I’ve got great neighbors. One of the first people I met when I moved to my neighborhood in East Atlanta was Ms. Lenora. I think I first bumped in to her on my morning dog walks. She fills me in on the latest news about her grandkids, goings-on in the neighborhood, and her gardening. She has lived here for decades, and is an anchor of the community. Whenever I pass by her place I’m always compelled to wave, and often I’ll stop and we’ll chat for a while. She’s part of what makes the area really feel like home.
For her own reasons that she’d be glad to tell you about(more in the video below), Ms. Lenora takes care of a monument to General McPherson on our street. Year-round, she does what needs to be done out of her own pocket and with her own sweat — she plants new flowers, prunes what needs to be pruned, pulls the weeds, and does whatever needs doing to keep the monument looking beautiful. She does a fantastic job, and it always makes me happy to stop and pull over and hear from her about the latest additions to the flower beds. If you’ve perused my Flickr photos, you’ve seen quite a few pictures of the monument:
A couple of nights ago I was coming back from dinner and noticed a Channel 46 news truck set up down the street to do a live report. Of course, when you see the local news your first instinct is that something bad must have happened, so I pulled over and asked the reporter what was going on. She explained that she had put together a story about my friend Ms. Lenora and her volunteer care of the monument. Another friend captured the report and shared it:
It also turns out that I know the reporter in another context; she’s a participant in our community message board, EAV Buzz. As soon as she filed the story, she hit the board to tell us about it. Although Ms. Lenora herself doesn’t have an internet connection, I like to fill her in on some of the discussions from time to time, and I’m making her a copy of the above news report, so she can watch it whenever she wants. We’re all very grateful for the hard work and care she puts in.
As an aside, the annual festival commemorating the Battle Of Atlanta is coming up. If you’d like to visit the monument and learn more about what all happened in this area during the Civil War, that’s a great time to stop by the neighborhood. More info at batlevent.org.
Congratulations to Lady Rogue, creator of my favorite new local business, for the excellent article in Daily Candy yesterday. I first heard of the new group when I received a mysterious follow request from @rogueapron on Twitter several months ago. It’s a traveling, underground dinner club, with food expertly sourced and prepared by a professional chef and beer/liquor pairings hand crafted by a local boozemaker. The prices are incredibly reasonable; at the first event carnivores paid $10, which included both food and accompanying booze, and vegetarians payed $5. I went to the inaugural St. Patrick’s Day event and lent a hand as volunteer photographer. The food, atmosphere, and company were all fantastic and I’ve been anxiously waiting for the upcoming BBQ event, whose date is yet to be determined.
Here are my photos from the St. Patrick’s Day event:
If you’re interested in helping the group by playing host to an event, you can sign up here(FAQ on hosting). Donations and volunteer helpers are also always welcome. They have a mailing list and a Facebook group to let everyone know of upcoming events. Once an event is announced, I recommend jumping on it as space is limited and these things tend to fill up.
One way I look to use blogs is to get glimpses of places I’m not, and to keep tabs on where I am.
My friend Ken recently started Live For Buzz which represents a really interesting idea for how to tie blogs and message boards together. EAVBuzz is a message board many East Atlanta residents use to share news and information, gossip, kvetch, have off-topic discussions, share public safety reports, organize get-togethers, and solve problems. Live For Buzz is a blog front-end for the message board, that pulls out discussions that might be of interest to the larger community or to people who don’t live in the immediate area. The Buzz is such an active forum that it’s become difficult to keep up with the volume of new posts that go up, and Live For Buzz addresses that problem by creating a more distilled information source for people who only have time to watch the most significant discussions. Ken distills the discussions into a several paragraph blog entry, and then also always offers links straight into the board, for anyone who might decide they’re interested enough to roll up their sleeves and enter the fray. I think more message boards should think this way, and use a blog as a more accessible point of entry for outsiders. There’s a lot of information on message boards that doesn’t bubble up to the surface because it takes so much effort to wade through it all, especially if you’re not a member.
On the other side of the country, for the past several months I’ve been reading Tony Pierce’s Busblog, thanks to a pointer from my friends Gregg and Josh Lucas at LA Times Interactive. Tony’s personal vignettes about his life and what he sees around LA are great reads, and he also writes about the rapidly evolving blogging program he runs at LA Times. Because he also has access to the LA Times writing and editorial staff, he does some great work digging deeper on stories that come through the paper and offering his own unique perspective about what’s happening there.
His writing style is inspiring, and i find that when my own head is filled with cobwebs, reading the Busblog helps me knock them loose sometimes. I especially like how his titles often grab me and pull me in to his subject matter without having to scan any of the entry. And they almost always deliver what they promise. He also polls his readers often, highlights friends, acquaintences, and strangers doing good work online, and manages to balance what’s important to him about writing and what’s important to his audience in reading him.
It’s been a weird weekend. On Friday night, the tornado that ripped through downtown Atlanta and then Cabbagetown came through East Atlanta. I was lucky that there was no damage to my house, and the power was only out until early Sunday morning, but lots of my neighbors weren’t so lucky. I decided to write down some of my recollections, and this entry got rather long, so I put it all in the extended entry. Click the “more” link to read all of it.
Earlier today while I was on the phone I heard my dog Toofis making more of a ruckus than usual in the backyard. I peered out the window and saw something like this:
When I put the phone down, got Toofis inside, and took a closer look, it turned out it was this:
Aww. My neighbor across the way helped me identify it as an albino ferret. As I’m pretty sure they’re not indigenous to my area, I’m pretty sure it’s a lost pet. We’re getting the word out and already have a lead or two on who the owner might be. And in the meantime, another of my neighborhood friends has volunteered to foster it. I have really great neighbors.
Here’s the full Flickr set from the afternoon. Anyone have a good idea for an interim name for the little fuzzball?
Update: I’m very pleased to report that we’ve lined up both a foster home and a potential permanent home for little Afton/Spiderwoman/Whitey/Mrs. White, assuming no one comes forward to claim her as theirs. Since the initial discovery we also discovered this Craigslist listing from February 3 reporting what has to be the same ferret found. I have a feeling the original owner no longer wants it.
I'm not sure how much longer I'll be using Vox — maybe this will remain a convenient place to use as a public scratch pad, or it could be that I'll want my new online home at extraface.com to have all of that. There's a lot I like about Vox, but when the character of the QoTD's didn't really appeal to me anymore and my own neighborhood started to quiet down (with the notable exception of navelgazer, who keeps the fires burning in the trash cans) there was less and less motivation to come around. It never really bothered me that much that I couldn't take my data with me, but now that I'm starting to situate myself over at Extraface.com, maybe I'd like be able to take some piece of my Vox experiences with me over to there. I guess one way to do it woudl be to surface a feed of this there. I certainly don't want to lose track of or touch with my Vox-specific friends, but I figure I can just follow them via RSS either way, and don't necessarily need my own presence here for that.
On the other hand, I like how deliberately informal Vox feels. It's diaryish without being excessively so. There's no expectation here that I need to stick to some kind of deliberate formula or focus.
One thing I can credit Vox with is making Saturday blogging enjoyable. One of my favorite ways to use it has been sitting down like I am today with a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning, and publicly laying out what my plans are for the weekend. It helps me clear it out of my head, and my track record has been pretty good at doing most of what I say I will, or at least thinking it through. It's a more involved process than just going through a task review on a GTD list, and involves some degree of public commitment, consideration of presentation, and vanity. I end up thinking more about the aesthetics of how I'm saying what I'm saying as I write it up, more so than if I'm just reviewing tasks and picking what I can get to today. It's more constructed, in a good way. It helps me see what conflicts with what, too. That's a habit I hope to keep up whether I keep a presence here or not.
For an update from the other side of the house, there's this.
And here's my list of events, tasks, and things I hope to get to this weekend:
- Today there's the East Atlanta Strut, which involves a parade, a 5k, local businesses, food vendors, drink specials, and lots of friends and neighbors. Heh, I mistyped "neighbro". Maybe I'll start to socialize that as slang.
- More work to be done on the aforementioned extraface — I've done a couple of sets of revisions on the site part, and then took a little time off. It's time to do another major push, including using some of the feedback that you good people gave me, and styling a WordPress blog for it.
- I'm developing a prototype to hopefully present at BarCampAtlanta. Need to spend some significant time with that this weekend.
- My BlogOrlando presentation/discussion focus plan needs some attention too.
- Raiders are playing the Broncos Sunday at 4pm.
- LSU, my adopted college football team, takes on Middle Tennessee tonight. I may have to skip the rest of college football today in order to get anything done. But I'll catch some College Gameday this morning maybe.
- There's a party tonight at friends' house. Hope to get to some of that.
- Emails aplenty to get to. Now that I'm maintaining inbox zero I don't like to do much emailing on weekends — rather let everything rest for a while unless it's super-urgent. But this weekend there are lots of balls I need to keep in the air.
- Sunday dog park of course.
- Straighten, tidy, and clean, all of which mean the same thing.
What was the highlight of this past weekend?
In this corner, the Battle of Atlanta/Taste of East Atlanta festivities, where I got to learn about the central role my neighborhood played in civil war history, the advantages of British Enfield Rifles over Austrian pos'es, the various bone saws and techniques employed in battlefield amputations, and how General MacPherson met his untimely end at the end of my block. I also volunteered at the Taste of East Atlanta, which makes my second "taste of a city" event in as many months. I've found that cities generally taste pretty good.
And in this corner, putting together the second adirondack chair for my backyard. And reaping the rewards by setting a spell.