Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Low Tech’ Category

It’s not all video games, here at OMG-Central. I also enjoy old school, across the table, low-tech board games.

If you’re one of those for whom “board games” only evokes images of Monopoly and Parcheesi, let me tell you, these are not your grandma’s board games. They’ve changed a lot, in past decades, and they keep changing, adding new mechanics, new twists on old methods, and sometimes even extending “beyond the box” to include other media and technologies. (more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

While I’m working on something more meaty, here’s a bit of fun.

Like most people my age, I learned to type on a manual typewriter, an old Smith-Corona, to be precise. It was heavy — damned heavy — and came in its own nearly-as-heavy hard-sided case. It had a black-and-red ribbon that always got twisted, the keys continually got hooked onto one another, and after typing up an evening’s homework, my forearms ached from the physical exertion of pressing down the keys. That’s no exaggeration; it took some oomph to make those levers thwack with enough force to register through to the carbon copy.

What’s a carbon copy, you ask? Well, it’s a … nope, I don’t have time or space to explain it all. (more…)

Read Full Post »

7 1/2

GodfatherLast week, I stood out in the rain.

On purpose.

Last week was a stay-cation, and I spent many hours out in the elements, reclaiming the gardens after a couple of years’ worth of accumulated neglect. It being February — and one of the wettest on record, to boot — more of those “elements” were liquid than usual, and most of those hours were spent in the rain.

Luckily, I had a new hat.

I was born at the sunset of the Hat Era, a time when everyone — men and women alike — wore hats in public. Hats were already passé when I was born, and by the time I was a lad, the only men who wore hats were fishermen, cowboys, and men in uniform. Alas.

I’ve always liked hats. Real hats, that is. Hats with brims that go all the way around. A hat has a purpose — to keep the sun out of your eyes, to keep your head warm, and to keep rain off your head and neck. Caps generally only do one of those things, and not well, either, not when compared to a real hat.

The hats I preferred were those of my movie icons — Bogie, Stewart, Fonda — hats with character, hats with style. No baseball caps for those guys. No urban-cowboy Stetsons. No no no.

The Fedora ruled with those men. Sometimes they wore a Homburg or a wide-brimmed Tyrolean. Or, if they were in a Western, a slouch.

The slouch hat has always been a favorite of mine. A felt hat with a flat, wide brim that slouches down over nape and brow, preferably with a creased crown for ease of tipping to passersby. Aussies tie up one side of theirs. So did the Rough Riders. The slouch has tons of character and is a top-notch performer in all things a hat is supposed to do.

But, as I’ve never considered myself as a guy who looks good in hats, I was a bit self-conscious, standing out in my suburban garden, rain pelting down, fat droplets pattering off the wide brim of my new slouch hat. I mean, it’s a big hat, by modern stylistic standards. It’s felted mix of wool and buffalo hair, black as night, with a slight curl on the back and sides of the 4 ½” brim, and a silver-buckled strip of leather around the crown. My wife assured me though that, contrary to my instincts, the hat suits me, and since she generally doesn’t like me to look the fool any more than I do myself, I trusted her assessment, and wore it most of the week.

A quality felt hat is almost a living thing. New, it never fits well, despite proper measurement. It must be worn to fit properly, and if possible, worn in the rain. You wear it, let it get wet, and then continue to wear it as it dries. The moisture loosens up the felted fibers and when they dry, they shrink up to fit your skull. If you don’t like the brim or the crown, you can steam it over a kettle and reshape it to your liking, which I did to remove the curl on the front.  After four days spending several hours out in the rain, getting the hat wet and letting it dry, it now is a perfect fit to the bony, pearish ovoid that houses my brain.

I still don’t feel like it’s my “style,” but I like it, so I’m going to fake it until it feels right.

k

Typewriter

PS. I was thoroughly puzzled by the relationship between hat sizes and head measurements. A 22-inch skull is a U.S. hat size 7, which is a difference of 15; but a 23 ½ inch skull (like mine) is a U.S. hat size 7 ½, a difference of 16. What gives?

Turns out, the relationship between your head size and your U.S. hat size is, believe it or not, π.

Yup. Just as circumference/π = diameter, so Your Head Measurement (in inches)/π =  U.S. Hat Size.

I just love that.

k

Bogie and Bacall

Read Full Post »

I don’t know what got me thinking of this, but my fellow old farts will remember these things…

Ring me.

Get off the line!

Dial the number.

Hang up.

I wonder how puzzling these phrases are to younger folks? The phones of the mid-20th century were so different from what we have now, when having a “land line” is starting to be considered quaint. (more…)

Read Full Post »

S T DupontHave a question? Search the internet and you will find an answer. Search long enough, and you can even find the answer you want. While that’s great (if you live in an echo chamber), it’s no help if you don’t know which answer you’re looking for. In that case, the internet will provide you with a bevy of contradictory answers, leaving you to sort it all out for yourself. Square One.

The Quandary: Issues with Ink

The other day I became peevish when the letter I’d written got smudged (I write almost exclusively with a fountain pen). How could I keep the ink from smudging? I wanted an answer. I thought back to all those movies where the actor pulls out a piece of hand-laid paper, scritches a few lines with a feathered quill*, dashes some sand across the page to blot the ink, knocks the sand off onto the floor, seals the note with wax and signet, and then hands it to a waiting messenger with instructions to place it directly into the hands of [insert name of influential character here]. You know, the Elizabethan equivalent of “Is this a secure line?”

What is that stuff they sprinkled across the page? How did it work? Did it work? And if so, where can I get some?

Burning questions.

Naturally, I hit the ‘net to search for answers. Naturally, I found plenty.

The Answers: Contradictory Camps

As with most Things Internet, the answers I found separated into two categories, both of which claimed to be the only truth, both of which stated that everyone in the opposite camp was a yammering thumb-sucker who, blinded by misinformation, couldn’t see the facts for the lies. Frakking sheeple.

As with most Things Real, however, I found that the answer is not binary. Rather, it is a combination of the answers provided by both camps. Again, in standard internet style, instead of combining information for a win-win, both camps went for an I-win-you-lose outcome, which means everything ends up in a lose-lose tie. Bloody typical.

This left me having to sort through all of it myself. It was up to me to evaluate the two camps’ positions which, obviously, meant I had to do my own research. My own actual, physical research.

If you’re interested in my results, read on. If not, here’s a picture of “the cutest kitten on the internet.”

Have a nice day. (more…)

Read Full Post »

The weather has turned cold here in Seattle. Nothing like what most of the nation is experiencing, to be sure, but cold nonetheless. The leaves that haven’t fallen are withered and frostbitten on their stems, and the remnants of Autumn’s glory now lie in patches of brown detritus scattered across the gardens.

Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island, WAOn clear, cold afternoons, when the sky is a robin’s egg blue and the sun has just melted the frost off the shaggy lawns, I hear the machinery of modern yard maintenance fire up. Mowers, blowers, strimmers, and edgers set up a whirring, sputtering rumble that blankets the neighborhood as homeowners take advantage of a rainless November day.

For myself, I prefer to use manual tools when possible. The lawnmower, the strimmer, these I keep and use, but on bright autumn days I reach instead for the rake, the broom, and the shovel to tend my garden. I spend so much of my day working nothing but my mind–analyzing systems, cross-checking code, diagramming solutions, navigating interoffice politics–that the thought of surrounding myself with machinery and noise is abhorrent.

Before I step outside, I bundle up with scarf and gloves and quilted overshirt, but soon, as I warm to my task, these layers drop away. It takes me longer to tidy my garden than it does my more mechanized neighbors–yesterday, after a couple hours’ work, I only cleared out the patio and lower section of the back garden–but it’s a quieter time, and that’s what I want.

Peace. Serenity. Take in a clean, cold lungful of air and let it out in a frosty breath.

Repeat.

k

Typewriter

Read Full Post »

Stack of Books

You know I like books. I mean books, real books, those things made of paper and ink. A well-made book is a treasure, not to mention a marvel of low-level technology and, while I have an e-reader, read the occasional novel on my e-reader, and while I was one of the earliest adopters of the technology (I owned a first-generation REB1000, back in the ’90s), I do not like them.

I like books.

I like the heft, the feel, the fixity of the thing. I cannot turn it off. I cannot download it. I cannot erase it.

A book is a quiet, confident thing. It does not shout or wheedle. It rests, waits, and says, “Read me, or read me not; your choice.” It simply is.

I like reading from a physical book more than reading off my Kindle. When I read from a book I get more involved, I experience a greater immersion in the words and the story.

And I am not alone. Science, it turns out, is right there with me.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: