clarity of thought

Friday, May 9, 1997

 often think that there's simple solution to every problem  even seemingly-complex problems  until I hear the plethora of ideas coming from extremist viewpoints. Then I realize that their proposed answers are often more convoluted than the original problem ever was and not worth pursuing.

I always do my best putative efforts over a fine meal and vintage cabernet sauvignon wine. Vitae vinifera. In vino veritas.

The Locus.
Defining the problem is always the toughest part. Clarity in perception requires the putting aside of all preconceived notions on how to handle something in a traditional way, and looking for the root cause of a situation. Often, it's so obvious that it's invisible.

I tried that on one of several problems: why do so many people mess up their landscaping at home and work with junk plant material? Why do they buy cheap stuff instead of quality? Why do they hire substandard designers, contractors and installers to do their work? Why do they complain when they get what they paid for? There are so many scenarios in this theoretical model that a succinct solution is easily within reach.

It still mystifies me. Some people are in such a hurry, or are so frugal, that the quality of life doesn't matter; it's the quantity that counts. Saving a few pennies here and there matters most. But at what other expense? Depriving oneself of the momentary luxury that's well affordable? Failing to stop and smell the roses? (Hey, I've been accused of that as a workaholic.) If they only realized that what they are saving is a major headache for another day that they will still have to redefine and face again.

The Focus.
Choosing a contemporary problem, exploring it and proposing a worthy solution is what the horticulture industry should be doing; instead the industry often perpetuates the problem by not acting pre-emptively and in a timely manner.

An new ad I wrote called Unwanted Visitors ran last week in the major papers in the region. It detailed a problem that the area has, but many people are totally unaware: bagworms (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis). It's a problem now reaching near epidemic proportions in this region. An infestation of millions of coniferous (evergreen) trees, with hundreds or thousands dying each season. An opportunity for me to sell more trees? No, not at all. It's an important opportunity for me to educate others on what to do themselves in identifying and controlling their own problems, before it becomes a costly crisis.

This is one example of how I can consciously make a difference in the little corner of the world in which I live.

The response within three days of the ad running was surprising: hundreds of calls and dozens of people coming in with samples of bagworms, which they hadn't previously noticed. We did sell out of the Ortho chemicals that control and whack bagworms Liquid Sevin, Orthene and Isotox but that wasn't the objective. Awareness of the problem was. No one had ever told the gardening public about this problem until it was too late to save a tree; by then it was the tree service company coming in to remove the dead unit and grind the stump out. A sad commentary on public education by this industry.

Landscape Plans.
About 70% of the calls I receive deal with landscaping: people with new or older homes wanting to do something to change, update and upgrade their home's equity by improving the selection and arrangement of plant material around their homes.

After the initial on-site visit, I spend some quality time usually in the mid-morning or early evenings detailing a sketch, done to scale, of their property. I place trees, shrubs, perennials et al in proper, strategic locations to enhance their dwelling and property. Simple enough.

After that process, all the materials and labor are transferred onto a MS-Works v3.0 or Excel v7.0 spreadsheet that I customized for a roll-up of the associated costs. Again, simple stuff.

What's complex is the process after that: most people are unable to visualize what their home will look like with the new plant material in place, as compared to what it looks like right now. It's my job to help this part of the process along to completion. I spend hours showing them what the estimate calls for, using two-dimensional diagrams and sketches to illustrate the point. An expensively-produced plans isn't needed: I sell plant material, not plans. So unless I use and landscape designer or architect, there's no charge for the planning phase. Most can grasp the concept quickly; others trust us to make it look great with the plants we've designed-in. Either way, they're rewarded with a professional, turn-key job that turns heads.

One thing I refuse to do is to pack the area(s) with large plants for immediate effect. In a few years, drastic pruning and removal is required and the net effect is a waste of time and money. I design landscapes to look good with a modicum of regular care well through the next decade. Many so-called nurserys and buffoon landscapers will omit this step and cause problems with overgrown material clogging up the area(s) very quickly. That's unprofessional and uncalled for, but very prevalent.

Spring Storms.
It never fails: when I'm meeting with customers to review landscape plans and material, a severe storm warning seems to be suddently in effect and, just as we're outside in the Nursery Display Areas looking at the proposed plant material, we get dumped upon.

Last weekend, it happened twice. Horrific storms rolled through southern York County
and nothern Maryland with 60mph winds, horizontal rain, hail and thunder and lightening that moved us to seek cover quickly. I had to close down the greenhouses electrical systems and doors on the way in, so I was an easy mark for the storm's fury. It was pointless to try to run between the raindrops; I was completely soaked. And the gold-ball sized hail was scary; getting hit by one of those missles would really hurt. I opted to stay in one of the Production Greenhouses until it was over.

Good thing I keep extra, dry clothes at the office. Spending hours in cold, wet clothes sucks. It's May 8th and we're having another frost tonight. We're already 13" low on rain this year; the water tables are dropping. Something's wrong.

A Miracle.
I would have never believed that the Republicans and liberal Clintonian scum could agree on a balanced budget without some real bloodletting. But they have. A deal was struck.

I have mixed feelings about it all: the Conservative and liberal factions are either driven by fear of the electorate or by outright greed. Or both. It's impossible to delineate between the two groups anymore. Clinton has moved so far to the right, he's almost unrecognizable, while the Conservatives went a little to the left to meet him and his band of criminals. Slick Willie and his arrogant co-president wife, Hitlery, will be very recognizeable in prison blues soon. They probably won't make anyone's social agendas for a while, except the warden's. Pass the spam, please. Ummmm. More bread and water, anyone?

I'm just glad that it's going to be done without a Constitutional Amendment, as many Republicans wanted and actively tried to enact. That would have been a mistake.

Lies Upon Lies.
It's an amazing scenario of lies, deception, corruption and evasive action that the Clinton filth has woven about everything they've said and done since the early 70s. Back then in Arkansas, Slick Willie was a lying, pot-smoking piece of shit and, know what?, he's the same lowlife now. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

And Hitlery, the arrogant co-president hasn't changed either. She's still the same nasty bitch she was brought up to be. She needs 10-15 years in a federal prison with a bunch of lesbians to set her values straight.

After the first trial, it became clear to anyone with a brain that the Clinton filth was covering and ducking with aplomb.

The second trial brought out more scum from Clinton's woodwork, many now convicted and serving time. The major league criminals - Willie and Hillarious - evaded prosecution; their patsies took the fall for them. What idiots.

What's really moronic is that a majority of American voters have left their brains in the 'fridge: they believe that Clinton is a lowlife piece of shit, but that he is fit to be our president. (I didn't vote for the moron; everyone I voted for lost in 92 and 96.) What the hell is going on with the voting populace? I am proud that I didn't vote for Clinton shit in either the election, but the sonofabitch won. Yet everyone I ask denies voting for him. Hell, someone did. And that old, pathetic rationalization that Clinton was better than the alternative is for shit. Nothing would have been better than the lying Clinton scumbags.

The FBI continues the in-house investigation. Sure, nothing like investigating oneself to lessen the chances of due process of law.

Now The White House is obstructing justice; soon, the Supreme Court will decide.

But wait: are the liberal democratic rats beginning to jump ship? A.M. Rosenthal of The New York Times always a staunch supporter of the Clinton scum states in his Tuesday, May 6th Op-Ed piece that he's convinced both Clintons are liars. Read it for yourself; free registration is required and worth doing for future news. Amazing and bravo, A.M.!

And here, the lying Clinton scum continue to stonewall (read lie) and deny the plain and simple truth. Special Prosecutor Ken Starr plans to zero in on the lying bitch, Hillarious, who can't even keep her lies straight.

The GOPs Turn.
First, the news of Democratic fund raisers funnelling illegal contributions from Asia caused a stir; now, a US Senate Committee is investigating and issuing subpoenas. The wheels are rapidly coming off Clinton's greedy money machine.

It seems that the Republicans aren't immune either; they're returning money from Hong Kong and subpoenas are beginning to fly in their direction. Both the Republicans and Democrats have quite a cast of sleazy characters to answer for.

It will be an interesting Summer.

Public Service
Owning an multi-million dollar operation brings great rewards but also obligates me to greater expectations than many other businesses. I do great amounts of pro bono, or public service work on behalf of many communities and civic organizations.

From schools and civic organizations to government and citizen groups, I am asked on a daily basis to contribute either money, material or labor in support of many ongoing projects. Sometimes, it's overwhelming as to the number of requests passing through my office. But we accomodate as many as humanly possible.

Civic position has its concomitant responsibility.

The Fruminous Bandersnatch.
One of my new favorite places on the Web - Bandersnatch - for some good satire and humor, is open 24hrs a day for your browsing pleasure.

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