Category Archives: blather

Typewriter pr0n!

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Remington keys 4

Image by carljohnson via Flickr

If, like me, you spent a significant part (though hopefully it won’t turn out to be the majority) of your life in the 20th century, you may share an unreasoned love of typewriters. I got rid of my last typewriter, a lightly and lovingly used IBM Selectric, back in ’95, once it was clear that I would never again want to cast a keystroke that wasn’t captured in the e-world. But that didn’t dim the romance of keys, carriage and bell, and the entire industry that grew up around it. My long-time home of Syracuse was the original home of Smith (later Smith-Corona) typewriters, as well as at least three other typewriter factories. Typewriter money built three of Syracuse University’s landmark buildings. I still have a beautiful Remington Noiseless, proud product of the Remington factory in Ilion – I fell in love with it at a junk shop on the west side of Syracuse and walked its heavy frame through the slums to get it home. It still serves a decorative purpose, a rare beauty that carried two sets of characters on each striker, but my dream of finding a second one for parts and getting it back into working order is a dream deferred.

So if you share this love that dares not carbon copy its name, you’ll appreciate this wonderful site: The Martin Howard Collection of Antique Typewriters. These are marvelous creations from the earliest days of typewriting, before QWERTY was the rule, and every one is a gem, a technological dream from another time. Please to enjoy.

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That one perfect spring day

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Yesterday was that day, that one perfect spring day when everyone comes outside. I rode through Washington Park, and it was full of people. Crossings in Colonie, full of people. Corning Preserve, full of people. Westland Hills Park – well, to be fair, I didn’t even know it existed, but even there there were at least a few people. Bright, sunny, warm, wonderful day. People were friendly. I had a long chat with some folks at the boat launch, which almost never happens, while watching the rowers come in off the river. A guy who almost hit me actually (and sincerely) apologized, and I was in such a good mood I brushed it off like nothing had happened. (And in fact the sun was definitely in his eyes). It was that kind of day.

Craziest ride route ever, covering some of the most dangerous streets in Albany, hills just for the hell of it, back streets I’d never been on before, all because I had to run to the Down Tube to get a patch and tube, having forgotten my saddlebag when I changed bikes. The Roubaix now has a new chain, two rings, cassette and brake pads (odo 8374.6k) – you’re supposed to replace them every thousand miles or two, and they had five on them, so it was definitely time.

Time to answer my spam!

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She blinded me with computer science

Image by carljohnson via Flickr

The e-mail spammers seem to have just about given up; although some of them are now bothering to spell all the words in “My friend in Christ” correctly, they are now actually including the word “SPAM” in their subject lines, pretty much daring you to open the latest Nigerian timeshare bequest franchise opportunity. But comment spammers have gotten much more sophisticated, stringing together sentences that are not only entirely in proper English, but which sometimes seem sincere and perhaps even relevant. Such as: “Hey there . . . I just needed to say thanks for sharing your ideas with this site. After checking out all of this blog, I’m interested in a few of your feelings on the latest earthquakes ravaging various countries. Thanks.” Then they blow it by signing it “Car Insurance Cheap Quote” and linking to a malware site – but I was touched for a moment! If you really wanted to know, my feelings are that earthquakes are bad, and should be outlawed. Someone named “Debt Consolidation Help” – and if that were my name, I’d go by the nickname “DC” – wants to know just what template I’m running on this particular website. He truly likes it. Well, thank you, DC. And Alisa Wheatcroft, who, judging by her link, is very big in the candleholder industry, wrote me a wonderful treatise on how people used to customize vehicles with neon lighting. That the entry she was commenting on had nothing to do with any of those words does not in the least diminish my appreciation for the time she, or her robot, took to comment.

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College: shiny and expensive

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Things I’ve learned from our ongoing tours of the finest scientific and technical institutions of the Northeast:

  • Classrooms no longer have wooden seats from before the Great War in which you desperately try to find a comfortable position after an hour’s recitation on the Finnish Resistance, only to find that an entire side of your body has gone to sleep and you are involuntarily groaning as you rearrange limbs.
  • We’ve seen professors eating in the student center. As if they existed outside the classroom. (This may be a trick played on prospective students.)
  • Pools and fitness centers at every campus are more beautiful than the Taj Mahal. (Ours was more like descending into the Grotto of Eternal Dank.)
  • The curriculum is back! Some courses are actually required, Eurocentric or not! (So take that, dead-white-men-hating hippies!)
  • At most schools, arts classes are no longer limited to arts majors. The technical schools even encourage that you use that other side of your brain now and then, and practice rooms are not reserved exclusively for music majors. (In fact, some dorms have rooms for schlep-free practicing).
  • There is coffee everywhere. This is a major and welcome change. In my day, there were two places on the Quad to get coffee, and it wasn’t possible to get through either of them in the 10 minutes between classes.
  • There is also food everywhere. Not sure if that’s good or not, but it’s certainly of a wider variety than we were offered. A bagel was considered exotic back then.
  • Bicycles are everywhere. It warms my heart. (Helmets, not so much, but who needs a helmet in the city, right?)
  • Colleges today actually care if you succeed. They even do things to make it happen. (So take that, student strike hippies!)
  • They not only care if you succeed, they seem to want you to get out and get jobs.
  • At the good schools,  job fairs attract real companies, the kind you hear mentioned on the stock report. At journalism school, our job fair attracted The Weekly Reader and Ranger Rick. And those were the good jobs.
  • Those stores are only selling bongs because of the student interest in materials science that makes heat-resistant glass. I’m so sure. And the hemp advocates are only looking out for the working farmer.
  • Unlike in my day, students are no longer limited to 10 hours of computer time per semester. I think that’s probably a good thing.

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Couch Olympics

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This day calls for a couch and some Olympics. Long drives just wear me out, especially when a large-scale mattress crisis (not the kind where it falls off the roof of some beater to which it had been tied with twine, the kind where an entire mattress truck jackknifes on one of the busiest exit ramps on all of I-90) adds an extra hour to the trip home. No surprises from this trip to another citadel of higher education, though – elder daughter likes good schools.

Off to the couch.

Know your Presidents!

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Martin Van Buren

Image by carljohnson via Flickr

In honor of Presidents’ Day, our generation’s way of efficiently ignoring our country’s heritage of leadership by lumping two national heroes together, I thought I’d share with you some little-known presidential facts.

  • James A. Garfield never wore a tie. His assassination, often ascribed to a crazed anarchist, was in fact a calculated commission by the cravat cabal.
  • William Howard Taft was the only William Howard Taft ever to become president.
  • Franklin Pierce, although he came from New Hampshire, was the first future U.S. president to be born in the nineteenth century.
  • Chester Alan Arthur, buried right here in Menands, despised Martin Van Buren for being buried right here in Kinderhook. He also never hugged his mother.
  • Benjamin Franklin was the only president of the United States who was never president of the United States.
  • Millard Fillmore ran a small tailoring shop in the East Wing of the White House to supplement his income and, as he put it, “to keep my hand in.”
  • James Buchanan, who allowed the Confederate secession and the loss of Federal arsenals, forts and troops, often referred to himself as “the worst president in history.”
  • Calvin Coolidge enjoyed riding with the top down.
  • William Henry Harrison had no idea who “Tippecanoe” was, and John Tyler flatly refused to tell him.
  • Although historians and academics rarely acknowledge it, both Washington and Lincoln traditionally bought new bedding on their birthdays. Combining their birhdays into a single Federal holiday was meant to put an end to the Mattress Wars and ease the consciences of loyal Americans who fretted over which president to honor with a new mattress purchase.
  • There was no 24th president.
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This looks horrible!

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And I had it so stylin’, too. Don’t worry, I’ll find a way to get that funky fresh look back, get the pieces I wanted where I wanted them, and all that stuff. Also, there were a couple of new comments in the last day or two, which I have to import over here, but don’t worry, I’ll get them and answer the questions.

You tube

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You ain’t seen nothin’. You and I will stick together. You and your symptoms. You are my girl. You are my sunshine. You are not needed now. You baby. You be my baby. You belong to me. You belong to me. You better watch out. You bowed down. You came along. You can bring your dog. You can close your eye. You can do it. You can run. You can’t always get what you want. You can’t blame that on me. You can’t catch me. You can’t catch me. You can’t catch me. You can’t do that. You can’t get what you want (till you know what you want). You can’t make me. You can’t resist it. You can’t sit down. You could make a killing. You didn’t have to. You didn’t mean anything to me. You do. You do. You do something to me. You don’t love me. You don’t bring me flowers. You don’t have to be strong. You don’t have to go. You don’t have to tell me. You don’t have to walk in the rain. You don’t know. You don’t know what love is (you just do as you’re told). You don’t love me. You don’t love me anymore. You don’t mess around with Jim. You don’t miss your water. You don’t satisfy. You don’t wanna know. You don’t know like I know.

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I Tunes

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I knew. I (heart) metal buildings. I ain’t done wrong. I ain’t gonna suffer no more. I ain’t got you. I ain’t the one. I alone. I am a grocery bag. I am a man of constant sorrow. I am a rock. I am a rock. I am a rock. I am a tangerine. I am history. I am not your broom. I am sincere. I am sincere. I am the law. I am the lucky one. I am the sea. I am the walrus. I am the walrus. I am weary (let me rest). I been burning bad gasoline. I believe. I believe. I believe. I believe in miracles. I believe to my soul. I call out her name. I can hear music. I can make it if you can. I can make it with you. I can see clearly now. I can see for miles. I can take or leave your loving. I can taste it. I can wait. I can’t be satisfied.

I can’t believe it. I can’t breathe. I can’t control myself. I can’t explain. I can’t figure you out. I can’t forget you. I can’t get behind that. I can’t get my head around it. I can’t get next to you. (I can’t get no) satisfaction. I can’t get over you. I can’t get you out of my mind. I can’t give you anything. I can’t help you anymore. I can’t hold on. I can’t hold on. I can’t hold on. I can’t hold on. I can’t let go. I can’t let go. I can’t let go. I can’t make it. I can’t make it. I can’t make it on time. I can’t pretend. I can’t reach you. I can’t stand it. I can’t stand it. I can’t stand up for falling down. I can’t talk anymore. I can’t tell the bottom from the top. I can’t think about dancing. I can’t turn you loose. I can’t win. I can’t turn you loose.

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