february 1st, 2008

Last December 14th, I quipped  that I wanted to change the graphic look of my weekly "Journal" by using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), but was having little or no real success in being motivated to get my arms around the concept. After one of my frequent marathon phone calls with D••••, in Western PA, she got the project rolling for me, by downloading one of my "Journal" entries, and some CSS Stylesheets, and built some templates for me to mess with. You're reading one of those D****-generated stylesheets, which I've modified for this initial entry debut. Slick, isn't it? Actually, it's pretty rudimentary, as compared to what some designers/bloggers/writers etc are doing on the Web, and D**** designed it to be that way, for my weekly convenience. One has to "start with baby steps" before one can sprint. And my long-time, good friend, — D••••, The CSS-xHTML Wizardess — did an amazing job on the template. Watch the bamboo image on the right side, stay put as you scroll down the page (no evil tiling images). Touch the eyeball/clock pic on the left. Notice the mouseover/color change on the clickable links? Sweet! Don't get me wrong: I'm not even taking "baby steps"; I'm "crawling" right now. Heh. "Old dog learning new tricks." Okay, okay, I'm working on it. If you think it doesn't look groundbreaking (for me, that is), look "under the hood" at the source code. If you know what plain ol' HTML is, then this stuff will astound you, as it still does me. I really "got into it" last Thursday evening, during the snowstorm, by trying lots of changes in the Template #1 xHTML document/CSS script, some of which worked, amazingly. Those that didn't are my next available evening's "course of study". But I "muddied-up" the pure xHTML-CSS code, and that template had to be "purged" of its impurities, by D••••. I'm actually having some fun with this CSS thing. I think I once said that back in 1996, about HTML . It's amazing that 12+ years have fitfully-passed since my onset of HTML-itis, and I'm now just learning some new Web stuff, when the rest of the world went to CSS-xHTML- some 4-5 years ago. I'm just a "late adopter", I guess. Simple HTML has always done what I needed it to do, for both the corporate website and the "Journal", so I had no incentive to change. Well, that's all changed, now. I need some serious structure and uniform format for the GC&N's corporate website, and doing the "Journal" in CSS will give me some exercise/training, for the day I apply it to that massive 900+-page website. Net net; I got through the week's CSS-xHTML with D••••'s help, and if you're reading this "Journal" entry, then we did well in getting it completed and posted.

Around The Garden Center™

I was up early — around 2:45am — last Friday, to water and feed the two condo cats, logon/check the weather and news, and had a bowl of maple/brown sugar oatmeal to quench a growling stomach. It was 16°F outside, so I cranked-up the condo's heat to 75°F, from it's nightly point of 60°F, and sleeping became much easier for me and the two cats. My sensitivity to cold has been greatly heightened over the past couple of years, so I always opt for "warmth", during the Winter months, at all costs. Yes, we all went back to sleep until 7am. It was a busy paperwork day, with 5 employees in, and I did some 'front counter reorganization" which should aid our retail customers' checkout times and overall shopping convenience, as well as my employees' ability to speed them through the busy checkout lines. James, my landscape designer, brought-in hundreds of customer pics form the 2007 season of jobs we'd done, and I'm HTML-coding a new Projects Page, for www.gdnctr.com, plus photo montages of landscape/hardscape/water garden jobs to go with the new website page. A link to it will soon follow. I've decided not to bring that work home and try to do it in the evenings, since I have a full plate of CSS-xHTML there to work on, but rather keep it at work, where the 4-5GB of pics reside on my office machine.

Wow, heavy snow and avalanches in Southern California? That darn "Man-Made Global Warming's" a real b*tch, isn't it?

After getting to work on Saturday morning around 9am, I opened my fast "RAID 0" office machine to find that during the night's Norton-Symantec SystemWorks defrag/optimization routine and full-system, anti-virus scan, a Trojan had been discovered on, and automatically-eliminated from, my system. Yikes! That's never happened before in the 12yrs+ I've been on the Net. I quickly notified D**** and James, both of whom I'd exchanged files with in the previous 24-36hrs, and I quickly ran full-system scans on the two front counter retail checkout machines, since we're all linked in a intra-net. Neither were affected by the Trojan, thankfully.

I spent an inordinate part of Saturday and that evening working on 13 new pages for the corporate website. 12 will be the "Ongoing Projects" Pages, and 1 will be the new "Water Gardens" Page. Lots of pics, hundreds of which had to be individually *renamed*, since there were *spaces* and *ampersands* used in every damned one. That took more time than building the HTML pages. I also built 2 HTML templates for the two main pages (Projects and Water Gardens) and then a template for the photos and accompanying captions. I also have to completely re-build the Trough Gardens pages, or just delete them for now, as I don't know whether we're going to produce any more, this year. I won't link to any of the old pages, which will be gone soon, or to the new pages, which aren't online just yet. When all are finished and up-and-running, I'll link to them, for your edification. Plus, I'm now switching between HomeSite v5.5 (HTML) and TopStyle v3.5 (xHTML-CSS) editors, with dozens of files being worked on in both apps. Wheeeeew; time to close-down HomeSite, and go with xHTML-CSS tonite. I'll spend a fair part of next week, working on all those new website pages, to get them up in time for all the website visits and references that visitors will make, very shortly.

I went to sleep very early Saturday evening, as I was growing weary of both HTML and xHTML-CSS, and my eyes began to squirt blood all over the keyboard and 19" LCD flat monitor. (Just kidding) But "discretion being the better part of valor" made me realize that I'd be getting-up earlier than usual for a Sunday (my only day off), and I'd get back into the website work, anyway, at some point in the day. Sure enough, I was up at 3:30am and had my daily maple/brown sugar-oatmeal w/ fruit, and a cup of green tea. I fed and watered the two cats, and all was well in My World. I cranked-up the heat to 75°F, was back asleep within mere minutes, and slept until almost 10am. Best REM sleep I've had in a while.

I hardly recognize myself these days: drinking Green Tea, eating 15-grain whole wheat breads, eating benefical oatmeal every morning, no alcohol, cutting back on smoking, no junkfood, eating fruit/veggies everyday; I often have to pinch myself to see if I'm having a nightmare. I'm not sure my system can take this "healthy abuse" too much longer. Don't worry, as I'm not going "vegetarian/vegan" or anything like that extremist agenda dictates. Cleansing my system and keeping it healthy, is my goal and I plan to make it happen.

The Sunday morning snow showers didn't materialize, as the TV-weather-idiots had forecasted. So I went food shopping for some stuff for the GC&N kitchenette and pantry: bread, soup, maple/brown sugar-oatmeal, cream of wheat, tea, fruit, tartar sauce etc, and the obligatory paper towels, TP, antibacterial hand soap, and more. Yes, we eat well, there. Between what we can make in the microwave or toaster oven, and the good carry-out restaurants/delis/fast-food places nearby, we're "not missing any meals". Plus, there's always fruit juices, soft drinks, jugs of York tap water, and milk in the 'fridge, as well as some candy and snacks. Heh, no underweight, malnourished people at my shop.

I finally finished getting some free, newly-updated software — SpyBot S&D; v1.5 and Adaware 2007 — on to my home machine, and the 3 GC&N machines. These malware-removal apps are even nicer for 2008, and do the job more quickly than their older counterparts. If you don't have/use them, I seriously recommend that you do both, and keep your computer(s) free of outside spy programs and other junk. I've used their free, older versions for the past 6-7yrs, and was glad to see some updated versions available for free download. Be sure to get the latest 'definitions' downloaded and installed in each, before you run them!

Monday started-off badly and got steadily worse. My wireless Netgear™ Router was acting-up all day, allowing, then denying a Net connection. I rebooted it numerous times, to no avail. I called my ISP to see if he had any ideas; he wants to replace it with a wired router and see if that solves the problem. He thinks the Trojan I found and removed on Friday, might be part of the problem. And since I'm on an intra-net with the 2 front counter machines, it could be a real problem. I've scanned and re-scanned all 3 machines, and there's no sign of the Trojan, but there could still be traces, aka malicious 'scripts" left behind, to cause additional problems. Phone calls all day long. Jennifer and Bob were in working on inputting Spring 2008 inventory arrivals into the CounterPoint™ system. We backed-up everything on the 2 front counter computers, just in case. Seth, my Hardscape Foreman, stopped by with a new set of Logitech™ X-540 (5) speakers and (1) subwoofer; what a difference that made in my office system! I cranked-up Jimi Hendrix' "Purple Haze" and "All Along The Watchtower" and blasted the Main Retail Bldg; highlight of my day, if that tells you anything. Then 2 sales reps stopped in while I was trying to work on the new website pages, and interrupted me with products I have no intention of ever purchasing. I got next to nothing done on all those pages, dammit. So once again I had to copy all the needed files on to my flashdrive, and bring them home to work on. Sigh.

Gas prices have dropped 11¢/gal since last Friday. Unleaded Regular is $2.99/gal, Unleaded Premium is $3.09/gal, and Unleaded Super Premium is $3.29/gal. I noticed Diesel at $3.49/gal at two of the local stations on the way home, Monday afternoon. This won't last long; trust me on that.

Tuesday was a cold, rainy, icy drive into work, around 8:30am. There were several "fender-benders" and a couple of nasty-looking accidents, on the way. I saw two ambulances racing from different places, towards the York Hospital, so I'm guessing somebody's day and week was ruined. I never understood why many drivers know there's a weather problem, like icy or glazed road surfaces, and yet they continue to drive as thought it was 85°F outside, in July. Zero common sense. Anyway, I began working on some large landscape estimates' "Phase 1" sections, with designs and numbers provided by James, my Staff LSCP Designer. They consumed almost 3½ hrs, with all the external interruptions and distractions (phone calls, people stopping in etc). I got one more page done on website ("Ongoing Projects") changes; I now have 4 of 10 done, and will work on several more tonite, at home. My cleaning service comes on Tuesday, so it's always nice to come home to a spotless, all beds changed, all laundry done, scrubbed & cleaned within an inch of its life, 1,800 SqFt condo. With temps around 40°F, the rain coming from the southwest was just that, and no snow. I lit a fire, anyway.

It rained all day Tuesday and poured hard through the night into Wednesday morning. Had that been snow, we'd have gotten 30", or better. This Winter has been the wettest, rainiest I can remember since founding and building my GC&N, in 1990-91. Sure, we've had several Winters (1993, 1996, 2003) which have had 50"+ of snow, but ¾s of it evaporated, due to several 60-70°F weeks in January and February, and there was little or no moisture value for the coming Springs. This year, we've had plenty of cool, cloudy weather and a huge amount of rain/sleet (11"+), instead of snow (5-7"), and the rain/sleet have fully-saturated the ground down to a depth of 18-20". Streams and rivers are swollen; reservoirs are full. If this holds through Spring, it'll break the back of The Unending Drought From Hell. No complaints from me. I'll light a candle.

Have you had any hot Green Tea, lately? Do you take it "???" target="_blank">neat/straight"? How about with Half & Half? Disgusting! It's looks like Liquid Soylent Green! I tried it once, and never again. tastes okay; looks like hell. Just some sugar; no cream. So nice on a cold, rainy/snowy evening, or anytime for that matter.

The heavy downpours woke me 3x during the night, as the skylights magnify the rainfgall into a roar and it sounded like a train coming through the condo. The rain was also horizontal against the BR windows, making even more unwanted noise at "0-Dark-Thirty". The cats were clearly unimpressed with it all, and quickly went back to sleep. It came down so hard that I couldn't see the cars parked in the other condos' driveways, a mere 110ft from my BR window. Yikes!

I was up around 5am Wednesday, logged-on to check the weather and news, made coffee and a more-substantial-than-usual breakfast, shaved and showered, and I was out the door by 7:15am (very early for me in the Winter months). I had to make a couple of stops on the way into work to get "stuff" for the GC&N, which I missed the day before. I also had a couple of "Phase 2" sections to do, from the previous day's large landscape ("Phase 1") estimates, as well as 6 of my company's corporate ("Ongoing Projects") website pages to immediately work on, with several other ("Water Gardens" and "Trough Gardens") pages, screaming for attention. There was also the weekly Weather Channel's (CATV) "Crawl Copy" to be faxed to Comcast, and a 9"x12" 5-color postcard mailing announcing our 18th Open House on Saturday, April 12th, which needed copy, design, production and mailing costs estimated. And on and on and on and on and on. "When it rains, it pours." Everything seems to happen-at-once, sometimes. Unaccustomed to "balmy" 46°F temps in January, I saw Wednesday's weather quickly go "from nice to nasty", in a few hours: 40-50mph winds and rapidly-dropping temps into the 20s.

It was 19°F and a 12°F windchill on Thursday morning, at 5am, and the forecasts didn't bode well at all for Friday. Snow/sleet/freezing rain/ice etc was the promised bill o' fare for late Thursday into Friday, for the morning commute. I went through the usual morning routine, and was out the door by 7am, as the sun was coming up. I decided to get the garbage bags out tonite, all Friday "must-do" Thursday/Friday work done today, just in case it was too treacherous to drive in until late morning/early afternoon. The storm forming in the Gulf was huge, and it's impact up here could be nasty. "Winter Storm Warnings" were already being posted online, for this immediate area. Plus, there's another big one of the Left Coast moving east, which could impact us early next week. Mother Nature isn't finished with us, by a long shot. As I said repeatedly, since 2000: "Mother Nature's in charge; we're just along for the ride."

After stopping for coffee and gas, I opened-up the GC&N Complex at 7:30am, fed the birds, and drove down to Saubel's Market in Stewartstown, to get 4-20lb bags of birdseed, 6 lg cans of wet & 20-lbs of dry dog food, some "other stuff" for the office pantry and 'fridge, as well as freshly-ground coffee for myself, at home. If you grew up in the 50s and 60s, as I did, you'll probably remember "Stewwart's Root Beer" and "Hire's Root Beer". I now buy 4-packs of each in the old brown bottles, and each is as good as I remember it. Ditto, with "Stewart's Cream Soda"; good stuff.

Looking at the local/national weather radar maps on Thursday morning, they showed a huge storm moving through the Southeastern Region, headed right for the Mid-Atlantic Region, tomorrow morning. So I did some "Winter Storm Prep Work", ahead of it, and planned to stay home until the roads were safe to drive, tomorrow. Dad called, and I told him to stay home on Friday, although he and Mom have Dr's appointments in the morning. I'll catch-up with him on Saturday.

I finished-up another 3 website pages' renovations, and now have 6+ (or so) more to go before I can put-up the final "Ongoing Projects" pages. I should have them finished by next week. Then on to several other sections' pages, which need complete renovation. A webmaster's work is never done. (((sigh)))

I'll be up early checking on the ice storm (and breaking news), hoping that it's not too bad. I have a ton of work on my plate, and need to get in and get at it. Snow doesn't bother me or my 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo, but ice is a whole 'nother matter. I can't and don't blame anyone, including myself, for not wanting to go out on icy roads. From the radar-map-in-motion, it sure looks like a Nor'easter coming up the Appalachian Mountains. Yikes!

Election 2008™.

As a Conservative — not a GOPer or Republican anymore— I'm completely dismayed and totally disgusted at what remains for America's Conservatives to vote for, in November.

Here's how I see the remaining liberal-moderate-GOP-RINOs. John "Amnesty" McCain is a RINO (Republican In Name Only). He's mentally-ill, a liar and very, very emotionally unstable. His campaign finance reform bill "soured" him to those who feels it trampled on the First Amendment's Free Speech. He is fiscally and socially liberal, and his anti-American stance on illegal immigration leads one to believe he is not an advocate for the sovereignty of this great nation. Mike Huckabee also has some fiscally liberal ideas and his current stance on immigration doesn't jibe with his record as Arkansas governor. His fair tax plan is attractive, yet his religious zealotry hasn't been enough to resonate with anyone beyond the Iowa caucuses. Mitt Romney is as phony as a three dollar bill. And he has flipped-flopped more than Democrat John Kerry ever did. Rudy Giuliani's record as "America's Mayor" is badly-tainted by his relationships with criminal Bernard Kerik and fellow corrupt cronies. He is also liberal on social issues which disturbs conservative constituencies. All of them are true garbage, and they'd help to move America to the socialist left, and destroy it.

Yes, I listened to president Bush's SOTU Address, on Monday evening, and once again, I was very disappointed in both what I heard and what I didn't hear, from him. Wasting billions more hard-earned US Taxpayers' monies on "tax rebates" to fix an economy which has fundamental flaws needing immediate repair? Amnesty for 30 millions criminal, illegal aliens? What doesn't he and the corrupt US Congress morons/idiots understand about "illegal"? President Bush gave away an additional $30 billion US Taxpayer Dollars, on top of the $15 billion he'd promised a year ago, for AIDS in Africa. Where's $45 billion going to come from? Print it? The US Dollar is almost worthless, worldwide. I don't give a rat's ass about Africa. Nuke the turd-world shithole, and repopulate the continent with White People, who don't live in 1st century tribes, and who don't settle verbal argumnents with machetes.

God Help America, if the lying, mentally-ill, unbalanced, traitor, RINO, coward, seditionist, saboteur, liberal US Sen John "Amnesty" McCain (TRAITOR-AZ), wins the GOP Nomination or worse, the Presidency. His win in Flori-duh on Tuesday, was ominous, causing Giuliani to drop-out and endorse the senile, old traitor.

I may just stay home on November 6th, and not vote, for the first time in 25 years. And no; a write-in vote isn't a vote. I haven't decided, yet. There can be a world of hurt and damage inflicted upon America by any of those 3 liberal-demokkkRAT socialists, or the RINOs, in a mere 4 years until the next General Election. I'm thinking about it. I held my nose, and voted for Bob Dole in 1996, to keep the Klintoon criminal filth from getting another 4 WH years. And we all know what happened, anyway. I'm thinking about it. I compromised my Conservative Principles then, but I won't be doing it in 2009, with McCain or Romney or Huckabee. They're all liberal RINO dogshit, IMO.

Things Which Make Your Head Explode™

Pardon me if I say that $600 - $1,200 per family "phony tax credit stimulus" from the Bush administration just isn't the answer to the Recession, which we've been in since December. As a small businessman, I know that "shopping" isn't going to fix this country's financial problems; it'll only fix the retailers' bottom lines, and most of the retailers are foreign-owned and foreign-based, pouring their garbage, crap, junk and trash into America. Can you say China? Forget it, Mr Bush. I won't be spending your "stimulus money", since you've once again missed the real reason why America's got this problem.

The Methodist Church is a steaming pile of socialist shit. The filth called liberalism took over the national church management back in the late-60s, and have ?politicized it, causing me and millions to leave, for good. Punishing Israel is idiotic and the wrong way to accomplish anything. God Himself, may just have "something to say" about that hateful, unbiblical, anti-Christian and evil move. Meanwhile, my personal search for a "real church", continues.

$230 for Nike's new Air Jordans sneakers/tennis shoes? The lowlife filth who will line-up to spend $230 on a butt-ugly shoe, could care less about right and wrong, personal responsibility, and hard work. Scumbags, all, IMO.

Ready for the Super Bowl? No thanks; I'll watch it on TV, from right here at home.

The enemy of the Civilized World is islam and all muslims. SAY IT, dammit! If you don't, you lose. I know who the "enemy" is, and I've been saying it since 9-12-01!

Global Warming BS™.

Have you seen this video: "BBC: The Great Global Warming Swindle"? It was outright-banned from leftist, hate-filled, dirtbag lowlife scumbags, Google.com's and YouTube.com's websites, by the mentally-ill, left-wing, global warming idiot wackos, but I've preserved it, for posterity, aka you, me and *ours*. Watch, be informed and download it for others to see. It's on my corporate server, and will stay there, BTW.

Ready for the coming cold spell? Screw the global warming crap.

Yes, AlGoreBore's aliar, huckster, fraud and mentally-ill scumbag, and his "man-made global warming" screeds, stink of bald-faced lies.

Some People Just Need Killing™.

It's probably about time that I cleared-up any confusion about this section, so aptly named as it is. I do not imply that "we" are the final judge of an evil person's evil soul, but rather that God is, and all we're here to do is "hasten the meeting" between them. Plus, getting such subhuman filth out of society, where they can do no more damage to innocents, is also paramount. Got it, lib-idiots?

30 cowardly "race thugs" beat this Brit White Man nearly to death? You mean subhuman, lowlife, dirtbag muslim-islamic-arab assholes? Reason #1 why I carry my Kimber 1911 .45cal ACP "Eclipse Target II" with 3 extra 8-round mags (total of 32 rounds), and I shoot the stinking murderous, muslim filth dead, in a heartbeat!

Ooooooooo, more murderous, cowardly muslim-islamic punks, killing an unarmed man driving a car. Pig-fuckers, "Mohammad" Rabah of Hayward and Doyal "Ali" Webber, both need summary head-shots, IMO. I'd volunteer at no charge to US Taxpayers. Kill the subhuman muzzie filth!

IMO, all subhuman, treasonous, seditious Code Stinko-Pinko filth, need summary execution. They're "The Enemy Within™" saboteurs, and should be summary tried and executed.

These six murderous, subhuman muslim-islamic filth need summary trial and immediate killing, IMO, for plotting to kidnap and behead a Brit soldier. Kill them, UK.

Let Them Sing It for You™.

Do you have an original musical composition bouncing around in your noggin? Maybe you have some lyrics scribbled on a sheet and dream of the day when Celine or Barbra will breathe sweet life into your words. If you're eager to hear a rough estimate of how your tune might sound, this site delivers the goods. Just type in your purest poetry and hear it sung by some of the most recognizable voices in the music business. The best part is that you don't even have to come up with a song — you can type in any message, listen to it, and then mail your masterpiece to a friend. "I hate you" works just as well as "I love your sexy ears," but those are just a few examples to get you rolling. If you type in a word not yet in the site's sound dictionary, you'll be prompted to add a song that features the missing word. Not just for the musically inclined, this fun site will be a major time sink (aka 'waste of many hours') for anyone looking for a way to express themselves through song. Fa-la-la...