Tuesday, July 30, 2019

ABQ Press Club Skyriting

Skyriters at the Albuquerque Press Club
“ABQ Press Club Skyriting”

Post-Script: The Press Club is located at 201 Highland Park Circle, situated atop a hill that overlooks downtown ABQ. It was built in 1903 by the architect Charles F. Whittlesey as his personal residence, who in the early 1900s was the chief architect in charge of hotels and stations for the Santa Fe Railroad, and who designed most of the grand stations and hotels for the railroad, such as the Fred Harvey hotels. The house was designed and built while he was designing El Tovar at Grand Canyon, in the same Norwegian Villa style.

Albuquerque Press Club Ceiling

The Whittlesey residence changed hands over the years, but in the 1970s was purchased by the Press Club, in whose hands it remains today.

I still had thoughts on my mind from the day's previous video production, where I mused on the adequacy of manual versus electronic typewriters as writing tools. When Kevin had invited me to the Club, he mentioned bringing his Skyriter. I was planning on bringing the Remington Ten Forty that I've been servicing, but instead decided a pair of Skyriters would be appropriate. My Skyriter still intermittently skips, whereas Kevin's hasn't had that problem. His is a Spanish keyboard version, and he speculates that, even though his machine is a few years older, perhaps it didn't have the wear and tear that mine had. Since I've done about all the cleaning, degreasing and lubricating that I can do, and have also referenced the service manual procedure, I suspect the skipping may be due to worn parts in the escapement. The machine works fine when I type pedantically, two-fingered, at a slow, even pace. So, in keeping with the video I'd just made, I've decided to work within the limitations of the machine, accepting it as imperfect yet "good enough," using it for "slow typing," such as when composing one's thoughts onto paper, rather than transcribing previously written material at a faster pace. A cogitating typer. Other than the skipping, it's a nice machine, and sports the longer carriage return lever than Kevin's version.

The video I posted is also the first one using my new Go Pro Hero 7 Black. It has excellent image stabilization for handheld shooting, and has a linear mode that straightens out the extreme fisheye distortion of these wide angle lenses. I've had to attach some sticky wind muffs to the mic holes in its carrying case, to dampen the effects of wind noise, and will soon be acquiring an adapter dongle for using an external mic.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Magic Mirror

Bristol Noughnut Co..
Digital Box Camera Image

The Magic Mirror

Post-Script: I remember recently writing about how my Olympia SG-3 worked flawlessly; now we see evidence of intermittent skipping. Further reinforcement of the notion that, no matter the reputation or build quality, a manual typewriter is always subject to the vagaries of the laws of physics. Hence the importance of the notion that writing with manual typewriters isn't about pristine, zero-error copy or printing press quality, but the enablement of creativity.

Back to the subject of the video, namely using a knock-off, low-budget action camera as a point-and-shoot stills device, I refuse to submit to the notion that I must somehow remain on the Technology Treadmill - that concept of marketing that assumes every consumer device is continuously being obsoleted by newer products. It's a form of rebellion. I'm interested in seeing what I can get from using these simple, obsolete tools.

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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Bigly Typers or Shrimp Typers?

Scootering to Sweet Cup
“Bigly Typers or Shrimp Typers?”

The Bigly Typer:

The Shrimp Typer:

Post-Script: They're both good word threshers. One's obviously more portable than the other. For me, the key to entering into that creative zone is being able to focus on the words in my head, my fingers on keys and, to a lesser extent, ink on paper, without excessive fuss or distraction. The Behemoth Olympia SG-3 achieves this by its in-your-face massiveness: it literally blocks your view of distractions in front of you, while elevating the printing position so you're looking forward, not down at the table.

For the shrimp typers, the challenge for me is not getting distracted by the machine's less-than-optimal performance, or erratic behavior. For example, I'd sat at this very same spot in Sweet Cup's loft the day before, with the Hermes Rocket and the same type of coffee drink, and didn't have the same creative flow going. Certainly, we can feel more or less creative one day to the next, but something about the Skyriter's keyboard just felt more natural. I don't even think it had to do with its more ergonomical carriage return lever, either. Funny enough, there were a few skips with the Skyriter that the Rocket didn't have, yet I got along better with the Skyriter.

I noticed midway through the piece that, because of the seating position, my eyes were closer to the machine than at a normal-height desk and chair setup, helping me to focus on the keyboard and helping to reduce distractions; yet I didn't sense that the day before with the Rocket. I guess that's the mystery of creative writing, trying to figure out why one day it works and the next day it doesn't.

These brief moments of inspiration aren't predictable; one has to be prepared to strike (literally!) at a moment's notice; hence the reason to always have a machine set up at home, or in a grab-&-go bag, ready for action.

There's a confidence I have when writing on the SG-3 that I don't often have on these shrimp typers, and it has to do with reliability. Less chance for hick-up or glitch with the big fellow, one less thing to pull my mind away from the inner dialog, that's so fragile to maintain. I have this same confidence on reliable machines like the Smith-Corona Silent-Super, that's pretty much living up to its name.

I think one secret to creative writing with manual typewriters is this issue of reliability. It's not that we must go down the rabbit hole of joining a cult (Hermes, Olympia - pick your poison), but rather that the still small voice inside us remains small and faint, we have to find those nagging distractions and eliminate them. Some machines are just more reliable than others, meaning we have more time to join those fragile chains of thought together. I think you can catch a glimpse of this when you see photos of 20th century writers with their machines. Many authors switched from one machine to the other, finally choosing one brand or model because it just works. It's all too easy to forget this when we are mainly collectors and hobbyists.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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