Monday, October 31, 2011

You Monster

Fortunately, a good pair of bolt cutters costs more than the current bid of $19.99 (20 minutes left).

Turns out it was loved after all!  Final auction was well above key chopper range with lots of action in the last two minutes.  The potential buyer is still a Monster in my book.

Auction ID:  140625925248

Question & Answer Answered On
Q:  Are you able to snip off the keys and just ship those? If so, how much to send to Detroit? Thanks. Oct-29-11
A:  I never have tried to snip off the keys. Do you know how it is done? how close to the key do you cut it? If I can get them in a usps small flat rate priority box it would be $5.20, if not, it would be $10.95 for the medium one. Thanks for asking.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Blogger Wallpaper

This is the product of one of the funnest photo shoots, ever!  My wife is working on getting a blog of her own up and running.  She is a far better writer than me, so it ought to be good.  I at least could contribute by creating a suitable wallpaper using everyday household objects.

As the blog title implies, I live in a House Full of Nerds.  The phrase has even caught on in our conversations with the typewriters.  So, let's take a look at the obsessive intellectual interests in our house.

My Spousal Unit:  Enjoys biographies, history and books about outbreaks of rare and incurable diseases that have altered our society one weak link at a time.  An English minor, she loves words and everything about them.  One of the reasons we still get the local newspaper is because of the daily New York Times crossword.  If that goes or the comic section gets any shorter, the Kansas City Star is a goner in our house.

Hannahbunnyshark:  My fourteen-year-old inherited a love of words and has been a freakishly good writer since she could first string them together.  A well rounded Nerdling, she also excels at math, science and the violin.  She is a fiction lover and is trying to get that ever important first post out on

gingercat:  The eleven-year-old takes more after me with multiple, roving interests.  She loves books of any description, robots, art, typecasting, science and engineering.  The floss container robots and nanobugs in the wallpaper are hers.  She also loves cartooning and has posted her first typecast at  gingercat also has a mild obsession with Japanese puzzle erasers.  I was just reminded that she also plays the flute and the guitar.  So busy....

The three females in our house are Girl Scouts.  Shout out to the Girl Scouts!  Um, if you don't mind emphasizing science and technology again, that would make us all very happy.

Me:  If you read this blog, you have a pretty good idea of some of the things I enjoy.  Part of why I do this is for the pure love of learning about the evolution of technology.  The emergence of a modern Maker movement is exciting and gives me a lot of hope for the future of American technology and entrepreneurship.  Not surprisingly, I read a lot of science fiction along with old technical manuals, catalogs and ephemera.

The Nerd Collective:  We all like Star Wars, Star Trek (TOS and Voyager in particular) and anything printed on paper.  Like many Nerd Collectives, our house teeters on the edge of creating fatal paper slides.  The stuff we love tends to accumulate.  We enjoy being members of the Nelson-Atkins museum and see as much Shakespeare as is practically possible in our area.  We won't go into that new movie coming out on Shakespeare; whomever wrote his collective works had a wicked and wonderful way with words.

Oh, I forgot Trolly.  He came from a thrift store and started out as a prank present.  He has since become our travel mascot and appears in many family photos.  He also likes landscape photography.

P.S.  I am attempting a re-post as this did not show up on the Blogrolls.  Grrrr...

A Re-post (And desperate cry for Blogroll attention)

For the benefit of the last post on the subject of Blogger Wallpaper, I present this mostly blank re-post.  Please draw your attention to yesterday's post that did not find its way to the Blogrolls for one reason or another.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Juvenile Cold War Space Fiction

Front Cover:  Thank goodness for Rip and his brave friends!  Oops.  Looks like he pulled a Luke Skywalker and lost yet another gunner.

Inspired by a recent post at Richard's Writing Ball blog, I pulled out an acquisition from earlier this year.  Featuring the heroic Rip Foster, Assignment In Space is copyrighted 1958 and written by someone who chose the equally heroic sounding pseudonym of Blake Savage.

Savage, indeed.  I read a couple of paragraphs out loud to my fourteen year old and felt my IQ drop several points.  For safety's sake, I'm turning a portion of this entry over to the Olympia SM9.

Hmm.  The graph paper has green lines but doesn't scan all that well.  Perhaps I will give the SM9 a black/red ribbon and see how that works.  Comments on unusual vintage paper choices are welcome.

Let's take a look at the back and some of the in between pages:

Back Cover:  Looking mighty Soviet what with the typography and the red suits.  Nice shot, Rip!

Mining thorium is hard.

Getting shot in Zero G is even harder.

"You shoot that ship while I kick a planet into the other one's path!"

Wow.  I just realized how sarcastic this post became.  Really, I did not intend it to be this snarky.  I guess too many standards committee conference calls in one day makes me peevish. 

So why did I bring this book home?  Extreme snark aside, I actually love the cover art and illustrations.  In retrospect, I realize now that my kids have access to much better literature than I ever did.  Hey old folks - remember "Dick and Jane" in first grade?  "Assignment in Space" is high literature in comparison.

Despite my diss, this is the kind of stuff I loved as a kid growing up in the Space Age.  Yes, worrying about nuclear Armageddon was no fun at all.  But dang, I watched the first lunar landing live on TV.  How cool is that?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Abandoned Analog

In the last week I have witnessed two separate instances of analog technology abandonment.  I suspect the perpetrators were hoping that someone would adopt their unwanted analog.  One pile of video tapes was around the corner from a row of dumpsters.  The box of albums was on a street corner planter.

Maybe putting up a sign that said "Free!" or "Please Take!" might have helped.  As it was, all but the most dedicated scrounger would wonder whether he or she were part of a stupid human video.

There are four dumpsters on the other side of that fence.
Remember VHS tapes?  I saw a Betamax player at a thrift shop recently.  Technology marches on.
How cryptic.
I like Flip Wilson.  However, I did not trust objects left in a random box on a street corner.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Aviation Graphics - 1942 Style

What a great cover.  It is a bit darker in person and roughly the same color as the Olympia SM3.
I found this copy Jordanoff's Illustration Aviation Dictionary in a local antique mall.  It is fabulous condition for a 70 year old book (copyright 1942).

I am kind of weird about vintage books.  I would not have hesitated to buy this book new through Amazon for $22.  Since I run into so many vintage books at garage sales and thrift stores for next to nothing, it felt strange paying real money for this one.

The owner of our favorite used book store is gearing up for a flood of unloved and unwanted books once everyone receives their Christmas iPads and readers.  He sees the coming year as an inventory building opportunity.

And now for some great graphics...

What typecast blog would be complete without Teletype?
The world used to be dependent on vacuum tubes.

Huh?  Paper mail?

Paper mail, explained.

Imagine, radios were as prominent in homes as LCD TVs are today.  Kind of makes me wonder what 2081 will look like.

Interference, or the wrath of vengeful gods?
As promised, here is a bonus graphic from the Slanguage appendix at the end.  Gingercat (Claire) spotted this one first.
Another word comes to mind.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Day I Became Annoyed With Blogspot

The new slideshow feature is horrible.  If we can't kill it with fire, then Google (Blogger) needs to take it back.  They should not upset their content farm providers.

The typewriters are unhappy as well.  Especially the ones with the itty, bitty typefaces.

I will restate the typecast below so that it shows up on search engines:  today I am as annoyed with Blogspot as I am with Facebook.  The latter is down to 2 visits a week after the last arbitrary feed changes.  Just saying...

UPDATED ALREADY:  I dug around in the user forums and found a way out that did not exist an hour ago.  I went back to the my Blogger Dashboard to the Settings.  Lo and behold, a new pull down had magically appeared that allows me to turn off the Lightbox "feature".  The arbitrary and automatic application of "Yes" was annoying to say the least.

I will still leave this typecast up for posterity. The typewriters appear to be happy again.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Olympia!!! SM3 - New Ribbon and Professional Elite Typecast

CLICK to see larger.  Back to photographing the typecast.  The scanner is not very subtle.
In the backyard studio.  We had to take advantage of the Fall weather.  The snow will blow soon enough.
 The above photo is probably the most accurate white balance and overall color.  We did not need another green typewriter.  Olympia's green is somewhere between the shade of the Hermes and that of the Oliver.  I like the color, but not as much as I like the typeface.  The whole family loves this typewriter.

Wait until they hear me banging away on it at midnight  ;-)

Olympia!!!!  All exclamation, all the time.  We may need to meter her espresso intake.
 The extreme shallow depth-of-field is courtesy of the Sigma 50mm f2.8 macro mounted on the Canon 60D.  The saturation and contrast on this lens is really nice.  My walk around is the Canon 50mm f1.4 because I like doing low light, but the Sigma is pretty special.

I may eventually grow to love crinkle finish.  I should have done a before cleaning photo, but yuck.
 I'm getting good at washing Olympia machines.  Fortunately, removing the mechanical system from the housing is easy and each is washed separately.  I have two fans ready to blow the moisture out quickly and spray lube at the ready.  Washing activities will most likely cease mid-winter when the garage is cold in spite of a quartz heater.  We're used to soldering and robot building with gloves on.

Gratuitous Detail.  I love Olympia typewriter's trademark turned metal bits.

Lovely type slugs.  So peppy!  Olympia is not a vary creative name for an Olympia branded typewriter, but in this case it fits the type personality.  Hmm, looks like I need to clean the slugs with mineral spirits and a toothbrush.
 As noted in the typecast, this typeface is known as Professional Elite #41.  I thought it was italic based on the ebay auction photos.  Having seen a sample each, I like this typeface better than the pure italic version.  Thanks to the Munk for making all things typeface available at:

German engineering at its finest.

Welcome to the House Full of Nerds, Olympia.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Master at Work - Pens and Journals

My kids volunteer at a local living history museum, the Mahaffie stagecoach stop along the original Santa Fe trail.  Their last big event, The Wild West Show, drew participants from all over the Midwest.  This display belongs to a gentleman who participated in the two year reenactment of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  Along the way, he kept journals with reproduction paper, binding, pens and inks.
Travel writing desk.  The books and paper are made from scratch.  The pressed marbled cover is a period reproduction.
Water reduced carbon black pigment inside.

Travel journal from the Lewis and Clark expedition reenactment.  Notice the compressed paper cover.

Hawk and goose feather quills.  The ends take six precise cuts.

He keeps a separate journal for events.

Reproduction ink and labeling.

So many pens!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Zeiss Ikon/ICA Folding Camera Circa 1926?

Kind of Steampunk and Beautiful, But What am I?

Click me to see larger.

Well, that's the best detective work I can do based on available information.  Disclaimer:  This is the Internet.  I am not an expert on this particular camera and its origins are speculation based on available facts.

Now that we have that over with, lets look at some of the fine details of this machine.  For anyone that is curious, this photo session was done with the Canon 60D outfitted with the unworldly good Sigma 50mm f2.8 macro lens.

Confused Identity 1 on the Leather Strap
Confused Identity 2 Screwed on Side of Case
Confused Identity 3 below Lens Assembly.  This is the tension lock for the rail focal length adjustment.
Lens and Shutter Assembly in Normal Position.  Note ICA, COMPUR and Carl Zeiss Jena Logos.  The lever to the right of the lens cocks the shutter.  The release is the the small lever sticking out the bottom left.  The lens and shutter assembly screw out of the end of the bellows.  The advertisement at the end lists some available lenses.
Normal focal length extension.

Neat Tricks.  The entire assembly slides past the normal focus range to provide macro capability.  The silver thumb screw above and to the left of the lens adjusts the height.  The big knurled knob below the lens allows the entire yoke to slide left or right.  This machine is all about bending light to adjust for whatever is in the field.  The thumb wheel towards the bottom center of the photo runs a geared extension for the rails.

Full height and full length extension.  The bellows are amazingly supple for its age.

This is the standard viewfinder and bubble level.  The level is a nice detail.  The height adjustment screw is on the right.
About this hump:  this is an aftermarket roll film adapter.  I miss having the original plate holder, but this actually makes the camera a bit more functional.  I wonder what brand name would have been on the back?
The adapter includes a simple knife gate to expose the film.

For basic research on vintage cameras, my favorite spot is

The complicated story of the Donata name is explained in part at

The closest make and model I could find good information on is the Zeiss Ikon Ideal 225.  For a phenomenal writeup and photos on this beautiful camera, follow the link...

Jo Lommen's Classic Press Cameras

Original advertising.  Source: