A Rant And A Portion Of Another

I had a hard day yesterday editing pen photographs and writing pen descriptions. By the time I was sleepily drawing towards a halt, Avast! (the anti-virus software) informed me that it had an update it wanted to install. I allowed that to happen and it wanted to reboot. As I was nearly finished I didn’t allow it to do so, and shut down the computer. This morning when I booted up, the upgrade began again. Next time I looked, it had frozen. After a bit of fiddling around I got it going again and it tried to slip an installation of Google Chrome Spyware onto my computer. I prevented it, and in revenge it slammed my internet connection shut. I could neither browse nor download email. I decided the easiest way out of the problem would be to uninstall Avast! Would you believe Avast! doesn’t have an uninstaller? I shut down Avast! and went online naked and unprotected to find a way out of this impasse. Seems the game is that you download an uninstaller from Alwill Software (the makers of Avast!), drop down to Safe Mode and run the uninstaller from there. How many light years beyond acceptable behaviour is that? I’m now the proud possessor of two wasted hours that might have been productive and I’m running Avira Antivir instead.

Die, Avast!, die.

Now that you know that, you may understand that this was the wrong morning to ask cretinous questions. An “Unanswered Question” had appeared on one of the pens I am selling today. I opened it up and found:

can you tell me if nib is medium, fine or extra fine?

also, can you tell

me how flexible the nib is? if not clear, permit me to explain:

the point of the pen has a slit right down the middle of it all the way to

the. it divides the point into two sides, called TINES. if you hold the pen

as if to write with it, pushing the point against a solid table surface and

push only as hard as you would push a toothbrush against your tooth, the

two tines will probably spread apart a little bit. use a ruler to measure

how far apart they spread. done. then tell me that measurement! thanks for

all your trouble,

I fought off the impending infarct from sheer rage. The description of the pen gave an indication in words of its characteristics, i.e., medium semi-flexible, and there was a writing sample to illustrate for the slow readers. Some days you can take it, and some days your personal container for condescension by the terminally stupid is already at ‘full’. Suffice it to say that the unnamed potential buyer will not be buying that pen, nor will he/she or most likely it be buying any other pen from me. Ever. In this lifetime or any other.  You can ask a question that is unlikely to be capable of being answered or you can condescend to me from your throne of arrogance, but not both.  I have 743 feedback, all for restored pens.  It would appear likely that I would already know my tines from my elbow.

Just to explain this a little further, I’ll repeat some things that I’ve probably said in a previous discussion of pen nib characteristics. I’m not of the school of Bobo Olsen, which appears to believe in about 45 different gradations of flexibility, and another hundred or so minute differences of pressure that it takes to induce them. Frankly, if that’s today’s flexibility orthodoxy, call me a heretic. These are the grades: hard as a nail, semi-flexible, flexible and very flexible. I’m not getting into a discussion of snap-back because how quickly the tines will close after a broad stroke is at least partly down to how educated the hand of the user is. I have seen others do magical things with nibs that were pretty bland for me. The point being that many of the attributes of nibs that the more dexterous among us enjoy don’t always come from the nib itself. I won’t put myself in the position where I praise a nib as the latest wonder of the world only to cause disappointment when it doesn’t work in the same way for the buyer. I’ll tell you what I can objectively see, but I won’t sit with a flexed nib in one hand and a ruler in the other measuring off the eighths of flexion. That’s a fine way to destroy a 70 year old nib and I refuse to abuse them. There are few enough left.


8 thoughts on “A Rant And A Portion Of Another

  1. Ha hahaha! A very refreshing and well deserved rant to wake up to, Deb. Between the softwear and the soft-headed, you’ve had a bit of a trial. The soft-headed will, unfortunately, always walk among us, but I do have a suggestion (and I’m sure everyone has theirs) for the anti-virus software. I can’t imagine an anti-virus doing what yours did to you and I’d put boot to butt on that one in short order and install something else. I’ve been very pleased with Panda Global Protection (a bit higher priced than thier anti-virus, but much better reviewed). Admittedly because I travel quite a bit for a living, I like its tiny auxillary keyboard you can activate to use to enter credit card numbers or passwords when you’re on an unsecured network, but beyond that neat little thing, it’s been excellent, unobtrusive and never ever tries to pull fast ones on me. It just does its job. It’s usually priced from $50 to $70 US, but you can find deals on Amazon. I got the 2012 version for $17.

  2. Hi Deb,
    Sound like you had a blistering day. Very funny blogg, I love your honesty. You should try to do what I do dealing with the public all day long. Softheads does not even come close. Buy yourself a new antivirus and keep up the great work. I read your blogg daily and it always puts a smile on my face.

    Thanks for sharing.


  3. Avast! had its days… sadly it is not today! And not tomorrow either. If you are using a genuine windows OS (i.e. not a bootleg, not that I’m saying you do, pardon me), you could try microsoft’s official free antivirus: Microsoft Security Essentials. It is free, works better than some commercial alternatives, and is unobtrusive. It has been recommended in various reviews, and I can attest to that as well.

    In any case, may I ask you if there are actually any grading on how hard/easy it is to flex nibs? Because most of the time I’m afraid of destroying a nib by pressing too hard, and therefore will never discover the limits of the nib.

    1. Hi Edwin,
      I didn’t know about the Microsoft Antivirus. I’m using AntiVir at the moment, which is fine, but I’ll keep the Microsoft one in mind.

      In my opinion – and this is a much discussed issue now, so others will doubtless disagree – there are too many variables for flex nib grading to be possible. Some of those variable reside in the nib, others in the user, I believe. I think the crude measure of semi-flex, flexible and very flexible is about as far as we can objectively go.

      In use, I never try to find the limit of a nib’s flexibility, because if you happened to blink rather hard when you have it at the straining limit, it’s going to be cracked or sprung. I have nibs that do different things. Mostly, I use a Swan that’s a semi-flex. With no pressure the down-strokes are just perceptibly thicker and if I press a little I get a more emphatic line. I have a little Wyvern that opens to double-broad with very little pressure and snaps back to fine. When I’m feeling adventurous, I have a Whytwarth that behaves like a paintbrush, widening to at least triple broad and returning to fine, but it really requires more control than I’m capable of.

      Nibs, and the pens behind them, have such individual personalities that any attempt to classify their behaviour is doomed to failure, I believe. Get a few with different properties and enjoy them in a relaxed way, without aiming for the nib’s limit. You’ll enjoy it more and you’ll never feel that moment of horrible give, which means you’ve cracked your nib.

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