Thursday, November 8, 2007

And Now a Word From Our Sponsors

Allright, I guess I ought to Say Something about being selected as one of the new HOFers following the big brouhaha. But it's awkward. I've been trying to compose my thoughts for a couple days now and I'm still not quite there. So bear with me, all six or seven of you who read my blog. ;)

First I have to give a very sincere and huge Thank You to all who have supported me, encouraged me and said such kind words about me and my work. From the bottom of my heart, it is appreciated! Special thanks, and lots of love, go out to the ScrapChicks, the BLECKsters, my fellow HMers on both the 2006 & 2007 groups, the OCC, Kari and Jenn. Your friendship means the world to me!

And now that my Academy Award acceptance speech is over, onto the heart of the matter. I know that there will be those who are critical of my decision to accept the open HOF spot. I respect that others may have chosen differently. I want everyone to know that I thought long and hard about this. First in that "what if I win the lottery" fantasizing way, not for one second thinking it was a real possibility. Then when I knew I was going to be asked to step up, in a more concrete way.

From the start, what upset me most about how the contest played out was my feeling that the contest's reputation was now tarnished. I knew I would not feel comfortable entering again if things were allowed to stand as they were. But I also came to a point where I decided I would be satisfied if CK just cleaned up the rules and their processes for selecting winners for the future. I could have lived with nothing being done about this year's contest.

When CK announced that they were disqualifying Kristina Contes and possibly others, and would fill any vacated spots with the next-in-line HMers, I was actually pretty surprised. But I was also impressed. Not because I bore any ill will toward any of the current winners, but because I thought it spoke volumes about what CK would do to restore the reputation of the HOF contest. And I believed that those who cared about the contest - and I do care about it - needed to do their part to work toward that goal. For me that meant accepting the belated win.

Lest you think I'm being entirely too self-serving here, let me assure you that I had selfish reasons as well. The $500 prize would be a nice little payday for me. Not that $500 is going to make or break my family, but a little guilt-free splurging? Yeah, I can do that.

And validation? Well I dunno. I scrapbook because I love to scrapbook. It's fun! But that fun is definitely enhanced for me by being able to share my pages with other people who love this hobby. It's a good feeling when someone else appreciates something you've done. So while I enjoy that, it doesn't really define me either. Because no matter how many pages I get published or contests I win, I still have to do the laundry, feed my family, drive my kids to all their activities, help with homework ... you get the drift. Scrapbooking is important to me, but it is not my life.

I realize some people will think I'm accepting "too little too late". I guess I just came to a decision not to look at it that way. Missing out on the hoopla of call week, tooting anonymously and all that? Eh, that might have been fun, but it's nothing that important to me. Besides, I did get to participate in call week, just from a slightly different standing (as an HM). And I've had another call week this week, with the embarrassing recorded phone call to prove it. So we're all good there.

Not being in the original book? Again, I can deal with that. I do want to share some of the pages of my entry. I'm proud of them, I know they mean a lot to my family, and I'd love to send them out in the world! But I'm hopeful the supplement CK is working on will accomplish all that.

Missed opportunities? Hmmm, maybe. Who knows what opportunities I might have had in the past 7 months? Maybe some, maybe none. I'm not interested in being a "celebrity" (gads, perish the thought!) so I'm not too worried about missed opportunities.

But all in all, what it really comes down to is this. For all that I may have missed out on in the past 7 months, I have gained so much more. I have gotten to know an incredible group of women, whom I admire soooooo much both as scrapbookers and as people. Call me a sap if you will, but the friendship and camaraderie of the 2007 HM class truly means more to me than hoopla and publishing opportunities. Those things are fleeting, but the bond of the HMers, well that's gonna last much longer.

And now that I've "graduated" to the HOF group, wow, now I get to meet another group of uber-talented scrappers, and hopefully get to know them as well. Best of both worlds? You betcha!!

So here I am, a new HOFer, ready to move forward. What happened, happened. No changing that, and I refuse to live a life of regrets and what-ifs. I'm not here to replace anyone. I know some people will like my work and some won't. And that's okay. I never set out to be the best scrapper, I only set out to be my best.

So while I didn't arrive here in the ideal way, man do I ever have a good story to tell my grandkids. And I'm all about a good story. ;)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Halloween Curse

Ah, my poor daughter seems to be under a Halloween Curse. Last year, she missed her school Halloween party with a sick tummy. So of course this morning she woke up with a recurrence of pinkeye. Ack! Another missed school party. I assured her she could still trick or treat tonight, just as long as she doesn't touch anybody. I'm not sure how Laura Ingalls is going to look with bloodshot eyes though. Maybe this wasn't the year to choose not to be something scary, LOL.

On that note, have you hugged your pumpkin today?

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Art (?) of the Self Portrait

In light of the HOF controversy of the past week, there has been a lot of discussion about whether this photo or that photo could have been taken by the entrant. I'll grant you that some photos seem to have been more likely than not taken by someone else. But for other photos that have been questioned, I don't see it. Some of them could very well have been taken by the entrant. To understand that, I think we need to discuss the art (in my case LUCK) of taking a self-portrait.

For some people, those with super photography skills, this may not be that difficult. For me, it is. To illustrate a few key points, I'm going to show some examples from a self-portrait shoot I did a couple years ago.

First try:

Oops, cut my head off. Reposition the tripod and let's try again.

Second try:

This one's not too bad, but the lighting is a bit wonky. Try again.

Third try:

The lighting is better, not perfect but can be fixed in Photoshop. My head's a little cut off, but not too much. Still, let's give it another shot.

Fourth try:

Dang, this is SO not in focus. And what's with the wonky head tilt? Try again.

Fifth try:

Sigh. Lighting's good, it's in focus, nothing's cut off, but dude why do I look so stern?

And so on and so forth.

Now any time you take a photo of someone, you have to concern yourself with these issues ... composition, lighting, focus, facial expression, body position, etc. But when the subject you're photographing is yourself, it becomes more complicated. Because when you look through the viewfinder, your subject (you) is not there (I know, DUH!). There are some tricks you can use, such as placing an object (a stuffed animal works well) or another person as a "stand-in" for you. You compose the shot, focus on the stand-in, set the timer and then take their place.

But still, it usually requires more tries to get a good self-portrait than it does to take a portrait of another. On the day noted above, I took upwards of 40 shots, just to get one usable one.

You might ask, "but what about action shots?" Can one take a series of action photos without using another photographer? Well yes, they can. Certain remotes, use of auto exposure bracketing and even a computer rig-up can make this possible. Another option would be to shoot video, then extract images from that. That's a lot more trouble than I'd be willing to go to, but it can be done.

So my whole point here is that we simply can't assume because a photo looks "too good" to have been taken by the subject, or "too difficult" for the subject to take, that it wasn't indeed taken by the subject. We don't know how many tries came before it, we don't know how skilled the photographer is at taking self-portraits, we don't know what equipment they have available to assist them. In fact, the photos that are at the heart of this controversy don't appear on their face to be any more questionable than any other self-portrait. It is the evidence outside the photos that shows they were not taken by the entrant.

All right Barb, but what does this all mean? Well, what I think it means is this. This contest really does have to rely heavily on an honor system. Many rule violations would be practically impossible to spot. I don't think CK needs to take on the burden of overturning every rock, stone and pebble to ensure compliance with their rules. I do think they need some sort of audit system to review winning entries, to look for irregularities that raise a red flag. Then contact those entrants and seek further information. It's not that difficult and it's not that onerous. Do 3 photos of a person performing the activities of a triathlon coupled with writing about a person training for triathlons appear suspicious? Sure they do. So call the entrant, ask if they are photos of her and ask whether she took them. Maybe she took photos of someone else and wrote about her own experience. You don't know unless you bother to find out. Do 2 apparently sequential photos of a person getting on a horse raise a red flag? Maybe, although as noted above, it is possible to take sequential timed photos. Still, if you're unsure, call the entrant and ask "Is this you? Did you take those photos?" Look at the supply lists and other documentation. Does anything stand out as not right? Check up on it. Legally they don't have to do this; ethically I think they should.

And then if a few rule violations still slip through the cracks, so be it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wake Up Toria

We've spent the last few months reorganizing our house and have now reached the stage of updating the kids' bedrooms. Lexi's and Nick's rooms are 85% done (Nick's not getting much, sorry bud!), so now we're tackling T's room. We found this fabulous website for tween & teen girls room decor, called Wake Up Frankie. It's all fun and funky, and not badly priced at all.

Toria picked out this bedding set for her room:

Except that we chose a purple bedskirt instead of the orange. Right now, we only have the duvet, bedskirt, pillow shams and matching window valance, but we hope to add more pieces in over time.

Not only did we find some great stuff for her, but I was super impressed with how quickly I received my order. I ordered late on Sun night and the box arrived early Wed morning! The quality looks great too.

So now we have to decide on a paint color and get that done, so I can get her bed all put together. And in a few months, after Jim gets over the sticker shock from Lexi's furniture purchase, we'll be getting new furniture for T too (I think the same set we got Lexi).

It's definitely a work in progress, but we're getting there!

Friday, August 31, 2007

The 2007-2008 Piggy Tales DT

The PT team was announced Wednesday night. I am totally thrilled to be staying on for another year, along with Celia, Melanie and Ruthy. And very excited to get to know the new girls!

CONGRATULATIONS to the following people on making Piggy Tales' 2007-2008 Design Team!
Lacintha Naidoo
Celia King
Julie Overby
Beck Heisler
Amber Winward
Tracie Hudson
Melanie Douthit
Ruth Clarke
Barb Pfeffer
Teresa Tyree
Trina Linford

A little something for all the members, new and returning alike:

Here's to a great year!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Grease is the Word

Yesterday I decided to tackle our Grease photos from last summer, in my continuing quest to finish up the kids books so I can move forward to one album only. Doing the same set of photos 4 times usually isn't that much fun, but I really had a blast with these. I don't normally post more than one version of a LO. I just pick whichever I like best and go with it. But I really loved how both the 12x12 and 8.5x11 version ended up, so wanted to show them both (the 2 other 8.5x11s are the same, only the pic is different).

I might very well be in a Scenic Route rut, but man do I love the stuff. It seems to make my LOs come together so easily. And you can't argue with that, right? ;)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Batting .500

So yesterday I had 2 layouts picked up by Scrapbook Trends. Funny that ... I hadn't submitted to them in 6 months, maybe more. And I submitted these ahead of the deadline since we were going to be out of town so much this month. So I'd forgotten all about it. I got quite a little shock when I saw the first email come in, and even more when the second came. I even had to check my spreadsheet to see what I'd submitted. Turns out I sent in 4. And 2 got picked up. Not too shabby, right?