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Archive for November, 2011

Birthday Suit

Posted by Dirck on 30 November, 2011

No foolishness with the title today; I am indeed prancing about at The Regular Job in my birthday suit.

It’s a dark grey wool pinstripe three-piece.  My father has a frightening spasm of giving a couple of weeks ago, and the suit was ready in time to wear today.  It’s the most expensive item of clothing I’ve ever worn, and certainly the best fitting.  I am well on my way to becoming spoiled on non-tailored clothes.

I am indulging myself a little today, in that I am not going to go on at any real length here today.  Yesterday’s terrors at the prospect of aging I have put behind me, as nothing important dropped off when I rose from bed this morning.   I’m using one of my current favourite inks, regardless of the current rotation.  I decided, in opposition to the aforementioned terrors, to use a pen designed in the same year as me, and which is also one of my (many) favourites.  It’s holding up pretty well in the face of change; why shouldn’t I?

Now, a final indulgence; a podcast about pens.  I may even put my feet up on the desk, once lunch isn’t in the way.

Today’s pen, hardly showing its age: Lamy 2000
Today’s ink, timelessly classic:  Herbin’s Bleu Myosotis

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Cognition Issues

Posted by Dirck on 29 November, 2011

For maintaining one’s peace of mind, I suggest avoiding this combination; read The Dead Zone, then have a day-long migraine.  This was a large part of my past weekend, so I speak from experience.

Of course, I don’t suspect for a moment that I’ve got incredible precognitive powers as a result of holding my hair in an effort to take its weight off my skull alternated with fruitless dry heaving.  That would, after all, be somewhat useful and interesting, and that’s the fantasy aspect of King’s writing coming into play.  However, I do somewhat harbour concerns about the state of my head-meat.

How I spent last Saturday night

Apart from an interesting contemplation of fate and inevitability, The Dead Zone also offers plenty of material for the hypochondriac.  If John Smith can get a big lethal tumour out of a couple of widely-dispersed bonks to the head, what must spending the better part of a day feeling like a visual effect from a ’50s science-fiction film be doing in there?

What brings this mere speculation to the forefront is the pile of stuff that I left the house without this morning.  I mentioned in conjunction with the celebration of the end of The Great Work that I might now attend to correspondence more closely.  Two letters and a travelling journal, all ready to go but for postage, were to have gone into the world today.  My powers of stumbling from the house without any given item are great, but they usually don’t extend to this sort of sequence:

  • Collect items for transport.
  • Carry to front door.
  • Put on door-side table while tying shoes.
  • Fail utterly to recollect items in either the mental or physical sense even as brushing them with an elbow on the way out the door.

The one ray of light in this grim scenario is another lapse.  That travelling journal is something that I’ve been neglecting since last Monday, which is bad, but as it was also well ahead of the intense migraine barrage, it is encouraging.  Perhaps I’ve been spared from an acute malignant growth, and what I’m experiencing is a mere effect of aging and parental stress.  On one of these points, I shall discourse somewhat tomorrow.

…assuming I remember.

Today’s hypochondriacal pen:  Muji Cylindrical Aluminum Pen
Today’s hysterical ink: Diamine Imperial Purple (which is not yet on the Inks page, so no link for the moment)

p.s. – I find I have previously visited the old meanings of hysteria and hypochondria; I can still remember the odd thing.

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The Folie of Collecting

Posted by Dirck on 28 November, 2011

When I was a lad, I took it into my head to collect buttons.  Not clothing buttons, but the big pin-backed discs with advertising or political messages on them.  I was, happily, not very diligent at it, so the entire collection never got beyond a few dozen.  One day as my teens approached, I had a moment of dawning awareness;  any attempt to collect one of every button ever made was doomed to failure not only because one would need storage space that a major navy might envy, but moreso because anyone could make the damn things and a near-infinity of  new “models” appeared daily.  This was not my first effort in applying reason to my actions, but it was certainly a valuable one, as I discontinued the effort at once (although I still know where my “Cobblepot for Mayor” button is).

Now I’m collecting pens, after a fashion.  In a lower register, the objections to collecting buttons still apply; there’s a vast constellation of makers, and new ones appear all the time.  My initial setting-out upon collection was rather mad– a lot of the breadth of my collection (and thus of my website’s information) was a result of seeing something roughly the shape of a fountain pen and grabbing at it, and only later considering whether it was any good.  This is not a bad way to lay in a stock for repair practice, but it’s a foolish way to go about collecting.  So foolish that it may take on an aspect of madness– the folie de stylo.

The initial lesson of the buttons I eventually remembered regarding pens; apply some focus.  On Parkers, for example, while I don’t avoid anything in particular, my goal is to one day have an example of every pen with a model number appearing from 1941 onward.  This limitation means I don’t have to dip too much into modern models, which are expensive, and models from the early days of the company, which are hard to find and expensive.  It also gives me a certain amount of freedom, as if I have one nice example, I can flog the rest to recover some of the money that went into getting them… or I should, at any rate.  I’m sure I’ll reduce the overpressure of “51”s eventually.

There is still the acquisitive madness of collecting to deal with.  This past week I was following a thread on a forum in which someone suddenly realized that the desire to own every example of a horribly numerous and complicated model of pen was upon him, and asked with a certain terror, “Am I becoming… a collector?”  I can only hope that as I apply myself to focussing the effort along some set lines, I will be able to cry, “Folie, adieu!”

Probably not, though.  There’s just so many nice pens in the world, and I’ve not tried half of them yet.

Today’s example of lunacy: Mabie, Todd & Co. Blackbird
Today’s ineffective medication: Diamine Evergreen

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Normal Service Restored

Posted by Dirck on 25 November, 2011

One thing that never really changed during the re-write, and will persist– Friday entries are mere stubs, as I’m mostly away from the desk.  I will spread an item of good news for we central prairie Canadians; there’s a store selling hats in Saskatoon, now.  Hooray!

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Legacy 1
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah (all new cast next week)

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Pounding in Some Humility

Posted by Dirck on 24 November, 2011

Many people will have heard an old saw which runs “to a man with only a hammer, all problems look like nails.”  This can be easily applied to we fountain pen folk, as well.  Writing = fountain pen, right?  In honesty, I do have and even use other forms of writing tool, realizing that for some purposes or surfaces, a fountain pen is just not the thing.  Pencils are more easily erased, and markers are much better at helping to distinguish leftover chili from the current tub of yoghurt.

What brings this to mind is a chap on a pen forum who apparently owns ONLY pens made by an extremely expensive German company.  Any pen suggestion he might offer, any ink referral he might make, all carry but a single brand.  I don’t name it (although I disguise it imperfectly) because I don’t want to investigate whether the company in question is due this loyalty.  However, to declare it the be-all, end-all of writing is not quite on.  I’d like to suggest that people who place their reliance on a single tool need to expand the tool-box.  At some point in the long past, I pondered what it would be like to find The One True And Best pen, but I find on reflection that even having found it, one should probably keep a nice yellow pencil about just in case.

I should admit that part of my consideration of this topic has orbited the focus of my leftie, egalitarian urges.  I get a little bristly at the suggestion that the only good pen is necessarily an extremely expensive one.  I have also considered the charms of the less expensive pen in various entries (here’s one), and I think that it is good for the spirit to step down from the lofty slopes of wealthy and examine how the less fortunate manage to scrape along.

I am, as I’ve said over and again, fortunate in my pens if not my employment, and I should say that the other pen I’ve been using this week is rather above my station.  Today’s pen, on the other hand, is affordable.  In absolute terms, the Sheaffer is a rather better pen.  But this Atlantic, for all that it is very slightly toothy, oddly balanced and somewhat gaudy, it not a bad pen.  At worst, it informs me of how nice a pen the more expensive creature is.  At best, it instills the sense of “there but for the grace of {insert preferred metaphysical agency of arranging human affairs} go I” which is a component of the ediface of empathy and compassion which makes one the sort of authentically good person all should aspire to be.

Pretty impressive performance for a little cheap pen, isn’t it?

Today’s pen: X-Pens Atlantic
Today’s ink: Noodler’s blue

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Cup of Poison

Posted by Dirck on 23 November, 2011

As I sit here, I’m going slowly mad.

Um… madder?  Mad in a different key?  I’m sure you follow my meaning.  There is a new receptionist at the Regular Job, and she’s put a thing on her desk I find deeply offensive, but which I cannot state the objection because it is not only so ideosyncratic that it would be butterfly nets and amusing chse scenes the rest of the afternoon, but it is also an objection which I find idiotic myself.

It’s a pen cup.

I’m sure the constant reader will have a sense of the foundation of my objection; a bunch of pens rolling around promiscuously in a mug, battering their finish to a fine matte.  How terrible must someone like me find that prospect?

However, there’s no real pens in there, by my estimate.  A load of very cheap ballpoints with a leavening of low-grade mechanical pencils.  It’s certainly not the case that my sympathy is extending to that kind of writing instrument, and so my concern with the apparition is surprising.  I find myself suppressing the urge to deliver a lecture on pen-care to the receptionist, all the same.

I guess the effort of the recent weeks has taken some toll on my equilibrium.  The answer is clearly to never make any effort again– I’ll get my doctor to write out a prescription for indolence.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Legacy 1
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah (yes, still)

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That Darned Cat

Posted by Dirck on 22 November, 2011

Before I give up entirely on semi-meta-entries about the process of getting the new site up, I want to mention briefly the reason behind the bonanza of time I had to devote to the final push.  It was very cold on Friday night, about -27C.

“That seems a non sequitur, chum.”

They are connected, I assure you.  I had mentioned in a previous entry that part of last weekend was to have been devoted to building shelter and heating for the cat abandoned by our monstrous ex-neighbours.  Since that was to happen after a night of blistering cold, my wife, who has a heart of indescribable tenderness, rigged out bathroom to lodge the foundling for the night.

The problem with this state of affairs, if I may describe it so, is that I also have some unfashionable coronary softness.  I was all too able, in the course of the night and the subsequent morning, to put myself into the place of the cat; thrust away by the beloved family, offered some succor, finally brought in out of the cold… and then thrust out again?  All this without the capacity to reason or ask questions of the human agents?  There’s a horror that could not be put into words by King nor Lovecraft nor Dunsany nor Poe on their best day, and I found that I could not put myself into the role of the hard-case who insists that it be carried out, especially since our cats proved surprisingly indifferent to the presence of the intruder.

So, Sam the Foundling is still in our bathroom while all the felines involved get used to the idea and while my wife and I try to think of a better name for him– Augusta, Cleo, Hercule, Oberon… and Sam.  No good.  The time I was to have put towards building a physical structure I was able to apply towards a virtual ediface.  Wins all around, as long as I don’t consider the long-term costs of yet another cat in the house.

That I was also able to avoid spending a day in outdoor construction while exposed to high winds and -20C temperatures has absolutely no bearing on the matter.

Now, for an actual nonsequitur:  Someone’s decided to build a full, functional Babbage Analytical Engine.  Neat!

Today’s pen: X-Pens Atlantic
Today’s ink: Noodler’s blue

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Well… Now What?

Posted by Dirck on 21 November, 2011

I think I have a figurative case of the bends.  The pressure is off, the big deal is done, and I hardly know where to look.  As the sensible components of my make-up expected, there has been no ticker-tape parade nor presentation of a mint first-year set of the entire range of Sheaffer PFM’s.  Praise there has been, certainly, and most gratefully receieved, and even a little money from a very generous person looking at the new Repairs department (WOW!), and that’s more than I had real reason to expect.

However… my version of the internal idiot, the great goof that expects narrative coherence out of the largely random events of life, the seeker of “closure”, is muttering and dissatisfied.  He was apparently still expecting cheerleaders or fireworks.  Too bad, interior goon.  Finishing a project is not the same as finished a story.  I’m sure he’ll quiet down presently.

My other internal locus of complaint is the aspect of me which has become addicted to working on the bloody thing.  Apart from the necessary dusting off and minor correction, I am contemplating a slight amendment to the new layout that won’t take more than ten hours or so of effort.  The rest of me would like to go have a nap, thanks, although I am very pleased to find at this stage that I’m not jaded on the topic of pens.

The amendment notwithstanding, I have now lost one of the best excuses possible for not putting in more effort on this little writing exercise, which means I am hoping mightily that the figurative nitrogen bubbles coursing through my veins will pass presently and allow my mental joints to move freely.  This sort of reflexive maundering won’t interest the world for long, and I dare not drop this exercise, as the alternative is death of the bank account by a thousand tiny eBay cuts.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Legacy 1
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah, which is indeed the same combo as last week, but I’m enjoying it so much it gets to hang around.

Post Scriptus: It occurs to me, with the sort of heart-tremor which only deep negligence suddenly realized can bring, that part of the “not working on the blinkin’ site” time now available to me can be turned to my poor, languishing correspondents.  I’ve been a baaaaad letter-writer lately.

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It’s Alive!

Posted by Dirck on 20 November, 2011

…but really, it’s too early on a Sunday and my head is a little too sore for Colin Clive impersonations (or even Gene Wilder).

I am making this deeply unusual weekend entry to let the world, as I understand it through this little pin-hole in the fabric of the internet, know that The Great Work is concluded and my reworked website is even now lurching down the road to find dirndl-clad youngsters to frighten.  Like Victor Frankenstein’s creation, it has hopped off the slab while still somewhat imperfect. but is finished enough for function.  Over the next several weeks (or, lets be honest, months), I’ll be filling in some of the remaining blanks, which are mainly in the area of measurement; the pen profiles have both size and ink capacity information attached to them, but at the moment several list “X cm” and “X ml”.

I’ll also be doing a little ret-conning on this enterprise, to resurrect the dozens of dead links to be found in the previous two years’ worth of entries.  I adopt the Mary Shelley motif for a reason.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Diamond 540
Today’s ink: Herbin’s Vert Empire

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Augury… Positive!

Posted by Dirck on 18 November, 2011

Assuming the greater technical challenge bends as readily as the lesser did yesterday, this last step of the effort should go pretty smoothly.  Those looking in at the site itself over the weekend may find that it’s gone altogether intermittently, as I’m pretty sure that’s going to be a side effect of the combative struggle occuring behind the curtains, but by Monday the whole over-hyped restart should be in place for people to look at and say, “He was making a big deal about this?”

I would like to take a moment to briefly deride Internet Explorer 8, which has been making this whole final effort much more difficult than it needed to be.  While editing in stolen moments at The Regular Job, I have several times found an image removed from a page, and all the text between it and the previous image converted into a caption for that previous image.  Vexing?  YOU BET!  I blame IE because, apart from it being a fashionable scapegoat, this has never happened while working in Safari or Firefox.

Today’s pen: Parker Challenger
Today’s ink: vintage Quink Washable blue

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