Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday thrift shop scores, with blame to go around

Did the rounds at Goodwill today. I found what I was looking for (a couple of outfits for church), and then did some poking though the chaos toward the back of the store, with some success!


The first bit of this particular CROP is a bit discolored, as you may or may not be able to see, but I think it's OK further in. I may just pass these off to my little nieces to use for coloring (we had a lot of fun with continuous feed paper when I was little--great for making your own "film strip"), but I had to try!

Here's the ink. Nothing too fancy, but it's not available anymore. And I do like the brightly colored (if plain) packaging!

No typewriters today, but you know, I'm kind of glad of it. If I see them, it's hard to walk away, and I still need to pare down. It's fun having some variety, but I have that already. And really, there isn't much that can top my current little group of keepers. That's rather a nice feeling. If I found a pica Hermes 3000, all bets would be off--I've said that before. But I'm awful blessed.

Oh, and during the car ride to and from and here, there and everywhere, I was listening (over and over) to The Innocence Mission's "Befriended," which is available from Amazon's MP3 downloads store, which made it way too easy to buy. This purchase was Cheryl/Strikethru's fault, as one of the tracks on that album was used as the background music for her recent video shoot of Ace Typewriter. If you haven't seen it, go check it out. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing.

One more little poem--a bit out of my usual zone. Started with the prompt "electric door".

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Random updates

My Silent Type submission is now in the mail, beyond recall. Every time I think about it, I practically break out in a cold sweat. The poems I've started posting recently are about the closest I've come to revealing what I consider "real" writing--goofy short stories that really aren't very serious don't count. And every time I try to do serious, it usually comes out sappy or overwrought or childish or all of the above, if not worse. In the past, I've posted poems here and immediately yanked them out of fearful self-consciousness, and this whole journal thing is bringing out fearful self-consciousness writ large. I actually sent both a poem and a short story--I figure if the story is too horrible to print, maybe the poem is OK. But I'm pretty sure one or both should never see the light of day again. Maybe I should stick to slightly cynical silliness.

I used the SCM Classic 12 for one of my two submissions since it partially inspired the idea; but I was reminded of how much we don't quite get along over anything but short typing sessions. It's sad, really. It works just fine except for needing a minor adjustment to the shift position, and I like its typeface better than pretty much anything else I have: pica, nice open letters without anything quirky about them. A Courier typeface, pretty much. Very pleasing to the eye. And I have no accuracy issues with it. However, something about the feel of it rubs me the wrong way after a brief period. After finishing typing my short short story one last time, I switched to the Hermes 3000 to type my poem, and I could have kissed the little thing. Not that I'd ever do something as silly as kissing a typewriter. Ahem. But it really is almost sinfully pleasurable to write on. I'm reminded of why I enjoyed NaNo '07 so much, when that little guy and I cranked out four or five or more pages a day together.

But I think the Classic 12 will be finding a new home. I'll probably post it on Craigslist in the next little bit. It deserves love and I don't have any to give it. Why I should feel so differently about its little sister the Galaxie, I have no idea. There is a difference in feel, though, similar as they *should* be. In a way, the 12 feels more solid...but I feel like I'm fighting it every step of the way.

In other news...I'm back to paper for writing longer works and poetry and most everything else. The netbook is an awesome little editing and transcribing machine and I had good luck with some short story writing, but when I attempted to move my current novel in progress to it, I almost immediately did what I usually do with digital writing of any semi-serious sort: I started writing and rewriting and rewriting the same scene over and over. And contrary to some popular opinions, repeated drafts don't necessarily get better and better, particularly when you delete one whilst writing the next. Eventually that whole scene went all herky-jerky and forced, and I gave up in disgust. I've gone back to my usual writing and crossing out on paper and have almost recovered, but I'm essentially using none of the words I wrote on the computer. So much for saving time by starting out in digital format!

I'm still loving the $2.50 pocket briefcase thingie from Staples. I couldn't find it when I was getting ready this morning and about had a heart attack. Don't want to go without it. I thought the fact that it's open would mean I'd never use it, but instead, it seems less fussy than the full wallet, and I'm using it constantly for lists and ideas and poems and addresses and anything else that needs scribbling. I've really switched over fully to index cards for all on-the-go or short writing at this point. Love that when I get home I can drop them into the appropriate category in my big card box (Staples has nifty snap-together 1000 card boxes for $5!), toss any I no longer need, and grab a new stack of blanks to keep going. I think I'll declare myself the Index Card Queen. I kinda doubt the title is taken.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Procrastination by means of poetry

Observation one: I've probably been listening to too much opera. These ain't exactly cheery, are they?

Observation two: poems do almost diddly-squat to up your word count. They do give you pretty much instant gratification, however, unlike your average novel.

Observation three: I couldn't come up with decent titles to most of what I write if you held a gun to my head.

Untitled #1:

Untitled #2:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Link: Confessions of a Computer Hater

I've long been a fan of Peter Kreeft, a Catholic writer, philosopher and professor at Boston College and one of the world's leading experts on the writings of CS Lewis. He has a knack for making the esoteric understandable and logical. And now I have another reason to like him: he's a typewriter kinda guy. My favorite quotes:

Despite my ordeal, I had not lost hope. "My name is Peter," I told myself, "and the Hell of Gates will not prevail against me." After all, after a mere twelve years of Herculean labors, I have actually figured out how to use Microsoft Word. Here's the secret: You must trick the computer. If it knows you're indenting, or paragraphing, or numbering, it will correct you. Only by doing something else entirely will the computer give you what you really want.

I have been there. Ooooh, I have been there. And I'm supposed to be a techie. Yes, I know how to work around Word, but I hate it that I have to do so.

And, of course, the money quote:
As for me, I'm done with it. I've found my way out with a relic as rare as a chastity belt: a beautiful little manual typewriter. It has no will, no devious designs, no nefarious stratagems. It's the honest, obedient slave the Industrial Revolution was intended to create. It's content to be my creature, and I adore it. Of course it takes longer to use than a computer, but who cares? Time ceases to matter when you're in love.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Inane Monday Night Typecast: Typewriter Bunnies

For the TV deprived or non-Western, here's the commercial I was referring to. WARNING: it's really, really catchy. "Yippee yi yay, mini sirloin burrrrrgers--hyah!"

The fact that I'm watching this while La Boheme plays in the background kind of adds...something. I'm just not sure what.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

This, that, and the other

1. For my follow index card aficionados: I was at Staples today, and as usual went and poked through the odds and ends in the clearance rack. The local one is currently clearing out all their Buxton index card jotter and wallet type things, for the princely sum of $2.50. I'm very happy with my International Pocket Briefcase, which works as a sort of clutch for me (I thank God for the individual with the initals MSR who sent this thing back, thus enabling a cheapskate like me to score a Levenger leather item for less than they'd usually charge for shipping...), but I still picked up the Buxton jotter. It's just a writing surface with room for three or four stacked cards and two pockets behind it for storage and organization of maybe ten or fifteen more (like Levenger's Shirt Pocket Briefcase). It's thin enough to fit nicely in the back pocket of a pair of jeans--something the International just can't manage, with its extra space for credit cards and cash and all. If any of you have been looking for an easy way to carry and write on index cards, get thee to a Staples.

2. I am official finding brushing my teeth half a dozen times a day to be very tedious. I've also decided that braces feel rather as though you have a circuit board mounted in your mouth, soldering points side out. Any of my fellow computer techy types who have ever raked knuckles across the backs of one of those suckers whilst probing computer innards will understand what I mean. They do give you this nifty wax stuff to put on the prickliest parts--it's rather like wax lips, or those wax bottles filled with unnaturally colored sugar water. Anyone else remember those? I wonder if they still sell 'em. Probably not. They were probably declared a choking hazard in the 90s. How did any of us manage to grow up?

EDIT: Found this site, which carries all sorts of old candies and toys, including wax lips and wax bottles. Also fangs and mustaches. Cool.... I'm not sure what I'd do with 24 of 'em...but I guess it's nice to know they're out there. I feel better about the world in general, ya know?

3. I have been doing heavy transcribing, and thus haven't written a thing in several days. For previous hand-written stories, I've generally stopped every four or five thousand words to digitize, but with last year's NaNo, I got behind and stayed behind, and now I suddenly am faced with the task of typing in some 80,000 words, at a guess. Well...60,000 now, after a TON of work. It's to the point where I'm really not editing as I go--I'm just trying to get it in so I can start mashing it around and organizing it. I didn't worry about organization or redundant scenes or anything else as I was writing--I just charged ahead.

Transcribing on this scale is a pain in the neck. But it does dump me back into the depths of my story. And some of the writing is actually not bad. I don't think I can write that way on the computer. On the computer, I tend to be more flippant, more wordy; it's very hard to write meaningful dialog or soul-felt, serious thoughts. It may be that I just need more practice. It may be that I should just get better about transcribing as I go instead of being a lazy bum and putting it off for six months. I'm not sure. Part of my problem may also be that I love the physical act of writing with my fountain pens on paper, or on my typewriters, and I make excuses as to why I should do things the hard way. I wish I had an objective way to measure. It sure would be cool if I could write a scene or a story, forget that I'd written it but not the *idea* of it, and write it with another medium so I could compare the two. Unfortunately, I can't think of a way to do that....

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

JuST making excuses

I didn't write yesterday and haven't written much today because I JuST got braces. And had four teeth out. I've got crowding issues that were starting to catch up with me, and it was either get braces or have on-going problems that would likely cost at least as I chose the braces.

I feel like a total dork, not to mention like I have the front end of a large automobile caught in my teeth. And I feel like I'm going to be living as an awkward adolescent *again* for two years in my early thirties.

On the other hand, all that angst is sure to generate some writing ideas, right?

My initial reaction to my friend saying I should really take a before picture showing all my teeth...

OK, so I can *sort* of smile, too.

I still feel like a dork. And man, that's a lot of metal.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Writing in the pink

Well, I did it. I bought a little netbook. I's probably right before the next big thing, and I probably should have waited, but this is my usual MO. And honestly, there's nothing on the horizon that really makes a difference to me. I don't need the ability to watch heavy-duty video on a netbook, I'm OK with not getting Windows 7 the instant it hits the shelves, and the price on this model just dropped (at least in some places on-line) because there's a new replacement model out.

It's a Samsung NC10, and it's pink and white. Yes, pink. A nice pink--dark and sparkly, not pastel or bubblegum. I admit I mostly bought pink because it was the cheapest, but I like it. It's gloss, so it does pick up fingerprints like nobody's business, but it's pretty.

And the keyboard is pretty darned comfortable. I'm impressed thus far. Small, but very solid. Some of the buttons are in slightly odd places or are smaller than normal size (most noteably the arrow/end/page up and down keys), but not nearly as much so as most of the other netbooks I examined at Best Buy before mail ordering. I could touch type straight off, at least on the letter keys. Given a little bit more time, I don't believe it will be any more of an adjustment than going from a computer to a typewriter or a desktop to a laptop or any of the above to the Alphasmart. Speaking of which, somehow my brain has it identified as an Alphasmart, so I keep trying Alphasmart key combination and navigating with arrow keys instead of just using the l'il touchpad. Note to self: CTRL-W is *not* a good key combo to keep hitting in regular Windows applications! This is punishment for being a compulsive word count checker, it would seem.

I have it loaded up with Open Office, yWriter5, FreeMind, and very little else, and plan to keep it that way. It came surprisingly free of bloatware. Which, incidentally, is a word accepted by Firefox's spellchecker, unlike touchpad. Strange, that.

I believe I shall call it Mary Sue, after a laptop in one of my own unfinished novels. How narcissistic is that? Don't answer that.

Over the years I've come to be more and more reluctant to review a product until I've spent a good deal of time with it, so this isn't a review. But I will say, if this lives up to my initial impressions, this may well be the laptop I've been looking for since I first became enamored of them ten or twelve years ago when they were still thick heavy bricks with dim, fuzzy screens, clunky pointing devices and miserable battery life. It's lightweight and very portable, it looks like I'll get at least six or seven hours of battery life, the screen is clearer than my other computer, the keyboard feels good, it'll go in my book bag or purse, and it's cute and pretty and pink. There are some other cool little features, too: the mouse gestures it allows are pretty handy--instant zoom-in or out, for one. It of course doesn't have a very big screen, which is mostly an issue when web surfing (something I hope to keep to a minimum on this machine anyhow). It tends to help me focus, since I can really only view one task at a time. Kind of the Alphasmart outlook on life. It does get a little warm, unlike an Alphasmart, and seven hours of battery life pales in comparison with 700. But I can't imagine doing any editing work on an Alphasmart. I avoid even scrolling back to change a word here and there. This should be just fine for that. It isn't a gaming machine and there are far better computers for watching videos and such, but it may be close to the best portable writing machine available at this time.

Added about eight hundred words to another short story in half an hour at the coffee house this morning, which is good considering I was so self-conscious when I first took it out that I wasn't sure I'd be able to write. I wasn't worried about the relative oddity of the thing, but I live in terror lest someone actually read a sentence or two of what I'm writing--something that isn't as much of an issue with handwritten notes. I am a bundle of neuroses.