Category Archives: Technology

Be Careful on the Stairs

Three weeks ago I missed a step going downstairs. There was a terrifying crunch from my left foot and within no time I was lying on the basement floor in shock, spewing curses and hoping the pain wouldn’t get worse. I can walk now, but my foot still aches. I stubbornly refused to get an X-ray, confident that my bones don’t break that easily. I’ve only ever broken one bone, a cracked finger due to a hockey mishap. Don’t ask. But a sprained foot is bad enough. It is amazingly difficult to get around with the use of one leg, I have learned.

I blame the poor design of the stairs in my house for the accident. Of course it wasn’t MY fault! It was the ARCHITECT’S fault. These stairs are built thus: the rise is 7 1/2″, the run is 10″, with a 1″ nosing in addition. The nosing is fine for going up, as it allows for an effective tread of 11″. Going down however, which I am 110% certain is the operating direction of most stair accidents, the tread is still 10″ long. Now look at your feet. How long are they? Mine are longer than that. This means that when descending stairs my toes generally hang out beyond the tread nosing. If you overstep a little too much, as I did, it’s very easy to miss the step entirely, and then WHAM!

In architecture we had manuals giving standards for things, like chairs, tables, closets, doors,ramps, stairs and a thousand others. The old rule for stairs was 2R+T=25″. That meant 2 times the rise plus the tread length should equal 25″. The stairs here conform to that old saw, i.e. 2 (7.5) + 10 = 25. I am living proof that rule is not good enough! I always thought it wasn’t, to which end in my working life I have endeavored to make stairs less steep than that formula allows. I have measured and observed lots of stairs, and here’s my conclusion: ideal stairs should have a 12″ tread, with 6″ rise. Per the formula: 2(6) + 12 = 24. I have measured and tested many stairs as I said, and I can confirm that 6 x 12 is both comfortable and very safe. You can practically run down stairs of that slope, but don’t try it. Note the slope difference here: 6×12 is 50%, while 7.5×10 is 75%. Both conform to the old rule but within that rule you have the possibility of slope variance factor of 1-1/2. When descending stairs you should: 1. hold onto the handrail, and 2. watch your step. I was doing neither when I fell, as I was carrying a ladder using both arms, and couldn’t see my feet. It will be a long time before I make that mistake again.

Lesson over, here are some photos from my walk/limp around the lake the other day. The bushes were teeming with birds, and many more were deep inside brush, chirping, hopping, flitting, pecking, eating and doing what birds do. They do seem to be very active these days, full of spring fever.

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Filed under Birds, Photography, Technology, Wildlife

Analog Moonshot



Document (41)

Document (42)

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Filed under Photography, Poetry, Technology, Thrift shop finds

Slowly But Surely

OCT 15 -009OCT 15 -010


Filed under Book Reviews, Technology, Typewriters

A Royal Revolting Idea

one of my Royalty

one of my Royalty

Here’s another funny old advert I stumbled across in-advert-ently.

I’ve never come across a Royal with this feature, although I’ve had at least five of these, and seen more.


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Fun With Coffee

Vintage British motorcycle

Vintage British “Panther” motorcycle

After my first adventure with Caffenol film developer I loaded one of my twin lens reflexes with a roll of film, that was best before 2007, trusting that it would still be good 7 years out of date. Here are some of the results, and I can report that it worked quite well indeed. I much prefer medium format when it comes to film. Of course I always did, but it was so expensive that I ceased doing it around the time I bought this film. I scanned this at 1200 dpi and the resolution is amazing. I once read that even if the lenses on medium format cameras never approached the resolving power of the best 35mm cameras, they still could outperform them due to the huge advantage of the large negatives.

These pics were shot recently, one at a British car rally, and one on a trip to Port Angeles. They seemed to go together. Ricohflex TLR camera, Fuji ACROS Neopan ASA 100, developed in Caffenol C-M for 12 minutes. Scanned on an Epson 2400 with a homemade 120 format cardboard mask.

Vintage American gas station

Vintage American gas station


Filed under Cameras, Photography, Technology, Travel

The Smell of Oil


Bond’s Bentley resurfaces

Father’s Day Car Show


it seeps into the brain

slowly, like an oil leak

where it lubes the memory

Sunday the British gathered

the shiny SU carburetors

filled with slippery pink oil

the XKE was too hot (3 carbs)

the mini, too cool (1 carb)

but the MGB was just right (twin carbs)

when they all started their engines

and the field was bare

not a trace was left

but a few stains on the grass

some tire marks

and a lingering smell of oil


Morgans in all flavours


Jaguar – six cylinders, three carbs


An original mini – single carb


MGB – twins

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Filed under Photography, Technology

When a Bentley WAS a Bentley


konica auto s2, ilford xp-2, caffenol-c-m, scanned at 2400 dpi

007 bentley001


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Filed under Cameras, Photography, Technology, Uncategorized

From Russia, With Luck


No kidding, this is a mint condition Olympia Progress, Russian. Unfortunately I don’t type Russian, nor do I speak it, or understand it. But I will sell it to the Russians for a tidy sum, since they are now wisely going back to typing classified documents. That is about the only good thing that can be said about Russia these days. Who would have thought that Russia is part of the typewriter insurgency!


Photograph of Chief Russian Insurgent, purportedly typing a secret report. Picture taken with one of those “film” cameras and developed in coffee….

Hey Vlad, want to buy my typewriter? For you, hmmm, $1000, cash only please.


What can this mean? A secret message? Cryptic!

may 7 2014001

Heavily redacted secret message, obviously in code as well. Proof positive that they are using typewriters for their secret business!


Filed under Photography, Poetry, Technology, Thrift shop finds, Typewriters, Uncategorized

How to Milk a Cow in the 21st Century


Too late for Valentine’s Day, but this card was found in a nifty shop here. This place has typewriters for rent, and while I was buying this card the clerk was instructing a young woman on how a manual typewriter works. I found this amusing, and astounding, that one would need to be instructed on how to use such a simple and familiar machine. Conclusion: I obviously have no idea of how uncommon a manual typewriter is to some people. Perhaps this person would also be unfamiliar with a rotary dial telephone? Don’t laugh! I can’t milk a cow, can you?


Filed under Technology, Typewriters