The Trends In Fountain Pens

Nice hand! Pens, like just about anything, have fashionable characteristics. Right now there is a definite set of trends for the modern fountain pen collector to consider. Let’s take a look at them.

Big pens are enjoying wide popularity, the bigger the pen the higher the price. The nib should be very big in relation to the body and broader writing nibs are more in demand than the extra fine sort. People want to make a bold statement with the look of the instrument and the line it puts down.

A pen’s filling mechanism affects it’s desirably, too. On the low end of the popularity scale is the cartridge filler. Cartridges are convenient and much less prone to get ink on the fingers of the user but the user has to stick to the ink and colors available in that cartridge from the maker. Next best filling system is the “converter” which changes a cartridge filling pen into one which can take ink refills from ink bottles, opening up the possibility of using any ink which comes in a bottle. Lever fillers are just about always the vintage way of filling a pen. A sac inside the pen is squeezed shut by the lever and then when the nib and its fill hole are immersed in ink, the lever is deployed and the sac engorges with ink. Lever fillers phased out in the 1950’s and the sac can fail causing some pretty awful mishaps. Piston fillers have a small drum like stopper which rides up and down on a screw mechanism. It creates a vacuum inside the ink chamber and sucks up the ink from a bottle that way when the end of the pen is twisted. Finally, a vacuum fill pen pulls ink into a pen when its vacuum mechanism is activated; it’s a quick action and very clean. The price of a pen usually goes up with the desirability of the filling system in the order I outlined above.

Size, nib width, and filling system are three big factors in the price and popularity of pens now and so you might say that the Montblanc 149 is the Holy Grail of pens circa 2012. Sporting a price tag of around $800+ it’s the pen to be seen with and it actually writes wonderfully well! Or you could investigate some of the very good pens at about $60 from TWSBI, a $25 pen from Noodler’s, a $5 pen from Jinhao, or the Pilot 78G (which is a truly remarkable bargain and a wonderful writing pen, one of the few modern pens with a sac fill).

More on Perfume Longevity

One of the Possetiers asked me this question on the forum, and I will be answering it:

I’m interested in perfume strength and longevity. What causes a perfume to lose power? What notes (like citrus) tend to dissipate quickly? Which tend to create perfume stability and last longer? Does mixing them more concentrated with less carrier oil help the strength and longevity? It seems like it would to some degree.

Enlighten us with what you’ve learned personally if you will I have problems with some perfume oils staying for very long on my skin and even on my hair or clothing. So this would be what I’m most curious about. I don’t know if you’ve covered this topic before or not so if you have would you mind posting where it is?

Perfumes lose power because they evaporate from your skin. The ones which evaporate faster and the top notes and they last a short time. These have very light molecules and they fly away literally! Citrus notes are great but short lived components. Almond note is very strong when you first put it on, but it goes away very quickly and is almost totally gone within 5 minutes.

The components which stay the longest are the ones with the heaviest molecules and so they evaporate very slowly and stay on your skin a long time. Patchouli and musk are good examples.

Generally speaking, the less carrier oil the stronger and longer lasting the fragrance. However, that does not guarantee that something is going to linger…if the fragrance is composed of a lot of top notes, it is going to fade fast under just about all circumstances.

One huge part of the longevity of a perfume is how used you are to it and “dead nose”. Also, how dry your skin is a big part of it, too.

If you are used to a perfume you are going to ignore it sooner and get tired of it quicker. Sad to say, this is permanent. A perfume you loved years ago and have not worn again won’t have the same kick and thrill if you smell it again later. Of course your mileage may vary but…that’s life.

Dead nose is a problem. If you love it and you huff it, you will deadify your nose to it. Alas, the more you like it the faster it recedes.

The oilier your skin, the longer a fragrance will last. I noticed that years ago. I think that is why when I tanned and put a lot of oil on my skin I smelled like my summer perfume (which mingled with my tanning oil) for hours. Paradoxically, heat has a lot to do with it as well. The hotter it is, the more a fragrance will last regardless of the fact that heat makes things evaporate fast (it’s the humidity, too, you know). This may be why summertime is when a lot of people soft pedal their perfumes…they amp.

I hope I answered your questions here. Sorry I didn’t see it sooner.

Making Progress By The Calorie

VigorPeople HATE counting calories. Maybe they seem nebulous, maybe it’s hard to do, maybe it’s shocking to see how quickly they add up and how few of them you are allowed in a day to maintain your weight. Well, kids, that’s life. You are going to have to get used to the fact that you can’t exist on cupcakes and maintain your svelte booty. So, let’s act like grown ups here, and make a bit of progress and lose weight!

Every day I do 400 calories worth of exercise in addition to my daily activities. It does not matter if it’s vigorous or gentle it just has to be exercise over and above what I would normally do. By vigorous I mean on the level of a hard turbo kick class or a bootcamp/calorie crusher. By gentle, I mean walking at a brisk pace, not sauntering along. You have to feel exertion and you have to feel like you are sweating. Yoga and Tai Chi don’t count. They are wonderful for stretching and balance and getting in touch with your spiritual side but compare them to what you rack up with a calorie burn during a fast walk outdoors up and down hills and there isn’t any contest. Be devoted to yoga, make time for your practice, don’t ask it to help you lose weight…that isn’t what it’s for.

The most effective way I have to maintain my weight is to eat less, but it’s imperative to move more as well. Some people fall into the trap of putting aside an hour to work out. They work out for an hour. They do this most days, they skip a few but there are extenuating circumstances. They gain back and feel defeated.

I don’t work out for an hour. I don’t do one weightlifting class and go home because I lifted a lot of weight and now I can eat cookies. I do what everyone really hates: I work out for 400 calories and I do it every day. I have maintained my weight and that is because I use the one benchmark which is pretty infallable: calorie burn.

Many times I lift weights and I burn between 250-300 calories. Then I take part of a cardio class until I reach 400 and then I have finished my workout for the day. Simple and it works.

How do you know how many calories you have burned? Get a heart rate monitor and use it. Just about all of them will count the calories you have burned based on the information you put in about yourself. Your height, weight, age, and gender determine how many calories you burn when you exercise, and that is reckoned from how fast your heart beats. Measure the heart beats and measure the calorie burn.

If you suspect that this isn’t perfectly accurate, hear this: it doesn’t have to be. That’s right, all you have to do is to make sure that your monitor is in working order and use the same one every day. If you use the same instrument to measure your work every day, you will get a consistent result and so you can measure with very good accuracy.

Do you have to do a 400 calorie burn every day? Is that right for you? I don’t know, you are the judge of that. Start off with 400 calories or look up the number of calories you have to burn per day to maintain a healthy (goal) weight. I am sure you can find a place to do that on the internet. Then start to work out for an hour a day and measure how many calories that burns. If you are not maintaining your weight with a sensible diet, add 25 more calories per day until you get to a maintaining plateau. This will take some time but it’s worth it.

Counting calories is not fun but it is an excellent benchmark for you to help you lose and maintain weight. I didn’t think I could maintain a solid weight loss, but I did with the help of my heart rate monitor.

Best of luck to you. Keeping weight off is a daily thing which needs to become part of your routine and that you look forward to. I hope I can give you a few tips on how to do that most difficult but rewarding parts of losing weight.

The Best Workout

victoryWhen you go into the gym you are likely to see at least one person just overdoing it. They are picking up HUGE amounts of weight, they are leaping around like a tuna fish on a gun boat deck, they are practically turning themselves inside out in mid-air to get in that workout.

‘bet you don’t see these people in the gym every day…just on Saturday. Betcha.

I bet that these people try to get in 7 days worth of workouts in one day. I bet they can do it, too…until they hit 35. Then I bet they stay out of the gym until they get harangued by their doctor decades later about their lousy physical shape. I bet they don’t have pleasant memories of working out, too.

You can avoid that kind of sad end by just not tearing yourself up in the first place. Work out but don’t beat yourself up while you are at it. You want to build yourself up not hurt yourself. And it takes a long time of patient unremunerated toil to become a great looking and feeling specimen.

I had an almost perfect workout today. I didn’t lift 10000 lbs, I didn’t do anything too fast, I savored every move I made, I brushed aside the pain of working out (because it’s supposed to be hard), I enjoyed the solitude of weightlifting in a group (because you are always by yourself). At the end of the class my muscles were happily tingling and I was in a great mood.

The secret was not to overdo, and do what I did well. Be aware of your movements and enjoy them.

I want to have the same experience tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that.

It was a great day in the gym. I learned something.

Why Perfume Ingredients Disappear

Time Marches OnI have recently gone through a spate of ingredients being taken off the market and have had to either reformulate or discontinue some of my perfumes. This is very hard on me and very hard on my clients. I am seldom if ever told it’s going to happen before it does, and I have to find out by ordering and then being told it’s discontinued.

That is awful, but it’s almost as bad if I am told it’s reformulated. Yes, I have bought a small amount of the reformulation. It is usually swill and I have to discontinue my line. I have found one or two reformulations to be fine but the batting average is 90% against.

So, I realized yesterday that one reason I am finding so many items discontinued is because the EU is banning them. So, the supply which is made by European houses has dwindled to the point that it’s gone. So I have to discontinue something lovely like The Scent of Angels. The upshot of that is that there is one less lovely thing in this world. And that is wrong.

Le bas avec les Puritains!

A Nice Article on Fountain Pens from The BBC

Evidently I am not the only pretentious crank out there. Here is a nice little article from the BBC about the resurgence of fountain pens. Sales of fountain pens on amazon.com have doubled! Read all about it.

How To Choose Your First Fountain Pen

As you know, I have gotten into the gracious hobby of fountain pen use. I fell into this easily as my parents used fountain pens a great deal and I would pick one up as a matter of course. However, you might not have that in your background and no one to ask about which ones to choose first. So, I thought I might offer some help in answering the question of what a good first fountain pen would be.

I think that you would do well to choose a pen which is a smooth writer, with a nib in the width you like in a roller ball or ball point. So, if you naturally gravitate to a wide line, then choose a pen which will offer you a broad nib.

Second, your first pen should be from a good company but not the top-of-the-line expensive. Lots of very good companies make a great introductory pen. Pelikan is one of the world’s top pen makers. They are German and are famous for their wonderful nibs. They make a children’s pen which is just superb, the Pelikan Pelikano JR. It is a bit thick, easy to grasp, has a good sturdy steel nib in medium, and is carried by a variety of pen stores. They come in: blue, green, red, and orange and are about $12. They take cartridges but can be changed to a converter if you want to refill from a bottle ($5 extra). A great value, and a pen you will keep for the rest of your life, too.

The Lamy (pronounced “lah-me”) Safari is another German pen that is a more adult model. They have interchangeable nibs, so if you decide to switch from a fine to a broad, you can. They come in a variety of colors and have a window in the side of the pen so you can monitor how much ink you have left. They can take cartridges or you can get a converter to be able to fill from a bottle of ink, too. This one comes in a lot of colors: green, navy, black, white, red, and yellow. There are a number of different Lamy models and one of those might suit your taste better but you just can’t go wrong with a sturdy good looking Safari for about $36.

Kaweco sounds like a Japanese company but they are also German and they produce a pen which is very small but which is tremendously popular. The Sport model is about $25 and when capped in your pocket is a very trim 4.13″ long, but take off the cap and put it on the end of the barrel (called “posting”) and you have a full sized ready writer that a great many people swear by. The choice of colors is astounding (including a clear demonstrator model). It only used international short cartridges but they are readily available. The nib is gold plated steel and is available in a choice of widths from extra fine to broad. Clips are extra but at $25, it is quite a bargain.

You would not go wrong to pick any one of those three pens to be your first fountain pen ever. You can pick them up at: Goulet Pens in Virginia, I Sell Pens in Arizona, and Jet Pens.

At this point don’t worry about whether to use a cartridge or a converter in your pen. Cartridges are very popular and the “short international” type is pretty universal and easy to get (even at Staples). Later on, if you develop a taste for unusual colors and start exploring, then by all means spring for the extra $5 or so for a converter for your pen which will enable you to refill from a bottle of ink rather than inserting a cartridge.

Just about any paper is good nowadays, I would not worry about fancy papers just yet. Get to know your pen first. Use it every day and learn the feel of a good fountain pen skating across your page. I think your handwriting will be more expressive and your experiments with fountain pens may very well encourage you to write more letters (!) to your friends and relatives and also bring some zest into your daily correspondence.

Enjoy the exploration of the fun world of fountain pens!

General Longevity and Strength In Perfume Families–Podcast

Did you know that different perfume families are famous for different strength and longevity? They are? Listen and find out what the differences are!

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Want to know about the lasting effects of Aquatics and Citrus? Podcast

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Different Perfumes, Different Strengths

VioletsIt is a little known fact that various perfumes have longer or shorter longevity on your skin. This is due to the predominance of top, middle, or bottom notes inherent in their character.

The shortest lived fragrances tend to come from the “foody” family. The lightness of their molecules causes them to evaporate very quickly and so they vanish pretty rapidly, as a general rule. They are made from wonderful and delicate topnotes which often capture the fragrance of a confection with uncanny accuracy. Their fleeting nature makes you want to reapply and sometimes you even deaden your nose by going after them too hard. Exceptions to this rule are popcorn-y, dark burnt sugar/caramel fragrances, and breadlike accords.

Citrus scents are also fleeting. Citrus perfumes are normally anchored with sharp musks or tea musks which do hold them down for a while (though you are left with mostly musk or tea after about 45 minutes). These are very pleasant, close to the skin scents, usually associated with being well bred, and unisex.

On the other end of the spectrum, the orientals are strong and long lasting. Usually they are made with dark brown materials and they are the heavier molecules which stick around almost indefinitely. Patchouli, vetiver, real musk (which is illegal in the US), ambergris (also illegal), and labdenum are some of the popular components of good orientals. Myrrh, frankincense,clove and cinnamon all add to the broadcast and longevity. A good oriental doused on a silk scarf can stay detectable for years if put away from air circulation. The paisley shawls brought back from India in the 1800’s would continue to smell like patchouli long after they were unpacked and worn! And Josephine famously smeared the walls of Malmaison with musk (real civet musk) to scent the house and it has been detected even to this day!

Florals are quite the middle ground here. Flower fragrances are usually seen as being middle notes and they last at least an hour. There are exceptions to the rule and modern synthetic flower smells often have far more staying power than the real extract. So, expect to have to reapply your floral blends over the course of the day.

Finally, the modern “aquatics” which were so popular in the 90s and insinuated themselves into the families of perfumes. They generally have good staying power but I have been surprised at how quickly their top and middle notes disappear, almost as if the aquatic base alone were causing any other part of the blend to flee. Sharper musks and synthetic ambergris are favorite anchors of the modern aquatic.

When you see the word “clean” know that this is a blend of huge staying power. Here are the modern sporty musks and they stand up to all forms of sweat and stink and keep on putting out their relentlessly clean and soapy fragrance for what seems practically forever! These are great (when used sparingly) in the gym and in any place where you are going to be close for a long time. Please note again, that the word ‘sparingly’ is the most important word in that last thought!

Some fruit fragrances are long long term strong broadcasters. Raspberry is almost eternal! However, I find pineapple and orange fleeting along with cherry (often a close cousin to almond which is also short lived).

I hope that you enjoyed this little essay on perfume. Please be sure that you have signed up to get the Possets Blog when it comes out. The topics are varied but always interesting. I often talk about perfume and try to give you some information which is hard to come by.