Preparations for fall… I should blog more often

Summer’s almost over, and my last post was in March…

So here’s pictures of things and such from this spring and summer.

Further preparations for spring.

This last week I worked in the garden in the gorgeous unseasonable March weather. I made a couple of potato bins, very similar to last year’s compost bin. These are pallets cut in half, and the front panels can be removed and then stacked as soil is added. This will be my first year growing potatoes ‘vertically’ and I’m looking forward to the results.

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My other project is more long term. Our garden is on a bit of a slope, and I’ve been wanting to turn our pile of waste rock into a short uphill retaining wall. Over the years, the soil tends to slump a bit in towards the garden, and a nice stone wall would give a permanent feel to the garden.

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preparations for spring

Today, mom and I spent the day cutting and moving brush, and generally cleaning up around the yard.  I attacked the mess of blackberry and raspberry bushes, and managed to drag out all the old dried and broken vines.  We should be able to get in and under them this year, as long as we can beat the grackles and redwing blackbirds to the ripe ones.  We still need to do something about the blueberries, they have not produced for two years now, or the birds have eaten them all green; we must find a net this year that will cover the whole patch, and these are healthy blueberry bushes, 9-10 feet tall and older than I am.  We both have high hopes for the so-called “blueberry food” fertilizer that mom mail-ordered this season.

Need to learn to sharpen the chainsaw…

Also started a tray of marigolds which we plan to plant among the squashes this year to combat the squash bore and other pests. Fingers crossed. Still planning on starting peppers, thai and bell, and maybe some old tomato seeds to supplement the starts we’ll get later in the spring.

Blogs I <3: Moveable type: and some musings on printing in the twenty-first century

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blogs i <3: Moveable Type

snurched from type-truck.org, forgive me...

I found this blog only a month or so ago, long past when the type truck was in my area. But I have been enjoying the delayed posts of the trip… let me explain a little, and I’ll try to do this as much from memory as I can. There’s this lady, see (who I am in love with from afar) who is driving a big panel truck all around the country. There’s a printing press stuffed in the back, and a whole bunch of type and offset printing stuff (I am completely ignorant in these areas, my terminology will be poorly chosen). Anyway, she got the funding for this crazy trip by setting up a kickstarter project, and she has been visiting her supporters and such along the way, hosting printing demonstrations from the back of the truck! She has profiled a number of amazingly innovative and creative print studios that she has visited along her way; a community that I did not know existed, but I now long to be a part of… ahh, longing and attachment how we struggle with eachother…

snurched from type-truck.org, forgive me...

Back to the point…. it’s a neat read, check it out. And someday I hope to intersect paths with the type truck, and the amazing type lady….

This all got me to thinking about printing, and typesetting and bookmaking, what history I am aware of, and what the future might hold. I remember reading an article once about a startup project. it was a printed book vending machine. The idea was, you would insert money (credit, coupon codes, whatever) and selet a classic book that you would like to own (or a new book, I can’t remember). Then you would select what level of printing you would like. A small archival version, with a hard board binding? Or a recycleable softcover pulp version, perhaps with slightly larger than normal print, and extra wide margins for notetaking. The main thing I remember about the article, was that the whole thing fell apart because they couldn’t find a glue, suitable for binding, that would stay hot in the machine, and workeable on an as needed basis. What a waste of ingenuity!!!! I love this idea. I know there are issues with publishers, authors etc, but the IDEA is fantastic. I wonder why it never caught on (oh, wait, publishers, distributers etc.)?

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So this started me thinking down another line, one that I have been musing over lately seeing as we are entering the “age of the web of interconnected things” or whatever (read Cory Doctorow, digest, then return here). And a thought struck me, what about 3-d printed offset printing? it’s a bit meta, but bear with me. Using a 3d printing setup, you could “print” or typeset an entire page, or multiple pages in a single printing. depending on how good a quality inking you can get from 3d printed materials (and how many prints you could get from each) this could be a quick and easy way for small time publishers, and niche bookbinders to get into the market of small scale artisinal book making….
You could print twenty-page drums like old mimeomachines, novels could be printed by hand in a run of mere days, by a single person. you could 3d print the entire press, designed from scratch…

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And then, what is the point of it all, is there interest out there in this kind of thing? Or are we all just going to be reading the news and our favorite novels and watching spacesoaps off of little screens printed on the inside of our eyelids… and be perfectly happy never to touch a real object again????

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But there is something fascinating about printing things in this way, with ink applied to a negative relief pressed to a paper medium of some kind. A little while ago I experimented a bit with it myself. i finally put scratch awl to soapstone and carved something into this little chinese seal that I have had for years and never known what to do with.

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I chose a drawing done by a friend of mine, and it turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself. It’s crude, compared to the original, which was a fine line pen sketch, but it turned out pretty good; only looking moderately like it was scrawled in crayon. In any case, the experience was fun, playing with positive and negative space, and slowly forming a picture by removing material. I will probably try my hand at some more of this, I have some tools for linoleum relief in a box somewhere I think. I learned another, more personal lesson too, and it is this: that one must never hold on too tightly to the intention behind a piece of art… a viewer makes their own interpretation, and it is seldom what you expect, often not what you would like….

Bookstores and memories

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I wrote the following post last January and never posted it…

1/20/2011
I went to the bookstore on my birthday. Bookstores are my happy place, and the one that I went to visit has a special place in my heart, I’ve known it a long time. I started going to The Shire Book Shop in Franklin sometime in middle school. I’d already become a fan of Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov, but new book prices were not in my reach at that age. My dad started taking me to an archery range, where I practiced for a few years (I may write more about this in another post), it was in the upstairs of an old textile mill building a couple of towns over. Those of you who live in New England know the kind of place I’m talking about; often converted to some kind of second hand store, or small manufacturing place, and lately being converted into high-priced loft apartments. The archery range was the entire top floor, a huge open space, with fifteen or twenty foot ceilings, and enough indoor space to shoot up to thirty yards. On the first floor in the same building, was the Shire Book Shop, in a similar space. But instead of a large open space it was packed with bookcases, and the cases were in turn packed with books. And there were piles of books at the ends of each row, and sometimes unsorted boxes of books in the isle. It was heaven. I bought all of my science fiction there for years, and they had it all, all the classics at least. I’m a hard science fiction fan at heart, and in those days you could find Clarke and Asimov, two shelves apiece, you could and I did, find most of what they had written on those lovely unfinished pine shelves. I discovered there Heinlein, Card, Lequin, Adams, Piven and countless others I can’t remember These days the greats are hard to find, even on the shelves of the Shire, I suppose there are more people who read the old books than ever and those that buy them keep them, even the old paperbacks.

In the winter time the proprietors had hot spiced cider in a big stainless steel container, and there were comfy chairs and couches. But I always preferred the stacks I guess. I would sit myself down on a step stool and read the first few pages of some book I was considering. I didn’t stick only to science fiction, mind you, although that was and still is my primary field of fiction interest. I found books of poetry there, and started delving into anthropology. I even bought a couple of books in Latin when I was taking the dreaded dead language in high school (no, I never did learn Latin well enough to read them, sorry Teach). I remember one day, after archery practice, I convinced my dad to help me look through the rare and old books section, a special area that I had not ventured into before. I was looking for a Mark Twain book for my grandfather, who was a huge Mark Twain fan (well, except for the later stuff, he and grandma both hated “Letters From the Earth”, though it was my favorite when I finally read it). That was the same day that I learned he was killed in an accident, and I remember the synchronicity of that day whenever I think of him.

So this year, on my thirty-third birthday I went back. Of course I’ve gone every few years, even when I lived in Seattle, the width of our great nation in between. It was one of my “have to” stops whenever I was in town, along with Royal Pizza, Bertucci’s and my favorite steak and cheese place in Framingham. Over the years the pickings got thinner in the science fiction section, as more geeks held onto their copies of Foundation or 2001. But I almost always found a few old gems that would jump out at me and insist on coming home with me to live on my shelves.

This trip, I ended up with a bag full of them. And I ended up talking with Jean, one of two booksellers there. We talked about the slow decline of brick and mortar stores, and the even harder time that used places have with the rise of Barnes and Noble and Borders (who are failing now as I type, killed of in turn by the giant Amazon and other online booksellers). She told me they can no longer serve the hand crafted hot cider that they used to, the guy who supplied them had been shut down, his oak barrels and un-pasturized juice of the gods having run afoul of overly restrictive laws that choke out small farmers And small suppliers alike.

But the Shire is still there and still selling books, the old kind, the loved kind, the kind that smell and feel the best, of a dozen other eager hands through the years that have cracked the very same pages, and thumbed the very same corners….

Nanowrimo2011 post script…

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Astronomy Picture of the Day from Nasa

this is just to get your attention, the post is boring... click on the picture and go look at pretty astornomy pictures!!!

OK, so it’s December, and NaNoWriMo 2011 is officially over.  Which means I have officially achieved Nanofail once again, at just shy of 20,000 words.  Oh I could blame it on the holidays, family visits, change of job and general busy-ness, but the truth is I lost steam about midway, and didn’t stick with it.  But this being Nano* and not ACTUALLY Nanowrimo at all, I am starting up again (o god why do I do this).  The idea behind Nanostar is to lie, cheat and steal my way to the finish line (which includes going outside the artificial boundaries of “Novemeber”); and I have to say I have done a lousy job.  I didn’t even try just typing out some text wholesale, oh sure, I transcribed a couple of poems, what’s that, a measly few hundred words.  I can cheat better than that, I know I can!
In any case, that’s my Nano postscript (being also the preface to Nanostar: PartTwo; The Final Month, Maybe)… but this is probably the last I will talk about nano here on the blog.  I have recently had some up close and personal feedback on my blog, and am going to try and take some of that constructive criticism to heart and try to make this thing not “pointless and kind of boring”…