Aug 18, 2017

Etegami 絵手紙

::hangs head in disbelief::

I cannot believe I forgot to write about Etegami!  

Back in June (Yes, June!), I took an Etegami art class taught by the same instructor who did the Chinese Brush Painting class.


Etegami is Japanese postcard art containing simple painted images and heart-felt words.  To complete etegami, the card is then mailed to a friend or loved one.  Etegami literally means "Picture Letters".
e = picture, tegami = letter.

The fun part about making etegami is that it doesn't have to be perfect (something I struggle with in the creative process).  In fact, the phrase "clumsy is good" is an important thing to remember when doing etegami.

Class was an all day event in which we learned and practiced etegami skills.  

My work space for etegami class
 It was such a fun day!  The fruits of my labor:

Bamboo
Peppers and Bok Choy
Carrots - These were fun to do!
Grapes
Ink Only - Orchids
Orchid - Painted from Still Life
Panda - Painted from Photo
Sunflower - Painted from Still Life
Trees
Bird
I posted these on my FB page and asked if anyone would like an etegami from me.  Since most of my FB friends are stitchy friends, I was overwhelmed with happiness that so many wanted one.  So, I've been busy making and sending Etegami!

So far, six of the seven I've sent out have made it to the "catcher" (the person receiving the etegami).

I sent the bird one I made in class to my aunt.  She has it on her refrigerator -- she says several of her friends just "love it".

The first wave of etegami sent out
 One of the catchers said she liked cherry blossoms so I tried my hand at them.  In return, she crocheted me a kokeshi doll. Love those things!


Another friend liked his so much, he sent me a photo and later said he taped it to his computer workspace.


I have sent out the next six. Where shall they land?  We shall see?


Until next time...

Aug 9, 2017

Tale of Two Fitbits

A few years ago, thanks to my previous employer's healthy lifestyle program, I got more active and started using a Fitbit Charge fitness tracker.  As a numbers person, I really enjoyed seeing my progress and stats.  Within a year, the band started coming apart at the seams and then one day the button control on the side fell out. 


It was still under warranty, so I contacted Fitbit and they sent me another one.  I thought.... Great customer service!

Again, less than a year later, the replacement Fitbit started having issues.  First, the band started coming apart at the seams (around the 9 month mark) and then a few weeks later, I was driving home from work and the band broke and fell off my arm!


This is just one side.  Both the top and bottom edges on the face of the tracker also came loose and there was bubbling under the band.


I went to the Fitbit website to communicate via chat with a customer service rep.  Word to the wise... the "year warranty" does not apply to a replacement Fitbit.  The warranty starts from the time you get the first Fitbit.  As such, the rep offered me a 25% discount to upgrade to a new Fitbit because I was past the one year warranty period.  WTH? If they send me a brand-spanking new Fitbit, it should have a warranty.  The rep wrote his offer with such enthusiasm!  I told him a product so expensive should not fall apart within a year, not once but twice and that there are hundreds of documented cases online.  He assured me he'd accelerate my "case" to a supervisor and follow up in an email with my 'options'.  I had an inkling of what was to come so I insisted on waiting for a supervisor answer.  After repeated attempts on my part, the rep told me no supervisor was available and he wasn't going to re-discuss it.  Really?

The next day, I received the email as promised... and as I thought, the email contained the 25% discount offer!  Peturbed at the run-around, I responded back: 

"As I stated in the chat I will NOT be spending money on another Fitbit replacement. This is a well known issue and a company such as Fitbit should stand behind their products especially since this has happened TWICE on two different devices.  To give me the run around in chat about how I was going to be offered 'options' in email is abhorrent customer service!  Valued Fitbit member indeed."

A few days later, I received another email from Fitbit.  Key points included:

•  Appreciation for speaking my mind (LOL)
•  Fitbit trackers are made to last (What?  A year?), especially the Charge model (which is why it is being replaced by another model)
•  When anomalies such as band peeling occurs, the engineering team is informed so that improvement can be made which is why we have launched new Fitbit models (Apparently, they missed the part where I said my band broke!)
•  They stand behind their product and want to keep me in the Fitbit family
•  After carefully reviewing my case, they will make an "exception" and send replacement 'options' (Isn't this what was offered in chat?) in another email.

True to their word, another email arrived with 'options'.  This time, the options included a 50% discount on a new Fitbit product -or- a replacement Fitbit Charge.  I'm torn between being pleased they upped their offer and irritated that I had to send an email stating my displeasure before they sent the latest offer.

Finally, I gave in and decided to get the replacement. Okay... if a company has access to your history (and yes, they do!), one would THINK they'd look to see what size I've had and check to see if they have THAT size.  I received a third email stating the Charge is being discontinued (I know!) and inventory is limited to size XL in three colors.  I'm not an XL.  ::sigh::  The other alternative is to be relegated to a Fitbit Alta.  Why not just send me the latest Charge 2?

I agreed to the Alta.  Two weeks went by and no confirmation of shipment, so I emailed them.  It does not surprise me that immediately after I contacted them, I received confirmation of shipment.  My guess is they probably hoped I'd disappeared.  I received the Alta in a padded envelope wrapped in bubble wrap. No other packaging, no instruction book.  ::sigh:


While I was going back and forth with Fitbit about the defective Charge,  I did some research regarding how I might fix it (in case Fitbit wasn't going to honor a warranty) and found a YouTube video... Yes, YouTube is my go to for fixing things!  For less than $3, I bought an Alta band and a Charge slipcover on eBay.  I removed the broken band from the Charge and put the other band and slipcover on.  It's not pretty.  It's not water-resistant.  But!  It works.


The silver square was covered with black paint.  In the short time I've had it, it has rubbed off.  Shipped from China -- Can't expect too much.

When the Charge finally stops working, I'll use the Alta.  Meantime, I'm doing research for a different brand of activity band.

Until next time...

Aug 4, 2017

The Great Flood of 2017 - Part Two

On July 24th, I drove around the city where I live and took some photographs.  Thing is... these aren't even areas that got the worst of the flooding.  I saw on the news today that temporary emergency aid offices have been set up at the local college.

These are photos from my early childhood hometown.  Businesses and homes flooded.  The supposed 100-year flood has happened at least 4 times in the past 10 years.  I don't know how these people deal with it... Carry on!


The next set of photographs are near where I work.  Even though there was lots of water, we weren't in danger of flooding.  Thus, work was not called of.  Bummer...


Below is one of the main highways that leads in and out of my city.  I live over yonder where the vehicles are.  For a few days, I had to leave the city and drive around it and come back in on the other side to get home.


 Thousands of acres of cornfields have been damaged.  No, mister, those aren't lakes... it's farmland.





 In the photo above, the green part between the
bodies of water is actually the road.

Most of the water has subsided since these photos were taken, but there's lots of clean up and water damage to be dealt with.  I'm just glad I had only 30 gallons to clean up.

At my parents' house, another huge tree was blown down by the storm.  We have been lucky twice that each time a tree has fallen, it's not hit the house or shed.  The shed was about 10 feet to the left.


 Here's to hoping we're done with severe weather for a while.

Until next time...

Jul 24, 2017

The Great Flood of 2017 - Part One

A series of thunderstorms rolled through the Midwest and wreaked havoc on my area.  It all started with this:


Winds were followed by rain for several days.  Rain, rain, and more rain!  The severe thunderstorms even brought some hail. Usually when it rains for days on end, I get a little water in my basement.  This the worst I've had so far.





Although my house it on higher ground, water seeped into my basement.  I sucked up 30 gallons of water over the weekend and more continues to sneak its way in from the water-logged ground.

This liquor store just opened in the last year or so.  To the right of it is an auto repair shop with LOTS of cars buried in flood waters. To the left is what used to be a fire station that was relocated after the Flood of 2010 (You can see photos and videos about it HERE and HERE).  Now it's a cleaning and restoration business. I found it ironic that it's under water now.



The photo above Duncan Donuts.  It came to the city in March of 2016.  Prior to that, the building was home to Sonic, which was also damaged and didn't re-open after the Flood of 2010.


Above is the same shopping center the Duncan Donuts is located in.  Right below the Logan's sign in the distance, you can see a small child standing on the cart corral.  There were young kids wading through the water.  Why any parent would let their kids do this in flood waters is beyond me.  There are electric signs out in those waters still running. Yikes.
The following photos are areas on the outskirts of the city.





Stay tuned for more on the flood in a future post, meantime...