Green Rascal Design

 
 
Okay, we just saw the last episode of the last season of Dexter recently, so I have that phrase in my head now. Move along if you don't follow.

I have no time this week. It has been super busy with mostly networking events. And I've been helping (not really) to plan the 422 ARCH first event. We have scheduled it for July 21st at 6pm. Hopefully that time will stand, but there's no location yet because the venue is playing hardball or something...

And I've got some other work to work on, but I will announce that soon also.

Until then,
 
 
pink ladybug
actual pink ladybug on a parsnip
Apparently this little guy is special. He's not red. He is pink. Parsnips attract these special pink ladybugs from hundreds of yards away according to some online source.

There are 500 kinds of ladybugs in the US alone, so I guess this isn't so surprising. But I felt like sharing. I couldn't get a picture of the baby praying mantises that were out last week, so maybe this is compensation for that.

Also, I figured I'd share pictures of the bounty we've reaped so far this year:
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7 jars of strawberry, and 6 jars of raspberry jam
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raspberry vodka and strawberry wine
There is more jam in the fridge - being consumed regularly around here.

The raspberry vodka is simply one 750ml bottle of vodka, 3 cups of raspberries (in our case both red and black raspberries), and 2 cups of sugar. It will sit like this for the next 3 months until we strain out the fruit.

Yes, that's a washing machine...

The strawberry wine is a much more complicated matter involving yeast and that fancy contraption you see bubbling at the top. In about a month it will be strained and tasted. It could take up to a year before being ready, but we'll see.

The purpose of these photos today - for this special Sunday edition of Rascal Scratches - is not only to make up for the fact that I should have shared them yesterday, but is also in reaction to something somebody here saw in the Wall St Journal this morning about the definition of a real gardener.

Somebody in my tai chi class asked me yesterday how the garden is doing. When I started rattling off all the stories it seemed like she was in total disbelief because I also stated that we do almost no weeding. This story in the WSJ just reminded me of my classmate and all the other friends we have around who still buy into the notion that you need to spend hours and hours working on your garden to make it beautiful and useful. My pictures above (and elsewhere) should show that you do not need to spend much time working in the garden to get rewards.

I also occasionally post different photos on the Green Rascal facebook page.

I suppose it's one of my missions in life and this business to get people to be better stewards of the Earth, and those who write articles about spending 4 hours or more weeding every week, and comments such as those referring to the WSJ article, deeply disappoint me. Clearly Permaculturists need to do more educating...
 
 
We haven't been on vacation, if that's what you're thinking. It has been super busy this week with the garden and extracurriculars.
raspberries
raspberry and blackberry bushes
I counted the jars of strawberry jam, and we have ten. Some strawberries are still in the freezer awaiting rhubarb season. There is also a gallon of strawberry wine bubbling in the basement. Since strawberry season ended and raspberry season has begun, we have canned 3 jars of raspberries. I will soon start to make raspberry vodka. Blackberries are on their way now, too.

We stopped trying to harvest sugar snap peas. They're just plain old peas now. The same is true for the lettuce. We just got sick of salads.

The kale and swiss chard is harvestable now. I know that's not a word.

And the tomatoes started invading the walking paths, so I had to spend an hour tying them up on the little trellis things that have been there for months with no action.
tomatoes
monster tomato plants
You can't even see the trellis things anymore because the tomato plants are THAT big. There are lots of tomatoes starting already.

The chickens have been integrated for a little while now. Pumpkin and Clover still get picked on a little bit, but there is very little screaming in the morning.

Also in that picture you can see a little bit of the new house we've been slowly working on. Now, this is NOT fine home-building. I read Fine Homebuilding, and our skills in no way match those of the professional builders you read about in that fine publication. However, the chickens are much happier now that they have more space and more private nest boxes. They can also go underneath the new house and roll around out of the sun where it's cooler.

In my backlog of tasks is the new shade device for the chicken cage. Eventually it will be fabulous, I promise. Ok, well maybe not FABulous...

Now away from home-base, there has been a lot going on all over the place. First, I had a chance to go see a potential project out in the middle of nowhere on Swamp Pike. It needs a TON of work, and I'm not sure how the potential clients intend to pay for all of this. But I need to write up a short proposal and send that off to them. That was Monday, and I feel bad it's been this long.

Tuesday after my regular work I went to The Power Lunch Project/King of Prussia Business Networking Group's speed networking event. It was really fun and interesting, and I'm glad I went. However, I still need to reach out to most of the people I met there.

Wednesday after my regular work I went to the Women in Architecture/SMPS presentation on networking at the Center For Architecture in Philly. There, too, I had a lot of fun and met interesting people. The speaker, Aimee Lala, was really cool, and I hope to rope her into talking to the 422 ARCH attendees about networking in AEC as well.

Thursday I had to go get chicken feed because we were completely out. The trip to Pickering Valley is fairly long, and so I ran other errands on the way. This all prevented any real work from getting done, but sometimes you just gotta do "office management." haha. I'm still recovering...

Today I had real work to do, and I'm happy that my one rammed-earth house project is under-way. I still have no idea how this "observation tower" is going to work! BUT at least I can entertain new networking contacts with the story of my rammed-earth design.

Luckily the new Rascal business cards arrived in time for all of this networking!
Rascal business card
latest card
Right now I LOOOOOOOOOVE the new card. Sometimes I just stare at it. It might be a little minimalist, which one may think is the antithesis of all that the Rascal stands for... but we're happy. Of course we are. I wouldn't be sharing them here if we thought they sucked. (notice how I've never shared a biz card here before?) So wrap your pretty little heads around that one!

Plus, it's prime Cancer season... I have lots of friends and relatives born under the sign of Cancer, so here's a shout out to all of them and a heads-up to say I did indeed send out birthday cards. Recycled paper with soy based inks, no less.

Have a great weekend!
 
 
I've been reading a lot of books on the psychology of influence in business lately, on the advice of the Startup Daily guy, Karl. I finished Power by Jeffrey Pfeffer really quickly. I loved it. There are a ton of really good stories in that book, which makes reading go fast even when you're reading it at bedtime. I found myself staying up way later than I should have because it was that good. I started thinking about what ELSE we can do here, or what can architecture inform in the business world.

Now I am reading Yes: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Robert B. Cialdini and others. The chapters are really really short, so it's easy to digest in small bites. Although, there are 50 of them. I never thought about things such as the WAY we're asked to reuse towels at a hotel before. Of course I always prefer to reuse my towels, but apparently there is a trick to getting more compliance from guests.

At the same time, I have been working with some new friends on a networking group idea: the 422 ARCH. I'm beginning to see this thing as a way to think about our service industry differently. For a while now, since seeing those TED talks about tribes, I've had this nagging idea that we're doing things all wrong and how can we help change that. So hopefully this Architecture, Real Estate and Construction happy hour group will be a success!

And related to that, I was at a Trustees Council for Penn Women event on Wednesday. It was not as big as the first one was, but I still met somebody really super interesting. I think it was the first time anybody has ever said to me that they love how architects think. She was really inspiring! This whole time I've been down in the dumps because it seems like the public doesn't know what we do or the value we can bring to everything. Then I meet this incredible woman who isn't an architect but knows what we do and how we see the world and believes these traits to be wonderful! How amazing! I must now go research all the interesting people she mentioned, and find out what Organizational Dynamics is and how I can meet more people in that field because it's rare to feel that good about this vocation these days.

So while I might be doing lots of other things that take me away from my beloved Rascal duties lately, this stuff is always on my mind. I believe we will change the practice of architecture sometime soon. We just have to figure out how!
 

PA SARA

06/08/2011

1 Comment

 
If you're not an architect, or even if you are an architect and have just not been made aware, SARA stands for (among other things if you look it up) Society of American Registered Architects. And I recently (yesterday) got a chance to meet the PA SARA board and sit in on their monthly meeting. It was really interesting, and then I realized that I used to do reviews of events that weren't half bad. (at least I had a couple hundred people reading my reviews of musical events I went to for a time) So I think I'll write a tiny bit about this group of SARA because I feel it's a valuable organization and would like to be supportive.

 
 
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For the blogoff today, I'll be talking about my favorite tv show. The bloggers decided it might be fun to give everyone a chance to talk about their guilty pleasures when it comes to the television, and at first, I must admit, I struggled with this topic. I have a lot of tv shows I like a lot or even love. Some of my favorite shows are intellectually stimulating or provide some kind of mystery to solve. Some that I watch teach life lessons or just plain earth sciences type knowledge. Still others I strongly identify with the main character in some way, which  keeps me coming back. I thought about stuff on DIY and HGTV. I considered fantasy stuff like Inuyasha and Stargate. I strongly considered Star Trek and the like...

But you can't beat Doctor Who.

I love Doctor Who. I watched it as a little kid. I've collected as many old episodes as possible. I've made at least one very good friend because of Doctor Who. I bought a Dr Who graphic novel from the year of my birth when I was in London. My mom gave me a remote control Dalek for Christmas one year - and I also kept the box because it was so cool looking.

Okay, I might not know lots of trivia. And I don't follow the websites and stuff that talk about the show. But we manage to watch the newest episodes online, on the big tv regardless of quality... We get together with friends from the UK who live here now and set up super nerdy ways to watch the show... And for a good long time I and my two roommates and one friend used to watch several episodes from the 70s every night while doing homework or work work or whatever on laptops. It was a beautiful thing.

I don't really have a favorite Doctor. If you know anything about the show, you know it's been on for a very long time, since the 60s with a break in the 80s and 90s, with several actors playing the main character. I'm not a huge fan of the first two Doctors. I really like Tom Baker - the one with the scarf. Not the frilly shirt one so much. The one with the celery was fun. I didn't like the one from the movie. But I really like all three of the most recent Doctors, even Matt Smith, the most recent one.

The Doctor has companions who travel around with him, and they always add something interesting. The most recent couple of companions are really great. I like Any and Rory a lot. Martha was brilliant. Rose was cool. Ace was a blast, literally. And then there was Sarah Jane Smith, and what a girl was she! Most of the companions are okay in my book. There are a couple from the 80s who I could do without, but usually they are fun and interesting. I like their accents and the costumes they wear - especially when they had impractical shoes.

One other companion was K-9, a robotic dog. I have a picture of myself with K-9 outside of St Paul's in London, actually. For some reason there was a lot of Doctor Who stuff going on when I visited there, but the lady who I got to take the picture said it wasn't what I thought. I never found out what was going on, though.

As far as bad guys and aliens, you can't get better than Doctor Who bad guys and aliens. I LOVE Alpha Centauri with the giant eyeball head and plush curtain as a cape. I like the really super old-school Cyber Men - the ones obviously made from HVAC parts, you know flexible air vent pipe as arms and such. I like the Ice Warriors who look like lizards. The spider puppets are awesome. The hemavores were hilarious in my opinion. Who could forget the Master and his hysterical laugh? And don't forget the Daleks, with their little goofy eye things, suction cups and laser wands - and their inability to go up stairs until recent years!

Then there's the TARDIS: time and relative dimensions in space. What a hottie. She's the space ship/time machine they travel around in. The TARDIS has also changed a lot over time. I didn't like the curvy slimy columnar version from the Christopher Eccleston era. And I didn't really like the metal grated floor version from the David Tennant era. I think my favorite version is the clean white circles version from the late 70s and 80s. Perhaps they had a budget cut, but that version was around a long time, and it was sleek and cool in my opinion.

Well anyway, I guess it's obvious I could go on and on about Doctor Who. It's a great show now, and it was a great show when I was a kid!

I'm interested in finding out about everyone else's guilty tv pleasures. Here is the list of other participants in this week's blogoff!
Links courtesy of Wikipedia. Support Wikipedia if you can! Thanks.
 
 
I love Game. Set. Life. by Ed Tseng. It is a quick read, and makes me feel upbeat whenever I pick it up. Literally, whenever I just pick it up. lol. Anyway, Ed promotes working on your weaknesses a lot.

Back in the day somebody told me I'm not good at details. I then spent years in architecture school slaving over the details so much that I think I'm now a fairly detail-oriented person. If you ask my loved-ones they will probably tell you that I am unbearable when it comes to details in life and work.

That's not to say I like DRAWING details. My mentor has a hard time getting me to draw details for construction documents. They are a pain in the butt, and just not for me. Sure, I'm good at detail-y type stuff now because I practiced SO MUCH. But, in architecture, detail drawings just don't float my boat.

In this other book I read recently called Business DISCoverY, one author promotes the idea of never doing things you aren't good at. He says we shouldn't waste time on tasks that we aren't suited for in "Don't Try to Get a Cow to Fly."

I really identify with this advice because no matter how many detail drawings I have drawn, it just doesn't light me up like other things parts of the business.

So, which school of thought would you agree with? Can there be just one right answer? Is some compromise really the best thing, or just a diluted way of being? I'm really curious because in most cases I go for the compromise, but here it seems like doing either one half-way seems like a waste of time.

Well, whatever the case is, I'm glad I went to that one BNI happy hour in Malvern, and won that book - Business DISCoverY - as a door prize. Winning a door prize is always a good thing.
 

the CSA

06/01/2011

 
So yesterday I managed to finally get out of the house after a long weekend of too much heat and sinus congestion. It was CSA day, and I can't miss it. Plus the hubs took the day off so he could go to the farm with me and see what all the fuss is about.

It's our second CSA pick up of the season. We got collards, salad greens, tatsoi, bok choi, broccoli and a cucumber this week. Then we took a walk around the farm to see how they do stuff. It's very neat and organized. They essentially grow organically even though they haven't gone to the expense of becoming certified. So instead of chemicals, they use fabric bed covers to protect the crops from insects and pests. It's a pretty big farm, and it seemed like tons of work. Good thing they got the high school kids helping out!

If you haven't tried a CSA, I recommend it. We paid about as much as we'd spend at the grocery store in one month, and we'll get a small share of whatever the farm produces for the next 24 weeks. It's organic, and much fresher than what is at the store.

Not knowing what we'll get every Tuesday is the biggest hurdle. We have had to stop planning out meals for the week and go back to being creative. Mostly its my creativity. Well, actually all of it is my creativity. But I don't mind McGuyvering dinner most nights. It's more fun than reading recipes out of a book. Probably in a couple months I'll feel differently, but for now it's good.

Last night we made some kind of burrito things with two collard leaves standing in for the tortilla. It was pretty good! Thanks Henry Got Crops!