Monday, April 30

forest farm -maine

Currently trying to finish a (hypothetical/academic) proposal for digitizing and preserving a collection of papers and ephemera belonging to Scott and Helen Nearing -of The Good Life fame. One of the wrinkles is that an important part of the Nearing's legacy are the stone buildings they built by hand (themselves and assistants), on Stratton Mountain in Southern Vermont, and in Harborside on the coast of Maine. As well as being landmarks to the couple, the architecture and slipfrom masonry construction techniques were idiosyncratic; simple and functional solutions, though longevity being questioned now.

Anyhow, we considered a way to represent them in the digital archive and as well as storing high quality digital stills we investigated the process of creating 3D digital models of the structures. Deri Jones & Associates assisted us with some of the pricing and technologies. Not surprisingly the cost of surveying and 3D recording of old houses depends on their complexity and access. The optimum situation is to have a clear traverse around the whole house in about 3 survey stations and clear views through the windows to allow accurate location of the scans inside. An example of this type of scanning is the below project done by Deri Jones & Assoc. on some old houses in Friuli, Italy, taking one day to record. Imagine using the data to rebuild a full size 3D replica at some point in the future... good stuff.

Friday, April 27

cabot creamery -1/14

Seth Neary and Skye Chalmers (and others) have put together a whole series of interviews with various members of Cabot Creamery's directors, first release below. Cabot (the cheese and yogurt makers) is a 1,200 farm family dairy cooperative with members in New England and upstate New York owned and operated by its members, which for Cabot are the farmers and their families. If you have followed along at Chalmers' tumblr Dairy Diary these sorts of images will be familiar.
Disclaimer: Chalmers is a old friend of mine, and Cabot is very tangentially a client; that said this is right in my wheelhouse. Some great stuff here; feeding America etc. Getting me all misty eyed god-dammit! Love that the chairman's first shot is driving a old Gator around. I have previewed a bunch of these and also looking forward to possible further projects in this area, sort of "where does the milk go" type of thing.

We only ever had 1 milking cow at a time. Pops named the cows and steers in alphabetical order; Apple Blossom (starred in Dianne Keaton movie Baby Boom), Benjamin Franklin, Clover, Daffodil, Eidelweiss, Dandelion, E & E (twins), Foxglove, Geranium, Hollyhock, Iris, Jasmine, Katuska (named by a neighbor for a Russian flower), Larkspur, Maple, Nasturtium, Okra, and Poppy. Pops tried making cheese (cheddar and blue, really good) and we drank the milk (even warm baby! right from the pail). We made colostrum pie (not a fan) and worked through calfs and eventual slaughtering etc... So yes, I have a soft spot for dairy farming. The concept of adding value to dairy has been so important in the survival of what little dairy there is in New England, and not just down to Cabot but the whole cheese making culture, esp in VT. Admittedly I don't know the politics of it all and not beyond the realm of possibility that some farms grumble about not being big enough to join Agrimark or milk prices or whatever, but can safely say I am a massive fan of Cabot's products. #hunterscheddar

Thursday, April 26

carhartt -1889 series logger pants

New from Carhartt and their Series 1889; not related to the Centennial Series. 12-ounce cotton duck, good. Straight cut, great, finally. Pre-washed feel... $70... Made in Mexico... Not wild about some of those variables. Link. Come in brown/green/grey. This was actually a shot of the green ones that I tweaked to look brown as no flat shot available from PR. Have said it all before, but the double front pants are a signature item for Carhartt. Is it too much have them made in USA, and maybe the original unwashed finish?

Monday, April 23

catherine owens -chalk art

Chalk or "blackboard art" have some big names currently, but I really like the work of local artist Catherine Owens. Many artists do the lettering well but Catherine kills it w/ the surrounds; art nouveau in this case. This menu is up at Backbar in Union Square, Somerville. It took her about 35 hours over 3 days she says. Video of the process below -cool that she left in her erasures and retries... DM me if you would like her contact details for work.

Tuesday, April 17

10e at kaufmann mercantile -concord grapes

A few months ago I did an internership at the William Munroe Special Collections in Concord, MA, "the most comprehensive archive of primary and secondary source material related to Concord history, life, landscape, literature, people, and influence from 1635 to the present day". Long/short it was fascinating and on the last day I noticed a small postcard depicting a monkish looking man under a trellis and it clicked... Concord Grapes.

I took the boys out to Concord recently and prepped an article for Kaufmann Mercantile that they just posted on their site, go take a look. Some bonus feautures info below...

Must add here, if you have the opportunity it is mind-blowing to visit that area (and btw highly recommend the publically accessible William Munroe Special Collections) and just let yourself be transported back to this lightning-rod time of intellectual activity; famously Transcendentalism (Hawthorne, Thoreau, Emerson, the Alcotts) and support of the abolitionist movement. Pretty electrifying. Also, am now on a kick of drinking Concord Grape juice (easily found, Welch's does a pure grape/pear juice w/ no sugar etc added). Darker than blood, kids love it.

Concord grape freezer.

Although Concords are not the dominant grape anymore (link) they may yet enjoy a resurgence as lately Concord juice has been found to be useful in prevention of heart disease, ranked #1 in antioxidant benefit above red wine, chocolate and others generally touted as heart healthy. To get technical, this is because red wine and grapes contain polyphenolic compounds, including antioxidant activity of flavonoids, which can reduce platelet aggregation and have thus been associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease. The inhibitory effect of the flavonoids in grape juice may also decrease the risk of coronary thrombosis and myocardial infarction [great phrase, means heart attack -ed.].

One more nugget of information... The lowly and steadfast peanut butter and jelly sandwich, made distinct by the use of tart/sweet Concord jelly came about at the turn of the last century due to the confluence of three factors;
(1) Welch’s Grape Juice Company (started by Dr Thomas Welch after creating non-alcoholic “wine from pasteurized Concord juice in 1860s) sold their complete first production run of Grapelade jelly to the US Army in advance of WWI. These GIs demanded it on return to the US, and in 1923 Welch's introduces Concord Grape Jelly.
(2)Pre-sliced bread was not packaged and sold commercially until after 1920 so now (latchkey) children could easily make their own sandwiches and (3) by WWII peanut butter was being touted as a cheap source of protein. These wartime factors led to the creation of the ubiquitous PB&J we enjoy today. It also became a cheap source of nutrition during the depression, cementing its place as a food for the everyman.

hog island oyster co.

Been back from San Fransisco area for about a week but Sis took these great shots of the Hog Island Oyster Farm from one of the day trips. Raw or grilled. Lemon or tabasco. That is as complicated as it should get on vacation...

Monday, April 16

again, why this guy is legend

I am posting over at Alpha Industries this week. Have talked about our stylish friend WB before; own brand of tobacco named after him etc...

parenting -billy stump's "berry dangerous crunch" cereal

Not going to go to the mat for suburban daredevil Kick Buttowski (cartoon the boys are into) but have seen a few funny clips.

Sort of admire his "hero in your own mind" world view [hello pot, this is the kettle -ed.], do what you love etc. His little catchphrases "I don't DO fail", or "BIscUITS!" have caught on w/ the the young ones. Same w/ his chicken-fried jumpsuit...

Anyhow, one episode revolves around a certain brand of cereal w/ "Marshmallow monster trucks. Cracked tooth crunch. A stump in EverY BITE!"

Mom: "It makes its own gravy??!"

Friday, April 13

sperry topsider -made in brewer maine

In Sperry-speak this is the Authentic Original®. Know to the rest of us as Top-Sider. Sperry have finally jumped in, and now work with Highland Shoe, Co. in Brewer, ME to create this essential item. These are $300, but if you use code FRIEND you can get 25% off (so $225)... I just tried, it works. Sure would wear Arrow Mocs or whatever but grew up in Top-Siders. Question, can you get new soles on these or is that a lost cause, cus I burn through the sole in one summer basically... BTW, incase you wonder, this is a pure "find", Sperry have not contacted me atall.

Yes, you've seen similar factory videos by now but this one worth a look. Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 12

the shawshank redemption and a defense of libraries

The Shawshank Redemption is a fantastic film, we can move past that point. But when discussing libraries (and marketing) I often remember Andy Dufresne's persistance in writing a letter a week to the state house asking for funds to buy more books and supplies. It is a crystal clear example of inserting yourself into the conversation that has to continue for public libraries to survive. Of course, once he gets a check and a few boxes of weeded books (after 6 years of writing) he doubles his efforts and writes two letters a week. Well played.

There is another scene though that even more forcefully makes the case for public access to knowledge, and the ensuing power it leverages; known as suds on the roof. Can't embed it but watch it here, created by user Azorzetto.

"And that’s how it came to pass that on the second last day of the job, the convict crew that tarred the plate factory roof in the spring of ‘49 wound up sitting in a row at ten o’clock in the morning drinking icy cold Bohemia-style beer, courtesy of the hardest screw that ever walked a turn at Shawshank State Prison.

You could argue he’d done it to curry favor with the guards or maybe make a few friends among us cons. Me? I think he just did it to feel normal again, if only for a short while."
-Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding
Thinking about this the first time the scene seems to illustrate some kind of superiority of Andy over the guards due to pure knowledge. But listening to Red it is something other than that. An even greater ability via learned information that allows Andy to create normalcy in a dire circumstance, if only for a short while...

Wednesday, April 11

jaws -blu ray

Just in time for summer! Coming out this August is the blu-ray [they are still doing those-ed?] rerelease of Jaws ($20 via Amazon... wow). The wizards in Hollywood went back to the original print 35mm negative of the film and scanned it frame by frame to clean it up. V slick. Wet gate transfer etc.

Fascinating short doc below on the process, and highly relevant for digital archivists and librarians too. Discussion of storage (they make a film print off the digital once complete as feel better archival quality than preserving digital files), preservation, restoration etc.

Also included;
The Shark is Still Working: The Impact & Legacy of JAWS, and all-new feature documentary on the film.
• A digital copy
• A DVD copy
• More...

Monday, April 9

was away -now back

Bit of housekeeping; another hat I wear is as board member of the Friends of the Somerville (MA, not NJ) Public Library. It happens to be National Library Week this week, and we will be announcing a series of design-y/fencepost-y talsk to be given at the Somerville (MA) Central branch starting in June through the Fall.

Pretty excited about these 5 speakers... follow on twitter @Friends_SPL or on FB at Don't want to oversell, but if you read this blog you will recognize all of the names. #dontsleep

Wednesday, April 4

how an onscreen james bond should be played

Atmosphere: To my mind, the greatest danger in this series is too much Englishness. There should, I think, be no monocles, moustaches, bowler hats or bobbies or other “Limey” gimmicks. There should be no blatant English slang, a minimum of public-school ties and accents, and subsidiary characters should, generally speaking, speak with a Scots or Irish accent.

James Bond: Bond is a blunt instrument wielded by a government department. He is quiet, hard, ruthless, sardonic, fatalistic. In his relationships with women he shows the same qualities as he does in his job. He likes gambling, golf and fast motor cars.
-Ian Fleming, via

damien hirst -the first look

There is a large Damien Hirst retrospective beginning today at the Tate Modern (London). Informative video above about the lead up and preparations etc. Instructive to see how the team structure behind him.

Tuesday, April 3

designing 007

In collaboration with EON Productions and with unprecedented access to their archives, Designing 007 will be a multi-sensory experience, immersing audiences in the creation and development of Bond style over its auspicious 50 year history.

It will explore the craft behind the screen icons, the secret service and villains, tailoring and costumes, set and production design, automobiles, gadgets and special effects, graphic design and motion graphics, exotic locations, stunts and props.
July 6th through September 5th, at the Barbican, London.

Monday, April 2

us army pocket can opener -p38

The P-38 can opener is 38mm long and has been alternately called the "best Army invention ever" or the "John Wayne". If I could have found the training video w/ The Duke opening his C rations with this thing you know I would have included it...

GeorgiaOutfitters has a detailed page with the complete history. #recommend. They seem to have become beloved by ex-Army types and bushcrafters/bugout/EDK types as evidenced by the below comment from PatentsPending.
I still have the first one I grabbed out of our first box of C-rations, in Army boot camp in 1977. The only place a GI could get them was in a case (12) of C-rations, where they appeared to be thrown in as an afterthought, 4-5 to the case. It's on my keychain. I still use it to open cans when camping (car-camping, that is). I've used it to adjust my carburetor, get a grip on a splinter, clean my fingernails, pick my teeth, adjust rifle sights, let air out of a tire, rip open taped boxes, and open cans of all sizes to the gasps and amazement of lookers-on. It shows no sign of wear, other than the hole where the keyring has carried it for 28 years.
They have them at Ball and Buck in the North End. $1.
[thx to @thewilderthings for the inspiration]