North House says they teach “traditional Northern crafts,” but I like to describe them as a school of pre-industrial technologies. If you want to start with tree and an axe and end with a house, this is the place. The teachers tend toward pragmatism— in general, if the state of the craft has improved since pioneer days, the teachers embrace the improvements.
I used to participate in the weekly community bread-baking in the wood-fired oven:
The community bakes have mostly disappeared for lack of a quorum of local bread zealots (the foremost of which departed to run Farm and Sparrow outside Asheville, NC).
Summer solstice weekend always includes the Wooden Boat Show (in conjunction with the wonderful Wooden Boat Magazine), the Boats to Tools auction, the Chowder Chow-Down (a dozen or so restaurants each bring their favorite chowder. Ten bucks at the door gets you a bowl, a spoon and a napkin), lots of boat-related seminars, and the Solstice Pageant local and visiting families have spent weeks putting together (the pageant director hails from the storied Bread and Puppet / Heart of the Beast social nexus). Here’s the Flickr set.
Anders, Shoshanna and I walked down to Lake Superior last night and shot a video of the animation from Boggle and Sneak. Great animation, Mozhi! Shoshanna gets a combat medal for flipping steadily despite the mosquitoes biting her hands!
In a serendipitous voltpunk twist, the August 28, 1935 show tells the (fictional) account of a conversation between Mussolini and Marconi, regarding the wartime and peacetime uses of a ray gun Marconi has developed.
I had yesterday’s Times open at the breakfast table this morning, and saw this amazing story.
Evidently Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil hold the patent for frequency-hopping radio guidance. That’s basically the same technology that lets digital cellular avoid the type of easy eavesdropping that Scanner used to sample.
This early version of frequency hopping used a piano roll to change between 88 frequencies and was intended to make radio-guided torpedoes harder for enemies to detect or jam.
Got that? A piano roll, skipping among 88 frequencies! That’s the most awesome hack I’ve heard in ages! If your only tool is a piano, everything looks like a key, I guess. I often worry that computers impoverish our hackish imaginations.
The ‘punk’ part of ‘voltpunk’ is extremely problematic in this case, of course— since what Lamarr and Antheil were anti- in this case wasn’t -authority but -fascism. Punk or not, I’m always happy for hacks in the service of anti-fascism (particularly since our local brand of fascism has friends at the top).
My three-year-old daughter told me a story one evening about inventor trolls who travel to our house in jury-rigged vehicles and subject us to Rube Goldberg practical jokes. Boggle & Sneak is an extension of that story involving kidnapping, shoplifting, rapid prototyping and wiener ballistics. The hardcover includes awesome flipbook animation by Mozhi (watch it).
Boggle & Sneak
Sample chapter, downloads, Maker Faire videos and more after the jump:
He’s early. Too early for his usual train. But it’s cool this early. The roof tar is just barely warm to the touch.
He thinks about this. If the roof were still warm from the previous day—warmer than the early-morning air—and today’s heat made it warmer still, and it never cooled—each day growing a tiny bit warmer than the day before—three steps forward and two steps back—then by the end of summer…
He pictures the tar passing a threshold: turning to vapor, rising in waves, ignited by the tiniest spark—like a telephone call or the reflection from a lens…
I saw Retribution Gospel Choir (a side project of Alan Sparhawk from Low) at the Varsity Friday night, opening for Mark Kozelek. Best I could tell, Alan walked on stage already fully possessed and speaking in tongues. Imagine grabbing Raggedy Andy by the sacroiliac and shaking him as hard as you can while he sings about salvation and damnation and nothing in between. It was a little like staring at a flashbulb: a long after-image.
Mark Kozelek and Phil Carney (whom Mark never acknowledged on stage) played two hours of mid-tempo sixteenth-note patterns under Mark’s four-note recitative. Mark has a lovely voice, but all the songs were squeezed into the emotional range between amusement and ennui. As an artifact of marriage and fatherhood, I spend a surprising amount of time in the range between delight and jubilation, with occasional forays into fury and terror. I’m sure I’m still capable of amusement and ennui, but they are low-amplitude signals that get lost way down in the mix. This is the reason I spend so much of my time listening to second line: You and your children and your ninety-year-old aunt all march down the street and raise a finger to death.