Friday, February 26, 2010

Rhodia, Record-Setting, and Rubbing Alcohol

Real Life is keeping me from stringing together more than a few sentences at a time these days, but just to prove that I'm still breathing, a Little Flower Petals-inspired Update Just to Update...
  • I'm not big on shilling stuff, but if you use fountain pens -- and if you use your hands to write with, you owe it to them to get one -- you should without delay lay those selfsame hands upon a Rhodia pad of some kind. You might remember that I carry one of these around for random NaNoWriMo scribblings. As my everyday-use pen went inexplicably missing for about six weeks, I had to switch over to another in my collection, a Parker something-or-other that redefines the phrase wet writer. To compare it to a fire hose of ink would be disingenuous to fire hoses. It bleeds through just about everything, necessitating writing with the nib upside down, to get a finer line and slow the tidal wave of Quink. Except on the Rhodia paper. There's a bit of drying time as the ink sits there on top, trying its damnedest to feather or bleed or soak through... and it simply cannot. I'm not sure what crazy French faerie magic was involved in making this stuff, but it's astounding. I've seen them in the U.S. at both Borders book stores and at larger Target stores, and of course, online is always an option. Their (oddly-named IMHO) "web notebook" looks like a serious contender for the Moleskine throne, without the notorious Moleskine paper-quality issues. Pricey yes, but considering that you can write on both sides of the generous amount of pages, likely less than you would pay in equivalent Moleskines. Once I work through my backlog of other notebooks, I may go solely over to the orange and black for portable paper happiness.
  • Speaking obliquely of NaNoWriMo, my transcribing has fallen by the wayside thanks to the Olympics, or so goes my excuse. I regret not being able to get the Canadian coverage of the games, as they tend to be 100% complete with 100% less inane chatter. Although I'm thrilled to hear the announcers point out when athletes set personal records in the games: I don't remember that from years past. As parents of a couple of sport-engaged kids, we're always telling them how important setting a PR is vs. placing first, or scoring the highest, or whatever. It's an unexpected burst of civility amongst the televised flag-waving, and I appreciate it. (Though I'm still skipping over the longer cross-country skiing events. Zzzzz.)
  • My issues with the vintage camera have changed. I'm trying to flush out all the old gunk that's floating around the mechanisms with regular alcohol baths. (For the shutter, not for me, though it's tempting.) Camera shutters were designed to run "dry," that is, without any lubricants in the way, much like the segment of a typewriter (look! hobby confluence!) After having to break out the solvents to remove the front lens, though, some of the stuff sloshed around and is now gumming up the works. Sigh. This is a common problem, and one typically resolved by taking apart the shutter, cleaning all the bits, and reassembling. Ha. I'm sticking with my soak-and-dump-and-wipe technique. It runs great when it's soaked, so I know this is just a gunk issue -- once the solvent evaporates, it leaves a fine layer of yuck behind, and that's what's jamming it all up. I'm accepting all donations of patience.
  • Also: advice to potential restorers: rubbing alcohol is not good to use. It contains oils and other additives that will make things worse in the end. I'm using 90% alcohol from the pharmacy, the other 10% is water, which I force out by leaving the assembly in a sealed plastic bag with a couple of those dessicant pouches you seem to get in all electronics purchases these days. A dry, clean shutter is a happy, snappy shutter.
  • One more bit of camera thrills: run, don't walk and check out this hand-built SLR (single-lens reflex) camera body. I'm still picking up my jaw from the floor. Also, my own foray into bellows restoration has proceeded just as far as it was nearly two years ago. That is: I've written about it, and then left things sitting on the shelf in my "good intentions, hard execution" pile. I've since found an easier way to work out the bellows-making, though I'm now considering following the examples from our home-brew camera maker and the folks in this flickr topic and rolling my own out of the shutter and lens from the big Autographic (seen here with the bellows removed.) I may raid the boy's Lego collection a la M. Moon to make the support infrastructure, and using a little black foam-core for all the dark bits. Check back in two years to see if I've made any progress, won't you? Joe V, I'm always looking to you to raise the photographic bar. I expect a full report on how you've done this exact thing forthwith.
  • Hey, #typosphere, have you signed up for a pen pal yet? What about working on your submission for Silent Type 2: Electric Boogaloo? Consider this your nag. The pen pal project aspires to be something more successful that my own disaster-fraught attempt (Traveling Type, anyone?) The mere fact that someone has sent a letter and someone else has received it already puts its success rate well above my own. And what about your poems? I've even got my wife to play along, so now you simply have no excuse. (Note: not because she's isn't creative or brilliant or lovely -- she's all three, in great number -- but because she looks upon the t-sphere with mild amusement and head-shaking futility. Her poem reflects that.)
  • And finally, I think my work PC desperately needs a set of these.


Joe V said...

Great post as always, UJTU not withstanding.

"You task me," to quote Ricardo Mantalban's character Khan in the Star Trek movie. Yes, I'll have to continue with my 8x10 camera project. The Lumix G1 digital, it has me captivated. Must. Take. Control.


Mike Speegle said...

Quite a post, Mike. Yes, Rhodia pads are awesome. I have been using the one that LFP sent me last year for special occasions, but my go-to is still the snooty Moleskine. Now if only I could find Rhodia stuff at retail...I have asked the good people at Target and they regard me as some sort of alien mollusk, or some such.

It's a shame that people don't know what kind of solvents they should use, innit? I purchase my isopropyl alcohol from an electronics catalog: no other solvents and very little water. Good times.

Hee hee. The Khan quotes continue unabated.

Anonymous said...

I love rhodia paper!

There is a note to be made about the Web notebook however. Unlike the rest of the Rhodia line it uses a 90g paper made by Clairefontaine, which is argued to be better to write on. It's the same story with the Quo Vadis Habana notebook that has earned some great reviews.
Normal Rhodia paper is 80g, but honestly it's hard to find any pen that writes poorly on a Rhodia.

Strikethru said...

I second (third? fourth) the Rhodia enthusiasm. I have become so snobby I will only use Rhodias even at work, for worthless work-notes and distracted mid-meeting doodles. Just can't stand the sensation of writing on any other kind of paper.