Webcam Woes


COVID-19 has forced a lot of us to change the way we do business. Until the virus hit, I was doing most of my readings in a face-to-face setting, either in private appointments or at events and parties. For the foreseeable future, that side of my business is no more. All my services at the moment are virtual.

When I first started, I only offered emailed written readings with a photo of the cards I drew. Then I added recorded video readings. But I have never offered live video readings before. 

When giving in-person readings, I’ve always made a point of showing people exactly what I saw in the images on the cards. I had people sit right next to me, as opposed to sitting opposite me at a table, so they had a better view of what I saw, and so it would be easier to point things out to them. I’ve even found that sometimes, the person I’m reading for saw something they believed to be relevant in the images on the cards – and I love when that happens! 

I applied the same principle to my recorded video readings. I bought an adjustable gooseneck phone holder so my phone could be positioned over my desk so I could easily show the cards in the video.

When thinking about live video readings, my ideal setup is to use two cameras – one to show me, and one to show the cards on the desk. Recently when testing live readings on Zoom, I used the webcam on my laptop pointing at me, and my phone in the gooseneck phone holder pointing at the cards. This was not ideal, as I often had to access my phone’s screen, and that was inconvenient when it was in the clamp of the holder.

I started looking for a separate webcam to use pointing down at the cards. I follow a few deal-spotters online, and one offer caught my attention. It looked like it had impressive specifications at a really good price. The product listing also stated that it came with a tabletop tripod, which I thought might be handy. It was a new listing on Amazon, so it didn’t have any reviews yet. I took a chance and ordered it.

It arrived pretty quickly, but when I opened it, there was no tripod. I contacted the seller via Amazon, and they responded, saying that they would send out the tripod within about two weeks. But when I connected the webcam to my laptop, I was horrified with the results. There was a massive “fisheye” effect. When I put some cards out in a row, the two cards in the middle looked great, but beyond that, the cards appeared to drop off out of sight. I tried to correct the effect with software, but it didn’t improve things. Not only that, but after a day or two, the joint between the bracket (made to hook over a laptop or monitor screen) and the webcam, which was supposed to allow a degree of positioning, went floppy, and there was no way to tighten it up. When I went back to the listing on Amazon, I noticed that it had been amended to omit mention of the tripod. Then I saw that there were recent reviews, which all mentioned the same things that I experienced. I contacted Amazon immediately, and they quickly refunded my money.

Once I started looking again, I realized that webcams are in short supply post-Covid, presumably because so many people are using them for work or school. Lots of cams with good reviews are out of stock, and there seems to have been a lot of cheap, poorly specified cams that have been dumped on the market to fill the gap. 

So for the time being, as I prepare to announce the official launch of my live video readings service via Zoom, I’ll have to start by using my phone as my second camera, while I keep an eye out for the return of a decent webcam at a good price.


Changes due to Coronavirus/COVID-19

Due to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak and the measures we are all being advised to take, all my regular public tarot sessions (at Cai’s Café in Metuchen, NJ, The Coffee House in Edison, NJ and Holiday Inn Clark-Newark Area) are canceled until further notice. I’ll post an update when that situation changes.

In addition, and again until further notice, I’ll no longer be giving face-to-face readings.

I will be available for written and video readings via email, as usual. I’m also considering the logistics of giving live video readings.

If you have any questions, please let me know via my contact page.

Please be safe and well – this too shall pass.

Tarot Readings for Pets – It’s Happening!

In my previous post here,  Tarot Readings for Animals, I described what started me looking into the possibilities of doing tarot readings for pets. In the conclusion of that post, I described how I would be looking into some opportunities to read for some pets and their owners in order to build on my initial limited experience.

Dog having tarot card reading

A happy client at my recent invitation-only tarot session.

With the help of Sue at The Scottish Dog, a specialist pet supply store in Metuchen, NJ (more about the store later), we set up a special invitation-only session. Sue arranged for a small but varied selection of dogs, together with their owners, to come to the store and get a reading from me. Firstly, it was a lot of fun, both for me and I think the owners. The dogs seemed to have fun too, although that might have been more because they were surrounded by tempting treats and toys. Secondly, the readings seemed to work very well, and I was happy with the way they went; more importantly, I think the owners found the experience to be useful.

We covered quite a lot of different situations in the readings. Again, I think Sue chose the recipients very well, which is a credit to her experience with animal behavior and how well she knows her customers and their pets. More than anything else, people wanted to find out whether their dogs were happy, and that piece of information was quite easy to ascertain from the readings. There was certainly lots of information coming to me in the readings about the relationship between the dog and the owner. Information I gleaned included describing the “pecking order” in the household, and whether that was healthy. I asked every person bringing their pet for a reading whether there were any problems or concerns, and I could often see that in the reading too.

The session went so well, that upon its conclusion, Sue and I were both happy about scheduling a full-blown session. So it is my great pleasure to announce that on Wednesday, July 10th, from 5pm-8pm, I will be at The Scottish Dog in Metuchen, NJ, giving tarot readings for pets. 

There is already quite a bit of interest in this event, so I recommend going to my Event Page to see more details and let me know you’re coming. I also have an online signup sheet so you can reserve a specific timeslot, which I recommend so you can be assured of me being available to give your pet a reading at a time convenient to you. Otherwise, I’ll have a physical sign up sheet and see people on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you’re not familiar with The Scottish Dog, you should be! it’s a specialist pet supply store that carries everyday and more unusual supplies, with an emphasis on being healthy and environmentally friendly. Sue, the owner, has a long history with animals and really knows her stuff. She often finds that dogs take their owners right to her front door – I’ve seen that with my own eyes too!

So what’s next for me in this interesting journey, this unexpected but thoroughly welcome detour? I would like to do some more sessions for pets, perhaps at some different venues. Any venue would have to be a good fit. I will probably also add private readings for pets to my roster of services. 

In the meantime, I hope to be able to see you and your pet on Wednesday, July 10th!

Reboot – And a Special Offer!

system-reboot-mdI want to skip the explanation and go right to the offer!

It has been a long time since I posted here or made any changes to this site. The reason for this was largely because my business changed dramatically. Previously, almost all my business was conducted online, and was really a part-time venture.

In early 2017 I started to explore ways to contribute more financially towards my family. I asked on my personal Facebook page if any of my friends had any ideas. Among many suggestions was one from a friend who had recently opened a venue that was a cross between a coffee shop, co-working space and a place for events. She asked if I was interested in coming there to give readings some time. I had never given readings in public at an event like this, and I wasn’t sure if I felt comfortable doing so. After giving it some thought, I decided to give it a try, especially as the venue was being run by a friend. The event went well, and what’s more, I really enjoyed doing it.

After a series of similar events, at this venue and at others, I started looking for a venue where I could give readings on a regular basis. Due to a couple of fortunate connections, I found three. At the time of writing this, I give readings at Cai’s Café in Metuchen, NJ every first Friday of the month, The Coffee House in Edison, NJ the second Thursday of each month and at Holiday Inn, Clark, NJ the last Wednesday of each month.

So my business changed very quickly from an almost all online-based business to an almost all local, in-person one. Most of the work I have done promoting my events has been on Facebook, and this site fell by the wayside.

Now, as I seek to grow my business, albeit in a fairly organic way, I realize I need to devote more time to my website. After all, not everyone uses Facebook. That’s the purpose of this post. You’re likely to see some changes on the site too, although that’s likely to be bit by bit, as I fit it in between other activities.

One of the changes has to be revising the prices of my online services, to bring them more in line with what I charge for my in-person readings.

And that leads me on nicely to this special offer! I will be unavailable for online readings during the period Thursday April 18th, 2019 through Sunday April 28th, 2019, due to prior commitments. After Wednesday, April 17th, my “Order” page will be temporarily suspended. On Monday, April 29th, it will be reinstated with the new higher prices. That means that if you order a reading between now and Wednesday, April 17th at Midnight (EDT), you’ll get it at the old price. Remember, once the page is suspended, you will no longer have access to the lower prices.

Yes, it’s before Thursday, April 18th, 2019 and I want to order a reading at the old price!