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When I ended up at the U-M Hospital this summer at Ann Arbor, the admitting department, and later the pharmacist, were surprised that an artist had health insurance. Does this mean that many of us don’t have any? After trying several different plans about five years ago we settled on a health plan that we purchased through the local Chamber of Commerce. You do have to become a member, but the plan had the best rates and coverage that we had found. Check with your local Chamber and see what they have to offer. When the cost of Chamber membership went up the local director said that he would be happy to have art work for the office in lieu of a membership fee. Worth checking out.


Kathy Eaton writes: “The long hours I spend alone in my studio have been somewhat relieved by listening to recorded books. This wonderful idea is increasingly useful as more interesting and widely varied titles become available. Fortunately our local library has a good collection but since I’ve pretty much exhausted their tapes, I occasionally rent them. A couple of the notable books for artists are Depths of Glory, Irving Stone’s fictional biography of Camille Pissaro, and Toulouse Lautrec by Julia Frey, a detailed and occasionally tedious account of his life. On other more contemporary subjects I enjoyed The Monkey Wars by Deborah Blum, a study of the pros and cons of animal testing and It Doesn’t Take A Hero the autobiography of General Norman Schwarzkopf. And for a good story and good writing just about anything by Edith Wharton is great, but especially The House Of Mirth is as engrossing as a book can get.”

My favorite was Willa Cather’s O, Pioneers, so wonderfully read that you found yourself on the prairie with the characters, and it’s especially enthralling to listen to as you drive across Nebraska.

These recorded books can be rented from Books-on-Tape (800) 626-333, Recorded Books (800) 638-1304 and Blackstone Audio Books (800) 482-9294. We recommend these particular companies because the books are unabridged so you really get the whole story.

In Psychology Today, July/August 1996 there were several good articles: ‘The Creative Personality’ culled from interviews with 91 eminent individuals, and ‘Capturing Creativity’, the four most effective strategies for boosting yours.


Last winter after many years as a regular UPS pickup customer, I began to realize that it was time to look for an alternative. Although the recent strike emphasized that UPS has a near monopoly on the package shipping business, they are not necessarily the best choice for the small businessman. I would like to share what I learned in my search for an alternative.

There are three ways to utilize UPS services:

  1. As a drop-off customer. Bring your packages to a UPS center, much like going to the post office. You pay no pickup charges, only the shipping charge for each package. This is fine if you only occasionally ship a package and live near a UPS center. Drawbacks: Inconvenient and time consuming.
  2. As a ready customer. Call UPS and schedule a pickup at your location. You pay a $5.00 pickup charge and the shipping charge for each package. This is fine if you don’t need a pickup every week and go through periods of time when you don’t need a pickup at all.Drawbacks: As a ready customer you do not have an account and therefore no credit. When you call for a pickup, you must provide the operator with a lot of information. First is your name, full address and where to pickup at your location.(No matter how many times you use this service, you are always a stranger to UPS.) You must then provide the details of each package including address, weight, dimensions, residential or commercial delivery, special handling info etc. If you have more than a couple of packages to ship this phone process is burdensome, and the more packages you have, the more irritating it becomes. Because you have no credit, UPS needs all this info so that the operator can tell you the exact amount of the check that you must have ready for the driver when he arrives for pickup.
  3. As a regular pickup customer. The driver will appear at your door every day. The weekly pickup fee is 6.00 if you are in a commercial area and you will be billed monthly for pickup fees and shipping charges that have accrued. This is the most convenient way to deal with UPS and is fine if you are shipping packages every week, year round.Drawbacks: The weekly pickup fee becomes $8.00 if you live in a rural area. A $2.00 per week surcharge is added if you do not accrue $50.00 per week in shipping charges. You have to pay the weekly pickup fee whether you have a pickup or not. You cannot call in and put a stop to pickups if your going to be gone for a few weeks. If you go through a seasonally slow period, you either pay the pickup fees for services you are not using, or cancel your account and go through the process of reopening it again when business picks up. In effect, UPS doesn’t treat their part time shippers any better than they treat their part time employees. Rather then structuring their services to be both convenient and economical for the small businessman, convenience comes at the price of paying for service that is not always needed. And if your volume slows down, they slap a surcharge on you!

After trying several alternate services, I now ship my packages through RPS. (Roadway Package Service.) They deliver nationwide and at rates that are often lower than UPS. After filing an application, I was given an account and shipper number. The pickup charge is $6.00 per week, and there is no surcharge for not meeting a minimum. I do not pay pickup charges for weeks when I have nothing to ship. To schedule a pickup I call an automated 800 number that takes only a few seconds. Preparing packages is a breeze – slap on my mailing label and a RPS tracking label – no book to fill out. RPS weighs and zones the packages automatically so I don’t have to do that either. I receive a detailed billing each week and have seven days to pay it. Drawbacks: Package delivery generally takes one day longer than UPS.

Another aspect that I like about RPS is that the drivers are independent contractors and own their trucks. When you ship with RPS you are supporting a small businessman in your community and several more by the time your package is delivered. UPS is a closely held private company with a few owners amassing a fortune.

I also found that the post office can be a viable alternative to package delivery services, especially if you ship small parcels. If you send packages to Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Mexico or U.S. possessions, US Postal Service rates are much lower than the package services. Drawbacks: Inconvenience of going to the post office. No tracking service for packages.

Some more web resources – for your studio, business, etc. Be sure and let us know of other links you find. Also visit our Web Resources page.

  • UPS Tracking
  • Thomas Register of American Manufacturers
  • IRS Per Diem Tables You don’t HAVE to save all those restaurant receipts!
  • Barnes and
  • National Public Radio
  • Lawyers for the Arts

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