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Archive for August, 2010

Do No Harm

Posted by Dirck on 31 August, 2010

Before I ramble– here’s the cat of so many updates, as she appeared prior to the malady–

She is currently a little less plump and has no hair on her belly, and a cracking new scar to add to her collection (her middle name is Quint, which should make the film fanciers chuckle).  I offer a blanket thanks once more to all those who left messages of encouragement, and to those also who never quite managed it for want of the right words coming to them– I’ve been in that boat, I know what it’s like, and the fact a thought went through your head is still appreciated.

I was reading today, as I do every day, latest postings on some pen forums.  The day’s theme, alas, seems to be horrible things done by apparently well-meaning people to “fix” fountain pens.  Sections firmly installed in barrels with nail polish as an adhesive.  Efforts to pry things that don’t need prying, which led to gouging and snapping.  Strange and whimsical solvents and adhesives pressed into service for want of the correct thing being instantly to hand.

Please, stop.  Just… stop.  Set the pen aside, go do some laundry, perhaps make a snack, and stop doing that to the pen.

A source of great consternation for those who fix pens with some concern for their future utility is that a lot of these sorts of excesses are prompted by what is in many ways a jolly useful book.  It is, in fact, a book that is worth having available if one is inclined toward fixing pens, one which I find very valuable and will recommend to the point of linking to a source for it– Frank Dubiel’s Complete Guide to Repair

The problem with it lies in the era it which it was mainly compiled.  While in some ways this modern time we live in is not conducive to mannenhitsu-do, the ease of communication allows for the discover that there’s a lot of like-minded people (in more unlikely things than fountain pens, too) and that there are sources of supply to carry out whatever your particular strange passtime might be.  Dubiel was putting his book together in a very dim time indeed, when the lights of fountain pen manufacture were growing dim around the world, and there was not yet an internet to help establish the sort of diffuse communities which are today so vital.  He was looking at a situation in which supplies were becoming rare and would presently vanish entirely, and to preserve pens in their function, some unconventional means had to be considered.  He frequently offered a MacGyver approach to the problem– fish around in the junk drawer and see what you can come up with that can be pressed into service.

We can now, in this strange modern time a half-generation later, when the tiny percentage of people who care deeply about fountain pens can all get together in one place and prove that a tiny percent of  several billion is actually quite a big number, and when the supplies for maintenance and repair of pens are however tenuously available, afford to say, “Was he nuts?!”  As I intimate earlier, there are a lot of things worth knowing in “Da Book”, but when reading through it, it is frequently better to attend to his explanations of how it was done in the factory and set aside the bits that start, “…but you can use….”  It was once the only real reference, but learning has expanded.  The internet is full of little directories (including my own poor repair tutorials), and there are actual books of more modern scholarship to be examined.

I mentioned a few entries ago that I would wish people to think before they do.  This is an expansion of that.  Fixing a pen is not rocket science (although some Sheaffers start to close in on it), but it’s still a technical task.  You would not wish an unschooled person to have a go at fixing your car’s transmission, nor at rummaging your cat’s guts.  Read up.  Think hard.  Then have a go.

To finish off, I’m just going to link to a lovely story about why a family-run business is a better thing for the consumer than a great faceless corporation.  There’s only the most tenuous connection to today’s theme, but there are repairs involved.

Today’s pen, apropos topic*:  Parker 21
Today’s ink:  Herbin’s Lis de Thé

* This pen’s breather tube has come adrift, meaning to will only take on about half the ink it should.  I could fix it, but as the hoods on these pens are notorious for cracking, I’m leaving it alone.  Do no harm.

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Feeling Fine?

Posted by Dirck on 30 August, 2010

Today I am feeling fine– extra-fine, really. I have felt this way for most of my life, but occasionally this has been changing. With age, I begin to occasionally feel medium, and even entertain occasional thoughts of stub.

I am, of course, speaking of point width on the pen. No one comes here to hear about aliments (at least, not in humans– cat news to follow). Ever since I was a child, I have preferred fine points on my pens for the simple reason that I like to write in fairly small characters, and with a fine pen that sort of writing can be supported and still allow the reader to tell the difference between i, e and c. My correspondents will also, I’m sure, have something to say about general neatness even with a fine line.

My wife, when working on manuscripts (she’s as yet unpublished, but that signifies little in this age of NaNiWriMo), prefers to use small italic points– almost all of her writing is done with Sheaffer calligraphy pens.  Her reasons sound much the same as mine, as she maintains a thick line hides lack of precision in the line’s direction.  We both think our writing looks neater.

I could claim some superiority for my position, in that the really fine points use less ink.  However, my recent revision of my position (as can be seen from the increasing frequency with which I use pens like the one on 17 August) is founded in the urge to splash more ink around.  The wider points show off ink rather better.  They’re cool.

What got me started on this line of thought were some recent threads on pen fanciers’ boards discussing not just the relative merits of thin and thick points, and the diversity of opinion between makers as to what constitutes “fine” or “broad” sizes.  If one is to say, “I need an extra-large shirt,” the results from store to store are a lot more consistent than if one says, “I should like a pen with a medium point.”  In general, Asian makers tend towards thinner standards than European, and older pens are rather thinner than modern.  Because of this, there is a lot of grumbling amongst pickier pen users (“My medium Pelikan is WAY thicker than my bold Pilot!  The maker of whichever one I got second is stupid!“) and a certain amount of despair in pen sellers– have a look at this comparative chart from a British retailer, or this one from a notable pen restorer in the US, both efforts to show the prospective buyer what their pen will actually write like.  Today’s pen I would rate as extra-fine based on its writing, but the box declares it to be a fine (look closely at the lower right side of this picture).  It’s baffling.

I decline, given the current time remaining today, to contemplate the effects of different papers and inks in this line.  Just the though of trying makes me feel all thick.  I can only, on experience of decades, suggest that one keep an open mind on pen widths– there’s something to be said for all of them, and the limitations lie mainly in the user (those who take comedy in low places may call to mind their favourite “It’s not how big…” joke at this point).

Today’s pen, a covert extra-fine:  Sheaffer Triumph 330
Today’s ink, hardly able to fight its way to the page:  Lamy blue-black

…and now, as promised, some news about the cat, which is indeed promising:  Apparently having her organs aired out has helped a lot, as she was eating, mobile, and extremely anxious to find some avenue of escape from the vet’s offices yesterday.  I’ve not heard today’s update, but yesterday it was suggested that she might come home in the early part of this week.  My inner tightwad grumbles about the cost, but he’s drowned out by the rest of the psyche’s components with their cheers and huzzays.

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The “51” Position

Posted by Dirck on 27 August, 2010

I’ll bet that title gets me some very disappointed search-engine hits.

If one hangs about the hubbub of a pen fancier’s site like the FPN, or FPGeeks, or the Fountain Pen Board, one will hear a lot of people insist that those who have not tried a Parker “51” MUST lay hands on one.  It was in its time referred to (by Parker, in honesty) as the Most Desired Pen in the World.

I’m using one today.  In fact, I really use on every work day, as on my desk at The Regular Job, I have one as my desk pen.  I must, therefore, be one of those shouting the praises of this pen, that most perfect marking instrument to ever hang off the end of human arm.

No.  I don’t deny that they’re good pens.  Reliable and sturdy (the one on my desk is there because it can take a non-fountain pen user having a go at it), decent writers.  What prompted this entry was that today’s is a very nice example, hardly seeming to touch the paper at all, but held aloft on the wings of angels taking a break from pin-head-dancing and depositing the ink in anticipation of desire. Perhaps if this had been my first “51” experience, I would be shouting with the zealots.

But, I have some other pens I can say the same of.  I also have some “51”s which are, really, just pens.  So, I’m not the world’s biggest fan.  I actually prefer the looks of the Sheaffers of the late 1940s.  I enjoy some flex now and again, which the “51” just can’t offer.  The Vacumatic fillers, as today’s is, are devils to clean properly.  Using today’s pen is a very nice experience, but I still need glasses.  The “51” will not cure gout.

By all means, if the looks of the pen please you, get one.  It’s a milestone of both pen and general industrial design, and may interest for those reasons.  But MUST get one?  No.  That’s my position.

Today’s super-remarkable all-knowing pen of the future:  Parker “51”
Today’s ink, asipring to the heavens but in practice mundane:  Herbin Bleu Nuit

…and on the cat front– as of this writing, she’s just entering surgery to see what’s what.  I’ll update as news arrives and my emotional state allows. NEWS FLASH: Out of surgery, and apparently the pancreas was swollen enough to be mistaken for the liver. Lab results pending on just why the pancreas is getting ideas above its station, but that wretched tease Hope remains in view.

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Fragile.

Posted by Dirck on 26 August, 2010

To briefly continue in yesterday’s vein (I was this morning asked if we wanted to do an ultrasound to see what was happening inside the cat), something directly related to pens that I wish more people understood is this:  unless an astonishing number of them is used, there is no actual protection to be had from a “FRAGILE” sticker.  Like “DO NOT ENTER” or “WET PAINT”, it works on the attentive individual but otherwise merely expands the circle of blame when things go wrong,.

The place I most frequently see this sticker is on the outside of a brown envelope thrust through the letterbox at my home, announcing the terminal phase of some eBay transaction.  Within, a pen anywhere up to 90 years old, which apart from the dubious powers of Kraft paper may possibly have some fragments of bubble-wrap sharing its space.  I have thus far been fairly lucky, in that nothing of real historical value has arrived in the form of a weight of powdered pen materials and some twisted metal components.  Thus far.

When I see that the shipping cost on an item is, let us say $1.58, I know that there’s a limit to how much effort the person is spending on the package.  Move the decimal one space right, however, and I think I am allowed to get a little cranky at the appearance of an imperiled, paper-wrapped pen on an envelope bearing not quite four dollars in postage.

As a general rule, when wrapping a pen for shipment, it would be well to think in terms of layers, alternating hard and soft.   My own preferred way of doing it sees the pen wrapped in a thin layer of paper towel to prevent it shifting around within a tube– this tube can be a study cardboard item (the middle of an aluminum foil roll is quite good), PVC plumbing pipe, or even a purpose-made item, as seen on this site.  That tube is laid in a bed of resilient material, be they packing peanuts, newspapers, or trousers no longer suitable for company, which holds it stable in a nice sturdy cardboard box.  A couple of turns of packing tape to hold the box closed, and those pens are as safe as reason demands.  I will admit that sometimes, when sending a big bunch of pens, the inner hard layer might be overlooked, but the central point of keeping the pens from sudden shocks and instant crushing is still attended to.

The best eBay wrapping I ever saw was a chap who custom-fit some sheets of foam in a box to act as the soft layer between outer and inner hards– he must have had a LOT of time to apply to the matter.  Possibly the most whimsical was that bringing me the lately-mentioned Soyuz pen, straight from St. Petersburg– a box made of styrofoam in two pieces, with lashings of tape to prevent loss by ablation as it tumbled through all the postal systems between there and here.  It worked well enough, and I suppose if the ship went down my pen might have still made it to me, but it was quite the apparition in the mail box.

Too many not-quite-padded envelopes, though.  The odds are building up that I’ll receive something smashed by a postal engine.  My nerves are growing quite fragile at the prospect.

Today’s pen that actually needs some slapping around:  Hero 001 (not a great writer)
Today’s ink, definitely a survivor:  Skrip #32 Permanent Black (with RC-35!  The box it came in advertises the NEW Snorkel pen, so it probably went in the bottle about 1955)

post scriptus:  Word about the feline ultrasound, since I know at least two readers care (and suspect several others of the same).  There is a mass of odd shape and texture in and about her liver, which is likely the culprit behind all the other symptoms… but whether tumour or abcess only direct observation can tell.  Plus there’s anemia.  As you may imagine, I am writing despite somewhat blurred vision.  Fragility being the theme today, we may also contemplate emotions and the animating spark itself.  At least in these areas there is also resiliency.

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Things I Wish People Would Learn

Posted by Dirck on 25 August, 2010

As a preface– I am in a bleak and upleasant mood, as one of the household cats has been under doctor’s care since Sunday.  Not only does the cost begin to be more than we can really support, but the actual problem remains elusive– the symptoms are clear (no food or water in, but plenty of stuff coming out) but the cause is unknown.  I worry, and the outward manifestation is crankiness.

The germ of this post comes from reading another pencentric blog, in which an expert whose opinion is canvassed offers this:

Most old pens have developed a variation between the axis of the feed and that of the nib from years of use by one hand.  If the ink flows freely, I leave well alone.  It’s only if the nib is radically misaligned with the feed, or if has been pushed in or pulled out too far that I will consider knocking out the nib and feed.  Realigning a nib and feed in a section to
which they have settled for sixty years or more is no trivial matter.  Many do it but few make an improvement thereby.  After the section pliers, the nib block must be the greatest spoiler of old pens there is (emphasis added by editor).

There are a couple of related general principles that, if followed, would essentially do away with this chap’s complaint.  The first is “Think Before You Act.”  I will grant that if one is about to be smashed by a truck, pausing to consider all options is probably not wise, but in all likelihood a failure to think prior to action on the part of you, the truck driver, or both, is what has brought about the situation in the first place.  Considering the consequences of an action beforehand at least reduces regrets.  An example this very morning is the long and whistling pause I took when told by the vet how much a culture of the cat’s excreta would cost– can we afford that, how much more will it cost to treat symptoms blindly, are we at the point yet where cost overcomes morality and we have to start thinking of euthanasia?  Barely, probably more, and not quite yet, as it turns out, but had I blurted “Dear god!  NO!” as reflex urged, I’d be having to wrestle more seriously with the third question as a result of the second.

Related to this is an old Latin saw– festinat lente.  Hurry in a leisurely fashion.  There is an English expression of the same thrust which seems to have largely fallen out of use: “More haste, less speed.”  You can, I think, see the connection between this and the previous point.  We all know people who, when faced with a crisis, turn into a cartoonish knot of arms and legs, make a great commotion, and knock stuff over.  They may, during this flailing, get something done about the cause of the flap, but usually things just escalate.  This is actually a major problem with the modern, high-speed, 4G, multi-tasking culture– the expectation that bustle translates into effect.  Consider the buttons on pedestrian crossings– a very simple mechanism, which once activated sets the lights to offer the WALK signal and allow a little extra time for traffic in that direction, as people tend to have a maximum rate of trot.  Press the button once, the system is in action, and will run once the lights change.  Banging the button four hundred times will not make it change any faster, and will only make your arm tired.  Likewise, battering away on the button for an elevator.  Some things need to ripen.  Relax and let it happen.  You may revel in the irony of the tangle my fingers get into trying to chop one of these entries out in 28 minutes produces. {Like, he noted later, this very sentence.  Oh, dear}

On the subject of pointless hurry, I turn to my fellow drivers.  I will not decry jackrabbit starts and furious lane-changing (any more than mentioning them in the wake of the last paragraph).  What troubles me is side mirrors.  I will tell you what appears to be a secret:  unless you’re in a delivery van or some similar creature with no rear window, side mirrors are not there to show you what is at the rear of the car– they’re there to show you what is at the side of the car.  If you set them properly, a vehicle coming up behind you will appear in the side mirror just as it leaves the edge of the rear-view mirror (interesting name…), and as the back of that same vehicle is about to depart from the outer edge of the side mirror, its nose should be visible directly out the side window.  I’m not suggesting that one can or should abandon shoulder-checking, but with the side mirrors swung outboard you’ll find that your blind spot essentially vanishes.

Finally, on behalf of the language I know and understand the best, I’m going to ask my fellow Anglophones to stop neglecting the ending on adverbs.  “I know that you dance beautiful,” is the phrase I heard on television last night, and my wife and I both said in chorus, “Beautifully!”  It’s hardly even a syllable, but it adds to the music of the language and marks the correct meaning.  It’s not a big thing, but in a language as rich and acquisitive as English, why drop fragments unless anxious to give the appearance of laziness?

There.  My time has run, I have hurried leisurely to the end of my rant, and I positively feel better.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer 5-30SC
Today’s ink:  Noodler’s reb-black

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Replication Errors

Posted by Dirck on 24 August, 2010

Before diving off the deep end into the main thrust of today’s posting, a quick note about last night’s meeting with the no-longer-prospective repair client– I was indeed the only one there with a fedora, which may say something about my home town’s ability to keep up with fashions. I have now got to apply myself to a Remington syringe-filler, having persuaded him to make sure there’s no satisfaction to be wrung from the manufacturer’s warranty on his Faber-Castell Ambition before letting an unqualified ape technician poke at it.  As I have no idea how extensive that maker’s warranty is (could be vast, like Lamy or Cross, but could be sadly limited), I’d rather not get the commission immediately than void anything.

Now…  yesterday’s picture of me and my son at the nearest of the Western Development Museums has put me in a reflective mood.  He was, as I’d hoped he would be, absolutely wonder-struck by the great locomotive– his favorite television programme involves steam engines.  I know that he will soon loose access to the memories of this experience, but we’ll add more as needed.  Watching him, I recalled my early visits the the same museum, which was newly opened at the time and rather more shambolical.  Experiences like this are what make us recall our childhoods fondly, and I am able to say that I had a pretty good childhood (apart from the fact that there were other children in the neighbourhood, whose intrusions on my carefully designed games I frequently resented).

I hope in the way that all half-way decent parents do that I can give my son a similarly happy childhood, filled with joyful experiences which he can take down off the shelf once in a while and enjoy the recollection of.  However much I might want to, though, I can’t give him the same experiences that I had.  Apart from the fact that his brain wiring is not the same as mine except in the most general way, the events of which those experiences are made cannot be repeated.  He may have joys, but they will be different.

The main example of this sort of thing is Museum Movie Night.  For reasons that elude me, around the start of my second decade, the museum a short distance from my home ran a series of black and white horror movies in its theatre.  My first exposure to The Creature from The Black Lagoon and The Incredible Shrinking Man come from that series, and while it probably served to derange my imagination, it was also a fun night out with the family.  I notice looking at the link to the museum that they are still doing something of the sort even now, but it won’t be the same.

At the time of my memories, there was no such thing as a home theatre.  An old movie might appear on broadcast TV, but failing that one was pretty much stuck with reading synopses and looking at stills.  To have a venue to see an old film in something like the original format was a rare treat, one understood and shared by all attending as a special, and it’s a treat that in the current age can’t be replicated.  Our current TV is a “mere” 32-inch job, but it is a 16:9 high-definition screen and we can access most films ever made, either on DVD or on-line.  The treat, if treat my son considers it, will have to lie in the novelty of a story not yet seen.  This isn’t a bad thing, and of course the treats of my own generation are much different from the previous; I am happy that my father’s treats (no V-1 overhead today!) were unavailable to me, frankly.  Nonetheless, the good stuff that made me the sort of person I am is simply not available to my son.  He’ll have to reminisce about different good stuff.

And that means… he’ll be an entirely different person!  Not simply a replica of his dad!  I’m not sure I like the sound of that.  The best I can hope for is that he’ll have more fond memories than bitter, and will be inclined to be what I think is a good person.  Such is the way of every generation, and I guess most men who come to fatherhood eventually re-invents this particular wheel of understanding the nature of the developing personality. 

I do have a plan to help him along the right path, though.  In addition to regular subtle lessons of correct behaviour and morality, and the occasional nifty hat and decent outfit in size Tiny, I plan for his fifth birthday to present him with a city skyline made of cake and cardboard, a viewing of one of the less alarming Godzilla films, and big rubbery lizard-foot overshoes.  There can’t be anything wrong with that, can there?

Today’s pen:  Parker 45 with a UK-made steel medium point fitted
Today’s ink: Diamine Majestic Blue

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New Learning

Posted by Dirck on 23 August, 2010

We are told that learning new things keeps the brain in good shape as we begin the (hopefully) long slide into the grave.  In that spirit, I am always pleased to run across something that my broad/shallow approach to learning has not previously brought to my attention.  The latest item of that sort comes from in a blog which has in its short career become one of my favorites.  In a recent installment, the author mentions that there are certain implications in the use of green ink when writing– the reader may freely infer that the writer is a raving lunatic.

As a frequent and happy user of green inks, my joy in discovery of an unknown item of knowledge is somewhat tempered by the content.  Somewhat, and… temporarily.  While I am not about to join the Loyal and Observant Order of Non-conformists, I am as the regular reader might determine somewhat pleased to stay off the paths well-trodden by the common herd of humanity.  During that brief period of umbrage, before (what I call) reason came to bear on the matter, I was going to offer a counter-example in the form of the tradition of the head of British Military Intelligence signing orders in green, but upon reflection I realized that the Venn diagrams of staring madmen and heads of intelligence services can easily have a huge area of overlap.  With that reflection, contentment.

I agree with the author of the blog which set me off that the specific attributes of the “Green Ink Brigade”, amongst which are stridency and unreasonableness, are not to be accepted, but as far as gentle eccentricity goes, I’m right on that.  Like that author, I do no use bright greens, but muted and earthy ones.  I do not stand on street corners, screaming about the conspiracy of spleen-sampling which the Martians and CIA collude at.  I occupy a small corner of the internet and rant about pens.

Honestly– would a sensible man let his son get this close to a locomotive?

A man in a Panama hat watches a two-year old child frolic by the wheels of a c.1913 locomotive

The other item of new intelligence slightly oppresses me.  I have arranged to meet a client tonight at a local coffee-house, in which arrangement I say, “I’ll be the one in the fedora.”  I had forgotten that this may not be the distinguishing mark I think it to be.  There was an item on the local news over the weekend, to which I can find no link, reporting on the sudden rampaging return of hats to mens fashions.  The new learning in this?  That I may have actually have gotten in front of a fashion trend!  I don’t know whether to be pleased or angry– the latter because, despite the fact that unlike most of the wearers of sad little stingy-brim sewn hats my topper is in concert with the rest of the outfit, I am likely to be accused of following the trend.  Ick.

Today’s slightly mental pen:  Sheaffer 8C
Today’s barking ink:  Herbin’s Vert Empire

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*cough*

Posted by Dirck on 20 August, 2010

Well, I had known that things were bad in Moscow this summer, with the unspeakable heat and smoke, but as is always the case with this sort of thing, I didn’t believe it in a real way without a taste.  Today it is not unspeakably hot, and the fires responsible for the current air quality are about 1500km west of here, but is it indeed rather unpleasant.  My synmpathy for the Russians is magnified.

…and that’s about all I’ve got time for today.

Today’s pen, easily found in poor light:  Sheaffer Cadet
Today’s ink, without anything clever to say:  Skrip blue-black

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Aie! Dropper!

Posted by Dirck on 19 August, 2010

Today’s pen is what we pen-folk call an “eyedropper” pen.  This is going back to the very dawn of fountain pen technology, and as with so many developments in human tools, likely comes from not looking at a given problem from all angles.  “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a reliably-writing pen which carries it’s own ink supply?” said any number of inventors in the 19th century, but one gets the feeling none of them took the extra step of, “Say, how are we getting the ink in there?”  The easy answer, which is exemplified by this sort of pen, is to put the ink in as one would put it into any other vessel– take off the lid and pour it in.

Of course, this is pretty tricky with something pen-sized, as the combination of liquid surface tension and the limits of human motor control render pouring fluid into anything smaller than a cordial glass messy.  Thus, the application of the eyedropper to the question.  I actually use a 1ml insulin syringe, available thanks to an ill cat in the extended family.

The main charm of the eyedropper pen is its simplicity.  There’s nothing in there but space to store ink, so if you’ve got some serious writing to do, an eyedropper is the way to go.  The Fountain Pen Network is heavily populated with discussion about whether this pen or that will convert into eyedropper usage (as a hint– there are a couple of pens that work extremely well).  However, I find that every time I use an eyedropper, I am reminded of why I don’t use one very frequently.

Filling is a very fraught experience– one needs to balance the barrel, a long, thin tube with most frequently a rounded bottom while manipulating whatever thing it is one is using to transfer ink from the bottle, and then while one recovers the section from wherever it has rolled off to and manage to get it screwed back on.  I’ve yet to have a disasterous spill yet, but I can easily imagine one.

The main drawback to the eyedropper is that it tends to dribble.  This is a result of a combination of old feed styles and thermal expansion.  The latter is a problem as the pen empties– the air in the barrel expands as one writes, and since the point is down this expansion forces ink into and eventually out of the feed.  Why does it expand?  Because your hand is generally hotter than the air which is coming in to replace the ink, and since the barrel has little insulation in it, everything inside tries to get up to the same temperature.  Eyedroppers are fairly popular in India, it seems, and I guess in a part of the world where air and body temperature is frequently about the same, this is less of an issue.

The feed simplicity is sort of culpable, though.  With early pens, like this one, there wasn’t much choice, but with modern eyedroppers, there is.  Considering that piston- and vacuum-filling pens also store ink in the barrel, and yet aren’t known for their drooliness, one might look askance at some modern eyedropper makers.  I do, although there are some sublimely expensive ones with interesting anti-dribble controls that I dare not look askance at for fear someone will expect me to pay for the privilege.

The other big issue is the joint between barrel and section.  Unlike most pens, where the reservoir is more or less permanently sealed, in eyedroppers, this remains a point of potential escape for the ink.  Some more advanced models rely on o-rings, but most require regular applications of some kind of hydrophobic material, like pure silicone grease, which keeps the ink in its place without damaging the material the pen is made from.  Failure to renew this protective every few fillings leads to seepage, right where your fingers meet the pen.

Guess what I neglected this morning?

Today’s slightly senile pen:  Waterman 12
Today’s villainous ink, seizing upon a chance at escape:  Noodler’s Tulipe Noir.

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Things which bear not thinking about.

Posted by Dirck on 18 August, 2010

The thing I sat down to write about today is, once again, the collapse of modern society. I won’t provide examples, as I don’t wish to go as far down that well as initial outrage had urged, but consider for a moment how much of human interaction is being phrased in terms of a zero-sum game: A wins (+1), B loses (-1), balance is unchanged (-1+1=0). Fair enough in the abstract, but the whole point of society is to try and help your fellow citizens/religionists/club members to achieve greatness while they do the same for you. We should not be convinced that a moderation in our own position counts as “a loss” when the striving together to find a mutually acceptable conclusion is the only reasonable alternative to eventual civil war. Despite what cereal ads tell us, there is in fact plenty for everyone if we’d just work out how to share it properly.

I once again tar myself with the Socialist brush.

When I began composing today’s screed (and be happy I truncated it to that one paragraph), and as the disenchantment at the notion of spending another lunch hour whining grew in my bosom, a portion of my imagination turned in an even worse direction– writing itself!

I have, I think, mentioned that in addition to the pens and the sadly-mothballed book-binding, I have some illusions of being a writer (yes, point and laugh, I’ve told you exactly how much editing goes into these examples of my writing).  I have several deadline-free projects on the bubble, and once in a great while I’ll pick one up, scribble down something which the moment insists is brilliant! and then go back to chasing my son or watching Gojira tai Hedora yet again.  I’m more likely to write a letter to one of my various correspondents.

Yet… each day, for roughly 35 minutes, I sit down and rattle out some writing.  Here.  This thing.  It’s not much, but it’s something, right?

Then I had the unhappy inspiration to do the math.  Each of these little items is about 400 words long.  Five a week.  Allowing for vacations, enforced interruptions, and failures of inspiration, let’s say 47 of the available 52 weeks in the year get filled with entries.  I’ll give you a moment to check with your own calculators that I’ve done this properly….

94,000 words.  That’s 376 manuscript pages worth of text.  Not exactly Stephen King nor Tom Clancey, but it certainly gets in amongst the Agatha Christies and the Robert Parkers.

I should revel in the notion that I can, in a mere year, bang out that much writing.  My nature pushes me towards depression because it’s all gone down a blog.  I don’t set myself up as Bacon, Dickens or even Wells, but I do hope to put my name to something more durable than this format envisions.

There are few things as tedious as someone complaining about not doing something they are clearly capable of, of course.  I’ll shut up now, and see about building a garret onto the house in which I can languish.

Or, just maybe, not stick in an old movie when an hour of household leisure beckons.  Do you think application might be the answer?  Hmmm….

Today’s pen, about to be applied to fiction:  Platignum Cadet
Today’s ink, not above an artful lie or two:  Herbin Bleu Nuit

post scriptus:  Another incoming search which I cannot fathom bringing anyone to my virtual door: “biohazard in san andreas”   Bizarre!

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