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Archive for December, 2016

Arbitrary Odometer Reading

Posted by Dirck on 30 December, 2016

I’m actually lounging at home right now.  However, since we do like to have end-of-year wrap-ups, I’ll offer the following:

  • I still quite like fountain pens, even if I’m not so overt and vocal about it as once I was;
  • I can use inks other than Diamine any time I want, really, it’s totally under control;
  • I do not at all like knee-displacing, but apparently am pretty good at recovering from it;
  • This has been a pretty good year for my creative aspect, as revealed by the stats at close of play yesterday:

2016inreview

Some will point out that these numbers fall well short of the novel I mean to have done in rather less than a year… and I have also noticed that.  However, nearly 190 of those first draft pages are the novel in question, and the completed word-count was done between spasms of first-draft writing.  It’ll be fine, I’m sure.  Oh, I should add to the year’s roster of accomplishments, in the light of the fact that I keep track of stats like that– I’ve avoided involuntary commitment again for the whole year!  What lunatic could wish for more?

Since it is also Friday, here’s a film which has zero connection whatever to the changing of the calendar.  It does, however, suggest a human urge to leave time-resistant artifacts.

Today’s pen: Jinhao 159
Today’s ink: Quink Black

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Posted by Dirck on 29 December, 2016

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Written
  •  12 manuscript pages.

Another duff week for writing, because I had Boxing Day off and allowed it to be entirely off (apart from struggling through newly-come toys and drifts of discarded wrapping in an effort to find scraps of food that were not sugar- or nog-based).  I may be derided for insufficient devotion to my art, I guess.

I also appear to have been entirely taken over by Diamine inks.  I should try to use something else soon, although I’m happy to offer them an unpaid endorsement– they’re darned good inks, and a bargain as well.  Speaking of which, I was recently scandalized when I found a bottle of Quink washable blue at a big box for $20.  It was directly below a sign declaring a couple of linear feet of shelves as Fine Writing, so I guess they feel justified in putting prices up madly– no wonder people have an impression fountain pens are the exclusive domain of rich people (I notice, parenthetically, that on Parker’s site, they think about $10 is closer to right, so it’s not a universal dementia).

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‘Twas Two Nights Before Christmas…

Posted by Dirck on 23 December, 2016

I’ve mentioned previously, at roughly twelve-month intervals, that I’m a devotee of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, to the extent that I’ve actually read it (gasp!).  However, I am happy with a relatively passive enjoyment of the work– I’m not what one might call obsessed with it.  Unlike the poor soul behind today’s filched film, who appears to have spent an awful lot of effort in composing a fugue and variations on the subject.  If you can’t enjoy it, at least be astonished:

For my part, I’ll be watching dear old Alastair Sim again tonight, in what I hold to be the definitive version.  But that’s merely my opinion.  Stay warm, be of good cheer, and keep the day in your hearts throughout the whole of the year.  I’ll see you next week.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Snorkel Valiant
Today’s ink: Diamine Denim

 

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Posted by Dirck on 22 December, 2016

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Written
  •  14 manuscript pages, plus 1,840 second-draft words of “Free Balloons for All Good Children”.

The low novel output this week is only in part a result of Christmas pressure, or I guess direct Christmas pressure.  It occurred to me on Monday that the antagonist of the novel, who has yet to even appear as more than a suggested presence, is a lamentably two-dimensional character.  Twenty percent done is an uncomfortable place to run up against an objection like that, and like a ship running onto a sand-bar, I’ve lost a little momentum; hopefully I’ll glide over it presently rather than having to wait for the next spring tide.

Also, last week I was told by my banker we could presume upon the equity of the house to extend line of credit and give the credit card a good kicking.  I hesitated, because the reason the credit card currently needs a good kicking is immediately after the last time we played this trick (mentioned here in connection with needing to replace a vehicle), there was a string of disasters in the household which gobbled up all the available credit.  However, it was a sensible plan, replacing 28% interest with 4%, so yes, let’s do that.  Monday night this week, my son did something to express his joyful high spirits which saw the drainpipe of the bathroom sink snapped off at the outflow and the wall; it’s unclear just what he was at, since alone time in the bathroom is a right we respect, but since he’s eight it was probably literal rather than figurative monkey-business.  The impending expense of fixing this, just after having done all the Christmas shopping (and most of that on ready cash, like wise people do), lowered my own spirits substantially, and added more drag to my creativity.  That’s the indirect Christmas pressure at work.

Oh, while I’m talking about Christmas pressures; if you want to try something that will taint forevermore your happy associations of the concept “Egg Nog,” you need only get some of the Bolthouse Farms Limited Edition Holiday Nog.  An oily body coupled with a persistent pickled cedar undernote to an otherwise hard-to-define suite of flavours ensures that this is a product which will not be getting invited back to our celebrations.  I like some of Bolthouse’s other stuff, but this is just plain wrong.

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Another Soothing Musical Interlude

Posted by Dirck on 16 December, 2016

…because the problem I was having last week with the office radio persists.  This is not, sensu stricto, Christmas music, but since it has been co-opted by The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, I figure it serves the purpose.

And while we’re at it, some utterly non-seasonal Beethoven:

Joy to the world, and so forth.

Today’s pen: Pelikan M600
Today’s ink: Diamine Bilberry

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Posted by Dirck on 15 December, 2016

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Written
  •  19 manuscript pages, plus 7 pages of “Free Balloons for All Good Children”.

For those who take an interest in such things (I can’t be the only one), I yesterday depleted the last of the Diamine Prussian Blue which I started writing the novel with, so we can say with some authority that 4 ml of ink in a Sheaffer Valiant “fat” TD, with what I’d take to be a smaller medium point, will produce 226 pages of double-spaced writing on ruled 8½X11 loose-leaf paper.  Given the vast amount of fiction I got out of the full 80 ml bottle, that seems about right, and that seems like pretty good value for money.  Writing ink now shifts to the Diamine Oxford.

The miserable output on the novel this week is down to the demands of the Christmas season upon a fellows time, by the way.  I suspect next week will be even sadder.

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Chris (Lee) Kringle

Posted by Dirck on 9 December, 2016

Well, it’s that time of the year, where it’s just about all you can do to not beat co-workers to death with the radio which they apparently can’t hear playing four light-pop Xmas tunes on a ninety minute loop, leavened with a couple of traditional Christmas standards and possibly something by Nickelback.

To help with the not-beating, here’s some tunes that you can use to drown out the day’s seventeenth presentation of “Feliz Navidad”:

I heard an interview with Lee rebroadcast shortly after his death, in which he reminisced about being right at the very decision gate of sticking with acting, or giving into the urging of a famous opera star of the 1950s to join him in bringing more and better music to the world.  The path not taken, eh?

Today’s pen: Parker 50
Today’s ink: Jentle blue-black

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Posted by Dirck on 8 December, 2016

Oh, let me tell you about some fun I had on the weekend. Through my own negligence as a householder, I slipped on some ice.  The main injury was not, as my initial vector would have had it, through taking the edge of a concrete stair to the parietal lobe, but resulted from my quick “thinking” to avoid such a blow; the non-slipping leg suddenly took the weight, slipped sideways on an entirely different but smaller patch of ice until it found traction… at which point everything below the knee stopped moving, while everything above the knee carried on for another three or four centimeters.

This hurt rather a lot.

The silver lining in this was twofold.  I discovered that my son does not panic when a parent collapses in a howling heap, but waits for a break in the screaming to ask if he should go inside and call 911 (not this time).  Also, I was presented with an unusual opportunity to amend the lyrics of a Sesame Street song to run “One of These Knees is Not Like The Other” for the amusement of my family.

The reason I mention all this is that my page output is a bit low this week.  For some reason, I was having trouble focussing on Monday.  Things are rather better now– I may even put aside the cane before the weekend is done!

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Written
  •  24 manuscript pages, plus 11 pages of “Free Balloons for All Good Children”.†

† This is one of those stories that you either vent off by writing or go nuts from it presenting new and ever more upsetting details on the screen of imagination.  I’m cracked enough already, so I’m dividing my attention until the short story is safely pinned onto paper; lunch for the novel, idle minutes in the last half-hour of the work-day and through the evenings for the this horror.

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Polysyllabicgermanword!

Posted by Dirck on 2 December, 2016

I don’t speak German– I took a single 100-level class in my first year of university back when Bonn was the capital of German Federal Republic– but I can occasionally follow it if it’s spoke slowly enough and the vocabulary isn’t too complex.

So with today’s video, I’m pretty much just looking at the pictures.

Pretty pictures, though.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Snorkel Valiant
Today’s ink: Diamine Denim

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Parallel Evolution

Posted by Dirck on 1 December, 2016

If nature can throw things like the flying squirrel, the sugar glider, and Draco volans in our faces, then it seems like we have to give the benefit of the doubt to two pen designers who come up with… remarkably… similar solutions to the same problem.

I have been wrestling lately with a Sheaffer Imperial I which needs new rubbery portions.  Since the pen in question was sent to me mostly dismantled, I thought I’d take the opportunity to do an exploded view of the model, as I’ve done for others.  When I slid the feed out of the shell, I said to myself, “That looks familiar….”  In fact, the feed, and the way in which the point clings to it, are so like the same components of a Lamy 2000 that one might almost think they came from the same factory.  Here, have a look:

lamyimperial

Isn’t that interesting?  Now, before we start pointing fingers and shouting “J’Accuse!” at anyone, remember how this entry started.  What we have here is two companies facing a similar engineering challenge– how to get a small point to stay put in a semi-hooded section in which a traditional friction-fit arrangement of point and feed wasn’t possible?  That both companies came up with a very similar response to the question looks a little funny, but consider how the increasing consideration of fuel economy through aerodynamics made so many cars of the 1990s and even the 2000s look like a well-used bar of soap.  There might have been peeking at the work of the other.  But it wasn’t necessarily so.

Oh, and before the Sheaffer partisans decide that it must be that Lamy was lifting ideas from the darling of Fort Madison, because after all, the Lamy 2000 appeared a full five years after the Imperial I, a word of caution.  I can say with certainty that the insides of the 2000 are not much different from those of the Lamy 99

The 99's point-tabs look even more like those in the Imperial, don't they?

The 99’s point-tabs look even more like those in the Imperial, don’t they?

…and the 99 was a budget version of the Lamy 27, and that pen was out in the world at least five years ahead of the Imperial.  As were the ads bragging about its “Tintomatic” feed system.  Just sayin’.

And on that note, here’s the week’s progress report:

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Written
  •  25 manuscript pages.

 

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