"PLEASE DO NOT"My husband and I had a spontaneous date day while my stepson was at school today. Since I was taking the day off and he didn’t have any meetings until the afternoon, we decided to take a few hours to head outside to enjoy the fall weather.

We went to a beautiful garden that sits on the property of what used to be someone’s home and is now a professionally maintained garden open free to the public. It is a place we went to once when we were dating. Since then the relatively small garden has doubled in size with ponds, waterfalls, trees, flowers, ducks… all those things a garden should have.

As we made our way along a narrow path, we came across a sign that said, “PLEASE DO NOT” (shown at the beginning of this post). I assume there used to be a bottom half to the sign that explained what you were not supposed to do.

I liked the simplicity of this sign, though. It seemed to be an effective message for maintaining the garden. Whatever it is you’re thinking of doing, please do not.

It can be applied in life to all those little devil on your shoulder thoughts as well. Please do not… procrastinate, poor another glass of wine, play hooky, feed the rabid squirrels. As Tanya Tucker said in one of her songs, “you don’t do it, baby, but you think about it.”

In this little garden it was a message of kindness. Show a little love. Keep the garden growing.


Media Coverage of Politics Leaves Me Asking, “What’s the point?”

This year’s presidential election has caused quite a stir. Tonight’s vice-presidential debate has kept the candidates in the news all week. There is, quite obviously, a lot of media coverage and I try to keep up. Every so often a story comes up in my RSS reader that makes me scratch my head and question the point. Today was no exception.

This morning Politico ran a story called, “Women ex-governors divided on Palin.” I couldn’t help myself. I had to see if they actually wasted their time studying female former governors. They did. They tried to speak to the current female governors as well, however, it seems they were either not willing or not available.

Politico came to this conclusion:

…among her class of trailblazing female governors, Palin is not universally embraced for her accomplishments.

Not universally embraced? I for one am shocked (not really) that a political candidate is not universally embraced. Craziness!

For the fun of it, I decided to take a closer look. A quick trip to Wikipedia produced a list of female state governors in the United States. There were 29 in total, past and present. Of those based on another minute’s worth of research, I found 8 to be deceased, leaving 21 potential interviewees. Politico stated that current female governors didn’t weigh in, so I removed another 8 who are presently serving.

That leaves us with 13 former, living, female governors with which Politico may (or may not) have spoken. Of those women, 7 are Republicans and 6 are Democrats. By my statistics, which admittedly may be a bit under-researched, Politico spoke with a nearly 50/50 political party split and reported that Palin was not universally embraced.

Were they expecting the female Democratic former governors to support Palin simply because she was a fellow female governor? This isn’t a trip to the ladies room. Women don’t necessarily join in just because another woman is going. This is politics. I would have to imagine that getting a former governor to vote across party lines is going to take more than a gender commonality.

I haven’t conducted my own research, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I suspect Biden is not universally accepted by former male governors either. Maybe the media could poll them to confirm.

Oh well. If you’re interested, the vice-presidential debates air tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time on all the major networks: ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and, PBS. (As if you didn’t know that already.)

Glance at Usability:

Often good web usability goes unnoticed, as it probably should. At the basic level, a web site is considered good if users can quickly find what they need and easily accomplish their intended task. does just that.

I just discovered DailyLit a few days ago and I have been impressed with its usability. The site gives users access to books, short stories, and poetry that has been chunked into brief passages which can be read in just a minute or two. These chunks can be read on the site or delivered in daily segments via email or RSS feed.

Immediately upon arrival, I knew what I could do on the site: find books to read online and subscribe to daily readings of my choice. The site design is minimalistic, giving exactly the information their audience needs without any extra distraction. home page home page

The options for taking action are clear thanks to simple, well-organized navigation headings like Browse Books, Forum, Learn More, Log In, Register. Special emphasis is placed on browsing books with a portion of the navigation dedicated to browsing by Title, Author, Category, or performing a keyword search. So easy. navigation navigation

I browsed by category and found The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which I have never read and which also happened to be free (right in my price range, though many of the titles are quite reasonably priced at $4-8 each). With my selection made, I was presented with the basic specs: number of installments, price, summary of the book, opening passage, and options to subscribe or add it to my “to read” list. book description page (<em>The Adventures of Tom Sawyer</em>) book description page (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer)

Then came the part that always makes me wonder if I will want to forget all my work and leave the site: registration. You know how it can be. Some sites want every last detail and you have to weigh your desire for getting the information you want with how much personal information you are willing to divulge. I mean really, what do those companies need a fax number for anyway? DailyLit is spot on. They only ask for a username, a password, your email address, and a check in the box to indicate you accept their terms. That’s it. That’s all you have to tell DailyLit to get your free book. Obviously if you have selected a book that requires purchase, you will have to enter more thorough billing information. I haven’t tried that yet, so I don’t know what the process looks like. registration form registration form

After this painless registration process, you are able to add more information to your profile if you so desire. If not, carry on with subscribing to your book.

So far I have read a few short stories by Kate Chopin right on their site and now have The Adventures of Tom Sawyer delivered daily to my RSS reader in 91 installments. I can read an entry a day if my time is limited or at the end of an entry I can select an option to have the next installment delivered immediately. At worst, in 91 days I will have completed a classic.

DailyLit has really nailed usability. It has a clear purpose and has developed a streamlined, user-friendly (not to mention stylish) web site. Hats off to their design and development teams.

Updated 10/28/08: I want to add that in order to receive DailyLit readings, you don’t even have to enter a username and password as I mentioned in my original post. If you want to receive your installments by email, you can bypass registration altogether, opting instead to enter only your email address and agree to the Terms & Conditions. One less username and password to remember in this crazy online life. Who wouldn’t appreciate that?