Wednesday, July 17, 2019

On Storming Area 51

“Storming Area 51”
“Storming Area 51”

Post-Script: I've found some pretty good reporting on these issues over at The War Zone. Here's an article about these Navy UFO encounters - be sure and follow the links to an earlier article about the USS Nimitz incident. And here's an article about the Navy and patents for advanced propulsion concepts.

I'm suspicious of many of these stories, but maintain an open mind. But the proton beam device presents an interesting explanation for many of these phenomena. Here's one blogger's explanation on how they might work.

It's important to use common sense when dealing with these stories. Occam's razor is often quoted as applying to these situations. But sometimes reality is more complex than we can know or predict, hence the need to remain skeptical but openminded.

Getting back to this current meme of storming Area 51, there's good evidence to suggest that would be an unwise decision. Not only are the security forces armed with conventional weaponry, but may also possess pain-inducing microwave weapons for crowd-control, supposedly developed at the US Air Force's Directed Energy Directorate, here in ABQ.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 16, 2019


Hermès Rocket at Sweet Cup Coffee

Post-Script: The feed rollers on my Rocket grip good enough, but when I fold this thin paper in half lengthwise it tends to feed wonky. This 13 CPI typeface needs a short line to be readable on mobile devices. Maybe I should just break out the adding machine paper roll for when I'm blogging on the Rocket?

I'm liking the idea of more frequent blog updates, perhaps on more mundane subjects. The "work flow" is still a bit tedious (it isn't work, neither does it flow!) Firing up the scanner - had to reset it once; getting the cropping, light & dark points and contrast set properly; then the full res scan; uploading to Flickr, etc. I'm still not pleased with how my iPhone takes photos of typecasts, especially the field curvature near the edges of the frame. I want to fill the frame with the long side of the piece for good resolution, but then the iPhone's field curvature makes the edges of the page wonky. Yes, there are aftermarket photo apps that permit adjusting field curvature, maybe that's the solution.

I've been thinking about how else "typecasting" can be used with social media, besides blogging. Obviously, many people shoot photos of their poetry and writings and post them to the various Facebook typewriter-themed groups. But today I was thinking about discussion forums (on whatever topic). Instead of replying to a thread via computer keyboard, one could type out a quick reply, upload to Flickr and link the image to the forum. This might be fun to do, especially on discussion forums that aren't specifically typewriter-themed; like RFF (Rangefinder Forum), for instance. The idea is to further infiltrate the digital world with the presence of typewriter-generated imagery.

I enjoyed my visit to Sweet Cup Coffee. This time of year, when the summer monsoons begin (the flow of moist air from the Baja peninsula up through the American southwest), the air is humid enough that evaporative coolers (like what I have at home) don't cool as well; the AC at Sweet Cup was, well, sweet! Another reason to write in coffee shops.

Olympia SG-3 Inspiration

The piece above was an impromptu typing on my Olympia SG-3. It does this to me, inspires me to just bang out these sudden little inspirations. They don't matter all that much, individually. It's in the aggregate, when they begin to accumulate, that the impact is felt. I don't know why this machine inspires me like it does; perhaps it's the size and heft; or the confidence it inspires to work flawlessly; or the pleasingly dark imprint.

I like to collect these little gleanings. Sometimes they're just a sentence or paragraph amidst a larger amount of dross, in which case I'll circle it with a pen for emphasis. I don't know what will become of them, but I hope they function as inspiration for some new work, down the road.

Finally, a video Kevin and I made, about the Maritsa 11.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Scootering to Sweet Cup

Sweet Cup coffee bar
“Scootering to Sweet Cup,” Part 1
Scootering to Sweet Cup
“Scootering to Sweet Cup,” Part Two
Loft typing at Sweet Cup
Loft Typing at Sweet Cup with Brother EP43

Sweet Cup loft
The loft at Sweet Cup

Joe at ABQ Press Club

This last Sunday our fledgling ABQwerty Type Writer Society met at the historic Albuquerque Press Club, invited by one of its members. We had a great time writing and socializing on the shaded porch, and hope to return in the future for more typing events. Here's my video of the event:

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Railroading to Las Vegas

Las Vegas, NM
Train station, Las Vegas, NM

Railroading to Las Vegas, Part 1
Las Vegas, NM
Antique Store, Las Vegas, NM

Railroading to Las Vegas, Part 2
Las Vegas, NM
Charlie's Spic & Span, Las Vegas, NM

Railroading to Las Vegas, Part 3

Post-Script: I need to remind myself to do more train travel, even if it's a short ride, like this wonderful weekend getaway. The price of the tickets was reasonable, the trip took around 3 hours, and the dining car offered the option of lunch, which we enjoyed. But the destination of a remodeled former Fred Harvey hotel was a great destination. And, though Las Vegas, NM isn't exactly a cosmopolitan getaway, it offered sufficient entertainment in terms of eateries and antique stores, keeping in mind we were on foot - the furthest we had to walk was about a mile.

Yes, trains are also ideal for typewriters. The idea of sitting high up in the lounge car, scenery passing by through the picture windows, is a romantic notion. But alas, our relatively short ride was occupied mainly by a leisurely lunch in the dining car, so no typing was done. But for a longer trip, a typewriter is certainly a requirement.

Here's a video about our weekend:

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Pushing Up Daisywheels

Sears The Electronic Communicator 1, made by Nakajima.
Pushing Up Daisywheels, Part 1
Silent-Super on Holiday (Case)
Pushing Up Daisywheels, Part 2

Post-Script: There's no getting around the fact that most of us typewriter aficionados are in it mainly for the aesthetics and build quality over just the pure writing experience. Meanwhile, most non-aficionado people I've talked to during public typewriter gatherings couldn't care less about shiny black pre-WWII manual machines, for instance; they just wanted and needed a machine to reliably produce copy to keep the boss happy; a practical, reliable writing tool. In that regard these well-made Nakajima daisywheel machines fit the bill perfectly.

Sure, they sport an ungainly footprint; I have no need to type crosswise on legal-sized paper, thank you very much. Likewise, I'm not enamored by beige plastic everywhere I look. But I've got to say, when it comes to throwing down letters on paper reliably, these machines just do the job.

Because of their design, you just aren't going to have those nagging little issues that plague even the best of manual typers, regardless of how we might love their build quality and appearance. Electronic typewriters seem to function in a Boolean fashion: they either work, or they don't. There's little middle ground of so-so action, like with manual machines.

Daisywheel machines aren't without their disadvantages, let no one convince you otherwise. Their ungainly footprint is due to the fact that the print mechanism requires a wider throw than the width of the platen itself, to accommodate the drive band, pulleys and width of the print mechanism. They are also invariably chained to a power cord, there's little getting around that. In comparison, our beloved little thermal machines begin to appear a lot closer to ideal, were it not for that one sticky problem of needing to use thermal paper. Daisywheel machines are boringly efficient. If you need writing done, they'll do it in spades, but won't scratch your aesthetic itch like our lovely manual typewriters.

What I've tried to convey in this post is that there are intrinsic tradeoffs. While it would be nice to have every manual machine in our collection operate absolutely, 100% flawlessly all the time (and I am seeing a new trend toward quality over quantity with typewriter collectors), that just ain't going to happen, for a number of reasons, mainly to do with physics and the Second Law of Thermodynamics. So our expectations need to be adjusted to the reality of owning, and using, these marvelous mechanical writing instruments.

Likewise, these nearly flawless Nakajima machines have their aesthetic downsides that just aren't going to be resolved. We have to learn to live with them, if we are to use them for their intended purpose, which I think to be serious writing.

Will a daisywheel machine offer the same advantages over word processing on computers as we experience with manual machines, that of reduced distraction and enhanced focus? Absolutely. And they'll most likely do so with less fuss and bother since, in spite of their plastic bodies and electronics, they represent an intrinsically more reliable design. But you won't be going to the cabin or the woods with one, and you'd be hard pressed to use one after The Big One hits and the power grid is down and you've ran out of carbon film cartridges. But in the meanwhile, before it does hit, if you have some serious writing to do, consider one of these machines as the epitome of typewriter evolution.

PPS: No, I'm not giving up my manual machines anytime soon. But this is the second Nakajima daisywheel in my collection, and I remain impressed. Also, they're still being made today, and marketed in the US under the Swintec name.

Yes, I need a new correction tape in the Sears Nakajima, thank you for noticing!

PPS: Yes, I had issues with Flickr inverting my images, I hope it's all fine now.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

An Ideal Adventure

Congress Hotel, Tucson
Congress Hotel Typecast

Post-Script: We ate breakfast at the hotel cafe, then after loading up our gear and checking out, we headed over to the eCommerce Goodwill to pick up Kevin's Ideal model A2. I was surprised when I saw it, since Kevin has lately been collecting ultra-portables, but this one is a wonderfully crafted machine from 1901. I'll have to do a more detailed review of it once it's cleaned.

From the Goodwill in Tucson we drove over to Mesa, a two-hour drive, and spent most of the day at Mesa Typewriter Exchange with Bill Wahl and Ted Munk. A fun time was had, as Bill spent the majority of his time talking with Kevin about the Ideal, and Ted entertained me with a show-and-tell from Bill's ultraportable collection. I really need a cameraman to do a more thorough job of documenting these encounters, as I barely had time to shoot much footage with Bill.

Also, had I not been feeling so under the weather we might have stayed the evening and spent more time with Bill & Ted; but we got on the road by 4PM, and arrived home by 11:30 at night.

I'm still recuperating today, and feel like I may have to call in sick tomorrow. Oh well, so it goes.

I enjoyed using the Silent-Super for this trip, despite it being heavier than a Rocket or Skyriter. The new rubber rollers really make a difference. This is the closest it's come to functioning like a new machine since it was, well, new. A far cry from its origins as a grungy, stinky, broken typer. I've probably spent more time over the years working on this one machine than any other in my collection. But now it runs like it should. Good bones, good design.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Perfect, Or Good Enough?

“Perfect, Or Good Enough?” Part 1
Brother EP-43 journal writing.
“Perfect, Or Good Enough?” Part 2

Post-Script: I still haven't found a great way to photograph these long strips of writings with a camera without uneven lighting, or field curvature from the lens. The iOS panorama mode comes closest, but you have to move the camera along the strip of paper with absolute precision in terms of the camera's viewing angle and speed of motion. Perhaps a slider would work. Maybe I'll rig one together.

I was inspired late last night to write this, as I was waiting for my video to upload to YouTube. These thermal machines are great for late-night missives where you want absolute quiet in the house. And it's nice to see the results measured in terms of feet and inches, rather than pages. It feels like progress. In the case of this piece (literally a piece, torn off from a roll of thermal fax paper, after it was completed), it measured nearly 21 inches in length.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Typing With My Mother

“Typing With My Mother”

Post-Script: Here's a photo of my Dad, sitting on a camel, taken during WWII in Egypt. He's on the right. On the left is his hometown buddy Dino Limore.

Typecast via Olympia SG-3.


Monday, May 06, 2019

Maquina de Escribir Gigante

Olympia SG-3
Maquina de Escribir Gigante, Part 1
Porch Typing
Maquina de Escribir Gigante, Part 2

Post-Script: The SG-3 is not supposed to be "portable," so when you do carry it, do so with the carriage close to your torso, since that's the heaviest part. Alternately, you could remove the carriage and move the machine in two halves, but that gets a bit fiddly.

This phenomenon I spoke of in this piece is very real, and immediately noticeable, with these large machines. You (at least, I) really do notice it as soon as you begin typing, how your concentration is focused on the work at hand. It helps that the machine is such a great typer, the action is smooth and, at least on this particular example, the type alignment is darned near perfect.

Which get us to the wonky photos of the typed piece, done using the panorama mode on my iPhone, handheld. It looks like the lines aren't straight, but in fact they are. To do this better, you may need some kind of slider to hold the phone absolutely at the proper angle to the work, and move it with mechanical precision.

The irony of last night's typing session with Kevin is that he was documenting, with his Underwood 6, our mutual collections of ultra-portable machines.

I have another video and blog article to do this week, about my recently acquired Brother EP-43 thermal typewriter. Yes, this makes three such machines. Are they in fact "ultra-portable" typewriters too? Yes, for certain. But that's the subject for another day.

I'm starting to gravitate to the conclusion (at least for now, as I hold the right to change my mind at any time) that a combination of thermal typewriter for out-and-about typing, and a full-sized standard for fixed office/studio writing, is a great mix. What do you think?

Here's a night shot of Kevin at his Underwood.

Kevin and his Underwood 6

Labels: , , ,

Monday, April 22, 2019

Final Writing From Winning Coffee

Last Latte at Winning Coffee
Final Writing From Winning Coffee

Post-Script: We used to buy our coffee beans from Winnings, a biweekly pilgrimage that would also see us enjoying a plate of enchiladas and eggs (slathered with red and green chile sauce) or the bagel sandwich - typically on a Sunday morning, when the regulars would be seated at the big oval table near the serving line, doing the crossword puzzle and discussing the week's events.

The sidewalk in front of the shop is wide and brick-paved, with numerous patio tables and chairs, which were always filled with an eclectic mixture of students, regulars and semi-street people. Though smoking isn't permitted within 20 feet of a building here in ABQ, it was common for people to be smoking on the patio, using Winning-supplied, sand-filled ash trays, with the aroma of hand-rolled tobacco wafting on the breeze. Our very own little Left Bank; the Left Bank of Route 66.

I came here often enough to notice the regulars, and would strike up a conversation with some, even though I lived across town in the suburbs - which they were keen enough to pick up on. One such fellow was a young guy who always dressed in a black suit and white shirt, and would be writing poetry in a ragged notebook. Another regular was Cherokee, a middle-aged lady who's been living on the streets for decades, though she'd have enough money for a cup of coffee and a plate of breakfast. She'd be warming herself in the early morning sun, wrapped in her off-white blanket that you could smell from a block away. I suspect the management of Winnings might have given her a plate of food now and again for free. That's the way they were.

Three times a week Bradley would set up his books on the counter adjacent to the coffee roaster. He did a good trade in classic 20th century literature, aimed for the university crowd. I saw him and his wife today, as I was typing up this piece. She said he'll probably retire his mobile book business and perhaps take up music production. He would always have an assistant to haul the boxes of books to and from his truck, usually a local who needed the work. Bradley was that kind of fellow. I'm going to miss him.

There were lots of regulars, many who had their own table, sitting in the corner perhaps, writing on a laptop, or in a notebook. Chris, the co-owner, told me today that at least three doctorates were earned from UNM by folk who did the majority of their writing here at Winning Coffee.

I started coming here in the late 1990s, and would write in a journal book, using either mechanical pencil or fountain pen, then later in my AlphaSmart Neo, though I rarely took a typewriter, mainly because the place was so busy on weekday mornings, with people reading or studying, that I didn't want to disturb them. I wrote many blog articles and short stories here, including the Loser's Blend series, which I self-published, and was also featured in my story for Cold Hard Type.

With the increased pace of my YouTube video production schedule I haven't been frequenting Winnings very often during the last few years, since it involves a time commitment and drive across town. Now I regret not spending more time here. And I wonder if perhaps I'll soon have an urge to sit down at some worn table, eclectic music in the background, coffee-stained hardwood floors that have seen a lifetime of wear, sipping a wonderfully rich and dark latte that makes Starbucks taste like warmed milk, channeling my inner Muse as I put words to paper, in some newly discovered coffee shop very much like what Winnings was. I hope so, but there are no guarantees in life. But the spirit of Winning Coffee lives on my memories. Perhaps there's one more story for the Loser's Blend mythos still waiting to be penned? We shall see.

Typecast via Canon Typestar 4 onto Staples thermal fax paper.

Labels: , ,