Everybody is cheap about different, weird things. I’m cheap about calendars. I balk at purchasing a calendar in December when one can be had half-price or better in January. I am the calendar-buyer in the house. Each year I pick up a few in January, one for the house, one for my husband’s work, one for my work…
A couple of charities sent me tolerable calendars this year – the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, the Nature Conservancy – so the only calendar we needed was the one for my husband’s office. Well, I have been fooling around a lot with taking aerial photos while my husband enjoys his pilot’s license. And I have been posting some aerial and some candid photos onto Flickr.
Flickr has all sorts of relationships with vendors who will happily slap your photos onto business cards, mugs, t-shirts, calendars, and whathaveyou. So I decided not to cheap out this year; I’d custom-make a flight calendar for my husband for Christmas.
Using Qoop, I explored making a calendar with photos from my Flickr account. I quickly found out that this wasn’t going to work. I had started Flickr with a bandwidth-limited account and had uploaded lower resolution photos. Well, Qoop was great if I wanted to use the photos from Flickr, and it was good enough to tell me the calendar would look terrible with the poor quality files I’d brought in. But, it wasn’t good enough to allow me to upload better files from my computer. It only allowed importing photos from Flickr. Maybe there was some hidden option somewhere, but I couldn’t find it. So, I gave up.
A few weeks later I noticed a scrap of paper I’d torn from Outdoor Photographer, a magazine my mom has given me a few years in a row. OP isn’t a magazine I would have picked up on my own – it contains too many technical articles about gear and software stuff that, simply, is nothing I want to learn – but despite myself I have learned a thing or two. It is my monthly “Martian experience” where I try to go against my nature and absorb something that seems to be written in a foreign language I barely know. Their advertiser (I forget the name cause I threw away the scrap) was for a service to make your own cards and calendars from your own photos. Great! Just what I need! These professionals won’t limit me like Qoop did. Nope. A differently awful user experience. I didn’t like it so intensely that I have no recollection of the vendor’s name or website.
A few weeks later (this time, 12/17) I decided to try again. I looked up Zazzle, another Flickr partner, and found that they indeed let me upload my own photos to make the custom calendar. Great. Awesome. They even said they’d deliver by Christmas (wow!) and offered a free upgrade to 2-day shipping (great!). I spent a feverish and fun evening uploading and tweaking and perfecting and ordered my calendar. I had it sent to my sister’s house, where we would spend Christmas.
We arrive at my sisters, no calendar. Hmmm. Christmas Day, I check the website, not yet shipped! I showed Dave the website of the calendar on Christmas, so he knew what was coming. We’re leaving Wednesday the 27th. I check the website that day, shipped! Being delivered! We’re leaving at noon for the airport. I call DHL, the shipper, it will arrive by noon. It doesn’t. My sister and her family are going to their inlaws for several days, leaving just after they drop us off.
That evening, I call DHL, their website says it wasn’t delivered, so can they reroute? Helpful person on phone agrees to reroute calendar to me. Nice. A day later I check the website again. Nope. They delivered it to my sister’s house before I even talked to the woman on the phone. So much for real-time information online.
So, we wait for my sister to return from Tennessee and mail us the package. The package arrived yesterday, 1/5. We’re excited. We open the package. I’m curious about the print quality, whether it was worth all the annoyance. Inside the cardboard is “Ethan’s 2007 Calendar” with a fun looking young man on the cover, no personal photos of husband’s great aerial adventures. I wonder if Ethan got our calendar, or if there is a series of misalignments so there are many more disappointed customers than just Ethan and us….
I’ll let you know if the aerial calendar is any good once they deliver it. Poor Ethan. Maybe next year I’ll return to my ways and purchase professional photography and printing from Border’s in January for less than half the price I spent on Ethan’s…