Web Communications Group Logos

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Logos – Web Communications Group

I worked with Bon’s Eye, a team from North Carolina, to develop the logo for my consulting company.

I really wanted to integrate two concepts:

  1. ants and
  2. a tree with thick branches or roots.

The iterative process with Bon’s Eye brought several really great finalists, but in the end I ended up deciding on a variation of the 3rd logo seen here, which is a brown blocked with negative, white roots, and green title text to the right.

The emphasis is that we work on what lies beneath your homepage’s visuals. We work on the mechanics and structure of a website, so the roots metaphor works well.

In the end, I went with the variations below:

Garden 2009

Very exciting times, these.  On the interior seedling front, I have gotten about 20 Pig Pen tomato seedlings to sprout – and about 4 are already showing their true first leaves (the distinct three-pointed leaves).  Of the ones that my cat has not grazed on, I have several that already look very hardy and stout.  Pig Pen tomatoes are an indeterminate heirloom variety that my friend’s in-laws found one summer growing in their pig pen.  They recalled that they gave their pigs a few bushels of tomatoes they could not eat, and voila!  The pigs ate them, and fertilized them … you can connect the dots.  Anyway, they are meaty, hearty, large, tasty tomatoes. And right now they are starting their season on my kitchen table.

I used a coat hanger wire and saran wrap to build a pseudo greenhouse which helped incubate the seeds.  After they sprouted, I watered them with worm tea from my worm farm and turned their tray daily to avoid permanent lean towards the window.

Unfortunately, I have had very bad luck with my hot peppers.  I used yard compost for the tomatoes and jiffy mix for the peppers.  Both were seeds I dried from my fall harvest.

Out in the yard, I already planted two rows of lettuce, a row of cabbage, and two of bok choy.  I also put in a row of sugar peas.

Ways To Avoid Living Large

What? A new beard and a diet? Insanity!

I find it useful to exercise and eat clean. So I will say no to the next Deep Fried Peanut Butter-Covered Brownie Wrapped In Cookie Dough that comes across my desk. And the next time someone is serving up a hot dog wrapped in a beef patty that’s deep fried, covered with chili, cheese, onions, served on a hoagie bun topped with two fistfuls of fries and a fried egg, I’m just going to take a pass.  Yes, basically my new diet exists solely to ensure I exclude everything found here

February Beard Month

It is February again – time for the beard to grow. This year things are a little different since I don’t think anyone is contesting my strength of beard with their own. I may have frightened everyone away after last year, when I bested co-worker and self-proclaimed ape-man WS by producing the longest beard in 28 days.

I forgot how bad I look when I don’t shave. Regardless … the month is upon us and I have no other choice but to let the wild man within emerge.

Edward Braun’s Documents

In September, 2008, we donated all of Michael and Edward Braun’s papers to the John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.

Included in the collection were: two work visas, which I previously thought were passports, for Michael and his wife, Adelaide, several legal papers in French, probably sales contracts, one of Edward’s stock certificates, and letters from the stock broker about the mining company. We also gave them a letter which a friend tried to translate, a letter written in ornate, spidery French handwriting, which seemed to be addressed to an official of the forest service and described an incident involving a dog attack in the forest. How incredible to think that when Michael wrote this letter in the 1840’s, he could hardly imagine that it would survive so many decades and will someday, like the rest of the collection, be posted on the internet.

The archivist from the History Center corresponded with me recently about their progress in the translations. Here’s what he said, in part:

We’ve been working on the collection since the time of arrival of the material to the Heinz History Center.  I currently have two assistants working on it.  One person, a former French teacher, is transcribing each document.  Each document has been reviewed and I believe that 50% plus has been transcribed.  He is now working on the sample booklet and he is currently in communication with an archivist in France.  He’s not a textile expert and he doesn’t quite understand the patterns.  The other person working on the collection, a professional genealogist is working on the family tree and she is attempting to verify dates and names in regards to the materials present in the collection, i.e. she is going to show that everything makes historic sense according to census data and what can be found in the collection.  She is also searching for information on your family in regards to what they were doing after the dates of materials present in the collection; therefore we may be asking you for more information, that is if you have it?  I think that all three of us have been engrossed in the project and therefore we are interested to know more! The three of us meet or at least discuss the project each and every week.

When all the materials have been translated, it will be posted on the History Center website in the archives as the Michael and Edward Braun Collection.

Starting Off Right

I’ll be nice since the holidays are coming; I’ll begin my new Pittsburgh blog with a pat, but lest you worry that you’ll be caught in the treacle, I’ll pan something soon.

The praise goes to Right By Nature, Pittsburgh’s new organic grocery in the Strip. I haven’t been there yet. They opened last week and according to the press coverage, the store intends to supply organic food, including freshly cooked items, at very reasonable prices.

Attracted by a recent Post-Gazette article, I called to ask if they had electric scooter carts for those of us who can’t navigate on our own. My phone call was answered by a (gasp!) human, and a nice, friendly human to boot. This person told me that they were still in the throes of opening week hubbub, and the carts haven’t arrived yet, although they are on order.

She offered to check on the ETA, put me on hold briefly until another human, equally cordial and helpful, picked up and assured me that she would keep my name and phone number and call me when the carts arrived. If this is the way Right By Nature intends to do business, all I can say is whooopppeee!

Experience leads us to expect corporate-speak idiocy or indifference from customer service most of the time. Cheerful, bright people who actually know how to communicate are so rare that this call left me bubbly with good feelings toward Right By Nature.

Reasonable prices for organic food are almost too much to expect and I can’t wait to shop there. Sure, Whole Foods is grand; the produce, bakery and prepared foods sections make me delirious, but who can afford to shop there? Well, I guess the Shadyside 30-somethings whose BMWs jam the parking lot can, but I can’t.

I’ve limited my shopping to the Giant Eagle Market District for more than a year, and they do many things well. Their staff is a cut above other Giant Eagle employees. Once, when I thanked a bagger for his helpful attitude, he told me that only one out of 100 Giant Eagle employees qualified to work at the Market District. It’s great to shop where the cream of the crop works, but unfortunately, that also means the curdled part populates the other Eagles.

On my last trip to the Market District, I was stunned by a $1.99 price for a single grapefruit. This was for a conventional, not organic grapefruit, so I was really dumbfounded. Last week, my son and I gazed at lovely, plump oranges priced at 2 for $3.00, and, feeling like a Dickensian orphan, I asked him if he might try to save up and give me an orange for Christmas.

I understand that the pervasive economic horrors have as much to do with prices for both organic and non-organic foods as any corporate Giant Eagle policies, but as a result, I have to reluctantly turn away from most of the organic offerings at the Market District. Earlier in the year, I got into the habit of treating myself to rarities like chicken and beef unsullied by antibiotics and growth hormones, but I can no longer afford to eat food that isn’t killing me.

Now that Right By Nature has opened, maybe that will change. Clean, wholesome food for the masses: what a concept!

Precipice of Bounty

Just like last August, my vegetables are on the tip of really producing a lot of yield. And, just like last August, I am leaving for a business trip – thankfully only for a week this time instead of a whole month. That means I will be able to take part in the harvest this year. I am happy about that.

Right now I have both a baby pumpkin and a baby watermelon! The pumpkins were a surprise from where I had left last year’s farm-bought Halloween pumpkin. The gourd rotted and the seeds just took hold in the soil next to my compost bin. They spread out across the walk way and are now trying to crawl up some shrubs along the property boundary.

Garden 2008

The second year garden has a head of steam on it and seems to be doing quite well. I already have two crops grown, eaten, and done. Check out this year’s sowing:

  • eggplant
  • watermelon
  • squash (two varieties)
  • cucumber (for pickling)
  • potatoes
  • peas
  • bush beans
  • bok choy
  • cabbage
  • tomatoes (6 varieties – pig pen, josephine, early girl, cherry, …)
  • corn
  • lettuce (mescaline and butter crunch)
  • broccoli
  • beets
  • radishes
  • carrots
  • onion
  • garlic
  • hot peppers (3 varieties)
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • strawberry
  • sunflower seeds
  • basil
  • cilantro (failed)
  • spearmint
  • pumpkin

I also have two nice flower beds and a third area beneath my sunflowers where I put some annuals.

The potatoes are going bonkers. The peas and cilantro are not going to make it, I think. My mescaline and radishes are already done for the season. I have also eaten some beets (two, the bulb and the greens), a strawberry, and some basil. I am not sure when the rest will bear for me.Let’s keep our fingers crossed. I have been watering with an occasional treat of worm compost tea.

I Am A Closet Vermiculturist

Yes, i think it is time I admit the truth. I have worms living in my basement.

It was only a few months ago that I purchase 500 Red Wigglers and put them into a series of stacked, black plastic bins in my basement. Then I began to feed and water them – modestly at first. But more and more each week until all at once I realized I was obsessed. The worms grew right alongside my passion. Bigger and bigger – and not only did they grow bigger. No, they multiplied. And still I continued with the reckless feeding. Soon I was hording food particles from work and ferrying them home for my worms. My worms, my worms, my babies. My pets living in mud and food waste, churning through my kitchen waste and crapping out that fool’s quest -the fertilizer of all mothers. Yes, I speak of Black Gold. And I got a plastic bin full of it in my basement.

If that isn’t enough for you, lately I’ve caught myself in the catacombs of my crib mixing wormbrewed tea. I know what you must be thinking – but listen: it calls out to me, I tell you! I have to release the spigot and release the dark flowing tea of all teas! the plants love it. How can I say no?


I left work early today to go listen to a vermiculture lecture I had heard about. When I got to the place, it was locked up tighter than a buckeye in a squirrel’s left cheek. I got soaked in the rain. My notes on the lecture: no worms, lots of rain.