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Posts Tagged ‘Sheaffer No Nonsense’

Posted by Dirck on 3 January, 2019

Day What How Much Pen Ink
  • 31 December
  • 1 January
  • 2 January
  • 3 January
  • Scrambling in pursuit of a functional iPad.
  • Baking for a family New Year’s Day meal.
  • Second draft of “Preserve My Fondest Memories.”
  • Apparent success†
  • see below
  • 1179 typed words, and complete.

I decided to try a new thing with baking– flaky rolls. Since I had some success, I’ll share.

First, make up a batch of rough puff pastry dough (which sounds like it should be swaggering along an alley in a Carebears setting, does it not?). I amended that recipe in using common Canadian all-purpose flour and salt of unknown provenance, and rather than carefully “rubbing in” the butter, I just let my stand mixer molest the butter into the flour until it was in smallish bits before adding the water..

After the final rest and chill of the dough, roll it out, then cut it into twelve squares about 10cm on a side. With each square, fold the corners into the middle and press then down so they stick together (this is purely decorative; I expect more or less the same results from just folding in half along whatever axis tickles your fancy). Arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment, brush with beaten egg, and cook at 375F for about 35 minutes. It’s almost like croissants, but with substantially less faffing about with rising– I finished this in under an hour and a half, and you really can’t get croissants in less than eight hours.

As a bonus, there’s the trimmed edges of the dough which you can… if you’re inclined… form into twists, throw on a sheet of their own, and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. You could even, if feeling very charitable, tell the other members of your family about having made these little side-treats.

† No sign of the misery the initial iPad offered. Indeed, 747 words of this week’s production were banged out using tablet and its Bluetooth-enthralled keyboard, as a proof of concept effort. I may soon become a stereotype writer, lurking in a corner of a cafe and clattering away for hours after ordering a single inexpensive beverage.


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Each Month a Decade

Posted by Dirck on 31 December, 2018

Didn’t the last year feel that way to you?

But let’s avoid politics. I’m going to do what I did at this time last year and show you some almost meaningless stats regarding my writing endeavours:

Now… that looks like a couple of slack years, but there was the novel-writing wheeze that I was pursuing, wasn’t there. To the 2018 “Completed Words” we might add, if feeling recklessly charitable, the 89,374 words of the second draft on the novel. We do not feel thus charitable, since the second draft sits quietly, still awaiting the work that will render it worth foisting even upon beta-readers, but it does make the words/year count of the past two years seem a little less sparse.

It is that as-yet-gestating novel that occupies most of my thoughts in the current retrospective mood, because I have over the past few weeks been thinking about the effect of the effort of creation which it represented on me and the other stuff I’ve been at since I embarked upon it. The column to the right is the one that gets me. 2016 was definitely The Year I Got Serious, and the fact that in the following two years I finished so little is… embarrassing.

If it were just the numbers, though, I’d give the embarrassed aspect of myself a slap and a point out that great heap of words lurking in the background. There is, I come to realize now that I’ve given it some thought, some lingering effects of spending a lot of writing time not finishing something. I’ve had more trouble grinding out the stories that followed the novel’s typing-up than is quite right, and when I haven’t been having trouble pushing the thoughts out of my head and onto paper, it’s frequently been because I’ve been lapsing into poor habits I’d believed to be behind me.

I think, I hope, that I’ve gotten things back in hand.  The latest item on the front-line, “Preserve My Fondest Memories,” has felt a little more like soaring over the slopes of Helicon, bourne up by the good-will of the Muses, than it has like trying to pull my own teeth (which has definitely been the case with a couple of this year’s efforts). I’ve had a couple of encouraging personalized rejection notes back on a couple of submissions rather than the all-too-frequent form letters†. However, the fact that running up the novel as far as it has gone thus far has had this effect on my general attempts to carve lumps of language into pleasing shapes makes me wonder if it’s something I’m quite up to.

But because I’m also The Amazing Self-Defeating Man, there’s a lot of world-building gone on for one of the other novel-sized notions I have drifting around my mental orbit. Sigh.

I mentioned preparing technology in Friday’s oddly-placed progress report. I have, with the urging of my wife (who is at very least a catspaw of the Muses if not an occasional avatar), bought an iPad to replace the increasingly rickety tablet I got four years ago, at the same time as the camera I still occasionally use to good effect. I have allowed myself the foolish magical ideation that the iPad is the solution to some of my creative woes. It will pair with the bluetooth keyboard I own, something Rickety couldn’t manage for more than thirty seconds at a go (a bit of a creative flow throttle, that).

However… I also apparently got a dud, so high-minded plans for creative flow on Sunday went out the window with a marathon session of chat with Apple Support. The upshot is that my plan from Saturday of “take it back to the store” now has Official Apple Sanction, without which the story bluntly declined to do a return. I think the Apple Support people were very pleasant and anxious to help… but it does sour the mood somewhat that it took several hours of

  • Try this–
  • Did it before I contacted you, but why not again?
  • OK, what about this?
  • It made a noise, but not the right noise. Still no screen.
  • (long pause for thought) How about this other thing?
  • (ten minutes of downloading later) Nope.

before the admission of a hardware problem and allowance to return a not-working object. I hope the one I pick up today is less… unique in its attributes.

But what about the pens? Won’t somebody think of the pens?!

Oh, yes. They’re not forgotten, although I’m starting to worry slightly that age-related modifications to my vision might see me have to drop repairs for others… sometime. The main problem I face in the direction of pens is financial.

Particularly since I just bought an iPad.

It takes money to get pens. Pen repair is not vastly lucrative. You will remember my big coup of 2018 was a Montblanc…

An elderly, slightly beat-up Montblanc of a model hardly anyone has heard of.

…which cost very little. The other additions to my site have likewise been on the cheap side, not unlike the Sterno of last resort for a drunkard who can no longer afford brandy. The problem with these little darlings is that they are not particularly re-sellable, and so count as a pure outgoing. I could for example flog the Montblanc for somewhat more than I paid, having cleaned it out and set its point to rights, but without inflated shipping cost shenanigans, this Pelikan…

…would still show up as a red item in the accounts if I sold it at correct market value. Ditto various WIng Sungs and Jin Haos I’ve used to quiet the monkey on my back.

It’s not like I need to feed that beast, of course. There is not, in my case at least, a stylophilic equivalent of the DTs. But there’s the sensation of not serving my site and those who look at it, even though I realize in my brief periods of lucidity that the V’Ger impulse to learn all that is learnable is foolish at best, and utterly ridiculous when being turned upon a consumer product still in production, with new models popping up all the time. If I wanted to make a site that shows all the variations of a certain class of object, I probably should have gone with something like flintlock-equipped firearms in active military service (which, I’ll bet, has a more recent date of final appearance than I suspect).

There’s also a matter of how much energy and time I am able to devote to the whole pen game. I’ve only got so much at hand, it seems to be waning (time more than energy, which given the subjective length of this year surely counts as a paradox), and there are other things I want to apply it to. My writing, of course. My family, obviously. Stuff like that.

I get this way at intervals, though. I’m sure this mood will pass eventually. Heck, I’ve got updates for the site that just need a bit of polish even at this moment. Let me drop a hint:

She probably is short, but there’s no reason to shout about it.

Happy new year to you all, then, and may it find the passage of time returning to a more sensible pace.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer NoNonsense Old Timer (part of a costume for a party tonight)
Today’s ink: Skrip Black

†Which are generally kind in their formulation, which I do appreciate. There is no evident will to wound among sub-editors.

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Self-Destruct Mechanism

Posted by Dirck on 22 April, 2013

I spent the weekend in many respects trying to destroy myself.  Physically speaking, I’ve rather messed up my right arm through efforts to get rid of the nascent glacier on our front walk– it’s warm enough for snow to collapse into ice, but not warm enough to do the ice any harm (today’s high– freezing).  It’s not very thick, but there’s enough of it that repeated blows with a spade and the feedback involved leaves me with a bit of a palsy.

There is an item of morale damage that I can only blame myself for which worries me rather more than the brief degradation of dexterity.  I find myself in a bit of a quandary which I’m also going to ask for the thoughts of the passing observer to try and direct my response.  But let me explain.

I’ve mentioned once or twice in the past that I harbour ambitions of being a writer.  We’ll leave the baffled “Why?” behind that aside for the moment, as I’m already upset enough.  Recently, I heard of an open call for some very very very short stories to populate the little nooks and crannies in an upcoming anthology of Lovecraftian fiction.  This is right up my street, thematically, and so I bore down and emitted three items of less than 800 words a piece– 800 being the maximum they’re now accepting.

I applied myself to sending them in on Sunday.  The deadline is 30 April, and since I habitually leave this sort of thing to the utter last moment and thus manage to miss deadlines entirely, I was dedicated to the idea of a timely submission.  The ugly discovery of this process was the strange unwillingness of Open Office running on a Mac to save in Rich Text Format with the layout as desired, unless one really likes single line spacing.  What should have been about ten minutes of cut-and-paste frolics became an hour of mounting frustration (all the more so because mouse work agitated the arm issue), but in the end I triumphed and had all three stories saved in a form both legible and required by the publisher.

…at which point I should have gone off and had a break, as one does when a pen won’t come apart easily.  Ol’ Stupid had allowed himself to adopt an attitude of “Get it to them before some new impediment jumps up!” and so I hurried the email to which the stories were attached.  Utterly insufficient, and vague into the bargain, and I was so addled that having hit SEND I then went into the living room and did a little jig for my wife, having at last submitted anything at all to a publisher.  I accept the fault is my own.  This does not soften the blow of having found this morning a reply from the publisher which I paraphrase as:

Thank you for your submission.  We are sorry to announce that we are only accepting “flash-fiction” of 100-800 words at the present time.

This puts me up in the air.  I didn’t indicate length in the email, having done so in each file.  The implication of the reply is they think I didn’t see the limitation and never looked into the attachments.  Here’s where I need some guidance– do I:

  • Send a reply, saying, “Yes, that’s right, and they’re all of appropriate length,” and accept the risk that however nicely I word it they’ll think I’m calling them inattentive;
  • Assume they’ve deleted the whole affair, resubmit with a better covering email, and accept the risk of being considered an unhappy combination of pushy and needy;
  • Call it a learning experience, leave the publisher in question in peace, and cast about for another venue seeking such things (miniature weird fiction offering such a wealth of outlets, after all)?

I’m not sure I’ve got the necessary focus to pursue a fourth option of building up an anthology of my own in the mode of this chap.  It’s a tempting thought, but it looks to be a lot of concentrated effort, and I think I might be too dilute.  Anyway, there’s my conundrum.  Opine away; I’d especially like to hear what anyone who has direct experience with the publishing industry might have to suggest.

…and having proved that he is an unhappy combination of pushy and needy, he withdrew to formulate a more interesting topic for the next day’s entry.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Old Timer
Today’s ink: Herbin Bleu Nuit

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Permanent Style

Posted by Dirck on 17 April, 2013

I steal the title of this entry from a rather elegant blog you may want to look at, but I’m using a slightly different inflection.

I don’t imagine it will be a surprise to anyone that I’m in the category of people who rather like Downton Abbey, and one of the things I like about it is the mode of dress shown.  As I was walking just now, I was contemplating how very much I’d like one of the suits worn by the Irish chap who married the younger daughter (I have, I should mention, a certain trouble in the area of retaining names).  This lead me down another path of consideration, and I’m not quite sure how I feel about where it went.

I would, I repeat, like that suit.  The components, the weave and the colour of it all please me and if my wife is to believed it would compliment my complexion.  Here’s the crux, or at least the turning point– if I could lay my hands on it, wearing it would cause almost no serious comment.

So what?  So… the scene I was looking at was set rather more than ninety years ago.  I hadn’t really considered the matter firmly before, but that’s an odd thing, because if that sort of thing has been possible in the past millennium I’m unaware of it.  Lets step back a hundred years.

"Say, Tad... does that fellow across the way strike you as a little outre?"

“Say, Tad… does that fellow across the way strike you as a little outré?” (1912)

"Are those chaps not wearing corsets?  Decadence!"

“Are those chaps not wearing corsets? Decadence!” (1826)

In 1913, a fellow looking at a relatively nice outfit of 1820 might think to himself, “Say, that looks rather handsome,” but he’s really unlikely to have said, “I’m going to dress thus.”  If he did, people would almost certainly assume there was either a costume party nearby or a circus parade about to appear.  Even fifty years ago, the gap in style from 1960 to 1860 was pretty uncrossable.

And yet…. I cast my eyes to the left, and find only the collars a little antiquated.  The rest of it would pass muster, especially in a well-dressed crowd.

So, what is it that has arrested the progress of Western men’s fashion in this way?  Is the suit-coat and trousers look so eminently function as well as (when decently tailored) flattering that it represents some sore of pinnacle of evolution, resisting all but the most delicate of amendments?  Is it that the differences in national costume are so flattened out by the current level of international trade that there’s nothing to draw inspiration from and insufficient imagination to develop acceptable novelty?  Given the rapid cycling of women’s fashions (didn’t we just stop revisiting the 1970s in 1998?) I have a suspicion that the latter is more the case, and that men’s clothes have just reached the apparent stasis of imperceptibly rapid oscillation from one retro to another and back, so that rather than a series of distinct impacts  it’s just a hum.

One may, and I shall to save one time, point out that the suit is but a single manifestation of men’s fashion in the current day, and that some of them are extremely modern.  Jeans, t-shirts, baseball caps and such are likely what a 23rd century’s Chronicle of Western Costume will offer for the current moment, and it’s true, but it’s also missing the fact that if one has something nice or important to do to, one does it in a suit whose general form is now a century old– the guy in jeans and a t-shirt will swap them for a suit, should he have the means, if summoned to court, funeral or his own wedding.  I’m trying to imagine an Edwardian middle class guy chasing about town for a stock, frock-coat and stirrup-britches because his brother has asked him to stand up as best man, and it just comes out a farce (possibly with a younger Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie starring in it).

I’m not a scholar of fashion by any means, and I’ve not studied on the matter beyond the merest skin of the top layer.  Am I completely astray?  I may be.  Am I worried?  Well, a little, since ossification of anything in a culture suggests some trouble for that culture… and it’s the culture I’m stuck living in.  Since I happen to like dressing well, though, there’s some comfort for me to take from the phenomenon– so long as I can wear a fedora without attracting gawkers, I’m happy.  I’ll leave it to others to see about breaking us out of this apparent rut and enjoy the fact that, whatever else the kids are doing today, they’re not walking around with their pants on inside out.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Old Timer
Today’s ink: Herbin Bleu Nuit

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Playing with Fire

Posted by Dirck on 8 April, 2013

Given that there was yet more snow over the weekend, the attraction of an incendiary diversion should be obvious.  In years long distant, though, I was a Boy Scout and with Baden-Powell’s slightly militarist ghost standing by my shoulder and whispering warnings, actual conflagration was avoided.

The snow, which in any sensible year has long since given over the field to grass and a quantity of muck, meant that I was very pleased to get stuck into the Pit of Correction and the few remaining client pens therein.  With one exception, a Waterman Citation with an ugly India ink problem (still!), I got through to the bottom of the drift pile and with a little time still available in the day’s ration of Time To Work On Pens, I decided to see about applying myself to some of the Parker “51” cap problems I’ve been collecting in the past year or so.

There are now a quantity of Parker “51”s in the world whose caps are no longer dented, and I’m pretty pleased about this.  Involved in the remediation process for the dents is the complete disassembly of the cap, and as part of the process I was also moving cap jewels from one pen to another to ensure that the more attractive caps were complete.  It was in this pursuit that man’s old friend and great enemy came into play.

While I’m not above swapping bits about, as the previous paragraph and a recent entry indicate, I prefer where possible to keep all the original parts together.  In the case of one of the nicer caps, a gold-filled item with no hint of brassing on it, there was only the stub of the cap-jewel’s shaft in place.  In the “51”, you see, the clip is not held down by the jewel itself but by a brass screw.  The centre of this screw is tapped to allow a horribly thin threaded shaft on the underside of the jewel to be installed.  Frequently, when attempting to remove the jewel, this shaft breaks.  Since I was in a jewel-swapping mood, but not inclined to swap the screw (despite, as the sensible among you might point out, the screw being utterly invisible in the complete pen), that little stub had to come out.

There are a couple of ways to do this, but the quick way is to burn it out.  At least in earlier pens, and for no reason I can find I’ve never had a newer “51” than 1959, the jewel is made of celluloid.  Cellulose nitrate, that is, and that’s just gun cotton with a couple of extra ingredients.  What’s gun cotton?  Oh, just the propellant for the main battery guns on battleships.  While celluloid isn’t quite that reactive, it has a rather poor reputation in the area of flammability, and it’s why most modern pen-repair authorities suggest keeping open flames well away from the work bench.

…so I made very sure that all pens were secure in trenches and behind sandbags before I lit the candle on my work bench.  Frankly, I’m surprised how long the process took.  I held the screw over the flame (using pliers) for about thrity seconds before anything substantial happened.  That something makes me wish I’d had a video camera on at the time, as it took the form of a lateral puff of flame, roughly ten times the length of the stub’s diameter.  That diameter is only about 2mm, so no eyebrows were endangered but they were certainly raised.  More interesting was what was left behind.

Absolutely nothing.  No residue whatever was visible to the naked eye.  That’s a pretty impressive demonstration of why we don’t get our vintage pens near open flame; they might be erased entirely!

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Old Timer
Today’s ink: Herbin Bleu Nuit

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Always Have a Backup

Posted by Dirck on 27 January, 2012

As it’s Friday, I slough off.  A little pen-related comedy from the internetz today:

Today’s Lethal Pen: Sheaffer No Nonsense
Today’s Devestating Ink: Noodler’s La Couleur Royale

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How Old is Old?

Posted by Dirck on 25 January, 2012

Last week, I was using a vintage and a modern Waterman.  This week, I’m using a vintage and a modern Sheaffer.

…or am I?  The notion of what constitutes “vintage” is a bugbear for fountain pen fanciers.    I don’t think last weeks choices bear any real discussion– the 52 is unquestionably vintage in all its aspects, and the Carène is unmitigatedly modern.  This week’s choices are more equivocal, though.  Let’s have a look at the two pens for the week without having to climb down a link–

Visually similar, of course, and that’s why the newer of the two gives some trouble in hanging a label on it.  The flat-top look is quite retro, and that throws off the judgement.  Most people will call it modern, all the same (myself, probably, included); it’s a much newer object, and that’s what will move most people.  I’d join the crown opinion for entirely different reasons, which are the same reasons that I have a little hesitation about hanging Vintage on the other one.

“Oh, come on,” says the ideal interlocquitor.  “It’s OLD!  It (or at least some parts of it) was made in the mid-1920s!  How can you even think of using the word modern in relation to it?”  The answer lies in the way it works.  There is not a huge difference in the writing properties of these two pens; both are smooth, both are firm, both are rather wet.  I do still resort to the Vintage label because of the body material and the filler mechanism, but it is, in my view, less vintage than the contemporary Waterman 52.  It is, in fact, more modern in the way in interacts with a piece of paper than an Eversharp Skyline or even a Waterman C/F.

I don’t hold that vintage, in terms of pens, is strictly a matter of chronology.  In my site, I mention that assigning a set date as the watershed leads, as years pass, to foolishness.  Either one has to move that watershed every five or ten years, or one has to start fishing about for distinctions within modern: post-modern, early modern, near-modern, hyper-modern, supra-post-modern… the mind rebels.

Ideal Interloquitor demands, “Well, if you admit that the concept exists and has some value, define it.”  I shall, but I think those who dislike subtlty and non-Einsteinian relativity will dislike it.  It’s… not brief.

Age is a factor, of course.  It’s utter nonsense to suggest a three-year old pen is vintage, regardless of how much effort it has been put into giving it the air of antiquity.  It is not, as I intimate previously, the only factor.  Materials come into play, but less so than one might think/hope; so-called modern plastics have been in use since the 1940s.

Technology is also an element.  Is the filler mechanism more or less modern?  This is a tricky question, as one can find extremely old pens that are technically cartridge-fillers, and there aren’t any mechanisms that haven’t been in use since 1960.  How about the feed?  Here again, there hasn’t been a lot of innovation since Parker’s introduction of the collector in the 1940s, so “modern” is still a very mushy concept on that head.

In the end, there is a strong element of gut-feeling in the matter of Vintage vs. Modern.  To be vintage, it has to be somewhat old, but it also has to be somewhat quaint; there is some subjective element that becomes activated when presented with an actually vintage pen, and like a judge of ages past commenting on pornography, you’ll know it when you see it.  I’d argue against having a firm border between the two concepts, frankly, or even necessarily considering them parts of the same spectrum.  I’d say that vintage and modern are elements which can co-exist in a pen; one will wither in the presence of too much of the other, but away from the extremities one can have a pen that is both vintage and modern.  Here’s some vintage pens of various ages:


Evans Dollar– very vintage
Parker Vacumatic– not quite as vintage, but still well stuck in

The rubber feed marks today’s pen as an early example of the run, and that’s long enough past to qualify as actual vintage

And on the other side of the coin, modern pens of diverse ages:

From 1941, possibly the first modern pen… but it’s a vintage example
Designed in 1966, but so very modern in shape and materials

All mod cons(truction), and yet it has “Vintage” in its model name. Very confusing.

Today’s pen of indeterminate age: Sheaffer No Nonsense
Today’s ink: Noodler’s La Couleur Royale

PS: the captions are a bit of a hash, but they’re less of a hash than what resulted from trying to do them the right way.  Anyone who looked in before this late-on-the-26th edit will attest to that.

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Auspicious Portents

Posted by Dirck on 23 January, 2012

A very merry new year to the followers of the Chinese lunar calendar!  I hate to set myself up for a fall by raising expectations, but the Water Dragon appears to be set to bring good things.  Check out what’s newly arrived to my house:

“Only skin deep,” remember

Ee-yuck!  Look beyond the surface squalor, though, and what you will be looking upon is a later example of Waterman’s coveted Hundred Year Pen.  Those who have looked at the Wish List tab at the top of the page will already know that I covet one… and to be honest, I still do, as there is a serious distinction between this and the initial lucite models.  Still, I’m extremely happy to have laid my hands on this example.  This is the first of an eventual “Before/After” series which will appear either here or on my main site; I am, for a change, going to document the work on a pen.

Now, if that were all I’d gotten, you would be entirely right in thinking I was really overdoing the search for indicators of prosperity.  There’s more, although it’s also not instantly useful.  Observe:

Hmmm, that's nice.

This was a sort of stupid charity purchase.  I was concerned that some gold speculator might grab it , as it was at a very good price.  This is a fat-bodied early TD pen, which means I have no base for it to rest in, so once I’ve replaced the sac it will be laid up for a while, but it will be laid up safely.  Even without making allowance for this deferred gratification, though, this and the previous might still not be sufficient to stand for astonishing signs of the year to come.  Fair enough… but you don’t know what came with this desk pen.  There were a bunch of dip points included, and one of them was, as the Sesame Street song has it, not like the others.

We’re gonna need a bigger boat… er, pen holder.

I overdo the size on this picture to make this item as impressive in flat presentation as it is in real life.  It is not mere size not the fact of being made of gold that makes this dip pen a wonder, but that impression.  “Mabie, Smith & Co.” was a previous version of the slowly developing entity which would enter the 20th century as Mabie, Todd & Co., and if my thus-far slightly under-pursued efforts at research are right, that version ceased to exist about 1872, which makes this little gem not less than 140 years old.  I post this publicly in hope of informative contradiction, of course, but until that appears I will revel in the prospect of a functional writing instrument of that age.

Longevity and prosperity go hand in hand, and as this new year begins I find I am handed two pens designed to last a hundred years and more.  I think I will, cautiously, look forward to what the rest of the year might have to offer.  If prosperity beckons, I will grasp it with both hands.

Today’s pen (chosen to remind me of the virtue in humble things):  Sheaffer No Nonsense
Today’s ink (chosen to celebrate the day in style): Noodler’s La Couleur Royale 

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Does Incomplete Victory Count?

Posted by Dirck on 27 September, 2010

I’m sure the majority of people with access to the internet today will have at some point in their life stumbled upon Sesame Street.  A regular feature on the show in my day (although from a few recent viewing I wonder if this is still the case) was the song “One of These Things.”  With that song in mind, lets have a look at some pens:

Shall we play? All are fountain pens, of course.  All are the sort of piston-filler in which one simply hauls on a stick to fill and empty, like a syringe.  No two are the same colour, and only two are Remington brand.  All ridiculously long blind caps to house the piston-stick.  All have a transparent barrel, so the level of ink is obvious at all times… although the fact that one of them is very hard to see through is a difference, and a hint to the difference I have in mind.

The difference you can’t see– the one at the top is mine, and I didn’t work on it this weekend.  The other three belong to clients, and as noted last week one of my goals for this weekend was to use some newly-purchased sheet silicone-rubber to fashion fresh seals.  In the Red Dot at the bottom of the picture, you can actually see the new seal, a somewhat redder item in the picture than it is in real life.  In this, I had some success, as you can see from the water visible within Red Dot and that lizardy green chap near the top.  It’s not an entirely straightforward process, as some shaping is needed after the circle is punched out of the sheet (and in the case of Red Dot, some thickness reduction), but it’s not too challenging.  Especially when the son is asleep.

However, to install a new seal in the pen, you do need to be able to get inside the thing.  This sort of pen was as close to a disposable as the popular concept of pen would allow in the 1930s, so they weren’t necessarily made with repair in mind.  The points are generally made of gold-plated steel, and it seems that the idea was that by the time anything else wore out, the ravenous inks of the day would have found a way trhough the plating and reduced to point to a useless hulk.  The sections were thus frequently fixed permanently to the barrel, indicating that whatever was used to join them (acetone, perhaps?) was even less expensive than shellac.

When I took the red Remington from its owner, I was very confident.  My own version of this pen came apart quite biddably, and I didn’t foresee any trouble.  After a couple of weeks of efforts to free it, culminating in a great combative struggle yesterday, I have sent a note to the client essentially asking permission to retreat.  I can’t think of a non-destructive way to get the section free.  Given that the room was starting to smell like a cough-drop factory, I was clearly flirting with the ignition point of the celluloid, and that’s a degree of excitement I’d like to avoid.  Sometimes you have to admit defeat, and I do so in this case with at least the clarity of conscience not having utterly destroyed the pen allows.

The other two are doing nicely, though.  If we want to really finish the game, there is one more way in which one differs from the others.  Can you see it?  It’s right there in front of you– of the four of them, only the green one isn’t trying very hard indeed to pretend to be a Sheaffer Balance.

Today’s easily opened pen:  Sheaffer No Nonsense (a red one of my wife’s heap of No Nonsenses and Viewpoints…)
Today’s ink:  Diamine Majestic Blue (…which turns out to be a colour she doesn’t like much, so I’ve been invited to help write it empty)

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Last Day of School

Posted by Dirck on 25 June, 2010

I have a two week vacation starting next week, and while I’ll pretty much just be hanging around the house. “Hanging around the house” implies getting done the household things that weekends don’t offer sufficient time to accomplish. I don’t think I’ll be tiling the foyer, but there’s some prospect of putting up a new tub surround.

Party central, my place… actually, there will be at least one party:
A toddler licking the cap of a pen.
Someone, seen here in the moment when he discovers that his mom’s No Nonsense is not in fact cherry flavoured, is having his second birthday during this vacation. So it won’t all be drugery, and while I don’t guarantee any regular attendance here if anything particularly amusing in Penland develops, I will certainly share.

Today’s pen that can’t concentrate on its work: Waterman Citation
Today’s ink that keeps asking if class can’t be held on the lawn: Noodler’s La Couleur Royale

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