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Archive for April, 2010


Posted by Dirck on 30 April, 2010

Nothing earth shaking today, just some quick extra notes on what’s gone previously.

I dismantled the “feed” of my Esterbrook well yesterday, a container full of little rods which act as a wick. As horrid as some of the fountain pens I’ve come upon are, I am still shaken by the amount of chunky detritus that dropped out of this thing. Decades of neglect on a massive scale, although I shouldn’t be surprised because once it’s in service it is not an easy object to clean out.

The “51” I’m forcing to write to exhaustion is getting a little dry today, but persists. As I mentioned in the previous entry, this tells the world little apart from the fact that I really don’t write that much down in the course of a day at The Regular Job.

Speaking of which, and this is not a reference to a previous notion: I could slap my collection of co-workers for their attitude towards the weather today. Grey, yes, drizzle, sure, but it is in a local sense but early spring amd some folks need to learn the connection between growing things in summer and dampness in the spring. Let’s have someone pretending to be Al Jolson explain it.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer 800
Today’s ink: Lamy Blue


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Well, Well, Well.

Posted by Dirck on 29 April, 2010

Esterbrook Model 444 Ink Well

Sheaffer ink well, Lifetime Model

Sheaffer "Fineline" budget inkwell

Wells. This is another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.

I mentioned a short time ago that I had put my hands on an Esterbrook inkwell. In the (successful) search for a pen to go with it, I went and bought two more of the same sort of thing made by Sheaffer. I hasten to point out that they were eminently affordable, and so the “mess” is not financial. I just find myself with a mess of inkwells.

The Sheaffer objects are functionally the same, just of different grades. The one with the white dot carries a gold Lifetime point, as was found in some higher-end fountain pens, while the other is from their “Fineline” bargain brand, and has a simple steel point. This latter is somewhat pitted, as I’m sure you can image, from long and persistent immersion in the somewhat angry inks of the mid-20th century. They share a mechanism, although that mechanism lies inside the base rather than in the pen, and it’s a mechanism similar to those pet water dispensers in which the level of fluid in the reservoir is kept higher than that at the exit. I’m sure physics has an explanation for it, but I find I trust the concept of the Esterbrook base more– in that, a little capsule full of rods provides capillary action to allow the ink to come above the the lever of the reservoir.

Each of the pictures above shows the access point to the reservoir; the Esterbrook has the whole pen-holding lid come off (potentially messy), while the Sheaffers have a feed-tube that unscrews and recieves a specially-rigged ink bottle (potentially messy, since I don’t have one of those), the closure for which is visible on the lowest picture.

They are not, as noted in the previous entry, fountain pens. I shouldn’t be interested in them. And yet, I find myself with a low-grade fascination surrounding the notion of a box’o’ink on the desk. I ponder the view of them in their hey-day. The wells were offered for public use in banks– I have seen versions of the Esterbrook set with a chain and little note asking that the pen be replaced upon use, but that rather pricey white-dot Sheaffer is not the sort of thing you’d have anywhere except a rich(ish) fellow’s desk. Was it thought of as the thing you’d use when you had to really had to do a ton of writing, with the fountain pen a second-best? You need to redip the well-pen, of course, but that’s a quick action that can be fitted in at the end of a paragraph when you pause for thought in any event, while a fountain pen will write for many pages without refilling but then needs a definite mental departure from the act of writing to reload. A novelist of the day, unwilling to batter his fingers or face the respooling which a typewriter called for, may well have preferred the idea of the desk pen and its vast ink stores.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with three of the things, though. The Esterbrook is destined to land at The Regular Job, to take over as my highlighting pen. I mentioned that I was tired of red gumming up the number two pen of my desk set, and I find that the green I’ve settled on is still a little cranky about not seeing use for more than three or four words in a twenty-four hour period, so I look to something with an actual puddle of ink and no interior channels as an alternative. The other two… well, there’s depths to plumb regarding the mysterious level-governor.

Well, that’s all for today. My well’s run dry.

Today’s portable pen: Parker 45 (steel medium point fitted)
Today’s mere dribble of ink: Hrebin’s Bleu Nuit

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An Ocean of Ink.

Posted by Dirck on 28 April, 2010

I’ve just bought some ink, direct from the maker, Diamine. I can’t really say why. I’ve got plenty of ink, and I’ve especially got plenty of blue ink, yet I’ve just ordered two more bottles of it.

The rationalizer jumps into play– oh, I’ve got blue inks, sure, but I’ve none of these particular shades. Majestic Blue, which a correspondent of mine has used, is a smashing colour; it has a mystifying reddish sheen to it, which I have been pondering the purchase of for some time.* The other, though, China Blue, is an unknown quantity– very pale, not even greyish. Perhaps my Dutch heritage is thrusting itself forward.

While settling on this entry’s theme, I thought it might be well to look into what the heck “Diamine” means. The company website doesn’t suggest anything, and while there is a word in current if limited use, I suspect that a company established in 1864 chose as its name “a polyamine of two amino groups, such as hydrazine.” I could, I suppose, dash off a quick e-mail and ask them directly… and perhaps if it weren’t so grim and grey out, I’d have the spiritual energy to apply to such a task.

I sure wish there were siestas at The Regular Job.

Today’s pen, anticipating new flavours already: Sheaffer 5-30SR
Today’s ink, unconcerned at the prostpect of more competition: Mont Blanc Racing Green

Post Scriptus– I should mention that this sudden acquisition is funded by a… well, not client, really, but a kind person who sent an unlooked-for pile of money in return for a bit of work that I wasn’t sure was something I could manage and in the end had only limited success, and for which I’d said to only send postage if they were pleased with the results. I have not thanked this person enough, so I do it as publicly at their wish to remain undisclosed allows.

*for educational purposes, there’s what that sentence looked like when initially posted. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t do a lot of editing nor thinking when making these posts:

Majestic Blue, which a correspondent of mine has used, is a smashing colour, with a mystifying reddish sheen to it, which I have been pondering the purchase of for some time.

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Another experiment

Posted by Dirck on 27 April, 2010

This one is a little less interesting than previous forays into science, and is in fact getting close, I expect, to its terminal phase. It’s about mileage.

I mentioned in a previous post about having a Parker “51” desk pen of the vacumatic flavour, and having housed in the base I use at The Regular Job. Shortly before I made the posting, I decided that I would run this small and pointless experiment in writing duration. That pen was filled as full as it should be on 14 April, and I am going to leave it until it runs out of ink and makes no marks on a page before refilling.

It shows no real sign of stopping, on the eve of a fortnight’s unreplenished use. The aerometric-filler whose nest it has expropriated was once run to the same protocol, and ran out of juice about the two-week mark. If this one gets through to the end of business today, we may say that the vacumatic “51” takes longer to write empty.

May say it, of course, but probably shouldn’t. This is pseudoscience at best, as there’s no controls over how many linear yards of mark either pen has laid down over the periods in question, the humidity of each day of the “experiment”, the papers used, and various others I’m no doubt overlooking. I am, to be honest, simply amusing myself and hanging about this amusement a thin drapery of science.

I’m not very troubled by this. I’m not doing science properly, but I’m also not undercutting anyone’s grant money. All costs are underwritten by my own milk money, and the main benefit is to give my synapses something to mumble beyond the demands of The Regular Job, which frankly barely keeps the cortex warm.

When this pen gives out, I’ll announce the results, for what they’re worth. My next achievement will be to quantify boredom (as soon as I find a good term for the units– some jerk already used “boron”).

Today’s empirical pen: Lamy 99
Today’s intuitive ink: Herbin’s Poussière de Lune

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Friendship is the Greatest Gift.

Posted by Dirck on 26 April, 2010

However, out of that basis, other gifts may befall.

I mentioned in a previous installment that I am generally content that my friends steer clear of giving me pens, for the same reason that I avoid giving medical advice; a lack of foundation in study.

On Saturday, a particular friend came by to discuss an upcoming craft sale she and my wife are participating in. She also brought some objects she’s found in her trolling of garage sales. Her trolling is founded in an optimistic and sometimes successful search for vintage clothing patterns and buttons. This latter pursuit is very similar to my pen madness, and she approaches it with much the same attitude (doesn’t prate to the uninterested, worries about aging celluloid, occasionally wondering how many is too many). Having more freedom of action than I, she also undertakes to look into pens at the sales.

She has eerie powers, to be honest. My most dedicated efforts on the garage sale line have produced a small victory that doesn’t balance the energy spent looking. My friend finds all manner of things to interest her… and couple of things that quite interest me.

This most recent event I rather under-reacted to, as her first coup has set a very high bar; she gave me one of the jewels in my collection, the 1927 Duofold Senior. That is a very hard act to follow indeed, and so I found myself offering somewhat unconvincing apologies for the small reaction of the pen she produced– another Duofold, but of much later English manufacture.

The eerie powers not only lie in the ability to find things of actual value, but also in getting them for the kind of money one expects to pay for old toys. This latest donation to my collection she refused any payment for, as she had gotten pen, a nice little tin box, and a few other items for one dollar.

My own eerie power is to gather friends I’m unworthy to have. This one, magic garage sale skills aside, is very much of the standard pattern for my circle of friends. I am a magnet for magnates of magnanimity.

Today’s pen: Parker Moderne
Today’s ink: Herbin’s Lis de Thé

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Circadian Arrhythmia

Posted by Dirck on 23 April, 2010

My son, who is a fine fellow in many respects, had the last of his innoculations yesterday and was put off his stride.

Yesterday evening, he was very listless and not very interested in food until nearly bed-time.

This morning, he bounced up with a laugh and scrambled for the living room.

Half past four, this morning. I have just used up the whole of my stock of coherence than isn’t slated for use while driving. More sensible on Monday, I hope.

Toady’s pen: Sheaffer Sentinel
Dotay’s kni: Lamy blue

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Posted by Dirck on 22 April, 2010

Because I’m not doing as much as I’d like environmentally, and because it’s Earth Day, I’m just offering some links to things I wish I could introduce into my own living arrangements. They’re not endorsements, mind you, but more of a kid looking in the Christmas catalogue and shouting, “Oh, NEAT!”

Solar air heating, although the season is more or less over for such things; there’s always another winter on the way.

A ground-source heat pump, which can both heat and cool a house.

Some on-site electricity generation— sun and wind, as we generally have plenty of both around here.

An electric car– a new one would be super cool, but I’m not proud.

The house is already crammed with 13 watt light bulbs, we recycle and compost, and I walk so much as I can. And yet, I feel as if I’m disappointing David Suzuki.

Today’s eminently reusable pen: Parker IM
Today’s water-based, neutral-pH ink: Noodler’s Van Gogh Starry Night.

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Good things come in…

Posted by Dirck on 21 April, 2010

…colossal packages! I got home last night to discover cardboard cube of unexpected width awaiting my attention. It was not quite big enough for a hat, but about two orders of magnitude larger than any pen might arrive in. Vast!

The return address suggested what what in it, but it still couldn’t quite fit the data into the theory. You see, last month I jumped upon one of the frequent delightful give-aways held with some frequency over at Quo Vadis, this one thematic to St. Patrick’s Day. The offer was for a bottle of ink (green or orange, a fine nod to unity) and a sample of paper (the white, to complete the Eire flag). This box could contain a couple of litres of ink and a full ream of paper, although it was not heavy enough to actually hold these items.

“Did they get the wrong label on this box?” I wondered, as I ran my pen-knife along a seam of tape. Delving at last inside, I find….

A bottle of Orange Indien ink and a very nice little Clairefontaine notebook (this link takes some hunting through, and I haven’t turned up the saddle-stitched example I’ve got in it edit from the near future– I confabulate another book I’ve been looking at; this is a staple-bound version, and easily found through the link, a small black variant). Also, a LOT of packing paper. That bottle was going to arrive here safe barring anything short of a Jet Li/Jackie Chan stunt-off.

As a bonus, I have a box for my son to play with. I will in all likelihood put up some kind of review of the non-box items as I’ve time to attend to them.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Imperial III
Today’s ink: Mont Blanc Racing Green

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All’s well.

Posted by Dirck on 20 April, 2010

Once again, a double meaning. Referring to yesterday’s potentially grim speculation, I may report (for those who don’t open the comments on a posting) that the departure of the Penquod for parts unknown is entirely voluntary– the enterprise and its commander sail on, however covertly. I have been asked to pass well wishes along by diverse members of the Fountain Pen Network, who lament the incremental (ink-remental? encré-mental?) loss of literate comment on the internet, but who are all quite glad to hear it’s not an enforced departure.

This past weekend, my wife insisted on going to a local antique shop. This is not, as it seems to be for some men, a great trial for me, as I enjoy looking at the artifacts of the recent past– it’s a little less fun with our son in tow, as he’s now self-propelled and demonstrably interested in his world. The same urge that lies in the hearts of the builders of the Large Hadron Collider is well represented in the toddler; what happens when we bang these things together? It is a valid way of discovering the make up of the universe, but it has consequences if practiced in an antique store.

Despite having to carry the increasingly-heavy son, I did get to gander around the place. My wife’s main interest in the expedition was filling in some holes in an heirloom china set of her mother. I was, of course, looking for pens. I had previously looted this store, and there was not much in the way of fountain pens that I was interested in. There were, however, ink wells, and I fell victim to my own foolish urges and bought one.

“Ink well” is a rather abused term today. It’s applied to ink pots, ink bottles, and even desk pen stands, but seldom outside a certain well-informed minority is it used specifically. I am using it specifically– a container for ink which is specifically meant to allow a pen to be dipped into it.

Frequently, one thinks of the mock-Victorian brass letter-holder with a couple of little lidded pots (an original one would have a ceramic insert, Victorian inks being ravenous), but mine is a space-age object. A heavy glass dish with thick walls, supporting a lid from which a capillary-action capsule depends, drawing up the ink to supply a pen which is thrust into a hold in the lid. The whole affair looks rather like a curling rock with its handle straightened and sticking up at about a forty-five degree angle.

Actually, it looks, in absence of a pen, rather more like its nick-name– a hockey puck. The well in question is an Esterbrook “Dip Less” 444, and it sadly came without its pen. I’ve been able to make shift for the moment with another Esterbrook pen, from my “eight ball” holder (the company did seem to attract game metaphors).

The official Dip Less name comes from the fact that the correct pens shared the feed of fountain pens, and would on a single dip write rather a long time– writing this entry to this point would probably have required only two dunks. I am fairly anxious to move it into a permanent engagement, but I should like to find a correct pen for it first, as I would feel very silly having anyone see a fountain pen sticking up out of a dip well on my desk at The Regular Job.

Because other people notice this sort of thing. Of course they do.

Today’s Pen with built-in ink supply: Eversharp Skyline
Today’s Ink: Skrip blue-black:

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Health Concerns

Posted by Dirck on 19 April, 2010

When I was pondering today’s entry, I had in mind an entirely amusing little memo to the world. I find that I must append some unformed worries.

A few months ago, I noted that I had gotten my hands on the Nintendo game “Brain Age”, and it had made fun of me for having let my skull-cogs develop a layer of dust. Well, in keeping with the underlying notion behind mens sana in corpore sano (although there is some room for debate on just how sane my mens is), I went out on Friday and got a Wii Fit for Christmas.

How’s that? Well, a load of gift certificates for a particular mall were given at Christmas, and I determined then that they should be applied to a Wii. Last week was the first time the laws of supply and demand allowed any of the stores in this mall to offer the item.

Wii Fit tells me that I am obese beyond its built-in scale. It bases this on a Body Mass Index calculation, which is a glorified height/weight chart, and while I accept the accusation of having some unneeded adipose tissue, I deny any imputation that I need to drop slightly more than a third of my weight to re-enter the lands of health. Were I to do this, I would no longer be able to see my feet, as they’d have to go with the rest of my legs, while currently I can see them just fine, direct line of sight, and without having to suck in.

I will attend to the exercises, though, as I do feel the need for that sort of thing. I have a suspicion that presently Nintendo will produce some kind of general aesthetics software that will declare me ugly and funnily dressed….

Accuastions of odd dress bring me to the more sombre portion of today’s effort. I discover that beloved blog Ink Quest appears to have packed its tent. The last entry I read concerned the Inkanthropist’s encounter with some oiks on a train platform, who at the time were content to merely cast aspersions upon his nifty grey fedora, but my built-in worst case generator is suggesting that something grimmer may have developed. There was also revelation in the last few installments of virally-afflicted tonsils, and the WCG suggests that sort of thing can get rapidly out of hand (although more usually in the case of bacterial infections). What makes me so nervous is the very funereal inclusion of beginning and ending dates on the headline of what’s left of the blog.

The sudden uprooting of all of Ink Quest’s content is disturbing also in that, while not surprising in this medium, so many of the entries speculated upon the ability of the written word to outlast the author. Inky marks found in books last printed decades ago, marginalia and notes left by authors struck down a quarter century previously… highly ironic that meditations on such things have vanished like smoke.

I hope, though, that WCG is just running mad in my imagination, and that the disenchantment which Inkanthopist felt with humanity in general has now spread to the realm of making notes where humanity in general can see them, and that is he currently sitting in a quiet room in a quiet town in Wales, enjoying the latest nigh-perfect brown ink which the trawl-nets of Penquod have hauled up.

Still, I think I’ll look into getting a proper will laid down.

Today’s elderly yet vibrant pen: Parker Vacumatic
Today’s coursing internal fluid: Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun

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