Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Journals, Binders, Blogs

Typewritten Journal Binder, June 2020 to February 2021
With Royal Mercury on Front Patio

It was about time to start a new 3-ring binder, after the old one, started in June of 2020, was full up. This piece goes into the start of that new binder. I organize my writings into one binder for personal journal entries and One Type Page (OTP) entries; and another binder for my own blog's articles (like this one). And that other binder of blog articles is fat, with articles dating back to 2016, itself soon needing to be replaced.

Once they're full, I store them either in my office closet, or in plastic storage boxes, stacking up from the weight of decades' worth of writings and photography.

Typewritten Journal Binder, June 2020 to February 2021

The old binder, now full, was a freebie, acquired last year when I was in the waiting room of my optometrist and noticed they had a stack of binders they were tossing out. So naturally I came home with, not only new glasses, but some extras. But this time, I went to my neighborhood big-box office supply retailer and specifically chose this bright green binder, to stand out amongst the drabness of my office bookcase. A typewritten adhesive label or two later, and it was all ready to go.

New Typewritten Journal Binder

I don't look through the old writings often enough. It's fun to not only read what I was thinking back then, but look at what paper I was using (I tend to frequently mix up my choice of typing paper), and also what machines were in use. It was interesting, looking through that fat binder of archived blog articles, to see machines being used that I don't even have any longer. This kind of "metadata" I find just as interesting as the writing itself.

Naturally, this begs the larger question of how best to archive one's personal writings. It's a sticky issue, because most of us aren't blessed by tenure at some institution of higher learning, where our work might be archived in some institutional archive; nor have most of us achieved some significant professional stature as a published author and thereby acquired some archivability of our work through reputation alone. If you're like me, you're a struggling writer, in that in-between space squeezed by one's job and family responsibilities on the one hand and some innate creative urge, just bursting to get out, on the other.

When you mention archives, many people immediately think you're talking about computer data backups. There is that, but what I'm talking about is bigger than data backup. Many of us creatives have amassed significant volumes of work on paper. Work that, sure, could be archived digitally, but what would be the point? Would that hard drive or thumb drive survive long enough to mean something down the road, or be tossed in a drawer or box to be forgotten, then discarded?

The point is the future reader. Is it good enough for someone to read, down the road, when you've shed your mortal coil? If not for some stranger with passing interest, is it interesting enough for family offspring to keep? Maybe. Depends, on your relationships, and on the work itself. Many of us have accumulated mounds of what others might call "clutter," but you might call the priceless offspring of a life's worth of creativity. You'd like for someone to keep it all, but down deep know that's unlikely. Personally, I'd expect much of my stuff to be tossed into the recycle bin.

One could, if one were proactive (gosh how I tire of that business-speak term), cull out the best of one's personal work and cudgel it into some self-published tome, to leave to one's offspring as the distilled essence of your creative thoughtlife in book form. A single volume, a condensation of one's work, small enough to likely survive that great paper-tossing-to-the-curb event, come your demise. Leave behind one, maybe two, good books for them to read. It'll probably outlast that archived hard drive or USB stick.

While we're on the subject of culling, I just today shipped off the Hermes Rocket, to a kid in California who will probably get more use out of it than I. And just a few days ago I gave the Groma Kolibri back to Kevin, from whence it came, as again I wasn't using it much, and he'd enjoy it, I'm certain. But don't mistake this for some kind of personal valor, because, you may recall, I've also acquired the massive yet wonderful Royal KMM, which sits prominantly in the office on its typing stand, ready to do battle at a moment's notice.

That leaves this Royal Mercury as my only remaining manual ultra-portable (not counting the handful of thermal ultra-portables). And I still have a good number of medium-sized portables, better suited for longer writing sessions than any ultra-portable, yet still luggable if the need arises.

Here's a video about this subject. Enjoy.

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Monday, February 15, 2021

The Christmas Bomb Scare

Swiss Musical Ornament
“The Christmas Bomb Scare,” part One
Chester T. Van Cleave and Major General Honeycutt
Dad being presented a certificate for outstanding achievement of duty as Equipment Specialist (Ordinance), by Major General Honeycutt of the Defense Atomic Support Agency (DASA) on Sandia Base, circa 1966.

“The Christmas Bomb Scare,” part Two

I was able to bring the brass music box mechanism back to life by carefully removing the regulator whirly-gig and cleaning all the gunk from between the grooves of the brass gear teeth with a fine razor knife, aided by a magnifying loupe. My brothers told me the bomb squad had "defused" the device by dunking it in water, which probably didn't do the mechanism any good.

While visiting my brothers, they also brought out a number of envelopes of ephemara from Dad's WWII and civil service, which I'm now in the process of sorting through and documenting. My grandson Noah was very interested also, as I knew he would be.

Several weeks ago I presented this story of the Christmas ornament bomb-scare in video format, link below:


Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Typing Mishmash Melange

Brother EP-43 Thermal Typewriter
Typing For the Sake of Typing - Part One
Olympia SM3
Andrea's SM-3

Typing For the Sake of Typing - Part Two

I spent some time over at Kevin's yesterday (some people might say I spent too much time...) and we tinkered some more with his Smith-Corona Poweriter, which is a typebar electric 6-series, with the narrower platen (i.e. not the 12" platen of the Galaxie) and featuring a DC motor with a rechargeable battery pack! It's had a lot of issues, but Kevin is slowly ironing them out.

SCM Poweriter
Poweriter test typing

There was an earlier and a later version of the Poweriter. Kevin's is the earlier model, whose power supply requires the battery to be installed in order to run properly from AC current. The power supply is ridiculously simple, composed of a transformer, a single diode and several resistors. Thus far, Kevin has had the motor rebuilt by a local motor shop, and he's replaced the resistors. The diode measures okay, but the 4-cell NiCad pack needs replacing. We're not certain about the transformer, however. And because of that, we were thinking about just installing a more modern power supply in its place.

We were tinkering yesterday with just installing a replacement power supply, from an AC adapter, of the correct voltage and current to both run the motor under load and recharge the cells. We found a particular AC adapter that outputs 9VCD and supplies up to 1.5 amps, sufficient for our needs. We had experimented with several different adapters; the ones with lower voltage obviously ran the motor slower, yet the typewriter performed okay, although the motor made a funny whinning sound as it sped up and slowed down. With the more powerful supply the motor spins faster and really slams the typebars into the platen. So then we installed a 3.3 ohm, 5 watt voltage dropping resistor, and it brought down the voltage under full load to where it should be, with the typewriter performing more normally, and yet with enough voltage to recharge the cells when installed. The nice thing is that the newer AC adapter with add-on resistor will be able to fit nicely inside the machine, which is taller than a conventional 6-series, to accomodate the power supply and batteries.

It will be fun to see how long the machine runs on batteries only. Of course, a person could replace the NiCad cells with Lithium ion cells, which would really boost the run-time of the machine, but then you wouldn't want to have the power supply recharging them (because for safety you need a charger designed for lithium ion cells).

I like the looks of this narrower-carriage 6-series machine, over the 12" version. And of course being a type bar machine they type ridiculously fast, with a featherlight touch.

Thermal Fax Roll Paper Holder

I recently received an Internet Care Package from a viewer, that included several rolls of 4.25" wide thermal fax paper. (Actually, it measures closer to 4-3/8" wide, but in the typecast I said 4-1/2". Go figure.) This is the paper I used for the thermal typecast at the top of this page, with my Brother EP-43. I like the width of this paper for blogging, as the narrower lines means more ledgibility online, especially when reading from a cell phone.

I fashioned a holder for this paper from a discarded cardboard plastic baggie carton (see above), and it fits about perfectly, with just a few modifications around the opening to make the paper easier to remove. I like these easy-to-do hacks using materials that would normally be recycled.

You may have also noticed in the thermal typecast that I made a snazzy little typographic touch by using the EP-43's wide letter mode for the first letter of each paragraph, harkening back to the middle ages and illuminated manuscripts.

This being a hodge-podge of miscellany, here's a video I posted today about more such random subjects.