Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Blocks arriving at destinations!

Mailing done!

Today I mailed the last of the stragglers and now all the blocks are either en route or already arriving at participant's homes and studios. Please continue to let me know when your block arrives by blog comment, email, ping or however. This helps later with tracing any missing blocks.

Blocks, mailer, tape gun, instructions, newspapers

As usual when confronting a long repetitive task,
remember that one and one and one is three!
As I had mentioned, the mailing process is nothing worthy of making an interesting video (who wants to see me scream with frustration or crying with boredom?!). But for those of you who will follow in the puzzle footsteps and organize one of these mad-feats, I will outline how I approach the task.

First the necessary tools of the mailing room, for maximizing efficiency.

  • 92 tiny blocks all clean and sanded and ready for their long trips.
  • Cardboard mailers from http://Uline.com, I picked the size that was both appropriate and on sale at the time of purchasing!
  • Instructions printed for each participant just in case anyone misplaced the webpage that clearly outlines the instructions that everyone will read...twice, right?
  • Tape gun, doesn't every girl own one? Well, everyone that does any type of bulk mailing should own one. I believe I may have acquired this particular one from my days working as a box handler at UPS way back when.
  • Newspaper or other suitable padding to protect the tiny blocks.
  • Scale for weighing each package.
  • Box to haul the loot to the Postal Office.
  • Not pictured, MUSIC! to make the task of wrapping 92 blocks and taping 92 boxes somewhat bearable.
Basically, each block gets wrapped in newspaper and stuck in a box with a set of instructions. 
The name of the block (that funny code on the back) is written on the outside of the box, this way I know later what block goes to whom.
Each box is weighed and weight recorded on the outside of the box, then I tape the box. I keep all the 8 ouncers and 9 ouncers separate so I can batch labels a bit later.

Once all blocks are in boxes (read: two days later) I go to the computer, fire up my mailing program (http://www.endicia.com) and import the addresses about 10-12 at a time to prevent goof-ups and label jams. 
By this time, I have no idea what the blocks look like so the process of assigning blocks is completely blind. As I slap a printed label on each box, I write the block code by the participant's name on my spreadsheet and the date of mailing.
Repeat 92 times, another two days go by, and, all done! A trip or five to the postal office and the dirty deed is completed. 
What a fun time I had!!! Ugh. I spent the next day outside in the garden caressing all the new blooms from my desert hardy plants, all awakening and bursting with pollen in the first few warm days.

Accounting updated

With the mailing costs in the books, I updated the hours and money spreadsheet and subsequently the web pages. The Amazon Payments came through in a few days and now we're in the black! As costs come up I will keep updating the finances so everyone sees where each precious penny goes.

Is everyone carving yet?

As I write this, I am looking at a strange little package that looks suspiciously just like the ones I just mailed out, how could this be? Could it be the first block returned!??? I haven't opened the box yet, but Robert Simola definitely gets the early bird grand prize. Thanks Robert!

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