Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Cache of Excess

I have to admit, I feel a little bit like those archaeologists in the news, fumbling into a cavern that may be legend.

Two pillars of the film world died this year; hoarders of Polaroid film and Kodachrome are looking at these once ubiquitous consumer products to reinflate their sagging IRAs. And although there are some people working hard to solve the impossible, it's not solved yet. I figured I'd held my last Polaroid picture forever.

Not so, says Fate.

The Cache

I couldn't pass it up. Not with the film included. I tried to put it down, I honestly did, but I couldn't.

I'm not even sure I remember how to load this silly stuff, but I know that the Internet will come to my aid there. I figure I've got 90 or so pictures left in these packs, less if the embedded battery is shot. Now I have to decide: what to shoot?

The age of the film and the general instability of the emulsion means I won't be capturing any great art here, but then the Polaroid was never meant for Great Art. It was always about orangish-blurry pictures of Aunt Marge at the cookout, balancing a Chinet full of barbeque on her lap, waving one heavily costume-jeweled hand at you and holding a buttery corncob in the other. As you can see from the pic, my first attempt (the "Is there still film in this?" shot) is of my office plant on the windowsill. It's delightful and washed out and perfect.

So what say all of you? I am sorely tempted to follow the outstanding examples of a fellow typecaster and shoot countless pictures of the many machines in my life. A retro-memorial for retro-tech. But I don't know. I'm great at hoarding, not so great at using with reckless abandon.

What would you shoot?

Lettera Porn

For Mr. Speegle's challenge: a sunny day with the camera and Lettera on hand, and voila...

Shadowy Words

Big Red

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


From the archives of Life magazine.

Fingers at the ready? We're on October's doorstop, perched to ring that bell...
  • My second knit typing pad is complete. I learned some lessons from making my first one last year, specifically the importance of thickness, so I took a suggestion from Monda and made the entire thing a knit-one-purl-one rib knit, then folded it into fourths before washing. The good: this thing is crazy thick, and should be able to muffle my typing sounds, even if I choose to use a hammer on the typewriter this November (tempting, when the plot goes awry.) The bad: I threw caution to the wind and did not test a swatch of yarn first to see how it would shrink, so the result is less of a pad, and more of an elongated rectangle. Two typewriters could easily perch back-to-back upon it. This may not be a bad thing. The original pad is sitting under Norma Jean at the office. I might sleep on the second one.
  • October also means that I start focusing on filling in the many gaps on this year's novel, which is going to be a comic/humorous fantasy-type story. My last two attempts have been serious works (ahem) and so I would not let myself take advantage of the "ceiling ninja" technique of unsticking a jammed plot ("Suddenly, ninjas leapt from the ceiling!") I'm going to rectify that this year. In 2009 I shall embrace the ninjas. The plot is thickening.
  • I've been remiss in lazily re-posting Links of Interest, so here's a few to tide you over:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It's in the Blood

In a week's time, my youngest will be turning two fingers, a fact she's proud to demonstrate with minimal prompting ("How old are you?" "Doo!") No parent is ever supposed to pick favorites (or at least not own up to doing so) but I'm fortunate that mine all are so different that it's easy to pick favorite aspects of each.


The oldest one is the only boy, my Middle Schooler, and The Jock. He's everything I wasn't in school: slim, athletic, sun-loving, with a pierced ear and a desire to run as far and as fast as he can, all day if given the chance. He is my nature-versus-nurture case study. He's bright, but unlike me, he's not really high on the organization scale. (Though I do remember letting a 6th grade research paper lapse until the very last, possible moment, and then losing three days typing it up -- yes, typing, with footnotes -- through bitter tears.)

The middle child is the Bookworm. She's been in love with books from the day she could toddle around with an armload of them, looking for the first available lap. Now that she can actually read, she's been known to disappear into her room for hours, surrounded by a word-fort of all the books she's pulled from her floor to ceiling shelves. This one sunburns easily, loves to draw and paint, is food-sensitive, has a touch of SPD. In unkinder days she might have been called a "spaz." I can relate to this one.

And now the youngest, on the cusp of turning two. We've gotten a pretty good picture of her personality. Active like her brother, book-loving like her sister, and the Comedian of the family, some of that probably coming from being the youngest of three, and the child voted Most Likely To Grow Up At Soccer Games and Track Meets. She's busy enough to ensure that three is enough. Beyond that, we don't have a good sense of who she's going to be except for two things.
  1. She loves shoes, and clucks with delight at the opportunity to put them on, take them off, or throw them at the dog.
  2. She's obsessed with pens, pencils, crayons and paper.
I've posted this picture a few times, because I think it's really funny: she "helped" out with my NaNo 2008 novel by using the typewriter whenever I wasn't around, and by scattering my index cards to the four corners of the family room (actually, that last part was not so funny.) I don't know what's going to happen this year, but I do know that twice in the last two weeks, she's taken a #2 pencil to the laptop screen and scrawled all over it, with great delight.

Love of office supplies? Fascination with typewriters? Desire to deface the computer? It's in the blood.

Monday, September 14, 2009


  • I'm gradually getting on top of my work-pile, digging out from my biannual code development cycle. Not as many posts here as late, but I'm still following all of you, and heaping out tiny doses of sardonic abuse on The Facebook.
  • Our first rainstorm of the season over the weekend has put me in the mood of autumn, my favorite season, although in this part of California it is practically come and gone in a single weekend. This unusually-early rain was heralded by the even more rare thunderstorm. The crash and boom at 3 A.M. knocked the kids out of bed, but to me, that's a lullaby.
  • We're gearing up for the second birthday of my youngest child. Just flicking through my pictures from her birthday last year makes me realize how fast it's gone. Two, and she's talking in paragraphs.
  • Still plotting away on ideas for the 2009 NaNo draft, and secretly scoffing at those who would dare to wimp out. The Brigade needs you. We actually forced the NaNoWriMo powers-that-be to lock the old topic because we'd posted so much that it threatened to melt the forum software. There's another topic to take the brunt of interest until the forum wipe in October-ish. And yes, Virginia, typing with small children underfoot is possible.
  • Not much to report by way of retrotech. I'm still hard at work knitting up another typing pad with some horrible, possessed yarn I found at the thrift store for two bits a ball. It's awful, scratchy, poop-brown and keeps pulling apart at inopportune moments. I'm looking forward to tormenting it in a very hot wash cycle.
  • Local Craigslisters have awakened again and discovered the mile-high-club prices from, which is probably a good thing, since it's preventing me from doing anything more than coveting from afar. Way, way afar.
  • That said, my middle child has started piano lessons, and so we've co-opted my ugly green typing table as a keyboard stand for her. This has forced my standard machine into a box next to the bed for the time being. There's a metal stand at the thrift store, and I feel my resolve weaken every week I check and it's still there, holding up a lampshade.
  • I'm still trying to finish up a roll of black-and-white film in a homebrew pinhole camera. (I like to have enough exposed film on hand to make suffering the stink of Caffenol worth it.) I have, however, noticed a conspicuous lack of photography on your own blogs, despite my award-winning how-to writeups. Consider yourselves glared upon with a Stern Eye.