Ad Infinitum, Ad Nauseum

Friday, February 7, 1997

Give It A Rest, Newt
if you thought all the unpleasant shit was over for a while like when the House voted to reprimand Newt Gingrich for his errant ways it isn't. Round 2 is coming up soon. Mr. Newt still hasn't quite figured it out yet: he's blaming liberals, the media and whomever else is nearby and convenient for the woes he brought upon himself. Some of that is justified, but Gingrich's not the simple, persecuted martyr he makes himself out to be. He got caught, plain and simple. Time to confess, apologize and get on with things. But I think we all know that he's much too arrogant for a smart move like that.

Clinton's Turn
The scenario of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) selling overnighters in The Lincoln Bedroom now dubbed Motel 1600 and coffee get togethers with Slick Willie Clinton has finally surfaced for all to see. The foreign sleaze and scum that he courted for their money during the 1996 General Election has had the last laugh at him and our political system. They've achieved the status they were seeking in their fellow-scum's eyes; now Clinton has to face the music and take his hits.

But of course, he won't. He'll weasel-out of it just like he's always done. He's already blamed someone else at the DNC for their overzealous efforts on his behalf. He even distanced The (liberal) White House lowlifes from the DNC, stating that he had no control over their actions. He did, however, magnanimously take some of the responsibility for not watching the activities and events closely enough. Sure thing Bill, you lying moron.

Congress will soon hold hearings on the most-investigated and corrupt president this nation's ever had, and everyone's TV screen will be filled with hundreds of lowlife liberals passing-the-buck off to someone else, so they don't appear to be at fault for what's happened. Their offensive strategy of specifically targetting ethnic and social groups is coming out, and it stinks. Jews, blacks, Asians, the handicapped and dozens more racial, ethnic and minority groups were financially-courted and raped in trade for coffee and cantaloupe in the Oval Office. A typical liberal sleaze operation.

Another tidbit just surfaced: Clinton also had coffee with a convicted felon stock swindler. Of course, The White House denies any knowledge of the convicted felon's background. But isn't that the job of the so-called presidential aides? To screen unknown people's backgrounds before letting them into The Oval Office? Gosh, I thought so. It now appears that their primary duty was to screen the wallets of everyone entering that once-reverred office of democracy. How stupid of us all. Liberals don't adhere to job descriptions. And here's another report of convicted criminals sipping coffee with Bill and Hilary; maybe they invited them to chat about what prison life is like. Both Slick Willie and Hillarious are headed there themselves, if coming events take their natural course. Another example of liberals running out-of-control: four convicted felons have sipped and supped at The White House.

Want it all in a nutshell? Read this. The Chicago Tribune for a decidedly liberal democrat newspaper got it dead on the head for once. That's one-in-a-row for The Trib.

Now, the Justice Department is involved and beginning to subpoena records and wanting to talk with some of the sleazy liberal scum. I think there'll be some interesting things happen as more dirt comes into the light and we see the extent to which the liberal democrats went to raise illegal monies.

The Paula Jones v Bill Clinton issue looms near on the horizon too. The US Supreme Court heard preliminary arguments last week on the main issue: if an elected official can make sexual advances and harass a state employee while in office, why the hell can't he be tried while in office? He did and he should. Justice delayed is justice denied. I hope the Supreme Court has the guts to rule in her favor. I'll bet anyone $100 that Hillarious divorces his sorry ass when they're out of office as co-presidents. Any takers? She'd be (even more than she actually is) stupid not to do so. After she gets out of prison, that is.

Commonly referred to as other peoples' places; can be either business or home. I had a rare opportunity a few days ago to get out and visit some large wholesale greenhouse operations in southern Pennsylvania and neighboring Maryland.

One of my favorite places to visit is Hillcrest Nursery in Millers, MD. The legendary Maryland nursery is owned by brothers Steve and Jim Hershfeld. I met them 7 years ago when I first opened. They had great supplies of tropical foliage and herbs. Now with the consumer market changing rapidly they've abandoned the foliage business and concentrate strictly on high-quality herbs, perennials, grasses and things more within their reach. They wholesale mail order all over the US.

Their operation is immaculate and first-class; Steve (who lives with his family in a geodesic dome) and Jim (the 'normal' one) both make sure their facility runs smoothly: investing in state-of-the-art greenhouses, computers and the software to run them. If computers can control the physical facility 85% of the time, it figures that each person will have additional time to tend to the propagation and quality control that builds and keeps reputations at the level where doing business with them is a real pleasure. Hillcrest has done just that.

I was very impressed at their new 36,000sqft vanNordlund, gutter-connected greenhouse and shipping-receiving areas: hot-water-heated floors, computer-run venting, automatic bug screens, heat curtains. Wow, they have it all in that new facility, built during and after The Blizzard of '96.

I have to replace all of my stock plants in Greenhouse-1 this year, so I will buy my material from Hillcrest to begin anew. Stock plants are used specifically for propagational cuttings to clone new, identical plants. By sowing seed, one runs the risk of genetic differences much like humans do when producing children and variations can be problematic for people interested in exact copies of a certain plant. I have used some of my stock plants for over 4 years now and they are too woody to produce anymore quality cuttings.

After purchasing new starter plants from Hillcrest this Spring, I'll pot them up in 7gal pots, fertilize well and let them grow on for use over next Winter, when cuttings are taken to produce offspring for the Spring of 1998. It's a long-term proposition, but right now is the time to get to it.

Bill-1, Me-1
Last week, I caught up with the arch-nemisis Bill and did some major surgery on my cadre of computers, plus my landscape foreman's 486.

My Office unit a Pentium 586/150-64meg w/ 17" Viewsonic 17EA was turned into a Pentium 586/200mhz-64RAM w/ (a new) 22" Viewsonic P800 Graphic Series and Office97. My home unit a Pentium 586/100mhz-32RAM w/ 15" VGA was turned into a Pentium 586/150mhz-32meg w/ (the Office's)17" Viewsonic 17EA and Office97. The Front Counter unit an old 386/40mhz-8RAM was turned into a Pentium 586/100mhz-16RAM and got the home unit's 15" VGA. The very old 286 will soon become a 486, because we have the spare parts left over to rebuild it. And Alan's family's 486 unit got 16RAM more and Windows95, Office97 and PLUS! All the units received software upgrades.

Sure, it might have been slightly less expensive (parts w/ no labor) to buy new, bundled units for the 386 and 286, but all the parts and labor were supplied at a cost that made it a fun couple of days. It looked like a medical operating room: technical manuals laying all over the place, computer cases opened up, guts exposed, wire, cables, chips, fans, software, motherboards, video and sound cards, drive units; shit everywhere. For as far as the eye could see, we had piles of this and that, them and those, these and ... jeeeeeeeeeezzzzzzzzzzz, I'm having chest pains.

Extra parts, bits and pieces everywhere. We could have built Frankenstein and still had some spares. Yikes, we do.

Just Plain Tired
Some people would be wont to slap my face for saying that I'm tired and getting tired-er. Besides being incorrect English, I'm not a slave to an 8-5 job anymore. Owning my business requires a lot more than a simple corporate mentality; it requires being a slave to the business 24hrs a day, seven days a week, all year long, every year that I'm alive.

Breaks in the action are few and far between; the humorous images of nursery owners wintering-over in Florida or some other part of the tropics is a 404 Not Found as far as I know. Most successful owners work as intensely in the shortened Winter hours, in the so-called off-season, as we do when it's showtime with its 20 and 22hr days, from April through November here in USDA Zone 6. Although the nursery is effectively shut down and asleep for the Winter, there's so much to keep moving and complete before Spring rolls around, that it doesn't feel at all like I've had any time to myself to do personal stuff. Like all the things I've put off and postponed for the last seven years. The consolation is that it's my business and I enjoy the warm glow that success brings.

Case in point: for the past 7 years, we've specialized in over 700 varieties of hardy perennials. But over the past 2 years, our selection and stock of these highly-prized plants has dwindled to around 650 roughly 30,000 plants somewhat less than I'd like it to remain at. So I've taken a hard look at our current suppliers and have decided to move our business to a new source. We've dealt primarily with vendors in Maryland who've had a good, solid reputation for perennials, but in recent years, their selection, availability and pricing has left a gap in our Spring lineup. They're now finding the Baltimore and Washington, DC, markets more lucrative, so there's less material available for us. It's a simple business decision on their part: sell where the higher price prevails. That attitude is about to change their customer base significantly.

Mid-week, I met with a sales rep from Lancaster, PA, for a Connecticut-based operation that features over 1,200 varieties of top-quality perennials at competitive and sometimes, better prices.. I plan to place a large order with them for Spring, but will have to endure another season with our current suppliers until I can phase them out completely. It would be business suicide to put all my 'eggs' in the new supplier's basket sometimes shit happens and I could get caught short with some serious exposure in Spring so I'll be looking for other vendors to fill in some gaps.

Eventually, I'll have to discontinue total use of that original vendor; but until that point in time, there are many items in their repertoire that I can use to fill-in gaps in the new vendors' lines of higher-quality perennials.

I'm still working on my speech for the Pennsylvania Nurserymen's association's Annual Meeting, next Wednesday, February 12th, in Hershey, PA. It'll be a 90-minute presentation on marketing warfare, positioning and web marketing. They've made arrangements for some very special projection equipment tied into my computer for my use. I now have to convert everything from MS-Office97s MS-Word v7.0 to MS-Powerpoint, so it's projectable and viewable for the 1,500 attendees. First, I have to learn how Powerpoint works. I don't like having to learn new software under pressure, but there's no way around it this time. My Website will be on display as part of the seminar.

I spent the better part of Wednesday learning all the intricacies of PowerPoint97; it was a job and a half. Although learning under pressure this presentation must be flawless isn't the smartest way to go, it's paid off. I've gone through all the tutorials, toolbars and methods of PPs capabilities, and have put together a basic outline. Now I can add animations, backgrounds, color, type and all the bells and whistles to make it sing. I'm very impressed at the way Microsoft has integrated all their working software into a cohesive suite of tools. Very nice.

The work on the new 30'x60' Storage Building is completed; and the interior work on the remodeled 20'x30' Landscape Offices is also nearing completion.Both will be shut down for the rest of the Winter and completed by the incoming landscape crews just prior to Spring.

The Winter issue of Roots & Shoots, our quarterly newsletter is being mailed worldwide this week. Since our Website went live on The Web, January 26th, 1996, we've added thousands of names to our newsletter database. I'm behind, sure. The printer needs the maling list in dos/ text & tabs and I've had to replace the disk twice for them. Seems their 'puter couldn't read Win95s Word v7.0 attempts. Bummer. I'm just finishing-up the Spring issue now. It goes to the designer, art director and typesetter, Dot2Design in Baltimore, who makes it look good, and then back up to York, PA, to the printer, then over the mailing service. Besides writing it, there's too many other jobs to do here; the other people are professionals and I've worked with them since I opened, seven years ago. I can count on them. It's usually me who falls behind schedule.

Last Week's Journal Entry
In last week's Journal entry on Content Censorship, I said that I would give Brian Milburn, President of Solid Oak Software an opportunity to reply to Bennett Haselton's accusations of censorship with a hidden political agenda.

He did and here's his reply:

Subject: Re: mr milburn
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 1997 12:04:21 -0800
From: (The Terminator)
Organization: Solid Oak Software, Inc.
To: John Shelley
Dear Sender,
Unfortunately, we do not accept unsolicited e-mail that is intended to be harassing, is politically motivated, or in any way offensive to the employees at Solid Oak Software.
Therefore, we will appreciate your cooperation in not contacting this company again regarding these issues.
What we can tell you is that CYBERsitter has absolutely no "hidden political agenda", regardless of what our critics might claim.
The site in question is blocked by CYBERsitter simply because it publishes or maintains links to other sites that publish information describing how to defeat our software and render it ineffective as a parental control product.
When a customer purchases our product, they have every right to expect and demand that reasonable efforts be expended on our part to insure that once CYBERsitter is installed, its operation be as secure as possible.
Any site that publishes information that lessens the value of our product to our customers, or makes an overt effort to subvert parental rights to supervise and control the on-line activities of their minor children, will be blocked.
Thank you.

I'm now assuming that my site is blocked too, since I've published the URL of the site that tells people how to disable Solid Oak's software. Well, I'm in good company anyway.

Somehow, I have the feeling that this isn't the end of the story.

York Flower Show
The 6th Annual York Flower and Garden Show is coming up; February 27 - March 2nd, at the historic York Fairgrounds and we're now trying to get all the materials pulled together for that event. We have our theme and strategy nailed; getting the plant material and display items assembled is the main task at hand. This year's effort will be a stunner; no one has ever put a specimen-grade exhibit together like this. I can't give any details away, or someone will certainly copy it. Suffice it to say, this will be even more unique than our other award-winning efforts have been.

At last year's show, we had a whacker display and a double booth right inside the main entrance; thousands of people crowded us before going on to see the other, lesser exhibits. With so much snow and foul weather in 1996, everyone was glad to get out and do something Spring-like with those four days of the show.

This year, the weather's not a major factor yet but we're still anxious for anything that looks and smells like Spring. See you there; or you can read about it here and see some beautiful pictures in an upcoming entry. Hopefully, the HP ScanJet will be working by then. I had hoped to have several pictures of the work we've completed around the Garden Center ready for today's journal, but technical problems have prevented me from doing so. Look for them next week.

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