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Posts Tagged ‘Lamy 99’

Surrogates and the Other Side of the Coin

Posted by Dirck on 5 August, 2011

I spent a little bit of time at the other end of this week raving in my gentle way about the utility of handwriting.  Today I have had pointed out to me a story about some people who will do the writing for others.

As so often happens, I cannot form a single opinion on the matter.  My initial impulse is to be charmed, and to offer my applause to the volunteers who are putting their wrists on the line for those who cannot face a pen.  The site suggests they are to expect a minimum of 25 letters a week, a volume I find extremely daunting.  The notion of acting as the agency to bring to fruition the urge to send a nice hand-written something to a loved one is extremely appealing.

And then my cynical side chimes in.  In the story about the service, the last couple of sentences are offered by someone who I find I must agree with.  Their opinion is that, while this is a sweet idea, it offers the recipient only a taste of the happiness they might know from getting something written by the sender personally.  The words may be the sender’s, and the “thought that counts” essence remains in place, but it is still a transmission, a communication at a couple of removes.  An email leaves the senders brain, fingers hit a keyboard, words enter the wires of the world, and manifest upon a screen for the receiver’s brain to absorb; there is no contact.  A personally-written letter lies under the hand of the writer, with the shape of the letters somewhat dependent upon the emotion felt as they were formed, and that very same piece of paper goes into the hands of the intended reader.  This service simulates the latter, but the emotions the medium reveals are not the initiator’s, nor if you’re picky are the salty hand-secretions in the paper.  It may be eminently more legible than the original writer’s own hand, but that’s not really the point.  If I call my mom, she expects to hear my voice; if I hire James Earl Jones to do the talking for me, the sound will be more mellifluous (and you should hear him say that word!), but I expect there will still be a little disappointment that it’s not me.

Shortly before email became omnipresent, I lived in Korea, serving a short sentence in the English mines there.  For convenience’s sake, most of us expats used the school as a mailing address, and the anticipation of mail delivery each day made the staff-room crackle.  Those who got mail were transported in glee so vigorously that those who did not found their envy muffled by vicarious excitement.  I was extremely lucky in having correspondence-inclined family and friends, and got a couple of letters a week.  I can attest to the power of holding that artifact created by the person whose words it serves to communicate.

Would I have been put out if one of them had used a scribe?  I don’t think so.  But I doubt I’d have felt the degree of connection, and I likely would have run mad somewhat faster than I did.  I don’t suggest a shunning of the service (would I have offered a link if I were?), but do consider whether you are entirely incapable of managing the feat yourself.  It’s in the same line as having a child who is manifestly no van Rijn, yet you’ll still hang his crayon efforts in place of pride– the form is secondary to the source.  If you are indeed incapable of getting the words down yourself, by all means pursue a proxy-writer; while there’s an intermediary, it is at least a human intermediary, and while it may not be your hand that does the writing, the recipient will still appreciate that it was an actual hand.

Today’s pen (not yet broken again): Lamy 99
Today’s ink: Mont Blanc Racing Green

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Hearing Test

Posted by Dirck on 3 August, 2011

…to hopefully eliminate a possible reason for my son’s delay in speech development.  See you tomorrow!

Today’s pen (and tomorrow’s topic): Lamy 99
Today’s ink: Mont Blanc Racing Green

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Another experiment

Posted by Dirck on 27 April, 2010

This one is a little less interesting than previous forays into science, and is in fact getting close, I expect, to its terminal phase. It’s about mileage.

I mentioned in a previous post about having a Parker “51” desk pen of the vacumatic flavour, and having housed in the base I use at The Regular Job. Shortly before I made the posting, I decided that I would run this small and pointless experiment in writing duration. That pen was filled as full as it should be on 14 April, and I am going to leave it until it runs out of ink and makes no marks on a page before refilling.

It shows no real sign of stopping, on the eve of a fortnight’s unreplenished use. The aerometric-filler whose nest it has expropriated was once run to the same protocol, and ran out of juice about the two-week mark. If this one gets through to the end of business today, we may say that the vacumatic “51” takes longer to write empty.

May say it, of course, but probably shouldn’t. This is pseudoscience at best, as there’s no controls over how many linear yards of mark either pen has laid down over the periods in question, the humidity of each day of the “experiment”, the papers used, and various others I’m no doubt overlooking. I am, to be honest, simply amusing myself and hanging about this amusement a thin drapery of science.

I’m not very troubled by this. I’m not doing science properly, but I’m also not undercutting anyone’s grant money. All costs are underwritten by my own milk money, and the main benefit is to give my synapses something to mumble beyond the demands of The Regular Job, which frankly barely keeps the cortex warm.

When this pen gives out, I’ll announce the results, for what they’re worth. My next achievement will be to quantify boredom (as soon as I find a good term for the units– some jerk already used “boron”).

Today’s empirical pen: Lamy 99
Today’s intuitive ink: Herbin’s Poussière de Lune

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It’s the thought that counts

Posted by Dirck on 30 December, 2009

I reverse from my notion of yesterday– the mails may be slower than I think, and I don’t want any surprises undone before they’re sprung.

My wife and I gave what I consider a lamentable pile of gift cards this year (which in our case was an item made of paper, with the words “GIFT CARD” printed on the outside, and stuffed with small bills; the store-bought type tend to have service fees and whatnot that cause them to evaporate if not used promptly). I lament because I like to give the right gift for Christmas/Birthday/Waitangi Day*, the one that says to the receiver that some serious thought went into it. This year was a bit of a bust in that regard because our son’s current activities tend to defeat rational thought, and because some of our various loved ones will not even in the face of desperate entreaties give any useful hints.

On the other hand, we offer lists, with specific items and broad categories of welcome things (“More Sleep” is apparently very hard to package). As a result, and with the added effect of very low expectations (Hoodoo McFiggins should be revelling in his collars!), we are very content each Christmas.

“I’ll bet,” I can hear my purported readers saying, “you got a pen.”

Wrong. And I’m happy for it.

Why? Because it is a great mistake to get something for someone who is interested in that thing. You’re apt to do it wrong. If someone likes, or I should say, is KNOWN to like “Precious Moments” figurines, it seems an obvious thing to go and get them one… until you ponder the multiplicity of the little brutes, and the high likelihood of the recipient already having the one you’re about to buy for them. With an esoteric pursuit, of which pens is only a moderately obscure example, the problems compound. Is this one of the sort of thing they actually like? Are they specific as to colour? Does it matter if the thing is still functional? How can I tell if it is still functional? Even if it’s on the wish list– am I certain the shop clerk knows what a Jemkins butter-thruster with reciprocating whey-gate is, or is he just acting wise to make a sale?

I have a few friends who I’ve briefed on fountain pens, who are very active in looking into unexpected places. One has turned up a couple of startling objects, and in each case has given the loot as a free and delightful gift. Most of my circle, however, have had the sense not to attend when I start frothing at the mouth and rambling about the difference between lever and hatchet fillers. They don’t buy me a pen as a gift. I don’t, except where an inclination (usually towards writing rather than stylophilia) beckons, give them very often. We all remain content.

Today’s pen, a delight to me alone: Lamy 99
Today’s ink, a mystery but to a select few: Herbin’s Vert Empire

*I realize that Waitangi Day is not particularly festive, but to us contra-antipodeal types it has a delightful sound. The last thing I want is to engender Maori wrath.

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