Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

h1

Tantrums, Boycotts, And My New Find

03/30/2018

Fed up with the tantrums, calls to boycott, and vast corporations trying to influence your thoughts? Don’t be manipulated. Instead put your purchasing power to best advantage by buying alternate products from smaller vendors and local merchants. While it might be difficult to find replacements for products from companies that have a lock on market shelves, it can be done.

Recently, I discovered Vitacost and have ordered a few times with good success. They offer over 45,000 products most of which fall in the natural and organic categories, but at very favorable prices. This week, I bought a case of canned goods for about half what I have paid at retail stores. My order was over $49 so shipping was free and it arrived in less than 40 hours! There were other discounts that saved an additional $20+. My family is trying several of the CSI and Glonaturals skin care products and so far they have proven effective and economical. Yes, my budget is very happy with this new find.

No benefit accrues to me from writing about Vitacost. But after waking this morning to yet another screamer demanding I participate in a boycott and threatening an “or else”, I couldn’t do it. I had already withdrawn my dollars from supporting those companies and a host of others. I won’t be bullied by either side on national arguments. Period. Free market principles reign and Vitacost will get my support and my money. Amazon still works for me since products from many small companies are available there.

Where do you go to get away from the chain retailers and big box shops?

Fortunately, my fountain pen and watercolor supply needs are filled by companies that have not made it to the list of entities to avoid. Hmmm. Maybe I can take some of the savings from purchases at Vitacost to further bloat my collection of inks and watercolors. Kidding, folks, just kidding. Well, sort of.

Advertisements
h1

Facebook Proves Analog Is Better

03/28/2018

Using a fountain pen on paper is the perfect antidote to the reach of Facebook’s tentacles. Zuckerberg and his minions have vowed to implement changes that should have happened years ago. If the current promise of reform makes you feel safe from data miners and prying eyes, you might believe in unicorns and fairies as well. Now wouldn’t that be an interesting world, but the one we currently inhabit lacks such elegant creatures and the fantasy that goes with them. Mere mortals, we have the reality of Facebook and its “privacy settings” that are arcane and obscure.

Should you want to lower your Facebook profile, here are some links to info about how to do it.

Now put those fountain pens to best use. Shred what needn’t be preserved and file what must be kept. Unless co-workers, family and friends decide to rifle through your shelves and drawers, your data will be secure though posterity may look askance at your rants and musings. I have put some doozies here and there in my journals. Should anyone ignore my instructions to burn the lot, they will get an earful/eyeful that ought to make them wish they hadn’t delved into my private thoughts. Oh, would I like to be a fly on the wall for that comeuppance!

h1

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.

h1

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?

h1

New Acquisitions And Adventure

11/09/2015

Have you become leery of taking risks? With all of the opinions to be read online, there seems to be limited willingness to make less than perfect purchases. Adventure has been diminished giving way to a need for protection against disappointments and mistakes. Where’s the fun in that?

Certainly, no one wants to waste money on bad products like pens that don’t write or ink that doesn’t flow. However, using reviews and online debate to make “safe” choices eliminates the surprise of discovering something that is a perfect fit for you if not for others.

Thanks to some very generous suppliers and friends, my ink collection grew significantly this past year. Even so, I purchased a few bottles including colors about which I knew nothing. With the exceptions of Stipula Calamo Saffron, and Diamine Meadow and Marine, none of my choices were exceptional. Not disappointing, but they just weren’t exciting. Of the eight pens I’ve purchased in the past year or so, only half will get regular use. However, in future one of them might get combined with just the right ink and paper and make it to my list of favorites. Ever the optimist, eh?

On the reverse, too often an ink or pen that got raves elsewhere did not earn accolades from me. In no way does that disparage the product or reviewer. It is simply that my experience, expectations and needs were different.

So here’s the deal. Be intrepid. Take some chances. If you want someone to pave the road ahead, new acquisitions can be rather bland. However, if you can become less risk averse and take a few chances with purchases, you might discover something special. True of inks and pens, but life as well. I love pen folk and would be delighted to learn about your great finds even more than my own.

h1

Customer Service And The Booboo

11/07/2015

Have you bought a stinker? Not a product that was vaguely disappointing, but one that was defective or at best poorly executed? Too often we just chuck the offender in a drawer rather than return it to the seller or manufacturer. That acquiescence begs for more abuse rather than contributing to the creation of better products.

When an item isn’t worth the effort and cost of return, it is still valuable to let the retailer or manufacturer know that you were dissatisfied and why. Some company representatives are sincerely interested in how they can make use of customer feedback. That might be just the thing to make me try their products again.

Others explain how great they are and that they couldn’t have done anything wrong.

Oh, yeah?

Just lost a customer since my experience was not as perfect as the rep insists it was. Few products are available from only one source, so the competition just earned my future business. Plus if the item gets reviewed, guess which retailer won’t get mentioned?

Which brings me to a related point. Whether your experience has been positive or negative with a product mentioned or reviewed, your comments will, with rare exception, get published here. Wanton bashing might get deleted, but otherwise, go for it. Your opinion is valuable and welcome.

 

h1

Inks That Cause Problems Including Negative Opinions

05/01/2015

Recently a Tweet about ink caught my attention. In 140 characters, a pen blogger announced he was ending his use of a well-known brand of ink. Apparently a bad experience with one ink means all inks in the line are bad. He may have had other bad experiences, but only referenced one in the Tweet. Certainly, no one wants to damage a pen over the use of an ink. Unless mold-contaminated, nearly every ink has its place and pen mate. That should make it pretty darned hard to condemn an entire company over one ink.

Not to condemn any brand, but I’ve had problems of one sort or another with Diamine, J. Herbin, Private Reserve, DeAtramentis, Rohrer & Klingner, Parker Penman, Iroshizuku and Noodler’s. (Note that Diamine, J. Herbin, and Noodler’s are on my short list of favorite brands.) In most cases, the issue was with a particular color. A few inks degraded over time while others stained vintage pens. Some grew mold though that could have been contamination not attributable to the manufacturer.

R&K is a special case since the ink isn’t a problem, but the caps on my bottles don’t seal well. That has produced evaporation and messy leaks. I haven’t purchased a bottle in two years, so that issue may have been resolved.

Sure, some of my pens have been damaged by ink. Two Esterbrooks with green barrels sport stains acquired on my watch. Since that happened to two different models with the same type of plastic body and with two different brands of ink, the material might be the cause rather than the ink.

So here’s the deal. Highly saturated inks can cause pen staining and other forms of pen damage. Some inks have bad reputations for good reason. But if you use one of them, you “takes your chances.” Is it worth it? If you love an ink’s color or properties, then go for it, but in the right pen, please.

Reviews and opinions will vary, but it’s the lack of context and balance to those Twitter remarks with which I would take issue. If I have been remiss in this regard in the past, I apologize. There are rarely no positives. People who are sincerely trying to make pen, ink, and paper products that expand our choices deserve our support and sometimes a measure of constructive criticism – not condemnation or company death wishes.

Despite it all, I use every brand though not every color. If it makes me happy, the ink gets a mate and goes to work. And that is what enjoying fountain pens is all about.

Inkophile’s Guidelines for Ink Use

  • Pricey pens get low saturated inks.
  • Inks with dicey reputations go in cheap pens or a dip pen with a feed.
  • Saturated inks go in converter pens.
  • Vintage pens get low saturated inks especially Waterman and some J. Herbin colors.
  • Pens with sacs get low saturated inks and/or very frequent cleaning.
%d bloggers like this: