2020 is over and I'm not even close to "recovered." I admit that the year went easy on my family. I am grateful. We're almost four weeks into 2021 and I'm finally done editing photos from the past 12 months. I took a lot of pictures, and this post is going to show some of my favorite photos/moments from a surprisingly quiet year.
This is the only photo of my son in this set. He was actually eager to get outside and see the weird combination of a snow covered field and thick fog. Even this was considered normal and he was in school. But not for long.
It was a weird year to be raising an even smaller kid who was learning how to walk/eat/everything. She tagged along with one of us for every adventure and every mundane task, usually without complaint. This was taken the day New York State basically shut everything down.
Spring didn't really happen. April was brutal and it snowed in early May. So when the weather got nice, it just turned straight to summer. This probably happens every other year, to be honest. The warmer weather gave us a little optimism for the pandemic, and socializing. We had friends and family in our yard around this fire at a safe distance on more than one occasion. But that feels like ancient history, now.
By June/July my wife and I figured out how to stay productive and not become burned out as a parent. Even before the pandemic we both often worked from home, but with a teenager and toddler, that became tricky. We decided to split up the day (this isn't a groundbreaking concept) where I would parent the one year old from breakfast until noon–when a nap usually happened–and Allison would take over from after the nap until dinner. It became a routine that we're still using.
Trips became rare. And with the new schedule I would go downtown almost exclusively in the mornings with a 20 pound kid in my arms. We would quickly grab coffee and a muffin from the only coffee shop in operation (with wide open windows and doors). It was sad. It still is sad.
Our chickens have been with us for over two years. We lost a few over that time period, but gained two from our farmer friend this year. And those newest hens (the red red ones) became my daughters favorites, probably because she could just pick them up–or try, at least–any time she wanted. The days got hot, so we made sure to feed them early in the day.
Of course we found ourselves here on our anniversary. Allison and I were married at this spot in 2016 and it never fails to be a beautiful day. Usually we don't have the farmers market to ourselves, but it was a nice treat this year.
To our south is a field that becomes hay bales. To our north is another field that also becomes hay bales. For the majority of the year the fields are foreground elements in a beautiful landscape that I'm lucky to call home. But every now and then we hear the rumble of the tractors and various accessories that transform the terrain. It's a useful reminder that the land here has value beyond aesthetics and home owning. Our house sits on 1.6 acres and each year we section off a new portion of that to just let go wild. We mow half of the grass that used to be cut short. Aspen trees are coming up on their own in one patch. We've planted a dozen other trees in various spots, maple, pine, and willow.
One of my favorite things about the warm, long days is that I get to go for a walk after dinner with my son. That on its own is enough of a reason to love these times. But because it's in the last hour or so of sunlight we're usually able to witness some beautiful skies. This particular photo was taken just as we got home from our walk and only a few minutes before a storm obliterated our hilltop.
And like that summer bled into fall. I'm always eager for this change. I wilt, not unlike our yard. My parents visited but stayed in a hotel, hanging out with us outside or for short periods inside with all the windows open. Our usual trip to Maine–where they're from and where I grew up–was cancelled. If you're going to be stuck somewhere for fall, though, Ithaca isn't a bad place. In the day there's lots of evidence of deer, bunnies, and migrating birds. Some nights we fall asleep to the sound of coyotes.
On Allison's birthday we drove all over town stopping at some favorite places (before this we were at a plant shop). Ithaca closed one block of Aurora Street which happens to be where most of the local restaurants are. It's nickname is restaurant row, so when closed it became the Aurora Streatery. Anyway, my tiny human loved having the wide open road to herself.
I want late October and early November to last forever. It's perfect for running, sleeping, basically anything except swimming, which I didn't even do this year. This October I left Instagram, stopped playing video games, biked indoors on rainy days, and starting writing a novel. I knew that the transition to winter would be rough so I tried to prepare a little in advance.
Our dog Yoshi puts up with a lot. She gets crawled on, but she also gets a lot of floor scraps (thanks to her best friend, the toddler). We've been experimenting with off camera flash at home for a few different photo sessions. This one just happened to involve putting my dog in a hoodie, which has happened successfully and without fuss on multiple occasions. Yoshi gets delicious treats after, and the whole world gets these photos after. Win/win.
These two kept our house sane and also very messy. Seriously, we would clean daily and it would last for only a few hours. But we ended December optimistic that Biden/Harris and the Democrats will turn things around in 2021. We didn't drink our way through the year although it was a tempting idea. I, however, ate my way through 2020. I'll do it again too, even if the pandemic lets up. When the pandemic lets up.
Most of these photos were taken with a Fujfilm XF10 which should be a consideration for anyone who wants photos better than their phone but doesn't want to dent their bank account. I found mine used on Ebay for under $400. Just sayin.
Don't worry, everything is fine with our pup Yoshi, this isn't a dog memorial note! In fact, I'm publishing this a week ahead of the third anniversary of our gotcha day. That's right, our three and a half year old mutt has been with us for three years 🐶
It's hard to believe I haven't published something like this before, sorry pup. Time flies. In fact, for Yoshi's first year, we didn't leave the house without having her on a leash. That might sound crazy since we're surrounded by fields, trees, and one low-traffic road. If she needed to go out, we went out too. But, it paid off, and she doesn't stray too far from our big backyard now when she is out.
Yoshi (with a different, less cool name) came from Texas in 2017 after a bad hurricane. I'm not sure how well she would have done down there anyway, because here in central New York when the temps hit 75ºF she flops down for hours at a time. She is in her element when it is 20ºF and snowy. Look at this good girl 👇
I took Yoshi on a lot of car rides in the early days. It turns out a lot of puppies get carsick, fun! Cool story: once on a quick 200 mile trip south she threw up four times (sorry girl). The veterinarian prescribed us an anti-nausea pill and when we gave that to Yoshi she didn't throw up but did drool uncontrollably for four hours. Luckily, someone recommended giving her Dramamine® and you know what? It works. Problem solved.
See how ferocious she is? Absolute monster. We had now idea how she would handle having a tiny human in the house, but to say it has gone well would be an understatement. It is because our dog loves everyone, and everything. She doesn't bark at other dogs, she tackle hugs them. Not every dog loves her back, though. See my in-laws pup below.
She's a perfect dog, in that she is a classic dog. She digs holes in the yard. We've had a few different shoes nibbled on. She'll grab food right out of your hand if you're not careful. I think she's exact average intelligence, doing some genius and idiotic things back to back. It's great.
Fun fact, those photos above were taken in the exact same spot, a year+ apart. Derp. Also, my wife and I both work from home (even before this pandemic) so ever day is bring your dog to work day. The dress code is biz cas, obviously.
The first time Yoshi went swimming was on a hot summer day on the Sassafras River in Maryland. It went well.
She is currently laying on the ground next to me, biting her nails. I'd say it is gross (mostly because of the sound) but neither of us wants me to trim them for her, so there you go. Also, do you brush your dog's teeth? Because the vet said we definitely have to and we definitely will not and I'm still laughing about it. We switched vets and the new place complemented her on a gorgeous set of chompers.
Not unlike parenting a human (which I'm OK at) this is a sweet spot in terms of age. She's outgrown some young habits and I realize Yoshi will get older and have new struggles. So I'm doing my best to enjoy playing with her inside and outside (she loves when we throw things for her) all the time. I know I've been giving her too many snacks lately. I know. She's just so stupid happy about it though.
Yoshi can be pretty serious though, don't let these smiles fool you. She is expressive as h*ck and will let you know that she's disappointed when you get to eat and she doesn't, or a door is closed. Or if you're nearby but not giving head rubs.
Reminder, she loves snow and the cold weather.
The fact that Yoshi lets a toddler constantly crawl on, snuggle with, and chase her is wonderful.
I could share a lot more, but that already feels like a lot. I have somewhat jumped around in terms of timeline with these pics, so I'll end this by sharing the first photo I took of her in our home.
You didn't come here for a hot take on a 20 year old album but that's what this is. Yesterday I saw a tweet, and it made me anxious. Because I'm still not sure where Kid A sits with me. Which would put me in the "meh" team, I guess. That piece is perfectly written and summarizes Kid A/Radiohead and that era perfectly.
Radiohead's Kid A was released 20 years ago. Is it the perfect soundtrack to the end times, or is its real legacy that it changed fandom?— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) October 1, 2020
Dueling essays from @mat (https://t.co/BDqB8wIv1n) and @elamin88 (https://t.co/rk4JYKc1FX) put everything in its right place.
I got the album on CD shortly after it was released. I was a first year college student, 400 miles away from home, and the guy I voted for in the presidential election had just lost even though he got more votes. It was weird times, and this album amplified all of that for me. Driving to and from college, alone, in the snow, with this album blasting...was a lot.
Everything In Its Right Place fades out, even. Huh? The National Anthem banger of a bassline is great for the first three minutes (it repeats itself for 5 minutes). I've got nothing good to say about In Limbo. I remember being very conflicted when I learned that the few notes in Idioteque were sampled from a 1973 song. Those are the weird bits. I also love those songs (except In Limbo). I still get goosebumps listening to Motion Picture Soundtrack. I even enjoy and am continually inspired by Treefingers .
When I went to a Radiohead concert for the first time in 2018 they played three songs from Kid A in a row. The setlist was weird as hell, but I'll remember it forever. That said, I didn't love that part of the show.
I actually enjoy this take on Kid A/Amnesiac, which is nice because those two albums should almost always be mentioned together. The problem with that reconstruction though is that it is missing Like Spinning Plates, which is a fantastic song.
I'll wrap this up by saying Kid A isn't my favorite Radiohead album. It isn't my least favorite, either. That's a tie between Pablo Honey or The King of Limbs (although Lotus Flower and Bloom were both phenomenal, live!). But my opinion on it hasn't really changed in 20 years. It hasn't gotten better, or worse. I think Hail To the Thief is criminally underrated, and In Rainbows slightly overrated (but still wonderful - it is the most accessible Radiohead album IMO). It's wild to me that I've been enjoying this band for over 20 years. Fingers crossed that they've got a few more albums left in them 🤞
Album scans from this blog post.
Once a month I'll inevitably get an email from Paypal saying that "a nice dafont visitor" threw a couple bucks my way. Almost always $5. It's awesome and absolutely unnecessary (because everything I have on dafont is 100% free or open source). It's also inspiring. I ultimately end up visiting DaFont and get lost in the variety and quantity of typefaces. So that's what this blog post is about. Buckle up, I'm handpicking some recent favorites that you can use for anything. Yes I downloaded, installed, and used these all 24 of these fonts to make the graphics below👇
A lot of these are attention getting display faces that might work best with only a word or two. SOME of them could work for far more than that, but the easiest way for me to quickly make this fun was to imagine that each of these badass dafonts represent signage for a food court restaurant. You know, all of a sudden you're in the wing of a mall where a few dozen places are vying for your attention/money, and because you're in a mall (or in this case DaFont) you're like "why the hell not?" Here we go, in order of how I found them...
Uppercase only, but that probably works in this font's favor. If this was an actual restaurant it'd probably cost a lot and be a tiny portion. But it'd be delicious, obviously.
Lowercase only, and some of the script connections don't work great, but it's definitely usable! And who doesn't love a smoothie place?!
It's got that weathered look which, in my opinion, screams bar food, or something. Pairs well with a beer, I'm sure. Lowercase and uppercase are the same, which is fine, really.
Not gonna lie, some of these letters are a bit of a stretch in terms of readability (the E, for instance, which is the most commonly used letter in the English language). But this one is super fun, memorable, and perfect in small quantities (unlike milkshakes which are perfect in any quantity).
A nice and round, pseudo-script font. Beautifully clean uppercase and lowercase letters. I'd love some alternates, here, but hey, it's free.
This is one of my favorites from this DaFont adventure. I love it. Soft with some nice chunks. So friendly, anything you type in it is just happy.
And now for something completely different. Monospace, no curves, cold as h*ck. But, sturdy and reliable.
I don't make or use script fonts like this. And they're everywhere. And they're all giving off the same Pinterest vibe for me. But this one is kind of nice and clean.
This is a pretty solid brush painted font. At first glance I thought it was House Slant (which I also love) but nah, this is something different and also beautiful.
Ok this is the first on the list from Vladimir Nikolic who apparently has 773 DaFonts. I can't even. What? A lot of them are complex like this and kind of mind-bending.
See what I mean? Another from Vladimir. I set each of these letters individually and rotated them slightly which – if this was my font – I would alter permanently. This font is so fun and unpredictable that having a sharp/hard baseline feels jarring.
12 Loded Diaper
I mean, I didn't even have to give this food court stop a different name. The font name works fine. It's the most DaFont of these DaFonts, if you know what I mean. But it absolutely has a place here.
I didn't expect to find a freebie from The Northern Block here, but it turns out they have a bunch of great stuff on DaFont. Cool. This is a lovely normal thing.
The name is rough, and it looks like each weekly free font on Creative Market, but you know what? It works. Also, I want Noodlebar to be a thing where I live. Maybe that's what I should start next.
I'm not sure why I felt like bacon worked with this blackletter, but that's what happened. Each of these "restaurants" kind of became a word association/first impression sort of design without being too obvious. But yeah, bacon.
I'm getting ready to see this on Soundcloud album art, for sure. When I first saw it I thought it was ripped from Future Fonts or Velvetyne, and maybe it WAS, but I don't think so. It certainly wouldn't be out of place at either website. Cool.
I can't remember the last time I sat in a coffee shop (because: pandemic). But when I did, I usually had a laptop. That's why cafes exist, right? Anyway, this has a typewriter vibe, but it is proportionally spaced, and inconsistently weighted. Those are all fun things, I'm just sayin.
Vlad! Friend! You're back! I mean, this thing is detailed. Shrink it down enough and it's almost solid. But I bet it would print out real nice. Also, I'm almost always craving Thai food.
19 Donut Icons
No name is necessary when you've got DONUTS. This font has no letters, just tons of different donuts. I deem it essential in your graphic design toolbox.
20 Bat Fight
Talk about a hidden gem. I'm not sure the legality here, but you might be safe to use it for anything. I'm just copying/pasting the description because it is so cool: Bat Fight is a collection of 72 Bat Fight words used in the hit 60s TV show Batman, hand traced from the screen using the iPad Pro. I'm not sure what food KAPOW! would have, but it'd probably be hot and painful.
A seriously swishy cursive brush font. It has some nice contrast and is pretty welcoming. I do love the angle that it is leaning, too.
This one is interesting because it is handmade, but also very square. I don't think you see those two things together very often. If it had alternates I'd be using it for something, for sure.
Bravo Mr Nikolic, you've contributed 4 fonts to this list! Turkish comes in a few different styles, and they're all cool. But this one seemed to work the best. Still, it might be hard to read, even at a large size. Worth the risk, IMHO.
Thought I'd leave out a sushi place? No way. Why this font? I can't really say, honestly. It's the last one on the list, which might mean something. This was my stopping point. Still, it has some very nice curves and is conveniently wide.
Did I get lazy with some of these layouts/lockups? Sure. But I kept everything black on white and let the font do the talking with only rotating/scaling text. I might have kerned a pair or two, ok? But I didn't outline anything or make adjustments. These fonts are cool, I promise.
Why am I doing this? I'm thrilled that two of my ETC typefaces just hit Google Fonts, and GF is better than ever, to be honest. 1000+ typefaces there, and literally hundreds of them are ridiculously high quality, full featured, AND open source. It's wild. But, it was FUN making this. I had FUN browsing DaFont. Which is why I got into all of this over 15 years ago to begin with. I don't always browse Google Fonts for fun, I browse it because I need something reliable. DaFont is the exact opposite for that, for me. I'm there for entertainment and maybe something a little wild. That said, this made for a great exercise. Feel like you're in a rut? Find something fun on DaFont and design something with it.
Future typography students of mine, this might be an assignment some day, we'll see. Like what you see? Tell me on Twitter: @typeler 👋
Other changes? I've removed Google Analytics from this site, and every site I manage (that isn't a client site). Not only that, I trashed my analytics profiles. All my stuff is tracker-less now. No more stats. I'm sure my pages will load a tiny bit faster, but there's just too much snooping and to be honest, having analytics for almost 10 years now has resulted in stress and frustration that I don't need. I haven't "made it" as a result of having used analytics. I wouldn't say my career has benefited at all knowing that someone in China stole my Kirby theme (true story). I feel slightly lighter by not knowing anything about visitors, referrals, and content stats, and happier by not burdening the visitor with tracker junk.
I installed a night mode (dark) theme on this blog, which should transition depending on your personal settings. However, the moon button in the upper left hand corner can toggle it. I don't love light text on dark background for long form reading (unless the text is huge) so it's a dark text on darker background theme. I'm still tweaking it, but it works for now. If only I had analytics to tell me what time of day people are reading this?! I kid.
The last part of this big update: I brought back some older blog posts! When I transitioned from Wordpress to Kirby in 2018 I left out a bunch of photo-heavy stories. Well, they're back now, along with some video posts. I'm particularly fond of the four hiking trips that are now here: Mount Marcy / This is Giant / Madison in Winter / White Hike
Anyway, you can browse this big blog better than ever, now. I'm excited to keep working on it and updating things. I'm hoping to bring some sort of tagging system for easier navigating, but we'll see.