Been quiet here and on the podcast for various reasons; the main one is I’ve been pouring my creative energies into getting ready for Concrete Cow 18.5 on the 15th September. I’m offering 2 games: in the morning I’ll be running StormHack (that’s Stormbringer meets Whitehack) with the classic Chaosium scenario “Stolen Moments” from the 4th edition Perils of the Young Kingdoms.
Getting ready for that has been relatively straightforward to the afternoon offering, where I’m hoping to run Grand Tableau (aka hipster Everway). I made a fortune deck using Lenormand cards (Pixie’s Astounding Lenormand, to be precise). I’m quite pleased at how it turned out…
First, slip the card into a standard MtG style card sleeve (I do this to protect the original Lenormand cards in case I want them back in the future). Then get some backing card, approximately tarot-sized. We mount the sleeved card onto the larger card with the card meaning below it, like this:
Then slip that whole thing inside a second card sleeve that’s sized for larger cards (I think the sleeves are made by FFG and designed for games like Dixit).
There we go… and the final touch, put the 36 cards inside a nice wooden box.
Quite pleased with this effort, and not a bad way to spend an evening while watching Iron Fist season 2 with one eye. Hopefully I’ll get takers on Saturday.
(the scenario is The Death Hand Of Saint No-One, which is actually a Continuum scenario — we’ll see how it turns out exchanging time travellers for urban magicians)
I love my fountain pens, but recently I started using my stash of Field Notes for individual RPG projects and since Field Notes have (mostly) terrible paper, a pencil was the way to go. I’ve really liked the results — the little notebook gets creased and scuffed, the pencil gets worn down. It feels like progress. I then discovered I liked using pencils on nicer paper. I trade pencil ghosting for ink smudges and overall it’s a sideways move, but pencils are erasable and resistant to spilled tea.
A couple of weeks ago I spent the weekend in New Jersey, and spent my Saturday walking around NYC looking for RPGs (the Compleat Strategist) and stationery (C.W. Pencils), then drove out on Sunday looking for pizza and more stationery in Chester, NJ (The Pen Thing), which by the way is lovely and green and nowhere near the NJ turnpike and fantastic drive for soaking up Chuck Tingle’s podcast.
At C.W. Pencils I scored some Baron FigArcher pencils and their Lock limited edition notebook as well as a selection of other US and Japanese pencils:
The Archer pencil is fairly thin and light, and it feels an awful lot like the Leuchtturm pencil I’ve been using. Since the Archer is apparently made in Portugal (by Viarco?) perhaps the Leuchtturm is as well. Its dimensions are very similar — no eraser, fairly narrow, light, rounded painted end, silkscreen (as opposed to imprinted) printing.
Just as a vibrator can’t replace a good man but a man can’t replace a good vibrator, a pencil won’t replace my fountain pens but the reverse is equally true. The way the pencil gets consumed by the act of writing is very satisfying, and I enjoy making little screaming noises as I sharpen them at my desk in the open-plan office.
Among other chores this weekend I’m rolling over to a new bullet journal. I’ve been using this approach for a few years but in 2018 I tried something different: rather than just use the BuJo for tasks, I’d use it for everything, including work meeting minutes, creative RPG ideas, daily tasks and so forth. This was a conscious departure from how I’d done things in the past, namely several notebooks on the go (e.g. one work, one home) plus brief episodes of going completely digital, embracing GTD with multiple lists, and trying to make Filofax work for me.
Thanks to my vacillating my last BuJo (one of the official Leuchtturm black embossed ones) lasted more than a year, this one (in blue) has been filled in three months. It’s filled up so quickly because I’m not using the system perhaps in the minimalist way Ryder Carroll does it; instead of a single day taking half a page, my working week might fill up to 20 pages. But while I write a lot more the principles are the same:
rapid logging; write everything down and bullet them according to information or tasks
monthly (or more frequent) task migration
one place for everything
Some changes to the BuJo approach, with varying levels of success:
I’ve developed a few new bullets but the only one that’s been useful is the cross for sub-headings within meetings
I have thought about doing weekly task migration as I generate a significant number of tasks daily, which are easy to lose
The one other thing I tried but ultimately didn’t need was a much more complicated Future Log which I laid out like a calendar. For the next book I’m going back to the minimalist Future Log layout and keep it to a single page spread (given how quickly I’m likely to use up the journal).
I’m sticking with Leuchtturm1917 journals for now. The outgoing journal was squared paper and unlike Rhodia’s violet 5×5 grid on bright white paper the Leuchtturm square grid is very subtle grey on off-white, and doesn’t make it hard for me to read my words later. The Leuchtturm also has a prompt for Date at the top of each page which is both good and bad — good because I got in the habit of starting a new day on a new page but bad since I write across several pages, so the subsequent ones waste some space. This time I’m going back to a dot grid with one of the special edition Red Dots books which look fantastic — although the index has shrunk down to a 2-page spread which would not be enough if I were not indexing the BuJo way.
(still using Field Notes for gathering RPG project notes though)
This is what happened when I opened my new bottle of Montblanc Lavender Purple:
You could be forgiven for thinking that’s just dried ink inside the cap, but look at around 8 o’clock and you can see a big fuzzy growth, as well as some stringy stuff in the middle which could be slime or it could just be ink precipitates.
I went for a refund rather than replacement since the stock was all from the same batch (Dec 2020) and replacements could easily be contaminated and/or undertreated with biocide.
There are a few examples of mouldy Montblanc inks on t’internet (more Lavender Purple, and Yellow) although the name usually associated with bottle slime is J. Herbin who had issues in 2010 — caused by challenges of using ingredients that were safer for operators but harder to mix with water, so their treat of biocide wasn’t consistent across all batches (letter here).
This is a bit of fun using the straw technique as used by Ian Hedley on his ink reviews e.g. Diamine Red Dragon. I was cleaning out four pens:
Lamy Safari with Cult Pens’ Deep Dark Purple
Parker 51 with Diamine Graphite
Noodler’s Ahab with Cult Pens’ Deep Dark Orange
Another Ahab with Diamine Evergreen
All I did was blob the remaining ink onto the paper and push the blobs around with a drinking straw. Anyway, pictures:
Photos were taken with both natural and artificial light (with a Panasonic Lumix and a fixed-focus lens) and some of them are a bit yellow. Still, I like the way the sheen comes out in some of the pictures.
by SmiorganComments Off on Lamy Safari Dark Lilac Edition
The FP community has been asking Lamy to make a purple Safari for ages. The Safari knock-off Hero 359 came in purple, but the Safari special editions have all been unpleasant neon colours. But in 2016 the Dark Lilac Safari arrived:
The Safari is cheap and the nibs are easily swapped, and they have a really useful clip. The sections are a bit marmite. I own several but the one that’s always inked is my charcoal Safari with an EF nib because unlike every other Safari and Al-Star it’s textured ABS and feels much better in the hand. Lamy has made textured Safaris in the past (like this brown bear version) but they’re usually limited editions.
But good news! The Dark Lilac is textured.
I noticed that the new pens are rougher than my charcoal, but that’s probably because I’ve handled that pen frequently. The colour is very similar to the Diamine / Cult Pens “Deep Dark Purple” I inked it with (and I guess Lamy’s own special edition ink will be similar).
(look at the fantastic gold-green sheen on that puddle of Deep Dark Purple)
Bottom line: if you like the Safari and especially the charcoal, the limited edition will make a really good cheap beater fountain pen. We bought two, and I might get a third as a contingency because I think this one will get a lot of use.
by SmiorganComments Off on National Stationery Day 5: Bottling It
The cool thing about Waterman’s ink is the fact you can tip the bottles on their side:
This makes getting the last of the ink from the bottle fairly easy. South Seas Blue (now “Inspired Blue” after the EU made them reformulate without phenol) is the only bottle I have on the go at the moment. It’s a really nice shade of turquoise that gets very exciting with a flex nib.
Even better, if you lay it on very thick you get a fantastic red sheen at the edges:
It’s pretty but not something I would write with often. And I found that it had flow issues in an Ahab.
Waterman inks are good, cheap and generally safe. Richard Binder recommends them for vintage pens (along with Diamine). If you like their limited range of colours they’re a safe bet. But that bottle design is just great, which is why I’m hanging on to my empties.
by SmiorganComments Off on National Stationery Week Day 4: Parallel Lines
This is a pretty useless pen, but a lot of fun and a quick and easy way to get into calligraphy. Pilot Parallel pens are so called because they have two parallel plates that feed ink between them (rather than a nib or dip pen) and they work really really well. They come with a handy little booklet of different styles, and they also come in four sizes:
I recommend getting a big one to start with, just because it’s easier to use. But then of course you’ll go through a lot of paper… anyway, in a few short sessions you can realise just how easy gothic black letter is:
OK, I’m sure someone who’s actually good at calligraphy would find fault but… for the rest of us, it’s a start.
The parallel pens come with specific cartridges and no converter. I used a couple and then filled all four of my pens eyedropper style (take some silicon grease to the threads and just fill the body up; I didn’t bother with an o ring). Ink is Diamine Graphite, that never really grabbed me as much as I wanted it to until I put it in these pens.
Some day I’ll finish the alphabet for my Sabriel game…