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Posts Tagged ‘TWSBI Diamond 540’

The Final Impediment

Posted by Dirck on 26 September, 2014

Much of the writing I do is in the “weird” or “horror” line.  This is to be expected, because this is an area I do a lot of reading in.  However, I also read a quantity of what me might call vintage sci-fi.  If you ask me who my favorite SF writer is, I will instantly answer, even as I blush, H. Beam Piper.  If you press me to name a modern SF writer instead, I will probably produce William Gibson, after a bit of a struggle to think someone who’s a little more of a current poster for the genre.

But I have a hard time getting up any steam writing SF, despite really liking it, because I speak the language in a stilted and archaic manner and I know it.  One of the things that appeals to me about the old stuff is they were writing about a future in which Moore’s Law had not been hit upon, and could assume that the graph of technological progress was a line rather than an upward curve.  Piper’s powerful computers, capable of hyperspace navigation, had paper-tape outputs!

Despite this, I occasionally look at the big dumb space opera I have drifting around in my head.  One can always, as has been popular since Moore spoke the Cassandraic doom for my favorite sort of SF, posit some kind of semi-apocalypse that sets back any kind of technology that one doesn’t want to deal with.  A cheat, but it can work out.

What shoves the space opera back down under the surface of my imagination’s brackish waters, though, is wanting to have a some big intense scenes of fleet action, human and alien ships in deadly conflict in the darkness between the stars.  Weird fiction and horror (which are not quite the same thing) rely on throwing something that patently cannot exist into the mix, be it a spider the size of a moderate Subaru, a gas that turns people inside out, or a sudden failure of the concept of “up”.  Good SF can’t tolerate that sort of thing, so even if one mumbles a little on the matter of faster-than-light travel, there’s some items of physics that won’t lie down and leave you alone.

Which brings us to this week’s film:

For the record– I think Larry Niven’s “Known Space” series played pretty fair with this sort of thing (there’s some great examples in Protector), and Babylon 5 wasn’t too far off base in some of its battle scenes.  It still takes the wind out of my sails.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Diamond 540 (last appearance for a while– I’m not letting it get a third month on deck).
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah


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Posted by Dirck on 24 September, 2014

WHAT: First draft of “The Blue Room.”

HOW MUCH: Five manuscript pages, only one of which is to be kept, and which requires the banishment of one of yesterday’s pages into the bargain.  I don’t know about you folks, but I find finishing a story well is a harder job than starting it.

HOW LONG: 50 min.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Diamond 540 (which is still about 30% full after nearly two months on station, thanks to deeply parsimonious F point it’s mounting; I may perform an executive action upon it to make way for someone new).
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah

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Posted by Dirck on 18 September, 2014

WHAT: First draft of “The Blue Room.”

HOW MUCH: Six and a half manuscript pages– because sometimes a sentence keeps falling to bits before you can quite get it on the page, and it’s better to build a new one than rely on tape.

HOW LONG: 55 min.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Diamond 540
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah

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Posted by Dirck on 9 September, 2014

WHAT:  First draft of “The Healing Power of Crystals.”

HOW MUCH: Six manuscript pages.

HOW LONG: 45 min.  Definitely on the mend.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Diamond 540
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah

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Posted by Dirck on 3 September, 2014

WHAT:  First draft of “The Healing Power of Crystals.”

HOW MUCH: Six manuscript pages.

HOW LONG: 45 min.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Diamond 540
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah

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Posted by Dirck on 26 August, 2014

WHAT: Mostly first draft of a different Cat with Blue Fur contest entry, with many glances at the last paragraph of “Gone to See the Cat” which just isn’t quite right.

HOW MUCH: Six manuscript pages on the former, a lot of inconclusive wobbling on the latter accompanied by low growls and slight deflation of self-esteem.

HOW LONG: 45 min.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Diamond 540
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah

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Leveling Up

Posted by Dirck on 18 August, 2014

This entry has a foundation of sadness; bear with it.  The tone eventually lightens.

I started collecting Air Miles in 1992, with an eye to one day getting a cheap ride to Europe.  In 2011, Air Miles announced that they were putting a five year limit on the collected points, and that they were going to do away with the points that had been previously hoarded were going to be expunged on New Years Eve of 2016.

Sorry, I used the wrong word there.  Let’s replace “hoarded” with “carefully husbanded”.  Or, perhaps, “thriftily maintained”.  Since 1992, there have been several times when I’ve thought, “Gosh, I sure would like some consumer goods which I can’t currently afford.  Say, I could turn some of my many Air Miles into shiny toys….  No.  Vade retro, Satanis!  I’m hanging onto them so we can go on a nice European vacation when the time is ripe.”

Well, as of the start of this year, I had enough points to get me and my wife to Europe.  But not my son.  I had put in place an online saving account not long after the dire announcement to try and build up the money needed to get him over as well and see us in food while there.  Because, as low as the household income is, I comprehend thrift and saving (something I suspect is common, despite pronouncements of rightist politicians, to a lot of low-income households).  All well and good, right?

We now come to the real vexing matter.  I know I’ve complained previously here about the supposed “boom” economy my home province is enjoying.  People are making more money!  Prices go up, letting retailers in on the flood of money!  A golden age!  Unless, of course, one isn’t employed in one of the industries (which we may lump under the heading “Resource Extraction”) the boom actually touches.  Like me.  I have been getting raises, certainly, linked to the cost of living.  The national cost of living, and using that strange economists’ notion that since you have to pay for food, shelter, and fuel, those items shouldn’t be included in an accurate measurement of increases in the cost of living.  The result is that as of the start of this year, I had to stop putting money into that vacation account to pay for food, shelter and fuel, and about a month ago I had to throw the entire sum in that fund at the credit card which was starting to be pressed into service of those same non-countable items as cash reserves went away before payday.  Huzzay, the Boom!

We are nearly at the end of the tale of woe.  Having dumped the money that would make the vacation possible, and having no way of regaining that money (because I’m not quite willing to sell all my remaining pens and my car for what is, rich as it might be, a passing pleasure) prior to the deadline for most of my Air Miles short of a lottery win which would make the need for free airline tickets rather moot, I muttered “screw it” and gave into the long-suppressed temptation to make those points into consumer goods.

Last Monday, a delivery man appeared at my house, bent double under the weight of Air Miles given form.  Among the many carefully chosen and (hopefully) durable items was a rather good camera.

I’ve done it again, with the wrong use of words.  I meant to say, A Rather Good Camera.  Shall I name it?  A Nikon D3300, which is not top of the line by any means but is orders of magnitude more camera than the point & shoot items I’ve been using since even before the advent of digital.  While it may not provide the same satisfaction as watching my son frolic at Madurodam or keel over in a fit of glee during a visit to a British heritage rail line, there is a certain glow to knowing that if one is in a picture-taking mood, one has a damn good tool to grasp.

DSC_0057How good?  Well, have a click on the image to the right here, for a full size gander at it’s power of close-uppery.  That’s without a tripod, and obviously without any real attention to lighting.  It is the mere result of a passing whim, in which I sought instant answer to the question, “so, how’s this thing for close detail?”  I didn’t even do anything clever with the aperture setting, nor did I take manual control of the focus;  just threw the dial over to “macro” and snapped.  It is, I say without taking any possible praise onto myself, a pretty good picture for all the lack of effort applied.

I can, if I work at it a little, convert this power into a problem.  A few years back, the last time I came into a new camera… well, it was new to me… I mentioned with a tremor of concern that I was almost out of external hooks to hang blame for crummy pictures upon.  I think I may, with the acquisition of this (really and for true) new camera, have entirely dismantled the entire rack, and probably done some damage t the wall on which it was mounted.  Henceforth, if I take a duff picture, I will have to admit that the fault lies in the operator.

There was a connected concern that I looked into over the weekend.  Last Christmas, my father won a little camera of the same ilk as I had previously been using.  My brother had no use at all for it (he having already gotten a Rather Good Camera some time ago to pursue his graphic arts), it was a duplicate of one Dad already had, and so I took it on spec as a possible replacement.  Newer, in this digital realm, is better, right?

As it turned out, not so.  It lacked any sort of macro setting, rendering the pictures slightly fuzzy.  It also produced a different file size, which try though I might in my photo-processing software, I couldn’t make match the scale of everything else on my site.  That camera is now a family back-up, held in readiness in case anyone is going somewhere that might want pictures taken, but which might threaten the existence of the camera.  No, we can’t think of anywhere of that description we’d be willing to go, either.

Now, onto the new Nikon.  Could I get it to produce pictures that matched what I had on the site?  If so, good.  If not, I would have my comfortable external locus of blame for bad pictures back in hand.  Here’s the result:

The old Canon

The new Nikon

The new Nikon

As with the Waterman close-up, that’s an unsupported shot.  It might be clearer if I’d applied the tripod.  So long, excuses for bad pictures!  It was nice having you over!  And on that note– the cooler tone of the second picture is an artifact of me messing with saturation in the processing software.  This is something I may be able to stop doing with the new camera, which I suspect will be a little more consistent about such things.

I will not, though, be reshooting the whole site.  Apart from not having all the pens at hand, I can’t face the time it would take.  That brings up the last shadow attending the glory of the new toy.  When I was in my teens, I rather liked photography.  I am reminded of this by the Nikon.  I may, if I’m not careful, devote what little free time for creative pursuits I have to that rather than writing.

Heck, I’ve given over a whole lunch when I could have been writing elegant fictions to bragging about the new camera.  A slippery slope indeed!

Today’s pen: TWSBI Diamond 540
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah

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Posted by Dirck on 12 August, 2014

WHAT: Shedding much sweat and blood over the readers’ notes of  “Yard Light.”

HOW MUCH: Not less than 1500 ml; unexpectedly, slightly more than the volume of tears shed at the news of Robin Williams’s passing.

HOW LONG: About 60 min.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Diamond 540
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah

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The Age of Ludd

Posted by Dirck on 6 August, 2014

This whole entry is, as happens occasionally, absolutely nothing to do with pens, writing (however you interpret that word), or olde-fashioned hats.  There is, possibly, a vague connection, though, so this caveat lector isn’t as pressing as I had thought when I began it.

Over the weekend, I had what I would call an argument with someone on the Facebooks.  I’ll reproduce it here, with the identities expunged to protect those involved.  Except one well-known astrophysicist:

{Not Me} shared a Link:

Neil deGrasse Tyson Annihilates Anti-GMO Argument

[in which he essentially says GMO creation and traditional husbandry arrive at the same result, so if you’re not up in arms about silkworms, Kobe beef, or Meyer lemons, you should knock it off about GMOs]

{Me}: There is, however, a difference between selective breeding and slipping a specific gene into a sequence. The problem with the latter is that these things aren’t “one gene = one quality”; they interact, and the interactions are not always readily apparent. Too glib, Neil.

{Not Me}: Ya but they aren’t selling us the prototype. Scientist know this and GMO foods go through years of testing.

{Me}: I still have hesitation because (a) the parameters of the tests are frequently rather limited, and (b) the people paying for the tests are often the ones looking to sell the thing. If we hadn’t dismantled government oversight of such things so much, I‘d be on the other side of the line. As it is, GMO seems to be be unwise tampering; you might have got there by selective breeding, but you might also have dropped it a few generations in as a bad idea.

{Not Me}: No offence, but this just sounds like the general distrust of science that I’ve noticed people of your generation has. That is just an observation, not an insult.

{Me}: Fair enough, but in my case at least it’s an informed distrust rather than knee-jerk; too many years of Magnificent Wonder Products with claims of backing from scientific studies that prove to be problematical; neonic pesticides once flew the banner of “Science sez it’s safe!”, as a current example. I’m bang alongside scientific method, and it’s less the science I’m leery of than the corporations wrapping themselves in it. Climate change, on the other hand, I’m thoroughly convinced of because of the science.

Also– in that clip, NDG, who I generally respect as an astronomer and fountain pen fancier, is being used somewhat as an Appeal to Authority. If it were a well-known and widely-respected biologist saying the same thing, I’d be less sideways over it. I’ll admit that I have extra wariness of astronomers speaking outside their fields because there are some who, despite doing good work in astronomy, support creationism vocally. There’s another area that I’m more for than agin’ science.

As you can see, I became a little heated in that last bit, mis-identifying the fellow’s profession and making an uncited claim about some other astronomers (and, if this list is to be believed, they’re in a minority as far as that goes).  However, the thing that’s got me venting steam several days on is that bit which {Not Me} said about my generation.

Because I wonder if it’s true.  {Not Me} was born 23 years after me, so we are definitely of different generations, but from that statement it sounds rather like we come from entirely different centuries.  Our experiences are not the same, but there is certainly overlap, and {Not Me} is generally speaking a pretty bright person.  So I wonder whether the fact that I’m twice {Not Me}’s age has that much of an influence on our respective notions about science.

I grew up, after all, in an era when it was still being suggested that science might cure all things, and that computers for every home were just around the corner to usher in a bright age of communication and understanding.

…and you can tell from the set-up of that sentence that I’m still a little bitter over the disappointment.  I also grew up in the era where we figured out that science was causing plenty of trouble too; freon was busily eating the ozone layer, population growth (thanks to better medicine) was getting out of hand, and home computers turned out to be rather dumb when compared to HAL or other popular media examples.  The frequent cry of “where’s my flying car?” is a result of the benefits of science not living up to the promise; I freely admit that expecting real to live up to fictional is stupid but it’s hard to resist.

I will also plump up that mention {Me} made of neonicotinoids with the idiocies of Triclosan and similar super-bug generators, the problematic effects of things like BPA… gosh, I’m running out of time, so I’ll leave off at that.  I’ll bet, with a little effort, you can supply your own examples.  The point is, science is great, but insufficiently tested science trotted out to make someone money is often a disaster.  It has proven to be cornucopia and Pandora’s box all at once, and so I’ve become deeply conservative regarding any positive claims, if not outright suspicious.  All the moreso given, as I mention in the exchange, the gradual dismantling of external oversight by what should be neutral agencies; given the way modern politics runs, those neutral agencies that haven’t been done away with by budget cuts tend to have agendas thrust upon them.

Now, here’s where my confusion lies– I’ve come to this opinion by watching how things have gone since 1975 or so (I wasn’t really paying attention before then).  However, I would expect later generations who didn’t have the opportunity to watch the whole thing develop to the current pass would still have a similar sense of that development because, thanks to the science boon of The InterWeb!!!, it’s all written down for all to see and understand.  They didn’t need to be there.  We’re told that the current face of politics is in large part a result of no one considering politicians trustworthy in the wake of Watergate, which did not happen recently.  If the collective memory is so long, how is it so selective?  Politicians are tarred with the elderly brush first dipped by Woodward and Bernstein, but science in the service of a buck demands a new Rachel Carlson every five years or so?  Can such things be?

I hope that this isn’t a generational thing.  I’d like to think that healthy skepticism is available to people of all ages (once reason sets in, of course).  Since things like GMOs amend the world, and we have but one (another disappointment– where’s the interplanetary colonies?), it seems only rational to cast the light of Murphy on them; show us, before we let you loose, just what can go wrong.  If the answer is truly “nothing”, or at least “nothing as bad as will happen if we keep it on the shelf,” then I’m fine with it.  I rather hope these kids and their loud music take a similar view.

Here endeth the rant.  I’m away tomorrow for first aid re-certification, so there won’t be an entry.

Today’s pen (which shows signs of not-quite-sufficient testing before release): TWSBI Diamond 540
Today’s ink (see placard for toxicity info): Diamine Syrah

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Commercial Crassness

Posted by Dirck on 19 September, 2013

The second round, and even though a day has passed, the deadline remains the same: act before Tuesday 24 September, or seek them on my Etsy site and pay more for shipping.  Repeating yesterday’s explanation;  until this coming Tuesday, these items are only available to readers here, and there’s a $10 discount on shipping (which I’ll go into below).  Come the 24th, these things go onto Etsy, and a slightly wider slice of humanity gets a run at them.  If there’s any left.  To get at them, go to the official spam-guardian of my site and send me a message that way; first come, first grab, as is ever the way.

Most of the pictures below will grow if clicked upon.

Sheaffer Fashion:

Sheaffer 0423p

That’s just plating– it’s a steel point.

Sheaffer 0423ws

A Sheaffer Fashion in one of its more restrained colour schemes; one of the factors which had led me to think it was a TRZ.  The early version point without impression is another.  This is a surprisingly comfortable pen for such a slender object, and I part with it mainly because I’m not deeply enamored of the cylindrical styling.  When I got it, the section was crammed with ink and in three unconnected parts; you may rest assured that it is cleaned and sealed properly now.  I’ll be sending along an appropriate cartridge, since they’re no longer to be found ; $30

Sheaffer 74SR:

Sheaffer 0327c

Capped, one gets a better sense of the “S” in the model designation.

Sheaffer 0327p

There is a hint of brassing about the hardware (lever too).

There is a hint of brassing about the hardware (lever too).  The lint on the cap is removable.

Sheaffer 0327wsI know I’ll regret parting with this Sheaffer 74SR— I wear vests often enough that I get use out of ring-tops.  However, I’ve got others, and this is one of the more presentable and thus marketable ones in my pile.  There is engraving on the band, “KLM-WUM” which means that back in the 1920s it was stuffed with meaning we can only speculate on now.  There is some scuffing on the cap, just above the band; it’s not hideous, but it’s present and it renders this example of the model well clear of mint.  Resacked in 2011, so it should be good for a long while yet – $65

Sheaffer Snorkel Admiral:

Deployed for filling-- you can almost hear it slavering.

Deployed for filling– you can almost hear it slavering.

Sometimes, the unpredictable swings of my camera make for a really excellent close-up rather than otherwise.

Sometimes, the unpredictable swings of my camera make for a really excellent close-up rather than otherwise.

Sheaffer 0105wsThere is a very modern springiness to the point of this Admiral, which I hope will not be mistaken for actual flexibility; Sheaffer would have put a second F on the point code if that were the case.  The sac and seals were all replaced about four years ago, and proper hygiene has been observed since; complete fills are taking place.  While I still call this a user-grade pen, since it’s been used quite a bit, the body and hardware are in very good condition – $75

Parker “17” Lady:

Personalization- a hook for a narrative or a defacement?

Personalization- a hook for a narrative or a defacement?

The sac isn't entirely clear, but it is certainly transparent enough to check reserves

The sac isn’t entirely clear, but it is certainly transparent enough to check reserves


Parker 0034wsThis “17” Lady has a personalization on it, so those to whom such things are anathema will want to move right along.  It is a very small pen, hard for the medium-large handed to use without posting, but for those who do manage to grip it, it has a very rewarding point on it– a fat wet gold one.  The trim is in good shape, but some scuffs from cap/body interaction are present – $30

Waterman Garland:

Waterman 0404p

Waterman 0404wsI had “Lady” on the brain thanks to the previous item when I did the writing sample for this, which is simple a Garland.  It is dark brown, not black; my camera is more easily confused in this than the human eye.  Resacked last year.  The body is rather matte from long use, but the cap and hardware have stood up better– the cap is, I hasten to point out, not perfect in this regard, but it is free of dents, dings, and scratches.  It is not marked as gold-filled, and to be honest the period catalogue is a little evasive on the point; the Stateleigh, which by model number is the full-length version of this, declares outright that it has a gold-filled cap, but I hesitate to declare it as such.  I find I neglected a capped picture; this is not the sort with a clear “gum-drop” tail, which is less decorative but also not given to disintegration- $47

Waterman Apostrophe:

Waterman 0451pc

If you know that corporate logo, you’re ahead of me.

Waterman 0451wsThe Apostrophe is really a student pen with some nice colours applied, and I’m not going to try to hype it up beyond that.  It has it in its power to be a decent daily-use pen which one won’t be too worried about dropping or lending; I bought it mainly to be able to include it on my site, and now it’s better off where it will be used.  When I was doing up the writing sample, I wasn’t altogether happy with the amount of tooth it showed, so it will see some smoothing before it leaves me; Waterman may not have been embarrassed to sell it in this state, but I am – $32

Parker Frontier:

Do you like a squishy section?

Do you like a squishy section?

Parker 0249wsThe Parker Frontier is also a pretty low-end pen, and this is not a high-trim version of it.  It is, however, a much more functional and appealing pen than when it arrived in my world.  It has been my practice piece for barrel polishing, leaving only a tiny crater on barrel which I suspect to have been left by an attempt upon the pen with a small nail.  I’ve had the section apart to address flow problems, which also saw some messing with the slit.  It’s a thoroughly overhauled pen, which doesn’t mean it’s any better than it actually should have been in the first place – $15

Back To School (+ some days) Special:

Take the Frontier and the Apostrophe together, and they will cost you only $41– and all the other kids in class will go crosseyed with envy! (Note – no guarantee of cross-eyed classmates is offered.  Any ocular injuries sustained through envy or other means are the responsibility of the user)

On Shipping:(which if you read yesterday’s, you’ll recognize for a mere cut’n’paste job)

Remembering that I’m taking $10 off; these are the UNDISCOUNTED prices– inside Canada, Expresspost is $15, which is insured and tracked.  To the US, Tracked Packet (which has $100 insurance built in) is $17;  if you’re buying a whole lotta pens and want more insurance, we’d have to take a step up to Expedited Parcel which is $22 plus $2 for every hundred in insurance above $100.  Outside of Canada, we start to run into problems; untracked Small Packet Air are (using the UK as an example, but it’s not much more to Australia) $10, but you’re taking the risk on your own head because all I can produce is a receipt saying I paid for SOMETHING to be sent SOMEWHERE.  To get tracking and insurance, there’s International Parcel-Surface for $40 or Tracked Packet for $47, with the same $2 increments for extra insurance; more certain, but certainly expensive.

Also, because I’m dribbling this out in installments, I won’t insist on immediate payment.  If you want something here, and have some notion you might like something in a subsequent dose (I expect to have two more entries like this), I will hold for you until all is revealed.  However, that request to hold should be understood as a binding commitment, so don’t ask me to hold something you maybe possibly want unless something better appears.

One more batch should do it– stay tuned tomorrow!

Today’s won’t-be-sold pen: TWSBI Diamond 540
Today’s ink: Private Reserve Supershow Blue

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