31 October 2012

Ghost Face Killah

I'd just like to give a shout out to Twisted Pine Brewing for their spicy beer Ghost Face Killah beer.  I don't think it needs an explanation simply because you ought to buy it based on name alone, but it's a new personal favorite.  It's got some pretty pleasant (intimidating but not tortourous) heat to it, and a pretty solid flavor to it.  It certainly complemented my dinner of chili and jalapeno chips.

For the Asheville people, it's now available at French Broad Food Coop and Bruisin' Ales.

31 August 2012

Managing for People Who Hate Managing - Book Review

Honestly Managing for People Who Hate Managing (by Devora Zack) started off with a bit of a quirky feel that I had a hard time getting used to.  I wasn’t expecting a comfortable, humorous, and engaging approach; I was expecting more of the “I’m a hard core business professional – emulate me” approach that’s so often the case with professional development titles.  However, about 20 pages in, I was able to relax and let the material sink in.  Once I got used to the informal and somewhat “in your face” style of presentation, I found the text to be extremely conversational and enlightening. 

I think it’s important to note that from a management perspective there is often this focus on professionalism and over-academic communication (you know rigidity, lack of human emotion, and the separation of work from one’s personality).  The book ultimately bumps into the edges of that approach – which I think is excellent.  In my opinion, management is about dealing with and communicating with people rather than actually “managing” them (“managing” sounds way too much like directing the incompetent which is often not the case). 

The major theme within the book is the use of the “Thinker”/”Feeler” paradigm without highlighting one mental process as supreme.  “Thinkers” and “feelers” of course being two of the major categories which Zack uses to show that management is not one size fits all and that we must recognize individual styles in our approach to people. “Thinkers” are the introverted analytical types among us, while “feelers” tend to be the more extraverted and emotional folks.  It’s refreshing to see a management text not engage in dichotomies but to highlight the fact that all behavior exists on a gradient and no one is absolute.  I think this theme is extremely well-developed and it provides a lot of perspective.  In other words using “Thinkers” and “Feelers” without diving into the politics of which approach was more “work appropriate” really helped me step back and look at how I have dichotomized the concepts to legitimize my own approach to life.

Managing for People Who Hate Managing has an amazing potential as a professional development text that can be used in a group setting.  The presence of different thought paradigms extends its usefulness in such a setting because it would be nice to be in a group where someone could say, “Shut up “thinker” you’re missing the point, this is how we “feelers” see the world.” 

Ultimately this book is a really approachable tool for people that are leery of management as a concept.  I enjoyed reading it and I felt like I gained a lot from a personal development standpoint.  I found that the book was applicable to everyone regardless of their tenure in a management role.  Zack’s use of vivid examples, narratives, cheat sheets, and opportunities for self assessment gives Managing for People Who Hate Managing a highly interactive feel that puts the reader in charge of their own progress.  In contrast to other similar titles, Zack avoids any absolute declaration of subject matter authority and instead empowers readers with the opportunity to grow on their own, enabled with a new outlook.

28 August 2012

Magic shelves

I ran across some shelves the other day in an issue of Dwell that look pretty cool because they didn't have any visible hardware or actual shelving material.  The visual appearance of the shelves is that of books which have somehow become directly adhered to the wall.  If you want to make your own, check out the photos steps below:

1.  Chose the book (a hardcover at least 3/4" thick), clamp it, and drill holes all the way through the book which line up with a set up "L" shaped brackets (spaced 1" from the each edge).

2.  Use book binding screws (hollow post screws) to go through the "L" shaped bracket and hold the whole thing together.

3.  Mount the books using drywall anchors (I went with the screw in type rated to 75lbs).  Here's a picture of the end product.  Mine hold at least 7-8 books each with no signs of issues.

23 August 2012

Van Gogh Screams for Jesus

When I first saw the story of Cecilia Giménez’s accidental defacing of the Jesus portrait in Madrid, I felt for sure that the article must be a spoof or a satire of some sort.  It turns out that it is in fact, sadly true that in her attempt to recover the fresco for water damage Giménez ended up reducing the portrait into something that looks like a man-monkey wearing a Mennonite inspired muumu.

Here's the original painting along-side the version that Giménez felt she needed to restore.

I would like to entertain my alternative hypothesis that Giménez is actually an elderly avant garde artist introducing her social critique titled “Van Gogh Screams for Jesus.”  The rendering below shows Ms. Giménez’s thought process in arriving at the finished product.  Rumors are beginning to circulate that Giménez may actually be the true personification of the street artist Banksy.

Hopefully some good can come of this tragedy and we'll see the emergence of a meme featuring this "artist's" perspective on classics.  Here's the first one I've stumbled across.

29 July 2012

Oakley Chicken Condo (with Duck Annex) - Homemade Heaven

This is our second entry for the Eagledove Greenhouse chicken coop contest (there's time to enter until 5pm on July 31st, 2012).

Our chickens Pop-Pop, Yogurt, Sekhmet, Gabba-Gabba, Birdie, and Flamingo enjoy their spacious hand-crafted accomodations complete with classic tin roof.  

With a spacious common living area alongside a custom-crafted upcylcled SteelCase filing cabinet which now serves as a sleeping loft, these ladies live out 

their days in comfort and style.  They are joined by their neighbors Hansel and Gretel in the adjoining duck annex (which features similar sleeping 

accomodations and a large garden-view window.

The coop itself is handmade and features a number of salvaged materials.  It was constructed to take advantage of some weird slope issues and features a total of 96 square foot of internal floorspace.

28 July 2012

Oakley Poultry Pop-Up - Recycled and Reused

So this is one of my entries for the Eagledove Greenhouse chicken coop contest (there's time to enter until 5pm on July 31st, 2012).

This chicken or duck tractor offers an ever changing view of the sites along the main drag in Oakley.  Cookie, Cupcake, Nutella, and Godiva (ducks) currently occupy the structure which is attempting to be the first LEED certified poultry housing.  Made to ensure an always ideal location (and sized to fit in our raised beds), the coop is made from the following:

A plastic shower door
2 aluminum shutters
A filing cabinet
Salvaged tractor paint
Scrap roofing tin
A handicap shower railing

The coop features a greenroof and the shutters allow the ducks to have full shade no matter how sunny a day they encounter.

28 June 2012

$15 Haul from the Farmers Market

Admittedly, I've always been a skeptic of farmers market and the whole local foods movement simply because there are times when the prices can be a little exclusionary.  I'm not saying fresh isn't better (it most certainly is), but food budgets being what they are, I've not always gotten the best deals.  Fortunately, I've had the pleasure of helping to kick off the first season of the Oakley Farmers Market and in many ways it's been a pretty mind changing experience.  I've spent a lot of time around food in my life and I tend to be very picky with what I'll eat and how much I'll pay for it.  Last week, I purchased a handful of vegetables and I was amazed that it came to less than what I was paying at the discount grocery store I usually get everything from.  This week, I came a bit more prepared to shop, and I thought I'd show off what a $15 haul looks like.  Check out the picture, this will be the base of quite a number of meals.  For someone that spends around $75 a week or less to feed a family of four, I'm pretty impressed with everything I got and I'll definitely try to shift as much of my shopping to the market as I can.

Here's the inventory:

04 March 2012

Ice Ball Maker

Image Credit:  Ice Ball Mold - http://www.iceballmold.com/ice_ball_mold.html

I'm always looking for ways to give my fine selection of Burnett's liquors the presentation that they deserve.  While traditional ice cubes certainly work to help cool the liquor providing an excellent mouth feel, the rapid dilution of the ice certainly leaves much to be desired.  I stumbled across an ice ball maker which produces perfectly compressed ice spheres within a matter of minutes (the videos below provide a pretty solid assessment of the technique).  If you're interested in picking one up, the prices run from $200 for this little tiny one from Williams and Sonoma to $1322 for this deluxe one from Japan Trend Shop (the Japan Trend Shop link also provides a pretty solid assessment of the technology).

11 February 2012

Low Budget Hell - Book Review

Reprint of a review originally featured on Urban Times (http://www.theurbn.com/2011/10/low-budget-hell-book-review/)

So I’m one of those people that watch a movie and then watch the credits go by totally amazed by the number of people and titles involved in the process.  Admittedly my children have drastically reduced the range of titles I get to watch, but did you realize that it took like 800 people to make the first Curious George movie?  Anyway… I never really bothered to think about how much work those people listed on the credits might be responsible for or how cutthroat the industry that they work in might be, but I have a new found respect the whole process of movie making after reading Robert Maier’s Low Budget Hell Making Underground Movies with John Waters

Maier explains his love/hate relationship with low budget film making through his remarkable journey as a crewmember and producer in the early days of John Waters’s career as filmmaker.  At times brutally honest, most of the time riveting and funny - Maier talks about his own journey alongside Waters’s rise to fame and the simultaneous progressions in their careers.  The book maintains an amazing level of detail into the production process (and the difficulties that came along with that process).  Maier manages to impart the reader with a plethora of knowledge about the mechanics of movie-making without interrupting the narrative of his personal experience.

Picking up after Waters’s release of Pink Flamingos (1979) Maier explains his role in low budget movie-making hell and the struggles that came with the territory.  He also unfurls a fascinating story about the intersection of his career and that of Waters which continues until the release of Cry-Baby (1990).  The storyline keeps it interesting with vignettes about stolen (borrowed) movie equipment, helicopter near crashes, union bullying, shady project funders, artistic debates and Hollywood production company antics.  This is the inside line on low-budget moviemaking.  If you’re an outsider to the movie industry, you won’t watch another movie the same way.

Maier’s memoir is interesting because of the balance that it strikes in telling his own story and in explaining Waters’s rise to notoriety.  John Waters has been somewhat relegated to the margins of cult and “trash art” filmmaking and I have to admit that I had never seen a John Water’s movie prior to starting Low Budget Hell (I’ve since watched A Dirty Shame – which might not be a purist Water’s film but insightful and entertaining in a trashy, social critique kind of way nonetheless).  Maier defines who Waters was when they worked together and contrasts that personification to what he has become today .  As a side note, if you start the book a John Waters novice, you’ll have a solid appreciation for the vision behind his films which goes a long way toward providing the necessary perspective.  I’ll also make another side note that John Waters is not really as important as the comparison that he provides in Maier’s memoir.  In other words, Waters simply serves as the visionary behind looking to produce a specific product and Maier provides background on the nuts, bolts, sweat, and blood that make that vision happen.  It’s a great read and it provides a level of inside knowledge that you’re unlikely to encounter elsewhere.  I enjoyed the dive into movie history and understanding the soul-crushing work it takes to make a movie happen.

Check out the book's Low Budget Hell's Facebook page for more information.

You can find the print version here or the Kindle edition here.

In order to be completely forthright, I must admit that I went through segments of basic training and deployed to Afghanistan with Maier’s son (Evan), and he was gracious enough to take a very intoxicated me to my first post-deployment American breakfast upon our return to the states.  He and his wife have also been kind enough to let my whole family crash at their house during our travels…  that all being said he writes a great book.