Sunday, May 30, 2010

Voigtlander Bessa

(I'm experimenting with trying to make a passable imitation of Thai iced coffee this afternoon. I may not sleep much tonight!)

See that little V on the front door? It's a Voigtlander Bessa, possibly a pre-war model. This camera is built like the proverbial brick S&%t house.
That X in the film window means the cover is in place preventing any light from reaching the film. The little black knob turns to move it out of the way so you can see when you've reached the next exposure when winding.

Here's a top view of the Bessa, showing the pop-up viewfinder and the depth of field scale on the right side.

The front standard has a linkage that goes to a shutter release over on the right side of the door. You can just barely see that little triangle at the top of the door. Also, this camera once had a lens cover or filter attached to a hinge still visible at the 10 o'clock position on the lens bezel. The lens itself doesn't appear to be coated at all, but then again, it's very old.

Look at that honkin' huge opening! It's 6cm by 6cm.

They recommended the use of Voigtlander film too. I've never seen Voigtlander film.


The art of urban camoflage

Floppy straw hat? Check. Black framed 'birth control' glasses? Check. Loud Hawaiian shirt that some may find offensive? Check. De rigueur camera around neck? Check. Not shown: Plaid Bermuda shorts, black socks and Converse Chuck Taylors? Check, check, and check.

This is how you can disappear in a crowd. You can stand there taking photos and people will quite literally never see you. If you inadvertently walk into a men's wear store, the entire staff will break and run like a covey of quail. And if you're somehow Shanghai'd into going shopping with your significant other, you can follow her around and stand nearby while she shops. Very shortly, she'll get an attack of the vapors and insist that you go home.

I only look like an idiot.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Score card

I've been posting about fixing cameras for a while, so I thought it would be a good idea to do a list of successes and failures so far. Without further ado:

Yashica Electro 35 GT. I cleaned the rangefinder and replaced the seals. The battery compartment had some corrosion leading to a poor connection that had to be re-soldered. But somehow in the course of cleaning it, I managed to throw the rangefinder out of adjustment. Since I work slowly and carefully, getting it adjusted properly was a time-consuming job.

Canon Canonet G-III Q17. This one had a dinged front ring and stiff exposure controls. It went to Tulsa Camera Repair for that because I wasn't comfortable doing it myself at the time. I replaced the seals - a constant refrain on these old cameras - and re-glued the battery test switch from inside the top cover.

Olympus XA. Gosh, I was happy to get this one working! It had a bent fork that operated the aperture. After some head scratching, I figured out how to get to it, and a little judicious bending set it right. Replaced seals again, and the camera worked very well until I dropped it two weeks ago. Now, the meter doesn't work and the case has a crack in it. Dunno if I can fix it, but I sure want another one.

Olympus XA2. Seals and a battery got this one going.

Olympus Auto Eye. Surprise! This camera doesn't have seals! I cleaned the rangefinder and it works well, though there may be an intermittent in the exposure control. I'm not certain yet.

Olympus OM-1. New seals.

Canon AE-1 Program. New seals.

Pentax MX. I have two of these. Both needed new seals.

Konica C 35. I admit defeat on this one. It has extensive internal corrosion from battery leakage and acid flux used to solder the wiring.

Rollei 35 S. I managed to open this camera, and it too shows much corrosion. It's a very nice camera, though, so I may send it out to a specialist for evaluation.

Upcoming cameras.

Yashica Lynx 5000. This is a fully manual rangefinder. At present, it doesn't wind and the shutter is inoperative. I haven't disassembled it yet.

Minolta HiMatic 9 (or is it a 7? I don't remember). This one has an inoperative shutter too. It has not been disassembled.

The wish list.
These are cameras I'd like to get someday.

Yashica Lynx 14E. If I understand correctly, this offers both manual and automatic operation, but the real appeal is that 45mm f 1.4 lens hanging off the front. This thing is big and heavy, but I've always been a sucker for fast glass.

Nikon F4. Yeah. Dream on.

German rangefinder. It would be nice to have a Leica, a Voightlander, or a Contax, but the CycleDog budget may only extend to Russian copies like Kievs, FEDs, or a Zorki. Sorry, but Chinese copies of Russian copies of German cameras are right out. But you never know. I may stumble into that yard sale where a disgruntled ex-wife is selling her husband's old Leica, right next to his Klein track bike and Norton Manx - all for $200!


Friday, May 28, 2010

How to fix an air conditioner

The unstately Wagner manor was getting gawdawful hot. I walked down the master hallway (when you only have one, it gets to be the master hall) to the thermostat and pushed the button to lower the temperature setting. Nothing happened. The air conditioner remained silent. But the digital display flashed on and off. Something was up. Sighing at yet another gadget to fix, I removed the front plate to get the model number. Then I was off to the computer to download a copy of the manual. Minutes later, I was back at the thermostat with the manual in hand. I tried to enter the programming sequence, but the device stubbornly refused to allow any changes. Right about then, I noticed that the master switch was set to the oh-eff-eff position. Yes, it was off. The air conditioner works now.

...and yes, it's true that I'm a professional electronics technician. Why did you ask?


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ask Dr. Wally

Dear Dr. Wally,

All this spring I tried and tried to get my boyfriend to go on a bike ride with me. He said he wanted to get out more, ride the bike, and spend time with me. But he always had some excuse for not going, like he had to go to work, or cut the grass, or do laundry, but the latest one has me wondering just how much commitment he's made to riding with me. He said he couldn't go on a Saturday morning ride because the bike wouldn't stay upright. "It's too tired," he said. I'm beginning to wonder about both his commitment to riding and his commitment to our relationship.

Should I dump this guy and find another, more bicycling-inclined boyfriend?

Chagrined in Chouteau

My advice on relationships is kind of suspect, Chagrined. I've been married three or four times, and it's always turned out wrong. There's a fundamental difference between men and women, a difference that can be both celebrated and very perplexing. When those differences become too profound, divorce decrees, restraining orders, and even barbed wire aren't sufficient to contain a woman's fury.

But you've asked for my advice, so I'll give you my thoughts on various prospects for a lasting relationship.

The urban fixed gear hipster. These guys are OK, if you like the idea of fixer-uppers. Sure, they're generally young and in good physical condition, but they're prone to over-use of alcohol and they have a great deal of difficulty finding real jobs. Trust me, mixing up candy flavored coffee drinks in the local Starbucks doesn't count as a real job.

The mountain biker. These guys break things - bikes, bones, and unfortunately, the hearts of any women in their lives. You can impress them by showing your scars, but that makes for a very short lived and shallow relationship.

The racer. Road racers don't break things like the MTB guys, but they're too intent on training to form any lasting romantic ties. Their spare time is taken up with obsessing over a couple of grams on their bikes, weighing out food for the next meal, or snoozing on the couch after a long training ride.

Recumbent riders. Don't speak to them. Don't even look at them if at all possible. They're just plain weird.

The counter culture warrior. These guys have "dropped out of consumer culture" by refusing to have jobs. They dumpster-dive for their next meal and ride battered department store bikes that they 're-purposed' from a local dump. Need I say more?

Middle aged guys on vintage French bikes. Here you have the cream of the crop, men who appreciate the finer things in life like a classic bicycle, a fine dinner, and a good bottle of wine. Middle aged guys on French bikes aren't in a hurry to get somewhere. They value companionship. They've learned to listen well and share their thoughts and feelings.

By chance, Chagrined, I'll be visiting Choteau early next month. Perhaps we could meet for coffee. I'll be riding my Gitane.

Next month: How to escape packs of angry mountain bikers, racers, and other cyclists intent on doing bodily harm for stealing their girlfriends.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Another 'ask' letter...

Over the weekend, I received a letter from a new group dedicated to education and advocacy for yet another group of road users - pedestrians. The letter came from the League of American Bipeds. After a quick read, it was clear that they prefer entirely separate facilities for vulnerable road users like pedestrians. In fact, they'd rather have grade separated walkways along existing streets, complete with bridges across all major intersections. This would eliminate the need to mix pedestrians and motor vehicles and would be decidedly safer. The League calls these facilities 'ped tracks.'

The League intends to hand out Biped Friendly City awards later this year, recognizing those cities that have incorporated ped tracks and other dedicated pedestrian facilities as part of their transportation planning. The League sponsors the De Feet Streets program as part of this initiative.

In a footnote appended to the back of the third page, a paragraph of tiny print explained the League's education policy. They plan to have a instructor cadre focused on teaching pedestrians how to cross existing roads at both controlled and uncontrolled intersections. Additionally, they will teach new street-going pedestrians how to read traffic signals, perform basic foot and shoe care, and use hand signals. The League is looking for instructors qualified in higher mathematics and Newtonian physics, but a bachelor's degree in English and the ability to chew gum and walk at the same time is sufficient.

Much of the funding for the League's programs comes from Bipeds Belong - an association of shoe manufacturers - and the Dunderhead Alliance - an organization studying the question of "why chickens cross the road" since 1996.

Needless to say, I probably won't become a member.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Olympus Auto Eye

It's been a strange week. First, I dropped the Olympus XA onto the tile floor in the kitchen. Part of the body cracked and the meter no longer operates. Why couldn't I drop the XA2? Sure, it's an OK camera, but I really like the XA. Dunno if I can fix it.

Then I opened up the Rollei 35S and found more corrosion. This camera truly is 10 pounds of s@*t in a 5 pound sack, so I probably won't do anything more to it. I may send it off to a specialist, but there's no hurry on that.

Finally, the good news. These photos are out of the Olympus Auto Eye. It's the first roll of film from that camera, and I just have to say that I'm very happy with it. The lens is adequately sharp and it handles color well. These shots were from the local Trail Days carnival, and were taken early in the morning before the crowds arrived. She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed was peeved that I didn't take her to the fair and buy her some cotton candy. "But you can't have that much sugar!" I said. It didn't matter. I was still a putz.

This was cropped from a slightly larger photo. I liked how the light was just catching their noses while their bodies were still in the shade.

In all honesty, I like this camera very much too, partly because it doesn't require batteries. It seems very solid unlike some more modern rangefinders. But it is a bulky, heavy beastie. I was looking forward to carrying the XA unobtrusively in my cargo shorts. This Auto Eye is just too big for that. It would probably yank my shorts down around my ankles, making for an outstanding photo op for someone else!

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rollei 35 S

Mary and I were running some errands this afternoon. We went to the post office, the gas station, and the library. Our last stop was the local Goodwill store. And as you can see, I found something interesting!

This is a Singapore-made Rollei 35 S. It's basically a point-and-shoot camera but it does not have a rangefinder. That little window opposite the viewfinder is for the photocell. Of course, the camera is inoperable. It doesn't wind. The shutter doesn't work. And inserting a new battery didn't get the meter working either. A trifecta!

One side of the hot shoe (located on the bottom of the camera) is bent inward probably from the camera having been dropped. Also, it shows signs of hard use - lots of dirt and some external corrosion.

I located a user's manual and a repair manual, but I'm not sure I want to get into this one quite yet. It's ten pounds of s**t in a five pound box. The thing is incredibly dense. I had to find that user's manual simply in order to get the camera open. Those pesky Germans designed it with a back that slides off toward the bottom. Release that latch next to the tripod mount, and the back slides off and down.

But I couldn't pass it up at the price - three bucks, and that included the leather case embossed with the Rollei name, and a tiny lens cover, it too with the Rollei name molded into the front.


Saturday, May 08, 2010

Papers, please.

A not too hard to imagine scenario.

So I was bicycling down the street in some little backwater town when a local cop came up behind me and turned on his lights and siren. I pulled over at the next place it was safe to stop, in this case a convenience store parking lot. The officer got out of his car and asked for my identification. I gave him my work ID since I don't have a drivers license. He wasn't happy about that.

"Don't you have some form of government issued ID?" he asked.

"Sure, I have a passport at home, but I never carry that, and besides, it's expired. I have a library card, though." He looked exasperated at that last bit.

"I stopped you because you're impeding traffic by riding your bicycle at only 15 miles per hour. I'm going to cite you for that, and you'll be going to jail at least overnight. But you may be held for several days until we get your immigration status sorted out. You may want to think about that if you ride through here again."

Fortunately, the above scenario exists only in my over-active imagination, but it doesn't take much to imagine it happening to someone, somewhere, sometime in the near future. Laws like Arizona's "papers please" statute will be used in ways that were never intended.

We know that police need probable cause to detain or search our persons, vehicles, or homes. If you appear to be intoxicated, you can be arrested. If you're running away from a grocery store robbery wearing a ski mask, it's enough to stop and question you. But in Arizona, the probable cause for a stop and subsequent questioning is nothing more than your skin color. Speaking with an accent is not going to be helpful, either.

Make no mistake, being in the United States illegally is a crime and people should expect to be deported if they're caught. But skin color or accented speech are not probable cause - except in Arizona. My grandparents, for instance, spoke in accented English all their lives as did many people in their social circle. They immigrated here from eastern Europe and English was their second language. Should such people be fearful anytime they leave the house because any passing police officer could stop and question them based on how they look or how they speak?

The state of Arizona and those public officials who promoted this law are receiving a well-deserved ration of scorn and public condemnation. They richly deserve it. And I'm happy to add my voice in opposition to their unjust, un-American actions.

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