Category Archives: Uncategorized

Georgia’s Creative Economy

It is nearly impossible to move about Atlanta, or the majority of the state for that matter, without bumping into some aspect of Georgia’s creative economy. I’m not just talking about the High Museum, or the lesser known Michael C Carlos Museum on Emory’s campus, but everything from film to animation to street art and beyond.

This creative industry generates more than $29 billion of annual business revenue according to a 2012 study by South Arts, and it does not appear to be slowing down.

“From cutting-edge street art to community-inspired and public-transport projects, the arts scene in Atlanta is thriving.”

The Guardian: “Top 10 galleries, art attractions and events in Atlanta”

“Home to a number of significant cultural venues, Atlanta is a hotspot for contemporary art of all mediums and a fascinating destination in the heart of Georgia.”

The Culture Trip: “Atlanta’s 10 Best Contemporary Art Galleries: Profiling Georgia’s Culture”

“Where one might expect to see San Francisco or New York City at the top of this list, Atlanta was a little surprising; but when considering it ranked in the top 15 in all five of our categories, it was certainly deserved.” “The 10 Best Cities to be an Artist”

To make matters better, the USA Today ranked Atlanta’s Castleberry Hill as one of the top 10 city art districts.

Take a gander at the above links and them come have a look around. If you want to know more about the economic impact of art in Georgia visit the Georgia Council for the Arts website.

Chalk Artist


Chalk_Artist_2 Chalk_Artist_3

If you ever feel like what you’re doing won’t last or be remembered, think about a chalk artist. These folks spent 2 days working on their masterpieces, not for money, but because they love doing it. The key is to blend both. I think the top guy in the picture within the picture is trying to figure that out.

Ocean Size

Rip When I moved to Tampa, Florida someone told me there were occasionally waves big enough to surf in the Gulf. I figured I’d believe them when I saw proof. Moving from California and the Left Coast, one gets a slightly different idea of what constitutes a ride-able wave. But lo and behold, one day it puffed and puffed and blew in some slop I squinted real hard at until I convinced myself to paddle out.

Finally, in September of last year Hurricane Ike came through, and I really did get to experience good waves on the Gulf Coast (GC). But other than that, and some more squinting, it has been a lot of trips back and forth to Cocoa Beach and further south to Sebastian Inlet.

The angst builds in GC surfers in the Fall. The promise of hurricanes has every one on edge, hoping for some deviation in the otherwise flat landscape. When Hurricane Ida began to blossom, so did our hopes for good surfing. Unfortunately, it turned out to be overhyped and undersized. But seeing as how I am a GC surfer now, well, it was swell worth riding nonetheless.

While I was waiting for the tide to turn and come back in, I walked out on the beach and captured some footage. I am not endowed with a big video camera, so I no doubt looked rather silly mounting my little Canon DV on a tripod. At one point an older snowbird walked by and stopped, stared, and then pointed and remarked, “look at that little camera.” Hey buddy, I said, it’s not the size of the swell, but the motion of the ocean. He just laughed, stared, and pointed some more at my little camera shooting little waves.

Either way, you’ve got to give it up to these scrappy GC boys making the most of it.

Angst-like music is courtesy of Zeptepi.

Space Coast

Space Coast

There are few things in life better than an early morning surf session.

Sea Kayaking: Weedon Island


There are on occasion windy days here in Tampa, Florida. Great for kiteboarders and surfers, but not so great for sea kayakers and boaters. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean you can’t still get out and dip a blade. You can head for inland rivers and waterways where the wind is actually your friend. I don’t know about you, but I’ve absorbed enough Deet in my life time to kill a pterodactyle-sized mosquito. Not having to put on insect repellent is always a bonus for me.

When the wind is up, Weedon is a great spot. Many of the birds congregate down in the mangroves, and you can quietly drift along and soak up the scenery.

As always, remember to make your way to Weedon on the incoming tide.


Ashes, Fall


A dog is a dog, and a bad one isn’t worth spit; but you get a good one and they’re like a member of the family.

About a year ago I lost one of the best dogs a person could ever have. He died of cancer on my birthday during a trip to the North Carolina mountains. My wife and I had him cremated, and his ashes have sat in Tampa, Florida since that time.

Florida is not a befitting location, however, for he was born and always has been a mountain dog. Last week we returned to the Fall air and decorated mountains of North Carolina to spend time with good friends from Charleston, South Carolina. We brought the ashes with us for the sole purpose of returning him to his proper place.

The headwaters of the Chattooga River have long been a place of solace for my family, and it was here that we decided to say our final goodbyes. The ashes were released to the river and swirled around in a fast moving eddy until they slowly dissipated and eventually disappeared. I pictured him filling up pot holes and bouncing over pebbles as he flowed swiftly downstream. My hope is that he made it all the way to Section 4 before finally succumbing to a sandbank.

This kind of heady stuff gets one thinking about how they’d like to go. A settled grave or a more mobile mausoleum? Hopefully we have a long while to think about that question. Until then, the picture above was taken as a reminder of that Fall day we poured out his ashes.

Monarch Migration

Monarchs Every Fall season, millions of Monarch butterflies migrate south from Canada to winter in warmer climes. The Monarchs west of the Rocky Mountains migrate to southern California, while those east of the Rockies return to Mexico. The two populations are separate and distinct to their regions, never mixing unless by the hand of man. The Monarch is the only butterfly that migrates both north and south, and when they gather together it is an impressive display.

I was hiking around on the southern end of Folly Beach – near Charleston, South Carolina – when I happened upon a large gathering of Monarchs. This alone was beautiful, but something else rather interesting caught my eye. Several of them featured a small round disc on the lower portion of the wing. Turns out it is a polypropylene tag that the University of Kansas uses to monitor the migration patterns of Monarchs.


A quick web search, and I discovered a wealth of information about these fascinating little creatures on They also have a blog, and according to a recent post, this year will be the smallest migration since 2004 due to excessive drought.

Images courtesy of

Monarch_Migration Monarch_Tagging

I still remember as a child collecting caterpillars, poking holes in the metal cap of a glass jar, and impatiently waiting until the day when a beautiful butterfly would emerge from its papery pupa. The transformation was nothing short of amazing. As an adult, I am equally impressed by this fragile creature’s ability to annually navigate what has become increasingly challenging obstacles, all on paper-thin wings.

Phosphate, Farming, and Fisheries

Farm Hat Now that I am a father, I consider what my child eats each and every day. My thoughts often turn to food production, and the place I currently call home.

Phosphate and the Port of Tampa

Many people do not know that Tampa is the largest port in Florida and the 10th largest in the nation. It has achieved this rank by being the biggest exporter of phosphate and phosphate-related materials in the United States. If you are not an agronomist or geologist, think fertilizers.

Now consider what role fertilizers play in the price of food. The answers may surprise you. Suffice to say, our ability to provide enough food to feed for our growing population is largely dependent upon phosphate production.

Foreign Fertilizer

Not only is it getting more expensive to mine phosphate in the US, but Florida’s reserves are running out. One only needs to look at the Port of Tampa’s steadily declining tonnage statistics to confirm this fact. Other countries such as Africa, Australia, and China have dramatically stepped up their production of phosphate, but there are two problems with this: one, phosphate is a non-renewable resource and two, it will cost the US more and more to acquire it as the cost of energy continues to rise. The environmental problems also present further risks and costs.

Massive Dead Zones

Another equally important source of food for humans comes from our oceans, and there is little doubt that we are over harvesting sea life in conjunction with the destruction of their fragile habitats. One of those destructive agents is phosphate. The Bread Basket of America, or the Midwestern US, is pumping vast quantities of phosphate in to the massive watershed that eventually makes up the Mississippi River. Every summer, an enormous dead zone roughly the size of New Jersey forms in the Gulf at the mouth of this very river. A similar occurrence to the Gulf happens in Tampa Bay but of smaller size.

Florida Impacts on Tourism

Also here in Florida, scientists have confirmed that runoff starting in Orlando steadily makes its way down the river systems running through the heart of the state. It finally reaches reefs near the Keys and slowly destroys them. Work is being done to leach out excess phosphate, nitrogen, and other toxins, but it may be too late. Further degradation to Florida’s fisheries and recreational opportunities can have enormous and negative economic impacts.

Economic Ramifications

I do not want to ignore or discount the economic ramifications of a declining phosphate industry in Florida. It has long created jobs in mining, production, and shipping. But Florida and specifically Tampa Bay has a long history of reinventing itself and discovering new sources of revenue. From Henry Plant’s railroads to farming and ranching to the cigar industry, we’ve seen the ebb and flow of successful enterprises.

What can be done about all of this?

There are alternative local sources of phosphate including, compost, bonemeal, and urine diversion, but we need to tackle the amount of phosphate we waste. The National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) needs to work with communities and farmers to control the degradation of land and harmful runoff.

Steps in the right direction have recently been taken. Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsak has made $320 million available for conservation projects in a number of key states along the Mississippi River Basin.

Meanwhile, you can seek out food sources that are closer to home and encourage localized organic farming. You can even start your own vegetable gardens. None of this will eradicate our reliance on large scale farming practices, but it will save energy and provide food that is far better for us and our planet.

Are there any interesting steps you take to feed your family?

Thievery Corporation

Thievery Corporation2

Thievery Corporation Last night I attended a fantastic show in Ybor City put on by Thievery Corporation. If you are not familiar with them, I highly recommend doing a little search on YouTube. Every single one of their albums is great in a different way, and the fact that I can listen to them while eating dinner with friends, working out, or writing is even more appealing to me.

Their music is very diverse and ranges from electronica to hip hop to a mix of pretty much everything else you can imagine. Before the show I wondered if it would be a bit mellow, but Thievery brought their A-game and energized the crowd all night long. Even better, I had Charleston realtor and brother extraordinaire, John Payne as my wingman.

In the past, our parents may have held up lighters in appreciation, but now it is clearly the mobile phone. Suck it down and pass it around….

Thievery Corporation1

Throwing the Heat


Went bowling last night at Pin Chasers with my wife’s team from work. Should have brought my tow luggage and techie wrist guard. But the cheesy fries and buckets of Miller Lite had me feeling like a pro.

Something about old school Photoshop techniques felt appropriate for this.