What's up at Ravens March.

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Red Carpet Premiere

Posted by ravensmarch on 21 November, 2014

This is quite afield from my usual line– this Tuesday upcoming I’m going to be attending the sort of event described above.  I do this through my wife’s involvement the film trailered below:

This is pretty cool, as she says the people involved are extremely nice and I don’t often get to see her in her professional environment.  I should say the people involved must be nice, as in the following…

…they don’t once mention the gutting of that professional environment in this province.  But that’s grumpy talk, and I’m very happy that she got to work on a film, and has avoided the fell Curse of The Editor.  She doesn’t have a lot of lines, and it was a worry.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer cartridge pen, which I’ve been using for first drafts; I managed to stagger out without my intended pen this morning.
Today’s ink:  Diamine Prussian Blue

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Posted by ravensmarch on 20 November, 2014

Man, that’s quite a word, eh?  Classy, but absolutely dripping with menace.

…well, I guess it would be dripping, if it hadn’t all run out.  Still a wonderful word.

In the very early days of my activity here, I confessed to a youthful indiscretion involving the destruction and loss (not necessarily in that order) of a couple of authentically old pens glommed from an antique store.  I was then more given to early adoption of technology, but I was also interested in the ways of days gone past.  In addition to those pens, I also looked into…

Straight razors.  Scary!

I actually bought one, too.  After a couple of attempts to sharpen it without access to any appropriate stropping surfaces, I had a couple of goes at shaving with it.

Very tentative goes.  I’d first heard of Sweeney Todd when I was about seven, and the lesson stuck.  My youthful beard was somewhat reduced, but between the unstropped blade, the unwillingness to open a vein, and absolutely no sense of which angle to hold the thing at, the results were disappointing.  Not “head almost entirely separated from shoulders” disappointing, for which I am grateful, but the straight razor went into a drawer.  I’m sure my parents breathed a sigh of relief.

More recently, some correspondents have been talking about their entry into the Magical World of Wet Shaving.  Being in the bearded camp, my shaving has long been limited to a small band of neck (because “neck-beard” has troublesome connotations), and I have flitted between disposables and an elderly electric razor.  Moved to curiosity by these other chaps, though, I had a look at the site most of them get their stuff from.

I’m moved to give it a try, as I find that neither the blades nor the holder that constitute a safety razor are very expensive.  They’re more expensive, as a unit, than disposables, but there’s less wasted plastic involved.  The elderly electric razor remains on call, and the cost per use at this point is essentially nil, but it also doesn’t do a lot more to remove hair than that straight razor did, and appears to work mainly by generating enough heat to shrivel the beard it touches.

And now I’ve had a chance to try it.  My discoveries over the first couple of uses have been good and bad.  On the good side, it does a cracking good job of knocking down the beard, and there’s a lot less fouling of the blade than the disposables suffered which means I use less water in the process.  And it remains below 600° at all times, which puts it ahead of the electric.

On the down side… well, something in the difference of blade presentation between the safety razor and disposables means a habit I’ve been in of not applying anything to the skin but a little water is no longer viable.  The initial discovery of this was accompanied by a certain amount of yelling, and followed by a great deal of clean-up of the sort that Lady MacBeth would be familiar with.

Prosecution Exhibit A

Prosecution Exhibit A

So, now I have spent the money to get some rather well-smelling shaving soap and a proper brush to apply it (a nail-brush didn’t cut the mustard).  I now have a smooth neck without constant threat of beheading, without blistering, without adding unnecessarily to landfills, and without constant soaking of my collars in cold water to keep the stains from setting.

All thanks to a technology that slightly pre-dates fountain pens.  I’m pleased, and not very surprised.  Which is good– getting surprised by a razor usually ends poorly.

Today’s pen: Mabie, Todd & Co. Blackbird
Today’s ink: Diamine Sargasso Sea

…and because it’s Thursday, there’s a progress report, too:

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 17 November
  • 18 November
  • 19 November
  • First draft, “The Dutch Walk”
  • The same
  • Ditto
  • 9 manuscript pages
  • 7 manuscript pages
  • 12 manuscript pages
  • 45 min.
  • 35 min.
  • 55 min.

Posted in General Blather, Progress Report | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

To Infinity And cetera….

Posted by ravensmarch on 14 November, 2014

I’m still riding high on the whole Rosetta/Philae thing, so in the spirit of this little item from the Book of Face…


…I’m making free with the online bounty of British Pathé newsreels for a look back at some other notable achievements in space flight.

And no, I will not link to the photoshopped thing so future readers will have a context.  That gets to wilt into obscurity, as far as I’m concerned.  I will record, however, that my son first heard of Philae’s landing on the car radio when I collected him from a grandmother’s house.  His eyes went very wide, his jaw dropped, and he repeated the CBC news-reader’s description of it in tones of astonishment, awe and wonder: “Space robot?!

Today’s pen: Parker 75
Today’s ink: Diamine Sherwood Green

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Posted by ravensmarch on 13 November, 2014

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 11 November
  • 12 November
  • 13 November
  • Quiet reflection, including a little about the corner I’ve painted myself into in “And Then the Screaming Started.”
  • Some bleak staring at the comments on “The Healing Power of Crystals” and then research for settings in “The Dutch Walk.”
  • First draft of “The Dutch Walk”; painting into corners and difficult comments will not be allowed to become writers’ block.
  • Nothing external
  • Much the same (boo!)
  • 10 manuscript pages
  • All day
  • 45 min.
  • 55 min.

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Very Well Indeed

Posted by ravensmarch on 10 November, 2014

This does not describe me.  There is, frankly, something wrong with my thinking parts.  How else to explain the purchase of yet another Esterbrook desk well?

Esterbrook W407

It’s colossal! It’s stupendous! It’s… redundant.

Actually, there is something in the looks that appeals to me rather more than the simplicity of the late-model 444 I’ve had on the desk at The Regular Job for yonks now, something between an aircraft part and an Art Deco motorcycle fuel-tank.  It’s pretty darn cool.

But “cool” isn’t the same as “useful.”  So why, with the perfectly functional 444, did I pull this thing out of the river of Life as it was bobbing past?  The only viable reason I have is an effort to stifle a foolish phobia I have of this sort of well.  The one I’ve been using keeps the ink, sensibly, in the lowest part of the unit.  This one, and many others, keep the ink above the dispensing hole.  This makes me rather nervous, and I felt I should overcome this weakness.

Esterbrook W404op

It’s explained in this diagram. Supposedly.

Through practicing with water, I now accept that it works.  I even follow the physics of it; once the access of air to the reservoir is occluded by the pool in the bottom, the dropping of the fluid induces a partial vacuum inside, and the flow stops.  Not entirely unlike the flow of ink out of a fountain pen not happening unless writing is happening, in fact.  I’m not sure I quite believe in it yet, but I comprehend it.  Phobia damped, then, if not quite quelled.

Something I’m having a little more trouble with, now that I’ve been able to play with it for a little while, is working out how this ever got marketed for home use… which it did.  I absolutely get it as an industrial resource, since having Smithers out there filling the bank’s wells more than once a week takes him away from other mildly abusive duties, but for the normal person’s normal uses, it’s ridiculous.  The 444 was faintly ridiculous, with its 30 ml capacity.  When I’m in the absolute throes of writing, as has happened now and again over the course of the past year, I’ve managed to get through about one milliliter an hour.  That extremely productive hour produces something between 1,500 and 2,000 words, so a 444 offers the possibility of a smallish novel worth of writing.

This 407 holds seventy-five milliliters, only three pen-fillings less than a huge Diamine bottle carries.  If you’re transcribing The Shining, you’re set.  How many grocery lists and “Your Mom Called” notes does that run to?  Heck, even though I’m not a normal person putting the thing to a normal use, I question the wisdom of installing it on my desk.  I reloaded the old well about once every six months, and that was mainly down to evaporation.  This thing, with its ocean of ink, is very well.  Profoundly well.  More well than, perhaps, I can deal with.

…and then there’s the other problem with this thing.  The running of ink from reservoir to dispensary pool is governed by the depth of the pool, yes?  For the system to work properly, it needs to be resting on a firm, level surface.  Like the top of a desk.

Unlike the floor of an automobile, even one being driven conservatively over smooth streets.  Turns.  Accelerations.  Drive-way slopes.  The net result is of the 35 ml or so of ink I put into it yesterday, having drained both the 444 and the remainder of the huge Diamine bottle of Classic Red, now rests below the reservoir.  This is not an ink well that enjoys travel, and to be honest I feel the phobia starting to reassert itself.  I’m not sure I’m feeling altogether well….

Today’s pen: Parker 75
Today’s ink: Diamine Sherwood Green


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Divided Loyalties

Posted by ravensmarch on 7 November, 2014

I’m a little split today on what to throw onto the projector.  This is not, however, a new experience, so I make a double feature.

First, because it’s FOUNTAIN PEN DAY!! how about some footage of a pen being made pretty much from scratch?  This from Romillo Pens, who one nervously notes do not suggest how much their pens cost (and thus thus assume “lots and lots”).

Next, a little something to honour an event coming up next week– because I think it’s pretty cool that we’ve sent a lander to a comet, and because blending fantasy and science is also something that tickles me:

Today’s pen: Platinum PKB-2000 (SF-ish model number aside, it’s a celebration of the day; a pen I’ve had under care for a long time, finally well enough to return to duty!)
Today’s ink: Jentle blue-black

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Posted by ravensmarch on 6 November, 2014

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 3 November
  • 4 November
  • 5 November
  • 6 November
  • Second draft, “The Third Act”
  • First Draft, “And then the Screaming Started.”
  • Ditto
  • Yet again
  • 1,022 words, for a finished total of 3,012
  • Ten manuscript pages
  • Also ditto
  • Eleven manuscript pages
  • 40 min.
  • 45 min.
  • 55 min.
  • 45 min.

While I’ve been beavering away at my writing, I’ve been somewhat negligent regarding the approach of Fountain Pen Day… which is tomorrow!  As I’ve commented previously, like the reformed Scrooge’s take on Christmas, I hold Fountain Pen Day in my heart all the year around; I hope you do to, but even so, let’s all be a little more fountain-pennie than usual tomorrow and spread the good cheer.

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Another brief note

Posted by ravensmarch on 5 November, 2014

The very careful watcher of the blog will notice that there’s been a shuffling of the menu tabs at the top.  This is less complete a makeover than I was pondering yesterday, but this template doesn’t go for drop-down tabs, and all the ones that do have vast unused real estate to left and right of the central text area; they like me not, if I can go Shakespearean for a moment.

The reason for this shuffling, apart from wanting to re-arrange priorities, is the addition of a space devoted to things I’ve written.  Not much in there just now… and frankly I don’t know when additions will happen, but it’s an inflation of the single story offered at Hallowe’en.

Now, back to the writing.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer TM Valiant
Today’s ink: Herbin’s Lis de Thé

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The Echo of “Boo”

Posted by ravensmarch on 3 November, 2014

I’m taking a moment off the writing today to mention that there’s a few new items on my aimless photography page.  This is by no means the best, but the interaction of auto focus failure and night vision setting fill the hole in my Hallowe’en that a paucity of visiting trick-or-treaters left.

Graveyard 2014 nightvision

Today’s pen: Parker Duofold Senior
Today’s ink: Herbin Éclat de Saphir 

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Tricky Treats

Posted by ravensmarch on 31 October, 2014

I’m going a little overboard, perhaps.  It’s a special day, though, and I love to hand out treats.  First, because it’s the early part of the entry, a little something for all you folks with little trick-or-treaters to see to:

Now, I have spend the past week mulling which story to post here, and in what format.  Since it’s a longish one, I’ve decided that the best bet is to embed it thus as a PDF file, and let it be read in a separate window.  It being… well, not a Lovecraft pastiche, but certainly a direct reference to one of his works (and not one of the overtly racist ones), I have some doubts about it ever being commercial.

The other film for today is aimed at those who don’t have any kids to pilot through the dark and leaf-blown streets.  Those who find themselves walking all alone through the echoing spaces of a house that, for one night at least, fails to be a cozy sanctuary.  Those who listen with straining nerves for the sounds that should be the cooling of the timbers without another human in the place to turn to and laugh dismissively at the atavistic fears a dark October night may conjure….

If you want something to take the taste of that out of your head, there’s some other creepy stuff available here that’s worth a look.

Today’s unutterably ancient pen:  Waterman 12
Today’s grimly-hued fluid of inscription: Noodler’s red-black

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