Thursday, June 10, 2021

A Coroplast Typewriter Case

I got this 1951 Smith Corona Silent for what I think is a good price, $33.00 plus shipping. It needed a bit of cleaning and it was missing a couple of things: a right platen knob and a case.

I crafted a substitute right knob from a wine cork and a metal lid from a bottle of ice tea. 

The case was a bit more involved. I made it out of coroplast, the kind of corogated plastic commonly used for political signs. I've made a variety of things (bike fenders, panniers, simple boxes, etc.) using just recycled signs and zip-ties, but for this project I bought some things to make a nicer looking case.

From Amazon I got plain black coroplast, coroplast rivets, a latch, and a handle. Various bolts, nuts, and washers I got from my local hardware store. The nylon safety strap I had laying around. For padding, I recycled some packing foam and I made a little pillow (filled with packing foam) from a plastic express mail envelope.

The resulting case keeps the typewriter pretty secure. It probably would have been cheaper to scan eBay for a junky old similar Smith Corona with a workable case, but making this case was a fun project.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Something Old, Something New. The Rocket + RocketBook

This is an experiment mixing the old and the new technologies.
I am typing this note on an old Hermes Rocket, but the paper
is a blank that I downloaded from the Rocketbook website. I
will use the Rocketbook software to take a picture of this page
and then upload it to my gmail account. The Rocketbook software
will save this as a PDF image and do character recognition on
the text. If this works, I think I have a very interesting new
process that I will use for writing.

And I love the coincidental symetry of using a Rocket and a


OK, this experiment totally worked. The text above is was cut and pasted straight from the Rocketbook OCR text. Now the cool thing is that anybody could do this. I think it would work with pretty much any typewriter and you don't even have to buy anything (assuming you already have a smart phone). The blank Rocketbook PDF templates are at:

I use the Dot-Grid one for typing. You can print off as many blank pages as you'll ever need.

The Rocketbook software for your phone is a free download from either Apple or Google Apps, depending on your religious preferences.

Now, of course, once you start playing around with the Rocketbook stuff, you'll probably want to buy one or two of their notebooks, which I wrote about here:

The Rocketbooks have totally changed my creative workflow. Sketches, handwritten notes, an now typing are all easily scanned and uploaded. Any text in any document, be it hand-written or typed, is recognized (although the OCR software occasionally stumbles a bit if my printing is sloppy). The text is nicely searchable so if I'm looking for all my notes about snails (don't judge me), I can easily find them.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Blues For My Dad

Back on April 3rd, early in this whole pandemic lockdown thing, I woke up with a fragment of a blues song in my head. Once I got up and started writing the whole thing was done in about 20 minutes.

The lyrics go like this:

Oh I woke up this morning
Alive in my bed.
I woke up this morning
So I still ain't dead.

I woke up this morning
'cause I had to go pee.
Now that I've done that
What's next for me?

I could turn on the news
But I bet it's all bad.
Maybe I'll just stay here
And keep feeling sad.

My dear old daddy
Said that he's lived too long.
So I woke up this morning
And I wrote him this song.

He's kept on going
For ninety-five years.
He's had lots of laughter
And plenty of tears.

My mom passed on
A few years ago.
It damn near killed dad,
But it didn't, you know.

Now he's miles away
and I'm stuck in my home.
He can't hear very well,
So I really can't phone.

But I can write him this song
And drop it in the mail.
We're stuck in our homes,
But at least it ain't jail.

My daddy's still living
So I guess I can too.
I wrote him this song,
But it's also for you.

You may think you're alone
With no reason to live,
But you're somebody's reason,
That's what you give.

So if you woke up this morning
There's a reason for that.
Somebody needs you,
Perhaps it's your cat.

Maybe it's your neighbor,
Or the girl down the hall,
Maybe it's the old lady
Who thinks she's lost it all.

Oh I woke up this morning
Feeling pretty bad,
But I feel better now
'cause I wrote to my dad.

I woke up this morning
With nothing to do.
I woke up this morning
And I wrote this for you.

Now I did type up the song and mail it to my dad, along with a letter. I'm not any kind of musician and I told him and I'm telling you that he was lucky that he couldn't hear me sing it. I really didn't have much of a tune for it, more just a vague notion of a tune for it.

I also emailed the lyrics to my friend Anni, who is a musician and who knows musicians. She emailed it to her blues friend Carl and by later that afternoon Carl had set my lyrics to music and recorded this:

I was then able to email this audio to my sister, who was able to play the song on her phone for my dad.

So, the moral of this story is that you never know when inspiration will strike so be ready to write stuff down. And if you can't do something, you might know somebody who knows somebody who can. And somebody might need to hear what you need to say.

My dad is still hanging in there and so am I. I hope you are too.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Ray Bradbury's Typewriter

Ray Bradbury wrote all of his books and stories on a typewriter, he never used a computer. He famously spent $9.80 to type up Fahrenheit 451 on a rental typewriter in the basement of UCLA's Powell Library.  You can see a picture of Ray's 1947 Royal KMM and read a bit more about him at:

I've loved Ray's writing since I first discovered him as a teenager. While his science fiction is what he's most famous for, he also wrote a several fun spooky weird mysteries that I especially enjoyed, DEATH IS A LONELY BUSINESS and A GRAVEYARD FOR LUNATICS.