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Posts Tagged ‘Sheaffer 5-30’

Posted by Dirck on 3 November, 2016

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 31 October
  • 1 November
  • 2 November
  • 3 November
  • Second draft of “Discoveries in the Wake of the Last Crusade.”
  • More second draft.
  • Done, done and done (yes, there are three endings), AND some third draft polishing of “Rearranging Deckchairs.”
  • First draft of Impossible Bodies (eeee!).
  • 626 words typed
  • 715 words
  • A total of 2,777 words on the one, and some minor corrections on the other.
  • Eight manuscript pages.
  • 45 min.
  • 55 min.
  • 45 min.
  • 55 min.

You’ll note the use of italics rather than inverted commas on the title of the new project. The long haul has begun!


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Posted by Dirck on 27 October, 2016

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 24 October
  • 25 October
  • 26 October
  • 27 October
  • First draft of “Discoveries in the Wake of the Last Crusade.”
  • I can see the end, but can’t quite reach it…
  • First draft of “Discoveries” concludes, followed by some prep for next month.
  • Second draft commences.
  • Six manuscript pages.
  • Six pages.
  • Three pages.
  • 935 words typed
  • 45 min.
  • 40 min.
  • 25 min.
  • 50 min.

I had been having some trouble settling on the ending for the current project, having three viable but mutually incompatible possibilities.  Happily, I remembered over the weekend that in this brave new technological age of ours, one can have a story with different endings.  That “Choose Your Own Unspeakable Fate” thing I was working on last year (and am slowly putting into second draft, honest) is essentially just a bigger and more complex manifestation of the thing, but I even have a subscription to Sub-Q, a forum specifically intended for “interactive” texts.  Thus, when “Discoveries…” is ready to roll, I know exactly where I’ll be submitting it first.

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Posted by Dirck on 20 October, 2016

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 17 October
  • 18 October
  • 19 October
  • 20 October
  • First draft of “Discoveries in the Wake of the Last Crusade.”
  • First draft plods along.
  • I’m gettin’ my Clarke on with it.
  • But not today; a task needed doing for my wife.*
  • Seven manuscript pages
  • Five pages
  • Six pages
  • Roughly 6 km driven
  • 50 min.
  • 40 min.
  • 40 min.
  • Enough to be a problem

* Lest you think nothing in the writing line transpired today: a story I sold has been published by they who bought it!  I expound upon this on the other front, but I am… rather pleased.

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Three Ravens, No Waiting.

Posted by Dirck on 14 October, 2016

Because tastes vary, and we like to compare our choices, today’s film selections are really as much a public service as a filler of space on a Friday.




I know which one I prefer, but there’s no wrong choice.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer J5-30SC
Today’s ink: Herbin Vert Empire

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Trembling in Every Limb

Posted by Dirck on 7 May, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 4 May
  • 5 May
  • 6 May
  • 7 May
  • Final draft for submission of “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”
  • see below
  • 45 min.
  • 20 min.
  • 40 min.
  • 35 min.

I sit here, having just finished saving and backing up to various clouds, and I think, “I’m done?  Can I be done?”  I gave myself a month, after all, and here I am apparently content that I have polished my story into as deathless and perfect a gem of modern literature as it can be after less than a week of furious frowning, staring at the comments of the helpful volunteer critics, and keeping ego pinned in its cage as much as possible while acting upon those comments.  Several of them, anyway.  I did throw ego the occasional, “You just don’t get me, man!” to keep it from getting outrageous.

This is the point at which I must remember that over-aggressive polishing is eventually destructive.  The plating gives way to mere brass, the fine detail vanishes.  Just put the thing down and let people admire it.

Unfortunately, submissions don’t open until 1 June, so the latter part of that admonition is not yet available.  That not only gives me plenty of time to fall to “Oh, let’s give it one more look,” but also a magnificent span to obsess about ways in which I can foot-shot during the act of submitting.  It’s going to be a fun three weeks in my head.

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After Walpurgisnacht

Posted by Dirck on 1 May, 2015

Like most other people in North America, I forget that the end of April is as laden with restless spirits as is the end of October.  I suspect my failure to do anything about that is what lies behind an attempt upon my life by the household butter-dish this morning.  As a belated attempt to make amends, today’s film is something upsetting and conducive to nightmares.

I have to go prepare the eulogy for my trousers now.  They valiantly took the blow that was meant for me, and I don’t know if laundering will save them.

Today’s uncomplicated pen: Sheaffer 5-30SC
Today’s ink: Diamine Majestic Blue

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Posted by Dirck on 29 January, 2014

I’m taking a day out from under my muse’s whip to engage in a little self-flagellation.  This was coming anyway, but a piping fresh email from a friend prompts me to act now.  The subject of the note was the TWSBI Vac 700, which he’s considering as a potential next pen (a serious consideration, as he’s one of these happy people that can get along with but a single pen), and I was reminded that I wanted to hold forth a bit on that pen, as I’ve owned one long enough now to have formed a mature opinion.  There are, in a small way, misgivings about it.

More specifically, I have misgivings about the way the filler works.  The general style is one I favour– the friend in question stated his own misgivings about relying on “explosive decompression” for function, but it is a fun and relatively efficient way of filling a pen.  In terms of user effort, it’s extremely efficient, with its quick up, in, down, done… when there aren’t problems built in.  Having many fillings under my belt now, I begin to think that TWSBI has built in a small problem.

They’re not the only ones, I should say, but they’re the only one whose current production pens I can afford.  Like some rather more exalted vacuum fillers, the Vac 700 has a Safety Cut-Off Anti-Drip Valve (which is what none of them actually call the item), an extra seal on the front of the filler shaft.  Let me get the simplified tear-down, so you can have a look at it:

It’s the little conical entity on the far left end of the filler assembly, and it’s pretty easy to see how it works.  Inside the barrel, just behind the section, there’s a depression for the seal to nestle into, and with the tail knob firmly screwed down, it prevents ink from passing into the feed.  Unscrew the knob a little, and ink passes freely.

There’s plenty of people who view this as a big pointless imposition, and I sympathize with their point of view.  It adds a step to unlimbering the pen for action, and extra steps and time are anathema in our current world.  However, since the feed holds plenty of ink once it’s been allowed to access the reservoir, it usually has plenty of reserve for a quick note, so I don’t really share the objection.  My problem with that seal comes in at filling.

Up, in, down, done.  Right.  Except, I find that if I’m a little too brisk with “down”, the seal engages even as the vacuum releases, and I get a very miserable draw of ink.  Going carefully on the “down” brings filling problems too, as the way the main piston seal in this pen works calls for constant downward pressure to hold the seal.  With an old Sheaffer, you can cock the mechanism, push down through most of the travel, and if you let go the vacuum will cause the piston to bob back up– it’s actually pretty neat.  With this rig, if you let go, you can’t even see the amount of travel in the piston required for the seal to vanish, so hesitating on the down-stroke is fatal to the filling attempt.  One thus has to put in effort enough to fit a very narrow Goldilocksian window to get a decent fill.

I have not seen a lot of others complaining about this, so it may be specific to my pen.  Possibly something to do with the little problem it had with some angry German ink a while back, or (gulp) it might be connected with my own tinkering– did I put the filler unit back together entirely properly, or did I arrange it so that there’s too much depth on the shaft?  However, I am going to do something about it, and it’s probably the stupid solution.  I’m going to pull the cut-off seal entirely.  It’s easy to get at, performs a function so redundant that “belt and suspenders” seems negligent by comparison, and the procedure is easily reversed.

…although if I was smart, I’d start experimenting with how deeply the blind cap retaining nut should sit (at this point, he descended into muttering technicalities and had to be led away by his minder).

Today’s uncomplicated pen: Sheaffer 5-30SR
Today’s ink: Pelikan Violet

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I’m the Boss of Me

Posted by Dirck on 15 November, 2012

I did a remarkably stupid thing yesterday.  It’s all the more stupid because I knew exactly the effect it would have, yet I did it anyway.  It is, I suppose, nice to be proven right in one’s suppositions, but that’s a shallow comfort.  But enough dancing; let’s get down the the point:

I opened up a Twitter account.

You’ll note I’m not linking to it.  In all sober earnest, I’m giving it to Monday to prove that my current estimate of it is mistaken, and if it doesn’t I shall in the best Boy Scout tradition fold up my tent and strive to make the campsite look as if I’d never been there.

When Twitter first appeared on the virtual landscape, my response was, “I don’t get it.”  Its ongoing existence and, as I now find, the direct experience of it have done nothing to amend that stance, although the latter has added, “and I don’t think I like it” to the table.  If I may get semi-philosophical for a moment, Twitter appears to be the final denial of calm reflection, an external manifestation of the “monkey mind” the Buddhists try so hard to get sat down in a corner; not just the random thoughts of those I follow, but of those who they follow, all bleating and turning one’s eyes from matters more worthy of cognition cycles.  So far, Roger Ebert’s seem the least like obscure booming from a slightly drunken oracle of all those that I set myself up to follow (the minimum I could manage, too).

I have in past installments declined the title of Luddite.  At the moment, though, I think if I could find a Twitter-specific Jacard I would certainly lower a sabot or two into it.  Honestly, I guess I might march on the edges of Captain Swing’s gang, at that, since I tend to not let technology govern my life (apart from a four-decade love affair with the wrist-watch).  I treat the internet more like a newspaper than anything else; I pick it up for a half-hour each morning, see if there’s any important international developments, look at the funnies, and then have breakfast.  I might pick it up and thumb through it in the course of the day, but apart from a very few other blogs that I find (well) worth daily examination, I’m not to troubled by long gaps in my connectivity.  The important part of “email” for me is the “mail”; since I’m not from a highly enlightened nation, I’m used to checking my mail once a day, and since I’m not hugely communicative responses usually don’t take too long.

Twitter is trying to change my relationship to the internet.  It’s like a very insecure little kid, constantly screeching for attention.  Lookit me!  Guess what!  Watch what I’m doon!  That’s the phase we all hope is very brief in our own children, and I don’t get why we want to install a perpetual one in our lives, or why by extension we want to be that kid.  I don’t think you need or even want to know where I went for groceries.  I said yesterday that the blog wants feeding, but it’s a python in comparison to Twitter’s ravenous shrew.  Little wonder that some resort to announcements to the world about the frequency and consistency of bathroom efforts.  Well, this kid has a very few days to show me a better nature, or I’m pressing a pillow over its face.

I don’t know that I’m a role model in this.  I may be like the chap in the H.G. Wells story who finds that, far from being king, the sighted man is an object of ridicule and remediation in the land of the blind.  But… I at least had the free time to read that story, and ponder its implications.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer 5-30SC
Today’s ink: Pelikan Brilliant Brown

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Flex and Inflexibility

Posted by Dirck on 13 November, 2012

I’m going to take a few moments today to address a little myth of fountain pens which, when it takes root in someone’s head, may bear fruit which tastes of discontentment.

I am, as I’ve made no secret in the past installments, a big fan of vintage pens– once one gets out of the extremely rickety learning period, at least (much as one who likes classic cars will not necessarily include a Locomobile in their statement).  Part of this liking is thanks to a Darwinian effect I think I’ve commented on before, by which most of the duff examples of any given model have by now either been fixed or interred; this sort of percolation of purity is something that takes time, and it’s an advantage the vintage pen will ever have over the new one.

Why do I like them?  There are certain aspects of vintage pens that mark them as items of their time.  The interesting patterns found in things like today’s pen or Parker’s Vacumatics are less present in the modern designs, and some of the shapes of barrel or clip are better accomplished then than now.  However, this is all window dressing.  I like vintage pens less for their looks than their function.   They write extremely well, and in many small, definition-resistant ways, do so rather better than their newly-hatched and non-Darwinised kin.

Here we come up against the thing I’m trying to deflate.  Accepting for a moment that my position is true (and it is certainly not entirely argument-proof, being rather subjective); better writing is not necessarily and in all cases writing with more panache, and is it definitely not inextricably bound up with a flex point.

Flex points are indeed a ton of fun, certainly to be treasured, but not every pen made before {arbitrarily chosen date in the 20th century} has a flexible point.  It was more regularly a factory option prior to 1950 than afterwards, but even so, firm points are well known in vintage pens.  Part of what got me thinking along this path is the relative firmness of today’s and yesterday’s pen.  Yesterdays pen, to save you having to look down yesterday’s link, was designed in 1966 and made at some point between January 2008 and August 2009 (based on when I bought it and supply-chain uncertainties).  Today’s pen is at least 75 years older, and yet it has a rather firmer point.  Neither is actually flexible, but a Lamy 2000 is definitely a rather springier object.

Now, Sheaffer is a well-known maker of extremely firm points; they could manage flex, but seem to have preferred to offer the relatively peril-resistant firm points to avoid any more than the barest minimum of warranty claims.  A reason why we today treasure vintage flex points is that there’s an ever-decreasing number of them, right?

But that’s aside my point about points; the real point is that an old point can be a firm point.  Expecting that a pen made in olden times is going to produce writing that looks olden-timey is setting yourself up for disappointment.

Today’s really quite rigid pen: Sheaffer 5-30SC
Today’s ink, which cares not: Pelikan Brilliant Brown

an update on yesterday’s sufferer: The threads match up to the point that the cap goes on without complaint.  Next step is making sure the section is not so far around that it applies any more than exactly the necessary amount of force to hold itself in place; once that’s assured, a little cosmetic application to reduce the visual evidence of the cracks is in order.

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Out with the Old, in with… Something

Posted by Dirck on 29 December, 2011

With the new year impending, one’s thoughts tend to turn to the passage of time.  One who dresses anachronistically and regularly uses half-century and older artifacts, even moreso.

Today’s contemplation grows out of the consideration of ink for today’s pen.  It is, let us be clear, old.  When I’m using a pen which is very specific about being extremely old, or one that is quite vigorously modern, I tend to think about the agreement of ink and pen.  I have mentioned elsewhere that some inks don’t wish to pass through some pens, but this is a more shallow form of agreement; will it look funny?  A Rotring Core producing a subtle sepia line does look a little funny, likewise an Evans laying down some mad fuschia, and while I’m not opposed to cognitive dissonance (the very foundation of comedy!) since I’m about the only one who will notice at all and thus be the only one with jangling expectations, I tend to keep older-looking inks with older-looking pens and zippy inks with modernist pens.

However… while cognitive dissonance has limited charm, there is more to life than compliment.  When applied well, contrast can be extremely pleasing without making the artistic nerves rattle.  One remembers, too, that these pens might have used some slightly sizzling inks back in their day.  Grandma may not dance the Charleston any more, but that’s a matter of maintenance rather than inclination.  The pens, metaphorically speaking, still have plenty of snap in their garters.

Today, then, a contrast, of a somewhat faded old pen and a rather vivid ink.  Dissonance is the soul of comedy, but graceful counterpoint is a necessity in the best music.

Today’s harmonious pen: Sheaffer 5-30SR
Today’s melodious ink: Noodler’s blue

An aside– I was in such a state yesterday, I was incapable of properly celebrating the benefits of existence.  Via the FP Geeks’ podcast, I am again to receive a free pen.  This time the item is a startlingly orange Sheaffer VFM (a modern item, not to be mistaken for the desirable PFM), which I’m interested to try as an example of Sheaffer’s current output and as a rarity for the company– a pen that doesn’t take Sheaffer cartridges.  Does this imply anything for production of the cartridge that has been feeding Sheaffer pens since the mid-1950s?  Only time will tell, but while we all wait, I get to play with a new pen; thanks, Eric and Dan!

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