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Archive for July, 2011

Cur(siv)e You!

Posted by Dirck on 29 July, 2011

Friday extra-short– a radio debate on cursive in the digital age.  There is at least one participant that suggests some kind of handwritten communication is still important, but also one who views it as an impediment to free communication.

Today’s pen: Pilot Vanishing Point
Today’s ink: Sailor Jentle blue-black

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Ester-Book

Posted by Dirck on 28 July, 2011

As I’m undertaking The Great Work of website re-writing, I’m working at expanding my scholarship.  A recent arrival has helped immensely with this– a book devoted entirely to Esterbrook pens.  It’s a slender volume, but it’s extremely heavy in utility, and I recommend it unreservedly.  It ties together a lot of diverse strings of information I’ve previously discovered, and it’s also a love letter (or at least a note of extreme regard) to a pen that has occasionally been somewhat disregarded.

Have I piqued your curiosity?  Are you anxious to get your own copy?  Well, you can get it from the author through his website, and if you’re interested in the history of pens as all, you really should.  The Fountain Pens of Esterbrook by Paul Hoban– a bonanza of information at a bargain price!

Today’s pen: Parker Challenger (but there is an Esterbrook 444 not forty centimeters from my right hand)
Today’s ink: Wancher Asuka (the brown one)

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Taking a 180

Posted by Dirck on 27 July, 2011

I’ve knocked something off my wish list.  Yesterday I received in the mail this item:

It’s DISCO-slender!

 See how I carefully use conscious pessimism to maintain a stoic balance in the face of the joy of finding I’m past half-way to the stated goal.  Twenty numbered models, eleven in house… perhaps I allow myself a small, contained grin.

Today’s pen: Pilot Vanishing Point
Today’s ink: Sailor Jentle blue-black

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Go Not Jentle? Whyever Not?

Posted by Dirck on 26 July, 2011

Yesterday’s ink was a new arrival.  As I’m anxious to be about The Great Work, I want to merely give it a brief highlighting; the colour is pleasant enough (the Evergreen is extremely nice, at least in some correspondent’s pens), the flow certainly suits Japanese pens, it has a pronounced but not unpleasant smell (somehow nostalgic of primary school art classes), and the bottle is highly useful.  Howso?  There’s a little internal cup that makes filling pens a lot easier as the bottle empties.  I’m very happy to have some.

Step one: Make VERY SURE the lid is on.

I find it very interesting that all except step 3 have “please” in them.  It gives some insight into the imperative as viewed by Japanese speakers.

Today’s pen: Parker Challenger
Today’s ink: Wancher Asuka (the brown one)

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Quietly Decomposing My Thoughts

Posted by Dirck on 25 July, 2011

I’m taking a little break from The Great Work to offer a quick review of a new-to-me notebook.  Those who came here for a nap will be only slightly disappointed.

A cover which admits the papers roots in a tree

 I happened upon this book while chasing my son through the Major Chain bookstore which serves our city, and bought it on a whim.  The reasoning was this; when it inevitably proves incapable of supporting fountain pen ink, I can pass it along to wife for sketching or son for crayon chaos, and still indicate to Major Chain that there is some consumer interest in environmentally-friendly products.  I say “inevitably”, since my experience of recycled paper tends in that direction, and all the moreso when it actually brags about being recycled and green and so forth.  It seems that hippies don’t grok the fountain pens, which is a bit of a shame.

Good paper, but a questionable scanner.

 As it happened, I was entirely proven wrong.  The paper in this book is admirably suited to fountain pen use, not only in terms of feathering but also in the area of bleed-through.  I had thought of putting a scan of the verso of this page into the post, but as it was essentially innocent of anything but the lines that it left the bindery with that seemed a waste of effort and disc space.  There were, for the most critical eye, a couple of small hints of show-through from the points of pause and overlap in the writing of the wettest of the four pens I used, but nothing to agitate any but the most obssessive hater of a blemished writing surface.

The only problem with this book lies in its construction.  It is forty sheets of paper and a sheet of cardboard with a line of stitching banged up the middle, and that means it will not, except perhaps for the middle two or three pages, lie flat.  This is a matter of pale insignificance for me, but I know there are some who it drives absolutely mad.  For those anywhere near this camp, it probably won’t suit.

I also appreciate the whimsical material printed inside the covers, which I won’t reproduce here, but which can be glimpsed in the manufacturer’s on-line store.  I find that there is no difference between the price in-person and on-line, which means that those that want to support a local source that offers there things need not feel they’re getting ripped off.

A final word, only tangentially connected– the writing sample seen here is a magnificent example of why one should not take internet colour samples too seriously.  There’s not one of those inks that looks at all like it does on the page in front of me.  The first and last are not only not black, they’re not even particularly dark.  I may at some point spend some time in calibration to bring the images produced more in line with the real world, but that still leaves each monitor with its own sense of what is meant by “blue.”

Today’s pen: Pilot Vanishing Point
Today’s ink: Sailor Jentle blue-black

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Self-Impeding

Posted by Dirck on 22 July, 2011

I should probably stay away from subjects like yesterday’s.  I am now slowly going mad trying to decide what covert message is inherent to the choice of the most sought-after (yesterday’s) and most popular (today’s) pens of wartime USA.  Using Freud’s “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” as a mantra doesn’t seem to help.  I return to The Great Work in hopes of distracting myself.

Today’s pen: Eversharp Skyline
Today’s ink: Wancher Imari

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The Medium wants a Massage.

Posted by Dirck on 21 July, 2011

Today is Marshall McLuhan’s hundredth birthday, and as the radio is alive with mentions of him (the radio I listen to, at least), I am contemplating what I understand of his work.  Specifically, the famously-typoed The Medium is the Massage, which may be summarized thus:  Whatever the message one wishes to deliver, the understanding of it is so bound to the means of its delivery that it is foolish to try and consider one without the other.  For example, while honest condolence might have been the intention of the sender of this…

…it’s unlikely that the reader will ever be convinced of it.

Exaggeration aside, the effects of the medium upon the message are seldom consciously considered.  “How do we get the message out?” is usually the main question, and while there may be adjustments for the known effects of the medium in a gross way there’s not a lot of subtle introspection about how the whole thing arrives.  For example, if one emails, I’m sorry your doggie got hit by a car, the gross adjustment to indicate actual grief might be : ( , but only infrequently will there be any thought given to the slightly impersonal nature of text on a screen (even if your default is Comic Sans), to the ultimately ephemeral nature of the note and the implication that the commiseration is likewise short-lived, or a dozen other little subtextual cues being sent along with the conscious message.

Which makes me devote more energy than usual to examining what sort of unavoidable inclusions and amendments to the consciously-chosen content of my written messages is generated by the use of the fountain pens.  Some of  that aspect of what I write is actually in my awareness, as I am of course the Grand Imperial Raging Master of Mannenhitsu-do.  While I’m now reasonably sure that most people don’t take actual notice of the medium when looking at what I’ve written, I’m also of a mind that they don’t have to take notice to be affected, and so I do actually think about this sort of stuff.  By using a fountain pen, I suggest that I am interested in your being able to actually read what I set down (and thus, that what I set down is worth attending to), and that I am confident enough to stand apart from the usual limitations of ink colour that most ball-based pens inflict (and thus, that I’m either worth paying attention to or a self-inflated idiot).

But… there’s other things to be taken from the medium, surely.  As I’ve been contemplating this matter very shallowly for nearly three hours, and that three hours of almost completely unconnected moments between the demands of The Regular Job, I haven’t quite worked out they are.  Comments are welcome as long as they’re sensible or amusing.

Today’s pen: Parker “51″  (except for occasional resorts to the desk pen, see below)
Today’s ink: Pelikan 4001 violet  (except for certain business communication, which calls for more a conventional colour if the message is not to be misconstrued)

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A Break!

Posted by Dirck on 20 July, 2011

When thinking of pens, that sort of exclamation is usually not what one hopes to utter.  However, I cry out gleefully for two reasons.  First, I’ve finally stopped mumbling over the Hero pens in The Great Work.  Second, the heat that was oppressing us has broken; the past two days have been above 33°C (91°F), and the unwonted humidity of the air had meant there was little night-time cooling.  Since we rely on night-time cooling (oh, for a ground-sourced heat pump!) to reset the house to “liveable”, yesterday saw the wall thermostat read 30.5° briefly as we opened the windows to admit the evening zephyrs.  Today is almost spring-like by comparison, and the capacity for rational thought returns.

Today’s pen, no longer in danger of heat prostration: Eversharp Skyline
Today’s ink, no longer in danger of being cartoonishly mistaken for a sport drink: Wancher Imari

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Chipping Away

Posted by Dirck on 19 July, 2011

For all my talk of productivity, I am not precisely cooking on all burners with reference to The Great Work of website relaunch.  I’ve somehow managed to bog down in the Hero pens, for goodness sake.  I thus return to brevity in this department.

Today’s pen: Parker “51” (making it a week of grey pens)
Today’s ink: Pelikan 4001 violet

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Before and After

Posted by Dirck on 18 July, 2011

A productive weekend indeed!  I got to work on a very pretty Conway-Stewart and a slightly less pretty Mentmore, both belonging to a correspondent become client, and I have enough time left over to do something about that Skyline mentioned last week.  For a change, I had the wit to take a pre-operative photo, so it’s possible to show the world the difference a little attention can make:

The hideous Before

The appealing After

The ink component of the staining was happily not India ink, but merely a classic high-acidity blue-black.  It came out fairly readily, and was not impacted into the channels of the feed.  Once the horrible stuff was off the point, I found ay some time in the past, someone had gone at the point with something like a nail– there was a pile of rather deep scratches lying parallel to the point.  A bit of effort with various levels of buffers has produced the current effect, which is nothing like as cloudy as that picture seems to indicate.  There are still scratches there, but to get rid of them would get rid of the impression, and that seems the wrong sort of trade off.  These scratches add to my bafflement with this pen, since as I mentioned previously there is hardly any sign of use on the body.  The nib of Dorian Grey, perhaps?

 I appear to have gotten rid of all the mold that was still viable, too, as leaving the pen overnight full of ink at slightly higher than room temperature (yesterday’s indoor maximum was 28C/90F– summer is definitely here) did not produce the sort of tiny forest in the breather hole that a pen tainted with spores develops in a hurry.  I might declare this job an utter success, within the limits of human powers. Today’s pen:  The self-same Eversharp SkylineToday’s ink: Wancher Imari

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