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Garden Progress

2009 03 30

I spent last week assembling all of the elements needed for upgrading the greenhouse.  The space is not insulated particularly well, and ventilation is poor too. I bought some glass sealant for a couple of trouble spots, and replaced a couple of examples of broken glass on the north wall. I will most likely wait another month or so before replacing the fan. The connected shed is all but collapsed.  I’ve avoided the situation, but know it’s a fire drill waiting to happen.    

I’ve separated the seeds that can be started inside vs. those that need to be sown directly.  I found that distinction on most seed packets.  The seedling starter should complete the necessary elements.  You can see some of our initial plans for seedlings in the photo.


We will plant some potatoes this week.  Everything else that’s sown outdoors will most likely not be planted for another few weeks.  Maybe more if this crazy winter weather continues.


I pulled out some surprising overwintered Nantes carrots.  Most were eaten up with rust maggots, but slicing off the bad spots and adding to a stew made them more delicious than any store bought I’ve found.  Apparently the rust fly only lays eggs at a limited range of temperatures, so careful planning and quick harvesting can do wonders in limiting rust fly infestation.


Hyperlocal – cultural change in a recessed economy

2009 03 26

 This is my coming out post for hyperlocal marketing.  I’d been watching the trainwreck that is the current US and global economies before involuntarily laying down on the tracks of the imploding advertising biz.  I saw it coming – my brother works in the steel industry and from our conversations knew that this would not be a simple “confidence recovery” recession.  There’s a dearth of credit capital, and without an alternative economic currency, transactions simply can’t happen.


For those not following how specific industry verticals are faring during this time: financial services,  construction and manufacturing were the hardest hit by the credit crisis of Fall 2008.  As the layoffs mounted, consumption started to drop across all verticals.  One of my main clients announced a 10% employee layoff, with additional contractor and vendor cuts.  Budgets were being cut, cut again, and then slashed week after week.  Nothing like uncertainty to make clients spend, so November and December were some of our busiest months ever. 


Then it started getting quiet. Real quiet.  I started planning what I would do with my time if the layoffs came.   Gardening definitely. Time with friends.   Creative work – I play keyboard, program beats and do a little writing.  I was neck deep in some market assessment projects and had been thinking about social media a lot.  I started following Scoble, Winer, Arrington, and others on Twitter.  I mean, those are the influencers you want have that conversation with.


After being laid off, I realized that my social media strategy was upside down.  I started some consulting work for local companies and saw that “social media influencers” could only provide technology thought leadership, but couldn’t really engage me about the concerns of my clients.  No, the real influencers would be the businesses in my city/state.  From a word-of-mouth perspective, they also stood the best chance of being advocates to my client’s potential customers. 


Brand positioning is a difficult proposition for the mid-term with so little money to spend and little capital to invest in R&D.  I don’t agree that positioning is dead, but (IMHO) the impact to transaction conversion is going to be minimal for a while as consumers make hard choices about the products they buy.  There are exceptions.  I see economic staples as areas where positioning can have a big impact: food, clothing, shelter.  I also think that small businesses have an opportunity to use positioning in local marketplaces to gain share against multinational competition.  That’s not going to work with traditional advertising, but with word-of-mouth campaigns that target the right influencers.


This suddenly became very exciting for me.  I mean, these are people that I could have a face-to-face communication with, as opposed to simply commenting on a blog, or paying to go to “social media” conference.  And they produced things that actually affected the space where I lived.


I talk like I’ve got this all nailed down.  There’s a lot of work that I need to do to really understand who this community is and how best to serve and converse with them.  I’m finding that Twitter is not nearly as mainstream outside of the technology marketing world, and the blogging universe has always been fragmented.  I’ve been talking with some hyperlocal social platforms in the past few weeks – my next step is to launch a network for my neighborhood (Shoreline/Lynnwood corridor) and start connecting the fragments. Anyone who’s lived nearby for any length of time knows this area is ignored by Seattle papers, and the death of the PI isn’t going to help. As I used to joke in my old job, “there’s a real opportunity here…” Anyone who’d like to partner, please get in touch – post a comment or find me on Twitter.

Garden Progress

2009 03 19


After finding some newly available free time earlier this week, I spent the afternoons weeding the garden. Spent the morning again on Saturday going through the strawberry patch and through some of the walkways.  Felt more like a plowing by mattock than weeding – the weeds had formed a matted sheet over the raised beds, consisting mainly of wild ranunculus, dandelions, creep grass,  and clover.  Each of these weeds has very different root systems, none easy to pull by hand.


The ranunculus, or Coyote’s Eyes is the most successful infestation – a plant with multiple stems and multiple primary roots, along with underground runners.   The flowers are pretty in the mid-summer, but it’s rare to successfully pull by hand except in winter and spring, when the roots systems are weaker.


I can imagine the Puritans associating demons very closely with Dandelions.  They spawn exponential   seeds, have an inhuman root strength, and an aesthetic lustiness at maturity that attracts children like birthday cake candles.  We’ve been determined to remove these each year, and they’ve grown steadily stronger in the yard since our arrival. 


The creep grass and clover is under control, but not yet a joy to pull.  Both have strong and extensive root systems, and are waiting for our vigilance to flag.


We’re also dealing with an oregano infestation.  I saw a quote somewhere recently that said, “a weed is ‘any plant that grows where you don’t want it to be.”  The oregano is quite insistent on growing among the strawberries, and has survived multiple “complete uprooting.” We’re hoping that the 2nd year strawberries will choke them out.


It was cold, so we didn’t last long.  I hacked at the dandelions and ranunculus in the walkways, and Lillian took the Hori Hori digging knife to the strawberries.  If you look at the photostream, you can see the strawberry patch, the kale, and the soon to arrive artichokes.  We’ll be planting potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, radishes, and cabbage shortly.  Asparagus should arrive within the month.


It snowed this afternoon and this evening.  The cold this year may affect our planting time – it may be late April  before seeds go in the ground.  I’m hoping to have the greenhouse in shape by early this week and transplants started immediately.

Where to, Hoss?

2009 03 10

[Cross-posted at Windows Live Spaces]

Spent the last couple of days thinking about where I want to head next.  I remember the last time I was unemployed for an extended period of time, it was 2002, and I spent the year beating my head against the recession desert of job listings in tech-heavy Seattle. 


After a few months, I gave up and started training for my MCSA certification, thinking I would change careers.  Though I earned the certification and worked on a few systems administration projects, I eventually went back to webcasting as I had been doing in 2001. Lesson learned about changing careers, I have no interest in “starting salary.” 


The certification turned out to be an indirect launching pad for the last 5 years.  The webcasting vendor that I joined was targeting audiences that had earned the same certification I had earned.  My first lesson in marketing immersion.  I had instant audience insights about day-to-day pains of the work.  I could look at marketing content and identify whether  it would attract the audience or alienate them.  The success I had was a high that I rode into several promotions and other marketing opps.


I feel a mirror scenario is occurring this time around.  Due to my former employer’s thoughtfulness around my layoff, there’s a little bit of breathing room before I start to panic about the loss of paycheck. I can spend my time looking for marketing jobs in a field that is clearly topsy turvy with the shake-up in traditional media, or I can try to get ahead of the curve, leveraging the experience I bring to bear.


With that in mind, I’m going to relaunch my blog, which was originally on LiveSpaces.  Spaces offered a great chance for me to try out new ways to keep my family & friends up to date with my doings, but not necessarily an innovative platform for the plethora of social options available in 2009.  One of my fave local/travel bloggers, Nerd’s Eye View, recommended WordPress, so I signed up.  The plan is to focus on hyperlocal trends (a meme that I think has legs in this “nu-new-nouveaux” economy), online/offline community management, locavore news, and music production.  It’s a little personal, a little professional, and something that I hope will point the way to where I’m headed next.


On the headphones: TED talk with David Holt