What's up at Ravens March.

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Posts Tagged ‘Regular Job’

Posted by Dirck on 26 November, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 23 November
  • 24 November
  • 25 November
  • 26 November
  • Second draft of “Aliasing Harmonic.”
  • Still second draft.
  • Metaphorical landslide at Regular Job.
  • Back to the second draft work, with both hands.
  • 923 words typed
  • 824 words.
  • 0 words.
  • 1,063 words.
  • 55 min.
  • 45 min.
  • All of it.
  • 50 min.

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Little and Often

Posted by Dirck on 13 November, 2015

Say, look what I forgot yesterday. The short-staffing at The Regular Job persists.

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 9 November
  • 10 November
  • 11 November
  • 12 November
  • Last week’s woes extend.
  • Second draft of “Aliasing Harmonic,” plus this.
  • Contemplating past events
  • Contemplating past works
  • Zipperoo, writing-wise.
  • 379 and 315 words, respectively.
  • Never quite enough.
  • Inconclusive (see below).
  • Unendurable, really.
  • 45 min.
  • All day, but peaking at 11:00.
  • Enough to prevent fresh writing.

In part, today’s film is a mere public service; if you find yourself suddenly called upon to fill this role, it is good to know what you should be at.

Yesterday’s distraction was not shovelling coal, whether actual or metaphoric, but did involve a quantity of smoldering.  I’ve had news that a publication which I would like to submit to has reopened their submissions desk after a long hiatus, and I was trying to decide which of the things I’ve got in my shot-locker is most apt to the forum.  I’ve got a couple of candidates in the tumbler getting final polish now, and should have something away by Monday.

On a side note; I think “little and often” is probably a good policy in most things.  I lament that, while I’ve got the “little” side of writing locked down brilliantly, “often” is becoming elusive.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Snorkel Sovereign
Today’s ink: Montblanc Racing Green

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Posted by Dirck on 5 November, 2015

But first, important stuff: tomorrow is Fountain Pen Day. Celebrate responsibly!

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 2 November
  • 3 November
  • 28 October
  • 22 October
  • Second draft of “Aliasing Harmonic”.
  • Second draft persists
  • The Regular Job (see below)
  • Getting a new story run out on the fiction front.
  • 448 words typed.
  • 804 words typed.
  • A recurrent Wednesday problem
  • G’wan, have a look.
  • 25 min.
  • 45 min.
  • see below
  • Enough to prevent fresh writing.

I was struck on Tuesday at the relatively grim words/minute stats that the second drafts work out to.  Take it was proof that there is actual revision in that stage of the exercise, not mere transcription.

…because otherwise I’ll be horribly embarrassed.

Also, due to an illness-induced short staffing of The Regular Job, I feel I have to include yet another animation to suggest how the past couple of weeks has seemed (complete with inexplicable interruption and repetition).  Unavoidable working through lunch breaks!  Monstrous!

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Raise the Alarm

Posted by Dirck on 2 October, 2015

The Regular Job presented me with several metaphorical fires to put out today, which has eaten into my lunch break!  Thus, a late and entirely thematic Friday Film From Faraway

Today’s pen: TWSBI Vac 700
Today’s ink: Diamine Sargasso Sea

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Progress, and deep thoughts about the near future

Posted by Dirck on 3 September, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 1 September
  • 1 September
  • 2 September
  • 3 September
  • First draft of “Old Home Week”.
  • Pondering Patreon, Kickstarter, and Gofundme.
  • The same (more story than pondering).
  • “Old Home Week” concludes
  • Five manuscript pages.
  • Deeply.
  • Seven pages.
  • Four pages, and about a pint of tears– this one really opened an emotional vein on me.
  • 30 min.
  • All damn day.
  • 40 min.
  • 35 min.

The three crowdfunding things listed above are another response to the current dire financial straits I’m bound up in, of course.  The prospect of strangers sending me money is, for a dinosaur like me, a slightly odd one, even in the versions where there’s some strings of performance attached.  At the moment, what I’ve got in my head looks like this:

1) Kickstarter


  • Everyone has heard of it (and yet I provide a link to show what it is…)
  • Doesn’t call for repeated output, just a single explosion


  • Should have a specific goal in mind (a novel, an anthology, a comic, something with a title hung on it)
  • Categories include “publishing” but not “writing”, and I’m not sure I have the knowledge nor the stamina to figure out self-publishing.
  • Need to come up with a lot of extra little treats for the various levels of support
  • Needs a certain amount of flashy production in the presentation to be really successful

2) Patreon


  • Has a discrete “writing” heading.
  • May provide enough of an ongoing income that writing displaces The Regular Job (may–  I’m not insane in my optimism on that point)
  • Pushes me to push my writing out the door (much as one must eventually sent the kids to school, no matter how tiny they look crossing the playground).
  • I know there’s probably a curious follower or two here that would like to actually see the stuff I’ve been boring you with for the past couple of years
  • Comes closest to the “get paid for what you like to do” sensation I’m hoping for


  • Anticipates extremely regular output which means:
    • relentless pressure to keep producing (so a long, time-consuming thing like a novel or that still-awaiting-second-draft Choose Your Doom project becomes difficult);
    • on-line releases of material, which burn first-publication rights (a consideration when hoping to get into more traditional print anthologies)
  • That extra treats problem raises its head again, although possibly more manageably
  • A lot of the writing projects seen there seem to view the natural measure of funding as “per project” rather than “per month”; it takes the time-pressure off, granted, but doesn’t seem like a good way to get bills seen to.
  • Also needs a somewhat flashy production (although perhaps less-so than Kickstarter) in the presentation to be really successful

3) Gofundme


  • Doesn’t have to be reliant on productivity– “I am broke” is a viable pitch
  • Not as Big Fat Project-ish as Kickstarter, but also not open-ended like Patreon; looks like a good middle ground for funding the effort of a novel without having to see it all the way through the presses (if it was a novel rather than bills that were my current prime concern…)
  • Less anticipation of rewards for donations, but it is there.


  • Embarrassment factor of shaking a begging bowl, especially when it’s not a discrete “house burnt down” situation.
  • Not as well-known as either of the others for artistic funding; I know when I see it I’m thinking “people in trouble” more than “project needs funding”

I need to do something, because The Regular Job isn’t keeping up its end of the social contract, and there’s little alternative in “real jobs” otherwise for reasons I won’t bore you (moreso) with.  Right at the moment, I’m wondering if I don’t try two of the above; I begin to see, with some serious thought-experimenting required to finish, how I might be able to work my way into a Patreon client, and while the house hasn’t burnt down, I have the sort of real concerns about it remaining intact without renewal of the roof that make Gofundme seem wise.  The martyr/proud idiot element in me shouts that doing both at once is somehow cheating; I don’t understand why any more than you do, but it’s in there.  Kickstarter is where the money is, and I think I’ve got sufficient powder for the charge if I go that way, but it’s SO daunting in the department of stuff that would still need doing should funding be successful… and frankly also in the prep needed for a pitch.

This is not, by the way, mere rhetorical muttering.  There’s space for comments, and I will happily greet anyone’s suggestions or descriptions of experience (and, with a nod to the embarrassment angle mentioned above, I will at request anonymize or remove those comments from public view).  Speak out, please!  I’m going to do something really soon, and I’d rather do it after suggestions are in.

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Forecast Calls For…

Posted by Dirck on 20 July, 2015

Well, that was a less productive vacation than hoped for.

What I mean is that I didn’t get done a tenth part of the refitting of the house done that I’d hoped.  This is primarily down to the unreasonable attitude of hardware stores, lumber yards, and chandlers in that they like being paid for the stuff you want to take away from them.  Since the vacation didn’t also bring a stack of loose treasure with it, I had to make do with an exhausting amount of moving things around in hopes of turning chattels into load-bearing walls.

We’re getting an heirloom piano soon, and it should do nicely to keep the ceiling up.

I did get a little done on the writing side of things, although the moving-of-stuff kept me from much in that line.  Thus I am champing at the bit for the Regular Job’s promise of a half-hour or so of scribbling away without telephones yammering, cats making messes, meals wanting preparation, and sons wanting “help” in Minecraft (meaning, “you do it while I see to a more thorough distribution of wooden locomotives about the floor; make sure to find lots of diamonds and iron”).  However, there were also some developments in the realm of pens that I would like to share with the dedicated and long-neglected readers here, so I’m going to carry on champing for a little while while I apply the time to writing non-fictions.

Unfortunately, with that foreword written, I now have to break off.  The return to The Regular Job finds a great deal of stuff that I usually do needing doing.  It’s at least in tidy stacks, not the mixed drifts I’ve found on past returns, but the extra week means there’s that much more of it.  The forecast, then, is for slightly interesting things… soon.

Today’s pen: Pilot Vanishing Point
Today’s ink: Pilot Black (which I don’t have a sample of– it’s black.  Quite strongly black)

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Fair Comment

Posted by Dirck on 21 October, 2014

Ah, meta-blogging– how long I’ve avoided it!  However, it’s time for a little navel-gazing, with a small hint of resentment (but not for obvious reasons).

Those who look at comments will have seen the one on yesterday’s progress report.  For those who don’t, the main part of it:

Pssst,… can I talk to you for a second? Uh… please, please, please forgive me but, … uh… I think you’re grossly over estimating your readership’s interest in “what”, “how much” and “how long”, especially since we never get to see the results of this effort [emphasis added for reasons to follow]. I know, I know we got to see one, but still… these progress reports read too much like, and are about as interesting as the log my gastroenterologist had me keep for a while many years ago. Please, please, I,… WE beg you, go back to your missives and musings.

I would be lying if I didn’t  admit to wondering if this wasn’t the case.  However, there have been a quantity of “like” button pokings and even some new “follow” activity that plainly isn’t just robots trying to sell me stuff.

When I started with the progress report entries back at the start of the year, I had in mind two silly things.  Thing one– if I stop making a noise on a daily basis, people (read, my father as perceived by me at age 13) will think I’m not actually working and become disappointed.  Thing two– how will everyone know what pen I’m using on a given day?  The celestial spheres will catch in their tracks without that intelligence reaching the world!

It has been a LONG time since I referred to the primary reason this enterprise came into being.  While I’m happy to point people at the main site and in that way drum up some business for one of the things I’d rather be doing for money than The Regular Job, that’s not why I started yelling at the internet during my lunch breaks.  I did it so I wouldn’t spend far too much time pondering the various auction sites of the world and getting into trouble when the temptation of a fixable and almost-affordable pen becomes too much to resist.  This avoidance is still an important part of daily routine, indeed all the more so as the federal and provincial governments keep stamping on the middle class with both feet, but the turn to fiction (which is also high in the list for rather doing than The Regular Job) is quite handily turning me away from the sirens of internet commerce.

We will not, out of politeness, mention that even in the absence of the fiction distraction, this thing would have dried up about the same time for want of non-fictional material to chew over.  That first five years of working here really emptied my shot locker.  The infrequent non-progress reports are about all I had in me.

So the only reason I’d keep at what, as I have already admitted, is something I wonder at anyone reading is because some people are clearly interested; this gets me back silly thing one, above. I’d probably give up on the whole progress update concept entirely if I didn’t know my own powers of slacking off if entirely unobserved, so what I think I may do is this– some sort of week’s workings report, possibly on Thursday to avoid distracting from the fun of the Friday Fumbled (from someone else’s pocket) Film, and otherwise silence unless I’ve got something interesting to offer.  Interesting within my previously established idiom, that is– let’s not get over-excited.  I forget that with that “follow” button poked, people who are actually interested in what I’m at, whether it’s carving a story out of my brain, contemplating odd choices of style in mens’ wear, or being beaten into an unrecognizable heap by a pen unwilling to be fixed, will have the new developments thrust upon them.  Daily howling is not strictly required.

Which leaves me with a couple of loose ends to tie up, or possibly down.  Let me first address the emphasis added to the quote, which is another thing I’ll admit to some guilt about.  On that, while I’m not going to instantly open the vaults, since some folks have turned the phrase “First Worldwide Rights” into a terrible lurking entity in my world– “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh First Worldwide Rights R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!“– but as Hallowe’en is coming up I am planning on putting something out where it can be (potentially) enjoyed by one and all.  I may also post that contest entry from the summer here too, since First Worldwide Rights the Great and Terrible has caused the forum all the entries are on to hide them from non-members and web-crawlers.

Finally: resentment.  Yep, there’s resentment infused into this entry.  Not, as I hope I’ve made clear with all the preceding, regarding the content of the message.  Rather, I find myself simmering because I’ve spent time blogging about blogging when a perfectly nice first draft story lies hardly begun.  This suggests some degree of addiction.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer TM Valiant (fully recovered from previous surgery)
Today’s ink: Herbin’s Lie de Thé

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Trauma, When a Toe

Posted by Dirck on 24 July, 2014

I speak, of course, of stubbing.  Those whose memories extend to the earliest days of this item will remember that this is a practice that I’m not entirely a fan of.  Like all humans, I’m an inconsistent creature, and have committed stubbing upon some of my own pens, and even bragged about the results, and which I continue to enjoy.

Well, on Monday I returned some pens to a client upon which I had also practiced grindery.  These were not the first I had done this to, but in previous examples the stakes were relatively low.  This most recent batch were different in that it was a pair of Montblanc 149s and a Pelikan 800; not inexpensive pens, and pens which I can’t afford to replace any part of, let alone the points.  Those who are familiar with Richard III may have some doubts, but when I say I had to be talked into doing the work, I really mean it.  However, I’m pleased with the results.

As ever, I sound off prematurely, as I have yet to hear from the client if this pleasure lies at both ends of the transaction.  I may be setting myself up for a retraction (at least), but I’m pretty seriously critical of myself.  That interior critic being grudgingly content with the performance, I’ve finally decided to admit to the world in general (and not just you few who look in here) that I’ll do this sort of thing.  For money.  The Services page of my site is even now whispering it into the ear of Google.

On a brief side note which is probably connected, I spent a bit of this morning questioning my sanity.  A very skinny youth on a skateboard drifted past the window here at The Regular Job.  Almost instantly, this came into my head.

Attenuated skateboard dude,
I hope you will not think me rude,
If I observe that it’s quite crude,
for you to do that in the nude.

…which he was not, I hasten to point out.  Now, it has been… , wow, thirty years since I set aside my psychology studies, but I do recall spontaneous rhyming as showing up somewhere in the DSM, and it wasn’t in the “nothing to worry about” section.

That little tremor of concern ties in with another recent aberration.  A friend’s visit last week had me actually looking into the face of Pinterest, and while I can’t say I quite grasp the utility of it (lots of pictures, not much information), I have decided to give it a little time.  Anyone looking at the site will find that all my pictures are now ready and willing to be pinned, for whatever joy that may bring the pinners.  I’ve scored some pretty pictures, of pens and of other things, like the Art Deco infestation of Napier, New Zealand.  In theory, my life is somehow richer.

I suppose it’s something to do with the connection between writers and nuttiness.  Perhaps I should go down the Hemingway path and drink myself sane.  That worked out well for him, right?

Today’s pen: Waterman Carène (the same pen two days in a row!  He’s gone completely round the bend!)
Today’s ink:  Diamine Denim

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Lifestyle Experimentation

Posted by Dirck on 8 July, 2014

Following up on yesterday’s hint (dare I say titillating innuendo?), I should go on to say that this dabbling in alternative lifestyles was not limited to a single avenue.  Let’s start with the one I find most distressing, now that normality is sweeping back over me.  Normality as in “how I generally conduct myself,” that is, as “in much the same way as the majority of other people in the local population” is not something I’ve even claimed– this first example proving that quite nicely.

1) Sports 

I have been… gosh, I hesitate to even name it… I have been actively paying some small amount of attention to sports.

What makes this all the more radical a departure from my own version of normal is that, thanks to a protracted and painfully ill-thought-out decision to replace the local sports stadium with one that is very slightly larger, my power of not caring about sports had as of a month ago reached an all-time height, depth, and/or breadth.  Were there an Olympic medal handed out in not giving a damn about sports, I’d be in serious competition for the gold.

In fact, for all I know, there is and I’m so trained for it the fact has escaped me.

However, like many regular folks, I like my family.  My father and brother are very very excited!!! about the World Cup,…

VERY excited.

VERY excited. (identities concealed to protect their family)

…and rather than spent our regular outings sitting in a corner with my arms folded and a small stormcloud hovering above me, I’ve taken notice of how team Netherlands is doing in the sportings.  They appear to have done a bang up job of running around a lot, pretending to be hurt, pretending to not have done that terrible thing that other guy is pretending happened to him, and standing in lines while adopting a posture which suggests they’ve forgotten they have clothes on.  And they embarrassed the Spanish team on the first match, so everything henceforth is gravy.

Hup Holland and all that.

Hup Holland and all that.

2. Fitness

I don’t ignore fitness as much as I do sports, because I intend to join in the family tradition of living to a ridiculously old age.  However, Regular Job and parenting conspire to keep me from doing much more than fifty push-ups or lunges in my coffee breaks and dead-lifting an increasingly heavy boy.  During the vacation, however, I got an opportunity to go out for a couple of rather long, brisk walks.

The maternal grandparents bought my son a bike.  He’s just about worn the tread off the training wheels.

I don’t have a bike; I did, but it was stolen from my yard about a year before the boy appeared in the world and as I haven’t been able to afford a shed to hide another in, I never replaced it.  Now I think I’ll have to commit to both bike and shed (which means no more breakfasts or lunches for a couple of years), because with tiny 16″ wheels and the drag of the training wheels, son can easily outdistance me.

Getting the bike is less about keeping up with him and persisting a little longer in the particular sort of hover-parenting we’ve afflicted on the lad.  Rather, it’s to prepare for the day in the all-too-foreseeable future when he trundles off out of sight, under his own power, to some undefined location with a pack of his similarly mobile friends, and we know nothing of what he’s about for hours at a time.  I don’t know if my heart can take that unless I get a lot more exercise than I’m currently enjoying.

I do, by the way, endorse the notion of his getting out from the continuous parental scrutiny, even if I go pale with terror at its actually happening.  I spent a lot of my childhood in that state, back in the ’70s when there were still residual hippies in the parks and unseatbelted funny drunk driving was shown on television.

3. Shaving

I started the vacation with a shave.

It was creepy.

I come from a tradition of beard.  My father, as you see above, has one, and it was very nearly responsible for his death in 1959 when he was mistaken for Fidel Castro (he was, I’m pleased to say, an authentic beret-wearing beatnik).  My wife likes a beard on a chap, as part of the whole portfolio of robust manliness she finds attractive– I am fortunate in this, as I’d have to get all my ribs removed to get the gracile “swimmer’s build” that’s all the rage these days.  Not shaving saves a powerful amount of time each morning; I crop my hair very short every month or so, and spend just about zero time pondering myself in the mirror for weeks at a time.

However, every five to eight years, I’ll shave.  I do this primarily to remind myself of why I don’t bother; it took an hour to knock down what the trimmer left, and used vast amounts of water and blood.  This was followed by a couple of days of friends and family members jumping and then saying, a hand pressed unconsciously to chest, “Say, that sure makes you look younger.”  My son pointed and laughed a lot.

It took me longer to get used to it, because they’d see me every time I walked into the same room.  I only got a brief glimpse when passing through the bathroom, and it was a full week of startles.  You see, not only am I very used to having a beard, I also look rather like a particular celebrity.  Thus, every time I stood up from the toilet, I was suddenly confronted with…


Honest.  Except I’ve got a small mole to the left of my chin, and a chicken pox scar in the upper forehead wrinkle.  And my ears stick out a little more at the top.

There is also the loss of absorbency.  People ask “how do you stand that in the summer?”  I wonder back, how the persistent shaver deals with his whole jaw feeling vaguely greasy at all times?

The non-beard look does, in honesty, sort well with my preference for vintage modes of dress, but the discomfort and inconvenience doesn’t make it worth the effort.  I have let the beard return, and it has almost gotten through the far side of the Shabby Hobo sort of facial fuzz that seems to be big these days.  Thanks be to Hirsution, greek deity of hairiness!

4. Slacking

Vacation, right?  Actually, this is a post-vacation thing.  I learn upon bringing my Shabby Hobo face back to The Regular Job that the main reason for using a different colour of ink each day has vanished.  Apparently the accounting department was beset with enervation at the prospect of having to store the documents they have been having my department generate each morning since time immemorial, and which got written down in a calendar according to the business date each report reflected.  Since we’ve been wondering since time immemorial why the accounting department wasn’t doing this whole process itself (consuming a full half-man-hour each morning!), I’m not too upset at the passing of the task.

However, it will probably see me reduce my in-use stable of pens a little; possibly as few as three in a week, and I might even stick with one for couple of days in a row.  Slacking for me, but for you folks, a measurable increase in the amount of dull that my impending return to the fiction writing will bring.  Sorry.

Today’s (and possibly tomorrow’s) pen: Sheaffer Sovereign II
Today’s ink: Herbin’s Lis de Thé

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Resumption of Regular Service

Posted by Dirck on 7 July, 2014

I don’t at the moment have the energy to check back in previous July entries to see if I’ve said this before– a two-week vacation is only just long enough to underline how inadequate a visit to the decompression chamber two weeks is. To add to this pointless envying of the German vacation system (pointless because I actually have LOADS of vacation time in the system, but I’m too caught up in the norms of the current North American work ethic to dare act upon this bonanza; you see my love of long parentheses remains strong) is the constant irritation provided by having left my newly-cleaned and -refilled Esterbrook desk-base at home when I left this morning. I only use it for about eight linear centimeters of marks in the course of a day, but it’s not here!

Prickiness grows in me also because the defeats of the vacation slightly outnumber the victories, although honesty will compel me to examine the truth of that statement.  A much-needed repainting of the bathroom has not happened because miserable weather (230mm (three-quarters of a foot) of rain in the course of one day not too far from here, although we only got about 100mm (just under one hand) out of the same bunch of clouds) prevented the plan of sticking my asthmatic wife outdoors for the priming, and also forced a thorough excavation of the living room to provide a place for guests during the Canada Day/son’s 6th birthday party we’d long planned.  I appear to have not made the cut for that writing competition I was alluding to before the break.  I got a Pelikan Level 5, the “defeat” aspects of which I’ll leave to another day.

Honesty, though.  There was a little bit of perfectly nice weather in which I could frolic, and frolicking even a little is far better than the best The Regular Job has to offer.  I’ve done some repairs on my own behalf and for clients, and the current bench includes a couple of Montblanc Miesterstuck 149s, that intensely promoted model, so I get to experience its grandeur in person and add it, eventually to my site (as with the Level 5, more on another day).  Both are having point amendments, so my lack of specialized tools or carefully-bent paper-clips to stand in for such tools has not effect.  The irises bloomed rather well, the tiger lilies likewise, and the wet soil gives up dandelions wonderfully, making my campaign of no pesticides in the garden a lot less of a hassle.  We also appear to be the owners of a volunteer pumpkin, which I think I’ll make sure to keep my son from touching; one does not lightly dismiss faerie kidnap plots.

New story ideas also swarmed into my head and got written down.  This is small comfort today, as the moment I finish up here, I have to attend to the 650 emails that piled up in my absence; this will mainly be deleting things generated by the system here, which I’m usually deleting as they arrive, but some attention has to be paid and thus not much creativity today.  And before anyone suggests otherwise; under no circumstances will I look at Regular Job emails while on vacation.  That’s just silly.

In fact, I’m going to get at that right now, and I’ll tell you all about my dabbling in an alternative lifestyle tomorrow.

Today’s pen: Pilot Vanishing Point
Today’s ink: Montblanc Royal Blue

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