Thursday, August 28, 2008

A New Perspective on Dirt

If you're staying in town for this Labor Day weekend, be sure to check out Perspectives, the 6th annual pottery exhibit and sale hosted by Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation. Fifty potters will be displaying and selling their work, starting with the opening gala Friday night. Admission for the gala is $5, but starting Saturday, the sale and exhibit are free and open to the public. The whole affair takes place at the OCAF complex in downtown Watkinsville off School Street - with the exception of some of the studio tours.

If you're going out of town this weekend, you'll still have an opportunity to get the dirt. I collect pottery, so I'll probably make multiple visits to the show over its three-week span from August 29-September 7 when it's open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. I'm especially looking forward to seeing work from Kelly King (shown here) again - her pottery caught my eye at last year's show. I remember her exhibition piece being particularly spectacular, and I'm planning to add more of her art to my collection.

With more than 4,500 pieces on display or for sale, it's the state's largest pottery extravaganza. The exhibit includes 140 pieces, one from each participating potter plus collections from seven Georgia potters entitled "Another View: Pots and Sculpture."

Each year, it seems like the potters raise the bar, getting more and more inventive with forms, colors, glazes, etchings and interpretations. Trust me - this perspective is worth seeing.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Taking the Plunge in Beijing

As I write this, I'm thinking fondly of a soft couch where I could take a nap. The Beijing Olympics - rolling on through Day 7 - has me up well past a reasonable bedtime to keep up with the action. What can you do when they keep putting Michael Phelps in the pool around 11:30?

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to pull for the hometown hero early in the primetime broadcast. UGA diver Chris Colwill and diving partner Jevon Tarintino performed in last night's synchronized 3m diving competition. The synchro event involves six rounds of dives. Athletes receive two sets of scores, the first based on technical execution of the dives and the second on the pair's synchronization.

And when they say synchronization, they mean it. Pairs are judged on every hand movement, maintaining the same height coming off the board, folding into tucks and twists at the same time, and rotating through the air at the same rate. If you've watched, you also know - as commentator Cynthia Potter points out every chance she gets - that participants must enter the water at the same time and with the same trajectory. This is no bellyflop contest, either. Splashing is highly frowned upon.

Colwill and Tarantino had a disastrous fourth round dive, ending up perpendicular to each other as they twisted. (Colwill is on the far side in this photo.) They recovered with a solid dive in the fifth round, and held the third spot going into the final round behind the dominating Chinese team and the German pair. Hopes for a bronze medal for the U.S. team were high. Colwill and Tarantino looked good in the air, but one over rotated and the angles of entry ended up messy - and splashes erupted in opposite direction. The error resulted in disappointing execution scores and opened the door for the Ukrainian team to scoop up the third metal position. Though I'm no expert, I thought the Ukrainians had equal problems on their entry and that Colwill and Tarantino executed the dive more precisely - especially in terms of synchro. But maybe that's just my Bulldog bias.

Colwill, who is hearing-impaired, put in a marvelous performance, and the fourth place finish, though disappointing, is still a noteworthy accomplishment when you consider the field of play. Colwill will start preliminary qualifications for the individual 3m springboard on Monday. Tune in and prepare to be amazed. Splashing not welcome.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Surveying The Athens Landscape

Athens is a perfect place if you enjoy well-landscaped environments. The University of Georgia boasts its own marked arboretum, the president's garden and test gardens full of specimen trees, shrubs and flowers on the main campus. Or visit the State Botanical Gardens, where you can easily get your fill of gorgeous landscaped environments full of unusual plants and trees.

For the more inspired searcher (like myself), one can also find some of the nation's best wholesale and retail nurseries in the region. Some of my favorite retailers are Goodness Grows (Lexington), Thyme after Thyme (Winterville), Cofer's (Athens), Outdoor Specialty (Watkinsville), Land Arts (Monroe), Pinebush Nursery (Ila), and Thomas' Orchard (Watkinsville). These nurseries feature everything from new cultivars of plants that have emerged from research at UGA by legendary professors like Dr. Michael Dirr and Dr. Allan Armitage to old favorites found on the side of the road released to the world by Athens entrepreneurs. Without these nurseries and their operators, the communities of Northeast Georgia would not be nearly as green.

Indeed, when the local watering bans came down last year, I was one of a few locals who decried the impact they had on the landscape industry, which deserve better treatment by our local governments given the jobs and economic benefits they create, never mind the aesthetic impact and strong use of rural land in our "greenbelts."

But perhaps the most spectacular gardens in Athens and surrounding can be found in a variety of private homes. One of the most impressive is featured in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This is the garden of UGA's legendary Coach Vince Dooley, who now officially qualifies as Athens' most famous gardener.

Coach Dooley's gardens feature a range of rare plants, old favorites, and new introductions in what looks like an amazing setting. Be sure to click on the link and check out the photos, story and video. As an amateur plantsman, I'm excited to hear that Coach Dooley and Dr. Dirr are also planning to include a number of rare plants at the new plaza that will honor Coach Dooley that is being installed near the track on Lumpkin.

Coach -- any chance a reporter from the Inbox can get a preview? Let us know!

Photo credits: AJC

Update: UGA and the Georgia Research Alliance have also announced the recruitment of an eminent scholar who happens to be a tree expert to UGA. Good news for trees and gardeners. The Research Alliance is a Jackson Spalding client.

Monday, August 4, 2008

What Nt 2 Do

Back in April, Brian posted some tips for job seekers on the how to get employers' attention with your follow-up thank yous after an interview. The Wall Street Journal recently wrote an article about the new phenomenon of texting your thanks after an interview. The article, cleverly entitled "Thanks for the IView. I Wud 'Heart' to Work 4 U!" also chronicles how some interviewees are seeking out potential interviewers on social networking sites and trying to make "friends" prior to meeting.

I feel like the underlying message in some articles like this (although this one doesn't convey it overly much) is that the texting/Twittering/Facebooking masses are "the way things are" and anyone who gives the New Media Revolution any push-back is old and dated.

And while the means of the message are debatable - I, like Brian, still prefer a handwritten note that shows some thought and consideration - the message is not up for debate. Candidates genuinely interested in a job opportunity should say so in a manner and via a medium that indicates their professionalism. A misspelled ill-conceived text sent on the fly does not say "detail-oriented." I still stand by the notion that how you deliver your message has as much meaning as the message itself. While I'm growing to respect e-mail messages, too, I think it'll be a long time before "Thx 4 ur time" impresses me much.