Photo of the Month – Garry Oak Sunset

Hi Folks:

February has been a strange month weatherwise here in Victoria.  We had the first snowdrops, crocuses and cherry blossoms (not unusual), but we currently have several inches of snow and (comparatively) low temperatures.  I’ve had to bring in the hummingbird feeder at night to keep it from freezing solid.

This month I’ve been playing with a new piece of software: Nik software’s ‘HDR Efex Pro‘.  As you may have read from some of my other Photography posts, I’m not generally a big fan of what some call the ‘HDR-look’.  Having said that, I do understand the value of using HDR imaging for scenes that have an extended dynamic range.  Some photographers seem to think that using film to make images is somehow more ‘pure’ than using digital technology, or that computers allow us to render photographs in ‘unnatural’ ways.  I disagree.  Photographs have been manipulated both in camera and in the darkroom in many ways since their earliest days, including montages.  I have no doubt that if Ansel Adams was alive today he’d be quite happy to apply his ‘zone’ system to Photoshop/ Lightroom or other software. Continue Reading →

Eating Our Way Through Victoria… Fresh Fish!!

Hello, Dear Reader:

Today Marcia and I celebrate our 100th Monthaversary of being married, so it’s only fitting that today we should profile where we went to celebrate our 18th Anniversary of the day we met.  (In case it’s not really obvious, we find some way to celebrate ‘Us’ every day…)

On February 19th we went to a restaurant we’ve been meaning to try for some time: Red Fish Blue Fish.  To say that the restaurant is small is almost an understatement; the primary structure has been built out of a shipping container.  Their address is listed as 1006 Wharf Street but you’ll find them down on the wharf, behind the Inner Harbour Centre and near the float plane docks. Just look for a long line-up of people…

Red Fish Blue Fish

In our opinion, Red Fish Blue Fish has several good things going for it.  First, the location is wonderful, right by the ocean and out in the fresh air.  There are a collection of tables and stools randomly distributed around and also a section of benches to sit on, but you can also take your selections away down the shore if you prefer.  Second, the food is very good.  The fish is fresh, the batter is very light, and the fries are tasty!  In addition to battered fish they serve chowder, salads, fish tacones (grilled tortilla hand rolls or taco-cones), and for vegetarians they serve an edamame tacone.  Third, the operation is very environmentally friendly.  The footprint of the restaurant is small, but it goes beyond that.

Red Fish Blue Fish Oceanwise poster


All of their seafood is sustainably caught and certified by the Vancouver Aquarium’s ‘Oceanwise‘ program.

“The Vancouver Aquarium is a self-supporting, non-profit association dedicated to effecting the conservation of aquatic life through display and interpretation, education, research, and direct action.

Overfishing is the number one problem facing the world’s oceans…

Ocean Wise is a Vancouver Aquarium conservation program created to educate and empower consumers about the issues surrounding sustainable seafood. Ocean Wise works directly with restaurants, markets, food services and suppliers ensuring that they have the most current scientific information regarding seafood and helping them make ocean-friendly buying decisions. The options are highlighted on their menus and display cases with the Ocean Wise symbol, making it easier for consumers to make environmentally friendly seafood choices. The Ocean Wise logo next to a menu or seafood item is an assurance that the item is a good choice for keeping ocean life healthy and abundant for generations to come.”

In addition, there are no garbage cans for the customers.  Instead, they have a two-bin system (in cooperation with reFUSE, I believe).  A blue bin collects metal, glass and plastic for recycling, and a green bin collects leftover food, napkins (paper), dishes (pressboard), coleslaw/condiment cups (paper) and cutlery (pressed wood fibre) for composting.  If they told me that their fry oil went for biodiesel production and that the vegetables for the salad and slaw were locally harvested, I’d be in ‘green’ fast food heaven!

 We were there for lunch on a February afternoon; out of the wind and with the sun shining down it was a lovely day for al fresco dining!  Red Fish Blue Fish is closed over the winter, but open 7 days a week for most of the year.  They do close early during inclement weather, so please call ahead if you’re uncertain.

Bon appetit!


P.S. You can read more of our Food posts and restaurant reviews here.

Being Green: The Value of Conservation

Hi Folks:

Friday once again, and time for this week’s ‘Being Green‘ post!  In last week’s post I referenced an article titled, “World’s ‘Greenest’ Home? It Depends on What You Mean by Green“.  One of the homes mentioned in the article includes:

A California couple, whom The Atlantic magazine has featured in their quest to build “the world’s greenest home” — a five-bedroom, 5,600-square-foot house with solar panels strong enough to charge five electric cars, power the house and return energy to the grid.


Solar panels and other features let some trendy houses produce enough of their own energy that they actually sell power back to the energy company, which is nifty. Yet a person vying to live in the world’s “greenest” house could theoretically load it up with big-screen TVs and other less-than-efficient appliances, then write a mega-check to put solar panels all over the roof. But the resources consumed would belie the “green” label.

“You can get to net-zero just by writing a check,” notes Roberts. “There’s something a little off about that.”

For the most part I agree with the author of this post and was going to write a comment to that effect but wasn’t quite sure how to phrase it.  The answer came from a webinar I watched this week. Continue Reading →

Being Green – Sustainable Prisons

Hi Folks:

I usually start these with, “Friday once again and time for this week’s ‘Being Green‘ post.”

This post started out the same way… I had one idea for a topic, then completely changed my mind and went off in a different direction, started doing research on that, wrote two other blog posts, celebrated (with Marcia) our 195th Monthaversary of being a couple, followed by our 18th Anniversary (216th Monthaversary) of the day we met, and it’s now Monday and I’m back to my original topic!  This coming Saturday is our 100th Monthaversary of being married, but I should have this week’s ‘Being Green’ post done before then!  😉

Before I get to that, however, last week’s post was on solar power and I wanted to take a second to add in this link: Concentrated Solar Power Tower In Seville, Spain: The Future Of Electricity? I also wanted to point you toward a brilliant TED talk by Michael Pawlyn on biomimicry, titled “Using nature’s genius in architecture“.  Well worth your time.

Okay, this week’s post is on ‘Sustainable Prisons’.  I have friend who has a Master’s degree in Criminology and as such she’s entitled to use fancy words like ‘recividism‘, and qualified to talk about the penal system in Canada and the US vs. the penal system in Sweden for example.  I also had a friend (now deceased) who was a psychologist at a prison for the criminally insane.  I have no such qualifications, but I have read Edward O. Wilson’s book called ‘Biophilia‘, and was touched by the movies ‘Greenfingers‘ and ‘The Bird Man of Alcatraz‘.  Essentially ‘biophilia’ translates as ‘love of the earth’, and that’s something that affects all of us.  There’s an interesting article called, ‘Biophilia, Selling the Love of Nature‘ that speaks to this, and I did a previous ‘Being Green‘ post on a similar same topic. Continue Reading →

Help! I Deleted My Lightroom Images!!

Hi Folks:

I received the following question this morning and provided some information that helped, but I thought I’d take the time to write a longer response as well. First, the problem:

Hi there Mike, Thanks for offering to help me! I just did a real stupid thing! Processed images in Lightroom (2.7). By accident I deleted the images in the orig. folder – AND emptied the bin (do not ask) but I am still seeing the images in my Lightroom Library tray! However it does not let me export them obviously – as it cannot find the original files. So I was wondering if I can retrieve the images from Lightroom? I hope you can help me!

Now then…  If this happens to you, all is not (necessarily) lost but there are a few things to understand about Lightroom and about your computer’s hard drive.  I’ll begin by saying that I work in Windows and my knowledge of Macs is somewhat limited, but they work in essentially the same way. Continue Reading →


Hi folks:

I was reading through my book of notes to my self this morning and stumbled over the following entry from January 25.  Thought I’d share it with all y’all:

Let’s say you’ve been wandering around lost, over hill and dale, through forests and swamps, and all of a sudden you come across a community in the middle of nowhere.  The place is beautiful; the people are warm, friendly and inviting… in short, a veritable Garden of Eden.  You’re taken in, given food, clean clothing and rest, and after you’ve had a chance to refresh yourself the village elder comes to see you and tells you that you need to make a decision.  There are two options:  For option 1, you remain there and become an integral part of their community.  You adopt their manner of dress, food, customs and beliefs.  For option 2, you choose to retain control of your own destiny.

Given these two options, which one would you choose?

I related this to Marcia, and her initial response was very similar to mine.  She said there were too many factors to consider and not enough information.  It would depend on the people’s beliefs, ideas, attitudes, etc.

But here’s the kicker.  Nowhere in option 2 is it expressed or implied that you would have to leave.

There’s no ‘correct’ answer to this question…


P.S.  Eleven years ago I wrote a story called, “The Way“.  You can find more of our stories under the ‘Our Stories’ link at the top of this page.

Being Green – Bottling Sunshine

Hi Folks:

Friday once again, and time for this week’s ‘Being Green‘ post.  Of all of the world’s current ills, one of the largest and most well known is global warming – sometimes called the ‘greenhouse effect’.  There are essentially two strands to this problem: one is that plants like trees and even algae (which sequester CO2) are being killed off faster than they are being replenished through activities like logging and through poisoning the world’s oceans, and the other is that in our demands for energy we are burning fossil fuels to produce electricity and to power our vehicles (from cars to airplanes), thus releasing more CO2 into the atmosphere.  All in all, not a very pretty picture, and one that presents clear long-term consequences.

Many people talk of electricity as ‘clean energy’, but at the moment that’s more advertising hype than it is truth for the simple reason that most of our ‘clean’ electricity’ comes from dirty sources: generating plants that burn coal or even natural gas.  Nuclear reactors present their own very-long-term challenges as well as the potential for environmental disasters… such as what happened in Chernobyl. Continue Reading →

A Quick Tip: Lightroom Colour Picker

Hi Folks:

The following isn’t my idea, but something I picked up from watching a video by Matt Kloskowski over at Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Killer Tips.  The only difference is that he was working in Photoshop, and I thought it must be transferable to Lightroom; so it is.

The colour picker tool in Lightroom’s Develop module is used mostly with Split-toning, although it’s also available with the Gradient tool and the Brush tool.  As can be seen in the image below, one can either use the sliders to set the hue and saturation levels for the Highlights and Shadows, or, by clicking on the colour box, one can bring out the colour picker tool. Continue Reading →

Being Green – Fair Trade

Hi Folks:

Friday once again, and time for this week’s ‘Being Green‘ post.  Imagine getting up every morning and going to work, but discovering on payday that you have to pay your boss for being there…  Sounds silly, right?  Consider then that of the roughly 8 million tonnes of coffee consumed every year, some 80% is sold for less than what it costs to grow it.  That’s just one example, albeit a common one; where would we be without our caffeine jolt in the morning?  While people are generally happy to discover low prices on foods and other products in the store, how many stop to consider what the ‘cost’ of those low prices really is?

The term ‘Fair Trade‘ has been given several definitions, but the one agreed upon by the four member organizations of ‘FINE’ (from Wikipedia) is:

In 2001, FINE members agreed the following definition of fair trade, on which to base their work:

Fair trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South. Fair trade organisations, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade”.

FINE members further agreed to define fair trade‘s strategic intent as:

  • deliberately to work with marginalised producers and workers in order to help them move from a position of vulnerability to security and economic self-sufficiency,
  • to empower producers and workers as stakeholders in their own organisations,
  • actively to play a wider role in the global arena to achieve greater equity in international trade.

Continue Reading →

Eating Our Way Through Victoria!

Hello Dear Ones!

January 2011 held a myriad of dinner meetings for me with no time left over for both Mike and I to go out for a meal together … just the two of us. However, we’re already remedying that by planning a dinner out alone next weekend …

Here are a list of the restaurants I was fortunate to experience in the past few weeks:

Milestones: Dinner in the downstairs conference/banquet room was set pleasantly for a crowd of 30 people. Rather than a pre-selected buffet, we were each blessed with being able to choose off the menu. Having been out to a breakfast/training that same morning (see White Spot below) I was less than hungry and wanted something light to eat. The atmosphere was relaxed, service exceptional, menu delightfully varied and the presentation impeccable! I wisely chose the goat cheese with roasted beet salad: generous portions of goat cheese with sumptuous amounts of golden beets julienned and roasted to perfection. The maple glazed pecans added a sparkle to the taste buds and the eye in their appeal, layered on a bed of spring greens. The salad was then drizzled with a light ‘house’ dressing and presented on a large platter with a splatter of balsamic roue for visual effect. Yum! Continue Reading →