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Archive for the ‘General Blather’ Category

The Whisper of the Conscience

Posted by Dirck on 17 January, 2020

Mid-January, huh? Just about the time for people to start pretending they never made any New Year’s resolutions.

…and then some jerk like me comes along. I won’t judge. I’ll just suggest some self-improvement which is within reach. Loads of people want better handwriting, and today’s film is some hints in that direction (and some low-power advertising; we are fish in an ocean of capitalism).

I am not, I should say, of the same school of handwriting as herself. I find some of her notions of correct letter shape unappealing. That said, there’s nothing wrong with studying other schools to discover new means of mastering the art. You see it in kung fu films and samurai movies all the time.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Balance Craftsman
Today’s ink: Diamine Sargasso Sea

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Posted by Dirck on 3 January, 2020

Well… I had a notion of looking forward for this first film of the year, but last night’s international developments made be do an about-face. So, let’s see what a pen-seller of some repute thought were good pens in the previous year, and avoid looking at the news.

Dear heavens, though… what they did with the point on that first Diplomat. Brrr!

Today’s unflexed pen: Lamy 2000
Today’s ink: Diamine Oxford Blue

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Surprisingly Good

Posted by Dirck on 31 December, 2019

Looking back over the year, as one does in these closing moments of any calendar, one struggles to find positives. Most of the things in the world that were in a terrible state at the end of 2018 got worse, if not by any possible objective measure then by the more rational subjective ones. From my own perspective, this was the first year in a lifetime of dalliance with depression that it got to the point of demanding professional treatment.

On that– the magic brain pills are helping, but the awareness of international politics and environmental issues are certainly not. The only reason I haven’t given up on anything that brings news of such things to me is that I find a blow hurts a little less when you know it’s coming. Just imagine being blissfully engrossed in The Expanse or reruns of The Muppet Show for several months and then stumbling over what’s happening in Australia right now.

Your heart would stop, right?



I am also aware that the people in my life, both physically present and even in the apparently cursed realms of Social Media, are kind, caring, deeply human beings. This is great comfort. It’s not specific to the events of 2019, since most acquaintances predate the start of the year, but that’s fine. It is a situation which persisted through a year larded with ugly awfulness.

Also, I find myself in a fortunate position regarding all that ugly awfulness. I’m insulated from the majority of it. I live in Canada, and our recent nation election was not a frenzy of self-destruction by the majority of the voting public… although there was certainly a tint of that surrounding the event. The province in which I live is not in the best hands… oh, no, they’re a pile of short-sighted stumble-bums to be sure… but there’s at least two other provinces under the control of premiers who are visibly avid to make life as miserable as possible, as quickly as possible, for the maximum number of people. Relatively speaking, things could be a lot worse here.

This is all somewhat negative, still, or at least a very passive from of acceptable. Can I point to any authentically good events, he asked in a highly rhetorical manner?

Let me count them. The first is good for me somewhat at the expense of others– the decision to step back from pen repair was absolutely the right one, even if I didn’t fully understand what was driving the decision when it was made. The reduction of external pressures kept me from an absolute crash. The magic brain pills (and some other non-chemical treatments) are working, yet I’m still… I’m secure enough in myself to say “fragile.” So I’m very glad to be dealing with no pens but my own.

There’s also the writing, which suddenly proves to have been going very well indeed. Four stories accepted this year, and three of them published in the past month! Where?

These and a somewhat (and forgivably, understandably, delays payment on another story) means that my writing income for the year soared into the mid-three figures!

All right, it’s not vast riches, but it’s a nice layer of frosting on the overall sense of accomplishment which publication brings. Speaking of which, I’m also pretty proud of managing a story a day in October, during the icy depths of depression.

Finally– I’ve really got a grip on this baking malarkey:

My brother’s comment: “That stollen is SWOLLEN.” I’m pretty sure that’s meant to be a compliment

I can’t take all the credit for this most recent object. Countless yeast gave their lives for deliciousness, and I also found a rather good recipe (as long as you know to let the thing rise for about 45 minutes after the first flour installment and an hour or so once all the flour is in). It has brought joy to many, and that joy reflects in me. So, yeah, despite efforts on so many fronts, it has been a surprisingly good year for me.

And I’m sure we all may hope the next year proves much better still.

Today’s pen (also a source of delight): OMAS Arte Italiana
Todays ink (more amusement than joy, given the name): Pelikan Brilliant Brown

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The Big Bounce

Posted by Dirck on 20 December, 2019

Yes, it’s that time of year again, when the sun finally stops its southward trundle.

There’s also some kind of gift-giving festival associated with this time of year, isn’t there?

This week’s videos (yes, plural!) are all Christmas-y. I think I’ve mentioned previously that while I don’t follow Christianity, I have been embedded in it most of my life, so I’m willing to enjoy some plainly non-secular tunes in connection with the season. There’s a couple of those below.

But I also have an incorrect sense of humour, so one of these things is not like the others.

Today’s pen: Ohto Tasche
Today’s ink: Herbin Vert de Gris


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Let’s All Take a Wee Break, Hm?

Posted by Dirck on 13 December, 2019

I made a mistake. I paid attention to the coverage of the political situation in the UK over the past couple of years, and then glanced at their election results.

This leads me to want to take a little break from watching avoidable self-destructive behavior.

Ah, that’s a treat. Sensible action in the face of looming threats. Fantastic.

Today’s pen: OMAS Arte Italiana
Today’s ink: Pelikan Brilliant Brown

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Posted by Dirck on 6 December, 2019

I’m going to share a couple of things I’ve watched this week, rather than hoard one away for future use. Such extravagance!

First, a bit of charming semi- or perhaps quasi-traditional animation, which follows a mythology I’m not familiar with:

Now, since it is a mythology I’m not familiar with, I don’t know how closely it holds to tradition, but I’m willing to accept it is traditionally Finnish (I’m not a subscriber to the mad idea that Finland itself was a Norse myth and only gained existed in 1923 as a scheme to frighten the Russians).

The other thing is just an excerpt from an old favourite of mine, presented by a chap with a good voice for the purpose. What struck me, though, is that it’s the first time I’ve experienced the words in connection with maps, which re-framed the action wonderfully in my imagination.

I really dig the old illustrations, too.

Today’s pen: Ohto Tasche
Today’s ink: Herbin Vert de Gris

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Posted by Dirck on 29 November, 2019

Well, that was a week. I was otherwise engaged yesterday; let me hint at it:

Day What How Much Pen Ink
  • 25 November
  • 26 November
  • 27 November
  • 28 November
  • 29 November
  • Second draft of “Grand Finale”
  • Assisting a fallen father
  • My wife’s day surgery (two days)
  • Catching up on the Progress report
  • 690 words
  • Lifted
  • So much waiting
  • You’re soaking in it!

I had thought to have been here yesterday, probably finishing up on that second draft. Oh, well. For those who are concerned– a long-awaited gall bladder removal was the wife’s lot, and the extension of her hospital stay was an excess of caution on the part of the hospital as she reacted with unusual (lack of) vigour to the morphine. And since we’re in Canada, this all cost a grand total of $2 for parking and $9 for the post-op Tylenol III I picked up from our neighbourhood pharmacy after bringing her home at last†.

And my Dad’s tippiness did him no actual harm. He needed more encouragement than hoisting.

Oh, but look, it’s not only Friday, but Friday right next to my birthday! Let me indulge myself a little–

Ideally, next week will be more normally arranged. My lightness of tone here belies the stress felt, which I’m rather more conscious of now that I’m an official owner of An Depression, and I’d like rather less of that stuff, thanks.

† Full disclosure: The opioid-laced pills would have cost more but for some insurance provided by The Regular Job. Something like $20. So, for those in the US concerned about the insurance industry, take heart– it still has some function in a setting of socialized medicine.

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Nothing Lasts Forever

Posted by Dirck on 22 November, 2019

Image result for gahan wilson nothing sacred"

One of my favourite cartoonists is no longer with us, so that’s what today’s about. I’m probably going to get in trouble for using that image, to which I respond– I’m giving you free advertising, Mr. Publisher. Also in the line of a free ad, here’s a trailed for a biographical film I have yet to see, but will seek out presently.

I started looking at Wilson’s stuff in high school (and to indicate how innocent a lamb I was, I was somewhat surprised to discover how many of them had originally appeared in Playboy) and I’ve been a fan ever since. I believe when I get home tonight, I’ll take down Nuts and read it through while having a small rum and a tiny weep.

Today’s pen: Wing Sung 3013
Today’s ink: Edelstein Topaz

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Topical Humour

Posted by Dirck on 15 November, 2019

Oddly, that’s not humour that is rubbed directly onto the source of irritation.

With all this talk of Peach Mints wafting up from the US, I though it would be nice to cast our minds back to a time when moderately-competent forces of evil were a source of amusement rather than the makers of any nation’s policy.

OK, you got me. Moderately-competent evil has always directed national policies. What’s new is that blunderously incompetent evil has moved in and yet somehow it remains unthwarted.

Today’s pen: Waterman L’Étalon (slightly deformed, occasionally rude)
Today’s ink: Diamine Bilberry (perfectly pleasant… until it’s pen cleaning time!)

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Red Planet Venus… wait, what?

Posted by Dirck on 8 November, 2019

I don’t know what I’m doing to be treated so well by the Youtube algorithm, but I hope it persists. I’ve read about this film, and been curious to see it, and all of a sudden, there it is in the suggestions panel– an East German/Polish co-production from 1960 (and thus very very much under communist influence), in which space travelers check out a mysterious message from Venus in the dazzlingly distant year of 1985!

It’s not exactly an edge-of-the-seat thrill-ride, but I think it has some real advantages over… Queen of Outer Space, let’s say. I have no interest in driving a Trabant or standing in a long line for a strictly limited ration of vodka, but I may very well try to chase down some more Soviet-bloc sci-fi.

Today’s DECADENT IMPERIALIST ink: Herbin Violet Pensée

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