Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It's Not My Hobby, but I Can Understand

In a box of some old things I came across this old altimeter:

I know nothing about it, but I was able to leverage the power of the Internet to find someone who does. Brian Karli blogs about the restoration of a 1918 (I think that's right) Curtiss Jenny airplane. His blog is filled with really interesting restoration information if you need to restore your antique Curtiss Jenny.

After emailing him out-of-the-blue he was kind enough to respond and give me some information about the altimeter. Apparently it comes from the late 'teens. Through my own scientific studies I have concluded that it works. (My home is about 1000 feet higher than where I work.)

As a collector of old precision equipment (typewriters) I can appreciate something like an antique altimeter. It's quality and construction were designed at a time when units sold was not the bottom line. A product was the public face of a company. If you make a bad product, your reputation was assuredly negative. But more than that, it's a piece of history that comes from the early days of flight. Pretty exciting.

The more I thought about it, the more I can understand people who have hobbies that seek to preserve the past. Preservation gives me a sense of continuity with the human experience. I can use a typewriter and feel part of a cultural guild; people who used typewriters. Computers and its compeer are devoid of this feeling. They are rootless machines. Feeling effective and efficient is nice, but there's more to life than efficacy. Art, timelessness, grace are all attributes that make life round and fleshy.

I've rambled too much. But if you are interested, take a look at Brian's blog. (Click image below.)