Two Years is a Long Time

It's been a very long while. Who even knows if anyone still follows this little blog o' mine. Things have changed quite a bit since the last post. It's been 2 years, to the day, at least as I'm  writing this/have re-upped on squarespace. That wasn't planned, but life is funny. Or, at least really weird.

Why have I started this up again? Well that's a good question. I bought a fountain pen recently (pictured above, Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age, F nib, bottom shelf from Goulet Pens) thanks to a small windfall, most of it went to boring things like savings or debt consolidation loans, but I decided to go ahead and splurge. I'm also not sure what drove me to do that. To be honest I've moved pretty far away from the life of stationery. I think I bought a single pen in 2017, maybe two? And stopped my field notes, and made the very real decision to stop acquiring notebooks. So far in 2018 I have touched pens even less. It's not a conscious decision for the most part, just life getting in the way. So, what happened?

Well, in 2016 and 2017 I was sucked into baking. It was just from my home, and not a full time job, but I worked full time during the week, and 85% of the time I was selling anywhere from 8 to 16 loaves of bread a weekend. It was one of the most satisfying things I've ever done. Full stop. I posted about it some here, but when I started to sell, I ended up with very little time or more importantly energy, except what went into work and then baking all weekend. 

2017 also had me getting a new job. Something I wanted to do for a good long while. I had been wanting to shift my attention and time at work and realized my old employer wouldn't allow for it. I heard about an opportunity to work again with an old boss and jumped at it. Got it, thankfully, and about two or three months in decided yes, I'm moving. For real. And in September I picked up and left Oakland. My weird old cat and I moved ourselves to Brooklyn, driving across the entire country with my Dad, staying in Motel 6's the whole way. I'm less than a month shy of being here for a year, and I like it a lot. I moved here to escape, and to figure out where I want to be going. So far work has been all consuming, but even so, I'm pleased to be here. 

So back to this blog. I think my vague idea is this. Even without using pens much, one of the first things I did in my room was set the shelves in the photo above up, important to display your inks after all. And more and more the last few weeks I've felt a strong urge to ink up pens again and write more. Over the last year I've baked less, and written less, but I started painting again, and I started doing pottery. I still bake when I can, and have the beginnings of ideas about turning my baking into a life longer term. But I think why I wanted to start this back up was simple, a place to stick some thoughts. I'll talk about getting back into pens, I'll probably not review per se, still. I'll post about baking off and on, and my slow exploration o fwhat a business plan looks like for a small bakery operation a few years out. And I'll add in some other stuff along the way. Painting, and ceramics, and my life in general. 

So there you go. Thanks for keeping me in your rss reader if you're seeing this. I'll probably get rid of my inkandflour instagram and twitter and just move everything to my personal ones, but that's not an immediate concern. 

Mostly I think I am looking for an outlet. A place to stick some thoughts about what I do, and what I like. I missed the weekly rhythm of talking through what I was reading/watching/listening to, and while those posts may have fewer links for a bit since I've backed away from pen blogs a bit, I think they may start coming back. If I'm being honest though, it's an excuse to get some words out about pens and bread and pottery and how I spend my time. We'll see what it becomes together I guess. 

Long Time No See

Well hey there! Ink and Flour has been quiet.

The reason?

It's been a crazy summer. Travel, more work chaos, some personal life chaos, and a change in housing arrangements. But coming to the end of August things are settling down in some ways and ramping way way up in others.

Here's what I've been up to, really. http://bread-work.com

My pens and ink and notebooks are all being used, but mostly to help me figure out taking my obsessive baking to a level where I can regularly sell stuff! It's exciting! And scary! And means my weekends are pretty much all taken up with ingredient prep, tools prep, and then a lot of dough.

That means Ink & Flour may stay quiet for a bit longer. But rest assured, the pens are getting used. In the meantime I have a blog over at bread-work.com that you are welcome to follow if you want occasional updates from a guy trying to slowly launch a home bakery.

WeekEnd Review May 15th, 2016

Halfway through May already! See below for how I spent last Sunday. 

I’ve been thinking about this post a bit the last few weeks. I think at times I’ve focused on quantity, so this week I switched to a focus on links that I wanted to add my .02 to. This is also because I just didn’t have as much time to keep up with rss feeds this week, but I like spinning it as a considered decision. In the future I want to try some themes, such as older posts, or blogs that are newer to me. I love link posts, but my favorites (Azizah’s, Pete’s, etc.) are the ones that push me off the normal pen blogs we know and love, so some variety seems like a good idea.

Otherwise, the most exciting news is that my Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black arrived last week, about a week and a half before the earliest estimated delivery date. I’m working on a post about it because my experience with it has been very different than a lot of other pens. I’ve liked pens, even loved them, but this one is different. It’s the first pen in awhile that is making me want to come up with reasons to write, and more than that it’s making me ACT ON those impulses. I’m about a third of the way through a converter after just a week or so, which is unheard of for me. From the looks, to the feel in hand, to that 21k nib, it’s hands down the best pen I own. 

 

WeekEnd Links

The Lure of the Ltd. Edition. - The Finer Point
Agree wholeheartedly with this, and love how even-handed it is. I’ve backed away heavily from ltd edition stuff. It’s a marketing gimmick 98% of the time, and while that’s not bad in and of itself, it does mean it encourages you to buy before really considering because you don’t want to miss it. I got bit by the field notes bug in late 2014 and started chasing older editions and non colors ltd. editions before I realized I wasn’t using them that often? They’re great books, but for a person who loves his fountain pens the most, they’re really not a super good fit. So I didn’t renew, and only go a single pack of sweet tooth because I like how they look but I don’t need more than one of each color. It was freeing to realize I don’t need to own them all, I just felt like I should as a ‘good stationary addict’. And none of this is to say collecting the limited stuff is bad. I just realized I don’t want to chase that anymore.

The Write Tools - From the Pen Cup
And of course, having said all of that above, look at this package! I can’t justify this right now, but I am very curious to watch what Write Notepads does with their subscription. Because I think this is very very cool. The scissors and ruler, while not part of the sub, complement the subscription package so well. I really love the aesthetic they have and may just need to get that ruler and some of their standard notebooks soon.

Five Months with the Hobinichi Techo - The Gentleman Stationer
I love Hobonichi posts in large part because it seems to invite such idiosyncratic uses of the page setups. I love how the monthly pages look as ink swabs. Super cool idea. I’ve finally gotten back to my daily-ish Hobinichi use. I really love the notebook, although my usage is pretty stratighforward. I write, usually in the morning, a general here’s how I’m doing, what’s going on update. 

Fantastic Nibs! - The Pen Addict
Cool rundown of some of Susan’s favorite nibs that are readily available. A friend got a Pilot Metropolitan a few months ago and I was yet again floored by how good that nib is for the price. 

A Tour of My Home Office - KatieFloyd.com
I dip in and out of MPU. I like to tweak my mac but I also don’t in general need too much automation/workflow complications. That said, Katie and David are two of the smartest folks about how to get stuff done on your mac, and I loved this peek into her office and all the ways she keeps herself working. For me the unflattering is most exciting because I’m the same way, in that a messy cluttered workspace can just stop me in my tracks from getting stuff done.

Lambic Brewing Update - A Beer Diary 
And lastly, something different! My friend Ethan has a crew in Philly that have started a micro-brewery. He was one of the first folks to introduce me to sours and lambics and geuzes and goses and all the wonderful weird beers that are out there. He doesn’t update much, but when he does it’s fascinating (and usually long!). Here they do a big brew as part of their long running solera lambic project. Can’t wait to get back to Philly and try some. 

WeekEnd Bake

Basically nada! Was out a few nights this week and could never make scheduling work. I have a spin off starter going now though and will plan to get some walnut fig sourdough started tomorrow evening after work as part of the sourdough during the week experiments. 

I did make some pizza, but even that was hasty. e.g. didn't use my normal multi-day ferment in the fridge formula and went with a formula that would be ready in a couple hours Sunday evening. The good news is it was still pizza! And delicious.

Consumed

Not too much again. I re-read one of my favorite books ever, Bluets, by Maggie Nelson, and still rank it very very highly in my personal pantheon of poetry. Ialso saw Lemonade, the visual album/movie for Beyonce’s latest for the umpteenth time last week, but in a theater, and once again really loved it. Otherwise, I think Slow Regard for Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss is on deck. It’s short, and I really loved his first novel and liked the second one a lot. This one is a novella about a character from the main novels. Who knows after that!

WeekEnd Review May 1st, 2016

Happy May Day! 

This week saw me posting a bit about my new pen and new ink arrivals here, first in what will be an occasional series when I get new stationery stuff in. More things arrived this week, some Rohrer & Klingner inks and the Pen Addict Episode 200 Notebooks. I also made a surprise purchase because Thursday morning I was poking around Amazon and found a Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black from a Japanese seller for about 40% of the normal price. I did a little bit of digging and found reason to believe the seller was legit. I couldn’t believe how cheap it was! It’s still not a cheap pen in the grand scheme of things, but I’ve longed for this pen for a good long while but never felt like I wanted to spend the full price for it. It will take awhile to get to me (mid to late May was the estimate) but I couldn’t pass up the deal.

And with that purchase I’m now officially back on a pen spending freeze. August is a ways away, but I want to save up for the SF Pen Show. Planning to work on my wishlist/to-do list for the show in the next few weeks, will probably turn it into a blog post. 

Otherwise, busy at work, busy baking, and put in a good amount of work towards moving my baking from hobby to small side business. My draft of a site is below! It’ll be a slow/small start, but think I’ll be ready to launch in a few weeks for locals. Am even going to offer some shipping options in a limited capacity I think. Exciting times! 

For now though, onto the links.

WeekEnd Links

Fountain Pen Quest
Ray does a great job with FPQ. I think his links are interesting each week, his reviews are great, but my favorite part of his blog is how focused on usage it is. This week Ray cleared out a TON of pens, and reading his thoughts on each pairing and getting a sense of his changing opinions on various inks and pens over the course of time is great fun. I won’t link to all of them, but here’s a couple of posts on pen and ink combos from the week that I particularly liked.
Omas 360 Vintage & Montblanc Golden Yellow 
I lost an eBay auction for this exact pen a few weeks ago. I’m still keeping an eye out for a 360 from Omas in a few colors. I’m imagining they’ll just get harder to acquire as time goes on.
Visconti Homo Sapien & R&K Blau-Schwarz LE
This pen is still very high on my list of wants. Just beautiful. I also really love the look of this R&K Blue-Black.
Sheaffer Balance II & Omas Green
I had forgotten how much I like the look of these Sheaffer Balance II. I have started ebay/peyton st pen browsing again.

Pelikan M120 - Pen! Paper! Pencil!
I’ve always liked the look of these classic Pelikans, not sure if I’d want to get the remake personally, would probably rather a vintage. 

Nakaya Spiketails - The Pen Addict
Oh wow. Wow. Wow. I don’t usually go for the ‘things painted on pens’ look since my tastes lean towards the plain/minimal. That said, this pen is BEAUTIFUL, and Susan’s story about acquiring it is a cool inclusion. I think sometimes in the blog world purchases aren’t talked about in practical terms, e.g. what did I have to get rid of/how much did I have to save to get this pen. That Omas going is a shame for sure, but I think it’s more than worth it given just how detailed and incredible the art on this pen is.

Edison Menlo Tibaldi - Gentleman Stationer
Absolutely beautiful again! That Tibaldi is gorgeous and I love the way the ink window is on the end. 

WeekEnd Bake

Walnut and fig bread didn’t last too long from the weekend. I need to tweak the ratio of walnuts to figs I think, but a whole loaf disappeared in about 30 minutes at work and the other loaf was gone by Wed. 

IMG_0377.jpg

And speaking of Wed. that morning was when I baked off the first two loaves with the new starter. I am VERY pleased with how the bread turned out. Took pictures of the finished loaves but no crumb shots. It’s always interesting using a new starter. The dough behaves differently and each starter I’ve used has had its own personality for lack of a better term. I’ve taken to calling the all AP Flour starter that is solely based on the King Arthur Flour kit ‘Arthur’. Arthur is very active, with clear bubbles and lift even 20 minutes after feeding. I was both working with Arthur and also trying a week night sourdough schedule. I mixed it after work, around 5:00. Autolyze for about an hour, then added salt and levain. I left it out for 2 hours, folding four times, then into the fridge. I took it out in the morning to give it one more fold for good measure/check on it. Then after work, again about 5, on Tuesday, I took it out, shaped, and let them proof for about 3 hours. Out by 9:30 pm. I want to tweak the schedule, and play around with shorter bulk fermentation but much longer proofing possibly, but it proved the idea of sourdough during the week.

Yesterday I baked two loaves of sesame sourdough. One loaf for the housemate and her boyfriend to take on a road trip, the other for eating. Today is cheddar beer sourdough, an experiment in adding beer in for about 45% of the water. I got a later start than I originally planned today. It’s been warm the last few days so Arthur was moving too quickly. I mixed the levain at 7:30 pm last night and by 6:45 when I got up this morning it had risen and fallen completely. Fed it a bit more and gave it about 3 hours to perk back up. Folding in the cheese in about ten minutes, will probably have the bread out before I go to sleep tonight.

Consumed

I’ve been very stressed! So I’m going back to a warm blanket of a novel, Perdido Street Station. This book is incredibly weird and uncomfortable. I recommended it to a friend and had forgotten just how gross and weird it is, but I love it so much. Probably my 5th time through. Will probably spend part of this evening reading another warm blanket book, Bluets by Maggie Nelson. Her odd and affecting book of verse/prose poems centered on the color blue and loss and love and how we deal with grief.

Recent Arrivals: Edison Morgan and Super5 Inks

Quick post with some thoughts on newer arrivals. I haven’t done one of these in the past because there just hasn’t been much to talk about since getting to a more regular schedule. I’ve bought almost no ink or paper this year and no pens until the Edison below. I’ll probably keep the spending reined in a bit, but three bottles of ink and a pen within a week was a nice prompt to jot down some first impressions.

Super5 Inks

I mentioned the inks in the roundup post last week, but I’ve now played with them a bit more. The three inks are Australia, Dublin and Atlantic, a dusty purple, a dusty blue and a nice subdued green respectively.

I hadn’t really heard of Super5 until pretty recently. There was a Super5 pen at Goulet Pens that I reviewed awhile ago and liked, especially for the price. These inks are madeby Rohrer & Klingner, which is great news as the R&K inks are solid. Super5 inks are pigmented and waterproof on top of the normal R&K performance.

All three colors are muted, so if you’re looking for super bright greens or blues, these aren’t for you, but they are pretty perfect for me. I put the Atlantic in my new Edison the other day and so far it’s behaving well. At first it gave me some problems but I think it was a condensation in the converter/feed issue, because since that first hiccup it’s been solid. Good flow, not too dry, and I really love the color. I tested the waterproofness too and it seems to be bulletproof in that regard. Looking forward to filling some other pens with the other two colors soon.

Edison Morgan in Mandarin Orange Acrylic

I have looked at this pen at least once a month for a year and a half. When you look forward to something for so long it inevitably gets built up into something greater than the object itself. But I still wanted it.

December of last year I decided to rein in my stationary spending pretty intensely. I’ve talked about it before so I won’t go through it again, but when I made that decision I also decided that this pen would be my reward. I had months to save up for it, and had wanted it for so long. When it came time to send the email I was shocked by how nervous I was. I knew I could afford it, I knew I had looked at it forever, but I was still worried it wouldn’t live up to my idea.

I shouldn’t have worried. I love this pen.

I’ve used it a bit in the last week, not as much as I’d like to, but it is a beautiful beautiful thing. The gold furniture and the acrylic are perfect together, and I’ve always thought the Morgan’s shape was elegant. It’s a perfectly balanced pen for my hand when it’s not posted. The nib is as good as you’d expect. A touch of feedback, medium flow, overall smooth and consistent. I fully expect this pen to stay inked for awhile.

 

WeekEnd Review April 17, 2016

Happy Sunday, although for the first time in weeks I’m actually writing this on Saturday in advance. A nice change of pace and an attempt to get back to a more sane schedule. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to get past the craziness of the last few weeks at the day job, and as always one of the first things I came to was to get back to a regular schedule for the blog, because I really like writing these round up posts, they’re a nice way to review the week, review my bakes, review what I’ve been reading and a chance to write a bit for semi-public consumption. (I guess it’s fully public, but let’s be real about audience size here.) So an early morning review this Sunday, and a bunch of great links.

After a very long spell of not buying stationary items at all, I have a few new arrivals. I took part in the Massdrop buy of Super5 inks and got a bottle of Australia, Dublin and Atlantic. I’ve only opened the Australia so far, but at first glance it’s a really gorgeous dusty purple. This overview at gorgeous.ink is a nice summary.

And finally, after my self-imposed pen buying hiatus was successfully seen through (the one cheat was buying a Pilot Penmanship that I gave as a gift to a friend getting into fountain pens, and I feel good about not counting that), I used the set aside money to get what I’ve been calling my reward pen. The link still works for now, we’ll see how long it lasts I guess. I’ve been eyeing this Morgan in Mandarin Acrylic for over a year and a half. I bookmarked the link above just to check in on it every few weeks. Ordered it with a steel EF and I just saw it has arrived at my office over the weekend, so will eagerly get that on Monday. I don’t know what it is about this pen, I tend to not love brightly colored things in general, and am usually not a fan of gold furniture, but I think this pen is fantastic looking, at least in the pictures. Will obviously talk about it on here as I use it and have in-hand impressions.

On to the links!

WeekEnd Links

A Small Tale of Pen Grail - petedenison.net
Come for the pen talk, stay for the writing. Pete's blog is a favorite not just because he talks about coffee and pens, two of my favorite things. He's a great writer, and this tale of realizing exactly what 'grail pen' might mean to him is a great read. 

Making of a Grail Pen - Penucopia
Woah. This pen. It makes perfect sense that he is the enabler of enablers. Really beautiful.

Apple Pencil Hacks - #mykewasright
I’m not sure I’d ever use the Apple Pencil enough to justify the cost, so these aren’t of personal interest necessarily, but I thought Myke’s hacks were rad. I love seeing how he personalizes his stuff. From the stickers on his apple devices, to his pencil-looking Apple Pencil. Just a cool rundown of really making something your own. (Also I like that Myke is writing more, I think he's good at it.)

Airmail 1.1 - Macstories.net
A great write up on what is easily my most loved app on my phone. Airmail makes it so trivially easy to handle incoming mail, and I’ve found over the last few months it pushes me to DO things with my email in a way I never have been before from an app. I love seeing the inbox zero, so for example, I’ve gotten very good at figuring out how to snooze things in ways that prompt me to truly follow up on them. And where I used to just keep shipping notices in my inbox, I now quickly shove them into a separate folder/tag that makes it easy to check on them/make sure I’ve received everything I’ve expected, and then even easier to just archive and remove them when the item arrives. I know I’m probably nowhere near the power user that the Macstories guys are, but I do really love this app.

Franklin Christoph Pocket 40 - Pencilcase Blog
I have one of these in the fire and ice and while I agree it’s a really great pen overall, it just has not clicked with me. A great review, thorough, and I love all the close up photos. There’s no denying these pens are lovely, I just have to chalk it up to not loving pocket pens.

(And as a brief aside, I’ve been very torn on whether to sell it or not, but I think the time has come. I’m actually thinking I’ll add a for sale page soon to try and part with some of my lesser used pens, and a couple of pens that just need some nib work to be perfect. So expect deals, as this is more about thinning the collection than a need to raise funds.)

Nock. Co Blue Label -  Nock Co. Blog
I don’t tend to post things from stores, as product announcements end up everywhere, but man alive do I love the look of this ltd. edition case, the first one in their new experimental/trial/ltd Blue Label line. This rocketed to the top of my “Reasons I’m Sad I’m Not In Atlanta This Weekend” list. Which I’m assuming all of us not in Atlanta have someplace.

Empires of Eve - The Verge
I talked about this book last week and finished it up Friday night. I was very impressed, and happy to see the author getting coverage places. This is a nice writeup/interview with the author. Really, if you have any interest in video games, or sci-fi, or even just interesting history/sociology I recommend the book. It’s about ten bucks on Kindle I believe.

Sailor Bungbox Blue-Black - Well Appointed Desk
I need this ink. I need it to be in my possession. I just can’t quite get over the 43 dollars a bottle hump. But if I can find it at the SF Pen Show this year, I will buy it. I have no illusions about this.

Tekker Ink Emerald - The Pen Habit
Tekker has been popping up a bunch of places of late, and for good reason. It’s a really interesting idea, and one that seems almost too good to be true. From the instagram chatter and some mentions here and there it does seem like the color matching can be not 100%, but this review makes it seem like a solid ink. It’s nice to hear that at least the ink itself is fine, even if the color-matching part may not be perfect. I might give this a try at some point, we’ll see.

Japanese Office Supply Roundup - The Pen Addict
Nice roundup of some cool looking things. I talked about it a bit in the load out post from January, but I really do love the Life notebook I’ve been using. Not familiar with the other stuff, but can definitely vouch for Life’s paper quality.

Weekend Bake

After last week’s baguette success, I decided to take a bit of a chance and do an experiment with my starter. I’ve read about folks who can take their starter out of the fridge and feed it maybe once to get it going, and then 12 hours later build a levain out of it (the thing you make to help sourdough rise, which is a small amount of your mother starter and then flour and water to the weight you need). In the past I’ve given my starter three or so days before I bake with it, but this time I gave it one feeding and then built the levain. I think my starter is just still a tad too young/I was pushing it too far, and the loaves were complete disasters. That all said, this week was about getting the starter up to full health. Some pictures from the week in case anyone is curious what a healthy dark rye starter looks like. After a solid week of regular feeding, I’m excited to get some more parmesan/black pepper loaves going tomorrow to bake Monday morning, and am thinking of trying my hand at a walnut raisin sourdough this week.

In lieu of bread pictures, here's some glamour shots of my dark rye starter, affectionately named Slime Season, of course after the Young Thug mixtapes.

Early in the week, you can see after 12 hours there’s some solid craters/bubbles, which is the visual indicator that the bacteria and yeasts are eating away happily.

But really this is what I want. This is a slightly fake diptych, as the before is from Friday morning I believe and the after is this morning, but it illustrates how active and happy the starter is. Before is about a minute after feeding and is identical to how it looked this morning when I fed it. The after is from about 5 hours post feeding. Huge craters, bubbles of irregular sizes throughout, all are indications of how it'll make the bread turn out. And all are looking very pleasing.

Consumed

A lighter week again. Although I did read Ready Player One last weekend. I enjoyed it, but definitely think it is in some ways a really frustrating book. Even with that, it’s a fun romp, and if you like video games at all you’ll probably enjoy it.

Finished the Eve book mentioned last week, and not much else. Although next on the plate is Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald. A nice non-video game read, a change I’m looking forward to a good bit.

 

WeekEnd Review April 10, 2016

When life hands you lemons, sometimes a week later you just get a second round of lemons. That’s been the last few weeks at the day job. There are times you just have to focus on figuring out how to get some lemonade made. Looking forward to a lemon-free week (fingers crossed!), and getting back to something like normal. Lots of evenings spent like the photo below with coworkers, commiserating, trying to figure out next steps, etc.

It’s April! And I have successfully bought zero pens this year so far! I’m still waffling on resuming the purchases in all honesty. Like I’ve said other places, I’ve really enjoyed focusing on what I have, but I do want a few things and I want to at the very least keep any purchases to a minimum and make sure I’m buying something I really want. I had a reward pen in mind from Edison that I’m pretty sure will end up in my hands sooner rather than later.

There’s been a ton of great stuff the last two weeks. I tried to pare this down to a manageable list of favorites or things that struck me in particular. For me the best part of link roundups is the commentary. I look forward not just to links (let’s face it at this point I probably follow most of the folks who’d be linked) but to reading what other people have to say in response. So a good number of links, but a focus on the things where I had something to say or thought was especially interesting. Otherwise, a bunch of baking and a few book recommendations. On to the links!

WeekEnd Links

Now for something completely different - Just a few non-pen/non-bread related things to start.
Eames Molded Plastic Chair - Tools&Toys
This truly is one of the most iconic chairs ever made. I love how simple the top is compared to the complexity of the bottom. How even though there’s a lot happening in the legs it still feels clean and crisp. I’ve been in the position of either living with folks or living alone and not having money to really furnish a place for years, but this chair is perpetually on my list when I really have a place I can call my own.

In Praise of the iPad Air2 - Pete Denison
A great post detailing how and why Pete has ended up with the iPad Air 2. I have said it before, but I love these in depth posts chronicling specifically why people use the tools they do. I have spent a good bit of time thinking about my computing set up over the last year or so, ending up with no desktop, an iPad mini and my trust macbook air (13”). I’ve given up certain things, big screens, gaming for the most part, etc. but I feel really good about what I have and how I use each device I own. With the hype around the iPad Pros it’s easy to feel like you SHOULD use the new shiny thing, but it’s worth putting the time in to figure out what you actually want and what you actually need vs what is available.

Always in my Pocket - Backup Brain
I’ve been toying with getting a knife or two. I have a nice Opinel that I carry with me pretty much everywhere, and I really like the look of some of these. Not sure if I’m ready for another expensive interest, but some of these are really beautiful.

Pens to Love
Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe - FPQuest
Great review, and another example of someone trying to write about why they like a thing, not just an overview of specs. Those are always going to be my favorite write ups, with the more personal take. I’ve been tempted by this before, but this review seems like the tipping point of deciding the shininess isn’t for me. Glad Ray likes it so much though. It’s always satisfying when you feel like a pen really fits you. My heart still belongs to the long lusted after Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black.

Pilot Custom 74 - The Pen Haul
This is similarly high in my own pen ranking. I think it’s a great pen for the price, and the nib is a dream.

Baron Fig Squire - Well Appointed Desk
Another look at this, and another fan. I’m pretty tempted to grab one of these.

Deal-Breakers - two reviews of pens that looked really appealing until I hit the deal breakers.
Lamy Imporium - Pencil Case Blog
This is a COOL looking pen. And that is really not the list price I was expecting!! Yeeeeesh.

Faber Castell Ambition Blue Ocean OpArt - The Pen Addict
Again, a beautiful looking pen. But then I saw that section, and that really seems like a complete deal breaker for me.

WeekEnd Bake

Two weeks of baking!

Two weekends ago I did a batch of white bread with poolish and then two sesame sourdough loaves. Turned out well, and I’d really been craving the sesame loaf.

The big experiment this weekend was baguette attempt #2. And it was FAR more successful than attempt #1. I used this formula from freshloaf.com. It’s a very forgiving formula and allows me to worry less about dough development and focus my energy on shaping. And the results? I am very pleased! I think the flavor was good. Shattery crust, creamy crumb with great irregular holes. Not as deep as it could be with a preferment or as sourdough, but good and worth making again. And this is the time I got the shaping down. In the finished loaves the two on the left were shaped well but didn’t transfer to the pizza stone smoothly so ended up with odd shapes. But the two on the right! Those are baguettes to be proud of in my opinion. Going to keep at baguettes, a couple more times with this formula, and then I’ll move on to some of the sourdough versions.

Today I am starting up some sourdough loaves. Some folks have expressed interest in buying bread so baking some country loaves to share/sell.

Consumed

A couple weeks ago the designer of one of my favorite games ever, Spelunky, released his book about making it. Spelunky is a procedurally generated platformer (think Mario) that appears very simple at a first glance, but the more you play the more you realize it’s an almost infinitely complex series of interlocking systems. All the enemies are consistent in their behavior, and all of the rules of traversal are the same across levels. It’s about reflex and prediction and building up instincts. There’s a wealth of tidbits in here about how Derek designed certain things and solved some design problems. Recommended, but more than the book, I recommend Spelunky the game.

Empires of Eve was just released as well. It’s an attempt to recount some of the largest battles/wars in the history of the game EVE Online. Think Battlestar Galactica, but the people flying the ships are real people playing an insane and fascinating video game about spaceships, mining and conquest. It’s a shockingly engrossing read so far, very recommended.

WeekEnd Review March 27, 2016

It’s Easter weekend here in the US. The extent of my celebrating has been oohing over the pictures of eggs dyed by my niece and nephews and relaxing a lot. After two weeks of not baking much I’m back at it this weekend. Loaf of white bread with 50% poolish and a couple loaves of sesame sourdough. Today is mixing/fermenting day and I’ll bake the poolish loaf today and sesame sourdough tomorrow. 

Otherwise I’m going to wrap up images for my review going up this week, probably tomorrow, of the Italix Parson’s Essential, and get to work on a couple of other posts for the next couple of weeks. I’ve been keeping up with my reviews most weeks and am going to start adding in an attempt to do another post a week. Last week’s post was a revisit to what I’m using these days, new pictures and some thoughts on what I’ve changed. I think I’ll keep the load outs to every two to three months for now, but may do more what’s inked posts. Mostly, I’d expect a bunch of posts about embarking on fixing up old pens! I’ve pulled out the vintage lever fillers I have and will start some research to get sacs and any tools I may need to fix em up. 

More to come, but for now, on to the links!

WeekEnd Links

My Time with the iPad Pro - And Why I Returned It - KatieFloyd.com
I’m always interested in hearing why things didn’t work for folks and this is a great example of that kind of post. A really thoughtful and thorough recounting of her time with the device. 

Kaweco Mini Fountain Pen Converter - The Pen Addict
A second swing and a miss. As much as I love the idea of a converter for my Sport or Lilliput, part of me thinks they should give up on this idea entirely and just double down on saying these are cartridge pens, full stop.

John Gruber Shows His Work - The Cramped
I have never fully embraced markdown the way the rest of the nerd internet has, but I do use it a bit here and there and it’s been an ubiquitous part of the productivity conversation since the 43folders days. 

First Impressions: Baron Fig Squire - Gentleman Stationer
I am inching closer and closer to preordering this one. I missed the kickstarter, but a new body for that Schmidt refill is always appealing.

Petit Punnet Notebook Review - Pens! Paper! Pencils!
I really love the look of these little notebooks. Going on the to-buy list for sure.

Nakaya Heki-Tamenuri Writer Portable - Gourmet Pens
This color combination kills me. I really want a Nakaya!

Field Notes Sweet Tooth - Well Appointed Desk
I did not re-up my subscription this year and think I made the right choice. I bought one pack of these and they are really fun looking. Great write up from Ana, who was on the most recent episode of The Pen Addict podcast. I listen to every episode, although at times I’ll skip around. But an Ana episode is a listen all the way through episode for me. Wish I could make a trip to Atlanta make sense, but alas. I bet the pen show will be a really good time.

An Index of Ideas - ShawnBlanc.net
Really love this idea of creating an alternate index for books you love. I have been thinking all week about the idea of making an uber index of ideas, linking back to any number of books. Some of these sorts of problems were part of my brief foray into library science, perhaps this is a good reason to 

WeekEnd Bake

A distinct lack of baking! Instead I’ve decided to post some more links. This time to some of my favorite bakers to follow on Instagram. There’s a range here of home bakers to home bakers starting business to full on bakery owners. I’ll have more of my own bread photos next week, but for now here’s some great bakers to follow.

Bird Patrol Bread - https://www.instagram.com/birdpatrolbread/

Ty Bakes https://www.instagram.com/tybakes/

Humboldt Baker - https://www.instagram.com/thehumboldtbakingcompany/

Tartine Baker - https://www.instagram.com/tartinebaker/

Tivoli Road Bakery - https://www.instagram.com/tivoliroadbakery/

Alchemy Bread Co - https://www.instagram.com/alchemybreadco/

Consumed

More New Yorkers, and not much else again this week. Between work and catching up with friends I didn’t spend much time reading. Have some bread reading in mind over the next week so might report in on that.

Loadout Update: End of March Edition

Since it’s getting near the end of the month I figured I’d update what I'm using from the January post. Given that I’m not buying a ton of stuff these days and am trying to focus explicitly on using what I have and giving myself time to really get to know a pen or an ink before moving on to the next shiny thing, it hasn’t been a HUGE shift. But I started off with a few rules (wanting to keep my number of inked pens down below 5, focusing mostly on three as daily users, notebooks should have a purpose, and they should be used until full, finally no new pen purchases until April 1st at the earliest), so let’s see how I’ve done.

Notebooks

This has mostly kept to the plan. Field Notes or similar for daily work/life notes and a separate small notebook for writing snippets, quotes and such, etc. I’ve started keeping my work/life book in my Nock Co. Sinclair, which means the leather cover  and the attendant “quotes” notebook is getting less use. 

Otherwise, still using the Hobinichi, averaging three or so days a week, which I’m fine with compared to my “use it for two weeks and not look at it again until May” strategy of last year. Life Notebook is really really great and has been my companion throughout The Focus Course.

The only real change has been an addition. In my Lilliput review I used the Writing Pad from a local bookstore as a background item. (the Book/Shop pad above) The paper has a ton of tooth, so it’s not great with some nibs, but I really love how beefy the paper is. This has become my go-to for just ‘writing’. Usually when trying a new ink or when I have the urge to write but don’t have any sort of purpose. I’ll write out poems I like, write about some passing frustration or just doodle and scribble all over. It’s a satisfying object and feels great to write on especially with any of my bigger, wetter nibs.

Writing Instruments

I’ve kept myself to a small number, writing some things close to dry and other things getting flushed. And even though my numbers are pretty much the same there’s been movement.

Started with the Edison Herald, the Kaweco Lilliput, Levenger L-Tech Stealth and finally the Parson Italix. 

The Edison was written dry and cleaned out. Replaced it almost immediately with my Parker Vacumatic inked up with Akkerman 7. I love my Vacumatic but it’s not been restored as well as it could have been I think, so it stays at home.

The Lilliput received a BB nib midway through this time span and I had a lot of fun with that crazy huge nib. But for everyday use I wanted the EF nib back. I decided to build off the unexpected love for a pocket pen and see if I’d get along with them better. So I switched the cartridge over to my aluminum Kaweco Sport in the denim blue. I have a clip on it so it’s a great fit for both a pocket or my beloved Sinclair.  Inked with the same Noodler’s Black Swan in English Roses. I’m nearly out of my sample vial, and I like this ink enough that I may end up getting a full bottle.

The Levenger is a really nice looking pen that I just don’t seem to like very much. It’s got a good weight, but the nib could use a bit of love from a nibmeister. And overall I want to like it but after writing through about half the converter it got cleaned up and set in the pile to be sold. I’ve given it four or five attempts to win me over, and when I see it on the to sell pile it still catches my eye, but somehow that doesn’t translate to use. It’s a mix of a bunch of things, the nib issues, the section isn’t the most comfortable, and while I do love a heavy pen, this one feels both heavy and maybe just a tad too traditionally masculine/tactical. 

So the Levenger was replaced with the Namisu Nova when it arrived. I love this pen quite a bit. It’s beautiful to look at, and while I did have SOME issues with the titanium nib, I flushed it and set it aside once my replacement steel EF nib came in. It’s got Noodler’s Black in it because I inked it while at work and that’s the only bottle I keep at work. 

That leaves me with the following load out:
Parker Vacumatic - Akkerman 7
Namisu Nova - Noodler’s Black
Kaweco Sport Aluminum - Noodler’s Black Swan in English Roses

I have been itching to ink up another pen, something a little bigger or heavier, but we’ll see. I’m very pleased with using a smaller number of pens, I feel like I’m getting to know them better and getting to know the inks better as well. 

Still using the Ti2 Techliner and have been using the Bohemia Works Blacksun 1770 HB pencil. I got it from the CW Pencils POTM Club when that existed. It’s a great looking pencil and the graphite is dark but retains a point pretty well.

Carry It All

Still using and loving my Nock Co. Sinclair. It’s the primary home for pens and pocket notebooks. As mentioned above the leather case isn’t getting a lot of love anymore. 

The big change here is that I upgraded my bag. I really liked the briefcase in my last post, but it was showing signs of wear and I had a hard time blaming it. I wasn’t overloading the bag necessarily but I think I did push its limits a bit. One day after work I noticed someone from my building with a really nice looking briefcase style messenger bag. It took me a couple of weeks of following him and frantic googling but I determined it was a Herschel Supply Co. bag and probably the Clark. Happy I had solved the mystery I tried to buy one and discovered it was out of stock, and appeared to be discontinued. So off to eBay I went. I’ll spare you the long saga and just say I ended up with a “like-new” one in Navy and this is hands down the best bag I’ve ever owned. 

It’s a briefcase style bag, with a shoulder strap that has a nice comfortable pad. The leather enclosure has a very satisfying magnet to keep the two short handles together. A huge pocket on the outside that closes, and an open slim pocket on the back. Inside a very cushioned laptop sleeve and an array of pockets with mesh and zippers. It fits everything I want for most days at work or on the weekend and feels sturdy and comfortable. I love this bag and am already stressed out about what I’ll do whenever it falls apart.

Purchases

I figured I’d touch on this too, more for posterity. While I received a new pen in the last few months, it was purchased last year via the Namisu Nova kickstarter. Otherwise I’ve not bought any pens save for a pilot penmanship that was a gift to a friend (for the EF Pilot nib). I’ve gone in on two ink massdrops though, getting three bottles of Rohrer and Klingner as well as a couple of Super5 inks. Inks have been the smaller part of stationery purchases and the R&K stuff especially are long overdue since I know I love their inks and have been hoarding a couple of ink samples. Otherwise I’ve only bought the new Field Notes Colors Edition. Sweet Tooth looked fun and I had wanted to get the new Tournament of Books FN because I like the little Rooster guy.

I’m pleased with my reduction in stationery purchases and it’s been great to focus on what I have. That said, I am kind of idly gearing up for some pen purchases post April 1st. I know I am going to get myself my reward pen from Edison, and then will probably focus my energy on saving up some money for the SF Pen Show in August. I am hoping to have this year be mostly a trial sort of pen show. Get some nib work done finally and then try to write with a few Nakaya’s and figure out which of the larger Pelikans I think would fit my hand the best. I’ll take a look at some vintage stuff again I’m sure (another Vacumatic is calling to me, ideally a shadow wave one) and will probably be unable to resist a Franklin Christoph Model 20 finally.

WeekEnd Review March 20, 2016

Two weeks worth of links again. Between travel and work the last couple of weeks flew by. The picture below (while giving a glimpse of my recent Field Notes) shows the primary reason for missing a week. I’m working on a curriculum for bread classes, trying to gather material from all the places I’ve learned from and add my own twist. It’s been fun, and at times a little hard, but it’s definitely where the majority of my writing energy has gone for a bit now. I am really loving Ulysses for my writing. It makes it really easy to sketch out the overall structure and I love being able to use Markdown and then exporting with a favorite style and voila a pdf ready to hand out.

But there’s a ton of links below, an actual ton! 

WeekEnd Links

Factorio Review - Rock Paper Shotgun
When I haven’t been working or going through a spring purge of belongings, or traveling I have been playing this completely insane video game. It consumes me.

Curnow Bookbinding Backpocket Journal - Pen Addict
Love these little guys! I’m happy Curnow is local, so I can always pick up more at the SF Pen Show. Really recommend all their stuff. The a5-ish size tomoe river paper notebooks are a favorite.

Smoothing a Nib - The Pen Haul
An older post, but it helped compile a lot of things I’ve read here and there in one post. I spent a nice bit of time one day over the last fee weeks catching up on The Pen Haul. It’s a great site if you haven’t visited yet.

Tombow Monos - The Finer Point
Love the photos in this one. They really are beautiful things, too bad about those barcodes!

Coffee: A Natural Processing Experiment Part 2 - petedenison.net
I am continually impressed by Pete’s dedication to these experiments. I love coffee and have roasted my own a few times but quickly decided this was a hobby I’d leave to the professionals. That said, I do own like 6 brewing methods (just ordered a new pour-over method actually, the Manual Coffeemaker, because there was a flash sale and I got it for 30% off). After a solid month and a half of not drinking coffee I’ve enjoyed coming back to it and being slightly more precise about it all, taking notes on grinds/temps/times and generally dialing in my home coffee set up.

Long Island Pen Show - FPQuest.com
Ray’s Long Island Pen Show wrap up post, the parts bag looks like a lot of fun and a reminder that I have four or five lever filler pens in various stages of disrepair all received from friends/parents of friends. Maybe I’ll pull those out over the next few weeks and take a stab at some repair.

Five Minutes - Shawn Blanc
Another good post about the importance of getting started.

Parker Sonnet - Pen Addict
Like Brad, and I’m sure the majority of us in the pen world, aside from vintage ones, Parker fountain pens haven’t been high on my list. This review is glowing, and while I’m not sure I love the red and black finish personally, some of the black/white ones I’ve seen are very tempting.

Springtime in Deep River - Gorgeous.ink
This is really cool! I always like the little non-stationery glimpses into pen bloggers’ lives.

Namisu Nova - Nibcreep
I really continue to love this pen. It’s unfortunately now making me want all of the other pens that have similar style lines (e.g. Edison Pearl and Nakayas). I will echo that the titanium nib has been a bit hit or miss with me. I switched to the steel for everyday use.

Overcast 2.5 - Macstories.net
My favorite podcasting app, Overcast, just released a new version and it’s great. I unexpectedly adore the dark theme.

Pen Addict Story - The Pen Haul
Really great story that I’m sure mirrors a bunch of our experiences. My second go-round of fountain pen obsession was really bolstered by the Goulet folks’ videos as well. I learned a lot and still revisit them to remind myself of basics/terminology/etc.

Correspondence Inspiration - Reverenced Writing
Correspondence has always been a weakness of mine. I am at the point of journaling regularly, using my pens near daily to write about what happened, plan out bread baking, etc. etc. I keep a notebook on my nearly always and have found that to be invaluable. I’ve always wanted to be a good correspondent but always end up finding excuses. Part of it is what Fr. Kyle references early on, the fear of not knowing what to talk about, but I think I’m ready to just write through it, and love the idea of reading historical letters as inspiration.

Making Shiny Balls of Mud - Kottke.org
I am pretty sure I learned about this from Kottke for the first time a few years ago. I really love the look of these objects, they remind me of Nakaya’s.

WeekEnd Bake

Really only a couple of loaves this past week. Parmesan black pepper sourdough again which has quickly become my favorite bread, and this weekend I’ll probably throw something together to eat in the early part of the week, but most of my bread energy and attention has been focused on class prep.

Consumed

Started The Metaphysical Club, a great book (so far I guess) on the history of American thought between the Civil War and World War 1, focused on the lines of thinking leading to Dewey and pragmatism in America. Was recommended years and years ago but just finally starting it.

Other than that I’ve been on a New Yorker binge, trying to get caught up since the new year. I think my unlikely favorite article has been this one, on a cheating scandal happening in competitive bridge. 

WeekEnd Review March 6, 2016

I’m writing this from my family’s place in Austin, TX. It was a rush of a week at work trying to wrap things up for handoff while I’m away for a week. In the midst of all of this I had a fun night drinking a bunch of fancy ciders at a local bottle shop, Alchemy. They sell a lot of stuff online and in person are a really great resource. I learned a bunch and drank a lot of things I didn’t even know existed. Other than that excitement it was a quiet week. No baking at all since I was either busy or knew I’d be out of town, and not much time for reading. But there were a LOT of links this week that I loved, so a link heavy edition for sure.

On to the links!

WeekEnd Links

10 Resources to help you improve the digital/analog balance - The Gentleman Stationer
This is a great post with great resources, it’s also another in a long line of posts and conversations about how to use your fountain pens. I always feel like I want to write a post for those of us who don’t have an easy way to use fountain pens all the time normally that essential boils down to, that’s okay too! I try to fit them in where I can, but I’ve also gotten comfortable with the idea that this is just leisure for me. I write nonsense, journal, draft stuff for work sometimes, but I’ll never be a person who can take advantage of huge capacity pens. I even regularly half-fill pens! I think we’d all like to write more though, and this has a bunch of great ideas in it. 

Montblanc M Fountain Pen Review - Pencil Case Blog 
I’ve got to be honest. I’ve never thought this pen was particularly attractive. The fact that it’s apparently not a great writing experience means it's even further off the list. Even so, it’s always interesting to read takes on pens that take the world by storm.

Arkansas Pen Show Recap - Reverenced Writing
Epic and totally great write up of a small pen show. All these write ups are making me antsy for August!

Happy Ebonite - My Life as a Verb
Beautiful!

Journal Bookbinding Impressions - These Beautiful Pens
I started very very briefly to get into bookbinding so this post was fascinating. Really gorgeous looking books.

Well Appointed Desk Link Explosion!
Watercolor Set Review
I’ve been sorting through a bunch of things and found all my old watercolors. I think I might take a stab at some sketching and painting again in the coming months. This looks like a really interesting set.

Pelikan Stola III
Interesting new entry level pen from Pelican. I don’t love the styling, but it seems like a worthy addition to lower end pens.

Diamine Teal
A THIRD Ana post! I want this ink immediately.

How I Use My Notebooks Second Edition - The Finer Point
Beautiful and exhaustive run down of a notebook setup. Mine is less complicated, but I really love the attention to detail and just in general enjoy knowing what folks are using/how they’re using them.

WeekEnd Bake

Nothing! I baked a loaf with einkorn wheat last weekend, an experiment with a new flour. It turned out well but I was underwhelmed by its effect in the bread. Used it for tartines a bunch but this week was definitely all about prepping for getting outof town.

Consumed

I mentioned this last week, but I finished The Pulp Vs The Throne by Carrie Lorig and you should buy it if you at all enjoy poetry. Phenomenal. Otherwise, not much to report. I did watch part of the Oscars, and wish I had not spent my time doing that!

WeekEnd Review February 22, 2016

Weekend before last was President’s Day weekend here in the US, and a nice little reprieve from normal life. It got warm here, which I hesitate to call hot given my time spent in Florida and Texas, even so it was bad timing for baking. I had planned on the third attempt at the Tartine croissant recipe, but laminating dough and butter in an 80 degree non-air conditioned house is a recipe for… well… not disaster, but annoyance for sure. More on that later though.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the pen world! LA Pen Show, FPN drama, the Omas news. And in my little life it’s been a little, if not busy exactly, full of distractions. I made some pretty big life decisions, reversed some plans, made some new ones, etc. It’s all for the good, but meant my mind wasn’t on the blog for a lot of those days. I missed last weekend and as you can tell (it’s barely Monday after all), basically missed this one, but I’m back!

One thing relevant to this blog’s normal subjects, I have finally purchased a new desk! I’ve always held off on taking pictures of where I keep pens and where I write because my desk was such a disaster. It was around 45 bucks from Bed Bath & Beyond probably 5 years ago? It had become rickety and had no storage. Thanks to some good news at work I realized I could spend a little to upgrade. I’m a little in love with the new set up. Still organizing and figuring out just where things should all go, but it’s great to have actual shelves to display some ink and my two Dudek(/Kara’s Kustoms) pen holders. See below for a peek at the new setup in progress.

On to the links!

WeekEnd Links

The Clicky Post Posts
Collecting the Impossible
Kum Masterpiece
Both of these are great posts. I’m on a spending freeze for new pens until at least April, so no grail pens, definitely no grail sets. I have a nice list of pens I want but am focused on enjoying what I have and finalizing a list of things to sell off. I want that Kum Masterpiece though!

Guide to Handheld Pencil Sharpeners - Pen! Paper! Pencil!
Nice guide, and a bunch I’d never heard of before.

LA Pen Show Day 1 - The Pen Habit
I am not that far from LA, but just couldn’t make the timing work so I had to miss this show. Matt did a great job recapping, this is the first of four posts on his blog, recommend them all to get a taste of the pen show experience. I’m already looking forward to the SF show(tk) in August.

Pen Economics on Pen World Drama
FPN Hullabaloo
Vale Omas
Less pleasant, but worth a read. I have no real stake in the FPN controversy. I tend to agree it’s a bad look to remove posts at the request of a manufacturer when by all accounts the posts were just discussions of new products. I’ve never spent much time at FPN and with this information, regardless of if Dr. Dean is 100% right, don’t see that changing. The Omas news is sad, and I hope they figure out a future. I haven’t had the scratch for any of their recent L.E. pens but still love those cocktail ones and looking for a used one is on my someday-buy list.

Nakaya Decapad Mini Kuro-Tamenuri - Alt Haven
In SF this year I am really hoping to try out a Nakaya. I’ve had them on my list since seeing them the first time, but I really want to feel one in hand. This is a great write up of an absolutely gorgeous pen. Very few pens appeal to me as much as the Nakayas.

Cleaning Pens: Meditative or Just Annoying - Gentleman Stationer
This is pretty in line with my feelings too. I like that a few folks are starting to come out as converter fans! I’ve always loved the convenience of that filling mechanism, and honestly I wouldn’t even benefit from some of the larger capacities. I write throughout the day and do a little journaling in mornings/evenings, but for the most part a standard converter lasts me a good long while.

If My Toddler Ran the Library - Put It Where It Goes
One of my favorite people in the world updated her blog! Everyone go visit her and enjoy her hilarity.

Clairefontaine Triomphe - The Pen Addict
A great reminder that I have one of these and really should get it out to write some letters. InCoWriMo totally passed me by. I didn’t start on the 1st and then let life get in the way. I’ll say it here on the blog, next week I hope to start the WeekEnd Review reporting on two letters written and sent! And on this lovely paper

WeekEnd Bake

A few weeks of baking to report on. The biggest successes were my two parmesan/black pepper loaves. I made one as sourdough, with my trusty new rye starter, and one with standard yeast and a bit of fresh basil. People at work went crazy for these breads. I have a certified hit on my hands. It’s two huge flavors clashing, and while I do think I can do some tweaking (slightly less black pepper mostly), I’m very pleased.

Last weekend like I mentioned above, was croissant attempt number 3. The schedule for these puppies is a little crazy, feel free to read through it here. My apartment acts almost like an oven itself, so if it’s 75 degrees outside it’s usually about 80 inside. Butter and 80 degree ambient temperatures are not really friends. So not flaky as they should be, but still delicious. It’s hard to go wrong with 400 grams of butter.

I’ve also been making more pizzas again. For awhile my housemate and I called our place House of 1000 Pizzas because between the two of us it was normal for there to be 4 to 6 pizzas made in a given week. Things got busy, we both moved on to other food obsessions, etc. But the last couple of weeks I’ve been making a lot again. A few are below. I linked it before, but for a starting pizza crust, the recipe in this NYT piece is easy to work with and totally workable. For a more advanced option, the Reinhart recipe is perfection.

Finally this weekend was a simple weekend, a batch of two sourdough loaves. I was a bit hasty in using my new starter originally. And while it has performed well I wanted to take this past week and be very rigorous in my feeding schedule. Baked the two guys in the last picture of the slideshow below this morning and it would be an understatement to say that I am very pleased with how they turned out. Visually, these are two of the best loaves I’ve produced, and that follows through with taste. The best crust I’ve achieved for sure, and a good tang when fresh, developing into a solid sourness over the next few days.

Consumed

Wrapped up M Train, the most recent book by Patti Smith. As I said on GoodReads, I’m not sure why I liked this book so much. Nostalgia? Affection? Who knows. But it was nice to dip in and out of over the course of the last few months, little glimpses into her world.

I started something large, this collection of John Ashbery’s writings on art. I love his poetry so much, and this has been sitting on my shelf for years. It felt like the right time to dive in. I may not go straight through, although the first few I’ve read made me think I might just binge on it all.

Finally, a video game! Firewatch is a game made by a small company of very talented people. You play as Henry, a man looking for a summer of solitude for some very big, personal reasons. The gameplay is simple, easy to pick up if you’re not really into games, and the real draw here is the beautiful art and the really well done story. There’s been a push towards more sophisticated writing in games of late, and I think Firewatch is one of the best examples of this. The interactivity does something here, and while you could tell similar stories via fiction, THIS story is definitely one best told via a game. It runs on Mac and PC and is out on the PS4. It’s only 20 bucks and is well worth your time.

WeekEnd Review February 7, 2016

My sickness last week lasted into this week, so home from work a few days and then a couple of lighter days in the office. Just a head cold, but it hit me really hard. I had planned to bake during the week but decided to prioritize early to bed and lots of tea. I also didn’t even remember until the 4th that I had planned for InCoWriMo because my schedule was all off. I’m planning to start up on Monday sending off letters and cards to folks. I had already planned to do a slightly lessened schedule, something like 3 or 4 things a week instead of 1 a day, so it’s not the end of the world, but I was bummed when I realized the cold had thrown me off that much.

A lot of links again this week! Not much baking, and not much consuming. But most exciting, new content here on the blog! I reviewed the Kaweco Lilliput Brass Wave and enthused all over that thing. I really love that little pen and tried to explain why. It was a fun thing to write, and took me awhile because I was at first trying to review it in a more straightforward way. Here's the pen, here are the specs, is it worth it y/n. I realized last week that what I actually wanted to write was a piece on why I love that pen even though I don’t tend to get along with pocket pens at all. I’m happy with what I came up with, and I think the process of writing through why I in particular liked the pen is a nice model for how I want to keep writing about stationery. Not reviews as shopping guides, mostly because I think so many other people do that so well already and I don’t think I’d be great at it, but reviews more as explanations for why a specific thing works or doesn’t work for me. Maybe it’s a subtle distinction without much difference? But it feels good to me as a way to think about the blog, and it’s very much in line with how I used to write about music (did you know I used to write about music? I used to, it (mostly) all lives here). Anyway, enough navel-gazing! Onto the links!

WeekEnd Links

Watches - Marco.org
I love love love this post. Of late I’ve started to really appreciate how strongly held his opinions are. You may disagree with him, but he’s a good writer, and a great photographer, and sometimes it’s just nice to read someone with a strong point of view. His dismissal of analog watches early on in the Apple Watch conversations online seemed perfectly made to follow up with a post like this, and sure enough he’s been lured over to the mechanical watch side. I have a 40 dollar Seiko 5 Military Watch that I adore. I got it last year and it was the first watch I’d tried wearing in years and years, now I feel naked without it on my wrist if I’m leaving the house.

A Tomoe River Paper Rival: Life Writing Paper - From the Pen Cup
Definitely ordering one of these in the not too distant future.

25 Resources to Jumpstart Your Pen Adiction - Gentleman Stationer
What a FANTASTIC post! I think he’s filled a nice niche. It’s a great overview of other posts, resources for information and education, and a perfect link to send to anyone who expresses an interest in our weird hobby. Really well done, definitely check this out.

Pen Review: Classic Pens LB5 - The Pen Habit
This pen is beautiful! Way out of a price range i’d feel comfortable spending this year, but that green especially is so striking, so beautiful.

Lamy Studio 14k Nib Review - Ed Jelley
I like this pen a lot more than Ed, but I got a good deal on mine, and didn’t have too much trouble with the grip section. I think the nib is fantastic, way better than I expected, and I love that I can swap it out to a Safari if I want to. What I liked most about this review was how well he handled a pen that he felt was fine, but just not worth it in the end. I think it’s hard to do a negative review that still leaves room for the reader to figure out if a pen would work for THEM, and Ed did that here.

What Pencil Dreams Are Made Of - CW Pencils
CW Pencils with a really cool post on their visit to Caran d’Ache.

Airmail for iPhone Review - Macstories
Federico Viticci goes deep on what is now my iOS email app. When Mailbox went away I was annoyed, and bounced between a few different apps (Spark and Outlook were the two primary contenders). I liked the look of Outlook a lot, but missed some of the swipe functionality and liked the functionality of Spark but kind of hated the user interface. Airmail is great on my Mac, and even better on my phone. Happy to have this issue solved again.

WeekEnd Bake

Like I said above, not a lot this week or even weekend. The loaves I posted last week turned out really well. Great open crumb, a nice tang but not overwhelmingly sour. I ate through one of the loaves in a few days and sliced the second one up to freeze. Sourdough freezes really well! I wrap two slices in aluminum foil and then it takes about ten minutes in a 400 degree oven to have two fresh feeling slices of bread.

This is the batch I’m making this weekend, a new formula to try. Sourdough with parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper. I had the idea on Friday and looked around for some formulas to try and then built up Slime Season from the fridge. Will report back next week, and hopefully have a bit more bread to talk about. Baking has been lower on the list of priorities the last few weeks and I’m itching to get more bread out.

Consumed

Another lighter week for consuming media. Started a very odd collection of Felix Guattari’s writings on Japan called Machinic Eros. It’s great and I’ll probably finish it later today. I think the plan for this next week is to do an audit of books that are in progress around my place and then turn my attention to finishing some of those up.

Otherwise, you should all watch the new Beyonce video because it is fantastic.

An Unlikely Love, the Kaweco Liliput Brass Wave

My housemate likes to give me a hard time over how much I love small versions of things. I've purchased produce I don't think I'll like just because of it's size, pins and miniature models of stuff just because it's small. Hell, I have a small collection of sake cups, and I have had sake maybe five times IN MY LIFE.  It makes sense that I’d like pocket pens, then, right? They're fountain pens, but small!

Except after buying four or five pocket-sized fountain pens I finally admitted that even if the pocket pens were smaller and more portable, I just didn’t enjoy using them. I’ve reviewed a pocket pen before, and even gave it a glowing review. I admittedly rushed into the review, but I just loved how it wrote, and the form and was so excited to talk about it. Now it’s been over a year and after my initial love I realized I just didn’t want to write with the Passaporto. I always missed the feel of a full pen, and almost all pocket pens are uncomfortable if you don’t post them. Given that my normal habit isn’t to post pens, I routinely would forget and try to start writing unposted, leading to cramping. Which isn’t really the fault of pocket pens! It's just a mismatch of how I use my pens and how pocket pens demand to be used.

All of that goes to why I've held off on this pen for over a year. I saw it here and there, and Brad's review (and Mikes review and other Mike's review) almost tipped me over to ordering it, but I kept waiting, and waffling, and convincing myself that it makes no sense to drop ~90 dollars on a pen I probably wouldn't like. Yet my desire just wouldn't go away. Something about the brass, and the wave pattern’s vintage feel kept it on my radar. So when it popped up on Massdrop, I went ahead and bit the bullet. I got a good, not great, deal on this pen, which is pretty normal for Massdrop. A month or two later my package arrived, a Kaweco Liliput Brass Wave with a steel EF nib.

Hoo boy have I been taken with this thing. I’ve had it for over a month now and from the moment it arrived until today as I wrap up this draft this pen has been inked and on my desk or on my person. I flat out love this pen.

It’s definitely small, even smaller than i had anticipated, honestly. Under 4” capped, and only a whopping 5” when posted. But it’s got *heft*. The brass means that even if it’s short, it weighs almost 25 grams when inked. That weight makes it feel solid in my hand, nixing the complaint above about missing a fuller pen. For comparison, the weight of a Lamy Safari unlinked is usually listed around 17 grams on most websites. And when posted, the length starts to feel more normal as well. I’ve definitely written with it not posted, but not for longer than a sentence or two, and it’s hard to recommend that as a normal practice.

Even my habit of not posting seems to not be a problem with the Lilliput, I think because it’s so small my normal habit of setting the cap aside is short-circuited. And posting this thing feels great. For a person who doesn’t post his pens, I’ve come to really enjoy the feeling of screwing the top onto the back. The threads feel solid, and I don’t mind the two turns it takes in part because of smoothly it all fits together. And on top of all of that, the balance feels perfect to my hand. Front-heavy in a way that feels right and again, makes it feel like a much more substantial pen.

I got it with an EF steel nib, which is solid as you’d expect from Kaweco. I’m thinking of getting a cheap Sport with a broader nib to have some more options, but for now the EF is a nice fit. I do tend to like really thin lines, and Kaweco isn’t known for that, but as a general purpose writer it’s working really well.

For the first few weeks I carried this with me in my Nock Co Sinclair tk, so it was with me at work, out for drinks with friends, out writing, and at home. I ran into one spate of weirdness while carrying it around, where the nib creep teetered over the edge into leakage, but it happened only once in three weeks of carrying it around. I carry my Sinclair with me everywhere at work (Coworker: Do you have a little bag for your notebook and pens, BW? Me: Why yes, yes I do, and it is cool.) and it gets swung around quite a bit so I’m chalking up that one experience to a new pen perhaps, or some violent encounter/drop I’ve forgotten. Otherwise it’s performed very well as a portable pen. Even so, the last few weeks it’s lived on my desk. I’ve missed it at work, but the combination of it and Noodler’s Black Swan in English Roses has become a favorite for my twice daily Hobinichi habit (or my attempted twice daily Hobinichi habit). I also noticed I’d written through a lot of the cartridge and didn’t want to run out while at work, so it will stay at home until I’ve refilled and then go back to the office with me.

All of that praise said, I do have one complaint, which was not a surprise but is still the only downside in my eyes. There’s not a converter option for this thing. I have a few Kaweco cartridges and it came with a blue one that lived in it for about a week. I didn’t love the blue though, and as soon as I knew I was smitten I flushed the pen, cleaned out the cartridge and refilled with the Noodler’s. It’s a compromise I’m willing to accept, and it gives me an excuse to order more Kaweco cartridges to try more of their inks. But I do wish that wasn’t the only option. Even as I type that there’s a voice in my head pointing all the obvious reasons why it’s a silly complaint given the size of the thing. But hey, we all have our things to complain about.


I’ve been shocked by how much I like using this little guy, and it’s easily rocketed up my list of favorite writing tools. I don’t know if there’s a lesson there about following my guts, really, but I’m glad I finally hit purchase on one of these.

(P.S. the Writing Pad seen throughout is from one of the best little bookstores in all of the Bay Area, Book/Shop in Temescal Alley here in Oakland. Small, perfectly curated, with a killer selection of home goods and sundry book-related items, including their Writing Pad and my Read Instead keytag seen below.)

WeekEnd Review January 31st, 2016

Not much in the way of opening remarks this week. I was hit hard by a cold end of the week and am posting this from bed. So less baking than I’d planned, less of everything aside from tea and hot toddies. But plenty of links, and a consuming mention below.

WeekEnd Links

TWSBI Eco Fountain Pen Review - The Pen Addict
This is a fantastic pen, especially for the price. As much as I love it, I’m also in the camp that it’s not the most attractive pen in the world. I think it makes up for that with price/features. That said, I’ve shown it to a few folks in my life who have reacted really positively from the get go about its looks. Brad, as always, does a nice job of summing this one up.

Pencils and Postcards - From the Pen Cup
I had completely forgotten about my high school and college obsession with old postcards, so this was a fun post to read this week. I loved old postcards for all the reasons mentioned in this post. They’re often beautiful, and have these tiny glimpses into another person’s life. In Austin, TX I used to love wandering around Uncommon Objects, picking up handfuls of old family photos and postcards. I’d stick them in letters, use them with mixtapes, etc. Maybe when I’m back in Austin in March I’ll go scrounge for some postcards!

Google AI Beats Human Go Player - Wired
This is fascinating to me! By day I manage a team of folks who help build systems that in part rely on machine learning. In that world, this is pretty big news. Go has been an unsolved challenge, and as is mentioned in the two links above, most conservative estimates were that a machine learning approach beating a human was maybe a decade away. Up above is the more approachable article from Wired, here is the article from the Google lab directly.

Women in Tech
Again, I work in technology, and while I’m relatively lucky in a bunch of ways to work where I do, the industry as a whole has a host of really deep seated problems. Diversity being a major one. I think the shift mentioned in the article, away from what women can do, and towards what the men who dominate can do to fix the culture is long, long overdue.

Why the Lamy 2000 is my EDC - Nib and Ink
I really liked this post for the simple reason that it’s a unique take on the review. I love reviews like this, with a view into not just whether a pen is “good” or “bad”, but why a person uses the pen in question, what hole it fills for them, and why its features/characteristics help fill that hole.

fountainpen.link
Last but not least, if you are reading this for pen content, and don’t know about this tumblr put together by Ray of Fountain Pen Quest. It’s a great resource as he casts a really wide net for pen blogs. (I also snuck in his post on the FC Model 20, which is rising on my list of wants with every new post/picture I see of it.)

WeekEnd Bake

Still getting to know Slime Season, the new all dark rye starter. This is the third bake with it, and visually they are some of the better loaves I’ve made, especially the one with the simple slash. Will let them rest just a little more and then have a late breakfast before going back to bed.

Consumed

A lighter week this week, after my marathoning. I caught up on some articles saved to Instapaper in my downtime, and spent an evening coordinating with family to plan a trip to Austin, TX.

I started a couple things, and finished a short book of poetry that I was very enamored with, The Self Unstable by Elissa Gabbert. Each page a small stanza of what could be prose. They feel like little poem riffs on a suite of ideas all centered on the self, and identity. I’m planning to go back to it in a few weeks for a second run.


And with that, I'm off to fall asleep for many hours!

WeekEnd Review January 24th, 2016

Missed last week, obviously, so here’s a doubled up WeekEnd Review. 2016 so far hasn’t been what I expected! Lots of things have worked together to make the first few weeks pretty tiring.

That said, I’ve been baking a little less, but with more focus, and writing a lot more, with sometimes less focus. Both of which are good. I’ve come to really love my morning/evening ritual with the Hobinichi. A couple of times a day I check in, write with my pens, reflect on the day and do some light tracking for things like what I’m eating, what I’m drinking, etc. Already in January I’ve written with my pens more than I did the last few months of 2015. It feels good!

I’m still really in love with my Kaweco Lilliput Brass Wave paired with Noodler’s Black Swan in English Roses. Easily my favorite combo right now, which still surprises me!

But on to the rest of the post! More links than normal, a longish bake report, and some thoughts on recent novels.

One programming note, as I figure out how this weekend post is going to shape up, one thing I’ve decided is to start including some older links in these. I frequently revisit old posts, or get curious about an ink and find older reviews (Pennaquod is a huge help here). So much of what goes on online is about the NOW, and the NEXT post that it seems fun to prompt people to revisit older content they may have missed or forgot. That starts next week!

WeekEnd Links

Ten Questions for Work That Matters - Seth Godin
I’m spending a lot of time these days thinking through where my career is going, where personal projects are going, and how to best spend my time. These questions echo a lot of things rattling around in my brain in a concise way.

Top 5 Pens Winter 2016 - The Pen Addict
I love top lists from folks! Brad is king of our world for good reason and it’s always fun to see how his tastes/usage has changed. I used to have a lists page but took it down because it was woefully out of date. Getting that back up on the site is on the todo list for the blog.

Adele Rapping Nicki Minaj's Verses from Monster is Everything - Kottke.org
This video is delightful. Adele is great, but watching/hearing her rap along to Monster was pretty amazing. Not pens or bread, but incredibly charming.

Fountain Pen Contentment - FPQuest
There’s been a few posts along these lines of late, and this is one that resonates a lot. I think a lot about how much of this hobby can be focused fully on acquisition and consumption. This post definitely echoes my thinking for 2016. I do still want things, and have a wishlist for sure, but as I’ve gotten back into using pens regularly I’m realizing a) there's two tiers to my collection, at least, and b) a good number of my pens fit in the highest one. I’ve set aside a batch of pens that I’m planning to sell in the near future in large part because I think I'd really like to make sure whatever stays long term are pens I really love. If I just like them, why not send them off to a home where they can be loved?

Pilot Decimo Capless Fountain Pen - Pete Denison
When Pete writes a review he does not play around. This is a great read the whole way and wonderfully thorough.

Reconsidering Moleskine - The Well Appointed Desk
Loved this post checking in on a brand we stationery snobs tend to write off carte blanche. It does sound like they have made some upgrades to some of their paper, and I could easily see trying some of the newer form factors/materials from Moleskine.

InCoWriMo 2016 - Goulet Pens Blog
InCoWriMo is coming! The idea is to write a letter or postcard every day for the month of February. I put together a little form for friends to help me update my address book I’m going to lower my goal a bit I think since going from nearly zero letters to 29 in 29 days seems overly ambitious. But I’m already looking forward to playing around with inks and trying out some of the 100+ ink samples I have laying around. Obviously a lot of this post is focused on things you can buy from Goulet Pens, and they're a retailer I like a lot, but mostly I'm sharing because I love the shared doc with a wide range of famous people to include in your InCoWriMo list.

WeekEnd Bake

Last weekend was a pretty busy bake week, what with the long weekend here in the US.

Continued on the ciabatta-off with two variations of the poolish ciabatta, with and without olive oil. Housemate and her partner agreed that the olive oil tasted nearly identical but had a better crust and crumb. I also baked with the new starter again. A loaf of sourdough with pancetta, parsley and shaved cheeses (asiago, romano, parmesan), and a plain loaf of sourdough.

Pancetta loaf was good, a promising start. But I’m wondering if I need the pancetta really. Thinking of trying again with some cheese and parsley only. The plain sourdough was an interesting thing. Something happened to make it… off. Tasted like I didn’t salt, even though I know I did, and the crumb wasn’t bad but it did seem overly moist. Could be a matter of needing more rise time, could be that I mis-measured the water? Took a break from the starter for a bit since he’s expensive to maintain now that he’s all dark rye flour, will get him going again this week and bake more on the weekend.

This weekend was a single loaf just to have some bread around, the everyday loaf but with a longer fermentation time. Mostly though about getting back in the pizza making game. First pizza in a few months shown below. Spinach, hot italian sausage, fresh mozzarella. Very, very good.

Consumed

I’ve been reading a lot! (Thanks library hold requests all coming in during the same week.) Will mention a couple things I read, and share this link to GoodReads if you want to see other stuff I’ve read of late.

10:04 - Ben Lerner
I’ve known of Lerner for awhile, but mostly as a poet. I was resistant to reading his novels for no good reason, and I’m glad I’ve given that up. His first novel was rambling on purpose, but it felt a little torn between traditional narrative and something more fractured, and to me, more interesting. 10:04 immediately felt more confident. It’s hard book to know how to talk about in part because it does a lot. There’s formal experiments, no clear line between reality and fiction, some attempts at meta-commentary, and a more well realized protagonist/Lerner stand in. There’s grand ideas about poetry and literature and writing, alongside trivial, even frustration digressions in the poet’s voice. But it all works beautifully into abarely organized mess that I was tempted to start on again immediately. My favorite section recounts his time in Marfa, TX, which at times reminded me of my trip there in 2014.

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi is also very very good, and highly recommended.


And that's a wrap! See you all next week, and am hoping to get enough daylight time post work to take the lilliput review pictures, text is mostly done. Also here's a bonus picture of my cat.