Proud Postage

Consistent with my use of fountain pens is my affection for written correspondence. Thus, there is the need for postage and lately I’ve found the stamps produced by the United States Postal Service to be less than inspired. They’re just in a rut; sooner or later they’ll deliver some good ones. In the mean time I have a source for great stamps. Here’s a shot of just a few of them:

stampsaOf course, my favorite is the Gadsden Flag in the upper left corner. (That’s the one that says, “Don’t Tread On Me.”) Don’t miss the George S. Patton one in the upper right, either. There are the ones with the American Revolution theme, space exploration, and nautical history. My supplier must have a deep well of these because I send approximately 50-60 pieces of mail to both US and international destinations each month. He’s never run out and I’m grateful.

These stamps are works of art and a sort of time capsule that capture history and the mood of the age. Compared to anemic email with it’s slang, shortcuts, silly animations, these stamps stand tall. And they should. The recipients of my letters and cards frequently comment on how they like the stamps. Drop someone a handwritten note once in a while to show your affection and appreciation. After all, that’s what friends are for.

Published in: on June 29, 2009 at 3:18 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

A different kind of bear…

This airplane goes by the name of the Piper “Cub.” It’s signature shape is recognizable after more than fifty years in the air. Countless pilots first took to the air in this machine, which William Piper developed to satisfy his own desire to take to the air.

cubcThe proven design still flies, which is testament to Piper’s philosophy. Today, most people refer to planes of this configuration as “tail draggers,” meaning that there is a small wheel at the tail which sits lower than the nose. Truthfully, the correct term is “conventional” gear as opposed to “tricycle” gear. Well, this may be an esoteric digression here at The Bent Page, but I just wanted to set the record straight. And here’s a look at the power plant that pulls this craft through the sky.

cubaIt only takes four, air-cooled cylinders to do the job as this is a very light airplane. The cylinders are exposed from the cowling to promote cooling. These engines typically operate for about 2000 hours before requiring an overhaul. Then there is the cockpit.

cubbAs you can see, only the basics are here. You have an airspeed indicator and an altimeter, a tachometer for the engines along with oil temp and pressure. There’s a compass to point the way and a turn and slip indicator which is that curved, clear tube in the center with the black ball in it. The turn and slip indicator lets the pilot know that he’s flying in a coordinated fashion (or not) and this is an important concept in flight. If the aircraft is uncoordinated, it is slipping or skidding just like a car on ice. The problem is, in certain adverse conditions a slip or skid can lead to a spin and spins can end in tragedy. Hence the simple yet highly effective device.

Note that placard on the panel that says solo flight from the rear seat. This is to improve the balance of the plane when only one person is aboard. So if you ever see just one guy in the back you’ll know why.

At any rate, airplanes like this are fading from sight. It’s not cheap to fly and the interest among young people has declined a bit. I can’t imagine a computer game is ten percent as thrilling as flying a Piper Cub but tastes do change. I’d rather be the one doing something than among the others talking about someone doing something. Ah, well, to each his own.

Published in: on June 28, 2009 at 1:10 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Irv Homer, RIP

Irv Homer died a couple of days ago. He was a talk radio host for many years in Philadelphia, not to mention a bar owner and entrepreneur. I first heard him on the air in the early 1990’s on station WWDB, an FM talk radio station at the time. Irv wasn’t afraid to speak his mind and when DB, as the station was known, went to a music format he was sorely missed. Irv went to a few other stations after that. I had the pleasure to meet him a few times. He was an irascible character but one with a healthy dose of common sense.

So, rest in peace, Irv.

Published in: on June 25, 2009 at 2:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Goodbye Kodachrome

Kodak announced that it is discontinuing it’s famous Kodachrome line of film. I greet this news with sadness. I remember using Kodachrome years ago, when I was in highschool and again in college. More recently, I’ve used Ektachrome, a film with which I’ve been able to achieve stunning results (in terms of color rendition, clarity, and so forth). However, the digital age has been upon us for some time now and sooner or later film will be a quaint thing of the past.

In some ways, this is a good thing. Film processing produces a bit of pollution and waste that digital photography virtually eliminates. Furthermore, digital manipulation can be less expensive and time consuming than the “old” way of chemicals and enlargers. No the results are not the same; they can’t be the same. The process is different. Thus, it is neither better nor worse in my opinion, simply different. I can accept that and adapt. Along the same lines, photography is open to more people due to reduced costs. This is another good thing as there are some sharp eyes out there who might otherwise not have a chance to practice the art.

Still, I miss days of winding film into a holder, exposing it, waiting until it came back from the lab and that thrill of getting a great shot. It’s sort of like Christmas morning every time with both the joy and disappointment of getting what you want or not.

Published in: on June 24, 2009 at 3:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,