Olympia SM9

This was one of the first typewriters I ever bought, the second in fact. The case was rotted and had to be thrown away. The typewriter was well used and was covered and filled with dirt and grime. I remember sitting on my couch typing for the first time and over the years, after buying more typewriters, I had forgotten this small gem and let it collect dust as it had before. It sat for more than a year at an antique booth that I had and nobody bought it for the $30 I had it priced at. I pulled this guy out of the basement for the sake of this project and found that I had been overlooking one of the best portable typewriters that I own. The keyboard takes some getting used to with the backspace key located on the right-hand side instead of the left like so many others. Besides cleaning I never had to do anything to the machine except for switching the ribbon that had dried out.
I wrote a letter to a friend today for their birthday. Typing on the Olympia was no different from typing on a computer. The action was smooth and clean. Overall the machine was quiet without the rattling and thumping of other typewriters I have used over the years. I never understood until today why so many people are willing to dish out large amounts of cash for an Olympia. It might not be the colorful model from the sixties with a curvy case and chrome trim but it works like a charm and that is what I like something that is reliable and faithful. In a world of planned obsilesence these are traits you rarely find these days.

Standard

The End of Prepping

In my basement there is a series of cabinets along the wall that are filled with all kinds of long term food storage items, cans, bags, and boxes. I have a wine cellar in the darkest and coolest part of the basement. A gun safe keeps a few items free from dust and rust. A few typewriters wait under dust covers for the moment this computer and the electrical grid goes down ending civilization. Then there is the doomsday vault, a trunk filled with rare bottles of wine, a survivalist handbook, a few pipes and several cans/ tins of tobaccos that are not in production anymore. If the world comes to an end I am all set for the roaming horde of zombies, aliens coming to the planet to steal water or cows for rectal probes, or maybe the Chinese invasion. I have everything I need, what do I do now?
There was a time when I feared the world was coming to an end. I grew up hearing about end times and thinking that Saddam Hussein was going to kill the planet, Chernobyl was going to turn everyone into mutants, the planet was going to deep fry everyone into crispy chicken wings, the list goes on and on. Nothing happened. Nothing ever happened. The nation has been run by the incompetent and the mentally retarded on and off my whole adult life and yet we are still here.
Nothing that I listed off that I keep in the basement is stuff that people didn’t have a hundred years ago. It was common to have root cellars, can food, and keep a gun or two just in case. That was called living and people knew they were responsible for themselves. These days I roll my eyes when people talk about their guns being taken away, trump pushing the button and ending the planet, and while I have a fear that global warming might end the planet that my daughter will grow up in I have to accept that there is less than nothing I can do about it. I have my habits that this hobby has built into me and while people may think that it is crazy to keep extra food of guns that haven’t been shot in a year or two it does come in handy at times. A friend mentioned that she didn’t have any money and her food situation had dwindled to rice and beans for lunch until payday. It only took a few minutes to put a box together from the basement supply and bring it to work for her to use. When I was done the pantry didn’t look any different but she had food for a few days or more.
I don’t have that fear anymore. That notion that something wrong is gone. Maybe its from not watching the news anymore? I look at the world these days and I have my life that is no longer dictated by a group of guys in bad suits yelling and arguing with each other about stuff that doesn’t really matter. There is something satisfying about no longer caring about people who don’t really matter. I don’t care about Trump and neither should anyone else.
Early on I learned not to buy the gizmos and tech stuff that preppers dish out their hard-earned cash for. I don’t own an AR-15 and still think jeeps are one of the biggest pieces of crap ever built. I didn’t sink a ton of money into this because it’s not needed. One doesn’t have to feel like Rambo in order to be secure. If there is anything that one needs to do in order to get their life in order and be prepared its paying off your debts and making sure you have cash on the side. Stop buying stupid shit and most of your problems will be solved. The financial stress that comes with being in debt is worse that the Chinese eventually, possibly, marching in and sending you to an iPhone factory center.
Living in fear is exhausting. There are companies and economies that depend on us being fearful of the unknown. While we go about our lives and try to fix our problems having somebody else breathing down your neck about a maybe is a waste of time. There comes a time when one has to realize that maybe “surviving” is not living. There might be some mental illness involved in this prepper thing. I know at moments I wondered about my own mental health and looking back maybe I was correct to be worried. Prepping is in the past now. I’ll keep the canned goods and a handle pistol close by but I’m not going to let them rule my life. What is the point of life if you aren’t living?

Standard

The Harvard Classics revisited: Aeneid

I just finished reading Aeneid by Virgil the other day and it is fitting that the assigned reading for day 6 is also a section from this book. I read a post from another blog discussing the odyssey by homer and questioning why the Iliad was not also included in the classics? Aeneid is the same story, told in a different way, but if you were looking to diversify a set of books and two classics told the same tale why not pick the version by a different author. Perhaps this was regarded as the better version? In school, Homer was always discussed, but the Aeneid was either mentioned or forgotten entirely.
Aeneid reads like an old testament book of the bible with unfaithful fives, gods making deals with one another, and fight scenes that leave one on the edge of their seat. There were times when it would have been nice to have listened to a great courses lecture on the Aeneid first and know who certain characters were in the mythology. This is one tough aspect of reading old text, you didn’t grow up in the culture so the knowledge of these characters isn’t as powerful when they appear. Just about anyone could read a Christian text and understand certain references when they are brought up, we were raised with it. However, throw in a dead religion and a group of gods and goddesses that nobody learns about unless they take a college mythology class and it is easy to become lost. Don’t be surprised when I tell you that I had to pull the phone out and google different characters at times.
The most fascinating aspect of Aeneid to me was the mention of the Romans from time to time and how the Trojan culture survived through them. This was something I either forgot about in school or it was never brought up. The romans of course at one time defeated the Greeks and the power of the region was handed over. The Etruscans were also mentioned, regarded as a mysterious group in Greek history, I was surprised to see one mentioned and wondered how much I missed out on in school. Fortunately, there is a Great Courses lecture I can listen to discussing the Etruscans and their culture.
The Aeneid, like so many other books, is not one that you can only read once to get the whole story, and thankfully with the Harvard reading guide I am sure I will be coming back to it again in the future.

Standard

Revisiting the Harvard Classics: Day 5

The Soaring Eagle and Contented Stork by Mazzini from volume 32. This essay was a piece from the enlightenment regarding Goethe and Byron comparing their personalities. Bryon was a soaring eagle while Goethe was regarded as a Contented Stork. The essay drifts off onto some tangents discussing subjects that must have been lost over time. Mazzini was exiled from Italy while attempting to fight for the freedom of the country, it should not be a surprise that he would write an essay about an English and German poet who attempted the same thing in their own homelands. Some of the poetry and backgrounds would have helped with this section.
This essay was a test of my reading abilities since it was supposed to be a fifteen-minute read and came close to an hour when everything was said and done.

Standard

The Remington Sperry Rand

On my quest to find the best models of desktop typewriters I came across an attractive Remington from 1966. The tan body is made of plastic and the keys, although they are also plastic, are very durable compared to other models of the time. The machine is large and robust comparable to a desktop computer that would appear on the market twenty years later.
The Sperry Rand came in the mail wrapped in cardboard and bubble wrap. It needed some dusting and the body was polished before I started to try it out. The lever is long and easy to use. The keys have the usual tension adjustment found on the left-hand side of the keyboard. The shift keys have a lot of tension to them but the action of the carriage and keys is smooth. The biggest criticism that I have about the Sperry Rand is the lousy body that rattles and echoes the sound of typing as you work. The plastic body has minimal insulation that helps the situation very little compared to the long hours of work I would be planning to have with it. It is unfortunate that the design has such a big flaw. I suppose that if you were typing to music or didn’t mind the rattling this might be a good machine for you but I would have to pass when it comes to looking for a hardworking machine.
The Sperry Rand comes with spools that require the ribbon to be replaced with a metal ring sliding in the mechanism and a steel cover sliding on top. The capacity is larger and ideal for minimal ribbon replacement.
The sleek body reminds me of the cars built during that time period but I have to say, like many things that were built around that time, the transition to plastic was the biggest flaw that occurred during that time. Perhaps if it was built with a metal body, I would give it higher rating but the way things stand now I would have to say this is better as a show piece than it is for work.

Standard

Revisiting the Harvard Classics: Day 4

A flounder fish story from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, volume 17 of the Harvard Classics.
The description of this story leads one to believe that the Flounder was fed up with the overly demanding wife but I have a feeling that is not the lesson of this story. A fisherman catches a talking flounder and lets him go. When the fisherman tells his wife what happened, she demands that the husband goes back to the ocean and make wish after wish of the flounder. In the end the wife demands to have the power of God and the flounder sends her back to the hovel shed they originally lived in. I took this to mean that God does not need much to enjoy life. According to the Harvard Classics readers guide the flounder was fed up with the overly demanding wife and sent her back to where she started. There are many aspects of this story that I didn’t care for. The husband never stood up to his wife or refused to do what she was demanding, that was irritating. The wife appeared to be an example of how women were used as a source of chaos in the lives of men, more of a problem then they are worth. This is also irritating much like Adam and Eve. In the end I have to guess that the moral of the story is that everything you need to be happy is what you already have.

Standard

Revisiting the Harvard Classics: Day 3

Cicero on Friendship, from volume 9 of the Harvard Classics, is a longer read clocking in at 30 minutes as opposed to the 15 minutes it was supposed to take. Although I have to admit that I am a slow reader.
Cicero’s piece about friendship struck a cord with me, something that isn’t discussed but it a major part of most people’s lives that is in decline. Several years ago, people were asked how many people they could count on in the event of an emergency and the answer was 3-5. Today the same answer will have an answer of maybe 1. Cicero talked about how friends compliment one another, take care of each other, and lift others up when they are not as fortunate. I have friends like this, sharing the wealth, calling at the house when things are bad, and other all work as a balance with ourselves. Friends are the people we count on to tell us we are not being everything we should be.
The piece started out well, as a guide post to when to look for in our own friendships, but later died into politics and the rules for who to make friends with and whom not. This section might need to be ignored because in this day and age to not fit in with the rules of certain political parties would lead one into a world of exile. Currently, I feel that everyone it there these days with the way things are. A person must fit into one of two molds, there is no middle ground, and according to Cicero if someone is not loyal to the party or the state than you should not make friend with them for their punishment should fit the crime and not be laxed due to friendship. It’s a sad note to leave off on but that is the sign of the times. People do not have friends these days and its mostly due to politics that the majority of the public do not agree with. Nobody fits into every little category that is determined by these two groups and yet we pretend that they must. Politics aside, Cicero had some good ideas and when looking for a friend consider what he has to say.

Standard