Shikasta by Doris Lessing We3 by Grant Morrison Choosing You by Alexandra Soiseth The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House by Meghan Daum Atlas of Middle Earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad Bram Stoker's Death Ship by Gary Gerani Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn Neuromancer by William Gibson Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell All the Way Home by David Giffels Reamde by Neal Stephenson Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl In Cold Blood by Truman Capote Tangles by Sarah Leavitt Fastnet, Force 10 by John Rousmaniere A Foreign Affair by Caro Peacock Dhalgren by Samuel Delany Caring for Your Parents by Hugh Delehanty Railsea by China Mieville New Vegetarian Baby by Sharon Yntema Year One by Ramsey Beyer Rip Tide by Kat Falls After the Storm by John Rousmaniere Percy Gloom by Cathy Malkasian The Gate to Women's Country by Sherri Tepper Swallow Me Whole by Nate Powell The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer Flora Segunda by Ysabeau Wilce Fallow La Friche by Jamie Ross Wizzywig by Ed Piskor Flora's Dare by Ysabeau Wilce
32 books total (impressive since I also had a baby this year)
With a sunny, summery week, of course the day of press moving is the day that it rains. Truth be told, all the other times I've moved the press it has snowed, although I'm not sure rain is a step up from snow. Warmer, but wetter. At least we had tarps, and it never really poured.
The challenge for today was getting the letterpress and guillotine UP the three steps out of the basement. My friend JK constructed a harness for this purpose so that many people could be pulling at the same time. This was an amazing innovation in my press-moving experience. Normally only around four people can fit around the machine at once, which limits how much force the team can exert. With the harness, several people could pull all at once in one long line. This was a serious improvement.
We did the move in stages, first by bringing each machine up the ramp into the yard, then shimmying each machine down to the alley, and then working them up the ramp into the trailer. As always, I rented a 5'x9' U-haul trailer with ramp. If you have to move a press, this is a key pro-tip.
The hardest part of the day was getting the letterpress up the ramp. The wood skids that the letterpress and guillotine are mounted to are the ones that came with them when I got them a few years ago. They are nearly shot, and I definitely have to use something different the next time I have to move them. The letterpress is also top-heavy, and there is very real danger of tipping.
Moving everything into the new house was a little easier because xwx was able to expertly maneuver the trailer backward so close to the back door of the house that we barely had to work the machines through the yard at all. Also, everything just had to go up one step into the house.
The total time was about five hours, and that included a short pizza break. Afterwards, xwx said he was surprised I wasn't barking orders a little more. I confessed that the team had been so competent that honestly I didn't really feel the need to.
Over the next month or so, I'll have to clear out more space and start putting everything back together. (A few parts had to come off the machines to fit them through doorways and lighten them a little.)
Right now though, I'm concentrating on packing up my personal belongings so I can move myself and the cat in the next few days. And then I'll have a new address!
I was actually worried that not enough people were going to show up, but it wasn't the case at all.
It rained just when everyone got there to help, but luckily the rain was short-lived. It was still barely sprinkling when we decided to go for it in case it rained again later, which it didn't. In fact it was sunny the rest of the day.
We used two pick-up trucks at once, which is an idea I would use again in the future. It made loading up really efficient. Type is kept in cases which are drawers that fit into a cabinet. You move type by taking each case out one by one, carrying the cases out to the truck, carrying the empty cabinets out to the truck, and then loading the cases back into the cabinets. Having two trucks was so efficient because while one group of people was loading the cases back into the cabinet, another group would be carrying the cases for the next cabinet out to the other truck. We alternated until we got them all loaded up.
We had even more people on the unloading side, which surprised me. Loading in went well. The only snag was having to clear out another area in the room because all the type wouldn't fit against the wall, and one cabinet had to go in between the windows. With so many people there, even that didn't take long.
This is a big relief, and I'm so grateful for all the help I got today. Having so many people show up made it much easier on everyone involved. We finished in less than three hours!
Next up: moving the letterpress and guillotine this coming Saturday!
I just got back from about a week away sailing off the coast of North Carolina. It was a pretty epic trip. Here are some of the highlights, although I'm writing my next zine about it, so I don't want to blow too much here. Click on the picture and you'll be taken to my Flickr page where you can look at more pictures.
I had to take two Megabuses to get down to Durham, with a three hour layover in DC where I went out to dinner with a friend there. I arrived in Durham at 4 in the morning and got picked up by one of my shipmates. We drove out to the coast and met up with St. who was already at the boat. We spent the day cleaning up because the boat had been there for six months, including weathering one hurricane. I mostly cleaned out the food stores, which was pretty gross. The next day we spent doing more repairs and stocking up on food. My shipmate had found a three burner stove top, so they installed it in the cabin, thus depriving me of the character-building experience of cooking all meals on a tiny camp stove up on deck.
The next morning we tried to make a quick getaway but ran aground trying to get out of the marina and had to all tip the boat as far over as possible while a local fisherman pulled us until we got free of the shallow bit. Because everything had taken longer than we wanted, we had to do an overnight sail that night to keep on track so we'd be at our final spot by Thanksgiving.
I ended up getting seasick at the tail end of my first night shift and remained so until late the next afternoon.
We anchored at a few different places over the course of the next few nights and I got to see lots of jellyfish, dolphins, birds, and even ponies. Then we did one more all-night sail on the open ocean, trying to get to our final spot in Wilmington before a storm hit. I got sick in the night again but did get woken up once to watch the pod of dolphins racing our boat with bioluminescent trails behind them.
When we got to our final anchorage, I slept for ten hours while my shipmates went out with some friends in town. The next day--- which was my birthday--- we went to a big vegan pre-Thanksgiving potluck. By then we were all on "boat time" and it was hard to stay awake past 9 pm. The next night we had Thanksgiving dinner with St.'s parents and the next day I made my way back up to meet my next marathon of Megabuses home.
I spent a four-day weekend in DC for the DC Zine Fest. It was also my first time there, and I wanted to go to a lot of museums during my time off. It was a really stellar weekend, despite the heat--- upper 90s and low 100s with a bazillion percent humidity. I'll talk in categories, and also you can click the picture to see other photos I took during the weekend.
The Zine Fest Itself From an attendee's point of view, this went off without a hitch. It was much busier than I had expected. I sold a lot of zines and also traded. I shared a table with two really awesome people who I think I became friends with over the course of the day. I have no complaints at all.
Food I only ate at three places, but I can recommend them all: Julia's Empanadas (which always features one vegan option), the Food for Thought cafe inside the Black Cat night club (if you only go there once, get the vegan lasagne--- non-vegans often even prefer it to the one with cheese), and Everlasting Life (with hands down the best veggie chicken sandwich I have eaten). In addition, the day after the fest some folks make a huge vegan brunch for out of town tablers, which was great: grits, fruit, pancakes, gimme leans, juice.
Museums Although I was excited to go to museums for many air conditioned hours, I only got Sunday afternoon and Monday morning. Still, it's a lot to take in. On Sunday I went to the air and space museum, the portrait gallery (my favorite), and the Hirshhorn. On Monday I got to walk around with a DC resident (one of my table-mates) in the natural history museum, the national archives, and the postal museum. The postal museum has a bunch of drawers of old stamps and is close to where the Megabus stops. Speaking of transit, I found the subway to be really easy to use as a beginner; it was a lot like BART.
People I met some superb folks this weekend and spent more time with a few people I already knew. Super good hospitality.
When I describe my plans to people, I say, "Well I have these friends who live just outside Philly on a farm with developmentally disabled adults. So I'm visiting friends and then adding a couple extra days in Philly proper."
This is the third time I've made this sort of visit in almost as many years, and it's still not exactly a farm. But there are orchards and chickens, and it's surrounded by farms. So that's what I call it. My friends are about to move, so this was likely my last time visiting. I got a little sentimental because I've now met some of the same people a few times, and I feel a little bit like a celebrity when I visit. I guess not many visitors have hair as long as mine or as many tattoos.
I had a lot of fun during this visit. Highlights included singing in the van on the way back from the landfill, going out with my friends and one of the residents to the random (but awesome) vegan buffet in town, eating mulberries, and retrieving chickens that had somehow gotten loose. (I've never picked up a chicken before, by the way.)
On my friends' day off, we headed up to Bethlehem, PA to go to Vegan Treats. It was really hard to decide what to get in the vast display case. I went for the chocolate cheesecake volcano.
On Saturday I went into Philly proper and stayed at the house I stayed at last time, even though Comrade K doesn't live there anymore. They had done some renovation since I had been there last, which was nice to see. It was a quiet first night because most of the people in the house were camping. I sat on the roof reading and turned in early. Speaking of which, I read two entire books while I was away. That was nearly 700 pages of non-fiction in the span of 5 days. Unbelievable, even though I was the one who did it.
Sunday I hung out with Comrade K in the afternoon. We took a walk and got vegi-chicken roti, something that Philly totally has over Pittsburgh. I borrowed a bike that evening and went to a reading at the Wooden Shoe which was really enjoyable. Each reader was laugh-out-loud funny. There was homemade blueberry pie waiting back at the house.
I finished listening to The Silmarillion audiobook on the bus ride back to Pittsburgh. Orange Kitty seemed glad to see me. Click on the picture up top to see some of the other pictures I took during the visit. (Flickr has made it harder to embed more than one photo, it seems.)
11:50pm: like 175 degrees or something
Today was a good day. I put out the Skate or Die text call out and hit the skate park. I spent three hours there, mostly trying to do a simple thing--- go up, turn 180 degrees around, and come back down. The last two hours of the session was with Soybot, J, and xFx. I was able to go up and back down on a ramp, which I had previously only been able to do in the bowl. I got some good pointers, and the last hour was spent me trying over and over, so so so close but never fully back down in one motion. Like SO close!
Then I gave a couple knee tattoos to my neighbor, and they turned out well. A bunch of us had a pizza party at Soybot's. It rained on my way home.
A while back, I kind of allowed myself to be peer-pressured into making a Hobbit-themed cake for the Midwife Center of Pittsburgh's annual gala fundraising cake contest. You know how a funny joke like, "Haha, what if I made another Lord of the Rings cake? Yeah, Hobbits use midwives, don't they?" turns into a real thing? That's what happened.
The theme was "Six Degrees of Separation" which I had to somehow work into the description of my cake. I wrote by far the longest description of any of the cakes submitted to the contest, but my six degrees were: 1. Midwife Center of Pittsburgh 2. Childbirth 3. "ring of fire" (thanks sadie_sabot) 4. Ring of Power 5. Frodo Baggins 6. Shire
Today was the day to make the dream a reality. I baked one round cake and one sheet cake and put the sheet cake on top of the round one, to give it the hill look. I made five different colors of frosting, and played the Fellowship of the Ring while I frosted the cake, meaning that it took around three hours. I had a vague plan but details like the sliced almond masonry came as I went along. It actually helped to watch the scenes from the movie.
The event was pretty fancy, and I was glad that I had thrown on a nice shirt before going. The other cakes were also pretty fancy, and most of them were really tall. Even still, I felt pretty good about having made a great cake, even if it was next to a lot of other great cakes.
There were two categories, the decoration cakes and the tasting cakes. I entered mine in the decoration category because otherwise I would have had to make two identical cakes. After the judges made their official tallies, the space was opened up for everyone to see and taste, including "people's choice" voting. None of the tasting cakes indicated that they were vegan, so I stood in line to file past the decoration cakes and cast my vote there. As we passed my cake, the person in front of me looked at it for a long time and then said, "This is in the amateur category? I thought it was a professional cake. And it's the only one that doesn't use fondant. I'm voting for this one!"
I looked around and realized that yes, every single other decoration cake used fondant, and most of them nothing but fondant. I also found out that a number of them were "display cakes" meaning the core was made out of styrofoam.
I didn't end up winning, which is fine because I didn't expect to. As I was leaving the event, one of the judges stopped me to say that he had given my cake the highest marks and that he was really sorry I didn't win. I got a couple of compliments on the bus ride home, including the driver.
Now I just have to have a bunch of people over for cake.
Went to the skate park again today, taking advantage of another sunny afternoon. This time with three friends. I had a major breakthrough, finally for the first time in my life completing kickturns while in motion. This opens up a lot of things for me at a park. I can now get into the bowl and skate around and around, and up and then back down. I'm almost at the point where I can go up and do a full kickturn back down, something that I would never expect to do anything close to when I showed up at the skate park today.
My long weekend in NYC was pretty great. I took an overnight Megabus there that while cheap really threw my sleep schedule off. I can't sleep on buses so I pretty much stayed up all night. I had brought the audiobook for The Silmarillion to listen to, which was pretty nice because even if I didn't sleep I got my Middle Earth history on at least. I can't believe that originally I was going to take the overnight bus Friday night and go directly from the bus to the book fair. That would have been ridiculous.
Bleary-eyed, I took the subway to DG's Brooklyn apartment and hung out with him before he went to work and then slept until the afternoon. I met up Comrade I and his partner for my favorite dessert. We hung around Loisida for a bit before I met up with DG and his friend for a movie. We saw Source Code which was okay. We walked back over the Williamsburg Bridge, which was my first time walking over that bridge.
Saturday was the book fair which was really fun. DG and I made tofu scramble for breakfast and then I headed out, meeting up with Comrade I and posse there. I saw a lot of people that I hadn't seen in a while and sold a fair amount of zines. I also gave some zines to some zine libraries that were represented there.
After the book fair, I went out with a bunch of current and past Pittsburgh folks. We went to a punk show in Greenpoint. I saw more charged hair at that show than all of Pittsburgh. I walked home all the way down Metropolitan.
Which brings me to this: I did so much walking this time in NYC. I kept wishing I had brought my skateboard, not so much for the speed but the hurt feet. Next time, I'm totally bringing my skateboard.
Sunday was a pretty slow day. DG and I made breakfast again. I walked around Williamsburg a bunch and saw a comic book store that wasn't there the last time I went. I sat in a park and read. When my friend (and former housemate and former bandmate) Meg got off work we met up for tea. I got back to DG's house exactly when A&K showed up from Ohio. It was a big reunion of sorts. We all walked to get falafel and then took a leisurely walk back to DG's house. It was a nice night with a lot of fun people. I made chocolate chip cookies without looking at a recipe. Everyone liked them, but I was skeptical.
Monday the lot of us made breakfast again and then A&K and I went on a walk around the neighborhood before they headed out. It was a beautiful day, 70 degrees, like summer in a good way. I decided to walk across the bridge to meet AC in Manhattan for pizza. Then I wrote a letter in the park and walked back to the apartment. I was pretty tired from the walking so I took a nap. When DG got home we hung out on his roof and then went for a last minute dinner at Food Swings before I headed on the subway to the Megabus.
Again I didn't sleep on the bus and had The Silmarillion going all night. One point I started drifting off to sleep and remembered feeling like I was floating in a tank of water with a British voice off in the distance yammering on about Beleriand.
It was my turn to clean the bathrooms this week, so the first thing I did when I got back to the house was to do that. I figured it'd be better for me to get it over with while I was crazy from sleep deprivation. Orange Kitty was happy to see me and snuggled with me when I took a 5-hour nap. Then I went to a punk show.
Right now I'm putting the unabridged Silmarillion audiobook onto my iPod for the overnight Megabus to NYC. I'll be there all weekend for the Anarchist Book Fair. I'm not bringing my computer with me, so don't expect pictures or updates until I get back.
Tonight was the Fall of Sauron party which I have been talking about for months. The entire afternoon and evening we had the score for the movies playing nonstop. I made a cake in the shape of the Barad-dur, with vegan gummi orcs and a flaming eye of Sauron. I suggest folks click on the picture to see the series.
The tower stood okay, but when I went back to the back house to get something with a friend, apparently the Dark Tower fell. Auspiciously, it happened right at 7 pm, which was when the party was scheduled. On the bright note then, anyone who showed up on time DID get to see the Fall of Sauron.
We started playing Lord of the Rings Risk and then at a stopping point, DM lit the flaming eye while I read a passage from Return of the King. I had made the eye out of cloth soaked in lighter fluid and black string to both hold it together and make it look like the eye of Sauron. The flame ended up being really high but not quite high enough to set the ceiling on fire. Almost, though.
The cake was pretty delicious. We played Risk for a little while longer, and my orc forces got epically slaughtered. We tired out before finishing the game.
Good cake picture + no house fire = winning event.
Tonight is the party to celebrate March 25, the Fall of Sauron. Join us for some Lord of the Rings themed games and readings. Also, there will be a cake in the shape of the Dark Tower, complete with flaming eye on top.
7pm Cyberpunk Apocalypse 5431 Carnegie St. please park fell beasts out front, bikes in the yard
Today I got a package in the mail from Booklyn--- the fourth volume set of my letterpress zine, Ker-bloom!. It looks great.
There are some events coming up at the house, and I wanted to tell you about them, in case you live in the Pittsburgh area.
Saturday, Feb. 12 - 7pm Our monthly event called the cool-off. Present whatever cool project you've been working on for the past month, or come see what other people have been working on. $2-4 donation to get in, and at the end of the night all attendees vote for whoever did the coolest thing. That person wins half the door money and a trophy. This is always a fun event, but this month is going to be especially cool--- we have word that several people are bringing big-deal projects. I'm calling this month's event the Overachievers' Edition.
Monday, Feb. 14 - all day As a fundraiser for our house--- who puts on free and low-cost literary events all year long--- we're delivering candy-grams and singing telegrams via bicycle all day on Valentine's Day. You can place a PayPal order on our website. $5 for a candy-gram, and a mere $10 for candy PLUS a singing telegram, delivered by one of the residents! If you don't know who to send a singing telegram to, might we suggest Bill from Copacetic Comics in Polish Hill? He's a swell guy who does a lot of good work for the local comics scene. We'll write him a really good song. Or you could force us to sing songs and hand candy to each other.
The first meeting of the knot-tying club was tonight, and I'd call it a success. Despite the snow, there were close to ten people there, and one baby in tow. People seemed pretty stoked about it. People were mostly into the monkey's fist, the turk's head, and the trucker's hitch. I practiced the bowline and some of the other ones I learned in my birthday week. There's talk of maybe trying to make a rope ladder next month.
I like shoveling snow. I really do. And there's lots of it to shovel these days.
Today I had coffee with a friend and then wrote a whole bunch. Then I made biscuits and gravy for 10speed's birthday. I walked through the snow, and it was a really lovely night to be taking a walk. I took two staircases, one of which looked like it hadn't been used for a long time. Snow is so pillowy and soft when it hasn't been stepped on.
It was a good year for reading. Here's a list of all the books I read this year, with some statistical analysis at the end. Feel free to comment with your own book list, remarks about books we've both read, or requests for recommendations. Happy reading in 2011!
Anathem by Neal Stephenson The Sea Wolf by Jack London Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway Funerals Are Fatal by Agatha Christie Enigma: Battle for the Code by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore Stories That Scared Even Me edited by Alfred Hitchcock The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson Let the Right One In by John Lindqvist Worker-Student Action Committees by Fredy Perlman Continuing Appeal of Nationalism by Fredy Perlman Letters of Insurgents (for the fourth time) by Fredy Perlman The Silmarillion (for the second time) by JRR Tolkein Fire on the Mountain by Terry Bisson Drop-in by Dave Lapp Watership Down by Richard Adams How Soccer Explains the World by Franklin Foer Mythmakers and Lawbreakers by Margaret Killjoy Crypto by Steven Levy Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner Guinea Pig Zero Anthology by Robert Helms The Princess Bride by William Goldman The Apocalypse Reader edited by Justin Taylor Cyberpunk by Katie Hafner The Great Gatsby (for the second time) by F. Scott Fitzgerald Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman On Writing by Stephen King On the Lower Frequencies by Erick Lyle Cheesemonger by Gordon Edgar The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood Toussaint Louverture by Madison Smartt Bell We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
33 books: 17 novels (51.5%) 12 non-fiction (36.3%) 2 collections of short stories (6.1%) 2 graphic novels (6.1%)
Our first ever Cool-Off went really well. The idea came about because we wanted to transform our house's monthly presentation of work to each other into a more public event. It's an event where anyone who wants to can present whatever they've been working on, and everyone there votes at the end for whomever they think has been working on the coolest project.
The vote ended up in a tie, so each of the finalists presented one more thing each and we did a run-off vote. (We also talked about having the finalists armwrestle or rock-paper-scissors for the title.) The Queer Negation Tour folks who are in town this weekend ended up winning the trophy and half the door money.
It happens the second Saturday of every month, so local folks should start doing some cool stuff in time for the next one.