Flavor vs Health? – Taste Workshop

Fat news is controversial and creates trends in products, recipe development, cookbooks and restaurant menus. We will discuss what’s happening with fat trends and consider the basis for changing recommendations on dietary fat intake.

Fat Questions &/or Myths covered:

  • What are the latest trends in dietary fat thinking?
    • Fatphobia: The “no oils/dietary fats” followers
    • Fatphilia: The “butter/sat fat” followers
    • Coconut oil cures all / burns calories!?!
  • Refined oils are made with chemicals—yum or yuck?
  • 99% of us lack dietary omega-3 fats—which oils help vs harm?
  • Why olive oil for health vs other vegetable oils?
  • Heating oil creates unhealthful compounds—True or false?

Explore also practical uses of dietary oils and challenges or questions about best culinary uses and flavor results. Participate in an olive oil tasting to test your palate and discover the complexities of olive oil!

20 Tips for Creating a More Efficient Workshop

Of the hundreds of questions our readers send to us each year, most of them involve shop layout, organization and dependable tips from our panel of experts. Where is the best place for my tablesaw? How can I organize all the electrical cords crisscrossing my shop floor? What is the best way to store clamps?

The more efficient your shop, the more likely you are to work and have fun in what should be your home’s most interesting room.

To help our readers in their quest for creating the most efficient and dependable shops, we’ve gathered a list of the 20 best tips for organizing your workshop. As well, we’ve included some samples of the most practical shop layouts with popular configurations.

1. Make a Plan: Before you start any woodworking project, you have a plan, right? (Or so we hope!) The same should apply to workshop organization. Draw out your shop layout and play around with it on paper until you get it right. Then, start to add all the details that make a shop run like a well-oiled machine.

2. Easy Reach: Mount your tool’s accessories next to the machine; blades, pushsticks and wrenches all can fit in simple plywood storage.

3. Tools on Wheels: Use castors or wheeled bases for tools that may need to be moved around for space and practicality.

4. Look Up…: Use all the vertical space you can by adding storage overhead wherever possible. And be sure to have a safe stepstool handy for reaching.

5. …And Up Again: Store your electrical cables off the ground and run them along the ceiling. You won’t trip over them or have to clean up around them.

6. Storage Below: Store blades and rulers on the doors of pegboards, then store tools inside.

7. Keep it Clean: Sweep and vacuum during your workday and before you close up for the night. It’s simple, but many woodworkers skip this step.

8. Pair Off: Put two similar tools, such as a spindle and belt sander, on the same rolling surface. The cabinet base includes accessory storage.

9. Clamp Rack: A tall storage area has dowels across, spaced every 6″ to 8” for, well, clamping.

10. Don’t Be Afraid of Prefab: Just because someone else built it doesn’t mean it can’t help you get organized.

11. Electrify: Plan where you need electrical outlets. Use your ceiling space and extension cords to keep your floor space clear.

12. Retrofit: If you can’t add new outlets, use a retractable cord reel to keep power close at hand but cords off the floor.

13. Cleats Galore: Use a support-rail system to hang cabinetry easily and securely. Secure a 45° angle-cleat to studs and another cleat to the back of the cabinet.

14. Make It Your Own: You know your workshop needs better than anyone. Make a list of how you want your shop to function and find a way to achieve those goals. Also, make a list of your tools and figure out where each would best be placed for maximum efficiency and enjoyment. Because, after all, a workshop needs to be fun to functional.

15. Reuse It: Something old can be new again. Turn an old filing cabinet into a dream storage spot for blades, sanding discs and anything else that needs a home. Shop-built inserts that fit in the drawers are the key.

16. Add Colour: Just because it’s a shop, doesn’t mean it can’t look good! Use coloured laminates for cabinet doors and shelving. Even the mitre gauges should match for a professional finish.

17. Power Up: Build a simple charging station for all your battery packs. It will keep chargers and batteries together and you can easily see what needs juice and what doesn’t.

18. In Clear View: You’ll not only save space, but you’ll also save time and money if you build shelving for your nuts, bolts, screws and other hardware. That way you can easily see what you need to buy and what you have plenty of on hand.

19. Use Every Surface: Chalkboard paint isn’t just for playrooms. Add it to a wall or a cabinet door and you will always have a place to make notes or quick drawings.

20. MacGyver DIY: If you can’t find the hardware you need, make it! For example, using a carabiner and a Velcro strap, you can secure a dust-collection hose.

7 Car-Maintenance Myths

Myth: Engine oil should be changed every 3,000 miles. Wrong. Follow the advice in the owner’s manual and ignore the self-serving pleas from oil companies and quick-lube shops. Under normal driving conditions, most vehicles can travel 7,500 miles or more between oil changes. Changing oil more often certainly won’t harm an engine, just waste money. But if you do a lot of stop-and-go driving, trailer-towing, or traveling through mountainous or dusty areas, 3,000 miles between oil changes is a good idea.

Myth: Flush the coolant with every oil change. Most owner manuals recommend changing the coolant every five years or 60,000 miles. But check for a leak if the coolant reservoir is low despite repeatedly topping it off.

Myth: Inflate tires to the pressure shown on the tire’s sidewall. The psi figure on the side of the tire is the maximum pressure the tire will hold safely. If you’re looking for the automaker’s recommended pressure that balances braking, handling, gas mileage, and ride comfort, it’s usually on a sticker on the driver-side doorjamb, in the glove box, or on the fuel-filler door.

Myth: If regular-grade fuel is good, premium must be better. Another expensive mistake. Most vehicles run fine on regular-grade fuel (87 octane). Filling these cars with premium won’t cause damage, but it won’t improve performance, either. Higher-octane fuels are less likely to create pre-ignition problems, so they’re usually used in hotter-running, high-compression engines.

Myth: Warm up your car for several minutes before driving. Outdated advice. Driving the car is the fastest way to warm up a modern engine, and the sooner it warms up, the sooner it delivers the best mileage and performance. And don’t rev the engine during the first few miles.

Myth: Wash your car with dishwashing or laundry detergent. No, not really. Detergents strip off a car’s wax finish. Pay a little extra and stick with the car-wash liquid, which cleans without removing wax.

Myth: A battery will recharge after a jump start in only a few minutes of driving. Not even close. It can take hours of driving to give the battery a full charge, especially in the winter. Heated seats, music systems, and other accessories draw so much power that the alternator has little left to recharge the battery. You can check to see if the battery will still hold a charge by having a load test at a gas station. If it can, several hours may be needed on a battery charger to give the battery a full charge.

The 10 Personality Types at Art Workshops

One of the joys of going on an art workshop is the other participants. It can, of course, also be one of the nightmares, and the fear of who else might be there may be what’s stopping you from signing up. I’ve been on a variety of courses over the years, ranging from a mere hour (at a large craft exhibition) to several days (at residential art retreats such as Higham Hall in the English Lake District), as well as some teaching small groups face-to-face myself, and there are definitely certain personality types you’ll meet.

Art workshops - Artist Patrick Oates demonstrating mark making at a landscapes workshop I attended.
Artist Patrick Oates demonstrating mark making at a landscapes workshop I attended.

1. The Fish Out of Water

Someone who is wondering why they ever thought that coming on the workshop was a good idea. Usually but not always someone doing it for the first time. Who’s finding the strangeness of the setting, the dealing with strangers, the coping with new challenges overwhelming and feels like they’re about to have a meltdown.

Watch for the “rabbit in the headlights” startled and slightly panicked look. Don’t crowd or rush them, offer gentle encouragement and enthusiasm. Once they get over their nerves, they’re great companions on the quest to learn.

art workshops - Photos © Marion Boddy-Evans

2. The Sunday Painter

Not a beginner, but a competent artist who enjoys painting for the activity rather than for selling to make a living. Usually has quality paints and brushes, knows how to use them, and has infectious enthusiasm and enjoyment.

art workshops -

3. The Quiet Mouse

Typically found in the corner, hiding behind an easel with the largest board they could find onto which they’ve put a small piece of paper (because art materials are expensive and they shouldn’t really be spending money on themselves). They watch and listen, eager to learn but equally eager never to be under the spotlight. Often frightened to initiate discussion with other participants but enjoy listening in. Acknowledge their prescence, ask them questions to encourage joining a conversation, but don’t insist they do, let them decide.

Mop brush for watercolor -

4. The Sponge

The participant who soaks up knowledge, mopping up every snippet. Bad sponges will pursue the tutor relentlessly, including at breaks, and try to suck them dry in their attempt to learn every single thing they possibly can in the time available and get their money’s worth. Be a good sponge and stick to taking what the tutor offers and a reasonable number of questions during group session. Ask the most pertinent questions during one-to-one moments, not every single thing you’ve thought about. For the rest of the participants a good sponge will ask those significant questions you’d wished you’d thought of, or were still too shy to ask.


5. The Significant Artist’s Significant Other

The person who is perceived as important in certain circles because of who they’re married to, rather than for what they themselves do. Amongst a group of people focused on creating rather than status, personal insecurities may assert themselves in highhanded remarks. Ignore the words and look at their art. Have a bit of fun counting how many times they name drop, and how long it takes before they do so.


6. The Once-Upon-a-Time Art Club President

The loud, forceful, A-type personality who likes to preface their sentences with “In the art association that I’m president of we do…” and “Yes, but at my art club…”. After not very long you begin to wonder why they’re there as they don’t seem open to new ideas. While you’re gritting your teeth, try to remember that familiarity is a comfort zone, so relating everything to a known factor is a way of dealing with new challenges.


7. The Serial Workshopper

Like butterflies flitter from flower to flower enjoying the nectar but never make honey, so some people flitter from workshop to workshop but never stop to spend time applying what they learn. Great for tutors because all workshops need participants! A variation of this is the Tourist: there for a leisurely holiday with a creative theme not anything that might resemble effort or work (but unlikely to interrupt anyone who does).

Art workshop -

8. The Groupie

This is the one who has an obsession about the tutor and goes to all their workshops (and no others). Can be dangerous, because they will brook no dissension over the apparent greatness of The Master. Check to see if they have particularly sharp and long finger nails, and don’t sit next to them at supper when they might be holding sharp cutlery. Seriously though, repeat students are a sign of an exceptional tutor (and location).


9. The Overtly Arty Person

Flamboyant and outgoing, veering on too loud and hectic for quieter souls, who wears their art on their sleeve, literally. What, depending on your age, might be labeled a flower child, a hippy, an arty-farty person, a free spirit, etc. Don’t be put off by the costume and/or performance, the mind behind it perceives the world differently and interestingly.


10. The (Semi-) Professional

Life-long learning is part of being an artist, and many professional artists take workshops to try new things, learn from other artists whose work they admire, and refresh their own creative batteries. They often won’t mention that they sell their work, and keep a low profile, both out of respect for the tutor and because they’re there to enjoy themselves not teach. Try to position yourself so you can see what they’re doing at their easel as you’ll learn lots by watching these participants too.

Art workshop tutor - The Tutor
Let’s not forget the tutor. Their personality and teaching style makes or breaks a course. It’s their job not only to lead and teach, but to judge and balance everyone’s needs and demands. It’s part-teacher, part-diplomat, part-psychologist, part-demonstrator. They are not a parent, neither are you a child; it’s an adult-to-adult dynamic. Dictatorial tutors enforce their method as the only right way (and often sell their branded supplies) and the worst bully students. Motivational tutors share their approach, tips and techniques, how they would do it, encouraging you to try, to reach for what’s beyond what you thought possible.



Last but by no means least, there’s you. Because not all participants are stereotypes (or archetypes), and most artists are individuals. You are attending the workshop for all the right reasons. To develop skills, to learn new techniques, to recharge creativity, to meet interesting fellow artists, and to produce some inspirational art.

In return for the money you’ve paid, you’re entitled to expect certain things. But rights come with responsibilities, to yourself, to the teacher, and the other participants. Be willing to try new things (repeatedly, not once only), aim for creating studies not finished paintings (you’re there to learn things, apply them more meticulously when you’re back home). Ask and respond to questions, express your opinions, participate!

How to teach a photography workshop in Guatemala

Of note, we’re going to volunteer at the Starfish One By One School in Solola and teach a photography workshop to the girls and staff there. Here’s our plan for the workshop, but I’d love to get your feedback and suggestions on how to structure the workshop. Let’s create this out loud.
  1. Teach practical skills on how to operate the digital cameras we bring
  1. Teach technical skills on how to take pictures
  1. Teach artistic skills
  1. Staff: teach staff how to operate and maintain cameras
Purchased: 5 digital cameras (Vivitar Vivicam 9112). Simple, easy to use, rugged, and runs off AA batteries that are easily available
Proposed: portable digital printer (Canon Selphy CP900)
Proposed: paper and supplies for portable printer (Canon KP-36IP), 
We have 2 sessions with the students:
First session: first day, 3 hours
Focus on how to operate the cameras. How to turn on / off, how to view through, how to take a picture, review a picture, delete a picture. Hands-on.
Start teaching basic photography skills. Rule of Thirds, composition, how to move around an image, find a vantage point, find a subject, position yourself.
Project: Take cameras home overnight, ask students to take 10 pictures. Their home, their family, TBD.
Second session: next day, 3 hours
Ask questions about what students were able to do, what they need help on, what technical and operational questions we can address and fix.
Review images, discuss what people took, why. 
Print 2 images per student and hang them in a gallery at the school to highlight their work.
TBD: Once back in the US, showcase images on our blogs, in an exhibit at a gallery, and online through philanthropic and photographic outlets.

Four Myths About Hydration That Refuse To Die

As Derek Zoolander wisely put it, wetness is the essence of life. Whether you like drinking water or not, it accounts for about 60% of your body weight, and plays a pretty darn important role in making sure your body functions normally. But statistics aside, there are a couple of myths about hydration that refuse to die.

Four Myths About Hydration That Refuse To Die

Myth One: You Need To Drink Eight Cups A Day

This most well-known but laughably arbitrary rule of thumb has been hammered into us since who knows when. In fact, Dartmouth physician Professor Heinz Valtin went as far as to pen a paper published by the American Physiological Society on the lack of scientific evidence behind the popular axiom.

The truth is, your actual needs can be more than 8 glasses, or less than 8 glasses. There’s no magic number, and the amount changes every day, depending on your size, weight, ambient temperature, daily activities, and, more significantly, your food.

So how do you know how much water you should drink? Before all this science, people relied on a pretty fine-tuned, reliable mechanism to make sure they were getting enough water. It’s called thirst, and you may have heard of it. Drink enough to satisfy your thirst, and that’s good enough.

Myth Two: If You’re Thirsty, You’re Already Dehydrated

Strictly speaking, it’s true. Thirst is normally triggered by a decrease in your body’s water content. But it’s not as dire as it’s usually made out to seem.

Normal levels of thirst usually come about with a 2-4% reduction in body water. As long as you don’t have kidney problems, this is generally tolerable, and acts as a perfectly sound guide to let you know when you need a glass of H2O.

Dehydration becomes a problem when you exceed an 5-8% reduction in body water. By this stage, however, you would be experiencing dizziness and fatigue–far more severe than a slightly dry mouth.

The thirst principle also applies to when you’re exercising. But if you notice that you forget to hydrate or finish parched, take heed of the American Council on Exercise’s guidelines: about 7-10 oz (about a glass) for every 10 to 20 minutes of heavy activity should be enough.

Myth Three: Sports Drinks Are the Best Option After Exercise

This depends. Sports drinks are full of electrolytes (salt ions) that help your body replace those lost from sweat. These electrolytes are important: they’re crucial for nerve functioning, and help to maintain blood pH levels, among other things. But Gatorade? Less important. Good marketing may try convince you otherwise, but such drinks are really only necessary if you’ve been exercising hard for a long time, like long distance running, or hours of hiking in the hot sun. Even then, beer is a better option.

No matter how hard you killed your leg workout, you’re probably better off sticking to plain water.

Myth Four: Water Flushes Out Toxins From Your Body

Not really. There’s a popular misconception that drinking copious amounts of water will help magically cleanse your innards of the sins of last weekend.

Drinking adequate amounts of water ensures your body’s metabolism works correctly, part of which is the natural detoxification process your liver and kidneys conduct. But they work fine as long as they’re getting enough H2O. Any additional water intake isn’t going to help. In fact, drinking too much water can actually prevent your body’s detoxification process. It reduces the concentration of salt in your blood, which can damage your kidneys and liver and prevent their normal functioning.

Workshop Food Myth-Busting with Steve Acuff

This monthly Monday Bonus Workshop features the international food guru himself- Steve Acuff.  He will dazzle you with his many years of experience.

steveDiscover common mistaken beliefs about food and health, and what the truth is.
Avoid cholesterol & saturated fat, they are risk factors for heart attack
Myth: Eat low-fat food for good health
Take lots of high-antioxidant foods to support health
Salt raises blood pressure, so eat low-salt meals
Take plenty of milk and dairy food to get enough calcium

Steve will explain the importance of eating fermented vegetables and how to make them with little effort. He will give other practical tips for optimal food preparation.

After graduating from University, Steve spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar at Bonn University, Germany.   He began exploring wholefoods in 1971 and began lecturing and counselling in 1979.  He co-founded a centre for natural food education in 1984 in Sweden and worked as a nutritional counsellor at a medical clinic in Kassel, Germany from 1988-93.  For over 10 years Steve has been consulting clients at Diskin Life.  In 1989 he wrote a book about healthy food in German, which was published in nine editions.  The book was also translated to Swedish.  He is currently writing a book in English.

Art Program of Some Highschool

1. Workshop 1: Principles of Artful Teaching
The program opens with teachers sharing passionate insights about why they teach the arts to young people. Then short classroom segments illustrate how arts teachers employ seven “principles of artful teaching” to meet the needs and imaginations of their students. Participants explore how these principles can affect their own teaching. Subsequent sessions will examine each principle in depth, with examples from dance, music, theatre, and visual art.

2. Workshop 2: Developing Students as Artists
In this session, participants explore how arts teachers help students develop knowledge and fundamental skills while weaving in opportunities for creativity and independence. First, a dance teacher gives senior students leadership responsibilities and coaches them in their choreography projects. Then a theatre teacher mentors stagecraft students who are responsible for the technical aspects of a dance concert. In an intermediate visual art course, a teacher builds on students’ prior learning in a foundation course. Finally, a vocal music teacher works with two classes: students learning to read music and an advanced jazz ensemble.

3. Workshop 3: Addressing the Diverse Needs of Students
Arts teachers are aware of and respond to the many differences they find among their students. In this session, participants meet a visiting theatre artist who takes advantage of the different backgrounds and learning styles of ninth-graders to help them understand and embrace the playwriting process. A visual art teacher brings together honors art students and students with disabilities, so they can learn from each other. As a music teacher works with different classes, she addresses needs common to all students. Finally, in a movement class for non-dance majors, teachers help students explore human anatomy.

4. Workshop 4: Choosing Instructional Approaches
Arts teachers take on a variety of roles, and use many different instructional techniques, as they engage with their students. Teachers can be instructors, mentors, directors, coaches, artists, performers, collaborators, facilitators, critics, or audience members. In this session, participants follow a vocal music teacher as she takes on different roles in order to encourage students to find creative solutions to artistic challenges. Next, an acting teacher becomes a facilitator as his students report on research about theatre history. Then a visual art teacher guides her students in a drawing assignment, varying her approach based on the students’ individual needs. Finally, two dance teachers engage students in critical analysis of a painting, as a way to encourage expression with words as well as movement.

5. Workshop 5: Creating Rich Learning Environments
Arts teachers create a safe environment where students feel free to express their thoughts and feelings and take creative risks. In this session, participants meet an Acting I teacher who helps students let go of their inhibitions and an Acting II teacher who encourages students to take creative risks as they interpret monologues. In a dance class, a teacher asks students to work closely in pairs so they can study subtle aspects of movement technique. In a visual art department, the teachers work together to create a community that gives students multiple outlets for artistic learning. Finally, a music teacher builds his students’ confidence and skills as they learn the basics of improvisational singing.

6. Workshop 6: Fostering Genuine Communication
Arts teachers communicate with students, and students communicate with each other, in respectful ways that encourage communication of original ideas through the arts. In this session, participants meet a dance teacher whose students draw choreographic inspiration from poetry and sign language. A visual art teacher gives her commercial art class a fanciful assignment that enables them to communicate a concrete idea through several visual media. A theatre teacher encourages student interaction around the dramatization and staging of fables. Finally, a vocal music teacher asks her students to use “descriptive praise” to critique the performance of a fellow singer.

7. Workshop 7: Making the Most of Community Resources
Arts teachers develop relationships with community members and organizations by bringing artists into the classroom, taking students beyond school walls, and asking students to draw inspiration from the voices of their community. In this session, participants see a guest choreographer who challenges the students with her working style and expectations. A visiting theatre artist helps playwriting students develop monologues based on interviews with people in the neighborhood. A visual art teacher and her students work with community members to create a sculpture garden in an empty courtyard at their school, drawing inspiration from a nearby sculpture park. A band teacher invites alumni and local professional musicians to sit in with her classes, giving students strong musical role models.

8. Workshop 8: Nurturing Independent Thinkers
Arts teachers use formal and informal strategies to assess their students’ progress and to modify their own teaching practice. In this session, participants meet a vocal music teacher who splits his choir into groups that give each other feedback; he also has students tape-record themselves during rehearsal, so he can judge their individual progress. A dance teacher critiques original choreography by a student and asks her peers to participate in the process; this feedback helps the student deepen the impact of her work. Next, theatre teachers give an in-depth critique to a student, and then ask him for feedback on their teaching. Finally, a visual art teacher helps students develop their observation and analysis skills throughout their high school

14 Workshop-at-home

Okay, so you want to teach at home, you have your curriculum crafted and well, you’re ready to go, right? Not quite. Here are some tips from a girl who has been there, done that. :)

1  Identify the space

What room in your home could be a great space for you to use as your office + workshop? Consider how far it is from your bathroom and front door. Maybe a formal dining room could be your office +workshop AND formal dining room (like mine?).  We tend to eat in the kitchen and use the dining room only for parties and special occasions so it made no sense for us to reserve an entire room in our home for only dining.

Will you teach there often? Will you work there daily? Will you work alone or with others? What will you teach and do you have room for your supplies? How many people do you plan to teach? Perhaps you work as a consultant. How many can the room comfortably accommodate for a consultancy? If you are a wedding photographer, you may need to sit with your clients and show them their photos – can you accommodate a couple and other family members if they plan to bring children or parents?

2  Envision the space

Create a board to collect your inspirations on Pinterest or a file folder for magazine tears. This helps to define your personal style and vision.

3  Materials, storage and equipment: Think about what you use and where you intend to store it.

What do you need for teaching and how and where do you intend to store your stuff?  (i.e. cabinets, boxes, desk drawers, etc.) Imagine all of the ways you could organize and where. The things that you use should be close to where you use them. Store paper and office supplies directly near your printer and desk, for instance. Don’t put your craft cabinet in your guest bedroom if you plan to teach crafting in your new workspace.

Also, have a back up plan. If you teach sewing lessons, you may require all of your students to bring their own machine. It’s been my experience to always keep a spare machine as a loaner in case one breaks.

14 Tips For Teaching On site Workshops3 Floor plan: Putting the puzzle together.

Decide where you will perform each function – working on your computer, printing, teaching, sewing, whatever it is that you do. I needed a large work table for my students and a very long space for my desk area so I could fit a printer, my computer, and stack work. I also required hidden storage because I have lots to store and since the room is also a dining room for my family – I wanted to reduce visual “office” clutter so that I could easily throw a dinner party in the space without having to hide stuff or redecorate the entire room!

Sketch out a few floor plan scenarios by hand. Consider flow – can people easily walk around? Once you feel good about the arrangement, take accurate measurements of everything – the room, windows, doorways, current furniture, pieces you’d like to purchase… And see if everything still works. If not, modify accordingly.

4  Consider your furnishings.

Shop around in your own home first and then make a wish list for other items and buy only what you need at first – you can “fill in” later. Then think of what you need for the space – do you have enough seating? Should you store some folding chairs too? How about the furniture itself – is it precious or antique? If so, you may want to move it to another spot in the home and put furniture in the space that you don’t mind seeing it get beat around a little. Wear and tear WILL occur!

14 Tips For Teaching On site Workshops5  Lighting is key.

Make sure the lighting is really good. You need to see what you are doing! People tend to think of lighting last but it’s a important to think about it right away. If you are teaching something that requires you to take photographs in the space, lighting is even more important. If you expect your students to take photos of your workshop for their blog, it’s also important to ensure the lighting is great so that students look their best and your workshop photographs well. I know, a little detail but pretty photos makes people want to share your workshop with others and since so many are blogging and sharing online, you can bet someone is going to be using Instagram or bringing their DSLR with them!

Now I’m going to cover some things that go beyond storage, floor plans and aesthetics.

6  Theft, privacy, safety and accidents are constant issue that you need to really consider! Not everyone online can be trusted though a majority can. I’ve never had a problem with my students but I’ve heard stories so here is some advice:

* Place valuables in specific rooms and lock those doors when your home is in use for a work session with clients/students, etc.

* Make sure the things in your workspace can all be replaced and are not that “special” to you. For instance, if someone broke or ran off with your wooden stapler you may not care but if your precious vase from your grandmother disappeared or came crashing to the floor, you may be equally shattered.

* Consider too, your privacy and that of other family members. Ask your family how they feel about your idea to teach or work from home with clients.

* Bathroom use is something else to consider. Do you have a second bathroom or half bath that is close to your studio space? If not, are you comfortable with guests using your private bathroom and is that bathroom nearby to the space or does it mean guests going to another part of the house or to a separate floor to use the bathroom – if so, are you comfortable with that? Some things we may not think about in advance can really bug us later on so consider what you may want to keep “private” in advance and ensure that you can do so.

* For the sake of safety, screen your applicants. Ask them WHY they are taking the class, you may want to talk to them on the phone, make sure you look through their blog or website, google them, and most of all – trust your gut. Another way to protect yourself is to make sure you ONLY accept payment BEFORE the event (NOT same day in cash) and that all money is handled either through a bank transfer (wire) or Paypal so you know the person’s true identify before they arrive for your workshop.

* Make sure your pets are not part of your event. Unless you are teaching a dog training class, your pets should be kept away from your classroom. Some people have allergies (please ask about allergies to food and pets before students arrive) but animals are funny little creatures sometimes. Some animals aren’t used to lots of noise and “traffic” in the home and can get a bit weird-ed out by it – they may pee or bite or freak out.

* Consider also local laws and guidelines when it comes to teaching workshops from home – particularly insurance and what is covered in case someone falls on your property.

14 Tips For Teaching On site Workshops7  Consider storage for your guest

Where will they place their handbags, coats and shoots – is their space for that? When I teach, I use a rolling coat rack and I put it in my hallway since I don’t want coats laying on my sofa or bed and with 15-20 students in my home per workshop – that’s a lot of coats.

I also tell students to keep their handbags and equipment with them at all times because I am not held accountable for lost or stolen goods. They shouldn’t be laying their handbag in the entryway with their shoes or putting a wallet on a random table with their keys. These items need to stay with them, on them, at all times.

Theft can happen so easily without a single bad intention since a lens cap, charger, even Macbooks and other computers all look the same so it’s easy to pick up things as you are packing up that don’t belong to you. And to leave with them. So it’s a good idea if you have a bunch of students all using MacBooks for instance, to label them with a post it note or sticker with their name to avoid an accidental swap.

8  Charging Up

Where are your outlets? Consider if your guests will be able to locate them easily to charge their devices during class. You don’t want students interrupting you to ask where outlets are of if you have a charger. Have some extension cords on hand and point out before class where those are located.

If outlets are hidden behind furniture, it’s important to identify a charging station in a few spots with an outlet strip so students can easily plug in.

14 Tips For Teaching On site Workshops9  Shoes off!

I ask all of students to remove their shoes before entering my home but I also email them in advance mentioning that they need to bring slippers or socks because I don’t allow bare feet either. I keep a few pairs of new socks (with tags on so people know they’re new) and give them to those who forgot or missed my email. You can get inexpensive socks anywhere so it’s worth having them in stock. I always let students keep them after use, too.

10  Refreshments

Think about food and drink. How will you handle feeding people? Is there a kitchen near to the room or will you put a small kitchen area in the room – mini fridge, coffee maker, etc.? Will you provide a catered lunch? Will you ask people to bring their own lunch? If so, will you have back up for those who forgot lunch? You may want to make a few sandwiches or salads just in case because you’ll always have ONE student who forgets and this can really disrupt your teaching schedule if they need to go out to pick something up.

Keep plenty of bottled water and juice on hand and in the room during class with paper cups. Let students know that during class, they are free to help themselves at any time. I would avoid placing the bottles on the table (spills, laptops, you see where I’m going with this?), so create a mini drinks table or corner. It’s a good idea midday, especially if you are teaching a full day, to serve complementary coffee and tea.

11  Supplies you should add to your list

Do you have aspirin, band-aids, tampons/sanitary napkins, enough toilet paper/paper towels, pens, paper, and other “stuff” that a student could potentially need? It’s smart to have these miscellaneous things on hand so that students (or you!) don’t have to leave your workshop to get what is needed. You really want to keep everyone together so that you can teach according to the schedule you have set.

12  Directions & expectations

Make sure everyone has directions and a clear idea of what they can expect from your workshop and what time is begins. end them everything they need in a single PDF two weeks in advance and then again 3 days before the event in case they missed the first one. Send a 3rd email the day before as a reminder and encourage everyone to show up on time – I ask students to arrive between 8-9 am so the arrival time is flexible but the start time is definite – 9:00 sharp. If they are late, they have lost time that they paid for to be there, and I think most people know that so they are usually on time. I also throw in that the early bird gets to select their goody bag (usually goody bags are not the same on the outside – different patterns and colors) and they can select the best seating first or something else to sort of nicely encourage an early arrival. Plus, an hour gives everyone time to arrive, get settled in and chat with one another. I usually serve a light breakfast during this time as well – bagels, fruit, coffee… And in emails I indicate that if they want to eat, to also arrive between 8-9 for best selection.

13 Photography

My home is still my home. Students are told at the beginning of class that they are only allowed to shoot in both of the workshop rooms, the entryway and wherever we end up serving food. It is your home, so it’s your choice ultimately, but my husband requested this and though I honestly don’t mind – my husband really does. Remember when I spoke about privacy earlier and talking to your family members first about where they draw the line?

14  Taxes

If you are collecting fees for teaching (you should be!), then you have to check out local tax laws and pay your taxes accordingly. Also, your students may require you to provide them with a formal business receipt for their taxes so they can write off the workshop, so make sure you have a template together and can provide those receipts upon request.

12 Myth of Photography

Myth #1 “I’m not going out to shoot today because the light is bad.”

There is no such thing as bad light. As long as there is light, there is opportunity to make amazing images. There is also no reason to limit yourself to the golden hours on each end of the day. The most adverse weather conditions are perfect for making the most beautiful pictures. So get out there!

Myth #2 “I need to bring several lenses with me on my photo walk, just in case…”

Well, that’s fine if you don’t mind carrying around heavy equipment all day “just in case.”  Depending on what you shoot, if you limit yourself to just one lens for the day you can improve your skills, especially if you decide on a fixed focal length lens such as a 50mm. This simple decision will slow you down which will help you see better and allow you to compose more carefully. Plus you won’t miss the shot while you’re busy switching lenses.

Myth #3 “I shoot 1,000 frames in a day so that I increase my chances of having a lot of keepers!”

The ‘spray and pray’ approach sounds like a good idea, but it is no guarantee that you’ll have more keepers at the end of the day. Instead, pretend you are shooting film and limit yourself to a 24 or 36 exposure that day. You will quickly discover the creative power of limitation.  Shoot with intent, make every single frame count, and you will have plenty of keepers at the end of the day with the added benefit of not having so many images to process.

Myth #4 “I can’t shoot, I forgot my tripod.”

The tripod is a useful tool, but can also become a bit of a crutch. Unless you are on a paid job assignment that requires a tripod, liberate yourself and shoot hand held. There are other ways to stabilize your camera if necessary, you can use a wall or a boulder for example. Tripods are definitely useful, but the problem is that photographers tend to set them once and rely on them to shoot everything from the same level.  Be creative and shoot your subject from different perspectives. Unless you are shooting long or multiple exposures or macro, liberate yourself from that tripod once in a while and try new perspectives.

Myth #5 “I‘m in a creative rut, I need to go to an exotic location to get out of it.”

Everyone gets into a rut. One solution is to learn to see the extraordinary in the ordinary, see the new in the familiar. Go out into your own backyard and see it with fresh eyes.  Give yourself an assignment such as a photo-a-day project for a month or a year.  Create a theme for your photo walk and it becomes a treasure hunt. Shoot with fellow photographers. Give a camera to a child and see the world “fresh” through their eyes. Once you get out there and use your imagination, you’ll be free from that rut!

Myth #6 “I would take better pictures if only I had a better camera.”

Okay, I’m not going to give you a lecture here. It’s true that more expensive equipment, when used skillfully, will yield better images than a point and shoot camera. The mistake, however, is upgrading before using your current gear to its full potential. Believe me, gear lust is easy to catch, yet most of us never outgrow our equipment. Invest into education, attend a photo workshop or go on a vacation instead of spending thousands on the latest and greatest gear. If you can do both, that’s terrific, but it’s not always necessary. Also, there is a lot of bad photography made with very expensive gear and some stunning images shot with iPhones… Food for thoughts!

Myth #7 “I’m too old to learn how to use a digital camera.”

If you have the strength to hold a camera and press the shutter, you can learn to use a digital camera.  Photography is a life long passion. It’s never too early or too late to start!

Myth #8 “I’m making money with my photography. I learned everything there was to learn about the craft.”

Nothing could be further from the truth! Once you think you know it all, you will stop growing. The world of photography is so exciting and is changing at the fastest pace ever. All you have to do is to keep current with the latest technology and embrace it.

Myth #9 “I need hundreds of pictures in my portfolio before I can show my work to clients.”

This is just not true. What is true, and important, is to be discerning about your selection, show only your best work. Quality over quantity is your guideline here.

Myth #10 “Being a photographer is a glamorous job.”

Maybe in the movies, but not in real life.  Most photographers don’t realize at first how much nitty gritty work is required once you turn your passion into a profession. For most of us, it’s 80% business and 20% shooting. This is true for just about any artist, so you need to be realistic.

Myth #11 “All you need to be successful as a pro is talent.”

Wouldn’t that be nice? Ever heard of the expression “starving artist?”  Talent is definitely an important ingredient, but solid business skills are also important. Business and marketing are a vital part of being a successful working photographer, but if that’s not your forte, be sure to get help or hire someone for that.

Myth #12 “Pro photographers are better than amateurs.”

Just because some photographers make money with their pictures doesn’t make them better shooters. A successful pro will be able to offer quality and consistency. I see the work of so-called amateur photographers every day that far exceeds the work of many pros. Actually, pro photographers run the risk of losing the passion for their craft if the work becomes a routine and this can adversely affect the quality of their work. It is very important for pro photographers to make time for personal projects in order to keep their passion alive.

The list could go on! Feel free to add a myth or two in the comment section.

How to Maximize Your Photography Workshop Experience

photography-workshop.jpgAttending a photography workshop is the best way to learn new skills. Not only will it improve your technique and expand your knowledge, it will also expose you to a range of interesting subjects to shoot and give you an opportunity to meet and have fun with like-minded people.

Whether you decide to go on a tour or a workshop, following these few simple guidelines will help you to get the most out of your experience.

Pre-workshop preparation

Define your goals

Think about why you want to attend and what you would like to get out of the workshop. Make sure the workshop matches your interests and skills. Be realistic. Even the most intense workshop can’t teach you everything you will ever need to know about photography.

Choose the right location for you

If you like to photograph nature, a workshop in a attractive location would be a good choice. Not only will you get the kind of images you like, but you will also meet people who prefer the type of photography that you do.

Do your homework

Prepare a list of the most important questions you’d like answered while you are at the workshop. It’s easier to forget things when you are rushed or excited.
Ask the instructor about any specific recommendations that will help you to prepare for the particular subject to be covered. The more you can learn before the workshop the more you will get out of it.

Check your equipment

Make sure that your equipment is in a good working order. There is nothing worse than being in the field and having your equipment malfunction.
Ensure that you have spare batteries and enough disk space.

Know how to operate your equipment

If you read your camera or other equipment manual in advance of the workshop and practice until you feel confident about how to use it, you can spend your workshop time doing what you really want to do – learning to take great photos!

During the workshop

Be an active participant

photography-workshop-1.jpgWork hard to get the most out of your time. Take your own initiative.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your teacher is there to assist you. If you are not comfortable asking in the group ask your instructor in private.

Don’t immediately expect to make great photographs

Use this time to practice using new techniques and experimenting rather than trying to produce great photos. Great photography is about being there at the right time and that may not coincide with the timing of the workshop.

Be open to suggestions

Participate in each exercise fully and enthusiastically. Accept feedback with an open mind. The instructor may see some problems with your technique and approach and is there to help you. The purpose in going to a workshop is to expose yourself to new ideas.. Try it, it might work and you might like it. It’s all about an attitude.

Share your experiences and connect with others

You may learn as much from other students as you do from the instructor. Participate in discussions, share information and your own experience. Listen to the advice being given to others. Pick up as much as you can.

After the workshop

Reflect upon your workshop experience

Take time to reflect upon your workshop experience. Did you accomplish your goals? If not, why not? What would you do differently next time? Write all this down so you don’t forget it. Learn from your mistakes.

Follow your instructor’s recommendations

Practicing new techniques, approaches, or ways of thinking could be a crucial element to the success of your workshop experience.

Extend the learning

Obtain additional information about how you can reinforce what you leaned in the workshop.

Maintain Contact

Keep in touch with your instructor and fellow participants.
You may develop some great friendships along the way.

Four Common Myths about Auto Repair in Woodway, TX

auto repair myths

Through countless bad auto repair experiences you may have been led to believe that auto repair shops are undependable, untrustworthy and are always trying to scam you for money. Below is a list of four myths that, overtime, we have come to know as true. Well now, Christian Brothers Automotive in Woodway, TX are here to debunk these common myths and put the trust back in auto repair.

Myth: Recommended maintenance schedules are actually about getting you to spend more money. Reality: Many people believe that auto repair shops only suggest a specific car maintenance schedule just to get you to come back and spend more money, but this isn’t true. Yes, car manufacturers are making more durable automobiles that last longer with less maintenance, but it is still important to receive preventative maintenance in order to avoid costly repairs in the future. If you do correctly maintain your automobile, you could go over 100,000 miles without needing major auto repair. Christian Brothers Automotive in Woodway would be happy to sit down with you and put together a suggested maintenance schedule in order to keep you and your car safely on the road, and worry free!

Myth: Auto repair shops will often suggest extra work be done on your vehicle just so that you spend more money. Reality: If an auto repair shop isn’t looking for potential problems with your vehicle, they are actually doing you a great disservice. Professional auto repair shops will examine your vehicle with severe detail in order to find any indications of wear and tear before they lead to costly repairs, or even worse, replacements. You would hate to have your car breakdown on the side of the road and have to pay an expensive towing bill, as well as repair bill, because your original mechanic didn’t investigate your car thoroughly enough. At Christian Brothers Automotive, our ASE-certified technicians always take the time to inspect each vehicle that comes into our shop, during our Courtesy Inspection before every repair.

Myth: A shop can give you an accurate auto repair estimate over the phone without seeing your vehicle. Reality: There is no way that an auto repair shop can give you a price quote over the phone without looking at your vehicle. Unless they have a chance to inspect the vehicle and test drive the car in person, they cannot properly diagnose the problem or give you an accurate auto repair estimate. Beware of auto repair shops that are willing to give you a quote over the phone, because chances are they will initially give you a low quote just to get you in the door, and then later on will charge you a higher price. If you bring your automobile in to Christian Brothers Automotive in Woodway, we can examine your vehicle and provide you with an accurate auto repair estimate that you can trust.

Myth: All auto repair shops are the same. Reality: This is false. There are big differences between auto repair shops and even the technicians that work there. Car manufacturers are constantly incorporating new technology into vehicles, so it’s important to have an auto repair shop that is up-to-date with all those changes. Technicians should obtain constant training to keep up with certifications and the shop should have the latest diagnostic equipment available. Not all auto repair shops have the skill, expertise and equipment to work on foreign and domestic cars, which is why it’s important to find one that fits your specific needs. At Christian Brothers Automotive in Woodway, we have the latest diagnostic equipment which allows us to be able to work on any type of vehicle, car or truck, gas or diesel, foreign or domestic. All of our technicians are up-to-date with their ASE-certifications and they are consistently incorporating new and innovative technology into their repairs and services.

10 Top Blogs for Car Mechanics

car repair

1. Automotive Blog

This is the blog for the car-obsessed. In addition to all the latest news in the automotive world, it offers analysis of the latest car concepts and production trends, as well as discourse with industry experts.

2. Popular Mechanics

If you love cars, then you’re almost certainly familiar with the magazine Popular Mechanics. Now you can get all the publication’s automotive content online, from how-tos on repairing your own hybrid vehicle to drool-worthy articles on hot new vehicles.

3. Auto Blog

Auto industry junkies, look no further. Auto Blog ‘obsessively’ covers the auto industry, posting the latest developments (and hottest pics) from all the major car makers.

4. Real Car Guys

The ‘Real Car Guys’ mix useful tips on car repair with insightful commentary on the latest car news, from 9-speed automatic transmissions to racing Top Fuelers.

5. Car Talk

Can’t get enough of Car Talk, the popular (and hilarious!) auto advice radio show on NPR? Get more crazy tips, hilarious antics and genuinely useful advice with Car Talk online.


6. Grease or Mascara

Who says that only boys can love cars? This female NASCAR mechanic blogs about her adventures, love of cars and balance between business and life.

7. Matthew’s Auto Repair Blog

Need to brush up on basic terminology or get useful tips on maximizing your gas mileage? Check out this friendly, accessible auto blog from Matthew, a journalist and long-time DIY car mechanic.

8. Free Automotive Mechanic

Wait, did you say . . . free advice? Sure, it is the blogosphere, but this experienced mechanic takes it one step further. Have a question about buying, maintaining or repairing a car that isn’t answered on the site? Just email him!

9. Auto Repair Information

ASE-certified master technician Mark offers invaluable info on car parts, troubleshooting and DIY auto repair.

10. Jalopnik

These bloggers are ‘obsessed with the cult of cars,’ covering new car releases, cars in the news, car ads and a lot more.

5 Tips For Tackling Your First Big Car Repair

You’re a capable weekend car mechanic. You’ve got basic tools and skills. You’ve mastered oil changes and tire rotations. But when a big repair comes along, it’s decision time. Take it on yourself, or call in a pro?

That’s the choice I faced at the end of last summer, when my 1990 Mazda Miata suffered a crankshaft failure. Expecting a quick repair, I soon discovered the car needed a whole new engine—and I discovered this just after I’d disassembled it to the point that it couldn’t be put back together.

Instead of paying a mechanic to mend my Miata, I decided to try replacing the engine myself. I did it—eventually—though I made plenty of rookie mistakes on the way. Here’s what I learned.

Do Your Research

Aftermarket shop manuals are great for learning the tools and parts you’ll need, but they sometimes read like a general overview (step one: remove radiator, front bumper, and windshield washer reservoir). Internet forums can offer detailed instructions and tricks specific to your car, usually with step-by-step photos. Unless you drive something really outlandish, there’s probably a site like VWvortex or JeepsUnlimited to help you. But don’t forget that Web forums, while helpful, are just Web forums. Get a factory service manual from your manufacturer if you’re diving deep into a big repair.

Set Up Your Workspace

I started my teardown in the corner of my parents’ two-car garage. I got all set to pull the engine when I discovered I had no room to maneuver my engine hoist. Even with two muscular brothers, moving a half-disassembled car was a masochist’s game of Tetris. So don’t make my mistake: Clear plenty of space before you start the job, and position your car for maximum elbow room. I found the best spot was right in the center of the garage, though not everyone in my family shared this view.

Expect It to Take Time

The first time doing a repair always takes the longest. Tinkering on nights and weekends, my adventure lasted nearly a month, far beyond what I’d anticipated. There were lots of trips for parts, tools, and advice, and times when sheer frustration halted my progress. Make alternative transportation plans before taking your car out of commission so you don’t get fired when your Saturday project is still in pieces on Monday morning.

Take Pictures, Make Notes, Label Everything

When you’re on step two of a big job, it’s tempting to think you’ll remember which bolt goes where, but by step 14 you’ll have a plethora of fasteners, washers, and clips lying around that give no indication where they came from. Save yourself a thousand headaches by being organized from the start. Use sandwich bags, empty egg crates, and plenty of labels. A phone camera and a dry-erase board are indispensable for noting the layout of wires, cables, and brackets, and neither one will blow away behind the workbench when you open the garage door.

Use a white-paint pen on metal parts to indicate where parts came from or their orientation. Choose a universal reference point, like “front of the car,” “passenger side,” or “driver side,” and label things with arrows and sides. Label clearly based on situation too. Don’t be afraid to write notes directly on the part, or leave yourself notes about how things go back together, such as the orientation of the distributor relative to the block. Masking tape is also a great tool as well. Loop it around a hose, wire, or connector and close a nice 2-inch flap on the other side that you can use to label what it does or where it goes.

Make a Final Checklist

There’s a natural excitement to putting everything back together. You’ll be tempted to hustle through the final touches. Don’t. The last bit of wire routing, bolt tightening, or body-panel aligning is what separates a pro-quality repair from an embarrassing hack job, and if you slap it together for a test drive, you might never get around to correcting it. (Nobody’s impressed by a guy in a Miata with no hood, front fenders, or bumper—in case there was any doubt.)

So make yourself a exhaustive final checklist, including everything you need to inspect, double-check, torque, and test before you put that machine back on the road. Go over it at your desk or at the dining table—not in the garage, where you’ll be anxious to get going on your first drive.

Choosing Stainless Steel

Although fastening Enviroshake with a standard electro-galvanized roofing nail is acceptable, here’s a couple good reasons why stainless-steel nails are preferred when working with this product:

Longevity: Because of the  shakes’ extremely long life expectancy of 50 years or more, they could easily outlast standard nails.

Resistance: Stainless-steel nails have a much higher corrosion resistance than standard roofing nails.

However, finding a wire-collated version that’s suitable for a coil roofing nailer can be difficult. Stanley Bostitch is one company that makes them in the 1 1/2″ length required for installing the Enviroshake shakes. The nails should be available at hardware dealers via special order.

Learn how you can turn salvaged parts into a buffer for your tools

When it comes to working with hand planes and chisels, the state of your cutting edge determines the difference between drudgery and delight. In fact, you need to master sharpening your hand tools properly or there’s no point in attempting to use them to replace power tools. But don’t let this discourage you. A simple, shop-built machine can turn a dull tool into one that’s keener than a new razor blade in less than two minutes. Although the system does require a small amount of electricity for a short period of time, this investment of power lets hand tools work like they’re supposed to.

A hard felt wheel is at the centre of this system. (A soft cloth wheel is more suited for honing the inside curves of gouges and most carving chisels.) Instead of pushing your chisel or plane iron back and forth across a sharpening stone by hand to refine the edge, you hold the tool stationary against the spinning surface of the motorized wheel that is charged with a very fine, waxy abrasive that polishes the metal quickly. As with any honing system, the buffing wheel requires tools ground to the correct bevel angle as a starting point–about 25° to 30° for general-purpose chisels or plane irons. But grinding should only be required a few times a year, even if you use your tools frequently. After that, just switch on your buffing wheel, hold a block of polishing compound against the edge for a second to charge the wheel, then move the tip of the tool back and forth across the felt wheel for 30 seconds. For safety, always point the cutting edge in the direction of the wheel rotation. Avoid pointing the tool into the wheel, which can cause the tool to be flung into the air.

As you hone the edge in this manner, remember two things: both surfaces of the tool edge must end up smooth and, as you do this, the tool surfaces must remain tangential to the edge of the wheel. Get this detail wrong and your bevel will be too blunt and won’t cut. You’ll need to regrind the tool to the correct bevel angle and buff again.

Sometimes brand new, hard felt buffing wheels won’t absorb the abrasive compound initially because they’re too dry. To fix this problem, moisten the edge of the wheel with mineral oil.

Making your own buffing wheel from salvaged parts is easy, cheap and green. I power mine using a 50-year-old, 1/4-hp, 1,725-rpm furnace blower motor. It’s bolted to a plywood base. The only component I bought (besides the buffing wheels) was the ball-bearing mandrel. It’s connected to the motor with a 1/2″ V-belt over pulleys that boost buffing-wheel speed to 3,500 rpm. You can also mount buffing wheels on a standard bench grinder.

Ditch the tape measure

Relying too heavily on a tape measure can actually make your projects more inaccurate. Go ahead. Mark 1″ with a tape and pencil. Do it again. And again. It doesn’t matter how steady your hand is; there will be a slight variation among the marks. Throughout the building process of a project, the influence of these little inaccuracies grow and grow. To stay ahead of this inaccuracy creep, the best practice is to grab physical representations of dimensions. If you are going to be inaccurate, at least be consistent. Here are some tools that will help:

Marking gauge: The tool for making mortise-and-tenon joinery. Set the tenon length on the gauge and mark it on all the necessary workpieces. Next, mark the depth of the shoulders; and then, the cheeks. As long as you are steady with the backsaw, all your tenons will be the same.

Combination square: The combination square can almost sit in for a marking gauge. Set the square to repeat a particular length and mark off from the end of the ruler. Or, set the square to gauge the depth of a mortise. If you insert, say, 1″ of ruler into a mortise and the adjustable straightedge sits flush with the workpiece end, you have your depth.

Chisel: Need a 3/4″-wide mortise? Easy. Grab a 3/4″-wide chisel. Done.

Story stick: When you want consistent spacing between fence boards, make a story stick, a piece of board that is as long as the width of the gap you need. Actually, cut two—one for spacing the fence board at the top stringer and one at the bottom. Get a friend to hold the story sticks against an affixed board while you attach the next one.

Your truck: This trick comes to us from our technical editor, Steve Maxwell. When you are cutting long lengths of 2×4, you can set your mitre saw and stand the right distance from your truck, using your vehicle as a stop block. Use this technique only if your truck is a true work vehicle; otherwise, you might scratch your trophy.

Folding ruler: A proper folding ruler has a slide-out rule in its first leaf. Within a box, fold out just enough leaves and slide out the rule, for a physical representation of that dimension.

How to Debunk Your Own Food Myths

10 Stubborn Food Myths That Just Won't Die, Debunked by ScienceSome of the most persistent food myths are the ones that are considered common knowledge, or the ones that have been long disproven but were trumpeted loudly when they were “discovered” but never formally rebutted so much when they were debunked. If there’s anything I learned in my years as a scientist and a student, it was to always keep an open mind. Not so open that your brains fall out, mind you, but open enough that you’re willing to challenge your own deeply held beliefs in the light of new evidence that contradicts them.

Keeping an open mind is only part of the battle however: you also need to seek out and pay attention to reputable sources of information when you’re reading about or researching food or nutrition science. The Cleveland Clinic has an excellent guide to considering reputable sources on the web. We also suggest checking up on food news and new research with the American Dietetic Association, the US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Information Center, and the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthfinder.gov portal for reliable food and health information. Also, don’t ever hesitate to seek out peer-reviewed scientific studies and research to prove or disprove a point.

It’s all too easy on the internet to demand someone produce a study when they present an idea you disagree with-it’s another thing to look for it yourself, or to similarly concede when they do so, instead of simply finding a new vector of attack.

One last note: common sense reigns king: if some tip or magical diet truism seems too good to be true, or too simple to be uniformly true for all people, it probably is.

These myths just scratch the surface, and are only a few of the long lists of food myths that Alannah Dibona and Andy Belatti suggested. There are plenty where these came from, and we cover a lot of them here at Lifehacker when they come up. For example, our own Melanie Pinola took note when research from the USDA showed alcohol doesn’t “burn out” during cooking the way many people think it did.

Balance in a Painting

Balance is the organization of elements in a painting to create balance. The weight of one element can offset another creating a more comfortable feeling for the viewer. Although, some artists will deliberately design a painting to be “off balance” giving an unsettled feeling for the viewer.


There are two types of balance: symmetrical and asymmetrical. With symmetrical balance an imaginary line can be drawn through the center with the result of both sides being exactly the same. Asymmetrical, what we use most of the time, can be more interesting, dynamic and more casual than symmetrical.

It is hard to quantify a balanced painting, but most people can tell if it is unbalanced. An asymmetrical, but balanced painting can have more visual elements on one side of the painting, but will be balanced by a stronger element on the opposite side. Visual weight is also affected by the following elements.

  • Position – the further out an element is from the center, the heavier it will feel; a smaller object near the edge will appear to have more weight than a large object in the center of a painting.
  • Size – larger feels heavier
  • Color – brighter, saturated colors have more weight than unsaturated
  • Texture – an object with more texture feels heavier than a smooth object
  • Isolation – an object by itself has more weight than several objects together
  • Shape – complex shapes feel heavier than simple shapes
  • Value – darker values feel heavier
  • Value contrast – the higher the value-contrast, the heavier the weight,  a smaller darker form balances a larger lighter form
  • Orientation – diagonals feel heavier than horizontals or verticals

I hope this gives you some ideas to work with on your next painting.