Archive for the ‘Miscellanea’ Category

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Sunset In Smoke

06/04/2016

This is the view outside my front door tonight. Colorful, eh?

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Online Retailer/PayPal Warning

05/25/2016

Warning! This is a rant related to items not in inventory. It has been edited for strong language and inappropriate graphics.

Twice I’ve been caught off-guard by an issue between PayPal and merchants that tied up my credit for an unacceptably long period of time. No need for you to go through what I have so here’s what happened.

In both situations I used my credit card through PayPal to purchase merchandise from online retailers. The first retailer did not have the inventory that was offered on his website but still debited my account for the unavailable item. It took in excess of two weeks to get a credit.

Merchant claimed PayPal and the credit card issuer were slow. The merchant has/had outdated software and the item should not have been loaded into my shopping cart without a back-order warning. I missed buying the item at a comparable discount while the parties involved controlled the available credit on my credit card. Eventually the credit showed up in my PayPal account but not on my credit card. Hrumph!

The second incident happened with a much larger retailer. One item was clearly listed as back-ordered in my shopping cart with the expected shipping date. No problem for me and I liked the upfront information as well as the opportunity to cancel at any time. Unfortunately, the retailer requested full payment from PayPal despite the website stating that would not happen until the item shipped. The “so what” response from the retailer to my query about the charge did nothing to handle the situation and soured our budding relationship. All I can do now is cancel the item and hope that someday my account will show a credit.

The issue seems to originate at the merchant level when the merchant requests full payment despite having no inventory on hand. They can blame PayPal and claim it is slow to issue credit. But the truth is full payment should never have been requested by the merchant. I have had it take up to a week to get a refund from my card issuer with a direct purchase. Add the intermediate step of getting the refund through PayPal and you can see where this is going.

Through PayPal I have paid for hundreds of satisfactory eBay purchases. The problems have only happened with retail purchases when merchants put through transactions for items not in inventory. That’s a shabby way to do business under any circumstances. Paying through PayPal just complicated the situation.

Both retailers thought it was my bad luck to have ordered something that was not in inventory. Again, hrumph!

My friends, you have been warned.

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Modern Pilot Fountain Pens

05/19/2016

That is my collection of Pilot/Namiki fountain pens. Nice variety to it, but they seldom get inked. In comparison to other pen makers, I’ve experienced more flow issues with their modern pens than any other brand. While the fine nibs can be temperamental, the wider nibs and flexy ones are the most frustrating.

With more than thirty Pilots having passed through here in the last few years, I am certain their feeds and nibs are not created equal. The nibs write well enough but the flow is not able to keep up. The pens are too often hard starting and skip mid-word even failing for a full word or occasionally even several. This has never happened with my Sailor and Platinum pens. It has been a rare issue with a vintage Western pen but that could be attributed to careless handling by a former owner. My Lamy, Waterman, and Levenger True Writers have had very rare flow issues though matching ink to pen has helped in a few cases.

Pilot Elite pocket pens from the 1970’s are not so quirky though some of the Script nibs write dry and especially narrow. The ink flow keeps up nicely maintaining an even line. The pretty, decorated ones have had a higher than acceptable rate of cracked barrels so that’s a different kind of warning. However, my Socrates, Isaac Newton, and Black Striped models have been especially good writers and aren’t at all picky about brands of ink. That sort of versatility puts them on my list of favorite fountain pens.

This doesn’t mean all of their pens have flow issues. However, this post can be considered a caveat to my previous pen recommendations from the Pilot Custom 742 to the Custom 74 to the lower end Prera and 78G and the bottom of the line Plumix. Even the Namiki Falcon Soft Broad (SB) nib unlike the Soft Fine (SF) has a flow that is inadequate for the amount of ink that should be laid down. A nib adjustment might help though I’ve experienced mixed results on that score.

A free-flowing ink can improve performance a notch. Pilot Iroshizuku ink is a good match though some Diamine and J. Herbin inks have proven up to the task as well. Waterman Blue-Black is my standard test ink and one that can bring out the best in a multitude of pens so that’s a good one to have on hand. Unfortunately, ink won’t fix a pen but it can improve one that is borderline.

This isn’t meant to dissuade you from buying a Pilot or Namiki fountain pen but it is a warning. Your sleek, new pen may need tweaking to be the best it can be. Or it may only take finding the right ink and paper combination to bring out its most charming qualities. Even better, you could get a pen that is perfect from the start. Shouldn’t they all arrive that way?

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I’m In A New Relationship

05/17/2016

Not that kind!

However, in order to support the acquisition of new products to review, I have become an Amazon Affiliate. Amazon pays pennies on the dollar, but put enough together, and I can purchase ink samples and paper. Pens not so much.

Now when you click a link, it may take you to Amazon if it offers that product at a reasonable price. Should you decide to purchase through that link, Inkophile will earn a very small commission. If a retailer sends a product for review, the link will go to the retailer’s website. If I purchase an item, the link will go to Amazon if they carry it. If not, the link will go to someone who does or there may be a link to the manufacturer or distributor. Often that depends on which website has the best images or the most information.

Carol at Luxury Brands USA, Karen at Exaclair, and Michael at Stillman & Birn have been mentioned frequently for continuously contributing items to review, but also because I really like and use their products. A number of other companies have sent items here and there and for that I am also appreciative.

In addition there are fellow inkophiles and pen lovers who have most generously sent paper and ink thereby enabling my enabling of you to acquire some of the best of the best. Good folks all.

Unlike in a real relationship, Amazon only makes a limited commitment. I have about four months to prove Inkophile is able to create a few sales. But no worries if it doesn’t pan out. Something else will.

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Links And Chocolate Chips

05/15/2016

It’s National Chocolate Chip Day, so do find a way to celebrate. In the meantime, here are some links to keep you entertained…

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Playing With Color

02/14/2016

Color is seductive and playing with it mesmerizing. Ink and pen are wonderful tools for exploring the possibilities. However, in recent weeks, transparent watercolors have monopolized my playtime.

Watercolors are rated transparent, semi-transparent, semi-opaque and opaque. This kit is comprised of transparent colors only and will get months of modification and winnowing to a smaller, more manageable number.

Yesterday, I accidentally discovered that Quinacridone Rose and Quinacridone Gold can be combined to make a flesh tone that is perfect for distant figures in landscapes. Such a valuable mix is like discovering gold. Note that in this kit both Quinacridone Burnt Orange and Burnt Sienna can be diluted for flesh tones, but Quin Rose with Quin Gold has a little more depth.

Another recent experiment, this time creating neutrals, was equally productive and confirmed that Burnt Sienna belongs in all of my palettes. Combined with Phthalo Blue or Ultramarine Blue, it produces neutrals with dimension and subtlety as did Transparent Pyrrol Orange with Phthalo Blue.

Yesterday, I paired an unexplored color from Daniel Smith called Mayan Red with a variety of transparent paints to see what would happen. The resulting brown and some of the orange colors were especially attractive finds.

The point of all this is that making your own colors whether with paint or ink is a mini-adventure worth the time and effort. Though not looking for anything in particular, some good things certainly turned up. They are reminders to think in new terms and be playful with my toys. Second childhood anyone?

 

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If You Haven’t Seen This Yet

02/01/2016

Be prepared to by charmed by Sloan…

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