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Today in My History

2000:   Where the Wild Things Are
2001:  War:      It's Good for Business
2002:  I Like Me...I Really LIKE Me
2003:  Reeaaaly Big Trees
2004It's Come to This

2005:  A Few Tastes of Wisconsin
2006: Keeping Arts Alive
2007: Food, Fido and Football
2008: Take My Heart...Please
Guilty Secrets--and Disappointments


Books Read in 2010
Updated: 9/21
The Drums of Autumn"

Recipes for Cousins Day Drinks
(updated 3/17/10)


South Oxney Choir, Hallelujah

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Cousins Day, August 2010

Mirror Site for RSS Feed
Airy Persiflage

Three Good Things

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2 October 2010

I have been hinting at my "big project" for a couple of days now.   I didn't go into detail because it's a gift for Ashley (who reads this journal). But I desperately need to write about it, so I've asked Ashley not to read my journal until after tomorrow.

Here's the deal:  Ashley is leaving the SPCA.  She's not exactly going anywhere, and she is still going to help us by house sitting and dog care, but she's giving up the frustration of doing the 40 bazillion other things she has been doing for the group.  The proof of her importance to the SPCA is in the fact that nobody knows yet who is going to do x, y and z (and probably a-x as well!)  I'm sure we'll all survive, but it's going to be a big transition.

Anyway, Kim, who heads up the SPCA, said she was going to put together some sort of a book for Ashley and did I have a few photos I could contribute.  Well...that's like asking Scrooge McDuck he has a couple of bucks in his vault.

I volunteered to take on the task of putting together the book.  I did this because I know that you can have hard bound copies of books printed at CVS Photo, which is in the same parking lot as Petco, and I also know that, unlike companies like Snapfish, CVS can guarantee a 1-2 hour turnaround time.  I thought a printed books with a hard cover would be much nicer than just a scrapbook.  I'm also quite expert at putting together these sorts of books, after doing them for about five years now.  I had just never worked with CVS before, but the books looked identical to the books I get from Snapfish.

So we sent out a note asking people to contribute pictures of their dogs.  I also had the fabulous photos that have been taken by professional photographer Ron Pluth for several years.  The most difficult part of having access to Ron's photos is choosing from among them because they are almost all winners.  Look at this wonderful photo of Shiloh, for example.   (Doesn't he look worried that I won't come back for him?)

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So anyway, I started working on Ashley's book on Monday.  As I worked, I tried to edit photos to get rid of red eye and white-eye from camera flashes, and adjust the exposure of pictures that were too dark.  I knew the book would exceed the 20 pages that is standard, but I also knew I could add pages as I needed them.  I worked three days on the design of the book, using CVS's templates.  My only disappointment was that there are fewer template choices with CVS than with Snapfish, which gave me less flexibility.  But that's OK--I could get the book printed in a day, and that was worth making a few sacrifices.

I finally got the book all designed and was going to submit it when I got home from the dentist yesterday.  Now understand that I had spoken with two CVS clerks at two CVS locations, each of which assured me that the books could be printed in a day.  When I spoke to the last clerk, and mentioned that the book was now 75 pages, there was a discussion about whether or not the cover would hold that many (in truth, that's less than 40 sheets of paper, and the clerk assured me it would be no problem at all.)

So I got home, did one final check of everything and started to complete the order when I saw the note that if you choose to pick your book up in the store, it will take 5-7 days to be delivered.  What????

I called the guy I had just spoken with and he told me that only books created in the store could be printed in the same day.  A little thing that neither clerk I'd spoken had thought to mention.  (They have just added the feature that you can pick up a book in an hour at your local CVS store, but it hasn't reached the web site designer yet, so it's not yet available for the general public.)  After a lot of groaning and head holding, I realized that it wasn't the end of the world.  It would be a huge pain in the butt, but I would just re-do the book at the store.  It would just take being organized.

To prepare for re-doing the book, I copied the draft pictures of each page in the book so that I could print off a list so that I could easily and quickly redesign the pages.  Because I had the photos as .jpg files, I made a web site for anybody who is interested in seeing the book.  You can find it here.

In addition to printing off every single page, I also made a separate text file of everything that is printed in the book, some photo captions, some notes from people to Ashley (unfortunately the draft pages are too small to allow you to read those).

Then I took on the task of copying every one of the 176 photos onto a disk, and renaming them so that instead of being named "Polly.jpg," for example, it would now be "1.jpg" and so on. When I put the disk in the machine at CVS, there would be no need to search for photos because they would all be in the order that they appeared in the book.  It took me about 8 hours to get all the organization done, but by God, I was organized and ready for CVS.

Late last night, two days after the deadline, I received more photos and a note for Ashley, which made me a bit testy, since the book was all designed already, but I decided that one of the perks about re-doing the book was that I could, in fact, include the new photos and the new note.

This morning I headed off to CVS, my sheaf of papers and photo disk in hand, to start the re-creation project.  When I got to the photo counter, I groaned again.  The machines were not computers.  They had no keyboards.   They were designed for people who want a bunch of photos printed, not for someone who had a 75 page book, with a moderate amount of text.  Everything is done with a touch screen and I could just IMAGINE how long it was going to take to type up some of the longer comments in the book.

But OK.  It's not the end of the world.  I gritted my teeth and put in the disk that has all photos and I started loading them into the machine so I could start the design process.  That's when the message popped:  "Maximum number of photos, 72."  72???  I had 175.  NOW what?  I had essentially wasted an ENTIRE DAY organizing things so I could re-create the book in the store, and now it wasn't possible.  Again, nobody had told me there would be a photo limit.  The clerk tried something different and he managed to get a maximum number of 154 photos, but that was still 20 photos too short.

I'm screwed.  I'm totally screwed.  There is no way to have this book in hand to give to Ashley tomorrow, so I'm going to give her the draft pages in an envelope and let her decide if she wants to look at them or wait for the book to arrive.  The book will get here probaby next week--maybe it will be here waiting for us when we get home from our trip to Washington, D.C. (we're going to Walt's cousin's daughter's wedding).  Heck, Ashley will be living here while we're gone and if they call she can go and pick it up herself.

But I feel just awful about it.  I wanted this book to be so good for Ashley and I so wanted to be able to give it to her while everyone was around at Petco tomorrow, but there just is absolutely no way, now, that can happen.  At least when it is finally finished it will, I think, be a book that will give her lots of fond memories.


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