Friday, September 12, 2014


Hey, amazing news! I bought a tool.

I know what you're thinking. Swarovski crystal handle, hand-hewn from the crystal mines of... No? You weren't thinking that? Oh. You were thinking "What have you gone and done now, Alf"? Ah. Well, yes, fair enough. As it happens this elegant example of the screwdriver manufacturers' art was not the primary goal.

It was the 30-odd pieces of black plastic and an assortment of screws and springs.

Oh, and some instructions. In Chinese. Not Chinglish, for which I have an inexplicable fondness, but actual hanzi. Thank goodness for the interweb, where I could find not only the instructions in English but also several articles on and additional photos of the building process. The end result is this:

A 35mm Twin Lens Reflex camera. (Stick "Recesky" or "Garraflex" (or both) in Google and you can learn all about it.) It's something between an Airfix kit and an Ikea flatpack, both of which I have some experience with. Such as checking you have all the parts and counting the screws before you start; I had a couple of spare washer head screws at the finish, which could have caused worry had I not known they were extras. A couple of very similar parts were transposed in their tray locations too, which held me up a little. So no, I didn't make it within the suggested hour, but it was less than two.

And it actually works. I put a test roll of film through it and got it developed yesterday in my local independent camera shop (Pause for a moment and dwell on the excitement that there is a local independent camera shop. Actually there are two. Amazing.) They all came out, all in focus, and no light leakage. Really pretty impressive, and bags of character. (That's code for "tiny area actually in focus" and "dark corners/vignetting") My previous camera use has been purely means to an end stuff; this is more "Have camera, what can I photograph?" Different experience entirely, and seeing the familiar through the reverse image viewfinder adds a Through The Looking-Glass aspect too. All in all a fascinating thing. Ridiculously satisfying too, especially making the shutter work. click click click click click


The scanner elected to make them a little redder than they should be, but you get the gist. The double exposure was unintended - although I did plan to try one anyway, albeit not quite like that... You know those Easter Island heads? Look at that sundial and tell me you don't see their extremely flat-headed cousins.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Arms and Legos

Zoicks! How can it already be the fourth of the month? Is it me, or has 2014 flown by on wing├ęd feet?

As you may gather from my helpfully numerically-equipped little plastic pals, some of that time has involved sorting through a very old box of Lego. (Sorry, not "old", but "classic", apparently.) It wasn't actually as horrific an experience as I'd feared, and I was mildly amused that my Lego collection accumulation is actually quite revealing. Although, no, I never actually wanted to be an astronaut or fireman... More telling were the following:

1. The alteration of production parts to fit own requirements is widespread. Cracked helmets have been carefully cut down to make bandanas, for instance. (I felt a tiny glow of pride in my younger self for that one).

2. One of the very first sets I ever had was the Fire Station. It has two pairs of rolling garage doors, which can only be described as little plastic tambour doors. So that's where the fascination probably started.

3. There are no fewer than three parrots. In real life arguably two have proved two too many...

4. Boats feature heavily. Fire boat, galleon, rowing boats, etc.

5. The only non-Lego thing in the entire box was... an ink cartridge. Honestly, I kid you not.

Alas, Lego has always rather shunned the woodworking fraternity, otherwise I'd have expected to find lots and lots of short brown flats, just too good to throw away but of no practical use for building anything... ;)

Anyway, all very well, but boy, was the stuff dusty. So a good deal of washing of bricks has gone on. Which is the easy bit; drying it all off again takes time. And in some cases, a towel:

Oh, how I loved these little Technic guys. Not quite the spookily mindless smile of the original mini figures, but also not the contorted gurning and grimacing of the modern figures facial expressions either. And flexible, too. Although, having said that, their ankles are a definite weak point, and worse...

Someone lend this poor fellow a hand.

Okay, so nice idea, but that's not going to work. More a case of a transplant (from an aforementioned weak-ankled colleague).

And ready for the slopes once again. But what are you doing, Trev? What's that? Haven't I seen the Lego Movie? Well, no, I... Huh? Cracked helmets are fashionable? Oh, for...

Right, right, sorry. Enough Lego. I apologise, but also fair warning - they may well return here and there, now I've liberated them from the box.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Devil in the Detail

In this brave new world where Big Brother doesn't just watch us but offers us recommendations on what to do next, it's true that my somewhat eclectic approach to Google can lead to some unusual suggestions. This recent one, though, I found just a tiny bit disturbing...

Inevitably, aside from the "Hang on, why are you recommending this to me?!" reaction, I find myself wondering what he/she did learn. At the very least presumably how he takes his coffee. Perhaps with a nice slice of Angel Cake...?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dread Scrolls See?

It's not good when a software update takes near 24 hours to download and install - not so happy memories of Windoze there, thanks, Apple. It's also slightly aggravating that apparently I now have to learn to switch from a horizontal email inbox layout to a vertical one. However, I can reach deep inside myself, forgive that ridiculously unnecessary change, and merely philosophically remark that I just need a few days of adjustment to get used to it. I'm not an unreasonable short-tempered technophobe, after all.

However, why in the name of all the gods does my scroll wheel now have to be scrolled up to go down the page?! It's going to take me forever to unlearn that one, you sadistic bar stewards!!!

Actually, that reminds me - my memory fails me on the detail, but isn't there at least one brand of Bailey pattern plane that elected to have the thread on the depth adjustment knob going the opposite way to "usual" (i.e. Not like Stanley)? I always felt that was a real argument for not mixing brands. Add in differences in cap irons (Record Stay-Set/Clifton, I'm looking at you and the Amazing Toe Hitting two part cap iron), lever caps (Millers Falls, you individualists, you), etc, and it's a minefield out there for the old tool user with a wide range of tools to choose from. As a result the clear-sighted user quickly realises that, for maximum efficiency, you clearly need one of each size in every brand you have*. Just to avoid embarrassing delays brought about by incorrect tool adjustment.

Tool justification? Apparently it's like riding a bike; you never really lose the knack...

* If I were to try implementing this I would be in so much trouble, it's not true. Not from The Management, but from the laws of physics. You simply can't put that much cast iron in one place without shifting the magnetic poles or something. Fairly sure the "Welcome to Earth" user's guide is very clear on not shifting magnetic poles about. Right between "It won't get better if you pick it" and "Leaving the room will always result in a goal".