Saturday, October 20, 2012

Messing With Springs

Who knew there was so much to know about springs?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner Preview?

He's handsome. But does he look too good to eat?

That is the question.

If only the bastard wasn't so damned friendly.

Friday, October 12, 2012

High Resolution Typecast

I set my scanner on its highest resolution to see how a typecast from the new Underwood would come out. Then I decided to churn it through some filters in the open-source image editing software The Gimp.

The original scan. Digital noise from the scanner was quite apparent at 1200 dpi.
Adjusted to a more Internet friendly resolution.
Contrast heightened.
Blurred to reduce the noise.
Introducing a little of my own noise.
A bit of cubism.
Bent in post-production.
A nice edge effect glow.
A little edgier.
Too much WD-40 on the ribbon.
What the Predator enjoys reading.
Almost got flowers growing in the text.
I always enjoy the interplay of analog and digital technologies.

It's a lovely typeface, I think. Maybe I'll get this printed on a couple of tee-shirts. Or a bumper sticker.

Information Density

No, I don't plan on outlining my entire novel this way. However, who can resist having a bit of fun with a new stack of index cards and a fresh ribbon?

The nice thing about these cards, I can be typing away on a page, come up with an idea to note for later, and insert an index card behind the paper, roll it through, type it up, and then pull it out without messing up the alignment of the page.

Who says you need a modern operating system to run two processes at the same time?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Casual Vacancy of the Tablet

I'm wondering what my fellow typewriter enthusiasts think about tablets.

I am tempted by the latest round of offerings from Barnes and Noble and Amazon. A 9" screen with just as many pixels as an HDTV--that's really remarkable, and it's just another example of how the world is realizing the Science Fictional dreams of my youth.

I could use the tablet to...

Read the news in bed, without going outside to pick up the newspaper. (Except that I can do that already with my laptop, and I don't even get the paper.)

Watch movies, alone, from anywhere. (Except that I find it hard to watch whole movies, and when I do watch them, I want to be with other people.)

Purchase and browse magazines without a stack of clutter building up in my house. This one is pretty damn tempting, and the scrap-booking feature of the new Nook almost has me sold.

But I just can't cozy to the idea of investing in a device with no keyboard. For me, the tablet says, "Consume, don't contribute." That pop-up on screen keyboard is just convenient enough for putting in your credit card number, and then it disappears again.

Is it just me, or does the idea of losing a keyboard feel a bit like, well...


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Underwood Acquisition

Some clean and lovely keys.

Decal on the back.

In its native environment.
Well, a bit of google image searching and some more time in the serial number database leads me to believe this is an Underwood Ace from 1938 or 39.  Funny, it struck me as being a bit newer than that. It's also funny that the last five or six typewriters I've taken home have been from this era.

If I wasn't done with collecting the things (I am, really...) I'd say it was time to skew the acquisitions a bit more to the 1960s era. Get a bit more color up in here. Not that I have any more room. Good thing I'm all done, then.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Versitility In The Artist: Emilie Autumn

I love it when an artist's spark shows through in a variety of work. It's so rare, mostly because early success at something creates an economic demand that they produce more and more of that thing. The book, the music, the art is a product, and can you blame the artist for producing more and more of what puts food on the table?

This is why novelists write under different pen names. Once their own name is a brand, they can't sell anything different until they change it.

But once in a while someone comes along who doesn't give a damn, she just makes one thing after another.

What if I could tell you that the same artist who could play the violin like this...

could also play it like this:

What if I told you she could sing and put on a hell of a show...

complete with aerial dancing...

and that she could take it completely over the f///ing top like this.

Also she plays the keyboards and writes books and poetry, and records spoken-word and music albums. She owns her own music label and she's strong enough to stand up to the producers who want to tamper with her work.

There's some music for the end of the world, right here. Steampunk meeting cabaret meeting Victoriana meeting Baroque. There's so many influences in here that her work just becomes its own thing. Good artists borrow; great artists steal. But this is more than remixing. This is taking all of the ingredients of shared culture and baking it into something delicious.

Part of the brilliance, I think, is that I don't necessarily like all of this music. I'm not a metal fan, and I've never felt compelled to go to a cabaret show.  But the more I listen the more I find myself liking it, despite my prejudice. The fact that fans of one of her albums might not care for the next one hasn't stopped her from making them all anyway.

I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

Emilie Autumn's own website.

& her Wikipedia page.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Condemnation of Anticipation

The best fortune cookie I ever ate said, "Don't expect too much. You won't be disappointed."

(The second best said, "Help! I'm trapped inside a fortune cookie factory.")

You can learn about the Throw Down Your Heart movie here.

And John Perkins' Confessions of an Economic Hit Man can be found here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Royal KHM Gone Shiny

If I had not done this thing, I would have told you, I could not have done it.

I know it has a ways to go, but I can't resist some before and afters.

And look at that, it even had a serial number.
That little panel with the serial number was literally packed solid with dirt. Uncovering it was my first clue that this machine could really be turned back into something special.

Soft Scrub and cotton rags was the way to go. (Thanks again to Richard's classic typewriter restoration page.) Even as I saw it happening, I could not believe this was the same machine, or that such a lustrous lacquer finish could remain under 75 years' worth of grease, oil, tar and nicotine.The shine you see here is the result of cleaning and rubbing only. There's no wax or polish on here at all.

It took quite some doing, though. I got it to this point after a nine our marathon cleaning session, and it took the vigorous application and removal of soft-scrub an average of 30 times in each area to get to this finish. I went through an entire bag of rags from the hardware store, plus three old tee shirts.

Even with it shining like this, I could keep going and still have sticky yellow-brown gunk come off on the cloth.

I still need to have a go at the paper ledge and a bunch of the chrome parts. Also, bringing this outside on a sunny day makes it clear it really would respond well to some further efforts.

Mechanically it's improved dramatically as well. It responded well to a bit of oil on the carriage, and when I pulled off the front panel and those "shoulder" pieces, it exposed more gears and linkages for me to lubricate. Now it zips right along without a breath of hesitation. I can almost match the WPM of my Selectric on this thing.

Honda Accord Radiator Flush and Hose Replacement

Who just replaced the upper and lower radiator hoses on his 1995 Honda Accord?

Oh that's was me!

Of course, I did have a little help from a retired tugboat captain with a sawzall. "You think I should disconnect this fan and move it out of the way of the clamp?" I asked.

"No, we'll just cut straight through it."

Sparks flew; hours were saved.

Eventually I maneuvered the new hoses into place. The Captain handed me a bottle of dish soap; said, "Rub some of this on the inside. It'll slip on easier." I wanted to tell him, "That's what she said," but then I remembered who I was talking to. I focused on getting the job done, instead.

It's hard to know how to repay such a debt of minutes.

Also: I'm pretty sure that engine coolant isn't supposed to have the color and texture of a mocha frappucino. But that's why I did this, 'innit? Got some water in there now. Flush, rinse, drain, repeat. Antifreeze is too expensive to use as a cleanser. I'll save it for when the water runs clear.

One lesson learned: don't leave your service manual under the car when you disconnect a hose from the top. You'll have to buy a new book. Another: You lay down a tarp before you get started. It's your mother's garage, after all. Good thing you listened to the captain.

It was still cheaper than paying someone else to do it.

One more thing to cross off the list of "things to learn how to do poorly."

We get by, most of the time...