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Battered but Triumphant

Posted by Dirck on 9 February, 2018

I was going to recreate what should have appeared as last week’s Friday Film, but two things intervened.  The lesser thing was an idiot howling about a desire for a military parade.  The greater was that a friend, after a long, expensive, and exhausting campaign, wrested great victory from the clutching hands of Academia.  He was, if we may quote the musty phrase of Oxford’s capitulation, “granted leave to supplicate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.”

If anything deserves a victory parade, it’s a doctorate from Oxford.

A day of rejoicing and thanks!

Today’s unintentionally thematic pen: Kaweco Student
Today’s ink: Kaweco blue


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Posted by Dirck on 8 February, 2018

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Progress
  •  2,691 words typed.

As a small indication of the sort of time I’ve been enjoying the last couple of weeks; I only just now noticed that the thing I had meant to post last Friday… isn’t. Isn’t up. Isn’t around. Isn’t available. I put the effort into writing one, but there is no trace of it whatsoever. This gives me a slight headstart on tomorrow, since I have a memory of what it was, but to not have noticed at all AND to have it vanish is disconcerting.

I will not put this down to the Mandela effect, as much fun as side-slipping through the multiverse might be, but simply to my own stress-cracked brain. To address this issue, I’m taking next week off from The Regular Job. This may see a dose of writing done, since my son will be in school and he’s the main impediment to writing at home (I love him, and he loves me; his manifests as “you must watch this Annoying Orange video with me again” and mine manifests as submission to that insistence).  However, I may also just sleep for 127 hours without a break, too.  We’ll see how that works out.

One of the minor positive elements to not having sold the novel to anyone yet, nor secured an agent; no deadline.

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Posted by Dirck on 1 February, 2018

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Progress
  •  2,737 words typed.

You might think, with that relatively high word count, I’d be a happy fellow.

Hey, look, I’m using foreshadowing, like a writer.

It has, by most other metrics, been a fairly abominable week… and a bit.  I’m not going to share the whole sad yarn, but one form of woe which came to the house lately I will offer here, because it’s a kind which I have shared previously.  We have lost yet another cat.  This time, at least, it’s a loss which we saw coming, because unlike so many of the others, this chap lived to the sort of age we expect a cat to last to.  He was the child of she who passed from us eight years back (good heavens, but haven’t I been at this while?), and was creeping stealthily toward his nineteenth birthday.  Alas, like so many desirable prey will, it seems to have noticed him stalking it, and fled away.

He made a pretty good hunt of it, though.  Farewell to Oberon, then.

And because he was adopted by the wrong sort of people, his full name was Oberon Kenobi.

Our sole survivor, Hercule, is as bereft as you might expect from looking at this. Once we’ve cleaned up the place a little, we’ll be seeking new companions for him.

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Words per… Hour?

Posted by Dirck on 26 January, 2018

I did not attend my usual Friday lunch, because I have not made enough words this week.  Ain’t I a good boy?  Still, contemplating the speed of output over the past couple of weeks, I find I’m embarrassed at how slowly things are going. For the sake of comparison…

Watching this little film, consider the key-travel, and the weight required to work the mechanism of each letter.  Not only were these women blazingly quick at typing, I have no doubt the muscles required for it make them deadly grappling menaces.  No asking for help opening a jar for them!

Today’s pen: Pelikan M20
Today’s ink: Diamine Evergreen

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Posted by Dirck on 25 January, 2018


This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Progress
  •  1,825 words typed.

Yesterday saw my writing time somewhat taken up by a surprise concert given by the Migraine Tabernacle Choir. This makes me cry “Tabernac!” in the mode of my compatriots from Quebec, because the going on this current patch has been slow enough. I had really thought I’d be through the depths of re-arrangement by this time, but it looks like the slog will continue for a day or two more.

Thank the diverse gods of writerly inspiration that the result is, hoorah, markedly better than the first draft.

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Combining Interests

Posted by Dirck on 19 January, 2018

Escapism this week.  The interests combining here are adventure films, people reviewing films, history, and the work of Patrick O’Brian.  That’s pretty good for one little video.

Man, I need to watch that thing again.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Taranis
Today’s ink: Skrip Blue

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Posted by Dirck on 18 January, 2018

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Progress
  •   2,173 words typed.

Some real excitement here, which may have affected my rate of production.  First, there is a signed contract in place now, so I can reveal that “Free Balloons for All Good Children” was bought by Pseudopod, and that it is at least tentatively scheduled to appear there in the latter part of April.  I will of course be adding links to the story itself once it appears, in addition to yelling from rooftops and possibly breaking into your house to make sure you’ve had a look at it.  Yes, you.

The other item that has set me all a-bubble is a second note of acceptance, this time on “Without Fear, Favour or Affection,” which some who persist in following this low-impact content of mine may remember I took a hiatus from the novel about this time last year to work up.  It will be going into an anthology, about which I will reveal more as matters the phase state of the arrangement moves closer to solid.  But I am giddy on the current liquid-approaching-slurry, I assure you.

Cripes.  I can actually start to wear the mantle of professional author.

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Frosted and Iced

Posted by Dirck on 12 January, 2018

I greatly enjoy the Great British Bake Off, and its Canadian cousin.  I enjoy, now and then, baking a cake.  I shall be doing so this weekend, in fact, for an observation of my father’s birthday.

But I am not a huge fan of frosting or icing.  The former was a menace on Christmas day, during a week in which many places in Canada were being described in the news as colder than Mars.  It’s not quite that cold today… but on Wednesday it was warm. It was, in fact, only freezing, in the strict 0C meaning of the word.

Which meant that the couple of hours of rain which preceded the sudden drop back to normal winter temperatures is still gleaming on every horizontal surface.  We have been glazed.

So today’s film is a philosophical contemplation of what might happen if time stopped.  Because I think it did. Or has.  Or continues to.

Today’s pen: Parker Vacumatic
Today’s ink: Waterman vintage blue

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Posted by Dirck on 11 January, 2018

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Progress
  •  1,889 words typed.

Another subpar week; this is not down to the old-style entry I indulged in on Tuesday, but stems from having to rearrange some plot elements convincingly and from today’s visit by Mr. Throbbing Migraine.  Fun.

It’s also the reason this appear HOURS later than usual.

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The Miracle Worker

Posted by Dirck on 9 January, 2018

That’s the title of that thing where the guy pretends to be Dread Pirate Roberts and then he gets mostly killed by Prince Humperdink, isn’t it?

Well, failing memory aside, I got to play the role of Miracle Max over the weekend, restoring a hopeless looking case to full vibrant life.  Let me introduce you to the sufferer who appeared on my doorstep, more dead than alive.

The front of a fountain pen, with the end of the point bent downward at about 45 degrees

Poor ol’ droopy

A slightly different angle of the previous image; the pen is rotated so show the deformity from the edge.

You wont get much writing done with that.

Graphic images, to be sure, but I’m sure you can all handle it, and it is in the cause of science.  This pen was dropped, and since the Carène is such an aerodynamic shape, it made sure to drop on the point.  I’m sure this saved the lacquer from chipping, but I do wish pens would understand that their points are not crumple zones.

The main problem with putting this point back in shape lies in the area of leverage.  There is not a lot of point sticking out past the end of the plastic, which limits angles from which one can apply the tools of reshaping.  This is frequently the case with more conventionally-shaped pens in need of similar reconstruction, and the answer is to knock out the point.

…which brings in the other problem.  The Carène’s point is an inset type.  Not, happily, an inlaid point, a trick almost exclusive to Sheaffer, in which the point is fused to the plastic, but still a bit of a problem.  In the usual fountain pen, the point is basically just wedged in between the wall of the section and the feed.  With an inlaid pen, it had a special little mounting that it fits into.  With a Carène, it is also glued in place.

Shocking, but true.  The glue is less to keep it in its mounting than to act as a sealant; still, it adds a layer of complexity.  One has to free that glue as the first step of pulling out the point.  I was lucky, from a morale standpoint, in that the pen’s owner was prepared to buy a whole new section anyway; if I botched the operation completely, I wouldn’t really be making things worse.  So, off we go!

How, then, to release that glue?  You need to run something up under the horns at the back of the point, providing a slight outward tug, to pull them free.  Something thin enough to fit, firm enough to provide the pressure, and also forgiving enough to not scrape up either plastic or gold.  An experienced Carène dismantler on a forum suggested a scalpel; perhaps not quite forgiving, but offering enough of the other two virtues that a skilled user could get away with it.

I don’t trust myself that far.  However, thanks to a touch of lycanthropy (a great-grandparent who would not stay on the path through the moors), the nail on my right index finger serves the bill admirably; thin, firm, and non-marking.  A little caressing, and the job was done.  Then came the tugging with my soft nylon-jawed pliers and the majority of the worry was behind me.

Fountain pen with its point separated from it. The point is shaped like an Isosceles triangle, with rounded edges on the long sides, and a rectangular cutout intruding into the base. It is made to slot into the body of the pen.

The act of tugging took about care of about 72% of the work of straightening, too.

Once the point was out, it was a fairly straightforward application of tiny anvils, burnishers, soft pliers and a little bit of finger-tip.  A few minutes of work, then, and I was able to give a cry of voilà (as I was working on a French pen).

An apparently good-as-new pen, in front of a hand-written message reading FEELING BETTER

I am entirely proud of the final result.

But… what of the matter of glue?  The little bits of thin, clear material that I found suggested something like a PVA white glue.  If I’m right, I’ve got plenty– who with a child in elementary school does not?– but I’m not sure I’m right, and I also had other qualms.  The scalpel-wielding person above spoke of the perils of glue migrating into the feed before it set, which would not be good.  That aside, while I know that white glue is impervious to water once set, I have no idea how long it would take to set in that setting, enclosed between non-permeable materials.

My response to these worries was to fall back on traditional techniques.  Rather than some modern adhesive, I made some tiny little snakes of the softened beeswax I use for a soft seal in pens of much earlier design.  It provides a fluid barrier and it doesn’t go wandering around from where it’s put.  The tiny little snakes went into the space under the point-horns on the shell, where the flimsy little glue residue had lain.  Because I don’t trust ink, I also formed a barrier on the top of the point, the line following the curve behind the big W.  And yes, it would have saved me a lot of descriptive effort if I had taken a picture.  The end result, though, is a seal which is more durable than the original (which a small blow might loosen, as some owners report) yet which won’t interfere with any future repairs.

I mention future repairs with a bow toward Fate.  The owner joked when he collected it, “I’ll likely be back in a week when I drop it again.”

Today’s pen: Italix Parson’s Essential
Today’s ink: Waterman blue-black

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