August 8, 2006

Update on FP’s, Wet-Shave, Now Habit, future posts…

Posted in FountainPens, Mac Software, Pipes, Procrastination, shaving at 7:37 pm by a11en

Well, a post has been long over due. I try to ensure that I don’t post nonsense here, so that those who visit will visit often, and get something out of reading my insane ramblings. 🙂 Maybe I’m hoping for too much. I’ve been incommunicado, as I’ve been concentrating on work, as well as somewhat unsure how to tackle my little hack. I’ll call that my “Book Underline Liberation Hack” or BULH… uh… well, you get the idea.

About my “BULH” (pronounced as Bull-@#$@?) hack: My biggest problem in posting a how-to on this, really, is that it utilizes a number of programs that you guys/gals might not be too familiar with. Some surely are, but some may not be. So, I think I’m going to start it as a series. I’ll talk about each program separately, point you to appropriate interesting links that may be of use to you, and then bring everything together in the end. Since it’s a bit of a crazy hack, and I haven’t made any scripts to help you in the hack, a lot of you guys may choose not to use it. But, hopefully the series will help some of you (who may not have decided to install some of the programs before). My ultimate goal is to give you a way to liberate and utilize all those great underlined sections in your books. I find they’re useful when I do re-reads, but often I don’t re-read, and would love to have those sitting where they’re visible to motivate my work. I think the first program up on the block will be Growl. Before this, let me brain-dump a few items of interest. I’ll work on my post on Growl over the next few days.

Fountain Pens

My strong suggestion for anyone who wishes not to get trapped on a slippery slope- is don’t ever try a nice fountainpen. I recently stopped by a local antique store. After looking around a bit, I ask the proprietor if she has any fountain-pens. She says: “Yes, but they’re not out and ready for sale yet…” She digs a bit… out pop some interesting older pens, nothing too exciting… as I look over them and tell her about my limited experience with FP’s, she digs some more, and out pop some big-dogs. We talk for around an hour, and all of a sudden, she says: “Would you be willing to help me?”… “If you help me figure out what these are worth, I’ll give you your pick.” I’m floored… I think on it for a day, and decide to help. So, in front of me sits the following after a stint of hand-polishing (there are more of lesser value as well):

  • Parker “51” Vacumatic, Third-quarter, 1947 (T47), gold-filled cap, straight line pattern, blue-diamond GF clip, black body
  • Parker Vacumatic Junior, Maxima size, Brown Pearl laminate, 1947
  • Shaeffer’s Snorkel Saratoga, green body
  • Conklin with nice green striated celluloid body, sac-filler
  • Cartridge Shaeffer’s yet to be determined
  • Epenco little sac-filler with wonderful marble celluloid body

Just those three pens on top of the list there were a joy to come by in the wild. There of course a lot of questions- one of the more important for the owner of these, is: Is it better to spend the money on repairing/refurbishing, or is it better to sell them as-is. Being a FP-fellow now, of course I’d love to take a crack at them, or send them away- they’re much easier to buy without being repaired. 😉 Any and all comments regarding this, please chime in!

The Wet-Shave Update

Finally got an amazing shaving brush. I purchased a Vulfix Super-Badger brush with a nice knot-size. Price was reasonable- larger than I’d ever spent on shaving accoutrements, but, reasonable. While walking through Marshal-Fields this weekend, I came across a small “The Art of the Shave” shop on the first floor. Talked shaving equipment with the salesman there for a bit. Turns out their smallest super-badger (silvertip) was double the price of the Vulfix brush I purchased a week ago. The brush was at least half as large as mine, to boot. Amazing price difference.

I have to admit that the brush is awesome. I didn’t need much soap on the bristle tips to get a fantastic lather on the face. Incidentally, I’m using that Lavendar soap by Taylor of Old Bond Street mentioned previously. Great soap. Now, I just need to find an after-shave moisturizer that fits nicely with the lavender. The brush hopefully will last me for many many years. I finally actually look forward to my shaves, instead of wishing I didn’t have to do it before heading to work. I’m starting to realize that money spent on things of luxury are often worth it, if they can be enjoyed for many years to come, and you aren’t neglecting an important expenditure. Oh, and that 12-hour 5’O-clock shadow procrastination I mentioned earlier- it’s true. I’m getting a closer shave just by changing to the badger brush and soap. Amazing. Highly recommend a good brush, and a good soap. [Incidentally, the soap looks like it’s gonna last me for a couple years as well!]

Now Habit Update

I need to spend more time on this in the near future. Some wonderful things found since I last discussed Fiore’s book. Unfortunately, keeping them in mind often is difficult. I’ve experienced a truth too often: No matter how late I stay up, there’s no way to add more time to my day. Important items often will slip by if I am not more conscious to choose to do them first. Fiore’s book explains the idea of the “unschedule”. It’s quite simple really- schedule your time for everything *but* your work. Sleeping, eating, playing time- showering, tooth-paste time, etc.- when this is accomplished, you see all too clearly how much time there is for work. Often there’s not much time to do your work, so realizing this helps you to make proper decisions about that unscheduled time you have. As well, you should commit to yourself to only do 30 minutes of work. That’s right… 20 hours total a week tops. 30 minutes of focused time. The reason is that if you attempt to do all the time you wish to accomplish in your head (say 18 hours a day, is what I’d love to be doing)- there’s no way you’re going to actually do it. In fact, because you know you should do 18 hours a day, you’ll find it *very* hard to start. Instead, 30 minutes of extreme focus without distractions often gets more done. It’s all a matter of starting. All projects get done just by starting, and starting and starting… over and over again, until the project is finished. Little starts of focused time.

Oh, a bit of a tip, as well- it appears that the infinity journal (both the normal and the mini) from Levenger will fit the Miquelrius journals that I find at Pendemonium and Barnes and Noble. So, if you’re looking for a real leather cover, and a ribbon book-mark for it, the cover will likely fit. Nice to know incase the one that comes with it, runs out. 🙂

Tobacco And The Sea

After a trip to Levengers at Fields, I walked over to the oldest family owned business in Illinois- Iwanries & Co. Paid for a pipe I had money down on, and perused their tobacco. Lo and behold- I find tins of Murray blended Dunhill blends!! I couldn’t believe it! So, I snagged a number of London Mixture tins. Happy with my surprise find, I walked down to the warf to pay a call on an old friend- The Abegweit. She’s now the Columbia Yacht Club club-house. A number of very kind club members talked with me about the old ferry, and invited me and the family back at a future date. I was floored at their kind offer. As a kid, I leaned over the Abegweit’s bow watching the ocean race by on my way to my grandmother’s house in Prince Edward Island. It was great to see the boat being well-loved.

As I walked, with my pipe in mouth, enjoying the tall-ships that came that weekend to Chicago, I was reminded of how the sea and tobacco were often the two things that most stirred man’s imagination in the days gone by. The days of shaving-brushes, and lavender soaps, wooden ships, and pipes…


  1. CharlesOS said,

    Interesting post – another!! – Fountain Pens in particular caught my eye as I have according to my wife more than a passing interest in writing instruments……… Parker 51 Vacumatic only dates from 1970 and my Conway Stewart is from the early 1960s other ‘lovely’ Waterman, Sheaffer, Parker and Cross have all been gathered within the last 10 to 20 years. You don’t want to go down that most pleasureable route as you will catch the bug and soon have many beautiful writing instruments both old and modern.

    Thank you for the Pendemonium link…………my problem on this side of the pond is that Levenger, Miquelrius products cost more to ship than they do to buy, very disappointing. There don’t seem to be any European stockists either.
    Have to try and find some long lost US relatives who can do the necessary for me!!

    Keep up the good work


  2. flexiblefine said,

    Charles, I thought Miquelrius was a Spanish company — not being stocked in Europe sounds pretty wild for a Spanish company. 🙂 Ask them a question on their web site, if you can stand the slow Flash animations…

    As for the question of whether an antique shop should have pens repaired or sell them as-is, it would probably depend on how many pens they deal with on a regular basis. A repairer might offer some sort of volume discount for a regular supply of pens to fix. I’d look for a pen repairer to get a better answer to the original question.

  3. LeisureGuy said,

    The next step after fountain pens is fine stationery: the various Italian stationeries, the French, German, Smythson… I have a bookcase filled with stationery. I’m partial to the A4 size and to the French fold (C6 envelope: fold the A4 sheet twice, into quarters).

    Of the fountain pens, I think the biggest bang for the buck is the Pelikan M800, particularly with a point fashioned by John Mottishaw. I love his Italic points. My favorite pen is an Omas Arco celluloid with a medium nib refashioned into Italic.

    Regarding wet shaving, I’ve become a great fan of this ritual, and I’ve collected everything I’ve learned into one long post, with links to vendors, other articles, etc. Take a look sometime.

  4. CharlesOS said,

    You are quite correct it is a Spanish company and I have taken your suggestion……….whether I get a reply or not is another matter!! Strange the way some European companies look after their home market, the US and that’s virtually it.

    We shall see.

  5. a11en said,

    Hi everyone! So great to see you hop on here and share all this great info!

    Charles- I hope that Miquelrius sells in the UK. It’s a shame if they do not. I find thier notebooks to be excellent in price and paper quality! I am now loving the graphing paper for my notes regarding my thesis- huge book I never have to fear running out of paper- makes for interesting writing if your near the beginning or end, however!

    Flexiblefine! Thanks for dropping in, man! I agree- I have to talk with the antique dealer to see how many pens she comes across. She does say some old guys drop in asking about pens- so perhaps she could do a bit of good business with working pens. I need to chat with her sometime this week about it. There are at least 2 there that I think need expert work- or she could sell them to me, and I could take a crack at them and if I hurt them, they’re mine. Thanks for the pointer! I have to ask on FPN as well….

    Leisure guy- Thanks for that link to your post. A great post about the wetshave indeed. I actually ended up with the same Vulfix brush you got based on a post of yours on badger and blade- so thanks for the pointers there! I’m not yet into safety-razors, but in time it likely will come. 🙂

    Really appreicate the comments guys! Let us all know how the miquelrius search in the Uk goes, Charles!

    My best!!

  6. CharlesOS said,

    “Let us all know how the miquelrius search in the Uk goes, Charles!”

    Still hunting but not making much headway……as for Miquelrius themselves still no reply!!! Well there’s a surprise 🙂


  7. a11en said,


    If you didn’t get a reply from the Spain contact, perhaps try kindly the US contact- for all you know they’d be interested in branching out to the UK. 🙂


  8. CharlesOS said,

    Thank you for your comment.

    Just as a foloow on update – I have ordered 2 x Leather look, squared, 200 pages Miquelrius Notebooks from Pendemoniun.

    I will hear within 24 hours how expensive shipping will be !!

    Will be holidaying in Brittany in the next week or so. I will, without driving the family insane, keep any eye out in case I spot any for sale!!


  9. a11en said,

    Hey Charles,

    Thanks for the update! It’s horrible to think that it’s difficult to find these over in the UK. Spain’s closer to the UK! It’s weird- as there’s already someone in the commonwealth importing them (the same guys who import to the US import to Canada I think)… I’m wondering if they’re there, they just are hard to find… I have to admit I’m liking them much better than the moleskines. [BTW new news says that some Moleskines are made in China- watch very carefully the back of the labels- they’re indicated if they are.] There are things I love about the Moleskines as well. If you ripped out the Miquelrius paper (or better yet the Clairfontaine paper), and shoved ’em into a Moleskine- I might be that much closer to heaven. 😉

    It’s so interesting to see how much paper varies. I never understood before (using Gel G2’s and ballpoints etc.). But now, I feel the paper quality very quickly. Just to let you know, the TOPS Docket Gold pads (yellow/white legal pads etc.) are quite good and cheap. We have them at Office Depot. I think it’s 24#. Takes FP ink very well, and has good heft. For a while I was using just that. [Cheaper than Levengers for sure.] I also recently tried the Black and Red notebooks which have a semi-cultish following. I have to admit the paper is quite good, but seems to be slightly rough with a toothy nib, but takes ink very well. Their table-of-contents and great info first page shows that they take that extra step in their product. (no bleed through with the BnR’s)

    If you’re seeking paper, spend a bit of time on the Fountain Pen Network forums, they often discuss papers there (separate thread).

    Miquelrius’s are very nice, though! I’m using a huge one for my Thesis notes. My goal will be to fill as much as possible before I leave school, and whip it out in the middle of my dissertation talk if questions arise. 😉 ha ha ha… a 2″ thick notepad with hand-written background info should give ’em a slight pause. 😉


  10. CharlesOS said,

    Thank you for your responses.
    Hopefully the end of the saga and hunt!! Pendominium have just emailed to say that two Leather Look Miquelrius 200 pages squared 6×8.25 notebooks are on their way ($10.00 to ship!! beats the hell out of Levenger’s $35/40) and they hope that I enjoy using them……..a result!!

    As you say seems daft to have to go to the US for a European manufactured product…………….such is life!!

    I had heard that the latest batch of Moleskines had been made in China and that the paper quality had dropped as a result. We’ll have to see what happens next as Moleskine is no longer an Italian company having recently been bought by a French company.

    Off on holiday shortly – see you when I get back!

  11. a11en said,

    Hey, great news Charles!

    $10 is not unheard of for overseas.

    I think they’re great journals (much better than Moleskines). [Let us all know how you like ’em.]

    BTW, Levengers is horribly over priced, but they have great stuff. I paid like $9 to ship a silly little thing to me- and it came in a box wrapped in a cloth with a special ribbon around it. I laughed for a number of minutes over that one. It probably would have only been $5 to ship if the box and cloth weren’t included. It was classy, though, I have to admit. Since I’m close to Chicago, I can hit up Levengers at Fields- did that last time, and picked up some of their sale items [cause Lord knows I can’t afford their non-sale items, nor most of their sale-items. :)]

    I’ll have to mention the other items sometime soon on here in a little update.

    Have a great holiday break! Don’t hesitate to tell us if the Miquelrius journals are just not that great (or if you like them too).


  12. Tina said,

    Regarding the Levenger Mini Infinity journal and the Miquelrius 4×6 inch notebook: they’re not compatible. The Mini Infinity leather cover is smaller than 4×6 inch. Is there a smaller Miquelrius notebook you’re referring to?

    I have the Miquelrius 4×6 notebook and just received the Mini Infinity. Didn’t fit. The journal cover is nice though so maybe I’ll find a smaller notebook somewhere or get the Mini Infinity refills.

  13. a11en said,

    Oh no, Tina! I hope you didn’t buy both just on my account… please let me know… I was talking about the larger format, but I haven’t tested it out myself- it’s just a very strong suspicion. They appeared to be almost the same when I looked at them. I’ll take a measurement and call up to Levengers and see if they match the insides of the large one. 😦 I hope I didn’t get you into a bind- those little journals aren’t cheap!!


  14. Tina said,

    Nah. I had the Miquelrius 4×6 already when I saw your tip about the Mini Infinity; clicked on the link and it took me to the Levenger site. Lo and behold, the mini is on sale! so I bought one to try it out. To be honest, I saw the dimensions, call customer service to verify and knew they were smaller than the 4×6 but I thought maybe it stretches or something 🙂 No worries. The journal cover is nice (just like all the stuff I got from Levenger — try to limit myself to their sales items to not go broke though!); I’ll enjoy using it or can always use it as a nice “going back to school” gift :).

  15. a11en said,

    Sorry, Tina, glad you saw it was smaller than 4×6 before you purchased. I just checked a few things out, and it does appear that the *larger* Miquelrius should fit the infinity journal. [If you want, next time I’m up in the city, I can drag my Miquelrius with to check it out. ;)]

    The larger Miquelrius is A5 I believe, which is like 5 7/8 by 8 1/4, and looking at Levenger’s site, the refills for the infinity journal *large size* is 6 x 8 1/4. So, I think that’s a match. They are thick like the Miquelrius’s, Levenger’s says the Infinity refills are 1″ thick- so perhaps the Miquelrius’s are slightly thicker, but I don’t think by much if so.

    I’ll have to be more careful in my posts next time, Tina. Thanks for letting me know about this! BTW, it’s very likely that Levenger would take the journal pack if you wanted. You could always tell them you were hoping to paste in 4×6 photos or something. 😉

    Very sorry!!

    ps – That leather does look amazing, though eh? When I was looking at the larger version in the store (when I noticed it was refillable and likely with a larger Miquelrius), I found myself trying to explain how the $84 pricetag was reasonable… 😉 Then I stopped myself. For $84 I can get another Parker “51” fountain pen!! 🙂 ha ha!

  16. a11en said,

    Yeah, just checked the Miquelrius new journals coming out (like moleskines), and they appear to be close to A6 as well. 😦 Sorry for the trouble, Tina, I feel bad now. I should have explained… like you, I do use the smaller Moleskines more often than the larger version… but, I tend to use the larger Miquelrius’ rather than the small!! So, to me, the larger was what I was always talking about when I talked about Miquelrius’s… for a while I didn’t even know about the small ones. Still- I should have been more careful with my post. Deepest apologies, Tina! 😦


  17. a11en said,

    [ps- now I’m intrigued… so next time I hit Levengers, I’m totally checking this out first-hand… so no one purchase these things unless you’re willing to have me be the silly fool I am- possibly wrong!]

  18. Tina said,

    Not a silly fool, Allen. Part of trying new things, tips, or hacks discovered online is, occassionally, one doesn’t work out :). I just wanted to post in case someone was looking for a cover for the smaller Miquelrius and saw the tip.

  19. Merlin said,

    Just saw this posting – and I have the Larger Leather Cover from Levenger and it will fit the larger Miquelrius Journals. I am surprised that the smaller ones didn’t fit. I would have to say that I have been using the larger one and I don’t like it that much – I am at a loss for how to describe why I don’t like it. It fits but it seems more decorative then functional. Unlike the one I made for my 4×6 Miquelrius Journal which has a nice flap to keep it closed and a place to hang my Fountain Pen. Plus the inside leather allows me to store notes a few extra bills, receipts, post-it notes and business cards. I should start making these things.
    Merlin –

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