Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bradenton Herald circles through Paris

A belated Happy Anniversary to our Armchair Traveler and blogger, Martha Jansen.

She and her husband, Jim, are wrapping up a grand 10-day trip to Paris to celebrate their 50 years together. And what a trip it has been! She has been blogging throughout on's Armchair Traveler.

I got an email this week from the "other" traveling twin -- twin sister Mary, who's reading from home in Palmetto this time.
Enjoyed seeing Martha's article in Sunday's paper... I held the paper up to my camera so Martha could see it on Skype then took several pictures and e mailed them to her in Paris... Check out her pictures on the June 28th (Renewal of Wedding Vows) the picture of the Bradenton Herald Sunday Travel Page made the trip to Paris and back via the internet!

And there we are, posted on her blog from Paris. We love to be a world traveler!

-- Joan

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hurry up and wait for Tropical Storm Alex

Night Metro Editor Brent Conklin pulled together a quick storm update last night to greet us this morning with the news that Tropical Storm Alex is forming.

“The tropics are bubbling and the lid is about to pop off for our first (Atlantic) threat of the season,” hurricane expert Joe Bastardi announced.

Now we wait. Welcome to summer in Florida.

I just returned from a too-brief hiatus up North, and what a difference! There, summer was officially welcomed with the Midwest version of hurricane season -- storms that sent all but the hardiest (or sleepiest) scurrying into their basements for cover.

A tornado gives scant -- if any -- warning, yet can wreak the same level of destruction as the winds of a hurricane. More compact, to be sure, but tell that to a community where a funnel cloud has flattened trees, homes and businesses.

Such severe weather is humbling -- or should be, as scientists everywhere wonder what will happen to the oil spill when a tropical storm enters the Gulf. And we wait, with more dread than usual.

-- Joan

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Link to the Top 10 features of the day

Metro Editor Marc Masferrer is trying a new Top 10 feature online in the mornings. He is compiling the top-viewed links from the past 24 hours and posting them as a story.

I cringed a bit at the idea, knowing those popular headlines are usually the grittiest offered each day. But I was pleasantly surprised by the No. 1 offering today: Herald photojournalists' photo gallery of our beaches, which they shot more than a week ago.

It's been in the Top 10 for days. We'd like to think our viewers are relieved to take a break from the horrifying images that are documenting the catastrophic damage being left by the oil spill. Herald photojournalists Paul Videla and Tiffany Tompkins-Condie also have posted a stunningly beautiful gallery of Manatee County's ecological treasures.

We hope Paul's, Tiffany's and Grant Jefferies' photos don't become history -- that we can walk on our beaches and enjoy the splendor for years to come, without oil spills and oil rigs ruining our most valuable assets.

-- Joan
A typical weekend day on Manatee County's public beach/photo by Paul Videla/the Herald

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tell us how you'd clean up this oil disaster

We started today with the news (not surprising, sadly enough) that oil has been projectile-vomiting into the Gulf of Mexico at least twice as much "as previously thought." Thought by whom? Delusionary BP management? Please -- they know.

But what they still don't seem to know, after 52 days of disaster, is how to stop this. Why not try everything feasible? Even the wacky ideas deserve to be heard.

That's what this story by Bradenton/Miami Herald writers pointed out in Friday's editions. There are thousands of theories, inventions and proposed solutions. One of them has to work.

We want to hear your ideas. Send us an e-mail at We'll publish them next week.

-- Joan

A young hawksbill sea turtle before it was cleaned in Gulfport, Miss.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Paul Bartley award brings proud memories

The 31st annual Manatee Small Business of the Year Awards Luncheon wrapped up just about an hour ago at the Renaissance on 9th, and it was filled with reminders of how much members of this community support each other.

The event, co-sponsored by the chamber and the Herald, also was filled with talk about finding new ways to survive the economic hardships plaguing everyone. Almost without exception, acceptance speeches were framed by talk of survival. The key? Focusing on people, family and being part of the community. (Here's a list of all the finalists.)

My favorite award, though, is the Paul Bartley Community Award. Named after our dearly beloved ombudsman, photographer, humanitarian and long-time Herald staffer, the award honors one small business that goes above and beyond their community service. They are chosen, the chamber states, based on their corporate contributions to the community and volunteer work, "a shining example to all businesses."

In his introductory remarks to announce the winner, John Vita made us proud to have known Paul Bartley:

Today's winning company exemplified the many attributes of Paul Bartley. A hard worker, includes the customer in the business, grew up in the business, a community servant, very professional, knowledgeable, courteous, troubleshooter, stands behind their work.

As Gator Plumbing's Bill Smock headed toward the stage, Paul Bartley was surely watching on, sending the winner his hearty congratulations. Here's to many, many more recipients of this award.

Paul Bartley throws beads in the 2005 Children's Parade.