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Archive for June, 2011

It’s That Time Again

Posted by Dirck on 27 June, 2011

I should have mentioned on Friday that the summer vacation started this week.  No big road trip this year, but the press of keeping the house from falling to bits is likely to keep me from looking in here too much.  The Great Work will certainly take priority over maundering, but any related miracles or terrors will certainly be reported.

Today’s extremely domestic pen:  Sheaffer Javelin
Today’s mundane ink: Skrip black


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Over the Moon

Posted by Dirck on 24 June, 2011

It is somewhat foolish of me to have done so, in light of the current postal strike, but I have made an on-line purchase.  The government, with the degree of concern for labour which we all might have forseen, is hurrying some back-to-work legislation into place, and even without that surety of seeing the (angry, demoralized) postal workers back on their beat presently, how could I resist this:


This is coming at me from Russia, and I am indecently excited about it.  Apart from being a PEN! shaped like a ROCKET!!, it has a very interesting connection with actual history.

That pentagonal plate on it reads:


The first line is clear enough, but the second line took a very little effort to discover: “September”.  With that in hand, a little bit more research brought me to this image:

 This is part of a write-up about the Luna 2 probe, which was one of the many successes of their early space programme which the Soviets were able to taunt capitalist world with.  Luna 2 was the first man-made item to hit the moon, and the image here shows what became on landing the commemorative shrapnel.  It landed on 13 September 1959.

I say “connection” with history, and that’s a little strong, since I have no evidence that the thing was manufactured within ten years of the indicated date.  It is, however, strongly suggestive of an interesting bit of history only slightly predating me, and that adds a cherry and sprinkles to the sundae of coolness it otherwise represents.  Speed hence the post!

Today’s pen, of space age materials: Lamy 2000
Today’s ink, made in a re-united Germany which 1959 would not have expected to see: Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Brown

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Remembering Basic Principles

Posted by Dirck on 23 June, 2011

I wrote some time ago about my dislike of pens which are extremely thin and extremely heavy.  I have not altogether retreated from this position, as I still think it’s a sign that the pen in question is being considered more in terms of looks than performance, but I have worked out a modus vivendi.  Between a recent FPN discussion about the weight of pens and my own reworking of my website, I had a tiny, flickering epiphany.

From the discussion– people who like heavy pens feel that the work of keeping the pen in contact with the page is being done for them by gravity.

From my own work– a reminder of the basic priciples of penmanship.  With the modern tripod grip, as German school pens are trying to enforce, the middle finger supports from beneath, while the thumb and index fingers lie on the upper quadrants of the section.  However, an older mode of grip sees the touch-points rotated, so the index finger lies right along the top centre-line, while thumb and middle-finger act as more of a cradle.  Not only is this a historically valid way to deal with a very slender writing instrument, it’s one I have used and enjoyed myself:

Not only does it make a flex pen work better, it removes the urge to try to hold up the pen, an urge which leads to pinching the pen firmly.  I selected today’s pen to enforce a real-world trial of this notion, and I’m happy to report that it allows the use of a foolishly overweight yet slender pen without any agony.

Proving that, with great provocation and long deliberation, I can remember stuff I already knew.  Sad.

Today’s pen:  Pelikan New Classic
Today’s ink:  Herbin’s Violet Pensée

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Posted by Dirck on 22 June, 2011

One of the things I’m frequently on about here is the near-immortality of fountain pens versus almost any other means or writing, in terms of service life.  The higher the tech, the more mayfly-like it is, since the hardware is pretty much immune to servicing, and the software is constantly galloping out of old hardware’s capacity to handle.

Odd then, that I see this on Apple’s site (I reproduce rather than rely upon a link, because I know it will disappear):

Say anything with a free engraving.

Make it a gift they’ll never forget by adding a personal laser-engraved message to any iPod or iPad.  It’s easy and it’s free.

After selecting the iPod or iPad you want, you’ll be taken to a page where you can add your personal message — a name, an “I love you,” a “Happy Birthday,” just about anything.

I applaud the notion, but I wonder at it.  There’s a curious bifrucation of purpose in giving a gift that cannot functionally last beyond a decade as a way of marking a milestone in someone’s life.  It’s not like someone is, 60 years after getting an iPad as a graduation gift, going to put it to sleep, turn it over, and run crepe-skinned fingers over the engraving while conjuring images of friends and triumphs of that earlier day… because the batteries can’t be replaced and there’s no apps that will run on it anymore.  I’ve mentioned my own ambivalence to engraving pens, but at least if a pen is inserted in this little vignette, it works:

I hope it spawned many a fond recollection for Everett.

Today’s pen, not engraved to reflect the fact that it was an anniversary gift: Lamy 2000
Today’s ink: Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Brown

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Ego Boost

Posted by Dirck on 21 June, 2011

I’ve had an email from Newell-Rubbermaid, and despite some of the things I’ve said previously about the company, I was pretty well pleased when I finished reading it.  In fact, it would not be too far along to say that I was tickled pink to a degree my complexion can hardly support.

I’ve edited it down a little, mainly because people who didn’t say I could broadcast their name were named.  It’s probably not quite the done thing to stick it out in public even in this form, but it’s either this or explode from trying to contain the glee:

I just had a consumer {Client’s Name} give me the link to your website.  He’s thrilled with your work {which I mention here} and said you a pleasure to deal with. We distribute Parker and Waterman pens. I send all repairs to France. Often times though they cannot fix them and return them to me unrepaired.  It’s nice to know that there are people out there that have the parts that France doesn’t seem to have. Just wanted you to know that you came highly recommended.

{A very nice person}
Consumer Affairs Representative
Newell Rubbermaid Shared Services

I sent an entirely inadequate response.  This does tend to confirm a suspicion of mine regarding the people in that particular department (to be found in this somewhat cranky old entry), and because the note came from that quarter, I’ll value it all the more.  I understand, through The Regular Job, what a rare joy it is to hear other than complaint and to be able to pass along compliment, and I don’t work for a vast multinational.

Today’s pen, pleasantly befuddled: Pelikan New Classic
Today’s ink, to distract from my blushing:  Herbin’s Violet Pensée

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Posted by Dirck on 20 June, 2011

This past weekend I was in at Paper Umbrella, feeding the stationery habit.  I had filled today’s pen ahead of the visit, as the last time I was in I was asked how I was enjoying it and I thought I might show that I’m enjoying it very much.  While there, I saw that there was one in the display case– as is so often the case, I’d forgotten why I’d chosen the day’s pen in the first place, and was reminded to pull it from pocket and wave it about.

The sharp-eyed store owner noticed that my pen was not the same colour as the one in the case.  We laid them side by side to compare, and mine is a good deal darker.  I had heard about the not very correctly named “patination” of this pen, of how it adopts a bit of a warm sheen from prolonged use, and was anxious to see mine start to get into that state.  I guess it’s like any slow process– you don’t notice it’s happened until you get some pre-existing benchmark to measure against.  When the mail strike allows, I shall have to ask a correspondent how his 30+ year old example looks. 

For my readers, or at least those within swimming distance of Regina, the important thing to take out of this entry is that Paper Umbrella has the Lamy 2000 in stock!

Today’s pen, containing a little bit of my own skin-oils: Lamy 2000
Today’s ink: Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Brown

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Brain Activation

Posted by Dirck on 17 June, 2011

For the Monty Python fan, the line “My brain hurts!” will resonate (I prefer the Gilliam or Chapman delivery).  I have put a lot of effort in the past 48 hours into describing the proper revitalization process for a Sheaffer Snorkel, and to that  is added guilt over some correspondence that remains undone.  Guilt being an irrational thing, the fact that the specific time demands of typing the Snorkel exercise can be hidden in a post-free work day while longhanding the correspondence cannot does not actually help.

A facebook associate put me onto a slightly interesting article about how handwriting (as opposed to typing) is good for the brain.  I take some issue with this line from it:

After four weeks of training, the kids who practiced writing showed brain activation similar to an adult’s, said James, the study’s lead researcher.

The issue stems from the intimation that kids don’t use their brains as much as adults.  From observation of my son, and the speed with which he defeats things meant to keep him out of danger, I know that’s not the case, and I suspect the researchers don’t actually mean it that way.  I also note that the poor kid in the picture attached to the article has not been shown how to hold a writing tool well– a candidate for sore joints in years to come.

Today’s pen:  Fuliwen leather-clad pen
Today’s ink: Diamine Majestic Blue

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Signs of Aging

Posted by Dirck on 16 June, 2011

I’ve just spent about 20 minutes staring at the computer, engaged in a futile act of metacognition.  Earlier today, I had a perfectly good stub of an entry in my head, and no opportunity to write it down.  I remember that I had thought of something, but I have no clue what that something is.

Sad.  I will blame literacy rather than aging, though, for the sake of my vanity, and sink myself back into The Great Work of the new website to smother my misery.  Perhaps my powers of recall will let me put something interest down tomorrow.

Today’s pen, not used in a timely manner: Sheaffer 440
Today’s ink, apparently just minding its own business: Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Ryoku

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Blockade Runner

Posted by Dirck on 15 June, 2011

Well, the mail strike I was lamenting a couple of weeks ago has gone from tolerable and intermittent to full-scale.  The apparent trigger for this was that the rotation of strikes finally fell upon Toronto, a city whose citizens will readily tell anyone who asks is the most important in Canada; the union was content to leave things at “inconvenient”, but management has locked the doors.

While our intolerable government is apt to legislate them back to work presently (with the morale effects that implies), for the moment this leave the mail in limbo.  For me, this means an unknown number of letters stuck out there, as well as a couple of Sheaffers (1950ish and 1935ish), and a Mabie Todd Blackbird, all of which will be wearing on my imagination until they arrive.

Strangely, though, I am not anxious about a lot of five Japanese “long-shorts” that were sent from Japan not quite two weeks ago.  They appeared yesterday, which is amazing on two fronts.  First– trans-Pacific mail in under two weeks?!  Second– the rotating strikes which were in place until today meant that there was to have been delivery only Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Yesterday was none of these.  Eerie powers of the Japanese Postal Service is the only possible explanation.

Today’s pen:  Fuliwen leather-clad pen
Today’s ink: Diamine Majestic Blue

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Learning How to Learn

Posted by Dirck on 14 June, 2011

Because the most interesting thing I got up to in the past twenty-four hours was get a start on cataloguing the ink volumes of my pens, I’m going to cop out today and just offer a link I think is worth reading.  I will, however, first justify myself in this strange pastime– I don’t particularly care how much ink any given pen holds, but someone might, and I’m trying to anticipate desires for data.  It’s early days yet, but I can report that it’s a rare pen indeed that holds more than 1.5ml.

The link, then, and I think it’s worth reading in part because of an ongoing semi-strike by the local teachers’ union:  School libraries are important, not for what’s in them but because of the skills learned in using them.  A high school metal-shop doesn’t turn out a lot of useful iron-mongery, but no one complains about that because the kids are learning how to weld, cinter, and extinguish small fires– libraries are much the same.

Today’s scholarly pen: Sheaffer 440
Today’s well-travelled ink: Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Ryoku (“deep forest”)

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