Flock of Eagles, or…

Filed under: Typecast, typewriters — olivander August 29, 2009 @ 1:57 pm

The Cult of Click and Clack

Filed under: Musings, Typecast — olivander August 25, 2009 @ 2:31 pm

Typewriter: 1948 Smith-Corona Super-Speed

Sincerest apologies for the terrible grammar. I’m having a lot of trouble forming thoughts today.

Robot Typewriter: a television pilot

Filed under: Musings, Project 88, Typecast — olivander August 23, 2009 @ 10:02 pm

Partially inspired by Strikethru’s Petaluma Police Department Royal FP. Typewriter: 1960 Royal FP

How Illegal Immigration Saved My Life

Filed under: Project 88, Rants, Typecast, politics — olivander August 21, 2009 @ 9:13 pm

Typewriter: Fritz, a 1903 Remington Standard No.7

Dis ‘n’ Dat

Filed under: Books, Errata, Finds — olivander August 17, 2009 @ 10:16 am

Who’d-a thunk?

I picked up an ice crusher at a garage sale this weekend. Been wanting one for a while (a proper mint julep just doesn’t work on the rocks), so I grabbed it without examining it too closely. And whaddya know? It’s a Smith-Corona ice crusher!

Evidently, Proctor-Silex was one of SCM’s kerjillian or so subsidiaries.

Fahrenheit 451–the comic book

File this one under either “Supreme Irony” or “You’ve Got to be Fracking Kidding Me”. Ray Bradbury’s classic novel about the diminishment of the written word as a dumbed-down society stultifies itself on comic books, television and Twittering, has itself been dumbed-down into a comic book graphic novel.

From the article on Slate:

Think back to the original novel. Comic books are the only books shallow enough to go unburned, the only ones people are still allowed to read. Beatty, the fire chief, who seems to have loved books once and whom Bradbury has called “a darker side of me,” explains it all to the hero, Guy Montag, the reluctant fireman. When photography, movies, radio, and television came into their own, he says, books started to be “leveled down to a sort of pastepudding norm.” Burning them isn’t so tragic, he suggests, because they are already so degraded.

But is this new adaptation a diminishment of the original, or a clever subversion of the comic medium? Ideas, after all, transcend the printed format and can be embedded anywhere; it’s how we integrate those ideas with our own intellects once we encounter them that gives ideas importance. Is graffiti on a brick wall any less substantial than a painting in a museum if there is an idea embedded within it?


Our 20-month-old son is addicted to baseball, or “bee-ball!” as he calls it. He demands it from the moment he wakes up till he falls asleep (there have been a few nights when the only way we’ve gotten him in his crib is to leave the TV on Fox Sports North with the sleep timer set). He wakes in the middle of the night asking for bee-ball. He throws just like the pros and mimes the hat-chin-nose signals and the base players’ stances. I’m hoping he doesn’t find the miniature Louisville Slugger factory tour souvenir.

You’d be amazed how often some sort of ball game is on TV–fortunately for the sake of peace and quiet in our house. And fortunately as well, I like baseball (being distantly related to a hall-of-famer, I suspect it’s in my blood). The spousal unit, on the other hand, not so much. But even I am becoming drained of enthusiasm for the Great American Pastime. When I am reduced to watching the Little League World Series while wanting to gnaw my own foot off, I know I’ve had enough.

Admittedly, it’s still better than watching that “Baby Einstein” DVD for the umpteenth time.

Heaven help us when football season starts.

#12: Typewriters as History

Filed under: Musings, Project 88, typewriters — olivander August 16, 2009 @ 2:47 pm

Typewriter: 1948 Smith-Corona Super-Speed

#10: TAROPs

Filed under: Finds, Project 88 — olivander August 14, 2009 @ 2:43 pm

Typewriter: 1961 Hermes 3000

Anyone have a power cord for this thing?

Filed under: Finds — olivander @ 10:47 am

Or, why I should stay away from thrift stores.

Monroe adding machine

I was going to typecast this, but judging by the stack of unscanned Project 88 pages, you’d likely not see it for weeks if I did.

I was doing my usual weekly-or-so sweep of the thrift stores. In the back of one, in the area where the typewriters usually get dumped amongst the computer keyboards and broken scanners, I came upon this:

Monroe LA5-160

Now, you should know that I was an English major. Like most English majors, numbers and I don’t get along well. In fact, we find most numbers–especially large, hairy formulas–downright frightening. Only unlike large, hairy spiders, we can’t squash numbers underfoot before they scrurry into the dark, paranoid recesses of our minds and give us a case of the shuddering willies. So you’d think that a machine bristling with figures and arcane numerological functions would send me prancing to the safe confines of the Broken Records Dept at the other end of the store.

Ah, but I’m also a technerd and a retrophile. That means that I am irresistably drawn to all things with levers, knobs, buttons, and gears. I assure you that that is the only reason I bought it. I don’t even know how to work the damn thing. Oh, but you turn the crank on the front, and the carriage thing moves back and forth! And you push this big red button and something happens! And you press this lever and something else happens! Technerd joy!

It was only after I got it home and was looking it over in search of a model number that I noticed the two prongs hiding in the hole on the back. The one where a power cord goes. A bit of semi-fruitful Googling identified this as a Monroe LA5-160 adding machine. An electric model. More accurately, an electromechanical or electric assist model. Bother. That means that unless I can find or fashion a power cord, I can’t even play with it. And that’s only if all the electrical components still work, something I’ve had spotty luck with in other contraptions.

But here’s the neat thing: See that metal plate on the back? “Property of Defense Plant Corporation, an instrumentality of the United States Government”. Ooh, sounds mysterious! I hadn’t heard of the DPC, so I did some research.

The Defense Plant Corporation was an offshoot of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, an entity created in 1932 to umbrella the various departments developed to rebuild and stabilize the US economy in the midst of the Great Depression. Its main function was facilitating loans to businesses and financial institutions.

With the national emergency of impending war succeeding the national economic emergency, in 1940 Congress granted the RFC unprecedented powers to purchase or build essentially anything the President asked it to. It immediately set about forming a number of new “instrumentalities” to handle wartime materials and production. One of the largest of these was the Defense Plant Corporation, created in 1941. The DPC coordinated supplies and equipment between the various branches of the armed forces and the factories that produced those goods. For instance, the Army would tell the DPC, “We need ball bearings”, and the DPC would contract with a ball bearing factory to get the Army what it needed. Everything from tiny screws to entire bombers passed through the DPC this way.

The DPC also helped companies and individuals build new factories. There was a concern by factory owners that once the war ended they would be left without a market for their production. The DPC acted as sort of a guaranteer of the factories. The way it worked was that an individual would work through the DPC to build a factory at their own cost. The DPC then agreed to incrementally buy back that factory over five years. At the end of that time, the factory owner had the option to buy back the factory at fair market value.

As an interesting aside, it was a DPC contract for a new, enormous cargo aircraft that led to the construction of Howard Hughes’ (in)famous Spruce Goose. It seems that Secretary of Commerce (and thus head of the RFC) had been friends with Howard Hughes’ father, and had known Hughes since he was a child. The $23 million Spruce Goose, which flew only once–long after war’s end–became symbolic of government waste. Another DPC contract with Hughes Aircraft was for a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft dubbed the XF-11. It was during a test flight of the XF-11 that Hughes crashed into a Los Angeles neighborhood, damaging or destroying three houses and nearly killing Hughes. It’s thought that the trauma of the crash and Hughes’ subsequent addiction to painkillers from his injuries were catalysts for his later mental instabilities.

When the war ended in 1945, the Defense Plant Corporation was dissolved.

Somewhere in all of that, this adding machine was there, tirelessly cranking out calculations to help our boys on the front.

#7: The Island

Filed under: Project 88 — olivander August 11, 2009 @ 2:41 pm

Typewriter: 1938 Corona Junior, Model S

Good for her

Filed under: Newsworthy — olivander @ 10:26 am

This is the kind of story I like to read–the kind of outcome, anyway. (Emphasis near the end mine.)

Woman puts alleged attacker in the hospital

8/11/2009 10:30:02 AM

By Laura Gossman Horihan

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

A 24-year-old Rochester man is in the hospital after allegedly attempting to sexually assault a 19-year-old woman Tuesday morning.

According to police Lt. Dan Muyres, the woman was found standing in the intersection of First Avenue and First Street Southwest about 3 a.m., carrying a knife and asking for help.

She told police that a man she’d met in a downtown bar had tried to sexually assault her.

The woman said she used the bathroom in his apartment in the 100 block of First Avenue Southwest and that when she came out, he was naked and sitting on the bed. She said the man grabbed her from behind and put her in a choke hold.

She said she clubbed him on the head with a clothes iron, ran to the kitchen and grabbed a knife, Muyres said. When he came toward her, she swung the knife, cutting his arm and puncturing one of his lungs, Muyres said.

While police were interviewing the woman, the suspect came out of his apartment bloodied. He told police that he’d been attacked by three men.

The man was arrested and taken to Saint Marys Hospital.

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