Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Easy All Purpose Birthday Card

I'm using an easy marker technique on this birthday card that would work for anyone.  You just need a greeting stamp and some geometric stamps.  My colors came from the scrap of designer paper.

Here's the video:

There are still a couple of stamp sets left in my Etsy shop including one that wasn't in the video from last week. Check them out at:  Lovely Layers Art

Thanks for watching!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

What NBC doesn't get and how to fix it

This Tuesday night will be celebratory at my house.  Why?  Regular TV will be back!  Actually it returns on Monday, but there is nothing on Monday nights that we watch. On Tuesday we will tune into the Middle at 8 on ABC and I will watch This is Us on NBC at 9.  The tissue box and remote will be close at hand.

And if something happens that prevents us from watching?  No problem, we will just catch them the next day. 

For more than 2 weeks, there has been almost no original scripted programming as most networks defer to the tradition of watching the Olympics. In truth, they don't want to compete with the competition, either the network airing the event or the events themselves.  It's sort of un-American to try to persuade us to watch something other than those who have worked so hard for the chance to represent their country in their sport.

Apparently though many, many of us have been watching something else or nothing at all. NBC had 14 million viewers this past Thursday night - the night of the ladies figure skating final which is usually one of their top events.  That seems pretty good until you consider that The Big Bang Theory brings in that many viewers every week for a fictional show you can watch easily the next day usually spoiler free.  Looking at Thursday February 1 as an example, BBT had 14.5 million.  Another nearly 9 million viewers are watching Grey's Anatomy over on ABC at the same time.  Eight and a half million more are split between NBC, Fox and the CW all on a typical Thursday at 8 pm.  When you do the math, NBC only captured just over 40% of the broadcast viewing audience.

Now NBC's numbers (nor any of the others I sited) contain viewers who watch on-line.  The trouble with NBC is they made it so difficult to watch the Olympics on-line.  If I miss the Big Bang Theory, I can go to the next day and watch it.  I can watch that episode for several weeks until a certain number of new episodes bump it off.  Anyone in the US can watch it on-line. NBC makes their regular scripted programming available to watch on-line the next day.

But what about the Olympics?  What if I don't want to watch 3 hours at one time or stay up until midnight to see who claims the ladies singles figure skating gold?

Tough luck.  As far as I can tell, I can only watch 45 minutes of Olympic coverage because we do not have a cable or Dish provider.  We use an antennae and get our TV over the air.  Despite the overwhelming number of commercials which I'm sure are in the on-line portion as well as broadcast, NBC doesn't let those of us who don't pay for basic TV anywhere near the bulk of the games without suffering through hours of coverage each evening often going until midnight.

This is what NBC does not get.  People don't want to watch TV at a specific time.  We no longer want to watch 20 minutes of commercials every hour.  

We want content.  Hulu, Amazon and Netflix have given us the best of TV. We can watch when we want and we can get excellent content for our viewing time.  The time difference made the Olympics a bit of a challenge but we almost always have some time differences to deal with.

So here is my wish list for making watching the Olympics a better experience:

1.  Create an online viewing subscription option separate from the cable companies.  Partner with Hulu or one of the other providers as does Showtime and HBO.  And I'm not talking about an option to watch live but to view taped events so people can watch just what events they want.  Commercials are fine if needed to keep the costs down.  As long as we can skip the commentary, I think people would buy into this for the convenience.

2.  When the time difference will cause viewing to go past 11 pm on a regular basis, plan to tape delay the programming. Figure skating is a big draw so make it available for people to actually watch and cut out the filler by...

3.  Firing at least half the commentators.  They are completely unnecessary. It's irritating to know that Tara Lipinski was actually paid money to say over and over again "she really wants a gold medal," "He came here to win,"  "They have their eyes on the podium."  Well, duh!  Don't all the athletes envision themselves with a medal around their necks?  Isn't that the point of all that hard work?  We don't want them talking over the performances as they relive their own glory days.

3. During live events when time is needed to scrape the ice or for the next set of skaters to warm up, why not show us one of the earlier skaters on tape?  Fill the time by showing the work of these athletes, not by exercising the jaws of those who have had their moments in past Olympics.

4.  Drop the meaningless interviews of athletes asking them how they 'felt' to lose or to win particularly when they lose.  That's just mean.

5.  Another annoyance was the amount of time spent on qualifying runs.  Personally I think almost all of the events other than skating are beyond boring.  But to have to watch people slalom down the same hill over and over for qualifying and then again for the actual event is just double boredom.  No wonder so few people watched.

6.  Keep the cameras on the athletes.

7. Make the figure skating gala which was apparently a taped event into an Event.  Run it all at once without cutting over to other competitions. Have one skater after another with a reasonable number commercials.  Having a 4 minute skate followed by 5 minutes of commercials every. single. time. was just greedy.  We know you need the commercials to make money but the same Chevy commercial ran over and over again until viewers would start holding a grudge against the advertiser rather than being persuaded to buy.

8.  Announce upcoming events with times displayed on the screen.  Networks have no problem putting stuff on the bottom of our screens during regular programming yet during the Olympics if you wanted to know what time something was coming up, you had to be listening or look at the TV at just the right few seconds to see the announcement. Face it, people want to watch certain events.  Clearly from the ratings, viewers will not be bullied into watching everything just to see what they want to see.

Not only was viewership down but this was the least buzzed about Olympics I can recall.  The only time anything related to the Olympics trended on Twitter that I noticed was when there was a costume mishap.  I participate in two message boards.  Early posts about the games were quickly lost in discussions about current events, hobbies and other things we regularly discuss.  A few posts popped up near the end but the responses were slim compared to other discussions.  No where did I go in the last 2 weeks, that anyone mentioned the Olympics.  I brought it up with a group of friends but the conversation quickly fizzled.

Personally, if I never saw another Olympics my life would go on just fine but I realize that many people enjoy the biannual event and athletes work incredibly hard to be seen.  It's would be a shame for the Olympics to fade into history because a network is so greedy and set in their ways that they can't reach their audience.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Cards to Share and Stamps to Sell

The video below shares some cards I've made using a few sets one last time before I find them a new home. Will it be your home?  If you are interested in any of these sets, head over to my Etsy shop Lovely Layers Art where they are listed.  This set is bundled with the Boho Blossoms punch. I've used this punch many times without a matching stamp just for flowers.  (Card is not included in sale.)

Here's the video:

Thanks for watching!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Where do we go from here?

(Note:  I will be back with plenty of cardmaking and scrapbooking posts.  I just had these things on my mind today.)

I live in the south.  This is the country of God and guns.  And you could say that about a huge physical portion of the US. 

Students from Parkland High School have said they are going to be the last to be shot at.  I sincerely hope that is true.  Yet, I remember Columbine.  When we got over our shock, we were outraged. I remember Virginia Tech and Charles Gibons who normally ended his broadcast with something about hoping you had a good day ending that day with "And this has Not been a good day."  It still brings tears to my eyes.  I remember Newtown.  If dozens of parents holding up photos of their 6 year olds to Congress with a Democrat in the White House could not bring about a single change in gun laws or improve care of the mentally ill, what will?  How will these high school students make a difference if those highly motivated parents could not?  Almost everyone agrees that bump stocks should be banned. Yet months after over 50 people died in Las Vegas, they are still being sold.  I understand there was even a discount coupon available to buy one over President's Day weekend. 

The shooter from the church in Texas should have never had a gun because of his history of domestic violence. Yet a bill to reduce the chances of that failure happening again has gone nowhere.

I was thinking about writing this post when I got up this morning.  As I scanned several on-line news outlets I already noticed that other news is taking the place of Parkland.  US Figure skaters fell last night at the Olympics (no thank you to that spoiler from someone who has the skating taped because we don't want to stay up until midnight to watch!).  There was more about Russia, plenty of opinion about the President and his marriage.  There were still articles about Parkland yet they are getting crowded out.  It won't be long before this is not the lead story anymore.

It hasn't left my mind yet, obviously.  I've thought about 4 family members who work in 4 different public schools in two different states.  Any of them could become a target.  And of course there are many young family members who are students.  My mother and I went through a drive through on the way home from a child's birthday party on Sunday and I was a bit envious of the young woman waiting on us.  She was high school age and chatting with one of her colleagues as she waited on Mother's order to come up.  Ah, to be that young, to head off to high school on Monday morning.  And then it hit me that when she walks into the same school I went to over 30 years ago, she may wonder if today is the day someone is going to come in with a weapon and start picking people off. That never crossed my mind in the early 1980's.  Never. Suddenly being young again isn't very appealing.

So what do we do?  How do we stop school children and their teachers from getting shot?  How do we end the mass carnage of those gathered in public places? 

I think the problem is that there is no one fix.  We will never ban all guns in this country. Never.  Yet, I personally have no problems with enacting laws that restrict access for those who should not have weapons and make everyone safer.  Bump stocks should be banned immediately.  I personally see no reason anyone needs an assault rifle.  I looked up some statistics the other day.  Of the 23 mass shootings in the US that go back to the 1980's in which 10 or more people died, only 1 occurred during the 10 year period of the assault rifle ban.  That was Columbine.  It isn't just that these guns are so available.  It is that popular culture has made them attractive.  Video games, movies, TV have glorified their use, have glorified killing in general.  We must vote with our entertainment choices.  If we choose programs that minimize gun violence and avoid those that promote it, we are clear with Hollywood what we as a culture want. Hollywood, for all their talk, are like everyone else.  They go where the money is and will stop creating shows and movies that don't make money.

In the case of Parkland, it is clear that the FBI failed.  They received solid information and did not act.  Now I'm sure they get more tips in any one day than they can possibly act on yet they have admitted the content of this tip and that should have prompted an inquiry.  Someone or perhaps multiple someones should be fired.  Acknowledging their mistake quickly was a good first step.  Now fix it.  Let go the people at all levels who screwed up.  When I was in corporate America, a shakeup at the executive level had us buzzing for a couple of days but we soon settled down and went back to doing our jobs the same way we always had been.  Firing only the head of the FBI, which has been called for, isn't likely to make much difference.  After 911, only George Tenent, then director of the CIA, was the only one fired as far as I know.  Yet many mistakes occurred to make that event possible. 

When the FBI received their last tip, they had another tip from last September that should have matched up somewhere in some database and escalated this as a serious, probable concern.  Did it?  If not, fix the systems to make that happen.  In the last paragraph I'm advocating holding people responsible for doing their jobs because I'm convinced that there were human failures here.  Yet I know that wasn't all of it.  Systems need to be improved.

And if the FBI had investigated, could they have stopped this shooting?  A few states have a law that allows family members or police to petition a judge to remove gun rights to people who may become violent.  Florida is not one of those states. 

There were so many warning signs that Nicholas Cruz was going to become violent.  There were warning signs in Newtown, too. What have we done to change the way our agencies handle these signs?  I suspect they are underfunded and overworked.  That can be fixed or at least improved. 

We have not prioritized mental health care in this country for decades.  It's time that changed.  Those who oppose gun restrictions say this is a problem with the mentally ill and we should do more to treat them. True enough (though not the whole picture in my opinion) but what are we doing. Just blaming another problem doesn't get you off the hook.  We need our lawmakers in Washington and in our state governments to take this problem seriously and allocate funding accordingly.  There are plenty of things you can cut to make this happen because for all your calls for increased military spending, more Americans are dying at home.  The perpetrators of those crimes are US citizens or those who have been in this country most of their lives. 

This is an election year.  I hope that we will all not just vote for one party or another but to really listen to our candidates and really press them on the issues that matter to us.  "We get the government we deserve."  We have to do the work to make sure we get the government that serves us best.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Some Spring Photos

If you are like we are, you are ready for winter to be over, so over!  These photos reminded me that spring will be here.  Last year I did the glad planting.  Unfortunately with the bitter cold winter, we have probably lost a lot of those bulbs.  Normally we can leave them in the ground here and they come back year after year.  I think we will be planting more this spring to be sure we didn't lose everything to about 2 weeks of below freezing temperatures in January. 

Here's the process video for the page:

Thanks for visiting today!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

2018 Objective - One Month In

A few weeks ago, I shared a page and a little about my objective for this year to be healthier by increasing my consumption of some foods, hopefully replacing some poorer choices and by increasing my activity level. 

So how am I doing?  In a couple of areas, fairly well.  I've been eating more chicken and fish and thus less red meat and pork.  Some weeks I have achieved my goal of red meat only once a week.  I would do more fish except my husband doesn't like really any white fish. I love flounder and tilapia but he cringes at the mere mention of them.  So I usually eat these when he is going to be traveling or out for the day.  With the bitterly cold January we have had, he has not been going out as much.  Plus it is just not the time of the year for many activities that would take him or me away for the day.  On the other hand, he could eat chicken every day. I'm the one who gets tired of it.  So I think this 'more chicken and fish' will continue to progress.

Another area that has gone well is, surprisingly, very surprisingly --- cleaning.  There is one problem when you go looking for dirt. You find it! Or at least I did.  Who knew there were so many dust bunnies in this house?  And who gave them a cute name like dust bunnies?  I like bunnies. Maybe that is why I've been so comfortable letting them live with me for so long. Well no more.  I've been vacuuming under and over things, walls and ceilings. I've had to get creative to reach some of them on pitched ceilings.  I'm sure there are tools for this but 1) I doubt I'll be this ambitious forever - it will get warm eventually and I can move onto the outside work and 2) I like the creativity of duct tapping the broom handle to the vacuum wand and adding a dryer sheet to the end to pick up the dust.

DH might not think this cleaning thing is so great because after I finished the main living areas of the house I started on the basement and the office - his spaces or at least what is supposed to be 'partially' his spaces.  Right now, he is in the basement cleaning out and organizing because frankly I couldn't even get to some of my cabinets for his stuff.  I think this is a good thing. I'm sure he would have been happy to step over and around stuff forever.

I have done some of most of the other things on the list including trying a new complex recipe that used several anti inflammatory spices. Chicken Tiki Masala was good but needs a 2nd effort to improve.

So what hasn't worked?  Having too many things to focus on each day.  My list was long and overwhelming.  For February I'm picking out one of the items to really focus on each day and continue with the cleaning and eating less red meat.

The weather has also worked against me in that I haven't gone outside to do any yard work all month.  This isn't entirely surprising but the below freezing temps for several days running is unuual  weather in NC.

On a positive note I'm making progress on a couple of other objectives I set for myself this year.  So I'm pleased with the start of 2018.

Did you set objectives or resolutions?  How are you doing?

Hope you have a wonderful day!

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