the new awesome

whatever we are blogging about, that's the new awesome

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Letterpress is the new awesome

It turns out that learning to cook is not the only extracurricular class I excel in. I have been taking letterpress classes at the local SF Center for the Book to learn the fine art of making a bunch of copies of something the hard way, without hitting a button and collecting the result on your HP printer 5 seconds later.

Letterpress printing is the process of pressing a raised, inked surface onto a sheet of paper. It is a rather laborious process that pretty much got dropped with the new typesetting technology in the 50's, which is why if you still want to letterpress you have to use 100 year old presses because no one bothers making them anymore.

Behold! The Vandercook!

Why spend 10 times the effort just to make a bunch of prints? There is something really satisfying and tactile about the process and result, especially because each print makes a nice indentation in the paper, and it is like you can feel the work that went into each piece.

I got to learn the basics of the press, which meant getting all gutenberg and using heavy drawers of lead type to set my design to be pressed onto the paper. It turns out that the whole reason designers today call the space between lines of type "leading" is because back in the olden days, it really was thick piece of lead that went between each line of type.

So you spend forever placing your pieces of type into sentences, and then you lay that type in exactly the right spot on the press bed...

Then you stick your paper in the press and ink on the rollers ...

And with one turn of the handle, you roll the paper over your text...

and voila! You marvel at the creation of your own hands, and the fact that you too can have as many letterpressed copies of the lyrics to "Love is a Battlefield" as you want.

Our final project was to make these little accordion books of poetry. I really liked how our cover turned out.

Initially I had hoped to finish taking my classes in enough time to make Letterpressed calendars for everyone for Christmas, but it looks like there won't be enough time, so everyone will have to settle for someone else's letterpressed goods this year, like this great calendar at Broadway Paper

or this one found in this Etsy shop.

Basically, I am really just trying to add lots of important life skills to the list of things i know how to do. If we ever get stuck on a desert island together, I will be the one that knows how to make rosemary butter gnocci and run a letterpress. Just keep that in mind the next time you go boating.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Long weekends are the new awesome

Since living in San Francisco I've spent every Thanksgiving weekend in town. And I love it. It's become my own personal tradition. The thing I love most is the neighborhoods in the city empty out over the holidays. Everyone goes home. And the few of us that remain enjoy a quiet weekend of less noise, fewer sirens, ample parking...I'm pretty sure it's what heaven will be like.

Before Rebecca and all our other friends took off for home we had an amazing pre-Thanksgiving dinner at Steve and Marshall's house. Dan and Steve made me carve the turkey then stood there heckling me the whole time.

Here's Rebecca and I with Steve, Dan and Rick...look at our creations!

There were so many people that those of us at the end of the line had to eat our pre-Thanksgiving feast with spoons. No big deal.

Rebecca should have told Marshall this was going to be an open mouth picture.

On real Thanksgiving day I was invited over to the home of Milo Beckstead.

I think my family thought I was sad that I wasn't with them on Thanksgiving. Not the case for two reasons:

1) The meal. It was amazing.

2) The company (Wayne, Heather, Alex, Milo and Heather's parents). Also amazing.

Dear Family,
I really did miss you.

In keeping with Beckstead Thanksgiving tradition we took a lovely walk through Golden Gate Park after we ate our meal.

On the way home we passed right by the global headquarters for

I love San Francisco because it's cutting edge. I had no idea large stuffed cats as Christmas tree toppers were going to be huge this year. I think Rebecca will be really into this trend.

The next day Courtney, Nate and I decided to find out if a particular urban legend we'd heard of really existed. On the way to find the urban legend, we stopped at the Exploratorium. I'm much taller than Courtney.

After a long walk along the coast in the Marina, we finally found what we were looking for. The Wave Organ!

It wasn't really making any noise which made it a little bit boring so Courtney and I decided it would be more fun to have Nate take pictures of us.

Eventually he told us to leave him alone so he could get serious about sticking his ear up against one of the organ pipes.

In the end, the best part of the Wave Organ was the view of the city it provided.

I grew up in Sunnyvale which is about 30 minutes south of SF. Another treat that happens on Thanksgiving weekend is all my friends come home to visit their families which means they'll come up to SF at least once to hang out! This is how happy everyone was after eating dinner at Blue Fin Sushi.

Then it was time for dancing. But not this kind of dancing.

Dave, Keith and Steve needed to stretch.

Because this kind of dancing was about to happen.

Courtney schooled Robyn.

Dave and Shawn were freaking out.

Additional DDR footage here.

This is a very standard pose for the three of us.

And a most pleasant way to end the long weekend was with Shawn, Robyn and Steve. We saw a movie downtown and then checked out the huge new fancy mall. We took this picture of ourselves at Bloomies and then were immediately escorted out by security.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Rocket Science is the new awesome

My dad the rocket scientist has been taking us to the Griffith Observatory for years, so when they had the grand reopening after a recent remodel, we decided to go back and relive the experience as a family.

There are a lot of neat science things to see and play with inside.

And places to see infrared photos of yourself.

The view up on top of the hill is just as nice as always. I told my brother and sister to smile, but Dave farted instead.

But what really struck me as I was looking at the exhibits, was how many famous bands had obviously gotten inspiration for their names and albums from similar science museums.
Like, Camera Obscura?

Or The Magnetic Fields?

And perhaps you will recognize this picture tracking atomic particles made in bubble chambers as the cover of Is This It by the Strokes.

Liz Phair sings about Super Novas, David Bowie croons about Life on Mars...who would have known so many rock stars were so interested in science? So my siblings and I took it upon ourselves to search the Observatory for other good words and phrases that should be the next big things.

Imagine listening to "Electricity Without Wires" live...

or buying the new Astronomy For All album.

Or maybe the European Navigators, with their first album, Latitude Determination?

and their second album, Making Records of What We Know (only available on 7" vinyl)

and their third (and double!) album, Beyond the Visible, a rather tedious prog rock opera about ghosts and ultraviolet light.

If you have been searching for the perfect band name, feel free to use any of these just named. Just prepare for the immediate "star"dom that is guaranteed to follow.