Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Makin' A List, Checkin' It Twice

Sending out holiday cards (aka X-mas cards if you insist, but not everyone in the family is religious) is a chore. Yes, it's one I usually enjoy. But it takes time, and work, and a lot of frustration when people move. That's the list I have to check twice. Maybe five times.

Some of you get lost. And it's not all my fault.

Let's start at the beginning. I have a tradition of sending out photo cards. No, not pictures of us, the kids, the pets, with the sole exception of 2012 when we sent out a wedding photo, all credit given to my son-in-law, Ben Zvan. Otherwise, the picture(s) sent out are whatever lodged itself in my brain during the year when I took it. They have a knack of saying,"I'm the one,"

Then it's a trip to Target, Walgreens, or Walmart. Somebody who'll take my photo and my idea of a message and print out cards for me. Many years ago that meant I had the option of creating my own message. Now I have to chose the message from a limited list, so no more clever "Have a Whale of a Good Holiday Season" combined with my favorite Alaska shot of a pod of humpback whales surfacing from bubble-net feeding.

Resigned to settling for their choices of message, I sit before their machine-of-the-year and try to figure out how this one works this year. Every one is programmed differently from the previous year. You may or may not be able to crop, or move within the frame differently than how the machine decided you wanted to do it. Most have switched to touchscreens now, but some years it was click-and-drag, some years a choice of buttons to push, other years a different set that only pretend to do the same things.

I still have never sat in front of one of their machines without taking up about half an hour of whatever employee  could spare seconds here and there. I will say, most of them have been polite about it, forgoing the chance to dish out heaps of humiliation to somebody less tech savvy than they are.

One change for the better is the wait for the cards. You used to get a receipt with a date on it to come back and pick them up. Now they're printed right in front of you from the machine you just used. They make sure you pay because that's how you get your envelopes to match the cards. Another improvement is the quality of the color. It used to be terrible if the chemicals wore out because of the workload and nobody bothering to refresh them.

This year had an extra glitch before even getting to the  store. That new computer has no disc drive. I didn't feel like fighting holiday shopping traffic to go out and find a thumb drive, or whatever the current version of media transfer technology is. I didn't even care to have to answer that question, thank you. Luckily, the new computer doesn't wipe the SD card when you upload picture files, so I still had them on the card. And about the only thing wrong with the old computer, once I charged it up again for a few hours, is no Wi-Fi. So I uploaded the files into the old one, selected out the ones I wanted, and burned a disc.

As a side note, I had extra motivation to use cheap on-hand media rather than buy a thumb drive. Some of those pictures were shot at Crex Meadows. Crex has an annual summer photo contest, and one of the requirements is a digital file of submissions for their future use. If I still like those pictures next summer, I can just send that disc in with the pics, no extra fuss or expense.

Now we come to that address list. My new computer does not recognize my old HP1200 printer. It still works perfectly, but I have to hook it up via the old laptop. Last year's X-mas card list with last year's addresses is one of the stored documents on it. Of course I printed it out along with the x-mas letter, also written (yesterday) on the old laptop.

 BUT... that list was a year old. And the rest of my problems are your fault. Some of you died, but I recognize that scolding you is pointless. Some of you married, some moved, some even moved again. Some of you have never figured out that if you give your new information to Steve, thinking it'll get onto my address list, it's likely not going to happen. That's especially true if you're on his cell directory, in his email list, or he can connect with you on Facebook. I'm still trying to let him know it's necessary to save your holiday card envelopes if you sent one.

I can at least connect with my family and friends. Well, until abut 3:00 PM this afternoon. That's when my address book on my new computer crashed.


I'd go old school, since I still carry an analogue address book with me. But again, some of you have moved so many times that many pages filled up years ago. I really just need another one of those. The original is about 40 years old. A new one should last just fine. Especially if I invest in some White Out while it's still available.

No comments: