Please don’t hire Waste Management

•September 7, 2017 • 5 Comments

If you want to have the short version of this…. it is: don’t do business with Waste Management. Ever.

Here is the longer version:

I have had Waste Management doing the garbage pick up service at my business for almost 8 years. I have had no problems with their service. To the best of my knowledge they have never had a problem with me.

In May of 2015 our service came up for renewal. I was sent (and subsequently signed) a service agreement for the next 36 months. The monthly total for service is indicated to be $190.25.

Agreement.jpg

When the bills came they were slightly higher – “taxes and fees” sort of thing…. but nothing that I found unusual or out of line.

This summer my bills suddenly got to be substantially higher. They went from the around $200 that I had been paying to over $400. Obviously I found this odd and I reached out to them to ask why. The person I spoke with started out with “many customers mistakenly believe that the signed Service Agreement means that their pricing will remain stable through the length of the contract”. Yes, this is indeed what I had thought. He then explained a lot of things over the next several conversations. Most of them involved him dodging questions and telling me that he needed to speak with his Pricing Manager to see if he could do anything for me.

After multiple phone calls back and forth I will summarize for you. They refuse to readjust my pricing AT ALL unless I am willing to sign a new 36 month contract. The new 36 month contract will contain this exact same clause that the last one did.

clause

This clause allows them to jack the prices as much as they see fit to keep their profits where they believe that they should be. They assure me that normally my prices won’t increase more than 10% per year – but in NONE of the conversations with anyone that I spoke with over there could they explain why my bill more than doubled a year and a half into my Service period. They are not willing to put in writing that the prices won’t increase more than 10% in a year again. Obviously I declined to sign another contract.

I inquired about a myriad of ways that I could alter my services to try to bring the price down. Most of them were explained to me that they would be a violation of my service agreement and I would be charged the fee for breaking the contract (which is astronomically high as well). As a last ditch effort I asked if I could bring my agreement down to one tote being emptied once a month (with the thought in my head that I could hire another service provider to actually carry our waste away). Obviously other people have tried this as when he came back from speaking to his Pricing Manager he was VERY specific that if there was any evidence on my property that I was having another service provider haul anything away Waste Management would sue me.

Sued for trying to not get charged double for my service for absolutely no reason.

They still may try to sue me for posting this information publicly on here which is why I’ve blocked out the details of my account. It wouldn’t take too much research to figure it out – but I can’t do anything about what they are doing to me. Perhaps I can keep some other individual (or business) from signing up with them and winding up in this situation.

I will pay them for the remainder of my contract. I will notify them in writing between 90-180 days of my intent to cancel service. I will honor my agreement with them. I’m not happy about it. I do read contracts before I sign them. Nothing in the clause above sounded fishy to me and I wouldn’t have imagined that a company would do something like this randomly to a business.

Please do not use Waste Management. Please forward this information to anyone you can think of. I have told this story to other people and have been made fun of for signing up with them in the first place. That was my error and I need to own it. For 8 years it wasn’t a problem.

Below is this month’s bill. The only altering I have done of this document and the ones above is the obliteration of my personal info and the signature of the salesperson from Waste Management.

NewInvoice.jpg

At least I am a business that can absorb an extra $200 a month bill. I would hate to see this happen to an individual or a not-for-profit that would be devastated by this kind of additional billing.

I am bitter, but more than that I am sad. I am sad that this particular business has decided to treat clients like this and to authorize their representatives to speak to human beings the way I was spoken to during the course of these conversations. I hope by sharing my humiliation I can save someone else from this experience.

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Digital Drawings on the iPad

•July 2, 2017 • 1 Comment

As I get more comfortable working with the iPad I am finding more and more applications for it.

This week I stopped carrying my regular sketchpad and pencil case with me everyday (making my backpack much lighter and my drawing hand less sore).

By using layers and a general mannequin shape I am able to show mastectomy patients what kind of options they would be able to have for cover ups in a much more efficient way then just having the drawing on paper.

flower mastectomy scar cover up tattoo

This one was an attempt to design something with the background on a separate layer so that it could be put on other colors in RedBubble. I like the idea but am not really enamored with this particular drawing.

digital cat flowers drawing

When I had posted the mastectomy cover up design above, a friend of mine had asked me if I would design one for her. She wanted different flowers and a hummingbird.

decorative mastectomy cover up tattoo design

Just for fun. Wanted to make a Dragon version of an Ouroboros, although I didn’t really actually want him to look like he was eating himself. It’s just where the idea started.

dragon ouroboros

The video of me making this is on YouTube at https://youtu.be/Yed7JVr4qJk The application ProCreate automatically records the process. Sometimes it’s a little glitchy, but I still like watching them.

I remember catching fireflies in a jar when I was small at my Grandma’s house. My Uncle would let the fireflies go after I fell asleep so that they wouldn’t die from being in the jar. I was thinking about love and how maybe if you try to hold on to it in your heart it can die too. I hope not. I hope that the fireflies of love can live on if we take good care of them.

fireflies love jar

The video of the drawing for this one is on YouTube also: https://youtu.be/ngiFA70qc3E

It’s been a while since I have done the Daily Drawings…. but when I looked and saw that the day was International Fairy Day, I decided to make a drawing on the iPad for the occasion.

fairy drawing on iPad

and her video is here: Fairy Drawing on iPad

I will continue to make drawings on the iPad, it’s super useful for laying out tattoos… I don’t know if I will keep posting the videos on YouTube. A bunch of people said that they wanted to see them and I should post them – but Facebook doesn’t like to show anything that is posted to YouTube (they are in a pissing contest with each other for the best statistics on videos played) and I can’t archive them if I post them on Facebook.

If you want me to keep posting them, be sure to let me know otherwise that portion of my sharing may go away.

Thank you again everyone for your ongoing support and your patience when I have disappeared and reappeared on my blog.

Thank you for those of you who have reached out to ask how I am doing. No, unfortunately the Vertigo has not gone away. While it is super frustrating the only thing it is really keeping me from is my motorcycle and I get pretty tired on the days it is bad. Other than that I may need to accept that it is my new normal. Still I will be devastated to lose the bike – but yes, I know there are much worse things that could have happened.

Bright Blessings to you.

 

 

 

Still Making Tattoos

•July 2, 2017 • Leave a Comment

But don’t tell anyone because I keep hearing I am retired. Maybe if enough people believe it I will actually be able to.

When Robert first came in for his consultation appointment he had given me a list of things that he wanted in his tattoo. Now normally when this happen I send the person back home with their list to pick their top three must haves and then put the rest of the items in order of importance. Normally I can’t fit everything in and I need to know what is super important and what is “if it works”. Instead Robert went through and talked to me about what each symbol meant to him and why he was looking to have it included. He told me that I could pick anything from the list to use and he would be fine with it. I have heard this before from people that I didn’t believe – but I did believe him… and it has turned out to be a super fun project. It has been a real pleasure getting to know Robert and his amazing wife Kara (and their incredible daughter too!). They are the kind of family I think most of us would have given anything to have grown up in. I look forward to the progress on this piece and the time that I am able to spend with all of them.

steal your face tattoo

Leslie wanted an anatomical heart made out of flowers to go on the site of her mastectomy. She is another exceptional human being. I could spend all day hanging out with her. Besides her aesthetics are almost identical to mine. Everything she sent me for reference I though “I love this!!”. The hard part will be filtering down all of the really really amazing ideas before we run out of room.

These photos are from her second sitting on this piece. She is coming in again soon and all of this will be much larger by the time we are finished. Looking forward to it.

mastectomy cover up tattoo anatomical heart made of flowersanatomical flower heartchickadee tattoo

Second session on this Freya half sleeve. Super glad that we got to include some of Her kitties. Looking forward to adding the rest of this on as well.

Freya tattoo in progress

This piece I took a risk on. I completely deviated from the specs that Alex and I had agreed to. I was fully prepared for Alex to come in and tell me “this isn’t what we talked about” – but fortunately that isn’t the way that it went and I was fortunate enough to get to make this tattoo that I was MUCH happier with than how the original specs looked once I drew them out. It’s funny. Sometimes we can envision something in our heads and then when we try to put it down on paper realize that it JUST doesn’t quite work. Thank you Alex for trusting me with this project and being so flexible when it went a different direction.

greenman tattoo with horns

For his son Lincoln.

lincoln owl tattoo

Started this celtic axehead on Frank. Don’t let anyone kid you, rib tattoos HURT and Frank sat like a rock.

celtic axe in progress

Then Gretchen came to see me. Gretchen is one of my favorite humans ever. I am so grateful that tattooing brought her into my life. She came bearing the most AMAZING gifts!! and I returned the favor by hurting her way more than usual 😦 On the upside that means she will have to come back again to get this finished. But on the downside I felt like a complete asshat for hurting someone I care about.

Sorry Gretchen. Thank you for being awesome and understanding. I’m glad you aren’t holding this session against me.

Myron and his bunny slippers

Got to make this RottWeiler tattoo for Al. I haven’t worked on him in a while and it was nice to catch up. He was also nice enough to let me grab some healed photos a couple of weeks later.

rottweiler tattoohealed rottweiler tattoo

Super super excited about this I Hate Fairyland tattoo that Starr asked for. She refers to Gertrude as her Guardian Asshole. I have to admit that I made an error on this one. Starr asked me to give Gertrude a gold tooth – but I forgot. Hoping to get a minute where we can add that back in for her when we both have time.

i hate fairyland gertrude tattoo

Spank Me. No commentary necessary.

Spank Me Ass Heart tattoo

Deer Skull chest piece. Skin was VERY red, so I desaturated the photo so that it reads better, but it makes the left side look too dark. It will lighten up when it heals.

deer skull

So there was that time that Britney Spears got a little upset with the paparazzi… and now it is immortalized forever on Jesse’s leg. I so love my friends.

britney spears tattoo with umbrella

Fun (and different take on) Jesus on the cross as a tattoo. Hard to get a good photo of this because of where it is on his arm. This was not my idea, it’s a standard flash tattoo from the internet that I redrew custom for him. So the drawing is mine but the concept is not.

Jesus in a cross tattoo

Healed pocket watch tattoo on the same gentleman.

pocket watch tattoo healed

So I’m still making tattoos, at least for the time being. Try not to tell anyone because the next text from some idiot asking me to tattoo his name on his woman’s neck 10 minutes from now might be the moment that pushes me over the edge. Or Yelp. They might be the proverbial straw. Hard to say…

Cool tattoos and good people will continue to be welcome as long as I can hold on to my sanity. If not, Gertrude and Skottie Young have left me with some excellent suggestions.

 

Charcoal?!? Why did it have to be Charcoal?

•July 2, 2017 • 2 Comments

I hate charcoal.

I hate the mark that it makes. I hate the tactile sensation of it moving across the paper.

I hate the way it smudges and gets everywhere.

I hate the way it is almost impossible for me to get a nice smooth line out of charcoal.

I hate it.

But I keep coming back to it because so many amazing artists do so much amazing work with it. Plus I firmly believe that working outside of my comfort zone is good for me. It pushes me and helps me grow as an artist.

So I signed up to take a two day workshop from David Kassan at Off the Map – because his portrait work is stellar and because he likes charcoal.

I learned a whole lot from David. The singularly most important thing being that if you use the right paper and materials you can erase charcoal. This lessened my despising of it as a medium ever so slightly. Also he showed me a really simple way to sharpen charcoal pencils.

Of all of the portrait classes that I have taken, I liked David’s philosophy best. It made more sense to me than some of the things I have heard in other classes. He was very down to earth and made an effort to make everyone comfortable. There were some wildly differing political opinions going on in the class and he did a great job of keeping everyone calm and working together. He’s pretty bad at telling jokes, but even that helped put everyone at ease. He is a great teacher and I enjoyed getting to know him. (He was also at the show I did in Venice, but I didn’t get to talk to him much there).

Apparently he did a workshop here in Rochester a couple of years ago, but I missed that one. It was right before I started taking workshops through the Rochester Art Club. If he comes back this way, I wouldn’t hesitate to take another class from him.

I took photos of what he did as demos, but he asked us not to put them online. So here is the end of each day on the drawing that I did while I was in the workshop.

First Day:

charcoal portrait study

Second Day:

charcoal portrait study

detail

charcoal portrait study

So a few weeks later I decided to give all this a try at home (and finally had time to do so). I started with a little bird that I had on my iPad from reference for a tattoo.

chickadee in charcoal

Then on to attempting faces:

(These are all from photographs)

portrait study charcoal

portrait study charcoalportrait study charcoal

My goal is to do a few more of these from photos and then find a figure/portrait open studio where I can try some from life. I also have a few friends who volunteered to sit for me. I need to get my lighting game down (I have a new camera) and then I can do that as well, both from life (if they will put up with me) and from photos when I can get them.

I still don’t like charcoal, but I think maybe we may have a little bit more of getting to know each other to go before we can be friends.

Figure Drawing on the iPad

•July 2, 2017 • Leave a Comment

After working with silverpoint for so long I decided it was time to try something new. Since I am trying to learn more about (and get quicker on) the iPad I figured I would give that a go. Why not jump ahead several hundred years in drawing media?

The first night I had a really hard time trying to figure out how to position and hold the iPad with the case that I have on it. The next week I figured out I could use the case to hold the iPad on the top of my drawing board. It actually worked out really well.

First night.

five minute gesture drawingsfigure drawing on iPaddigital figure drawing seated femalefigure drawing iPad

The program ProCreate automatically records a video of the work that you do in it. They have been a bit glitchy, but are still fun. I put them on YouTube if you are interested. Here is this one:

Life Drawing on iPad May 22nd, 2017

Next session:

gesture drawingfigure drawing life drawingfigure drawing female backfigure drawing reclining femalefigure drawing inverted reclining female

The video on YouTube: Life Drawing on iPad June 5th, 2017

Next Session:

gesture drawingfigure drawinglife drawingseated figure drawingfigure drawing

and again the video: June 19th, 2017 Figure Drawing on iPad

Next Session June 26th, 2017

I put a screen protector on my iPad and it made the surface much more slippery than it was. Currently I don’t like it at all, but I am hoping that I will get used to it and not notice it after a little while.

gesture drawinglife drawingfigure drawing backfigure drawing seated femalefigure drawingfigure drawingfigure drawing

Figure Drawing on iPad June 26th, 2017

There is no class next Monday due to the holiday, so I hope to have another one of these for you in two weeks.

 

Still Here – Rocking away on the Good Ship Vertigo

•May 17, 2017 • 1 Comment

I apologize for having abandoned my blog for a while there. I am still here. I am okay. The vertigo had gone away for a bit and I got cocky. It’s back, it’s not awful, but it’s still exhausting. I haven’t had anywhere near as much time or energy as I would like to make things or act like a human.

I decided to continue with the blog again.

I’m not going to try and fill in the gaps on everything. But it wouldn’t be any fun to make a post without giving you some new images.

I went to Hell City Columbus. I painted. These got this far while I was there.

Happy Flying Critter

Baku

earth mother and child

fox and the hare

Dande Lion

I also made a few new needle felted critters while I was at Hell City.

This last one requires a bit more explanation. There was an art show going on there with the theme “My Best Friend is a Dick”. So they were handing out these bitty penis canvases for us to paint on and contribute. I was working with oils and had only brought large brushes. I wasn’t going to be able to make anything on a surface that small. So instead I needle-felted a Trouser Mouse. Goes with the theme.

Some people were amused by the Trouser Mouse and some people were pretty indignant about how awful it was. Which is why I have hesitated to post it. I’ve decided if you don’t have a sense of humor, you might as well go away now.

Here is my first couple of attempts at creating digital drawings on the iPad with ProCreate. This is still more time consuming than drawing at this point, but I hope to become more efficient as I get more used to the program.

Since I have been laid up I decided to make the best of it so these are both inspired by the first book in the RedWall series which I hadn’t read previously.

Cluny the Scourge

Redwall Matthias

and here is another little rodent that I made more recently (with his little bunny friend).

needle felted kangaroo mouse and friend

Again, I apologize for vanishing for a while. I would say that I am going to be here more frequently again – but really, only time will tell.

 

Vertigo, the Demise of the Daily Drawings and a New Hobby

•February 21, 2017 • 5 Comments

On January 11th I was struck with vertigo. If you have every experienced this you know how horrible it can be. I spent the first day throwing up every time that I moved. By the second day I could sit up but walking around still brought back the nausea. By the third day I could walk around and with Dramamine taken regularly I no longer felt like I needed to vomit, but did feel like I was on a shifting platform or a boat rocking on the water. At that point things stopped improving.

For over a month I felt like my world was shifting and moving around me. Some days the seas were fairly calm and I could function and work. Usually if I was sitting down it wasn’t too bad, but walking and stairs remained arduous.

I won’t bore you with all of the nitty gritty details and what all we tried to get rid of it. (I was eventually diagnosed with vestibular neuritis and told there was nothing that I could do but wait it out)….But what I would like to talk about is what it did to my mind.

I went through some serious evaluation of my life and who I am as an artist and as a person. If this was never going to go away, tattooing was not going to be able to continue to be my artistic focus (nor my source of income). On the best of weeks I was cancelling about a third of my appointments and put a hold on booking anything new once I realized it was not abating.

I could sit down to draw, create and even tattoo on the better days.

Around the time all of this started my friend Holly sent me a box containing a “starter kit” for needle felting and an adorable little Meowl that she had made (from needle felting) that was based off of one of my drawings. Being confined mostly to the couch I had a lot of time to explore this new hobby and creating kept my mind off of what my body was up to.

I am obviously just learning this new art form, but I intend to stick with it and see how far I can push it and what I can create.

During this time I decided that if I was going to be needle felting I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with my daily drawings as well. I decided for a while that I would post progress on whatever I was working with… labeling them “daily maker” or “creative commitment”. Ultimately I decided that no one but me cares how many days I have been making things for. So there will be no more posting of the count, but I will continue to commit to creating outside of work every day.

I will be selling the little felted critters. Perhaps through an Etsy account or perhaps via social media and in person. For now they are mostly little Sanity Savers for me.

I don’t know how often I will be here. Part of the evaluation of my life led me to conclude that some of my priorities need to change.

As I sit here I have been symptom free for about 18 hours. I don’t know if it is coming back, but I have been super productive within the hiatus. It definitely hits home the whole “One Day at a Time” thing. Today I am grateful for stairs that can be navigated successfully and with barely a thought at all.

Some photos of the needle felting for you (in chronological order).

 

This is the one that Holly made for me:

needle felted meowl by Holly Azzara

 

My first attempt:

needle felted rabbit head

and the following:

needle felting this little purple bird is the only thing I have made so far that I was super disappointed with. It promptly became a cat toy.img_1704 needle felted bumble bunny  needle felted bumble bunny needle felted bumblebunny img_1804 needle felting bumble bunny needle felted dragon needle felted bumble bunnies needle felting needle felting needle felting needle felting needle felting round needle felted animals round needle felting needle felted kitty needle felted bunny from kit img_1964 needle felted bunny needle felted bunny img_1988 needle felted pink elephant needle felted pink elephant needle felted kitty needle felted mice needle felted mice needle felted bat in progress needle felted bat needle felted bunny img_2135 needle felted monster needle felted monsters needle felted monsters needle felted mouse in tiny tea cup

well that’s all for today and apparently the end of my vertigo reprieve (the doctor did tell me that “visual stimulation” would aggravate it). Glad that I was able to update here and get so much done today.