Thursday, November 26, 2009

Trying To Save All The Thanksgiving's To Come

Happy Thanksgiving!

Please help Food Democracy Now fight Islam Siddiqui’s confirmation to the USDA. His Senate confirmation hearing is set for next week.

About Islam Siddiqui...
During his career, Siddiqui spent over 3 years as a pesticide lobbyist, an Undersecretary at the USDA and a VP at CropLife. In defending Siddiqui, the White House has stated that he played a key role in helping establish the country’s first organic standards.6 What they neglect to mention, though, is that those original organic standards would have allowed irradiation, sewage sludge and GMOs to undermine organic integrity! The standards were so watered down that 230,000 people signed a petition for them to be changed, which they eventually were.7

Fortunately, the organic community stopped Siddiqui and his cronies then, and we need your help now to do it again. If Siddiqui’s nomination is allowed to go through, then agribusiness will continue to control the seeds, the science, and the distribution of global food and agriculture.

Please join Food Democracy Now! and a broad coalition of other groups, in calling on President Obama to keep his campaign promise of closing the revolving door between agribusiness and his administration.

Why is this bad? Here is why:

If you go to You Tube and search for "Monsanto" you'll find a lot more information.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

An Online Thanksgiving Recipe Round-Up

I'm one of those people who thinks, "if Thanksgiving dinner isn't amazing, then there's just no point!". So over the years I've roasted a few birds and made enough stuffings & sauces to be able to know a good recipe when I see it. Here I've compiled a list of my favorite recipes & sites for your Thanksgiving enjoyment.

1. Here is the recipe from Fine Cooking I've been making for the past 8 years (It's excellent):
A Thanksgiving Feast for Twelve By Michael Brisson
There are a lot of other great recipes on Fine

2. We all love Jamie Oliver, and these holiday recipes are already making my mouth water:

3. Other good recipe sites are:
Saveur Magazine promises the "Ultimate Thanksgiving" - lots of options
Gourmet magazine's recipe site (Gourmet is closing, sigh)
Food TV has a stable of celebrity chefs - I love Emeril & Bobby Flay
La Cucina Italiana Magazine - I cannot understate how excellent this cooking magazine is
Martha - The best all around hostessing resource

4. Why not breakaway this Thanksgiving?
My friend Eric Gower did... He made a breakway turkey last year (you can have the butcher "butterfly" the bird for you & do this on the BBQ!).

Here is Eric's "Breakaway Thanksgiving" from his Yahoo! Food blog (which he does not contribute to anymore).

Also, I've pick a few thanksgiving ingredient oriented recipes out of his fantastic blog:
Ginger Sweet potatoes
A cranberry chutney
Star anise Turkey soup
An insanely delicious Pumpkin curry

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Font Freedom - Typekit A Simple Type Solution for Websites

At first, when I heard about Typekit I was skeptical. I've practically made a career around being able to "optimize" text for the web. Now I can unlearn all of the technical, CSS rules I've been compelled to follow for over a decade! Now I have more freedom to focus on design! is one of these web based tools which is very simple and very useful for every designer. I just signed up for an account, and got a snippet of code which I can add to my web pages (I added the code to my blogger template).

Typekit works with your HTML & CSS. The service simplifies a coding technique which has already been around for years but probably isn't really accessible to graphic designers (because let's face it, what programmer is ever going to think about more than 4 fonts?). Best of all, it's reasonably priced starting at $25/year for 10GB of bandwidth (which should be plenty). In contrast, Adobe sells an enterprise level solution which is completely too expensive for small design studios.

I'm still trying this out & I'll post examples when I have them. My biggest criticism with typekit so far is that it's easier to try out fonts in CODE than in the design process - which is kind of a time suck if you prefer to vet out a design in Photoshop.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Get Out of Jury Duty - More Info

Following up on my most popular post, here's how you can prevent yourself from even being called for jury duty in the 1st place. Over a year ago I moved from California to the east coast. But my CA driver's license doesn't expire until 2012, and I don't need to renew it. Since I'm planning on moving again I simply don't want to go through the hassle of going to the DMV. I did, however register to vote in my new state so I could vote for Obama. I thought registering to vote would trigger jury duty harassment, but so far I haven't heard from my local court, and I think I'm in the clear.

If you're like me, an independent contractor who never really gets paid for jury time, then you might want to make sure you never get called. So here's the scoop, but you may need to coordinate this with a move. (I'm not sure if you have to move out of state or just to a different locality, probably depends on how modern your state & localities are).

1. A month or more leading up to a move, go renew your driver's license. You'll probably get a new license good for at least several years. You need to do this ahead of your move since the DMV has to mail your new license to your "home" address.

2. Move & change your address with the post office, your bank & credit cards, etc.

After this your credit profiles will state your new address, and most bureaucracies use your credit report to establish your home address. But your new, local court system does not look through credit data to mine for jury victims.

OPINION: I personally think it's wrong that the court system cannot compensate jurors for their time. This set-up predisposes juries to be made up of mostly affluent people (retirees & housewives) who can afford to serve, and does not make available a true "jury of ones peers". Ironically, it will probably take several major class action lawsuits in different states just to reform this system.

What I Really Want to Tell United in Their Online Survey

Online surveys a good, but they are over-used as a cheap way to get user feedback. These surveys cannot be accurate simply by the "one size fit's all" type of design they utilize. There's never an opportunity in these multiple choice surveys for users to give details about their unique experience with a business. Why not actually talk to your customers?

What I really want to tell United in this survey which I found in my inbox this morning is... DON'T spam all your customers with a survey disguised as a contest. I would much rather have a guaranteed, small, mileage grant for completing a survey, than have the carrot of 100,000 frequent flier miles dangled in my face. The way I look at this, is there is no actual reason for me to complete this survey for United because there's no guarantee that I'll get anything for my time & thoughts. Not to mention the fact that every other airline conducts their surveys with similar contests. And on top of all of this, "contest websites" are starting to proliferate on the web, it's getting to be contest overload for consumers.

So what about my flight? Well, it was really weird that the "economy plus" section on my flight was nearly empty while plain ole economy was packed. It was also kinda weird that United had to announce to customers not to spread into Economy Plus without first paying for it. Nobody wanted to cough up the extra $50 for 5 more inches. I remember the good old days when if a flight wasn't full, folks were welcome to make themselves more comfortable without being taxed.

My only other criticism about my recent travel is about the check-in kiosk at the airport. It's difficult to use and puts way too much emphasis on 'up-selling' instead of expedient check-in. United, please contact me for some usability help with your software!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Very Easy Content Management with Cushy CMS

I think I just found what could be the most ridiculously easy tool for web designers or anybody looking for a simple CMS solution to add to their site, Cushy CMS.

All you need to do is watch the short video of how it works on their home page which is very strait forward. I've already tested it out and I can't wait to share this with some clients.

Now if those geniuses at Cushy could make some easy RSS hooks into their Cushy CMS they can have a perfect product for web publishers.