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Archive for July, 2013

Elsewhen Pen

Posted by Dirck on 31 July, 2013

I’m about to commit an act of fiction.  I want to make that very clear, because so many people will treat as a firm authority “something I read once” and these internet synapses are crammed with arguments based on such ephemeral things.  I’m just pursuing a whimsy which struck me over the weekend and which I had a few pre-plummet minutes to lay the groundwork for.  I’m not devoting enough time to my fiction lately, and the pressure is building up and causing a distortion of my parietal membranes, so I’m letting a pointless exercise out in public.  You may point and laugh.

*  *  *

At the end of the 1950s, Pelikan was basking in the glow of the warm German economy.  That warmth was kindled in the late 1940s by the Marshall Plan, but the cozy bed of coals laid down since took the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union in 1958 as a dashed bucket of gasoline.  That collapse, founded in the mutinies and public uprisings which spread from the failed Hungary intervention in 1956, saw the failure also of the Socialist Unity Party in the DDR, and general desire on both sides of Germany for reunion brought quick results; a large, technologically well-found nation with what appeared a general urge to prove to the world that they were now a productive member of the international community.

This same period was once of economic downturn in the United States.  The collapse of the Soviets and the installation of what appeared at the time a republic was generally hailed as a very good turn of events, but Wall Street will frequently go its own way.  With the sudden removal of the only real enemy in the offing (China, while communist since 1949 and having been the nominal source of support for North Korea in the conflict there was viewed mainly as a proxy for the now-deflated Soviet Union), there was a marked bursting of whatever bubbles the arms industry had enjoyed, with associated industries leaning in sympathy until the whole US and indeed North American economy stumbled.

One of the companies which suffered in this disruption was Parker.  Having just spent substantially on the remains of Wahl-Eversharp and seeing little return on that or the expenditures associated with the introduction of its 61 model,  the Parker family decided to court buyers for their company.  Amongst those receiving the invitation, Pelikan proved to be most interested and most able to pay an acceptable price.

It is from this foundation that one of Pelikan’s most popular and long-lived models appeared, the PK45.  Lifted essentially intact from the Parker drawing boards (where it had landed after a similar lifting from Wahl), this cartridge filling model was aimed initially at students but eventually saw versions directed at all markets.  Debuting in 1961, it was marketed in North America and England under the Parker label (those markets being, at that time, somewhat xenophobic), while in continental Europe it was impressed with the Pelikan logo.  After 1975, when the Parker brand was entirely closed off, all examples of the PK45 bore the Pelikan imprints and bird-face clips, so there is a slight inclination in collectors to prefer the shorter-lived Parker variant.  The PK45 remained in production until 1996.

Pelikan PK45 in the first-year colours.  This is one of the US-made models, wearing Parker branding.

Pelikan PK45 “Pfiel” in the first-year colours. This is one of the US-made models, wearing Parker branding.

*  *  *

I have in mind do more of this sort of thing when the mood strikes.  Sometimes it’s very freeing to just make stuff up.

Today’s pen, which actually exists: Waterman Harmonie
Today’s ink, slightly fanciful: Herbin Poussiére de Lune

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The Rugen Protocol

Posted by Dirck on 30 July, 2013

Pain is a source of great interest to some folks.  I’m not particularly fascinated by it, though.  It is a useful warning, of course, the Darwinian equivalent of the old “It hurts when I do this/then stop doing that” gag, but now that it has fulfilled its function in Sunday’s gravity-powered escapade, I wish it would go peddle its fish somewhere else.  At this point, there’s no amount of polydactyl Christoper Guests would make the current situation anything other than the great drag it is.  However, in the interests of science, I offer the following:

  • it is little wonder that sufferers of chronic pain turn to extremities.  As little pain as I’m in (and I don’t fool myself on this, it’s small) if it were to persist more than I week I’d be looking into elective amputation;
  • Lon Chaney may have hurt his wrists before the filming of the big “Taking Minutes at the Anarchist’s Meeting” scence in The Ace of Hearts, which I referenced in the spring.  In my current state, that’s a rather more comfortable grip than my usual;
  • While typing doesn’t technically agitate the damaged joints, it begins to affect them by proximity.  Therefore, END.

Today’s pen: Lamy Studio
Today’s ink: Lamy blue.

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Four Gone. Conclusion.

Posted by Dirck on 29 July, 2013

Well, I’m glad to say that the action described hereafter only tangentially involved fountain pens.  With a nod to the good folks at Sesame Street, today’s episode is brought to you by the Number 4 and the Letter P… but they’ll have to wait for the narrative to bring them along.

This weekend saw me getting at some long… “-delayed,” I guess is better than “-dodged”, household maintenance tasks.  The most daunting, and one what had been put of for logistical reasons, was creeping up onto the roof of the house and clearing out the eaves-troughs.  I hasten to point out that I’m not struck by acrophobia, or at least not from the altitude offered by a single-level detached dwelling with a tall basement, so my extemporizing on this chore was not a bowing to weakness.  The logistical element was a simple want of a ladder, something which I tried to remedy last fall but didn’t quite manage before Nature declared the end to the season for that sort of thing.  The ladder being finished, I could look towards clambering, and this weekend saw Nature holding back on the standard summer weekend deluge, so up I went.

In point of fact, I went up three times.  Not four, but three.  The troughs were quite clogged, and as one will when faced with a job in an inconvenient location I kept finding a need for something left behind on a previous journey.  The final ascent had been prompted by a realization that there was enough muck and foliage in the gutters that I couldn’t heave it onto the publicly viewable space between our house and the northern neighbour, and a bucket or two and the rope to lower them from the roof were needed.  The final ascent was… slightly abortive.

P is for Plummet.

I may have voided the warranty on these.

I may have voided the warranty on these.

The thing I should have taken a picture of was the post-collapse ladder.  It came apart just as my head was level with the soffit, which put my feet slightly ahead of my own usual head height.  As luck would have it, I fell away from the wreckage of the ladder, and so didn’t have the bother of getting any limbs broken.  As the picture suggests, I avoided any serious injury by taking the majority of the fall with my head, something so thick with bone as to be impervious to damage, and which I seldom use in any event.

Now, on the collapsing ladder; shall we count the number of failed items of hardware? 1, 2, 3, 4!

If the ladder had come apart from stupidity, I (probably) wouldn’t put this much energy into the story, but apart from a slight miscalculation on the capacity of some of that hardware, I don’t feel like I wrote my own doom in Comic Sans with the occasional letter reverse or inverted.  I think that it would be reasonable not to expect 3½” screws to tear out of the wood they’re in, nor for the shackle of a padlock mounting to shear off of the base plate.  When I speak of four failed items of hardware, I don’t meant individual components, but entire fittings.  I’m not only heavier than I look, I’m heavier than I feel myself to be.

There are, as I indicated, a couple of points at which fountain pens touch in this account.  The Lamy Vista I was carrying in my shirt pocket emerged entirely unscathed (yes, I did anticipate the possibility of needing to write something down while on a roof and shoveling decayed vegetation), a testament to the toughness of that line.  Also, the most serious injury I sustained was neither crainial nor facial, but the spraining of both wrists– I suspect this came from the rapidly changing and increasingly bad angle of my grip on the rungs in the first half of the plummet.  While my fingers remain nimble, and writing thus and with pens is perfectly possible (the latter thanks a training in use of the shoulder in the act; let’s hear it for proper technique!), rotation and application of pressure is right out, so for the next week or so, I’m not going to be trying any repairs.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer 3-25SC
Today’s ink: Herbin Vert Empire

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Duelling Magicians, Drooling Comedian

Posted by Dirck on 26 July, 2013

Earlier this week, I mentioned T.A. Edison and his Electric Vendetta– the man really had something up is nose on the subject of alternating current.  The cause of wacky summer fun suggests pursuing this notion by presenting a catastrophically drunk person speaking about the rivalry between notable deaf fellow and Nikola Tesla.  Due to an inexplicable decision of the content’s creator, you’ll have to click the following link and watch it on Youtube itself rather than have it conveniently embedded right here.  This may be to give you a moment to consider if you’re in a place where watching a catastrophically drunk person hold forth on any topic is appropriate.  If the boss is looking over your shoulder, you may be embarrassed.

So, if you’re ready for it, it’s ready for you.

Today’s pen: Pelikan Souverän M600
Today’s ink: Mont Blanc Racing Green 

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Hidden Shame

Posted by Dirck on 25 July, 2013

Searching through this extended exercise will find plenty of instances of both Hubris and Irony.  I fear the former, since the comeuppance is generally quite rough, and the latter has rather worn out her welcome.  Apparently, though, yesterday’s entry was the rolling out of a welcome mat for both of them, although it’s not what they wiped their shoes on.

I had an item of work which Regular Job Superior had to initial.  RJS is sometimes elusive, and I couldn’t count on her having a pen to hand when she appeared.  Yesterday’s pen seems robust enough, but it’s relatively old and I don’t know it well enough to know how it would stand up to a non-fountain person; thus, the Hero 616 bait pen I keep on hand went into a pocket.  My shirt yesterday has a superfluous pocket above the main, meant for stowing glasses, and to ensure I came out with the right pen that’s where the Hero went; I know my own powers of Klutzy well enough to know that if they were adjacent, I’d produce the Pelikan, and didn’t feel like looking like a pen-fixated twit through swapping after the fact.

It is, of course, known at The Regular Job, that I am a pen-fixated twit, but there’s no need to emphasize the point with Jerry Lewis style flailing.

A couple of hours later, I cornered RJS in her office, she provided the initials with the instruments she was holding, and that was that.  I returned to my desk, went about my duties, and about an hour later, thought that I should return the 616 to its lurking place before I forgot about it completely and took it home.  I took hold of the clip, began to slide it out of my pocket, and realized it was suspiciously light.

Things I learned about the Hero 616 that previous inspection hadn’t really brought forth:

  • The cap doesn’t grab on nearly as well as anything Parker made of a similar shape (bad);
  • It doesn’t dry out if the cap is about 50% engaged (should be good, but isn’t);
  • The collector doesn’t hold anything like as much as that in a Parker 51 (should be bad, but isn’t).

The pen had dropped well down into the pocket, and while it had remained upright it had the entire contents of its collector to donate to the fabric it now found itself in contact with.  This should have been a disaster, except that the peculiar multiplicity of upper-left quadrant pockets put and unusual number of layers between the pen and the viewing public.  Ink passed from the outermost layer of the interior pocket to the innermost layer of the normally-present pocket, with a great deal of lateral creeping in both cases.  The presence of a note-pad in the standard pocket limited contact between its inner and outer portions, even though it was below the source of ink, so only a little vestigial stain got onto the outermost element.  That happened on the back of the turn-over at the pocket’s top– a hem, in effect, three layers of cloth wide.  The ink didn’t have sufficient drive to push all the way through to the outside.

In a sideways manner, one could call me lucky at the outcome.

Other things I learned from the event:

  • It might not kill me to offer someone a ballpoint– I can touch it without either using it or bursting into flames;
  • Amodex has limits of effectiveness;
  • I am apt to harbour a grudge towards the Hero 616 for a while;
  • I can overcome a grudge against an inanimate object sufficiently to keep it where I can see it.  It’s right there!  I’m pointing at it, the dog!

On the Amodex note, I don’t mean to decry its usefulness.  While the innermost stain remains in place, it’s reduced to a slightly bluish tan, and the little stain just inside the pocket is abolished outright.  It’s just that there was a lot of ink involved.

Today’s pen: Parker 45
Today’s ink: Jentle blue-black

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The Self-Importance of Being Honest

Posted by Dirck on 24 July, 2013

Yesterday, I was away from my desk helping a co-worker dredge up some physical evidence of The Regular Job’s lack of culpability on a certain matter (there’s a bank that doesn’t believe we gave them the money we think we did; it’s hard to feel any urgency on the issue).  In the course of the search, there were a few specific numbers that needed writing down.  In the pause while I reached up to draw pen from pocket, co-worker held an object towards me, saying, “Here, I’ve got a pen.”

My response: “Oh, no– you’ve got a ballpoint.  I’ve got a pen.”

Fortunately, I said this in a studiedly supercilious tone, so it wasn’t taken amiss, and she said something along the line of “Oh, yes, you use those pens.”

“Can’t make a ballpoint work,” said I, “You gotta press too hard,” and to prove my position I wrote the necessary super secret codes on an unsupported single sheet of paper.  You might manage that with a marker, but never a ballpoint.  So there.

The point of me telling you this is not to trumpet another thrilling victory of the fountain pen over the hated enemy, because even a nut-case such as I can see this for the small potatoes it is.  The point is rather to reinforce to myself about how this is not quite how we act around people (I can’t offer the line from “A Study in Pink” as I do take somewhat more notice of others than even a low-grade sociopath, but I do feel certain fellow-feeling with Dr. Cooper in the area of human interaction), and also to reinforce appropriate behaviour.  Curiously, this little exchange fits both headings.

On the former, while I can offer documentary evidence that Sheaffer avoided using the word “Pen” on their ballpoint products for at least thirty years, and while there’s an old saw about honesty being the best policy, the world abounds in examples of applying small obfuscations as a lubricant to social interaction.  What I was dealing with was not a teachable moment, and the correct response would have been, “No thanks, I’ll use mine.”  Co-worker would have understood “mine” to mean “pen”, I would have known I meant “item of the broad category ‘writing imstrument'”, and the day would have gone along just fine.  What I did was not far removed from blurting out, “Your large facial birthmark is repellent to me in a subjective evaluation.”  Truth.  Not an enhancement to anyone’s life.

However, it is better than the suppressed response.  Had I allowed that to emerge, it being something of an imputation against the co-worker, I probably would be feeling very bad about starting a feud, rather than a little self-directed amusement.  The suppressed response was less truth, and so lacks the marginal shield which truth offers; it was entirely subjective, and with reference to the previous example would have been very like shouting “YOU UGLY!”

The suppressed response?  “No, thanks.  I’ve got a grown-up pen.”  See?  Fight starter.  Even I know it.

Today’s pen: Pelikan MK10
Today’s ink: Skrip blue-black

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Becalmed

Posted by Dirck on 23 July, 2013

Yesterday’s little lapse, which I will not assume is the result of a long-gestating part of Thomas Edison’s plan to discredit alternative current, was not entirely unwelcome.  There wasn’t much on my mind yesterday, and that situation persists.  I have no particularly interesting events from the weekend work-bench to offer up, as apart from a somewhat bashful Balance (c’mon, everyone else is letting their sections be removed) there’s little meat for discussion there.  The biggest activity of the the weekend was the discovery that the prophylactic measures we’ve been taking to prevent clogs from developing in the drain-line shared by kitchen and laundry room are insufficient, but the extended dance mix of “Saturday Night’s All Right For Fighting… a combination of cat hair, grease and less definable organic material” isn’t really entertainment in my books.

Although, I take a grain of pride in not having to have a plumber see to the matter.

The effect of northern hemisphere summer, I suppose.  I notice a certain trailing off of interest on the pen fora, and the stats for my site have dipped lately, too.  Can it be that we’re all getting outside and enjoying the fresh air?  I know I rather wish that’s what I was doing right now, the dose of soft summery-ness garnered on my lunch walk being nothing like sufficient, given the vibrating abundance of it on hand and the knowledge that we’re creeping towards the sadder solstice.

Yep.  Tabula very nearly rasa.  I think I’m going to spend the rest of the lunch break staring at the upper branches of a tree conveniently near the window of Regular Job.

Today’s pen (also lounging indolently): Lamy Studio
Today’s ink: Lamy blue.

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The Late Show

Posted by Dirck on 22 July, 2013

Power outage over lunch at The Regular Job.  Most unexpected.  I begin to wonder if there’s a connection to the pen/ink combination and the inability to get a post out, although last time was my own doing rather than mysterious failures affecting hundreds.

Today’s pen: Parker Moderne
Today’s ink: Noodler’s Walnut

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Culture Shocking

Posted by Dirck on 19 July, 2013

In a reply to a comment about last week’s film, I mentioned Yokai Monsters.  As off my usual path as Japanese monster/samurai movies are (unless it’s October), I thought it only fair to show a trailer for one of those.  Watch at your peril!

For those who want to really get beaten up by this stuff, some industrious creature has put the whole of that movie up for public consumption, and neither Youtube nor the current copyright holders have gotten rid of it… as of this posting.

Today’s pen: Parker 45
Today’s ink: Jentle blue-black

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Oh, look at the time.

Posted by Dirck on 18 July, 2013

Dummy took a “moment” to respond to an email, and most of my composition time has fled.  I’m sure you can live with the disappointment, and I’ll try to make up for it with something really spectacular for tomorrow’s film.

Today’s pen: Parker Moderne
Today’s ink: Noodler’s Walnut

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