Why you should move to West Chester, PA #4: NORTHBROOK CANOE COMPANY

Just a few minutes from West Chester, Northbrook is the pinnacle, the apotheosis, the ne plus ultra of summertime: Northbrook Canoe Company

Big Red Summertime Canoe Bus

Northbrook is absolutely everything you could possibly want in a canoe-rental outfit. Headquartered in an old stock-feed depot on the banks of the Brandywine, every sign in the place is a hand-painted one-off made by one of the many affable art students on staff, and BURSTING with Tripper Harrison bonhomie. Big, brawny schoolbuses pull trailers full of canoes — each with its own name — up the Brandywine, where you put in and float back down the river to the Northbrook Food Shack.

The Brandywine is cool (but not cold!), shady, and shallow (but not annoyingly so!) It’s the perfect river to paddle on with a five-year-old, with occasional stops to jump out of the canoe and splash around in the water, like we did today:


The West Chester Guerilla Drive-In showed the Bill Murray summer-camp classic “Meatballs” in the canoe barn at Northbrook on a rainy May night in 2007, and the atmosphere could not have been ANY better:

"Meatballs" at Northbook Canoe Company

Oh, and did I mention? The Northbrook Canoe Company is also the home of the Brandywine Scenic Railway, that will take you and your canoe ON A FLATBED TRAIN CAR up the river ON A TRAIN. For the past ten (twenty?) years, Northbrook has been trying to get the rights to do this once again, and it is my fondest wish ever that they are able to make this happen.

I’ve gushed about Northbrook several times before, but that’s just because it’s so fantastic. They open on May 3rd, with canoeing, kayaking, and tubing trips available. If you go, please be sure to say “hi” to Ezekiel C. “Zeke” Hubbard for me, who founded Northbrook in 1977, and is just about the awesomest guy ever. I’m warning, you, be prepared to come home humming “Are you Ready for the Summer?” the whole rest of the week.

Previous reasons why you should move to West Chester:

Why you should move to West Chester, PA #4: NORTHBROOK CANOE COMPANY

MEAT CARDS: The Timeline

Tuesday, April 21st, 11:40 AM EDT, in the Tikaro Interactive campfire chat room:

Randy S: My brain isn’t working today, what is the popular on-line place to get biz cards printed?
Chris C: overnightprints.com
Randy S: oh, nice, thanks!
Randy S: I was having trouble thinking of what to google for 😦
Chris C: yeah i had the same trouble a few weeks ago; hehe
Will R: “sweet business cards”
Will R: You would want to make them out of beef jerky or something, so they would keep.
Will R: Hmm
John Y: BEEF JERKY!!!!!!
John Y: *Pages Chris T.*

Wednesday, April 22nd, 10:00 AM EDT:

  • Master laser prototyper Chris Thompson completes the laser-etched beef jerky prototype, with his Twitter handle on it. We consider calling it “Tweetmeat”.
  • Chris describes the taste of the etched parts as “dry, kind of scorched, like burned meat.”
  • John registers “meatcards.com” and “tweetme.at”

Thursday, April 23rd, 12:00 PM EDT:

  • Randy shows off the meatcards prototype at Independents Hall show and tell
  • Worldwide launch of meatcards.com. Tagline: “Two ingredients: MEAT and LASERS.”

Friday, April 24th, 12:22 AM EDT

  • Meat cards dot com appears on BoingBoing. “Been Boinged” nerd merit badges all around!
  • UPS reports that four pounds of Giant Slab Jerky are on the way from Tillamook, Oregon.


PS. Does anyone have one of those vacuum-sealer bag thingies? And do we all have to get, like, food-handler certifications before we can re-sell cured meat…?

MEAT CARDS: The Timeline

Third Coworkout: N.C. Wyeth’s Man Cave Cathedral

The third Coworkout yesterday was awesome; we were at the Brandywine River Museum, and got to visit N.C. Wyeth’s AMAZING studio, filled with lots of Two-Fisted Teddy Roosevelt Man Stuff (there’s a rack by the door filled with matchlocks and an actual TOMMY GUN, and an enormous chest filled with the pirate costumes used in the Treasure Island paintings):

N.C. Wyeth's Studio

You can read more about our visit on the Coworkout site.

Third Coworkout: N.C. Wyeth’s Man Cave Cathedral

Embroidering p8tch QRCodes at the Lancaster Quilt Show

Embroidering a p8tch QRCode at the Lancaster Quilt Show

I’ve always wanted to have actually-embroidered QRCodes on my p8tches, but commercial embroiderers laugh me off the phone once they learn that each unit has a UNIQUE code. The overhead involved in setting up a design for embroidery is not trivial, and it takes time to stitch each design (commercial embroiderers use fifty-head machines, making fifty of the same thing at once.)

Kate and I went to the Lancaster Quilt Show today, and I stumbled on the booth that sells home embroidery machines (the ones you usually use to make Tigger baby blankets, or whatever.) They also have the digitizing software, which I was very interested to see.

The fellow at the Brubaker’s Sewing booth was REALLY awesome and helpful — he showed me how the digitizing software works It’s kind of a hybrid of Illustrator, PaintShop Pro, and, um… embroidery; there are lots of special commands, like "rotate area fill stitch direction" that don’t have an analogue in other software that I’ve seen.

He also showed me the machines, which as you might expect, are essentially big robotic printers.

The software imported the QRCode with one click: I used the sample LAHBG p8tch QRcode mentioned on the homepage of www.p8tch.com (the file itself is here.)

Then, he exported it as a .dst file, put it on a thumb drive, and fed it to the machine. The machine dutifully stitched away, until, 19 minutes later, the finished QRcode had been stitched into the muslin.

It was really cool. Now I TOTALLY understand why an embroiderer can’t possibly do a run of 100 p8tches, each with a unique QRCode, and charge me less than an arm and a leg.

The home version of the digitizing software retails for $2,500.00(!), and the full commercial version is sold for about $15,000.00(!!!)

Embroidering p8tch QRCodes at the Lancaster Quilt Show