What's up at Ravens March.

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Keep Trying!

Posted by ravensmarch on 29 August, 2014

It’s Friday.  Who, apart from serious arachnophobes, doesn’t need a good laugh to get the long weekend off to a proper start?

Which is not to say that arachnophobes don’t like a yukk, but they’re unlikely to get it from that.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Imperial IV (no pencil, today)
Today’s ink: Montblanc Royal Blue

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Shifting Gears

Posted by ravensmarch on 28 August, 2014

This entry was going to be rather different that it has turned out, which proves that leaving things lie before going of on a rant is a good idea.

This time last week, I was getting ready to describe relations with the pen of that day and this as strained, possibly on the build-up to war.  I felt badly about the state of affairs, too, because I really, desperately want, to like the Parker 65.  I mean, look at it!

Those curves, that Lugosian widow’s peak….

That’s a handsome pen.  On paper, it has many of the charms of the 61, and few of its vices (one might even say, looking at the filler, perversions).  But this pen and I had had trouble from almost the moment it came into my life.  Every time I used it, I then had to return it to the workshop.  There were minor issues of tine alignment and things loose rather than tight, but the main problem was a known trouble spot on this model, a seam that runs under the point, which unless properly sealed gives an arc of escape for ink.

This I fixed, at last– no more leak this round.  But last week I was getting substantial guff from the feed; all evidence for some blockage was there, although in small ways.  I hadn’t been too free with the wax used on the seam, but I may have neglected some fragment of old ink in the feed.  Breaking into this pen is tedious.  I’ve done it a lot.  I was not looking forward to doing it again, and I was ready to call quits when I got to the end of this load of ink… because to do so before would be insufficiently stubborn and self-punishing.  I wasn’t thinking in terms of giving the pen one last chance.

Well, since then, there has been a change in the pen.  Whatever was causing the trouble apparently dissolved in the week-long presence of a not particularly harsh ink.  All the virtues of a 61, plus some spring in the point.  The Newhaven tipping.  A smart-looking double-jewel design.  How could I stay mad, when it was working so hard to make good?

There are, of course, pens I can stay mad at.  The best current candidate is a client’s Wearever that bluntly refuses to co-operate; it has the opposite of shrinkage, and just won’t go back together!  Doesn’t it know retirement age is an outmoded concept?  Patience and slow increments of shellac will eventually win the day.

Today’s redeemed pen: Parker 65
Today’s ink: Herbin Bleu Nuit

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Posted by ravensmarch on 27 August, 2014

WHAT: First draft of a different Cat with Blue Fur contest entry, which I was going to call “Touch Not the Cat” but I don’t want the Mary Stewart connection.  I have also managed to avoid the final commitment to submission of “Gone to See the Cat”, which I really must get at, anxieties be damned.

HOW MUCH: Seven manuscript pages, which is meaningless if you get to “done” and then don’t show anyone.  Get one with it, thou craven poltroon!

HOW LONG: 45 min.

Today’s pen: Waterman C/F
Today’s ink: Pelikan violet

…plus, I owe a couple of clients emails, which the writing keeps driving out of my head.  Negligent C. Poltroon, at your service.

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Posted by ravensmarch on 26 August, 2014

WHAT: Mostly first draft of a different Cat with Blue Fur contest entry, with many glances at the last paragraph of “Gone to See the Cat” which just isn’t quite right.

HOW MUCH: Six manuscript pages on the former, a lot of inconclusive wobbling on the latter accompanied by low growls and slight deflation of self-esteem.

HOW LONG: 45 min.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Diamond 540
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah

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Posted by ravensmarch on 25 August, 2014

WHAT: Third draft of the Cat with Blue Fur contest entry,which now labours under the title “Gone to See the Cat”.  Second draft banged out and vetted by readers over the weekend, because DEADLINE!!

HOW MUCH: A finished 1905 words.

HOW LONG: About 20 min. as it was mainly polishing.  Then a LOT of hesitation about entering the contest itself, which I’ve yet to do.   I have to think of a user name for the forum, and I’m trying to be witty, concise, and non-arse-ish.  Everything I’ve come up with so far only touches two if those three criteria.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Imperial IV, and its pencil too, for a lark
Today’s ink: Montblanc Royal Blue

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Wikkid Smaht

Posted by ravensmarch on 22 August, 2014

As one given to occasionally holding forth, I know how much fun it can be.  I am some great way off from doing so on the subject of writing, if indeed I ever get near the steps of that pulpit.  However, today’s Fraudulent Found Friday Film presents a chap who has earned the platform, and is pretty entertaining when he gets going.  A warning, though– it’s rather long, and the talk is a little salty.

Today’s pen (as glancingly referred to in 11/22/63): Waterman C/F
Today’s ink: Pelikan violet

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Posted by ravensmarch on 21 August, 2014

WHAT: First draft of the Cat with Blue Fur contest entry, a title for which eludes me at the moment.

HOW MUCH: Eleven manuscript pages, one of which was almost entirely discarded once it hit the paper, but that still concludes the tale.

HOW LONG: About 50 min.

Today’s pen: Parker 65
Today’s ink: Herbin Bleu Nuit

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Posted by ravensmarch on 20 August, 2014

WHAT: First draft of what might be a fantasy or horror entry for this contest, which I just stumbled across yesterday.  I should have time… but the deadline impends, so “Laundry Day” goes aside for the moment.

HOW MUCH: Seven manuscript pages

HOW LONG: About 45 min.

ALSO:  Merry Lovecraft’s birthday, everyone.  Remember, if you can’t do something squamous, do something rugose.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Imperial IV, and its pencil too, for a lark
Today’s ink: Montblanc Royal Blue

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Posted by ravensmarch on 19 August, 2014

WHAT: First draft of “Laundry Day.”

HOW MUCH: Ten manuscript pages.

HOW LONG: About 55 min.

Today’s pen: Parker 65
Today’s ink: Herbin Bleu Nuit

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Leveling Up

Posted by ravensmarch on 18 August, 2014

This entry has a foundation of sadness; bear with it.  The tone eventually lightens.

I started collecting Air Miles in 1992, with an eye to one day getting a cheap ride to Europe.  In 2011, Air Miles announced that they were putting a five year limit on the collected points, and that they were going to do away with the points that had been previously hoarded were going to be expunged on New Years Eve of 2016.

Sorry, I used the wrong word there.  Let’s replace “hoarded” with “carefully husbanded”.  Or, perhaps, “thriftily maintained”.  Since 1992, there have been several times when I’ve thought, “Gosh, I sure would like some consumer goods which I can’t currently afford.  Say, I could turn some of my many Air Miles into shiny toys….  No.  Vade retro, Satanis!  I’m hanging onto them so we can go on a nice European vacation when the time is ripe.”

Well, as of the start of this year, I had enough points to get me and my wife to Europe.  But not my son.  I had put in place an online saving account not long after the dire announcement to try and build up the money needed to get him over as well and see us in food while there.  Because, as low as the household income is, I comprehend thrift and saving (something I suspect is common, despite pronouncements of rightist politicians, to a lot of low-income households).  All well and good, right?

We now come to the real vexing matter.  I know I’ve complained previously here about the supposed “boom” economy my home province is enjoying.  People are making more money!  Prices go up, letting retailers in on the flood of money!  A golden age!  Unless, of course, one isn’t employed in one of the industries (which we may lump under the heading “Resource Extraction”) the boom actually touches.  Like me.  I have been getting raises, certainly, linked to the cost of living.  The national cost of living, and using that strange economists’ notion that since you have to pay for food, shelter, and fuel, those items shouldn’t be included in an accurate measurement of increases in the cost of living.  The result is that as of the start of this year, I had to stop putting money into that vacation account to pay for food, shelter and fuel, and about a month ago I had to throw the entire sum in that fund at the credit card which was starting to be pressed into service of those same non-countable items as cash reserves went away before payday.  Huzzay, the Boom!

We are nearly at the end of the tale of woe.  Having dumped the money that would make the vacation possible, and having no way of regaining that money (because I’m not quite willing to sell all my remaining pens and my car for what is, rich as it might be, a passing pleasure) prior to the deadline for most of my Air Miles short of a lottery win which would make the need for free airline tickets rather moot, I muttered “screw it” and gave into the long-suppressed temptation to make those points into consumer goods.

Last Monday, a delivery man appeared at my house, bent double under the weight of Air Miles given form.  Among the many carefully chosen and (hopefully) durable items was a rather good camera.

I’ve done it again, with the wrong use of words.  I meant to say, A Rather Good Camera.  Shall I name it?  A Nikon D3300, which is not top of the line by any means but is orders of magnitude more camera than the point & shoot items I’ve been using since even before the advent of digital.  While it may not provide the same satisfaction as watching my son frolic at Madurodam or keel over in a fit of glee during a visit to a British heritage rail line, there is a certain glow to knowing that if one is in a picture-taking mood, one has a damn good tool to grasp.

DSC_0057How good?  Well, have a click on the image to the right here, for a full size gander at it’s power of close-uppery.  That’s without a tripod, and obviously without any real attention to lighting.  It is the mere result of a passing whim, in which I sought instant answer to the question, “so, how’s this thing for close detail?”  I didn’t even do anything clever with the aperture setting, nor did I take manual control of the focus;  just threw the dial over to “macro” and snapped.  It is, I say without taking any possible praise onto myself, a pretty good picture for all the lack of effort applied.

I can, if I work at it a little, convert this power into a problem.  A few years back, the last time I came into a new camera… well, it was new to me… I mentioned with a tremor of concern that I was almost out of external hooks to hang blame for crummy pictures upon.  I think I may, with the acquisition of this (really and for true) new camera, have entirely dismantled the entire rack, and probably done some damage t the wall on which it was mounted.  Henceforth, if I take a duff picture, I will have to admit that the fault lies in the operator.

There was a connected concern that I looked into over the weekend.  Last Christmas, my father won a little camera of the same ilk as I had previously been using.  My brother had no use at all for it (he having already gotten a Rather Good Camera some time ago to pursue his graphic arts), it was a duplicate of one Dad already had, and so I took it on spec as a possible replacement.  Newer, in this digital realm, is better, right?

As it turned out, not so.  It lacked any sort of macro setting, rendering the pictures slightly fuzzy.  It also produced a different file size, which try though I might in my photo-processing software, I couldn’t make match the scale of everything else on my site.  That camera is now a family back-up, held in readiness in case anyone is going somewhere that might want pictures taken, but which might threaten the existence of the camera.  No, we can’t think of anywhere of that description we’d be willing to go, either.

Now, onto the new Nikon.  Could I get it to produce pictures that matched what I had on the site?  If so, good.  If not, I would have my comfortable external locus of blame for bad pictures back in hand.  Here’s the result:

The old Canon

The new Nikon

The new Nikon

As with the Waterman close-up, that’s an unsupported shot.  It might be clearer if I’d applied the tripod.  So long, excuses for bad pictures!  It was nice having you over!  And on that note– the cooler tone of the second picture is an artifact of me messing with saturation in the procession software.  This is something I may be able to stop doing with the new camera, which I suspect will be a little more consistent about such things.

I will not, though, be reshooting the whole site.  Apart from not having all the pens at hand, I can’t face the time it would take.  That brings up the last shadow attending the glory of the new toy.  When I was in my teens, I rather liked photography.  I am reminded of this by the Nikon.  I may, if I’m not careful, devote what little free time for creative pursuits I have to that rather than writing.

Heck, I’ve given over a whole lunch when I could have been writing elegant fictions to bragging about the new camera.  A slippery slope indeed!

Today’s pen: TWSBI Diamond 540
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah

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