Thursday, December 27, 2012

Holiday Reflections

Here we come into the final stretch leading up to Christmas, and it's a different experience while out of school. There has been a lot to keep me busy, and while I'm not necessarily happy with the waiting that I'm currently living through, with any luck, the fog of my future will dissipate somewhat soon. There's so much to search through career-wise and so much to feel through in my personal life.

In kiting, there have been ups and downs. Despite the awe-inspiring waves and weather that Chicago experienced as a result of Hurricane Sandy, the kiting has calmed down considerably in the area, naturally due to the current season. It also doesn't help that my Best Bularoo's (10m + 13m) are currently unable to stay inflated for any longer than 45 minutes. I've done some research into phantom leaks in this kite line, and it would appear that it is a pretty standard problem after a few years. The problem is that I have no idea how to fix it. This has put quite a damper on my kiting in the last month or so at least. With any luck I'll be able to do some snow kiting soon enough to make up for it at least, but that is of course dependent on the cooperation of the weather.

I've been doing a bit of writing with the Noodler's Ahab fountain pen and personally find it to be the best writing of the Noodler's line. It isn't necessarily pretty, even though I still find myself fascinated by demonstrators, but it's functionality is so insane compared to many others within the fountain pen world. The amount of ink that it holds is insanely huge and the nib can be adjusted to flex such a large amount that calligraphic strokes don't even cause railroading. I haven't come into the possession of any new inks of late, but I am looking forward to potentially purchasing an ink from the Pilot Iroshizuki line in the near future. It'll be my first "high-class" ink.

In terms of reading, I've recently purchased on Amazon, "Hobbitus ille," which is a Latin rendering of the entirety of "The Hobbit". It is an interesting take on Latin from the perspective of the modern classicist. We, generally at least, tend to get caught up in the writing styles of authors, for whom their style was what set them apart. The Hobbit, however, was originally written in English and by a great author. To impose Caesar's writing style (for example) on Tolkien's writing wouldn't feel right. For this reason, the translation has been written to target an intermediate level Latin reading audience. The language is not convoluted in a way that might be difficult and the words that had to be created for the sake of the moder language of the text, are clearly marked. This is intended to be an easy and fun read, which is something that can often slow down the reading of more traditional texts. I for one, am greatly looking forward to reading more than the first chapter, especially with the movie out now.

I know that great change is coming into my life currently, and it is something that I welcome.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Bit of Everything This Week

This past week was not terribly interesting, but was a lot of fun regardless. After a few months of playing with a MusclePower, I finally (upon receipt of my paycheck) purchased a used Yonex ArcSaber 900, which is without a doubt the best racket I've ever used. And the difference between the two is night and day. I can finally lay a bird down on the line on command. It's a nice feeling for once.

Working at the homeless shelter has been demanding of late, with most of my shifts being the overnight shift, and having no desire to sleep during the day. Another day, another dollar, I guess. There was a lady who urinated and defecated all over the bathroom stall the other day. This, of course was following the night before where a lady without anything on from the waist down walked to her mat while peeing. Of course there are repercussions, but at what point do these depressing acts become acceptable? In my mind they seem to have become the status quo and cease to surprise me. Maybe I'm just jaded.

On Wednesday, the winds in Waukegan WENT OFF! A steady 25mph wind with 35mph gusts was blowing SW and the jumps were insane. Every single jump was at least 30ft high if not higher. I got trashed enough times jumping over the five hours I spent on the water and by the time it was over, I was shivering horribly and decided to call it a day. I was completely overpowered on my Best Bularoo 7m, and with the winds as strong as they were, the quite was TOO quick in the air. I'm not going to say that there is such a thing as too much power on the water, but my kite was definitely too small and squirrely to have any stability while I was up in the air. Tomorrow, Saturday,  is looking to be quite windy, so I'm hoping to do some landkiting, but we'll see how that goes with rain in the forecast.

I'm looking forward to doing some repairs on the Vespa soon with my buddy Jeff. I have to change the oil, rollers, belt, oil filter and tire. I don't have a ton of mechanical experience, but I'm hoping that together we have enough to make it work. Just rolled over 7400 miles, so the big tune-up needs to come very soon, plus I want to have it done before the weather gets too cold to really enjoy it.

I'm still combating the bite from that "wanderlust bug", and it seems that a road trip will be happening within the next few weeks. New York is, as of now, the intended destination. I'm very much looking forward to getting to know my road-mates, whoever they happen to be!

Fall is here, so the kiting should hopefully be intense as the wind comes with the weather changes. Also as the weather changes, I'm looking forward to testing some new inks and fountain pens as I'm forced more and more inside.

May the wind always blow in your favor.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On Being Too Focused...

As you may notice now, the pennedhouse domain is done. It is gone for good. This was of course for one good reason. My interests are far too many and varied to just be restricted to writing utensils alone. While fun, my life is so much more than just that. I suppose I just want to be able to write about some of the other things that I do, and the mere name of the old blog seemed inhibitive to the writing process.

So, I present to you, "Unconventional Ramosities"!

Here I'm hoping to cover the hobbies that occupy my time and the people that I meet as a result.

Potential Topics: Kiteboarding, fountain pens, pipe tobacco, cycling, and languages. We'll just have to see where it goes from here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Handmade Moleskine iPhone Case

Nobody would expect a notebook to be so deceitful.
Moleskines are quite possibly the greatest little  notebooks on the planet. While there may be issues with certain fountain pen inks and overall paper quality, its hard to bash these compact, highly functional and dare I say... cute little notebooks? As far as durability, the Moleskine is fantastic, especially in the hardcover iteration. Though the colors are limited in the hardcover series, there seems to be little that is classier for the price. At this point I will restrain myself from waxing on about my love of stationery products and get to the point. I've found a way to get even more out of a Moleskine notebook, taking it way beyond being just a notebook.

I've turned a Moleskine notebook into my new cell phone case! I now don't appear to staring mindlessly at my phone, but rather, poring over handwritten notes in my notebook.

When I was searching for cases for the iPhone 4, I realized that there weren't any that could really do what I wanted for how exorbitant the prices were. So many cases are clunky and difficult when it comes to using the iPhone. I suppose this case is no exception, but it is the deception this case is capable of, which makes it so great. I feel it is important to mention that Moleskine does make a case for the iPhone, but it is really only practical as a notebook for lefties, and its honestly pretty clunky too.

What looks like a Moleskine notebook is opened up and found to be a "book vault" similar to those that we made as children to hide our belongings. Not only does the Moleskine attract less attention from thieves, but it protects the phone very well too! Paper is naturally not waterproof, but the Moleskine hard cover is surprisingly tough over the month of testing I've subjected it to.

You too can escape the judgment of others whilst staring at your phone screen by appearing to be reading from a classy and sophisticated little notebook. Its actually quite easy. I didn't photograph my steps, but it isn't brain surgery.

The "guts" of the my creation!
Using some card stock, I traced and then cut out an outline of my phone, giving myself some wiggle room on the sides. Err on the side of small here however, because you can always make it bigger, but never smaller. Take a Moleskine notebook, new or used, and trace out the outline on the page and then, using an Exacto knife, cut one or two pages at a time. Trying to cut any more than that can get sloppy. The pages are a bit brittle at this point, so wood glue is the perfect way to seal the pages together. Apply a very small amount of wood glue to the inside of the notebook and place the notebook under some weights, careful that the wood glue doesn't seal the book closed. Once the glue is dry, place your phone inside and you have the ultimate iPhone case and perhaps the greatest Moleskine notebook ever.

Notes and Disclaimers: I've decided not to carve out a headphone jack hole. Yes, you do have to take the phone out to talk on it and to use the camera.  I have not had any issues with the phone falling out, but be cautious, because there is nothing actually holding the phone in the case. I left a few pages at the beginning uncut so as to allow for the greater illusion of a notebook.  Have fun and enjoy the ultimate notebook!

Eternally inked,

The Classicist

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pen Asceticism

Its been about a while since my last pen post and the hiatus, while greatly needed, allowed me to perform an experiment on myself for the benefit of my readers and fellow pen enthusiasts.  I consider myself new to avid fountain pen use and my experience comes from full immersion into using this utensil, but I have found myself with so many options as far as pen and ink combinations go.  While I enjoy using the different combinations of inks and pens, I felt that I might try to truly enjoy one ink and one pen combination for a full month.  I figured it would be best for me to pick my favorite ink and my favorite pen and carry it around everywhere I went.

I'm a kid in a candy store, but is it possible to eat just one type of candy in only one flavor for an entire month?

The ink I decided to use was Noodler's Red-Black and the pen, a Parker 51. My notebook of choice for this term is a Moleskine mid-sized notebook, which I have found is not conducive to feathering with either this ink or pen.  Now, using a Moleskine for taking class notes is not a new concept for me, but with this project I was much more interested than usual in keeping this notebook in as near to immaculate condition as possible. I happen to really enjoy the combination of cream paper, red-black ink (with beautiful shading), and the medium nib and flow of my Parker 51.  With ingredients as great as this, the end product certainly would be great.

Notes from Ancient Greek History class with my favorite professor!
It wasn't long before I found myself enjoying the writing experience more than ever before and finding excuses to write where I wouldn't have otherwise.  I found the experience to be interesting on a number of levels. I found myself really enjoying the time I spent writing, whether for class or fun, but I have to say that it went deeper than that.  I really found myself feeling a deeper connection to something greater than just the physical pen and paper.  I found that I had discovered a zen in writing. Yes, I feel silly thinking about it now, but it's the same kind of feeling that you get when you pick up a very old quarter and you think to yourself, "I wonder how many hundreds of people have held this coin?" It was being part of a greater writing tradition. There was something simple, antiquated, and gratifying to join the ranks of thousands before me.

During this month-long period, I found myself romanticizing what could be written with a fountain pen, and how so many authors/thinkers/inventors in the past had written with one as well.  The fountain pen is fundamentally different than a ballpoint because of what it symbolizes.  My only issue is that I feel this way about a pen.  How long ago would I have considered myself a total whacko for thinking this way? Through my fountain pen I can feel a connection to the past and to an era when the world was much more physical and more lived. So, yes, I feel stupid, saying it, but I would say I have developed a near spiritual relationship with my pen. The ink and paper are a significant part of it, but writing in a notebook for any reason is to almost enter into a trance. Paper, pen and author all become one. Its a feeling I'm not entirely accustomed to yet, but when the feeling washes over those of you who have experienced this feeling before, it is relaxing and invigorating and empowering all at the same time.

Eternally Inked,
The Classicist

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Write Dudes: Retractable Ball Point

Retractable pens are the reason that I got started in fountain pens. Out of a severe frustration with pens that failed to write or even retract/detract the ball point, I switched entirely to a different utensil.  There are times however, when fountain pens can't be used, and for those times, I have come to love two pens: The Pilot G-2 and the Uniball Signo 207.  Both have excellent flow and excellent ink quality, though they are both gel pens.
Crisp and informative packaging. Definitely a plus.

The Write Dudes have tried to make a ballpoint pen that works well in the world of cheap pens. The best ballpoint pen that I know of is the Bic Atlantis, for balance, flow and comfort.  Unfortunately, these retractable ball points that were sent to me have none of those characteristics and are lacking in a few other areas too. Perhaps I'm not the right person to do a review of low-end pens, but among low-end pens, I think these are simply average. The color selection is poor and the plastic just feels cheap when you hold it. I have to say though, if having a pen that you don't care about is necessary for your use, then this might work.

From what I've encountered, many of the Write Dudes' products are pretty cheaply made and their logo is an exact copy of the Board Dudes, with one exception.  Their logo has a fountain pen in it, yet they don't make fountain pens! I simply cannot imagine this company making fountain pens, and I would be surprised if they did.
On the left side of the logo is the fountain pen. I'm so confused to see it there.

From the back of the package:

                  "Pick up this pen, hold it, write a word. Was that your life flashing before your eyes? Almost! It was everything you know about writing going out the window. Why? Super Smooth Ink is here to save you!"

Somebody in their marketing department certainly has a sense of humor.

  I'm not sure what they expected to accomplish with these pens, but it certainly isn't something that I would buy.  Then again, I am a person who won't accept mediocrity in a writing utensil and strive to use the best that I have available at all times. I was sent these pens to review, and I will not veer from my promise to offer an unbiased review, despite perhaps never being sent products to review again.  Regardless, I'm hoping to get a few more posts up soon, following my recent hiatus to being the school year.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Noodler's La Coleur Royale

There's just nothing like a good bottle of ink...
Some of my fellow pen enthusiasts understand what I mean when I say that even though I didn't need a new ink, I felt like it was about time for me to purchase one. Browsing the Goulet Swab Shop for hours comparing swabs was a lot of fun, but deciding which ink I wanted was difficult. I have a love for dark blue inks and La Coleur Royale, though not blue, fits into that dark category very well. 

Equipped with the usual Noodler's qualities and characteristics of good flow, durability after exposure to water, no showthrough (on good paper) and average drying time, the allure of this ink really comes down to color, and it really is a rich, soothing purple. I don't have other purples to compare this ink to, but I can say for sure that it is my second favorite ink, following Noodler's Red-Black. Though not a drawback for me, this ink doesn't have much in terms of shading, writing a very consistently colored line, even with an italic nib. But the color is so fantastic despite this!

One of my dilemmas when purchasing an ink is whether it will be useful in my life.  In the academic and professional world, a bright orange ink won't cut it, and sometimes there are just inks more suited for different environments and situations. Finding an ink that is professional and interesting at the same time is the reason I use my fountain pens in every academic task, because it brings me out of a rut of dull and boring pens and allows me to take extreme pleasure in every single word I write.

I don't necessarily feel like a king after using La Coleur Royale, but I certainly feel more distinguished.

Eternally Inked,

The Classicist
Noodler's Piston Filler on Rhodia paper...