Category Archives: Ink

Don’t Use It or Lose It

There’s a point you reach with consumable items, especially those that can’t be replaced, when you suddenly realize you’ve used more than half and are approaching the end of the item’s days. At that point you face a dilemma: Do you use it up and then tell “things were so much better in those days” stories or do you hoard the last few bits, essentially rendering them useless but retaining the option to someday use them?

I’ve reached that point with one of my favorite fountain pen inks: Tomiya-Bungu’s Bakke (Fukinotou), which translates to something like “Butterbur Sprout”. Bakke (pronunced Bah-Kay) is a Sailor-made custom ink that was sold in the older-style “curvy” bottle, rather than the current “who sat on my bottle?” squat version.

The box, the bottle and a writing sample.

It’s a brown ink with some green mixed in. It’s more green as it goes on the paper, but dries to a nice brown. It was the first brown ink I tried and still one of the best looking.

Unfortunately, although Tomiya-Bungu still lists it on its site, it hasn’t been available for a couple years. Since the store no longer carries Sailor products, it’s unlikely it will ever be released again. This also makes me wish I’d purchased a bottle of each of the four flavors when they were available.

Today, as I inked up a pen with Bakke, I realized it was approaching the halfway point and thought about this dilemma. I was always the kid who thought stretching Halloween candy past more than a few days constituted a form of waste. (Quick Side Note: It’s best to eat the candy fast because if you spread it out over a few days you’ll develop a candy-eating habit rather than a quick upset stomach that makes you not want to eat candy again for year. Therefore eating the candy all at once counts as a weight loss program.)

This is starting to look dangerously low…

I have enough ink flavors on hand to stretch my last bit of Bakke out for quite a long time. I’ve also found a suitable replacement (more on that in a future post) so there isn’t as much need to use it.

If I don’t use it, though, I run the risk of watching it go bad. I also realize that not using it and using it up both end with the ink not being used. In the end I think I’d rather waste it by using it up than waste it by letting it sit.


Breaking the Log But Maybe Not the Habit

It was a good idea, I suspect, at the time, but now, I suspect, it’s not and have decided to stop.

Two years ago, in a fit of something-or-other (a technical term) I decided to keep daily log in which I tracked, at various points during the day, where I was, what I was doing, and how I was feeling. I drew pictures of key events as if I was looking over my own shoulder and also tracked the weather and, eventually, my meals by drawing pictures of them. It was an excuse to use up notebooks and ink and test pens.

The first year, I carried the log around with me which, quite frankly, is exactly the point of the log. Stopping to record what I was doing was fun, but it was a lot of dead weight. The second year I changed notebooks but left it at home, turning it into more of a diary.

The second year, I would fill out the morning weather and offer a summary of how I was feeling in the morning. When I got home after my day job I would summarize the day at that point and then record my lunch and the weather. Later, reasonably close to bed, I would summarize the evening and the day and, as I had in the first year, draw a few key events as if I was looking over my own shoulder.

After a couple weeks, I started adding color to the events and, a few days later, to the food and started keeping track of what I was wearing. Sort of.

The first color picture in the log.

A couple weeks later, I wore my Kansas State University sweatshirt and was still adding color to the events. Note: those are beans flying at my head, not bullets. Also, those are costume ogre horns, not my natural, undisguised appearance.

Although I kept up the daily habit of keeping up the log, I missed the immediacy of having it with me. I also felt as if my entire system had a lot of moving parts, even if one of those parts stayed on my desk. By the end of the year, the log felt more like the annoying paperwork in a job than a fun activity.

As such, I’ve started carrying a different kind of planner and, knowing me, will probably turn it into a portable mini-log. I did find it was interesting to see what I was wearing from day to day, especially on work days. A friend of mine used to plan out his entire wardrobe for the semester based on the theory that students change their opinion of you if they see you wearing the same outfit.

I’ll also probably keep track of the weather and maybe my wardrobe, but I’m more interested in recording what I accomplish during the day versus what I planned.

This will probably be ugly, though. Interesting, but ugly (more on all this in a future post).

Sports Day Without Sports

It was Sports Day today and we were scattered to the winds. I was home babysitting our youngest, who celebrated sports day and the new cool weather by catching a cold from our oldest.

Our oldest, “fully recovered” from her cold went to a concert somewhere in Tokyo (at least I think it was in Tokyo) with a group of her friends. She Who Must Be Obeyed went to work, even though today was a national holiday.

I used the day to do two important things: catch up on the TV show Bones and organize the variety hoard in the office. Bones has been a lot of fun to watch, most of the time, but is clearly past its prime and is on an obvious death march into it’s last season.

The variety horde, for its part, looks like something the Bones characters have to scrape body parts from. (Sort of.)

The organizing was required because the cool weather. Because it is little more than an uninsulated concrete box, the office is a giant condensation collector/mold factory during the winter.

Anything on the floor often ends up in a bad way. I also  have to move the last of the ink inventory before winter as the cold weather and long delivery times have been known to freeze and burst bottles.

Somewhere in there, I have to do my actual job, too.


Ink Hunt on New Floors

Went on an ink hunt today and emerged with a few new flavors. Also got kind of confused by changes.

After work I head to Nihonbashi to track down ink at Maruzen. Luckily there were a few flavors available, which kept the trip from being a complete waste.

That luck was followed by a long walk to Ginza to go to K.Itoya. That’s when things got confusing. Itoya is divided into two buildings. K.Itoya is the back alley shop where fountain pens are sold. It even has a fountain pen sign on the outside. G.Itoya is an Apple store for stationery.

However, today, I went into K and found planners and calendars and, after a trip to the third floor, finally found a temporary map that led me over to G.

It seems that in the scant couple weeks since I was last there, everything has been moved, giving the fountain pen section the entire third floor.

It was a nice surprise, but the limited edition ink I went there to find was long gone, making half the trip wasted.

Still, not a bad trip. I’ve gone there and come up empty before, and I don’t must mean my wallet.

Plans and Other Strange Things

I’ve got plans. That’s not the problem.

Spent part of the day trying to organize this blog so that I can get through some reviews of things I’ve had a long time. Somewhere in there I also managed to clean four pens and change the ink flavors each was loaded with. That actually took a long time thanks to one pen, but more on that in a future post.

I also tried to plan out the remainder of the Sunday course I’m teaching. I’ll be teaching it until the end of October and then may or may not be teaching it.

Tomorrow I’ll be working, but it will actually be a different version of the class (long story) that’s been planned by someone else. My job is simply show up and keep people speaking English.

I’m also working on clearing out the last of the ink inventory that I’ve assembled (after acquiring a couple more bottles of a popular, hard to find flavor). That’s complicated by being back at work and waiting for days off so that I can send emails and box ink for shipping.

I’ve got the plans laid out, but I’m still trying to find the follow-through. I’m pretty sure it’s buried next to this box of ink that needs selling.

At the Mercy of Stores and Rules

I ordered a couple ink bottles on behalf of a customer. The order went through with no problems and I’m pleased to say it hasn’t been cancelled yet. I won’t believe I’ve ordered the ink until I’m actually holding it.

Because stores that carry custom inks are trying to preserve their inventory for reasons mentioned yesterday, I’ve found that I’ve had odd encounters with the stores. I also can’t help but think that what the stores are attempting is self-defeating.

First I’ve had to order through highly detailed purchasing requirements only to discover that I didn’t actually order anything. One store, for example, offered ink in old style bottles but limited purchases to 1) no more than one bottle of one flavor; 2) no more than three bottles total (even though they had several flavors available; and 3) no more than one order per address. However, it seemed

After interpreting this I managed to get one order in hand but then waited and waited for the second. It turned out it had been cancelled because, even though I was sending to a different address, they decided it couldn’t go to the same person. I also misread the cancellation notice.

Recently I ordered inks on behalf of a customer only to find out that what seemed to be a limit of one bottle of each flavor per customer turned out to be only one bottle of one flavor per customer. I had to cancel three bottles and get only one.

Although I suspect I know what’s going on, and understand why they’d want to preserve some inventory, I find it odd that I can’t complete a set without resorting to complex legal interpretations and loopholes.

That said, I’m a buyer in a seller’s market. If it ever becomes a buyer’s market, I’ll probably be out of business.

A Story of Ink and Saboteurs

It’s clear that the company for which I’m the main international distributor (unofficially) is out to get me.

I learned this by visiting the store.

I think I know what they are doing.

About a hundred years ago, when I was still working on my Masters, or dabbling in a Ph.D., an acquaintance who runs a used bookstore explained the trouble she was having opening a second bookstore in a different college town. Her biggest rival would visit her store and buy up all of her best books.

All those purchases gave her a temporary infusion of cash but left her with a bad reputation. It did this because it left her with hundreds of grade Z romance novels and grade Y midlist and backlist titles. New customers would browse, find nothing of interest, and leave without buying anything. They’d then go to the rival and buy the books they were interested in. They would also, presumably, spread the rumor that the new bookstore didn’t have much selection.

I suspect the company for which I distribute (so to speak) ink is doing something similar. Although they allow unlimited purchases online, and limit in-store purchases to two bottles of each flavor, they’ve clearly been limiting the amount available online.

I learned this by visiting the store today and discovering a treasure trove of flavors not currently available online. I bought a couple hard-to-find flavors and seriously pondered getting a few more. However, after counting the available bottles, I decided to take my chances/cool off the credit card.

I suspect the store is operating under bookstore logic. Keep something on hand, especially of the brand with your name on it. I’ll be teaching classes in the area starting at the end of this month. That will give me a chance to visit the store and stock up on rare flavors to sell.

I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.


Distrust and Lies and Cornering the Market on the Rare

I don’t know if she was lying to me or not. The only way to find out is to go back.

Because of a request to my low-margin, low-volume side business, I headed downtown to my favorite local  pen shop/ink source to pick up some bottles of ink for customer in New Zealand. When was there I discovered a hard to find ink flavor and quickly pulled it off the shelf.

I asked the clerk if she had more–what makes this my favorite pen shop is they don’t limit the amount you can buy to one bottle of each flavor per person–and the clerk searched the secret drawer to see if they had more. (Note to self: Next time, create a distraction and search the drawer yourself.)

After an oddly long search, the clerk informed me they had no more bottles of that ink available.

I’m not sure if I believe her.

When I showed a couple pen addicts/visitors around Tokyo not so long ago, one of the guests bought the “The last bottle (of OMAS ink) in Japan, if not the world””. However, when I visited the same shop again a couple weeks later, a different clerk produced a bottle of the same color which I quickly bought before the other clerk showed up and started lying (allegedly) again.

That’s why I was suspicious of the clerk today. I suspected the other clerk was lying because of a pause she gave after she moved a couple boxes in the drawer. Today’s clerk seemed spend too much time looking. Granted, I may have gotten too cynical (a by product of being a member of the so-called Generation X) but since I’ve been lied to once already (allegedly), I don’t consider the distrust to be cynical.

I’ll go back again another day and see if a bottle is available.

If they have it I’ll buy it because I know I can sell it quickly. The bottle I got today has already been sold.