The Evergoods MHP 3.5

I love backpacks. I even bought a domain to talk about my backpacks, though it isn’t up and running. For about a year prior to Covid, I had been carrying the same backpack. This was a huge step for me, because I often switch between packs as needed. I was blissfully happy with my Patagonia Black Hole 32L in Hammots Gold (color no longer available). Then a friend of mine convinced me to try a new brand of pack, Evergoods.

It started out with a Evergoods MPL 30L V1. Which is a great pack, but doesn’t have the side water bottle holders which is a requirement for me on a backpack. Fast forward a bit and I’m a huge Evergoods fan. I have a pack from most of their lines, so when the announced the MHP, I resisted for a day or two (don’t really use hip packs that much), but finally bought one, and the TL;DR is: I love it.

I decided on a black pack over the signal blue. While the blue is cool, a hip pack is usually something I’m going to carry while hoping it isn’t noticed. I have a signal blue pack and it is loud and easily seen. Call it fear from living in the Bay Area for too long, but I don’t want things to be noticed and pilfered. There is still a patch location and sometimes I’ll throw on one of my cool patches for unique identity when I need it.

Both compartments are pretty awesome. I’ve only taken the pack out for a couple of adventures at this point, but usually, the back section is where I put my notebook, pen, pocket knife, and phone. The front pouch is where I put in a first aid kit, headlamp and anything else I need.

One downside, even though there is a passthrough pocket upfront, if I put something large, like an R1 through it, it will eat up space in the front pouch and make it harder to fit things in there. Still, this pouch would be good for a thin waterproof layer.

The MHP can be worn in two ways, as the standard hip pack or as shoulder sling. I’ve worn it as both. As a hip pack it is perfect. Functions exactly as expected and I can’t say anything bad about it. One practical thing I’ll say about wearing it as a sling, the arm that makes contact with the pack might have some rubbing. While there is a guard against the buckle, the excess webbing, while tucked up might hit your arm as you swing through it. You can adjust the pack on your back, but if it is at all loose it will be near the bottom. This isn’t a super big deal, but it is definitely noticeable if you are hiking with the pack for a couple of hours.

I’m sure my opinion will continue to evolve as I continue to use the pack (I’ve had it for a couple of weeks), but so far I’m a fan. A friend asked me if it would fit a iPad mini, so I checked and conformed that both the front and back pockets are big enough to hold an iPad mini.

If your interested, head over and pick one up at Evergoods MHP 3.5L.

For additional reviews, I found this pretty helpful:

Writing A Book

Pile of notebooks

I’ve always wanted to write a book. I remember having a teal-covered five-star notebook where I wrote my first fiction story about a kid on a boat with a computer. It made no sense, I was very young when I started, and the book didn’t have a plan. Still, I pretended it was going to be such a good book.

The dream has grown over the years. I still write some crappy poetry from time to time (see some previous posts on this blog for pest poetry), but I haven’t really started anything super seriously. I want to change that. I want to write a book. The question is, what do I write about?

They say write about what you know, but I’m actually a little excited about learning as I write. I’m hoping the experience of crafting a piece helps me grow as well. This means my topic is still open for discussion. Some of my ideas include:

  • Acroyoga Field Guide – a guide to the practice of Acroyoga.
  • Moving to and from California – a software person who went to the west coast to learn his craft and survived to make it back.
  • Field Notes – a story from a fan of the wonderful product made in the USA by a designer and small firm that has blown up to a major product.
  • What I learned from 20 years in cheerleading – a memoir of my hears in the cheerleading world and what I learned. How the sport is different now and thoughts for the future.

What I do know is general size. I want to write books in a size and format that I enjoy. I don’t want to do big books unless they are picture books. I want my books to be smaller. I’m thinking of A Drive into the Gap Size or Wildsam Field Guides. Something pocket size. I’m unsure why this is so important, but it is.

My ask here is that if there is something you think I should write, please reach out and let me know as I begin to figure out what this project will look like.

Voice

I have a choice
Of whether to use my voice

Whether to speak up loud
Or hide in the crowd

To share my ideas abound
Or take them to the ground

I choose to share
Not entirely sure where

But quiet is not me
I’ll shout with glee

There are things to say
So I start this day.

Zack’s Birthday Thai Massage Shindig, March 20th

At this time of year in 2020, I was planning my birthday party. I wanted to take over a large space and bring everyone I knew together and do a giant Acroyoga class. Of course, as COVID-19 spread, this entire idea fell apart. The last thing you can do in an COVID-19 world is touch everyone as closely as possible and do some giant super spreader event.

A year has past, and I have done very little Acroyoga. I’m super rusty. I want to dust off my practice and start with the part of the practice that I was really getting into last year, the Lunar side. Thus I’ll bring to you my plans for my birthday this year.

Doing three sessions on Saturday, March 20th! At different times throughout the day so it should probably work with you no matter what.

East Coast Class TimePacific TimeLinkFacebook Event
9:30 am to 11 am6:30 am to 8 amZoom LinkFacebook Event
2 pm to 3:30 pm11 am to 12:30 pmZoom LinkFacebook Event
5 pm to 6:30 pm2 pm to 3:30 pmZoom LinkFacebook Event

The proposed format is something like the following, but I reserve the right to revise it as we get closer to the session. I suggest switching partner, but if you can somehow convince your partner that you are the only one to receive you can get the massage sequence twice.

Time in MinutesPersonFlow
0 – 15Partner 1 ReceivesProne
15-30Partner 2 ReceivesProne
30-45Partner 1 ReceivesSupine 1
45-60Partner 2 ReceivesSupine 1
60-75Partner 1 ReceivesSupine 2 – Hips
75-90Partner 2 ReceivesSupine 2 – Hips

Zack’s Thai Massage Birthday Shindig

It’s a Thai massage class on Zoom run twice on Saturday,March 20th. There will be one in the morning and one in the afternoon/evening. Times still to be determined. Through Zoom, I’ll be guiding you through a Thai massage sequence.

For Thai massage, you bring a partner and each learn how to give and receive a Thai massage. Yes, you will need to provide your own partner. This will be run in groups of two. While Thai massage does involve touch, this does not mean you need to use a romantic partner. Your partner can be a friend or even one of your kids. 

The general format is 15 minutes for the first person to give the massage, and then you switch. I’m planning on two three rounds of switching, so the entire class will be an 1.5 hours. The way I’m scheduling it, the first section will be least invasive and easiest, and the last session will be the most difficult. The goal is to give you a taste of the experience, and if you enjoy it you can stay on. If you decide it’s not for you, there are really great opportunities to drop off throughout the class.

You will need just a little bit of floor space. You will want to lay down some sort of mat like a yoga mat. The more space you have around the mat the better, but I’m going to be doing this in my living room with about 2 feet on each side of the mat. I recommend a computer or an iPad to see the moves if you’ve never done Thai massage. Phones are great for seeing faces, but I’m going to be doing a little more involved movement. Also, if you have a small pillow for your knees, that would be helpful but not required.

Clothing wise, those sweatpants you wear to work are a great option. You might also want to bring layers and socks. When you are receiving Thai massage, it helps to dress warm because you will be very passive. When you are the one giving the massage, you tend to generate some heat, and so taking off a layer or two might be helpful.

There are several reasons, but one of them is that Thai massage is about communication. It’s about contact and touch, it’s about talking to others and being present. In this space where we have been stuck in space with a limited number of people, sometimes we don’t take the time to really listen to those we interact with. Let’s reconnect with those around us and do so with some Thai massage.

IT’S FREE!!! There is no cost to coming to the class at all. My goal is to get people into this practice. You have no excuse not to attend.

After the class, if you feel like you would like to tip me, you can do so by sending money to 826 National, which is a nonprofit that helps kids with writing, both creative and otherwise. For those of you who don’t know, I was diagnosed with a reading and writing disability in 3rd grade and was given excellent help to be where I am today. Not everyone has that opportunity, and 826 National is trying to help those with less resources. You can find out more about them and donate here.

St. Patty’s Day Party

It’s been a year since most of us started quarantining, and while there are many things we can’t do, we can still drink and celebrate the holiday. Teryn and I are hosting a St. Patty’s Day Zoom on Wednesday, March 17, at 7:30 PM Eastern until about 10 PM. Zoom link below. Depending on the number of people who show up, we will do some fun breakout rooms and a couple of other little games for the participants.

Happy St. Patty’s Day!


Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84284311664?pwd=U1BRcWNxYTJLUGRXUC9lSHhOdUE3dz09

Making a T-Shirt

I had the idea for writing this post a couple of weeks ago, but then I picked up Twenty Bits from Dan Cedarholm, and his first tip is about making a T-shirt. That solidified that I needed to write this post.

I’m a computer person. I spend 95% of my days in a simple T-Shirt. I do have some plain shirts, but most of mine have sort of graphic on them. I guess my obsession with them started in college when I would get about 12 a year in college for my cheerleading team. Each shirt would have a different design on it.

Once I got out of college and started running my own high school team, I was in charge of making the shirts for those team. I started to learn about brands, as well as printing and designing the shirts. The more I did that, the more I learned about how different cuts and fabrics feel. As with most things in my life, once intrigued, I dove into the research of what was best.

I had once found it in American Apparel Tri-Blend shirts, but then the company (for good reasons) went out of business. I’ve had to do some research to stay up on what works best in my opinion. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned over my decades of making shirts. Hopefully, it might help some people.

About shirts, fabrics, and cuts

First thing to talk about when it comes to a shirt is the weight. T-shirts come in many different weights. Some are light weight and some are heavy weight. Light weight shirts are great for working out and summer days, but some say they aren’t warm enough for winter months. Heavy weight shirts wear on the body and sometimes feel stiff and hard to move in. Which shirt weight you want will depend on what you are looking for. My preference usually tends towards the lighter shirts, as I use these mostly as a base layer and will put stuff over top.

Fabric is another factor of how a shirt fits. There are shirts that are 100% cotton and various blends. There is also a thing called ring spun cotton. Different blends will have different textures and different stretch patterns. Depending on the shirt, my preference is either a 60 / 40 cotton poly blend or a ring spun cotton option.

The last little piece to talk about is the cut. Some shirts have longer arms, some are longer in the torso. There is also the whole notion of unisex vs men’s and women’s shirts. All of this is a factor. As someone who made cheerleading shirts for mostly women, the female cut shirts were a big deal.

Shirts and brands I trust

Whenever I go to print a shirt I start with a design idea, but I’ll talk about that later. Once the design is determined, the next step is to find the shirt. There are several go to brands that are great places to start. Next Level is one of the brands that I use a bunch of the time. There Tri-Blend shirts tend to be my favorite on the market. These shirts are light and very flexible. They fit naturally over the body and are super comfortable to wear. These shirts are also in the relatively affordable price range for making a bunch.

Another shirt that I love—but have not been able to get a big enough quantity to do some screen printing on—is The Blanks from Cotton Bureau. I enjoy the fit of their shirts so much. They are probably the most comfortable shirts I own. I usually get them with one the designs, but I do have a couple of blanks I’ve gotten throughout the years. These shirts are breathable, a pretty great weight (not too light, not too heavy), and seem to wear really well. The downside, they are expensive and hard to get a hold of.

Other brands that I have a passing familiarity with in terms of shirt include: Bella, Guildan, and Fruit of the Loom. None of these shirts have really impressed me enough to point where I look for them when I first start creating a shirt.

If none of these options really match what you’re doing, work with a representative of the printing shop to figure out what they would recommend. These people spend much more time than you building out shirts. They know the brands they have in stock, and if you are able to answer the weight and style questions, they are usually pretty good at helping you find your options.

Ink, Colors, and Locations

Another factor in the cost of a T-shirt is the number of colors and locations. I’m not a screen printer, but as I understand it, colors are layered on. Each layer requires its own screen. Creating a screen has a cost. Changing which screen is on the machine has a cost. If you want to print more than just on the front—for example putting a logo mark on the back of the neck—you have to pay for another screen and another print. All of these costs go into your final shirt design. For this reason, most of my shirts are single color, single location prints.

This is a two color print. One for the black and then another for the white.

Shipping

One T-shirt is light. 100 T-shirts starts to get heavier. When trying to make an economical T-shirt, shipping can really add up. For this reason, if I’m making a smaller number of shirts, it might make more sense to find a local screen printer than pay for shipping, even if the cost per shirt is higher. You can just search for “Screen Printing Near Me” and find some good results. Most shops will give you a quote if you know the shirt, colors, and locations of prints.

Print Shops

The shop that I’ve used the most recently is the Golden Road Ink. I worked with a sales rep named Kyle, but he has since moved on. They had good connections to get the shirts I wanted, had pretty quick turn around (even doing a couple of super fast jobs for me), and reasonable pricing. They are a Bay Area local place. Currently, I’m not in the Bay Area, and I don’t have a new printer where I am now, yet.

I have in the past used Threadbird. This is the shop that Dan Cederholm uses. Depending on the number of shirts you are doing and the features you want, I’ve found that with the shipping they aren’t always at the same cost level of getting it done locally, but they do VERY good work.

Designs

Some places will take a rough sketch and turn it into a design for you. I’m a little more controlling than that. My designs are usually illustrator vector files. This allows me to really have control over what I’m doing. I will shrink it down the actual size of the print to make sure details still match what I want. Remember, you need to have a design that works on all the sizes of the shirts you are making. If you are making an XXS and an XXXL you might want to have two different sizes of the same print (though this will add cost). The chest area is different on each of these sizes. What might take up the whole shirt on the XXS will be a patch in the center of the XXXL.

Another point worth making, CONVERT all TEXT to OUTLINES. If you are using a special font, your printers may not have it. They may choose one that is recommended, and it may look close enough for you or it may not.

The End

Hopefully, this article will be helpful to others, but even if it isn’t, maybe it will remind me not to make the same mistakes I’ve made when making shirts in the past. It’s not exactly a how-to do this; it’s more of a how-to think about making shirts.

Crazy Nick

Crazy Nick and I stopped in Worcester on our back back home.

This is one of the last photos I have of Crazy Nick.

This photo was taken on August 28th while we were zooming around the east coast in his airplane. Several days later Nick died flying the plane in the background in Shenandoah National Park. (https://www.nps.gov/shen/learn/news/plane-crash.htm). I’ve been afraid to talk about it, because I’m afraid of my mom finding out. If she did, she would go crazy that I was in a plane several days before it crashed. I’m scared. I’m wondering if I did something super irresponsible, but I’m very grateful I took the day off to fly with him and spend one last day with him.

You see, we were working on this big project at work. It was consuming most of my hours and even though Nick arrived on Wednesday and we had planned on going out Thursday, he needed a new alternator in the plane, so we had to put our plans on hold for a day. When the project leader found out I would be out one day he was okay with it. When it got shifted from Thursday to Friday and a deadline was looming, there was some pressure to not take the day. I stood my ground and had a wonderful day with Nick. We made it Bar Harbor, ME. We stopped in New Hampshire, and an interesting time trying to find fuel on our way back in VT, and stopped by in Worcester, which is where this picture was taken. We made it home at like 11 pm. It was an awesome crazy amount of flying, and a great adventure.

That was Nick. Mr. Adventure. I met him at Philly Phlight several years before. It’s an intermediate Acro festival and he and his partner were in my house. We connected and had a grand old time together. I even went down and visited his place in San Luis Obispo (SLO) and was part of putting together an Acro festival with him before covid made us cancel our plans. Nick had a go grab the life by the horns and try the crazy thing mentality, and I ate it up.

He passed flying his plane, and it is sad that I won’t get to play with him again (term we use for doing Acro with others), or fly with him, or just talk about the challenges of life. He will be in my memory and he will inspire me to try to see the joy in the adventure and look for new ones.

I will miss my friend Nick.

Nick, with a busted knee still doing Acro, basing me in a shoulder stand. This Is the type of crazy stuff Nick would do. I will miss him.

Bourbon

Bottles of Bourbon

I lived in Kentucky for a year when I was 16 years old. As I started to drink alcohol, around the age of 23, I started to learn that I had an affinity for a drink often know to hail from the region of the United States called Bourbon. Now, all whiskey is not bourbon, but all bourbon is whiskey. It’s a subclass of whiskey. I’ve heard several differentiations of what constitutes bourbon, from where it is made, to the ingredients to, and several others. The thing is, I don’t really care about that. What I care about is that it is a drink that I enjoy. I enjoy drinking it on the rocks. I know it waters it down the whiskey, but if it is how I like it, why is it wrong?

This is about a story, and I’m fine sharing it, because I don’t think anyone really reads my posts. A couple of years ago, some of my friends moved to California and for their move in, I brought over a bottle of Bourbon. I didn’t know which one to get, so I bought one called Blanton’s. It turned out that we really enjoyed the bottle. I’ve ordered it since, but haven’t really bought another bottle. That is, until the same friend said that she was having trouble finding a bottle for sale anywhere. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked past a bottle for sale at about $60.

That is why when my friend asked me to get her a bottle if I found it, I thought it was going to be an easy request to honor. Turns out not. I’ve been looking and haven’t seen a bottle. So I started to call around and see what I could find here in Rhode Island. I called 4 liquor stores that I thought might carry it, and none of them had it.

It turns out that over the past couple of years, bourbon has been becoming harder to get a hold of. Bottles that were in the fifty dollar price range have shot up a ton. I know this is my liquor of choice, not scotch, or rum. So I am committed to learning more about this drink. Yes, I kill it with ice. Yes, at this point I don’t really know what I’m talking about when it comes the drink. But there was a time when I didn’t know a thing about coffee either and now all my friends describe me as a coffee snob.

So I guess what I’m trying to say, is here to diving into yet another area to learn enough become a whiskey snob.

Fonts

Does anyone else obsess about fonts? I mean, I know there are graphics designers and various other people who go nuts about them, but I’m wondering in general is a large portion of population or just clustered around my friends?

While I have fonts that I go to, and I enjoy the Macklemore song where he calls out “Gold Fonts”, I don’t really know as much about them as I feel I should. Fonts are so powerful. They help words take shape. They can help you easily identify words or make text incredibly hard to read. As someone with a reading disability, pattern recognizing a signature of word is a trick I use to read a little bit faster. Good fonts can help that, bad fonts can hurt that.

I had a realization the other day (I think the shower), that I want to change my lack of real understanding around fonts. I want to study and understand them. I want to know Font Families by name and style.

Lets start with one font that I’ve discovered and now paid for a professional license for. MonoLisa is a mono spaced font that I’ve set up as the default in all my editors. It is cleaner and easier to read. It is not free, but it’s worth paying for good things, even digital things. Hopefully soon I’ll find a way to tie it into the code boxes that I have on this site, but in the mean time. This font is helping my day to day in my various editors. It’s a mono spaced font, meaning that each character takes up the same amount of space on the x axis. This makes columns as you line up you type. Not all fonts have the same spacing for all letters.

Here is another reason why this is important to me. I have had a reading a writing disability that was diagnosed around the 3rd grade. I’m not sure, but it feels like one of my tactics for getting around this is memorizing word shapes. Fonts do affect the shapes of words, so some fonts are more readable for me and others are not.

So next up, becoming a type master. I have a lot of learning to do. What is the difference between a font and typeface? How does one pick the perfect kerning for a set of lettering? I have a bunch of typefaces to learn about.

Let me know if you have any tips, suggestions, or favorite fonts!

What?

Cat with quizzical look on face

What?
What?
What do you want now?
Your have such high demands on me.
All I want to do is sit here and be calm.
To enjoy my day leisurely with the luxury that is deserved to me.
So what? What can I do for you before I go back to my cat nap.