Monthly Archives: July 2007

Miles and Miles of Storefront Stuff

A couple of days ago my wife and I made a trip to the beach. We drove up from Litchfield toward the south side of Myrtle Beach…..through miles and miles and miles of….generic, repetitous storefronts. It takes nearly an hour to drive the 30 or so miles, with stoplights and clogged arterials  every few minutes. So much commercial excess, all about a mile’s distance from the timeless majesty of the seacoast.

That impression lingers as I read the story in today’s Charlotte OBSERVER business pages, explaining why the record profits in the energy sector may be topping out. It seems the same harsh logic applies to net revenues as to crude oil reserves–sooner or later, you just start to run low.

Whether we’re talking about the retail sprawl between Myrtle Beach and the Myrtle Burbs, or the tens of miles of explosive generic retailing around Charlotte, what is likely to follow after the boom plays itself out? Who’s left to pick up the pieces for good of the community? How do you efficiently recycle a dozen different Peppy Pizza franchises once they go underbelly up?

Do you see a happy, or at least an acceptable, ending to this story? I’d like to hear your thoughts. Just click on the comments button and leave me a note.  

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The Clicks Heard Round the World

The dot-com era might have ended with a big pop, but the related “global village” idea is surely more powerful than ever.

Four of us from WFAE have just returned from a public radio conference in Reno. I was blown away by a presentation by Pete Clifton, who manages the Interactive news sites for the British Broadcasting Corporation.

You can catch the BBC World Service on radio here at WFAE–from 11PM on weeknights and midnight on weekends.

BBC Interactive is rolling out a project called “My News Now”. It utilizes the assets of the world’s largest electronic news gathering team to provide news that the user wants, precisely when she or he wants it.

The BBC has identified core values in such a service: coverage should have accuracy, speed, personalization, it should present dialogue, and it should engender trust.

BBC is finding that some of its fastest and most riveting news coverage is coming from consumers, who use mobile devices to send in photos, video and voice accounts in real time. Wisely, in my opinion, BBC has also set up what they call a “News Authentication Hub”. This 24-hour operation vets this consumer-generated news by calling back the submitters, getting story background, and fact-checking as needed. These are all key attributes in a valid journalistic process.

On the “cool” side: BBC now offers a “what’s hot and what’s not” feature on its web sites. You can find out in real time what other BBC users are downloading, around the world, in essentially real time.

Check out the site (note at the top of the page that you can choose a  worldwide web edition, or a feed primarily meant for British users): 

http://www.bbc.co.uk

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Cosmic Truth at the Bottom of the Sea

From time to time I really enjoy the “gee whiz” factor of science and technology issues. I was listening to NPR’s  “Talk of the Nation Science Friday” as the guests discussed robotic submarines to explore the depths of the Arctic Ocean. They are looking for hydrothermal vents, where the earth spews out gases and minerals at incredible sea depths.

Some life forms have developed at the vents. So you wind up with life that has no access to sunlight-produced food or free oxygen. This leads to a stunning question: if this can happen at sea depths, could it explain non-oxygen based life forms in outer space?

If you wish to hear more, here’s the link to the show’s audio:

http://www.sciencefriday.com/pages/2007/Jul/hour1_070607.html

 Science Friday airs weekly from 2PM to 4PM. Great way to expand your thinking.

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The Recipe for 4th of July Memories

Early July is, to me, the second-best time of year.  It takes a back seat only to the Christmas-New Year fests.  July is a time of such promise. The possibility of trips to the lake or beach, great outdoor festivals, fresh tomatoes and muggy evening baseball games.

 

Yesterday, prepping for a dinner with neighbors, my wife thrashed through our family recipe folder. It’s a jumble of torn magazine pages, 3×5 cards, stick’em notes and random slips of food-stained paper. The most cherished family recipes. The ones unearthed once a year to celebrate the orderly passing of the seasons.

 

Marilyn’s quest was for Priscilla Olton’s killer blueberry cream pie recipe. A fave of my wife’s family. No milk. Lots of sweeteners. Guaranteed to give a whole picnic gathering a sugar high without the downside of food poisoning.

 

Up popped the paper scraps with other timeless summer foods. Margaret Stine’s whole-wheat biscuits (since banned from the table due to Crisco content); Rachel Gunderson’s Taco Dip (the one with a can of Hormel Chile and a block of Velveeta; irresistible). Better Homes and Gardens’ soy-curry salad dressing with brown sugar. Liquid perfection atop mandarin oranges and avocado.

 

Of course we were not just hunting recipes. We were reliving Fourths of July over the past generation. Gatherings with relatives now gone. Funky parades with farm tractor floats in midwestern villages. Thundering fireworks displays in New South metroplexes.

 

Whether sights, sounds or foods capture your imagination, I hope you savor a rich Fourth of July holiday.

 

PS: Dear Blog Consumer, what summer recipes do you most warmly identify with your family traditions?  I’d love to hear from you.

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