Eating Our Way Through Victoria… Pumpkin Time!

Hello Dear Reader!

Well, we’ve had a few culinary adventures to share with you this month.

Before we get to that, however, earlier this month Marcia went out to dinner with the folks she works with at a restaurant downtown.  She ordered the equivalent salad to the one we’d shared at Café Brio last month; in her estimation there was no comparison.  Café Brio was far superior.  She found the service at this restaurant was good but the restaurant was somewhat dark and the food overly salty, so in keeping with our only ‘rule’ about our food posts we’re not going to mention them – at least until we have a second opportunity to try dinner there.  Café Brio we recommend without hesitation!  Actually, we planned to go back there this month, but plans changed. Continue Reading →

He Says, She Says… The Masks We Wear

Hello, Dear Reader:

Well, today is Hallowe’en, in this part of the world at least.  For children and adults alike it’s an opportunity to dress up in costume, to put on a mask and to go out ‘trick or treating’.  It can be fun or frightening, or maybe a little of both.  We decorate our houses and our schools and our businesses in ways that either venerate or mock those departed, ghosts, witches and the like, and it gives us an opportunity to participate – individually and en masse – in our own ‘inversion’ rituals‘.  That covers one day of the year, but what about the other 364?  What about the masks we show ourselves and each other throughout the rest of the year?

For this week’s ‘He Says, She Says…‘ post we discuss “The Masks We Wear“.


Follow these links to read what He Says/She Says: Marcia’s View / Mike’s View

Photo of the Month – Triptychs and Lightroom

Hi Folks:

It’s Hallowe’en, but I don’t have any really good pumpkin images to share this month…  In going through my images for this past month I was drawn to an image I made of an old bicycle down in the Rockland area of Victoria, in part because it reminded me of an other bike I’d shot in Oak Bay back in August and one I’d shot in Kelowna a couple of years ago.  Rather than profiling this one as a single image I decided to combine the three bikes together into one ‘triptych’ image.  Basically a diptych or triptych is a process of combining two or three images into one image collage.  The images can be complementary or in stark contrast, they can highlight a theme or one subject.  One can even make a triptych from only one image, but I’ll get to that in a bit.  There are several good tutorials on how to make diptychs/ triptychs in Lightroom 3; I’d suggest beginning with two videos on this from Adobe evangelist Julieanne Kost. You can see them here: Part 1 / Part 2.  The first video mostly covers how to choose images for your diptych/ triptych, and the second video offers some useful tips and ideas on how to use Lightroom’s tools to prepare the images you’re going to be using for your diptych/triptych to make them more consistent.  For making the triptych in Lightroom 3, one of the best tutorials I’ve found is by Helen Bradley over on the Digital Photography School site. Continue Reading →

Being Green – Getting ‘Buy-In’

Hi Folks:

Friday once again, and time for this week’s ‘Being Green‘ post.  The title for this post is ‘Getting Buy-In‘, and since developing a sustainability strategy affects everyone in your home or business and extends out to include suppliers and clients as well, I thought I’d toss out a few ideas on how to implement this.  Keep in mind that even in your home your ‘suppliers’ include the utility companies, grocery store and other stores, and ‘clients’ can include your friends, neighbours and family.  Many of these ideas are supported by great information from others, so I’ll begin by appreciating them!  Continue Reading →

He Says, She Says… “Only”

Hi Folks:

It’s Monday, not Sunday (again), and this week’s ‘He Says, She Says…‘ post is going to be mostly a ‘He Says’, but as always Marcia gets the last word.  It’s a day late mostly because I’ve been avoiding writing it, but one can only put off such things for so long!

Before I get started I should mention that I rarely know what I’m going to write before I begin, so I’m not entirely sure where this post is going to end up.  Added to that, my mind tends to ping-pong from one thought to the next, often building bridges out of the most ephemeral connections.  Because of that, and because of the topic and the possibilities that someone might misunderstand what I’m trying to say, I thought I’d begin with one of my favourite quotes (author unknown):

“I know you think you understand what I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard was not what I meant.”

Continue Reading →

Being Green – Pursuing Perfection?

Hi Folks:

Friday once again, and time for this week’s ‘Being Green‘ post.   I wasn’t going to write about this, but the biggest ‘green’ news of late seems to be the class action suit filed in the US against the USGBC and their LEED certification; after reading the articles and comments surrounding both sides of the issue, I must admit I don’t understand the suitability of this case.  The basis of the suit, as I understand it, is that the plaintiff feels that the USGBC is overselling their LEED standard and not paying enough attention to other ‘green’ standards.  That may not be entirely accurate, but I believe it’s close enough.  Is it ‘true’?  Truth is a complicated word, often dependent on perspective; as the saying goes, history books are written by the winners.  Are LEED-certified buildings more efficient than buildings constructed to other standards or to no standards at all?   That question I can’t answer and is one that could probably only be answered on an individual basis. My post last Friday focused on the world’s first certified ‘living buildings’. So far as I know, the Living Building Challenge offers the most stringent building certification strategy currently in existence. At the same time, it’s not for everyone, and I’ve never been an advocate of any one or any system that seeks to build itself up by putting others down.

However, those aren’t the fundamental questions to me.  Is the LEED system flawed?  That’s possibly a better question, and if LEED is flawed, how can it be improved?  Does LEED measure energy efficiency, and if so, does it do it well?  What other factors are involved in achieving LEED standards, aside from energy efficiency?  If the lower levels of certification, say LEED and LEED Silver aren’t stringent enough, should they be dropped in favour of more stringent qualifications?  Given the costs involved in achieving a certfication for a building, at what point do the achieved improvements fail to account for the costs involved?  Again, that can probably only be answered on an individual basis.

Perhaps the best question is, will the LEED standard be improved by spending hours and possibly years of time in various courtrooms and by spending (?) millions of dollars in fees and other costs that won’t be used in improving LEED (or anything else)?  As I said at the beginning of this post, while I think I have some understanding of the basis for this suit, I fail to see the suitability of seeking such answers in court.  In the end, perhaps it comes down to the motivation behind it.  Some would label it as political, others as frustration, some as a simple ‘money grab’, some may call it a plea to be heard.  William McDonough asks, “How do we love all the children of all species for all time?” To me, if the desired result is to continue to move ourselves and our planet toward celebrating this way of being, personally I don’t see this suit as achieving that aim.  Others are certainly welcome to disagree.  As I said to a friend recently, can you imagine a world where the worst we can do is agree to disagree, while still respecting each other and ourselves?

Okay, the links for this week include:

Okay, that’s it for now.  Have a great week!

P.S. Looking for some happier news? Try Happy News!

He Says, She Says… Are You a Seeker or a Finder?

Hello, Dear Reader:

Happy Monday!

This week’s ‘He Says, She Says…‘ post was inspired by a quote we came across recently from Andrew Cohen, who is the Founder and Editor in Chief of EnlightenNext:

Are You a Seeker or a Finder?

“Are you a seeker or a finder? This is a very important question. If you are on a spiritual path, have you found what you are looking for? Or are you still searching? If you are doing a spiritual practice, are you doing it to reach a goal or are you doing it just because you think it’s a good thing to be doing? Or are you doing spiritual practice from another position altogether—the position of being a finder? Being a finder means you are one of those rare individuals who has unequivocally found what they are looking for, and are now doing spiritual practice only because they want to continue to develop.” ~ Andrew Cohen

NB: This is only the opening paragraph of a longer article.  You can read the full post here.

This is a very fundamental question, and sparked different ideas for both of us.  If you haven’t already, ask yourself: are you a Seeker or a Finder?


Follow these links to read what He Says/She Says: Marcia’s View / Mike’s View

Being Green – Living Buildings

Hi Folks:

Friday once again, so T.G.I.F. to all of you!  Actually, Marcia and I believe it’s important to give thanks every day, but that’s another topic entirely.

So, the big news this week is…

The International Living Building Institute celebrates the world’s first Living Buildings.
(cue applause)

If you’ve read my ‘Being Green‘ posts before you’ll know that I’ve sometimes lamented the (overly?) many, complicated and often divergent standards and certifications that exist for everything from floor tiles to lighting, and from green landscapes to green travel to entire green neighbourhoods.  For the most part I don’t doubt the integrity of the various organizations involved in creating and maintaining these standards and certifications, it’s just that as someone with more than a basic knowledge of this field I often find them bewildering and conflicting.  However, of all of the standards in existence, there has been one for the last few years that has stood out in my mind as being the most advanced and most comprehensive green building standards of all, and that is the Living Building Challenge.  While many systems work on a series of ‘points’ to achieve different levels of certification, the  Living Building Challenge is different.  Organized into seven ‘petals’ or performance areas (Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty), each Petal is subdivided into as many as 20 imperatives and each imperative in each petal is mandatory to achieve certification.  Also, the Living Building Challenge certification is withheld until after the building has been completed and operational for a minimum of 12 months before testing to determine whether or not the building’s actual performance conforms to expectations.  An overview of the Living Building Challenge 2.0 requirements may be found here (.pdf).

Is the Living Building Challenge something you and/or your company should consider?  There’s no right or wrong answer for that question.  From what I can see, constructing to the Living Building Challenge standard requires an extremely high level of dedication and commitment from everyone involved in the building project, and a considerable investment of both time and money.  There are a number of other worthwhile building certifications in existence, such as LEED, BuiltGreen, Passivhaus and others, but I don’t believe any of them can meet the overall results achieved by the Living Building Challenge.

Seth Godin posted an interesting blog post today on ‘Heroes and Mentors‘.  Even if this standard remains one of your ‘heroes’, it still provides something to which we can all aspire.

Have a great week!


P.S.  If you’ve read these posts before you’ll know that every week I provide a long list of links to other articles of interest I’ve come across this past week.  Well, I invested about three hours in doing so today, but when I switched from HTML to the Visual Editor, WordPress decided to simply delete them all.  I guess I should have listened to that little voice that told me to hit the ‘Save Draft’ button…  And I know better!  Oh, well.

Instead, how about the following talk from Ze Frank on connecting with others through the web (TED video).

He Says, She Says… Giving Thanks

Hello, Dear Reader!

This past weekend was ‘Thanksgiving’ here in Canada; it’s really no surprise that Thanksgiving comes in the fall because this is when the earth is most fully offering up her bounty.  Here on the west coast this can mean everything from an abundant vegetable harvest to wineries starting up production to the salmon returning to their birth streams to spawn a new generation.

For many people the Thanksgiving holiday is associated with family get-togethers, a huge dinner and too many turkey leftovers.  That can certainly be a part of it, although our Thanksgiving this year involved dinner out at a Japanese-fusion restaurant on Saturday night, and a wonderful meal of blackened fish and root vegetables on Monday.  The turkeys were safe from us this year, although we can’t really think of turkey dinner without remembering Stuart McLean’s stories on the Vinyl Café about ‘Dave Cooks the Turkey‘, followed by ‘Dave Raises the Turkey‘. Continue Reading →

Match Total Exposures in Lightroom

Hi Folks:

There was a video tutorial recently on The Digital Photography Connection on using the Match Total Exposures tool in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.  It’s something I’d not used before, and if you haven’t either, I’d suggest you begin by watching their tutorial.  I’ll wait…

Okay, welcome back.

Now, after seeing this video one question I had and one I also saw on Twitter was, “How is this different from the ‘Sync’ button in Lightroom?”  If you’re new to Lightroom, one of the software’s features is the ability to batch process images by ‘developing’ one image and then transferring all or some of those settings to the other images in the batch of those selected.  For more on using Lightroom, I suggest checking out the tips, tutorials and videos here. Continue Reading →