January 2006

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The Ami Simms Newsletter
January 2006
Copyright by Ami Simms

AOL Users, please see end of newsletter for hyper-links.

Hard to believe, but another year has come and gone. How does that HAPPEN? I mean I know how it happens, the earth takes another spin around the sun and boom we’ve got 2006! But it went so fast this time.

This year I have made some resolutions. Actually, just one: I’m pretending I have a rotary dial phone. Yup, that’s me, Geek Princess masquerading as a technophobe.

Interactive Voice Response is the fancy name for Phone Trees, and I really, really don’t like them. I press “One.” I press “Two.” I'd press “Three and a Half” if I thought it would help. Then I wait. Why? Because my call is important to them. I wait and I wait, sometimes with a 12-second loop of disco Vivaldi playing in my ear and sometimes with faint clicking noises. To keep me from giving up (and hanging up) they tease me by telling me I’m #4 in line. I imagine I’m in the check-out lane at the grocery store, the one I seem to pick without fail…the S L O W E S T one. Because they care, they tell me I have a “wait time” of 28 hours and 6 minutes. Stupid me. I hang on, and on, and on…. Finally, just when it’s my turn to talk with a real human person, I get disconnected!

Here’s a news flash. You know when they tell you to “listen carefully as some of our options have changed?” They’re lying. I’m sure of it.

Speaking the number instead of punching it is even more annoying. I can’t seem to refrain from giving them more information then they asked for. “ONE, you idiot!”

Some IVRs play a terse message that they’re just too darn busy to come to the phone at all that day. They’re “experiencing an unusually high call volume.” They tell me not to call on Monday. Or Friday. Or months with an “R” in them. Business is so good they decide to hang up on me! That’s when, if they were still listening, they really could experience an unusually high call volume. Mine. As I scream into the receiver.

Credit card companies are the worst. They won’t even put you on hold until you key in your credit card number. All sixteen digits. When a human finally picks up, what’s the first thing they ask? “May I have your account number, please?” Weren’t they listening when I punched it into the phone!? If I had any brains I would demand to speak to a supervisor and tell them that their phone tree must have broken a limb because I already keyed in my account number…like THIS!

I don’t know Paul English, but he should get a medal. He’s put together a list of over 100 organizations people call and listed their phone numbers with tips on how to bypass the phone tree and snag a real person. What’s sure to get you a real person? Nothing. Plug in your “hands free” ear thingy, grab your patchwork, and keep your fingers off the pushbuttons. Wait. And by time you finish hand stitching square #1 to square #2 you’ll have a real someone on the other end of the line. Sadly, one of these things will probably happen:

1. The person in your ear will be incredibly polite but totally unintelligible due to a very thick accent.
2. They will sound as if your call is a huge personal inconvenience to them.
3. Instead of giving you the information you requested they will try to sell you something else.
4. They will be totally unable to help you because you were accidentally transferred to customer service in their sister company in Guam.
5. They will be unable to help you because they know less about whatever it is than you do.
6. They will accidentally disconnect you.

If you still want to bypass the phone tree using your push button phone and talk to a real person here’s Paul's IVR Cheat Sheet.

It is true, there will not be any more new episodes of Simply Quilts, unless…

There are petitions and email addresses circulating, but a good old-fashioned paper letter that arrives by mail will make the most impact. Before the postage rates to up on January 8, address your letter of protest to:

Simply Quilts-HGTV
Viewer Services
9721 Sherrill Blvd.
Knoxville, TN 37932

It doesn’t have to be long; a few sentences will do it. Speak from your heart. Ask them to reconsider. Can't find the right words? Try: "I watch Simply Quilts. I want YOU to know and I want ALEX to know. Keep her on the air. Please send her this piece of fabric from me."

Include a 3” square of quilting fabric for Alex. Sign the patch with your name, city, and state with a permanent pen. Ink in a message to Alex if you like. ASK VIEWER SERVICES TO FORWARD IT TO ALEX ANDERSON.

By all means send emails and sign the online petitions, but if we all write a letter (or two) we might turn the tables. Either way, Alex will have enough patches for the biggest friendship quilt on the planet!

Don’t wait. Do it right now. (I’ll hang on while you get out the paper...) We can do this. We can make a difference. Together. Right now. Power to the QUILTERS! Pass it on!

Here’s some really useful information from Sharyn Craig. Carefully box up those dull rotary cutter blades and ship them off to the Century College Orthopedics & Prosthetics Program where they will be used by students to cut leather. They don’t have time to acknowledge your gift, but you'll know it is going to for a good cause.

Century College Orthopedics & Prosthetics Program
Stan O'Connor, Director
3300 Century Ave North
White Bear Lake, MN 55110

Jack and Amy have checked in again. Don’t miss their holiday letter. Scroll to the bottom.

Have I got some deals for you! It's inventory time and I'd rather count it and sell it than count it and stick it back in the closet. Selected fabrics are over 40% off, most down to a measly $3.99 a yard, while supplies last.

The starter kit for 'Oh My Pie" has been selling like crazy so why stop? I've extended the sale. Not only that, but I've put rock-bottom prices on my "That's Amore" and "Hold the Anchovies" kits. Hurry; quantities are limited.

Thank Dixie McBride for this side-splitting radio excerpt.

If you’re looking for a real treat, pick up a copy of “Quilt Toppings: Fun and Fancy Embellishment Techniques” or “A Fine Line: Techniques and Inspirations for Creating the Quilting Design.” OK, you can get them both. Reading them has been my reward for the last couple of weeks when I needed to pamper my imagination a little bit. Wow! Quilt Toppings is full of embellishment techniques, one right after another, with all the information you need to give each a try. A Fine Line is all about what to quilt where. Melody likes color and lots of it. Her quilts are beautiful and go all the way from traditional to wild and funky. The photography in both books is stunning. Treat yourself.

Nancy Swezey made a Twisted Sisters quilt .

Rosemary Monson made a Photo Quilt.

Trish Vanderveer made a bunch of Rag Fur Jackets.

AnneMarie Bartz wore her Rag Fur Jacket to Italy!

Melissa Marginet saw a cute church sign.

Kathleen A. has been taking pictures in the lady's room again…

I drove to Westlake, Ohio last month to visit with the North Coast Needlers. (I had a really great time.) I also rather enjoyed the drive and not because I enjoy driving, either. I had just slapped on Kate Kline's Quilts-To-Go magnets on my car. In about five minutes I made an Ohio Star on the driver's side door and one the back hatch. I was one hot mamma. Especially with those over-your-glasses sunglasses for octogenarians!

Seriously, these are the perfect gift for your quilting buddy. Just tell them you only got enough for one block and keep the other parts for your own car! These Quilts-to-Go magnets and their companion set Quilt Designs-to-Go are precut magnetic squares and triangles designed to decorate your car. The "Quilts-to-Go" set contains two 4" squares and 24 quarter-square triangles. Sized to co-ordinate, the Quilt Designs-to-Go set contains 2" squares and half-square triangles in colors of red, green, blue and yellow. Get some here.

Here’s a unique way to volunteer. You can read books for the visually impaired, or anyone else who wants to listen. LibriVox wants all books in the public domain to be available, for free, in audio format, on the internet. Volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain in digital format All that is needed is a computer, some free recording software, and your voice! Now might be a good time to try podcasting.

Karen Kay Buckley has a new product out called PERFECT CIRCLES. For the past ten she’s been using Mylar washers to make precise circles for hand and machine appliqué. They worked great but were only available in limited sizes. Karen has taken matters into her own hands and hired a manufacturer to make 15 different sizes ranging from 7/16” to 2”. Each set of Perfect Circles includes four of each size for a total of 60 circles. Also included in the package is a ring to store the circles, and detailed directions along with step-by-step pictures. What a great idea!

An idea has been kicking around in my head since this summer. While I actively tried to get it out of there (my plate is already kind of full) it refused to leave. I decided to stop pushing the idea away and to embrace it. So, for the last several months I’ve been working on a new project and it’s finally time to share it with you. Here goes:

If you’ve been reading my newsletter lately you know that my mom has Alzheimer’s disease. Steve and I have been taking care of her for the last four and a half years. We’ve watched this awful disease rob her of herself, bit by bit.

The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative is a project to raise awareness and money for research. It has two major components. The first is an exhibit of art quilts which interpret Alzheimer’s in quilt form. “Alzheimer’s: Forgetting Piece by Piece” will tour the United States for three years. I am looking for submissions. The Prospectus with all the details is now online.

The second component is called Priority: Alzheimer’s Quilts. It is an auction/sale of very small quilts (any theme, any technique) that measure no larger then 9” by 12”. These quilts must be small enough to fit into a cardboard priority mailing envelope without folding, hence the name, and the urgency to find a cure. There are quilts you can bid on right now in a Slow Silent Auction.

All proceeds, not just a portion of the proceeds, will be donated to Alzheimer’s research. Everybody is getting into the act, even Mom. She’s no longer able to piece quilt tops as she has in the past, so I’ve got her painting note cards note cards. Need to write thank-you notes?

I know the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative will be a huge undertaking (remember how I tried to talk myself out of it?) but I think we can really make a difference. Yes, WE. I’m asking for your help. Please forward this “announcement” to anyone you think might be interested.

If you want to challenge yourself to think about Alzheimer’s and what it might look like in fabric, then I welcome your submission in the traveling exhibit. If the idea of making a really small quilt appeals, please consider a “Priority: Alzheimer’s” quilt. If you appreciate and collect the art of other quilters, please bid. If you wish to help in other ways, see: < the help page.

I invite you to take this journey with me, in whatever capacity you care to participate.

Thanks for inviting me into your mailbox.
Ami Simms

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