Make what is old new again

While working on a project titled “The Climate Change Manifesto” I wrote a quick sectioned called make what is old new again. I thought I would share what I meant by that and hope that this idea might carry on into the near future. I have a side hobby of fixing up old typewriters and making them as close to new again as I can. Sometimes putting them back into working order means I have to have new parts made and for anything made after the 1950s that means using a 3D printer to make new keys or feet that have rotted out. The idea of using a 3D printer to create new parts for an old machine is nothing new, however there are a few people out there that have come up with ways of making typewriters a 21st century product. The USB typewriter is an open source product that can convert several styles of typewriters into a working keyboard for a computer. When connected to an Ipad or tablet the typewriter can mimic a laptop with a lit up screen sitting on the carriage of the typewriter. more about this product can be found at http://www.usbtypewriter.com

This isn’t the only piece of old equipment that is finding new life in the 21st century. Old vacuum tube AM radios are finding new life with blue tooth routers and mini-jack being added to century old technology. These old wooden radios are able to broadcast podcast and new music via cell phone without needing to plug anything in. For more about these old but new radios check out at ExceptionalRadios at http://www.etsy.com

With technology becoming more available and at a cheaper price there isn’t much that we couldn’t fix if we just put in the effort. Currently, my ability to fix things on typewriters is limited, however there is new material coming out that expands my ability to fix more typewriters. Rubber material is available now to create new rollers for carriages, new rubber feet for older pre-WWII models, or handles on older models like the Royal #10. New laser printers are available that could possibly replace those glass panels if they are broken.

Maybe I am being too much of an optimist, delaying the inevitable fate for technology that has seen its day come and go. At the local Michael’s store I saw the box for a Memory Keepers typewriter, brand new and produced in China. I don’t know what this says about typewriters in our culture these days, could the demand be so high that a new over priced option is a viable option? The new typewriters cost $175 and most collectors that have bought one to try it out only complain about the cheap parts and being over priced. the overall opinion i have seen is that anyone would do better to buy an older model at an antique booth and oil it up. I haven’t used the new machines even though I have been curious but when the going price could pay for three or four machines at a flea market i would rather save the older ones and let the new model sit on the shelf.

I hope this kind of behavior becomes the new normal, fixing and refurbishing older technology to fit into our new lifestyles. There is something missing from this digital age. Craftsmanship and quality have been sacrificed for the promise of a new and better model next year. There was a time when you could buy one product and it would be with you, loyal and reliable till the end, for have a century or more. What happened to that kind of quality? Why don’t we value our time or money like our grandparents did, instead choosing to stand in line for half a day trying to get a new Iphone? As a society, when do we start to realize that we have become disposable like the shitty products we have been fed to purchase?

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Today my cellphone died, I blame Russia

Unexpectedly, without a warning, my cellphone froze on me with one screen that said the data was damaged and I had to restart to factory settings. What it did not tell me was that I couldn’t reset the settings, or go past the screen that was showing, or do a hard reset and try to start over on my phone. No, my phone is dead. It wouldn’t even connect to my computer to pull off the hard drive the last photos i took of my daughter. I guess i should not be surprised. My phone has seen two administrations, the end of the Iraq War, several relationships, and three jobs. today, on April 8th 2018 my Samsung galaxy 3 died.

I don’t know where I will go from here. I told myself a while ago that when this phone died I would be done with cell phones. Having a child its not the best idea, but shit man what did people do before the cell phone was invented? Now I have to submit myself to the most vile form of predator, a festering hunk of bile that will descend on me as if I was the last meal of a dying man, the lowest of the low, the cellphone sales man. I will say “man” here because a woman should not want her title being lumped together with these vermin. I will be shown new plans, better rates, phones I don’t want, the latest swag I don’t need, insurance and services I will never use and if i did I would still find myself pulling money out of my pocket for one reason or another. I have been to this level of hell before. it was the one that Dante forgot about, the one that didn’t exist back then and would have made the final level of Brutus and Judas feel like an evening at a spa. The Secretary of State office has been demoted and no longer holds the reputation of a soul sucking institution as it once had. A part of me knows that some stupid kid sitting behind a computer screen saw that I was using a Samsung Galaxy S3 and decided it was time for me to get a new phone. The company hasn’t made any money on me in a few years and I will be herded to the nearest store to replace an item I can’t live without. Is this what the Unibomber was talking about? I deleted Facebook months ago, Twitter is a twat fest, and even YouTube is pissing me off with their latest policy of banning videos they don’t agree with. The last refuge of freedom in this country, the wild west of the internet, is coming to an end. what was once a place to bitch about movies and share pornography with others has become a leash, a voyeurs wet dream of internet stalking and corporations collecting and selling data to foreign parties. Maybe it is time to move on, step back a few feet and figure out where I want to go in this crazy world. Do I really want a leash attached to me at all times telling people I don’t know where I am? The adds are bad enough, just for once I would like to pick up a news paper, check the answering machine, type on my typewriter, or listen to the radio to keep from being bombarded with adds or waiting five minutes for a news webpage to load because it is crammed with so many adds the entire site shuts down or skipping the first ten minutes of a podcast because Joe Rogan has five companies paying for airtime. I’m tired of only getting two or three sentences of a story or having telemarketers calling me with fake names like Elizabeth trying to get me to switch service. For $90 a month nobody should have my number that I don’t want to have it.

My phone is dead. Maybe it should stay that way and keep the freedom of having my life to myself. For years companies like Facebook collected my information and sold it to companies for the sake of selling me things. Then it turned personal and they sold an election for a few thousand dollars. we don’t read the agreements, instead skipping to the end and clicking “Accept.” Our lives are not our own anymore. I want my life back. I want a company to have to pay me for the information they want from me. If they are going to be so careless as to give it away to whomever ask for it then we should not be so careless was to paying them to take it from us.

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The Last Rhino

I feel like I have been here before. Looking at the news and thinking we are next. The last male white rhino died earlier this week and I find myself thinking about it over and over again. What does it take for the planet to wake up to what we are doing?

I went on a walk with my daughter today. We climbed Westnedge hill and looked over the city. I thought about the flood that happened a few weeks earlier. Places like the north east and Denmark are seeing record lows as the arctic tries to figure out what to do without any ice to hold the cold polar vortex at bay. The jet stream has shifted, no longer assisting jets on their travels. This is a lot to take in.

Since i finished the Self Authoring program I have seen some changes in myself that i thought I should share. In the past 3 weeks i have had 1 beer. for those that know me that will come as a shock. also, while i have been debating on when to enjoy my pipe, I came to the conclusion that the pipe and my tobacco cellar should be retired until a moment comes my way when I can relax and enjoy the hobby again. So what the hell do I do for fun? I guess I will have to figure it out.

I pulled an old Remington portable model 1 typewriter from my basement, a project I picked up a few months back but set aside due to time restraints. The black body and well preserved case caught my eye when i first saw it. Usually i prefer the Royal desktops but I thought having the portable would encourage me to write in public again. I had to sand down some of the rubber rollers that had flattened out and was keeping the paper from working over the platen. There are several books I would like to write, adventures and characters that are becoming impatient as they run around in my head.

The more I listen to the news the harder it is to comprehend everything that is happening. I looked up climate change podcast and found myself disappointed in what i found. One in particular that was recorded in Michigan ended up being a denial show where the host spit out free market rhetoric and how renewable energy was a fraud that would hurt poor people. Having said all of that, I am seriously considering bring back my old podcast. It won’t be the same podcast exactly, but a revised version that I get to run. the last podcast I ran was on American Prepper Radio and as far as I know you can still find the show and episodes on there, but I don’t recommend it since it is outdated by a few years and the content no longer applies. I was thinking of doing a shorter show, three days a week, 15-20 minutes covering the latest in climate change, economics, and societal collapse. i don’t know when it will start but the idea is there and I already know how to start and record a podcast having do that two years ago. i can’t be the only one needing to talk about this. There has to be others out there hearing what I’m hearing and wondering what the hell is going on? The collapse experiment was a nice test run, I liked the idea, maybe it’s time to improve it now and create something worth sharing.

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Forced to Go Low Tech

This weekend had me with moments of childish fits and tantrums as my phone was out of commission. By itself the Samsung Galaxy 3 I carry is out of date and running slower each day. Each time my apps update the machine runs slower to the point I finally deleted the Facebook app and Twitter. Honestly, I wanted Twitter gone because of Trump’s tweets. While one could point out I don’t have to follow that fool, there is no other good reason to use twitter other than seeing what the twitter in chief has to say.

That night I sat at a Royal KMM typewriter that I left at my girlfriend’s house and started to write a story that I have been running through my head for months. While zombie books and economic collapse are prolific in post-apocalyptic fiction I have often wondered how to write a book pertaining to global warming. The problem of a long-term event taking decades to happen left me with a puzzle on how to write a story to fit the event. Typing out the first few lines I think I figured it out and continued until I had three full length, single spaced pages sitting next to me. A modest start but the plot was beginning and the world starting to take hold.

Saturday morning, I left my house without bringing a charger and by the end of the day I refused to run home to retrieve one. I spent the night at my girlfriend’s place and the next morning retrieved my charger from my car to use it while riding with her out of town to visit her family. Five minutes down the road the cheap Aldi product broke leaving me with a dead phone for the rest of the day. I tossed the charger in the back seat throwing a fit and stuffed the phone in my pocket.

An hour later my thinking had reverted back the 1980s. a time when there was no cell phone and the homes we were visiting still have landline phones on the wall. We talked about books and shared oven baked cookies.

With my new job, adapting to the work environment and slightly different schedule has left me off of Facebook the majority of the time and with Twitter long gone I don’t receive annoying notifications in the early hours of the day from our demented president. Running around in earlier hours and trying to change my schedule to fit everything I was doing before has become a challenge. I missed my podcast schedule last week and finally recorded the next episode for Top Ramen today. This blog hasn’t been updated as I would like it to be and my writing schedule has been sporadic at best. Although I will say that the rough draft for my zombie book (as if the world needs another one) Last Call was finished last week. It needs a lot of work but I hope it will offer something different in the market from the carbon copy material that is out there now.  Game Over is still being edited and I’m hoping for an April release, it would be nice to have something out before summer and show something for my time spent on it over the winter months.

The upside to being closed out of the internet loop is not being bogged down with Trump news and being able to reclaim some sanity in my life. There is too much going on, too much news every fracking day, and too much commentary to keep up with what is happening. I have three trump podcast I’m subscribed to and not enough time to keep up with what is happening. At the moment, I’m thinking about unsubscribing to all of them just to clear my head. There was a time that I could turn on some jazz music, place a sheet of paper into my typewriter and start tapping away into a story until I became lost in another world. That is something I need to reclaim. The phone at the moment only has Instagram on it for my short fixes of connecting with the worldwide web. Facebook I currently don’t miss and if anything, I simply need to stick with my author page that has been neglected for weeks.

A project that I started last weekend is an old task that I hope will improve my writing. Many writers of a time long gone, learned their craft by sitting down at a typewriter and copying the works they admired most. Hunter S. Thompson would type out, from start to finish, The Great Gatsby and For Whom the Bell Tolls. He believed there was a rhythm to their writing and wanted to tap into that. Plus, there was the joy of trying to connect with how it might have felt to write those great American novels for the first time. A journalist who befriended Hemingway later in his life, learned grammar and sentence structure by copying Hemingway’s short stories over a weekend in an attempt to keep his journalism job. The practice worked and he later wrote Papa Hemingway in Cuba.

I didn’t read Gatsby for the first time until last year and since then it is one of the only books out of the 176 I read that year which has stayed with me. The writing style, the story that still speaks volumes today, and the fact that it was unsuccessful in the market spoke to me about how a great piece of literature could be overlooked until decades later. Again, I’m forcing myself to go low tech for the sake of improving my writing. The world is massive, with too much to take in. Stepping back and clearing my slate is a much-needed task if I’m going to be able to focus on what is important in my life. I’m thankful for the new job that I have, the security it affords, and while I wonder if it is a mistake to close my windows to a world that appears to be falling apart, I can only admit that as a small fish in a vast sea, there is little if anything I can do about it except continue on my path and maybe write something that might make a difference for those that read my stories.

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Renew, Reuse, Recycle

Over a year ago I started a hobby that has taken a few twist and turns. While thinking about global warming and where our world is heading I quickly realized that there aren’t many things made these days that will be around a decade from now. However, there are many tools and items that were made a hundred years ago that not only still exist but still work.

This adventure started with an interest in typewriters. I had bought my first typewriter, a Smith-Corona super speed that had a few parts missing and needed a little love. The adventure took over a year, it was finally fixed a few months back, but after ordering a few parts online it was working perfectly. During that tim,e I came across dozens of typewriters that had different things wrong with them and I was able to fix them all. It was during that time I realized I was saving these machines from the recycling and trash dumps to continue being used. I became a middleman between a death that would come too soon and a new life with a good home.

While a part of me wonders why people won’t take the time to figure out what is wrong with these machines it also keeps me busy looking for more that people are trying to flip or make a profit from. The oddest part of this trade is finding rusted out machines with broken carriages and platens missing from the rubber rotting off are the machines that have the highest price. People will look online and see what some machines are selling for and thing their piece of junk will sell for that, not seeing what it really is. These machines I would find useful for the parts they contained. For the price they are being sold for they will sit on the shelf and eventually move on to a darker place.

A few months back I found three AM radios at a sale where everything was half off. I picked up the radios to see if I could figure out how to fix them. I knew little about vacuum tube radios or electronics in general, but I replaced the power cords and cleaned out the bodies. Plugging in the first radio and turning it on I waited a few seconds to see the lights turn on and the static from the speaker start to fill the room. An old zenith radio had found a second chance.

When it comes to the eco conscious individual I see a few things that make sense but there are many aspects of their personality I can’t get past. They will buy new cars that cost several barrels of oil to create from the beginning of production to the point of reaching the parking lot. They by cell phones from china, eat food from supermarkets, even if it is organic it was still harvested, wrapped, and shipped from oil. At the end of the week they feel good about putting their recycling out and making money for somebody else who sells the raw material produced.

Growing up I learned three words to help the world. Reduce, reuse, and recycle was printed on a triangle pinned to the board on the side of the classroom. So far recycle is the only one that has gone anywhere in the last 20 years. Reduce is not popular with the Walmart crowd, but let’s look at reuse. I’m the type of person that likes to go to garage sales, antique shops, estate sales, and flea markets. What I try to find is items that are at their last leg in life and have a second chance waiting for them. Many of these machines are better for the environment and had their carbon bill created almost a century ago. A typewriter is Microsoft word on a machine that prints what you write while you write it, no electricity needed. The AM radios offer entertainment that have a classic sound and still play modern music if you tune in to the right channel.

My latest project is a 1922 Minnesota domestic model A sewing machine. This machine is a clone of the Singer sewing machines of the time and came with a solid oak cabinet that contains the foot pedal and belt that powers the sewing machine. Again, a fully functional machine that doesn’t use electricity. Not only is it useful but the quality of materials and the beauty they were made with isn’t matched by anything today. With a little oil, cleaning products and love the machine came back to life for another hundred years. The oak cabinet is still solid and just needs a little sanding and finish to come back to life.

While people stick to their recycling and think they are making a difference I have started to look at the other two words in that phrase. Reuse isn’t just taking stuff out of the closet and using it once in a while, for me it means bringing things back to life that people will want to use again for a second or maybe third lifetime. As for the reduce aspect of the triangle I can say that selling these items takes care of the stockpile that builds up while fixing these machines. Their sale isn’t for much profit since I try to sell them for a price that the average person can afford and are more likely to appreciate. For the type writers I don’t see many collectors trying to find typewriters, what I have been seeing is people who want one to use for letters or writing that novel they always wanted to do.

Reusing items isn’t just that one word. You are recycling the material they are made out of, reducing the need for more items to be created, and renewing a machine that somebody will love for the first time. While I have expanded into world of sewing machines it won’t stop there. I have seen quite a few tobacco pipes that are looking for a second chance and what I have learned is that with a little buffing, cleaning and a shot of whiskey they are like new for a new owner to enjoy. Who knows maybe renewing old products that were created so long ago will become a new industry.

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