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Archive for December, 2011

Changes in the Coming Year

Posted by Dirck on 30 December, 2011

Well, last entry of the year… shall I join the herd at last and make a public resolution.  Perhaps just one little one:  I hereby resolve not to make an entry here on the first Monday of 2012.  Since I have the day off from The Regular Job, this is going to be a breeze.

There is a more serious change under contemplation, which I need to get sorted out before Tuesday.  Those who have been following my antics here for from very nearly the beginning will recall my big snit about Quink blue-black’s reformulation, and the eventual discovery of a more or less viable remedy for the problem.  The remedied bottle has been my desk-pen since the doctoring; let’s say since February 2010.  There is now about a single filling’s worth left.  I am faced with crisis and opportunity; I may choose a new colour to be my official work ink, and I am faced with the chore of choosing a new colour to be my official work ink.

As I so often do, I an over-dramatizing the trivial.  I could not settle on a colour, but change as the pen runs out.  However, the desk-pen rut is useful, because not only does it ensure a full pen always at hand, but it frees me from any but the more liberal of flushing protocols.  The latter point is a major consideration given that my current desk pen and its alternate (to a lesser degree) are rather a lot of trouble to clean out sufficiently for a new ink.  They were made in the era of ink loyalty, after all.  I don’t fancy having to give them much more regular cleanings.

The question, then, is not really one of “will I?” but rather “what will I?”  A blue, ideally relatively dark and not seriously saturated.  I could be extremely boring and just amend the remaining bottle of Quink I’ve got, but I think it is time for a change after almost two years of the same thing, and I’m giving the pen its seasonal cleaning anyway.

We’ll see what the new year brings.  Drive safely, everyone, and I’ll see you again when the big Gregorian odometer has clicked over.

Today’s pen: Parker Frontier Flighter
Today’s ink: Quink black (which is still, in defiance of many people’s expectations, flowing magnificently)

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Out with the Old, in with… Something

Posted by Dirck on 29 December, 2011

With the new year impending, one’s thoughts tend to turn to the passage of time.  One who dresses anachronistically and regularly uses half-century and older artifacts, even moreso.

Today’s contemplation grows out of the consideration of ink for today’s pen.  It is, let us be clear, old.  When I’m using a pen which is very specific about being extremely old, or one that is quite vigorously modern, I tend to think about the agreement of ink and pen.  I have mentioned elsewhere that some inks don’t wish to pass through some pens, but this is a more shallow form of agreement; will it look funny?  A Rotring Core producing a subtle sepia line does look a little funny, likewise an Evans laying down some mad fuschia, and while I’m not opposed to cognitive dissonance (the very foundation of comedy!) since I’m about the only one who will notice at all and thus be the only one with jangling expectations, I tend to keep older-looking inks with older-looking pens and zippy inks with modernist pens.

However… while cognitive dissonance has limited charm, there is more to life than compliment.  When applied well, contrast can be extremely pleasing without making the artistic nerves rattle.  One remembers, too, that these pens might have used some slightly sizzling inks back in their day.  Grandma may not dance the Charleston any more, but that’s a matter of maintenance rather than inclination.  The pens, metaphorically speaking, still have plenty of snap in their garters.

Today, then, a contrast, of a somewhat faded old pen and a rather vivid ink.  Dissonance is the soul of comedy, but graceful counterpoint is a necessity in the best music.

Today’s harmonious pen: Sheaffer 5-30SR
Today’s melodious ink: Noodler’s blue

An aside– I was in such a state yesterday, I was incapable of properly celebrating the benefits of existence.  Via the FP Geeks’ podcast, I am again to receive a free pen.  This time the item is a startlingly orange Sheaffer VFM (a modern item, not to be mistaken for the desirable PFM), which I’m interested to try as an example of Sheaffer’s current output and as a rarity for the company– a pen that doesn’t take Sheaffer cartridges.  Does this imply anything for production of the cartridge that has been feeding Sheaffer pens since the mid-1950s?  Only time will tell, but while we all wait, I get to play with a new pen; thanks, Eric and Dan!

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Bluntie

Posted by Dirck on 28 December, 2011

My arm is still sore, Winter appears to be finally lowering its fluffy white rump upon us, and thus the spirit of contrariety festers in my bosom.  I will, for as long as the arm allows, give it some vent.

I spend a lot of time in The Regular Job looking at other people’s writing.  I will not go down my usual path of complaining about ballpoints and general inattention to letter formation.  Today’s complaint is more in line with my recent strange lashing-out regarding a completely innocuous pen-cup, in that the degree of ire is so far out of scale to offense that it somewhat baffles me.

Someone sent in a little form filled in with a bold marker.  I stomp around like Hitler hearing about a setback on the eastern front.  Isn’t that sad?  Perhaps it’s the feathering, perhaps the bleedthrough, or perhaps is it something about the apparent lack of care for the eventual reader, but my goat is quite thoroughly gotten.  Using a marker on a porous surface makes so little sense to me I find it authentically offensive.  At least, today it does.  The Sharpie is a blunt instrument in my world.

I try to learn something about myself from my response to the oddities of my fellow humans, since trying to learn something about humanity in general is usually a mere exercise in frustration.  In this case, though, the lesson regards one of my favourite authors, H.P. Lovecraft.  People reading his works often find quaintness in his frequent resort to the trope of people seeing something of intolerable horror, and the sight of it driving them raving mad for a shorter or longer time.  My own joy in reading his stuff doesn’t stifle the occasional snicker on this front on my part… but now I wonder about that.  If looking at simple English words whose only obvious flaw is slight fuzziness drives me into an incomprehensible spasm of intolerance, then perhaps even a modern, blasé person, numbed by TV news and well-funded horror films, might still find an actual eldritch thing from an unclean dimension sufficiently awful to be unbalancing.

So… well done, Old Providence, then.

Today’s pen: Parker Frontier Flighter
Today’s ink: Quink black

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Dangerous Jobs

Posted by Dirck on 26 December, 2011

I’ve never wanted, in my sensible adult life, to hold a job anyone would think of as dangerous; I abandoned the notion of “stunt astronaut” about age 10.  Thus, it comes as a bit of a surprise that I was laying railway track yesterday, and less of one that I got hurt at it.

The degree of surprise in each case changes somewhat when one considers the date, and sees the train:

Workin' on the railroad, all the livelong day....

The junction of train-obsessed child and madly indulgent grandparent sees me with a minor wrist injury caused by the motion required to connect the track sections.

Since I’ve typed this mainly with my left hand, I’ve decided that I’m taking tomorrow off from this enterprise.  I will mention that the son’s glee was exactly worth the amount of of pain. Merry Boxing Day, everyone.

Today’s pen: Parker Frontier (the Flighter I mentioned a few days ago)

Today’s ink: Quink black

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Silent Night

Posted by Dirck on 23 December, 2011

…and a relatively quiet day, it being a short-entry Friday.  I leave you the choice of a BBC item somewhat too short for real satisfaction on the topic of why Christmas colours are what they are, or a rerun of the silly seasonal thing I wrote a year less a day ago (if Charlie Brown can do it, so can I).

Today’s pens: The pens of the previous two days plus a TWSBI Diamond 540 with a broad point mounted
Today’s inks:  ″ inks ″ ″ ″ ″ ″ and Herbin’s Anniversary Rouge Hematite.  With a wet enough pen and some slightly resistant paper, there’s points where light is selectively absorbed rather than reflected, so it comes across as a red ink with green shading.  Festive!

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Snow on the Roof

Posted by Dirck on 22 December, 2011

There is not, in fact, much in that way around here, either figuratively or literally.  It’s been a strangely warm December, and I continue to ride the wave of a few dignified strands of silver.  However, I am considering today the blessings of being older.

My wife and I have a friend who is about ten years younger than we.  She has spent rather a lot of time lamenting that she has gotten to this point in her life without hitting several of the waypoints she’d laid down on her chart back in her teen years.  As her friends, we gently urge her to accept the notion that the teen version of her was really not equipped for that sort of navigational decision-making.  Looking back at the heaps of crap we’ve endured since we were her age, we try to reassure her that getting older is not such a big deal, or at least won’t be until the creeping symptoms of senescence begin to really manifest themselves.  There are, in fact, some benefits to balance out the slow loss of physical powers that comes along with not dying at an early age.

Age equals experience, experience (should) equal wisdom, or some reasonable facsimile.  The fact of having survived the seemingly insupportable trials of life gives one a certain stability when the next one appears.  The underlying, if sometimes horrifying, truth of “where there’s life, there’s hope” gets incrementally more clear over time.  The insult that might have once have led to a fight is now material for a self-deprecating joke.

The reason I’m thinking about this today is this:  apparently moved by my antique mode of dress and the assertively grey portions of my beard, the girl who rang through my lunchtime purchase (I use “girl” advisedly; so young she was as to be somewhat translucent) gave me a seniors’ discount.  “How,” I wondered as I examined the receipt to discover how I had so radically mis-estimated what the cost would be, “would our dear friend respond to this?”  I suspect she’d explode.

Today’s pen: Pilot 78G
Today’s ink: Diamine Evergreen

post scriptus: By the time I’d sorted the thing out, with my old, slow brain, I was well away from the store, so the excess change went in a charity’s Christmas kettle.  I don’t lose my cool over what might be though an insult (I’m still young and vital, dang gummit!), but I also don’t want to load any more karmic deadfalls than I already have.

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Judge Not…

Posted by Dirck on 21 December, 2011

I survived the outing yesterday, with a small bite on my arm and a pair of shoes which may never be the same again as the only marks of injury.  A Christmas miracle!

The title of this entry will necessarily put one in mind of biblical reference; this is a result of the underlying (in this part of the world) Christian basis to the current solstice observation and its effect on my own imagination.  I’m not of the faith, but I’m aware of it, and in this jolly, forgiving part of the year the more laudable aspects of that religion dance about in my head.  I had borne in upon me recently that I have been judgemental in a possibly unfair way.

I got, in a fit of whimsy, a flighter-trim Parker Frontier (pictures as yet untaken).  I got it because it available at a low low low price, because I rather like the steel with gold look of the flighters, because I hope to encourage through sympathetic magic a visually-similar “51” Flighter to drop into my hands and because I wouldn’t mind an attractive but non-lamentable-if-damaged pen to bump around with on the weekends (sometimes the TWSBI doesn’t suit, after all).  I got it for these reasons in spite of the terrible things I write about it in my site’s profile.

Well… I find that this pen, loaded with the cartridge of generally ill-regarded black Quink which arrived with it, is rather nice.  Smooth, good flow, interesting shaping to the letters… and I don’t know why.  I have some expections of fountain pens in general, but I also has a rather set opinion of Frontiers, and this example is holding to the former while working mightily to dispel the later.  I’m having a Scrooge-like moment of having my world shaken.

It may be the case that this pen, unlike my previous experience of Frontiers, has never known use before.  Whether taking an animist (previous abuse embitters the pen) or a materialist (previous abuse damages the pen) approach, this is not an altogether trivial consideration.  I don’t rate it a great consideration, though, as I’ve had a lot of thoroughly abused pens that are entirely biddable after some care.  Perhaps this late example of Parker’s Newhaven plant shows British defiance in the face of inevitable defeat, the sort of attitude that made the Battle of Maldon a source of pride; “They may be closing our plant, but they can’t make us look bad when they do it!”  I rather hope that’s the case, as it’s an approach to doom which I can honour.

I suspect, though, that this is an extremity of the individuality of complex artifacts, even in the case of mass production.  Some cars run better than their fellows, some planes drop an engine when their siblings don’t, some computers refuse to crash… why not a pen that works rather better than most of the same name?  I have a moment of self-doubt in grasping this as the true reason; it allows me to continue in my prejudice against the model while embracing the individual, which is a bad habit of thought to get into.

Whatever the reason, I’ll have to moderate the profile somewhat.  Extra work, but given the season one can take pleasure at the effort of spreading good will.

Today’s merry pen, against which I once similarly transgressed: Pelikan New Classic
Today’s ink: Noodler’s red-black

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Rousing Henry V Speech Required

Posted by Dirck on 20 December, 2011

I had it pointed out to me last night that we’re not quite done with the seasonal shopping.  Lunch break today sees me heading out to a major toy store.

Very close to Christmas.  Without my armour.  I don’t guarantee you’ll hear from me again.

Today’s pen, definitely not a workable sword-alternative: Pilot 78G
Today’s ink, insufficient in quantity for cephalopod-style defensive squirting: Diamine Evergreen

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Let Ahab Beware of Ahab

Posted by Dirck on 19 December, 2011

Without a sight of a vast whale, white or otherwise, I find Ahab pitched upon my shore.  The pen, of course, as so elderly a person, even if not long-drowned and fictional, would likely not be allowed inside for fear of startling my son.

In point of fact, it arrived last week, and both the FP Geeks and Goulet Pens command recognition for brisk action.  I’ve been examining it in preparation for the page on my main site… which I put together yesterday.  Because I won’t pull material from there over here (the other direction is just fine, though), I’ll just provide a link to that page and make some less guarded observations here.

In general terms, I like it.  I find, though, that I have to be conditional in my liking, expressing it as, “A darn good pen at that price,”  rather than the way I speak of the TWSBI Diamond simply as, “A darn good pen.”  The Ahab costs about half as much, and that is a factor in my response to it, but there is still a little bit of cheap-pen-ness hanging about it which some people might find off-putting.  And I’m not referring to the widely reputed smell of the Noodler’s resin.

A more serious… not concern, as that’s too strong; “hesitation” perhaps… is the degree of user adjustment anticipated.  Re-laying the point and feed relative to one another, carving the feed, all of it is fine for the brave pen hacker, but for the beginner it’s a little intimidating.  I worry about the effect it might have on the popular opinion of fountain pens; “Sure, they’re nice to write with, but you have to fiddle with them for weeks to get the throttle sorted out.”

My final observation regards the filler.  I love the self-filling mechanism, in that it is interesting, easy to work (apart from some intentional stiffness) and rather efficient.  I wonder, though, at the ink requirements of someone for whom its really quite large capacity is insufficient.  The fact that it can be removed to convert the pen to an eyedropper seems to me over-egging the batter.  I can’t think of the last time I had so much writing to do that I felt a pen carrying somewhat more than a sixth of a Herbin bottle of ink would be necessary.  Yes, the flex point will lead to enhanced thirstiness, and one would hate to have to resort to frequent refills, but that much ink capacity just seems to be showing off.  It’s silly.

Wait.  I like silly.  What am I complaining about?  Despite all that I’ve said here and over at my site, I am very pleased to have one of these pens.  I’m even more pleased to get it for free, of course, but I wouldn’t have regretted it had I spent my own money.  Thanks again, Geeks!

Today’s somewhat less silly pen: Pelikan New Classic
Today’s ink: Noodler’s red-black

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Pensive

Posted by Dirck on 16 December, 2011

Pensive (adj.): descriptive of the sensation one feels when the pen has been in transit for a little too long.

There’s a Waterman I grow concerned over, it having been sent before other things now arrived.  I expect to apply the Seagoon Treatment to this condition; lashings of brandy as the patient calls for them.

Today’s pen in hand: Waterman Crusader
Today’s ink: Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun

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