Sunday, 31 January 2010

Typeface Design – Boloni Lean

I was approached back in 96 by a big magazine publisher about creating a typeface for an on the drawing board fashion magazine. They wanted a proprietary version of Bodoni. I can’t say I’ve ever been a big fan of Bodoni, and the world needs another reworking of it like I need another inch of height. After thinking about it for a bit the idea started to grow on me, appealing to me mainly as a purely technical exercise. I plotted and planned, studied and read, and began Fontographing.

About a third of the way into the task, the publisher decided to can the magazine. I’d been paid for my work up till that point, but I was faced with a dilemma as to what to do from there. I was disappointed with the gig falling through, but I decided to continue working on it. All the research I had done gave me an appreciation for Bodoni I didn’t have before. I had been pretty indifferent to the project initially, but by this point I was really enjoying it. And I speculated that the work might pay off in the end.

My version takes elements from several different sources. Some are as precise as Berthold brass, while some are a little more fanciful. The serifs are slightly scooped, but perhaps the major derivation from most versions of Bodoni is that my rendition is slightly condensed and has a slightly higher x-height. Factors which I think enhance legibility, and actually factors initiated by the original instigators of the project.

While the face itself is a serious piece of work, the name is me thumbing my nose at all those pedantic arguments over which reworking of an old classic is the more ‘correct’ version, or which one is the most ‘faithful’ interpretation.

I created the Lean version of Boloni, and I started churning the Fat version through the sausage machine, but never completed it.

S.o.t.D. – Any How – Llorca

Any How – Llorca


Spend any amount of time reading this blog and you’ll come to the conclusion that I seem to spend a fair amount of money, time and effort on how to carry stuff. And you would be right.

That quest for the optimal way to organize and carry the stuff that I need on my various adventures is one that I have been spending a long time thinking about, experimenting with, buying stuff for, designing, constructing and testing, revising.... And then of course I make it more complicated by wanting it to be rugged, light, organized, ergonomic, compact, etc. And I also want it to transition seamlessly from hiking to biking to canoeing.

Some stuff I create for a broader audience and some of it I work on solely for my own needs. If something emerges from that which might benefit someone else, great. But first and foremost I make stuff to suit my own quirky wants.

A big part of this seemingly never ending search is a perceived need for being able to break stuff down into various components.

I do a lot of canoeing. Wearing my backpack while paddling just wouldn’t work. But I still want to have various things easily accessible. Having a water bottle rolling around in the bottom isn’t a good idea. And quite often we’ll stop somewhere to get out and check out a spot, or go and take photos. Even if it’s a 100 meters inland, I will still want a few key items with me. If I’ve hiked a long way into an area, I may set up a base camp and roam out from there to explore, hunt, forage, photograph, fish, etc. I will often set up my camp quite a ways from any water source, and have to venture out a ways to get water. It’s great in those instances to ditch the main pack and use a simpler, lighter set up.

I’ve played around with a variety of setups to address this. Chest rigs - work, but generally a bit overkill. Shoulder bags - suitable, but get a bit uncomfortable over a certain weight, and also tend to swing around when running or climbing. I’ve used belt order set ups, but they don’t work with a pack that utilizes a waist belt.

I had an idea for a belt order/chest rig that could be carried on the pack and taken off and turned into a rig when needed. There are times when I need to look a bit more low key. I thought this might be a way to make it look as though I’m wearing a pack with pouches on it. Another part of the thought process was that it could be carried in parts, or as a whole. One part with just a shoulder strap, two of them together with just a shoulder strap, two of them with suspenders, four together with suspenders.

What I ended up using were Emdom Utilishingles. I opened the seams along the top at the back and installed Thomas’ Attachable Bag System, or TABS. And that’s what they are. 1" tabs. Into the tabs went female stealth buckles.

I set one up as the “survival podule”. On it went a Maxpedition 4x10 pouch (containing a 1 liter Guyot Standard SS Nalgene, Snow Peak Mini Solo, Steripen Adventurer {and the pre-filter}, as well as a gram weenie stove and wind screen and fuel bottle), RSK Mk 3 knife, in the sheath it came with but heavily modified (strange attachments cut off, part of the top cut off, PALS webbing sewn on the back and front, snap removed and replaced with a piece of bungee cord and a cord lock, and painted) Maxpedition M-1 pouch (containing “survival stuff” - fire starters, tinder, etc, etc.) Inside the Utilishingle was a contractor grade garbage bag, a space blanket and a bandana. There was still a bit of room for some snacks in there as well. I also set it up at various points in my trials of the concept with a modified Tactical Tailor radio pouch at the back of the 4x10, so that I had a two way communication capability. (I have the intention of getting a HAM radio at some point in the near future, but for the purposes of trialling I used a Radio Shack CB radio.)

I figured that this pretty much gave me everything I might need in an emergency. If I took only this part and three kilometers away from my main pack I twisted my knee and I had to spend a night out, I could fare okay. Water, means of purifying it, means of boiling it, knife, fire making tools, means of jury rigging a rudimentary shelter, a bit of food, and a means of communicating.

I set up another one as an optics/miscellaneous pouch. On it I had a Tactical Tailor smoke grenade pouch, with a pair of binoculars in them, a modified Maxpedition Anemone, with the entire front portion removed, containing a digital camera. Inside the Utilishingle was more snackage.

Another Podule was set up as medical kit. On it was a modified Emdom B.O.M.B., with an Emdom Grobes pouch on it for nitrile gloves and a Tactical Tailor strobe/compass pouch for an Israeli dressing. Inside the Utilishingle was an Asherman Chest Seal, and a SAM Splint. Since I had the room on it and not on any of the other set ups, I placed my Leatherman Wave in a Tactical Tailor Multi-Tool pouch on here. Not necessarily where I wanted it, but that’s where the room was.

Another Podule was set up as bushwhacker kit. Another 1 liter Nalgene in a Kifaru LiterPlus pouch, Prune’mups (well actually at first it was the original pouch that the Leatherman Vista came in, with PALS webbing sewn on the back), Saw’mups, Dump’mups and Petzl Caritool for hanging gloves off of. Inside the Utilishingle I put a signalling kit, consisting of an orange signal panel, pen flare launcher with red flares & bear bangers and a signal mirror.

I put some webbing on the inside to hold the pen flare launcher in place, as well as some bottle blanks, each holding 2 red flares and a bear banger. The bit at the end of the flare launcher is an AeroWave, a clever little zipper pull that incorporates a whistle.

On the pack I placed strips of webbing, folded in half, with a male Stealth buckle at one end, around one of the PALS and held together with a tri-glide.

Mated up with the female Stealth buckles on the top of UtiliShingles, this forms the vertical attachment system. A combination of male and female Stealth side release buckles on the PALS webbing of the pack and the Utilishingles forms the horizontal attachment system, mainly just to stop bounce
These photos show them all mounted on a Kifaru ZXR with an E&E mounted on the front.
The tabs with the female Stealth buckles allow for the whole setup to be attached to the pack, but it also allows the single shoulder strap and suspenders to be attached. Here I used the Kifaru shoulder straps that come with either the Scout or the Tailgunner series. If I used all four Podules I would have a total of eight female buckles, so I made four straps with a loop at the end for a Siamese Slik-Clip, and male Stealth buckles at the other end. There’s a little slot at the bottom of the front and back of the padded portion of the shoulder straps that I could put the Slik-Clips into and clip the buckles into the buckles on the Podules, to make it a bit more stable.
I played around with a few different means of connecting the Podules together. Buckles, Slik-Clips, 550 cord. If it was going to be a long term set up, the 550 cord would be perfect. The Slik-Clips are small, discreet, light but detaching and attaching them in this instance is a real pain. I found the buckles the best compromise for being able to quickly take the Podules off the pack and put them together into a workable rig. Inside one of the Podules are two other straps to be retrieved when putting the whole thing together for the front and the back.
Here I have attached the Kukri to the inside of the bushwhacker Podule. Good way to carry it. Sits snug against my chest, up high so that the bottom doesn’t get bumped and poke the handle up into my ribs.  
I also played around here with mounting a Cold Steel Bird & Trout on the back through the PALS webbing. Love that little knife and just wanted to experiment with different ways to carry it.

All in all this was a fun project to see if I could come up with a modular way of carrying a few different setups. But in the end I didn’t find it that satisfying. I mean, it worked okay, it allowed me to carry a rig on my pack and then break it down into a smaller set up. But I still found it a bit too bulky (definitely noticeable when moving through the woods), and it was kind of finicky and awkward when putting it together, and then disassembling it to put it back on the pack. Also I didn’t entirely like the arrangement of pouches that it forced me to adopt.

To me that is part of the fun of all  this. Come up with an idea, make it a reality and then try it out. Sometimes that idea in my head turns out to be a winner, and sometimes it falls a bit short of expectations. Back to the drawing board.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Burlington Bay

Taken on a stroll this summer.
Looking north towards the marshalling yard. My place is up on the Iroquis Bar, about where the lamp post is on the left.
Walk a little further and you’ll come to Bayfront Park.
Pier 4 park and the yacht club.
Leander yacht club.
Looking north across Burlington Bay. Hwy. 6 just to the left of centre.
Facing towards Burlington, with the northern edges of Hamilton just on the right.
West to north, with the Iroquis Bar on the left, going all the way around the shore of Burlington, with Pier 4 on the right.
It is still Hamilton, so I guess a bit of ugliness is to be expected.
A trail winds its way along the shore. This is the view to the east, with Burlington on the left, and Hamilton on the right.
Watching the swan. Carroll’s Point in the background on the right.
As much as the place gets a drubbing, the waterfront here is a real gem in the rough.

S.o.t.D. – I Wanna See You Come Down (Mark Farina Mix) – DJ Rork

I Wanna See You Come Down (Mark Farina Mix) – DJ Rork

Annapolis Basin, Nova Scotia (part 2)

After I came back from my jaunt to Kejimkujik, I decided to take a wander to the gloriously named Smiths Cove Lookoff Provincial Park. I was told that what had been there hadn’t been paid much mind in many years. The topo map told me that it was the highest point around there, so I decided to find out what I could see.

Again I took the old railway line, now a nice trail that runs right by the families place, out there.
Their place, with the swell new garage.
I came to a trail that looked as though it might lead down to the water, so I decided to head down it to see where I ended up. And I came to a beach with the water ebbed out, but the tide rapidly flowing back in
Bear Island in the foreground, Digby Gap off to the left, the North Mountain in the distance, that I had traversed the week before.
Ghillie suit from the deep.

Fun to beachcomb for a while. And pretty crazy to see how fast the tide comes rolling in.

Just before coming to the Bear River, I passed through a ravine that had been blasted out of the rock to allow the railway line to go through.

If I’d been with someone and had some climbing gear I’d have been tempted to climb the walls.
Pinkney’s Point.
Abandoned rail bridge over the mouth of the Bear River. Pinkney’s Point is off to the left.
Like the rail bridge over the Joggins, this one has also been left to deteriorate. But with this one they’ve gone to the trouble to dig out at the bases to prevent people from using it. Mainly ATVers. A determined walker could still clamber up there.
The rail bridge from the new Highway 101 bridge.
Looking south down the Bear River, towards the town of the same name.
Bear Island in the foreground and the Digby Gap in the background.
Digby in the distance.
The trip up and down showed a few more great places for rock climbing.
Can’t wait to go back.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

S.o.t.D. – Slowly, Surely – Jill Scott

Annapolis Basin, Nova Scotia (part 1)

Previously I’ve shown some of my adventures in one area around the Annapolis Basin in Nova Scotia this past summer. And also one a little further afield.

I thought I would show off some more photos I took in this beautiful area.  (And as always, clicking on the pics will bring up a much larger version.)

My brother and his wife live in the bucolic village of Smiths Cove, which is a ways to the east and south of Digby. 
This is the view they enjoy. Looking across the Annapolis Basin towards the Digby Gap.
And this is what it looks like at dusk.

I went with Phyllis to her job at the Home Hardware in Digby one morning to wander around and take in the sights. Absolutely spectacular morning. Blue, blue skies, bright sunshine, reflecting off the water, clean air. Wow.
This is at the south end of Digby, looking south-east towards Smiths Cove.
Looking south across the Joggins.
Looking south-east towards Smiths Cove and Bear Island.
Strolling a little further up the beach.
The view to the south and east.
Just north of Digby. The fishing wharf on the right, with its scallop trawlers.
On the northern edges of Digby is a little cove called the Raquette.
The castle like building on the end of the point there is called The Pines. (Or the Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa more correctly.) Originally built by a local businessman in 1905, it was bought by Canadian Pacific Railway, and become one of their hotels in a chain of famous ones that dotted the country, including (but not limited to) Château Frontenac in Quebec City, Royal York in Toronto, Hotel Vancouver, Empress Hotel in Victoria and the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies. CP sold the hotel off in the fifties and it is now operated by the Nova Scotia government.
Having walked around the Raquette, this now looks back in the direction of Digby.
Just past the Pines is Annapolis Basin Look-Off Provincial Park. More like Parking Lot than Park. That’s about all it is. Space for a few cars to park and a railing that denotes the “look-off” part. While the facilities aren’t so impressive, the view certainly is. Way off in the distance is Annapolis Royal, the oldest (still inhabited) European settlement in Canada.

On the walk back I strolled through Digby some more, got some food for my upcoming adventures, stopped in to say hi to Phyllis again, and then strolled back to Smiths Cove. The trail that took me there was at one point the Canadian Pacific Railway track that would have carried passengers to the Pines. Sadly it’s no longer a railway track, but it is a very nicely maintained walking trail now.
The trail loops around the Joggins. (those Scova Notians sure give some odd names to their inlets and coves. The Joggins, the Raquette.) This looks north, back towards Digby and the Digby Gap.
A little bit further along the trail and another view of Digby.
The Big Joggins, which is pretty much the mouth of the Acacia Brook as it flows into the Annapolis Valley. The abandoned railway bridge is what divides the Big Joggins from the regular Joggins. While the trail is nicely maintained, I guess the money isn’t there to maintain the bridges, so they’re in a state of disrepair. You can still cross them on foot if you’re feeling adventurous, but it’s recommended you use the nice new road bridge instead. I of course, crossed the railway bridge.

Great day, great weather, great hike.