Friday, November 20, 2015

Obsession as a Lifestyle Choice

John Muir probably rolled over in his grave.

A pencil company chasing the notoriety of the Eberhard-Faber Blackwing 602 pencil is releasing series pencils in the same format with different paint schemes and differing graphite qualities. The latest of these is the Palomino Blackwing 211 – the John Muir version.

Problem number one with this is – this is a nice pencil. Smooth graphite, not too soft. Plain cedar-colored wood barrel with brown eraser. Fetching. Catchy. Cool.

Problem number two is – this pencil is a limited release, so it doesn’t matter how fine it is, it will soon be gone. Like the much fabled and loved original Eberhard Faber 602.

I’ve chased discontinued pencils and have paid a great deal for them on eBay. The original 602, Mongol, IBM Electrographic, Van Dyke 601. Mostly following up on Steinbeck fervor.

Me and John. What's not to love?

And I’ve sold a few, including my all time favorite, the Black Velvet.

But these are old pencils. Like they said in Jurassic Park. They're dinosaurs. They had their time, and that time is over.


This new bunch is planned obsolescence which strikes me as mean. To dangle a fresh, worthy product in front of a consumer base historically proven to be susceptible to obsession, may be lucrative, but it seems cold-hearted.

The 211 is already on eBay for twice the original price and supplies are dwindling.

I bought a few, at the premium price, just to try because – well, I’m a fan of Muir, and apparently, also a pencil fanatic, but this latest turn has me seeking a cure.

As Steinbeck said himself,

“For years I have looked for the perfect pencil. I have found very good ones but never the perfect one. And all the time it was not the pencils but me.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Wouldn't It Be Nice

In 2001: A Space Odyssey, HAL, the space station’s onboard computer becomes increasingly resistant to human direction.

I'm sorry Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

My iPad isn’t that honest. It just doesn’t do what I want.

The problem with an iPad isn't increasing self-awareness, it's that the iPad is almost a computer.


ALMOST a computer.

I have an iTouch and an iPad Mini. I remember when the iTouch got Bluetooth capability, but only for earphones when what everyone wanted was a keyboard.

Eventually, Bluetooth keyboard compatibility was added, but it seemed to take years.

I sold my photo safe back when they were cheap, and started using the iPad to back up my pictures on vacation. I would nearly fill the iPad 32 gb, but it worked.

We’re getting ready to go on a vacation, and this time I may have massive amounts of video, so I went looking for a way to backup the backup on the iPad.

Well, stop right there. Ain't happening. It is not possible without iTunes which means access to a computer.

There are a few hacks to get stuff onto the iPad without a computer, but out of the iPad onto a jump drive. No. And it has that nice little USB to lightning connector hanging right there, but it only works to download a camera.

With the iPad, apparently, the signs all point one way. If they didn't, I might use iTunes less, but I'd use the iPad more. Apple constantly bombards me for updates with features I don't want or that my device can't use, so why oh why, can't I get the one I want?

I recently changed my entire camera system so I would no longer be carrying a camera that weighed as much as a boat anchor. Plus now I have a video setup that is pretty streamlined and lightweight. I am not inclined to add a computer to the load.

I have a MacBook Air that is barely bigger than a regular size iPad, but jeeze. What good is technology if it causes more problems than it solves?

Obviously, almost a computer is only good for complete insanity.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Unintended Exposures

Last night I was taking pictures of the snow storm and got this.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Just Click Here

I have abandoned facebook. 

Not that I have anything against social media. But it’s become a carousel of annoying, intrusive, depressing, never-ending barrage of crap. 

Who has the time?

Oh, back in the day, I was one of those who were NEVER joining the fb mob, but then a couple of my art classes, out there in the virtual classroom, were interacting on facebook, so I gritted my teeth and joined the din.

My kiddo joked, facebook was better than binoculars. Yes, you get an expanded view of the world and the world gets a magnified look at you.

From the first, facebook seemed like high school to me. Counting friends. Secret clubs. Who in their right mind wants to relive high school?

Then, there was the incessant bragging. I admit, I’m as guilty as the next person. My kid’s smarter and my dog is prettier than yours. So there.

But eventually, who cares?

It may be a natural progression. Bragging morphed into all-consuming promotion. 

Everybody has something to sell. 

Books, retreats, contests, essays, art, something, something, something for everyone. Just click here.

A paradigm shift. Creative types were advised to develop a platform, build an audience, then offer that audience as proof of worth to the gatekeepers holding the purse strings. 

Does it work?

I have no idea. It is a method getting a lot of traction. Maybe in twenty years, we’ll see how well it worked. 

For now, I prefer the quiet. I’m going back to the blog, which seems kind of retro now. Nostalgia, like an old sock without the stink.

Maybe, if, or when, I have something to promote, I’ll rejoin the herd, head down, cheeks aflame.

Until then, let the mob trust genuine interest and true support can be shown by clicking a link.

Just click here.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Super Moon

After dragging a Nikon D300 all over the place, and it felt like carrying a weight tied to an anchor, I've changed to an Oly Micro 4/3rds and oh my, this light as a feather camera has some nice features.

And the GoPro did a night time lapse which even after I've read all the articles and watched a batch of videos, still don't know how I did this, but I like it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Don't Get Any On You

I have a horror script about a nasty green entity that crawls out of a high mountain lake and proceeds to consume everything and everyone in its path.

It was great fun to write and is running about 50/50 in the contests -- either out early on or finishing with some recognition. I think this is because in the middle of the story there is a big fat scrumptious screenwriting joke and the reader must --

1. Have a sense of humor.

2. Not be a format Nazi.

As I said, it's running about 50/50.

But, I digress.

The local lake is currently having an algae bloom, and let me just say, ick.

I thought it would be fun to film some of that for -- well, who knows what I might get up to with film of real live icky green gunk.

Plus, hasn't that GoPro been whispering to me all this long time -- let's go in the water, sweetheart.

Why yes, it has.

So we did.

If later they find my bones extruded by some moveable green beast, you'll have heard it here first.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Sunday, July 26, 2015


Trapped in traffic in Seattle. 15 minutes to move five feet. Two hours to travel twenty miles.


And what do I see ...

PS -- You are from Montana if you think a horse trailer and a school bus constitutes a traffic jam.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Bird Watching with the Go Pro

We have a bird feeding station in our yard. Mainly to feed the woodpeckers all year, but in the spring, the Western Tanagers return.

Pros on the GoPro: Again, I cannot believe the quality of the audio that comes out of these cameras. Encased in solid plastic, all the twangs, peeps and bird feet hitting the pole came through loud and clear. At first, I thought there was something wrong with the camera until I realized it was wild sound.

Cons: The cameras got warm. It's an issue with these and there are ways to deal with it. Live and learn.

Instruction manuals aren't exactly a GoPro strength.

The Go Pro idea of cameras with the emphasis on them as a capture device is a different view of photography than my usual. It makes the event more important than the camera work. I'm finding it's interesting and fun.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Wild Turkeys and Stupid Dogs

I've been horsing around with the GoPro.

Becoming familiar with its intricacies and quirks before shooting something near to my heart.

Took it on a bike ride where I had it aimed incorrectly.

I learned a few things. Helmet mount is pretty stable. That's what they said and yep.

I've read multiple complaints online about GoPro's audio, but I was surprised by the quality.

Besides me breathing and shifting gears, at four seconds, you can hear wild turkeys from up the hill through the trees.

And the stupid dogs.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Graphite Love

Today is National Pencil Day marking the date of the first patent for adding an eraser to a pencil.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh

There she is, the Irish coast.
Some Guinness was spilled on the barroom floor
when the pub was shut for the night.
Out of his hole crept a wee brown mouse
and stood in the pale moonlight.
He lapped up the frothy brew from the floor,
then back on his haunches he sat.
And all night long you could hear him roar,

'Bring on the goddam cat!'*

*drinking song called (mostly) The Drunken Mouse with various authors sited.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Saturday, January 24, 2015

We Are The World

We are not alone.


Whether it be your quirks or passion, on the Internet, there is someone for everyone.

The 2nd Act of my current script takes place at an Sci-Fi - Fantasy Convention. 

Besides being able to excavate a lifetime's exposure to science fiction* --

            *How many Dr Who jokes do I know? Quite a few, it turns out.

-- research has sent me googling the oddest stuff.

Found forums dedicated to preserving the Klingon language.

More power to them.

But I was surprised when an answer bounced back from the ether.

Which goes to show, reach out, someone will reach back.

Decide for yourself if hiding under the bed is an appropriate response.

Friday, January 09, 2015

All That Glitters

J. Herbin Special Edition Ink -- Stormy Grey.

My go-to gray ink has always been Noodler's Lexington.

In an odd day epiphany I realized I like gray ink because it
looks like pencil. (But that's just me.)

The announcement about Herbin's newest special edition came
out late last year and the ink quickly sold out.

The attraction -- ?


The ink has real gold flecks suspended in the fluid. This lays down a line with an extra special glitter.

Other online reviews suggest a broad nib might be the best instrument
for this ink. I tried a watercolor brush, Q-tip, Lamy - fine and broad nib. The
swab showed the most gold, but even the fine nib showed the gold. If one looked

At first this warning worried me --

I didn't completely fill the reservoir, but I have left the ink in the pen for over a week now. I gently rock the pen back and forth a couple of times before I start to write and so far ... no clogs and the gold shows up.

I used a Lamy Safari for the test. I don't know if I'd be so bold with a more expensive pen.

A 50ml bottle costs $26. This ink continues to sell out quickly.

UPDATE - March 12th.

I kept Stormy Grey in the Lamy Safari (fine nib) since I first posted this and had no trouble at all. I do give the pen a good shake to get the gold dispersed before writing.

But use your discretion. I assume that scary warning is there for a reason.

Photos with Nikon 5200 + Micro-Nikkor 60mm. Paper - Moleskine and Pentalic Paper for Pens.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Driving While Distracted

Sitting at a stoplight.

Guy, next car over, texting.

However did we survive


we weren't connected



Saturday, January 03, 2015

EPISODE 86: In Which, I Give Up

Three years ago I bought a Noodler's Ahab fountain pen with a flex nib called Ivory Darkness. It was cheap.

It was pretty.

It was cool.

It turned out to be a huge pain in the ass.

I have pages and pages that look like this -- where I'm trying to get the pen started or restarted.
Pages and pages in my journal where I write -- Ahab is behaving today. But, alas, even more like this -- I can't get this &^%$! pen to work right.

Of course, there is help on the internet.

I followed instructions and videos. Adjusted the nib, adjusted the feed. Tried it without the little feeder tube and with. Wet ink. Dry ink. Prayers to the Ink Goddess.

Crossed my inky fingers and hoped to write.

No joy in Inkville.

I saw a post on the Fountain Pen Network suggesting Ahab troubles might be cured by abandoning the flex nib. Turn it into a regular fountain pen.


I have thrown this pen away and rescued it from the trash twice. I couldn't bear to give it up.

It was pretty.

It felt nice in hand.

I bought a new nib and a new feed. Heat sealed it via video instructions and ... voila ... until the cartridge converter threads gave up the ghost, and so did I.

I'd been "adjusting" this pen for three years.


And although it had qualities I liked, eventually, pain-in-the-ass trumped pretty.

Especially when I have pens that are dreams with which to write. Sailor, KawecoSport, Waterman, even the cheap Lamy is a no-trouble implement.

So, the Ahab gets one more page in my journal.