Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Power of a Link

We're going to be working with an agency to design the new site we're working on and while putting together some information for them, I was running our Gardening in a Minute site's numbers (shout-out to Google Analytics!).

There was a HUGE spike in visits on June 7 - more than twice our daily average. That's great, but something that weird, you've gotta dig a little deeper. Looking at the sites through which people found us (did they Google us, click a link on the university site, etc.) I see an equal number of visits coming through www.baynews9.com, a Tampa Bay television station's Web site.

Visiting baynews9.com, I find an article published on, yep, you guessed it - June 7, titled "Gardening: a growing trend as fuel prices rise." And what should they list in their "more information" links but little 'ol Gardening in a Minute.

So a significant number of people who've probably never heard of us before are now aware of our Web site, all because of a simple link. Luckily, the radio show will soon air down in Tampa, so they'll be able to hear us, too.

Big Sugar's moving on out - of the Everglades

U.S. Sugar is selling pretty much all of their land, which is in and around the Florida Everglades, to the state for $1.75 billion. Like a lot of other people, I'm a little confused. I have four questions:

1. Why? People in the Florida sugar industry are saying this spells the end for U.S. Sugar - the nation's largest sugar producer.

2. Where did the money come from? From what I've seen, Florida isn't exactly flush with cash.

3. How does this affect the sugar industry? Or the struggling citrus industry? Turns out U.S. Sugar is also the third-largest citrus producer in Florida. (Do you find that weird? I did.)

4. How will this affect the little South Florida towns that exist only due to U.S. Sugar?

Time will offer more answers - Gov. Crist is just making an announcement on this deal today.

Article in St. Pete Times

I mean, this great - land that's being used for agriculture will be returned to its natural state and that can't be anything but good for the Everglades, right?

I guess that makes five questions.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Just another way that Mary J. Blige kicks ass

From Hot Gossip (Yeah, I read it! So what?):

In other generous celebrity news, Mary J. Blige recently performed a random act of kindness for a fellow fan of kicky wrap dresses.

The New York Post says the chart-topper was shopping at the Diane von Furstenberg store in Manhattan when she noticed a young woman having a fashion crisis at the register.

"The girl had a dress on hold that she loved, and the bill was $900," a spy tells the paper. "She thought it was only $500, and she couldn't afford it."

Enter Blige, who told an employee, "Go get the girl. I want to pay for the balance on the dress."

The shopper at first refused to let the chanteuse pony up for her frock, but gave in when she told her, "I know what it's like to want something and not be able to have it. I insist."

Blige, who follows in the benevolent footsteps of a Manolo Blahnik-dispensing Renee Zellweger and a cold weather gear-treating Colin Farrell, refused the woman's offer to send her the money, reassuring her, "Just enjoy it. I'm blessed, so let me do this."

I became a fan after hearing "Be Without You" on the radio. I bought "The Breakthrough" and loved it. It's a great album to have on while you're getting to ready - nothing more empowering than strutting around in front of the mirror, waggling your head like a good white girl and belting out "Enough Cryin." Or maybe that's just me...

Mike Myers and His New Movie Getting Slammed

Damn! New York Times movie critic Tony Scott doesn't just dislike "The Love Guru" - he downright hates it.

... Which might sum up “The Love Guru” in its entirety but only at the risk of grievously understating the movie’s awfulness. A whole new vocabulary seems to be required. To say that the movie is not funny is merely to affirm the obvious. ... No, “The Love Guru” is downright antifunny, an experience that makes you wonder if you will ever laugh again.

Emphasis mine.

I just read an article in Entertainment Weekly last night about how disliked Myers is in Hollywood, due to his need to control and fear of being upstaged. He's burned a lot of bridges. The director of his first "Wayne's World" is quoted - by name! - calling him a bastard. Another unnamed movie executive suggests he has something akin to Asperger's syndrome.

Someone left a comment on the NYT.com review, saying they were an extra on the movie:

The article said "The rule seems to be that no one may upstage him and all must adore him." That is 100% true. We were not allowed to stand too close to him during a break in case we heard what he said. He could never remember his lines and some scenes were shot 50 times. When he was on the elephant on the ice we felt so sorry for the poor animal (both were female) that many people hoped he would be dumped and stepped on. Being in an ice rink from 7AM until 2AM is COLD.

I've read about Myers being a jerk before, but the daggers appear to be all out this time. It's a shame, because he was a funny guy. I loved the first "Wayne's World" and most of the three "Austin Powers" movies, but it looks like his star is falling. I'd still like to see the movie for myself (and not just because previews show Justin Timberlake looking ridiculously hilarious), but I think "The Love Guru" is going to my DVD list.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

FSU Men's Track and Field Three-peat!

Florida State University's men's track and field team just earned their third national championship in a row! I realize that nothing matters outside of football, but that's still pretty impressive. Our super-hero is sprinter Walter Dix, a senior with 18 All-American honors and eight national championships. He will graduate this year with what has to be one of the best sprinting careers in collegiate history.

I really hope he makes it to the Olympics. Like men's track coach Bob Braman says, "If he makes the Olympic team it really vindicates people staying in school."

The women's team, while not as dominant as the men's, had one crazy-amazing moment: sophomore Hannah England blew everyone else away in the 1500 meter. Not only was it her personal best, it was also the best in collegiate races this year - period. Most importantly, it's the best the NCAA Championships had ever seen.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Perfect Pairing for Vegetarians, Umlauts

Check this out - a wine perfect for vegetarians! Gruner Veltliner

There's supposed to be an umlaut over the "u" - what is the HTML code of an umlaut? (Rummaging around in the Internet . . .) Ah, it's

& Uuml; (no space) for Ü

So, now we have Grüner Veltliner. Anyway, it's a very light, fresh-tasting white. According to the nice folk at winepros.org:

Grüner Veltliner is perhaps the single most versatile food wine in the world, often surpassing even Riesling because of its ability to pair with "difficult" foods such as artichokes and asparagus.

Except for an occasional dessert wine made from botrytis-affected grapes, Grüner Veltliner is usually a full-bodied dry wine (up to 14% alcohol) with a firm mineral backbone, giving it the strength of character to work well with many cuisines. It is especially well suited to modern cooking that focuses on the fresh flavor of local ingredients and the variety is eagerly being embraced by creative chefs and innovative sommeliers around the world.

They compare it to a Riesling, which interests me, because I love Rieslings, and I love un-oaked whites - like Grüner Veltliner.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Two Wedding Books - One hilarious and inspiring

I recently finished two books on weddings. The one I finished last night, "The DIY Wedding: Celebrate Your Day Your Way," by Kelly Bare, was a disappointment. I don't know what I was expecting. Either more - more resources, more details, or less - with more theory and fewer suggestions. It didn't help that much of the font was pink-on-white, and even worse, sometimes it was pink-on-(lighter) pink! Hard to read, and a little boring.

However, "Offbeat Bride" by Ariel Meadow Stallings, was a real pleasure. More for inspiration and ideas than step-by-step suggestions, it's the story of Stallings' own offbeat wedding, interwoven with anecdotes from other brides, including how to deal with not-so-offbeat friends and family who want to reign in your vision.

It's also hilarious. I wish I had the book next to me so I could type the excerpt where a concerned friend-of-the-family asks if she's considered the the "c-word."

The author's mental reaction?

"The only 'c-word' I knew ended with '-unt', and while I had given it consideration, I'm not sure where she was going with this."

Of course, the family friend meant "children."

Just as importantly to me, it wasn't "indie-than-thou." While I am not the most traditional bride, I'm not very "indie" either. I won't be wearing a big white cream-puff from David's Bridal, but I won't be wearing a goth-bride purple gown either - as one of the brides who posted to Stallings' awesome web site http://offbeatbride.com did.

Stallings has this to say about wedding-as-contest:

I've run into this a lot in talking to people about their weddings — the dirty flip-side of "my wedding is too weird" is "my wedding isn't weird enough." Both sentiments make me sad because your wedding is not a contest.

As your resident alt-lifestyle consultant, please allow me to state this clearly: brides do not need more ways to feel bad about our weddings.

I didn't write Offbeat Bride as a judgment — I've gone to traditional weddings that were beautiful expressions of the couple's backgrounds and beliefs. I wrote the book to act a cheerleader for those wrestling with making nontraditional decisions about their wedding — not as an admonishment of those who chose otherwise.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Very Different University Web Site

Check this out: Biola University

It's a reeeaally small Christian college in California, but I was blown away by the Web site. Is it effective? I don't know. But it looks pretty damn cool.

Parenting - Trying to Make It Truly Equal

I just finished reading a really interesting (and really long) story in the New York Times magazine, "When Mom and Dad Share It All." It's about shared parenting, and features parents who have decided to really give a go at truly equal parenting.

The statistics are a bit depressing, but not surprising. Married women still do most of the housework - at the same percentage as 90 years ago. Yes, 90. And parenting isn't far behind. Women, working full-time, part-time or staying at home, are, more often than not, the "directors" of the household, with husbands being "helpers."

But this article isn't about disparities - it's about a small group of parents who've decided to consciously split up their non-working life more evenly. It's harder than you'd imagine, and you probably already think it's pretty hard. And for reasons you might not think of. Duties that mothers have difficulty giving up, duties that men don't find necessary, how to split time when one person's job is less flexible than the other's. These people have made some hard decisions - one couple has decided that both will work part-time, and thus live a simpler lifestyle. Another has a (what seemed to me) complicated computer spreadsheet with hours bracketed out in color codes.

But anyone who's thinking about being a parent, or is a parent already, will probably find this article interesting and thought-provoking. Well, if you're okay with reading a multi-page article. I'm very ambivalent about having children, and I found it interesting.

Permalink to article

Cover Story
When Mom and Dad Share It All
Published: June 15, 2008
How do you truly split domestic duties? Spouses who are determined to adhere to "equally shared parenting" do it minute by minute.