Archive for the ‘Thursday Thoughts’ Category

Thursday Thoughts – A “Survivor” Rant

  Now let me preface this by saying I watched the very first “Survivor,” and I found it compelling, disturbing, and my summer’s guilty pleasure. I remember thinking – and saying to a few folks – that I hoped they had counseling available for some of these people. Rudy was interesting, homophobic, but he came around. Richard was your classic evil corporate business person. Ageism was an issue from the beginning, and Susan was articulate.

I watched another season, with Colby and the one woman whose name escapes me who became the first classic villain. But then it just became contrived…and disturbing, like the camera man who continued to film after the contestant fell in the fire…and then Coach with his attitude, and Russell…..oh, don’t get me started on Russell…….

Mostly I didn’t watch any more. I didn’t need to see a character like Russell get that much air time. There’s enough slime in the world that I don’t need to needlessly submit myself to more. But every now and then I see a clip from a new season…and I notice Coach is back, and some character who reveals that Russell is his uncle. Brandon was a cry-baby. People, if you’re going to be on the show, know what to expect. And, bottom line, God is too busy with real problems to care whether or not your team wins a challenge. That whole season with the religion card was just too much to watch, and I gave up on it. Can’t imagine how Cochran is doing as a lawyer after all that…..any good attorney would be able to promise him anything.

But I got suckered in to watching a few episodes this season…and there’s Cat, a spoiled 22-year-old, who is dimmer than a 30-watt bulb. She’s selfish and whiny, which is why she gets all the air time. Enough already…..there are too many more important things in life that this waste of air time.

Most TV watching these days is limited to NCIS, Glee, Big Bang, PBS, and a lot of British series through Netflix. Although I really would rather be in the studio, and that’s what I’ve been doing more and more.

I’m curious…am I the only one? What’s actually worth watching these days? (I know, I’ve got to get on the Downton Abbey bandwagon….)

Thursday Thoughts

Lots of ramblings through the mind this week, a good chunk on medical care. Last week I checked into possible vision therapy as a result of losing the vision in my left eye. My insurance would not cover any of it, not even out of network, and the treatment is very expensive. So there is no way I can do this. Now I am already paying a lot of money each month on my COBRA, until Medicare kicks in.

Keep in mind I have always felt like I needed to pay my fair share, and I realize I am lucky to have health insurance. But come on, people, we shouldn’t have to feel lucky. We should be able to access what we need without going broke or going in to bankruptcy….and I know whereof I speak. Every person in this country should have access to affordable health care. I don’t think this necessarily means the government needs to be completely involved, but I think the attitude of “medicine for profit” is hurting the average American.

In line with the previous thought, I am making a effort to try and read more “conservative” blogs to try and widen my views on current issues, as well as be sure what I believe is accurate. This has been a challenge, because I seem to see – and feel – a great deal more vitriol on these blogs. Michelle Malkin’s blog has so much sarcasm that it becomes difficult to plow through to find nuggets. And yes, she seems way more sarcastic than Rachel Maddow, who does have her share of sarcasm, but then there is a footnoted nugget to follow.

Notice I am reading women. I think if I want a truer look at “the war on women,” then I need to read women. This is not a conservative or liberal issue. Women’s rights are being attacked.

Which is just another reason why I get so incredibly depressed, thinking about the amount of evil in the world, and it’s no longer just outside our borders…yes, I have managed to stay pretty darn naive all these years, and this global/national/local evil is coming unrelentingly….

Which is why I lament the lack of good history teaching in the schools, that now brings me to….

…my tutoring session this afternoon, where I am helping a college student prepare for a philosophy test….a class I never had. I spent a lot of time on the internet looking up information to help me understand the topic and then help my student understand what could possibly be asked on a test tomorrow. And all this led to a really interesting hour and a half of philosophical questions on topics in history that would illustrate deontology and consequentialism. From Harry Potter to the movie Black Hawk Down to the killing of Bin Laden – quite an interesting 90 minutes.

To tie this to teaching history in schools, how can we have philosophical discussions and look at morality if we don’t understand our own history, what makes us a country, and how we fit with the rest of the planet? That’s a good philosophical question……

I must say, however, that the philosophy book stinks…..no index, the glossary is worthless, and the table of contents leaves much to be desired. When you are working with a student on study skills, being able to access an index to find information is critical. How can a textbook NOT have an index? This is such a basic skill for any of us wanting to access information from a text and not just the internet. Yes, Google is essentially an index, but its algorithms bring up results based on our previous searches. And let’s face it, not everyone uses the internet, especially if they have spent a LOT of money on a class text. I would think for 80 dollars a book should have an index.

Yeah, the mind is all over the place this week…..who knows where I’ll be next Thursday?

Monday Marketing – Creating a Schedule

It’s Monday again….and it seems like all I did was read, look at emails, and set up buttons and the like. This is the “time-sucker.” So my goal for this blog post is to try and identify what needs to be done each week for marketing and set up a kind of calendar to work with.

This is what I’m dealing with: Ebay, Etsy, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Cafe Press, Zazzle, newsletters, a website, lynda.com, flickr, and a blog. I am trying to avoid doing all of this every day, because nothing else seems to get done. I’m brainstorming as I write, with the hope that by the time this post is done, I will have a plan.

Ebay: hubby handles almost all of this, including postal trips. But…if we are going to increase sales, we need more product, and I would like to help with the actual marbling. So…..marbling weekly. I do need to update the About Me page…..

Etsy: the bulk of the organization is done. But…I need to be adding product on a regular basis, which means I need to keep making things. It would be nice to have one new product up each week, if not more often. One of the goals this week is to add some of the major artwork (even though I don’t expect to sell it on Etsy, it is more exposure) on the site, as the pictures are redone. I want to continue with the circles marketing, which, if I have enough products, could be done every day – 15 minutes for this. Plus, I need to keep working…….

LinkedIn: profile is done, and I have registered for several groups for business. I have found already difficulty in keeping up with reading emails each day from the groups and have already deleted one group. This week I will determine which groups look to be the most advantageous. I also need to complete the setting up of a profile of artwork.

Facebook: I read this several times a day. I have a fan page which needs serious work, as well as Art From The Heart, which is to support healing art after the Tucson shootings in January. I have added FB buttons to my blog and this week to my website. I have read the Terms and looked at all the privacy settings. I also went through the photo stream stuff for FB and fixed photos for both the personal and fan page. I need to really think through what is going to happen with the Fan Page.

Twitter: I am finishing a class from lynda.com on using Facebook and Twitter for business, and I highly recommend the site. For #25 you can choose different trainings all available for a month at your schedule. I picked up all kinds of little tips, most of which have already been implemented. But….and this is a BIG but….the time for tweets and what to tweet. By syncing a lot of the programs, my blog appears on Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, my tweets appear in a couple of places. I don’t think I can go further with this – the tweet button is on the blog and soon to be on the website. This is one area that needs some serious scheduling. Since I use TweetDeck (which is free…), I can schedule and keep track of who’s following and what is getting retweeted. So…I’m going to use Sundays for scheduling business tweets for the week, and I will look through the twitter feed once a day to see if there’s some good stuff to retweet.

Cafe Press: I have a site, a free one, so I am limited as to the number of products I can put up. I haven’t looked at this in several months and it needs serious work. To have a store isn’t much money each month, and I could have a lot more products available, but the issue is marketing and driving people to the site. I have some great digital stuff already to go, and I need to start planning around the holidays, reading about marketing through Cafe Press, and so on.

Zazzle: Ditto for Cafe Press……both are not a high priority right now.

Newsletters: oy, it’s been months since a newsletter went out, and I have all these contacts where nothing is happening. I used Constant Contact last year for a few months, until I couldn’t keep up with the demands and school at the same time. I was happy with it, but disappointed that not many people actually read it. I need to go back to a newsletter and offerings at least once every three weeks, and more during the holiday seasons. I need to check out Mail Chimp, which is free, and I have heard people have good luck with it. I’ll try and make this a priority this week.

Website: Most of the changes to the website have been made by my wonderful web lady Suzan. I need to get a couple of buttons set up, and then do something about newsletters and contacts. I also have some pages to add on Digital Marbling (TN), and I need to evaluate “print on demand” for artwork. This is a “need to think about” topic…..

lynda.com: I have until Friday to finish my month of training. I still need to finish Twitter, and I want to get the html newsletter course done. I am not going to continue with Dreamweaver because it isn’t a priority.

Flickr: I have photos up, not all of them with copyrights, and there is a class on lynda.com if I have time. I’m not really sure what I want to do here….

And finally, my blog, Marbled Musings. I went a bunch of months with no new writing, and I’m at maybe three times a week. I need to get back to at least four times a week, and eventually every day. I have plenty to write about…and I need to stay up with my Google reader – as well as comment more on some of the posts. This is probably the biggest area for marketing that I have to schedule.

Weekly:

* Marbling fabric

* Work on Etsy products

* Sewing and other design

Mondays:

* Add Etsy product

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read newsletters from LinkedIn groups

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog post Monday Marketing

* Google reader and at least three comments

Tuesdays:

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog post Top Ten Tuesday

* Google reader and at least three comments

Wednesdays:

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read newsletters from LinkedIn groups

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog Work in progress Wednesday

* Google reader and at least three comments

Thursday:

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog – Thursday Thoughts

* Google reader and at least three comments

Fridays:

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read newsletters from LinkedIn groups

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog Photoshop Friday

* Google reader and at least three comments

Saturdays:

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog posting on Specials

* Google reader and at least three comments

Sundays:

* Read Twitter feed

* Schedule Tweets for the week (i.e. Etsy, Ebay…)

* Blog Sunday Stories

* Google reader and at least three comments

Goals for next week:

* FINISH LYNDA.COM

*Update “About Me” page on Ebay

* Update Etsy products, especially note cards

* Evaluate how calendar is working

* See if buttons are added to the website

* Decisions on what will happen with the Facebook Fan page

* Long-term thoughts – what to do with CafePress and Zazzle

* Read and decide about Mail Chimp for a newsletter

* Spend some time thinking about what the website still needs….

Okay, I think I have a handle on this…we’ll see next week as I evaluate how the week goes. And…I’m taking some online classes!

Thoughts??

50 Years Ago….

Fifty years ago today I became political. I didn’t know it at the time, but I remember in very clear detail that day. I was twelve and only out of the hospital from eye surgery for three weeks. I still had tape on my glasses to leave only pinholes to see from, and I could only watch television for 90 minutes each day. there was definitely no reading.

On January 20 I watched the inauguration of John Kennedy as the first president I could remember really understanding and seeing. It was cold that day. I sat with my grandmother, an immigrant from Lithuania when she was only 3. I remember Robert Frost reading a poem. Even then I loved Frost’s poetry.

And I listened to Kennedy’s speech. I mean really listened. I realized I understood everything he was saying. He wasn’t a “boring politician,” which was how most people my age categorized people in office. I was transfixed.

And then he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

Wow. Talk about impact. I was idealistic enough to think he was actually giving me a clarion call. But there was no Peace Corps because I couldn’t be vaccinated, so no overseas travel at the time. There was no military because my vision was so bad. There were no offices to hold, because women didn’t do that then. The only thing that seemed to be available for service was teaching. I stood when the flag was raised. I stood every time I heard the national anthem, even when no one else did. I loved everything about this country.

As a sophomore in high school, in biology class, I even wrote a scathing paper against Rachel Carson and Silent Spring. How could she say our government would do that? By the time I was a senior in high school, I was debating the role of “Red China”  and its admittance into the United Nations. Quite controversial at the time. William Lederer’s A Nation of Sheep was my bible.

Were I not in fear of family reaction, I probably would have become a true hippie. But I ran for office in college, ran the Student Court, and walked for Bobby Kennedy.

Life got in the way, but I think I have found a new way to advocate. Peace has got to be the answer.

January 20, 1960. A really good day.

Thursday Thoughts….Kind of an Empty Mind

Usually in Tucson the bad weather hits on a school day – the kind of weather where you want to hole up under a quilt, read, and drink hot chocolate. Today’s the day, and I am staying home…I’m debating even getting dressed today. Let’s end the year in a nice relaxed mode.

I like not having much of anything on my to-do list. Taking the pressure off to be the new emerging artist (after 15-plus years of marbling and quilting) feels very good. I played with new markers yesterday – a splurge at Michael’s with a gift card. I’m usually a pen and ink person, but I think I’m going to like adding some color to my zentangle work. I have a tentative zentangle party set up for February with a CZT here in Tucson, which should be lots of fun. I cleaned out my Google reader of blogs where no one’s posting, or it’s scrapbook stuff, and I’ve been discovering lots of great zentangle blogs.

School starts next Monday and I’m all ready….lesson plans for most of the week already set. I know with the retirement decision that my school days are numbered. This time next year I’ll only have 5 months to go. The time will go faster than I think it will

I’m reading books on France, specifically Paris, as we start to plan for our trip to Paris and Venice in September of 2012. There is SO much to do in Paris…it’s going to be a lot of fun to plan and read about historical France (since I don’t remember a lot from European history, except reading the actual words of Rousseau and the like) and about the artists I want to see in the Louvre. That will make some good planning reading over the next few months.

I’m working on a new quilt that I am going to make up in a pattern. I have a bunch of ideas, and I need to see how to save a document as a PDF – I’m thinking I need an updated version of Office for Mac (mine’s 2004…..). And it looks like the computer is going to need a trip to the shop for a needed cleaning. And…lots of back-ups done over the next few weeks, as I have so much that is old stuff, and too many pics and graphics slowing the computer down.

The elephant in the room is getting back on track for weight loss. I need to get back to my blog and keep myself on track. I like not having weight be constantly in the fore-front of my mind, but unfortunately I think there’s a pound or two creeping back up. There have been a lot of good changes in terms of health this year, and I want to build on those.

Goals for the last few days of vacation? Take it easy, maybe start work on sorting slides. Go through two more scrapbooks to decide what to keep for pictures. Get caught up on reading blogs. Finish Silk Road. Buy fabric for the bedspread I have been promising myself…notice I didn’t say quilt, because I know from past experience if I start a bed quilt (and I have…) it’s not going to get finished. So rather than spend another $30 for a cheap coverlet, I’m going after some home dec fabric for a bedspread that will work across the seasons – Joanne’s 50% off over the next few days….

I’m off to enjoy the rainy, possibly snowy weather today.

Thursday Thoughts – Digital Marbling (TN)

Sometimes a piece of marbled fabric just begs to be used more than once – or find rebirth in a new form. That’s how our Digital Marbling (TN) was born. Playing around with the fabric and Photoshop leads to some very interesting effects. One thing I am hoping for with all this playing around is the development of some fabric lines, so I’m working on the idea of repeats right now.

Over the last decade or so there have been several runs of marbled fabric designs among some manufacturers. While the patterns are bold and colorful, I think there is a missing element in designing marbled fabric. A variety of colorways, bolds and subtles, and patterns that look like they would be easy to work with. I know when I started making fabric in 1993 it seemed like I was only comfortable putting the bold colors with blacks and whites. I want more flexibility, and to a certain extent I have found it.

But as I work toward designing fabric, I’m using these new artistic creations as my learning. In our newsletter, I posted a pic of “Alaskan Whales,” a piece my digital partner Suzan and I had entered into a show at the Cordova Historical Museum in Cordova, Alaska. It was our first really successful digital collaboration, and I’m going to pull it apart for you.

Here’s the original piece of fabric. I am amazed at just how blah that piece of fabric was, yet there was something appealing…if just means you have to do a lot of playing around to see what happens.

This is the same fabric with a duplicate copy and some adjustments added.

Now it’s approaching the water effect we were looking for. Then we looked for a graphic to use. We liked the whales, just rotated them a bit. We also added some adjustments: bevel, outer glow, some transparency. It looks like there are extra colors added, but it’s a transparency with some curve adjustments that adds in the extra colors. There are a few more things done to this piece, but I have an old version of Photoshop, so it doesn’t show.

Here’s another version, saved from the layers we chose not to use…never know when you will come across something unusual with stuff you didn’t throw out, but just left “invisible….”

All in all, loads of fun!

Who’s manipulating fabric digitally? I’d love to hear from you!

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Thoughts for a Thursday – Marble-T Design

Marbled Fabric

While on vacation, hubby and I had plenty of time to talk about our marbling business and how we wanted to proceed. Readers of this blog know we went through some very difficult times as we had problems with marbling: nothing worked – water, paints, fabric finishes – nothing. Prior to this time we had an active business, with a mailing list of about 300 people, and a list of products that sold each month fairly well. Once the art problems hit, at the same time I changed jobs, and time became a real premium.

Fast forward to now, and I am spending lots of time reading and researching how to build our business. About two weeks ago, on the road in Tennessee, I had one of those “2 by 4 on the head” moments, when I realized that everything the internet marketers tell us we have to do to build an online business we had been doing years ago. So I have been spending time updating, revising, incorporating social media (which wasn’t around when we went online in 1998…). I have learned a HUGE amount, I have loads more to do, and most importantly, I am having fun, as well as meeting lots of new and interesting people. I am glad that I am on summer vacation right now, and I don’t need to take classes or teach any remediation, because building this business is taking a lot of time.

So what does an art business need? We have a website that has gone through several versions since 1998 when the learning curve was EXTREMELY steep.  It has again been updated by our amazing web designer Suzan at Saltwater Systems to reflect new fiber work, some of our digital work, and some new products to be released within the next two weeks. It is now easier to sign on to follow our work through our newsletter.

We did a lot of work off the website way before blogs, but blogging makes it a lot easier to update and refine offerings. Plus, I like being able to write about and reflect on new work, especially as our digital marbling (TN) increases. Now on our blog, Marbled Musings, you can follow updates to the blog, as well as sign up for our newsletter.

Social media has mushroomed. I’ve been on Facebook for about two years, and I have loved getting back in touch with former colleagues and students, as well as meeting and reconnecting with other artists. I am learning about Fan Pages and am just beginning to experiment with one. If you are interested, sign on to follow Marble-T Design on Facebook. Pretty soon we will have a button you can just click.

Now Twitter….this is really interesting. My students make fun of me for being on Twitter, but I tell them I am way ahead of them in this piece of technology, especially when it comes to business.  I am not always logging on with information about what I am doing, but I do enjoy the resources that are posted. Following the NY Times arts columns has led to some great artists. If you’re in to Twitter, you can follow me @ArtsyLindaMoran. (And there wil soon be a button….)

Have I made any art lately? No, and that is by far the downside to building a business and doing the necessary marketing. I worked on a few pieces before I left for vacation, and there is time next week built in for working on art. My goal is to have the business running smoothly within the next four weeks, and then I will carve out the art time throughout the school year – a tough task as any artist knows who has to share creativity time with the job that pays the bills.

I am very interested in what all of you do. Comment about how you’re building your business, what you have found that works, and anything in particular you know HAS to be done. Love to read your comments.

AND….giveaway this weekend with Blog Post 400 – I promise you it’ll be a good one!

PS – a popular post about Martha Stewart and her “marbling” – this ran a year ago as we were just coming out of our hard times marbling, and I was incensed at how she tried to put her spin on this ancient art!

Thursday Thoughts



This seems to be a good summer for movies. Last summer I think we only saw one or two – nothing seemed really exciting. This summer so far it’s been great. Saw Public Enemies today – Johnny Depp was great (I remember him getting his start in 21 Jump Street – THAT was a while ago!). Depp was definitely no Jack Sparrow in this one. This was more an interesting look (I thought) at Hoover and the beginning of the FBI than of Dillinger.

I loved Up – great story, some wonderful humor, and I love what’s happening in animation these days. The beginning was surprisingly sad and haunting, but the development of Carl throughout the movie was wonderful to see. “Squirrel!”


As someone who absolutely loves the Smithsonian (all of them), this was great! The use of computer-generated images was pretty flawless. I thought the bit with Archie Bunker’s chair was a nice send-up. A few “fast and loose” with history, but who cares? Previews of the new Amelia Earhart movie look very good.


I don’t normally go to these “guy buddy” flicks, but this one was hysterically funny! One thing after another – and then trying to piece it all together. I didn’t particularly care for Mike Tyson – somehow Wayne Newton might have been funnier, but hey, the whole premise is just too funny – and probably closer to some reality than we care to know! What happens in Vegas, baby…..

(image credits:
wearemoviegeeks.com/wp-content/
2.bp.blogspot.com/_UI0QUQnKXKk/Sj-pU5aRVeI/AAAAAAAAAig/N3LyD2RYMME/s400/up-movie-1.jpg
thecinemapost.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/the-hangover.jpg
mannythemovieguy.com/images/night_at_the_museum_2_movie_review.jpg)

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