Monthly Archives: March 2017

Here Goes That Again

Tomorrow I’ll go back to work without ever leaving the house and that has me kind of cranky today.

I’ve written before about the period of “house arrest” the company I work for subjects me to, but this year there have been some changes that might make it more interesting.

For reasons I don’t fully understand, the powers what are want to develop a database of information about the different areas we live, because, well, because they can and they need something for us to do to justify paying us when we have nothing to do just to show us they can make us do things.

That means that taking the girls sightseeing will count as “research” toward the project (How to Enjoy My Town with the Family, etc). Granted, I’ll have to eventually produce some kind of writing, but since I’ve already written something like that for the company the first time they tried something like this, I’ll just revise what I’ve written (after doing “further research” of course).

Some where in there I’ll actually have to do some actual work related to the school where I work and there will be a “training session” of some sort that will count as a “work” day.

That will end with the actual job starting. (There are other complicating factors, but more on those in a future post.)

Fear of Missing Out on Cash

I’ve heard it argued, from many sources, that one of the reasons people become pen addicts is the inability to resist the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO).

A new product comes available, probably via Kickstarter, and you rush to get it. Then another one comes out and you rush to get that, too. You’re afraid you won’t have something that people you’ve never met have and are talking about on podcasts. If it’s a fountain pen, you need ink, so you rush to get the newest ink. (If it’s Kingdom Note ink, then you’ve probably acquired that from me, their unofficial global distributor.)

Suddenly you find you’ve got more pens and ink than you can use and you’ve also figured out which ones you don’t like and they’ve ended up in pen cases and boxes while you acquire new pens that you actually use, at least for a short time.

Eventually, though, you have to get rid of stuff and that’s when things get complicated. You know, for example, you don’t like the clear Kaweco Classic Sport you bought and used a couple times, but you suddenly can’t part with it because you’re not sure how much you should charge for it.

You’re not only afraid that no one will want it if you put it up for sale, which is kind of embarrassing, you’re also afraid you’ll miss out on one or two dollars if you charge less than it’s worth which will make  you feel foolish.

Intellectually you understand that any loss you take between what you paid and what you sell for counts as a kind of “rental fee” for the time you used the pen, but the emotional part of you is afraid of missing out. You want your money back and you’d rather have nothing for the pen than miss out on getting what the pen is worth.

In my case, I’ve got fifteen pens to sell, including an OMAS Ogiva, a couple Pilot vanishing points (including one from 1964 and a couple “faceted” versions) and a few others, but now I’m stuck on figuring out what to charge. Or, more accurately, I’m stuck on not actually wanting to get rid of them even if I don’t use them and I’m using price as an excuse.

That is part of addiction: knowing the right thing to do and then not doing it.  And then acquiring another pen because of the fear of missing out, even though it’s the wrong thing to do.

The 18th Mitsukoshi Fountain Pen Festival

It was the food that made me mad and that probably jaded my reaction to today. Well, that and the long wait.

To understand what’s wrong with the Mitsukoshi Fountain Pen Festival (and the Maruzen version, for that matter) you have to imagine the oldest, most prestigious department store in your town or city holding an annual festival featuring socks.

The store invites a few makers who demonstrate different techniques for making socks, and who will fix your worn out socks if you’re lucky enough to get an appointment, they may even offer a Sock Festival exclusive pair of socks, but mostly what’s being sold is stock from the store and it’s being sold by the clerks who sell it every day. They can recite materials and manufacturing techniques and statistics and even let you handle some of the material but they do so without passion. They have a product, they sell it, but it’s no more important to the store than the food being sold nearby or the fine China on the other side of the festival space.

Today, to get to the Fountain Pen Festival, I had to walk through a large food event that brought dozens and dozens of noisy people. The food displays ended right across the walking path from the fountain pen festival but the noise traveled quite far. During a special fountain pen art display, and short speech by the head of Pelikan Japan, the speakers had to use microphones to speak to the dozen or so people gathered to participate or listen whilst behind the audience food salesman hawked their wares.

And, of course, pictures were not allowed.

Despite this, I set out to have a good time, and tried to crash the Sailor pen experts repair line to get my Nagasawa Profit’s nib straightened. He sent me to a different counter to get an appointment. Although it was noon, my appointment was for 3:15. This wouldn’t have bothered me except I was pretty sure that in the time it took me to fill out my name on the card he could have straightened the nib and been done with me. I was annoyed enough that I went to Maruzen for lunch (yes, I had lunch at at bookstore. So what? I had ice cream too.)

One thing I like about the Mitsukoshi pen festival–and it is my favorite of the two–is that many of the manufacturers, especially Pilot, Platinum, Nakaya, Eboya and Pelikan have sample pens for  you to try. In the past, though, they’ve also had two tables of samples, complete with lots of notepads. This year, though, the tables were gone and it took me an hour to realize that they’d been moved to a single table mixed in with the counters. I’d thought it was a pen manufacturer and had passed it a couple times.

Eventually, I sat down and started testing different pens, but the table also featured a woman whose job, it seemed, was talk incessantly to the man sitting next to me. I’m still not certain if I crashed an appointment or not, but at that point I was in “don’t understand if it’s not convenient” mode.

(Note: this mode is a variation on “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission” but in this case it’s easier to pretend you don’t understand what’s being said and just keep doing what you’re doing.)

Whilst checking out the Aurora table and the Optima’s and 88s, I saw a bottle of Aurora Blue-Black ink. It quickly became mine. (Later I came back and actually tried the pens.)

The only thing I bought:

Pilot had a special event where a handwriting expert (at least I assume that’s what he was) asked you to write with a pen that was wired to the board on which you were writing and that was connected to a computer. This action produced a computer read out of how you write, including the writing angle, which helped him choose a Pilot nib for you.

Finally, at 3:00, a Sailor counter person took pity on me and sent me to the Sailor repair man. As I predicted, he took less than five minutes to pull the feed and straighten the nib. I could have done all this myself, but as I hope to sell the pen, I thought it best to let an expert handle it.

After my pen was fixed, I exited as quickly as I could. If it hadn’t been for the noise, I’d have probably enjoyed it more. Well, except for the three hour wait. I doubt I could have handled that better.

The Missing Ink

Last Sunday I failed miserably, but not in the usual way.

The 18th Mitsukoshi World Fountain Pen Festival started this week after years of forgetting I finally remembered to call and try to schedule an appointment with the Sailor pens ink blender.

The call-in, drop-in time was 10:30 last Sunday and I had the number entered in my phone and right as it clicked 10:30 I pressed call. I got a busy signal.

Oddly, She Who Must Be Obeyed also helped by calling on our landline. After 20 minutes of attempts, all we got was a busy signal. I suspect this means that there was a line of people at the store  and they stole all the appointments. Because, let’s face it, if I didn’t get what I wanted it was because of theft. Something like that.

(Note: There were only about 40 appointments available over the two days.)

This won’t stop me from attending the pen festival, but it probably means I won’t buy anything. I will try to sneak into line at the Sailor booth to see if I can get a pen fixed. I’ll also play with as many pens as I can. Then I’ll run away before temptation sets in. Probably.


A Little of That and Less of This

First it had to go, then I remembered a use for it, now it needs a place.

This means that Purge and Clean Day got off to a bad start.

I’ve written before about the process involved in culling pens, but there’s also an odd situation involved when culling the piles of random scraps of paper, half filled notebooks, full notebooks, empty notebooks, notes from old classes, assignments from old classes, roll sheets from old classes.

The latter three are the easiest to deal with: remove from folders, pull out staples, put everything in book bag, carry to shredder.

If I could do that with everything else, the process would be a lot easier.

Instead, the empty notebook pile gets reorganized and set aside. The full notebooks get set aside for later review as, by colossal coincidence, has been the case for the past several Purge and Clean Days.

The half-filled notebooks get the filled parts pulled out simultaneously creating more random scraps of paper and more empty notebooks.

The random scraps of paper then get reviewed. The trouble is that because so much paper was eliminated because of the old student related folders, it feels as if there’s plenty of room for the random scraps and therefore sorting them is not that much of a priority.

Today I looked at the pile of 10 Ideas from the past few years and threw them away. Then a couple minutes later I reconsidered and started copying a few of the more interesting ideas–see The Economic Reasons from the pen culling post.

This means I temporarily acted on the idea I had planned a year or so ago. I guess that counts as progress. At least it will once I figure out a place to store it. Of course this was a problem the last time I wrote about the ideas so the Purge and Clean Day needs some rethinking.



Spiral Bound Bits of Hell

After using them for a large portion of my education, I finally reached the conclusion that I hate spiral bound notebooks in all their various forms.

I only bring this up because at last year’s ISOT I was given a spiral notebook as a free sample from a Korean notebook manufacturer. I frowned inside at it, and since I have no poker face whatsoever that means I frowned outside at it too, but I accepted it because it was free and I was interested in the smartphone app that accompanied it. (As used notebooks pile up around me in the variety room/office, digitizing my scrawls and scraps has become increasingly important to me.) I put off testing it but feel that since it was given for evaluation it’s only fair that I evaluate it.

I’ll get to that review in another post. Today, though, I want to trash the binding. As I’ve used the notebook, I’ve begun to remember the reasons I stopped using spiral bound notebooks. (Note: I count anything bound with continuous metal rings as “spiral bound”.)

–The binding is thicker than the notebook which means the binding inevitably gets mashed and mangled if it’s carried in a bag.

–The binding is thicker than the notebook making them impossible to stack.

–If you do stack them, they wire binding gets stuck together.

–They only work well on one side but your hand rests on the binding when you’re using the other side which makes them uncomfortable to use.

Since I’m right handed, this is the only side of the spiral bound notebook that works for me.

This side sucks and leaves marks.

–When you tear pages out you get the fuzzy bits that seem to get all over everything.

–When you tear pages out there’s always a piece of fuzzy bit that gets stuck in the binding.

I remember professors insisting that we cut off the fuzzy bits before we turned in assignments. The fuzzy bits were only slightly less hated than the dreaded slippery plastic cover.

I’m more forgiving of top-bound notebooks like the Nock Co. DotDash Spiral Pad or the Field Notes Byline, especially as the Byline attempts to protect the binding, but they are still problematic.

I dug through some old writing journals and found an old spiral notebook I saved for some reason, probably the contents (more on those in a future post). The spiral is getting grungy and probably about to rust.

It may be time to digitize the contents and rid myself of the last remnants of spiral bound in the house. Well, at least once I finish the review of the one I got from Korea.




The First Day of the Many

As has become my tradition, the first day after the end of classes is spent planning the rest of the days before classes begin again.

For the first few days I am still, technically working at the school where I work, but starting next week the company I work for expects me to show work even though there is no work for me to do.

Because of this, I’ve already been planning what I plan to do for those days.

The twist in the plot, though, is that the company I work for wants us to write about what there is to do where we live so that, um, because, um, well, I don’t really understand why. Some new guy has a vision of how to help new people get information about towns because, I guess, in his head he lives in a pre-internet world where such information is not readily available. (Or, he’s the new guy and he needs to “build something” to show his worth, and he has an entire army of people forced to do work when there is no work to do at his disposal.)

The only good thing about all this, and perhaps this is the actual method behind the madness, I can take my youngest shopping downtown and call it “research” (Visiting town X with children; Things to do in Town X with children, etc.)

It also means I can go shopping and count it as work, as long as I write something eventually.

Goodbye Until Then

I did a little dance today, which is not something I usually do. In the end, though, the dance will probably jinks me.

Today was the last day of pass back classes, which means today was also the last day I’ll see my worst class in their current configuration.

The scheduling Gods being what they are, for each grade I teach,  the last pass back of each day was my worst class for that grade. Oddly, the scheduling Gods also conspired to make sure that my last class was my worst class of all my classes.

After I got back to the office, as a half joke/half celebration, I did a short dance I call the happy dance, which is a few seconds of dance based on the AWA Dori.

The problem is, because I have second year junior high school (8th grade) next year, the odds of me having most of the same students in class is very high. This means they’ll be especially bad. Second year JHS students tend to be so bad that they’ve even got their own syndrome. (Note: the link explanation is very good, but it leaves off the most insidious version of the syndrome: “No, honestly, I just don’t give a damn.”

That said, I only see them once a week, and that helps a lot. On the other hand, bad classes tend to be bad enough that they shorten the lifespan.

This means I have a lot to look forward to next year. But not for a couple week, at least.

Days Off After the Rush

Had a surprisingly good day off, but alcohol was involved. And food. Lots of food.

Since I’m finished with all my marking, I tracked down closer to Tokyo to join a picnic one of my colleagues was throwing in honor of his birthday. There was chicken of various sorts, including a jerk chicken that was to kill for, steak, brownies, beer, whiskey and, somewhere, salad.

Unfortunately, all the girls were busy today for various reasons so it was just me there. Granted, this earned me a surprising amount of respect from those at the picnic who thought I’d manipulated events to achieve that end. The truth is, I was learning about events almost as they happened.

I ate too much and drank more than I should have at around noon. (Note: Jameson Whiskey melts the seals on cheap paper cups.)

When I came home, all I did was relax as I’m in the “okay, so now what?” phase of post-marking. Eventually, I’ll know what I should do, and then find something else to do.