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Do The Work by Steven Pressfield | Douglas E. Welch Gift Guide #29

November 29th, 2016 Comments off

Dew 2016 gift guide

I have read — and re-read — Do the work by Steven Pressfield and would highly recommend you do the same. In fact, I am thinking that I will make it (and Pressfield’s earlier book, The War of Art) required reading before I will work with any client. Both books have helped me tremendously in my life and work. We all have to start somewhere on our creative adventures and Pressfield’s books are like an experienced guide that can help to lead us through the creative forest. Revisiting them on a regular basis reenergizes me to face the fight that all creatives feel.

Of course, creativity isn’t just the domain of some specialized class of people. We are all creative in unique ways and we all experience the haunting voice of resistance, as Pressfield names the monster that frightens all of us away from big, transformative changes in our lives. Pressfield reminds us of the nature of this beast and gives us the tools we need to defeat it — again and again.

In my work, I meet so many people who don’t realize their own potential. They drastically underestimate their power to change their lives and change the world. They face the resistance dragon and allow it to eat them nearly every time instead of emerging, triumphant, like St. George. It is often my goal to give them the tools — the horse, the lance, the sword — to help them slay the dragon of resistance just as I have to fight against it everyday. Sometimes I can bring them along with me — at other times, not, but I will never stop trying.

So, to repeat my unasked for advice — get these books, read them and then start on your own creative adventure. You can overcome resistance and create something new, something unique and something great!

The War of Art is also available from Amazon and your local public library. Add it to your creative toolbox today!

 

Do The Work by Steven Pressfield

More books by Steven Pressfield

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs

Previously in the Douglas E. Welch 2016 Gift Guide…

Book: John Shaw’s Guide to Digital Nature Photography

January 15th, 2016 Comments off

John Shaw’s Guide to Digital Nature Photography

As regular readers have probably noticed, photography is an ever growing part of my life and nature photography in particular. While I am not chasing wildlife around the world, I do love photographing plants, flowers and scenic views. With these interests in mind, I was so glad when I saw this book was available from Blogging for Books, a service that provides free review copies to bloggers. I have spent the last several months dipping into the book whenever I had time and then giving some time to let the lessons seep in.

First, as it should be with any book on photography, the photographs included in the book are beautiful, but also explanatory and good examples of each concept being discussed. A picture is worth a thousand worlds might be a cliche, but in a photography book, photos are worth much, much more than just a thousand.

Digital Nature Photography takes you clearly through each step in the photography process from choosing your camera, properly setting it up to work the best it can — touching on subjects like proper white balance, RAW vs JPEG file storage, setting your autofocus and much more. When reading this section of the book, I st  with my camera and camera manual close at hand and worked through each setting as it was discussed. I think this allowed me to get the most out of every bit of advice Shaw was offering. Shaw is careful to show when their were different names for features in the ubiquitous Nikon and Canon camera worlds, even with my Olympus Micro Four-Thirds camera, the feature names were similar enough to allow me to apply the settings, even if I did have to be a bit creative in locating some feature settings. The gear discussion also includes clear and detailed advice on accessories like tripods, lenses, filters, flashes and more. The writing is clear and straightforward with good examples of the pros and cons of each option.

Next comes some great guidance on exposure, aperture and ISO that all photographers need to learn and apply. Shaw gets direct and practical examples of how each effects your photographs and provides clear and specific examples of when you might want to alter these settings such as shooting birds as opposed to other wildlife or scenic subjects. There is so much information here, I am still trying to process and apply it all. I figure it will take me a few more reads through the book before I can glean and apply everything I have learned.

The sections on Composition and Closeup turn away from the more technical aspects of the early sections and seek to explore the artistic side of photography. Here again are great example photographs illustrating each topic such as Learning to see Photo-graphically, Lighting Changes, and Vertical vs. Horizontal format and framing. The section on Closeups delves into focusing issues (one of my biggest problems, Macro lenses, creating good backgrounds to your closeups and more.

John Shaw’s Guide to Digital Nature Photography is a great book which can help any photographer jumpstart their growth from someone who takes simple, casual, snapshots to a photographer who creates beautiful, artistic photography.

Recommended

From Amazon.com…

JOHN SHAW is the author of many enduring bestsellers, including seven previous books on nature photography. His work is frequently featured in National Geographic, Nature’s Best, National Wildlife, Outdoor Photographer, Natural History, Sierra, and Audubon magazines, as well as in calendars, books, and advertisements. He has photographed on every continent, from the Arctic to the Antarctic, and leads sold-out workshops around the globe. Visit him at johnshawphoto.com.

California Wildfire Information 2015 – A collection of resources for the 2015 fire season and beyond

September 14th, 2015 Comments off

(All links confirmed as working – September 14, 2015)

As is common, we are in a drought again, here in California, and this makes the occurrence of wildfire more likely and also increases the damage that wildfires can do in the landscape and in populated areas. In an effort to stay in touch with the wildfire situation here in California, I have collected a set of resources to keep me informed when fires break out. While I live in the middle of the San Fernando Valley and fairly free from the direct danger of wildfire, fires in the surrounding areas can cause large problems with evacuations, smoke plumes and ash and also directly effect friends and family who live in or near wild lands.


 Cal fire banner

CAL FIRE is a State agency responsible for protecting natural resources from fire on land designated by the State Board of Forestry as State Responsibility Area (SRA). CAL FIRE also manages the State Forest system and has responsibility to enforce the forest practice regulations, which govern forestry practices on private and other non-federal lands. Two major themes are attendant to the CAL FIRE mission. One is the protection of the State’s merchantable timber on all non-federal lands from improper logging activities and the other is the protection of the State’s grass, brush, and tree covered watersheds in SRA from wildland fire. CAL FIRE is a “conservation agency” with origins stemming from the “Conservation Movement” of the last century.”

Cal Fire provides a number of online resources:

Cal Fire Incident Google Map with perimeters


Inciweb Wildfire Information

“InciWeb is an interagency all-risk incident information management system. The system was developed with two primary missions:

Provide the public a single source of incident related information
Provide a standardized reporting tool for the Public Affairs community
A number of supporting systems automate the delivery of incident information to remote sources. This ensures that the information regarding active incidents is consistent, and the delivery is timely.”

InciWeb Resources:


Enplan wildfire viewer

Enplan Wildfire Viewer

“ENPLAN provides environmental planning and geospatial information services and products to both public and private sectors. We have served over 500 clients since we began in 1980. Throughout our existence, we have remained absolutely committed to leading-edge quality and innovation in the solutions we deliver.”

Enplan Wildfire Viewer Resources:


ESRI Integrated Fire Information Map

ESRI Integrated Fire Information Map

Resources include:

  • Fire Locations
  • Filtered Tweets 
  • Wildfire Perimeters
  • Fire-Related Weather Watches and Warnings

Gift Guide 2013: Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick

November 21st, 2013 Comments off

why-read-moby-dick

Why Read Moby-Dick?

I was able to get the eBook on loan from the LA Public Library. The eBook availability isn’t always the greatest, but I got lucky in this case. Here is the description from Amazon.com. I read it in about 2 hours on this Thanksgiving Eve, taking a break from other tasks and simply luxuriating in the process of reading a book.

I would describe this as a “pre-book” if there is such a beast in literature. By reading this short treatise, you are being prepared for the larger task of facing “The White Whale” which could describe the book itself as well as its namesake. Moby-Dick has defeated many readers, but perhaps with this introduction others might attempt it again, or for the first time, and discover some of the magic it has to offer.

From Amazon.com…

The New York Times bestselling author of seagoing epics now celebrates an American classic. Moby-Dick is perhaps the greatest of the Great American Novels, yet its length and esoteric subject matter create an aura of difficulty that too often keeps readers at bay. Fortunately, one unabashed fan wants passionately to give Melville’s masterpiece the broad contemporary audience it deserves. In his National Book Award- winning bestseller, In the Heart of the Sea, Nathaniel Philbrick captivatingly unpacked the story of the wreck of the whaleship Essex, the real-life incident that inspired Melville to write Moby- Dick. Now, he sets his sights on the fiction itself, offering a cabin master’s tour of a spellbinding novel rich with adventure and history. Philbrick skillfully navigates Melville’s world and illuminates the book’s humor and unforgettable characters-finding the thread that binds Ishmael and Ahab to our own time and, indeed, to all times. A perfect match between author and subject, Why Read Moby-Dick? gives us a renewed appreciation of both Melville and the proud seaman’s town of Nantucket that Philbrick himself calls home. Like Alain de Botton’s How Proust Can Change Your Life, this remarkable little book will start conversations, inspire arguments, and, best of all, bring a new wave of readers to a classic tale waiting to be discovered anew.

More 2013 Gift Guide Items:

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Gift Guide 2013: Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod

November 20th, 2013 Comments off

Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod

Well-known blogger (gapingvoid.com), back-of-business-card cartoonist and advertising copywriter, Hugh MacLeod, leads us through his list of “What I Believe” in his book, Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity.

Like other books I have read recently, this is what I consider a “real world example.” Every aspect of the book draws on his experiences in advertising, blogging and cartooning. It makes you think. It make you stop sometimes and glance up at the ceiling to take stock of what you have just read. Some of the sections may seem contradictory to others that you have read, but that’s ok. Life itself is pretty contradictory, too, and the best advice is often to look at a problem from all sides.

Some sections feel like MacLeod is getting in you face and telling you how he thinks the world really operates. You can chose to believe him, or not, but you can’t ignore him. I think this is one of the marks of a good author. Mediocre authors can be be ignored, but good authors force you to pay attention, whether you agree with them or not.

Ignore Everybody is based on a blog, so it is divided into distinctly blog-like sections. Each has a beginning, middle and end, but also ties together nicely as a whole. MacLeod even recommends blogging for others who want to share their creativity with the world — something I often recommend myself to my clients. Those unfamiliar with blogs might find the style a big choppy, but even someone older like me can find it enjoyable and informative if you keep an open mind.

If you need a recharge in your creative life, are looking for the next step in your career or just trying to make sense of the world around you, Ignore Everybody could be an interesting and enjoyable read.

More 2013 Gift Guide Items:

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Gift Guide 2013: Blue Yeti Microphone

November 13th, 2013 Comments off
 
Another great USB microphone from Blue. Like the Blue Snowball microphone mentioned in earlier Gift Guides, this mic connects directly to the USB port on your computer — either Windows or Mac. The Yeti gives a full, rich sound and is compatible with all the typical New Media uses such as video conferencing, podcasting and recording voice or music. The Yeti is very popular with podcasters and live streamers and can often be seen in these productions. I think its classic styling, unlike the futuristic look of the Snowball make it more popular for video production. Its design  harkens back to an earlier day of broadcasting.

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Gift Guide 2013: Brush with Death: The Grey Whale Inn Mysteries Book 5

November 11th, 2013 Comments off

Another perennial inclusion in my Gift Guide. I love mystery books. movies and television and I came across the Grey Whale Inn series a few years ago. Whenever I see another one is being published I put it on hold at the LA Public Library so I get it right away. It is good to know that someone in the library system (it looks like someone from the Central Library downtown) also appreciates the books and makes sure to order them quickly.

Brush with Death is the fifth in the series and takes us back to Cranberry Island, Maine where Natalie Barnes runs The Grey Whale Inn and also finds herself involved in mysteries, mayhem and murder.

Karen MacInerney’s writing is top notch, friendly and suspenseful, like any good mystery novel should be. She wonderfully describes the joys of living on a small island and populates the island with a cast of quirky characters which help Natalie in both life and dangerous situations, or in the case of this book, rope her into judging the island bake-off.

Of course, every good inn owner has some extra special recipes hidden away, so at the end of each book, you get the recipes to make some of the dishes served to the inn’s visitors. This is a nice touch and I usually end up making one or two out of each book.

The Grey Whale Inn mysteries are typically a 1-2 day read for me. I am pulled through them, like any good mystery, and sometimes read late into the night to get to the end and solve the crime. After reading so many business books for my life and my work, it is nice to have a good book that I can turn to for a little escape.

Previous books in The Grey Whale Inn series include: Murder on the Rocks, Dead and Berried, Murder Most Maine and Berried to the Hilt

More 2013 Gift Guide Items:

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Gift Guide 2013: The Promise by Dawn Comer Jefferson and Rosanne Welch

November 9th, 2013 Comments off

The Promise by Dawn Comer Jefferson and Rosanne Welch

Yes, I am completely biased about this entry in the gift guide, as it was co-written by my wife and I photographed and designed the cover, but I do really think it is a great book, with a great story to share with your kids.

Based on a true story, The Promise follows Mary, the 9 year old daughter in a family of slaves in Louisiana in the 1850s. Because Mary and her father can read and write, Mary’s family is promised freedom if they travel with their master on the treacherous Oregon Trail.

When they reach Oregon, the master frees the parents but keeps Mary and her brother as slaves. Mary’s parents take the master to court to sue for custody of their children, and with Mary’s brave testimony, they set in motion a law which helps determine if Oregon will come into the Union as a free state or a slave state.

The Promise is a historical chapter book for children ages 7-9.

The Promise is available in both print and Kindle eBook form.

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Gift Guide 2013: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

November 8th, 2013 Comments off

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I keep returning to this book, year after year, as one of my favorites and always recommend it to others whenever I can.

This magical fantasy novel pulls you through the years at the turn of the last century and wraps you in the lives of Celia and Marco, two pawns in a lifelong game that they themselves don’t even realize they are fighting. The Cirque de Rêves attracts us, the reader, as much as the characters in the book. Were there only a place like the Cirque, I might run away and never come home.

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

More 2013 Gift Guide Items:

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2012 Gift Guide: The Great Potato Book

November 22nd, 2012 Comments off

The Great Potato Book

A serendipitous look though the sorting shelves at my local library led me to The Great Potato Book, which can only be described as raising food fetishism to a new height. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing.

Beautifully photographed and printed on glossy stock, The Great Potato Book presents the humble potato’s history, recipes and an index of potato varieties you have probably never seen. Each description offers appropriate users for the particular variety as well as possible substitutions if you can’t find a certain type in your area. Several recipes caught my eye immediately, including the Italian Potato Pie, Potato-Onion Focaccua and Bacon-Potato Cake.

If I were a collector of food books, The Great Potato Book would certainly find its way onto my bookshelves, or more likely, onto my coffee table, since it is so beautifully designed. Of course, owning this book would make it clear to all your friends that your truly are a “foodie” to the highest degree. For the gardener’s among us, the book gives us images of perfection to strive for in your own garden. You may never reach such heights, but it is always good to have something for which to strive.

Despite its glossiness, the book brought back some pleasant memories of planting and harvesting potatoes with my grandma, many years ago. She planted a half-acre of garden until she was well into her 70’s and taught me most everything I know about gardening.

Each year we would take seed potatoes left over from the previous year and cut them into sections, each containing an eye, These were loaded into peck baskets made of wicker and carried out to the back of her property, where the garden existed. The soil would have been prepared until it was deep and soft, and a dark, chocolate brown. We would then create a long straight row, using the ancient hand cultivator that seemed to belong to a previous century. It looked like a miniature plow with a large metal wheel at the front and wheelbarrow-like handles at the rear. Each of us would then heft a basket and begin walking down the row, dropping potatoes at regular intervals, then stepping on each one to seat it in the soil. Then we would carefully “hill up” each row, giving the new potatoes plenty of room to grow.

Later in the Summer, and into the cold Fall, we would make regular trips out to the garden to gather potatoes for our usual Sunday family supper. It was always amazing to put the garden fork into a seemingly dead part of the garden and turn up a hidden bounty.
Despite the typical attacks of potato bugs, dry weather, wet weather and more, I have no memory of Grandma ever buying potatoes. I guess her garden, and her gardening knowledge, made it relatively easy to provide more than enough for everyone.

Food as fetish, food as art and food as memory. Any book that can serve in all these ways is certainly worth a look.

More 2012 Gift Guide Items:

  1. Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
  2. Bulb Planting Tools
  3. Blue Snowball Microphone
  4. Seagate Backup Plus 500 GB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive
  5. Logitech C920 HD Web Cam
  6. We Are All Weird by Seth Godin
  7. Sunset Western Garden Book – New Edition for 2012
  8. The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings
  9. Garden Mysteries by Anthony Eglin
  10. The Creative Habit/The Collaborative Habit by Twyla Tharp
  11. Moleskeine Journals
  12. Pat Welsh’s Southern California Organic Gardening (3rd Edition): Month by Month
  13. Podcasting for Dummies/Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies
  14. Wacom Bamboo Splash Pen Tablet
  15. Radical Careering by Sally Hogshead
  16. The $64 Tomato
  17. Blue Yeti Microphone
  18. BioLite CampStove/HomeStove
  19. Getting Things Done by David Allen
  20. The Curious Gardener
  21. Anything You Want by Derek Sivers
  22. GoPro HD HERO 3
  23. Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart
  24. The Starfish and the Spider by Orj Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom
  25. Microphone Boom Arms
  26. The Information by James Gleick
  27. Handy Farm Devices And How To Make Them (1909)
  28. Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness: The Science, Design, and Engineering of Contagious Ideas
  29. Apple iPhone 5
  30. Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod
  31. Killer Ratings by Lisa Seidman
  32. Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon
  33. Zoom Portable Recorders (H1, H2, H2n, H4n)
  34. Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds
  35. My Teenager’s Favorite Games
  36. The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness
  37. In a Mexican Garden: courtyards, pools and open-air living rooms
  38. Fields of Plenty: A farmer’s journey in search of real food and the people who grow it
  39. Apple iPad/iPad Mini
  40. The Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam
  41. Cucina Rustica

Categories: Books, Food, Garden, Recommendation, Tips Tags:
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