Thursday, January 29, 2009

The End is Near! (Of the Week, At Least)

Coffee in the New York skyline mug (as we are heading in that general direction in a couple of weeks), the sound of the printer spitting out the Camp Buyer's Market registration forms for Jessie for music. Yep, J's going to Philadelphia again. This should make the trip MUCH better for Todd. And airline fares just keep dropping--her ticket on Delta non-stop was $127 + tax. However I don't have to pay anything for one checked bag and she has to pay $15. I'm still almost tempted to buy myself another ticket and pay the change fee on the one I have and use it to go somewhere else. Mine cost over twice as much as hers and she's sitting right next to me!

Today I ship two orders and meet with V about the sorry state of my bookkeeping. *sigh* I know she won't be judgmental or laugh at me (at least out loud) but it is in a really sorry, sad state. Then this afternoon we head to Charleston to plan for the Buyer's Market with Bill and Elaine. There's work to figure out (and to make and ship on my return to Atlanta), and a booth to design. I'm already tired. I would love to go back to bed for a couple of hours as I have just been unable to shake this sapping cold virus. But I'm off to be perky! And fire!

And speaking of firing... I called Olympic kilns yesterday and they walked me through unlocking the cone firing schedules on the kiln controller for Little Boy (the small kiln). Turns out that he's rated to fire to 2400 degrees F so I can fire ceramics in him. Yesterday I bisque-fired a little terracotta play house that Jessie made for her littlest pets. The built-in firing schedules are very basic (cone #, speed: fast, medium or slow, and hold time) and I have no idea how long the "slow" fire I picked should take. For all I know, it's still firing. I'm looking forward to being able to make and fire my own molds now--and making their own clay slumping/casting molds will be a great project for the summer camp participants.

Now off to shower, dress, and brush my teeth before V arrives. No need to scare her any more than I have to!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Summer Camp is Official... And So is BECon

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "A Long December" by Counting Crows on iTunes. "There's reason to believe that maybe this year will be better than the last... now the days go by so fast." Time to shift gears. Maybe the Counting Crows believe that this year will be better than the last, but I am not so optimistic. Last year was a great year for business growth for me in terms of sales. Maybe the goal this year should be to focus on growth areas for a slow economy, e.g., more open studio sessions, summer camp, and other opportunities for growth at home rather than national growth on the road in sales. This is not to say that I will stop doing shows and advertising--I think it's a great time to drive forward and get in front of as many potential buyers as possible. But my expectation on returns is much lower and if I want to continue to grow--or even to hold to last year's revenue--I am going to have to be more creative.

This is also a good year to hone my skills, and to that end I have registered for BECon. I was stuck on which post-conference workshop I wanted to take more--Linda Ethier on Lost Wax or Richard Whitely on Kiln-Casting. Fortunately for my poor overworked brain, the Whitely workshop is wait-listed already so I am going for lost wax. Yea! Now I jut need to work out my airfare. Hope I can scramble together enough miles/reward points for it as Portland looks EXPENSIVE from Atlanta. Maybe I'll just wait till the last minute again like I did with Todd's Philadelphia ticket and hope for the best. (As my Travel Rewards redemption page appears to be BROKEN waiting might be my only option!).

Yesterday I began the process of setting up a summer camp program. Initially I am going to offer two week-long sessions in July. The curriculum for each week includes presentations on the use of ceremonial masks in various cultures in the morning, and instruction in glass as an artistic medium in the afternoon. Each camp participant will create and bring home one or more (time permitting) glass masks in the style of one of the cultures presented during the week. Resources I am using for teaching materials include: The Maya :Life, Myth and Art, Masks: Faces of Culture, Carnival Masks of Venice: A Photographic Essay, Masks of the World, Inventing Masks, and (I hope) Giinaquq--Like a Face. The last one won't be published until May. Camp will run 10-4 Mon-Fri and will be open to rising fifth graders and older. Cost is $350 including all tools and materials, and camp size is limited to 8 participants per week. Early drop-off and late pick-up will be available at no charge as studio time for the participants to work on their projects.

I expect to teach several basic casting and mold-making techniques that I am already familiar with, and I hope to add new ideas and techniques gleaned from my time at BECon. If there is enough demand, I hope to expand to more sessions and to add sessions during the school-year breaks. I love teaching and I finally feel like there is an area to which I can contribute meaningfully. I am just not cut out to teach vanilla basic kiln-forming. but kiln-forming with a direction, with an anthropoloical/sociological context... ah, now that's right up my alley.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Too Early Tuesday

Coffee in the Denver skyline mug, "Cloudy This Morning" on iTunes (again). It *is* cloudy this morning, and misty, and foggy, and rainy, and a perfect day for melancholy Winston. The firing schedule is done. I could complete all my orders for Atlanta and Dallas by the middle of next week but won't as some of them aren't due 'til May. Yesterday I ordered my first special run of Bullseye glass--the 0313 dense white that they no longer make. It isn't for me, it's for a friend, but it feels quite cool nonetheless to special order a half case of glass that requires it's own production run.

The EDI (electronic data interchange--a communications interface required by my new department store client) mountain is both surmountable and put-offable. I have 90 days to comply so we can all get through this first order cycle and see where the relationship is going before I make a further investment into it--and if I end up having to make the investment, I found a solution at a reasonable cost. Getting UPC barcodes for my pieces, however, is another matter. Barcodes turn out to be very pricey.

There is one central US organization that handles assignment of barcodes. If I went through them directly it would cost me $1,575 to set up and an annual subscription fee of $500 to maintain... Right. The idea of putting a universal product code on something handmade is already ludicrous, and paying that much to do it? I think not... My casino client also inquired if I UPC coded my products and they were fine with the answer "No". Let's hope the department store will be as reasonable. The least expensive official codes seem to be about $25-$35 each and I would need 10 to start. I really don't want to have to go that route.

Today I ship the first Siyeh Studio/Bentwell Metals order. I thought to get it out yesterday, but, alas, I was on the phone ALL DAY LONG! Not today. (Honest to Pete, all I want to do right now is sleep. I may have to give in for an hour and come back to the computer [hopefully] refreshed. A coffee with an extra shot of espresso in it isn't even helping.) At least it's a credit card on ship order so I'll get paid today too (I already paid Todd his share when I picked up the work).

I chug along to prepare for the BMAC in Philly, and I hope it's a better show than the two so far have been (it almost can't help but be). Just over a full week of production work out of two major shows is ludicrous--not to mention bankrupting.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday Morning Almost Looked Fine

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, "Cloudy This Morning" by George Winston on iTunes. I begin the day with a haiku:

To grow one's business
Do they mean success?

Wading through the vendor set-up forms for the new department store is almost as difficult as it was for the big casino last year, but this client has the added requirements of UPC coding (an option with the casino) and EDI (electronic document interchange) form processing. The costs of just the EDI may put this account out of my reach (set-up from one EDI vendor is $1,900 with another $100/month fee). I am waiting to hear back from the second (the client only works with these two EDI providers) to see if they have a more cost-effective solution for the smaller-than-small business. I am also waiting to hear back from my buyer about the true necessity of UPC coding. If I have to regretfully decline this order because I cannot comply with the terms, it will mean Dallas was an absolute bust with nothing more to redeem it than its status as a tax deduction.

Today we ship the first Siyeh Studio/Bentwell Metals pieces ordered at the shows. I also head back to ikebana after a long hiatus, and I hope to work with V to get back on track for my finances. Short post, off to the races (as the Indigo Girls sing "Everything In Its Own Time" in the background).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Starts the Week

Waiting for the coffee, the sound of the grinder attacking the beans for music. Today is not glass incarnate, today is business management--mostly financial--incarnate. I need V (the new bookkeeper) and yet I don't even know where to have her begin.The sales tax filing for Georgia is now almost a week late, I haven't touched Quickbooks or Quicken in weeks because of the shows, and I though I could load it all on to the desktop Mac for V--the software and statements will only get her so far. There's also all the mileage and the petty cash and the business expenses bought on a personal account (and logged in Quicken) to general journal in. Oy. And I am STILL stuck (stuck again?) on what to do to improve my processes--which desperately need improving. Do I ERP (whip the spouse) or do I Quickbooks? I hate Quickbooks, I really do. The support is *terrible*, and I despise being forced to upgrade on someone else's schedule. Gah, the stasis of Sunday and a long time away form the studio. I feel like I'm chasing my own tail as I look at piles of to-do in despair and apathy. Dee has created an entire Joomla website in the past two weeks that I have done nothing to mine.

Today I fill out vendor forms for the new department store and finish up the firing schedule for the orders taken in Dallas and Atlanta. I already gave Todd and Bill their orders for the shows--would be nice to have a streamlined way to pass that information too. Tomorrow is the first official day back in the studio, and a day to hit the ground running. Today is a day at the High Museum to see the terracotta warriors, and to begin the letter banner for J's class auction project (D is for Dragon!), and to knit the American Girl scarf for J's friend for a long-delayed Christmas present, and to recover the music and photos on the home back-up drive, and to set-up the workbench, tools and the rest of the garage, and to re-do the office... maybe I'll just nap.

Yesterday saw the installation of the backsplash I made Dave for Christmas. It's nice to finally have some of my work in my own home (after 20 years!).

Friday, January 23, 2009

Finally Friday

Coffee in the Austin skyline mug, the sound of coughing for my music. I am so sick. (Yes, Dee, I got Zicam, but I don't expect anything great to come out of it starting so late.) I have settled the in-laws in with their daily Sudoku, Baxter is enthusiastically shaking his stuffed squirrel while casting occasional longing glances out to the back deck at the real squirrels. Ah the springtime, er, late winter in Atlanta.

Today is a day of deadlines and dues. Hargrove exhibitor services forms are due for the BMAC. Last night I got Todd a ticket to Philly for $156 roundtrip--for those of you out there who have been waiting for fares to the BMAC to drop, now's the time. He is on the exact same flights as I am, and I paid $305 for my ticket. :-( The buyer for my new department store is chomping at the bit for images and stacks and stacks of forms from me. I should have made it more clear that I am not back in the studio till Monday. But a sick day is a good day to shuffle paper and pretend there is some money in the finances I have to do. Advertising deadlines for Wholesalecrafts and New Retailer magazine are now, NICHE and American Style are either just past or just looming. As much as I spent on the Atlanta's Mart, The Dallas Finds Temp show, the lease on a permanent showroom (Nancy, I will do a post next week on the details of leasing a showroom), and now the rest of my booth and services fees for the BMAC... I don't think I can afford any advertising--even on credit. Gulp. Scary times.

Being gone for two weeks I didn't get caught up on my Quickbooks and so missed getting my annual sales tax filed and paid for Georgia by the 20th. Got to get to that today--and must, must, MUST get the desktop machine set-up for V the new bookkeeper so I don't miss sending out my 1099's by their deadline (next week, I think).

Now that I am partnering with two other companies I have doubled the work I have to do managing orders to them and shipping all of our joint products. I am going to have to evaluate ways to streamline both processes so they don't suck all my time out of my ears. And I have to compile and send out the orders from Atlanta and Dallas to both of them so they can get busy with their parts.

I'm too muzzy-headed from cold meds to post more--or more coherently--this morning, so I'll be off now to shuffle the papers and chase the elusive dollar through the finances.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Todd Did Dallas

Hot Rooibos and jade pearl tea in the San Francisco mug, discussions of just what almost swear words Jessie gets to say for background... noise. I put my foot down and "frickin'" is out. "Freakin'" is ok. Am I out of line?

Dallas is over, I am home, and I have a horrid cold. Sometimes life is just not fair. Tomorrow the in-laws arrive for a long weekend, the dogs have an appointment at the groomer's, the cleaning people come, and it's Jessie's turn to bring snack for Girl Scouts. I found out/was reminded about all of those events in various emails this morning. I knew the in-laws were coming, I just mis-wrote their arrival date. The others I either knew nothing about or had totally forgotten. By the afternoon everyone will have come or gone and I will nap. Bliss.

But let's go back to Dallas and start with breakdown. It would have been better if we could have used the freight elevator to move the display and work pieces from our booth on the 13th floor down to my new permanent showroom in Hemispheres Design Center on the 9th floor, but they were just too full. So every piece, every pedestal, each light bar, tool and step stool were hand-carried one at a time down four floors of escalator. Boy did that get old fast! Todd and I then set-up my little 10 X 10 space with one huge window and two 7-foot high sidewalls.

When we were done in the showroom, (about 9:00 pm) we went back to our booth and began breakdown in earnest. Truth be told, Todd continued breakdown in earnest (he had already been working on it at the end while I was in the showroom) while I ran around trying to get someone in exhibitor services to take my POV (personally owned vehicle) form so they could come and load us up. I got a scary tour of the freight elevators and docks one and two before I was able to find anyone but a security guard. Turned out that even though they had told me at 7:00 that they would be loading until midnight and I would be fine as long as I got my form in by 10:00, the reality was that they were pretty much done by 8:00 and let all the loading people go at 9:00...

Hoo boy. A supervisor and one hastily commandeered worker loaded the booth contents onto a couple of dollies, brought them down the freight elevator and crammed it into the car. They were mostly empty boxes that I probably should have broken down, but I was just too sick and tired. Literally. Not too long after 10:00 saw us in the drive-through at a 24-hour Burger King on the way to our hotel (ah, the glamorous life of an artist on the road!). Then all that was left in Dallas for us was a hotel for which I paid (non refundably) one night too many (through Wednesday morning), and a sleepless night from over exhaustion and the horrible cold. Todd told me I coughed and snored like a sailor all night. I knew I was loud as I woke myself with my own snores several times. At one point he said I cried out, "No! No, no no, no! No! No!" and he couldn't decide if I was talking to him or having a nightmare.

The next day there was the drive home. Todd does not drive--doesn't even have a driver's license--so I was on steering wheel duty all day. I didn't have a book to listen to (for which Todd was profoundly grateful) but the iPod didn't let us down and we listened to 118 songs before I stopped counting. A book would have been better at keeping me awake, but Todd's occasional just-for-the-heck-of-it scream worked too.

Notable quotes for the day included the following three:

When we were ready to leave the hotel, Todd came out of the bathroom wearing a t-shirt with "Mr. Happy" written on it under the cartoon of a donkey's head, commenting, "I need a t-shirt that says 'Art Kills' ". (Dave thinks he needs one that says "I suffer for my art, now it's your turn!").

Mid-morning Todd dozed off, and I decided to go ahead and switch the clock and the GPS to eastern time as that's when we would arrive. I didn't do it to be mean or anything. Really. A few minutes later he woke up and groggily commented, "Wow, it felt like I was only asleep about 10 minutes and over an hour has passed!". When I told him what I had done he leaned forward and started banging his fists on the dashboard sobbing, "I just want to be home!".

Mid-afternoon we pulled into a gas station for a potty and snack break and Todd couldn't get his door open. I thought maybe he had his seat belt stuck in it so I asked, "What's caught in it?". To which he replied, "My last nerve". But we made it home.

Pics are of the new showroom space--including a map with the showroom location in the design center and the design center's location on the floor. The big open space in the middle is the atrium.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Driving (Or Not) From Dallas

Chocolate Arby's milkshake in a paper cup, "Precious Pain" by Melissa Etheridge on the iPod. We're on I20 outside Jacksonville Mississippi. All lanes are blocked for an accident--hence my posting. So much for making it home by 7:30. Real post tomorrow.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Done In Dallas

Cranberry juice on ice, The Golden Compass on tv for music. I think Todd is not the only one broken by doing two shows back to back. Never again. Home tomorrow, sleep now.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dallas On the Penultimate Day

Coffee in the itty bitty Starbucks cup from the lobby (it was free--and accompanied by a Krispy Cream donut), music is some new agey jazzy muzak. I think I broke Todd yesterday.

The alarm went off this morning and I sang out "Good Morning!". I got no response so I waited a bit and decided I had been ceded first dibs on the bathroom. After my shower and other morning ablutions I emerged to see a little bit of a tousled head and one foot peeking from under the covers of Todd's bed. A plaintive little voice said, "Can I stay in the room today?". What could I say? Ten straight days on the road at gift shows in a devastatingly grim economy as an introduction to the wholesale world would suck the soul out of anyone. I left him to sleep and went to hold down the fort, I mean booth, on my own--not a difficult task I fear.

Last night ended with an order from a new client right at 6:00--and they took us to dinner after we met up with my friends Mike and Jeanne. Margaritas, queso, chips and empanadas at Primo's followed by sake and a volcanic platter at Deep Sushi... no wonder Todd stayed in today!

Favorite conversation of the day so far, three women walking past the booth:

Woman #1: These are beautiful.
Woman #2: But.
Woman #3: Yeah, *but*.

Our work is overwhelmingly appreciated, and universally perceived as too expensive. It's weird to have one of the highest price points in the show.


The day unfolded in unexpected, but hoped for, ways. I took another small order this morning for Todd's work... and then I signed a lease for a permanent space in one of the Market Center-owned design showrooms. Wow. But I couldn't resist. It's a great 10 X 10 space in the front window off the atrium on the 9th floor. I got back to the room tonight and handed the design process to Todd whose response was, "Anything you would like, Mistress Brenda." Todd did the display windows for a local Atlanta gallery for over 20 years, he is incredibly talented at it, and I am lucky to have been given this opportunity while he is here with me. Now off to my shower, room service, and a glass of wine (or three). Pics are of the booth including one from across the atrium. Can you pick out our booth from all the others on all the other floors?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dallas Dallas Dallas

Coffee in a Starbucks go cup, "Livin' On a Prayer" by Bon Jovi playing quietly on iTunes for music (we are on the showroom floor, after all. I can't blast it out no matter how much I would like to). Reading this blog for past couple of weeks must be somewhat like driving past a bad car wreck. You can't help looking, and you're really glad it's not you.

I think I'll start the post today with notable quotes from the show: A woman on a scooter chair came into the booth and talked to Todd while I was at lunch and said, "I'm here to give you a pep talk. I like to go into booths with beautiful artwork where the artist is sitting there and not selling anything, and I like to give 'em a pep talk." Are we that obvious? I need to goose Todd up a bit... Then there was the woman who came in and asked, "Can I have one of your postcards?" Todd replied, "Sure! I can even give you one with a price sheet if you would like." She answered, "No, that's alright. I just need to fan myself, I'm having a hot flash." To define the majority of the buyers we have seen, I heard the following from two women passing the booth, "I just want to find some leopard print sheer material for my bathroom." C'mon Texas, I love you. Don't stereotype yourself!

Yesterday's classics were the woman on the cell phone who stopped next to the booth and said, "I'm by, like, all this glass stuff". And my favorite so far, the man and the woman who walked through the booth, looked at the pieces and he said to her, "What is it?" to which she replied, "I dunno. I guess you put cheese on it or somepn'."

But it has not been all gloom and doom I started the day by meeting my major goal for expanding into the gift shows--I picked up a major department store as a client. They are starting me in three locations, and we might be expanding into several more. The VP of the Home division and the buyer for tabletop love both my functional glass work and the glass and steel table top pieces with Black Cat ArtWorks. Whoo hoo!

Other than that order, though... I took the order the day before the show opened for the Washington state Indian reservation resort casino, and yesterday I took an order for a video rental store with a small adjacent gift shop. They placed a large order for large pieces, and though several of them were targeted for personal use, some were definitely for their shop. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to put on the locations page on my website for them... And that's it. Three orders, and a lot of people interested in buying "samples" at the end of the show. Got to make that gas money somehow.

Tonight I get to meet up with an old friend from grade school/high school after the show for drinks. I haven't seen his wife since not too long after they were married and I am really looking forward to seeing her again too.

Four hours to go and counting. I need more than one order per day to stay awake...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dallas Day One

Coffee was Starbucks, it's done now, the happy chatter of people buying lip gloss and wine bags and tea towels for music. Not much call for glass art this morning, but I still have my happy face on! I do not have any connectivity on my laptop at this show, but things are slow enough that I have time to type this post on my iPhone... One letter at a time.

The streets around the Trade Center were thronged with traffic this morning, and the floor--while not packed--has a good number of people on it. Todd is off walking the floor of the Design section (where we are) to see just how many exhibitors are vending t-shirts, purses, costume jewelry, etc. Apparently the hottest seller is beaded wire crosses, and the major category of exhibited "work" is clothing and accessories. Too bad I don't vend lipgloss. We'll see what the afternoon brings.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

We're Set Up

A bit from last night's bottle of Redwood Creek chardonnay in a hotel wine glass, "Hallelujah" performed by Jeff Buckley on iTunes. Hallelujah, we're set up. And what a day it was...

Got up this morning to find that the ice bucket in which room service had delivered our wine last night had leaked... all over my wallet, my iPhone holster, and my iPod. The iPod was unharmed, the rest was soaked. There were three checks totaling over $1,500 in the wallet (they came in right before I left for Dallas) that were ruined from the wallet stain. The money (all $38 I had) was also stained, but I got the front desk of the hotel to exchange it, and I spent the day drying the wallet and the phone holster. Cleaning up and exchanging the money took a bit of time so we were late to get on the road--and no coffee to tide us over.

We finally got on our way, and it was the wrong road. I blithely headed out thinking I knew where the heck I was going. Bad idea. So I pulled over and found an address to input into the GPS instead of having Todd try to sort out marginally written directions from the show staff. After much incredibly hellish traffic (Dallas feels a lot like L.A. in this respect), we arrived at the World Trade Center (Dallas style)... and there were no signs telling us where to go. We drove around. A lot. We asked several people where we were supposed to go. We *finally* found the right entrance and got in the right line, and made it to the front of said line ready to be unloaded... and ran out of gas. I kid you not. (Todd wants you to know that it was not figuratively, but literally *out of gas*). But it's Dallas. Dallas is in Texas. There are no bigger-hearted people in the world than there are in Texas. The woman in charge of the dock grabbed one of her guys (a retired brick layer now dock worker for GES) and told him to take me to the gas station to get gas--even though it was only a couple of blocks away--because it was cold and I would have had to cross the freeway (under it on the access road). He would've taken me anyway once he knew the situation.

I got back with gas, we got unloaded. We set up. Even with all the delays, we finished setting up by 6:30 pm. Unbelievable. But the day, the surreal day we woke up to, was not over.

As we finished setting up, two women (buyers) came by, oohed and ahhed, and asked if I'd take an order today (!). I said sure, and took a mid three-figure order before the show even opened. Then it was time to go home...

As we took the elevator down to the lobby, and then the shuttle to the parking lot, I worried that we were not going to have enough gas to make it back to the gas station. After all, we had just got a little under a gallon, and then I hadn't been able to get it all out of the little gas can I bought. Todd and I held our breath all the way from the parking garage to the gas station, but we made it!

Then the evening's fun began. I thought I could use the little map handed out by the hotel to find the WalMart in "zone 2" by us so we could buy paper and beer. Hah. We drove around for about an hour up and down the access roads paralleling the two freeways by our hotel. It was... a trip. Finally, after having no luck at all finding the WalMart--or any other box-like store--we stopped at a Shell gas station to get beer for Todd (we had decided to throw ourselves on the mercy of the hotel staff for paper for tomorrow). The gas station proprietor--a very nice Indian man running a gas station/Taqueria in a Korean neighborhood--told us he didn't sell beer because it was dry there, but if we went down two stop lights in one direction we would find a 7-11 and liquor stores and everything. He further informed us that two lights in the other direction and a quick right turn would get us to an Office Depot for paper. We had hit the mother load! In retrospect, I think they were jsut surprised we were alive in the neighborhood. I thought back and the Indian man at the first gas station had had to unlock a door to let us in the store/gas station. What kind of neighborhood calls for all the doors to be locked at 8:30 on a Thursday?

When we left the gas station, we drove first to the liquor store. It was a Latino establishment with an eclectic mix of sakes and three alphabetized shelves of wine (Korean neighborhood, Latino establishment...). I have to say, I have never been in a store that alphabetizes wine with no regard to color or varietal before. It was... disconcerting. Todd got vodka and juices (he is expecting a rough show, I think) and I grabbed a couple of bottles of the only sauvignon blanc I could find. We went to check out and the older man behind the counter instructed the younger man on how to ring it up, how to bag it, etc., and all the while they kept casting wow-what-are-you-doing-in-here looks at us. As we were leaving they gave me a little gift--a Chum-Churum Soju apron in green and black. Like I said, surreal.

The rest of the evening was uneventful: We found Office Depot, we ordered pizza from room service, and we bickered over the remote control. Now it is time to print out several price sheets. Tomorrow morning I'll do the price stickers for the pieces. Ta ta!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Open Eyes Atlanta, Close Eyes Dallas

Nothing to drink, a young gentleman of Indian heritage singing some R&B song by Boyz II Men on American Idol for my background music... I cannot believe how far I have fallen. I have *never* seen American Idol before. I have never watched Survivor. The closest I have come to a reality show up till now is Queer Eye For the Straight Guy or Top Chef. Aaaaaaggh. Sharing a room in Dallas with Todd. Enough said. We're here. I plan to put him through hell tomorrow for set-up so I'm giving him American Idol tonight, no matter how much of my soul I lose.

Now it's time for a room service dinner, a quick shower and the inside of my eyelids. The new camera came and I will check it out during set-up tomorrow. Recap of Atlanta still to come, and of course the State of the Wholesale Economy sage continues in Dallas this week...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Over in Atlanta and Moving On

No coffee yet, "Breathe" by the BoDeans for music (softly on my laptop). It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... wait, it was just the worst of times. No, that's too harsh. Like all shows there have been good and bad things and it's just a show. In comparison to my last two wholesale shows (ACRE last spring and the BMAC last summer), average orders are down 50% and number of orders is down about 55%. I would be dead in the water without the new collaborative work with Todd of Bentwell Metals. The buyers I'm getting here--with the exception of one the first day--are all about the garden stake, the ornament, and the wire men.


I have a more complete review to post (and two more orders to report), but breakdown was hell. Really (and it was all about expectation setting and never believing anything a sales rep tells you...). But the breakdown story will have to wait. it's now 10:35, I have eaten dinner, but I still need to pack for Dallas (we leave first thing in the morning...). Next post, Live From Dallas!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Almost Done at the Atlanta's Mart

Coffee is coming (Todd's in line at Starbucks), music this morning is the despondent chatter of exhibitors on the phone. I have network this morning--an unexpected plus. Yesterday was grim, grim, grim without connectivity. Today is already starting off exciting--the security officer from the Mart came to take a report about the theft of my camera, a police officer will be up next to file a report. I have decided to consider the loss of the camera as an opportunity. I wasn't happy with the quality of the Cool Pix images (low-end digital cameras all seem to be optimized to take pictures of people and people just don't need the same white balance and color correction my glass does). But I never would have spent the money now on a new camera if I hadn't been forced too. Opportunity knocked, Canon answered.


A few hours have passed and I spoke too soon--I had connectivity for a brief shining moment at the beginning of the day and that seems to be it for the day. I'll have to post this tonight when I get home. Okay, it's 2:00 pm on day 4, the penultimate day of the Atlanta's Mart. I haven't written an order since Saturday afternoon about 2:00. Good thing I have a positive attitude (!). One of the exhibitors down the aisle from me actually asked for a refund of their booth fee. Their request was denied (of course), but the request is representative of the show. My soul is slowly being sucked from my body--somewhat like when I slump wine bottles, but this soul drain is on its fourth straight day.

For the remainder of the afternoon I am going to carefully plan every step of the breakdown in order to be able to get the heck out of Dodge ASAP when the doors close tomorrow. Instead of taking all the lights off the tracks and putting them in a plastic tub (as I usually do) and then breaking apart the track sections, I am going to keep all the lights on the tracks and wrap them up in blankets that I'll cable-tie together. The wall pieces with glass in them will be packed still assembled into boxes. The back wall unit is going to be the piece that takes the longest to disassemble , but since there'll be 4-5 of us for breakdown I can't imagine it's going to take us any longer than an hour (maybe two) to do it all.

Today Becky is here, Dee is here, Mindy stopped by to say hi, and I am cheered. Becky and Todd went to lunch, and now Becky and I are going over to High Design so I can see if it's anywhere I want to be. Got to find a happy place. Got to find a happy place. Got to find a happy place.


The penultimate day is over. We took no orders, but have a nibble on wire people and other of Todd's pieces from a buyer who promises to come back tomorrow to order. Tonight I go home and hope my order from Walker Displays has arrived (along with a few checks to help defray the cost of this debacle). I have seen a couple of other glass exhibitors who also do the BMAC and one is doing this show in Handmade for the first and last time, the other is in high design (after several years in handmade first) and is still doing less than half the sales he had last year. Even longtime exhibitors in the better section of handmade (not stuck on the hallway to nowhere) are saying their sales are way down. Not to harp on the negative, but this comment from Todd must be shared "There are more cleaning people in the aisles than buyers". Once he said that, I had to count. He was wrong. For the last half of hour of the show today I counted 16 exhibitors I didn't recognize (no one whose booth is right here), 4 cleaning, security or other Mart staff, and 18 buyers--none of whom even paused as they hustled past my booth. I only counted people who walked in front of my booth, I only counted one leg of round trips (to and from the bathroom counted once). Time to go home.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Day 3 is a Day of Loss

Diet coke in one plastic bottle, water in another—I am a two-fisted drinker this afternoon, the hum of the air conditioner and the quiet murmur of other exhibitors as music. I have given up trying to get on-line today—I have been unable to get my usual pirate signal from the Days Inn across the street. So I blog in Word and will upload when I get home. Exhaustion peers through every pore compounded by the boring lack of activity in the hall. I was planning to work on my website today if it was slow, but was unable without the pirate signal. An exhibitor down the aisle told me about the network service she has for her Mac that costs $60 a month but enables her to have connectivity wherever she is—even driving down the highway (more accurately, being driven down the highway). I envied. Tomorrow I think I'll take my book—just in case. There are only so many games of spider solitaire one can play without going stark staring bonkers (and Todd does the front-line customer greeting and interaction).

There is less than an hour left in the show today and I have not taken a single order. I am not unusual in that respect. But that is not the bad news of the day. The bad news of the day is that I accidentally left my camera in the back of my booth on top of one of my pedestals last night and someone stole it. *sigh* Sorry, Ren, there will be no pictures of me—or of anyone else—in the crown with the scepter for this show. Got to get a new camera ordered from Amazon. Damn. My eye-fi card was in the camera too so I lost more than just the camera.

We'll see how tomorrow and Tuesday pan out, but so far this is either my worst or my second worst show (for sales) ever. My sales rep Grace came by today with the application for summer and I said if I do this show again I need to be in High Design. I'm not sorry I did it here (in Handmade--even if it was the desert of handmade) this year, and I am not deterred from trying it again next year. I just need to do some shifting to make sure I'm placed for maximum exposure and fit. (Yawn.) I sent Todd off with friends an hour or so ago. I feel badly that he wasted most of the day here—I'm not sure I need to be here, much less both of us.

I'd love to have a happier, perkier post, but I'm just not feeling it. Tomorrow is another day. The sun'll come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there'll be sun. Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow, you're always a day away. The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday - but never jam today.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Day 2 and Yawning...

Coffee was a Dancing Goats blend from Kavarna with an extra shot of Espresso, the desultory chatter of buyers and vendors for music. It's just shy of 1:00 pm on Day 2 of the Atlanta's Mart, and it's not over till it's over. That said, it feels over. Down the aisle from me are a lovely couple who do handcarved wooden picture frames, and they haven't yet written an order. Next to them is a jeweler who creates exquisite high-end torchworked glass jewelry, again, zip. Almost zilch and nada are right around the corner from them by me. The jeweler next door is closed today for Sabbath, the potters across the aisle have written an order, and I have plenty of time to blog--no orders so far today. But it isn't over till it's over.

Doing a show it's sometimes very hard to keep the bigger picture in sight. We focus so much on immediate goals for the show--this many line sheeets distributed, this many orders written--that we can fall into despair if the reality doesn't meet our expectations. But it's not just about one show--and it's not all about the sales at the show. As a business person, I have to evaluate success on so much more than sales. Did I introduce a lot of prospective buyers to my work? Did I build interest in and future sales momentum for it by doing the show? Most important, can I afford to consider the entire show cost an advertising expense instead of a revenue-generating activity? Now wrap your head around that concept.

If you are relying on sales from a show to make the rent, the inevitable desperation oozing from your pores on day 2 with no sales cannot help but drive buyers away from your booth. Sure, the determined buyer will most likely place an order from you no matter what, but there are too few of them. The orders I have written from this show have been evenly distributed between people who are drawn in by the laughing and banter who end up seeing the one thing I have that fits their shops, and people who see the work form a distance and come in expressly to buy. That trend may be because it's the expensive work that's most visible and the affordable work that you practically have to be on top of to see. Whatever, it's the attitude that counts.

That's probably enough for today. Time to work on order entry, the website, all the other things I can do while pleasantly smiling at passersby. The mermaid and fish at the top is one of my favorite new pieces Todd did yesterday, and I am about ready to put on the crown above and march up and down the aisles with a sceptre anointing people as buyers for Siyeh Studio... Wait, Todd could do that...

Friday, January 09, 2009

Day 1 of the America's Mart

Coffee was in the Starbucks paper mug, the scent of quiet desperation permeating the air at the back of the second floor of building three of the Atlanta's Mart in the Handmade Section at 9:30 this morning was my music. I am... okay with how things have been so far. I didn't advertise, I didn't self-promote with postcards, I don't think I'm listed in the mailed out directory, and I'm in the back desert with the rest of the newbies. In spite of those limitations, by the middle of the first day I have taken three good orders--all new customers. If I were counting on $40K in orders from this show I would probably be leaking quiet desperation too, but I am going to be okay with whatever comes.

From 10:00 to about 12:30 it was very busy--I was glad Todd was here to help me, but since then it's been really sloooow. One of my regular customers from the Buyer's Market of American Craft saw me here and was shocked. It was his opinion that I should be in High Design or a permanent showroom--not in the Handcrafted area. About two hours later another BMAC customer came by and placed a good order--and from their conversation I was left with the impression that I would have missed an order from them had I not been here as they are not planning to go to Philly this year. Finally, I had another client from Arizona come in and tell me she still has all the work she bought from me at the BMAC last year and she hasn't been able to sell any of it--people love it until she tells them how much it costs.

I need one more happy report to end the day or I might have to follow the example of my next booth neighbors and not come back tomorrow. The booth next to me is closed until Sunday. I have to scratch my head at paying for a booth in a show that runs Friday through Tuesday if you can't be there from the middle of the afternoon Friday through all day Saturday for religious reasons. Yes, here I sit between bible verses and oilcloth purses, with painted doormats to my other side. Interesting show. Time to start a production schedule for Todd. That'll brighten my day!


I have been blogging on and off all day--as time, orders and schmoozing permit--and now that I am ready to upload booth pics and post, I can't get network connection. (Had to wait to post until I got home!)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Is It Really Thursday?!

Coffee in the Atlanta skyline mug, "Fade Away" by Chris Isaak on iTunes. I might just do that today. I did not post yesterday even though we were done setting up by 10:30 am. Yes, you read that right, AM not PM. Spent the rest of the morning going over pricing, schedules and details for the Dallas set-up with Bill and Todd. The afternoon saw the purchase of a Walker Display system to debut in Dallas, contractor appointments made for today (the studio gate blew off in the wind the night before last and needs to be re-hung), and a nap followed by a rest and an early night... This cold is kicking my behind to the extent that I can't even remember if I already wrote that I came down with it on Tuesday.

Set-up for the Atlanta's Mart was unlike any set-up I have ever done before. For one thing, it started on Monday, not Tuesday like I thought. Oops. So we were a day late arriving--and we were still almost the only ones in our area setting up--no sign of anyone else, neither crates and goods nor people. The floor was like a ghost town all day Tuesday. Yesterday morning it was starting to liven up with bustling vendors, and I bet today is a madhouse (everyone is supposed to be set-up by 2:00 pm). I won't know as I am not going in today. I am going to make price sheets, info packets, a production schedule and phone calls. The phone calls are to clients who still have invoices outstanding from last year--and there are several thousand dollars of invoices still out.

Like ACRE in Vegas, the Mart show makes use of a marshaling yard where vehicles wait until there is room at the dock for them. unlike Vegas where the marshaling yard is a couple of blocks from the convention center, the marshaling yard for this show is down past the airport. My scheduled move-in was 7:00 am so we had to drive down to the airport, get our paperwork and then turn around and drive back downtown to the Mart--all in rush hour traffic. Oy. It was NOT fun. Pulling away from the curb and heading out, I had a momentary panic that I had forgotten something and said so to Todd. His response was to tell me it would be all be fine, and then he stopped himself, looked at me, and asked in all seriousness, "What would you like from me here? Do you want me to panic with you [Oh no! What are we going to do?!?], or do you want me to reassure you and calm you down?" I had to bust out laughing, and the panic attack passed.

After a dry-run set-up Monday, and with valet unloading at the Mart, three people setting up the booth, and the foamcore walls and carpet already in place, set-up went really fast. By 10:30 am the back wall display and all the pedestals were up, and we were ready to put up the light poles--that's when we discovered the missing box. I made a roundtrip home in under a half hour--and the parking attendant even let me back into the same parking lot without paying again. Then the troubles started.

I had planned to use my own pipe and drape poles and supports as the support structure for my lights. But no matter where I put the vertical uprights to hold the crossbars, they were very visually obtrusive. Finally Bill came up with the idea of putting horizontal extensions off the top bars adjacent to my booth and hooking my horizontal support bars to them. It worked great, and I never would have thought of it on my own--thank heaven Bill was there! I am going to have to architect the set-up for the new configuration in Dallas very carefully in order for Todd and I to be able to get it all up in a day without Bill.

Tomorrow, good booth pictures (I forgot my camera yesterday) and maybe even a post live from the Mart (my booth is close enough to the Days Inn that I picked up the Internet service on Tuesday, heh).

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Tuesday is Toast

It will soon be Nyquil in a little plastic cup, the sound of my sniffles for music. The first (and almost only) day of set-up for the America's Mart is over. I am on-line just long enough to post that I am still alive and the day went really well--in fact if we hadn't forgotten a critical box of electrical and construction parts in the garage necessitating a midday trip home for me to retrieve it, we might have been finished already today. More tomorrow, dinner is ready now...

Monday, January 05, 2009

Statistical Monday

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "Painting By Numbers" by James McMurtry on iTunes. The numbers for Siyeh Studio have been staggering so far this year--and it's only January 5th. Since last Thursday, the first of January, I have cut and entirely consumed (mostly in the kilns) 28 sheets of Bullseye clear irid (about 224 lbs of glass) and 23 5-lb jars of frit (another 115 lbs of glass). My waste is about 2 oz, and I have repurposed about 2 lbs of frit (created from clear irid sheet or mixed colored) for open studio, ornaments and casting. From these raw materials have come about $12,500 of kilnformed glass, some of which will go in $3,000 worth of metal stands from Black Cat ArtWorks--all for the Atlanta's Gift and Home Furnishings Market and the Dallas FINDS Show. Whew! No wonder I'm tired this morning.

The last few days, as I have been in the studio loading kilns till 8:30 or 9:30 every night, have taught me something very important: If I need to fuse fire both Bertha and Bettina every day I *must* get Bettina loaded and powered up on the first day by 10:00 am at the latest and I'll only get about five days of firing her before I'll either have to give her a day off or switch to the night shift.

Bettina was constructed for longer, higher-temp firings so she has significantly more sidewall insulation than Bertha does (she's also younger and her lid is tighter so she leaks heat less). In addition, she has the big Ditore shelf in her which holds significantly more heat for a significantly longer time. All these significant factors add up to a minimum closed-lid kiln time of 24 hours--and that's pushing it a bit. Bertha can be opened and unloaded in about 18-20 hours so I can follow them same loading/firing schedule every day with her--I don't get pushed back a couple of hours a day. My normal rule of thumb is not to unload the kilns unless I can do it with bare hands. Last night at 7:30 I had to use gloves to get the pieces out of Bettina.

Today Dee, Becky, Todd and Bill descend upon the studio to construct the new booth display. The only space large enough for it that's inside (it's raining *again* today) is the garage at the house so it'll be a cold damp day for us. I'll make lots of coffee. Now off to dress and brush the teeth so I'll be more hospitable!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Beige Sunday

Coffee was in the Barcelona skyline mug, but it's safely done now (I didn't let the mug out of my sight), "Breathe" by the BoDeans is on iTunes. The Barcelona mug is back from walkabout--it's the one I put down--full, without even having had a sip--one day somewhere in the house, and I never saw it again. Who knows where it went. Maybe Australia. Next time I saw it it was in the cupboard, clean. I don't trust it.

Jessie and Dave are making chocolate pudding--Dave is reading the recipe and J is measuring, mixing and cooking. J wanted to cook this morning and we convinced her that picking something out of a cookbook and following the recipe is a good way to learn to cook too--as opposed to her usual strategy of mixing random ingredients together into a gooey paste (with much tasting along the way) and maybe cooking it and maybe not.

I am getting ready to head to the studio to fire the last fuse load and the penultimate (antipenultimate?) slump load. I am not in a rush to get there as I didn't get the two big kilns loaded until 9:30 last night so I know they aren't cool enough to open yet. Maybe I'll go shopping first--Lowe's for ferns, sand and light connectors, maybe somewhere for new jeans (meh--I hate clothes shopping)... I hope the beigeness of this post is not indicative of the color of the rest of the day. I know you can't scintillate all the time, but this post is putting ME to sleep! Think I'll go have some ham...

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Pricing Dilemma

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "Cloudy This Morning" by George Winston on iTunes. Yes it's Saturday, but I'm working so why not blog too? Four kilns fired yesterday, four will fire today. Becky painted the new back wall display. Patrick from Taylor Kinzel dropped off the pedestals I lent them for the glass show. I ordered the foamcore to cover the front (unpainted) of the backwall display and ULine will deliver it Monday. In short, everything is getting done unless it's done on a computer (except blogging--somehow I keep up on that).

The website languishes with articles unwritten and an online ordering system for galleries as yet undone. The ERP system has stalled again. V is on vacation for a week and I need to get the iMac set-up for her in any case. (I no longer have two Beckys, I have a Becky and a Veronique--or V. As Becky H's real name is Veronique T and she uses it professionally, I am getting used to calling her V--her preferred nickname.) More importantly I have not done the annual review of my pricing in preparation for the start of the show season.

Out of curiosity I looked over my wholesale price sheets since 2005 and compared them to Bullseye's price sheets for the same time period. Given that I use entirely Bullseye glass in my production work, it seems only logical that my pricing should be at least loosely tied to theirs. Freight costs are another expense, but I don't have those so readily at my fingertips. I also have to consider my stand costs as they are the only other significant material in my pieces.

It has been my policy for the past several years to keep my prices as low as I could, but I was surprised to find that I have only raised my wholesale prices by an average of 5% since January 2005. Bullseye has raised glass prices 20% in the same time period (to be fair, 10% of that increase took effect in November 2008 and is one of the primary reasons I am considering raising my prices this year). Stand costs have increased 30% since 2005. As I went from stands mass-produced in China to stands handmade in the US during that time, I consider myself lucky my costs only increased 30%. But they are likely to go up again this year in step with rising steel costs and I need to be prepared for that.

So what do I do? A 10% price increase would be reasonable in a stable market, but the marketplace is very uncertain and potentially unstable right now. The news abounds with stories of people taking 30% (or more) salary cuts just to be employed. Is it even rational to think of increasing prices now, or would a better business strategy be to tighten my belt a bit more and keep working on growing the customer base and not on growing the income? This is the time a business or economics degree would be handy. French and linguistics don't get you very far in the world of finance--and both autodidactic glass artisanry and do-it-yourself business ownership are only worth a hair more. I bet Warren Buffet or someone like him wrote a book on the subject, but I'm not going to get it as it would only put me to sleep. Economics does that to me--one reason for the lack of the aforementioned degree.

I need to mull some more, but I have to make a decision by Thursday as the new show season starts Friday and the pricing for the year needs to be in place by then. What to do, Who to ask. Any advice?

Friday, January 02, 2009


Alexander Valley chardonnay in the Reidle stemless, "Snow (Hey Oh)" by Red Hot Chili Peppers on iTunes. Same song, different beverage than when I actually started this post this morning (that was coffee in the Barcelona skyline mug). Can you tell it's almost showtime? Coffee to start the day, wine to end. In the middle, four kiln loads, several phone calls, problem solving, designing on the fly--all of it at the speed of light. Yesterday was like that too--so much so that the post felt like a rote list of my gotta's, rather than words of the substance and weight deserved by the first day of a new year.

In honor of the New Year, I decided to take a bit of time and get weighty tonight. I thought about resolutions, things I would track, things I would do, things I would Jott to a special calendar... and then I took a deep breath and let it all go. There will be no earth-shaking goals, changes, pronouncements this year--at least nothing that I'm going to plan now. I can barely keep up with my business the way it is.

For instance, Why would I need to put a small jar in the studio to store all the glass that I would otherwise throw out in a year? Yes, it's cool that my entire glass waste for a year would fit into a little jelly jar, but I don't need to prove it to me or anyone else.

And, yes, I've always wanted to know exactly when the different flowering trees, vines and shrubs bloom here in Atlanta, but I probably don't have enough real need to set up a gardening calendar on Google so I can Jott the date to it every time I see a new plant species in bloom throughout the year (and that's after jotting the temperature and whether or not it rained to it _every_day_). I just don't have that much large scale garden design left to do here that would benefit from knowing *exactly* when azaleas, camellias, gardenias, magnolias, jasmine, crepe myrtle, cherries, peaches, etc. bloom and does their blooming season overlap in a meaningful way for a non-stop blooming garden. If I had a new yard to do--or if I were a landscape designer, maybe it would be worth the vig, but me, now? No.

Instead of focusing today (yesterday, now, the first of the year) on what I'm going to do, I am going instead to reflect on where I am and how truly great it is. For example, next Monday Dee (my friend the jewelry artist who does the same shows I do), and Becky (the wonder assistant and glass bead jewelry designer), and Todd (my new collaboration partner who is Bentwell Metals), and Bill (my first collaboration partner who, along with his wife Elaine, was Elliott Metal Works and is now Black Cat ArtWorks) are coming to the studio to do a dry run of Tuesday's Mart show set-up. Stacy (the former wunder-assistant and still good friend) was going to make a run to ULine to pick up the foamcore for me Monday, but it'll be too big to fit in either of our vehicles so I'm having it delivered instead. Bill and Todd will follow up the dry run with the real thing on Tuesday and Elaine and Bill will also be back at the end of the show (down from Greenville) to help me break down.

That I have professional friends who pitch in, hang out, help out, and in so doing enrich Siyeh Studio with me is so... amazing. A day with everyone here--no matter what we're doing (even cleaning out the garage to move everything to the studio as we did last summer) makes my heart feel so big I'm afraid that there isn't room in my chest for it. We are all helping each other build our businesses however we can, and the community we have built too is... I don't have words.

So now, the first of the year, I celebrate my friends and my colleagues in the art/craft business, and I know that working together, we are all going to have a stronger better year--regardless of the economy--than we ever have before. Go Dee! Go Becky! (B Bird Designs website coming soon.) Go Todd! (Bentwell Metals site coming soon.) Go Bill and Elaine! (Black Cat ArtWorks site coming soon).

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Five Days... And Counting

No coffee (shudder--just the thought is repellent. Too acidic after a champagne-filled night), the burble of the new air filters in the fish tank for music. New Year's Day, traditionally a holiday in the US, will not be a day off for me--not with set-up for the Atlanta's Gift Mart starting Tuesday. Today I fire two big kiln loads and Dave is going to help me set-up the lovely back wall display Bill (from Black Cat ArtWorks) made for me so Becky can paint it tomorrow.

Though most details for the two upcoming new shows are taken care of (I got the foamcore walls for the Dallas show confirmed and I got a hotel room purchased on Priceline), there are still a couple of things that caused me to wake with a heart-pounding jolt this morning. A month or so ago I felt very smug to find the Houtz and Barwick aluminum director's chair available on the web again and I ordered one (direct). A week or so ago I realized I had never received the chair so I tried to call the company. All their phone numbers were disconnected, there was nothing on them at all in directory services. Fortunately they didn't charge my credit card either, but I was out a chair. I meant to find and order another one, but I forgot until 9:30 this morning when the remembrance woke me from a sound sleep.

So today there will be a chair acquired and a reminder sent to Taylor Kinzel that I need my pedestals back by Monday. Tomorrow, when the rest of the retail world is back to work, I need to find two large white plastic buckets with lids, a couple of bags of sand, and two big beautiful ferns to display the Bentwell Metals' Gem Stakes.

For now I should call to see if my child is ready to come home from the sleepover she went to last night. I should. Really I should.