Saturday, August 19, 2006

Back, Unpacked and Angry

Coming home from any trip is a mixed blessing. You are so glad to be back in your own home, your own bed and eating your own food, but reality crashes in with tasks such as laundry, paying bills, buying groceries etc.

We got home much later than we expected after some real adventures getting home. The flight we were supposed to take from Charlotte to Newark on Wednesday with Continental was delayed because of a part that needed to be fixed in the plane, but the airline immediately began rerouting passengers on other flights and even with other airlines rather than have us sit around for 4 to 5 hours. Remembering what Terri and I went through to get to the show in Nashville last February, I think Air Canada could learn a thing or two from how proactive Continental was!!

So we found ourselves waiting around the Charlotte airport for an extra hour before boarding a flight to Philadelphia with US Airways. We reached Philadelphia on time, but had to race to the other end of the airport via a shuttle bus and reached the gate just as the flight to Bangor was boarding. No lunch for any of us, but the stewardess did make sure we each had 5 or 6 packs of pretzels! We arrived in Bangor a mere 40 minutes after the Continental flight would have been in and ALL FIVE of our bags made it!! We went over to both the US Air and Continental desks to compliment them for getting us here etc. and they looked quite surprised to get Positive Feedback!!

We jumped in the car and raced for Skowhegan to get to the New Balance Tent Sale that happens every year during the State Fair. With Nick and I having such odd sized feet (13 E for him and 12 AA for me) when it comes to sneakers, it pays to get our sneakers as seconds instead of paying full price. We then drove back to the hotel and stayed overnight so that we could do a bit of back to school shopping for the girls in the morning before heading back to Canada. Erin and Bethany love having outfits that no one else in the class have!

We arrived home late on Thursday night and dragged everything to the basement to unpack the following day. I downloaded all my e-mail and headed off to bed. As we unpacked, sorted laundry and got caught up on messages, I discovered a horrid copyright violation of my designs on both Multiply and a Russian site. 27 of the 95 designs I’ve created were there for anyone to request by e-mail!!! The Russian site also had a ton of Karen and Teresa’s works as well, so I let them know.

All 3 of us are getting very fed up and discouraged by the core infringers that trade stuff on such a large scale. I blogged about it on my Multiply site and asked them to answer some basic questions that have puzzled me since all this first began more than 6 years ago. So far, no one has been brave enough to answer... I wonder why??

Most stitchers are incredibly honest people who truly support the designers of the patterns they enjoy stitching. What is so sad is that a small percentage of techno-savvy pirates have the ability to do so much damage to the industry. Less stores are spending the money to go to shows. Less designers will go if there are no stores to sell to or take the risk of spending money to create something which can be stolen so easily. It is sad to think that some people truly do not consider this ethically or morally wrong. It is scary to be told that the legal system has much more important things to worry about that friends sharing something for the joy of it around the world. I wish I knew what the answer was... It just makes me glad that I have already begun to move on to other things.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ready To Fly Home...Almost

Today was all about how you need to be adaptive when things don't go as planned. We had a lesson in that last Thursday with all our airport adventures, and usually one lesson is enough! We headed up to Concord today to take a tour of the track and lunch at the Speedway Club, but when we arrived, it turned out that all track tours had been cancelled due to a huge motorhome show that was taking up most of the inner race field.

We went over to Concord Mills to indulge in some retail therapy and Nick actually found a cool sports jacket and a few pairs of pants, so we mall ratted until they were tailored, but decided against going back to the Speedway Club for lunch, especially after they told us that a huge group was coming in for lunch from the Motorhome show.

So now we're mostly packed and ready to get on the plane tomorrow, except for one annoying detail. Bethany is a HUGE neopets fan and I had pre-ordered a set of stuffed neopets from them on e-bay to be delivered while we were here in Charlotte. I'd even checked with them about the shipping time when I placed the order and was assured that Priority Mail would get it to us in time.

Alas, we have to leave the hotel at 7 am tomorrow morning. Bethany has been anxiously checking with the front desk every day since we got here, and has now tearfully given up. I will try to leave them some money to maybe mail us the package in Canada, but it has been an annoying and frustrating experience. Everything worked so well last year for my She-Hulk boots...

I guess, when it boils right down to it, how we react to life's curve balls says a lot about how we face life in general. We saw a lot of people yelling and taking their frustrations out on others last Thursday as everyone struggled to cope with the new travel guidelines. I hope that we can teach our kids not to meet the unexpected with anger and verbal outbursts, but with patience and a sense that eventually all will be well... or at least to be thankful for all that we still have.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sunburned, Screamed Out and Giddy With Glee!

Thankfully, Embassy Suites offers a little refreshment when you show your room key between 5:30 and 7:30! After almost 7 hours at Carowinds today, my throat is pretty raw and we are just a little sunburned, despite liberal applications of suntan lotion all day. It was a blast to see how much more the girls enjoyed the visit this year.

Last year, Bethany was a bit too short for some of the rollercoasters, so our time was divided between the Nickelodeon section with the rides for younger children and the larger rides that she was able to go on. This year, my little thrill-seeking princesses even got me to go on the DROP ZONE. Bethany and I actually vowed NEVER to go on a ride like that again in our lives. Being raised to such a huge height and then DROPPED was terrifying. Luckily, Nick sat that one out because I think he would have been a bit pinched in the seats. He was brave enough to go on a whirling, mad ferris wheel-like one with the girls that had me cringing.

Unlike last year, we dressed appropriately and when we got SOAKED on many of the rides, we just grinned. Last year, we wore jean shorts, socks and sneakers, so we made squeaky, squishy noises through the park all day.

My only complaint about the whole day was that you get VERY hot and thirsty at a park like that. A 40 ounce souvenir cup of soda pop was $6.99 and then every refill was $1.99... but each bottle of water was almost $4.00!! If we are serious as North Americans about addressing the issue of childhood obesity, water should NOT cost more than a gallon of gas!!!

Tomorrow we head up to Lowe's Motor Speedway to tour the track and eat lunch at the Speedway Club thanks to some friends of ours. How thrilling!!!

As fun as the show was, it is nice to have a few days to relax with my family before the huge push to finish the children's book and get everything ready for back to school. I am forced to relax here because I don't have any more work with me, except for Santa's Dragon to stitch during the finale of Hell's Kitchen tonight!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

All Done With The Show!!

Well, tear down of a show never takes as long as set up! The girls are just giddy with glee that now 2 days of family time begins. The weekend was a good mix of wonderful stuff and challenges. There is nothing like being at a show to really get a chance to build relationships with the shop owners and fellow designers, to get a much broader perspective of the industry that you see in your city, state/province or country. People help each other, offer advice, exchange ideas etc. in a way that you just can't do via e-mail or in chat rooms.

I've learned so many things this weekend that it almost makes my head spin. I've played with a punchneedle, fondled new fiber colours, been inspired by some of the energy of new designers, helped some exhibitors get the answers they need about coming up to Canada for the show in Toronto and had wonderful chats with lots of old friends.

I've also had moments of trying to explain to my daughter why some shops don't want to carry fantasy designs or wander into our room. She personally thinks that every shop owner should have at least wandered in for a peek (and she might be right because only 2 of the 4 new designs were fantasy). Could I have wished for better sales? The shop owners that attended came to buy and I was very pleased with that, especially since there was less competition from other vendors this year! But if you loose too many exhibitors, shops wonder if they should bother coming, so it becomes a bit of a chicken and egg syndrome.

Many ideas were bandied about for next summer and that seems a long way off right now. Since TNNA has moved the show back to the first part of June, it might be more feasible to try going back to Columbus and I already spoke with one shop owner there to arrange some stuff.

I got to talk to the shop owner in Lakeland that we'll visit with when we are down in Florida for March Break. The stores that brought back the gold coins I handed out in Nashville were thrilled with their treasures. The response to the Evening Dragon chart was priceless, so as soon as I get home I will post the list of which shops attended. The class I taught on the Importance of Cross Crafting was well received and all of the store owners thanked me for helping them think "outside the box"... so all in all, I am glad I came to the show. I'm just a bit tired from the business side of things and looking forward to playing with my girls for a few days!

One of the nicest gifts we received was from a friend of one of our "show neighbour". Their daughter was out with a friend and told them that we were taking the girls to Carowinds tomorrow. She works at the park and is often given comp tickets for working overtime, so sent two FREE tickets to us for the girls. They were so thrilled, they just about hugged her to pieces when she came to help them with teardown this afternoon!

People are what remain at the heart of this industry... and there are some darned cool ones involved!