Monday, February 23, 2009

New Stuff! New Stuff! New Stuff!

Hey! Guess what? Oh...wait, I gave it away in the title, didn't I? *sigh*

ANYWAY! There are new shinys just put in the hold of the Firefly Cargo Bay! The first is one I've been talking about for a while now. I've finished the first of the Firefly Rag Dolls. As you may recall, I had been debating which Big Damn Hero to choose as my first cute and cuddle version. What made the final decision was the trip to the fabric store. I pillaged the remnant bin with the crew in my mind and pulled out any material that would work for any of their outfits. The best bit came when I paid for them- turns out it was buy one get one free so... SHINY!

So the very first of my Firefly Rag Dolls turned out to be "You're-Gonna-Come-with-Us Kaylee" complete with flip flops and paper parasol! I'm listing them at $15.00 without the doll stand.

Another new item was a surprise. These parts just hit me as I passed the clearance section in the craft store, and they became the Serenity Necklace. Each pendant has the Chinese Serenity hand inked on the red shell disc. The hand strung beaded cord is about 20" in length and held fast with a twist clasp. They retail for $12.00.

The final item isn't exactly stored away yet, but rather they're in production. I'm giving you a sneak peak of them here, because A) I'm really excited about them and 2) I can! they are a set of 6 buffed leather drink coaters with the image "branded" on them. They do come in this shiny (literally!) tin and a gift box. I should have the actual items in my hands before FilKONtario and they will be at the Firefly Cargo Bay booth!

There will also be new new new shinys at the FKO event too especially for filkers, but I'm not spoiling those surprises yet!

Until next time:
"Oh! Look at al the pretties!"

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How Can Brown Screw You Over Today?

And I don't mean people with coats of a brownish color!

Have you heard the UPS saga of Seattle? O.M.G.

Okay, so those of you who have followed the trials of me getting items shipped to shows are no strangers to the things with which I have already put up with. Well, Conflikt presented me with new stresses that I could not have imagined (to be fair, Conflikt had nothing to do with the stresses- that's just where they happened t take place. They're really wonderful people running that show so YOU SHOULD GO! Hey, 2010 GoH Tom Smith! I need not say more!)

So, I am here in Canada and the show is in the States. Wanting to avoid any more joys of product border crossing I planned ahead and got the items ready for shipping when I was at my parents place in Pittsburgh over Christmas (brains!) So come the time for them to be sent to Seattle, Mr UPS showed up at their door, paperwork was filled out and the boxes went merrily on their way.

Now, come Sunday, I had asked at the front desk for some UPS way bills. They gave me forms for 2 day air. HA! Like I can afford THAT! I went back and asked for the forms for ground transport. They don't usually have those. What? Ka. They use DHL. I'm told that "most people go online and print the way bills out from the internet." Okay I'll do that... but I have to wait until I've packed up everything once the show closes- I won't know how many boxes or what the weight will be. Fine.

Sunday 12:30 ish... I was at the hotel's computer filling out all the online things. Well, trying to anyway. It wouldn't schedule a pick up the hotel according to the web site. This was just baffling to me. I went to the front desk and basically said WTF! He said, "Which zip code did you use?" I said, "The hotel's." He replied, "Well, which one?" Again- WTF! Seems 'they' changed the hotel's zip code recently. He gave me the old zip code and I went back to the computer. It worked. Well, there's a half an hour of my life I'll never get back.

Okay! So then I try to print out the labels. They don't let you do that without an account with UPS. Fine. I'll set up an account with yet another company. Or so I thought. I tried and tried to put in a user ID. No luck. After 1/2 hour or so I gave up. I went to the DHL site to try to get an idea of how much they would cost me, since the hotel *had* their way bills. THEY won't give you an estimate without opening an account with them. Are you friggin kidding me?!?!?

So I went back and forth between other computer options and the not-helpful-at-all front desk "staff". It was 3:30 in the morning at this time and I was using all my efforts not to cry. I was leaving for the airport in 2 hours and still had no way to get my stock back.

I decided to see if anyone was still in the con suite. As I went to the steps, out came Halley and Tim (????... I talked to him all weekend and never caught his name. :( Well, it's not like he was walking around with his name on a badge or anything. Oh wait....) I spilled out my sob story and Halley said, "I *live* here" and offered to take my stuff to the UPS store. This was going to work, until I realized that I wouldn't be able to leave my business credit card with her and they'd want to see it. PLus my big honkin boxes wouldn't have fit in her car. She said that Cindy was still in con suite and maybe she'd have some ideas.

Well, of course she did! She suggested that it was just the user name problem on the UPS site that would solve all of this. She logged on to her computer and opened an account with them right away. So I resigned myself to trying again and returned to the hotel computer. After ten different attempts at user names I was going to burst. I was tired and stressed and almost at wits end. The thought entered my head "too bad there's a character limit on the IDs. I bet if I put in Raxacorafalapetoria no one would have THAT one!" This led me to another favorite Dr Who scene. I typed in a word from that scene and THANK THE DOCTOR it was accepted!

And then I printed the labels and everything was fine. So I went back up to my room and at 4:30 am found myself labeling 4 boxes on 2 sides. Unbelievable! I sat in the room for a little while trying not to fall asleep. When that was failing, I took my cart full of stuff down to the lobby and told them that it was all set to go. The pick up would be Thursday. Or so I thought.

Jump forward to Friday. I was back home and checked the UPS tracking site to see if my stuff was on it's way. It wasn't in the system. I thought maybe the site just hadn't been updated yet ('cause I'm stupid that way) and I'd check again on Monday. Monday saw the same thing so my fictious husband called UPS. What they said almost made me reach through the phone lines and throttle them. They said they couldn't pick it up because (are you ready?) "it is an international shipment." HOW IS A SHIPMENT FROM SEATTLE TO PITTSBURGH INTERNATIONAL?!?!?!? (and how is Harvey Wall Banger one word? But that's another story!)

UPS saw that my US Visa for the business has the billing address in Canada, so they wouldn't touch the shipment, because, you know we're all terrorists up here and train our geese to fly into plane engines so pilots have to land in the Hudson River. Now, that's ridiculous enough, but what's worse is they didn't call or email or anything to let us know they weren't going to pick up the boxes. They were just going to let them sit. Nice.

After several phone calls to several different people, it was determined that we needed an account with a billing address in the US before they'd touch the boxes. This is where my parents come in AGAIN. So we now have another account with UPS. They issue us new pick up numbers and tell us they'll get the boxes the following day. Tuesday comes and goes and no one gets the boxes. Oh, there was a UPS driver at the hotel, but the floor manager said he won't take them because they weren't on his call sheet. Great. We did get a call at home that went like this, "Is the the Seattle Renton Holiday Inn." "No, this is the Paddison residence" "Oh. Sorry" Click. On Wednesday we go through the exact same story as Monday and finally convince the UPS phone person that we have a US account with a US billing address and all that. They issue us ANOTHER pick up number and say they'll get it today.

On Thursday the boxes still haven't gone anywhere. We're told now that someone TRIED to pick up the boxes but were unable to do so. WHAT?!?!? We call Amber again (yes, we're on first name basis with the hotel floor manager as well as the UPS phone manager at this point.) Okay, after more phone running around we find out my boxes are gone. What? Where? It seems that a UPS driver was in the hotel the day before and whomever was on staff during that shift forced them on him. Great. We were told the tracking numbers on the labels I printed over a week and a half ago were invalid. So where were my boxes? How could I track them? And what about Naomi? Wait- that's something completely different.

SO I typed in the ORIGINAL tracking number that it took me hours and hours to get in the week hours of the end of Conflikt and what do you think? There was my information. The shipment was picked up, en route and being paid for by my business US Visa card LIKE I WANTED IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!!

The stock is safely in my parents basement now, resting comfortably until I go and get it in March. And there it will stay until FilKONtario. And who takes it across the border then? ME! In my little red van I call Serenity. You know, if I would just sell out of my items at shows I wouldn't HAVE these problems! Geesh!

BTW- tons of eternal thanks to Halley and Cindy!! I really owe you guys! Remind me to take you out to dinner at the '10 Conflikt!

Until next time:
"This must be what going mad feels like."

Friday, February 6, 2009

Conflikt 2: Day 3

Even after going to bed at 4 AM, I was awake at 8 Am. Staying up most of the night seems to acclimate your system to a time zone change! Just in time to go home :( So I got up and I packed everything that I was no longer going to need. Since the dealers' room wasn't slated to open until 11, I went to the lobby to use the hotel's computer and free internet. I needed to check out the UPS site to get labels and schedule a pick up for the unsold stuff. Since they won't let you do that without the weight of each box, I had to wait until after the show was done. No fun. I didn't even know how many boxes I would have at this point. (I started with 5) So instead I hit the facebook site and killed an hour there easy.

By 10 I went for breakfast and was behind my table before 11. It was really slow for most of Sunday. I was able to finish more rag dolls and ended the weekend with 4 Firefly Rag Doll bodies completely finished. And I wasn't even doing any during open filks. That's great considering it took me more than 2 months to do the 6 I already have! I wonder how many I'll be able to get done at FKO! One high point was Mark Bernstein's reaction to my Can't Sleep button. He asked if Tom Smith had seen it. When I informed him they were brand new, he bought one on the spot. He said he lives in the same town as Tom and would give it to him the next time he saw him. That made me happy! I was even more overjoyed when Mark said that he was sure that Tom would think it was great. Things like this make for a happy fangirl!

By 3:30 the Con Chair announced to the attendees that the dealers' room would be closing for the weekend at 4:30. Naturally, 4 PM was the busiest the table was for the whole weekend combined. I can kind of understand it, as people wanted to wait until after the auction to see just how much money they'd have left in their budgets, but it does get pretty frustrating when you've been sitting staring at the walls for 3 days and now at 4:45 everyone wants your attention. It took me 3 hours to pack up the table (going to cons is NOT a one person job for FFCB!)

Fortunately Julesong was patient and waited for me (she offered to help, but that would require me actually knowing what I was doing at the time!). At 7:30 we were on our way to the Wayward Coffee House. If you are a Browncoat and go to Seattle and do not make it to the Wayward well then SHAME ON YOU! The first thing that greets you once you walk in the door is a huge banner with the Serenity logo on it. I had the "Kaylee Ploughman Sandwich" for dinner, so you now what the menu is like. There's Firefly and Serenity stuff all over the place. vixy and Tony play there quite often as do The Bedlam Bards whenever they're in the area. The place has the slogan of "it's better than a plan" so, come on...!

I did notice that they were missing a certain Browncoat Flag in their decor, so when we got back, I put together a little bag of goodies for them- a 3X5 flag and some handouts and freebies. I gave it to Tony Fabris to give to the owner the next time they play there. (and if anyone goes there and gets pictures of the flag up on the walls PLEASE send them to me!

On the way back to Renton we drove through the city and I got to see the Space Needle all lit up against the Seattle skyline. Very pretty. I had my video camera at the bottom of my bag, or I would have been able to get the drive by shots. Ah well, next year (I hope!)

I went back to the "Smoked Salmon" filk-until-you-drop session. I think they should call it "Sleepless in Seattle." Or at least "Restless in Renton." It was okay, but the night before was a much better circle. I did get treated to experencing Seanan McGuire tell the stories of Edgar Alan and Lenore, her uncle's ravens. I don't think I laughed that hard since... a long long long time! It was hysterical. I'm fully under the belief that she should get into a studio and make a cd of her telling the stories ala The Vinyl Cafe" It would sell like crazy I'm sure. She could call it "Tales of the Crazy Ravens." So much fun. This incident also brought about the quote of the day IMHO: "Have you ever tried to cary an angry raven?" Seanan McGuire.

People were dropping out of the filk pretty rapidly. It sort of deteriorated at 1:30 with a heated legal discussion. Ah well. I went out to get things ready for the UPS Labels. I will spare you the drama of the following 2 hours. Just be sure that I owe TONS to Halley who found me at 3:30 when my brain was on empty and my emotions were on overflow. My salvation angel! This led to the con suite where Cindy gave me an answer to all my problems. Thank you eternally! tears of despair were not shed due to these two women!

I will once again skip the travel report as they always tend to end up as rants from me. I got here and that's all that matters in the end. I had a fabulous weekend and really hope to get back to next year's Conflikt... with an assistant! Great pictures of the event can be foundhere.

Thank you to all involved with Conflikt for making me feel welcome and putting on a great weekend and exposing me to all the wonderful music, comedy and fellowship. There are many many more people whose company and music I was fortunate enough to enjoy. I could never list all their names here- some of them I never even did get their names! *sigh* I can only hope to see them again at other filk cons.

For, you see, I'm now a filk addict! I am getting help though- I'm enrolled in a 12 string program (yes, that's a design that will be coming into the filk shop soon!)

Thank you all!

Until next time:
"I cried like a baby; a hungry angry baby"

Conflikt 2: Day 2

The second day of Conflikt 2 was actually my third day there and the fullest by far. I was up early again, showered and then called home. Very chatty, my homelings were, but that's okay as the dealers' room didn't open until 10. That was 1 PM on my internal clock! I then went and got breakfast and strolled casually to the dealer's room door. There I found Julesong at the reg desk and we had a chance to talk in person for the first time, although we've know of each other for 3 years now. She joined me at my booth which was fun.

Then time for the brunch came and the dealers were left staring at each other for 90 minutes or more. I mentioned to the Con Chair that the dealers' room could be shut for the entire brunch and it would hurt no one. Look for that possibly next year. After the brunch Julessong returned to visit with me and the time went fast. She even invited to take me to the Wayward Coffee House before the weekend was through. *SQUEE!* But more on that later.

During the brunch I was able to complete the bodies for 2 1/2 of those Firefly Rag Dolls that are in the works. I'm going to write on them that they were constructed at Conflikt 2, so... well, just cause I want to.

At 2:30ish vixy came in to pick up her complimentary shirt. She also bought a few other items from the table and left me with the comment of "You're awesome." Coming from a talent like her? Well, I will store that in my memory bank for when I'm having a down-on-myself day. *grin*

The concerts in the afternoon sounded really good from what I could here- the music was wonderful, but airwalls muffle lyrics. There were slow times that I was able to pop in next door and hear the performances proper. Much like the Friday night concert by Puzzlebox, the shows by Randy Hoffman, Mark Berstein and interfilk guest Laurence Dean made me want to spend more time on the concert side of the airwall. I resisted attempting to open the door that was right behind my table and connected to the stage. At least I got to hear the gist of the shows, and I was so glad that all of them did bits in all of the open filks, too.

The dealers' room closed a little later than expected, but the night's concerts got pushed back an hour, so I was able to close up and do the books and try to get some food. I ended up not getting food, but getting McDonald's instead, but it was enough to keep me from going into shakes or passing out during the shows. I even ended up serving a "bouncer" for the banquet hall, helping to keep people out while they were doing the sound checks.

I guess because of this- and Julessong reserving herself a seat and me keifing the one next to it- I had a front row seat for Marian Call's concert. O!M!G! What a voice! And she's a geek too! Amazing. Browncoats: BUY HER CD!!!!! You will not be sorry in the least. I think my favorite song was Good Old Girl which is about, among other things, Serenity (the ship, not the movie or the state of being or the 2 hour pilot or the adult diaper). And saying that's my favorite one was tough because all the songs she did were great. She's wonderful.

She's also a really cool person, as is her husband. I got to talk to each of them for a *very* little bit after the performance, which was nice for me. I hope to cross paths with her again sometime soon. Because of talking with her, I did miss the concert of toastmaster Frank Hayes. This makes me sad, as he seems like a funny guy and I would have loved to hear his full show. I did get to hear him sing in the open filks a bit, but what I heard more was him getting lovingly abused for his habit of forgetting his own stuff. By the end of the weekend, I had found inspiration from this for a new design. I will post it when it's finished.

I was back in the music hall for Seanan McGuire's sound engineer's nightmare. I jest, as did everyone on stage, about the complexities of getting the sound levels right for more than 7 people on a concert stage. The show was fun and energetic and during this time two of my most favorite things of the night happened. The first was vixy's comment of "Apparently I'm dead. This is really going to ruin my sex life!" The second was the enormous reaction of the crowd to the announcement of "We are now an official con- the hotel elevator is broken!"

Since everything started late, it was midnight by the time the shows were over. This led to a late open filk. I think Saturday's filk was the most enjoyable I have attended to date. Some favorite moments? Brooke Lunderville's song about extraterrestrials stealing all the vegetables" and Tony's comment of "Songs keep the zombies away" (there's a filk in there somewhere- not too far!). Randy Hoffman had a great song I want to hear again about leaving 'em with a laugh- funny filk songs. I hope he'll do it again at either FKO or Confluence.

There were so many more good points to Saturday night.. or actually Sunday morning, that I can't list them here.. I finally left at 4 Am (I heard it went on until 6!) By the time I got to my room, the con suite door was closed. No worries about *them* keeping * me* up this night!

Next Report:
Conflikt Day 3

No Longer CONFLIKTed

Ni Hao!

Yes, I'm back from Seattle- I didn't stay. Just slow in getting out from under the paperwork, exploded suitcase, time zone adjustment and playing catch up from all the stuff I normally had to do here the days I was gone. But here it is at last! My con report!

I will spare you all the trials of air travel because even a good trip somewhere still has its frustrations and annoyances. I arrived at the right hotel on Thursday evening and found that my given room was right next to the con suite. It was a big king sized bed room, but I didn't know how well being on the other wall of the con suite would go.

I got my boxes that I shipped out to the hotel brought up to my room and after dinner, began constructing my display cubes. This turned out to be a good thing- the head start- because with all the stuff I take I have discovered that going to cons is NOT a one person job! I did get to meet two of the con coms that evening which was not surprising, since they were setting up the con suite!

On Friday morning I awoke promptly at 7:30...Eastern time. *sigh*. I was able to get back to sleep for another hour but woke up again at 5:30 on the hotel clock. It turns out that there was an earthquake at exactly that time. Missed it completely. Instead, I got up and showered and returned to working on my display until 9 am. This was lunch time according to my body, so I went down for a big breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Afterwards I walked to the WalMart across the road for some supplies I was missing. I love hotels that have places to which I can walk!

I was under the impression that the dealers' room would not be available to us until 5 pm, so I was thrilled when the con's hotel liaison knocked on my door with the news that the room was open and I could set up. Yea! We snagged a luggage cart and loaded up most of my stuff and down to the room went. there was only 3 of us in a big space, so I was able to expand way out beyond my 1 table. I tend to take over wherever I go! Note to self: FFCB *needs* two tables!

The dealers' room was separated by an air wall from the main concert room. I was quite literally back stage. I wasn't going to miss a single performance. Happy Filk Fan! I spent the rest of the day at the table, either setting up, "futzing" or making sales. I was surprised at the number of sales Friday because of the dealer room time confusion, but it was a pleasant surprise. As good as sales were, reactions to my stuff were 10 times better! It seems I was a hit.

That night I went to the first open filk. When I walked into the room I was spotted by Tony right away. He was just getting ready to start a song but interrupted himself to say to vixy "There's this awesome shirt-!" while pointing through the wall to the dealers' room. I smiled so much my cheeks hurt because I knew he was referring to my design that is inspired by her song, The Girl That's Never Been from the Shadowbeast album. She just matter-of-factly replied, "I was consulted on the shirt!" Great moment for me, though and I will always remember Tony's look when he first saw the shirt at my booth. Times like that, ladies and gentlemen, is really why I do all this insanity!

ANYWAY- the open filk was amazing! Turns out the song Tony was getting ready to perform when I walked in was "Dorothy" for Seanan McGuire and she and vixy belted it out. Also that night was a parody of "Life is a Cabaret" by Mark Berstein that won him the song writing contest at last year's FilKONtario called "Life is a Muppet Show" and was from the PoV of Statler and Waldorf. Loved it! Later there was a parody of vixy & Tony's "Mal's Song" that had everyone laughing so hard that someone said the singer "broke the filk room". I thought Tony was going to be in pain, he was double over and laughing so hard! In fact, I think there are very few songs off of Thirteen that weren't parodied that weekend!

The music was amazing, the people were fun, and me...? I was on East Coast time. So at one AM my body was telling me it was 4 Am and I reluctantly headed to my king sized bed and it's 6 pillows. The con suite wasn't a concern as I was too tired to be conscious for too long.

Next report:
Saturday at Conflikt!