July 27, 2009

A woman after my own heart

Harriett Lake is a lovely woman who has had a tremendous effect on the arts community in Central Florida through her philanthropic contributions.

Not only is Lake the namesake of the Harriett Lake Festival of Plays, but Harriett's Bar at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center is named for her. I especially enjoyed hearing of her latest contribution to the community.

For her $1 million donation to the Dr. P. Phillips Orlando Performing Arts Center, Lake was offered her choice of naming opportunities. She picked the first floor ladies room, which will henceforth be known as "Harriett’s Ladies Lounge."

Board chairman Jim Pugh would win my quote of the week award, if I had one. He said, "She obviously has a clear sense of the priorities of the patrons who will utilize the facility."

For a mere million, you, too, could get a piece of the center in your name. But these bits are already taken:

  • The Bill and Mary Darden Box Office (Darden Restaurants)

  • The Richard Kessler Hospitality Suite (Richard Kessler, a local hotelier)

  • The Peter Family Stage (Annette Neel, the Peters’ daughter)

  • The Lynn and Chuck Steinmetz Stage (the Steinmetzes)

Although Jesus said we should give without regard for recognition, I must say these people-centered labels are, at least, better than giant corporations slapping their logos on major landmarks. I still staunchly refuse to call the sports arena in downtown Orlando by its proper name. It will always be the O-rena to me. But Harriett’s Ladies Lounge is a naming right I’m glad to honor.

I just hope Avodart doesn’t sponsor the men’s room.

July 22, 2009

Power junkies

I used to chide my son for scouting public places for the nearest power outlet. He, of course, was looking for a place to charge up his handheld video game devices.

Now I've taken to scouting public places for power outlets. Of course, I'm looking to charge a laptop computer. Much more important.

The other day I wound up sitting on the floor in a major airport, using the only power outlet I could find that hadn't already been claimed by other laptop jockeys. Clever airport designers of the future will put outlets near seats. Or the other way round.

Unfortunately, despite finding power, I was unable to complete the important work of posting this note on that day, because the aforementioned airport, unlike Orlando International, does not provide free public wi-fi.

With the Kindle growing in popularity, I expect power outlets will be even harder to come by in the future. But at least Kindle users don't have to worry about finding free public wi-fi.

July 10, 2009

Connections are good

After gathering dust for many years, my short story The Last Buffalo has been cleaned up and given its debut. It appears in the 2009 Coffee House Fiction anthology.

I was directed to Coffee House Fiction by an entry in Hope Clark's "Funds for Writers" newsletter. I met Hope at last year's Florida Writers' Association conference. And I joined the association on the recommendation of Jim Lussier, whom I met in connection with an arts project for OBJ.

So this post is just a big thank you to everyone in the chain.

July 1, 2009

Take the [hey...] train

The other day, I cracked Tribune for its use of standardized features. Since the Sam Zell takover, Tribune has increased the number of features produced in Chicago and shipped nationwide to be printed wholesale in sundry locations. Not just the stories. Art and page layout packages are routinely pre-fabricated for use by all Tribune papers.

I must admit, this isn't entirely a bad thing. Any national news organization does this to some extent. If the same story needs to be told in 40 cities, there's no reason to send 40 reporters to do the same thing 40 times. (Before 2012, someone please explain this to the local TV stations, or they will once again each send a reporter to cover the Olympics. Which, last time I checked, Bob Costas et al did quite competently.)

So packaged national content isn't wholly objectionable. But some effort must be made to make it locally relevant. Or at least, not locally irrelevant. But our local daily ran one such feature on the topic of incorporating more physical activity into your daily routine. One suggestion was to use the stairs instead of the escalator at the station when taking the commuter train to work.

Orlando, as you may know, has no commuter train.