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Posts Tagged ‘X-Pen’

A Good Idea (Interrogative)

Posted by Dirck on 16 May, 2013

I had a notion while on my lunch walk, and I’m going to let it run around where others can see it to discover if it can thrive or if it needs smothering.

What put this notion into my head was someone not acting like an idiot.  A fellow pulled into a driveway which lies across my path, stopped where he wasn’t blocking the sidewalk, and engaged in some texting .  Jolly good.  It is a source of perpetual wonder to me that anyone looks at the physical and mental requirements of piloting a ground-car and communicating via a pocket-teletype (yes, I’m pretending I’m a 1950s SF author describing these things) and says, “I can do both those at once.”  The fact that enough people  form that thought that we actually have to write laws against it makes me wonder if genocidal aliens might not have a point, and all the more so since seeing someone make the right choice is noteworthy.

This is the line of thinking that wound up my walk, and as it spooled through the gears and pulleys of my thinker the resulting fumes took the form of a solution to the matter.  As with so many of the problems we’ve made for ourselves with technology, it relies on yet more technology to address, but I don’ t think that’s a particular drawback in this case.

Texting is an artifact of the smart-phone, right?  I mean, my own somewhat-dull-phone is technically capable of it, but most people given to texting has a relatively front-rank device to practice the exercise upon.  So, with that as a premise, let’s consider the various powers of the smart-phone.  I don’t understand the urge to announce at all times where one is and what one is about, but these gizmos make it really easy, and they do so through the power of knowing where they are.  I admit to not knowing whether it’s GPS proper or some other similar mechanism, but it’s in there.

One of the neat things about GPS technology is that it doesn’t just say THOU ART HERE, but it can also estimate one’s current speed– speed is, after all, just the rate at which HERE changes.  This is the hook upon which my idea hangs– a smart-phone knows if it’s moving.  The idea itself, then: an inherent, built-into-the-OS unwillingness in the device to allow texting to be committed upon it if it is moving between 20km/h and 300km/h.  Slower than that, chances are you’re on foot, on a human-powered vehicle, or unable to mount a curb– not very able to kill others in batches, in any event.  Faster than that and the plane you’re on into its cruising phase and you can use the device without distracting the cockpit electronics.

The major problem I can see to this is the complaint that passengers in a car can text their brains out without causing any trouble, and this would put a damper on that.  My response to that is “Yep”, with a chaser of “So what?”  There’s plenty of other stuff that one might do if not for idiots also having done it to the detriment of the public good.  Businessmen need to learn to relax when being driven somewhere.  Some people are still cranky about not being able to smoke in a bus.  It’s something one can get used to.

Of course, I’m not sufficiently aware of the technicalities of the field, so when I say “The major problem I can see…” I don’t believe that I’ve seen all.  Thus my public airing of the notion.  Apart from the foolish business practice of trying to work 29 hours in a day, I’m curious to what objections can be raised to such a scheme.  I’m aware that if there aren’t any, I might be giving away a money-maker to a quicker and more tech-savvy person.  So be it.  I’m willing to miss a fortune if it means an otherwise blameless high-school senior is denied the change of driving over a bunch of daycare kiddies in a cross-walk.

Today’s ink: Pelikan black, and easy-to-flush ink because of…
Today’s pen: Waterman X-Pen, and I invert the usual order of operations here to say an afterword about the selection.  This is not merely bowing and saying “The mob has spoken” since three votes hardly constitutes a mob, but also a decision to give an ill-used pen an outing.  Having said that, I get a sense from the comments that there will be some murmuring if this pen becomes a semi-daily fixture, so I’ll likely give it more work at home on what should be its days off.  I may even try some journal-writing while lying in my little bed, reveling in the pen’s ability to write with the tip uppermost (the secret to living a satisfying life is to make the most of little thrills).

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Pounding in Some Humility

Posted by Dirck on 24 November, 2011

Many people will have heard an old saw which runs “to a man with only a hammer, all problems look like nails.”  This can be easily applied to we fountain pen folk, as well.  Writing = fountain pen, right?  In honesty, I do have and even use other forms of writing tool, realizing that for some purposes or surfaces, a fountain pen is just not the thing.  Pencils are more easily erased, and markers are much better at helping to distinguish leftover chili from the current tub of yoghurt.

What brings this to mind is a chap on a pen forum who apparently owns ONLY pens made by an extremely expensive German company.  Any pen suggestion he might offer, any ink referral he might make, all carry but a single brand.  I don’t name it (although I disguise it imperfectly) because I don’t want to investigate whether the company in question is due this loyalty.  However, to declare it the be-all, end-all of writing is not quite on.  I’d like to suggest that people who place their reliance on a single tool need to expand the tool-box.  At some point in the long past, I pondered what it would be like to find The One True And Best pen, but I find on reflection that even having found it, one should probably keep a nice yellow pencil about just in case.

I should admit that part of my consideration of this topic has orbited the focus of my leftie, egalitarian urges.  I get a little bristly at the suggestion that the only good pen is necessarily an extremely expensive one.  I have also considered the charms of the less expensive pen in various entries (here’s one), and I think that it is good for the spirit to step down from the lofty slopes of wealthy and examine how the less fortunate manage to scrape along.

I am, as I’ve said over and again, fortunate in my pens if not my employment, and I should say that the other pen I’ve been using this week is rather above my station.  Today’s pen, on the other hand, is affordable.  In absolute terms, the Sheaffer is a rather better pen.  But this Atlantic, for all that it is very slightly toothy, oddly balanced and somewhat gaudy, it not a bad pen.  At worst, it informs me of how nice a pen the more expensive creature is.  At best, it instills the sense of “there but for the grace of {insert preferred metaphysical agency of arranging human affairs} go I” which is a component of the ediface of empathy and compassion which makes one the sort of authentically good person all should aspire to be.

Pretty impressive performance for a little cheap pen, isn’t it?

Today’s pen: X-Pens Atlantic
Today’s ink: Noodler’s blue

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That Darned Cat

Posted by Dirck on 22 November, 2011

Before I give up entirely on semi-meta-entries about the process of getting the new site up, I want to mention briefly the reason behind the bonanza of time I had to devote to the final push.  It was very cold on Friday night, about -27C.

“That seems a non sequitur, chum.”

They are connected, I assure you.  I had mentioned in a previous entry that part of last weekend was to have been devoted to building shelter and heating for the cat abandoned by our monstrous ex-neighbours.  Since that was to happen after a night of blistering cold, my wife, who has a heart of indescribable tenderness, rigged out bathroom to lodge the foundling for the night.

The problem with this state of affairs, if I may describe it so, is that I also have some unfashionable coronary softness.  I was all too able, in the course of the night and the subsequent morning, to put myself into the place of the cat; thrust away by the beloved family, offered some succor, finally brought in out of the cold… and then thrust out again?  All this without the capacity to reason or ask questions of the human agents?  There’s a horror that could not be put into words by King nor Lovecraft nor Dunsany nor Poe on their best day, and I found that I could not put myself into the role of the hard-case who insists that it be carried out, especially since our cats proved surprisingly indifferent to the presence of the intruder.

So, Sam the Foundling is still in our bathroom while all the felines involved get used to the idea and while my wife and I try to think of a better name for him– Augusta, Cleo, Hercule, Oberon… and Sam.  No good.  The time I was to have put towards building a physical structure I was able to apply towards a virtual ediface.  Wins all around, as long as I don’t consider the long-term costs of yet another cat in the house.

That I was also able to avoid spending a day in outdoor construction while exposed to high winds and -20C temperatures has absolutely no bearing on the matter.

Now, for an actual nonsequitur:  Someone’s decided to build a full, functional Babbage Analytical Engine.  Neat!

Today’s pen: X-Pens Atlantic
Today’s ink: Noodler’s blue

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Curse of the Late Waitress

Posted by Dirck on 5 November, 2010

…as in tardy rather than as in deceased, which would likely keep lunch from appearing entirely.

Today’s pen, only just back in time:  X-Pen Atlantic
Today’s ink:  Diamine blue-black (which is frankly not playing much better in this pen than in the Phileas I pulled the cartridge out of)

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Dealing with the Current Plague

Posted by Dirck on 1 June, 2010

I’m going to continue with yesterday’s topic in a somewhat diffuse and academic way. I’ll try to drag myself back to more interesting, or at least expected, contemplations tomorrow.

The reason I continue is that the very kind note of sympathy applied by a kind and passing stranger to yesterday’s rambling gave me a small insight into modern popular culture. The stranger declares his withdrawal from society (which suggests identity, and I will say no more on that), a move I cannot entirely decry although I’m not in favour of it– while a nice, cosy fortress against the mad hordes is appealling, it can all too easily become a trap, an isolated prison where one is cut off from all support and aid.

…and that sounds like a familiar meme, at least for a fancier of certain sorts of films. Putting together my experience of last week with this suddent insight, I suddenly understand the current popularity of zombie fiction. I will underline that I’m aware of the inaccuracy of the word “zombie” in the currently popular fiction, but as White Zombie and Hammer’s more recent A Plague of Zombies point out, a proper voodoo-animated corpse is less terrifying than the guy pulling the string, and in both current fiction and the reality it outlines there isn’t really anyone pulling strings.

Returning to the topic at hand, the modern undirected shambling husk is, I think, a useful metaphor for what many people feel society has become, or at least is on its way towards becoming. One is surrounded by ugly, potentially dangerous creatures, frequently with rather alarming fashion sense, which are prompted in their actions only by their own simple desires, and which cannot be reasoned with nor brought to a better understanding of how the world could or should work. There are a few others in the world who are not part of this lurching nightmare, but there is always a danger that even a friend could suddenly go wrong and start gnawing on your arm.

The interesting thing about this metaphor is that it isn’t limited to any single point of view– anyone can, with a little effort, make themselves feel like a beset minority. To some folks in the world, I am almost certainly part of the problem (“Oh, man… there he goes about a distributed, renewable-generation electrical grid AGAIN! Why can’t I switch on whatever kind of light bulb I like in peace?”). Homo homini lupus shifts to all men are another man’s zombie, and since there’s no reasoning with them, why not just yell obscenities at them? The popularity of the movies, of course, stems from the fact that in them one is not only allowed but entirely justified in clobbering the things with a length of pipe– a solution the real world generally frowns upon, although it is adopted with some frequency by the source of the problem.

However, I don’t see the answer in retiring to the bunker. The real answer is to go forth and be reasonable. It puts you in danger of infection, of course (“You’re in the intersection, MORON!” was perilously close to hand in the event related yesterday), but if I am a zombie to others, perhaps I might metaphorically get my teeth into them, passing along the influence that makes me what I am. At risk of infection, yet possible infectious. The alternative is hiding in the basement listening to the shuffling of decomposing feet overhead while water and food run low. I’d rather go out swinging.

Today’s proactive pen: X-Pen Atlantic
Today’s infectious ink: Diamine Dark Brown (unless it’s Monaco Red– and it gets along better with this pen than the last I had it in, bet it’s still somewhat dry)

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There’s GOLD in them thar thangs!

Posted by Dirck on 24 August, 2009

I’m sure I’m not unique as an inhabitant of North America in my lamentable habit of watching television. I was allowing this very habit some rein this weekend, when I saw an ad for one of these depression-driven gold-buying firms, in which they offer untold riches to anyone willing to cram a pile of auriferous jewellry and household goods into a mailing pouch and sent it along to them.

I won’t suggest that there’s a scam attached to this, although I rather suspect that the people who were waving around fist-fulls of hundred dollar bills must have had access to a collection that would make Mr. T blush. A quick glance at a couple of sites (which I’m not linking to, thank you) reveals that they’re paying about US$540 per ounce of 14K gold while the current market price of gold is around $940. Fair enough. There’s non-gold in 14K, which is why it’s not 24K, and they have to process it and render it and such like, so there’s costs involved.

Why am I looking at 14K gold, specifically? Well, that’s the most popular grade for points in fountain pens. This is where my worry comes in. We appear to be bouncing along the bottom of the current global economic catastrophe, possibly gaining some ground, and a lot of people are still worried about having money to keep a roof over their head (especially when, in many cases, that roof cost a LOT more than it’s worth now). A place to live does, even I will grant, take precedence over a pile of old pens. Why not pack them off to one of these recyclers and take the cheque?

Because you will be screwing yourself on the exchange, that’s why. With the seriously vintage pens, pre-1940 or so, the point is worth several times its weight in gold. It’s a precision-finished object, of which none are being made (a vintage point is not at all like a modern one, any more than a samurai sword is like the blade from a riding mower), and here’s the most important thing: it weighs almost nothing.

Newer pens, even new ones, are still more valuable as a complete object than the worth of that tiny fragment of gold they carry at the top. A recent discussion of this on the Fountain Pen Network came around to, if memory serves, a conclusion that if you can get more than $12 for a pen, you’re getting more than the actual value of the gold, never mind what a scrap buyer will offer.

So, if you are sitting there in front of an empty refrigerator and a full pen case, get on over to eBay, the FPN or Pentrace.net and sign up. Flog that pen as a pen. You’ll get more for it, and a valuable object will be saved from aimless destruction.

Today’s artifact: X-Pen Atlantic
Today’s ink: Bruynzeel black (yes, the same cartridge from all that time in the past. Today’s it’s last day, however much is left in it)

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Blackedy black

Posted by Dirck on 9 July, 2009

I’ve re-used an ink this week– the Bruynzeel cartridge which I started on Tuesday. Purely on utilitarian grounds, as thought I might as well feed more than one of my cartridge pens off it rather than let it evaporate into the works of the Brause 3000.

I realize as I listen to my lunch settle (norimaki of diverse sorts) that I’m not very fulfilled by this ink, and not on its own merits. I’m not a fan of black inks in general.

Over at the Fountain Pen Network, if you dare look, there are constant debates about the merits of various black inks. Is it really black? Really, really black? Does it stay black in all conditions? Are there any disruptive grey influences?

Bah. This is a crowd I will not run with. I appreciate the urge, but if I want a profoundly black mark, I’ll either grind some stick ink for a dip pen or grab a marker. Part of the joy of a fountain pen for me is the diversity of tone in the line it lays down; this shading (technical term) is one of the identifiers of a fountain pen’s mark. It’s not like the voids left when a ballpoint reverses directions and starves, it’s like the ebb and flow of music in a symphony– never altoghter absent, sometimes more forceful, but creating a harmonious whole.

…Perhaps I’m thinking too much about this. Let me just put a damp towel to my brow….

My point is that with a good solid black ink, you don’t get this sort of thing. No highlights, no intriguing depths, it’s all just black. One of my occasional niggles about Noodler’s ink is that they can be of the same nature, but with colour. Uniformity does not equal joy.

To each their own taste, though. You who fancy the black inks in their infinite uniformity, I give you my share of the world’s supply. I may hang onto a bottle or two against future need, but I’ll not compete with those who actually like it.

Oddly, I’m the same way about mussels.

Today’s pen: X-Pen Atlantic
Today’s ink: Bruynzeel black

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