May 30, 2021

31. Letterlocking the Matrix

31. Letterlocking the Matrix

In today’s episode, we will be talking about stamps, pen clubs,  the postmark experiment, and the table of letterlocking 

Erasable Fountain Pen ink: 

Another Space Retro51:

Sun Science Stamps: 


Unlocking History, Table of Letterlocking

Metric Paper video from CPG Grey

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[00:00:00] john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 31 of Stationery orbit, where we are all here to learn more about creative letter writing. I'm your host John West, and I'm joined by our co-host Evan Harris. And in today's episode, we'll be talking about stamps, pen clubs, the postmark experiment, and the table of letter locking.

So to get us all started off, Evan has found an erasable fountain pen ink on Instagram that we're going to talk about. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:00:20] Yeah. So I found this on Instagram from the from Kiwi inks down under. And it is a Thermo chromatic fountain pening. So most people, if they're familiar with erasable, ink is due to the pilot friction series or very potentially do to who framed Roger rabbit with a disappearing reappearing appearing, disappearing, reappearing ink, who framed Roger rabbit available on Disney plus and holds up.

But that is a complete sidebar. 

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:00:51] Yeah. Also one of those movies that they couldn't possibly make now 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:00:54] You're trying to make it for copyright reasons, but it is a good movie. I still recommend [00:01:00] it. But this is a Thermo traumatic ink, much. Let the pilot friction Pence so on  website it says it disappears above one 50 and reappears under 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Interesting that a New Zealand company put it in Fahrenheit, but it is available in four colors, black, red, blue, and purple.

None of them are incredibly saturated colors, but I still think it looks like something that would be fun to mess around with.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:01:28] Yeah. And when I saw this my immediate reaction to it was that I could have sworn that at some point in time, I had heard. That for German school children. The reason why they end up writing in blue ink is because in Germany, the blue ink for school children is erasable. So that's something I'm going to have to look up and confirm, but this may not be the new thing under the sun, but at least in terms of the other colors, it sounds like they're trying something new.

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:01:55] Yeah. I've never not really looked at Huey inks before, but it looks that they also do custom [00:02:00] inks for people who are interested in that.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:02:03] Nice. So the other thing that came out that. was a new that we saw this last week is a retro is starting to get themselves ramped back up again, and they have a new retro 51 out 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:02:15] That's correct retro 51 has done a lot of space things in the past. This was another limited edition one, much like the recent space cats, which I was fortunate enough to get number or get one of number 43 one off. 

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:02:30] oh, yes, that's right. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:02:31] One off from 

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:02:32] That would be the answer 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:02:33] that would be the answer. But in addition to Apollo moon landing and other similar retros they have done an official launch and this has also sold out of the Apollo Soyuz retro.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:02:46] Oh, nice. .  Along the same space theme, the post office, isn't going to be out done and they are coming out with new sun science stamps. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:02:55] Yeah, that's right. These are various images from various light spectrum [00:03:00] of the sun. So you've got infrared, ultraviolet, visible light and these will be released on June 18th.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:03:07] Yeah, and these are awesome because they've got the sun in all of its moods. It's everything from something that's very calm with only a few soft spots to stuff where you can actually see flare eruptions in the imagery. Yeah, they've got it in all of its moons. It's really impressive. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:03:26] Yeah. These are all unsurprisingly images from NASA, but they're all very beautiful with how they've been both taken and colored to best represent the spectrum of light that the image was taken in.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:03:39] The sun science stamps are coming out in June and they will also have their own pictorial postmark in.

color and black and white. So that's going to be a, something to look forward to. Those are also pretty.

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:03:51] that's true. They don't know what other collectibles may be available, but if you were interested in collectibles for any of the stamps, you can [00:04:00] always check out the USBs website.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:04:02] yep. Under the Philatetic collectibles area. So while we're talking about postmarks, there are some new postmarks coming around that are the standard black and white station ones, including one for the pony express ride out of pioneer town, California. And. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:04:21] fun name.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:04:23] Yep. Absolutely. And this one kind of links into something that on the Pen Addict slack, somebody had posted up something about the envelope manufacturers association and a whole history of envelopes that I've got the download for.

And we'll include that in our show notes for the link for that. But the envelope manufacturers association, one of their one of their executive directors went through and did a, an extensive. History of envelopes and actually had a small chapter in there about the pony express and something that I probably may have known some time earlier in my life, but had forgotten is that the pony express was [00:05:00] only around for about a year and was actually made obsolete by the Intercontinental telegram line being completed in salt lake city. About  1862. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:05:09] Yeah, 1862 sounds about right. The Intercontinental railroad wasn't completed until 1869 is when the golden spike was driven in the Panama canal, which was one of the many ways to transport things across the continent. It was much safer not to go across the middle of nowhere and have to pass through the Rockies and the Sierra Nevadas, but it was in fact.

 To go all the way around south America, which should be very deadly to get around the Cape and would take a long time, or depending on what you're transporting, go to Panama cross Panama risked, malaria, and other infectious diseases.

And then get on another ship on the other side because the Panama canal wasn't completed until 1904. 

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:05:59] Thanks [00:06:00] to Teddy Roosevelt. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:06:00] to Teddy Roosevelt. I actually went to Roosevelt high school. Another fun fact.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:06:05] Yeah. Yeah. Teddy  managed to get a crew down there to get the malaria under control and did a lot of stuff for the engineering on that, that the Panama canal was truly a wander.

It's still, it is still is a wonder. If you see pictures of the place, It is amazing what they've done. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:06:20] It, the Panama canal is an incredible feat of engineering even today. And it is really neat. And Teddy Roosevelt is also just, again, this is an aside, Teddy Roosevelt is an incredible figure. He decided he was going to beat asthma of which was, he was an asthmatic. He had asthma as a child and he decided through sheer force of will.

He would beat asthma.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:06:41] Yep. Yeah. He was a weakling through quite a bit of his childhood. And finally his father came to him and said, either you're going to tough up or life's going to eat you. And I guess Teddy decided that he was going to eat that frog first. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:06:54] Yeah. Sure. I know there are stamps of Teddy Roosevelt because he's the us precedent. But he is an, a [00:07:00] fascinating figure.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:07:01] yeah, absolutely. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:07:02] Oh another fun fact about the pony express. It was never profitable.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:07:08] Yeah okay. So while we're on fun facts, the pony express, the record time from St. Louis to San Francisco was 10 days. So that was the, that was their best mark versus trying to go across the Panama isthmus. And that took anywhere between three weeks to a month and a half for that trip to be able to pack it across and Pick it up on the other side. So we're going to move out of the postmarks and stuff around the internet. And sadly, even though we're still trapped in zoom calls we both managed to get into some different pen meetups. I'll start with the Colorado pen posse meetup that happened yesterday on zoom. And that was a great call.

That was a lot of fun. We actually ended up with a. A couple of folks in there that we're not familiar with Urushi and that the Japanese lacquering technique [00:08:00] that is based in Urushi or the Bukomundo studio over in Japan run by Hiroko. And so there was a really fun conversation around that, a lot of education, and a lot of us got to dig out pens that we've gotten here recently and is definitely a lot of fun.

And as I understand it and also got to attend to . PENS meet up.

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:08:19] Yeah, that's right. Thanks to one of our listeners connecting me. I was able to attend a zoom meeting for the Pens enthusiast, Northern society. Last week it was really fun. The discussion this time was mostly on nibs and nip repair how to properly straighten and realign PA nibs, especially Antique ones, remove them properly from.

A pen without an old pen without damaging it. It was really interesting. Though I've not yet gained the courage to try and fix my gold LaMi nib with my  new found knowledge. I might.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:08:50] Yeah. And it's actually funny that this seems to be a reoccurring thing here in the last couple of months of various. [00:09:00] People and organizations and videos and that kind of stuff, really getting into how to do your own tuning on fountain pens. And I've actually gone out and picked up my brass shims and everything because I've got The cocoa super that I picked up. And even though it's supposed to be a broad nib, it ends up and it's a number six nib. It writes finer than my medium . So somebody messed up the tuning on that. So I'm going to have to retune that one myself. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:09:30] Yeah, no, I, I would not be surprised if some of that is the inability to go to pen shows, but there's been a lot of stuff on nib tuning and a lot of it is not difficult.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:09:40] no, it's not. Yeah. Get a reasonable amount of supplies in terms of a loop and shims and that kind of thing. And you can you can do quite a bit yourself. You just gotta be careful. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:09:51] Yeah. I heard you have an update on your post-mark experiment.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:09:55] yes. Finally, I've gotten everything out in the mail and I'm [00:10:00] very happy about that. It ended up being , a quite an event because I ended up doing both the chin shin, Wu, and the droid stamps in one batch. So I had an entire. Paper grocery bag filled with envelopes. There were 10 packages in total with 20 envelopes, with hundreds of envelopes inside of those and how to dig out.

My checkbook had to write checks for each of those. And it was it was quite a organizational. Deal to get that all put together, but they are now all out in the mail. And oh, pro-tip for folks that are going to be looking at doing this.  The number two sized. Envelopes that are the bubble wrap envelopes, the plastic type.

Those will actually nest into one another with a number 10 envelope on the inside of it. You have to put the number 10 envelopes into it. Fold   the top fold down even further than it would normally be without [00:11:00] taking the adhesive off the top. And then you can put that into the other number two envelope folded in, and it will actually nest inside of the other one so that you can send two number two envelopes like that and it'll go.

No problem. And the other thing is that. Don't do it with click and ship because click and ship can only go priority mail and you really want these. You don't want to spend more than you have to. So I went into the post office and actually got the stamps for this so that it would go first class instead of priority. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:11:31] Yeah, so hopefully we'll have an update on that, but it's joined to the Kansas city Metro center. Three months

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:11:37] yeah, there you go. This is definitely one of those, a hunger games. May the odds be ever in your favor? 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:11:43] Exactly. 

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:11:45] Yeah, hopefully they make it back. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:11:46] There will, it just might be a while.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:11:49] Yeah. I would honestly love to have like live video feed of the poor postal employee that ends up getting those packages coming in. Like what in the [00:12:00] blazes is this guy down? 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:12:01] I actually wonder because you're paying for a service supposed to use the complimentary one that might help.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:12:07] this is true. Yeah. So the next thing on our list  for this episode.  We've been talking about letter locking and the folks at. Unlocking history have put together an entire table of letter locking categories, and we'll have a link in the show notes to their website for this, but we will want to talk about how these categories go together and why they're doing it and why they decided that this was important.

And also some of the little fun facts that we were looking at in this table. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:12:42] Yeah. So this table is. Akin to the periodic table of elements. They have identified 64 possible combinations of various letter locking techniques in addition to 12 letter locking format. So this table really should be at cube. But we're not really looking at it that way. 

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:12:58] This 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:12:59] they're not a tube, [00:13:00] but should be rectangle.

Cause it would be very interesting to see the, all the possible combinations when you include the formats. The formats are things like strolls, triangles, squares, diamonds, rectangular, rectangles on such were ignored. What, for any, given one of those, for any given one we're ignoring, which of those it fills a for now, at least there'll be interesting to maybe return to that because there are theoretically more, but I, and of course the link to this will be in the show notes.

But the manipulations, they look at me based on manipulations in the lock.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:13:33] Yep. Yeah, So they have two different axes on this and one goes through the manipulations and then the other side goes through what kind of locking mechanisms there are. So for the manipulations, they have fold tuck, slit, or hole, and those are all Abbreviated on the one axis so that you have multiple different styles with that.

So you have fold do you have fold plus tuck you [00:14:00] have full plus slit or, hole fold plus talk plus slit or hole. And then you get into adhering things and that's the bottom section of the table. And then as you go across, you have. No locking mechanism, locking other mechanism, locking same substrate, unattached and locking sub straight, same attached.

And as Evan said, they have 64 blocks in this, but they only have it's less than half of them are actually blocked in solid letters. A lot of them have hollow letters in there where it's just an outline for the number, because they haven't actually verified that particular letter lock yet. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:14:41] so there are 23 of them that they have verified, not all of which, the videos, but on the site, there are a lot of videos, so you can actually see what they mean. But there are a lot of these in theory, some of which actually are. They've identified, they theorize, I should say, not identified theorize both a one with a secured [00:15:00] a that is secure and unsecure for the same number like 43 secure has been found, but they theorize as a 43 on lot of these are really interesting theoretically, and I wonder.

Trying to come up with some of them, the one that we were discussing before we started recording, especially with number four, which would be a fold a tuck and a slit or hole without a lock and no adhesive.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:15:26] Yep. And it was just something that when I saw the table, initially it really stuck out as a sore thumb for me that a number of that early in the sequence would not have been verified. So I was speculating as to what I thought that particular letter lock would look like. And my. Theory for that would be that you would have  a square piece of paper, and you would put like a Phillips style cut with a cross cut right in the center of the paper.

And then you could fold and tuck the corners back and through that Phillips cut in the center and you wouldn't have [00:16:00] to adhere it at that point. It should hold together. It wouldn't be locked, it wouldn't be secure, but that would fulfill the requirements for number four. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:16:08] Yeah. So , the Japanese hexagon would be similar. There's no cutting in it, but it might be similar and a good starting point on which to base fold a lock that would be a number four. But I do not know what number that design specifically would be,

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:16:25] Actually now that you mention it, the Italian pinwheel, if you put a slit cut in the center would substitute for that

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:16:34] that would that would be an even better way that might in fact solve it. I will look into that more because that might in fact, just be a number three if you did it that way, but I think it might actually work as the number four. We of course would have to actually talk with the unlocking history group to make sure we're getting all of these terms.


john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:16:54] Yeah. And that's really true because even though they've got these [00:17:00] really put together in, in the form of the table, I really have to question what they consider to be a lock versus a no lock or a lock other, and how some of these definitions really stick when it comes to how they categorize them on the table.

Just cause there, there are a lot of things going through my head in terms of I think this would work, but what category would that really look like? And it would be interesting to see how they categorize some of their stuff for a live collection as they're going through like the Brianne collection. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:17:34] yeah. And the Brianne true. Though, I also wonder if there are some that are effectively one of these and then another one of them done onto it. And do they just consider that a different number, the latter number? Because plenty of them just start with folds, but that doesn't count. And otherwise all of them would be a one of some evolutionarily, actually that would be an a, would not be an [00:18:00] unreasonable claim.

They'll start as one and then derive to something else.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:18:04] Yeah.

but it seems like they've got quite a bit of that taken into account because for example, the number 43 confirmed and when you look at it on the table, it's a fold plus slit or hole. It is locked and it is locked with the sub Strait  adhered to it. So that's how the, that's how they categorize number 43 and to this.

So there are multiple steps to these individual letter locks anyway. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:18:29] Yeah. So that's just more of exactly. How do they break them down? I'm also one still thinking about how do you do some of these? I need to look at it again more with, without adhesive trying to get the ones that  are higher security rankings.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:18:46] Yeah. And you'd actually brought up a good point and it was a, this goes back to the how they're defining things. They have a number 10 on here, which is fold plus tuck and it's locked other, how do you get a lock without having some kind [00:19:00] of an adhesive? And that's a question I think I have 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:19:02] but I they also have a number nine, which already is confirmed. 10 is not is there a video for 10 or for nine there's? There is a video for nine. The video for number nine is the Regulus black Lockett letter. That actually brings up something else. Where does the Dumbledore fit on here?

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:19:22] I actually don't know if that was completely letter locked 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:19:25] So true 

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:19:26] the inner adhering technique. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:19:28] There I've sent it through the mail. How I do it is letter locked. How they did it, is not because I took the outer page and then let her locked that with interior pages attached.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:19:42] Yeah, so there's definitely a lot on here that it'll be interesting to see what kind of, if there's more speculation for some of the outlined numbers on here and Definitely going to be going through some more of these videos to take a look at how they did the 29 30 31, where it's the locked [00:20:00] with the substrate adhered and then a variety of fold and adhere full tucking.

It here, fold slot or hole and adhere. And yeah, just a lot of different variations to these letter locks. That are possible. And then as Evan had mentioned before, once you start adding the letter locking formats, which they have one through 12 being anywhere between the infinity or the edge scroll, which is an infinity, and then having triangles, squares, diamonds, all the way up to a 12 edge dodecahedron

is that right? 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:20:35] Yes. Dodecagon,dodecahedronand it would be the three-dimensional solid the 12 sides. So the dodecagon would be a 12 sided  two dimensional shape. 

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:20:44] Yep. Yeah, I if you really wanted to try to go for it, I suppose you could try to do the entire. 64 categories in each of those letter locking formats, although you can't do infinity with any kind of fold tuck, cause you can't fold it, but anything else would be, I [00:21:00] think would be a fair game. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:21:01] so infinity actually effectively becomes a category. That's not on the table 

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:21:06] Yeah, absolutely. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:21:07] they don't have no fold with a lock. Which is what the edge stroll would, which is the infinite would be but just for example, there are five rectangles and that's not including categories that they have. And then two more square ones.

Theoretic though, you could go to infinity with the number of sides you've generated though. There becomes a point at which not only is it impractical, it is just pointless.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:21:30] It's also physically impossible to fold paper down beyond a certain level. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:21:35] yes, but if you fold and unfold, it, you can generate significant significantly more edges like they do in modern origami.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:21:42] okay. Yeah. That's fair enough. Yeah, I was just, so I always remember the MythBusters where they're like, so how many folds can you get into a fold for a piece of paper? And they started off with a piece of paper that was the size of a football field so that they could try and get more folds into it.

And it didn't work. 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:21:57] then they got not at least nine folds. 

[00:22:00] john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:22:00] Yeah, but at some point you just can't beat physics 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:22:03] yeah, you, you can not especially as you start generating at. Relevant bending radius, as opposed to being able to just consider it a statue which you can do with one fold. But when you start adding them up, the outer radius becomes an issue.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:22:18] yup. Yeah. One other thing I want to do a throw in there is I ended up getting a letter lock from. Gopher coder. It was out on the Pen Addict slack and he had actually gone through the process of getting. A letter lock that is based on  a four piece of paper and you folded it mid points on the piece of paper.

And it folds down to a nice small letter lock where the final flap comes up over the top, where you can seal it using a stamp 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:22:53] yeah, you still need to send me an image of that, but I'd love to see the folds because that is something I want to do. Do one of the another [00:23:00] issue with when you start talking, how we care about a lot of these letter locks is you want to be able to send it through the mail. So if you start with an a five sheet, you can't really let her lock it much.

If you start with an a four you've definitely have options, a three even more, but you can't. There's only so many folds you can do before. It is too small  to be accepted by the mail.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:23:19] And actually now that we're talking about a four, a five and a three one thing that we need to get into the shownotes we need to put the CPG gray video in there about the magic of the a sized paper sizing system, because it is a magical ratio of, I think it's 1.6, one to 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:23:39] it's the role. It is the golden ratio. It is specifically designed to be the golden ratio, but just the golden ratio is such, is the ratio at which for anyone who's not such an engineer or a math nerd  is the ratio at which you cut a rectangle in half. And that shape has the same aspect ratio as the previous.

There are [00:24:00] plenty of ways to define it where you cut it. It's also the ratio. This is a different point along where you'd cut it, where you cut something where the two objects have the same ratio where the, for the larger, the object has the same ratio to the smaller object. As the original object has to the larger object.

Both of those are definitions of the golden ratio.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:24:19] Yep. Yeah. So when we're talking about a three is exactly twice the size of a four with the same aspect ratio.

a five is half the size of a four 

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:24:27] Yeah. And CGP Gray did a take on the Carl Sagan. Cosmos also was in theNeil DeGrasse, Tyson, cosmos reboot or remake that about the scale of the universe were both. Sagan, and De GrasseTyson did it in based 10. CGB Gray. discussed it in a paper series and we need to put that in the show notes.

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:24:50] Yeah, absolutely. Because then it ends up becoming a doubling sequence, which is logarithmic. And you end up getting out to astronomical scale [00:25:00] really fast. And I think that was a great example for what a CPG gray put together for that. So yeah, we'll make sure that's in there and I will also go through and I will, I'll take that letter locked example and I will just go ahead and write it up without the writing in it, scan that and send that over to you.

And I'll also make sure we can put that in the show notes.

evan-harris_1_05-23-2021_153458: [00:25:20] Perfect. 

john_1_05-23-2021_143503: [00:25:21] All right that is, is everything we had for this week. We had a couple of teasers in there in terms of the history of envelopes, which we'll talk about here later on. Once we both have a chance to read through that a little bit more, and we are still really hoping to get on the folks from the unlocking history crew and talk more about this with them since they're the originators for this and.

Hopefully we'll be able to get them on the show here in the, not too far off future.