Three States

Last night, having concluded my business with my comrades at Yankee Publishing in Dublin, NH, I headed west to Brattleboro, Vermont for the evening.

My Timeline via Google

Brattleboro is one of my favourite towns: it’s so palpably Vermont, and yet so New Hampshire-proximal – you need merely look east to see New Hampshire rising up across the river. The Brattleboro Food Co-op is a model for how groceries should be sourced, arranged, managed and sold (and is an excellent place to grab a quick meal to boot). Mocha Joe’s makes a very good cup of coffee. The Latchis Theatre is a gem of a cinema. And the Latchis Hotel, which sits astride the theatre, turns out to be a well-run, scrupulously clean, gem of an art deco hotel. I could live there, easily.

After enjoying the fruits of all of the above – supper at the Co-op, Inside Out at the movies, a night in the hotel and a morning coffee at Mocha Joe’s – I hopped back in my Fiat 500 and turned onto Interstate 91 south toward Chicopee, Massachusetts, home of Letterpress Things, one of the few stops on the North American letterpress printing trail I’d yet to visit.  I pulled into Chicopee around 10:00 a.m. and emerged, 2 hours later, equipped with two new fonts of type and various other bits of printing ephemera, happier and wiser for having spent time with John Barrett, personable owner. John has created a wonderful showcase of all things letterpress, a showcase targeted directly at the hobby printer demographic that I fall in the middle of.  He’s kind and patient and in it for the joy more than the money. Stock is carefully and helpfully arranged, and John is ready with advice and counsel. I’m so happy I arranged to stay an extra day to be able to make the trip.

Shortly after Noon I loaded up the Fiat with my purchases and headed even farther west, arriving in the hamlet of Hillsdale, New York at 2:00 p.m. where I found my way to the home of Tessa Blake and Ian Williams, friends I see all-too-seldomly (the last time was at Zap Your PRAM in 2008). Ian and Tessa and I caught up over lunch at CrossRoads Food Shop and then, back at their house, I got to finally meet their long-rumoured daughter and a coterie of other Williams and associated acolytes, young and old. Many interesting conversations were shared over cups of tea, and then, as darkness fell and still others started to arrive for supper around their impossibly large table, I bid all adieu and headed back the way I came, toward Boston.

Through darkness and rain I drove for just under 3 hours, finally arriving here in Burlington, Massachusetts around 10:30 p.m., exhausted after a longer day of driving than I’ve had in years.

Three states in twelve hours. Much ground covered. A good way to segue out of New England and back to Prince Edward Island, where I’ll land tomorrow afternoon by way of Halifax. Flying, fortunately, not driving.

The Fiat 500 I rented, by the way, was a replacement for the Prius I originally reserved: the Prius I was offered ended up being a tired, old, dirty, smelly one with many miles on the odometer; when I spied a 500 on the lot I saw my way out, and, happily, one was available. It was a perfect little car for a week of solo motoring: peppy, nimble, and very fun to drive. I’d rent one again in a heartbeat.

I navigated my way around using my Moto G Android phone, using a combination of Waze (helpful, but alas prone to crashing) and Google Maps (less helpful, but rock solid), getting data via a AT&T GoPhone SIM I purchased at the Burlington Mall on the way up to Dublin on Tuesday, using Dan James’s helpful 2011 instructions as a guide. It cost me $2/day on days I made one or more phone calls or sent one or more texts and $1/day on days I only used data (100MB/day, which served me just fine). Coverage was excellent everywhere except in the many dead zones in and around Peterborough and Dublin, NH.


We Are the Walrus: A Summer Day for Father and Son

Here’s where life took Oliver and I yesterday, a roughtly-walrus-shaped track from Charlottetown up the spine of the Island, down to Borden, across to Summerside, back to New Glasgow and then home:

Here’s what we did along the way:

  1. We had breakfast at the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market, as we usually do.
  2. We headed out the Kinkora Road and then took a jog down to Lady Fane, ending up at Gateway Village in Borden-Carleton where we had an excellent, fresh lunch at Scapes (pulled-pork sandwich and potato salad for Oliver; fish cakes and green salad for me).
  3. We took Rte. 10 toward the Bedeques, ending up at Bishop’s Machine Shop in Summerside, recommended to us by Olle and Luisa, who visited last year. It’s a perfectly preserved “like the day he left” machine shop just east of downtown; we had a tour from a sprightly young lad who knew his stuff.
  4. Coffee and cake at Samuel’s Coffee House downtown.
  5. Watched the film Ant Man at the Cineplex in uptown Summerside.
  6. Across to Kensington for supper at the Frosty Treat.
  7. Along (very) scenic Rte. 6 from Kensington to Stanley Bridge and then down Rte. 224 to New Glasgow for iced tea at the PEI Preserve Company and a walk through the Gardens of Hope.

About 12 hours from start to finish: a good father and son day.

Off to New England

I’m off to New England tomorrow afternoon for the first time since January.

I’ll be spending Monday night through Friday in southern New Hampshire, working with my colleagues at Yankee Publishing on and

On Friday night I’m spending the night in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont – one of my favourite towns – staying at the Latchis Hotel for the first time. It’s part of a complex that includes a movie theatre, so what’s not to like?

Early Saturday morning I’ll head down I-91 to Chicopee, Massachusetts to visit Letterpress Things for the first time – “unique store for type and tools, supplies and materials, presses and other items for the letterpress printer.”

And then I’ll head west to Hillsdale, New York to visit our friends Ian and Tessa who I haven’t seen since the last Zap Your PRAM 7 years ago (!).

Saturday night I’m whizzling back to the Boston area, staying overnight in Burlington, and Sunday morning I fly back to the Island.

Perhaps our paths will cross?

Democratic Renewal with a Techno Backbeat

I went a little wild this afternoon taking the White Paper on Democratic Renewal, released in the Legislative Assembly today, and liberating it from its PDF prison into a variety of more open formats (like ePub, HTML and plain text). 

Once the text was out there in the open, I kept right on going, pasting the plain text into TextEdit in my Mac and using the OS X “Add to iTunes as Spoken Track” to convert the text into speech.  I then brought the resulting MP3 into GarageBand and added a techo backing track, and then uploaded the result to SoundCloud.

While the text-to-speech is clunky and awkward by times, it’s still remarkably good, and I’m surprised by how much more listenable it becomes with its techo backing.

Direct Action on Climate Change

I arrived at Charlottetown City Hall this morning on my bicycle only to find that the single bicycle rack in front of the building already had a bicycle attached to it, with the space for a second bicycle blocked by a concrete flower planter:


I thought of various ways I could deal with this – angry letters to the Mayor, snarky tweets about “does the city really care about sustainability,” and so on.

Instead of any of those, I simply moved the concrete planter:

City Hall Bicycle Rack Not Blocked by Planter