Thursday, October 31, 2013

Typewriter Nostalgia

I'm (re)reading (on my Kindle) another old Dalgleish-mystery by P.D. James: Unnatural Causes. I've not finished the book yet, but was again struck during the reading by how much technology has changed since the mid 1960s. However this story might end, it is clearly set in a different time than the 21st century…

[the] portable typewriter was ready for them at the Inn, placed squat and shining on the edge of a small oak table in the saloon bar. The attentions of the finger print men and the typewriter experts seemed to have given it an added lustre. It looked at once ordinary and menacing, innocent and dangerous. It was, perhaps, the most intimate object that [X] had owned.  --- They knew at once why it was there. They were required to type two passages of prose;

James, P.D.  Unnatural Causes, Kindle Edition.

typwriter

Typewriter exhibited at our hospital's museum a couple of years ago

Ah, the good old days for detectives when they might be able to tell from a typed sheet of paper not only which typewriter was used to write it on, but even who the typist was, based on the force of their individual keystroke…

(In the quotes below I replaced actual names of characters in the book with letters A-G.)

[A] took some time to settle herself but once started the strong fingers, bony as a man’s, danced above the keys to produce, in an incredibly short time, two accurate copies elegantly set out and perfectly typed.

[B] used all five fingers correctly although her speed was only moderate and, unlike [A], she kept her eyes firmly on the keys.

[C] staring at the machine as if she hadn’t seen one before, protested shortly that she couldn’t type --- Eventually she was persuaded to make a start and after thirty minutes’ effort, produced an appallingly typed two pages  ---

[D]  when he could bring himself to touch the typewriter, was surprisingly quick and accurate ---

[E] was almost as expert as [A] and rattled away in sullen silence.

[F] said briefly that she couldn’t type but had no objection to trying. She refused Courtney’s help, spent about five minutes examining the keyboard and the carriage and settled down to the laborious task of copying the passage, word by word.  ---

[G] was hopeless, but even Courtney couldn’t believe that the man was faking.

To my amusement, when googling my choice of title for this blog post, that led me on to the two videos below. The first one is very short. Watch it! And if you doubt its ‘authenticity’, go on to the next one! Smile

If anyone is wondering what about typewriters evokes nostalgia in me, the answer is that most of my working life I worked as a secretary. When I went to secretary school at age 20, we still only had one electric typwriter in the classroom (and took turns using that). However, I knew how to type properly long before that. I was only 13 when I first learned, using my dad’s old typewriter at home, and a correspondence course book of my mum’s, with a cardboard shield over the keyboard to prevent me from looking at the keys.

I would not really want to go back, though!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

… 99, 100 …

I received my 99th and 100th Postcrossing postcards yesterday. Both of them were sent from Moscow, Russia – one showing a cathedral, and the other a monastery:

Cathedral of the Dormition

The Cathedral of the Dormition in the Moscow Kremlin

Novodevitchiy Monastery

Novodevitchly Monastery, Moscow

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It was a dark and stormy night…

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

It seems we got our worst gusts of wind from the storm Simone here late last night around 10 pm.

I thought I had taken enough precautions to remove/secure exposed items on my balcony earlier in the day, but what I had missed was that my clematis trellis was not fastened securely enough to the wall… Of course the playful Simone caught sight of that immediately, and only needed a little whirlwind or two to rip that piece of plastic off the wall…

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I saw it happenening though, and managed to get out there and raise it up again and fasten it with a lashing strap to the airing rack (the metal pole sticking out from the wall). Not so much worried about the plants as for the trellis to fly off and maybe cause damage somewhere else! Wasn’t sure the strap would hold it either, but it did. While I was at it, I also strapped the box of strawberry plants onto the bench, hoping they’d “help each other” stay in place that way… (Everything else small and loose I had taken inside.)

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(the photos taken this morning)

I was a bit nervous for a while but within the next hour or so the worst of the wind seemed to have “moved on”, and then I decided to just go to bed…

From what I could see from my windows in the morning, nothing too dramatic seemed to have happened in the immediate neighbourhood during the night.

The morning news on the radio reported over 60.000 households in southern Sweden to still be without power. We don’t seem to have had any powercut here in town though. And the morning newspaper did not list anything in the village where we have The House either, so keeping my fingers crossed about that (for now).

The most damage was caused in the southern parts of Sweden and especially along the coasts. Wind gusts of hurricane force were reported from Halland. Parts of roofs etc blown off, trucks tipped over on the roads, and lots of trees falling over roads and power lines etc. The precautions taken by cancelling all trains in southern Sweden, as well as many ferries and flights and busses, together with closing certain bridges, and telling people to stay in, must have prevented many more serious accidents though. So far I’ve heard no storm-related deaths reported.

Today we’re still having very windy weather (even if not storm force) with rainshowers coming and going every five minutes or so. Having no special reason to go out, I decided to just stay in today as well.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Blue Monday

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The past week has been mostly grey and rainy. I’ve been out, but not taking any new photos. The one above is from 19th October, which already feels like a long time ago. Since then most of the trees have dropped their leaves; and if some still have a few left, they’re likely to be gone by tomorrow morning - as we have a Big Storm coming in tonight. It’s the same storm that caused chaos over southern Britain earlier today – but here in Sweden it’s been given a new name: Simone.

Simone has now reached the southern parts of our country and is progressing in direction north-east. Precautions were taken early: all trains in the south-west were cancelled from around 4 PM, i.e. before the storm actually set in; ferries and buses etc likewise cancelled, bridges closed, and people generally recommended to stay in.

Around 7.30 PM more than 50.000 households in the south-west are without electricity so far. Along the coast they’re having hurricane force gusts of wind of now. Where I live (about 60-70 km inland from Gothenburg) we are still waiting, not quite knowing what to expect.

At least it’s no snow storm! We’re still having mild temperatures (around +10°C).

Smiling Sally

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Textile Fashion Center (2)

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The first thing that met my eye when I entered the foyer of the new Textile Fashion Center was the sculpture Cloned Frogs on Gala Dress by William Sweetlove.

Those of you who have been following my blog ever since spring 2010 (when the blog was still called The Island of the Voices), will probably remember it… That sculpture was somewhat of a soap opera in our local media (as well as on my blog) for a while back then!

Here are the links:

1. A Dog May Look at a Frog
2. Biting the Grass
3. Frogs Going AWOL
4. Don’t Climb What You Can’t See
5. Sweetlove and Cloning
6. To Give or Not to Give Away
7. Never-Ending Stories
8. Walkabout

I’m not sure if I have posted any more updates on it after that, but between then and now, the sculpture has had its home a/ inside the temporary library (while the main one was being renovated), b/ in the foyer of the town’s Cultural Center (library, art museum and theatre), and c/ (until now) in the machine hall of the Textile Museum.

Enough about that! Let’s go on to the reception desk:

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▲I liked this paved ‘street’, creating a connection between outdoors and indoors. There’s also a small stage for various kinds of performances.▼

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▲ An exhibition showing the works of graduating students from the Textile College.

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▲ The Textile Museum will be moving into these premises too (next year).

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▲ Back entrance looking out over the wooden decks I showed more of in my previous post.

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▲Going up in the lift/elevator.
▼Looking down from a window on the top floor.

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▼Walking down the stairs, looking at the artwork:

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▼Looking down from the 1st floor to the cafeteria:

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▼ There’s a cosy corner down there too…

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▼ And here’s looking down at the foyer from above:

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Linking this post to:

Our World Tuesday

Ruby Tuesday Too

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Macro Monday: Golden Days

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This is a post I intended to put in last week (but never got round to it). The photos were taken on 10th October. Since then a lot more leaves have dropped to the ground, some trees are now quite bare, and since yesterday it’s also raining…

However, I took lots of photos during the first sunny half of October, so here on the blog we might have sunshine and yellow leaves for a while yet!

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Macro Monday intro badge photo MM2badgeintrofinal_zps09e45e9a.jpg

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Weekend Reflections: Textile Fashion Center

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Today the Textile College in our town had Open House for the public to see their new premises, in a newly renovated block of old industrial buildings on both sides of the river.

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(The Textile Museum will be moving into this complex too, but not until next year.)

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When I got to the main entrance just before 11 a.m. the foyer was absolutely crowded with people.

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Not being too fond of crowds and queuing, I decided to start with going for a solitary walk around the block outside instead, and check out what they had done to the facades of the old buildings.

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One of the buildings has got a unique metal facade, imitating punch-cards used in old textile machines:

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Not just any old punch-cards either (according to the local newspaper) but those used to weave our town’s coat of arms (consisting of two sheep shears):

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▲ The reflection in this window is of the town’s first railway station (nowadays offices) on the opposite side of the street; an old wooden building, which is another important part of the town’s history.

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▲ “Simonsland” is the name of this part of town; in the past housing different kinds of textile industry (weaving, dyeing, sewing etc), and now a place where history will be mixing with the future and reflect the town’s development from industrial town to focusing on fashion design, technology and education.

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▲At the back of the complex you can walk along and between the buildings on wooden terraces and bridges. (In the past there was an old covered bridge where there is an open one now.) (And yes, that is my own blurry reflection to the right, looking into one of the windows.)

 

Inside to the left is the college restaurant.
The outdoor tables remind of old cotton reels. ▼

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It turned out I was able to get in to the lobby through a back door, and as the crowd inside had dissolved a bit by then, I went on to explore a bit indoors as well. I’ll save those photos for a separate post. The last one here is from another side of the building which I found when I peeked out through yet another door. ▼

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Linking to Weekend Reflections

Weekend Reflections

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Book Review: The Help (Niceville)

The Help
by Kathryn Stockett (2009)
(Swedish title: Niceville)

I listened to this as audio book in Swedish translation. I’d never heard of it before, just happened to see it on the CD audio book shelf in the library, and it caught my interest.

The story is set in Jackson, Mississippi, in the 1960’s, and is told from the perspectives of three different women. Skeeter, a young white girl from a wealthy family, with dreams of becoming a journalist (while her mother only wishes for her to find a suitable husband), comes to befriend Aibileen, a black maid working for one of Skeeter's closest friends. Aibileen is outwardly subservient, but well read, and used to doing some writing of her own too (although so far only for herself, and without ambitions). Aibileen in turn has a friend, Minny, also a maid, who used to work for another old friend of Skeeter’s in the past. Minny is a lot more temperamental and outspoken than Aibileen; which has often got her into trouble with her employers.

It’s an era of blatant racial discrimination, and Skeeter, feeling a bit rebellious about society’s rules in more than one area, gets the idea to write a book about the situation of black maids from their perspective, by interviewing them about their lives. The plan is to get the book published anonymously, and using fake names for everyone involved. She gets Aibileen and Minny to help her with the project. But everyone is still very much afraid (for good reason!) of what the repercussions might be – not only for themselves, but also their families – if the truth leaks out.

I found this a well-written and interesting book, bringing the time period and situation back then to life – well, as far as “rhyming” with the news flashes that reached us here in Sweden back in the 60’s, anyway. (I was born in 1955, so in the early 60’s I was only a child. But when Martin Luther King died I was 13, and able to take in a bit more of the discussions of racial discrimination etc. I still have in my bookshelf a copy of Coretta Scott King’s book about her husband, in Swedish translation, printed in 1970.)

One of the strongest points made in the novel is the basic contradiction of the white upper class women leaving their children in the care of the same maids whom they keep treating as less than human.

PS. I just looked up some quotes from the book on the internet, and was a little taken aback by how big a difference it sometimes makes to read a text in the original language compared to reading it in translation. The Swedish translation and audio recording in this case made no or very little attempt to imitate the dialect/grammar used by the black maids (“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”)  No doubt because it would be linguistically impossible to do this in a meaningful way in modern Swedish. But it seems from the quotes that the original text makes this distinction throughout. My guess is that reading the book in English thereby probably emphasizes the class differences even more. What effect this may have on the general impression of the book for an American reader is hard for me to say, though.

I also find that the book has been turned into a movie.
I think I shall have to get it on DVD as well!

Oops! The Intertubes Are Broken

If you ever wondered what makes the internet work, it seems to be the “intertubes” that do it. Except when they they are broken…

Anyway, this is as far as the Zynga Words With Friends support takes me at the moment, when I try to investigate why I can’t access their game on my phone (since yesterday afternoon).

Going on to ask Google what on earth “intertubes” are, it looks surprised and asks me back: Did you mean: inner tubes?”

However, www.justanswer.com gave me this explanation (answer to a similar question asked a couple of months ago by someone else):

Actually the "Intertubes are broken" message is kind of an inside Joke with Zynga's programmers. The joke is that they are having an issue on their end and not on your computer.  --- you should not have to do anything, Usually it can take up to 24 hrs for Zynga to fix stuff on their end.

So I guess I’ll just wait another day or so before I waste any more time on fruitless troubleshooting at my end.

(In the meantime, I’m still able to access the game on the computer via Facebook. Just as info to friends I’m currently playing with!)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Classics Book Review: The Railway Children

The Railway Children
by Edith Nesbit (1905)

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I’m working my way through the books by Edith Nesbit on my Kindle :) – the book cover here was copied from Wikipedia.

This story is about two brothers and two sisters who are suddenly uprooted from their previous comfortable life in a town house with both their parents, to go and live with only their mother in the countryside, under much poorer circumstances than before. Their father has suddenly had to go away; but the children get no real explanation of why or whereto or for how long, until near the end of the book. They soon understand that Mother prefers not to talk about it, and learn not to ask questions. Mother is also suddenly very busy writing stories for publication; which means that the children are often left to amuse themselves best they can on their own.

As their house is close to the railway, this becomes their main source of adventures. They make friends with the staff at the railway station, and they also get in the habit of waving to the people on a special train that goes by daily – especially to one old gentleman; with whom they later on get closer acquainted, to their mutual advantage.

Perhaps needless to say, after certain complications all ends well, and at the end mysteries are explained and questions answered, to the satisfaction of all involved.

I’d say that in many ways this is a rather typical children’s book for its time. Personally I enjoyed Nesbit’s  ‘Psammead’ series more, as those books offer the reader more of an intriguing interpretation challenge, balancing between children’s imagination and “real” magic – and with a lot of humour, too.

From historical point of view, The Railway Children bears witness about the impact of the railway back in those days, though.

According to Wikipedia, the book has been dramatised several times (between 1951 and 2000) for radio, TV and film.

Amusingly, when googling the book title, one of the results that came up was an article from The Telegraph 11 July 2013, stating that:

After more than 40 years, the board responsible for classifying films in Britain receives its first complaint about classic film The Railway Children. [from 1970]

A viewer raised concerns with the BBFC about the danger of depicting children playing on railway tracks, in what was the first complaint received by the BBFC since the Railway Children was classified U in 1970, a rating which means it is generally suitable for children aged four and over.

David Cooke, director of the BBFC said the film had "always been a U on every platform." In the board's annual report it said it judged that as the Railway Children is set in the Edwardian period, access to trains was very different from today, and also the film showed the “potential harm to children if proper care is not taken” near railways.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Book Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling

I’ve been falling behind with book reviews lately. That does not mean that I haven’t been reading! I was thinking that I might catch up by writing several short reviews into one post – but during the writing of the first one, it got long enough to stand on its own. (Hopefully I’ll get back to the others another day.)

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The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (2013)

[Previously mentioned in my BTT post Imagery, Sept. 12.]

Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling. You can read more about why she chose to write The Cuckoo’s Calling under a pseudonym here (click on FAQs).

As Robert Galbraith, Rowling is starting on a series of crime novels featuring private investigator Cormoran Strike. (A sequel is already finished and expected to be published next year).

A temporary secretary named Robin (newly engaged to be married), arrives at the start of the story, hired from an agency,  to help out with his office work. Strike himself is a war veteran wounded in the Afghan war (and just out of a broken relationship with a woman). The setting is modern day London.

This is a classic kind of detective story; by which I mean that it focuses on solving a mystery. Actually, when the story starts out, the police have already written off the “case” as suicide; but the victim’s brother comes to Strike and asks him to re-investigate. Much of the book consists of Strike (and sometimes Robin too) going around London and interviewing people, and comparing their stories and impressions of the victim (a famous photo model) and the events leading up to her lethal fall from a balcony in her own home.

Personally I found it rather fascinating how the author manages to keep up the suspense even though (throughout most of the book) not all that much seems to “happen” on the surface. However, while all this interviewing is going on, the reader also gradually gets to know not only the victim and the people surrounding her, but also the detective and his secretary.

Rather typical for J.K. Rowling, she manages to mix a true love of the classic detective novel with gentle satire of the same genre, but throwing in some harsh modern day reality as well.

The collection of characters includes photo models and musicians, fashion designers, film producers and lawyers – but also puts some spotlight on caretakers, drivers, cleaners, and homeless people. Like in The Casual Vacancy (published under her own name), Rowling does not hesitate to use language as a class distinction. (I can’t help wondering if the American edition has kept all the f-words? Or replaced them with beeps?) In between the colloquial conversations including slang and cursing, the author still demonstrates her own capability of a varied literary vocabulary though – even including quotes from Latin classics at the beginning of each chapter.

Unlike some other famous literary British detectives, Cormoran Strike is not a member of the aristocracy. Instead, he has the ‘updated’ mixed background of being an illegitimate son of a famous rock musician; and then a military career cut off by injury. This places him in a sort of no man’s land with access both to the modern day rich and famous, and their modern day servants.

I enjoyed this crime novel and I’ll definitely be reading the next one too. At the same time I have to say I hope that Rowling will continue to explore other genres as well. (Well, who knows. Maybe she already is, under some other pseudonym that has not been “outed” yet!)

 

 

Shadow Shot Sunday: Autumn Leaves

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Pile of autumn leaves
awakens the child in me:
want to jump right in!

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I settled for just taking a photo or two, though! ;)

Linking to: Shadow Shot Sunday 2

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