Good food and fine art at the Peech

first_imgThe Peech’s energy-saving strategy includes solar heating and grey water recycling. (Image: The Peech Hotel) When James Peech relocated from Britain to South Africa, he didn’t think he’d be opening a hotel in the middle of Johannesburg.After a lengthy spell curing their mutual wanderlust in south-east Asia, Peech and his South African partner Cassie Janisch planned to return to her homeland and settle in Cape Town. The Cape, however, did not prove hospitable to their ambitions for the hospitality industry and they decided to try their luck in the ostensibly less tourist-friendly Johannesburg instead.Luck, fate or sheer serendipity? Call it what you will. The point is that they happened to find a charming house in the suburb of Melrose, north of Johannesburg’s city centre, at a time when the owners were looking to escape a massive construction project underway next door.They saw the potential and, within a few years, their vision had been fulfilled: the construction site turned into über-trendy Planet Fitness at The Wanderers sports club, while the house and grounds nestling alongside were expanded into a tranquil and surprisingly spacious four-star 16-room boutique hotel.That the Planet Fitness complex doesn’t intrude on the aesthetic or atmosphere of the Peech Hotel is largely attributable to architect Kate Otten, whose design for the extensions emphasised seclusion: hotel guests hardly feel that they are in the biggest city in the country, just a short distance from its commercial hub.This proximity is, of course, appealing to business travellers, and The Peech boasts a 10-seater boardroom and workspace facilities for such guests. Yet judging from the diverse conversations and languages to be overheard in the hotel’s bar and lobby area, an equal proportion of the international clientele are leisure travellers.Whether it’s business or pleasure that brings them to the Peech, those who stay there soon learn a thing or two about the art of living.Laid-back and chicThe Bistro, under head chef Greg Jardim, has developed a reputation for fine dining. After sampling the sundried tomato, asparagus and fennel risotto I was happy to concur; the Asian fishcakes with wasabi dipping sauce entrenched my opinion.Then there was the duck confit served with polenta and a berry coulis, the sirloin with blue cheese sauce, the chocolate torte with Frangelico … it’s clear that Jardim and his sous-chefs are living up to their promise to create dishes that are both “laid-back and chic” with “an understated touch of sophistication”.Robert Chifunyise is kept busy as resident sommelier; the Peech hosts monthly wine evenings, at which local vintners proffer a selection of wines paired with appropriate dishes. Connoisseurs of other beverages are not entirely neglected – earlier this year the Collective São Gabriel, a multi-national group of craft beer-makers, shared some of their luxury brews. And the hearty brunch on offer every Sunday morning is accompanied by an endless supply of Cap Classique Brut from Villiera Wines.Care of the environmentThe Peech, by example, also teaches another subject: eco-living. Certified for Fair Trade in Tourism, the hotel implements a strict sustainability policy incorporating solar water heating, double-layer insulation in rooms and the recycling of grey water from baths and showers.In addition to operating with the environment in mind, Peech exercises a social conscience through charitable contributions towards the Little Eden Children’s Home in Edenvale, east of Johannesburg.What would the art of living be without the visual arts? Sculptures from various African countries are displayed in the hotel’s rooms, augmenting the eclectic decor and sleek finishes. While works of art serve an anodyne decorative function in most hotels, however, this is not the case at The Peech.James Peech has teamed up with art agent and curator Christina Wiese of Brown Spice Boutique to ensure that the hotel’s walls are continually adorned by new art works in various styles. As a result of these floating exhibitions, the hotel has become something of an informal gallery.In 2009 an environment-themed collection of photography and sculpture that also displayed fashion, industrial and interior designs reinforced Peech’s passion for ecological sustainability. Artists who have subsequently opened exhibitions at the hotel include photographers Neil Corder and Babi Prokas; Layziehound, with his music-oriented pastel images; and Anupama Das, whose geometric designs tease and delight the eye.The arts programme is ongoing, as are the wine evenings and other events. In fact, for such a calm and quiet place, The Peech is veritably abuzz with new developments – from landscaping of the already lush and leafy gardens, to plans to convert the poolside eating area into an al fresco deli.All this activity can only bode well for visitors to, and residents of, Johannesburg. As for Capetonians … well, they’re likely to feel they’ve been missing out.last_img read more

Is Modeling a Four-Letter Word?

first_imgRELATED ARTICLESEnergy Modeling Isn’t Very AccurateWUFI Is Driving Me Crazy A Brief Introduction to WUFI, in 5 Easy PiecesMakin’ WUFIThe Principles, Uses, and Limitations of WUFI Energy modeling has gotten a bad reputation in the home performance world. One conference I’ve attended has gone so far as to say that it’s “outside the sandbox” of topics presenters can cover. They want to see data, not modeled results. And they have good reason for that.The two kinds of physicistsComing from the world of physics, I have a different perspective. (OK, I had a different perspective even before the book Asimov on Physics opened my eyes to the beauty of the universe when I was 17.)In physics, modeling is essential. In fact, if you go to any physics department, you’ll find one of the two kinds of people: those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.But there’s another two kinds as well: the theorists and the experimentalists. They need each other.Without experimentalists, theorists would go completely off the deep end. (Some say they have with string theory.) Think of Aristotle here, with his peripatetic scholars relying only on logic to find explanations for physical phenomena and never bothering to test their ideas. It took nearly 2000 years for Galileo to usher in the era of modern science by rolling balls down inclined planes. The harmony of modeling and dataAlbert Einstein was the consummate theorist. He developed the special theory of relativity by imagining what it would be like to move along with a beam of light at the same speed the light was traveling. That was his idea of doing an experiment, and it even has a name: Gedankenexperiment, which means thought experiment in German.Einstein’s general theory of relativity was his expansion of special relativity. He published it in 1915, and that’s when the idea of the curvature of space-time was born. An important fact about this theoretical paper was that he based it on the available data. For example, it explained an anomaly in the orbit of Mercury.It also was testable. Four years later, Eddington confirmed the curvature predictions when he found a deflection of starlight around the Sun during an eclipse.On the other hand, he considered the “biggest blunder” of his life to be the introduction of an unnecessary “cosmological constant” simply to conform to the prevailing idea of a static universe. Had he believed his equations instead, he could have hypothesized the expanding universe 14 years before Hubble discovered it.That’s how science works. Ideas get thrown out there. They get tested by experiments. One negative result can disprove a hypothesis. No amount of data can ever fully prove it, but the more data you have, the more confident you can be in the validity of the idea.The problem with energy modelingNow, physics is a science. Home energy retrofits rely on science but are not science themselves. The late Phil Jeffers, an occasional commenter here, used to complain about turning home energy audits and retrofits into science projects. He had a good point.It’s easy to go too far with modeling, and Michael Blasnik has exposed the flaws with energy modeling. He’s looked at program results in Minneapolis, Oregon, California, and other places and found that most modeling overpredicts the savings, sometimes unrealistically so. No matter how good a home performance contractor is, for example, they’re never going to cut someone’s energy bills by 125%. (You can download the pdf file of his 2013 Building Science Summer Camp presentation, Lies, Damned Lies, and Modeling.)Likewise, John Proctor recently said, “We don’t need an energy model to tell us that an uninsulated house needs to be insulated and a leaky house needs to be sealed. Just fix it!”Is modeling useful?Joe Lstiburek has also been critical of modeling over the past few years, especially hygrothermal modeling with tools like WUFI. His company, Building Science Corporation, does WUFI analyses, and he’s open about when it should be done and when it shouldn’t. “I’m hoping two-thirds of the modeling that’s being done now won’t need to be done,” said Lstiburek at the 2013 BSC Experts Session, “and the modeling that’s needed is done correctly.”Lstiburek was talking about hygrothermal modeling, mainly for new construction projects with assemblies that don’t have much of a track record. Think R-40 truss walls and R-60 insulated rooflines. Doing some modeling ahead of time can help avoid costly mistakes.Jeffers, Blasnik, and Proctor were talking mainly about existing homes. The problems are usually obvious, as in the photo below, and we’ve got several decades of experience in weatherization and home performance contracting to help guide us in fixing them.The problem comes in with programs that require modeling so the program sponsor can justify the expenditures. We could spend a long time discussing this issue and how to fix it, but this article has already gone on far longer than I had intended and is threatening to suck up the rest of my day the way a black hole sucks up everything, including light, that gets too close. (By the way, black holes are another cool thing that came out of Einstein’s general relativity!)So let me conclude by going back to the title and saying that modeling is not a four-letter word. We need modeling. And we need real data from monitoring projects. We also need to keep it all in perspective and keep the focus on the results.Here’s another perspective: What good would physics be without modeling? Allison Bailes of Decatur, Georgia, is a speaker, writer, energy consultant, RESNET-certified trainer, and the author of the Energy Vanguard Blog. Check out his in-depth course, Mastering Building Science at Heatspring Learning Institute, and follow him on Twitter at @EnergyVanguard.last_img read more

Congress Urged to Save Energy Star Program

first_imgMore than 1,000 U.S. businesses and organizations have signed a letter to Congressional leaders urging that they oppose the Trump administration’s plan to withdraw federal funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program. The Associated Press reports that major manufacturers such as United Technologies, Ingersoll Rand, and Staples affirmed that Congress should strengthen the program, not weaken it, and that Energy Star has been a successful collaboration between public and private interests. In all, 1,050 businesses and organizations signed the letter.Energy Star is a voluntary program launched in 1992 designed to encourage energy efficiency in a wide range of consumer products. The program has saved an estimated $430 billion in utility bills in the last 25 years. The EPA says that 85% of the American public recognizes the Energy Star label as a sign of efficiency.The move to drop the $50 million in annual program costs from the federal budget is part of the Trump administration’s plan to reduce spending at the EPA from $8.3 billion to $5.7 billion a year, a 31% cut. Programs on efficiency and climate change would be especially hard hit.But many U.S. business leaders say that the plan to defund Energy Star is misguided, says Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, an advocacy group that organized the business letter.“I don’t know who recommended shutting down this program to the president, but I can assure you it was bad advice that would hurt American businesses, consumers, and our overall economy,” Callahan said.The full text of the letter, sent to congressional leaders on April 24, can be found here.last_img read more

Twitter Kills Off Tweetdeck – R.I.P. Third-Party Clients

first_imgThe Twitter client end times are nigh. Well, to be fair, they’ve been nigh for a while now – so I guess now the end times are here.In a blog post today, Twitter announced that it would formally discontinue support for TweetDeck’s trio of non-web apps, TweetDeck for iPhone, Android and AIR. The clients will be pulled from their app stores in early May, so you can expect considerable wonkiness thereafter.Twitter, The Control FreakThe death of the TweetDeck trifecta marks a formal end to the heyday of third-party Twitter clients. Last year, as Twitter began to tighten its guidelines, the company effectively wrestled developers into a choke-hold.Along the way, many great clients and apps folded, deeming it too risky to pour themselves into projects that could be felled by Twitter at a moment’s notice. The three clients that Twitter will no longer support are all powered by its old API v1, which the company already announced plans to retire.Power Users Left In The Cold What are we left with? Well, acccording to its blog, Twitter will rally around the “modern, web-based version of TweetDeck – namely TweetDeck for web and TweetDeck the Chrome app. TweetDeck’s native Mac and PC clients will also live on, though Twitter will focus its efforts on the other versions. None of these option are atrocious in their own right, but it’s slim pickings for power users these days. Many self-proclaimed power users remain loyal to the AIR version of TweetDeck, in spite of its quirks. The AIR-powered client retains the flavor of the original app, before Twitter began to splice TweetDeck’s DNA into a less feature-rich client meant for more casual users.Twitter Is A Platform, Not An AppTwitter’s plan to evolve beyond a platform and into a suite of apps has been building momentum for years. Twitter acquired TweetDeck back in 2011 and casual Twitter client Tweetie before that, in 2010.Still, the vestigial remains of half-abandoned clients are just as much of a mess than ever – and the fact that Twitter is keeping the TweetDeck branding isn’t helping. At its essence, Twitter is still more of a platform than it is an app. But as its development strangehold tightens, the ample customization of a thriving ecosystem will soon be the stuff of archived tweets.Image courtesy of Shutterstock. Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… taylor hatmaker The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Related Posts center_img Tags:#social media#twitter A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verificationlast_img read more

Math Doesn’t Care

first_img Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Now If you need to create 4 opportunities a month, each one worth $75,000, to be able to make your number.  If you don’t create those opportunities, you need 8 opportunities the next month. If you do better work the next month and put up two new opportunities worth $75,000 each, you are now carrying forward 6 opportunities into the very next month—in addition to the 4 you need to create to cover the month you’re in.Math doesn’t care if you don’t really like prospecting, the creation of new opportunities. It doesn’t care if you don’t believe that you should have to cold call, nor does it care that marketing didn’t give you the leads you believe you need. Math does what it does.Math also doesn’t care if you are lazy. It doesn’t care that you aren’t willing to exercise the self-discipline necessary to manage yourself. Nor is it concerned that you like to be entertained, and that you love the novelty provided by the small screen of infinite distractions. Math works even if you don’t.Math doesn’t care that you had every intention of doing good work, and that you really need to do well in your role. It isn’t even aware that you have any feelings whatsoever, good, bad, or indifferent. Math certainly doesn’t have any feelings.It doesn’t care about your manager, the President, your irrational competitor, your equally irrational prospective client, your product challenges, or the fact that the Internet is disintermediating your industry. Math just goes right on being math, neutral in all issues, punishing some and rewarding others.If it is difficult to create 4 opportunities in a month, then it isn’t any easier to create 10 in that same number of days.last_img read more

Rep Webber applauds increased education funding

first_img02May Rep. Webber applauds increased education funding Categories: News,Webber News State Rep. Michael Webber today voted for passage of the state budget, which includes more funding for K-12 education and proposes a 2.2 percent reduction for the general state budget.Webber, of Rochester Hills, voted to approve the budget for the new fiscal year, a fiscally responsible blueprint that invests in the state’s future.“Our budget invests in Michigan’s future by adding money into the classroom for each and every student in the state,” Rep. Webber said. “There is additional funding for at-risk students across all school districts which opens up additional opportunities for success.”Highlights of the House budget includes:Allocating the highest funding in state history for K-12 schools with a proposed $14.3 billion which means about $100 increase per pupil.Making life better in communities across Michigan by adding money for road repairs, public safety departments, parks and other programs to improve our daily lives.Making health care more efficient with an enhanced focus on improving mental health care.Paying down retiree debt and adding to state government’s main savings account for tough times, pushing that emergency fund above $1 billion.The bills now go to the Senate for consideration.####last_img read more