Spinning Perception

Tim Horton’s says you save ten cents on their coffee refills if you use the plastic mugs instead of the paper cups. They could have said you pay ten cents for the paper cups each time. But it sounds better to save ten cents than to be charged an extra ten cents.

My sister opened a business a few years ago. Her initial price for admission and birthday parties had to go up when she had a better idea of her expenses after being open a month. I told her to say it had been an introductory price for the new business, a sale price, but now the business was going back to charging the standard rate. (As if that was the plan all along). She really liked the idea versus just raising her price and explaining that she had to charge more. Instead, she let customers think she had been giving them a deal (which she had, just not intentionally).

Public relations and putting a different spin on things is always interesting to me. You can format or frame an idea in a different way and completely change the outlook of others. Does it mean people are gullible? No, I think it just means there is more than one way to look at things, like being optimistic or pessimistic.

“Subliminal perception is a subject that virtually no one wants to believe exists, and — if it does exist — they much less believe that it has any practical application. . . . The techniques are in widespread use by media, advertising and public relations agencies, industrial and commercial corporations, and by the Federal government itself.” – Wilson Bryan Key

“Public-relations specialists make flower arrangements of the facts, placing them so that the wilted and less attractive petals are hidden by sturdy blooms” – Alan Harrington

Fix Writer’s Cramp

From LifeHacker: Loosen Up Your Writing Grip to Banish Pain.

If your hand gets cramped and sore when you write long hand try to give up your death grip on the pen. Don’t carve your words onto the page. If you work on not pressing down so hard or squeezing the pen like a hungry python, your hand will not tense up and you will be able to cure your writer’s cramp. I’ve found it does work, though it isn’t easy to get used to writing long hand again. I do like taking paper and pen out to the local coffee shop and just letting ideas come to me when I’m not looking for them.

Organize Grrl Zine Workshops

Have you ever wanted to create your own small publication, in print? Whether you think of them as fanzines, zines or ezines (which are not in print) the ideas for holding a zine workshop are great for getting together with a group and trying to create something of your own on paper.

From GrrlZines and GZAGG originally:

Forming and organizing the group and workshops:

+ Find other like-minded zinesters in your city (via word-of-mouth, the library, co-ops, zines at book and record stores, music venues, and the Internet). It is best if you have enough members so that you can rotate in providing workshops (we like to have at least 2-3 at each workshop)

+Organize your workshop tools. We always bring: A typewriter, scissors (more than one pair), glue sticks, pens (ball point and sharpie), blank paper, a stapler (a saddle stapler is best), and a scrap box with a variety of newspapers, magazines, clip art, rub-on letters, decorative paper, string, and other bits that can be used in making a zine. You can ask for donations, or “borrow” stuff from work.

+ Identify organizations interested in zine workshops such as youth, women’s and LGBT centers, feminist organizations, high schools, girls clubs, festivals, bookstores etc.

+ Present your idea about doing a zine workshop at the selected venue. Asking your friends is often a good way to get started. Ask if the venue can provide some compensation or contribution of materials, and if it can provide a photocopy machine or free copies.

+ When arranging for a space for the workshop make sure it has enough tables and chairs, and that it allows cut and paste activities.

+ Decide on a time frame for the workshop. We usually allow 1.5 to 2 hours for the workshop itself and another hour for copying and stapling the workshop zine.

+ If the workshop is open to the public (and not only for a specific group), make flyers and distribute them widely in the community and among your friends. Make use of activist email lists and website in your community too. You should probably keep the number of participants under 20.

The workshop itself:

+ First we introduce ourselves and our zines. Next we talk about the definition of a zine, zine history, the current “zine scene,” our experience making and distributing zines, and the basics of how to make and distribute zines. We always have resource guides available (a zine itself) that repeat this material.

+ Most of our workshops consist of making a zine in which each participant contributes one page. We make digest-sized zines, which are letter-size paper folded in two (so that each page is 4.25” wide by 5.5” tall). We suggest you have them draw a border approximately one-half inch around their page as a guide, so that their work doesn’t get cut off when copied.

+ Be sure to point out that color can be tricky when making black-and-white copies (red becomes black, for example), and encourage image-making that will copy well. Discourage pages with a majority of solid black as this tends to create paper jams when copied.

+ Then it’s DIY time! It’s important to allot the majority of the time for them to work on their page. It can take some folks a while to get comfortable, and some do multiple versions. While they’re working on their pages, the organizers can make a cover, an ad a page for your group (and for any upcoming events – a good way to balance out the number of pages if you need to) and a contributors page. Have them sign the contributor’s page when they turn in their page, and allow them to identify themselves as they wish, but do suggest email addresses if they wish to keep in contact with your or other workshop participants.

+ Assemble the master copy of the zine as pages are submitted to demonstrate how this is done. They will give you a half-sheet of paper, which you will then glue onto a creased full sheet of paper. Do consider the order of pages when you do this, and try to juxtapose contributions in an interesting manner.

+ Before the workshop ends ask the participants to sign up for a mailing list if they want to be informed about future events. Consider using this mailing list to elicit feedback on the workshop too.

+ Remember that you may not have a copy machine immediately available, in which case you will need to make arrangements for getting the zines to the workshop participants. If your workshop is part of a conference or festival, try to schedule it early in the day so that you can arrange a pick-up point for them later. You may need to provide envelopes for mailing, in which case it’s a good idea to ask for postage costs from either the participant or the organization sponsoring the workshop. Sometimes it works out for participants to go with you to make copies, in which case they can learn about copy techniques and get their zines right away.

+ When copying a zine with lots of images, select the ‘photo’ button on the copy machine for best quality of gray tones.

+ To staple the zine it’s easiest to use a saddle stapler (one designed to reach in to the center of paper). If you need to use a regular stapler: make a pile of newspaper, open the zine face down on top of it, open the stapler and staple down through the zine’s spine, then manually fold down the ends of the staples.

Grrrl Zines A-Go-Go – is an all-women workshop group based in Southern California. Since 2002 we have been facilitating workshops in community venues and college campuses in our region. We focus on the empowerment of young women through the production of fanzines and self published works.

Everything I Need I Found in my Spam

Spam is bottomless. Like the Tardis in Doctor Who, it is much larger on the inside than it is on the outside.

If you found a bottle of spam washed up on the beach and you cautiously reached in your hand to see what you might pull out from inside of that bottomless bottle… Your hand would come out holding one piece of paper. Your hand would also be coated in a ton of debris, some of it sticky, some of it squishy and some of it might even be kind of tasty if you really, really want to try licking your fingers clean.

What would it say on that piece of paper? Or does it say nothing at all, was it really just another useless tease of a sales tactic after all? Or does it have all the knowledge and secrets of the universe all on one small piece of simple white scrappy looking paper? With my luck it would all be there but in some weird code that never makes any sense no matter how I try to decipher it.

Starting Your Book of Shadows

Once upon a time I was writing for Suite101. It was actually the start of the second round I had signed up with them. But, I didn’t see much point in staying. Basically just too little results for the amount of energy I had to put in. Yesterday I went back to check my account and I’m signed up as a writer but not allowed to post anything. I guess my login as a writer timed out as that was 2007. Anyway, here is the article which I had written for them. Deleted because it was written in first person, something that was not a problem when I wrote it but changed afterwards I guess.

TITLE: Starting Your Book of Shadows

SUBTITLE: Keeping a journal of your magickal road trip though Paganism.

SUMMARY : The Book of Shadows is a creative and practical way to journal your adventures as you explore Wicca, Witchcraft and Paganism.

BODY: A Book of Shadows or a Grimoire is your journal/ scrapbook about your explorations into Wiccan and Pagan ways. The Grimoire is a bit more of a recipe book, like a technical manual. You may decide to keep a Book of Shadows with all your experiences, thoughts and technical details or you may have both a Grimoire and Book of Shadows to separate the technical side.

Don’t make it a pressure cooker, something holier than thou you can only write in with perfect results. It is there for you to use, to keep track of little things and big things, great things and great mistakes. It’s a guide to where you have been and would like to go.

Don’t be intimidated by your journal, enjoy it and feel free to be creative. It’s not perfect, it’s not a symbol of your commitment to being Wiccan. You could even decide Wicca isn’t for you and look at other belief systems and continue to use the Book of Shadows, but call it something else to suit you.

The book itself needs to be something adaptable to grow and change along with you. A binder with removable pages is good. That way you can move them around and sort them into subjects or dates as you choose. In some cases you may have physical elements to add such as photos, clipped out articles, some sand you used in a ritual, a feather you found on the way home, a napkin you doodled an idea on… don’t feel limited to just what you have written on standard paper. If something doesn’t easily fit into the book format adapt it, take a photo or draw it.

Use your Book of Shadows to collect phrases and quotes that appeal to you. These will be great when it comes to writing your own rituals. Not that you want to copy someone else but everything that inspires you should be saved. A special turn of phrase, one that feels right or opens your mind and emotions is a great way to jump start your own words for your own ritual. Your Book of Shadows is documenting your adventures.

Don’t cheat yourself by taking short cuts like printing something from the Internet and leaving that as a whole package when it’s only something you have read and not something you have really felt or experienced. Do print something from the Internet and make notes right on it or on another page which you attach it to.

It’s a very personal book, this collection of your deepest thoughts and treasured moments, be careful about sharing it. If you are part of a group you might pick a topic and each person gives thoughts and experiences they have written in their Book of Shadows. But you aren’t likely to photocopy a page and hand it over. It’s not about keeping information to yourself as much as it’s about having a safe place where you can continue to be very honest and open with yourself about the things you are experiencing and thinking as you take the Wiccan path.

Using Disposable Supplies for Art

Stop writing or typing. There is a lot of pressure to create something lasting, meaningful and worth reading when you sit in front of a keyboard. Like an artist faced with paint and brushes and the blank canvas then trying to be brilliant on call, it doesn’t always work on command.

On Divine Caroline, Zografis, has written Muses Just Want to Have Fun. It’s an article about using crayons, pencils, lunch bags, match boxes, whatever you have around that is disposable or might already have been thrown out (recycled) to create art, without the pressure of using the “good” paper which gives the pressure of not wasting it with something less than great.

The projects don’t have to be amateurish, but they should be ultimately disposable … it is the possibility to throw it away without guilt that frees your creative risk-taking self. It’s a lot easier to toss the flubs if it is only your time, and not expensive materials that you are tossing out.

I’m not suggesting using materials so inferior that they frustrate the creative process, but I am in favor of simplicity. Get out the crayons, the colored pencil, or some decent tempera paints. Use the backs of gift boxes, the reverse side of watercolors or drawings that didn’t succeed, butcher paper, grocery bags, scraps of matte board. I’ve had a lot of fun with shopping bags from expensive boutiques, which are often made out of really NICE paper and usually only have a small, discreet, classy logo on them—cut them up and play! Go crazy, experiment—you were going to throw it out anyway.

Start a Plan to Get Where you Want to Be

What kind of writing do you really want to do? For me it was a newspaper (or some other medium) columnist. I still would like to do that but it seems a long step from here to there. I’m not sure where the connecting steps are. Or, I’m just not ready to test my wings and risk falling down on that first  hard concrete step.

If you aren’t writing the way you want to make a plan, just for yourself and put it on paper not a secret blog post or email to yourself. Go back to one of the traditional forms and write it longhand on paper with a pen. No pencil, you can’t erase this! Give yourself a plan, with at least a few steps you can take today and this week and this month.

At the end of the month see where you are from where you were. Did you make progress? Even a little progress is going forward, don’t belittle your own efforts. Any progress keeps you from falling into a rut or just running in place with your head above water.

Spring Forth and Unclutter Yourself from Paper Pile Ups

It takes no real effort to build up a paper clutter. I’m famous, infamous really, for it. Once it gets built up getting rid of that clutter is difficult. You can read about organization and buy a nice pen catcher from the Dollar Store but… you’re left with having to actually sort through all your clutter all on your own. That’s the hard part.

In dealing with your personal paper trail there are some sure things you can toss out. Pull over a trash can to file all the extra paper into – then take it all out to your blue box for recycling.

Here is a list of paper clutter you can get rid of right away without much thought or effort:

Preprinted envelopes for bills you pay online or at the bank. My Dad used to keep stacks of these, you would have been amazed at the amount of clutter he racked up on these useless envelopes alone. If you keep these give them a spin in the recycling pile.

Advertising, fliers and brochures which you intended to get a look at but didn’t. Last week’s specials aren’t going to be very useful when it’s now this week. Also, chuck out all the expired coupons.

Sales receipts. I seem to stockpile them in my wallet, purse and around my desk. If you don’t need it for taxes, guarantees or other real practical purposes don’t keep all those receipts. Let them be recycled.

Sticky notes and little pieces of paper you wrote something on and then acted upon and don’t really need the little note now. If you have accomplished the task set free these little cluttery reminders.

Articles and information you have gathered to read for a later time. Have an inbox or some like that and just stack all of these into it. Get them off your desk but in a place you will know to find them later when they are relevant. Or, when you have time to read them.

Bills you have paid. I pay mine through online banking. This means I end up having them sitting around my desk before and after they have been paid. I do have a folder for them but don’t rush to tidy them away. Instead they sit around awhile, cluttering my desk surface and getting in my way. If I didn’t write what and when I paid right on them I’d soon lose track. I’m trying to get better about putting them away, right away.

Napkins. In an attempt to be thrifty and green I don’t throw out napkins from fast food restaurants. Instead I keep them in my purse and bring them home. Sometimes a stack of them wanders onto my desk. I have to chase them away.

If you have extra copies and doubles of something give that to the recycling blue box too. Sometimes we get extra copies at the time and realize we didn’t need them. So get those out of your way too. Don’t keep them around for sentimental reasons.

Rough copies and first drafts can be recycled once you have your good copy. Do keep a back up of the good copy but seldom do you really need all those old works in progress once the progress has been made.

Once you see how much paper you have moved out of your work space you could feel inspired to keep right on uncluttering yourself. Have a place to put your essentials: pens, note paper, coffee cup holder…. and try to give yourself room to work and room to breathe. Working in clutter holds you back, spring forth and unclutter!

You Are Your Own Message in a Bottle

That genie really did go too far. You asked if you could send a message in a bottle that didn’t mean you wanted to deliver it in person. A note, on paper, would have been enough. Still, here you are, floating in the ocean, in a bottle. At least the glass is clear so you can see out. Though it’s a bit scary too when you think about how small the bottle really is compared to the size of the ocean and the creatures swimming around in it.

If you could do it over again how would you tell the genie exactly what you wanted to do and not end up floating around in a bottle or something else, possibly worse?