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January-May 2005 – 1963 Jaguar E-type data plate, continued

The data plate obsession has just about run its course, thank goodness.

I fussed with the artwork for what seemed like a very long time, and finally the job turned the corner when Eric Malossi pitched in with his Photoshop skills (which were just a bit better than mine) and his critical eyes. By picking harder at smaller sections of my retouchings we came up with a truer piece. I went through his work and he, through mine. The result was better than either of us could have concocted on our own.

The piece went off to the pros for laying onto metal, but not before I had at it with some silkscreen. I do think that large runs of plates like this would use some variant of silkscreen, and I think that the original plates used the process, though not to print black — as today’s shop most likely would — but to put down a masking lacquer coat prior to metal etching. I found that the silkscreen method I used left details too foggy, and this was the fault of the method, not the artwork. I used no camera or even a transparent image but instead used a regular old laser printed copy on some regular old copy paper. It works for T-shirts. It doesn’t work for data plates.

On the original plates, I think the process was etch and anodise, and the corners of the letters on the original betray the method. They are rounded — eaten a bit by the etching solution. That fact made the artwork for the replacement plate a bit harder, since the letters had to reflect a little roundness even though the individual pixels of the image are square. (The artwork uses a 300 dots-per-inch screen, so it is fairly high resolution.)

So, when will the data plate be back from the shop? I hope soon, at least something mid-summer.

December 2002 – Lousy weather in Carolina

6 DECEMBER 2002 — The icy weather was talked about at work all day, and people looked out the windows with little concern. First the snow was to appear around noon. Then it was pushed back to “after the commute.” Many of us (me included) figured that nothing at all would happen.

It did.

About 2:00 pm the snow started, as I was on my way to pick up some equipment at the computer store at Duke. As I returned, it was apparent that I needed to wrap up and get home. I left work around 2:30, and it took me two-and-a-half hours to make it the twenty-some miles to Rougemont. The traffic was in slow motion, and that included the accidents.

We had time to prepare with some water storage and firewood fetching and all, but the evening was actually quite nice. Everyone snugged in for the night, and we all listened to the trees popping like shotguns in the dark. At about 1:30 or so, the power went out and the uninterruptible power sources complained for a while before failing entirely. I got up to let the dog out, and took a look toward Durham to the south. The sky was lit with what appeared like lightning, though it was probably transformers making fireworks.

Morning was cool and dark. We built a fire to tend all day, moved the cockatiel to the living room, broke out the campstove, and just made do. It wasn’t really too bad during the day, since we could get reasonably warm. Bedtime was earlier — there were no complaints when the kids went to bed at 7:15 after a few games of UNO in front of the fire. We had dragged mattresses into the living room and everyone slept in a line. Aaron and I tended the fire ’til it finally went to hot coals around 3 am. We had only a couple logs left in the playroom to drag up.

People were smelly and grumpy in the morning. We rekindled the fire, and set things in motion again. Lunch at Golden Corral in Roxboro, where somehow they had power. I ate the Lard and Grease Combo. Only Arlene was smart and stuck with the salad.

Power came on around 4:30 pm on the sixth. Shortly afterward a fellow came over from the volunteer fire department looking for a neighbor with keys to the primary school in nearby Bahama. They wanted to open a winter storm shelter. People are still without power and cold.

Tonight, we are lucky.