Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Type-In on the Queen Mary, Anyone?

Hello Typospherians!

Allow me to apologize for my recent absence. I've been a bit under the weather as of late. But, I digress. My darling and I were conversing, and he came up with what I believe is a brilliant idea: a type-in on the Queen Mary. In my mind, the only thing that could make this better is if it is in October sometime and we all go in costume.

I think this would be riotously fun and am willing to do the legwork on ticket pricing and setting up a date if enough of you are interested. Please either comment on the post or email me here and let me know. Also, if you have any druthers as to a date and time, please let me know now before I contact the staff of the Queen Mary to set this up.

Let's get a group together! It's going to be so much fun!


Anna Strad.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Speed Typing Should be an Olympic Sport

Recently, I've been busying myself with refreshing typewriter ribbon, assessing a new ebay acquisition (an adorable green Royalite with a red leather case!), cleaning cases and hunting for more typewriters to horde, so I thought now was a good time for a new post.

I've been discussing this with my husband since the Olympics began this year, as I always find it irksome that some silly things are Olympic events. These include curling, table tennis and power walking. Why? I feel, if it's a sport I can do with a reasonable amount of proficiency (or am even good at), then it probably doesn't deserve to be in the Olympics. So, I move that these things be struck from the games, and would like to propose a new addition: speed typing.

There are several reasons I believe speed typing deserves to be an Olympic competition, none the least of which are the medals I have seen, floating around on ebay rewarding 80WPM, 120WPM and, in one case, 150WPM (though I must question the authenticity of the last, as the official record is 147WPM). I believe speed typing is still relevant today, as a good portion of the work-force uses computers, which--of course--require a reasonable proficiency in typing. In a world where real language is buckling under the weight of .txtspk, speed and accuracy are challenges to the speed typist. The final reason is that it is something I absolutely cannot do; at very best, my time lies somewhere between 45-60WPM.

(I wanted to get this post written before talking about the Olympics was no longer relevant.)

So, what say you, people of the Typosphere? Should speed typing be an Olympic sport? And should the 'sports' of power walking, table tennis and curling be struck from the games? Discuss.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The International Correspondence Initative: First-Round Correspondence Pairings

Good evening Typospherians!

Here is the first-round correspondence mash-up:

Richard P.Ryan A.

Vikram / Bell Stone (blog forthcoming)

notagainAnna Strad

We happen to have an uneven number, so I'll be taking on two correspondents for this round:

Anna Strad / Nat

*Small Amendment: we have two more participants!*

Scott K.michaeliany

So, let the corresponding...begin!

I am quite looking forward to see what everyone will be posting on their blogs in the coming weeks and months that they have received from others!

Happy Typogramming!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Off the Beaten Topic: A Cigarette Case Notepad


After a long, drawn out battle with Laptopasaurus, it seems I have lost in the photo war. Darling must now upload from his Desktopocus (which takes forever and I simply do not have the patience to fight with it) and then email them to me. However, though I can receive the files, I cannot preview them, so I can only hope they will upload correctly. I suppose we're all going to find out, right now.

After reading Vikram's posts on home-made notepads, I had the idea to create one of my own. I've been carrying cigarette cases in lieu of wallets for years now, as they fit in my pocket well and don't allow me to over-stuff them. However, over the years they have gotten shorter and they are able to hold more. This is my current one:

Current cigarette case wallet. My own motorcycle looks quite a bit like the one on the relief.

From the back.

It is the widest and shortest cigarette case I've ever carried. Plenty of room for all the junk I really don't need. So, I decided to clean it out and put something useful in it. I had some Post-It notes lying around, not being useful, so I decided to put them to work.

Why yes, those are hot pink Post-Its. Far from my favorite color, but waste not, want not.

Now, I have my shopping list handy and a place to jot down ideas while I'm away from the keyboards. All I need is a tiny or telescoping pen. After I run out of Post-Its, I'll either cut up some scratch or some drawing paper, secure it together and put double-sided tape on the back of the bottom page. I just wish I would have had the idea sooner! Thanks for the inspiration, Vikram!

Use cigarette cases as wallets and notepads!


Monday, August 6, 2012

The Flavors of Childhood


'Tis a bit off-topic, but I wanted to take a moment between photographing the Remington for a later post and railing at the Laptopasaurus for not reading the photos to write about an experience I had this morning. I had already taken a set of photos, attempted to type with the Remington and photographed the less-than-stellar result (I will be re-hydrating that ribbon tonight!) and decided I felt a bit peckish. So, I retrieved four organic peaches that we had procured from the sale section of our local market yesterday morning. I love fruit and always have, but I had become very disenchanted with what the supermarkets commonly offer, as it tends to be tasteless.

After a thorough rinsing, I bit into one of these peaches and was pleasantly surprised that it actually had flavor. Not just flavor, but good flavor. Great flavor. The taste and aroma planted me solidly back in my eleven-year-old skin for a few moments. Back then, we used to go to Jernagan Farm, a you-pick orchard near Wilcox, Arizona. We would leave home at five in the morning and go to pick bushels of peaches and apples, filling the back of our pickup truck. My parents owned a fruit stand, so we sold many of them, but we also kept quite a bit home for our own use.

We had a small garden at home as well, and grew our own squash, cucumbers and tomatoes. My mother, brother and sister are good cooks, and they would spend all summer, canning and making pies, home-made pasta sauce and fresh banana and zucchini bread. I can still taste the garlic dill pickles my mother would make, and she made cases of them just for me because I loved them so and could eat an entire jar myself. They also made preserves, and there's nothing in this world better on toast that real butter and home-made preserves. Biting into that single organic peach, it was 1993 again and I could hear the cicadas, which I would sometimes catch, along with those giant, black grasshoppers.

It was the best peach I had eaten in years, and I ate all four of them, savoring the flavors of my youth. I didn't realize just how much I missed my mother's cooking, or how in front of the curve we were back then in regards to whole foods. And I've let myself slip a lot since then. I do eat much more processed food than I should. But those peaches this morning reminded me of the joys of real food. those peaches brought me back.

From now on, I will be making a far more conscious effort to steer clear of the processed amalgam that we are bombarded with by supermarkets and fast food joints. I would love to know: what are your flavors of childhood, and have they helped shape your adult eating habits? What memories do they take you back to? Please, discuss.

Peaches are to be savored, not used as weapons!

Anna Strad.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The International Correspondence Project


As many of you do, I enjoy reading other Typospherian's blogs. As I was reading CS1489's latest, I noticed in his profile blurb in the margin that one of his interests is snail-mail. Snail-mail huh? The term brought back memories of my childhood, when I used to maintain pen pals. The act of taking the time to write a letter by hand, maybe make a sketch to include and connect with another human being via postal correspondence is so much more personal than email, and the creating of such things is quite enjoyable. I realized about then that I missed participating in it.

Something had been brewing just beneath the surface of my conscious thought ever since I read this post on Writing Ballthis one on Streamlines De Luxe and...well, everything I've read on Manual Entry. So I suppose it was only a matter of time before it clicked, the idea fed to the surface and I subsequently shared it with all of you. Here goes; I'm going to throw this one at the Typosphere's wall and see if it sticks.

I would like to propose 'The International Correspondence Project'. In this project, participants would make, as my husband dubbed them, Typograms. They could be hand-written or typed (even made on a brailler, steno-graph or adding machine, for those who like 1337-speak), or be a sketch or photograph with no words at all or a small, hand-made item (a bookmark, for example). They could be a business or calling card, or a greeting card, too. The subject matter could also be whatever one wished; a personal letter, a type-written poem, a typecast. Once these Typograms arrived at their destinations, the recipient would then upload them onto their own blogs to share. I think this would be a great way to share and connect with individuals that we may never get to meet, say, on the other side of the world, or the other side of the country. And it could be a fun project for anyone who wanted to get involved.

So what say you, fellow Typospherians? If you would like to be a part of this initiative, you can email me here to get started, or contact another Typospherian that you would like to participate with. Let's have some fun and see where this project goes! I do hope you'll participate.

Use your words for correspondence!

Anna Strad.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Classroom Typewriter Project (Photo HEAVY!)

Salutations, people of the Typosphere!

As some of you have already discovered, there is an eighth-grade English teacher named Jonathan Mc Donald gathering typewriters in the High Desert for use in his classroom. I stumbled across his listing quite by accident as I was browsing the Craigslist for more typewriter fodder to fuel my addiction.

This was before I had learned of the Typosphere, had heard of Ryan Adney and was just beginning to discover what an extensive and addictive pastime typewriters can be. I was also just starting this blog. I wanted a subject I felt was important to blog about, and his idea struck my fancy. His Craigslist ad can be found here (for as long as Craigslist leaves it active, that is).

So I contacted him about his project, and he has been more than gracious to provide me with some information and lots of photos! I will list contact information at the end of this post for all of you out there who would like to aid him. And be sure to check out his youtube channel for videos on current projects, typing drills done by his students and the status of his project!

Without further ado, here are the machines thus far.

Jonathan's grandfather's typewriter. This one stays home.

The barn find. Case destroyed, Smith-Corona dirty, but none the worse for wear! Possibly too small for the classroom, however.

The Adler, in good condition outside. It has a broken bearing.

A  favored machine.

I spy an Oliver! Jonathan has told me he will be refinishing its platen. The Royal Safari's condition is because of  poor packing from an ebay seller. It's one of many projects, but it's sad because it didn't have to be that way.

The man-cave-turned-workshop.

Royal KHM, an ongoing project.

A hulking Underwood.

This group makes me think of gossiping secretaries.

Royal KHM, which will be in a video on Jonathan's youtube channel.

Remington Noiseless, restored by Jonathan. There is a video on youtube of this one.

A lovely Underwood Noiseless! Jonathan told me it is 'so clean inside it should be in a museum'.

Part of the menagerie, where they are kept, free of dust.

Three up-close views of the 'hoarde'.

Jonathan is about halfway (18) to his goal of thirty-five manual typewriters, last time I checked. He is using them as a means to engage his students and teach them essential things, such as resume' writing, cover letters and other things vital to know before entering college and the work-force. He has only been collecting them since June and since school is out, they are all Summering at his home currently (most are being worked on). He's willing to take on any manual typewriter in any condition, but the new school year is fast approaching so if any of you great people out there in the Typosphere can help him reach his goal with working machines I know he'd be grateful. Or, if you have any good leads on machines! He's also accepting donations of: ribbons in any condition, black ink, black ink pens and metal typewriter tables. He has an IBM Selectric to trade for a manual as well and prefers the 'Sherman tank' type machines.

If you would like to contact Jonathan about his project or donation, here is his information:

Jonathan Mc Donald
(seven six zero) 240-987five

Good luck to you, Jonathan, and we hope to see you around the Typosphere soon!

--Anna Strad.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

4 AM Writers Block (The Inner Dialogue)

<Rant mode engaged.>

Why the hell is it that I can write about anything but what I need to be writing about? Why can I stare and stare and stare at a post, know in my bones that it needs edited, but not know how? Why do I have three projects that are personally important to me, sitting in my drafts, and every time I open them, I end up staring at the screen blankly, not knowing what to say next? Why do I stay up until the sun rises, agonizing over things that probably aren't important to anyone besides myself?

Why do I drink copious amounts of caffeine in order to get a post finished, only to type maybe one more sentence at best? Why do I use more commas the more exhausted I am? Why is my mouth dry and my eyes drawn back towards the television, that really has nothing to offer at this hour (or most others for that matter) when I should be writing? Why do I have the time to be beating myself up over this? Why do I question myself so much?

...And then the voice of Reason speaks, gently but firmly, in my mind.

Dammit girl, shut up and write! If you do, you might even get some sleep for a change!

Heh, yeah, riiiight. Sleep? What the hell is that?

So after slapping myself in the face several times and turning the television to a channel I can easily tune out but continues to provide a proper amount of background noise, I turn my attention to the draft open in another browser tab. I stare at it for another five minutes, then go and read someone else's blog.

Then, I return to the draft yet again.

I read over what I have already written and I can feel the fatigue setting in again. So I save my drafts, close my laptop and attempt fitfully to sleep.


I stay up, continuing to read until my eyes burn, the info interlaced with frantic games of timed solitaire.

And then I review my post--the one I should be working on--once more. And I manage to finish another sentence. 

At this point, the world outside is coming to life; blaring, eye-searing light is streaming in through the curtains, the rubbish lorry is driving round, collecting the discarded of the night before. My neighbors are going to work. or to school. Or walking their dogs. My dog needs walked, too.

It is no longer 4 AM. The world, it seems, has moved on. And so must I. I'm certain other souls can commiserate with these sentiments, that others know the torture of being so severely stuck and unable to move forward on a project. Why is it always the important ones?

...And then I consider re-typing this entire post on the typewriter. But I think one long, sleepless rant is enough. For now. We will see, as the world moves on yet again...but hopefully does not find me again so hopelessly stuck.

<Rant Mode Terminated./> 

A Behemoth Among Us: The Underwood Standard No. 3


I took a brief hiatus from ye grande ole interwebs in order to focus on some projects (namely, the Royal). However, Friday morning greeted me with a new resident at my doorstep:


Well, at least this is the box that arrived at my doorstep. I felt sorry for our mailman--a tiny man approaching seventy--dragging this out of the back of his van and depositing it upon my porch. I would have aided him if I were able, but I am recovering from recent knee surgery and am still using crutches, so there is no way I could have lifted it, let alone carried it.

And on the stoop it stayed until my husband arrived home from work. The postage would reveal why; at nearly a dollar a pound, the shipping price was a few cents shy of $59.00 (the ebay seller, treasures-4-fun, only charged me a bit over $44.00 for the shipping from Pennsylvania and did not ask for reimbursement when it turned out to be more than the estimate). The box dimensions are roughly 20"Lx14"Wx12"H. Here's an illustration of the sheer size of the thing:

This is not your momma's M-16 ammo can.

Oh wait, that may not be the best indication of size, either. How about this?

'Big' sister First on 'Little' sister Behemoth's shipping crate.

The Royal is a very average-sized typewriter, so this photo should be a better comparison. But, I digress. Not only were we impressed with the sheer size and weight of the crate, but we were impressed with its craftsmanship as well. The seller had taken a few extra days to send it, informing me that a crate was being constructed just for this enormous typewriter. We actually had to remove screws to take the lid off and get the typewriter out! Both of us commented on how much it resembled a foot locker, and since I have an affinity for boxes anyway, we decided to keep it. This is what we saw as soon as the screws were removed from the top of the crate:

Oops! We put her in backwards!

There was absolutely no wiggle room for this monstrosity in the crate. Just looking at it, I began to suspect the weight of the packing material itself couldn't be over three pounds, which left another fifty-two to be taken up by the sheer hulking mass of this typewriter. Never in my life had I layed eyes on a typewriter larger than many small engines [in person]. I allowed it to sit in its crate for a spell while I just wondered at the enormity of the organized mass of metal before me.

Behemoth, in all her pre-cleaning glory.

My husband was more excited to take this beast out of its box than I was, it seemed. And he finally did, not long after. We both gaped at it for a while, then tentatively tried out the keys. The seller had said in the description that this was a non-working typewriter, so I was expecting a condition similar to that of the Royal. However, we found that most of the keys moved. The platen is in desperate need of resurfacing, as there are large cracks in the rubber. Some of it even crumbled away in my hand. The shift and spacebar mechanisms do not work; the pulley for the advance was sitting in the box, stiff and frayed, so I suspect I'll have to get a new one. However, with a little WD-40 and some playing around, all but the 'L' key now move freely. I suspect that this will be an easier project than the Royal.

Keys and type bars.
Upon closer inspection during cleanup, I noticed that the keys looked as if they had had typewriter oil spilled on them a long while ago, as it darkened the paper beneath the glass keytops. We then turned it around to find the date; the last patent year it listed was 1923. And there, caked on the back of the machine was more ancient typewriter oil, like cosmoline on an old battle rifle. Given the size of the typewriter and its age, I wondered to myself what battles it had fought in the word-war; if it had been in a newspaper office, written pamphlets for military recruitment or struck out the praises of prohibition on its now-dead platen. It obviously had a story and oh, if those keys could talk!

'Caked on the back of the machine was ancient typewriter oil, like cosmoline on an old battle rifle'

The now-dead platen.

The graphics are still in good shape, we discovered after a quick clean-up, and everything that no longer works (spacebar and shift keys aside) have to do with the top of the machine. With a little love, I believe this will be a fully-functioning typewriter again. It would be interesting to typecast on, to be certain. The first thing we're going to tackle is that platen, and then we'll see where it takes us from there. I'm really looking forward to diving into this project...and have an equal amount of dread about disassembling the Royal.

Before I sign off I would like to take a moment to sing the seller's praises; the communication was fantastic and I feel they really went above and beyond the call of customer service. They had good, clear photos and a very accurate description and have been just wonderful to work with. It's very refreshing to work with such a great seller, and we will buy from them again!

Do not use fifty-plus pound typewriters as thrown weapons!

-Anna Strad.

A Brief Note of Thanks


I wanted to post a quick thank you to Richard P. of Writing Ball for adding the Machine to his blogroll! As thanks, here is a sneak peek of my latest acquisition, a 1932 Remington Noiseless No. working order! 

Typecasting coming soon from a Remington!

As soon as I re-hydrate this beauty's ribbon, I will begin typecasting! Watch for them in the next couple of weeks! 

With heartfelt thanks,