A Story of Two Tape Recorders

I ran into a trouble a couple of weeks ago. My Sony TCM-400 tape recorder was starting to show signs of ending. I can not rewind and the play mechanism often freezes. I would have to say though, to be fair to the Sony corp. designers, this tape recorder has lasted 16 years without a single complaint.

Sony TCM-400

The design has a slow down/speed up dial on the right and a regular or half speed recording switch on the left. Its mic was good and did well against wind. A standard 60 minute take on half speed could last (do the math) 120 minutes, though you got a drop in quality and sounded like a chipmunk if the tape were played on a regular speed deck.


I went looking for a replacement and was out of luck for a new Sony. Actually I noticed a really interesting thing at the electronics shops here in Japan; you could barely find any of the players/recorders in stock! People are still buying them up. I found this one on sale for around $30 with a stripped down design that boasts a simple hole style mic and a typical button lay out. It is nearly identical to my Sony in size and weight, a big plus as it fits in the palm of my hand.

overhead shot

Sure the Sony had a counter, VOR auto sound ON recording, a half speed and a pause button, but they are all asides to the fact it records sound. The ELPA has almost nothing, but it has enough and is at a good price point.

Tape Recorders

Why do I even bother with using tapes???? Well, they don’t get damaged by water, they are easily recycled and they are analog. They take batteries and work pretty well. And I use them to dictate and write with, so that is the key point.

Find what works, keep moving with it.

Keep writing!


On the Job


I have been hammering away at my current novel, Doc Dickens Back on the Hudson, now for a good month. My editing process looks like this when I redraft the first draft. I hand edit on the pages after typing them, then on the next edit I place them on the white board with magnets and type standing up. This has been working really well, along with time boxing (which I will mention in future posts). It’s all about getting stuff done, and that is definitely what I am all about today!


Check in and see when my book is available. If you’d like to be a reviewer I can also send out copies once I am at that stage. Thanks and as always,


Keep writing!




Busy Writing a Novel


Life and writing is a great thing. I have been able to sustain a good momentum writing my next novel, a murder mystery.


Drafting the whole thing on my Olivetti Lettera 25 typewriter!


Oil and Hush Hush: Typewriter Work


Been hammering out a new novel, which equals happy for me, and I decided to finally oil part of my typewriter that was bugging me. Basically the basket part that moves when you press the shift key to type upper case letters was not coming back up to the lower case position. I unscrewed the bottom, got out some bicycle oil (also used on sewing machines) and dabbed a tiny amount on the two bottom hinges on which the entire basket swings and voila! Fixed.

But what is this? The bottom base, which I had never taken off until today, needed to be cleaned, and I wondered…..

collagetypewriter 1

You see I thought about ways to dampen the sound from my machine. Older typewriters that were made of metal often had felt glued in strategic places to help mitigate all those reflected clicks and bangs. I had a sheet of red felt from my classroom that I have been using as a base for typing as it muffled some of the vibrations. I cut a piece for the bottom and affixed it with double sided tape. Then I started looking elsewhere. Behind the platten there was a hollowed out space so I taped in some felt there. Then I realized I could remove the central metal part of the machine, the guts that were held in the plastic frame by four screws, and I placed more felt on the sides and under the basket cover. I also stuffed bubble wrap into cavities that were in several spots.


To be honest the felt looks good, after all it matches the red basket cover which I painted the year I bought it from a used shop. Did the felt help? Actually, yes it made a noticeable difference in the sound. Along with the oil the machine is working better than it ever has. I hammered the first four pages of a novel out on it today. Life can’t get much better than this!

Did I Drop Off the Planet, or Did it Drop Off Me?


The truth is I haven’t been writing. Life got extremely busy before we went back to visit family in the States this summer. I was writing steadily until the middle of June, then advice struck down the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (writing) and I folded to the pressures of being a teacher and getting the work done. Only natural. Only human.

But the fire is lit under me again and with it my desire to be a fully supported writer by age 50. Doing the hard-boiled thing now, writing a fun book and see it turning into a series with a hazardous/humorous protagonist. With this comes a flood of other ideas and rehashing of old ideas.

I’m also reading a ton too-Chandler’s Good-bye My Lovely right now. It’s all exciting, while at the same time my goal is to be a better teacher. So I am planning way ahead to give me time to get this thing pumped out. Will give myself a SID, or Self Imposed Deadline, until the end of September to get the first draft in the drawer. Then another month to draft. We will see, but the scheduling looks like it will be workable. Again it all falls on my own ability to plan out each day and use time to its fullest.

I’m not dead, I’m just getting warmed up!

Keep writing!

The “Role” of the Dice

That isn’t a miss spell!

I wrote my short story book Gold River City 100 using a large collection of dice accumulated over the past 5 years. The idea of writing stories first occurred to me after getting a set of Rory’s story dice for use in my English classes. I saw their potential for making stories to be exciting and set about to collect more in order to make a set of short stories with a common theme-the background being Gold River City. A year later, and 100 short stories later, I published Gold River City 100.


Rory’s Story Dice are the most well known recent imagination dice out there, but there are many others. I got # dice with up to 24, I found odd dice-like one from a Jumanji board game- and sets like Story Dice which I bought off Amazon. Another interesting one was a set by Kerplunk that has days of the week, months, compass directions and continents dice that have been fun to use.

Rolling dice and then thinking up a story was a challenge, but it also meant I could let go and just write. Don’t think about it, make a story and at the end most of the stories turned out pretty good. There was a subconscious thing going on and the dice only helped in giving me invitation to elaborate on what I didn’t even know I was thinking.


I recommend if you want to try writing with dice you should get a set of either Rory’s original Story Cubes or Story Dice and see if they work for you. Limiting the number of dice you use also makes it easier for some, but you can experiment. The whole idea is to keep writing!

So, keep writing.

Melatonin and Dreams

I am not a person who likes to take any artificial chemicals. My feeling is ibuprofen is a last resort. Yet one minor inconvenience rests on me daily insomnia. I know in part it is due to lower activity levels which mean getting to sleep in a state of awakeness is just harder, but it robs me of being completely at my best. So melatonin is in the cabinet.

I first tried this supplement about 15 years ago and found it worked well-with one interesting side effect. Now, to preface this, I have a vivid dream life that I often remember after waking. There are many dreams I could easily write about, they have stuck with me. When I take melatonin though I remember them very clearly. They are less fragments and more complete impressions. Chalking this up to the hormones properties seems the most likely answer, yet it is still pretty fascinating to me.

Sleep is very important. I am making a concerted effort to get more sleep. This means: no watching videos or surfing the internet at night, not listening to music (unless for the specific reason of sleeping) and making myself as comfortable as possible while going to bed.

I will do my best, for it all ties in with trying to get as much done each day as it possible. Busy bees make honey, so to type.

Keep writing.

Earthquake in Osaka

I felt it. I actually felt it this time. I was sitting at my computer working on lesson reports for my school, around 8 in the morning, when I thought I was moving my chair more than usual. Then I noticed the computer desk was swaying and stood up, turned on the TV 30 seconds later it was the big news. At 7:59 a magnitude 5.9 hit the Osaka area with a shaking intensity of 6-which translates to very shaky. Japan uses two ways to measure a quake, Magnitude and Shaking intensity. The later makes a big difference in the impact to buildings and roads.


As of present I have seen reports of 3 dead and 61 injured. This number will probably rise as the true impact is made known. One street had a sink hole with water gushing out, another place an old building caught fire, a water aqueduct pipe on a bridge separated and gushed water. 170,000 homes were left without power.


My wife seemed tired of the news. Earthquakes used to be very regular and their impact was just a local consequence. Now when there is a little quake the news dogs on with the same images over and over. To me it’s sensationalism on the media’s part. They want us to keep watching the TV.

Tragedies happen and I am sad to see Osaka have a quake at any time. I rather fancy the sassy people and fun atmosphere. I hope the impact will be low scale and recovery quick.

People are resilient beings, especially here where the earth had a habit of moving.

Keep writing.

Yellow Raspberries

A good 6 years ago my wife and I were looking for flowers at a spring festival when I found yellow raspberries for sale. We got them, and a fig tree too, and I planted them in a deep long pot. They grew like crazy and eventually we moved them to our new home where they are growing in a nook of my yard.


Yellow raspberries you say? Well they are the best tasting raspberries I have ever had, especially when they get to about a peach pink color. I should know raspberries, I grew up eating them in New York, picking them in the abandoned fields and then also in the woods in Maine as a teenager. During the rainy season the humidity shows you just how sweet they are-they will start to mold almost immediately as the sugar content is so high.


Here in Ishikawa we often see raspberries twice a year, around late May-early June then again when the weather cools in early November some appear. The stalks with bark on them will give you the berries as the green stalks will not produce flowers until they are mature. I am planning to propagate them into big pots and increase the yield next year so I can eat them more often. As raspberries don’t all come ripe at the same time the effect of picking a few every day for a month is what makes them so memorable.

In fact, I can’t wait for my next bite!


Keep writing, and seeing the flavors of the world.

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