Retailers Listen Up, Customer Service is Important

listen up: ears really are strange looking if you think about it
 

Retail stores are in a fight right now, more than ever.  It’s no secret that Amazon [and a slew of other sites] has crushed the profit margins for many traditional brick and mortar stores, but these store fronts are still very much needed.  Clothing for example, it’s almost always cheaper online but most buyers prefer to try things on and see how they look first, even if the online store offers free return shipping and exchanges.  Other products such as cycling need a retail store front so you can be properly fitted by a professional, the same with most sports for that matter.  That doesn’t mean that after I’ve been fit for a product and taken your advice I will actually spend my money with your business, and here’s why. Continue reading »

How not to hire a wedding photographer II

The Wedding Photographer

Four and a half long years ago I wrote How not to hire a wedding photographer, an article that was a response to a Craigslist ad about someone who had very unrealistic goals about what they wanted.  In the article I broke down each and every absurd request the person had and gave reasonable answers.  I’m going to attempt to do the same thing with a recent Craigslist ad where a bride is flying off the chain at what she seems to think is a case of hanging out and shooting photos.

The original ad posted to the Seattle Craigslist:

Continue reading »

I fly like paper get high like planes

One would have to live under a rock, in a cave, on mars to have not heard about the $700 billion bailout program Bush is asking for, the press won’t shut up about it.  The big 3 auto makers are trying to get their grubby little hands on $25 billion of those dollars so they don’t go under.  Some random stat that I can’t find but know I read / heard is that roughly one in 10 Americans is employed somehow by an auto maker in the US.  Seems a bit high to me, but regardless, they are asking for a metric shit-ton of money so they don’t fold.  Fine.

Photo by: Yogi

But, don’t show up at the doorstep of the house you are at to beg for money and ask where you can valet park your private fucking jet!  Not only did the auto exec’s fly in on private jets, they didn’t even jet-pool!  A quick Google search shows that a private jet can cost around $4,000 per hour!  Checking a few major ticket sites online, It shows that it is roughly one and a half hour to fly from Detroit to Washington D.C., or $6,000 each way.  I can book a 1st class ticket for a wee tad over $800, roundtrip! ZOMGWTF?!

Black and White

Prepare to be schooled. Legitimately.

On the second Tuesday in November, history will be made. America will have elected either its first African American president, more than 140 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, or the first woman vice president, nearly 90 years following the ratification of the bill that gave U.S. women the right to vote. It’s a spectacular opening of doors for future generations in America, and a new source of untapped talent for the highest offices in the land. Regardless of the scurrilous gossip strewn about the candidates personal lives, about the disagreements over flip flopping and petty fighting between party lines, there are real issues here at stake that actually matter to our lives and the lives of our children. As Lauren stated, it’s exhausting to witness the bickering, and maybe this is only another voice in the crowd of many. I’ve painfully recognized how uneducated and seemingly uninterested Americans are on the actual FACTS of this election. We have let our reality become distorted by the most backwards and terrifying process of dehumanization out there, the agenda of the corporate American press.

In an attempt to be as bipartisan as possible, I thought that I would try to outline some of the basic issues of both candidates and what they stand for. This is in no way a purpose for me to be stumping for either party (even though you know I’m not afraid to let you know who I support), this is simply an attempt to break down the basic facts. Just because you’ve always voted Democrat, or you’ve always voted Republican, does not mean that you should blindly support whomever that party has nominated. Do you agree with their stance on foreign policy? Their answer to the war in Iraq? Their energy policies? What about education? When it comes down to it, this is a personal decision, but one that should be an informed choice. We can’t base our sources of knowledge in hearsay, propaganda or in the opinions of spouses or parents or friends. I’ve done the gruntwork for you, and here it is. Make your own choices.

In black and white, I give you the facts:

  • Taxes

In comparison to the policies in place under our current administration, the McCain tax plan will reduce taxes by approximately 4.2 trillion. The Obama plan will cut taxes by 2.9 trillion. McCain’s tax cuts will hit across the board, with the biggest cuts going to the highest income households (top 1% of US citizens making over $1.2 mill/year), while Obama would give larger tax cuts to low and moderate income households and pay most of the cost by raising taxes on high income taxpayers (top 1% making over $1.2 mill/year). Both policies from both parties will substantially increase our national debt over the next ten years: McCain’s would increase our debt by $5 trillion, Obama’s by $3.5 trillion.

What does this mean for you? The typical American, middle class income (incomes of less than $200k yearly for individuals and $250k per year for married couples) will raise 3% with McCain’s plan. In comparison, with Obama’s plan, middle income households will see a boost of 5% back into their wallets.

Things to consider: National debt. Want to see how much we owe? Check this out. We need to pay taxes in order to dig ourselves out of debt and get this tattered economy back on it’s feet. Bigger tax breaks and higher spending pushes this debt onto our children and our children’s children.

(Please note, these are estimations based on currently proposed tax plans. Source: Tax Policy Center, Urban Institute and Brookings Institution)

  • Health Care

McCain proposes a refundable income tax credit of $2500 individually or $5000 for married couples purchasing health insurance. He believes that competition between insurance companies will lower the cost and improve the quality of health insurance. This, among other changes that McCain proposes, would cost the US deficit $1.3 trillion over ten years. Obama’s plan is to modernize the US healthcare system and make relatively low cost insurance available to everyone, along with subsidizing premiums for low and moderate income folks. This will cost the US deficit $1.6 trillion, but would also cover virtually all children and the majority of currently uninsured adults. McCain’s proposed plan would cut the number of uninsured people by a little over 6 million in ten years. Obama’s plan would bring the numbers of uninsured people down by 34 million.

(Source: Tax Policy Center, Urban Institute and Brookings Institution)

Things to consider: One in seven Americans are uninsured, living sicker and dying younger. Uninsured Americans effect everyone’s health coverage. Even the insured pay the price with crowded emergency rooms and escalating health care costs, which in turn make health insurance less affordable. The United States spends nearly $100 billion annually to provide uninsured patients with health services, often for preventable diseases or diseases more effectively treated with an earlier diagnoses. Can you guess where this money comes from, loyal tax payer?

  • Iraq

The basic discrepancy between candidates on this issue is whether or not to pull out from the war and withdraw our troups. McCain says fight it out, Obama says end it. McCain believes that it is our moral obligation to stay in Iraq until it is capable of governing itself and safeguarding its own people. He supports counterinsurgencies (sending additional troops) in order to control the population and violence in Iraq. McCain will promote efforts within the international community to support regional stability and to bolster Iraq’s economy. He also supports structuring the US’s military posture in order to put pressure on Iraq’s neighbors (Syria and Iran) to stop aiding Shi’ite militias.

Obama believes that we are in the midst of a war without end, and proposes a plan to finish it. He believes that our military resources are dwindling and leaving us less safe at home, and that with a responsible and phased withdrawal, both Iraq and the US will be better off. Obama’s basic plan will have brigades removed at a pace of 1 to 2 per month, to be completed in 16 months. He will also have a residual force remain in Iraq to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions as well as continue efforts to train and support Iraqi security forces with the support of the Iraqi government. Obama believes in a moral obligation to Iraq’s humanitarian crisis, providing $2 billion to support the millions of displaced Iraqi families while reserving the right to intervene militarily, with international support, to suppress potential genocidal violence within the country.

McCain highlights that the past year has shown a significant reduction in violence in Iraq, and he places the success on the shoulders of the troop surge. Obama supports redirecting our efforts towards Afghanistan where Taliban has since reemerged, pointing out that 2007 was the most violent year in Afghanistan since the invasion in 2001.

Things to consider: With hundreds upon thousands of innocent lives lost, almost 5,000 American soldiers dead since the start of the war, and $3 trillion in national debt… the cost of the war continues to rise by the second.

  • Environment/Energy Crisis

It seems as though major authorities on the environment and energy crisis don’t think that either candidate has enough policy in regard to these topics. It also seems that both candidates bleed into one another’s solutions, there is a meshing between sides. The major differences are that McCain is touting increased fossil fuel production and nuclear energy, while Obama emphasizes alternative sources and conservation to meet our energy needs.

McCain’s emphasis on increased production of nuclear energy and oil is based in a re-commitment in these energy sources. Nuclear energy produces zero emissions, and could decrease our dependency on foreign oil, however safety can be an issue due to the high levels of radioactivity that can be emitted from the waste (newer plants have a much better safety record, but it makes some reminisce about Chernobyl). There are also concerns about the cost of researching and building nuclear power plants. McCain’s plan also will give $2 billion per year in order to advance clean coal technology.

McCain supports off-shore drilling, deep sea drilling off U.S. coastlines in search of oil in order to increase domestic supplies. Increasing domestic oil production could put a patch on the situation we’ve found ourselves at the gas pump, however ecologically speaking, oil is a non-renewable resource and not a great thing to be dependent on, not to mention the threat of what oil spills can do to our environment. McCain has the idea of providing a $300 million award for “the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars.” Anyone know how to make batteries?

Obama will back limited off-shore drilling, as he believes that oil companies should first drill on the 68 million acres that they have which are so far unused. Previously against the idea, Obama has recently said that he now believes a compromise will have to be made in order to prevent gridlocking between oil companies and the government. His main objective is that we need to reduce our dependency on oil completely and move towards new fuel choices and alternative energies. Obama’s proposed policies take it a step further by investing $150 billion over ten years in order to build a clean energy future, along with creating 5 million “green collar” jobs. As for an immediate solution, he’ll give a $1,000 emergency energy rebate to help families pay for rising bills, the money coming from oil company profits. Obama would mandate the auto industry in order to influence them towards making vehicles capable of running on alternative fuels, and increase federal support of mass transit. McCain is against these mandates, and once a cap and trade is implemented (keep reading…), would rely on the market to cultivate alternative energy itself.

Both candidates support tax credits to those that buy hybrid cars. Both support a cap-and-trade system that would place a cost on emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases linked to global warming, in order to encourage a shift towards renewable energy. Both also agree that regardless of the solution to stop the immediate oil bleeding from the gas pumps in America, something needs to be done to catalyze our shift from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources.

Please see this as well as this for further info.

Things to consider: Where you’ll be in 2050 when the Arctic Ocean has completely melted, the glaciers are gone from the Alps, and over one million species of animals are extinct. I’ll be (hopefully) still kicking it at 68.

  • Education

The low standards that our education system has currently in place are dismal at best. American children rank 28th out of 40 countries in mathematics and 19th out of 40 countries in science. Education should be a top priority. Bush’s No Child Left Behind plan was a complete dud, most agree the reason for this is because it was neglected in funding. We have huge issues in America with teacher quality and accountability. (Although this article is Obama based, if you are interested in the current state of our national education system, it is phenomenally written, please devour.) McCain will work to improve the No Child Left Behind Law, Obama will fundamentally extricate it.

McCain doesn’t seem to have a clear plan in regard to changing our education system, although lets hope he focuses more on this issue with the addition of his running mate and mother of 5. He does believe that public schools need to be publicly accountable for test results. McCain supports the basis of using competition in order to obtain greater quality teachers, and thinks that if parents are unhappy with the public education of their children, they should be allowed to change schools. He’ll also reward teachers with individual merit pay. Obama‘s main concerns are in the US’s high school dropout rate (30%), quality of teachers, and extremely high college costs. He will work to create a voluntary national performance assessment for new teachers, as well as work with school districts to create a program for salary increases for accomplished educators that work to mentor new teachers. Obama will also enact an unprecedented American Opportunity Tax Credit of $4000 to families universally. He will also ensure that the tax credit is available to families at the time of enrollment by using prior year’s tax data to deliver the credit when tuition is due.

Things to consider: Children are our future!

The basis of this article has grown out of Project votesmart. I believe that being informed is so important, and I am up for anyone willing to question. If we are open to it, we can all learn something here.

Signing off before my fingers fall off, as your CNN addict/political adviser chick, I bid you adieu…. DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!!!!

Merry F*&!$%* Christmas, You Evil Bastards

Alright, people listen up. First off, I’m not going the politically-correct route and using the term “holidays” because 1) no one shopping for Kwaanza has pissed me off lately and 2) I really don’t care. This isn’t a blog about proper “holiday” terminology. It’s a rant about how Christmas turns people in crazy, raving motherfuckers and you should all burn in hell.

Yeah… it’s one of those days.

I work in retail. It’s not the most glamorous job in the world, but it pays the bills (kind of) and it’s what I gotta do at the moment (my college degree is collecting dust in the other room). This means I don’t have a choice to be in the shopping center, so if you could not be an asshole and nearly sideswipe me trying to steal my parking spot, that would be great. And, no, I’m not going to steal your spot so stop waving like a lunatic and just let me pass you. Seriously, stop waving and let me pass so I can run my car into a brick wall and end my misery.

Don’t come into my store and expect me to shop for you. I’m here to guide you and answer your questions about product tech. I’ll help you find whatever you need, but I don’t know if your kid will like the Sand Uggs or the Chestnut Uggs better. You should maybe pull yourself out of your Xanax haze to talk to them once in a while and see what they’re into. Plus, we don’t have them in size 6. No, I do not find that to be a problem, you should have bought them before the rush. No, I cannot pull them out of my ass. I can give you the waist-size equivalents in inches for pants, but I don’t know if your husband will look good in them. He doesn’t wear clothes while we’re banging, so I wouldn’t know. And please stop acting like you know anything about winter running or outerwear technology and just fucking let me tell you what you need. If you knew anything, you wouldn’t be trying on the fucking thinnest (and cheapest) fleece in the store and ask if it’s “really warm.” And what the fuck, how warm do you need your shit to be? You live in goddamn Pennsylvania, you don’t ski, and you don’t enjoy activity so throw on a sweater and get the pretty coat. If you just want to look good and don’t need tech info, find a color you like and leave me to deal with people who actually care about what they are spending their money on.

Shut the fuck up and let me do my job. If you know how to do a return, ring a giftcard, postvoid (all while juggling grapefruits and baking cookies, simultaneously, yes), then you pop your privileged ass behind the register so I can take a piss break. Or, you know, you could be a completely evil and angry person and announce loudly that you’re astounded that any company would let me be a manager. And then you could call me stupid and unhelpful and make me cry. Yeah – I cried. And you know what? YOU LOOKED LIKE A COMPLETE ASSHOLE. A COMPLETE ASSHOLE WITH A BRATTY CHILD YOU DON’T LOVE BUT A $4000 PURSE THAT YOU DO. And you’re not an extra-small… not naturally, anyway, you Botox-faced, unintelligent, bad mother evil fucking bitch. Kill yourself.

From now on, I’m crying immediately. All the time. It’s the only fucking thing that makes people consider you human and that their actions may be out of line. Crying… not the birth of the Christian God, or the fact that now is a time for generosity and kindness, or the time to start anew. No – you would need to have a soul to have any of those things touch your life.

Fortunately what you lack in a soul, you make up for in a black AmEx.

Merry Fucking Christmas, you miserable motherfuckers.

My Christmas List

Now that I’m (kind of) an adult, I don’t really get to make a Christmas list anymore. There are fewer presents under the tree and more cards with some cash in them. It’s not that I’m complaining – money is great – but it’s more fun to open gifts than to buy them for yourself. There are a few choice things I would like to see under the tree this year. Sadly, much of what I would like could be filed under “practical and boring” but, being female, I think I can find some frivolous things to throw in there.

Dear Santa:

I was only naughty on a handful of occasions this year, so I think I’m deserving of the items on this list. I mean, the naughty-ness occurred in the company of good friends and was all in the name of fun. If there was any naughty-ness that was not in the name of fun, I was too drunk to remember it so it doesn’t count. I’m pretty broke, so if you could like, pass this on to people who are loaded, that would be great.

  1. A humidifier. I’ve had this persistent sinus infection for the past three weeks and I think it’s partially because of how dry the heat is in my apartment (it’s also due to drinking). But, I think this would help. This one is fancy and cute and from The Sharper Image. It’s also $150. Something between this and “cup of water next to the bed” would be stellar.
  2. The Led Zeppelin 2-disc retrospective. I’m really into them lately and would love to have it in my music collection. I can’t get “Kashmir” or “Immigrant Song” or “All of My Love” out of my head lately (and I even like some of Robert Plant’s solo stuff). I’ll also take an iTunes giftcard. I’m kind of a music whore.
  3. My computer is dying. It’s a six-year-old Toshiba Satellite laptop that has been very good to me, but is definitely in its last days. The CD drive doesn’t work and I’m pretty much out of disk space on my hard drive. Since I blog, I kind of need a computer (and it’s nice to have a portable one at that). I realize that I could get a regular Windows OS laptop for way cheaper, but I am sick of viruses and popups and installing extra programs to prevent the aforementioned. I just want to buy a computer, have all my files transferred, and call it a day. I want a Mac. Not only are they extremely sexy, but they are easy to use and don’t get all funky from rogue programs. I’ve decided on the 15″ MacBook Pro – it has a matte screen (unlike the 13″, which only comes in “glossy” which is damn annoying). However, I am really sad that it doesn’t come in black to match my two iPods and Bose speakers. Yes – color is important to me. Don’t judge.
  4. Because you can never go wrong with this gift… but I can’t guarentee it’ll last past New Year’s.
  5. A job with health benefits. I don’t think that’s a whole lot to ask for. Right, Santa? And yeah – that’s a picture of Steve Jobsget it? JOBS?? HA! Also, if he reads this, it might help my case with getting that MacBook.
  6. Maynard James Keenan. You don’t need to put him under the tree, just undress him and leave him tied to my bed, please. He can keep his cowboy hat on. Thanks.

How not to hire a wedding photographer

Consider this more of a rant than an actual how-to article, and possibly a bit one-sided as well since I am a photographer. You need a wedding photographer, you’ve made the decision to get married and you want to remember that day as best you can, for as long as it takes until you get divorced. You have a budget though, so there are things that need to be taken into consideration and places where you need to shave some money out of the budget to pay for more important things, like booze.

What are you to do? You know hiring a professional wedding photographer is going to cost you some serious money, but the photographs they produce will be simply amazing, what other options do you have? Craigslist! Perfect, chances are you can find someone on here for half or maybe even less than a pro and because they probably shoot digital, you’ll still get amazing photographs, let’s work a deal. This is a directly from a Philadelphia listing:

I NEED A PHOTOGRAPHER AT A WEDDING IN 2 WEEKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MY BEST FRIEND IS GETTING MARRIED. SHE NEEDS A PHOTOGRAPHER. IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO HAVE A PORTFOLIO MADE FOR SCHOOL OR SUCH. EXPERIENCE IS NOT NECESSARY BUT YOU MUST BRING SAMPLE PHOTOS OF ANYTHING SO I CAN SEE HOW CLEAR THEY ARE AND HOW PROFESSIONAL THEY LOOK. IF NECESSARY I WILL PROVIDE PHOTO ALBUM AND HELP PURCHASE YOUR FILM AND WHAT NOT. THIS JOB IF FOR THE RIGHT PERSON MUST HAVE GREAT PERSONALITY. I WANT TO HELP YOU BETTER YOURSELF AND YOUR CAREER WHILE YOU HELP ME REMEMBER THIS EVENT FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE………..SERIOUS INQUIRES ONLY. YOU WILL BE COMPENSATED FOR THIS AS WELL!!!!!!!! NOTHING IS FREE DON’T EVER SELL YOURSELF SHORT. I WILL PAY YOU WHAT YOU ARE WORTH.

I’ll break this down as best I can to show you how wrong this really is.

I need a photographer at a wedding in 2 weeks. Most weddings are planned months in advance, thus, photographers are booked months in advance. That doesn’t mean that you can’t find one, it just means your selection will be drastically reduced to who is available and you may need to pay a premium because of the short notice. You don’t take a package to the post office on Thursday and ask to have it shipped overnight for the same price as regular mail because you forgot to take it in on Monday, do you?

If you are looking to have a portfolio made for school or such. I’m sorry, that doesn’t make sense to me, are you in the print, book, or binding industry?

Experience is not necessary. Fine, you shoot it then!

Must bring sample photos or anything so I can see how clear they are and how professional they look. Wait a minute, you just told me that experience is not necessary, now you want to see how clear they look, whatever that means, and how professional they look? Clearly you must be confused, I know I am.

If necessary I will provide photo album and help purchase your film and what not. Most wedding photographers have access to albums that are not usually available to the general public, if you want something nice and you want it to last, get it from them. I’m not sure of many photographers these days that use film, so that won’t be of much help.

This job if for the right person must have a great personality. And I agree and willing to go out on a limb to say that most wedding photographers enjoy working with people and capturing the moments you have. If they didn’t, they would shoot wildlife or landscapes.

I want to help you better yourself and your career while you help me remember this event for the rest of my life. Thank you so much for your deep concern about my persona life. Shooting your wedding will not help me in any other way than financially though. Unless you are a booking agent or have a dozen friends who are getting married who are not low-balling, cheap bastards, or you are the advertising representative for a magazine or billboard company, how exactly do you plan on helping my career?

Serious inquiries only. For serious?

You will be compensated for this as well!!!!!!!! Wow, 8 exclamation points. You must seriously be willing to compensate me; however you have not listed what your budget is.

Nothing is free, don’t sell yourself short. Again, thank you for this great life lesson.

I will pay you what you are worth. This is somewhat confusing to me. How are you to justify what my worth is, especially if you are looking for someone with little or no experience? Is this to say that you are willing to let them eat at the wedding and that should be compensation enough? Maybe gas money?

Here’s the thing, photography is very much a form of art. It is much more than a wedding album or the cost of film, you are paying for someones talent and time. Looking for an inexpensive way to get a wedding or any event photographed is not a bad thing, hiring students or assistants for the event is completely acceptable as well. That said, an understanding should be made that when you hire someone like this, you need to accept the fact that accidents could happen, you may not get you the best quality images, they may miss critical elements of the event or be slightly out of focus, etc., these things all could happen, it is the price you pay for accepting someone of lesser talent to save some money.

Photography is service; you pay for the talent of the photographer much in the same way you pay for the talent of a chef at a good restaurant. At the restaurant, food is the outcome. With a photographer, prints are the outcome; these trigger memories for all involved. I know of no one who has gone to the grocery store to buy a steak and taken it into a restaurant and asked the chef to make it for them, why would you do this to a photographer?

Don’t tell me how shooting your event will help build my portfolio; chances are I have enough friends and family to shoot for free to help me build a decent portfolio. Let’s not get this twisted and make me feel like you are helping me out, you, the client, are in need of service. Unless you have several friends who are in need of paid photography service or you can grow my business by means of free or cheap advertising, don’t insult me.

Be aware of your timeframe, the less time you have to an event, the less photographers you will have to choose from. Additionally, you may need to pay extra because of the short notice.

Be realistic with your expectations. If you want great, long lasting images, get someone who has been doing this for a while and has an established portfolio and a list of people who have recommended them. If you are on a tighter budget, don’t expect to get the best of the best, realize that there could be some speed bumps along the way.

Thank You to the Randomn3ss Family

Although we, as a blogging entity, write about things that are of personal interest, Randomn3ss.com generally isn’t a forum for personal thoughts and feelings. I mean, this isn’t a diary. However, I’m going to divert from the norm and use this space as a forum to send a HUGE BIG THANK YOU to those of you who have been supportive of myself as a writer and Randomn3ss in general over the past couple weeks.

To bring some of you up to speed, I was recently fired from my job for, basically, posting a blog on this site. It has since been taken down because I received a rather threatening comment from a source close to the company that was a blatant and libelous personal attack. Many people, including lawyers, have read my post and considered it innocuous, albeit vitriolic. But that’s not the point – in the state of PA, a private company doesn’t need to give you a reason for releasing you from your job, so there’s really nothing I can do (plus, uh, I don’t really want that job back) . I do plan to repost the original blog on here, with a detailed response, and an outline of blogger’s rights and the true definitions of libel and slander, neither of which apply to my original post (according to law sources and my own research).

In the meantime, I need to thank those of you who have sent emails or come up to me and shown your support for me and the First Amendment. First off – Mike Panic, LO, and all the other contributors to this site – thank you for offering whatever help you could and encouraging me to keep writing. Thank you to the staff at Grape Street, my friends in Stillicide, the regular Thursday night GS/WMMR crew (mostly especially Jaxon, who gave me not only incredibly sound advice & concert tickets, but is like the big brother I never expected, but now am stuck with forever). Thanks to Ryan and everyone at City Sports, especially for getting me hours the SAME DAY that I lost my job. Thanks to Vern and the crew at Origivation Magazine, who have welcomed me on staff and support the cause of Freedom of Speech.

Most of all, thanks to my mom who has been cool as hell and assured me that things happen for a reason and she’s not disappointed in me. I mean, I guess if you have to be a “martyr” for something, why not for the freedom to say what you want? It’s one of the foundations of this country and a freedom that is too often squashed domestically (although we pretend to fight for it abroad). I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to agree with someone’s statements, but you have to respect their right to make them. Thank you to those of you who understand that and who keep on fighting the good fight.

Productivity tips for freelancers

Blogging for me is like a part time job. Between this site and the other blog I run, around one to two hours per day is vested in maintaining them. This time includes:

  • Writing the actual articles
  • Research for new articles
  • Reading several dozen blogs, commenting where I can and getting ideas for new articles
  • Answering reader submitted questions
  • Promotion of articles
  • Working on larger articles, sometimes writing one large article doesn’t happen at one sit down.

The time I invest directly relates to how successful my blogs are, but blogging for me is just a model that can be applied to anyone who does freelance work from graphic design work to computer maintenance. Freelance Switched published 46 Must-Read Productivity Tips for Freelancers, I�ve pulled four of my favorite from the list to share:

  • List 3-5 things you will do the next day. My homepage, as mentioned several times before is iGoogle, if you haven�t played around with it, try, it’s worth it. On it, I’ve installed the Web Stickies module, it acts like a post-it note that is somewhat transparent and can be placed on top of any part of iGoogle. If I’m online (which I usually am) and an idea hits me for an article but I don’t have the time to write the full article, I’ll add the idea to the sticky note. Later when I do have time, I reference that for what articles to write next. At any given time there are 3-10 items listed.
  • Get your inbox to zero. This is a big one for me. Something about having 200 unread messages and 40 read messages in my inbox annoys me. Spend an evening or a lazy Sunday afternoon to go through and reply to those you need to, delete what you don’t need and archive important emails. Make sure your spam filter is working properly and check the spam (or junk) folder often just in case something slips though that isn’t supposed to. Having an empty inbox is like having a clean house, it just feels right
  • Learn to check email just twice a day. I can’t do this, personal or for my daytime job. Email is one of the biggest time wasters though. Just because an email comes doesn’t mean you need to reply to it right away. This rule for me is bendable though, as I’m often awaiting a response from someone about an article or a subscribed website email comes through that may have a link to a new article idea for me in it. When I’m writing, as I am now, I won�t check my email. I’ve also ignored my phone and text messages, it is too distracting.
  • Learn to say no. There is an old saying that goes something like, Would you rather make 50 cents from one job per day or have 2 jobs that pays 75 cents each� If you can only handle one job per day, perhaps you should just look at raising your rates and not taking on the extra headache of the second job. Learn to budget your time and find the proper value of it. It is a very fine line between selling yourself short and overbooking time so you become run down and worn out.

For me, one of the biggest problems I have with doing freelance work is self motivation. In my situation, I am writing for my own site, no one else. This means there is no set deadline for any given project. I do have a rubber goal right now to get at least 5 unique articles on Randomn3ss per week, in addition to what the other staff adds. Over the next 6 months I want to triple that. My tip for staying productive is to get off on the right foot. I’ve already given you 10 tips to starting your day right, here is another geared more towards freelancers, in my case this is what I do on weekends.

Get up and get showered right away. For me, rolling out of bed sucks, I hate to do it. Nothing about the whole waking up process is enjoyable for me, but after taking the dog for a walk I’ll hop in the shower. Something about a shower not only wakes me up, it makes me feel like the day has started and it’s time to be productive. This may be partly due to the fact that my week-days start in this manor, but doing it on a weekend and then writing for the first hour or so of the day makes it a lot easier for me then dragging my tired ass to the computer and rubbing the sleep from my eyes while squinting at the monitor for a half an hour as my body wakes up.

PA can’t balance check book

In a bid to earn the right to bear the nickname “Pennsyl-tucky,” the commonwealth of Pennsylvania closed today because it forgot that you need money to do things.  Namely, things that require 24,000 employees to help run, oh you know, a little thing called THE STATE.

[insert heavy sigh – and link – here]

I’m hoping that this temporary shutdown includes the Bureau of Compliance in the PA Dept of Revenue, which is currently investigating the purchase of my car from my great Aunt (it was a gift, you don’t need to pay taxes on a gift… unless the gift is worth $8000, apparently.  Oops).  The temporary closure does include the DMV, which gives me yet another day to procrastinate on renewing my license/put finishing touches on crazy outfit for my new license photo.  This would also explain why I was stuck for 90 minutes on a one-lane Route 81 South last night despite there being no construction workers around. 

Thankfully, the prisons and casinos remain open [insert “Dueling Banjos” theme from Deliverance here].  Wind storms from the collective sigh of relief should be expected to sweep across New Jersey.

It seems kind of ridiculous that PA has a surplus and simply isn’t spending it because of government gridlock (the governor is a soulless Democrat; the state Senate, even more soulless Republicans).  I mean, even I, with all my complex needs, can make a budget.  It goes something like this:

Rent = $635.50; Car insurance = $230; Jack Daniels = $45; cheesesteak (2xweek) = $12; energy drinks = $10/week.  It’s really easy.  Seriously.  Ed Rendell could learn something from me.

Source: MSNBC.com