random reminder

great swaths of the internet from the following countries have been permanently banned from viewing my web sites and sending me email, due to ongoing, egregious spamming activity:

albania
angola
argentina
aruba
australia
bangladesh
belarus
belgium
bosnia
brazil
british virgin islands
bulgaria
canada
chile
china
colombia
congo
denmark
denmark
egypt
finland
france
germany
guatemala
herzegovina
hong kong
iceland
india
indonesia
ireland
israel
italy
japan
kenya
latvia
lithuania
macau
malasia
mexico
moldova
netherlands
nigeria
norway
pakistan
panama
philippines
poland
romania
russia
serbia
seychelles
singapore
slovakia
south africa
spain
sweden
switzerland
taiwan
thailand
turkey
UK
ukraine
uruguay
viet nam

and more than a few from the united states, for good measure. 😒

spam is bad. stop spam on internet.

2019 panto banner

5’x7.5′ 2019 panto banner, normal-sized cat, for scale.

i got the green light to print the banners on tuesday. this is thursday…

i’m REALLY impressed: they took our artwork (me, norma, and mimi) and printed it at 300dpi on a 60″x90″ banner, and they did a GOOD job of it in a VERY short period of time: i sent them the artwork on tuesday, and, according to their web site, they had everything done and it was shipped by wednesday evening… it didn’t actually get to me until thursday morning, but even that is a lot faster than i was expecting… and two 5’x7½’ banners for $155 is astounding… seriously, i was expecting them to be at least $155 A PIECE… 👍‼‼

update to the update.

chris came over to talk about printing.

he actually convinced me to make some minor changes to the back of the postcard: i changed one typeface to bold, and increased it by one point.

it was more than i should have done, but i wanted to seem like i was giving in to at least one of his demands.

and the only reason i didn’t tell him to take the finished files and make the changes himself is because i’ve worked with him for a long time, and, allegedly, he’s my friend.

but, honestly, it seems like he has drunk the kool-aid a little bit on this one.

however, one way or the other, the postcards are currently at the printer, so no further changes can be made. and, as they’re getting 5,000 of them, there’s a good chance that there won’t be a second run.

still don’t know about the poster. leah has already printed some — who knows how many — so there might not be any more. 😒

i should update this thing again…

the most recent thing is that i have “volunteered” to help make the artwork that is going to be used for this year’s panto: the program cover, poster, postcard and banner. i put “volunteered” in quotation marks because it was presented as a fairly straightforward job that has turned into a nightmare of emails between me and norma, on one side, and leah and the steering committee — who pretty much don’t know what they’re talking about — on the other side… which i would very definitely NOT have “volunteered” for, if i had known about it ahead of time.

it started with me and norma. we, plus mimi, produced the artwork for last year’s panto (to great success, i might add), and we started out to make it largely the same…

then leah got involved. leah is the “publicity manager” this year, and she has very specific — if not outrageously wrong — ideas about how the artwork should appear. leah also set a deadline of october 3rd for all of this to be done, so that i could send it to the printer so that we could have posters and postcards by the first week of october.

on the first round of feedback in which leah was involved (third week of september), one of her “suggestions” was

Remove the Fremont Players website and keep the brown paper tickets (if people google us, they will find our web site)

⁉⁉⁉⁉⁉🤨🤦

she also wanted me to remove the fremont players’ graphic logo, remove the year, reduce the amount of text, and “integrate other stylistic suggestions from the steering committee”, who, like i said before, have NO CLUE what they’re talking about.

so, norma and i ignored about 90% of their suggestions, did what we could to placate leah (including taking the graphic logo off the front of the postcard and putting it on the back, faded behind the text so it’s “not noticible”, and, after a few more “back-and-forths” which didn’t include leah, we came up with what we thought was finished artwork.

meanwhile, on october 1st, leah wrote to me, asking how much it would cost — PER POSTER — to print them. this is a very complex question, which has a different answer based on whether you are using a small, local print shop (like the kind i worked in for 20+ years) or a large, nation wide printing house (like the kind i use these days), and if you are using a large, nation wide printing house, how much posters cost depends on whether you want a small number or a large number.

i tried to explain this to leah, but she was more concerned with the fact that

If I’m reading this correctly, 150 posters cost $210 but 250 posters cost only $40 more and ordering 4000 postcards is $465 but 5000 is $125 cheaper??

to which i responded “that’s right.”

i know, it’s weird, but it’s how large, nation wide printing houses do business, and it appears to work for them. you can’t get different specific-size jobs unless you’re willing to pay more than you would if you get an amount that the printers produce, which is usually more than you want, but “per poster” it comes in WAY cheaper than if you get a different, specific-size job.

so, she approved the artwork on october 2nd, and on october 3rd, she said that i should hold off on contacting the printer, because she wanted to see if it was possible to get an exact size job for a cheaper price.

to which i responded

yes, you can probably get cheaper prices from somewhere else, but keep in mind the quality of the printing i provided last year: posters on 100lb gloss stock, and postcards on 16pt gloss stock with UV coating. i’m pretty sure you’re not going to get anywhere close to the same quality anywhere else, for anything close to the prices i have quoted.

which was ignored… 🤦

a couple of days later, she wrote asking for the high res files, because she had found a “digital printer” (read “photocopy shop”) who would do EXACTLY the size job she wanted for half the price (on much lower quality paper, but she doesn’t know the difference).

so i uploaded them to dropbox, and washed my hands of the whole deal. 😒

it turns out that she had something printed — i still don’t know whether or not she used the correct files (if i had actually been there, and she had shown up with printing from the wrong files, i would have walked out and never gone back… 😒), but my guess is that either she didn’t use the correct files, or she whipped something together in microsoft publisher (or something like that) and used that instead.

then, on october 9th, i get a request for more changes to the postcard. apparently, now, they actually want the date on the front of the card.

i respond by telling maque that they have the high res versions of the artwork, and that they are welcome to make whatever changes they like to the card, BY THEMSELVES, because i am done with this job, and there is a very good likelyhood that i will not be available to “help” again next year, or going forward, because i felt like it was too much work for too little actual gain.

then, yesterday, i get a call from chris huson. he wants to meet me to discuss why i am so upset with the printing process. actually, he SAYS he wants to “discuss further changes” to the postcard, but i nip that in the bud right away.

i explain exactly what i (and mimi and norma) did, and exactly what leah did. i show him emails from leah. i show him the finished artwork — which he says doesn’t look like what leah had printed. i explain about the confusing pricing, and the quality differences, and how none of this seemed to make a difference to leah.

it turns out that leah actually asked chris to take over managing the artwork portion of the job. given what chris already knew about leah, and about the fact that i was upset about the way this whole thing was working out — AND because chris is on the steering committee AND the board of directors, he made the executive decision to take over managing the production of the artwork.

he’s coming over tomorrow to finalise the “already finalised” artwork, to talk about run amounts, and the schedule of when we might have things.

——

from the time i was born until the time i finally escaped my parents’ house, when i was 20 or so, the primary message i received, over and over, was that i was not good enough, that i would never BE good enough, and that, unless i worked VERY hard at “being normal”, nobody would ever like me.

it wasn’t always very subtle, but that was the underlying message, regardless of what i did: they said they were “proud of me” when i won awards, but they refused to do anything to help me win more awards, and shot me down every time i thought i might be able to succeed at doing… pretty much anything…

and when i wasn’t winning awards for playing trombone, or doing magic shows, i didn’t even have a name: i was “the crummy child”. oldest by 6 years of four children, the other three of whom were born two years apart, starting when i was 6, then 8, then 10, when they got old enough to realise what was happening, my siblings called me “the crummy child” as well. when my first younger sister was born, i quickly faded into the background. after that, the only times anybody noticed me was when i was winning awards or when i was getting into trouble.

——

this whole business of working with leah brought all that back in one fell swoop: regardless of how good the art was, it wasn’t good enough. 😠

it has begun to be worked out, now that chris is more involved than he was before, but i’m still quite shaken, and stirred up (at the same time) by this whole fiasco.

tee…

i’ve recently taken to blocking great swaths of IP addresses in foreign countries, which only send me spam.

she has HUGE… tracts of land…

i have undertaken this policy because using a utility that automatically blocks IP addresses from foreign countries costs money (😒) and using a utility would only work on hybridelephant dot com, and nowhere else.

so, i learned about CIDR, learned how to identify host countries based on IP addresses, and learned how to block IP addresses based on CIDR numbers…

now, instead of blocking a single IP address — which is pointless, because spammers know that a single IP address only works until the spamees figure it out and block it, so they move on to the next one — i block entire swaths of IP addresses: the most common are the /24 range, which blocks 256 (28) IP addresses, and the /16 range, which blocks 65,536 (216) addresses.

and i can block spam from those IP addresses on ALL of my domains, not just hybridelephant dot com. 😉

which brings me to the point of this post: i recently blocked the third IN A SERIES of IP addresses from bangladesh: now i have 185.222.56.0/24, 185.222.57.0/24, AND 185.222.58.0/24 blocked.

which, technically, means that i could block 185.222.56.0/23 and 185.222.58.0/24 with the same effect, because 185.222.56.0/24 plus 185.222.57.0/24 equals 185.222.56.0/23

i love that i am able to do this.

i also love that i am able to understand this as much as i do… which is not very much, but enough that i have been successful in reducing the amount of spam i get by a SIGNIFICANT amount, and not affected my legitimate mail in the slightest degree. 😈

the enlightened rantings of a brain damaged freak