A technophile lawyer rediscovers the joys of pen and paper

Monday, December 26, 2011

An unexpected Christmas pen!

In the spring of 2010, just as my pen addiction was kicking in, I was showing my wife's Uncle Bryan (whom I see only once every year or two) the extent of my collection. If I recall correctly, at the time I owned only two fountain pens: a charcoal gray Lamy Safari and a Pelikan P55 Future. Might have been a Lamy AL-Star in there, but I can't remember.

He was interested because he is an artist (pretty darn good, too), and he tried sketching with one or two of my pens.

Anyway, this year we got a Christmas package from Uncle Bryan, which included a cigar-shaped object wrapped in brown paper with a note to me that read, "I bought this pen about 30 years ago. Enjoy." Perhaps, I thought, it's a pen he experimented with in his art way back when he bought it.

So, I opened it, and . . . it's a Mont Blanc Meisterstuck 149. Whoa.

It's a little worse for wear -- there are stains on the star at the end of the cap, and there is a dimple in the resin of the cap. There's some brown residue at the base of the nib. But it otherwise looks like it just needs a little cleaning and buffing.

There is an "M" engraved in the star in the nib, which I presume means it's a medium. To my untrained eye and hand, the nib seems to be either a stub or cursive italic, with a slight right-foot oblique (or merely mis-aligned tines):

I'll be shipping this pen off to a restorer pronto, but I couldn't resist taking the nib for a spin first, so I dipped it in Noodler's Red-Black, and later filled it with Noodler's Purple Martin, and here's what I got on some Clairefontaine Triomphe:

Whatever it is, it's very broad and gushes like a fire hose. I did get some line variation, but maybe that's just misalignment of the tines. I took it to work today, and the first time I unscrewed the cap and gripped the pen to write with it, my fingers were covered, but the ink did not resemble Purple Martin. Instead, it was the color of the brown residue at the base of the nib.

I suppose I should get it restored to ship-shape condition and try it again before I decide whether I want a nibmeister to put a new grind on it it. Might make a good signature pen once the nib is adjusted. (I know, using it for signatures seems like a waste, but medium is about as wide as I go with everyday writers, and this writes much larger than a medium.)

While I'm eager to get it in shape, I hate parting with it so soon after receiving it. Perhaps there are a few more dips in store before I ship it off.

Thanks, Uncle Bryan!

UPDATE: Thanks for the link, Speedmaster!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

From GTD to ZTD

When I started this blog, I wanted to include posts about implementing David Allen's "Getting Things Done" system for managing tasks. I have tried that several times over the years, always running into obstacles but I thought, this time, for sure.

Something just wasn't gelling. So, I downloaded Leo Babauta's "Zen to Done" eBook. Best $10 I have spent in a long time.

In ZTD, Babauta goes through some of the reasons that GTD doesn't work for some people, and I found myself saying "Yes!" over and over again as I read through those issues. ZTD doesn't trash GTD. In fact, Babauta admires it and incorporates a lot of it, but at the same time offers suggested modifications — simplifications, really — that make GTD more user-friendly for people who have run into trouble implementing it.

At least, in theory. It remains to be seen whether I find it any more user-friendly in practice.

You can read Babauta's synopsis of ZTD at his blog.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Levenger Paper Summary and Semi-Rant

I have a beef with Levenger. I don't write this post out of frustration, though. Not entirely, anyway. It's just that I've tried out quite a few Levenger papers, intending to review them all — and I will, eventually — but I thought it would be helpful for folks to see a summary of my experiences in one post. Think of it as a bunch of mini-reviews rolled up into a single post.

Levenger does a wonderful job of describing their paper products (all of their products, actually). A photograph of a paper tablet won't inspire desire in a lot of people, but the description of the paper's luxurious feel, fountain pen friendliness, and sturdy weight . . . well, that will get the hearts of me and a lot of my readers racing.

Levenger generally describes their various papers quite similarly in these regards, and while they all feel great and are indeed sturdy — I love how thick their papers are — they have proven to be incredibly inconsistent in performance and even appearance.

Generally, here's what I've found (with fountain pens only — I haven't tried other pens):

White Pads. Most nibs wrote smoothly, but the paper tend to absorb ink, resulting in severe bleedthrough and nibs tending to write broader lines than on other papers, but without the ink actually feathering much. As I wrote in my review (which, technically was of some discontinued pads that may differ from the current Freeleaf variety), for the limited uses I had for the pads, I could live with the bleedthrough, so that performance deficit was outweighed by the smooth writing experience.

Multicolored Freeleaf Pads and Multicolor Notebooks. Great, heavy paper. But I don't like writing on these at all. The paper is smooth, but performance otherwise varies a lot by the color of the paper. Sometimes, the paper repels the ink so much it looks like I've tried writing on wax paper; the ink doesn't so much skip as bead up and bubble.

Circa Paper. Horrible bleedthrough with a variety of inks when using fountain pens. (Not the Rhodia refills, of course).

Wired Notebook Full Page Ruled. This one is a standout. The white paper has great weight, smooth feel, great performance. No bleedthrough even with heavily saturated inks delivered through juicy nibs. This is awesome paper.

Desk Journal Refills. This is what I use for my journal (if you can call six entries in as many months a "journal"). I love it. Very heavy paper, no bleeding, no problem at all writing on both sides no matter what ink I use.

Notabilia Notebook. This probably has the most luxuriously smooth feel of the products I've mentioned in this post. It is a pleasure to write on, with great resistance to bleeding. So soft to the touch, but not up there with the R by Rhodia line.

In short: when its good, it's great; when its not great, it's pretty bad. There is very little in between. I am a very happy owner of some Levenger leather products and some pens, and I know Levenger is generally a stickler for quality control. So I just can't figure out why their paper is all over the place.