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Archive for the ‘General Blather’ Category

Meditation Time

Posted by Dirck on 23 June, 2017

Here’s a chap messing around with a pen.  I occasionally do stuff like this… in one corner of a page, for about two minutes.  I don’t devote quite the level of resources to it that he does, either; nice paper, boutique ink.  Very inexpensive pen, though, which is worth pondering.

The trick will be to not see any of that stuff when you close your eyes to go to sleep tonight.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Mini
Today’s ink: Herbin Lie de Thé

 

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Blast… er… Subtle Menaces From The Past!

Posted by Dirck on 16 June, 2017

If you’re like me, you shouldn’t be out wandering around without a minder appreciate a carefully constructed fictional reality.  There are few more careful craftsmen of such things than the HPLHS, and this little gem is one of theirs:

If that didn’t make enough sense, or is only ringing a small and distant bell, here’s the inspiration.

Today’s pen: The Nameless One (based on past entries, it moves me toward films like that)
Today’s ink: Waterman blue-black

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Electro-Quick Car-o-matic!

Posted by Dirck on 9 June, 2017

A possible side-light to my (apparently) retrograde political notions is an interest in non-combustion vehicles.  Had I but the money for a PV roof, a Power Wall™, and an electric car, I’d be revelling in the quiet joy of driving about town on the back of harnessed lightning.

But I wouldn’t expect to go quite this fast:

Today’s pen: Faber-Castell e-motion
Today’s ink: Herbin Pousièrre de Lune

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Unfashionable Political Views

Posted by Dirck on 5 June, 2017

A funny thing happened here over the weekend, and of course, “funny” can be variously interpreted.

…as in “unusual or uncommon”:  I got about thirty times the usual amount of traffic.  The behind-the-scenes stats reveal that this is a result of sudden notice being taken by people considering fountain pens on Reddit.  More to the point, people were looking at an old entry in which I write in a fairly loose manner about my Soyuz accordion-filler, and coincidentally about western perceptions of the way things got made in the old Soviet economy.  We can put this down to a freak spasm of the internet, of course; the all-seeing eye of humanity’s collective online presence passing over something of mine in such a way that I actually noticed it.  Apart from the strange up-tick of status, no big deal in the grand scheme, although there is an odd inward twinge of pride mingled with performance anxiety.

…as in “amusing”:  Because my stats let me look at the Reddit entry… well, I looked.  And then I had a giggle.  At least one of the commenters there urges me to get over the fact that there isn’t a Soviet Union anymore, I guess because I express doubts about capitalism being substantially better than Marxist Leninism.  The giggling is that someone would think I was pining for the good ol’ days of the Cold War based on the fact that I’m not convinced that capitalism is super-awesome (on the basis of income inequality, environmental degradation, and that even the IMF isn’t enchanted with all aspects of current fiscal thinking), or even, good heavens, that I was pining for a chance to join the fellowship of the long queues for black bread and dodgy vodka.

Seriously, no thanks.  In as much as my memory stretches back that far, I also remember the sort of literally life-or-death risks people would take to get out of the Soviet Union and its satellite states.  I may not be a capitalism cheer-leader, but if what called itself communism in the USSR is the alternative, I’ll definitely stick with what I’ve got.

For the record, I think we’re in the throes of some kind of socio-economic paradigm shift brought on by corporate capitalism’s inclination towards cannibalism; I’m not much happier about that than I am with the current state of play, because paradigm shifts tend towards discomfort.  I’m also in no position to suggest what that shift is towards, since they’re inherently opaque from one side, and I just hope that when it settles it’s something a little more humane than what we’ve got currently.  If I were to express a hope, it would be utterly Utopian, something like Scandinavian socialism writ large with some of the more benign aspects of the Federation of Planets thrown in… but that’s wishful thinking.

And, no doubt, I will offer some amusement for someone else, now that I’ve written all that down.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Stylist (a company that practiced (GASP!) profit sharing with the employees!)
Today’s ink: Montblanc Royal Blue (giving away my paradoxical inclination towards monarchy as a foundation of government!)

PS: I also have a notion that the failure of my humour to transmit properly might be down to a shift in the terrain.  In 2012, when that entry was written, post-Soviet Russia wasn’t an entity we were taking anything like as seriously as we’re taking it in 2017.

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There’s an Old Saying…

Posted by Dirck on 2 June, 2017

Actually, it’s a pretty new saying: Just because there’s tentacles, it’s not necessarily Lovecraftian.

The applicability of this is open to debate on today’s little film, but it’s kind of fun, so I’m open-minded.

Probably Lovecraftian.

Today’s pen: Whatever this thing is (don’t be afraid; it’s mysterious, but it’s pretty)
Today’s ink: Waterman blue-black

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Olden-Timey Entertainment

Posted by Dirck on 26 May, 2017

Today’s film isn’t, although it comes from the usual repository.  Rather, it’s an audio drama, which in ages past was called a radio play.

It’s also good fun, if rather steeped in pastiche.  If you want to follow it, they’ve got a web-abode of their own.

Today’s pen: Parker 65
Today’s ink: Herbin Bleu Myosotis

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The Creeping Future!

Posted by Dirck on 19 May, 2017

A rather long Friday Film today– an interview with William Gibson, who I find fascinating.  And not just because he’s so darned tall.

Today’s pen with an amusingly apt name: Retro 51 Tornado
Today’s ink: Jentle blue-black

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And Now, Sports

Posted by Dirck on 12 May, 2017

A few weeks back in this space, I ran an ad for a TV from back in the old, pre-cable days when that answer to “What’s on TV?” was “Something dull on one channel, and something slightly less dull on the other channel.”  Well, this Found Friday Film pursues an answer to how people entertained themselves before it was possible to even frame the question “What’s on TV?”

Jedi Vikings, kids.  Ponder that with fear and trembling.

Today’s pen: Pelikan P1
Today’s ink: Diamine Marine

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Anti-Nausea Treatment

Posted by Dirck on 11 May, 2017

A bonus entry!

In the progress report, I have today’s pen down as the Parker Challenger, but I am in fact carrying a second pen today.  This is not the only transgression of my usual policies, because that second pen is not mine– it belongs to a client.

I am at least as shocked as everyone else.  But it’s done for a noble cause.

The reason this pen is in my clutches at all is because it has been throwing up in its cap.  That’s not good.  It’s also very unusual behaviour for the model.  The Parker “51”, after all, invented having enormous buffers between ink and outside world, and the only thing I could think of was that the owner wasn’t filling it properly… except in discussion with that person, I got a sense of someone who actually knew what was what in the filling of pens.  Like me, they are a user of collected pens, seeing little point in a pen left sitting on a non-marking velvet pillow in a safe-deposit box.  If it wasn’t pilot error, then… what?

Exterior inspection first.  The “51” is well known as being durable, but it’s not Kryptonian.  Might there be a covert crack in the hood?  Careful, well-lit turns under the loupe said no.  And that meant I had to take it apart and look at it’s guts.

There are, of course, two main sorts of “51”.  There is the initial wave, using a Vacumatic filling mechanism, which was swapped out after seven years of production for the Fotofil press-bar rig, which we call today the Aerometric… and actually, this word is of some importance.  It described a breather tube in the very heart of the filler, so long that it reached to nearly the end of the Pliglass sac (oh, so many neologisms out of Parker!).  This allowed the sac to fill fully by working the bar several times, but to avoid catastrophic leakage during air travel, there was a teeny little hole in the side of the tube, close to the open end of the sac that equalizes pressure inside and outside the tube; that’s what was originally meant by “Aerometric”.  This pen has a Fotofil reservoir, and all the other outward signs of being a post-1948 product.

…so imagine my surprise when I opened the pen and found the stubby little breather tube of a Vacumatic filler peeking out the back of the collector.  There was a 1951 date-code on the point, which is entirely appropriate, but the feed and the associated breather were Vacs.  It seems that at some point before the current owner got this pen, something awful happened to the feed.  Whoever had it at that point cast about for a spare, and had only the older Vac type at hand; the breather tube in question was a new plastic item, not the original celluloid, so modern monkeyshines are indicated.  “Oh, well,” said this imaginary repair-person.  “It all fits; where’s the harm?”

Frankly, I don’t really blame my figment, because it took me a while to figure out how the symptoms developed.  That short breather would prevent a complete fill, and I suspect if it had been a little shorter, nothing would have come of it other than the owner occasionally wondering at how frequently fills were needed.  However, the narrower ink chamber of that style of filler meant that the relatively shallow fill was still enough to cover the inner end of the breather tube, and also gave slightly greater thrust when the air in the reservoir expanded.  If the collector was partially full, as it might be in a freshly-fed pen, that’s enough to overwhelm it, and there’s your cap-full of ink.

What remedy, then?  Ideally, an Aerometric feed and a fresh tube.  But I don’t have a spare feed.  What I do have is about a meter of the very same Teflon tubing Figment used to make the problematically correct Vac-length tube, which fits very nicely in the back of the Vac feed, and so I cut an Aerometric-appropriate length from that.  I also have a pin and the capacity to warm it, allowing me to put a teeny little hole in the tube, close to the open end of the sac.  Theoretically, then, problem solved.

But I’m in the business of practical solutions.  So, we need a field test.  The first aspect of the test was see if the pen filled at all; the Vac tube is of a wider bore than the Aerometric, and there was some chance this would afflict filling.  Trial proved this fear unfounded, and so we move onto phase two of the field trials.  That is me sticking the pen in my shirt pocket, staggering around for a few hours and exposing it to my raging personal furnace (I have a surface temperature approaching 30C!), and then taking the cap off.

Carefully.

Over a disposable sheet of paper.

SUCCESS!

Alas, I lack an aircraft to test against serious changes of external pressure.  My parents live on the fifteenth floor of their building, but I don’t expect the 0.07 psi change will really prove much one way or another, so any visit to them will be purely for the pleasure of their company.

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The Search for Non-Terrestrial Intelligence

Posted by Dirck on 5 May, 2017

So…  I decline to do anything more than cringe instinctively away from yesterday’s fresh deformity of the body politic down in the US.  Let’s instead consider vast cool intelligences, perhaps greater than our own, across the gulf of benthic deeps.

I wish SETI all possible luck.  Given the problems of communicating with stuff that grew up in our own neighbourhood, talking to distant strangers offers a serious up-hill climb.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Craftsman TD
Today’s ink: Quink Black

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