of the missile. They're currently inventorying their missiles to ensure it wasn't one of theirs.

Now they're saying that it's probably an optical illusion, that it's an airplane. Could be. I only know what I've read. I think it's weird to say the least. If it's an airplane, why with all the airplanes hasn't anyone caught something like this before? It would seem it would be a fairly common occurrence. I'd "assume" that someone who was flying at that time might have come forth and said, 'oh, that's me'. Or, if that's a regular flight path that it the next day or an hour later or the next morning someone would see another airplane flying that route.

I wonder if someone is going to try and recreate the 'illusion'? I did see a side-by-side photo of the so-called missile contrail and a jet plane contrail. The looked very similar. But then I go back to wondering why they haven't checked flight paths and figured out that an airplane flew that route at the time the video was made...

I have a feeling this is one that's going to be fodder for discussion for a select few for quite some time.

There is going to be a contingency who'll think it's something ominous like an alien spaceship. Or we'll find out it's something benign like a private company is experimenting with missiles (although that avenue has been explored already per the articles I scanned this morning). People are already wondering if it's a foreign missile... I would guess there's speculation also about a foreign stealth submarine firing off a missile just to get our goat.

The words 'government cover-up' will be attached to the story soon, if not already by some.

Who knows? In today's fickle news cycle this is already old news.

Here's a link to the video of the missile / airplane. I was going to embed the video but for some reason it's not showing up when I post the code. http://www.cbs8.com/global/category.asp?c=155799&clipId=&topVideoCatNo=149659&topVideoCatNoB=155712&topVideoCatNoC=155713&topVideoCatNoD=155710&topVideoCatNoE=155711&autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=5276101&flvUri=&partnerclipid=

If for some reason that doesn't work, here's a link to a story that includes the video: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/experts-unexplained-missile-may-just-be-a-jet-plane/

And, here are a few more articles:

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/11/09/mystery-solved-missile-launch-jet-contrail/

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/11/mystery-missile-was-probably-an-aircraft-government-says.html

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Working on two charity events and... and...

I've been a little busy lately. OK, OK, yes, I'm always busy... When I was a kid my Mom's constant complaint was that I could never sit still. I haven't changed!

I should probably put this in my Hummingbird Hollow blog as most of the things I'm doing lately are somewhat or mostly arts related. I'll probably pop something over there later, too... but with a different focus.

Here's a quick run down of a few things on my current calendar:

I'm currently working with a number of other artists to create a Christmas tree for Noel November.  We're doing an 'Ocean Blues' theme. None of us looked at each others ornaments, we just created what we thought fit the theme. It's going to be interesting on Friday when we put it all together!

Noel November is an annual event hosted by realtors in Fayette County from all or most realty companies. Groups donate beautifully decorated Christmas trees, wreaths and other items which are auctioned off. It's a day long event with lots of fun things for the entire family. They choose one or more charities to receive the funds raised. More info here.

I'm also working on our annual Children's Chair-ity Event to benefit the Children's Village at Christian City. Local artists paint chairs which are auctioned, along with many other cool items. This year the event will be held at the Dolce in Peachtree City on Thursday, Dec. 2nd. The cost of the ticket equals one month of supporting a child at the Village.

It's a wonderful group and one I'm proud to support.

I also have a number of pottery shows coming up in the near future so I'm trying to squeeze in some studio time. I'm participating in one that will benefit the Life Enrichment Center (Fayette Senior Services) this weekend. It's called Apples and ArtFest. They have over 30 artists who'll be selling their art this Saturday.

Tonight I have a Board meeting for the Clothes Less Traveled. This is a fantastic organization! They take in donations from the surrounding community, sell them to others, then donate the proceeds to many, many well-vetted local charitable groups. They run a tight ship and I'm proud to serve on the Board. I volunteer over there once a month and wish I could do it more often.

I'm also in the process of switching a couple of websites I manage from Miva Merchant to another service. If you're looking for a store-front service I would highly recommend that you don't choose Miva. It has to be the most labor intensive, pain in the tush, convoluted, expensive, hard to manage service I have ever worked with. It doesn't have to be that difficult and it doesn't have to cost as much as they charge! Every little thing that you want to do has to be done with a module --- which you have to buy. Grrrr...

Let's see, what else? I can't forget our news websites (Arts Across Georgia, Georgia Front Page, Fayette Front Page)! They require constant updating and attention. Plus I handle my own pottery website (Hummingbird Hollow Studio) and some rabble rousing political sites. Oh, I also have at least ten Twitter accounts... we have over 200 blogs...

I'm trying to get into a routine, but it's tough. Between painting chairs for the Chair-ity Event, trying to corral artists to get their bios and chairs complete, working on the Christmas tree ornaments and getting the artists together for that, spending time with my family (yep, they are extremely important and I drop everything to spend time with them), getting ready for shows, scheduling shows, trying to set up websites for my customers, going to meetings for the various charities, closing bank accounts (previous blog), shopping (food, not fun stuff), oh, you get the idea.

Busy is the word of the day.

Couple of good things I'm looking forward to: We're going to see the Canadian Tenors in two weeks, then we're going to see Joe Bonamassa! Love Joe's music...

With all that going on I took time out to whine a bit in my blog... critically important! Seriously, I'm not complaining at all. I love every minute of my life and I love doing all the things I do. I just wish that time didn't fly by so quickly, that I could do more, that I had more time for friends, family, could wrangle a bit more time in the garden... oops, now I'm getting into whining territory for real!

Did I mention that I usually read a book a day? Good thing I'm a fast reader...

Hmmm, just saw a cat heading toward the porch. They like to hang out under the back porch, birth, and do whatever cats do. Mothballs keep them away, but they're not good for the environment and they stink. Wonder if that deer repellent would work? Kind of expensive, but worth a try.

Where was I? Doesn't matter, I'm going to go grab a bite to eat, work on my websites a bit then head out to buy something at the Clothes Less Traveled to finish up my tree ornaments. Board meeting tonight.

p.s. you can check out my Facebook page (facebook.com/ArtsAcrossGeorgia) to see pictures of some of the artist's chairs (Chair-ity Event) and tree ornaments (Noel November)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Big Bank vs Community Bank...

Late last week I stopped by my bank of countless years, Regions Bank, and canceled my three checking accounts. Out of the blue they decided to start charging a monthly fee for my tiny little accounts so rather than pay them to use my money I picked up the phone and easily found a lot of other banks that didn't charge. I had two business accounts and a personal account (no fee on that one). None of them had a lot of money in them, but since the money just sat there for months without being used, thus allowing them to earn money on my money it was silly to stay with Regions Bank.

I planned my day to allow time to answer questions when I canceled my account. I wasn't upset and I really like some of the people at the bank who I've known for years so no way I'd fuss even if I did have a problem! However, no one asked why I was canceling. I walked in, asked the teller who I needed to talk with about canceling my account and was told she could do it. Five minutes later my accounts were closed, I had my cash and I left. Not one question. Not one "gee, we're sorry you're leaving" (even before they saw my small balances!).

As said, I'd found quite a few banks that didn't charge. I had talked face-to-face with some of the various bank reps at the Fayette County Chamber Expo in September. It's a great event and I was able to get a good feel for the people plus got to take home a lot of info to compare.

I settled on Charter Bank. It's a small community bank with branches in Fayette County, Coweta County, and then a few going down into LaGrange and over into Alabama. The only thing they didn't have that I would have liked is ATM fee reimbursement given the small number of locations... but since I never use them that wasn't a biggie for me, but might be for others.

The people were fantastic. Not over the top fake gushing friendly, but real, down-to-earth, gee we really appreciate the fact that you chose us fantastic. I walked out of there feeling that I'd made some friends. I also walked out with a pair of computer speakers and a good thermos. How many banks these days give you gifts for opening an account? I got a kick out of it and had to joke that I was glad they weren't handing out toasters! Then I looked at the list and saw that back in the early part of the year they handed out little bread-toasting sandwich grills... close.

I like the idea of a community bank. I like feeling like I'm more than a number. I like it that while they of course want the big accounts, they still appreciate all the small accounts. I like the free checking, too.

I had forgotten what excellent customer service felt like. Sure, my old bank had really nice people and I liked them. However, their hands were tied when it came to making decisions... understandably so given their size. They didn't know much about me or my account. Only one person in the branch that I've gone into for years remembered my name, and that was because we knew each other outside the bank. I have the feeling that when I walk into Charter Bank they'll remember my name.

I hear SunTrust's commercials saying they give you an individual banker who cares. I like the concept, but somehow I can't imagine that two little start-up businesses like mine would warrant a whole lot of individual attention! I think I have found a bank where I'll get the kind of attention that makes me feel like I matter. That's a rare thing these days in the world of big, bigger and biggest.

I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Oh, the reason Regions Bank gave me for starting to charge a fee is that the changes in the way ATM withdrawals work will cost them a lot of revenue... they have to make it up somewhere. The new regs don't allow them to overdraft your account when you make a withdrawal but don't have the funds. I gather that in the past if you took out a hundred dollars but only had fifty in the account they'd give you the money, then charge your overdraft fees or the overdraft protection would kick in, which also cost money. Now you have to designate which way you want it to work. I found it ironic that I was being charged a fee on my banking account due to ATM fee changes and yet I never use an ATM card on the Regions accounts... I do on my main personal account, which is with another bank. If things go well at Charter, that account may be moving, too...