Mixed news

Welcome to 2013! The month rapidly drawing toward a close. I spent the early part of January at lovely Curaumilla Arts Center, about 45 minutes from Valparaiso, Chile, on a bluff over the Pacific Ocean, making pots with a lovely group of people who included Suze Lindsay and Kent McLaughlin, Randy Johnston and Jan McKeachie Johnston, and Doug Casebeer. A great time! Chilean potter Pelusa Rosenthal and her husband, Andres,  founded this place 6 years ago, and it’s a dream made real. NCECA has partnered with them to offer a sponsored residency at Curaumilla. Info at http://www.nceca.net/static/conference_symposia.php 

Deadline to apply is Feb. 1, coming right up!

Curaumilla pictures are in an album on my Facebook page. You’ll have to friend me to see them. It’s remote, so beautiful, and has a wood and a soda kiln. It’s off the grid with power by generator and right on the ocean. People there are welcoming and helpful. A great residency if you want to do wood and soda. I loved the people, the place, and the time there.

Curaumilla Arts Center studio, made from recycled shipping containers.

Curaumilla Arts Center studio, made from recycled shipping containers.

I haven’t been in my own studio much. Holiday break was spent catching up and trying to prep things for school, which began spring term w/o me – thanks to my excellent colleagues Nan Smith, Anna Calluori Holcombe, our invaluable tech Ray Gonzales, and the energetic TAs who took over my classes for the first 2 weeks, Marty Fielding and Cheyenne Rudolph. Both are accomplished potters with studio experience before returning to grad school.

I’m thinking about upcoming workshops, and the loss of my go-to majolica decorating product, AMACO GDC colors, discontinued last December. Some are still available from AMACO’s outlet, Brickyard, but they will be extinct eventually.  I did find an article written by David Gamble earlier about majolica decorating colors, on Ceramic Arts Daily:
http://www.ceramicartdaily.net/booksales/Electric_Gamble2.pdf

I’m working on getting some of the A.R.T. products, but spring term is crazymadbusy, and I’m 2 weeks behind. On the personal front, I’m still pursuing a cure for my persistent Lyme disease, now going on over a year. I’m seeing a specialist in Tampa, 2 hours away, and he seems well-informed and plans to have me back on I.V. antibiotics soon. Not hard, but it all takes more time. So, the results of product testing will be slow in coming, but I’ll post when I get there.

I hope anyone with other news on solutions will comment. I’m thinking I just need to mix so I don’t have to change again if a product disappears, but for workshops, the commercial products are so easy.

Organizing for the new year

It’s occurred to me that I don’t have enough hours in the day for what I must do, would like to do, and want to do. I figure I am not alone in this, and that the New Year is when a lot of people review and work on what they want to enact in the next year.

 As I twirl around trying to multitask and get ready for being away, I’ve been working on organization and workflow. Both could be much improved in my life.

 E-mail: I have changed my old POP3 e-mail that downloaded to my home computer to IMAP, so it’s available all over, all the time. This means I CAN’T let my INBOX have 2500 messages, or the my e-mail server will archive them. So, it’s a nudge to do better about deleting or sorting e-mail.

 On the notes and files front, there are several cloud services that are free and helpful. Most have a more expensive paid component that offers more features, but the free versions are very useful.

 To Do list: My favorite is ToodleDo. Offers the ability to make categories, set priorities, and will e-mail you reminders. The TOOLS tab has some great features – I can make a one-page foldy booklet when I need to take my shopping list with me in hard copy. I also have all my show and workshop dates here, so I have ONE master place to look when I try to plan something new. Being a mildly paranoid belt-and-suspenders planners, I also put the dates with reminders into my Outlook calendar. My browser (IE) is set to open both ToodleDo and my Google home page when I open it, so I am reminded daily to LOOK at the list. Experience has shown me that the To Do list is only good if you train yourself to look at it regularly.

 Cloud file storage: I have a home computer, a work computer, and a laptop for mobile things. There are files that live in one place, but I need in others. I’ve come to love DropBox and Skydrive. Both have a free service. Search for reviews on them if you want to compare. You can park data in the cloud, and reach it anywhere. I’ve used Dropbox a lot, and anything you put in your local computer folder is synched to the cloud and available anyplace, as well as offline. I’m just starting to use SkyDrive, but it’s got a nice, clean interface and drag-and-drop file upload. Both offer the ability to make a folder private or shared, and Dropbox will let you send someone a link to a folder (SkyDrive may do this – I just haven’t gotten that far.)

 If you want to save things from the web – articles, images, etc. – as well as park files and make folders with info and notes by task, check out Evernote and Sprinpad. It’s like having a cloud file cabinet and a clipping service. Ahhhh. I saw a short article in PC World about business use of Evernote, and that nudged me to investigate. Springpad is connected to social media, and you can use it like Pinterest and have people follow specific folders. It’s not as flexible as Evernote in the brief investigations I’ve done. People have complained online about Evernote’s privacy polices, and that you grant them access to your data by accepting. Worth checking into. Still, it’s a service that will go everywhere with you, and will clip from e-mails in Outlook, etc.. You can put a link in your browser toolbar, highlight some text, and click to send it to the program, as well as using it for files, and it can be installed on your smartphone for pictures and info from there. Pinterest has a similar feature for pictures. Article on the use of Springpad for organizing projects (like blog post topics… ): http://lifehacker.com/springpad/

Articles online:
Springpad as content curator: http://www.business2community.com/social-media/springpad-the-most-powerful-content-curation-tool-youre-not-using-0321129

New Springpad vs. Evernote: http://blogs.computerworld.com/20055/springpad_review_a_new_more_sharing_data_collector

The new Springpad: http://web.appstorm.net/reviews/springpad-a-second-look/

I recommend investigating the new tools. Do an online search for the product name and review. Since many people have smart phones, there is online access to your critical data from wherever you are. If you don’t need much of that on-the-go, there’s still the shopping list and appointments needs.

 If anyone has a great app they love for keeping organized, do let us know.

My personal strategy for organizing is to get a highly-rated time management book from a bookstore or online, and put it in the bathroom. Read a page or two at a time, and think about how you can do just a bit better. If I could do just a bit better every week…. it would help. If I showed you a picture of my home office, you’d understand.

 One last check of Evernote details, and I’m out the door on my way to Chile, to teach with the wonderful Suze Lindsay and Kent McLaughlin, and Randy Johnston and Jan McKeachie and Randy Johnston will be there as well.