Monthly Archives

May 2015

The Sunday Letter

Sunday Sundries | Vol. 11

Δ Check out the bar that Wes Anderson Built.

Δ The Software Engineering Disaster Hall of Fame is hilarious – you’ll never believe how many times a bad line of code has put the the human race at risk.

Δ Why Having Your Portrait Made is Important is so true! I recommend having professional portraits done once a year.

Δ Whoa Travel is a super awesome group I met at the Women in Travel Summit in Boston. They have one trek that puts you (and a bunch of other kickass women) on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro on International Women’s Day. How freaking cool is this?

Δ 10 Places That Are Nowhere Near As Dangerous As You Think – don’t let the fear mongering stop you from experiencing these amazing places.

Δ How Well Are You Treating Your One Employee? Tips for the self-employed.

Δ How We Roll – The Coast’s guide to lobster rolls in Halifax. For people like me who love lobster rolls. Not on this list: Salty’s does a great lobster roll on a croissant with a green salad AND they have a patio. Win/Win.

Δ Codecademy has a sweet new Ruby on Rails course that’s short, sweet and informative.

Δ 23 of the Most Inspiring Views on the Planet – despite all the hyperbole going on in that title, these are some pretty sweet places, with good photos.

Δ 98 Types of Food Cut Into Perfect Cubes. Mmmm, oddly satisfying.

Δ Maddie is a rescue dog who goes on adorable adventures with her human photographer.

Δ I’ve been following 37 Frames for awhile now. They’re English wedding photographers based in Tokyo, Japan. This recent pre-wedding they shot in Kyoto is stunning.

Δ My friend Katie argues Why Selfie Sticks Aren’t Ruining Travel on her travel blog, Stories My Suitcase Could Tell.

Δ What to do if following your dreams puts you in debt.

Δ Why aren’t there more female film directors?

Δ Pizza in the Wild, a photoessay.

Δ Survival Guide for Modern Artists:

Lifestyle

The View from the Avery

Halifax, oh Halifax. My city, my city.

AT 7:30AM THIS MORNING I put on a hard hat, adjusted its huge band to fit my head, and then climbed up five stories of under-construction stairs and up one cement-covered, shaky ladder chained to a slab of concrete to take some early morning photos of the Halifax Harbour.

The Avery is a condo building developed by my Dad’s company. I was lucky enough to have project manager Derek guide me up to the top unscathed. The area I was shooting from will eventually become the rooftop patio. I can’t wait until its finished (est. early 2016) so that I can sneak up here all the time to do panos and long exposures of the city at night, and shots of the sea smoke coming off the water in early winter when the ocean is still warm.

As it was, it was a beautiful morning, with just a little bit of wind. I finished just in time to catch the 8:30am ferry to work.

The full-sized panorama is about 22″x84″ large. My favourite thing about it is the little man down by the train.

The worst thing about panoramas is they’re awkward to view, especially on digital devices. They’re really best when printed so you can walk through them and notice all the little details blown up.

Want to post a panorama to Instagram? Forget it. The details will be so tiny it’s not even worth it. It defeats the whole purpose of grandeur that a panorama is supposed to have. I’d rather look at more flat pictures of fancy breakfasts, please.

That being said, do you have any panorama-viewing tips? Anyone know where to get them printed well for cheap? I kind of want to print it for my living room.

Lifestyle

Roman Rhetoric

SOMETIMES WHEN I’M TRYING to make a decision, I’ll think about how it would sound if I was reading about it in a book about someone else’s life.

Would I admire them? Would I think them foolhardy? Would I wish they would have gone for it?

You have to trust that following your instincts to questions like these will lead you to the kind of person you want to become.

I’ve seen a lot of people become preoccupied with finding ways to avoid death that they never really live at all, for fear of dying, and get caught in this Catch-22.

Likewise, so many people get caught up in securing and protecting their belongings and their children, that they never really enjoy them to begin with. People who buy things just “to have” kind of freak me out, to be honest.

I think these people must not like endings or goodbyes.

Our lives are special because they have very finite frames – the beginning, and the end. Front page, back page. What your life becomes is how you choose to fill those pages. A photograph is beautiful because it has a border. It is specific in its purpose.

You don’t even have to succeed in everything you attempt to fill them with. People admire character more than they do success. In fact, it’s No. 1 on Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling (a good reference guide if you’re trying to figure out your life, actually).

Failure can be painful, but if you realize that the people around you actually admire you more for having the chutzpah to go after your dreams, it can make the hurt sting a little less.

It’s a common saying that when you die your whole life flashes before your eyes. Give yourself something good to watch. Something you can smile at.

I wish you all the best in making your lives really good.

Photo this week: Taken in a tiny village in South Korea.

Lifestyle

Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling

SHORT AND SWEET,  Very Good Lives is J.K. Rowling’s June 2008 Harvard commencement speech in book-form with all proceeds from its sale donated to Hard financial aid and Lumos, a worldwide non-profit that benefits disadvantaged women.

The book itself doesn’t contain any text not heard in her commencement speech, so if you’re looking for extra writings or bonus bits, don’t look here.

That being said, Rowling’s commencement speech was amazing. You can hear the whole thing for free on Youtube without buying the book, if you want. I first heard it the summer before I left for university, so it’s always been near and dear to my heart.

There are beautiful watercolour and calligraphic designs on each page that make it a pleasure to read and flip through. It’s a very quick read – I read it on the sun in my porch in about an hour, and that was leisurely taking my time.

This would make a fantastic graduation present. Definitely watch the video, even if you don’t buy the book.

I’m reading 41 books this year. See original post here.

Lifestyle

The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery

THE READING JOURNEY continues! This little gem ended up being a lot denser than I thought, and took me a whole extra five days to read than I’d anticipated. Luckily, I followed it up with a short book, so I’m back on track today. 

The Teahouse Fire is inevitably charming for anyone who loves Japanese history and female heroines.

It examines the history of a samurai-class family who practices  tea ceremony and the changes that are wrought upon them with the fall of the Shogun, and the rise of the emperor and the beginning of the Meiji era. The narrative also weaves family ties with the cultural nuances of Japanese culture, society, and opinion of the time. 

The Meiji period marks the start of the infusion of the west in Japan, which brought all sorts of problems to isolationist Japan, even in large capitals like Kyoto where the book is set. Bonds that had been forged during the Tokugawa era (the last era of ‘classic’ Japanese history) are challenged by different reactions to the new infusion of culture from the west that opened the Meiji period.

The story is driven by a fantastic lord and liege dynamic between the narrator, orphaned french girl Aurelia who is brought to Japan by Christian missionaries, and the headstrong female proprietor of the Shins, a samurai-class tea family who adopts her, Shin Yukako.

Aurelia is a sympathetic if simple character. Your heart breaks for her when even after years of living in Japan, she’s still looked down on as a dirty ‘foreigner’ by the women at the community bathhouse, and told to bathe elsewhere. The fact that Avery is also able to weave an unexpected lesbian vantage into this unique point in history makes it all the more enjoyable and impressive.

At times the prose can be clunky and dense, as the author struggles to describe everything form the eyes of our foreign narrator, who doesn’t always understand what she is seeing.  The character development is beautiful, but extremely slow (over the course of 25 years). That being said, if you read this, you’re really reading it for the author’s excellent knowledge of Japanese history and language, evident in her extreme attention to detail and commentary on the Japanese language from the eyes of the narrator. 

Read this if you like Memoirs of a Geisha, Japanese history, historical literature, Japanese tea ceremony, inter-generational epics, LGBT stories, or Lisa See novels.

I’m reading 41 books this year. See original post here.

The Sunday Letter

Sunday Sundries | Vol. 10

Pizza stone, pizza stone! Barbecue pizza stone! Throw some cheese and grilled pineapples on that, add some friends and craft beer, and you have a recipe for a great sunny, Sunday afternoon.

See the recommended links!

Δ I love this restaurant’s special smart-phone-friendly plates!

Δ 7 Festivals Around the World You’ve Probably Never Heard Of – I want to see all of these.

Δ Today is mother’s day. A lot of moms are amazing creatures, but not all of them have great relationships with their children. Here’s a post for those children that might want something encouraging to read today.

Δ This photographer is looking to end discrimination against fancy camera gear. As someone who has run into the problem of having my gear told to ‘leave’ or ‘get out’ of places before, I definitely empathize with the problem. That being said, you always want to respect wherever you’re shooting, so it’s a fine line to walk.

Δ My Fight / Your Fight by olympic judo medalist and reigning MMA fighter in her weight class, Ronda Rousey, comes out on Tuesday. 

Δ Infogr.am lets you create online charts and infographics super easily.

Δ If you’re looking for something unique to do on Canada Day (July 1st) in Nova Scotia, you can visit Gampo Abbey in Cape Breton to see the monks’ annual Canada Day softball game

Δ Germans reflecting about the success of Hitler satire

Δ How to achieve an 80 hour workweek without grinding yourself into the ground. Don’t ask for family time; just take control of your schedule and make it work.

Δ Photos of food arranged neatly by colour and size is very satisfying.

Δ This hilarious commercial showing the expectation vs. reality of buying a new camera:

Δ This beautiful series of exotic birds saved from illegal smuggling operations.

Δ  This Google Talk with photographer Rick Smolan (he’s shot for Life, Time, Nat Geo, and is one of the best-selling coffee table book photographers of all time).

Guess what guys? We make it through this week, and then LOOOOOOONG WEEKEND!!! 

Best,

Mel