Wednesday, 26 September 2012

I'm back and swinging....

I've done a fair bit of blogging lately, but I've not done a lot of actual writing. It's really easy to find the inspiration to blog, but often it is harder to find the personal fortitude to throw a piece of yourself down on paper, and then send it to someone for their personal edification. It is a connection between you and that person that is different to the mass audience of a blog.

So I've set about about rectifying this problem. I've not written many letters lately, and I feel that this situation needs to be rectified.

So... out come the keyboards.

Fear my keyboarding wrath! 

Oh? What's that.... Is that..... 

Yes. I have an Oliver now... I haven't written about the Oliver yet, but there's a tale to be told. 

But that's not all. Oh no. There is another typer that I have used this evening that is quite unique, and I had sought after for quite some time. There's a letter from it that is now on its way to a rural setting in California. 

You know who you are...

And I don't think I will reveal this special typer until I've written to a few other people yet. 

Anybody wanting to correspond? 

So again, the type bars are swinging, and I'm feeling pretty good about myself again. Writing is pleasurable and enjoyable. 

What do you mean, you thought I might have been talking about a different kind of swinging? What kind of other swinging is there? 

...... oh. I think I need more wine. 

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

A Platen I'm Filthy About.



The one fault that wasn't shown in the ad. 

And yes. That's a nail. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

The World's Fastest Hermes.....

Here over at Filthy HQ, I occasionally feel the need to actually go to work. Most of the time, this need seems to occur pretty consistently on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday... and surprisingly Friday. This usually occurs on a weekly basis.

Work however, is at the moment an astonishing 40 kilometres by road from where my bedroom (the other place I visit frequently) is currently situated.

In order to overcome this obstacle, I often employ a variety of transport methods. There's the Train, which also involves a lovely 25 minute walk on each trip. There's the car, which involves fighting for space in traffic jams - against roo-bar laden Utes driven by testosterone filled drivers before paying an absurd price for parking. And then there's my favourite, the Motorcycle, which involves fighting with pretty much everyone, but parks for free.

I.... LOVE my motorbike. Not more than cheese, but I love it dearly. I'm not an occasional weekend rider, as I ride several times a week. My motorcycle has roughly 10 times the amount of kilometres on it that most motorbikes in Brisbane have before they end up being parked in a dusty corner of the garage, only to be occasionally peeked at by men and women that want to feel the pangs of their rebellious youth.

This week, I had a little bit of company on my motorcycle. It was a mechanical friend by the name of 'Kermit'. Kermit is a green Hermes baby made in 1957, and is in astonishingly good condition. Kermit is unique in that he also has a green ribbon to go with his hospital green looks, and is often stocked up with green paper.

It ain't easy being green...

Hi-ho, Hi-ho, it's off to work we go...... Oh wait, I'd better secure that handle.

I was going to visit a friend of mine afterwork and drop Kermit back her. 'Baroness' has been using Kermit for a variety of things of late - Scrapbooking, letter writing, diarising etc. and I was pretty eager to get Kermit back into her hands. 

Baroness is a very lovely friend of mine that I previously had worked with. About a month or so ago she was diagnosed with a 'DNET', a kind of brain tumour that is a bit like the tumour equivalent of a ugly inherited piece of furniture in your home. It doesn't grow on you, nor destroys your world, but it just offsets everything and is generally an annoyance when you find yourself occasionally kicking it because it is shaped wrong - leaving you with bruises and scrapes. Not to mention, you can just never seem to bring yourself to get rid of it.

I had a bit of a logistical problem this day, transporting Kermit. The Ventura bag that sits on the frame on my motorcycle had been co-opted for use by Ms Jane a few months ago for use on her cruiser, and as such was still with her. 

It would have been absurd just driving to work, so that I could sit Kermit in the car, and incur a $22 parking bill, only to transport one little typewriter. 

So, I stuck some padding on the bars of the frame, and brought out the magical, mystical hold-alls known as 'Occy straps'. I always keep at least one of these straps somewhere on my motorbike. 

Before long Kermit and I were heading down the road together. I occasionally lifted my elbow, and looked into my rear vision mirror to check and see if Kermit was still okay on the back. 

Do you have protection? 

I may never manage 96wpm on the keyboard of Kermit, but Kermit was just fine at 120km/h.

Ooops. No, sorry officer, I didn't exceed the speed limit. Honest. 

......... Anyway. 

I got to work by about 6:40am, and unstrapped Kermit from my bike. There was no way... NO WAY I was going to leave him out in public. Who knows what might get typed on him! I returned at about 3:30, and strapped him back on again, ready to fight the traffic up Bowen-bridge and Gympie roads. 

I hate Bowen-bridge road on a motorcycle. And hate is far from being too strong a word. The outbound direction of this road has 4-5 lanes, and can often be jam packed. When it isn't jam packed, it is usually filled with trucks, buses, utes and wanna-be race car drivers that are bewildered by the sheer width of a road that isn't a freeway and has many streets and turn-offs feeding in and out of it. 

But I had to go this way. I zipped my jacket tight, pulled my helmet on and.... "Is that a typewriter"? Ms Jane, who works in the same hospital as I had come up behind me. There was an eye-rolling in her tone, but only slight. I explained to her that it was on its way over to a friends place, and then we chatted for a few moments about the kind of day we'd been having at work. 

I had calmed down a bit now, and I felt confident again to take on Bowen-bridge road, and its extension - the dreaded Gympie road. 

Every chance I got, I blasted my way away from the traffic on these roads. It would only be a brief respite though, as I would quickly join another group of bad drivers at the next set of traffic lights, before also finding the previous set joining me from behind. I typically don't split traffic on my bike, and today was no exception. On these roads the unpredictability of the traffic can be fatal. 

Every time I bolted from a cluster of traffic, or manouvered my way around it, I would check under my elbow to see if I had inadvertently lost Kermit in the ruckus. But Kermit was holding tight, maybe for dear life... maybe just because I actually was pretty good at strapping him down. 

I found my lane compromised by cars on a couple of occasions, and I utilised the emergency lane to get away from these morons and ahead of some large clusters of jammed and uptight traffic. In these clusters a dangerous dynamic occurs; people become agitated and aggressive. This is a fear response, and the most aggressive drivers lapse into a kind of fight or flight tunnel vision, and they are unable to process the complex situation around them. 

As such, the basic parts of the brain assesses you for a threat. We all have a false sense of security in our car cages, and as such a motorcyclist - being a smaller entity, tends to be regarded as inferior. People will often turn into your lane on top of you, as though you were never there. And to them, you weren't. Their brains processed you as non existent. This can happen in heavy traffic, and speeding light traffic, as people's brains often find themselves over-stimulated while planting their foot. 

As a motorcyclist, the quicker you learn about this, the longer you will survive. No one rides a motorcycle with the misapprehension that they are safe, even though many riders often take higher risks than they should. This is unlike car drivers, that are caged from the exterior world and largely feel safe and secure, even if the annual road toll doesn't bare this out. 

Anyway, Kermit hung in there completely unfazed. I eventually turned off Gympie road and felt my heart rate slowly drop. Kermit is now back in Baroness's study, awaiting his next task. I would love to see a letter from Kermit from time to time, but it is great to see him back in use again. Kermit is quite the traveller!

And while Kermit isn't as quick to write on as - say my computer's keyboard, while sticking it out on the back of my bike, he's the world's fastest Hermes in my books. 

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Bijou, the Royal and the Messenger....

It's no secret that I met one of my Typosphere heroes earlier this week. And although I travelled down to Canberra with the specific intention of visiting Robert's exhibition, I feel I should blog about the man that was at the core of the exhibition first.

I've met many passionate men in my life, and they have always inspired me. Robert is certainly one such man. Through groups on the internet, I have met with over 300 people. I've met many interesting and unique characters over the years, and while many of them are forgettable, Rob certainly isn't.

But as always, let me tell you a tale.

I settled down to the 'Blicked' IBM selectric at Robert's exhibition when it dawned on me - that I could give this visit a little bit of online life. Why not use this unique machine to write a typecast? Why not make this typecast instant - like a live typecasting on Facebook. I started to tap at the keys and surprised myself by how quickly I could manage to find my way around this modified keyboard. Within a minute I was lifting my eyes from the keyboard and touch typing on a truly foreign setup.

I had arrived at the exhibition not having been able to reach Robert via facebook or his blog to organise to meet up, but I wasn't too despondent about this, and I had accepted by this stage that I may not get to meet him on this occasion - so I decided that while I was at the keyboard I would tap out a letter to Rob, and hope he would be surprised to find it sitting on the table if he swung by.

A moment after I had wrote it, I pasted it up on Facebook, and tagged Robert in one of the photos.

I shifted seats to another machine, an Olivetti 32, and decided to write to the typosphere. In moments I had a posting ready to go - and subsequently uploaded it live onto Facebook. I returned to the IBM and settled into mastering its keyboard.

Note the keyboard. Yes... Notice it? 

There was a creek of a door opening behind me. I spun around to find an attractive, well dressed lady slipping through it with an anxious smile. She looked me in the eye as I peeked at her over my shoulder, and after a moment passed, asked me "Are you, um. Scott Kernaghan"?

This was rather unexpected. I knew right away what had happened - Rob had seen my posting on the Antique Typewriter group, and called her up. "Yes" I answered.
"Rob saw your post on Facebook and has asked if you could hang about for a bit. He'd really like to meet you".

I could barely get any words out. "R...Really" I stammered, rather surprised but excited about this turn of events.
"Yes! And he says he has something for you".

The lady scrolled through her iPhone's contacts looking for Rob's number, but had to return upstairs to call Rob back - as she didn't have his number in her phone. Before long, Rob was strutting through the doors of the exhibit, with a case in his hand. There were other people in the room, and I think Rob thought that the gentleman that was now at the IBM's keyboard was me. It wasn't and he seemed very surprised when I called across the room with an excited smile 'Robert'!

Rob and I talked, and before long he had me tapping away on the Bijou that he'd brought me. I was so excited... the machine was amazing, and I was so grateful that he'd given this to me. A few photos were taken, and Robert made a comment about my typing that actually took me by surprise. "Well, you can touch type"! It turns out Robert doesn't, which had me momentarily stunned. Stunned because he was a collector of typewriters, not because he was a Journalist. Almost all of the Journalists I have ever met have been two-finger typists - I think it comes with the territory.

I told Robert that I've been using Typewriters since I was 5. I had seen a fleet of them coming through our house as my Grandfather used to be a call-out typewriter mechanic for Adler - which repaired every brand of typer.

*   *   *

Rob and I took off to a near-by cafe to have lunch. We talked typewriters, phones, family, journalism and.... well... I checked out the Canberra fashion. It wasn't bad. Rob was charming and knowledgable. I loved sharing my limited stories with him, and learned a lot from Rob as he talked about some of the other people he's met along the way with his typewriters. 

Rob suggested that I could come over to his place and have a look at some of his collection. I eagerly jumped at the chance, as I had been hoping to have an opportunity to have a look at some of the other machines that Rob had featured online. Robert had been transferring his collection from his paid storage sheds to his home, and he explained that he felt a little awkward about letting me have a look while the collection was in such disarray. He shouldn't have worried. I loved it. 

We returned to Robert's car - a Mitsubishi wagon that was filled with machines he was transferring, along with machines he'd used to demonstrate typewriters at a primary school earlier that day. Robert re-arranged some machines to give me some space to sit, and while doing so grabbed a 2012 Scattori (not sure if that is the correct spelling) and placed it on the roof of his car for me to try. 

I had expected the Royal to be rubbish - but I was surprised by how nicely it typed. I tapped out a couple of lines, and found it a very competent machine - with the exception of the cheap plastic keys that I doubt will go the distance. For a typewriter less than a year old though, I was pretty surprised.

Again Robert was surprised to see me touch typing - this time on a machine on the roof of his car, with the keyboard sitting at about chin height. I wasn't showing off.... I swear! 

*   *   *

Robert's 1000+ strong collection left me speechless. If there was ever and Aladdin's cave of the typosphere, this was it. One of the machines I wanted so desperately to see - was Robert's red Royal QDL. I had never seen one in person, and was really hoping to lay my eyes on it. But soon I didn't care. I eventually did see it, but I only looked at it briefly, as there were so many other AMAZING machines grabbing my attention. There was so much I had never seen before.

Rob took me through a few of his typewriters in his lounge. But I just was lost for words. So many cool things to see - so little time. 

Outside of his garage again, Robert grabbed a Blick out of his car, and placed it on wheelie bin. While Robert shuffled about looking for something, I gave the Blick a good go. And I have to say.... I think I want one. It extraordinarily well made and responsive. I felt confident about writing with it, and I started to see why Robert loved it so much. It was an amazing machine. 

How cool is this thing! I mean.... How cool is this thing!!!!!

Robert kept insisting that if I see a machine I like, I should take it. I saw a lot of machines I liked, but I didn't feel filling the plane was a good idea. And besides - I had too many machines as it was. I explained this to Robert, and when I told him how many he just laughed. It did seem pretty ridiculous, saying that I had too many while we were standing in an ocean of typewriters. 

But then I set my eyes on a beautiful Chrome Royal portable. Yes.... Shiny things attract me - I'm shallow like that. 'WOW'! I exclaimed, and moments later Robert had it sitting on top of another wheelie bin, while he demonstrated some of the problems that the machine had. 

A Robertus Messengerius in its natural habitat - the improvised typewriter bench. 

Rob knows his stuff. He really does. And it was absolutely awesome to meet him, and I really hope that I can chat to him again soon, if not visit again. I felt awkward about taking two of his typewriters - even if the Chrome Royal is in such a poor state of operation, and he gave it to me with the promise if getting it working. But Robert seemed more than happy to hand these machines over to me, and I was too excited by them to say no. But I knew that two would be my limit for the plane. 

On the way to the plane. 

Getting the machines on the plane is another, rather entertaining story, and worth the effort as  I now have both machines sitting at my feet, at the foot of the 1920's dining room table that I use as a desk. 

Meeting Rob made the whole trip worth while. Not for the free typewriters, that I am sure that one day I will repay him somehow for these - but because it was really worth the time meeting him, along with seeing his exhibit. He's a gentleman, and a walking - talking encyclopaedia of typewriters. And and an amazing and passionate collector. I only realised afterwards that Rob's blog barely touches on the passion Rob has for these machines, which in their own unique way - have made Robert a collector of fine works of art. 

And I know he appreciates every piece of art he owns. 

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Couple of quick snaps. (no typewriters sorry)

Just a couple of photos I had previously promised...

Firstly, Adwoa... For some reason I have misplaced my individual photos of each of these machines. Which is a bit of a loss, as the machine on the far end of this photo is actually quite interesting - and very turn-o-the-century. That said, they had a handful of beautiful cast iron machines at this museum. And the mandatory 'Singer' models seemed to dominate here too. I'll find the photos eventually, I promise. There were more machines than were visible in this shot. 

I could only imagine the amount of work it would have taken to make the pieces that are below...

Beautiful... This dress is a work of art on its own, and great example 'of the era'. Unfortunately my phone's camera was't quite up to catching the detail in this light. 

A very sombre dress. But it really seems to dominate the room. 

Ahhh yes, the WW2 women's dress uniform. Often seamstress's in these country towns worked to make the uniforms off patterns for the local volunteers. 

 *   *   *

And now to Richard... You asked if the nudge bar on the front of my car was a 'Roo bar'. Here are a couple of shots of the local's vehicles with their Roo bars. Roo bars are quite a necessity out in this region.

As you can see, they encompass the headlights as well. Some vehicles add bars down the side, to protect the car while driving through tight gullies and slippery muddy roads. See the green scrim on the front of the Roo bar? That's there to stop leaves, sticks and insects from being pushed into the radiator while driving across a river, creek or flooded plain. 

Roo bars aren't as 'full on' as their brother - the "Bull bar". 
(not my photo) Bull bars are pretty much a battering ram.

And... this is what my car would have looked like fitted with a Roo bar. 

That is... if my car was silver. 

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Big Jet Plane

I booked my flights this morning, and notified my boss that I intend to take an RDO next Tuesday.

Where am I going?

Why, Canberra of course... to see Rob Messenger's Exhibition!

....yeah, I'm only there for the day, and it is costing me probably a bit too much. Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuut. How many opportunities do you get like this?