Thursday, October 28, 2010

Truthiness revealed!

I edited a wiki entry today. This was a first for me, as I have never really paid enough attention to any type of wiki entry to really care about editing it before. My interest in wikis is generally limited to remembering the name of that guy that was in that movie - or the year that Ford started production of the Galaxy. This time, however, the topic was a bit closer to home.

I think you, dear Constant Reader, must be familiar by now with NaNoWriMo. You must also know of my involvement (obsession?) with the Urinal Cakes forum there as well. My association with the Piker Press began as a direct result of trading posts with Aser in that forum. This year, the thread has been running pretty well. One of the characters, who calls herself variously Queen Chaos, QAoaS, or just Holly asked some questions about past years, wondering if anyone knew what had happened to the archives. By chance, I had very recently found an unofficial wiki for NaNoWriMo called WikiWrimo that oddly enough has a page dedicated to the UC thread, and listed links to all of the previous year's threads (including one to this very blog, which is how I found it in the first place). I posted the link, answered the Queen's question, and thought we would go on with the hilarity.

Not so. I have recently acquired another job over at the Piker Press: Facebook Group Page Updater Guy. The poor group page was pretty neglected, and so I volunteered to come up with stuff to post to it periodically. Pretty good gig, but I am now constantly on the lookout for stuff to post. Since most of the regular Filthy Pikers are also big UC fans, I decided to post a link to the Wikiwrimo entry for the UC threads. This was met with some good response, but one pointed out some small factual errors in the entry. (Note, very pleasantly. Not in a nit-picky pedantic moron kind of way.) I suggested that the person sign up for the wiki and make the corrections, but then decided that I was being kind of bossy. Also lazy. So I did it instead.

I filled out the online form to request an account with editing privileges and then set about educating myself on the ins and outs of editing a wiki entry. I then moved on to the FAQ's and discovered something very interesting: the admin (and founder) of the wiki was in fact, the UC's own Sushimustwrite! Very soon after learning this, I got the email informing me that my account was approved and that I could sign in and start editing. Also that Sushi recognized me from the UC thread and that the entry on the UC thread was one of the first entries she made in the wiki after she created it.

So finally I got down to the business of editing the entry. My rusty old html skills came in handy, as I figured out how to post hyperlinks and such. The hardest part was to modify the entry to correct the information without utterly destroying the original entry. Also, to word the information in such a way that it made sense and didn't simply compound the errors I was trying to correct. I have done a bit of that type of writing before, but never editing a relative stranger's work. I really liked the initial article - how it flowed, the way the ideas were presented - and so I wanted to correct the information without destroying all of that.

I think it worked out. I have not received any kind of feedback on it just yet, but then I don't really expect any. It is not as if I re-wrote an entry detailing the mating habits of South American primate species. But you never know what people will take exception to.

For now, I am considering my next foray into the world of wiki-writing. My own bio.

How truthy should I make that?

© 2010 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ink? We don't need no stinking ink!

Ink? What qualifies me to be a reviewer of ink? My normal attention to this topic is isolated to cursing the lack of ink in the pen I grab to jot down a phone message. Basically, it is a binary process for me: Is there ink, or is there not ink?

While serving in the Army, I did develop a phobia of using any color but black, since for some reason blue ink (or heaven forbid any shade of red!) was likely to inspire the wrath of some anal retentive lieutenant. However, in the years since then I have gently convinced myself that it is OK to use other colors. Still, it was never a question of quality; just whether I could find one when I needed it.

Then, I met a guy named Chas Wallace. (CW for short.) He is a fellow Filthy Piker, and a connoisseur of fine pens and ink. He has penned a series of articles for the Piker Press reviewing different brands and shades of ink. When he reviewed an ink called Noodler's Heart of Darkness, he remarked that the bottle of ink came with a free fountain pen. (Apparently no longer available...) I decided that a free pen was a good enough reason to try the arcane writing instrument out.

Being a child of the '80s I had never owned a fountain pen, though I remember finding one in a pile of junk in the back of a truck my dad bought once. While trying to figure it out, I squirted ink all over the floor and the pen was quickly disposed of. When I got my new pen, I was fascinated with how it worked. This particular pen must have been specially designed for inexperienced users like me. The filling process was as easy as unscrewing the nib from the barrel and pouring the ink in. No siphoning or bladders or anything like that. And I loved the way it wrote. The sound and the feel of the nib scratching across the paper fascinated me and inspired me to actually try and write neatly, instead of my normal impatient scribble. I even printed off a handwriting practice sheet and practiced the alphabet a couple of times.

Fast forward a few months. The managing editor of the Piker Press mentions to me that she has recieved some free samples of fountain pen ink from an ink company and wonders if I would be interested in some. Never one to pass up something free, of course I wanted some. Then she set the hook: If I took the free ink, I owed the ink company a review of it on my blog.

So, here is my review. Not that I am any kind of an authority on fountain pens or ink, but I will give it my best shot.

The ink showed up about a week later. It had been repackaged by Madame Editor, but despite her very careful bubble-wrapped packing job, the ink had leaked all over the box. I checked the bottle carefully to see if it had in fact cracked, but it seemed to be intact. The ink turned out to be Naples Blue from Private Reserve Ink.

Next, I felt I needed a fresh pen to try out the new ink. Honestly, I am not sure exactly how to change ink types in a fountain pen yet. I will have to consult with RW on that for future reference. For now, it was a good excuse to go out and buy a new fountain pen. RW is fond of discussing his pens, including one he paid over $300 for. I don't have the disposable income for that, so I went with the X450 Kurve Vanilla Fountain Pen for around $12. When it arrived I was a bit shocked at how very beautiful and solid it felt. I was very excited to get the ink in it and get writing. However, my inexperience with fountain pens became very evident here.

The instructions that came with the ink told me to dip the entire nib of the pen in the ink and then turn the knob to suck the ink up into the pen. This turned out to be a huge mess. I had prepared myself with plenty of paper towels, but my hands still got completely green. Oh well, on to the writing. (Sorry for the tiny image of the actual writing - blame Blogger. But if you click on it, you get a full-size image that is a bit more helpful.)

The ink itself is a nice bluish-green color. My daughter calls it Turquoise. But it seems to soak into the paper, leaving little strings of color leaching out from the letters like spider webs. Is that the ink or the pen? Since this is the only ink I have ever used in this pen, I can't really say. The ink dries moderately fast, it smears if wiped immediately after writing, but after a few seconds seems to become set.

So is this good ink? Hmm... I don't know. I used it for quite a while, wrote several pages in my journal with it and it performs as good as any other ink I have used, except for the spider-web thing it does...

Well, does that count as an ink review? I hope so, though I seriously doubt I will be getting any more free ink to try out. Oh well, I now have three or four bottles of the stuff and am doubtful that I will ever use it all. Unless the Apocalypse shows up and all ball-point pen manufacturing grinds to a halt...

Happy Writing!

© 2010 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved

Sunday, October 10, 2010

To NaNo or not to NaNo...

Not to belabor the point, but I am not really feeling excited for it this year. The last two years have yielded a pretty good start to a novel that coincidentally also had over 50,000 words and a horrible start to a short story that barely surpassed 10,000.
So, do I participate this year? Or take a year off? Do I try a run at a brand-new novel or do I break the NaNo-Rules and try to re-write the halfway decent novel that has been wasting away since then?

I don't know. Probably just keep making jokes about Urinal Cakes and QWAQ-ing with my NaNo friends and forget the novel. Easier that way, right?

Yeah, right.