Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Moments such as these

On my way out of the Bunster's preschool, there was a big sign "Graduation and Make-up Photos are Here!" I vaguely remembered there being a picture day a few weeks back, so I stopped to check if we had a packet to pick up. Sure enough, there was a thick envelope with a horrendous photo of the Bunster peeking out.

At the Bunster's old school, school pictures were done just as I remember them from my elementary school years. There was one picture day per year. A few weeks later, you got a proof sheet and an order form that featured a variety of options, none of which were exactly the combination of photo sizes and numbers that you wanted. You bought the assortment you compromised on and it arrived not long afterward, along with a copy of the class photo. If your eyes were closed, you got one chance to retake the photo. And that was it.

Not at the Bunster's current school, though.

We've now completed the fourth "picture day" of this school year and I'm not sure we're done yet. We had the Fall photos, the Spring photos, the Graduation photos, and also a Natural Poses photo day, which we skipped (I think Natural Poses means positioning the child awkwardly with his hand curled under his chin in front of a cutesy backdrop, then photoshopping the image to make it look as much as possible like those fake vintage greeting cards. At least, as far as I could tell from the samples.).

With all this practice, we've gotten to know the drill. Each photo shoot involves several poses, some with accessories like wicker chairs or baskets of fake apples. A few weeks later, we receive a large packet with multiple photos of each pose. We select the ones we want to keep and return the rest along with payment for the prints we kept. The Spring photos also include the option to buy a class photo. And of course, each time we are also solicited to buy additional prints and miscellaneous photo-related keepsakes from their handy web site.

The Graduation photos, however, turn out to be a little different. There is only one pose, which they printed in various sizes. It shows the Bunster grimacing in a white gown and mortarboard, while clutching a white diploma tied with a gold bow. If you swapped out the mortarboard for a halo and the diploma for a cardboard harp, he'd look like a little boy who really doesn't want to play the angel in the Christmas pageant but is putting up with it, having failed in his struggles to break free. The photo is certainly a keeper, but not in quite the way they intended.

In addition to this, they included a handy ready-to-fill-out "Graduation Certificate" and photo holder, with gilt lettering (presented to ______ for successful completion of study and active attendance), and a pre-scrapbooked photo, with little mortarboard-and-diploma graphics and the slogan "Moments such as these only happen once."


"Moments such as these" aren't going to only happen once. The photos seem to happen at a pretty steady pace. And as for the graduation, if this early start is any indication, moments like this will happen five more times. Maybe more, if he heads for grad school.

Why is there is such a thing as pre-school graduation at all? Sure, leaving preschool and heading off for Kindergarten is a milestone. But it's one that should be celebrated with cupcakes and juice. Perhaps a Spring Concert for parents to admire their kids as they sing and do a little play. Maybe even a bounce-house if you're going all out.

Instead, the Bunster's graduation involves the following:
  • Six weeks of almost-daily rehearsal.
  • Photo in cap-and-gown, with diploma and little blue "Class of 2007" tassel.
  • A $25 "graduation fee" to the school.
  • A requirement that we send the kids to school on graduation day in black pants (which is, of course, about the only color the Bunster does not already own).
  • A special graduation tee shirt (nice, except that he has about 47 tee shirts already).
  • The presentation of a fake diploma, so that the real one can be handed directly to the parents afterward, to preserve it in pristine condition.
  • And worst of all, missing his brother's high school graduation, because the ceremonies are, by awful coincidence, on the same day, one hour and 56 miles apart.
I thought, briefly, about skipping the fake graduation in favor of the real one. And then I remembered the six weeks of preparation, the new songs, the constant hype the kids have all received. I thought about how I'd have felt, missing a party all my school friends were going to. And so the Bunster and I will be there, fakely graduating, while big brother G, J, and the grandparents will be doing the real thing.

At least we're sure to have plenty of photos.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Unclear on the concept

Am I the one who's missing something here, or are the guys over at B&H really showing what century they're stuck in?B&H Catalog
Because it seems like you'd have to be really unclear on the concept of digital to spend all the money to print a 720-page full-color catalog, call it The Digital Photography SourceBook, and pay to mail it all the way from New York to California.

So I can't figure out why this thudded onto our porch this afternoon. Well, the thud I understand. And when I went to fetch the mail, I quickly understood the slightly peeved expression on the mailman's face, which seemed so inexplicable when I glimpsed him briefly though our front window.

What I can't figure out is why the guys over at B&H are sending this out.

You'd think they'd never heard of a little thing called the internet before. Except that that's where we found them in the first place.

If it were a catalog for film photo buffs, I could see catering to a customer base that includes people who really prefer the giant catalog. But anyone interested in 720 pages of digital photography equipment is probably going to be pretty comfortable with the overall concept of digital. Which would almost certainly include computers and web browsers.

If they're hoping we'll keep it until we need something...well, hoping that your inventory is sized better than the yellow pages for placement under a preschooler's bottom at Gramma's holiday table doesn't strike me as a particularly successful marketing strategy. Or are printing and mailing costs so low now that it's cheaper than e-commerce?

All we've ever bought from them was a pair of inexpensive computer speakers, so we're not exactly their bestest customers ever, either. At least I hope not, for their sakes.

And I really hope the mail carrier forgives us and we don't spend the next few weeks retrieving our mail from the shrubbery as payback for having to haul that useless catalog.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Why I don't blog much

As all three of you know, I don't post very often. And there's a very good reason why. I'll spend a few days coming up with something pithy, maybe a bit funny, and start writing in my head in spare moments before sitting down to pull together a few paragraphs for the blog. And then I'll stumble across something like this and spend all my blog time reading and laughing instead.

And when I finally hop up from the computer to run out and get the Bunster from school, I'll be thinking something along the lines of "Oh my god that was so funny. I'll never write like that. What was I going to blog about anyway?"

Then whatever I was going to say has completely flown out of my head and I have to start the process all over again.

As the Bunster said in his very first swear: Darnut!

p.s. If you didn't click the link above, go back and do it now. You should read Quinn Cummings's blog...she's amazingly funny.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

This is just to say...

Well, that was a nice, although unintentional, hiatus. I'd been doing so well, too, posting about once a week, generally on a Monday. And then all of a sudden, I just sort of lost interest. I was still reading other people's blogs, but found myself without much to say on my own.

I was going to write "it's probably better to stop than to post meaningless content," but unfortunately if I went with that philosophy I'd probably never post again. I'm pretty confident that none of what I write here is particularly meaningful, really. It's not like I'm traveling the world or fighting cancer or creating art. I don't have a lot of insights into the human condition or anything.

Every now and then, I start to think that a blog should have some kind of purpose or focus or main topic. Which mine really doesn't. It's pretty much just short notes to people I already know, to let them know how I'm doing or what I'm thinking about. Which I then post to the internet, just in case some random person somewhere is also interested.

Not exactly a purpose, per se, but it'll have to do.