Help me choose my New Header

I realize I haven’t posted in a while, and I apologize for that. I went on a small vacation to wind down after the convention week, and this week has been a whirlwind. I need the help of my readers though on determining which header to use for this blog.

I had a few developed all for $5 on this cool website called Fiverr. At first it seemed silly, then it dawned on me that this could be really cool. There are tons of designers on there who will do graphic design or anything else for that matter for you for only $5. I am not picky, and I am budget conscious so I figured I would try it out. I was pretty happy with the results, especially for just $5. The designer who I chose to create mine had the username shorya95 and came highly recommended.

So here are the options, let me know which one you like the best.

Option 1 – the header I am using now above

 

Option 2 – this one uses different colors for the tampatlanta text and a cool big A

Option 3 – this one uses a similar font to my old header that was simply text

Question: So which one do you like best?

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Beltway Bubble in Tampa – RNC Convention Days 2 & 3 – Lesson on Politics

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Welcome to all of the new readers and people following this blog after the GOP Convention. I met a lot of really nice folks from other states and other countries, and I’ve been pleased that some of them have found their way to this site. I want to take some time to tell you what my last two days around the convention were like and share some photos, but I am also trying to paint a picture for another purpose, and that is to describe my perspective of politics, which was broadened this week.

I’ve never been naive about politics and its effect on government, but up until now my visits inside the Beltway have been brief, and I have scurried out as fast as I can. This time, the Beltway came to us here in Tampa, and I decided to immerse myself in it. But since I wasn’t a delegate, I didn’t have planning meetings and other official events to go to. Instead, I was hopping from special interest party, to media event, to book signing, back to special interest event, and stopped at some of my favorite Tampa hot spots along the way to mix and mingle.

The experience was complete with lots of interaction with some of the GOP’s top candidates and past leaders, but it made me realize what a bubble these people live in. I’ll save more for another post, but I think when you see the pace and influences of the people in this realm, the dysfunction of our government becomes more clear. I am confident that they have best intentions in mind, it’s just that a whole lot of other junk gets in the way…primarily in the green paper variety with our founders’ faces on them!

The photo at the top of this post has little to do with my observations above, other than the fact that it is of a panel I attended by a grassroots special interest group with a great purpose — to uplift women and the issues that matter to them. Many of these special interests, especially in my opinion the ones at this convention, have a good purpose. This National Defense and Security panel featured KT McFarland, a defense department advisor to Ronald Reagan that I greatly respect. I was really pleased to talk with her after the panel and get this photo. Her message that a strong energy and economic policy first, is the foundation of a strong security policy made a lot of sense. I also met Jennifer Carroll our fantastic Lt. Governor of Florida.

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After wandering around the Channelside area and realizing that I was one of six people that weren’t part of the MSBC crew broadcasting there, I decided to make a break for a real lunch spot, the newly reopened Floridan Hotel! This national historic landmark that my grandfather owned during World War II was at one time the tallest building in Florida. It had been shuttered since the late 80’s, and after many false starts by other developers, a local family purchased and renovated the hotel and opened it two weeks before the RNC.

I’ll do another full post on the Floridan soon, but I wanted to share a few photos so that you can see how beautiful it is. As I was hoping, it was reminiscent of the Georgian Terrace in Atlanta!

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I had a wonderful lunch in the dining room and was so pleased to have as my waiter one of the nephews of the Floridan’s owner who spoke with me at length about the renovation efforts and all of their hard work in decorating and preservation. The place was beautiful and the food was incredible. It was so important for the city to show it off, that NBC was assigned the hotel for its crew and commentators.

Sitting next to me in the quiet dining room was none other than Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, opinion writer for the Washington Post, and MSNBC contributor Eugene Robinson. We had a really nice chat, and although I hardly ever agree with anything that comes out of his mouth on TV or paper, he was such a gentleman. I look forward to sharing some of his observations of Tampa with you in future posts, he seemed very impressed.

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That experience made me realize that despite all of the political disagreements, these folks living in the world of politics are generally nice people who are real and actually have to eat food and go to sleep. (when, I don’t know) The thing is politicians, lobbyists, and the press, they all know each other and they are all truly in one business, and that is promoting themselves and their agenda. They enable each other and feed off of each other. Because there is a camera in their face all the time, they begin to believe they are experts on everything, and everyone they come in contact with shows them a level of appreciation that may be real or it may just be a show as well, but reinforces that idea in their head. The culture is so immersive I don’t see how many can avoid it. They just do their best to grow gills and swim.

Look at this event I went to with Rick Santorum. You can hardly see him because of the mass of press surrounding him asking him and his family questions along with adoring fans trying to touch him. Even the most honorable man has to be affected a little by this…I would think.

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Even I had to get in on the action and stop Gretchen Carlson for a photo. After all, we have the same last name. I told her this and she dryly responded, well good you’ll be able to remember mine. She was so gracious. The fact is, who doesn’t remember her name? Everywhere she went she was barraged by people wanting to take photos with her. It is amazing how clearly these people can focus once they are in front of the camera. I wonder if they feel like they live in two worlds, one in front of the camera and one behind it. Or if the two have just merged into one.

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Question: Is my portrayal accurate, and is this endless cycle of promotion at all healthy for getting our country back on track?

My Day at the GOP Convention

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Today was an eventful day for me at the RNC Convention! Since I am not a delegate, this is about as close as I was able to get to the Times Forum itself. Okay, a little closer than that as I attended a number of events that I had been invited to right at the security zone border. First let me say what a pleasant time I had. Contrary to some accounts you might hear on cable news, traffic is very calm and downtown is actually surprisingly empty other than delegates and the occasional protestor. Traffic in and out at the downtown exit was so smooth. I hear thought that on the busses at night after the convention may be another story! But during the day today and yesterday have been fine. The police, national guard, and secret service looked exhausted but vigilent, and all I spoke to were very polite. As a news reporter friend of mine today tweeted, I am very proud of Tampa…keep it up.

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I started the day by heading to Liberty Plaza, sponsored by Citizens United. There I spotted Gov. Mike Huckabee doing his radio show. I really respect the governor and the way he reaches across party lines for the good of the country, while also standing up for the principles he believes in. Then I headed into the makeshift theater to see the showing of “Reagan:Rendezvous with Destiny” produced by Newt and Callista Gingrich. The documentary on the life of President Reagan is one of the most thorough and all encompasing works on Reagan that I have seen. And I have seen a lot!

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Afterwards, Newt and Callista were so gracious to speak with attendees and sign books and DVDs. I had been looking forward to getting Mrs. Gingrich’s book Sweet Land of Liberty that stars Ellis the Elephant as he travels American history, and simply and eloquently identifies what makes our country so great by way of history’s most inspiring moments. My kids Lyndsey and Kyle have already fallen in love with the book. Here is an excerpt:

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“Ellis read of those coming from distant shores, arriving in a country they had never seen before. Speaking different languages, they all shared a dream–to live together in a land where freedom was supreme.” I’ll let you guess from that excerpt where Ellis got his name! What a beautiful book with gorgeous illustrations.

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Citizens United was getting ready for an exciting party tonight, but I had to run! Here is a sneak peek of the dance floor.

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Now before I move on, let me just say again, these events were all open to the public, well organized, complimentary, and fully catered. I wish more people had attended! I think the bluster of press coverage over the last few days has scared off people from going into downtown. Come check it out, convention events are lots of fun, and these are valuable events. For some ideas check out this website or my post yesterday about the YG WomanUp! Pavilion at Channelside. Tomorrow I plan to attend a national security panel with KT McFarland from the Reagan administration and a film showing at The Straz Performing Arts Center, also free with lots of fun perks.

I haven’t even mentioned all the nice people from various states and media outlets that I have met including lobbyists for the International Franchise Association and writers for the Tampa Tribune. I am not much for the slimy world of politics, but these events feel nothing of the sort. Everyone is polite, respectful, and just enjoying themselves. Even if you are a Democrat here in Tampa it is worth coming down to the convention to see your city shine!

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Finally, I ended the day with my kids and our friends from the Georgia delegation at their hotel that happened to be the place where my wife and I had our rehearsal dinner island party the night before our wedding. It was only fitting that our kids goof around at their welcome table! (Sorry for the wrinkled table cloth) This beautiful place provided us with many wonderful memories…as I am sure it will for every Georgia delegate!

Question: What has your experience been like during the convention so far?

Follow tampatlanta on Twitter

For the latest commentary on business, culture, food, travel, and great deals in Tampa, Atlanta, and anywhere in between, as well as some of my own personal banter, please follow me on Twitter.

Question: How do you utilize Twitter to update your blog readers?

Atlanta Chef Joe Rego on Chopped

Joe Rego of Opera, courtesy of Atlanta Eater

The Executive Chef of Opera, Joe Rego, formerly of South City Kitchen, Sotto SottoFritti, and Allegro, will be featured tomorrow in the Food Network show Chopped . According to EaterWire author Carly Cooper, Joe explained that “it was a very intense competition, and hopefully I will make Atlanta proud. However, after the competition airs, nothing will change the way I cook or work in Atlanta. It just inspires me to do better in my culinary profession. It’s a learning process every day.”

I really enjoyed Joe’s work at South City Kitchen and look forward to going dancing at Opera sometime soon…remember the days as 1150, but first let’s see the showdown on Chopped. I find it to be the most respectable cooking challenge on TV these days.

Question: What’s your favorite cooking show these days?

Something Worth Fighting For

On this 4th of July, we all celebrate the bold and courageous step our founders made in declaring independence from Britain. Liberty was at stake, but after the start of the Revolutionary War so were property, lives, and even states. Have you ever thought how just one battle or turn of events could have changed the course of history and even the physical shape of our country? You may not be aware of the battles for Georgia and even Florida during the Revolution. Below is a brief history.

Georgia

In the early days of the war, Savannah and Augusta were easy targets for the Loyalists to hold for the British and defend. But Elijah Clarke reformed his brigade in the Spring of 1781 and joined with a group of South Carolina militia under the command of Micajah Williamson as he was obsessed with the idea of freeing Augusta. Augusta was an outpost connected to Savannah by the 80 mile River Road. On May 20, 1781, Clarke and Williamson got welcome support from General Andrew Pickens, in command of a group of South Carolina militia and Lieutenant Colonel Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, who had learned tactical cavalry support under Casimir Pulaski. A second group of Continentals, under the new Commander of the Southern Department Nathanael Greene was laying siege to Ninety Six not far from Augusta. Clarke and the other Georgia commanders were greatly relieved at Lee’s arrival. On May 21, Lee and Pickens raid Fort Galphinton on Silver Bluff, securing a significant amount of British stores including munitions.On May 25 they took Fort Grierson, and on June 5 the patriots secured Augusta. Grierson, who had been so abusive to the upcountry Whigs, was killed after the surrender of the city.

By July 3rd, 1781 (notice the date) almost every outpost along the Savannah River had been abandoned by the British allowing Georgia colonialists to regain most of their lost territory. Enter General Anthony Wayne, widely regarded as one of the best American generals during the Revolution, who after a supporting role in Cornwalis’ surrender at Yorktown Wayne headed south to assist the patriots of Georgia. Although outnumbered two to one, Wayne soundly defeated his British opponents in Georgia, culminating what was one of the most brilliant campaigns of the Revolution.

Florida

In September of 1779 the Spanish, who had joined the war on the American side, retook British West Florida. There were three engagements though between Americans and the British and Tories near today’s Jacksonville. The Battle of Thomas Creek, the Skirmish of Alligator Creek, and the Tories of Cow Ford.

In Cow Ford, my apparently 4th great grand uncle Captain William Cone, of the Richmond County Militia of Georgia, gathered a party of men in 1781 and drove the Tories back into Florida after they advanced into Georgia. But then Captain Cone, William Williams, and two of his men were captured by the British and imprisoned in the fort Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine. In 1783, Captain Cone and his men managed to escape. For his work in driving the Tories back into Florida, Captain Cone and his men were granted 200 acres of confiscated land on the south side of the Great Ogeechee River in northeastern Georgia.

English: Photo of the Castillo de San Marcos f...

Photo of the Castillo de San Marcos fort in St. Augustine, Florida, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the loss of Savannah the Spanish walked into St. Augustine and claimed the city with little resistance from the British. February, 1783, marked the official cession of hostilities and on September 3, 1783 the Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Revolution. The 13 colonies had defeated the most powerful nation in the world.

If you are interested in learning more about battles in Georgia and skirmishes in Florida here is where I found the information excerpted above. Thanks to Randy Golden and the Florida Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

I also want to thank my other ancestors who were Revolutionary War Veterans for helping our founders achieve our liberty and all those veterans who have preserved it since. May God Bless America! Happy 4th of July.

WELCOME TO TAMPATLANTA! Population YOU!

Have you ever felt like you were right where you were meant to be, but yearned to know what life would be like if you still lived somewhere you had previously? Have you been really happy in the city in which you live, but find that a little piece of your heart is still in that someplace else? For me, those two places are Tampa and Atlanta!

English: A collection of photos around Tampa

English: A collection of photos around Tampa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Tampa

I grew up in Tampa, Florida like my dad and grandfather before me, roots dating back to the late 19th century when my great-grandfather moved to nearby Plant City from north Florida. I love everything about Tampa Bay from our climate, to our storied history, our beaches, and our industry.

 

 

 

 

 

Montage of Atlanta images. From top to bottom ...

Montage of Atlanta images. From top to bottom left to right: Atlanta skyline Georgia State Capitol Olympic Centennial Park Old World of Coca-Cola museum Downtown skyline Turner Field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Atlanta

From an early age I began making trips through Atlanta, always en route it seemed to another southern mecca.

Not until I attended Georgia Tech and made the move to Atlanta did I really get to know the city that would teach me that it is completely possible to be intensely Southern, fiercely innovative, and welcomingly international all at the same time.

I lived in Atlanta for 8 years and strived to understand who and what made the city tick, discover how an Olympic Games could change it forever, and soak up all of the constantly evolving dining, culture, and entertainment that I could. I have traveled to many places in this world, and none of them give me that same thrill that I feel, every time the Atlanta skyline comes into view as I travel north into town on I-75.

Interstate 75

List of crossings of the Saint Lawrence River ...

Over those 8 years from 1997 to 2004 and beyond, I have experienced an intimate fondness for that 500 mile stretch of Interstate 75 between Tampa and Atlanta. Hundreds of trips over the years make turns in the road, rural exits with road-side stands, and even some hills and trees feel like family. Anyone who makes the same trip often, knows what I mean!

Florida Clearwater Beach sunset

Clearwater Beach sunset (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back to Tampa

After graduate school and work in Atlanta, I found myself moving to Ocala, FL to start a company that quickly expanded the rest of the way down to Tampa. This gave me the excuse I needed to return Home.

Everyone knows what Home feels like, not everyone knows the feeling of or has the same experience in, returning home. For me, it was the perfect fit. I soon met my future wife and established a life right where I left off in the sunny city by the Bay. But Atlanta will always be a part of me, and I look for every excuse to return.

I realize I am not the only one that shares a connection between these two great cities, and I hope that this blog will appeal to residents or visitors of either city and any place in between. I ask that you please share your experiences with me! I love both history and visionary city plans for the future, driving and traveling, and hearing the stories of people of all ages. Our destinations in life are crucial, but I find that the road traveled is often where all the scenery is found. WELCOME TO TAMPATLANTA! Population YOU!

Tampa, Florida

Atlanta Skyline

Atlanta Skyline (Photo credit: k1ng)