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Archive for September, 2009


Posted by Dirck on 30 September, 2009

Latest comments, as were not kindly well-wishes for my son, were enquiring about the state of Pelikan blue-black ink. I will not say my previous bottle was vintage, although the local source for things Pelikan is an artists’ supply house, and their fountain pen related turnover is clearly not huge– it may have been five or ten years old. What I find is that the older stuff was somewhat greyish, something that was objectionable in a dry pen, but which gave it a quasi-vintage gravitas in a wet one. This new bottle, which I assume is indeed new as they had been out of stock for a couple of months, contains a material which is rather darker in general, and rather more blue than previous. I quite like it in general, but there’s less difference between it and a couple of other blue-blacks I use (Lamy and Sheaffer), so I may end up using it less.

I also want to address some interestingly frequent apparitions from my stats page, which reveals to me some of the search strings which bring people to this page. The most frequent recent one is “mannenhitsu”, which I both revel in and feel slightly badly about– clearly some seekers of knowledge are getting drawn in by my neologism “mannenhitsu-do”. I can only offer as pennance this link to the all-Japanese site of Nakata Pens– mannenhitsu.com.

Another item I feel a little badly about is frequent efforts to find X Pen information. I suspect that at least some of these information pilgrims are not trying to find the current manufacturer which goes by that name (they’re here, by the way), but are instead trying to dig up anything at all about Waterman’s effort at a capillary-filling pen. On that topic, I highly recommend Richard Binder’s page— Richard is, in the area of fountain pen repair, who I want to be when I grow up, and his site is extremely informative.

On the baffling front– “Quink Brown” leads people here? I can see the ink brand, but I don’t have any brown by that company, and don’t think I’ve ever had the two words up against one another. Moreso the string “Parker Pen Tim Burton”. I’ve mentioned the director exactly twice, the previous sentence included. I may have to go searching myself to see if there’s any rumours of his fountain pen use.

The clock says it’s time to get back to work.

Today’s pen: Parker Duofold senior
Today’s ink: Noodler’s Tulipe Noir
— which is a rather more festive combination than yesterday.


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Status quo ante

Posted by Dirck on 29 September, 2009

Well, I’m glad that’s over. At least, I’m glad that I can begin to believe it’s over. Infection is a subtle and patient foe.

Amazingly, after returning the family from the hospital yesterday afternoon, I actually managed to get some work done on clients’ pens. This is largely due to wife and son both being rather tired out from the whole hospital experience (“We just need to wake you up to make sure you’re sleeping properly”) and having an uncommonly long nap.

This little to-and-fro hospital experience has proven, or rather reinforced, the possibility of using but a single pen. The initial, expected stay was accompanied by the Parker 51 that preceded the Sheaffer Sentinel last week, and of course the Sentinel was what fell to hand during the unexpected emergency run and the days which followed. I neither swelled up nor withered through using the same pen several days running.

Of course, I had more important things to consider than what lurked in my shirt pocket. The mere fact that I had a pen along at all on Saturday is testament to the power of habit in one’s actions– it was a mere part of the house-leaving routine of “wallet, keys, shoes… good to go!” I wouldn’t like the world to think that I was the sort of creature that would neglect a sick infant while a very small matter of adornment was pondered.

We now, hopefully, can avoid the rough embrace of hospitals for some decades (pauses to briskly rub wooden object in accord with old superstition). My son is back to his chair-clambering, merrily gibbering self, my wife is back in the house, and the cats remain underfoot. Long may this situation abide, and I’ll try to make some more directly pen-centric observations tomorrow, likely in response to some recent comments.

Today’s pen: Parker Challenger
Today’s ink: Herbin’s Vert Empire
–there was a substantial ponder applied to these decisions this morning, but I don’t think I’ve quite hit on the right combination to reflect my celebratory sensations at my son’s delivery both by and from the Health Care System.

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Status quo ante non

Posted by Dirck on 28 September, 2009

Just a quick note before heading back to the hospital, as this has gone from my blog to my son’s health bulletin. Infection developed over the weekend, and fretful parents acted before it got too far… but far enough to want IV antibiotics. He may be sprung today, and I once again shout out my gratitude for the national health-care system; this whole enterprise has thus far cost only the charges for parking in the hospital’s lot, and that when I can’t find a space on the street nearby.

Today’s pen: Whatever has ink in it as I pass the case on my way out the door. Probably last week’s Sentinel.

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Signifying Nothing

Posted by Dirck on 25 September, 2009

I had thought to do a proper update today, but the backlog at The Regular Job has thrown me into a tizzy. Things return to normal, all powers willing, on Monday.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Sentinel
Today’s ink: Pelikan blue-black (which also appears to have changed since the last time I bought a bottle, but I’m not going to complain about darker and bluer).

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Telegram from the Front

Posted by Dirck on 24 September, 2009

The merest of updates, as I’ve taken another day off work to help out domestically. My son’s operation was a resounding success, but has left him with some astonishing swelling in places a chap wants none. He is understandably cranky, especially as we’re not allowed to administer morphine anymore. He and his mother are, for the moment, asleep and I’m stealing a moment while the laundry runs.

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Monkey mind

Posted by Dirck on 21 September, 2009

I am sadly wanting in focus just now. I should say, rather, that I can’t redirect my focus as I wish. My son goes to surgery tomorrow. However low-key and non-threatening this event is, the irrational part of my mind reacts to this as would an alcoholic gibbon caught in a leg-hold trap– lots of poorly-directed running around and screaming while orbiting a single point, and there’s little to do about it other than make the problem go away. In my case, the only way to do that is to wait out the event.

I thus have nothing to say here today, other than a note of general opposition to leg-hold traps.

Today’s pen: Parker “51” Vacumatic (people keep not quite buying it, so it gets to come out and play)
Today’s ink: Herbin’s Bleu Nuit.

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Posted by Dirck on 17 September, 2009

I have been thinking of putting up a “blog without obligation” notice on this site, mainly because the one I’ve seen has a very nice raven on it. No one is making me post here, after all. The next week or so may see a very spotty presence indeed.

Tomorrow I’m hanging around at home to watch a new sewer line getting installed under my front yard, right under the only really vigourous patch of clover I’ve managed to get functional in the fore-lawn. I don’t know how attention-intensive this sort of thing is (an advantage to living in western Canada– no Roman troves to lose to workmen), but I don’t guarantee I’ll get at this exercise. After all, I’ll be home with my delightful son.

The weekend itself sees moving out the houseguest, and a return to the way of life we previously knew, which includes very informally dressed visits to the washroom in the wee hours.

My delightful son presents a new impediment next week– he’s going in for surgery on Tuesday. This is to correct a small deformity that stems from his parents’ long-term exposure to plastics (there’s a reason that BPA and phthalates are being banned, folks), which is unalarming and causes him little inconvenience currently. If left until high school, it would be a serious issue. I’ve booked off work Tuesday and Wednesday, not in serious anticipation of being needed– his mother gets to spend the night in the hospital with him, but only one parent allowed– but to make sure that if I am needed I’m free to come. It’s not a big nor an invasive surgery, but it is surgery on an infant. I think I can justify a little worry.

Of course, there’s every chance that the procedure will be bumped for a more serious case. I may defend Canadian health care, but I won’t pretend that sort of thing doesn’t happen.

Today’s pen: Muji Aluminum Cylinder of Writing
Today’s ink: Muji Anonymous Dark Writing Fluid (that’s the problem with these cartridge pens– once you punch that cartridge, you have to keep going until it’s done).

Post Scriptus– the charity auction Sheaffer I mentioned last week only brought in $25! I’m at least assured that the sole bidder is a thoughtful and precise sort, who is apt to follow the instructions provided.

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Caveat Emptor

Posted by Dirck on 16 September, 2009

I very nearly got myself into trouble on eBay. I’m going to share, in hopes of helping others avoid a pitfall.

I occasionally bid for pens on eBay– likely-looking candidates for repair and resale, or perhaps merely repair. A large part of the reason I learned to fix pens was to be able to get them without having to pay someone else to bring them back to operation (or at least to have the foundation to know I’m content to pay $X for a repair that is truly difficult).

I was bidding the other day on a UK-made Parker “51”, which are reputed to have rather good points, even relative to the US versions of the same. I gazed at the small, nearly-informative photographs, contemplated the written description (PEN! WERKS! PRAKER %51!), and decided on the ultimate amount I was willing to pay. That amount was typed down, I then agreed that I knew what I was doing to myself, and hit the “confirm” button.

“I knew what I was doing to myself.” That’s the telling line, there. So many of us think we’re totally in control of our own particular ship. He is getting that degree in Zepplin Aerodynamics as a means to kick open a career door– there’s so few of them about! She is going to that store rather than this because the loyalty program is clearly superior– why stick at an air mile for every $20 when you can get forty camel-miles on the dollar? I am sticking a fork in this toaster to free a bagel, not a cascade of electrons.

The actual warning of this this tale, then: While many eBay listings deal in dollars, not all do. Some are conceived of in terms of the Pound of Great Britain. Mistake this at your peril.

In the end, no one bid as high as the amount I entered, and I ended up paying only slightly more than the number of dollars I would have stopped at if I’d been paying attention. A lesson learned at no great cost, and with luck I’ll remember it when I find myself looking at an item using gold bars as the currency.

Today’s pen: Parker 45
Today’s ink: Lamy blue

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A word from our sponsor.

Posted by Dirck on 15 September, 2009


I’ve always wanted to do that joke. More seriously– while I frequently go off on some peregrinations through matters more or less pen related, the original point of this thing was to offer a more regular evidence of my pen repair (and, one day, book binding) business actually progressing. So, as I don’t have anything else demanding to be mentioned, today is merely status keeping and a brag.

The Australian Snorkel is on its way home. This frees me up to attack a pile of resacs which have appeared from Edmonton (a mere 800km distant, not even in a different country), which are mainly 1940s and ’50s Watermans, with a couple of Eagles and an Eclipse for leavening. I look forward to the site update pictures of these demand, although I can’t see when I’ll manage it (whine, whine, whine).

I’m putting off, on account of this crowd, pursuing the study of vac-filler Triumph point removal. This is unfairly pushing back a commission as well, which will see me sending a load of pens back on my own dime to make up for the prolonged wait while I’ve tried to sort out a pretty but non-functional “Golden Pearl” Sheaffer Valiant. When I do get it fixed, it’s a freebie. And now that I think of it, I should email the owner of the bunch in question and let her know this directly.

House guest departs this weekend, hooray. We’re all still friends, but I think the hooray is unanimous. Less making way for others’ schedules should help get things done around the house.

And finally, the brag. My son resists sleep through jollity. While this doesn’t help knit up the ravelled sleeve of care for his parents (especially his mom, whom I treasure above all), it at least makes bedtime happy. His laugh is so stereotype for an infant, one might think he’s being dubbed, and of all the sounds that emerge from a baby, that’s about the best one to be kept awake by.

Today’s pen: Parker Moderne
Today’s ink: Mont Blanc Racing Green

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Welcome, strangers!

Posted by Dirck on 14 September, 2009

I never post here on the weekend. This tiny soapbox is reserved for the weekday, when I’m stuck at The Regular Job– making money sufficient to keep the family content, but not getting things, to my own way of thinking, accomplished. The weekends I engage in a titanic (although easily contained in a house of under a thousand square feet) struggle to accomplish that which needs accomplishment. Pens sometimes, books almost never, alas, most frequently laundry and some kind of muffins.

I also give a few minutes to the stats of this blog and of my website. It’s the latter I want to briefly think about aloud. I get my stats via Google Analytics, and one of the data sets they offer is the geographical distribution of visitors. The top four nations taking an interest in my site are little surprise– all English speaking, well penetrated with internet, and with one exception fairly populous (the exception is extremely close by). They are the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Australia, in descending order. I’m gratified, but not surprised as such.

The next two on the list do surprise me. Brazil and South Korea. Really?

Don’t misunderstand. I’m grateful for the attention. I welcome sentient interest and goodwill, regardless of nation, ethnicity, and with the expansion of WiFi even of species (a belated howdy to Zeta Reticulum!). It just startles me that people for whom English is apt to be a second language attend to my site– it’s got more pictures than appear here, but it’s still quite wordy.

I may have to process a page or two through Babelfish. I imagine an English-Portuguese-English distillation will provide loads of linguistic laughs.

Referent to my previous entry about hand-writing’s withering; there’s an interesting article on the topic here.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer 5-30
Today’s ink: Skrip blue-black

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