Electric Forest 2022 Bandanas

Posted by: Ryan 2 days, 23 hours ago
Categories: Projects

After making custom bandanas for our wedding favors last year, we brought a few of them to Hulaween to gift to other friendly festival attendees.  It was fun to have something to share, so I decided to do another bandana project for Electric Forest this year.

While the wedding bandana was made entirely by hand, I chose to do the art digitally this time around using an app called procreate.  This allowed me to make better use of interlocking patterns and duplication.  It also allowed me to make more mistakes, because erasing doesn’t leave marks on the paper when you’re working on a tablet.

I did all of the art in a single day.  Then I wasted about two weeks negotiating with a screen printer who ended up not even wanting the work order (beyond frustrating).  I had to scramble to get another printer lined up, but it all ended up falling into place.  I was very happy with the final product that was delivered.  I ended up ordering two color variants of the same print: black/green and black/gray.

The art features many of the familiar attractions at Electric Forest, along with various iconography from festival culture.  I put the festival dates and location on the bandana, but I didn’t write “Electric Forest” explicitly; I know this bandana is technically impeding on their intellectual property, and I figured I wouldn’t push the limit.

Similar to the wedding bandana, we tie dyed these bandana right in our apartment.  This time, we only tie dyed about 1/3 of the bandanas (so we could gift plenty of standard bandanas too). We chose to use pink, orange, and blue dyes, which seemed to play well together.

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Comet Catch-up: Hulaween 2021

Posted by: Ryan 3 days ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life Music Travel

A few weeks after our wedding, Jessica and I went on our Honeymoon to the Hulaween music festival in Live Oak, Florida.  This is the same music festival that we got engaged at in 2018. This was actually our third time going to Hulaween, and this was our first music festival since 2019.

This music festival was unbelievable. As-in, I legitimately couldn’t believe that it was happening. We left our apartment wearing masks (as was required by our property managers), flew in an airplane wearing masks, then spent four days maskless partying with tens of thousands of sweaty Floridians. It was a bizarre departure from the “new normal” that we had been living in.  In hindsight, neither of us got sick, so I guess we weren’t being too careless or anything.

Below is a list of highlights and other noteworthy memories from Hulaween 2021:

Looking forward to going back in 2022!

Comet Catch-up! This post is related to something that happened in October 2021. I took an unplanned 16-month hiatus from blogging, and these Comet Catch-up posts cover some of the things that happened in my life during that time. Thanks for reading!

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Comet Catch-up: Wedding Bandana

Posted by: Ryan 3 days ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life Projects

I don’t remember when or how we decided to make custom-designed bandanas for our wedding favors. But, the decision felt right to us because it allowed us to share a little bit about ourselves and push forward the themes/aesthetics of the wedding, all while using a medium that is near and dear to our hearts (if you didn’t know, we collect bandanas for our dog, Violet).

In the beginning, I photographed all of my favorite bandanas from Violet’s collection, then studied them to figure out what design aspects I liked and disliked.  I quickly learned that I preferred traditional bandana designs, which tend to have concentric borders and intricate floral designs.  Execution-wise, I decided to draw the bandana at 1:1 scale with ink on thick card stock.  This plan minimized the need for post-production in photoshop.

The design consisted of the following:

After completing all drawings, I made high-quality scans, imported them into photoshop, made use of some copy-and-paste (leveraging symmetry), then did a few touch-ups.

Then, I went to the screen printers! Screen printing manufacturers tend to be hard to work with.  But, for this specific project, the coordination was a breeze and the prints looked great on the first try.

The tie dye process was a whole other operation. Jessica and I started doing test runs before the final bandanas even arrived.  We tested a wide range of color combinations and ratios, measuring and documenting along the way.  Getting the dye colors right was a lot harder than we initially thought it would be. We wanted to have rust and gold colors (to match our wedding theme colors) - but we found that those colors would very easily look like blood and pee.  After a lot of iterations, we decided to go with a light blue and a light peach color. We kept the colors light because we wanted the art to stay visible.

When it was time to do full scale production, we the process all worked out.  We only had our little apartment to work in, so we built many small workstations in Tupperware containers. That allowed us to dye/rinse/dry all of the bandanas in one big batch.

We were really happy and proud of these wedding favors.  We put a lot of time and energy into them, but it was a fun project for us. We enjoyed being able to share the little bits and pieces of our lives depicted on these bandanas with our guests.


Comet Catch-up! This post is related to something that happened in October 2021. I took an unplanned 16-month hiatus from blogging, and these Comet Catch-up posts cover some of the things that happened in my life during that time. Thanks for reading!

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Comet Catch-up: Wedding Specification

Posted by: Ryan 3 days ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life

Weddings are complicated, and planning them is hard to do.

This is something Jessica and I learned when we planned our first wedding, which was supposed to be in June 2020.  The COVID pandemic canceled that plan, so we ended up planning an entirely different wedding for October 2021.  Both of these weddings required a lot of hands-on planning because they were at restaurants (which don’t really have “canned” wedding execution plans like other more well-established venues).

In the engineering world, when you’re coordinating a large project where many people must collaborate to produce a single unified outcome, versioned documents and drawings are used to keep everyone aligned.  For example, to make a building, you need construction drawings and construction specifications.  For our wedding in 2022, we chose to adopt this idea and apply it to our wedding.

We ended up making a 27-page Wedding Specification, which was shared in-full with all people with a role in the wedding.  It had sections with contact info, timelines, set-up, tear-down, music, photography, and everything in between. The document covered the entire weekend, including Friday and Sunday activities.  We had a few separate documents that were shared with a more exclusive group of people; for example, we only shared the script for our ceremony with people directly involved in the ceremony so it could still feel special to others.

We got a lot of positive feedback on the spec, especially from our vendors who seem to constantly be hungry for more information from their clients.  They liked being able to see the big picture.  And our spec seemed to have done a good job at providing that information because Jessica and I were only contacted only once during the wedding set-up with a question (which honestly was already answered in the spec).

We’ll admit that writing the document in construction specification format was tongue-in-cheek, but we still recommend anyone planning a wedding makes a similar document!  It saved us time in the long run, and it contributed to a well-executed wedding. It definitely reduced our stress knowing that all of our wedding contributors would be able to collaborate without us, and the spec is what allowed that to happen.

Comet Catch-up! This post is related to something that happened in 2021. I took an unplanned 16-month hiatus from blogging, and these Comet Catch-up posts cover some of the things that happened in my life during that time. Thanks for reading!

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Comet Catch-up: Our Wedding

Posted by: Ryan 3 days ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life

On October 9, 2021, I married my best friend and longtime partner Jessica. It was a magical day that I will never forget.

I have a nice, detailed blog post written about our wedding day, but unfortunately it’s saved on a different device that is not with me. This is a placeholder! Check back soon for the full post.

Comet Catch-up! This post is related to something that happened in October 2021. I took an unplanned 16-month hiatus from blogging, and these Comet Catch-up posts cover some of the things that happened in my life during that time. Thanks for reading!

[Photography credit: Rory McCann]


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Bon Iver

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 5 months ago
Categories: Music

Spotify doesn’t do a great job with new music discovery.  Their personalized “Discover Weekly” playlists were once groundbreaking - and while they’re still good, it seems like the technology hasn’t evolved in a long time. I’m ready for the next big thing in music discovery - and while I wait, I’ll be listening to a lot of Bon Iver.

Bon Iver (which is principally just a stage name for the front man, Justin Vernon) makes delightful music.  It’s wild to hear how his music evolves and shifts from album to album, all while maintaining a consistent sonic quality rooted in sparse, patient, and emotional folk - even when the core sound diverges into rock and electronic.

If you haven’t listened to Bon Iver; if you’re interested in a musical journey; if you’re open to new and different sounds; and if you have a lot of time on your hands - then buckle up and turn it up. You’re in for a treat.

I’d definitely recommend listening in chronologic order starting with the first album, “For Emma, Forever Ago” (2008).  Don’t skip the 2009 four track EP, “Blood Bank”.  The self titled 2011 album “Bon Iver” is beautiful and has a warmer and more fully-developed sound than the rest of his music.  Things start getting particularly challenging (and rewarding) in the 2016 album “22, A Million” where his well-established folk sound gets married with an aggressive, dark, esoteric electronic backdrop.  It’s weird, it’s excellent, but it’s probably not good background music - at least not during your first listen.

I’m convinced that everything he touches turns to gold. Check out the last track on Taylor Swift’s latest album, Evermore.  Swift spins her wheels on this tune for two and a half minutes until Vernon jumps in, changes up the melody, lays down some passionate poetry, knocks it out of the park, and then ducks out of the track after about 60 seconds.  That’s a virtuoso.

Is there a line that I can just go cross?

-Bon Iver

Enjoy! And let me know if you have a good music discovery tool!

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Last Christmas

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 6 months ago
Categories: Music

Please enjoy this memory from Christmas 2019!

It was Saturday December 7th.  Jess and I were in Union Square in Somerville for a night out.  Our friend Abby was DJing at a club called The Canopy Room - which Jess and I had never been to.

We got to Somerville a little early. It was a cold night, so we decided to head right to The Canopy Room.  We were surprised to see that it was jam packed. We could hardly fit in the door, but we squeezed in anyways to get out of the cold.

As we passed through the door, I immediately noticed something unexpected. Instead of thumping dance music I heard a soft guitar.  I peered around a curtain blocking off the doorway to see the club. It was crammed with people, all sitting down on little pillows on top of criss-crossing oriental rugs. The room was smaller than expected, with tapestries, paper lanterns, string lights, and potted plants lining the walls and ceiling.  A trio of young women were playing guitar and singing a unplugged cover of Last Christmas by George Michael.  It was the warmest coziest place.  We overheard that it was a private show, but we justified staying for the rest of the song because leaving mid-song would cause a disturbance.

After a few minutes we were back into the cold. We found shelter at a nearby brewery, then looped back to The Canopy Room for Abby’s show. By then, the room had dimmed lights and dancing. But it still had remnants of cozy.  I recall seeing a massive pile of jackets on a couch, and it made the club feel like a dorm party.  It was a fun night.

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Thanksgiving 2020

Posted by: Ryan 1 year, 7 months ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life

I took an unplanned year-long hiatus from blogging - What up with that?

Well, I don't know.  One of my favorite aspects of the blog is that it brings structure and meaning to my personal projects/hobbies - and my hobbies have been on the back-burner for the last 12 months.  My professional workload has been high; plus, Jess and I have been on a board game kick recently - perhaps some board game blog posts are in the future.

Let's face it - 2020 has been unusual.  Jessica and I are fortunate because we both kept our jobs.  Plus, for the first time ever, our rent didn't increase.  Many people said that 2020 was a year to reinvest in yourself.  For me, that definitely happened, and it was professional growth.

I hope I get back into the swing of regular blog posts.  But...I'm not going to commit to that.  If 2020 taught me anything, it's that I should just play the hand I'm dealt - and that I don't have any idea what cards are even in the deck!  We've drafted some loose plans for the next few years; the current world requires us to plan with a lot of flexibility.  We are excited to put those plans into action.  A wedding is certainly a part of those plans.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

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Thoughts on a Wedding that Didn't Happen

Posted by: Jessica 1 year, 11 months ago
Categories: Family, Friends, & Life

June 20th, 2020 was supposed to be our wedding day. The date itself was special to us. It was our 10 year anniversary of dating, the 6/20/20 had a good ring to it, and it was just a few days prior to one of our favorite events of the year, the Electric Forest Music Festival which was slated to be our honeymoon. The date worked too for all of our vendors: the ceremony location, the restaurant for the reception, the photographer, the bakery, nearly everything had been locked in. We had started to receive decorations for the tables; we had decided on a drinks menu that had specialty cocktails representing our life together, and some of our favorite beers were being special ordered for our big day. We received a package of 70 final invitations that we spent hours deciding on, working with a graphic designer to coordinate with our save the dates perfectly, hand designed stamps, and pre-labeled envelopes for our loved ones. I got my wedding dress too.

One month later, it’s as if those plans evaporated, sucked into the vortex of 2020. By the beginning of April it was clear that a social gathering was not going to happen in June, especially not at a restaurant, so we awkwardly sent out wedding cancellation cards. Yes, they coordinated too. And to honor what would have been our wedding day, Ryan and I escaped into the woods and camped for a couple of days with our dog, Violet. Our friends spent some time with us on Zoom that night, celebrating with tiki drinks and glow sticks and acknowledging what we had lost. My mom sent me a really sweet note reminding me that someday we will be married and it will be special when that day comes. Ryan and I have since spent a lot of time talking about it too, what we want, what we don’t want, when will it be safe, and for how many. It’s been stressful and sad and overwhelming and all of the things that our wedding was not supposed to be.

I’m not sure if a wedding will ever happen for us, or at least one at the scale that we had intended. My wedding dress may never see the light of day and might be hanging in it’s garment bag forever; our decorations might get donated and our invitations might become kindling for our next camp fire. But then there’s also the important part: I haven’t been able to marry the love of my life. More than anything, that hurts the most. Ryan is supposed to be my husband by now. We were supposed to say vows, and kiss, and have wedding bands representing our commitment to each other. We’ve said so many times that we’ve been together for so long that it doesn’t really matter, but truthfully it does. It’s painful. But, when I’m not upset thinking about all of the details, personal touches, and time spent that will never be seen I remember that I’m also really thankful. I’m thankful for our apartment, and our jobs, and our health, and the health of our loved ones, and for Violet. And I’m also really thankful for Ryan.

Someday I will marry him and promise to be by his side through hikes, and concerts, and cooking dinner, and mai tais, and even pandemics. While quarantine changed a lot about our lives and our wedding plans, it did not change that one bit.

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Socially Distant Recipes: Mai Tai's

Posted by: Jessica 2 years ago
Categories: Food & Drink

*measurements are per drink

Mix all ingredients except for grenadine in a shaker. Serve in a funky tiki glass (or high ball) with crushed ice. Pour a float of grenadine on top. Make sure to top with a paper umbrella and some fruit slices.

The quarantimes are tough.  You’re stuck in isolation, washing your hands to the bone, eating historic relic food items from the forgotten corners of your kitchen pantry.  That’s why we turned to the classic, tropical, deliciously refreshing Mai Tai.  It brings a casual excitement to your isolated weekend evenings.  We recommend serving with a paper umbrella to add to the illusion that you’re at a cozy tiki bar and not isolated at home for the twelfth weekend in a row.  

As we start our third month of social distancing, I think that we can all agree that there have been struggles, and personal triumphs, and hard days, and really beautiful ones too. Amidst all of this we are sending all of you love and hope this recipe brings you some joy.

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