Thursday, May 29, 2014

When Typewriter Nerds Dream

Last night I dreamed I was meeting up with someone in response to a Craigslist ad. I don't remember the ad itself (as is so often the case with dreams, this one started abruptly at a given moment, with no history), but I do remember I was expecting a portable. Instead, she showed up with a HUGE Hermes Ambassador.

Or...kinda. Really, it was as if my subconscious took all the features I like about various '50s and '60s standards, slapped them together, and painted them Hermes green. It was sort of like a broad-headed Olympia SG-1 with Hermes keys.

Being me, instead of examining it poker face and coyly leading into a discussion of price, I gushed on and on about all things Hermes first, and then asked how much. "$73.58," I was told, and even as a dream price that seemed ridiculously specific. But I also realized that a) it was way out of my price range, and b) I hadn't brought any cash along anyway. I told her I had friends who sort of collected typewriters, and wanted to take pictures of it so I could show it to them, and she agreed.

But then I noticed a wall-sized mainframe thing in the back room and got obsessed with taking pictures of *that*, which was tricky because the lighting wasn't good and I couldn't get back far enough to get the whole HUMONGOUS thing into the frame. When I finally got enough decent pictures to satisfy me and went back to look at the was gone. She'd taken it away somewhere. So, sadly, I have no proof and cannot promote the sale of this rare beast.

I think all this was brought on by the fact that we currently have some server room equipment (primarily a large enclosed rack) for sale on Craigslist, and said rack currently resides in a storage cage in the basement of a building where we used to have offices, and the last time I was down there, an IBM Selectric (III?) languished in another cage, and I coveted it mightily. Probably long gone, poor thing.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rotation, Rotation

I appear to be in nerdy over-analysis mode for the moment, so here we go again.

The other day, I was writing with a ballpoint and realized I was rotating it slightly--sort of rolling it to the left--at the end of each line, or whenever I lifted my hand for a moment. It's something I do--something we all do, I assume--with wooden pencils without even thinking about it, so the point wears evenly, but it has no real purpose with pens except to sort of reseat your grip every so often. The only reason I noticed was because the clip on this particular pen kept getting in the way now and again, and I finally figured out it was coming around the rotation every so many lines and rubbing against my hand--until I rotated it away again.

I do this with mechanical pencils, too, to the point where when I picked up a Uni Kuru Toga pencil (which rotates the very point of the pencil for you to maintain a consistent point), we fought--because I couldn't break myself of the habit of turning the pencil, even though it was rotating for me.

Now...obviously I don't do this with fountain pens, or they'd stop working every time I got to the end of a line. So my subconscious apparently has it figured out that they're another species. Why, then, does it lump most other pens with pencils, I wonder?

Interestingly, I appear to rotate pencils to the right and pens to the left. That's even weirder.

Are you a rotator? Do you keep rolling in a particular direction or is it random? Does your brain distinguish between pencils and pens?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Identifying Bic Cristals

This is totally nerdy, and I may be the only person on the planet who cares, but here we go anyhow!

As I mentioned in the comments on my recent post about Bic Cristals, I ended up splurging (for about three bucks) on a box of the new Easy Glide variety. When I got them home, I realized I couldn't easily tell them apart from the older "writes farther" variety I already had on hand. They're clear, and they don't have any model number or anything easily visible on the pen. So...I resorted to a piece of blue paper. What will my boss think if she comes across pens labeled "smooth?" Unknown.

But today, as I was A/B-ing these pens again, something caught my eye. There *is* a difference! The "Bic" logo is farther back from the point on the "Smooth" model than it is on the older type.

Top: Bic Cristal Easy Glide. Bottom: Bic Cristal "Writes Longer"

So there ya go. If you come across one in the wild and are wondering what it's your field guide.

Monday, May 12, 2014

How Does My Garden Grow?

This weekend friends with a truck helped me haul dirt and fill all my Smart Pots, so the garden is beginning to take real shape!

I have a few seedlings which may or may not survive transplanting (cucumbers and tomatoes), planted summer squash and delicata squash this weekend, and hope to get tomato plants, pepper plants, and onion starts in the next week. Sugar snap peas are already growing in the fake ceramic pot to the left in the top photo.

I've labeled the pots with index cards for now, with the descriptions written in bright blue, fade-proof Uni-ball Vision ink. Time will tell how the paper holds up to repeated watering and drying out. Hopefully it lasts long enough that the plants have grown enough I don't need ID--that's really all I ask.

And now...we wait!

Monday, May 05, 2014

Forgive Me

Forgive me, pen snobs and pencil fans, for I have slummed.

In my defense, the Internet has been conspiring against me. First Rhodia Drive got me feeling all nostalgic, then it felt like I kept running across these on Instagram and Twitter all week. I had to pick up laundry detergent today, and these were there...begging. And I was feeling down today, and when I'm feeling down, I have no resistance to begging pens.

OK, they're skinny. They take some pressure to move. The ink is less than perfectly black. They certainly aren't the best pens in the universe. But I can still stick a piece of paper with my name on it inside the clear barrel so they don't walk away. And they make me think of scribbling at the kitchen table as a kid. And, above all, they were CHEAP.

So there.