Monday, June 30, 2008

The Flight of The PENguin, part 2

We began today from home, the Bay Area, at about 9:00 and by day's end fetched up about 430 miles north in Gold Beach, Oregon. Our goal is Victoria by Thursday morning, so we are just under halfway there on our first day out. Tomorrow we will slow the pace, get out and around the coastal tidepools and explore a bit.

For the last two weeks the Bay Area has been blanketed by a pall of smoke from the more than 800 wildfires ranging across northern California. As we drove north from Marin county up highway 101, we came to the source of those fires. From Willits northward in patches the air became so dense with smoke that we both ended up with stinging eyes and sinus headaches.When we hit Garberville, just south of Eureka and Arcata, we seemed to be in the center of the firefighting effort. The center of that small town was given over to firefighters from across the northern part of the state called upon to combat the fires.

From there things improved, and by about 5:30 we fetched up in Gold Beach. There the day gave forth it's highlight, a nice room, and more important a dinner of a lifetime, abalone. Now this may not seem like a big deal if you are not from the West Coast. But from 1900 through the 1960s divers scoured the coastlines of Baja, California and Oregon for these delectable bivalves. As a children both my wife, Sharon, and I recall eating abalone as a special treat. But the stocks were fished out by the early 1960s and the harvest was severely restricted . Since then, I've only had abalone once, about 25 years ago. But there it was on the menu, brought up by a local diver and provided to the restaurant, which knows just how to carefully prepare the tender meat, which requires both precise tenderizing and cooking. No pictures of the abalone, I fear. We ate it.

After dinner, Sharon did suggest that maybe we should just go home, since things may not get any better than this. I'm willing to take the chance and continue on.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Flight of The PENguin

On June 30, The PENguin flies off for his annual pilgrimage north (yeah, yeah, I know, no flight, Antarctica). This year its three weeks in Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle (maybe), Portland (Pen Show!) and Ashland.

Sadly the Z3M will not hold three weeks worth of luggage for two people and pen show stuff, so it stays in the garage,

and the poor PENguin is reduced to driving Ms. PENguin's (sob, not Saab) Toyota! The horror. But first the trusty Toyota needs service. So here we have the PENguin garage with the Toyota undergoing a change of oil and filters, tire rotation and all around inspection.
The rear window of the Toyota proclaims its readiness to carry us to see the Bard on the last leg of the trip.And, finally, we have The PENguin as Grease Monkey. Fortunately pen repair tools and auto repair tools are most similar.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Writing About Pens

One of my goals for the summer is to complete an article on the attraction of first year pens. Here we have my desk at PENguin central with reference books, my green spatterware composition book and the coral Pelikan 101 that got me through the final stage of the first draft.

Having the actual pens to hand, field research as it were, helps too. Writing about the history of first year pens, or any pens for that matter, is based not just on archives and secondary sources but first hand observation.

And, to be honest, it's impossible these days to write on pens or research them without recourse to the internet, in this case Martin Lehmann's emerging website based on the information first offered in Pelikan Schreibgerate.

For me, at least, my Rancilio Sylvia, which makes as good a cup of coffee as I have ever had, is another indispensable research and writing tool!

Finally, the last paragraph, and now it has to go onto the computer. Wish there were an easy way to do that, but it's back to the keyboard. On the way, I'll begin the editing process, so it ain't a total loss.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Hot Summer Day

As I write, it's 1:50 and the temperature is 96. Too hot to workout, I tells myself, and besides today is to be a reading and writing day. I've been waiting a week to start Netherland, but catching up on repairs has been first priority.

Earlier this week I started in on the first year pen article for Stylus , now I want to get into it, but first, I just gotta play with the tortoise M800s. I've never seen or heard of this many of them in one place.

When it comes to it, though, what to read? The Failed Empire is an important book for those who study Soviet-American relations, which I still sort of do, but far more interesting are Katie Roiphe's Uncommon Arrangements on the subject of marriage. But it's too hot to worry about marriage, especially if you have been married for 37 years. I do need to review the Vac book for The Pennant, but that will wait.

In the end it's Netherland. And so we have:
A Portrait of The PENguin as a Midsummer Dog

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

They're Here!

First, no peeking to the bottom of the post, gotta go through the suspense with me. FedEx said they would deliver before 10:30 and they did. It's amazing how fast stuff can move between Cologne and California. The package was picked up at 5:44 PM and delivered here at 9:50 the next morning. As I figure it, 36 hours.

So, with trembling hands I take the box from the delivery person, scurry off to my desk, set it down and slowwwwly begin to unveil the treasures within.
There has to be documentation, and if you can read it, you now have a clue.

More Packaging. This is valuable stuff.

Now we get a peek at the real deal, any guesses what we have here?

Voila! Two Tortoise M800's and a K800 ballpoint. Unfortunately, the ballpoint is not the mythical D800 pencil I was promised, but, in all, pretty cool!

These are more tortoise 800s than I've had in hand at any one time.

The set is spoken for and a lucky person on The PENguin waiting list will get the pen.

So, in all a fine pen day.

Now I gotta ship out some other stuff, pay the State of California for the taxes my accountant missed, and deal with a failing water pump in the BMW. Life ain't perfect, but it's pretty good.

An Early Repair Day, while Waiting for A Big Shipment

Later today I have a really cool shipment of pens coming in. What are they? Won't tell, yet. Stay tuned!

In the meantime since I am using much of June to work through a backlog of repairs I figure I'll get one or two jobs done. This one came, quite literally to my doorstep, a client who delivered a Pelikan 100 and a 100N . As a result I did not look at the pens as closely as I might have. Long story short, the 100N was a mess.Someone had attempted to do something to the barrel, the result being a stippled interior surface that no synthetic seal could ever secure. What to do? At this point I was on my own. With no possible synthetic seal (I tried literally every type possible, new and slightly used, nothing worked, I figured the only hope would be a cork seal, but no 100N piston head would fit into the barrel, so I had to make one. Since I had a non standard piston head, I then had to fabricate a new turning knob and spindle.

This pen is never gonna be a beauty and the mechanism is a frankenism if ever there were one, but the client can now use the pen which, interestingly enough is a lovely writer. Stay tuned for the arrival of the special shipment.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Today in Pens

In terms of pens, today has been mostly a day of finishing up and announcing the big update and completing a couple of repairs.

These three (a Senior Maxima, a Streamline Duofold, and an Oversize Gold Seal came to me from a client who said they were running dry after writing a while. I was unable to verify the problem, but upon disassembly found them terribly clogged. I cleaned all three and will retest them. Sometimes all you can do is to fix the reported problem without being able to independently verify it.
On the website I offer "demonstrators" of the Pelikan 100 model. These use custom made shafts and incorporate vintage parts. If you're interested visit the site. Here you see one pen partially assembled, it will go to the Portland Show in a few weeks, at the left are the parts for another being made for a customer. No OS Vacs were involved, pay no attention to the label on the bag.

The Birth of The PENguinBlog

So, I am now in the blogosphere.  Let's see how this works out.  We'll start with a couple of images of The IGloo.  This is The PENguin's principal workspace.