Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Noise Reduction

I'm not sure which engineer it was, but someone thought that paper was a suitable soundproofing medium. It is, in fact, not.

Silver-Reed 750 "Fast Spacer"

I've swapped in the Silver-Reed "Fast-Spacer 750" (by Silver-Seiko, but made by Brother) and used it for a letter. It's entirely metal-bodied, so not as boomy as the Remington, but still rather jangly, as typers of this era tend to be. It also has -- or had -- a piece of black paperish material epoxied to the bottom inside panel. At one point in its life it had something dumped on it. I'm thinking instant oatmeal, from the color and texture. It was not pleasant to look at, peeping out from under the keys, and it certainly did nothing by way of much-needed soundproofing.

Silver-Reed Keys

Today, while waiting for an operating system update to go horribly wrong, I shelled the typer, and ripped off as much of the nasty paper as I could. A piece of Kelly green polyester felt* and a tube of superglue later, and there's a fresh layer of sort-of-soundproofing inside.

Silver-Reed Keys

The pictures don't do it justice: the green is subtle, but is a nice contrast to the red special-function keys, and the overall grey and silver color scheme of the typewriter. It still won't win any awards for silence, but I think it's better. At least, I tell myself it's better. It's certainly more attractive, and doesn't look like something chunky got sloshed through the works.

Silver Streak

Speaking of quiet, I'm due for a little blog-cation myself. I'll be unplugging from the Series of Typewritten Tubes for about a week. I need to find a little peace, before I'm tempted to dump oatmeal over my own head. Keep the typosphere running, everybody, and I'll see you in a few days.

* It's nothing like felt at all, however, being made of recycled soda bottles. It's fairly stiff, and comes in a sheet large enough to cover the entire bottom of the machine with slight trimming. Those of you of the feminine persuasion would be wise to note that it also comes in a variety of patterns and prints, which would look pretty outstanding under the keys of the right machine. I've used regular "craft felt" for another typewriter re-lining project, and the improvement in looks is significant, and at least all my fumbling around didn't make it louder. The recycled stuff is a little easier to work with, though: it cuts a cleaner edge, and is rigid enough not to flop around as you're trying to stick it down. And this footnote has gone on way too long, which is another sign I need a break. I ramble.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Poetry Sunday

Last weekend I had pulled out the typewriter to work on a letter. My eight-year-old daughter came in and asked if she could "use your typewriter to write some poems." I finished up the letter and set this up in her room, gave her the quick overview of the controls, and let her go. About an hour later, this was the result.

20110403 typecast pt1

M____'s Book of Poems

The old tree sits on a hill
Near a meadow past a stream
The tree falls down

Bird it flies it chirps
Letting its song
Ring out
In the open air

Jumping, trotting
Always nice
Living in a stable

Slow but steady as a rock
Live in sea or marsh
God's favorite animals

20110403 typecast pt2

Tiger's soft stripes
Blends in
The jungle
Eats meat

Dot grows to be
A large animal
That can take
You on an adventure

Can take you
On an adventure
Even by reading
A single page

Brightly shining
Happily glowing
Warming the park
Hot summer day

Lights flash
Green grass
Far away
The crowds cheer

Friday, April 1, 2011

Update Time

Sloganeering for the Typosphere

No time for a typecast this week, so just a digital update to let you know I'm still breathing.

The Typosphere is growing strong. A writeup in the NY Times, and now a followup gallery from LIFE magazine? Sure, it's just the short-attention span of the media, distracted by the novelty of young 'uns at the keys, but that's OK. Maybe we'll convert a keychopper or two to the dork side. Fear of a typewriter-availability-Armageddon as as result of the publicity may have happened: Craigslist is strangly silent these last few days, except for the same Selectric being flogged over and over again. ("Worked last time we used it." Encouraging.) If a tulip-bulb-style price craze starts, rest assured that I will miss it entirely despite a keeping few adoptable machines around. I could pat myself on the back for showing Exceptional Restraint for bypassing the Royal 10 standard machine at the thrift store, but a) it's $50 and b) it's in bad, bad shape, certainly not $50 shape. Barely typeable. Lacks a pair of feet. Actually crusty in spots. Nothing like Richard Polt's (ahem) April First Find, but still pretty bad.

Ryan P.'s mail exchange is awesome. I know I've said it before, but Google says I suddenly have more readers (waves hello) so I'm going to promote it again. I've been exchanging mail with various people for -- let me check -- a year now, or even slightly longer in some cases. If you don't get any Real Mail any more (bills and catalogs are not Real Mail), then you owe it to yourself to sign up. Do it. Do it now. All of my mail was outbound, and I've been eagerly checking the mailbox for a week to see if anything came in, and then trying to hide my disappointment when it didn't. And then all of a sudden, I've got six letters in, all at once, typewritten, handwritten, artsy and plain. I feel like a king. It doesn't take much: just shoot Ryan your snail mail address and get a few in return. You'll like it. And did you put your name down for the Round Ribbon exchange as well? Just tell Ryan you want to do that, too, when you send him your address. He's a one-stop-shop for snail-mail delight.

Speaking of mail, Flat Stanley's addresses were due into the classroom today. My daughter picked the first address -- Rino! -- and then we'll go from there. It didn't feel fair making other people pay international postage, so I think we'll send Stanley out-and-back to non-US friends first, and then manage some kind of loop through the US typecasting community. That means Adwoa, you're likely to be next. I'll probably stick a "Where's Stanley" page up here once he gets going.

Speaking again of mail, next up from Clickthing Mad Science Labs: Cheap-Ass Crafty-Guy Mail. A few of you have already received my tests: wax seals, random rubber stamps, perhaps an interesting envelope... a photo-heavy post is planned. Until then, typecasters, keep spreading the word, making the posters, and checking those lonesome thrift store corners...

UPDATE: Following some advice I read... somewhere, I had the computer read my revised to me aloud last night. Oh the mistakes! So, I've yanked the .pdf down for now as I clean it up. If you have a text-to-speech program, I highly recommended this. Hearing the draft spoken aloud by a disinterested third party uncovers a lot of goofs that my eye glossed over, like missed articles, and redundant word usage. So, it's once again not ready for prime time.

And one last item. I've put up the first three chapters of One Last Quest, my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel. Back in college -- the old days! -- one of the guys in the dorm turned me on to Terry Pratcheet (now Sir Terry to us peasants) and I ripped through the few Discworld books that were available at the time. They were a lot of fun, and I appreciated their blending of humor and fantasy, and their light-read-ability. (Far more readable than a certain other title in my life at that time with a fantasy theme, at least on the cover.) I think being a geeky, computer-loving kid growing up in the 80's pretty much ensured that you would also get into Dungeons & Dragons, and the whole fantasy sci-fi thing, and I was no exception. I just recently unearthed an oversized index card at home, in fact, that outlined the algorithm for my "Random D&D Character Maker" program (TI-994A BASIC for the win, baby.) I found Douglas Adams and Piers Anthony then, too, and I think all of those things together give you a pretty clear picture of my world view at the time: swords and sorcery and geekery and Dr. Who on PBS late Saturday night. Sci-fi... skewed.

I tried my hand at a Serious Novel in 2010, a Serious Sci-Fi Novel, in fact, and although I told the story I wanted to tell, I didn't have nearly as much fun writing it as I did Quest. I'm catching up on the many Discworld books* that have come out in the meantime, and during this slow slog through Quest, I've realized that I'm probably aping Sir Terry more than a real author should -- in genre and tone, at least. (That sound you hear is my ego inflating.) But I have decided, thanks to the whole rewrite process, that this is the way I'm going to go from here on out with NaNoWriMo. Some people are destined to write Great Serious Fiction, and some are just not. I'm not, but I hope you enjoy it anyway. If you've got the chance, please read through it and let me know what you think.

* Going Postal: highly recommended. Hogfather: not so much. Monstrous Regiment: I'll let you know.