Stuff We Love: Guest Posts & SignNow.com

Today is a red letter day here at JenniferHeller.com.  We have our first GUEST POST!!!

Our guest post today is courtesy of Heather G. who supplied the following avatar:

Is that a cat playing guitar?  A gopher?  A chipmunk?  Whatever it is, it’s shiny and cute and lovable, just like I know Heather G. is in person (since we’re, you know, friends in real life).

And without further ado, here’s our guest post:

Stuff Heather G. Loves: SignNow.com

Since I have a job that gives me mediocre health insurance, I have made every sort of appointment possible. I’ve had moles removed, my sensitive areas swabbed, eyes checked, teeth cleaned and prescriptions filled. One of the most annoying parts of being a “new patient” is that the paperwork is freaking endless. In the spirit of time management, many of these offices provide New Patient Forms on their websites so I can leisurely tell them when my last menstrual period was or if I allergic to any medications and bring the forms with me on my first visit. It’s a lot of paperwork and once I hand it over to Beth at the front desk, I forget about it and move on with my life. Then I discovered SignNow.com—the website that makes signing documents ridiculously simple and even stores them for me, FOR FREE!. Here’s how it works:

  1. Upload any document
  2. Go to www.signnow.com
  3. Enter your signature (you can draw it or type it—it’s all binding and 100% legal thanks to the e-sign act of 2000. You can even upload your pen and ink signature and keep it there.)

They ask for no registration, no account, nada. Just upload and sign. And get this—when you are done (It takes about 15 seconds), they email you a copy of your document in pdf and you can choose to download it. Organizational and environmental me is in love.  Just think about the possibilities for freelancers, renters, petitions, oh I could go on and on. I love a good product and this one is sweet.

P.S. I can’t wait to tell you about my $58 hair conditioner. Worth every penny.

Thanks Heather G! That sounds like one hell of a time / headache / paper saver.

What do you love?  Tell me about it!  Send guest posts / rants / raves/ questions to [email protected].  Or [email protected]… whatever mood you’re in is okay by me. Continue Reading

Something to Complain About: Window Envelopes

I’m a huge reduce, reuse and recycle fan.  I might even be militant. Sometimes when I see a toilet paper roll in the bathroom trash my head turns red and I almost pop.  Then I remember that I live with other people with different priorities and that I’m lucky to have a house at all.  So many people don’t.

I save all envelopes for reuse. Some companies are really nice and leave the front mostly blank except for their address; that’s easy–just stick a label on top of their address and boom!  One small fraction of a tree is saved.

It is not so easy with window envelopes.  First of all, why are there so many damn types of window envelopes?  It’s like businesses think they’ll stand out by having their address in a unique place. Looking through my stack of window envelopes just now I had like fourteen different kinds, none of which easily fit my IRS tax payment form (which was obviously made for a window envelope).

A full five minutes later I’d managed to fold my tax payment form a bunch of different ways and position the IRS’ address in the window meant for some bank statement.  But what an ordeal!  Those are five minutes I’ll never get back, world.  All to save you.

You’re welcome.

Office Depot Greener Office Delivery Service

I needed labels for the totally awesome Jenfest souvenirs and Office Depot was the cheapest retailer that had these labels. Normally I would just go pick them up, but they were only available online. AND if I ordered $50 or more I would receive FREE overnight delivery. Score! I needed staples anyway!

So I worked my way to $50 buying extra toner and pens. I should have gotten some note pads.

The next day the office supplies show up packed in a nice white paper bag proclaiming their delivery service to be the “Greener Office Delivery Service.” Office Depot seems to really be trying to be green; rumor has it they deliver by bicycle in the UK. Everything was placed inside the bag as if I had gone shopping myself (though I would have brought my own bag). I was gratified by the lack of extra packing paper and boxes, and, I have to say, it was convenient.

Then came the harsh reality. The gel pens I had gotten — Gelio is the brand — sport a “comfort grip” that is more like blades of rubber. OW!!

And then I started thinking about it. These labels I needed they only carried online. But here they were in a paper bag as if someone had just wandered around the store picking things out. Something didn’t add up. Continue Reading

A Lost Dream: Shit Be Gone

Once upon a time I lived with my sister Alexandra in an apartment building in the shape of a dome.

Where I met ShitBeGone

See??? You didn’t believe me, but it’s actually a dome. Google street view sure does come through in a pinch.

She was just coming back to the Bay Area from living in a cooperative warehouse space in Brooklyn.  It was a cool space; though haunted.  The ghosts danced away in the air above human heads all the way up the 40 foot ceilings just like in Magnetic Fields’ song Busby Berkeley Dreams. Continue Reading

Starman

The BP oil spill fiasco seems to have fallen off our radar a bit, though the disaster is far from over.  Will tells me spills of that magnitude have happened before on other, not so affluent off-shore eco-systems.  Our Earth seems to have handled it; indeed if the last one was in the seventies, we ought to know if it hadn’t.

I can’t imagine seeing in the past those sickening images of pelicans and dolphins covered in oil, and having to see them again thirty years later.  Those images are forever burned in my memory, and I imagine in yours too. I toyed with the idea of doing a Van Gogh My Pet series of oil slicked creatures, but I have never enjoyed portraying sadness and despair. It’s hard to imagine that our world would recover, and it’s rather sickening to me how little we hear about the continued fallout.  I (perhaps conveniently) blame the media for our short attention span.

For the past few months, I’ve been obsessed with David Bowie.  OBSESSED.  Initially it was one of his earliest albums, Hunky Dory, on continual repeat, which was replaced after an appropriate amount of time with his subsequent album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars. This album is a rock and roll opera, which Bowie intended to form the backbone of a stage show or television production (and it still should be).

The first track, Five Years, relates the devastating news that Earth’s days are numbered.  Finitely numbered, in fact, with only five years to go.  We’ve used up all our natural resources.  Adults have given up; kids are left to plunder and ravage what’s left of the Earth.

The reality in their world seemed so hauntingly similar to our current situation, and so many other environmental situations I’ve worried and fretted about.  This oil spill debacle seemed to me so much bigger than anything else.  People close to me suggested that this spill would ruin the Southern portion of the United States, forcing a mass migration.  The oil could be displaced via hurricanes and wind up poisoning our entire water supply.  Crops could fail and even the salmon swimming happily in the Klamath River would sport a shiny black coat.  Even without employing my overactive imagination, people were (are) out of work, and animals are dying (still!).

My favorite of the album is the fourth track, Starman.  We learn of a being, “waiting in the sky; he’d like to come and meet us but he thinks he’d blow our minds.”  He knows how to help us, but is afraid we might be be unwilling to accept him or his knowledge–a valid concern.  I’ve heard so many rumors of BP executives ignoring advice; as humans, we think, we feel, and we are stubborn.

Opening our ears, the Starman tells us “not to blow it cause he knows it’s all worthwhile.” A glimmer of hope! No matter how dark our reality might be, it is still worthwhile–life is still worthwhile.  We still love, we can still laugh.

The Starman continues, “let the children lose it, let the children use it.” And it is so true; we are merely the stewards of our home.  It is our children who will inherit it when we are gone. They have the freedom to do with it what they will, just as we have the freedom to do to it what we will.  If we consider how it affects those following in our footsteps, perhaps we would take different paths.

As a Girl Scout, I have always been taught to take care of my surroundings.  When I leave a camp site, I pick up as many pieces of trash as I can find–far more, indeed than I have left there. I know that the people who are camping there next will probably destroy it again, but I can only do what I can do.  I think Starman would want it that way.

To honor this ambassador of hope I created this work:

I started with EJ DiMira’s body, which I cut out of Soap Opera Digest (quite an inspiration for me of late), added some images from Wikimedia Commons, and Photoshop flares to create his body.  I had it printed on this crazy metallic paper that adds just the faintest glimmer to finish the piece.

Will wants me to send one to David Bowie.  Julia challenged me to find his address, which ten seconds on google yielded (though I will probably only reach his publicist).

I’ve taken this as a challenge to create a triad of David Bowie inspired art, that will likely include elements from Soap Opera Digest.  Once the triad is finished, and only then, will I send them to David Bowie.  He has a habit of supporting unknown and budding artists.  I have a daydream that perhaps one day he will have to phone someone and he will pick on me.

Compost, Recycling, Trash Signage

I made these signs a couple years ago when I put on the unfortunately named First Annual Holiday Gift Bizarre in San Francisco.  It was unfortunate because we wound up only having the one.  Hindsight is always 20/20.

Please feel free to print them for use at your events.  If you laminate them, they will last forever :).  I reuse mine every event, and keep them in a folder marked “Signage”.  I know just where to find them when I go to pack for Jenfest this Saturday morning.  I’ve learned a lot about design since making these, so my apologies for the rough edges.

Jenfest 2010

Every year I throw myself a Jenfest.  It’s half birthday party, half theatrical event.  Ask my close friends–I spend half a year planning it.  Each year I design a ridiculous invitation; a tradition my sister started, and I have continued.  Nowadays they’re websites.  You can view them all here, or check out this year’s invite (complete with a BINGO game you can play at home!).

Jenfest is my favorite time of the year.  I love throwing events–big and small.  I love finding a theme and working my face into it and adding in as much hilarity as I can possibly muster.  Oh yes, it is quite my favorite part of the year.

I have utilized large photos of my face at multiple Jenfests. I think it’s funny!

Jenfest has always been green:  I put out recycling and compost bins (with signage!), use paper plates (compostable), keep and wash plastic flatware and cups.

I was having an internal battle this year over Jenfest’s budget.  Ever since I became self-employed, I’ve had to look at the costs associated with Jenfest differently. I’ve had steady work since I was 14, often working as many as three jobs.  I am hella motivated by money.  Paying for Jenfest wasn’t ever anything I thought about, I just loved it, and looked at the associated costs as a birthday present to myself.  But over the years the price of Jenfest has steadily risen: my standards for food and beverages has gone up, I’ve exhausted the cheapest options for souvenirs, I no longer live in a large student cooperative happy to hold my parties.  Now that I have to seek out a client for each dollar I make, life is different.

I set my budget for Jenfest this year at $250 and was bound and determined to stick with it.  I was shocked with the cost for the rentals came in at $224, but I should have seen that coming.  After all, I’ve thrown enough parties and events for myself and others that I knew that rentals cost waaaay more than that.  Blissful ignorance, I suppose.  All of a sudden I couldn’t afford the decorations I had planned: the full color JENGO playing cards, the sparkly (and reusable) Jenfest banner, the Jenfest ribbons to mark the prizes.  I was stranded in the land of indecision, until I met my friend Rosalie for coffee yesterday.

I was expressing my confusion about where to go from here, and she said, “I would just to Creative Reuse and find some fabric there and paint on it.”  The light went off in my head.  I was already planning on finding the prizes from thrift stores and friends’ garages.  But what if I recycled (or upcycled, depending…) all of the Jenfest materials and decorations?  What would that look like?

I wasn’t sure, but a trip to the Center for Creative Reuse (a wonderful resource if you live in the Bay Area!) pointed me down the yellow brick road towards an awesome, even greener Jenfest.  Mardi Gras beads at 15 cents each; shiny plastic paper at 5 cents each.  Fabric at 75 cents a yard.  Tie silk I had bought years ago for a fraction of an Andrew Jackson.  Used golf balls for the Jengo balls. Reused cardstock for hand-made JENGO playing cards.

I spent a total of $22 and wound up with all the materials I could possibly need to deck out Jenfest 2010, a couple ancient history text books for Will and some cool envelopes I can use for Van Gogh My Pet.

I’ll let you know how it goes, and I would love to see you there!  All are invited to Jenfest this Saturday.  Full details.