Book reviewer, cat photographer, fanzine editor, map blogger, snake whisperer.

Month: June 2021

We’re a Little Behind on Vaccination

The good news in the Pontiac is that there hasn’t been a single new case reported here since the 18th. The less good news is that our vaccination rates could be a bit better. The Outaouais in general lags behind Quebec: only 66.3 percent have received at least one dose as of yesterday. Compare that to 71 percent of the entire Quebec population, or 80 percent of those 12 and up (who can actually get vaccinated right now).

Here in the Pontiac, only five municipalities have vaccination rates greater than the regional rate of 66.3 percent: Île-du-Grand-Calumet, Bristol, Thorne, Clarendon and Otter Lake range from 72.1 percent to 69.4 percent. Two small municipalities—Chichester and Waltham—have rates under 50 percent. The larger municipalities are in the high fifties and low sixties: Fort-Coulonge is 59.5 percent, Shawville is at 61.6 percent, and Mansfield-et-Pontefract is at 66 percent. Pontiac-the-Municipality, which if you remember is not part of the Pontiac MRC, is at 60.9 percent. Gatineau, for comparison, is at 64.1 percent.

The Art of Swedish Typewriter Maintenance

I have recently become obsessed with Facit typewriters. Made in Sweden, with the most unusual carriage rail and tab mechanisms, they’re impressive machines that are an absolute joy to type on, but they’re not necessarily the easiest to work on. I’ve acquired two Facit portables so far and each has one or two issues that we’re a bit scared to tackle because of the Facit reputation for being difficult to repair. At least neither suffers from the dreaded “frozen Facit” issue (where the typewriter’s original lubricant has hardened and seized up the escapement), but there’s a fix for that, which Nick describes here and Tony has put to use: repeated applications of solvent to dissolve the old lubricant. As for other issues, Ted Munk has posted a PDF copy of a Facit repair manual, which is helpful but doesn’t cover older models or every exigency. Charles has posted tutorials on how to remove a Facit portable’s carriage—which we’d all been warned not to do—and how to remove its platen. All of which help, but more is needed.

Exoplanets Capable of Sustaining a Rich Biosphere Are Probably Rare

Just because a planet is in its star’s Goldilocks zone doesn’t mean it’ll be capable of supporting an Earth-like biosphere. A new study focuses on the amount of radiation in the wavelengths usable by photosynthetic plants; “the team discovered that stars around half the temperature of our Sun cannot sustain Earth-like biospheres because they do not provide enough energy in the correct wavelength range. Oxygenic photosynthesis would still be possible, but such planets could not sustain a rich biosphere.” Red dwarfs—where many exoplanets have been discovered—have only a third the Sun’s temperature; stars that are brighter and hotter than the Sun have lifespans too short for life to have a chance to evolve. In other words, the Sun is in a very narrow sweet spot. [Universe Today]

The Situation Is Much Improved

The COVID-19 situation in the Pontiac is much improved, with five or fewer active cases at the moment and no new cases reported anywhere since last Friday. The outbreak we were dealing with in April was more or less brought under control in May, though there was a bit of a rebound in the Bryson/Campbell’s Bay/Fort-Coulonge corridor. Shawville itself hasn’t had a new case reported since June 7—and that case was the first new case in a month. To date, a total of 393 cases have been reported in the Pontiac RLS: 265 in the Pontiac MRC and 128 in the Municipality of Pontiac (which is, remember, not in the Pontiac MRC).

The Truth About Tomoe River

Recently there have been rumours that Tomoe River paper, prized by fountain pen users because it resists feathering and bleed-through despite being insanely thin, was about to be discontinued. A post at The Well-Appointed Desk seemingly confirmed the rumour, which didn’t help the general panic; but someone contacted the Tomoegawa company directly and got an answer that has clarified things somewhat.

It appears to come down to a confusion between Tomoegawa, which prints the paper, and Sakae Technical Paper, which sells notepads and notebooks under the Tomoe River brand. Tomoegawa discontinued production on the machine that made the paper Sakae used; Sakae declined to use paper from another machine, and announced the discontinuation of their products when their stock of original paper ran out. That doesn’t mean Tomoegawa is getting out of the business: they have plans to keep supplying Tomoe River paper once they work out production issues.

Update: Fudefan has information direct from Tomoegawa that explains what’s going on with the different kinds of Tomoe River paper, and the different machines that produce it. While the machines are being shut down, their plan appears to be to outsource production. [r/fountainpens]

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