Wednesday, 27 November 2013

EDC Redux

One of my favourite blogs, The Well Appointed Desk,  posted a link some time ago to an EDC (Every Day Carry) video featuring one of the Mythbusters, Adam Savage.  I know him from that series, which I flit past as I try to find something worth watching amidst the "documentary" (sic) channels on my satellite television.

I may not be impressed much by his efforts to drive elderly cars off cliffs in the name of scientific research, but I can't knock his impeccable EDC, which is elegant in its simplicity.  Wallet, keys, phone, and a few other bits and bobs, and that's it.  It's made me re-examine my own EDC to try to sharpen it up a bit.

I posted about my own EDC a while ago, here.  I still own and use the Maxpedition EDC pouch but these days it holds a first aid kit in my work bag.  For a while I used it as a pen case, but now I have a Maxpedition 6x4 Notebook Cover for that.

My own EDC is now similar to Adam Savage's.  I carry a keychain which holds a miniature flashlight and a combination bottle opener/screwdriver, as well as keys.  I also carry a wallet for bank notes and credit/debit cards.  Living in a country whose currency requires most to hold small denominations in the form of coins rather than paper money, I have also made a small drawstring bag for loose change which goes in my pocket or in my work bag.

Of course, I almost always carry a pen and notebook.  Even if I do not have my fountain pens to hand, I usually have a pen on me - as I do not like ballpoint pens, I carry a Pilot G2 0.7mm gel pen, and write in a Muji Passport pocket notebook.  They are half the price of the Moleskine equivalent and hold up well in the harsh environment of the average back pocket.

The other EDC items I have are a Swiss Army Knife (Sportsman model), a Kent pocket comb, a Maglite Solitaire flashlight and a smartphone - at present a Samsung Galaxy SII, though I intend to replace it shortly.  The Sportsman is modified slightly - I sharpened the main blade with a water stone, and I have added a Victorinox small screwdriver, the sort that lives inside the corkscrew tool.  Although dim compared to contemporary CREE LED flashlights, the Maglite Solitaire is a handy little light which does not drain the battery when not in use: unlike the Nitecore D11 I bought as my main torch.




Saturday, 6 April 2013

Spambot Supernova

I have just deleted a bunch of spam which has infected the comments, so reluctantly I have changed the comments options to remove the option of posting anonymously.  Sorry about this, but I have better things to do than delete spam from the blog.

That is all.

Friday, 5 April 2013

New Layout

I have done a little spring cleaning on the blog by changing its theme, and the background colour.  I was looking for a theme based on one of my favourite colours, and settled on what to me looks like a restful pistachio green.

The theme may well change again if I find one I like better.

Be grateful it wasn't tangerine!

Pilot 78G


After the last fountain pen post (on the Lamy Safari) it seemed like a good time to discuss another pen mentioned in that review: the Pilot 78G.  This is one of Pilot's base models, designed for students in Asian  markets, but although cheap, it's definitely not nasty.  It is produced in four colours, green, red (actually a sort of dark vermilion), black and teal blue/green.   The barrel, cap and nib section are moulded in plastic which is fairly robust, and set off by "gold" accents such as the clip and the printed ring on the cap.  The steel nib is also gold lacquered to match the clip.  The cap screws on securely, to go in your blazer pocket ready for another day at school.

I have two of these pens; both are pictured above and below. The green 78G is one of the first fountain pens I bought when I rediscovered FPs a few years ago. After a lot of reading up on it on Fountain Pen Network I ordered it from Norman Haase from his website Hisnibs.com. Norman checks all the nibs on the pens he sells, and it shows on this one; the nib is smooth and lays down a solid, fine line.

The red 78G is one of a pair I bought from FPN member "Samovar"; the other was black, which I gave away. This is slightly unusual in that it accepts short international cartridges rather than the proprietary IC-50 cart.  Now I wish I hadn't given the black one away because although small for my large hands, it is most useful to have a pen which takes a non-proprietary cartridge.



The green 78G is pictured with the Pilot bladder adapter but since this photo was taken I have put in a Pilot cartridge, which is easily done although you need to use an alarming amount of force to pull the adapter out.  I found that with the adapter, the 78G leaks slightly from the nib, which I think is a consequence of the design: ink can seep through the vents over time.  This is only noticeable when the pen has sat unused for a time, which mine tend to be as I have the M90 and the Capless to use as well.

Pilot offer a three nib choices for this pen; i went with the median M nib for both.  Being a Japanese fountain pen, this "medium" runs to a Western "fine".  I would imagine the F nib is very fine indeed, good if you have tiny handwriting.  There is also a B nib which is an italic stub which I can't say much about as I haven't tried that one, though it has its fans.

Although not one of my regular pens I do like to use my 78Gs from time to time.  For a while I used the green pen filled with Noodler's Bulletproof Black to record astronomical observations, a job it performed admirably.  The only reason I stopped using it was due to the screw cap, which became a faff to use at night and wearing gloves!

Although there are reports that the pen is no longer in production, and that supplies are NOS (New Old Stock), the 78G was mass-produced in vast quantities so stock is still available online at various retailers.  There are numerous reviews on FPN and other websites and blogs (I know - I have just looked) which are mostly favourable.  Many like me prefer this pen to the Safari, and I think every fountain pen user should own at least one, as a handy knockabout pen, for home, office or even school.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Pencils and Music



When I first began blogging about pens and pencils, one of my favourite blogs was the now-defunct Pencils and Music blog.  Visit the website nowadays and you have the sad sign telling you that the blog is no longer available.  It lives on though, if you visit through archive.org.

Sean, the site owner, moved on to The Blackwing Pages blog, and had some bother with the company that resurrected the original Eberhard Weber Blackwing 602.  I won't repeat the story here, as he says it so much better himself on his own blog.  Pencils and Music discussed a lot of fine Japanese pencils such as the Pentel Black Polymer and the Tombow Mono 100.

The reason I mention this is because I use a pencil for writing on music, even if I don't actually write music much.  I may have mentioned before that I play tenor saxophone in my local community orchestra, and often make notes on the sheet music to adjust articulation or dynamics, or to remind myself when to take a breath without disrupting the flow of sound.  A pencil is a key tool in a musician's kit: I always carry a pencil in my music case.

See the picture below which is my part for the British Legion March.  (The first picture is a section of Gustav Holst's Second Suite in F, fourth movement.)  Note that it's written for a euphonium even though I play saxophone - I often have to play euphonium music as often it has important sections of music and my instrument is tuned to the same pitch and has largely the same range.  I have marked out where the crescendos go, and also where to turn the sound down a bit. 



For music parts I prefer a soft, dark pencil.  I only make brief notes, and I need them to stand out between the staves.  Lighter pencils such as HB or H are not bold enough, especially in low light or under stage lights, so I use a 4B, topped with an eraser. My pencil of choice is not Japanese, but German: a Staedtler tradition, topped with a Faber-Castell eraser.  It's probably fitting that products from two bitter rivals should live together in my music case; I am reminded of this old song for some reason.



No copyright infringement is intended - music reproduced here for illustrative purposes only.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Merry Christmas

As the title says: Merry Christmas!


I never intended to leave it this long to post, so apologies for six months' radio silence.  I have no excuses really, I simply needed to get on with other stuff such as work, then the Olympics were on and I spent a fortnight watching telly, then this and that happened.

But now it's Christmas and I have some spare time to blog again.

Hopefully readers all got what they wanted from Santa Claus.  I received a few, carefully-chosen goodies from Cult Pens - a couple of Caran d'Ache pencils (a Technograph 777 and a Bicolor 999), a new KUM sharpener, a Caran d'Ache pencil holder for those pesky stubs, and a brace of Hi-Unis, in HB and 4B.  Cult Pens also threw in a mini ball-point designed to be held on a lanyard.  I am delighted, and will feature them on the blog at some point.  I had never expected to be able to buy the Hi-Unis here in the UK.  My children think I am insane for my "obsession" (their word, not mine) with fine pencils and fountain pens.  As I always say, it took me years to learn how to write, so why should I use cheap tools now?

One recent development in my own pencil use is that I am using pencils much more at work for writing notes, and using softer pencils more often as well.  I may have mentioned before that one of my hobbies is music; for writing out music or for marking printed sheet music I have found a 4B pencil to be most useful.  Where I use a fountain pen, I mostly use Pelikan Blue-Black and Diamine Imperial Purple inks.

More soon - if I can get a turn on the family PC.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Stephen Bayley: Not Fit For Purpose?

The Graun has this article about the "joy of Moleskine notebooks" which quotes "cultural critic" Stephen Bayley as saying:
"It's a masterful bit of excavation of the human psyche...The stuff you're writing in it could be the most brainless trivia, but it makes you feel connected to Hemingway."

This is, of course, nonsense.  I could understand the quote if he was being paid by Moleskine to say it, but the only masterstroke I can see is one of marketing.  I admit, I was taken in at first.  Those alluring stands of notebooks stacked in Waterstone's were very attractive indeed, and I bought a few.  Disappointment soon followed when I discovered the paper makes fountain pen ink bleed like crazy, and that the binding is not as robust as it might be.

I don't much feel like Hemingway when using one of my Moleskines, actually. 

By the way, thanks to everyone who responded to my last post on sketchbooks.