Miskatonic University Press

LineageOS update

android

Recently I got caught up with LineageOS updates to my phone. (LineageOS is the free and open source version of Android.) It’s now dead easy for me to keep current with the weekly updates.

First I upgraded TWRP, following the same process I used in March when I installed LineageOS for the first time. Then I installed the Official TWRP App from the Play Store, which means I can update TWRP with this app instead of getting close to the metal. TWRP updates happen rarely, but if the process can be easier, great.

Next, I used the app to get the latest d2att image (I had to download it in a browser, but that was easy) and install it. I didn’t have to boot into recovery.

Up to date with LineageOS.
Up to date with LineageOS.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been checking for updates (Settings > About phone > LineageOS updates), and each week when the new one shows up, I download it and tap “Install” and TWRP takes care of everything for me. I still have the same problem where a soft reboot hangs the the first time, so I need to force the power off and do a cold restart. It gives me a frisson of anxiety every time, but it always works.

LineageOS has made my five-year-old Samsung Galaxy S3 better than ever. Highly recommended.

Presto

vagaries

I live in Toronto and I use the public transit system, the TTC, to get to work, so every month I buy a Metropass for unlimited travel. This month I was out of town on vacation for three weeks, so I didn’t get a Metropass. I need something for the rest of the month, so I reckoned it was time to get a Presto card, which is the new thing the TTC is moving to. I knew nothing about them, because I’ve been ignoring them until I have to get one—the Metropasses are easier to use.

I went into a subway station and went up to a green Presto machine, but it only lets you put money onto a card you already have. I asked the gate attendant where I could get one. She said they sell them at the Gateway newsstands inside the stations, and waved me through so I could buy one. I went to the newsstand and asked for a card. “We’re sold out,” the man said.

There was nothing more to be done, so I got on the subway to go downtown. There was some sort of delay holding up the entire system, and for fifteen minutes we waited while one train was stopped just outside the station and another was stopped just waiting to get in. I went down to Spadina, transferred to the streetcar to go down to King Street, but it short turned at Queen, so I had to walk.

Welcome back to Toronto.

For the rest of the day I got around by streetcar, which use Proof-of-Payment, where the driver doesn’t ask for payment but you may be checked by a fare inspector, and if you haven’t paid you’ll be in trouble. I figured if I did get stopped it would be a good chance to make a complaint, but I wasn’t.

Today I went to another subway station and went to the gate.

“I need to buy a Presto card—is the Gateway store downstairs open?”

“No.”

“I tried to buy one at St. David station yesterday and they were sold out.”

“Those stores are always sold out!”

She gave me some tips on where I was likely to find one. I bought three tokens to tide me over.

Delacroix's Journal

art quotes

The 31 March 2017 issue of the TLS reprinted a piece from 18 March 1977 where artists were asked to “nominate the book(s) on art which have made the strongest impression on them.” Tom Phillips and Robert Motherwell both mentioned the Journal of Eugène Delacroix.

Cover of The Journal of Eugène Delacroix (Phaidon)
Cover of The Journal of Eugène Delacroix (Phaidon)

Phillips said:

Which book on art? It is a difficult question for me to separate this from the question, “A book on which artist?”, since the pictures in a book are likely to have a greater effect on me than the text, except where the text itself is the artist’s work, as in those two constantly read companions, the Letters of van Gogh and the Journal of Delacroix.

Phaidon published a selection (about half the length of the original, it says) edited by Hubert Wellington and translated by Lucy Norton, but it’s out of print now (?!). I found a nice used copy online easily (in this case from Hay on Wye Booksellers).

Every page is filled with wonderful things. I flipped around randomly and came across this, from 27 August 1854:

They are going to launch a large vessel called a clipper at noon today. Another of these American inventions to make people go faster and faster. When they have managed to get travellers comfortably seated inside a cannon so that they can be shot off like bullets in any given direction civilization will doubtless have taken a great step forward. We are making rapid strides towards that happy time when space will have been abolished; but they will never abolish boredom, especially when you consider the ever-increasing need for some occupation to fill in our time, part of which, at least, used to be spent in travelling.

It is a fascinating book, and I’m looking forward to reading it slowly.

Advice from Skeleton Island

literature quotes

Today I reread The Secret of Skeleton Island (by Robert Arthur), the sixth in the great series of YA detective stories involving The Three Investigators. They are the classic triumvirate of youthful boy detectives: the pudgy smart one (Jupiter Jones, “First Investigator”), the athletic one (Pete Crenshaw, “Second Investigator”), and the quieter booky one (Bob Andrews, “Records and Research”). I loved the series as a boy and I like to go back and reread one every now and then.

Here’s a tip: once you’ve read the first two or three to get the feel of the series, look for ones by William Arden, which was a pseudonym of Dennis Lynds, a very fine crime writer. He put things into his entries in the series that grown-up readers will notice and appreciate.

The Secret of Skeleton Island (pb)
The Secret of Skeleton Island (pb)

The first chapter is exciting: the boys fly from California to the east coast of the United States to join a film shoot (where Pete Crenshaw’s father is working) and investigate some mysterious circumstances at the suggestion of Alfred Hitchcock. They are picked up at the airport by someone who knows who they are, so they think it’s all right, but then he drives them to to a boat and takes them to an island—but not the island they were expecting to go to the next day—and abandons them there. They are stranded on a small island in the Atlantic, at night, in a storm! That’s a heck of a first chapter.

There are two nice pieces of wisdom in the book.

“One kid can generally tell when another kid is sneaky” [said Jupiter].

“Adults don’t like to listen to kids when their minds are made up,” Bob observed.

Very true.

The Secret of Skeleton Island (hc)
The Secret of Skeleton Island (hc)

The cover of the paperback, at the top, is by Stephen Marchesi, and I don’t know who did the cover of the hardcover edition, just above. That’s Jupiter in front, then Pete, then Bob (the booky one, wearing glasses and a sweater vest) in the back.

Papers and inks

stationery

I use fountain pens. I’m going to start posting about that, but first I’m going to examine paper. Fountain pen users take a great interest in paper, because the ink can easily smear, feather or bleed through to the other side.

Notebooks seem to be the choice of many—most?—people who take more than the usual amount of interest in what they write on every day. At web sites like The Pen Addict and The Well-Appointed Desk there are lots of reviews of notebooks from Moleskine, Baron Fig, Field Notes, Rhodia and others.

I don’t use notebooks. I have no place for them in my set of tools. I use:

  • A Filofax.
  • Sketchbooks for sketching and commonplace books.
  • Small Rhodia pads of paper (perforated for easy tearing) for quick notes.
  • 8.5 x 11 inch (letter-size) paper, for all my usual writing.

When I’m working on a project, I use a file folder to keep notes, not a notebook, so I want proper writing paper. I live in Canada, so that means 8.5 x 11 inch.

Experimenting

I decided to test out various weights of paper and find one I liked and could put into regular use. It needed to feel good in hand and not bleed ink through to the other side. I grabbed a few sheets of stuff we use at work, then tested some stationery I had at home. It seemed like 120 gsm (32 pound) was the heaviest mass-production letter paper I could buy, so I got two types of that.

On each sheet I wrote something with a TWSBI Diamond 580 with an extra-fine (EF) nib inked with J. Herbin Perle Noire (a beautiful black), a Lamy Safari with an EF nib inked with J. Herbin’s Poussière de Lune (burgundy), a glass dip pen with Diamine Blue-Black and a Faber-Castell pencil (9B—very soft) I also used a small watercolour brush to put on some J. Herbin Rouge Opéra ink (darkish red).

Weights

The most important thing about paper is its weight, called the grammage. In North America the weight is usually given in pounds: 20 pounds is the usual weight for the paper you’ll find in a printer, but if you’re getting good watercolour paper (like something from Canson, my preferred source) it’ll be around 140 pounds. This is all calculated from “basis weight” and different sizes of paper and can be confusing, like most things involving Americans and imperial units (e.g. the Mars Climate Orbiter).

As you’d expect, the metric system has made this all very sensible: it uses grams per meter squared (g/m²) or gsm. Even Americans will talk about paper weight using this unit, because (as far as I know) the best writing paper comes from outside the US, and that’s how it’s labelled.

Papers

If Rhodia made a pad of letter-size paper I certainly would have tried it, but they quite rightly use A4, so that’s out.

EarthChoice Office Paper, 75 gsm

EarthChoice Office Paper, made by Domtar, is what we usually have on hand where I work.

It feels like normal paper, until you’ve handled heavier stuff, after which it seems very flimsy. On the front it looks all right, but ink really bleeds through. The ink on the glass pen really feathered.

Front: EarthChoice

Back: EarthChoice

Paperline, 75 gsm

This Paperline stuff was another type we had at work. It’s very similar to the EarthChoice Office Paper, but felt a little more finished. The glass dip pen didn’t feather.

Front: Paperline

Back: Paperline

Unknown, about 90 gsm

I had some personal stationery at home that was 25% cotton and had a bit of tooth to it. I estimate it was 24 pounds, or 90 gsm. It’s very nice, but it bleeds a bit.

Front: Unknown

Back: Unknown

First Choice ColorPrint (by Domtar), 120 gsm

Here I got into heavy paper, and as soon as I tried First Choice ColorPrint (made by Domtar), at 32 pounds, I knew I had the weight I wanted. This stuff is designed for colour printing and is extremely white and very, very smooth. It feels very heavy in the hand, and no ink bleeds through.

I got this at Staples. The web site says it’s about $17 for 500 sheets.

Front: First Choice

Back: First Choice

Classic Linen (by Neenah), 118 gsm

This is Classic Natural White (which is creamy) in Neenah’s Classic Linen line at “text” weight. “Linen” refers to the finish, which has a bit of texture, like the cloth. You can see it in the pencil if you look closely. This paper also feels nice and heavy, and no ink bleeds through.

I got this at Print City, in downtown Toronto by Bloor and Avenue. I use them for any printing I need done. Highly recommended. I went in and said what I was after and they sold me 500 sheets of this for $50. That’s not cheap, but it’s what this kind of paper costs. They don’t sell this kind of thing at Staples, and I might have been able to get it cheaper at Amazon, but I don’t shop there.

Front: Neenah

Back: Neenah

Results

I’m using the Neenah linen paper now, and will stick with it for a while, then may go back to the First Choice. Both have the weight I like, and now it’s a matter of seeing how I like the finish and the way they feel.

If you’re doing serious writing on letter or A4 paper, don’t use the flimsy stuff you find in your printer at work. Go get some heavy paper at 120 gsm. As soon as you hold it in your hand, you’ll know you’re ready for real writing. This is paper.

Barnett Newman's Library

art libraries

This is a beautiful book: Barnett Newman: A Catalogue Raisonné, by Richard Shiff, Carol C. Mancusi-Ungaro and Heidi Colsman-Freyberger, published in 2004 by Yale University Press. (Wikipedia defines a catalogue raisonné to be “a comprehensive, annotated listing of all the known artworks by an artist either in a particular medium or all media.” That’s what this book is: it’s a big, heavy, gorgeous edition listing everything Newman ever painted or drew (that he didn’t destroy), with colour photos and all sorts of details about everything.)

Onement I, courtesy Wikipedia
Onement I, courtesy Wikipedia

Barnett Newman is one of my favourite artists, and recently I’ve been enjoying reading about him for Listening to Art: the next three issues are all Newman paintings.

I was very happy to find that the catalogue raisonné includes a listing of books in Newman’s library—and then I was even happier when I discovered that a more accurate list is available on the Barnett Newman Foundation’s web site: The Artist’s Library.

These are the categories they’ve used to organize the books and other items:

  • Art and Architecture
  • Automobiles and Automobile Repair
  • Banking and Finance
  • Biography and Autobiography
  • Biology and the Natural Sciences
  • Birds (Ornithology)
  • Botany
  • Catalogues and Advertisements
  • Drama
  • Ethnology, Anthropology, Archeology and Sociology
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • History
  • Horse Racing and Betting
  • How-To
  • Language
  • Law
  • Literature
  • Media and Technology
  • Miscellaneous
  • New York
  • Periodicals
  • Philosophy
  • Photography
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Poets, Poetry, and Verse
  • Politics
  • Programs and Menus
  • Psychology
  • Religion and the Religious Life
  • Science and Mathematics
  • Travel and Tourism

These are not standard subject headings any library would use, but they suit Barnett Newman very well (among other things, he spent a few years trying to make a living at the track), and that’s the most important thing. A catalogue should help you understand the library’s creator.

See also:

"Heroes"

music

King Crimson performing David Bowie’s “Heroes” has been in heavy rotation recently. Robert Fripp, sitting at the side of the stage, looks happy. He played on the original almost forty years ago.

Listening to Art 01.03

listening.to.art

Listening to Art 01.03, Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhône (1888) recorded on the “Mystical Landscapes” tour while at the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto, on 29 December 2016, is now out.

The next issue, on 01 July, will be van Gogh’s The Starry Night (1889), recorded at its home at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. It’s interesting to compare them.

I adjusted the levels in the recordings and the audio sounds better now. If you have any problems with the podcast feed or the audio files, please let me know.

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