Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Crash, Boom, Bam

At Maneki Neko Con we discovered that Windycon was working on disposing of excess gridwall. We thought it was 8' tall. Turns out that it's only 7' tall, which is good, because 7' fits in the trailer (8' might, but would be more tricky). So at Windycon, a week and a bit ago, we purchased a dozen pieces. 

(No, I'm not sure exactly how we're going to utilize another dozen panels, but I'm sure we'll manage). 

On the Monday after Windycon, the gridwall was unloaded from Robin's truck into the front entry, since Ron hadn't gotten the Round Tuit to modifying the interior of the trailer.  On Sunday that happened. While Robin was off procuring some two-by-sixes, Ron was shifting the gridwall from the front entry to the kitchen, then from the kitchen out to the porch.

I heard a yell, and a crash. I decided that sounded like a problem that should be investigated. Pippin got off the couch and followed me, because I was heading for the kitchen.  As we got to the door, which was open with a couple panels of gridwall laying in it, I realized there were Ron feet under said gridwall, and he was laying on his back on the porch. Coincidentally, I was telling Pippin he was a lousy Lassie. 

Ron had tripped going out the door. He hobbled around the rest of the day on a very sore knee. And sore back, and neck, and jaw, and wrist (he didn't hit his head on the porch, but his neck demanded the privilege of telling him how/why).  He didn't think of icing his knee until evening. D'oh! - on me, too. 

Yesterday he went to the doctor. She had his knee X-rayed, no sign of damage to bone, all soft tissue. She also had his right wrist X-rayed, because its still sore after an altercation with a wall 2+ weeks ago at Teslacon.  There is sign of fracture there, he goes to an orthopedic specialist tomorrow.

Depending on what type of cast/splint/whatnot he may end up with may affect our going to Boar's Head, in a week and a half.

And then last night I slipped and fell coming in. Fortunately, I mostly sat down in an uncontrolled way, so most of the impact came on my backside. Unfortunately, I also came down on my left hand, so I had a sore wrist last night. It seems better today, though. 

This morning I told Robin he's not allowed to fall and hurt himself.

Monday, November 24, 2014

New Photo Gallery

Yesterday morning I decided that the website needed a gallery, for a couple/few reasons:

  • I haven't been keeping it up to date adding new pages for new things like bottles. With a gallery at least there'd be pictures.
  • Steampunk events, which we're looking at doing, seem to be more likely to be juried. A gallery allows pictures of things not on the website as per the prior item, as well as pictures of our setup.
  • I feel like I can get away with less-than-perfect pictures in a gallery, vs. what I'd want in the main pages of the website.
Dreamhost has Piwigo (still haven't figured out how to pronounce it) gallery software available as a one-click install.  For doing everything else, the documentation is . . . lacking. But I'm reasonably comfortable learning-by-poking, so that was OK.

One thing I definitely wanted was the ability to add to the gallery from my iWhatsit. Initial setup and some customization from the desktop isn't a problem, but I wanted to be able to do routine additions from my iWhatsit. I've found that tasks that require the desktop are just less likely to get done on a timely basis, whereas things that I can do wherever I've got WiFi coverage are more likely to get done.  

Unfortunately, the Piwigo iOs app do sucketh, verily. I couldn't get logged into the gallery the couple times I tried yesterday. Ron got logged in, but then couldn't do anything else. It appears from the app store that something broke in a major way in the last year. OTOH, the standard web interface, once you switch to the HTML uploader (default is Java), is reasonably well-behaved on my tablet. Adding tags has been the only iffy task, and that hasn't been too bad.

I meant to work on Otter Necessities stuff most of yesterday, which did happen, but it ended up being adding pictures to the gallery. I've put up 30-mumble that were on my iPad, and then I went through the pictures on my phone, and Ron went through his iWhatsits, and mailed more pictures to my Otter Necessities account. I've got 33 messages with pictures, so that's probably about 50 more pictures. And I haven't poked to see what we've got on the desktop machine.  Adding pictures would go faster if I didn't add titles, dates (just month/year), and brief descriptions. 

Ron poked at things last night, and switched to a different theme from the default. He also determined that you can associate a picture with more than one album, which could be useful, since one of the albums is "Steampunk", and I can see having things there also in a what-it-is-type album (ie: pouches). 

Related to the posting-from-not-the-desktop-computer thoughts above, I've gotten the process for putting new things up on Etsy from my iWhatsit down. The first few pictures I was using a white chemise as a tablecloth, now I've got a piece of white muslin, which I even ironed. I put the table up in front of the couch, and take the picture facing the couch. Crop, then post on Etsy using the "Etsy Sell" app. I suppose I'd better figure out how to mark the pouches I've been listing on Etsy so they're packed so that they're easy to get to once they go to their first event. Right now they're in a bin on the shelves in the front entry. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Shipping Update

DHL package arrived late yesterday afternoon. I have fine dark brown hand-sewing thread, and pretty brass buckles and other hardware to play with.

UPS tracking has finally been updated, in such a way that it appears that the package went back from Indiana to Buffalo, NY, and at a little after 3 am got to East Syracuse, NY.  I am very cautiously optimistic that maybe the supposed movement to E. Syracuse might have actually taken place as shown. Note abundance of weasel-words.  I'm not cranky that the package got stuck by the snowstorms, that's unavoidable. I'm cranky about how UPS dealt with it, tracking-wise.

Meanwhile, FedEx simply puts a banner on their tracking pages that severe weather may be affecting deliveries in certain parts of the country, check linked web pages for more information. IIRC when I had a package affected by a storm last year, FedEx's tracking was reasonably useful at reflecting where it actually was.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Shipping Frustration

On Friday I got e-mail from Abbey Saddlery that they're sorry, one of the items I'd ordered does not actually exist in that size, should they substitute this size instead?  I replied yes, but not until late for the UK, so I assumed it wouldn't go out until Monday, which was correct; and that Royal Mail would take a very long time for delivery, because the Royal Mail does not have a good reputation (including actual experiences of members of a miniature gaming forum Robin belongs to).

However, the package was actually sent DHL, and on Monday it left Manchester, went through the East Midlands, got Cincinnati, Ohio customs clearance, and in the early hours of Tuesday morning, arrived in Cincinnati. Then it went to DHL's O'Hare-ish facility in Franklin Park, and to our house a little before noon.

Unfortunately, nobody was home to sign for it.

Signed the slip to let DHL leave it, and left it on the door yesterday, just to be safe, in case Robin missed hearing the door or ran out to do an errand.

Meanwhile, my package from The Ring Lord, from Concord, Ontario was wending its way through the UPS system, via Buffalo, NY. UPS tracking said it cleared customs and left Buffalo Monday night, and on Tuesday went through facilities in Ohio, Indiana, and got to Chicago, for delivery Wednesday.

Not so much.  No packages when we got home from work. Nothing when we left for or returned from our music lessons.  At 7-7:30 I checked tracking for the Nth time.

DHL was saying delayed by severe weather, aborted at 5:15 pm. What the what?!?  We were having absolutely no such thing. Called, talked to drone, then supervisor. Eventually the supervisor explained that delivery trucks were delayed yesterday due to late-arrivals from farther east, he would note that I'm cranky, and try to push the route around for early delivery today. I'm guessing the delivery driver decided to knock off at 5:15 and didn't realize or ignored the fact that the delivery address is residential.

Last night I also noted that my UPS package was bouncing around IL and IN facilities, and although claimed to be on time for delivery by the end of the day, was not actually showing as Out For Delivery.  The UPS explanation was not clear, but seenpmed to boil down to left on a larger truck and back in Indiana, probably would be delivered today, call if it wasn't.

Overnight it was updated to Ghu-knows where, last point shown in Indiana (probably just over the IL/IN line at a lot where triple trailers are broken down to come into IL, and built up for the reverse trip), delayed due to adverse weather.

Call UPS. Domestic service drone read me the tracking page, and eventually transferred me to International service when that didn't satisfy me. International drone was only marginally less useless. Supervisor finally managed to tell me that my package really is delayed by actual adverse weather, because it never left Buffalo, NY.  The so-called tracking is what should have happened, based on normal container/trailer movements. 

I expressed my displeasure that the tracking had, in the past three days, never been updated/corrected to reflect that. I could forgive a few hours of anticipated movement, but not several days in error, since they obviously know where it actually is and could do so.  And I said that my reaction was not "confusion" about what tracking was showing, it is flat-out false/deceptive information.

So, I should get the Abbey Saddlery order today (currently showing as "with delivery courier"), and Ghu knows when I'll see my Ringlord package, since NY has clearly pissed off the snow gods.  And UPS tracking is only good if nothing goes wrong, and is apparently not updated if something does.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

More Post-Teslacon Natter, Plus Shopping

Nothing in the way of shipping information, or cleared payment, from Abbey Saddlery. I'm going to give it another day or so, then see what's up - if I remember the time differential right I placed the order in the wee hours of Veteran's Day, on that side of the pond. 

This weekend I'm planning on cutting out another prototype for loops to hold dees onto belts for Sam Browne belts. Ron's, which he's wearing here, has the dees permantly sewn in place, which causes problems when one, say, loses a bunch of weight after the belt is made:

(No, we did not make the very spiffy leather corset/vest. That's from The Artifixer, www.artifixer.com). 

Permanent loops also can cause issues getting the belt through belt loops on pants, kilts, or belt pouches. I'd made one floating-dee-loop prototype several years ago, but it wasn't successful. Ron had a suggestion for a different approach, that I think will work. If it does, I'll get dies made to cut out versions for 2-1/4" and 1-1/2" belts. 2-1/4" are what Ron's wearing here, and what we sell as "kilt" belts. 1-1/2" is a standard mundane man's belt. The shoulder strap buckle (in the middle of Ron's chest) and dees on the belt are 7/8", but that's an uncommon size, so I think I'm going to go with 1" instead. 3/4", which is the lighter-colored shoulder strap for his bag, is a little too narrow. 

This morning I ordered metal scales from The Ringlord, a big chainmail supplier (from Toronto, CA, so more international e-commerce). We'd talked about putting leather scales on a pouch flap, like the autumn leaves pouch. I'll probably still do that, but I think the metal scales will also be cool. 

Tails arrived last night. Usually the supplier puts each tail in a bag, with a label as to what it is. Most of the tails were packaged that way, but on the top of the box (with a layer of paper above, so no worries about tape sticking to it), were several loose ones. One of the advantages of tails-in-bags is that it helps protect them from inquisitive dog noses. As soon as I got the box open Pippin was investigating, more avidly that usual (the bags are only stapled shut, so they still have plenty of interesting smells). 

Tuesday I had the bright idea to take pictures of some of the pouches I've finished lately, to go ahead and post for sale on Etsy. The pictures were taken with my iWhatsit with a slightly wrinkly white chemise spread on a table as a background: 
Not as good as Ron would have done on the light table and studio lights and a camera on a tripod, but better to have things up for sale with thoroughly adequate pictures than not at all because of lack of Round Tuits. 

Paid for our booths for Anime Central this morning, which explains the loud "whoosh" noise you heard from the direction of Otter's bank account.  Check for Military History Fest has cleared, so I assume everything is good there.  No response from Boar's Head to my questions about seeminly-contradictory information on the website, so I think tomorrow I'll mail off a check and the form that is available.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Catching Up Natter

Haven't done a lot Otter-ish, as I've been sewing for Teslacon. 

Picked up some belt ammunition bags and a larger Swiss ammunition bag at Teslacon, to use as models/patterns. Also have figured out a way, I think, to make floating loops for a Sam Browne belt. 

For Teslacon I made a new shoulder strap for my leather briefcase. It came out rather nice, I think.  

Saw some nice leather things in the Teslacon Dealers' Rooms (there were two), and some craptastic. Thinking about making a longer, narrower version of sporran hangers, possibly with a buckle for length adjustment. Also thinking about sectional belt possibilities.  

Last night I placed a rather large order from Abbey Saddlery, in England. I got some lightweight thread for hand-sewing, and some nice hardware, mostly brass. I drooled over a set of sticks for blocking loops (like the keeper loops on belts), but resisted. For now. The joys of the internet and international e-commerce.  

Also have a batch of tails on order, from a domestic supplier, including some red fox tails from Australia, which look rather nice. 

I've started working on the purchases side of the books for this year. I've let it go rather badly. Yesterday (vacation day) I ferreted out all the hard copies of receipts I had, scanned the thermal cash register receipts and printed copies that won't fade (as badly), and cleaned up my Otter Necessities e-mail boxes. Today (state holiday) I cleaned up my pensonal e-mail inbox, so I could make sure anything that should have gotten forwarded to my Otter Necessities mail actually had been. Then I went through and put my hard copies in order, then went through my e-mail and saved and printed copies of everything I had electronically. 

So now I'm ready to actually start recording purchases.  My plan is to do a little bit every day or few over the rest of the year, instead of making myself crazy trying to do everything in one or two huge binges.