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Barns, Old Buildings, and Roadside Ephemera in Middle America Sept. 2008

Here is a quick slide show of my trip to Indiana last week. Photos are not cropped or titled yet. If you click on an image, it takes you to the full size Picasa slide show.

Printing Builders of the Pacific Coast and a Journey to the Heartland of America

I was in Kendalville, Indiana, last week to see Builders of the Pacific Coast get printed. It was the final step in what turned out to be a 3-year project.

Here are the press men who printed the book:

It was printed on a manroland Lithoman IV web offset press that is like a streamlined locomotive. It's computer-controlled by a maze of electronic circuitry. It's amazing to watch these guys run around making constant computer (and occasionally mechanical) adjustments while the paper streams through the rollers. The guys who run presses are a breed apart, smart, skilled, and on the ball. No mistrakes while you're running a machine like this.

They started at 9:00 AM Wednesday and ran for about 24 hours, with the two crews. By midnight I was exhausted and went to bed and left the last 48 pages up to their discretion. By then the colors were nailed. The next day there was a buzz in the plant, that this book was special. Jeez, does it look good.! I think we gained some good karma by going with recycled paper in the USA rather than Indonesian paper in China, even if it cost $12K more. In evolving toward recycled paper, I learned that much of China's paper comes from destroying Indonesian rainforests; also that all the goods shipped from Asia come on ships burning filthy polluting fuel because there are no pollution rules on the high seas. It 's really hard for publishers of 4-color books to not print in low-cost Asia, but maybe planetary damage should be factored into the cost comparison.

This book is a lot different than Home Work, which was a scrapbook of 20 years' accumulated materials. This new book has a theme, builders of the relatively small 1000-mile long stretch of the Pacific Coast from British Columbia down to San Francisco. When I travel, I think of having the reader ride shotgun with me, seeing what I see, making the same discoveries, and having the same adventures. I hope this book can take readers along on these trips.

The book turned out, I gotta say it, drop dead gorgeous!

It will be in bookstores mid- to late-October. Yeah!

I had a great trip, haven't been in mid-America for 20 years. I drove about 700 miles in 4 days, mostly on small roads, avoiding the freeways, exploring when I had time. Corn as high as an elephant's eye, soybeans, old barns, small towns. I ended up shooting 280 photos with my little pocket camera (Olympus Stylist 1200). I was in my own special photographic heaven, wished I'd brought my Canon 20D, but still got some great pix. Ten beautiful barns, including a 100-year-old mortise-and-tenon round barn; small town homes on tree-shaded streets; old towns with 100-year-old 3-story brick masterpieces; a couple of pioneer log buildings. It made me want to make a cross-country trip before long. There's a lot out there. I'll try to put up some pix in the next week.

1840s pioneer cabin in Robe Ann Park, Greencastle, Indiana. Maintained by the Washburn chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution

The Kahnuna Big Stick: Paddling on the Pavement/ Bob Marley

I just wrote this review of a peripheral device for skateboarders in CoolTools:. Cooltools editor Steven Leckart turned me on to this device originally:

Sequence from Surfersvillage

The Kahuna Big Stick is a lightweight wooden shaft with fixed rubber wheels that allows a skater to push and pull while keeping balanced with both feet as opposed to pumping with one foot. On the level, it is way superior to foot-pumping. Even on uphills, I've found if I do a few foot pumps, then follow with a few paddles, it's faster and smoother. On slight downslopes and the flats, I can now get a lot more speed by not having to foot pump. It's got me skating a two-block section in town that used to be too slow. Plus, it adds an upper body workout to a sport that is mainly a leg workout. Surfers see me with it and invariably break into a grin; they instantly get it and are charmed. It really is unique. The day I got my 5' 6" Big Stick, I tried it out in a parking lot while getting gas. Boy! After about five tentative strokes, I started reaching out as far as I could, zooming around. Later that night I decided to skate in the streets (no cars). I got in a bunch of half-mile downhills in an hour. It is insane fun.
Check out the Youtube video of these Southern California dudes carving it up with Big Sticks: