Friday, July 19, 1996

Some things make me smile, some make me grin, some make me chuckle, others make me laugh. Thanks, I need them all.

We've all had them: times when things go so well it's hard to believe it actually isn't that way all the time. I love it. This past week was one of those weeks. And Murphy wasn't anywhere to be found.
At the Garden Center & Nursery, we're catching-up on our workload. Finally. The weather's held good; the rains were few and the landscape jobs were completed almost on schedule, making up for most of the lost time of the past two months. The crews can really work well and fast if given halfway decent conditions.
Insect infestations - Japanese beetle, bagworm, tent caterpillar, gypsy moth etc - are getting worse all over the east coast, and I've been spraying constantly with a high-powered, tractor-mounted, 50gal commercial applicator. The pests are finally under control now before that situation gets away from us.
Inventory is steadily reducing, new shipments of rarities are arriving, trough gardens are being made and shipped, the Fall is rapidly being booked for landscape jobs (we're now booked through October), and more and more new, upscale customers are finding their way to us through our unusual advertising and our InterNet presence. Our WebSite has really paid off.
In fact, we're so busy and cash flow is so good, it's time to invest in additional equipment for the future. I'm shopping for two custom 10-ton dumptrucks, another skidloader of larger capacity and a replacement, enclosed heavy duty delivery truck for long distance hauls. The first truck (1985 Ford F350) I bought used in 1990 is just now logging 107,000 miles, but still doing fine, thank you. I don't want to run it until it destroys itself. I'm very, very careful about servicing equipment and vehicles. That's how any piece of machinery makes it to that point. Our other new dumptruck (1994 FSuperDuty) is just turning 31,000 miles after two years in service. Both have been reliable workhorses. It's time to spread the load out.
I heard it called the flow: when everything goes perfectly. You know, when you're driving to work and every light turns green just before you get to it and you never have to stop and wait. Or when you just finish mowing the lawn (for those of you who do mow lawns) and then it rains. Or when you're
mulching the gardens and you have enough to complete the job and don't have to run back to the garden center and buy a bagful just to finish that three foot section. Or whatever.
That's how it's been lately. When I think back to those other weeks when nothing seemed to go right, it's a real pleasure to just be here right now. I wish it would last.


Oh, will wonders never cease? It's amazing where I've found my Garden Center & Nursery listed on the Web. Just recently, I discovered another listing in The Big Book,
while reading the latest issue of suck, a great satirical E-zine on the Web that's been around for over two years and pioneered the concept. It's a better read than anything else out there.
After entering my company's name in their search engine, this page comes up: John Shelley's Grdn Ctr & Nrsy. And amazingly enough, there's an pinpoint-accurate map of my location just below the listing. Check this out! It's fascinating how they do this: by using a zip code mapping system, the postal zip you supply when you register generates a 100 square mile area map around the zip code for visitors to view and use. Nicely detailed. Cool.
On Sunday afternoon, in between helping customers, I was sitting at the computer, when a customer came in and told me about finding my Garden Center listed and reviewed in the Magellan Search Engine. I had no idea. After reading the short, terse copy from a low-level staffer at McKinley Corp., the review was not very flattering. Read it yourself and let me know if this Website is simply a "...Yellow Pages extension." I'm curious.
Several weeks ago in the June 14th Journal Entry, I also happened across listings in all the Search Engines: the simple key word search (john shelley) kept turning up numerous references to me and my Garden Center & Nursery. There were references from my WebSite's Pages and all other Pages linked to me on my Search Page. Hundreds of listings. It amazed me, since I had done the obligatory registration only once back in February, yet it was picked up by all of them. Adam Viener of Cyberia Communications, Inc., York's InterNet Specialist, told me about the scanning functions that all search engines have to grab more information, update, index and cross-reference a listing constantly. He was right.


Last Saturday was the anniversary of the invention of SPAM (illegal aliened Pork And Meat). You remember, that magic so-called meatstuff invented in Minnesota
by Hormel Co. in 1937. It helped the GIs win WWII in the 40s, kept Boy Scouts (yes, I ate it on campouts) fed in the 50s & 60s, was reverred by The Hippies (no, not this one) in the 70s, then exported by the millions of tins to the Third World as a solution to their famine in the 80s, and has now made a resurgence in the 90s as an icon on the Web. There are over 113 SPAM WebSites. Yikes! Who knows what's in store for the next century? Maybe the Third World will go to war with us for sending Spam to them!


Several weeks ago, I got a new chair for my office: a beautiful tan leather, plush, high-back, swivel to replace
the second one I'd worn out in six years. That's a lot of chairs, some would say. But when spending as much time as I do in it while on the computer doing estimates, scheduling, writing HTML etc etc etc, it's not all that bad, really.
Pickles has never been one for airconditioned offices or plush chairs. He prefers to find a cozy flat of vinca or ivy in one of the greenhouses to curl up on. Or crawl inside of a box or carton that's stacked somewhere out of the way, where no one can find him. He even curls up in the tall ornamental grasses in the extensive Display Gardens where it's shady and cool. Especially in midday when it's 95F and rising. But now he's adopted my new chair.
No one else here can understand why I allow him the unlimited use of my chair, especially the landscape crews who say that cats shouldn't be allowed to inhabit the home, that they're outside creatures. Pickles and I have been together for six years; he's my buddy. He doesn't ask for much, and he does a lot for us here protecting the place from mice, rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs etc that do considerable damage if left unchecked, so he gets what he wants. Unless I have customers in the office and we're using the chairs, he gets the chair if he wants it. I've set them all straight on that item. The still don't understand the rationale, but they don't have to.
Anyway, Pickles is out all night patrolling and looking for critters. He eats what he wants and usually leaves something for me on the porch steps the next morning. He's always there to greet me when I pull up at 5 or 5:30am, and I brush, feed
and play with him until I get the complex opened up and running. He accompanies me on my rounds opening the greenhouses, checking for any mice or rabbits that might be present. Then he finds a place to sleep for the day.
At about 6:45am, I meet with my landscape foreman in my office to review jobs that I've scheduled for the week, and specifically for that day. We go out to the Nursery Display Areas to review plant material selections or make substitutions for certain items. Soon, he's off to start the crews pulling the needed material, loading trucks, equiment and tools. Next, they're all off to the jobs. I go back in to begin the day's work, either computer estimates, new business, review appointments, write ad copy, do paperwork. All that fun stuff.
On Tuesday, when I walked into the office, there was Pickles curled up in my new chair asleep, but something didn't quite look right. I started to make some coffee, and then it hit me: he wasn't alone on the chair. I turned around. He had a baby rabbit between his paws and it was curled up and sleeping too. I may be a little fuzzy that early in the morning, but I didn't know if he was going to eat it or just let it keep him company. His right paw was draped over it's body, and it must have thought Pickles was his father. I wish I would have had the camera to capture that picture.
I started laughing so loudly that I woke them both up. This was a real belly laugh and it felt good. Both stared at me leaning against the wall laughing, trying to remember where the camera was. Pickles went back to sleep, the baby rabbit hopped down from the chair and I scooped him up carefully and gently put him outside on the front porch. At the bottom of the steps were two larger rabbits, quite possibly the real mom and dad. He scampered into the Display Gardens and disappeared amongst the perennials and shrubs, as did the other two. Cute.

Sad Addendum.

Well, it's early Thursday morning and Pickles just brought in breakfast. This time, it's a baby rabbit, and quite possibly the one he was curled up with the other day. I don't know for sure, as there are too many on the grounds. Too bad, they're so cute when they're little. But do tremendous damage when they're grown. Pickles is just doing what comes naturally. It's his job and he does it well.

Glad Addendum.

On a bright note, the title to this Journal entry is a .gif file that I made in Photoshop. I think I've got the technique and procedure down pretty well, thanks to Kristin Myers of The WIT Agency, here in York, PA. You'll soon see more changes gradually coming to my WebSite.


Last week, I did something that I've not done before in any Journal entry: I made a rather pointed political commentary. It was called Newbies/ Liar, and it produced 171 emails from around the world. 143 agreed with me completely. 11 said I should be ashamed of myself for talking about the President in that manner. 3 said I was full of shit and a right wing, conservative moron. Thank you. And the remaining 14 were undecided as to Clinton's crimes being bad enough to warrant voting someone else in as President in November.
I'm not suprised at the number of people who felt compelled to write; rather, I'm
stunned by the 27 who were able to accept Clinton's crimes and lies to cover up the problems. Does the phrase cover up sound familiar to anyone? I seem to remember something similar happening in the early 70s that led to the downfall of an administration and a sitting President. I was really hoping that we, as a country, were beyond all that. But alas, I was wrong. It's business as usual in that once-esteemed Office.
History does indeed seem to repeat itself.

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