Version 12

Version 12 has been retired here. is now running version 12, in what I suspect will be the final design iteration for this site1.

The gem cannot be polished without friction

I’ve been itching for a new look for a while now, around the time I was in England, something that was reflective of the peace I’ve made with myself and the world.

Life no longer feels like a draft where I’m trying to figure things out, so I’ve abandoned the beloved graph paper background which debuted in version 9. Most elements and text have been toned down a bit2 to give things a slick, clean, and polished look, very much inspired by Jin Yang’s blog. I’m still in love with the large single-column layout that lets me post big pictures and videos, and most of the design is still based around that.

I’ve never been a fan of vertical rules — they always seem to claustrophobically trap content more than anything else — but I found they brought much-needed definition to the wide column, now that the graph paper is no longer there. Other elements are strong enough on their own to define the underlying grid. I’ve also added some gravity-defying page corners to bring a bit of depth to the layout.

Even though Version 12 has been based significantly on my Version 11 code and design, I decided to give it a major revision number because it’s a new theme at heart. They may look similar, but they feel very different.


All headings and navigation elements are still in Avenir Next, which has long been part of my visual identity. I’m very disappointed with @font-face support as it currently stands3, as well as TypeKit offerings (which appears to solve problems from font foundry licensing issues, instead of actual web implementation) so I’ve stuck with Helvetica/Arial for body type. Aside from the comment bubble, all traces of Georgia have been eliminated. Blockquotes (my favourite aspect of the new design) are in a new typeface: Avenir Next Condensed. Check this shit out:

Large and in charge. Oooh, baby.

I always waver between having the equivocality title in all caps (which I find looks rather aggressive and arrogant) or all lowercase (which has those frustrating hanging descenders from the “q” and “y” characters that trap dead space in the bounding box). For this version, I’ve opted to go with the former for the sake of alignment.

A matter of time

Version 11 (which now lives on it’s own subdomain) lasted for about a year; a decent amount of time for a person who has a history of redefining himself every six months. I was extremely pleased with it, but it doesn’t feel relevant anymore. There were a few offers from people to purchase the theme since I have a policy to never release them publicly, but I never relented. I put so much time and energy into these designs that they’ve become part of my identity; it’d be far too unsettling to see someone else’s content in them.

  1. For a very long time at least []
  2. I’ve realized that you don’t need retina-burning contrast to give something strong definition. []
  3. Mainly the way WebKit-based browsers deal with the flash of unstyled text []


  1. Nice. Found your blog a couple of weeks ago, and like the way you do things.

  2. I like it, but the graph paper will always have a special place in my heart. I’d probably get a graph paper tattoo if it wouldn’t look terrible almost immediately and be SOOOOO hipstery.

    • The problem with a graph paper tattoo is that just the slightest bit of distortion and it’ll look like crap, cause it’s the consistency of the grid that makes it. I can’t think of a good, flat stretch of skin that wouldn’t distort.

      And yes, also the fact that you’d be mistaken for a hipster, which I’m thinking is now our generation’s version of the hippie.

  3. Nice work Jeff! Love the giant space you leave for images and videos.

    • Thanks, Jason, I’m still waiting for updates from your blog on your latest trip!

  4. This post reminds me that I had a blog once. :)

    I love the new look. I can see why some may miss the grid paper pattern, I do too. But I also understand why you got rid of it. As I said before, you and I have eerily similar tastes.

    I’ve been wanting to get back to blogging, but work has been insanely busy. When I do blog again I may tweak my design some. I’m actually thinking about going with a serif type for article titles. But unfortunately no font hosting services have Modern No216 right now, my most favorite serif.

    • I’m always tempted to create a theme that will allow me to style individual entries the way you and Jason Santa Maria do, but I know I wouldn’t have time to take advantage of that flexibility cause I post so frequently.

      Don’t worry about being a rare blogger. I think that having occasional entries gives so much more weight to your words. Mine get diluted simply from the fact that I rant so much, and it all becomes this meaningless string of thoughts.

      It’s hard for me to imagine your site with a serif font! Are you staying away from Cufon to serve up Modern No216 out of respect for the foundry license?

      • I used to use WP’s custom fields for styling individual entries as I blogged here:

        but I find “Art Direction” plug-in does basically the same thing and a lot easier. You should look into that. You don’t have to have a complex theme.

        re: font question, I’m not doing it for legal reasons.

      • I didn’t mean it would take too much time to make a theme that would support the unique stylings, I meant it would take too much time to actually style individual entries because I write so much. It takes me long enough just getting the tiny little details right for one theme!

        I’d be happy to pay for a font to be used on the web, but I think I’d be waiting forever for the foundries to work out their licensing policies.

  5. hey man, you are a source of lateral and simple inspiration, no matter if its the look, feel or read of our page. thanks for this master piece.
    take care.

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