July 5, 1996

First Time.

In everyone's life, there was once a starting point. A beginning to what you're doing now. Or did in the past. We all were newbies at something at some point.
My Garden Center & Nursery has several newbies right now. Several of the older, more experienced people have moved on to other positions; some here, and some at other places. I like it when this happens. It's refreshing in a way: by staying in the same slot for too long, a person tends to get complacent, and too comfortable. I often find myself in this trap. So when I feel it happening, I take on something else to do in addition to the 86 or 90 jobs I do now...
The new faces are scattered throughout the complex. They're young and eager to learn a trade or profession. Several want to make a career in the horticultural field, and this is a wonderful place to begin the journey. The on-the-job training they'll get over the next several months will either help solidify their ambitions or allow a change of direction; hopefully it will be a positive, career-building experience.
It's indirectly my responsibility to make sure that they have every opportunity to get what they need in the way of training and experience; it's my landscape foreman's direct responsibility to make absolutely sure. He's a consumate professional, so I know the task will be handled correctly and with pleasure. Alan enjoys teaching people what he knows, and that's a considerable amount.


Right now, I'm a newbie all over again when I get into PhotoShop and Illustrator from Adobe. I have a person who has four years of this software under her belt, coming in two nights per week to show me the basic techniques and procedures, but I still feel like a dummy. She is terrified by HTML and yet I feel very comfortable writing that stuff. But the point here is anything new and uncharted can make even a veteran into an instant beginner.
Lest I get too full of myself here, I readily admit that I am humbled by those two programs right now, but I shall master them. Sometime soon. I hope. I think. Maybe.

Next Time.

I'm on a small crusade right now: new web page design for my website. I've started over completely with a new concept. All the preliminary HTML work in HotDogPro, and some graphics in both PhotoShop and Ilustrator is completed, but can't quite seem to get the feel, the metaphor that I want. Or the look. It's frustrating for me. I hate to radically change things: over 9,300 hits since January 26th and still coming in at a respectable rate of 75+ per day. I must have done something right. Nothing like what some WebSites get, but just fine for me. The response is phenomenal and business from the WebSite is excellent. I'm satisfied with it. But the design still plagues me somewhat.
I want more. I don't quite know what, but something. And being so new to advanced graphic techniques is stumping me right now. So I'm still playing around with other designs. Here's a few, let me know what you think: check out my latest effort on a new frames version of the Main Page for easier navigating. Here's one attempt, here's yet another, and here's still another try at a new look. Oh yes, the infamous quilt version lives here. Very soon, an even newer version will be up to look at, complete with navigational bar and special animations. When will it ever end?

The Search Goes On.

In a quest for a new look, I'm actually reading about design. I've got a copy of David Siegel's new book from Hayden Press, called Creating whacker Web Sites: The Art of Third Generation Site Design. Pick up a copy at a quality bookstore, like Border's or Barnes & Noble. It's $45, very slick, well done and probably worth it. I'll let you know after I read some more. And definitely visit the WebSite he has up; it's a nice experience!
The more I think about design, the more I believe that design is what will insure the survival of most WebSites in the future. Content will still rule, design will follow; but if design is lacking, content means very little. Why? Because people won't notice the site. And if no one notices your WebSite, then it follows that very few will visit. This will be a new concept for those on The Web. I just wish I had done it from the beginning, instead of having to retrofit everything in mid-stream. Better late than never.

Breaking New Ground.

I've always been interested in both miniature (under 1ft) and dwarf (under 3ft) plant material since I started this business six years ago. I'm fascinated how they stay that way.Here's a quick primer on the miniature and dwarf plant material we use to populate our Trough Gardens. It was a very new area of exporation for me, in the midst of so much else to do. Much research, reading and study was required before attempting to build outdoor Alpine Gardens, much less get into the Trough Garden business. But you should see them now. I'll have an Alpine Garden Page up soon. Check the News Page in the coming weeks for details.


I hate to ruin a good Journal entry with a political commentary like the following, but with the Nation's July 4th Holiday just yesterday, I must say something about the state of politics in America.
If a recent Wall Street Journal-NBC News Poll is even remotely accurate, then I've been wrong all along: it's not the American political system that's broken and bankrupt, it's the American public.
The poll results show that a mere 18 percent of registered voters believe President Clinton when he says that the FBI-file mess was simply a bureaucratic mistake, while more than 67% think it was an intelligence-gathering operation on opponents. And yet the poll, conducted between June 20-25th, shows that Clinton leads Dole by nearly 20 percentage points when people are asked who they'll vote for in November's general election. The poll has Clinton leading in virtually all parts of the United States, and in pretty much every demographic group other than among voters making $100,000 or more. What the hell is going on?
Somehow, the Clinton campaign team has put a positive spin on this bizzarely-twisted data set.
Think about this: voters across the country think Clinton is a liar, on everything from Whitewater to the FBI-files fiasco - but they also apparently don't f*cking care. Let me say that again: the public doesn't f*cking care if "Slick Willie" Clinton lies about everything. This is proof positive, the White House claims, that issues such as Whitewater aren't resonating and striking home with the public. Huh? Run that by me again.
The public has little appetite for Whitewater and that's no secret anymore. The allegations had already surfaced as voters stepped into the voting booth four years ago. In addition, polls in 1992 showed a majority didn't fully trust Clinton then, either. Most didn't believe his stories about how he managed to evade military service, and the "I smoked ... but didn't inhale" line has become standard fare for every low-life comic in the universe.
But Clinton wasn't president then; America (collectively) decided, for better or worse, to give him the benefit of the doubt. We knew about Bush, and decided to take a shot on a guy we didn't trust over a sitting president who hadn't delivered.
So here we are, four years later - but this time we've got plenty of items from Clinton's tenure to scrutinize: Travelgate; the growing FBI-file debacle; and let's not forget an issue that has dropped from the front pages, but is far from dead - the wink-and-nod the administration gave to the Iranians for shipping arms to the Bosnians, despite a United Nations ban on such efforts.
And yet Clinton has delivered enough to keep some Democrats hopeful. He's fought off Republican efforts to reorganize and make more efficient America's vital safety net for the poor and elderly by outright lying about scare tactics. He's beefed up selected education programs and managed, finally, to put a stupid, cosmetically-useless minimum-wage increase on the national agenda and get it passed in the House. He's also proposed a series of educational incentives to make it easier for parents to send their kids to college. And he's cut the deficit by more than half, and presided over one of the strongest economies in decades. He inherited that situation; he had nothing to do with creating it, though. True, people may still be twitchy about their job security, but the fact is, more of them are twitching while standing in line to cash paychecks, not unemployment checks.
So what does all this say about us, The American People? That we vote based on hope? That we vote based on a low inflation rate - and screw the ethics of the so-called First Family and the assorted shady, unethical characters they gather around them? We don't demand a president who can govern; we don't demand leadership. We simply tolerate all sorts of shit as long as gas prices are low, the paycheck clears, and our boys overseas aren't being brought home in body bags on a regular basis.
If that's true - and if you want to prove me wrong, take your best shot - then it's no wonder our political system is broken. It's broken because the government of the people is indeed a government by the people. And the people, it seems, can't see past their wallets. Thanks Bill and Hilliary for the great legacy you'll leave all of us. Hopefully, as one or both of you go to jail, but at the very least, down in disgrace where you both belong.
Happy Independence Day, America!

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