Assuming this text of the poem is accurate ...
Yes, indeed! And by the way, I had an even more similar experience to the poem with an actual
groundhog corpse during my paperboy days. The roadkill was in thick weeds, of course by the side of
a steep uphill incline. I watched for it daily, hoping the town highway crew had picked it up or
something had eaten it or dragged it away. No luck, and the summer wore on and the stink got worse.
Everything described of the groundhog in the poem happened along my paper route, including the fact
that the still semi-stinky "bony sodden hulk" of the creature's denser parts was still there the
next spring. I probably did think a thought or two when I saw it, but probably not about Greece,
China or St. Theresa. I wouldn't say "my hand capped a withered heart" either, more like my nose was
relieved by the greatly lessened stink.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dennis Rooney" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, March 02, 2015 1:01 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Distressing data point for upcoming ARSC tape playback workshop
> Dear Tom,
> Re the moldy tape decomposition you witnessed in Harrison:
> Have you ever read Richard Eberhart's poem, "The Groundhog"? If not, you
> should. There are some interesting parallels.
> On Sun, Mar 1, 2015 at 6:17 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
>> Hi Eric:
>> I have encountered a few moldy tapes over the years. I also watched (over
>> a few years, because it was fascinating) mold literally eat away a couple
>> reels of acetate tape in a damp part of my parents basement. This was
>> really interesting because, in the end, all that was left was a pile of
>> brown powder in and around an empty metal reel. The boxes completely
>> decomposed later. I would say this process took 10 years, but this was
>> decades ago and who knows how damp the tapes had been before I noticed the
>> mold and kept them in place to watch the decay over time.
>> In the times I have been given moldy reels for transfer, I gathered this
>> wisdom to share:
>> 1. ALWAYS WEAR A MOLD-BLOCKING MASK. You never know exactly what kind of
>> mold is on a moldy tape and how it will react with your respiratory system.
>> I'm very allergic to mold, so I know right away when it's present because I
>> get sneezy/coughy and my eyes get watery. WEAR GLOVES, TOO. And change
>> clothes and wash up when you're done mitigating the mold.
>> 2. In my experiece, isopropynol alcohol will remove the molds I've
>> encountered on reel tapes. I use it liberally on the mold spots. It has not
>> damaged the tapes if I wipe it and the dislodged mold off quickly. I wonder
>> if Naptha will do the trick, too? Have not tried it. You'd think that
>> Naptha would be deadly to mold.
>> 3. If mold is well established on acetate tape, good luck. It's probably
>> eaten away some of the acetate, and it's unlikely that the tape will play
>> correctly. If you're lucky and it's just on the edge, isopropynol will work
>> but now I'm thinking Naptha is better for the tape. I'm not a chemist so I
>> might be all wrong on that!
>> 4. throw out moldy plastic reels and moldy cardboard boxes. Re-package the
>> cleaned tape on clean reels in clean boxes.
>> 5. thoroughly clean the heads and tape path after transferring a moldy
>> tape. I'm sure spores fall off and get stuck on things.
>> 6. if you accept for a transfer a box of moldy tapes, be fully mindful of
>> EVERYTHING in the box. Where there's mold there's liable to be mice.
>> Hantavirus is nothing to fool with. It's not just out west, it's turned up
>> in lean-tos and other places all over the northeast. Mice carry all kinds
>> of other nasty diseases. They are filthy vermin. Rats and other rodents are
>> just as bad and are just as likely to be around an old box of tapes that
>> got moldy.
>> By the way, I had good luck cleaning mold off LP records with isopropynol,
>> too. I cleaned the mold and connect chunks of sleeve material that way,
>> then ran them through my VPI machine and they turned out pretty much
>> un-scathed. This was a pile of classical and jazz LPs I saw dumped by the
>> road after Sandy. DO NOT use isopropynol on shellac records because it will
>> melt them.
>> -- Tom Fine
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Eric Jacobs" <
>> [log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Sunday, March 01, 2015 5:28 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Distressing data point for upcoming ARSC tape
>> playback workshop
>> Hi Tom,
>>> Thank you for starting this excellent thread.
>>> I wanted to chime in with two brief points that I think havenąt been
>>> covered yet:
>>> 1. When encountering a moldy tape, you need to weigh the cost of mold
>>> removal against the risk of VS when segregating and storing moldy
>>> tapes in sealed bags (with or without a desiccant like silica gel).
>>> As noted by others, VS seems to be a function of storage temperature,
>>> therefore moldy tapes that are stored and sealed should be stored in
>>> a łcold˛ environment to minimize the risk of VS. If you can afford
>>> to do it, it is still best to remove the mold.
>>>> Another distressing datapoint ... This is the second batch of late 1950s
>>>> Audiotape acetate-backed
>>>> tape I'm dealing with that has become very brittle, like most of the
>>>> plasticity has dried out of the
>>>> backing. I suspect this is made worse by over-dry storage conditions
>>>> intended to somehow "prevent"
>>>> or "mitigate" sticky-shed in later tapes (and remember that there is no
>>>> proof that dry storage does
>>>> either). I wish some scientists would do some chemistry on acetate tapes
>>>> and come up with better
>>>> storage recommendations. There are millions of acetate tapes and films
>>>> being stored under the same
>>>> "keep it super-dry and cold" mandates that are imposed on polyester media
>>> 2. I have had reasonable luck łde-brittling˛ acetate tapes by placing
>>> in a cool humid environment. For example, I use a clear plastic
>>> container and place a tray of distilled water on the bottom, and then
>>> suspend the brittle reels above the tray. The container has openings
>>> I can adjust to roughly control RH - I target a 60-70% RH. I do this
>>> a room that is in the low-60s F and dark. I monitor and check the
>>> daily - I worry about activating any potential mold spores. The tapes
>>> slowly become more pliable over the course of 1-4 weeks (every tape is
>>> different, some do not respond). Once reasonably pliable, I remove
>>> tapes and let them acclimate to the RH of the studio for about a week.
>>> Certainly not a production method because it takes time and
>>> but it generally helps.
>>> I do not humidify tapes that have known mold exposure.
>>> From a chemistry point of view, this doesnąt seem like it should work,
>>> so Iąm not sure what mechanisms are at play.
>>> The suggestion by John Schroth of using camphor is very interesting,
>>> and I may try this - although I need to find the right container.
>>> Would love to hear if anyone else has tried łhumidifying˛ acetate
>>> tapes - intentionally or otherwise.
>>> ~ Eric
>>> Eric Jacobs
>>> The Audio Archive, Inc.
>>> 1325 Howard Ave, #906
>>> Burlingame, CA 94010
>>> tel: 408-221-2128
>>> [log in to unmask]
>>> Disc and Tape Audio Transfer Services and Preservation Consulting
>>> Please consider the environment before printing this email.
> 1006 Langer Way
> Delray Beach, FL 33483