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Posts Tagged ‘Wancher’

Back at it

Posted by Dirck on 21 January, 2014

WHAT:  Typing and re-editing a first draft of a short story “Eyeing the Neighbour” (working title).

HOW MUCH: 749 words.

HOW LONG: about 40 min.

DONE?: Nope. Based on number of manuscript pages transcribed, about 1/3 finished– which is to say probably more than 1/3 because I know there’s some whole paragraphs stuck out farther on.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Vac 700
Today’s ink: Wancher Imari


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The Trial of Gilbert Norrell

Posted by Dirck on 15 January, 2014

I’ve been reading a quantity of blogs lately which pursue the question: What is a writer?  This is a question very close to my heart, since I would like to consider myself in that motley but august category.

Some have a very inclusive notion of the definition, giving the nod to anyone who makes a serious effort to bang words together in the hope of generating a few sparks.  Others are rather more restricted, and limit the title to those who have been published (without the “self-“) and been paid for it.  The latter group point out that in this age where things like what I’m tapping away at right now are so ubiquitous, to go with a less firm criteria allows an awful lot of poseurs into the tent on the weight of a once-a-month recording of sock drawer contents or a persistent reblogging of items from Cheezburger.com with semi-witty comment upon it.

I have some trouble developing a sufficiently vigourous counter-argument to that latter position.  I thus allow myself no more than writer-aspirant (which, as a pure side note, raises memories of the D&D Player’s Handbook character-class descriptions– “a level 3 Writer-Aspirant may attempt simile with +2 to their roll, but extended metaphors are subject to a -4”); I aim for publication, but it hasn’t happened yet… bar that one article for The Dragon back in the 1980s (that D&D thing has an rational foundation).

Which brings me to Gilbert Norrell.  For those to whom the name is unfamiliar, he’s one of the central figures in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, a book I heartily recommend to any who can tolerate the style of the early 19th century.  He is, I would venture to say, the antagonist of the book but all the same I have sympathy for him.  One of his lesser problems is an inability to publish his own thoughts.  Apart from a firmly ingrained reticence, he cannot fight his way through the editing process.  The written article says too much, or not enough, or gives an impression other than he’s quite happy with, and so he never quite finishes anything he puts his hand to in the writing line.

I’m not quite so picky, but I understand his problem.  I’m a great starter of work, but because I’m not a Writer I can’t put aside all the other demands of daily life to finish it.  The existence of “flash-fiction” gives some hope, since that doesn’t call for too many sittings, but it’s very much like wanting to cook a three-course meal with a centre-piece of Beef Wellington and coming out with intermittent corn chips.  Not to be despised, but not quite as satisfying from a creative standpoint.

The point of this– I am once again coming around to the idea that I might spend the midday time I have available to knock words together to better effect than this mere unhinging of my head to let all the noise of the moment out.  I might, for a while at least, look at getting some of the… actually fairly startling number of short stories I’ve got at various inflations of the first draft stage either fully inflated, or indeed moved into an editing phase of its life cycle.  I’ve made similar noises in the past, of course, and since there’s no one riding herd on me there’s a very good chance that this habitual roaring will relapse presently.  But until that relapse occurs, I am apt to be a little more intermittent here than the reading world has become quite used to.  I realize with some horror that the flash-fiction submission which so encouraged me is not almost a year past, and I really should use both the small residual momentum of encouragement and the chilling terror of accidentally noticing time’s swift passage to spur me to achieving something.  Even if it does merely generate rejection letters, that’s one more person aware of my writing than would otherwise be the case– and that has to build experience points towards leveling up, right?

This is not, by the way, a new year’s resolution.  It’s just something that occurred to me on my walk.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Vac 700
Today’s ink: Wancher Imari

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The One-Eared Beauty

Posted by Dirck on 6 January, 2014

I was going to do more of a “Hey, I’m back!” entry, but there’s a mort of work here at The Regular Job which needs setting fire to.  I am, therefore, going to make a brief comment about setting fire to things.

Or rather, wanting to set fire to things because it’s very very very cold in much of North America.  What the vast majority of north-central and -eastern bits of the continent are getting right now is what I understand as winter temperatures.  I come not to gloat, but to offer sympathy and advice.  I frequently explain winter here as a natural disaster you know is coming and for which dressing properly is the necessary response.  That second bit comes from experience, of course, and right now there’s a lot of people who have no experience of these temperatures struggling along under them.  Let me give some capsule advice, to spread around to those you know who might need it.

Winter is not your enemy… no, it is, but it’s not at the top of the podium.  Vanity is your enemy.  If you’re going to go out in this stuff, Vanity needs to be nailed firmly to a wall in the back of a closet where no one will find its corpse until spring.  I know that in my long coat, shaggy sweater, outsided ear-flappy hat and all-encompassing scarf I do not look particularly cool, but I accept that as part of feeling warm.  Prior to writing this, I went on my usual 20 minute round-trip walk, and the wind-chill is rather below -45; I was no more than aware that it was cold out, mainly due to the build-up of ice on the scarf.

Layers.  Loads of them.  Co-ordination of colour and style are quite secondary.  That and “this can’t last” will see you through.  If Vanity proved too lively to subdue with simple self-defensive measures, consider this– the difference between frost-bite and freezer-burn is that the latter isn’t attached to your body (until a doctor removes it to prevent gangrene).  Not looking funny for a trip out to the grocery store now can lead to a lifetime of hideous deformity later.  Try that on for size, Vanity.

And lest anyone think I’m smug, I know at the front of my mind how lucky I am to live in a place that gets cold without a lot of snow.  The Maritimes are a place I wouldn’t wish anyone to be just now, even though I know that they’re used to that sort of thing.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Vac 700
Today’s ink: Wancher Imari


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Rare Who-Roast-Beast

Posted by Dirck on 18 December, 2013

I forgot yesterday that today was Regular Job Office Lunch day, so I’m not here.  I suggest as an alternative a review of a terrible Christmas film I hope to never see (the ads when it came out offended deeply, and the review puts a stake through the coffin).  I don’t agree with everything the reviewer says, but this…

 I’ve never known a kid who likes seeing other kids in movies. As kids we want to see adults doing the things we imagine ourselves doing as adults, that’s why we loved STAR WARS and JAWS.

…is a long-held belief I’m so happy to hear from an other mouth that I can’t but love him for it.

Although as a kid, Jaws was entirely too much for me.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Vac 700
Today’s ink: Wancher Imari

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Follow That Duck!

Posted by Dirck on 13 December, 2013

As a sort of irreverent mash note to the endangered folks of Canada Post, today’s film shows the joy mail delivery can bring:

Let’s hope public outcry works for a change.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Vac 700
Today’s ink: Wancher Imari

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The Curious Case of the Contrary Cartridges

Posted by Dirck on 20 June, 2013

Could today’s pen step up to the front, please?

I din’t do nuttin!

Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble. In fact, I owe you an apology.  But let me tell the story behind Monday’s… well, big lie.  Today’s pen was not really Monday’s pen in any more than name, you see.  When I took it out to use, the first time since I’d loaded it the night before, I found an ugly surprise indeed.  The section was covered with ink!  The cap was crammed with it!  My fingers were all besmirched!

I said some immoderate things at and about the pen at that point, reflections upon its nature and utility.  I set it aside after mopping it with a tissue, and took up the Hero 616 I keep at the Regular Job desk as a trap for those who borrow pens unbidden.  That was the actual pen of the day, at least until I got home and took up the next day’s TWSBI.  It wasn’t until the sunny mood of yesterday that I felt up to taking the Waterman out of its paper and discovering why it had gone so wrong.

The culprit, as it turns out, was not the pen at all.  I’d grabbed one of my empty long Waterman cartridges to put the ink in;that ink came to me in one of the little Goulet Ink Drop sample tubes, and getting it out with a 1ml syringe was by far the easiest route.  This cartridge had not sealed firmly to the section, as there was a crack in it.  Not a little, easily overlooked crack, either, but something nearly a full centimeter long, running from the mouth of the cartridge down the wall, just where you’d think someone who was squirting ink into the very same cartridge would notice it.  That’s obviously not going to seal, and the pen can’t be held responsible for failure to commit an physical impossibility.

What casts my title into the plural is the canvass of my other Waterman longs revealed.  I don’t have a bunch of these empties, being disinclined to using that mode of ink storage, but what few I had all had the same crack in them, and all were as useless as the one that had negligently sloshed ink around a perfectly blameless pen.  Not, as I mentioned, a subtle deformity, and I can’t image how I’d missed the problem when rinsing them out.  I spent a few minutes shining a bright light  up the back ends of my modern Waterman pens, and while I can’t say I discovered which were boys and which were girls (the action being much like the sexing of chickens, but quieter and less likely to draw a pooping-on), I also can’t say I found any purpose-made cartridge wrecking apparatus.  Happily, whatever possessed them in this didn’t spread to the other cartridges in the box, as the loss of old C/F patterns and mostly-full Sheaffer slenders would be rather hard to keep a level head about.

This does nothing to move me closer to adopting cartridges into regular use.  The loss of my entire pitiful stock of Rohrer & Klinger Verdigris is softened by the discovery that it is an extremely easy ink to get off of humans with only a little water and soap.  Today’s pen got bumped back into duty somewhat earlier than it may have, so that I could show my contrition for Monday’s hasty words, and it seems that forgiveness is in it’s true nature.  As for the cartridges, though, the mystery remains.  They were not very old, nor regularly applied, nor ever abused.  I suppose further comparative examination might eventually wring the truth out of them, but I’ll leave that investigation for the rats at the dump.

Today’s pen: Waterman Executive
Today’s ink (in a converter): Wancher Imari

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Quart, or Mass

Posted by Dirck on 25 September, 2012

As Hallowe’en is on the visible horizon, I pause a moment to suggest Quatermass and the Pit; a good sci-fi/horror romp that is, in a small way, an adaptation of Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness.  Since Guillermo del Toro has been put off making his own film of that story, we take our solace where we may.

Look back to the weekend, once again, I mentioned a lucky strike at a garage sale.  This is not an entirely unprecedented event, but the dazzling accomplishments of a friend (which have resulted in my receiving two different eras of Duofold, a lowly but unusual version of the Skyline, and a remarkably well-preserved Crusader).  The sale in question was one which this friend put me onto, so she still takes some of the glory; she mentioned it to be because the notice actually indicated that there were fountain pens.

I’ve mentioned with some frequency the utility of keeping expectations very low, and so while I did creep out of the house at an early hour so as to not miss the quarry, I went with the notion that what I would find would be a small box of rusty steel dip points and possibly a holder.  When I arrived, minutes before opening, I downgraded expectations further as there was a thronging mob, all looking like the cast of a reality TV show with the word “Pickers” in the title.  But, I was there, the doors were opened, and it would cost me nothing to have a look.

As it happens, I probably missed the jewel of the place, pen-wise, as when I found the box the pens lay in, a young woman was examining and in the end made off with a Waterman C/F with the long tail of a desk mount.  It seems that the person behind the sale (who was having it run for them by professional garage/estate sale arrangers) preferred desk pens.  My haul comes to four; a Sheaffer/Fineline dip pen as belongs in one of that company’s “box of ink” sets, a homeless Esterbrook Model W , an apparently ready-to-run Esterbrook SJ in plain black, and a touchdown-filling Imperial/Triumph desk pen with the short “dunce cap” point.  The last would have been the queen of the lot, if not for yet another mutilation of an inlaid point, which is so very corrugated that I’m not sure I can recover it.  However, as it turned out the whole box was priced at $5, there’s useful parts there; the essentially untouched points in the Esterbrooks are each worth more than that, and the rest of it is gravy.

None of this is particularly remarkable, though.  There was also a box of inks, from which I tried to take a single 1950ish bottle of Waterman blue, and was told that the price was for the whole box, and if I wanted the one I had to take the bunch.  $5 more?  Sure.  Two of the Waterman, a modern Quink, a couple of unlabeled and nervous-making reddish items, and some Reeves blue-black.  This last is remarkable, for two reasons.  The first is that Reeves is a Canadian company I remember best for making oil pastels I regularly destroyed as a child in unthinking opposition to my mother’s artistic efforts, and which if it still exists apparently specializes in finger-printing ink (Google offers little encouragement).  The second reason is a matter of volume–

A lifetime supply… if I live a LOT longer than most people.

No, there’s nothing there for scale, so it’s not so impressive as it is in person.  It is, though, an honest to goodness institutional size of ink, as schools and banks used to purchase.  It hasn’t been stored with any care, though, and some of its components have separated… so I’m a little hesitant to use it.  Never the less, I’m pleased for no sensible reason to have such a vast bottle of ink.

At very least, it will help to keep the house from blowing away.

Today’s pen: Holland Fount-Filler
Today’s ink: Wancher Asuka

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A Rate of Knots

Posted by Dirck on 11 May, 2012

Yet again, I am presented with a coincidence that makes me wonder how people with an entirely rational and mechanistic view of the universe can cling to their notions.  I was contemplating a bit of a sartorial rant on the infelicities of the round nylon shoelace (and the superiority of flat laces), when a Facebook acquaintance offered the following item; an exactly on-point explanation of how to tie one’s shoes to defeat the contrary round lace.

There. I am instructed, I have a Friday Slack Video, I get done out of a foolish rant, and my slightly mystical nature takes some nourishment through unlikely conjunction of intent and event. I’m also glad to show that not all TED lectures are airy academic things with little to offer the everyday joe.  I’ll mention then, only in passing, that there is still an advantage in the flat lace, as it holds better in the effectively round holes of a knot.  But perhaps that is just an airy, academic matter now.

Today’s pen: Parker Duofold
Today’s ink: Wancher Matcha

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Shallow Examination

Posted by Dirck on 9 May, 2012

…and I mean that in more ways than one.  But let me start in the appropriate place; my TWSBI Vac 700 arrived yesterday.  I’m going to offer a few preliminary observations, which is all I really can offer at this point.  Not only have I not had a chance to run up any photos, I’ve had possession slightly less than 18 hours, and several of those were spent pinned firmly under the feathery rump of Hypnos; anything more than preliminary observations would be slightly fictional.

Now, given yesterday’s overflowing good spirits, you might expect me to come over all prickly, to seek faults and generally try to return to a neutral balance.  This was, indeed, very nearly the thing that I was going to do, and I had come up with many clever plays upon the word “disappointment” (e.g. the flavour of the box’s filling was disappoint mint– ho ho).  However, since I’ve had just sufficient time to examine the reasons behind this initial stance, I dismiss it.  The primary reason for disappointment was, as one should expect, elevated expectations.  I worked myself up to the point of expecting so much out of the pen that the absence of eerie glowing emanations shining out of the parcel was a let-down.  Is this a lesson I have known before?  Oh, yes.  Will I firmly take it on board this time?  I’m reasonably good about this sort of thing most of the time… but I expect there will be lapses in the future.

A more firmly-established problem came with the filling of the pen.  Here, again, expectations play a role.  I’ve got some fully functional Sheaffer vacuum pens, and I think I know how the platform should function, and the intake of ink was slightly less than I believed it should be.  However, the volume is hardly insufficient– about 1.4ml– and since that’s about two-thirds the total interior space I rate it as good enough.  That, however, was not the real problem that arose upon filling.  The pen was, to put it bluntly, not writing well.  This is a serious problem, and not one I’m quick to forgive in a new-made pen.  It is the sort of thing I can address, but not everyone else can. I’ve heard other people complain about this in various models from TWSBI, but I hadn’t run into it myself, and it was indeed a bitter disappointment.

However… I could not really work out why it was so hesitant to put ink on paper.  The symptoms were consistent with the “baby bottom” problem, but a gander through my splendid new loupe didn’t show that as the case.  A bit of a head-scratcher, and while a few other remedies suggested themselves, I let reflection have a go first.  This morning, a possibility occurred, and it proved out.  It seems that the Vac 700, or at least my Vac 700, doesn’t like Diamine Prussian Blue.  Given a couple of different Pelikan inks, it’s running quite happily.

Other, less windy observations– it’s frickin’ huge, to one who is used to a more human scale of pens as appears in most vintage examples.  It is also relatively heavy, but not the sort of fraudulent heaviness I so frequently decry in modern pens.  The weight comes from the necessary thickness of material in the barrel (vacuum Sheaffers always worry me in this regard), not pointless add-ons and hidden ballast.  Its cap will post, and in fact does so very readily; it appears, despite maker’s suggestions that it’s not a good idea, to have been designed with the habit in mind.  I’m not sure how well I’ll adapt to the shut-off valve, a feature harkening back to the earliest vacuum-filling pens; the need to twist the tail a little to begin the free flow of ink seems very archaic, and given the performance of the Diamond series while flying (pens with a much less convoluted feed, too) it comes across as not just belt and suspenders, but little bit of tape around the waistband as well.  My great fear, the sharp-looking step on the barrel which the cap butts up against (yes, yes, a picture would be nice; how about looking at one on TWSBI’s site?) does not interfere with one’s grappling of the pen, at least if one is using anything like the recommended grip.

So, at first flush… or possibly second, I guess, I’d recommend it.  I’ll have more to say with a full review at some point in the near future.

Today’s pen: Parker Duofold
Today’s ink: Wancher Matcha

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IT’s Getting Better

Posted by Dirck on 7 May, 2012

I had, today, an entirely predictable and usual failure in my computer at The Regular Job (I believe a sticky poppet valve causes a misdirection of pressure when a certain website is accessed, leading to one of the electron conveyors slipping from its pulley).  There are two courses to take with this sort of thing, and since it was going to be inconvenient to wait the half-hour for the central server to get tired of waiting to hear from my computer and reset its connections, I did the thing which sets so many folks these days on edge.

I called the IT department.  One of the beleaguered stokers put down his tiny coal shovel, wiped the buckminsterfullerium from his hands, and came around see what he could do, shielding his eyes against the unaccustomed natural light from the departmental window with a raised hand.  I explained the problem, which was essentially, “It’s doing that again,” and he asked for some of the code-numbers associated with me and the computer to take back to his cubicle under the digit mangle so he could properly realign the server.

“May I borrow some paper?”  Since I have towering piles of scrap paper, associated with The Regular Job’s notion of a paperless office (“we don’t need these 12 pages of that 16 page print-out”), that was an easy request.  He patted his shirt pocket, and discovered it was empty.  He fished to the end of the lanyard around his neck, and found only the key-simulating object he’s chosen to carry in that manner.  “Um… may I borrow a pen?”

The persistent reader of the back-numbers of this effort will know that’s a question I have wrestled with in the past, and I was thus ready to respond without a moments notice– the constant drilling has paid off!  I swept a hand past both of the desk mounts, and settled it on the bait pen I leave about precisely to give those not up on fountain pen handling something they can try without having to listen to me hyperventilating or making little gurgling noises.  After a moment when, as one who was obviously expecting something in the ball-point line, he applied the tail of the pen to the paper, he rearranged it in his hand and hauled the cap off.

You will understand that I was watching pretty closely.  Part of the reward of the bait pen for me is to see people who, unused to even the notion of a fountain pen, find they are having a tiny existential crisis as an object they thought they were entirely familiar with proves to be a novelty.  So when there was only as much hesitation as was necessary to get the point facing right way up, I will admit I was surprised.  The small, petty element in my that enjoys others’ existential crises was entirely disappointed.  Codes noted, the pen capped and returned, the IT chap vanished back into the engineering spaces.

I wish at this point that I could shout about how the fountain pen was obviously riding a great wave of reacceptance, if a random guy is unfazed by finding one in his hand.  However… the random guy in question is from a part of the world where fountain pens are not so rare.  He’s from… well, I’m not precisely sure, having not asked him, but if I say South Asia to the west of Vietnam, I’m comfortably certain I’ve got the right (vast) area.  Rather that blowing this single datum into a trend, I must therefore content myself that there’s at least one other person in the building who is comfortable with fountain pens.  That’s not as much fun, but I welcome the news all the same.

Other welcome news; I’ve recieved the first package of tools for dealing with pens in a better way than I have hitherto.  This package included a reliable magnifier of substantial power (I previously have a rather good 10X and a not good at all 30X), and I was able to make the opening pass of threatened point reshaping.  It was very tentative, and done with a little bit of a time constraint, so I didn’t get right through the attempt, but I can report I haven’t absolutely destroyed the first test subject.  That’s progress of a small sort, right?

Today’s pen: Parker Duofold
Today’s ink: Wancher Matcha

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