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Archive for January, 2015

Not Necessarily the News

Posted by Dirck on 30 January, 2015

Since I was thinking (aloud) more about pens than writing this week, I think I’ll follow up with other people thinking (aloud) about pens for Friday’s From Foreign Parts Film:

Like any news reel, if will be amended by the powers of entropy from cutting edge to interesting time capsule.  I’m curious to watch the process up close.

Today’s ink: Pelikan M600
Today’s ink: Diamine Prussian Blue


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Seeking Safe Harbour

Posted by Dirck on 29 January, 2015

I have just spent a foolish several minutes looking at Facebook.  One of the Faces there is rather politically active, and posts rather a lot of alarming things on the effects of the current politics of North America.  Alarming… but properly cited and factually founded, so one can’t just say, “Put a sock in it, Chicken Little.”  I am therefore flustered, blue and feeling generally helpless.

What I need is someone to show me the way through shoals, to lead me to a quiet anchorage where I may ride easy at anchor.

Which brings me back to something I said last week I was going to mention at some future date:

Pilot Booty

There is a peculiar joy connected to an NOS pen. It’s like a time-capsule, or a gift from the past.


I’ve got an extremely unsatisfactory page for this little darling already set up on my site, and I regret the lack of satisfaction that page offers to readers because it completely belies the degree of satisfaction which I have derived from the getting of the pen.  This is not, to be honest, because of the pen itself; it’s a nice enough little item, it has a pleasant soft pen, and it arrived with all the original bits and bobs that Pilot stuck into its pen boxes c. 1970.  The satisfaction comes, rather, for the efforts of the person who sold it to me.

I should mention that I did not stick at the basic $10 shipping.  No, I splurged for the tracked shipping.  It cost sixteen dollars.  I don’t know how Japan Post manages to do international tracked shipping for half (or less) what it costs Canada Post, but I suspect it’s less a case of how they manage as how Canada Post is mismanaged– I love my national carrier, but the despotic rumps that have been placed upon its executive cushions seem bent on making it a hollow wreck.

Now, having spent this magnificent pittance on the shipping, I certainly got my money’s worth.  Here’s the final version of the tracking:

Shipping Info

Somehow, across the world’s great ocean, Japan Post got it right pretty much to the minute.  I was getting an email notice for each update, too.  It was almost oppressive.

As much as I’ve credited Japan Post for this, I also look at the seller as an author of my contentment.  After all, he (I’m pretty sure it’s a masculine name, as shallow as my study of Japanese is) could have not bothered to offer the enhanced mode of shipping.  He could have neglected to put that pen in a box into a nest of crumpled newspapers inside yet another box, too.  This is exactly what I urge and apply as a good practice for pen-shipping, but there’s not a lot who follow this line of thought, and it’s always charming to discover one who shares one’s views.  Also charming, something entirely not-pen and not-packing that was lurking in tidy parcel which arrived at my house at a little before three o’clock last Monday…

Tiny origami bird!  Squeee! (Yes, a large bearded man wil go "squee."  I'm secure in my masculinty)

Tiny origami bird! Squeee! (Yes, a large bearded man will go “squee.” I’m secure in my masculinty)

Profoundly, wonderfully unnecessary.  I feel like a goon, retrospectively, for not including similar things with the pens I’ve sent into the world (a feeling which will no doubt recur, as my skills in that direction are rather shaky and being not Japanese it might seem affected).

Excellent experience, then.  At the risk of damaging this person’s abilities to give such attention to his sellers by directing a flood of them to his door, I will now give a link to his store-front.  E-sell_jp sounds like a dreadfully mechanical sort of seller, doesn’t it?  Don’t let that put you off, if his stuff appeals.  He takes care.

Ah, yes.  That feels better.  Distracted once again from the state of the world.

Today’s pen: Pelikan M20
Today’s ink: Chelpark Black

…and as for the rest of the week:

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 26 January
  • 27 January
  • 28 January
  • Second draft of “The Yellow Oracle,” because I might as well press on and get it to my readers for comment.
  • Second draft, “The Yellow Oracle”.
  • Second draft, entering the final lap.
  • 910 words.
  • 894 words.
  • 774 words
  • 45 min.
  • 50 min. (this is the bit where I check that some words mean what I think they mean)
  • 40 min.

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Video Hits!

Posted by Dirck on 23 January, 2015

My usual Friday conceit is that of the school classroom.  Today, though, I’m going to the after-school experience of my teen years.  This change is brought on by an effort of late to fix a problem both with my site and with my collection.  Rather a while ago, I owned to the fact that I don’t have a whole lot of Asian pens.  I’ve been working at fixing this; I’m shockingly behind in getting some Indian pens up where they can be seen, and thanks to some recent repairs both of my own pens and of others, I’ve got some more Japanese pens that I should add, beyond those which have already gone public.  This week saw the fruit of my sole eBay foolishness of the last half of 2014 appear, which I will delve into next week.

Now, with regard to those teen years: we Canadian youngsters of the early 1980s could paddle home at the end of a school day, secure in the knowledge that as long as our house was reached by the broadcast signal of the nation’s network, we could watch some music videos (which were new and unsettled in those days, not unlike the animals of the Cambrian oceans).  Those of us with cable, and the dazzling wonder of as many as twenty channels, were sometimes amused to find that our afternoon entertainments were only shown late night and edited on the US networks, which proved that there were indeed cultural differences between our two nations.

…and speaking of cultural differences, we were also all quite fascinated by an Asian nation whose skyrocketing economy suggested that in short order they would own and control all things.  That spawned today’s video:

Yep.  Takin’ over the world.  Heck, Marty McFly works for ’em (until October).

Today’s pen (remembers when we were not at all friends with that part of the world): Parker “51”
Today’s ink (conquering from within!): Jentle blue-black

{A note about the combination; the pen is actually one that’s been waiting for me to rebuild its filler for about three years, and this is its first time on its feet since I got it.  It’s actually in rather better exterior shape than the one on the page.  The ink is one I like a lot generally, and has become my unofficial ‘welcome back to the world’ fill for the recently resurrected– even if it has been in a regular rotation pen quite recently}


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Posted by Dirck on 22 January, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 19 January
  • 21 January
  • 22 January
  • First draft of “The Yellow Oracle” (yes, still).
  • The bonfire of climax begins to collapse into the embers of denouement.
  • Typing of the second draft begins (because I left the thing I meant to work on at home).
  • Seven manuscript pages.
  • Nine pages.
  • 552 words
  • 35 min.
  • 55 min.
  • 35 min.

Also, I will mention now rather than later that tomorrow is Handwriting Day.  Other than setting down to write some things, I’d suggest a possible means of observance might be pursuing a new, custom-made pen; Shawn Newton is committing another fund-raiser upon the world, and since I can’t support it as much directly as I would like, I try to urge others to jump in.

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Choices, Made and Awaiting

Posted by Dirck on 20 January, 2015

This is a slightly scattered entry, as the title suggests.  It has, one might say, tendrils in past, present and future.

Let’s start with something in the present progressive tense:  I am reading.  Those who paid attention to the little thing about books in the right sidebar may have noticed that there’s a rather slow turn-over.  Borges, in fact, I leave on the list only as a means of prodding myself; I need to find a good lump of time to give his work the attention it deserves, and until that comes to me, the book sits quietly on the shelf looking at me with slightly menacing good humour.  Leaving that one out, though, I have been rather low-key on my reading in the past year, with Good Reads revealing that I only sank a dozen books.

I suspect under-reporting on my part.

Still, for someone who likes reading, and who accepts that reading is a necessary fuel, prop and pre-condition to writing, that’s not so good.  The internet has come to the rescue on this.  Here’s the plot for this year, as thrown in my face by Facebook:

2015 Reading Chall

Ambitious, eh?  I’m going to have to do some research on the matter of other writers with the same initials, and thanks to the fruits as yet unsampled of Christmas I now have some good candidates for things I own but have not read.  I also intend to cheat now and again, using one book to satisfy several points occasionally, because I’m well aware that being resolved to read makes no more hours appear in any day.  Cheating aside though, I’m pleased at the prospect of increasing my text intake this year.  I’ll bring in the present perfect tense, although its effect runs back some decades: I have chosen to read.

This brings us to the plain present tense.  I have a gift certificate.  I am, in fact, extremely tense about this, for the most contrary of reasons.  Point of tension number one is the amount of it.  After a late November declaration starting with my parents and taken up on all fronts that there’s not a lot of money in the family’s collective economy for fripperies, it seems that my wife and I were the only ones to stick to the policy.  Part of the unexpected and sadly imbalanced bounty was this certificate, taken out at the only store in town worth looking at for a pen, and with a ridiculous figure written on it.  Its an embarrassment of riches.

This is also, looked at in a different light, the second point of tension.  The store carries Lamy.  The only Lamy I’m currently interested in, the Dialog 3, is also their most expensive in regular trims.  As large as the gift is, it doesn’t cover that pen, nor even put me within sensible reach of it.  What else do they have?  Let me slightly infringe on copyright to show you…


Click to go to the company’s site. See? It’s not copyright issues, it’s free advertising!


There is this Faber-Castell e-motion (this company, who also make the LOOM, need to ponder their capitals a little).  It’s visually interesting… but I cringe at the staining prospects of that wooden barrel.  It’s stylish… but it’s not really in the style that I pursue.  One hears nothing but praise in reviews for Faber-Castell’s pens, even if it is sometimes a little faint, and I know that they’re extremely willing to be put right in case of disaster… but I don’t want to spend a packet on a pen I’m not really in love with, and those previous ellipses indicate that however polyamorous I am in the pen department, I might regret this addition to the harem.


Same deal. Free publicity!

Also in stock is this Monterverde Regatta.  It has, in different tones than the Faber-Castell, the same list of virues, with the possible exception of quite so much crying up by reviewers; I say possible because the name of the pen is less instantly familiar to me than than the other.  It goes so far as to replace the worry about barrel staining with a very intreguing and quite positive magnetic cap-holding system, something I don’t have in any of my current pens and which I admit to admiring.  However, the hesitations appear here, too.  I’m not caught up in the current fascination with visible carbon fibre (I might change my tune if someone would get around to building that space elevator).

Not this time; picture © ME! 2015 (although I don't mind it being used under

Not this time; picture copyright ME! 2015 (although I don’t mind it being used under Creative Commons Attribution).

There’s also the colour scheme.  Thanks to a client, I got to spend some time last weekend with a Sailor Professional Gear Imperial Black.  As with the Regatta, it has the full stealth trim, and while I think I would have liked it a lot in about 1985, my tastes have changed.  It’s just a little too much dark for me.  This doesn’t even get into concerns about the effect of wear on the finish.  The body might end up looking rather neat as bits of brass appear through the black, but the point is apt to just look squalid.  That the finish may wear off the point over time I take as almost certain, given the masking on many of my pens from the 1930s through ’50s.  Even the rhodium on today’s pen is letting a little yellow show at the edges, and I baby this thing.

The final point of tension is one of scheduling; the chap at the store more familiar with their suppliers’ catalogues and the ordering there-from keeps not being in the store when I look in.  For some reason, he took time off from a retail enterprise in the wake of Christmas!  Can you fathom it?  This means that the conversion of the certificate into whatever pen I finally settle on (which I hope will not be as protracted an affair as some authors make of it) keeps getting put off– the store carries, but doesn’t currently have in stock, items by Visconti and Diplomat, and with four manufactures to look at, something should appeal to my jaded palate.  This at least should resolve soon; I’m told he’ll almost certainly be in on the day I’m planning to next visit.

Oh, while we’re on the subject of choices in various tenses, I think I’ll make one more choice public in a couple of tenses.  I was not able to finish Atlas Shrugged on my last attempt upon it (page 99 and I flung it down, based entirely on the writing as the philosophy had yet to manifest), and despite it filling the final tick on that chart, I choose to leave it to one side, and I will henceforth avoid it.  I shall persist in not reading it.  I hope to have it said at some distant future date that I went my whole life not having read it.

Today’s pen: Waterman Carène
Today’s ink: Iroshizuku Shinryoku

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Posted by Dirck on 16 January, 2015

I had something else lined up of Friday Film, but the FPGeeks threw this at me and, since this is one of the people I describe as “That’s what I want to be when I grow up,” I thought this it the thing to share now.  Plus, National Geographic!

…and he’s got a cat!

Today’s pen (to which some of my own humble skills have been applied): Pelikan M20
Today’s ink: Chelpark Black

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Posted by Dirck on 15 January, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 12 January
  • 13 January
  • 14 January
  • 15 January
  • First draft of “The Yellow Oracle.”
  • Ditto again.
  • Ah, the climax shines just below the horizon.
  • Yep, and not quite enough time to bring it to a conclusion.  Scriptus Interruptus!
  • Six manuscript pages.
  • Eight pages.
  • Seven pages.
  • Nine pages!
  • 35 min.
  • 40 min.
  • 45 min.
  • 45 min.

…and I promise I’ll do a little more next week than silently scribble.  But this one is rolling so nicely, I hated to interfere with it.

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Don’t Let Work Get You Down

Posted by Dirck on 9 January, 2015

Well, the new year is upon us and I’m sure we’re all back at our respective Regular Jobs enjoying the delights of doing things for not quite enough money.  This week’s film is a little reminder from the US Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics to be safe around the office, and now that the hangovers have passed (unless you’re on the Julian calendar, in which case have fun next Wednesday) we should all be in a state to absorb the useful tips.  Especially the ones involving belt-driven spread-sheet printers.


Well… I guess WordPress doesn’t want to allow embedding from that source. It’s still worth a click. By the way, I’m pretty sure the chap tidying his desk at about the five-minute mark has a Parker Vacumatic desk set. It’s not enough that he’s got his own office, mutter, mutter….

Today’s pen: Pelikan M600
Today’s ink: Diamine Prussian Blue

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Posted by Dirck on 8 January, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 6 January
  • 7 January
  • 8 January
  • First draft of “The Yellow Oracle.”
  • Ditto.
  • It’s shaping up to be one of these slow, stately affairs.
  • Very nearly two manuscript pages.
  • Six pages.
  • Five pages.
  • 20 min. (non-contiguous).
  • 40 min. (unopposed!).
  • About 30 min.

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Capability: Brown

Posted by Dirck on 5 January, 2015

The colon indicating, of course, that I am not claiming to be reworking the entire landscape of a nation, but that my personal threat level is very low.  And only a threat if you’re one of the things I mean to accomplish– generally I’m a benign presence and a threat to none.

There is not one of my conscience-soothing grids to offer, because the entire holiday period was taken up with holiday activities.  Were this a food blog, I’d have plenty of stuff to offer, what with the cooking and eating of things accomplished over the week of absence.  However, since it’s an (intermittently) fountain pen and (increasingly) writing blog, I have very little to contribute.  As to the latter, I glanced occasionally at the note book in which a first draft languishes unregarded since the 23rd and I thought writing thoughts about that novel I mentioned that’s now leaning across the partition separating the pilot from the cargo and whispering “Are we there yet?” with increasing force.  Cowboys & Lovecrafts isn’t a completely untouched field, but I may actually be able to do something marginally original with it.

As far as pens go, there was a little actual production.  I produced a huge disappointment for a client, which I should confirm with an email as a permanent situation, in discovering that the glue holding the section in his Esterbrook J wasn’t letting go, but I had managed to release the glue that was holding shut the crack in the section.  I also prove myself fully capable of wonders and blunders in the very same pen.  But let me press a mental image on you first.

Imagine, if you will, a pen somehow dropped in such a way that the tines curl in toward the feed and also cross over.  It is as if the pen, angered at its ill treatment, is starting to make a fist.  This was the state of a pen the chap at The Paper Umbrella handed me back at that clinic; stock that had to be withdrawn from his shelves, which I said I’d make something of a project of.  The project would be to uncurl a flower bud made of thin steel, returning it to the specific shape of a pen point without inducing stress cracks in the material.  Mental picture formed?  Great!

Because I if I had taken a picture of it in that state, it you would have a real basis of comparison, and then this might be impressive…

Oh, look.  A blurry picture.  It is an alien, or bigfoot?

Oh, look. A blurry picture. It is an alien, or bigfoot?

…rather than a mere testament to the sort of peaks of incompetence I and the old camera (much easier to mount on my teeny tripod) can sometimes achieve.  This is more on me, since if I had looked at the picture before rushing the pen to its home, I could have tried another.  However, photographic goonishness aside, I take a leaf from Leonard McCoy’s book in feeling that getting this pen back into functional shape is very nearly like curing a rainy day.

That is, by the way, an excellent sensation to start a year with.

Today’s pen: Pelikan M600

Today’s ink: Diamine Prussian Blue (which does a great job of standing in for Pelikan blue-black, as far as looks go).

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