June 2001 Archives


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As far as I know, the originals left the US yesterday and should have arrived in Belgium. Hollie called on Tuesday asking for my help valuing them for insurance purposes. I'd never thought about it before, so I was little help. All I could tell her was that the materials probably cost about $300, and it took me several years to do them. She wrote back and told me they were going to insure the art for a figure that seemed, frankly, astouding. How could anyone think these little bits of paper worth that much?

Later in the day, talking it over with Georg, I realized that it wasn't such a ridiculous number after all. If the unthinkable happened, if my anonymous Belgian friend's suitcase was stolen at the airport, or there was a freak drum scanner accident, and all the cards were lost or destroyed, the insurance would allow me to take seven or eight months off work. Which I'd probably need to recreate them all. So I guess it's a fair value. (This is assuming, of course, that the insurance money would be given to me. I have no idea if that's how it actually works.)

Anyway. Now that the cards are on their way to Belgium, a quick status report:

  • I won't hear about the cards again until sometime in late fall. They'll be printed in December and I'll see some kind of proof before then.

  • I have no idea where the book-editing process is. I guess eventually we'll see copy edits.

  • I'm supposed to see the packaging design within a few weeks I think. I will have the opportunity to comment but I'm not sure how much input I'll have. My friend Judith, who writes, told me about getting some major changes to the cover of her second book -- the heroine was too tall and her clothing was all wrong. They did the whole illustration over based on Judith's wishes. But I think it was a struggle to get them to make a change of that scope.

And I think that's all there is to report. On a totally unrelated note, last night Georg and I saw a performance by the Buena Vista Social Club. We agreed that the tour should be subtitled "A Dozen Geezers Who Rock Out More Than You Ever Will." To be fair, there were also a handful of young musicians on the stage, but the stars of the evening were definitely the old coots. It was a joy to watch them. Not only because the music was so good but because they were obviously having such a great time. I haven't seen the movie yet; guess I should rent it.

Saturday June 30: They upgraded the web cam at the Duke college radio station to a nice color image. Thought you all might like to see what Georg looks like on the air.


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Hollie wrote to say she got the cards back today. Whew! The entire exchange (asking about the cards, arranging to get them, shipping down here, scanning, and shipping back to Minnesota) took exactly one week. The sales rep will pick them up tomorrow, and then they'll be on their way to Belgium.

So I'm ready to get my greeting cards printed. Only one problem -- last month I made a mistake balancing my checkbook, thought I had more money than I really did, and made a huge credit card payment that depleted the money I'd set aside for the cards. Oops!

It shouldn't take too long to save the money back up if I'm careful. I guess I can print the note cards first and then the postcards. (I should see if Modern Postcard takes visa :) Besides, the new web site isn't close to being finished yet. So I have some time in any case.

Speaking of which, I spent the whole weekend reading up on Japanese mah jongg and trying to buy a set of tiles on Ebay. Made zero progress on the web site and didn't even get a set (those auction people are cut-throat!). I was hoping to get an older bone and bamboo set, but they are priced very high on Ebay, overpriced in my opinion. I guess I'll have to set my sights lower and find one made of plastic.


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Hollie got back to me right quick. As it turns out, although the cards won't be printed until December, they're not waiting until August to send them to Belgium. Instead, they've asked their sales rep to carry them back with him. Only problem is that he's leaving the US on Wednesday.

In other words, we have to do this exchange really quickly. Hollie FedExed the cards to me yesterday. I just called the mail center to confirm they were there. I'll have to scan them all tonight and ship them back tomorrow for receipt on Monday. Sheesh!

They're doing me a much bigger favor than I initially thought. If I screwed up and they didn't get the cards back in time, they wouldn't be able to give them to the sales rep. Instead they'd have to ship them -- insured shipping to Europe can get expensive. Also it would put them further behind in the "queue" which Hollie says is quite long right now.

Honestly if I were them, I wouldn't have sent me the originals. I would have said "sorry, there's just no time." I guess it's lucky for me that I'm not them.

[Later] I haven't seen the originals since last September; it's so good to have a few of them back. This may sound silly, but I feel like 78 of my best friends moved away last fall, and 10 of the ones I loved the most managed to sneak back for an unexpected visit.

They're all scanned so I really ought to pack them all up for return shipping. But I've got three of my very favorites -- 7 of Wands, Empress and 7 of Cups -- propped up on my monitor. So I can have a little more time with them. Hi ladies, how've you been?


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Barbara wrote back and said the art department is willing to send me originals so I can rescan them. Yay! She asked me to contact Hollie directly so she wouldn't have to act as a go-between. Hollie is on the Llewellyn page of my address book too. She's nice; she handles usage. I guess she also handles mailing materials back to artists who don't plan well. I guess at a small publisher, people have a variety of responsibilities.

Speaking of which, are there any men working at Llewellyn? So far the only male name I've encountered is one of the people who signed my contract. I thought publishing was supposed to be a male dominated industry?

Anyway. Wrote to Hollie and asked for these originals:

High Priestess





Seven of Wands

Queen of Wands

Three of Cups

Seven of Cups

Two of Swords

It was hard to choose because lots of the cards that turned out best, in my opinion, are not the ones that you would want to see on a greeting card. The Devil for example, or the 5 of Swords or 7 of Coins. Those are among my favorites but I doubt many people would use them as note cards. So I tried to mostly go for "happy" cards, the ones you wouldn't mind sending to friends.

I'll print four greeting cards and four postcards, with a spare of each in case I want to add some variety to a reprint. I'm thinking I'll have trumps on the greeting cards and minors on the postcards. I don't expect to sell many postcards; mainly I'll be adding them to packages as freebies. So I felt a little more free to choose the cards that I like best, regardless of whether it's a "happy" image or one I thought would sell.

Greymatter's quirks get odder and odder. It's still showing every entry with the same weekday in the archive. But the featured weekday changes each time I add a new entry. First it was Wednesday. Then yesterday they all said Saturday. Now, after adding this entry, we're up to Tuesday. It's not the day of the current entry. I wonder what it's doing?


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Wrote to Barbara yesterday and asked if they'll be willing to send back a few originals so I can rescan them for my greeting cards. She wrote back to say that she has to check with Lynne, who's out of the office until today or tomorrow. I don't remember who Lynne is, but I have her name and email address on the Llewellyn page of my address book, so I must have encountered her before.

(It's hard to tell, when hearing the name of someone at Llewellyn in connection to my project, whether I'll ever encounter them again. So I write down every name I come across, just in case. I thought we would have been passed on to an editor long ago, but Barbara has been our contact throughout the process. In fact she's the only person there that I've developed any kind of relationship with. Way back in the beginning, I did get to be friendly with a designer named Marilyn. I remember staying home from work during that huge winter storm in early 2000, sitting at my desk and watching more snow fall than I've ever seen in my life, writing a lengthy message to Marilyn full of enthusiasm and ideas for the book and box. I was so thrilled that a publisher actually wanted my deck, and Marilyn was nice enough to show personal interest in it, that I went a little overboard on her. But then Marilyn left the company soon after, and Barbara's been stuck with me ever since.)

In any case, whoever Lynne is, she must be the person who actually has possession of the originals, since she has to decide whether they're willing to send some back to me or not. To be honest, I'll be a little surprised if they do. Now that they've got everything, I wouldn't blame them for wanting to hang onto it. Still, I hope they're willing. I can't print my greeting cards without better scans of the originals. And who knows when I'll get the originals back once they've gone to Belgium. Maybe not until after the deck is all finished. Oh well, guess I should have researched this better last fall.

I still haven't gotten the hang of this Greymatter web journal software. It's pretty cool but it has some odd quirks. For instance, every entry in my archive is listed as being written on a Wednesday. Maybe that will make people think I'm writing regularly (ha ha). In brighter news, figured out how to add sound to my web site with zero load time added for people who don't want a noisy site.

We had Sean and Pam over for dinner and a game of mah jongg. I hadn't played mah jongg in a long long time (not since I'd last seen them, which was last year). About mid-way through the game Pam had a terrific hand, very impressive, which put her 12,000 points in the lead. Then right at the end, Sean put together the best hand I'd ever seen -- over 150,000 points total. It was amazing; I took a picture of the winning tiles to mark the occasion.

Seeing these two winning hands in one night pointed out, once again, one of the problems with our scoring method. We have a few hands called "maximum point hands" which are given an arbitrary score. But we don't limit other hands to that maximum score. So Pam, with a maximum point hand that really was spectacular, won less than a tenth of the points that Sean did. Sean's winning hand was better than Pam's, but not ten times better. Clearly the "maximum point" scoring needs to be re-evaluated.

(as is probably obvious, we play mah jongg for points, not money. I guess for a lot of people that would be as pointless as playing poker without money. But I can't handle the stress of gambling; it's no fun for me. Besides, the absence of risk allows you to play for skill, not just to win. And to appreciate someone else's brilliant game without taking a hammering yourself.)

crazy dreams

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I had a dream this morning in which I was in an ancient church acting out an improvisational religious play. In the dream I was playing the virgin Mary, and another woman I used to know was playing the Tarot Empress. Who was, in my dream, the wife of Christ and mother of His child. In my dream this must have been part of the accepted tradition, as our play was based on an early Renaissence painting in the church, that showed Mary and the Empress together. It was very, very strange.

Still working on my web site. Lately I'm unable to access thefool.com by ftp, which makes the project just that much more fun. I've moved the development site to another server for the time being: www.ovenall.com/flash. I'm making some progress but there are still major areas undone. I'm about to tackle the big ones: viewing the cards, and online readings.

I was on the Llewellyn web site getting links for my links page, and noticed that their new calendar is out. I wonder if Victoria Regina is in it? Barbara said a while back that they were going to use it, but maybe that was the 2003 calendar. If it comes out this early, then 2003 would probably be better. After all, it's not much of a promotional tool if it comes out nine months before people can buy the darned thing. Anyway, I'll have to go find the 2002 calendar and see who is in it.

Publication Diary's New Home

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I've converted this diary to Greymatter. Which is web journal software recommended to me by Lisa of allpodsgotoroswell.net. Greymatter is supposed to be really powerful, and it's open source, so it's free. Better yet, I can pretend I know something about Perl because you have to chmod some files to set it up.

It looks like we can't afford to go to the big Chicago tarot conference this September. It's too bad because lots of awesome people will be there. But we've already planned a trip to Austin to see our friend Peggy over Halloween (I hear they have a great Day of the Dead parade). Two cross-country trips in two months is probably one too many. Besides, we won't have anything concrete regarding the deck to show people, since the cards won't be printed until December. Alas!

Got the sample postcards from Modern Postcard. I've got to say, they look good. Of course, you would expect their samples to be the best cards they have. They sent a coupon for $75 off orders of 5,000 cards. I wonder if that means 5,000 of one image, or 5,000 total. I was planning to order 4,000 anyway (one thousand each of four cards), so it wouldn't be that much of a hardship to get another image.

Still working on my new website. Bought a couple of books: The Flash 5 Bible, Flash 5 Studio Secrets and Actionscript: The Definitive Guide. If you visit the site, it hardly looks like I've done anything in the last week. I spent that time re-working everything to make it work better and reduce file size. By the time this is done, I'll either have a kick-ass Flash site, or give up on it entirely.

Crazed Workaholic Americans

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Got some news about the production schedule. Llewellyn is definitely using the European printer. (yay!) They'll be sending the original art to Belgium in July or August for prepress preparation. The cards will be printed in December. Apparently they have to allow lots of time because Europeans tend to take long vacations, unlike us crazed workaholic Americans. I will have the opportunity to review some kind of proof of the cards before they go to press. (double yay!)

(Speaking of crazed workaholic Americans, it's 10:30 pm on Saturday night and I'm working on my website. I took the day off to go antique shopping in Selma with a friend. I've never been much into antiques, but I had a great time. I found a nifty cowskin rug that I'm thinking about getting for the living room wall. I've never seen anything like it before.)

Also got some more information about the bag. It's velvet, lined, and has a drawstring with a tassel. They're going to send me a prototype soon. (triple yay!) I think at some point Barbara said it was black velvet, but I can't remember for sure.

The postcard printer in California is called Modern Postcard. Their prices are a bit less for four color than my local printer would charge for two color. Not sure about their quality, with prices that low. I asked my friend Monte if they're any good, and all he could say was "well, they're certainly cheap." That's not encouraging! Modern Postcard is sending me samples. But I'd rather see samples from a random job, not the ones they've selected as their best work.

(My friend Monte, by the way, designs fabulous modern furniture. Check out his web site if you're looking for a really special table: www.stonelinedesigns.com)

The other problem with Modern Postcard is that they use a really fine line screen, so they want 355 dpi art. But my scans of the cards are all 300 dpi. I can adjust them up to 355 dpi in Photoshop without resampling, but then they're pretty small -- like 2 3/4 by 4 1/2 inches. That would look puny on an A6 card, even with a large border around it.

I've got a better scanner now, but I sent all the originals to Llewellyn last fall. I guess I'll have to ask them to send back a few originals so I can rescan them. I hope they're willing to. I would only need them for a day, so they should have plenty of time to get them back and send them to Belgium. The thing is, Barbara's out of town for a week and she's my only contact there. So it will be a week before I can ask her.

all-electronic soundtrack for the evening: The Catherine Wheel (David Byrne), Dummy (Portishead), Debut (Bjk), The Seduction of Claude Debussy (Art of Noise). Just in case you were curious.

Boxes and boxes

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I've started work on revamping this website. The current design is pretty, but not very functional. There's no way to announce important information or add new features (like online readings or the shopping cart). Even basic "about the deck" information is too difficult to find, if the number of messages I get asking if I have any plans to publish are any indication.

So anyway. It seems like a good time to redesign the site. All the moreso since I need an excuse to teach myself Flash. I've only just started, so there isn't much there, but if you want a sneak peek here it is:


Since this is a project in development, expect things to be broken. Currently only the "order" and "contact" buttons work. More will become available as I work on the site. (in other words, as I learn how!) However, if something seems really wrong -- like for example, you aren't able to enter the site at all -- please let me know.

Finally got prices back on my postcards and greeting cards. Ai yiyi. I knew it would cost some money to get these things printed, but still. I mentioned this to a friend in my office, and she told me about a printer in California who specializes in cards for artists. She's going to give me their web site. Maybe they'll be more cost-effective.

I picked up the Shining Tribe Tarot, a Llewellyn rerelease (with some revisions) of Rachel Pollack's famed Shining Woman Tarot. I didn't have Shining Woman, so it was nice to finally have my own copy and be able to review it at leisure. I agree with Diane Wilkes that the new colors are an improvement. Although I can see how people who know and love Shining Woman might get attached to the softer colors, and find these too bright.

Shining Tribe comes in a package that, I assume, must be the redesigned full kit that Barbara told me about. I have to say, I'm whelmed. On the one hand, they did get rid of the tray and that's good. However, the tray's replacement isn't that much of an improvement.

The outer box contains the book, the deck (shrinkwrapped), and a piece of white cardboard shaped sort of like a box with one end sticking out. (That's a really bad description but you can see a picture here.) The white cardboard keeps the deck from rattling around, although the Shining Tribe cards were still somewhat loose in the box.

The piece that sticks out has instructions to cut off that part, and then what you're left with is a box you can use for the cards. The box is promised to be big enough for any Llewellyn deck. Of course, this means that the box is too big for most decks. Way too big for the Shining Tribe; it felt like I could almost put two of them in there.

The other problem is that the box is plain white cardboard; not even the name of the deck is printed on it. I suppose you could write the name of the deck in magic marker. But that lacks a certain charm, unless your skills at penmanship are far greater than mine.

When I heard that Llewellyn's new full kit size would include a small box for the cards, I was imagining something more like the Halloween Tarot. In that deck, the inner box perfectly fits the cards and is printed to match the deck. The outer box is a sleeve, into which the small box and the book fit neatly (cardboard dividers, again printed to match the deck, fill the space so there's just enough room). Maybe Halloween Tarot has a nicer inner box because they also sell it individually, without the book?

Hah! I just had an idea. (Am I the only one who says "Hah!" out loud when an idea forms?) I'm going to put together a design for the plain white box, that goes with Llewellyn's outer box design. I'll convert it to a PDF and publish it on this site. People can download the PDF, print it on their inkjet, and glue it to their box. That won't solve the size problem, but at least the box won't be plain white anymore!

I could do a couple of variations so people can pick which images they want to see on their box. Hey! I could even include a template for a cardboard filler to stick in the bottom of the box, so the cards wouldn't rattle around.

Okay, I feel much better about this whole packaging thing now.

ps: Check out allpodsgotoroswell.net, an online documentary of a woman and her New Beetle traveling across country to meet the mothership. Very cool!

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2001 listed from newest to oldest.

May 2001 is the previous archive.

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