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Posts Tagged ‘Apis’

What to Do, What to Do?

Posted by Dirck on 22 July, 2015

Before I get to the main meat of today’s entry, I want to vent off some bile that developed during the vacation– my spleen is dangerously swollen from it.  There is this person in my neighbourhood with a car, you see.

“How uncommon!”

Yes, yes.  Actually, as far as I can make out, most neighbourhoods have one of these, so I’m sure my whine with resonate with many others.  The car in question has, so far as I can tell, never left the garage it squats in during my whole time living in the current digs.  It is there to be shown the sun when the weather is fine, to rumble its enormous V8 engine through an elderly and inefficient muffler, and to give its owner something to make a lot of noise with for about an hour a week.  VRRRAAAM! it goes, then BRRRRAAAAAH! Then a few more minutes of idling at what must be about a litre of fuel used every forty seconds before running up to the red-line again.  But not, alas, above it.

What bothers me is this– if he’s trying to fix it (and I assign the masculine gender for mere convenience in writing), one would think seven or eight years of summer weekends would have provided sufficient time to figure out what the problem was or admit that the problem was beyond his powers.  There are some odd pastimes in this world of ours, a statement of which I’m living proof, but I really don’t see the joy in spending your summers with your face inside an engine compartment just to listen to the roaring of an engine which apparently will never provide motive force to the car it’s in.  I’m frequently tempted to give him with a claim against his fire insurance, but in this age of home CCTV that temptation has to be left lying.

There.  Now, on to the real point of today’s not-writing-fiction, which is to ponder aloud.  I got, about two weeks ago, a box of pens.  This was a surprise, as no boxes of pens were expected, and since there was in the news at the time a bit of a panic about letter-bombs I will admit that I had a small tremor when I opened it (carefully, with my left hand, sheltering my head behind a door-frame).  Tremor was replaced with joy when I looked within.  A trove of fountain pens.  Many needing a little work to be… moderately functional, really, which is all many of them are capable of.  Italian knock-offs of the Parker “51” from the past, and some more modern Indian pens which are affordable to a high degree.  A few little treasures that just need setting up on their feet, like a Waterman Citation whose decorative clear end crumbled in the usual way of clear decorative Waterman ends.

This whole extravaganza, along with a book I can share with my son, was sent by a sometimes-client and regular reader of this nonsense– I won’t name them, and I really must get down to writing the thank-you note for them– who thought that I was probably a good recipient of such things on the grounds that skills need regular stropping to remain sharp.  These were, in the donor’s opinion, an extremely stroppy bunch of pens, and were nothing but a source of vexation at that end of the postal system but could potentially do some good at this end.

Absolutely.  I’ve admitted several times here my promiscuous nature regarding pens; I have enough love in my heart to welcome almost anything with an ink reservoir and two functional tines (almost anything).  I take these pens in the spirit of their giving, and will practice upon them.

But then there’s the matter of what to do with them once they are as good as they can possibly be.  “Give ’em away” is the easy answer, but that’s at the strategic level, and my question is more of tactics.  The Italians, which I haven’t given much of a looking at, are the sort of thing I wouldn’t want to inflict on someone who wasn’t already familiar with fountain pens, because if they’re like the one I’ve already got the points will fold up under as much pressure as the weight of the pen itself can apply, and because they’re apt to leave my hands with certain filler foibles uncorrected.  The Indian pens are a little more robust, at least, despite being semi-disposeable, and could be given to someone interested in fountain pens to see if that interest would translate into a practical application… but then there’s the “who?” and “by what means chosen?” questions to examine.  Pen Collectors of America has their Pens for Kids initiative, and I could just ship them along at the appropriate time… but despite my membership, I am not in America, and I’d like to see the benefit accrue locally.

The flip-side of that last thought– it’s great to aspire to be a Johnny Appleseed of pens, but acting on that aspiration is fraught.  Time, making contact with educational organizations, having enough pens to fulfill interest… because the trove was substantial for an individual, but one moderate school-room worth of happy, inky-fingered kids and I’ve essentially emptied the box.

Matters to ponder.  I ponder publicly, in hopes of inspiration striking some member of my readership and passing it on in comments.  The donor is, of course, exempt from that exercise, having already worked out what to do about this grateful over-burden.

Today’s pen:  Parker “51”
Today’s ink: Diamine Sherwood Green

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Time for Your Reading Glasses…

Posted by Dirck on 2 November, 2012



  • For aspersion casters, I can start with this or that; there’s worse, too, uncatalogued for want of a maker’s name.


Today’s jolly pen: Waterman Carène
Today’s festive ink: Herbin Lie de Thé
Today’s mystery: The pink undertone on the writing paper.  Human eyes don’t detect it in the original.

…and now for something completely different:

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Fashionably Scrawny

Posted by Dirck on 18 October, 2010

With the exception of Friday, last week was one of very thin pens.  I have contemplated previously on the interface of pen and hand, but this past week made the matter rather less academic.  You see, I had some correspondence which needed attention over the weekend, and here were there pens full of ink.  Most days I only do a few pages of writing, but after nearly twenty pages altogether I have one word to say on the subject of ultra-slim pens of a certain age.


I note that the offending pens are all of a certain grim era, the late 1980s and early 1990s.  This is not, referring back to the graph of pen sales, the nadir of the fountain pen, but it is after the point which saw the common appreciation of the fountain pen go from writing implement to fashion accessory.  Sure, it writes, but you’re not expecting to do much more than sign a credit card flimsy or jot down a telephone number at the disco.  Prolonged writing is for… something else, I guess.

Remember that these pens are not only quite thin, they’re also relatively heavy, as the bodies are made of metal.  I can write a lot longer with the Waterman 12 or some other hard rubber pen that I can with the fashion pens, although they’re all much of a sameness in terms of thickness.  The combination of holding fingers very close together while supporting a brass tube is the real generator of misery.

I don’t think that any of the pen makers of the time avoided this particular trap– certainly Sheaffer and Waterman had their own entries.  To judge by that graph, this little trend didn’t do any real harm to fountain pens in general, and perhaps it even helped them start getting back on their feet.  That said, I don’t think I’ll be writing anything above a page with one again in the foreseeable future.

Today’s non-slender pen:  Sheaffer Legacy I (which is on its maiden flight today, and I will likely have a few thoughts to share later in the week)
Today’s ink, low fat only by chance:  Pelikan 4001 blue-black

Afterword:  I am not particularly fond of my van.  It is heaping expense and inconvenience upon what was never a healthy relationship, and assuming it is available to me tomorrow I’ll be cramming a number of things into the lunch break that should have been done from 2pm yesterday until 8pm tonight.  If I appear here at all, it is likely to merely be a statement of the day’s companions.  If anyone has a Toyota Previa or early Honda Odyssey in good function that they’re willing to trade for a Ford, I’ll gladly oblige with both the van and references to some mental care professionals.

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When I was a kid….

Posted by Dirck on 23 February, 2010

I have convinced myself to stick with the experimental single-pen for the week (this is a bit of a lie, as I’ve a desk set I ever use at The Regular Job, but they’ve not counted before this so why start now?).

The last time I was a nonstylistic person was a very long time ago. Way back in grade school, in fact, a year or two before Star Wars was unleashed on the world, and it may even be three years before that; I can’t quite remember whether I started using it between the abominable teachers in my first school, or whether I was already in the grip of the second one.

I will say I had only one pen for about five years, although this is also a bit of obfuscation. It was one pen in the sense that I always replaced the one I invariably lost over the summer, not uncommonly over Christmas and Easter breaks, and sometimes in the course of a weekend, with the very same model, the noble and cheap Sheaffer cartridge pen. I was the same pen so far as the principles of mass production would allow, and I wasn’t sufficiently aware of the properties of pens to notice the subtle differences between them.

The funny thing is, I initially chose that pen because the vanes on the feed made me think it was a newly-minted pen of the exciting future. There were similar motifs in The Jetsons and Rocket Robin Hood, after all, and a kid who sees something for the first time tends to think of it as a new discovery. My interest in space exploration led me to embrace a century-old technology.

Part of the reason I was a one-penner was I didn’t have a clue that other fountain pens existed. When in high school I stumbled upon an Osmiroid, I snapped it up. By 1985 I had several pens, but despite the fact they came from more elevated settings than a hook at the local drug store, none quite matched the performance of the Sheaffer (some were exquisitely disappointing, in fact), and I kept coming back to it.

So, through reflection upon this experiment if not the direct experience of it, I learn a reason for someone clinging to one single pen– it failed to be a crummy as other pens they can afford. This isn’t exactly a positive message, but it’s a valid result.

Today’s ongoing pen: Lamy 2000
Today’s returning ink: Pelikan 4001 blue-black

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