Geeks Doing Good.


Aikido Packing in a Dirty Warehouse...

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The very first time we got a huge shipment of donations in, Nicole was horrified to find an easily measurable layer of grime on the top of one of the pallets. Most of us had worked in warehouses or with bulk shipments before, so we were very aware that warehouses aren't the cleanest places in the world. But the products are safe, wrapped in plastic inside taped-shut cardboard boxes, so a layer of industrial...well, dust, doesn't really matter.

Cut to today, when we have our own "warehouse" (really just the climate-controlled basement of the Worldbuilders office). Our storage area is actually pretty clean, but the boxes we get aren't always dust-free. After a lot of unpacking, repacking, and stacking, folks will be able to tell if you scritched your itchy nose recently.

Most of the time, when we're moving boxes around, it's just Something You Have To Do. Hunter, who's always pretty darn cheerful, seems to have figured out a way to make it fun and get some Aikido practice in. Rock on!

Don’t worry, all our perks are packed to the nines and ready to withstand way more than a few throws. Nicole is obsessively particular about how things are packed around here. We’re not even kidding.

If we have a weird thing to ship, we’ll approach her and say, “Hey, Nicole--weird thing,” and hand it to her. She’ll heft it once, then say something like, “Use a 12x10x2 with peanuts and send it USPS Priority because it’s $2.38 cheaper than the next best shipping price.” And we walk away in a strange, impressed daze.

Don’t mess with Nicole and her shipment process.

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Fond Farewell

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It's time to say a bittersweet goodbye to our three volunteers! Bitter because Hunter, Donny, and Hans were a joy to have around (even virtually), and we'll miss them. Sweet because PIZZA!

In case you hadn't checked the Worldbuilders blog yesterday, we have to tell you that fulfillment is going epically well! Like, seriously. All the perks are in and sorted, and we've been sending out hundreds of boxes each day. Folks have started to get their perks, and we posted a few of their tweets as well. While there are still some perks to ship out, we're well past the halfway point and starting to see a few tabletops and empty shelves.

More trivia: Maria is wearing the same top she had on when our guests arrived. Her sister gave it to her, and she really likes it.Hans’s Chinese dialogue says, “I promise I’ll watch ‘Firefly.’” We're really sorry for the mechanical translation...Trina can call lightning. This is a true fact.

Keep those Facebook posts and tweets coming--we love to see your loot arrived safely! And cats. We like seeing cats as well.

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Art Lesson

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After cranking out a week's worth of comics last week for our guests, Brett decided to teach someone else how to do it so he could grab a rest. Everyone was pretty busy, except for a largely underappreciated pool of talent.

Of course, we're wondering who's getting schooled, here. Not everyone can just crank out a Manet on demand.

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Trina's Lament

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Trina was a little horrified that we made her the bad guy a couple weeks ago, but she maybe brought it on herself. A little. Not the bad guy part, the workaholic part. We've seriously come to work and not realized that Trina's already here working, because she's just so darn quiet. She's the first to leave the table after lunch. She visited Amanda at home last week, and when she entered the kitchen, she immediately ran over and straightened Amanda's wall clock.

Trina puts herself under tremendous pressure to get work done. This is great for us (and our IndieGoGo supporters, since Trina's been cranking out fulfillment like a small, tie-dyed monster), but we worry that she'll burn out. Apparently she works for fun, and that's just not healthy.*

Don't worry. We'll figure out a way to get her to slack off, but we promise we'll wait until all the IndieGoGo perks are out the door. We love our Trina, but we love you guys too!

*Full disclosure: we all kind of do that. There's usually someone here on the weekend, and we're all guilty of working remotely after hours. But this strip is about Trina.

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Brett's on Vacation...

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Brett is grabbing a week off before planning for the annual fundraiser kicks in, but he totally forgot to do some comics in advance. Totally. This was in no way planned in advance. Adam took time out of his busy day to fill in. We're thinking Brett might need to pass the torch after this one.

The subtle nuance of the line work, the expertly rendered expressions and body language...Adam has a bright future ahead of him. Don't worry, we'll figure something out that Brett can do to contribute. We might send him out for coffee once in awhile. But no doughnuts--doughnuts should only be purchased by people who know what they're doing.

Maybe this all sounds mean, but we need to get the digs in before Brett's back from vacation. Not because he'll care, particularly, but because it's more fun this way.

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Adam is Funny

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Even though Brett's back from vacation, it looks like his head isn't back in the game yet. We'll forgive him. The biggest souvenir he brought back was a cold.

Amanda might seem less than receptive, but really, she's usually the one who has to be the adult around here. If something isn't working, it's up to her or Maria to stop the rest of us and get us back on track. She doesn't like being the bad guy, but if someone's going to call out Brett on his shenanigans, it's going to be her. Or Maria, but Maria usually just gives him that angry librarian look.

And with Brett back, Adam's gone for a week because he got married or something like that. (Hi Adam!) So while he keeps his former pre-wife laughing during their time off, Brett will have to take over the comic from him. Sorry.

But it was a great wedding, and we managed to collect most of the Worldbuilders team for a photo:

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Let's Make Fun of Jeff

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This happens all the time. Jeff is our accountant. He does numbers. He's also from Texas, so the accent is a thing.

Unfortunately for Jeff, it's a thing that gives Amanda and Maria endless amounts of joy. They will actively try to trick him into saying the word "ten" because he pronounces it "tin." And then they laugh and laugh. And Jeff rolls his eyes.

It's gotten so bad that Jeff has started to come up with mathematical phrases that equal ten, and he'll say those instead, thus ruining EVERYTHING. Apparently, there can be NO FUN in the Worldbuilders office. None.

Thanks a lot, Jeff.

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Hank Green is a Nice Guy

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So this did and didn't happen. We had the Worldbuilders booth set up in the vendor hall at NerdCon: Stories this past weekend, and on the second day, Hank Green came around and talked with everybody one-on-one, just to see how their weekend was going, if they needed anything, and if they had any suggestions. It was super nice of him. Amanda didn't have a fangirl meltdown, though. We think it's because she got it out of her system--Hank had already hugged her twice by that time.

NerdCon: Stories was a TON of fun. We were crazy busy, but in the best way. Everyone who stopped by the booth was really cool, and we got the chance to talk to a bunch of you, catch you up on IndieGoGo shipments (they're all sent!), hear your awesome stories (one very cool couple met during the Name of the Wind poker deck Kickstarter (hi Tim and Allison!)), and generally enjoy meeting you guys face to face.

Brett drew caricatures for a few shifts, and everyone loved seeing weird drawings of themselves--to the point of a few folks asking when his next shift was. Adam tag-teamed a gaming table with Amanda's boyfriend Nate that featured Pairs, Boss Monster, and King of Tokyo, and the table was packed solid the whole time. Y'all really love your games!

We also got to hang out with our friends Janelle and Minka from Badali Jewelry, and that's always a great time. We know we talk a lot about our sponsors, but we probably don't come clean about how fun it really is to hang out with them. We told Janelle they have to move Badali closer to Wisconsin so we can hang out more. She said she would, but the jewelers would have one heck of a commute each day, so it might not work so well.

These particular weirdos are Adam, Janelle, Maria, Rachel, Minka, and Nicole.

Thank you everyone--supporters, attendees, con organizers, and participating authors & performers--for an awesome con!

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Cleaning with Cinder

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So while we spent the week cleaning the office, Cinder was relocated to a space between racks in the Tinker's Packs stockroom, where he proceeded to startle both Nicole and Trina, who were used to him just sort of being by the door. All creepy-like. Staring.

He stayed there for most of the week until Nicole just couldn't take it and asked if we could move him to the basement. We don't really like moving him too much--not because he's creepy, but because we don't want to damage him. This guy's a museum-quality piece, after all! So Brett agreed to help carry him downstairs if Nicole grabbed his feet for a little more control.

Nicole did NOT want to touch him. Not because she was worried about damaging a museum-quality statue, but because he has blood on his boots. Valid, we'll grant that. But she got past the squeamishness and helped Brett tuck Cinder into a nice, dark corner in the basement stockroom, where we're sure he'll freak everyone out in new and interesting ways.

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Video Time!

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This is why Brett is usually behind the camera. We filmed our fundraiser video this morning, and things went pretty well, except for the guy playing horseshoes in the background. So we're not saying this particular accident actually happened. Not like this, anyway. Well, not exactly like this...

We're being mean to Maria, and we shouldn't. It's just fun to poke fun at her when she tackles something new. Maria will dive right in and start doing something, maybe swear a little at her computer (or what ever tool she's using), and then be successful. Then, after that small success, she will turn to the rest of the office and declare herself an expert in doing whatever it was she did. The celebration is always the fun part.

She had to edit one of the CSS files on our fundraising page this year. After typing in a line of code and discovering that the page now looked the way she wanted, she turned to Rachel and Brett and proudly said, "Guys, I'm totally a hacker now!" That's right. Maria's a hacker.

We promise she'll only use her massive skillz for good.

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Hi Mindy

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It seems we hire people right at the beginning of the fundraiser. Rachel started the week before last year's fundraiser, and for some reason, she didn't rage quit. Mindy seems pretty laid back amid all our running around, panicking, and general hair-pulling, so we're confident she'll flourish!

Mindy's here to help Amanda do all the Amanda things she does. As Pat's personal assistant (sometimes known as "The Amanda"), she tends to get pulled in a bunch of different directions at once, sometimes by the core Worldbuilders team. It's really not her job to help us with Worldbuilders things, but she does anyway, because she's awesome.

So far, Mindy has also been awesome. The worst thing about having her around the office is the temptation to call her Junior The Amanda, but we're above that.

Except for just now. Temptation is soooo tempting.

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Fundraiser Chaos

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The 2015 Annual Fundraiser is officially on!

There's been a lot of running around, coordinating, and mind-changing leading up to our launch this year, and as such, there's been a little friction. We're not gonna lie, we're human, and there's a lot of plates to spin for a group of only four-plus-Pat. It ain't easy, but it's SO worth it!

Luckily, we have a way to relieve stress. And it does wonders.

*no Mindy's were harmed in the making of this comic.

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Delightfully Lost

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While we're not technically in the exact middle of the fundraiser, we're hard at work keeping up with all the brilliant stuff going on around us!

Maria has been running the show, coordinating with friends and creators to get stretch goals together, keeping everybody and everything organized, and generally making sure we all stay on top of things.  Rachel has been taking photos, helping Brett with auctions, answering email questions, unpacking boxes and boxes of donated books, and taking over when Maria has to step out. Both of them probably get this image in their heads every time they come up for air.

It seems like every year we get a little better at running a fundraiser, and that confidence inspires us to try a bunch of new things, which once again gets overwhelming. When will we learn? Heh...hopefully never.

Thank you everyone for joining us again to support Heifer International!

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Power's Out

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This happened last week. We were all in the kitchen/breakroom for lunch, and everyone was using all the appliances so we could sit down and eat/hold our employee meeting. At the time, we had the garbage disposal running, two toasters going, two microwaves on, the fridge open, and then Amanda tried using the electric start for the stove burner. And that's when the lights went out.

Brett and Adam checked the breakers, but nothing showed as tripped. They flipped a couple (nothing was expressly labeled "kitchen"), but the lights didn't come back on. It was really weird. Then Rachel struck fear into everybody by announcing that we couldn't have lunch. Like, stark fear. The sort of fear that you feel to the core of your being.

We're talking "that wasn't a fart" fear.

But Maria did some weird little dance, and the lights came back on, and we had lunch. We love a happy ending. And food. Mostly food, because the happy ending just sort of follows

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Let's Get this Finished

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Everybody here wears a lot of hats (sometimes literally, but in this case, no). During the fundraiser, Brett gets to wrangle auctions while Rachel takes the photos and Mindy does shipping and updates all the databases with Rachel. Maria has to stay on top of everything--she organizes and coordinates stretch goals, handles donation requests, and keeps Pat and the rest of us on task. Amanda does a little of everything (usually while on fire), like helping organize blogs, troubleshoot livestreams, and handle press and publicity requests.

With all of us running around trying to stay on top of things, sacrifices are made. It usually falls to Maria to decide what goes, and Brett just has too much video editing and overall content-generation to get done. Ironically, the comic is content, but consider it mostly generated.

Side note: Pat has always had a fondness for sketches. He will request that Brett not finish illustrations sometimes, just because he likes that hands-on feel. Don't tell him this comic was still drawn entirely in Photoshop.

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Mindy's Day

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We hired Mindy mostly to help Amanda with all the Amanda things she does, but during the fundraiser everyone's been leaning on her a little too much. Whenever we have another thing to tackle, the default plan is, "Mindy can do that." And Mindy never told us no, so on any given day, she does a random grab bag of tasks. And she's always cheerful.

It's really weird...

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Second Wind

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We always forget how draining our annual fundraiser is, with all the running around, juggling multiple tasks from all directions, and just keeping up with this huge ball we got rolling. We really were looking forward to today being our last day of the fundraiser.

Then over the weekend, we got the call from Heifer International: they had $200,000 of matching funds to use, and were we interested?

We'll admit, we kind of saw that big relief escape our grasp and fly to the horizon. But we also saw the opportunity to help more families become self-sufficient, and $200,000 alone ($400,000 when you consider it's matching the incoming donations) will help a TON of people.

It was a no-brainer: one more week of our time is nothing compared to what we can accomplish. If you've got an extra $10, not only can you squeeze one more entry into our prize drawing, but Heifer will bump it up to $20, and that's a flock of ducks. We love ducks.

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Happy Dances 3: Thanks a Million!

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We don't have anything else to say that we haven't already told you guys: You are the BEST. Thanks to you, we raised $1,275,170.00 for Heifer International during this year's fundraiser. There was a lot of happy dancing around the office! So one more time, because we never get sick of saying it--thank you all so much for donating to Worldbuilders. Happy dances all around!

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Amanda's Computer

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Last week, Amanda was having some issues--she had a Skype call with Pat, and Skype wasn't updating. It wouldn't open until it updated, but her computer was being a punk and things were just not working. Usually the call of "Jeeeeffffffff!" would ring out, but he was busy, so Amanda got Brett instead.

Literally, Brett was just trying to open the Services panel to restart the Skype updater. Amanda's computer didn't respond when he clicked the Search bar. He was halfway through typing "services" before he realized it. So he clicked again. And again. Amanda told him to be patient while her computer caught up, and he started to get that horrifying realization that Amanda was used to a disturbingly slow computer.

Everything worked out--Skype updated and Amanda didn't miss the call. But we're thinking her computer might be an unnecessary stressor in her life, since it certainly gave Brett some nightmares. Steps may need to be taken.

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We don't have a loading dock in our current building, so when UPS comes to pick up over a hundred "gold bags" for a bulk shipment, this is how we get 'em out the door. Someone (usually Rachel) runs through the office like Paul Revere to tell everyone UPS is here, and it's all hands on deck.

We've gotten depressingly good at this over the years...

One thing that kind of warmed our hearts was when our UPS driver (we've had the same guy since we moved in here, and he's super nice) told us he really appreciated that we were the only stop that actually helped him load packages. We thought he was kidding. So of course, that just makes us work harder to get him loaded and on his way, because now we've set a precedent!

...and also, because we have a ridiculous number of packages sometimes, and there's no way one guy can get all that done in the time he has.

But all the lottery prizes are now in the mail, due to a few daisy-chains like this one. Thank you all for a wonderful fundraiser!

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