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Archive for May, 2011


Posted by Dirck on 31 May, 2011

There is a postal strike looming here in Canada.  I mention it here rather than in the more political blog I (now infrequently) maintain because of the very direct effect upon me and my pens– pens aside, I count it as an early manifestation of the troubles to come with the new majority rightist government.  Without the mails, I am thrown upon the rapacious courier services to move client’s pens to and fro, which can cause a serious disruption, when a couple of these piratical enterprises routinely charge a “customs brokerage fee” higher than the cost of repairs (or in one case higher than the pristine value of the pen itself) for moving the pen across what we’re told is a border between two partners in free trade, and the others seem to make a point of stacking parcels with the heaviest at the top.  Without the mails, I am cut off from my correspondents, international and domestic, and the encouraging news that their letters bring (I hear that spring is actually fully engaged in Europe!).

I’ve listened to both sides of the argument, and I think they’re both being unnecessarily contrarian.  The union is bent out of shape over a request that it no longer be possible for the workers to bank sick days without any limitation.  Management is making poormouth over the drop in letter-mail (17% over the past 5 years!) and the reduction of income that represents.  I suspect the latter on two fronts:  first, there’s always a line at the post office, so people are using the service; second, if reductions in usage rates are causing trouble, why court a strike which will drive people into the arms of alternatives?  This second head can as easily be thrown in the face of the union.  Guys, you’ve both got some valid points, but you’re also both acting like only one side can win in a situation where both can easily end up losing.

Not that there’s any actual alternative to a hand-written letter.  A treat for all the senses!  Even famous song-writers agree!

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Stylist 404C (not the same one I had previously complained about)
Today’s ink: Pelikan 4001 violet


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Nightmare for: Helm, Street

Posted by Dirck on 30 May, 2011

Just a small note of interest for others wearing traditional hats in a quotidien way– carrying a small child on your shoulders in the stereotypic happy-family-on-the-town manner while wearing your brown fedora can see the hat run briskly through Indiana Jones and well into Freddy Kruger.  It is worth the damage in terms of filial bonding, but don’t say you weren’t warned.

Image nabbed from http://blog.pennlive.com/thrive/2007/12/a_dickens_christmas_toast.html-- I hope it's public domain, because that's what I asked Google to give me.

Notice that Bob has taken his hat off.

Today’s pen: Parker 45 with a fine French-made gold point applied
Today’s ink: Herbin’s Bleu Myosotis

PS– the previous entry’s pen proved unrepairable, and part of the gizmological package is sealed against tampering by humans.  I learned only that ball-points that cost $30 are considered at least semi-disposable.

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Posted by Dirck on 27 May, 2011

I got a call yesterday, while crouching in my revetment at The Regular Job.  A young lady had been given the number by my wife, who was seeking help with a pen repair.

“Oh-ho!” says the interior voice.  “A local commission!”

The problem is that the point of her Swarovski pen won’t come out.

Swarovski?  Not coming out?  That means… a ball-point!  I confirmed this assumption, apologized that my expertise lay in fountain pens and that as far as the propellor in a pen like that goes I’m little better than anyone she might grab off the street.

However, since she had in fact made the effort to seek out a pen repairer, and I was no worse than random passers-by, I offered to have a look at it.  Free of charge, success or no.  I don’t believe I shouted over the howling of my interior voice at the prospect of prolonged exposure to a ball-point.

Who knows?  It might teach me something about pen mechanisms, and from a purely mercenary standpoint it helps with word of mouth however it shakes out.  Since the nation is in the grip of a far-right government, I won’t for a moment suggest that I would make an attempt to help a stranger with a problem through a sense of social responsibility….

Today’s pen, made in a profit-sharing factory:  Sheaffer Sovereign
Today’s ink, from France:  Herbin Vert Empire

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Gauds and Men

Posted by Dirck on 26 May, 2011

I’ve just sent that 61 Insignia I was mentioning on Tuesday back to its owner, and I thought I might mention a small self-discovery that came about from handling this model.  I’ve only got one other all-gold pen, and I couldn’t generalize from it, but with this second example I think I might.  In pictures, all-gold pens seem very gaudy, and based on the pictures alone I found myself fairly unmoved by them.  In person, whether it’s gold fever or just the difference between flat images and direct contact, I comprehend the attraction.  I begin to wonder if my dismissive attitude towards the super-expensive, gem-encrusted pens would amend similarly were I in a room with one….

Today’s splendidly attractive pen: Wyvern BB 
Today’s locally endangered ink:  Pelikan 4001 blue-black

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More of the Same

Posted by Dirck on 25 May, 2011

Continuing the good news/bad news action from yesterday:

The former– Website updates entirely recovered with less than an hour’s effort, and I know what to do next time.  I’ve also backed up, and will make rather more of a habit of it.

The latter– Apart from the return to very terse entries here for the forseeable (a direct consequence of my success), I have intelligence that Pelikan is not going to send their blue-black ink into the US anymore.  This is apt to affect Canada as well, as we’re frequently seen as a single market, and is apparently predicated on there being a chemical in it which is not on the big list of chemicals the US considers innocuous for importation.  So, one assumes we individual consumers might still get it via mail order from that hotbed of chemical lawlessness, the European Union.  No other inks, Pelikan or otherwise, are known to be affected.

Today’s pen, growing thirsy through mere sympathy:  Cross Century II Medalist
Today’s ink, reputed to be made by Pelikan: Cross black

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Victoria Day Victory!

Posted by Dirck on 24 May, 2011

Another Friday absence  and a Monday off.  You’ll begin to think me dilatory.  Friday was a son-related medical outing which I had mostly convinced myself wasn’t happening (the recent election of a far-right national government seems to be agitating our unions), and when it did eventuate I had nothing ready and no time to fill in.  Yesterday was the oddly prolonged observation of the birthday of Queen Victoria, and no work means no entry.

Before (click any image to enlarge)

No work? Well, no Regular Job. I used the time thus freed to work on my website update, to get today’s pen back in working shape, and to finish up a client’s pen.

I found, in point of fact, that there was a little bit of a problem with the seal between the capillary casing and the collector, which was allowing seepage to emerge between the casing and the connector.  This obliged me to dismantle the pen rather more than one likes to do with a 61 (because it puts stresses on the shell and the shell is, reputedly, just waiting for an excuse to explode into fragments).  Nothing untoward occured, and it allowed me to take a nice picture for my album of dissections and made rather easier the reshaping of the shell’s leading edge.


The final result, achieved with a replacement arrowhead which I did not make, and which thus was of the correct dimensions, is pleasing.  Unfortunately, because I don’t have complete control of the lighting (I freely admit my limitations as a photographer) it’s hard to see the difference in body shine between the before and after pictures.  You’ll just have to take my word that the pocket tumbling evidence is greatly reduced. 


The final item is actually a balancing of all this achievement, a buffer against greater penalties for hubris.  The website updating, into which many man-hours have been plowed, has for the moment vanished utterly.  I managed to click on the button reading “Upgrade to 3.1.2 Automatically” when I was thinking, “That’s a good idea, AFTER I’ve backed everything up.”  That’s why this entry is so much longer than those in the past couple of weeks.  Looking at the WordPress help forum, there is some hope that this is a mere transient access issue rather than an erasing of vast swaths of content, but I am keeping my expectations low to avoid a crushing.

Today’s pen, at last working:  Wyvern BB
Today’s ink:  Pelikan 4001 blue-black

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Camels Arriving in the Post

Posted by Dirck on 19 May, 2011

Well– Camel inks.  I got a couple of bottles, along with some Chelpark inks… which appear to not have their own website. Both are manufactured in India, and as they’re profoundly not available here the chance at a lot containing some of both was one I jumped at.

I’m struck by how similar the Chelpark bottle is to previous generations of Quink, including a mysterious science ingredient.  Chelpark has “Cleen-X”, which claims to clean one’s pen in four ways, just like Parker’s “Solv-X”.  I’m also interested to see that in naming the additive as they have, they aren’t just invoking the vanished Parker ingredient, but also a facial tissue.  “I could use some Cleen-X” starts to become very context reliant….

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Legacy
Today’s ink: Herbin’s Poussière de Lune

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Posted by Dirck on 18 May, 2011

I’m some kind o’ busy, so I’ll just mention…

Today’s pen: Parker Duofold, and
Today’s ink: Mont Blanc Racing Green

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Pros & Cons

Posted by Dirck on 17 May, 2011

I was considering today’s pen last week with an eye to repair.  It’s an elderly piston filler, and it just stopped working a while ago.  I assumed that the problem was the piston seak shrinking, as those were generally made of cork in Ye Olden Dayes and are given to shrinking in a dry environment.  I think I’ve mentioned in the past that the humidity in my part of the world, when the cool weather is upon us, makes the Gobi Desert look sultry.

JOY!  A mere 24 hours standing in a cup of water has brought the seal back to function!  Here I am using it, my pocket unstained.

Moderation to joy– In the long hiatus since I last used this pen, I had forgotten how very inefficient it is.  I’m halfway through the day, and I find I’m very nearly out of ink.  Very, startlingly, amazingly inefficient.

Today’s thirsty pen: Alster glass-pointed thingy
Today’s almost all-gone ink: Noodler’s Starry Night

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No Friday Entry?

Posted by Dirck on 16 May, 2011

Nope.  I was on the road, taking my son to see a friend a great distance away:

Yes, that’s Thomas concealed by those spindly little trees.  This past weekend, Sodor was a mere 8oo kilometers away (manifesting at the Calgary Heritage Park) and I’m fool enough to devote a whole weekend to a fifteen minute ride on a train my son is probably not old enough to hold the memory of.

I’m also not fool enough to try to cram any pen-related activities into the same weekend.

Today’s pen, lounging about the house recovering from the long drive:  Dollar Demonstrator
Today’s ink:  Herbin’s Perle Noir

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