Saturday, July 24, 2010

Honey she said...

Sometimes my wife calls me honey.   Usually, when I hear this I know it is going to cost me something.  Inside, I wonder if actually this is her way of calling me a drip!   Did you know there are 29,184 drips of honey in one pound?   Can you imagine the poor nut that sat at a table with one pound of honey drip, drip, dripping away all day?   I can just hear his wife saying "so honey, how was your day?" 

Speaking of slow drips...I intend to share a few thoughts on the United States Postal Service.   Let me set the table by saying that there are a few hard working individuals there.   Let me also say, there are some "workers" there that do nothing!!!   I have seen several  individuals sitting and chatting while a paying customer waited for TWENTY MINUTES for service.   I know because it was me.   We mail quite a few mailings at the local sorting center every month, and when you see the chaos that is churning away behind closed doors, you wonder how anything ever gets done.   In contrast, go to a UPS, or FEDEX facility and you will see everybody busy with a well organized task working like bees!   They produce honey.   The USPS produces wax.  

On our last mailing, which was a magazine that mails to something like 23 different countries, our dear Post Office called to complain that the weight we had entered on the official form was off by .003 of a pound.   I should also say that we had "over paid" by that amount.   We had to have someone return to the Post Office (a half hour drive) and re-do the form to the correct weight!   The worker bee that called was polite and may I say totally he managed to say all of that without laughing I do not know.

If you wonder how the USPS keeps losing money every year, this is partly why.   The rate to mail a magazine involves, how many pages or percentage of pages of advertising is in each issue, total weight (to the thousandth of an once) then they must be sorted by zip code etc. banded in groups depending on number mailed per zip code, placed in bags and tagged by zip code destination, many pages of shipping forms filled out and then paid by check.   Now imagine that everytime you call with a question, you get someone who gives a different answer than the person who accepts the finished mail bags.   Every mailing is different and every person asked a question gives a different answer, every worker bee in the back has a different opinion on how everything needs to be done.   Miss one little detail and the whole process grinds to a halt, and you get to start over.

Why won't the USPS just take any package, check the weight-check the zip code-and be done with it.   Instead, we have a pink elephant that has slowly but surely, slowed service down with mountains of paper work, slow unenthusiastic staff, endless regulations, volumes of detail that change daily, that will not change because it has grown to big.   Drop Saturday delivery of mail, and UPS along with FEDEX etc...have won the game.  

I need to stop and get a cup of coffee to steady my nerves.   Am I alone in wondering why the Post Office runs like honey in winter?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Not so cool paper.

It was so hot today I saw two trees fighting over a dog!   No really, it was so hot Chicago Cubs fans took the bags off their heads.   If you've ever heard that silly saying from people who live in Arizona,  where it never gets humid, they say "yeah it's hot, but it's a dry heat"  Here near Chicago it is humid hot today!   As my friend Dave says..."it's the differance between a baked potato and a boiled potato".   Both are cooked!

Being a printer, I get to work in rather comfortable temp's the year 'round.   Do you know why?   It's your lucky day...I'll tell you why.

Paper is a very sensitive material.   When it gets hot it spreads out and grows larger.   Kinda like your Brother in law drinking iced tea all day by the pool.   For printers though, this is a bad thing.   If you print one side of a sheet of paper, and let it sit all weekend in a hot shop, by monday morning nothing will line up on side two!   The opposite happens in the winter.   When paper gets cold it shrinks.   So next time your printer makes a mess of your job, just remember, they are fighting the weather as well as the designer! 

Where I work, we keep the shop around seventy degrees year 'round.   If the weather is great (about once per year) we open the doors and enjoy the fresh air.   If you've ever walked into a busy print shop, usually the first thing you notice is the smell.   That is not the is the chemicals used to clean ink off of the presses.   Inside most print shops you will find a variety of chemicals used to make paper "behave".   There is even a nasty sounding spray we use on ink cans called "anti-skin spray".   Don't ever try to take this with you in your carry-on bags.

Paper can survive extreme cold (Ahhhhh) and temperatures as high as 450 degrees F.   A funny thing happens to paper once it reaches 451 degrees - it ignites with a whoosh sound and burns to ashes!   I guess this is why frozen (Ahhhh) pizzas cook at 400 degrees.   The little cardboard tray they cook on, is.... guess what?  BINGO!, you are right.   Recycled paper.   This is what happens to old cereal boxes and other things nearing the end of recyclable life.  

I need to stop for some ice cream.   One of my next blogs is going to be about our lovely Post Office, and the fun little games we play with them over .001 of and ounce.  

Keep up the comments everyone.   I don't post them all, but it makes me feel important to get them.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Plunge into graphic design. make a long story short...we had to have a toilet replaced at home.   I thought to myself, this reminds me of printing.   Why is it that everything relates to printing?   What I thought about is this...

I could rip the little thingy out of the tank and replace it with a new thingy from the hardware store.   Who knows, it might even work!   But instead, my wife called a plumber, who came over and installed a new thingy and adjusted the little doo-dad, and only charged us one months tuition for his daughter in college. (joke)

Now the point is...if I had "fixed" it, would that make me a plumber?   The answer is NO!   In order to be a plumber, you must learn the trade and then roll up your sleeves, (drop yer pants about two inches) and learn some more.   A real plumber knows how to install, fix, or remove plumbing stuff.   I suppose I should put in a plug here for my plumber Ed at All Suburban Plumbing.

The same applies to printing.   Most people have access to a computer and think that now they are graphic designers.   However, most don't know the problems and tricks of good design.   A computer is great for rough draft ideas, but get your printer involved early on in the design process, so they can give some tips that will help avoid problems in production, and produce a finished product that looks best. 

Everyday enough paper is recycled to fill the boxcars on a train fourteen miles long.   Having worked in printing for thirty one years now, I can assure you that some of those cars contain jobs that were not designed right.  

People who know such things, say that the human eye can detect ten million colors.   That is the average human being.   Print buyers, like the kind I know, can dectect roughly ten times that many!   Good design work helps the production department with colors that run the best on press, and avoid scuffing problems in the finishing process.   Digital presses are only as good as the operator who adjusts the colors on the computer.

We cannot all be good at everything!   Let your printer do what they are good at.  If you do the work all by yourself,  you'd best be prepared for leaks.   Don't plunge in over your head...just sit down and relax, and let your printer print.