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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

USPS 2016 Postage Chart and Lots of Spinner Rings

Apparently, December was a good month for spinner rings.  Here are six that I just listed plus non-spinner ring leftover from a few weeks earlier.

You can see the rings in my shop or on Etsy.

And here is the best I can figure the 2016 USPS postage rates are.

Lots of changes besides just the rates.

Commercial rates are lumped from 1-8 ounces.

International like more than doubled!!!

Under 3 ounces, retail pricing is less than commercial rates.

Using Click 'N Ship (printing postage from the USPS website) no longer gets you commercial rates.

If you use Etsy calculated, make sure you've selected "commercial (aka Etsy) rates" or "retail rates" so your customers get charged appropriately.  You find this option at the bottom of the overall shipping profiles page.  [Note: there seems to be an Etsy bug/glitch at the moment whereby if you have "commercial rates" selected, your customers are still being charged "retail rates".  I hope they fix that soon.]

Friday, January 8, 2016

Teaching Myself Jewelry Hinges Part 1

A *LOT* harder than I imagined... and I imagined it'd be pretty hard.

For my first attempt, I took two 18 gauge pieces of copper (first mistake) and cut some copper tubing.  Decided that since everything was copper, I'd opt for my copper solder as well.

These pieces of copper were way too large (1.5") and thick (18g) to heat with anything other than my plumber's torch.

For those not following my escapades, I don't use any "cool" torches.  I only use butane torches (aka micro torch or creme brule torch) and plumber's torches.
So what I can do is limited but that doesn't stop me from trying.

As I recall, with my first attempt, all that happened was the copper solder just went over to my tubing and wanted nothing to do with the big square pieces I was trying to solder the tubing to.

Then I thought, "Well, I'm just experimenting anyway, so I'll switch to silver solder.  I am more familiar with it and find it easier to deal with."

I did have success (with step one).  I was able to solder tubing to flat pieces in preparation for making a hinge.

With minimal clean up, here is the final effort (you can click on any photo to enlarge it).

I already knew from previous excruciatingly disappointing experimentation that I can not do a double sided balled up pin with my torches so I am doing cold connection rivets on these hinges.

In hindsight, I see I should be filing concave grooves into my panels.  Not a deal breaker, but might make things easier.

So here's the first panel.  Oh wait... there was an identical one to this first... that I managed to totally (and unintentionally) reticulate when I was trying to solder on the tubes.  So here is my second attempt.

First I soldered on the moon eclipse, then I soldered on the two hinges.  Except they didn't solder on at first.  Well, one did and one was "hanging on".  So pickle and repeat.

I finally got both little tubes to solder. 

Trying to solder the other tubing onto the other panel was another matter.  After my reticulation debacle, I was afraid of over-heating. I also thought the fine silver bezel cups would just turn into puddles.

I think it took me four tries before I got my hinge to solder.  By that time I didn't care how much of a mess I made with the solder overflow.  I just wanted the darn things to become one.

And that's pencil lead inside the tubing (if you were wondering).  I didn't have it in there the first time I soldered and... you guessed it... soldering flowed up inside the tubing and clogged it up.

This image makes the panel look quite the mess.  These shots were taking right after soldering.

Here's the same piece after pickling and minimal brushing.

I wanted to add the patina and insert the cabs and then show you... when it dawned on me (yes, I *am* that daft at times) that I still have to solder tube hinges onto the other sides of each of these panels.  Ha!  That will be fun... trying to keep the first tubes in place while I do that.  Next time I'll try to get all the tubes soldered on at the same time.  But that's why we try new things... so we can learn.

These are very small panels.

I hope you stay tuned as I attempt to finished the entire bracelet.  Why did I pick such a huge project when trying to learn a new technique?  I thought forcing myself to make 8-10 sets of hinges would be good practice.  BTW, if this works out, you're getting a sneak peak at one of the pieces of my first 2016 collection.

See you shortly!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Goal Setting isn't an All or Nothing Proposition

I have a long and close-knit history with setting unrealistic goals.  It's never bothered me... I feel like the higher you strive, the higher you end up, even if it's not that extreme goal you set for yourself.

But can extreme goal setting be a bad thing?

Maybe... at times.

If you let the failure to reach the extreme goal be a reason to either quit (the "all or nothing" syndrome) or to berate yourself ("I'm worthless because I didn't reach my goal").

So I made a list... a really super long list of little goals I want to achieve, daily.  It's a crazy list.  Not even superwoman could keep up.  Why did I do it?

Because each day I will "x" out the things I didn't get to... and I will be left with a list showing all the things I *did* get to.  Accomplishments.

If I put 20 things on my list for what I want to get done in a day and I get to 12 of them.  Yes, I didn't do 8 of the things on my list, but without the list, I might have only done 4 of the things.  12 is darn good!

Not only is there really probably not enough time in a day to do everything on my list, things come up.  Like today... I had to go into Kaiser for a tetanus shot.  That was an unplanned event.

Want to see an example of a typical day?

  1. Take trash to bottom of hill
  2. Do laundry
  3. Mop kitchen floor
  4. Plan weekly menu
  5. Clean cat box
  6. 5 mile walk
  7. Make stacker rings order and ship
  8. Organize cabochon inventory
  9. Charge AA batteries
  10. Shred previous week's receipts
  11. Water plants
  12. Check car's tire pressure
  13. Cook eggplant casserole
  14. Organize fabric for KG
  15. Inventory supplies
  16. Add stuff to septic tank
  17. Wash dishes, clean counters and sink
  18. Process SRAJD applications
  19. Work on supplies inventory 
  20. Do business accounting
So I can see that aside from my normal work in my workshop (making jewelry and/or teaching), I still accomplished a lot of little things that needed taking care of.  I can feel good about that.

If something on the list didn't get done but is still important, I can just move it to the next day, etc. until it gets done.

There are some things that are there every day, other things that are only on certain days... like, I'm obviously not going to check my tire pressure every day, and still other things that are very infrequent (like putting additives into the septic system).  But if I have this list, I can see when something comes up and I might put it off for a day or two, but I'll eventually get to it and then nothing important gets forgotten about. 

The air conditioner maintenance happens on schedule, there are always prepared meals in the freezer, bills get paid on time, etc.

Maybe you have to be a list person to "get this".  I am definitely a list person.  I'm also an extremely forgetful person so until things become habit I have to have reminders.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Last Day of 2015 and How Competitive Are You?

Maybe I take "years" very seriously.  I start out with a bang and start to get things accomplished, but as the year winds down things pile up and I get overwhelmed and am behind on everything (just look at this blog if you need an example of that).

A year really means nothing to me other than a psychological reason for a fresh start.  And who doesn't like fresh starts?

Today's my last "lazy day".  Am I really lazy on lazy days?  I'm not sure.  I seem to do a lot, but I always find myself feeling guilty about not getting enough done.  Anyway, while I was being lazy today I was musing about competition.  In 2016, I'd like to relinquish any notions or feelings that life is a competition.

I understand where feeling competitive can be a good thing.

Two studies on the subject make the distinction between "competing to win" versus "competing to excel".

"... competing to win was linked to higher levels of depression and loneliness and to fewer and less close friendships. Competing to excel was linked to higher self-esteem and less depression... but was largely unrelated to social functioning."

Is competition a primal instinct?  Is it part of our nature?

I think if I thought of fewer things as a competition, I'd probably be a happier person.  I wouldn't find myself "lacking" in so many areas.  And competition can be really stupid at times.  For example, in almost ANYTHING  you can think of, there will ALWAYS be someone better/faster/stronger/more skilled than you.  So why be competitive?  Or better yet, how to stop making it a natural thought reaction.

So do I want to do something really well (competing to excel) or do I want to beat the other guy (competing to win)?

Competing to excel is like competing against yourself... or your former self.  Maybe your yesterday self.

There is no "winning"... just getting better. 

I'm down with that.  So long as it doesn't turn in to a case of me chastising myself for not being good enough, fast enough, skilled enough.

And... CAN I resist the temptation to compare myself to others?  Probably not, but habits start with baby steps and although our innate personalities (characteristics) are fairly ingrained and immovable, our ability to change how we perceive things is mutable and I can work with that.

So here's to a happy new year.  I've got a lot to do... but I don't have to be better than anyone else, I just have to be better than my yesterday self.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Organizing the VIrtual World

One of today's tasks: Organizing my bookmarks.

Well, they aren't even bookmarks.  There is a bookmarks manager that is very cool, but out of site out of mind.  Today I'm going to tell you what I've been doing, how I got in over my head, and what I'm doing to solve the chaos.

In the old days, if I ran across something on the internet I wanted to read later, I'd throw the URL into "bookmark" or "favorites" land, but I discovered that I never went back.  All I was doing was creating this giant collection of URLs that would never be visited again.  Yes, with Bookmarks Manager (or a little forethought), it is simple enough to create subfolders of categories for everything.  But it's that whole "I can't be bothered to open a drawer" thing.

I discovered that as I went about my day, if I saw something on the internet I wanted to read or save for later, it merely became an open window "to deal with later".  So when it was time to go to bed, I'd have like ten browser windows open and I was TIRED and wanted to go to bed... so I'd just put my computer to sleep (instead of turning it off) and everything would still be there in the morning.

Problem is, in the morning, I had better things to do.  So the windows would just pile up, day after day.  And my poor computer never got a chance to turn off.

To end the madness, the solution was to create a Word document that I keep open on my computer at all times.  It's called "Daily".  I put all kinds of important tasks and deadlines and notes in there.  And at the end of the day, I grab all those URLs that are open on my computer and just copy and paste them into my DAILY document.  Then I can shut down the computer and my URLs are still safe.

Safe but not organized... yet.

So it goes like this:
  1. I roll along with my daily tasks:
    • Making jewelry, doing laundry, checking on Facebook, posting in forums, doing homework, creating meals, etc.
  2. Something crosses my path:
    • "Oh, that's a great idea for a color combo" copy the URL to my Word document
    • "Oh, I want to try that recipe" copy the URL to my Word document
    • "What a cool way to use sandpaper" copy the URL to my Word document 
    • "I could stand to read this article on improving memory" copy the URL to my Word document 
  3.  I now take that URL and copy it to my DAILY word doc.
The ONLY problem with that is it began to look like this...

 ... for pages and pages.  And if I wanted something, like I knew there was an article on SEO Marketing that I wanted to share on my blog, I'd start looking through the URL until I found it.

But that time-wasting process is similar to a cluttered house where you know you've got something but looking for it takes valuable time away from everything else you have to do.

So today, I created a new section.  I threw a one-column table into the Word doc and put a bunch of headings into each column, like:
  • Recipes I want to try
  • Color inspiration
  • Jewelry how to's
  • Articles on astrophysics
  • Marketing
  • May want to buy
And I'm going through my URLs and putting them in the appropriate category.  This will make it infinitely easier to find things when I need them.

And since this table is still in my DAILY Word doc, it won't be any harder or more time-consuming to stick the URLs into their rightful place to begin with.

BTW, there's the new look.  So much easier to find things.  I want to finally try that cauliflower recipe I saw online?  Instead of looking through 300 saves URLs, I just go to the "Recipes" section.

If you're also a "piler" and/or your collection of URLs is out of hand, let me know if you do something similar and how it works for you.

And the whole point of doing that today was I wanted to blog and I've collected a ton of URLs I want to share with you all... things about jewelry making techniques, and marketing, and a ton of other stuff.

So thank you for prompting me to get organized!

Next blog post... I'll share some of those helpful URLs.