Sunday, January 22, 2012

Community Jam

Time for our monthly jam. Our hobby music club, the Kansas Prairie Pickers Association, hosts a monthly jam at the Auburn County Community Center. I don't make it to all of them, but today I made it. It's a nice community gathering of players and listeners.

Auburn is a small town. It seems the small towns understand do-it-yourself music as a community event. Don't need a TV or video games. It's face-to-face networking. Most of our club members are from the smaller towns around Topeka. "T Town" doesn't get it. The small towns make their buildings available for our type of activities, the small cultural non-profits the build community. It's a nice atmosphere.

Monday, January 16, 2012


I guess I needed to start the new year with a piece of equipment failing. At least I get sketching time out of the expense. This time it's our blender. We're not sure how old it is, but it's a nice one. WAS a nice one. I was making a batch of hummus when it spewed some electrical burn/melt smells and slowed down until it stopped. Puff of smoke and all! Luckily no fire.

New appliances don't tend to impress me. Too many stories of people buying kitchen appliances and never using them. Out cupboards were full so we weren't going to get a food processor until the blender died. We had to wait a couple decades, but now is our chance. In a few days we had our food processor.

As soon as we got home I had to make something. We viewed the DVD and the breads looked good. They always look good to me. So I chose one that looked like cinnamon rolls (labelled Breakfast Bread?) and went to town. The mixing goes SO fast in these things. Results came out great. This thing is going to work fine.

As for this sketch, it's using my Noodler's Ahab flex nib pen again, with Lexington Gray ink. I still like it but I'm learning some things. This ink takes much longer to dry than my art marker pens. That would go for any fountain pen that lays down as much ink as this does on wide lines. I need to keep my fingers away or ink smudges everywhere! Also, once in a while a mysterious ink drop comes from nowhere. It just shows up. I can't tell if its from the nib or the feeder under it or from the pen body. Time will tell. I still love the ink feed rate and the ease of changing pen width. It's still a keeper.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Manhattan Meeting

Had a meeting in Manhattan last night. That's Kansas, the "Little Apple". Our State 4-H Venture crew is planning our summer backpack trip with the teens. I've been a volunteer for a few years. This time we met at a coffee house in the little business/beer district near campus we call Aggieville. I decided to get there a little earlier so I could sketch the storefront. It was getting dark but with street lights it would still be sketchable.

I set up my little three-legged stool in a nook along the sidewalk across the street and was sketching away, in my own world, when I heard "Hello, John!" in an unfamiliar voice. Nobody knows me here and I'm invisible! I kept sketching but the voice got closer. It was a cousin of my brother-in-law that we camp with a couple times a year. He hails from the Topeka area like me, 60 miles to the east. K-State basketball is playing tonight so he must be here for the game. We exchange pleasantries and he leaves with a couple others I didn't know. Then I had a vision of a future conversation. He'll go back home and strike a conversation with my brother-in-law - "Say, I saw John huddled in a dark corner in Aggieville secretly doing something by himself, oblivious to the world. Is he OK?"

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Pen

This journal entry is just one more combination of pen, ink, journal and coffee house. I'm at Juli's Coffehouse, taking a couple lunch breaks to test a new PEN! Gee, I love to do this. I thought I was happy with my current art supplies. But no, a friend (that's you, Cheryl) mentioned the Noodler's Flex Nib pen (at only $20, She knew I use a Namiki (msrp $180). Now I'm not proud of what I paid for the Namiki. I'm not a fountain pen snob. I'm a pen and ink addict with no 10-step program to save me. Anyway, Cheryl wanted to know how these two pens would compare and if I would conclude that the Namiki is worth the money.

Short answer - the Namiki is worth the money from the standpoint of quality material and construction and it's visual presentation. This thing's a piece of art and joy to use. And it PERFORMS. I'll pay for performance. That's probably why I'll never have a $350 fountain pen (which I lust for), because they may be build better yet, but won't perform better.

Back to the Noodler's. I'd like to meet the company CEO. He wanted a fountain pen for the common person, at a reasonable price so that the fountain pen could take its rightful place as a price-viable mode of written communication, and he did it! The features that mean the most to me - nice fit in hand (I like the fuller barrel of the Ahab), impressive ink flow rate (maybe too fast for some when you spring the tip for a wide mark), variable width (easy to shift from fine to broad), massive ink capacity, and colorful bodies.

Now, to get to a $20 product you need to shave some corners. They do that through cheaper parts and design. I don't know about fountain pen design (what you don't see in the pen) but from a performance standpoint the Namiki is not 9 times better. I'd be happy with the Noodler's alone. I love them both. I think I saw on the Goulet website they refer to the Noodler's pen as a "novelty" pen. Not sure what that means. It's a full function pen that does everything I want. I'm hooked. I'll be using both fountain pens.

Spend what you're comfortable spending on a pen. It's how you use it that counts. Both pens will get me to the paradise of pen and ink sketching.