It’s been over a year?

Filed under:General — eric @ 10:48 am

Just stopping by to note that it’s been over a year since I wrote anything here. Huh.

All my action these days is on Twitter (and echoed on my right sidebar under the old musty photos).


More Delays

Filed under:General — eric @ 10:44 pm

Just popping in to say that the Food Network deadline was extended again, to November 15.

I think the reason is the unexpected departure of Mario Batalli from the network. As one of the Iron Chefs, they needed to replace him. Which they’re doing with a show very similar to “The Next Food Network Star” — “The Next Iron Chef”.

Which makes me wonder… do I want to win, now that I won’t be a colleague of Mario’s?

Yeah. Yeah I do.


Food Network Contest Delayed

Filed under:General — eric @ 3:19 pm

When I made the video, the deadline was July 31, and I pretty much had to throw the video together over a weekend. Then, the deadline was extended to September 1st. Just now, I see it has been extended again to mid October. So, more waiting.


The Final Cut (Maybe)

Filed under:General — eric @ 7:35 pm

I got some great feedback on my video, and I’ve made another cut to reflect them. I inserted 11 seconds at the beginning to set up the local food idea (something I’d cut out earlier in the editing), and to make up for that time I trimmed 11 seconds in several bits throughout the rest of the video. The result is a better story, but with maybe slightly less production quality. It’s supposed to be amateur, and the story is paramount, so I’m OK with that.

What’s this for again? Think “American Idol”, only with cooking instead of singing. Hopefully “instead”, anyway. I’m not exactly known for my singing.


Another Victim of Reality TV Syndrome

Filed under:General — eric @ 9:10 pm

So, I’ve been watching “The Next Food Network Star” on (of all places) the Food Network, and I get to thinking, “Hey — I can do that better than they are!” And a little ad comes up saying that the network is now looking for contestants for the next season, and all it takes is a three minute video showing what I’ve got.

And here it is. I’ve got a few more days to re-edit it if I want before submitting, but I’m rather happy with it just as it is. How about you? Would you watch my show?

If you’re feeling adventurous, here’s a nine and a half minute lightly edited first cut of the video.


Well, this is easy.

Filed under:General — eric @ 7:34 pm

Turns put to be very easy to write on the weblog from the iPhone. Does this mean I’ll write more? Don’t know, but it can’t hurt.


So It Goes

Filed under:General — eric @ 8:53 am



The Food Chain (as understood by a two year old)

Filed under:General — eric @ 8:16 pm

Cows gives us milk
cows gives us milk
hi ho derry oh
cows gives us milk

Chickens gives us eggs
chickens gives us eggs
hi ho derry oh
chickens gives us eggs


Horses gives us… fish!
horses gives us fish
hi ho derry oh
horses gives us fish


Dylan Hears a Who!

Filed under:General — eric @ 5:00 pm

Dylan Hears a Who!

I’ve been meaning to post about some of the fine, fine music I’ve found here and there on the ‘net recently. I just started listening to this a few moments ago, and had to rush here to tell you all about it.

This is far, far better than it had any right to be.


Look over there — I’ve been writing!

Filed under:General — eric @ 4:58 pm

Just because I’ve not been posting here doesn’t mean I’ve not been doing things, you know?

I’ve got all these other weblogs here and there, so now this page will go and collect everything I write elsewhere (when it has the means to do so) and stick them over in the sidebar over there to the right. Below the pictures.

It’d be great if somehow I could get it to copy each of them verbatim as a new entry here, so it’d all be integrated, and you could comment, and so forth, but so far I’ve not found a way to do that.

So, in the meantime, just have a look over there, under the stale pictures (I really need to start taking more of those), and above the “My Status” block, and you’ll see what I’ve been writing elsewhere.


Just a few more weeks…

Filed under:General — eric @ 12:49 pm

Here’s a letter I sent out to my mailing list last night:

Hello again! It’s Eric, the fellow working on the on-line farmers’ market software you were at one time interested in.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written you, so I though it was time for an update. The system has come a long way since the last time. It’s not fully functional, but you can right now do a lot of the “grunt” work of getting your market online. I’m still on track to move my own market completely to the new system in early to mid January.

Here’s what you can already do using my system::

* You can create your market at a unique locally grown address (i.e. http://myfarmersmarket.locallygrown.net )

* Your market comes with a welcome page, an Frequently Asked Questions system, and a weblog (news page), all out of the box and all fully configurable and ready for your own content.

* Users can create accounts at your market. There are three levels: Market Manager (you, and anyone else you want to promote), Growers (all sellers through the market are called growers), and Customers.

* Any number of growers can join the market. Unsolicited requests require approval from a market manager before they are listed and can begin selling.

* Growers get their own “About” page and a photo gallery, with unlimited photos and captions.

* Market Managers and Growers can organize product categories and list products, giving them full descriptions, images, prices, etc. You can build your product category structure from scratch, or just automatically use the categories I’ve been using at my market for the last five years and go from there.

* Market manager and growers can quickly adjust availability, pricing, and other items at any time. Growers can only edit their own products, but Market Managers can edit everything.

* Membership is flexible. You can charge customers an annual membership (you set the amount). You can charge growers a fee to join the market and charge a fee to sell their products (either as a variable percentage of sales, set per grower, or as a flat fee per item).

* Pricing is flexible. Growers set their own prices. The market can tack on a surcharge for each item. The customer sees the total of the two. The Grower gets the sales price, minus any surcharge, minus any sales percentage. It’s hard to succinctly describe, but should be easy in practice.

All of that is working as of right now. Here’s what I’m still working on:

* Automatic sending of the availability email. Each week I send out an email to our customers with a little chatty news section followed by the complete listing of products for that week. They go to the website to place their orders, but they enjoy getting the email as a reminder. So, the new system will allow you to type the chatty news section through the weblog, and by checking a box it will email all your customers the weblog entry plus the product listing.

* Ordering system. This should come online very soon, probably within a couple days. Customers can place their own orders, and market managers can place orders for customers unable to do so themselves. Confirmation emails go out to both the customer and the market manager.

* Order processing. The market manager should be able to edit and adjust individual orders and individual items within the order. This includes price adjustments, credits, etc.

* Grower harvest notification. The growers can see the orders for their products in real time through the website, but at the end of the ordering window, the website will automatically send emails out to the growers letting them know of the orders, what needs to be harvested, etc.

* Label generation. Labels for each grower will be automatically generated as PDF documents formatted for printing to several standard Avery label sizes. The growers can print them on their own using their own printer (or the market manager can do it for them).

* “Delivery Day” reports. PDFs will be created for processing grower drop-offs/pickups, invoices for the customer, and packing lists for those putting orders together.

* After-pickup adjustments. Customer orders can be adjusted after the fact to account for rejections, shortages, credits, etc.

* Minor stylesheet issues. Internet Explorer, always difficult for web designers to work with, is not displaying some pages as nicely as it should. This is particularly true of the photo galleries. I’ll fix that.

And that about sums it up.

You can see what we’ve done with our market at http://athens.locallygrown.net — feel free to look around, “tour” our member farms (They’re used to me doing everything for them, but I’m walking them through uploading photos, etc.), and browse our product listings.

Some other markets have already begun putting their markets together using what I have in place so far. Cumberland Co-op in Tennessee is the farthest along — you can find their site at http://sewanee.locallygrown.net

Feel free to create a site for your market to get the ball rolling and see for yourself how it works. Just go to http://www.locallygrown.net and click on “Our Markets” to get started.

And as always, if you have any questions, feature requests, etc., please let me know. Over the last five years I’ve seen how our system has revolutionized marketing for small growers and farmers markets in general in our area, and I know it can do the same for yours.


The LocallyGrown.net model

Filed under:General — eric @ 5:27 pm

What are the characteristics of a LocallyGrown.net farmers’ market?

The produce is local to the market.

Every market may have a different idea of what that means. For our market in Athens, GA, nothing comes from further away than about 100 miles. The system won’t prevent you from selling something that traveled 1000 miles, but that goes against what I’m trying to accomplish here.

The growers set their own prices.

The system is meant to emulate many aspects of a traditional “booths and tables” farmers’ market. The customers are buying directly from the grower, at prices set by the grower. The grower describes what it available, supplies photos of the items, and sets the purchase price.

The customer has choices.

Just like at a traditional farmers’ market, the customer can browse everything that is available from all of the different growers. The customer can choose exactly what to buy, how much to buy, and from what grower to buy.

The customer has time to decide.

Unlike a traditional market that may be only open for a couple hours (with all the good stuff gone soon after opening), LocallyGrown.net markets are usually open for business for two days—long enough to fully browse the site and plan menus for the week.

Availability is flexible.

The growers estimate how much of each item that will be able to harvest a week ahead of time. This takes both skill and practice. Even so, unpredictable factors—such as whether or not it is sunny on a Wednesday morning—can make the difference between having a bumper crop or a very small harvest. So, the site will allow customers to keep on ordering an item even if sales have passed the estimated availability. The item might not be there when the order is put together, but then again, it just might be.

The produce is harvested to order.

After the ordering window has closed, the growers are notified of all of their orders for the week. They usually have a day or so to go out and harvest exactly what was ordered, package it, and deliver to the pick-up site. The produce is not coming off from a shelf somewhere, but is coming straight from the field to the customer. Of course, this doesn’t apply for some items. Garlic, for example, is often cured for a while before sale. Jams and other preserves may be made in batches. Honey is processed seasonally and then stored. Soap is made in batches. You get the idea, but most things will indeed be harvested to order.

Payment is taken when the orders are picked up.

Most markets will have a set time and location for customers to pick up their orders. Payment is not made in advance through the website but is instead made in person when the order is picked up. This is because adjusting the amount owed for an order will be a common occurrence. Maybe something ran short due to bad weather, or maybe there were extra items available on the table when the customer arrived, or maybe the grower decided to adjust the price down at the last minute to account for an imperfection. In any case, it is much easier to do this in person rather than going back and trying to issue credits and adjustments through the website.

One aspect to this, however, is that if a customer places an order but for whatever reason does not arrive to pick it up, the customer is still responsible for paying for that order. Since everything is harvested to order, the growers still had to work to put the order together, and should therefor still get paid for that effort.

That is what makes a LocallyGrown.net market.

There are other details on how the site works, but in a nutshell, that is what sets our markets apart from buying clubs, CSAs, and traditional farmers’ markets. Over five years in Athens, GA, the system evolved that included the best points from all of those while minimizing the downsides for the customers, the growers, and the community.

From The LocallyGrown.net Weblog, now making its first public appearance. Don’t Slashdot it yet though — it’s not quite ready for the masses.


Locally Grown Update

Filed under:General — eric @ 8:42 am

I’m making some serious strides in my efforts to let other groups painlessly replicate the farmers’ coop we have here. I’ve more or less finished the part that lets one create a new online market (including a weblog, FAQ section, and photo gallery), lets growers join the market (and fully describe their farm, including a photo gallery), and lets customers register at the market. To do is the (rather sizable) task of letting the growers list their wares, the customers to place orders, and the backend to process the orders. But, I’m right on schedule.

Here’s a video that was shot during a market pickup last season by Georgia Organics that describes what we do and why other communities will want to follow in our footsteps:


Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (1215 - 2006)

Filed under:General — eric @ 1:27 pm

This is What Waterboarding Looks Like, courtesy of the Khymer Rouge at the Tuol Sleng Prison in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. And now brought to you by the good ol’ U.S. of A.

They are cowards.

Either the current administration is populated with cowards without even an iota of honor or they are subverting our Constitution and the honor of our country for purely political gains. The lesser of the two evils is that they are cowards in a crisis that is well beyond their capabilities to handle.

They want us to believe that THIS crisis is the greatest threat our country has ever faced.

Greater than the Revolution when our very existence was in question.
Greater than the War of 1812 when our nation’s capital was burned and pillaged.
Greater than the Civil War when our nation was torn asunder, brother fighting brother.
Greater than World War 2 when we faced a world wide threat of totalitarianism.
Greater than the Cold War when we faced global annihilation.

If they truly believe this, then they must be cowards.

Granted during some of these conflicts we did forget our principals at times and have later regretted the actions. Also granted that in any conflict there will be incidental examples of horror. More importantly some of these crises have given us shining examples of how Americans are supposed to act. How Americans stand on the moral high ground even during our darkest hours.

George Washington refused to torture the Hessians. General Washington said we will not do this. He said these people will be treated with respect and dignity and they will suffer no abuse or torture, because to do otherwise would bring dishonor upon our sacred cause. Where is our honor now?

During WW2, there were reports that American commanders released German POWs because they could not adequately protect them. Consider how we treated the Japanese POWs honorably even when we knew how they treated their prisoners. Where is our honor now?

None of these conflicts caused us to abandon our founding principals as completely as the current Administration is asking us to do. They have replaced “Give me liberty or give me death” with the completely onerous “You have no liberties if you’re dead”. They have forgotten the words of our birth “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These rights are unalienable and they apply to ALL men.

They want to engage in activities (torture) that the rest of the civilized world has abandoned. No one other than pundits and politicians has claimed torture works. The people directly affected by and implementing the policy of torture have stated that it DOES NOT WORK. Israel, which has been on the frontline of terrorism for decades, abandon the practice. When these same activities were perpetrated on members of our armed services, we were rightly horrified and demanded that they cease.

If they want to do these things in my name, stop. If they want to do these things to make me feel safer, stop. Do not bring dishonor to my name or my country because you are cowards.

– Posted by an 8-year Marine


Ten Years of Stalking Finally Pays Off

Filed under:General — eric @ 2:49 pm

After nearly ten years of living and working around Athens, I finally saw R.E.M. perform at one of their notorious unannounced performances. It was a combination release party for And I Feel Fine: Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987 CD and When the Light is Mine: Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987 DVD sets from R.E.M. and Finest Worksongs: Athens Bands Play the Music of R.E.M. benefit CD. I had a hunch, and sure enough the original four (plus another fellow I didn’t know) were the second band to play. Mike Mills and Peter Buck returned to the stage throughout the night to play with the other bands. Thirteen dollars was quite a small price to play to see R.E.M. play from ten feet away at the Fabulous 40 Watt.

EDIT: I knew he looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him at the time. The fifth band member was none other than Young Fresh Fellows frontman Scott McCaughey. I think that probably maximizes the jealousy felt by my fellow Techies.


I am, I am, I am superman

Filed under:General — eric @ 10:10 am

So we were out and about yesterday evening, and one place we went into had a large cut-out of a flying Superman suspended from the ceiling. Vivian looked up, pointed, and said, “Daddy!”. What more could I possibly ask for on Father’s Day?


You Can Sleep When You are Dead

Filed under:General — eric @ 9:49 am

I’ve long maintained that sleep’s a crutch, and I’m glad to see that the fine folks at Folger’s agree with me.


Clap your hands! (But I feel so lonely…)

Filed under:General — eric @ 3:55 pm

How can I keep me from moving?
Now I need a change of scenery
Just listen to me I won’t pretend to
Understand the movement of the wind
Or the waves out in the ocean or how
Like the hours I change softly slowly
Plainly blindly oh me oh my!

– Clap Your Hands Say Yeah “Skin of my Yellow Country Teeth

The debut album from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has been getting a lot of listening to from me. (Want to see?)

Besides being just a really good album full of really good music, it also makes me think of Randy. I can’t say why, exactly. Maybe it’s the blend of David Byrne and Robyn Hitchcock that CYHSY’s lead singer brings to the music. I’ve been thinking of Randy a lot lately. A new wife, a new son, new rooms in the home — I wish I could be there to witness them. Someday, maybe.



Now I know my ABCs…

Filed under:General — eric @ 8:44 pm

Most children begin recognizing some letters between the ages of 2 and 3 and can identify most letters between 4 and 5. This means that you can start teaching your child the alphabet when he’s around 2 — but don’t expect full mastery for some time

I think I had my mind blown tonight. Vivian, not quite 21 months old, read to me. All by herself.

Of course it was only one letter at a time, but still. She hardly has a vocabulary of twenty words, so reading sentences is still a bit beyond her reach. And she’s known her letters for some time. A couple months ago she began going over to her pile of letters and pull out the correct one when we asked, and recently she began saying their names herself. But I had no idea she’d put together that those black squiggly things in her beloved books were actually composed of individual letters.

We popped by a local diner on the way home from the farmer’s market today, just the two of us. I gave her a menu to keep her occupied while I figured out what I wanted. I’d not even got through the egg section when I hear her saying, “Aitch. You. Dee! Dee!” I sat my menu down and gave her my attention. She moved her finger from letter to letter, in order (I have no idea where she figured the left-to-right thing out), reciting as she went. “… Oh. You. Essssss. Eeeee!”

I waived the waitress off as Vivian opened her menu. She pointed at the omlette picture. “Numm numm!” Then she started right back into the words. Starting at the top left. “Bee. Arrrr. Eeee! Ay. Kay. Effff. Ay. Esssssss tee!” And on she went. And not just the headlines, and not even just the words. She moved her finger over a tiny ® — “Arrrr!”

I thought for sure we had at least a couple years before we had to think about home schooling or other options. I guess not…


“Surprise” — Paul Simon’s Back

Filed under:General — eric @ 3:25 pm

If you leap awake in the mirror of a bad dream, and for a fraction of a second you can’t remember where you are, just open your window and follow your memory upstream. To the meadow in the mountain where we counted every falling star.

I believe the light that shines on you will shine on you forever (forever). And though I can’t guarantee there’s nothing scary hiding under your bed, I’m gonna stand guard like a postcard of a golden retriever. And never leave ’til I leave you with a sweet dream in your head.

I’m gonna watch you shine, gonna watch you grow. Gonna paint a sign so you’ll always know. As long as one and one is two.

There could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you.

Trust your intuition. It’s just like goin’ fishin’. You cast your line and hope you get a bite.

But you don’t need to waste your time worrying about the marketplace, try to help the human race. Struggling to survive its harshest night.

I’m gonna watch you shine, gonna watch you grow. Gonna paint a sign so you’ll always know. As long as one and one is two.

There could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you.

I’m gonna watch you shine, gonna watch you grow. Gonna paint a sign so you’ll always know. As long as one and one is two.

There could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you.

– Track Eleven, “Father and Daughter

Paul Simon has returned with a new album, a collaboration with Brian Eno, titled “Surprise“. I like what I’ve heard so far, but then the only album of his I didn’t care for (and don’t own) was the soundtrack to his Broadway musical from a few years back.

He’s taken the unusual step (for mainstream artists) of streaming the album on his website — several songs in their entirety and samples of the others.

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