2015 LE Edison Mina Extended–First Impressions

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story “The Birth-Mark“, the protagonist, Aylmer, marries the beautiful Georgiana. She is perfect in every way except for a hand shaped birthmark on her face. (Body 10/personality 10/face 9.9). Aylmer obsesses over this one flaw and that ruins his perception of the rest of Georgiana.

That’s kind of how I feel about the Edison Mina Extended. It’s beautiful and elegant. It just has a scrawny neck and that ruins my perception of it.

The pen is the 2015 Limited Edition version of the Mina and is made from a gorgeous Denim Ebonite that won’t be available again for one year. Ebonite (hard rubber) is one of my favorite pen materials as it has a warmth to it that other pen materials don’t.

The pen is about 5.8 inches long when capped and 5.03 inches long when uncapped. This makes it slightly shorter than the regular Mina as, in order to add the production number to the finial, Edison Pens had to flatten the Mina’s normal rounded ends.

The Edison Mina Extended. You can see the production number and slightly flared end on the cap.

The Edison Mina Extended. You can see the production number and slightly flared end on the cap.

The pen is slightly flared at the ends which reminds me of the special pens expert Pen Spinners use (often in my class; long story). Edison also included a new style of nib, which, unfortunately, may be the cause of the fatal flaw. (Note: I’m terrible at pen spinning and have therefore never attempted to spin this pen, although the temptation is there…)

My biggest complaint, and it’s very close to being a deal breaker, is that to get the flare and the new nib style the pen is left with a surprisingly small section down near the nib. If I’m measuring it correctly it is only 8.4 millimeters, which is only 1 millimeter thicker than a woodcase pencil. As a result, I find myself holding it up by the threads.

Although the steel M nib is well tuned and writes well, the pen quickly worked its way into my “back up” pen case and out of the regular rotation.

In “The Birth-Mark” Aylmer’s obsession with Georgiana’s small flaw leads to tragedy. In this case it might lead to an early pen sale.

A close up of the Denim Ebonite.

A close up of the Denim Ebonite.

Either Damned or Cursed by a Positive Development

I surprised a teacher by telling him how good his class was. I’ll almost certainly regret that, but it is part of a plan.

In the past, when I’ve had bad classes I’ve done my best to report both good news and bad news. I do this because I recognize that having someone drag their problems into your work day can be a real pain as it used to happen to me more times than it should have. (More on that in another post.) It’s very easy to abuse that outlet and, over time, the homeroom teachers cringe as soon as one of us walks in the classroom.

It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that one of the times I brought good news, the teacher was happy I thought he might cry tears of joy. Mind you, his class was never good again, but I made his day at least once, and that good news helped me deliver bad news.

What’s unusual this year is that the homeroom teacher was the one who delivered the bad news. He told me the class were worse than my bad class last year as he visibly shuddered at the thought of teaching them.

However, they seem to be made up of mostly students from one of my better classes, albeit with a few unknown unknowns thrown in.  However, today they were pretty good and everyone did the writing and speaking (although i suspect one student cheated on the final speaking project). This is unusual enough for the first class after school trips that felt I should deliver this news to the homeroom teacher. At first he seemed to think I was lying, then he acted genuinely pleased that I’d brought good news.

Mind you, June is coming along with hot weather that is often accompanied by rainy season (note: it appears that it may actually rain during rainy season rather than before it in the season in which it rains.) When June arrives temperaments change. If nothing happens before summer, it almost always happens after.

Until then, I’ll keep saying nice things about the class every time they deserve it. Until it’s time to not be nice.

 

The Josephs Who Did Not Remember Pharoah

It may by the weather, or maybe I’ve added too much sugar back in my diet, but lately I’ve been in a mood at the school where I work.

Last week there were thrown papers and today I was pretty close to throwing them again when I taught the same lesson with a different class. (Luckily, a few students started moving about that time.)

For the second class today, I tried a different approach to that lesson and got better results, although with a class that behaves much better than the others.

Third period is when I started to see the effects of last week and when my mood started to manifest. Last week the high school second years were off to Okinawa, Kyushu or Shikoku as part of the school trip. They return as seasoned and weary world travelers who suddenly no longer feel the need to quietly endure the banalities of the local milieu.

I eventually dragged them through the lesson and had a few hours to recover and plan for the next lesson (and a few tomorrow).

Then sixth period rolled around and the students there suddenly forgot who I was and what I’m capable of doing when I’m in a mood.

First, no one had erased the board from the previous class. Although each class has designated board erasers, no one would fess up or accuse another. I told them that if I had to do it, I’d add time to the end of class. They forgot who I am and tried to call my bluff, making class 52 minutes instead of 50.

One student showed up with no paper, pencil or textbook. Every other word out of his mouth involved references to male genitalia and/or female body parts. I told him to shut up or get out.

Then, one by one, two missing students, who were apparently still asleep in their homeroom, slowly dragged themselves to class about 10 minutes late (more on things like that in another post).

Eventually, as I was working through the lesson, there came a point where I had to do some talking and try to elicit answers from the class. After a few attempts to do this, a lot of students weren’t listening so I implemented “Plan J” (named after a former colleague). I told them to translate every English word on one of pages into Japanese and that no one could leave until everyone was finished.

They eventually finished and then I assigned the homework.

The real surprise came when the bell rang and Mr Genitalia tried to leave. I reminded him he owed me two minutes. The prompted a reaction from the two who arrived late, as they’d missed the earlier drama.

The best part is, it isn’t even June yet. That’s when the real fun usually happens.

 

Remembrance of Ideas Past

Some of them are crappy ideas, but some of them are worth salvaging. That said, if they were such good ideas, why didn’t I remember them?

Since early May 2014 (in fact, I started May 2, 2014) at the recommendation of a podcaster I listen to regularly, I’ve been making daily lists of ideas. The ideas vary from blog post ideas, to article ideas, to business ideas, to ideas for other people. (Some of which I have passed on to those people.) This lets me test pens and ink (I always record both) and use up my stacks and stacks of inspiration.

The basic rules are that I have to produce at least 10 ideas a day and no single idea can be more than a couple lines in the notebook I’m using. I have to fill the page, which means I often end up with 12 or more ideas. I also have a rule that I have to catch up any days I miss before I can move on with the current day’s ideas. The record is 40 ideas after a record setting four days off.

I  haven’t counted, but I should be somewhere around 7,300 ideas.

I have taken breaks, especially during National Novel Writing Month and exam time at the school where I work. I have, unfortunately, made this a daily habit and not the morning habit I’d originally intended.

Also, there is some repetition of ideas as a good idea manages to resurrect itself a couple of times. (I pay attention to those.) And sometimes an idea gets repeated but transformed each time like the secret message in the Pass the Message game.

I alternate between lists of random ideas and lists focused on one topic (for example, improving smart phones, fountain pens, 10 ways to improve Japanese pen shows, and dealing with clutter).

Where I’ve failed is on mixing and matching the ideas to create new ideas. For example, combine gourmet pizza delivery with gourmet ink to get a service that delivers gourmet inks. You request the blend, we deliver. I wrote that down as idea number 6 on August 22, 2014. (Now, of course, someone else is doing something similar.) For all I know, we both stole it from someone else.

Note: I don’t get annoyed when things like that happen. It tells me I’ve got some good ideas. I either need to act on them or just start posting them for others to use. 

The next phase is to implement more of the blending and mixing. I’ve decided to dedicate Sundays to doing nothing but pulling random ideas out of the old notebooks and playing with them to see what I can make from them. That’s how I discovered the one that came true and that I’d passed the two year anniversary.

There’s still the problem of storage of all the old notebooks. I’ll have to come up with some ideas for dealing with those.

 

Dust and Sun and Sports

I didn’t call someone an asshole today, although I did think that’s what they were. I also suggested to the man next to me that we throw plastic bottles at them to get them to sit down.

I actually consider this an improvement as it means I may actually be maturing.

I grant you, though, the evidence for this maturity is open to interpretation.

Today was sports day at our youngest’s school. My job was to arrive early with a tarp and claim our place in the shade. I managed to secure a prime location that provided shade until after lunch (and then put the sun behind us rather than in our faces). Because it was at the edge of a raised garden, it also provided a step that served as a comfortable place to sit.

Our  youngest participated in several events: the 100 meter dash (last in her heat after getting caught unprepared by the starting pistol); a couple dances; a gymnastics performance that involved athletics and dirt; and long relay.

Her team finished last (out of two) by 10 points.

(Note: I do not understand how the points are given but every place seems to get ponts.)

Although I found a place in the shade, I sacrificed by usual photo spot.

This worked out, though, because a few people near the front were standing. Even worse, they were blocking the lane our youngest would be in. I mumbled a few swear words and noticed the guy next to me was annoyed by them, too. That’s when I recommended chucking PET bottles at the people standing in the way. Oddly, he seemed to think this was a good idea, or at least gave it a moment’s thought.

In the end, I just moved to a better angle. That was probably for the best.

In With the Old In With the New

Some of it was salvageable, but a lot of it was crap. Some of it was only potential.

Because I am, most of the time, what is known as a “discovery writer” I tend to approach writing projects with no plan. (r.e. this blog). I start with a premise and maybe a character or two and then start writing. This is an exciting process but it also has a couple drawbacks.

First, I tend to underwrite. Because I’m outlining and writing at the same time, I tend to write scenes that I need to write rather than writing the scenes.

Second, I end up with different versions of the same scene.

Third, I end up forgetting what has gone before and changing both character and premise. (I’ve had to throw out several thousand words because I forgot the job of a main character’s father.)

Fourth, endings are real pain. This is because they come after a lot of energy has been spent and I’m in a hurry to move on to the next step. I end up with well written, detailed openings and “then they all got hit by a truck (note: check kind of truck) and lived happily ever after” endings.

The next step is where the previous steps meet and where my problems were today. After I finish a project, I tend to set it aside for months and then read it as if I’m a new reader (albeit one who keeps a pen in hand to mark up the book).

Today I went after a project that I’ve been avoiding for several months. (More on that in another post.) I’ve been through it once and it’s already on computer, but I had to reread it and put it in something resembling an order. That meant trying to remember previous decisions and trying to remember how to use the software I’d entered it in.

I can see where it’s underdeveloped and where it’s crap. This all hopefully leads to finding beta readers who will send reasonably specific feedback. (This has been a problem; more on that in a future post.)

There’s a lot of work to do but it turns out that actually starting the work makes me want to do the work. Not always, but often.

A Little Less Conversation a Little More Drama

As a rule, on this blog, if I’m writing about school or the day’s events, it’s because I’m too lazy to write about something else. However, today is the exception to the rule.

As I’ve written before, at the school where I work we are in the middle of school trips and random science field trips. Unfortunately, because of the trip schedule, i had one class today and my students were not in the mood for class. At least they weren’t at first.

When I arrived at the classroom, a student insisted that the doors were closed. I think he meant locked because when I opened the door, there was a particularly rowdy student laying on the floor. He had, as near as I can tell, been holding the door closed. (Note: another student must have been holding the second door.)

The student, whilst sitting on the floor and blocking my path, said hello and I had to tell him to move three times. Right as I was planning a “step over with the left; accidentally kick/graze him with the right move, he scooted out of the way.

This was  a hint of the way the class was going to go.

My mistake was bringing the wrong visual aids, but after I retrieved the correct ones, I told my students to fetch their poster (they’d started the “design your dream neighborhood” project last week) and write and memorize their required ten sentences. They had 20 minutes.

I had to repeat myself a few times and by the third repetition, the students had yet to leave their chairs and were, instead, mocking me by parroting what I’d said.

At that point, rage and orneriness took over.

I picked up the bundle of dream neighborhoods and, after repeating that they should find their poster, I hurled the bundle across the room, in the general direction of the student who’d been blocking the door. I repeated they needed to find their posters and start memorizing.

At that point they moved “expeditiously” and found their posters.

At that point they began violating the “memorize it” requirement, but it was fun to see them panic…

Lots of Motion With Little Movement

In a very rare occurrence, I actually left the house at a time when I didn’t actually need to.

The plan was to meet up with some friends and have lunch but as I approached the end of my journey, I discovered that plans had been cancelled because of some misinformation.

(Important safety tip, kids: Verify plans BEFORE you travel, not as you’re travelling.)

I therefore changed plans on the fly. My new plans involved looking for ink (and at pens) and then going to a foreign food store to stock up on pasta and booze because, well, yeah. After that I had a lunch at a place I hadn’t been to in a very long time and the lunch reminded me of why I hadn’t been there in a long time. (More on that, and Japanese fast food in another post.)

After that, because our oldest was home sick, i decided to get back early before she woke up from her long nap. Her being a teenager, the odds were ever in my favor except that a train derailed on my main train line. Luckily no one was injured, but I had two switch to a different line which only partially solved my problem. It took me underground past the accident but then dumped me on the same train line.

Eventually, I managed to get home where all I did was scribble out one or two things that made me go sure, fine, whatever, and then I distracted myself with games and television. (Three different season finales all in one day. Aka, the day productivity died.)

As I watched the finales, I managed to scribble a few more things which finally put me over my daily quota, but it was a day where there seemed to be a lot of movement and a lot of spent energy, but in which very little was accomplished.

I could actually use a couple more days like this before June.

Sometimes Better Than Expected is Unexpected

It should have been bad but it wasn’t. Well, not completely.

I’m not sure if I’ve just become too cynical for my own good and am therefore not giving my students or myself enough credit.

Today was the day our junior high school students at the school where I work begin their annual “camp”. As I understand it, this is a time for bonding/getting out of regular classes and clubs that will be the last trip they take for a couple years. (Note: at the school where I work students take extended trips ever couple of years; between those years they suffer.)

For reasons I don’t fully understand, the school cancels afternoon classes for jhs 1s but leaves the morning classes in place. This doesn’t bother me that much as I also get a break, but it also usually means the morning classes are terrible as, in their minds, the students are already at camp.

However, both classes today were pretty good. Students actually did work and, for the most part, participated in activities.

However, they were rowdier than usual and there was a clear cut off in both classes–at around the 40 minute mark–when students in both classes all seemed to decide they were finished. At that point they became more rowdy and most of them stopped listening to any words I said.

However, because I knew what was happening, I mostly let them get away with “retiring” early. I couldn’t give them homework and there was no way to keep them after school. If I withheld the punishment until the next class, the reason for the punishment would be lost somewhere in the past. (It would be, if I’ve done the math correctly, the equivalent of punishing me for something I did over four weeks ago which is something that only happens in marriage, not in the real world. Something like that.)

Next week I’ll be dealing with the aftermath of three different school trips. That, however, is a problem for another post.

 

Cool Days With Small Crises and Lots of Ink

Today was one of those days that almost started with disaster but then was pretty cool.

This week at the school where I work, all the classes have some sort of school trip or special outing. As a result, some classes are cancelled, but not every class is cancelled every day. Some are held in the morning but others are cancelled in the afternoon. Some are cancelled on days I don’t teach them but not on days I do.

As a result, it can get confusing.

Today, towards the start of classes, someone pointed out that one of the teachers hadn’t arrived yet. I texted him and went to check the schedule to see if I had arrived on time to teach classes that didn’t exist. As near as I could tell, we had class, but I was never actually sure. My colleague arrived as quickly as possible. He’d thought that today was tomorrow.

The classes I taught were pretty good for lower level classes but I don’t expect much during next week’s speeches. Then there was an early lunch and I got to come home and relax.

The weather was unseasonably cool, but still humid. After I got home, I then had to pack a box with floor flavors of ink and ready it all to ship. I then had the dilemma of deciding if I wanted to walk to the post office, even on a cool day, or get a ride, or just do it tomorrow when I’m out anyway. I opted for the responsible thing and want to the post office as tomorrow will most likely be a rainy day.

Today means I’ve shipped 74 bottles of ink, a fountain pen converter and a few notebooks. Now need to make some decisions.

Those can wait until tomorrow, though. I can do those at home, even if it rains.