Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Just an update

When your 5-year-old gets on your computer

This is what happens when you are not in your office and your five-year-old knows how to open your webcam software. He has done this more than once.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Aline Kelly's Life Remembered

This is the video that the funeral home provides to the family for the remembrance service and for posterity. They take scanned photos provided to them and produce a simple video in a generic template, but it is nice to have and see. This is what played during the visitation service for Grandma Kelly.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Cross 3506 (Century) Fountain Pen Review

Today I review a somewhat vintage Cross 3506 fountain pen in lustrous chrome. For decades I have owned Cross ballpoints and was familiar with the quality of the Cross name. Cross now makes this pen under the Century model name.

Monday, December 04, 2017

PEN MAIL - Vintage Sheaffer Fineline, Waterman Jif, and Hero 91

It is another pen mail day in our household. My wife has been getting a lot of inexpensive Chinese pens from lately. The one I am showing today just happened to arrive this morning and it was still on my desk, so I am showing that one to you. I also show you the Waterman Jif I got since the last pen mail video. To top it off, I got an old Sheaffer Fineline pen that I was able to restore back to some semblance of glory and working order today.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Homemade Pen Flush for Fountain Pens

I have been asked more than once how to make homemade pen flush rather than purchasing it from an online retailer for $11 per pint. Well, here is the top secret recipe.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Matthew's latest pen mail from viewers Nov. 2017

Matthew wanted to share his latest pen acquisitions that he received from generous viewers of our YouTube channel. He was impatiently waiting for days to get his pens cleaned up, inked, and to be able to do this video together.

The YouTube channel for Grandmia Pens that we mentioned in the video is Check out Stef's channel if you have not already, subscribe, and learn from him as I have be able to do.

Friday, November 24, 2017

By request: The Platignum No. 5 Studio fountain pen

By viewer request, I am reviewing the Platignum No. 5 Studio fountain pen.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Jinhao 911 Fountain Pen Review

By viewer request, I am reviewing the Jinhao 911 fountain pen. It is actually a pleasant surprise, so you may want to stay tuned.

Monday, November 20, 2017

J. Herbin Clear Demonstrator Fountain Pen Review

In this video, I review the J. Herbin clear demonstrator fountain pen that I got through

A Phenomenal Pen Mail Day!

This has been a phenominal pen mail period. We have gotten some Platignum, J. Herbin, Jinhao, and Chren brand pens. Some pens were specially requested by viewers for a review. My son got pen mail from two different viewers, and a video will be forthcoming on that. And to top it off, I got four exquisite Danitrio fountain pens. I am a huge fan of older Danitrio pens and their exquisite detail and quality.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Another Pen Mail Day? Mais Oui!

I share the latest in pen mail that arrived, a Waterman student pen, a Waterman semi-hooded aerometric filler, and a Hero Chinese manufactured pen.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Troy's fountain pen nib smoothing technique

In this video, I go through the process that I use from start to finish in smoothing out a fountain pen nib. This is the most requested topic that I am asked to cover in a tutorial video. This video does NOT fully encompass issues like tine alignment (though I touch on it), making a pen write wetter or drier in its ink flow. This tutorial is totally for the purpose of demonstrating the technique that I personally use on every nib smoothing job that I perform from start to finish. It should be noted that the technique that I am using assumes that tine alignment has been checked already. It also assumes a fairly new nib that is in good shape, since that is what I am using in this video. I am using a personal pen that has been in my collection for quite a while but was not a smooth writing pen, hence the reason I chose to use it for the video. I take the pen from a scratchy writer with a few skips to be one that writes smoothly.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Monday, November 06, 2017

Monteverde Monza review and a real life comparison to the Lingmo Lorelei...

As requested by a viewer, I review the new Moneteverde Monza fountain pen and compare it to similar pens on the market like the Jinhao 992 and the Lingmo Lorelei. I compare them side by side, their features, nibs, and writing samples. I will also give you my personal recommendation in looking at all three similar pens.

OMAS, Waterman, Wearever, pen mail, and a new project announcement

I go over pen mail since the last video and tell about an upcoming project that I am working on for pen newbies.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Jinhao 159 fountain pen review

This was going to be Matthew's solo debut, but he was feeling a little shy about doing it all on his own, so together we review the Jinhao 159 fountain pen.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Waterman Lauréat fountain pen

The latest addition to the Watermen fountain pen family is the Waterman Lauréat. I will also compare the Lauréat to some of its similar slender bodied Waterman siblings. Both the Lauréat and Executive models discussed in the video are no longer in production.
Executive (c. 1976 – c. 1989)
Lauréat (c.1985 – c. 2000)
For more on the Lauréat, you can go to

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Pen mail, pens to arrive, and future video plans

A new package from Anderson Pens arrived with inks, pens, notebooks, and pen repair supplies. I also show a preview of the Waterman C/F addition to the collection.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Vintage Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Review

The vintage Wahl-Eversharp was manufactured between 1941 and 1950. This particular pen has quickly become one of my favorite pens in my entire collection because of its looks and how well it writes.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Aihao 202503 and Uranus fountain pens

In recent pen mail, we got two inexpensive Chinese manufactured fountain pens, the Aihao 202503 and the Uranus (made by Duke). Both are decent writers for the small price paid for them. I have long said that collecting fountain pens does not have to be expensive if you don't want it to be.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Vintage Waterman Crusader

Today I review the vintage Waterman Crusader, second generation, circa 1948 - 1953. I got a second one and refurbished my first one. I compare the two, discuss what I had to do to get them both to optimum performance, and share some details.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Levenger True Writer, Zenzoi, & Jinhao Dragon Pen

Our recent additions to our pen family are an amethyst colored Levenger True Writer, which is a joy to write with, a relatively unknown brand called Zenzoi, which is based in Wyoming but manufactured overseas, and the Jinhao Dragon Pen. Jinhao has really improved their quality and presentation lately.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Monday, October 02, 2017

Pen Mail - 3 Russians, One US Vintage Waterman, & One new German

In today's mail, I got three Soviet Union surplus pens from the Ukraine, another Waterman Commando, and a Schneider pen (my wife's new purchase).

I have already restored the Waterman Commando since getting it today and it writes AWESOME! It was already in great condition and just needed a little polishing and a new sac. Two of the Russian pens have been smoothed out and write well. One is a problem child still and needs more work.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Matthew's September 2017 Pen Haul

A nice and generous viewer sent Matthew some new pens and notebooks this week. Matthew wanted to go over them together and share them with you.

Waterman Commando Vintage Fountain Pen size comparisons

I was asked to do a size comparison between the Waterman Commando and other fountain pens, since it is a vintage pen and no longer in production.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Waterman Commando vintage fountain pen review

Today I review the vintage Waterman Commando, manufactured in 1940. I am a fan of Waterman pens, and this particular model was on my wish list ever since I first saw them.

The Centropen 242 fountain pen review

Today I review my Centropen 242 Czechoslovakian manufactured pen. It was made in 1989 for the Bulgarian Communist Party 14th Congress that took place at the beginning of 1990.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Wing Sung 3203 fountain pen review

Today I review the Wing Sung 3203 Chinese made fountain pen.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Happiness is the resurrection of an old friend

On a whim, I dug out my very first fountain pen today and got it writing again. Joy!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Today's pen mail and a cute little arrival

I ordered an old lever filler pen hoping to be able to cannibalize parts to fix some of my other pens, but what I got was surprisingly small.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Currently inked fountain pens

Sometimes people ask about what pens I have inked.  I used to keep a lot more pens inked up than I do now.  Actually, I have some inked up that are not even on this list, but these are the ones in my rotation at the moment.  I always keep an old reliable Esterbrook desk set inked and on my work desk.  I have a few pens that are inked and need a little work, but I have not put them into my rotation list, so I did not filter for them on my spreadsheet.  As some of these run out of ink, I will probably just flush them out and put them away.  Some of these I will most likely keep inked at all times, since I am partial to them.  I will probably go to a system of having just a half dozen or so inked at any given time and have a weekly rather than a daily rotation system. 

Delta Dolcevita Federico  broad orange/black Birmingham Pens Allegheny Arsenal Gunpowder Black black
Sheaffer Snorkel fine pastel blue Waterman Serenity Blue blue
Aihao 2025 fine white De Atrementis Blackberry purple
JinHao X450 med red Birmingham Pens Fred Rogers Cardigan Red red
TWSBI 580al med clear Birmingham Pens Point Park Fountain Turquoise turquoise
Waterman Carene med blue Waterman Serenity Blue blue
Esterbrook Transitional 1551 red Pilot Iroshizuku chiku-rin geen
Visconti Van Gogh Irises med green Akkerman Nassau Blauw blue
WingSung 698 fine clear Diamine Imperial Blue blue
Pilot Vanishing Point med blue Papier Plume Peacock Blue blue
Lamy Studio med black Robert Oster Blue Water Ice blue
Lingmo Lorelei med clear J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune purple
Pelikan M150 fine green Rohrer & Klinger Verdura green
TWSBI Eco med clear/black Pilot/Namiki Blue blue
Faber-Castell Loom med blue/silver Noodler's 54th Massachusetts blue/black
Kaweco Sport med black cartridge
Conklin All American Old Glory med red/white/blue Pilot Iroshizuku asa-gao blue
Waterman CF med red Noodler's Dragon's Napalm red
Lamy Vista med clear Noodler's Bay State Blue blue
Monteverde Prima med turquoise Sheaffer Turqoise turquoise
MontBlanc 149 med black Montblanc Mystery Black black
Parker Vacumatic med gold/brown Diamine Imperial Blue blue
Parker Vector med silver Noodler's Bay State Concord Grape purple
Pilot Plumix med blue cartridge
med blue Pelikan Royal Blue blue
Levenger True Writer med foliage J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie gold
Wortman Elite med flex burgundy/gold Robert Oster Fire and Ice blue

Monday, September 18, 2017

Wearever Vintage Fountain Pen Review

After having another bad ebay experience with vintage pens recently, it is good to have a good one. Today I talk about the Wearever lever filler pen that I got on ebay and restored to its former glory.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Kritzler Vintage Fountain Pen & the ebay blues

Today I talk about the vintage Kritzler fountain pen I got along with an unbranded pocket fountain pen I recently got. I also cover some of the caveats of collecting vintage pens and purchasing on ebay.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Wortman Elite Vintage Fountain Pen

Today I do show and tell with my Wortman Elite German manufactured fountain pen.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

New fountain pen acquisitions Sept. 7, 2017

In our pen mail today, we added five pens in the family. We got an unknown model older Danitrio, a Levenger True Writer, a Pilot Plumix, a Dikawen 898, and a Jinhao 886.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Answering the question, "What's your favorite fountain pen?"

I was asked yet again which of my fountain pens is my favorite. This is my answer.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Vintage Sheaffer Snorkel Fountain Pen Review

Today I review my "new to me" vintage, restored Sheaffer Snorkel from the 1950's.
Here are a couple of the web pages I showed in the video for your reference.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Recent out takes from Troy and Matthew video sessions

I am just sharing some recent out takes from our videos. Enjoy.

Hero 901 Fountain Pen Review

Today I review the Hero model 901 fountain pen. It is a beautiful, inexpensive Chinese made fountain pen. Is it worth the few dollars to buy one? I'll tell you what I think.

IT'S GIVEAWAY TIME! Matthew and Troy present our giveaway video.

We reached our first milestone of 250 subscribers to our YouTube channel and now it is time for the giveaway that we promised. In our giveaway prize box will be:
- A Knox Galileo Cherry Red fountain pen
- A bottle of Birmingham Pens Fred Rogers Cardigan Red ink
- Two Claire Fontaine notebooks
- One leather pen slip
The entry period will last through midnight on August 25, 2017. One winner will be selected at random from all that enter. To enter, simply comment below that you are in for the giveaway and maybe even some commentary on anything we have presented, that you want us to present, etc. Any negative, hateful, or spamming comments will be deleted and left out from consideration. We will contact the winner via YouTube. If we don't get a response from the winner with the needed shipping information within three days, we will move on to the next person who will potentially be the new winner.
Thank you everyone for getting us off to a solid start and getting us here after only a couple of months of doing this. When we reach 1000 subscribers, we will have a nicer, bigger giveaway.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Conklin All American Old Glory Fountain Pen

Today I review the Conklin All American Old Glory fountain pen. I had bid in auctions for these over the months this year but been unsuccessful in getting a bargain on one until now. I also reveal what our subscriber giveaway will include.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Something to look out for when buying fountain pens on ebay

Today we ran across something when my wife's ebay order arrived for what was advertised as a "Pilot Animal" fountain pen. It is actually a Metropolitan, even though the ebay description said nothing about it.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Jinhao Fountain Pen Collection Review and Advice with Matthew

Today my son, Matthew, and I introduce various Jinhao fountain pens for those who are starting to collect pens, want to expand their inexpensive pens, want something inexpensive on which to practice, or want ideas for pens to give to introduce others to the fountain pen collecting hobby.
In the video we mentioned Larry's Fountain Pens channel at
and a previous Jinhao giveaway video at

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

My MontBlanc Meisterstück 149 fountain pen experience and review

Over the weekend I purchased a MontBlanc Meisterstück 149 fountain pen. This is the story behind my experience with the purchase, the problem, and the resolution as well as my impressions of the pen.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Monteverde Giant Sequoia review

I review my Monteverde Giant Sequoia fountain pen that I recently acquired.

Parker Vacuumatic Writing Sample

I was asked to give a writing sample for my newly acquired Parker Vaccumatic fountain pen, so here it is.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

DC Pen Show 2017 haul

In this video, my eight-year-old son Matthew and I cover our pen show haul from the DC Pen Show 2017 this weekend. We got pens of all price ranges and quality, inks, notepads, samples, supplies, etc. We cover the Pay It Forward program for children and what they are now doing at pen shows for kids. Matthew ended up with six pens of his own added to his collection and I bought three.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Vintage Wearever Fountain Pens

I got another vintage Wearever fountain pen in today's mail. Here are the challenges I had with it and my assessment of that brand of pens considering my experiences thus far.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The 250 Subscriber Giveaway

My YouTube subscriber count has been growing a lot lately, and I am very thankful for that. Once I hit the milestone of 250 subscribers, I will have a giveaway that will be open to my subscribers. #thankful

Two Monteverdes, Conklin Nighthawk, Platinum 3776, Wing Sung 590

Today's mail brought five new pens.
Monteverde Prima
Monteverde Mountains of the World - Mount Denali edition
Conklin Nighthawk
Platinum 3776
Wing Sung 590

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A few more lessons learned and experiences in fountain pen restoration

I got an old Waterman pen with the goal of learning more on how to restore and polish one up nicely. This is my experience thus far with it. There are very knowledgeable people who do a much better job than I and who are professionals for a reason. I learned that I cannot just follow their video guidelines and expect the same results they show in their videos.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

An 8-year-old's latest pen haul

Today, my son Matthew wanted to go over his new pen acquisitions that he got from a generous fountain pen aficionado, Larry. Larry's YouTube channel link is

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Pilot Decimo Vanishing Point, TWSBI Diamond 580AL, and Delta Dolcevita

I go over the recent additions to the pen family that include a Pilot Decimo Vanishing Point, a TWSBI Diamond 580AL, a Delta Dolcevita, a replacement Aihao, a Lamy Vista, and another Esterbrook. I compare the TWSBI 580 with the Eco.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Does a Visconti Really Cost like a Mont Blanc and Write Like a Noodlers ...

I have heard several times the criticism of quality control with Visconti products and the saying that "Visconti costs like a Mont Blanc but writes like a Noodler's Ahab". Is that really the case? Is the value there for the more expensive Visconti line?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

4 Watermans and a Lamy ABC School Pen

It was a great mail day for us. Today we received four Waterman pens, three of which are vintage. I also got my son's birthday present in the mail of his Lamy ABC School Pen. What were some of the challenges? How does this fit perfectly with my previous video? Watch and find out.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tips for collecting vintage fountain pens for newbies

I collect both new and vintage fountain pens. I wanted to share my experiences and lessons learned in collecting vintage/antique fountain pens so far. I am by no means an expert, but I have learned a few things along the way.

Monday, July 10, 2017

My son's birthday pen haul and my recent arrivals

My son just had his 8th birthday party yesterday and his gifts focused on his fountain pen hobby. In this video we cover or mention the following pens: Lamy Studio Pilot Metropolitan Parker Vector Waterman's Crusader Esterbrook Charles Schulz Limited Edition Jinhao 992 Fountain Pen Revolution Guru Lamy ABC Student Pen Baoer 508 Esterbrook LJ

Friday, July 07, 2017

A few Esterbrook problems and upcoming acquisitions

I share a few problems I have been having with Esterbrook vintage fountain pens lately and share what will be added to my collection soon.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Pocket Pens, Kaweco, Fountain Pen Revolution, and Waterman Hemisphere

Today I cover my recent additions to my pen family, a Kaweco Sport and how it compares to other pocket pens I have from Ohto, two demonstrator pens from Fountain Pen Revolution, a Jinhao 1200, and a Waterman Hemisphere. I also compare the Waterman Hemisphere to the Waterman Executive and the Waterman Carène.

Here are the links I promised in the video.

Fountain Pen Revolution:

Podcast about Alexander Hamilton:

Friday, June 30, 2017

Why I take my own advice and a few more pens arrived today

I cover a few new arrivals to my collection today and I explain why I gave the newbie advice that I did in my last video. I take my own advice on some things and it pays off. I also show three different ink colors from Birmingham Pens that I have used so far.

The link I put in my video is

Thursday, June 29, 2017

More tips for fountain pen newbies and recent acquisitions

I had more tips for newbies to the fountain pen hobby that I never got to discuss but cover some in this video. Also, more great pens arrived in the mail recently, so I cover those.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Federal "grant money" is still tax payer money

There is no such thing as public money; there is only taxpayers’ money. - Margaret Thatcher

I have long decried the local municipality paradigm of looking to the federal government for a source of funding for every pet project.  Not every single "good idea" or even "nice idea" needs to be funded at the public expense.

I remember one local mayor that was praising a US Congressman for constantly helping get road funding for his little town from the national coffers.  I have a better idea.  Instead of extracting the money from local taxpayers to begin with, why not leave the money in the pockets of the populace so that the local governments can finance their own expenditures?

I am so tired of the mentality that keeps people and lower levels of government dependent upon Washington, DC for their monetary needs and desires.  I have seen this here in my little town of Selma, NC.  For years the town has repeatedly looked to the US Government for loans and grants to fund water, sewer, roads, building renovations, and now even a civic center.  Our town only has about 6,000 residents.  We already have a parks and recreation department, a local Lions Club building that the public can rent, and an entire former school complex that is used as a gymnasium, workout center, meeting place, and can be used for civic events.

An old gymnasium has been re-incarnated as a utility contractor's building and was later given to the local American Legion, who in turn sold it to the town under the guise of building a civic center.  OK, this is a nice idea for our little town, but I sure don't want to spend our tax dollars on it.  The town was already hoodwinked into paying $60,000 for the facility.  Well, that facility needs an additional $300,000 in renovations in order to be usable.  The concept was sold to the town that private fundraising could bring in the money necessary, but a couple of years later, no such thing has happened.

The town has applied for and is waiting on the results of the grant application from the USDA.  The USDA?  Why is the US Department of Agriculture involved in any way, shape, form, or fashion in the funding of a small-town civic center?  Of what importance is this to the topic of agriculture?  For that matter, why has it been the USDA that has been involved in our town's loans for sewer line projects?  I fail to see a single provision in the US Constitution that allows for Congress to make provision for any such program or projects.  Why should someone in Montana be paying tax dollars to help renovate a civic center in Podunk, North Carolina?  I commented on this very project on my TV commentary as far back as 2015.

Whenever a town gets money from the federal government, it is still money extracted from the pockets of taxpayers.  When a town borrows money from the feds, it is even worse.  We have to be taxed to supply the funds lent to the town.  Then we have to pay taxes to the town to repay the loan to the feds at interest, so we get doubly taxed on all such subsidies and loans.  The only good thing about a grant is that we pay the tax money once, not twice.

I, for one, am tired of seeing small towns attempting to suckle off the federal government teat and often settling for the crumbs that fall from Caesar's table, instead.  I am tired of seeing our government run money laundering schemes and overtaxing the citizenry for the sake of retaining power over people and local governments.  I am tired of local politicians agreeing to be beholden to the national pork barrel spending projects that are bleeding us taxpayers dry.  And I am tired of seeing the national government spend money upon projects that are wholly unconstitutional.

Fountain pen advice for newbies

Monday, May 08, 2017

The Road to Smurfdom

You may have heard of the book "The Road to Serfdom" by F.A. Hayek. I am thinking about writing "The Road to Smurfdom" since I discovered the formula a few minutes ago.
1. Open the mail containing several ink samples among other things from The Goulet Pen Company.
2. Open another package that has a pen you have been drooling over for a while and finally got.
3. Open a sample tube of Noodler's 54th Massachusetts blue ink.
4. Find that the breather/filler hole on the Waterman Carène will be a bit higher than you like and so you tip the sample tube to try to get a good ink suction going. No, I did not pay anywhere near as much for the pen as it shows in the link I just provided.
5. Only get some bubbles with very little ink.
6. Set down the sample tube without putting on its lid while you clean up the pen with a paper towel.
7. Tell yourself that you were stupid for not trying the nice bottle of Waterman Serenity Blue ink you had on the shelf.
8. Knock over the open vial of sample ink, thereby confirming your negative self-affirmation.
9. Attempt to clean up the spill using more paper towel, Windex, and even Clorox bleach spray cleaner.
10. End up with blue hands and a now permanent blue stain on your beige colored desk.
11. Fill your new Carenè with the ink you should have used, to begin with.
12. Enjoy the new pen and realize that for this one, you need bottled ink and never sample ink vials.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Lesson learned about ink

I am still learning about fountain pens.  I watch a lot of videos and read a lot of reviews, web sites, and do research on pens that I have just purchased or want to purchase.  I want to learn from others who went before me, so have spent some of my spare time reading and watching.

One thing on the Lamy 2000 I discovered today is actually good news. I used to have a bottle of Waterman ink which I eventually depleted and found a bargain blue-black ink by Hero. I have been using the Hero ink for a couple of years now, since I only had the one fountain pen that I was using regularly. So that was the only bottle on hand when I started buying other pens and use it to ink them as well. The good part of that is that I got to see how they compared one to another using the same ink. The bad part is that I was disappointed a little bit in the Lamy with the Hero ink. I ordered a bottle of Diamine Oxyx Black ink that arrived today. Not knowing if I would like it or not, I got a small bottle to try. The first pen I inked with it was the Lamy. I excreted out the old ink, flushed the pen well, and put in the Diamine ink. The Lamy writes much better with that ink than with the other, so I am at least happy that my higher priced pen is writing nicely now rather than being a bit of a downer.

Also, my little town has a lot of antique shops. It is known for having that theme for its downtown shopping, so I figured I would start looking in those stores to see what vintage fountain pens I could find. I picked one shop to visit today and we looked around. We only found one fountain pen, an old 1960's Sheaffer 304 cartridge (later called a "Student") pen. For just $4, I figured I would give it a shot. I probably need to clean the nib since it still had an old cartridge in it. While there I also found an old Warren Mfg. 1890 dip pen, which is also in the picture.  I will see whatever finds I can hunt up over time. I have primarily been finding pens via ebay, web sites, and private sellers so far.


Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Adventures in fountain pen ownership

I love fountain pens.  I always have.  Ever since I first wrote with one, I liked the feel and flow.  I remember buying my first one, which was a cheap one at Wal-Mart or some other department store in the stationery aisle.  It was dark green and took ink cartridges.  When I could no longer find cartridges, I stopped using it and threw it in a storage tote along with other pens I owned.  Recently I found it and can't even find the brand name on it, so I don't know what brand of cartridges to seek or if it will take an international cartridge.

A few years later, I bought a Waterman gift set that had a nice Waterman Phileas that came with different color ink cartridges and a bottle of ink.  It has been reliable, writes well, and has been my favorite pen for almost two decades.  Sure, it was nothing fancy.  What would I expect for a meager $40?  Of course that forty bucks was a lot to me at the time.  I still use it often.

Recently I decided to buy some more pens and see what ones I liked.  I bought a JinHao fairly inexpensive pen from China.  It was a sturdy pen that wrote fairly well, at least for the first little bit.  Then it stopped writing.  I may work on it some eventually.  I tried some cartridges from JinHao since the converter would not pull in ink, but it still won't write.  I probably need to work on the nib feed path some.

For Christmas I bought my wife and my mother-in-law each a cheap fountain pen to see if they liked them and would figure on getting more expensive ones if they like and actually used them.

I have been doing a lot of reading online, joined some Facebook groups, bookmarked a lot of pen web sites, watched YouTube videos, and read some more.  I learned about nibs, filling systems, brands, and found that not every pen is worth the money, but many are.  I found that some less expensive pens can out perform more expensive ones.  I found that some pens that write well are inexpensive ones that I might want to use when I travel since they were only about $5 and I won't fret over losing one.  From personal experience shopping in fine jewelry stores, I found that Mont Blanc pens are still considered some of the finest and along with that comes a high price tag.

From there, I decided that since I no longer have any real hobbies, I might want to collect a some pens.  I bought a few of them and tried them one by one.  I asked for some recommendations from friends on Facebook in case anyone was into fountain pens.  I got a few suggestions from one guy in particular.   He had two primary suggestions for a Pilot Metropolitan and a Lamy 2000.  I got the Pilot Metropolitan a while ago and I like it so far. For the price, it is hard to beat.

I did some research and found that just about every big time collector and pen expert rated the Lamy at the top of their list of quality for the price and some of them, it's their favorite of any pen they own. I kept searching for a decent deal on one, and especially for a medium nib. I seem to like medium more than the fine or extra fine nibbed pens I have purchased so far. I have bought some cheap pens, some "not as cheap", and been looking for a new favorite. I kept looking and waiting while picking up some pens by Parker, Hero, an old Sheaffer (that turned out to be unusable), JinHao, Platinum, and EastVita. Out of those, the Platinum Preppy and the Pilot Metropolitan were my top picks. Still, my old $40 Waterman that I have had for nearly 20 years has been my favorite, though those other two are nice and I reach for them as well. Yesterday my Lamy 2000 arrived with a medium nib. I inked it and tested it. So far, I really like it and will keep using it to see if it becomes my new favorite.

Many of the pens that I have I simply ordered on   If you are willing to wait, you can get cheap pens from China for a dollar to five dollars.  Beware, though.  I bought a pen from that purports to be a Parker Sonnet but is instead a cheap Chinese knock off.  Well, I could have ordered a Baoer 388 from China for an eighth of the cost and that is the exact same thing, just sold under a different name.  It even has the Parker clip on it and came with a medium nib instead of that cursed extra-fine one that the Parker impostor pen had.

The Sheaffer Imperial I mentioned earlier as unusable came in the mail just fine.  I bought it off ebay and it is from pre-1947, which means it is pre-Touchdown model production (1949).  The reason I know it was circa 1947 was that it had a written note on the box of being a gift to someone in 1947.  It came as a set with a mechanical pencil, which is still in excellent shape.

The Imperial was full of crusted, dried ink.  The lever was hard to move on the lever fill and I heard crunching.  I moved the lever again and again, freeing it more and more from the crusted ink.  I could not disassemble the pen since it was crusted together and I figured it was just junk at that point.  I messaged the ebay seller to let them know that the pen was pretty much crapped up and unusable.  He offered to refund my money if I returned the pen, but I just held onto it as a lesson learned of caveat emptor and as a personal challenge.  I got all sorts of ink dust and dirt out of the pen as best I could and soaked the nib trying to clean it up and see if I could ink it.  Nope.

I put a Pyrex measuring cup of water in the microwave for two minutes and got the water to about boiling then set my pen in it.  I had already been wondering about its anatomy since it had to come apart somehow.  I was reading about what a pen sac was, having seen the term used by a seller on ebay.  He is selling "vintage" fountain pens, i.e. old and used pens.  He kept saying that his pens had a new sac.  I saw it especially on the lever action pens, and my Sheaffer is one of those types.  Well, if the sac can be replaced, my pen must come apart, hence the soaking.  I figured that I had nothing to lose and I was not willing to pay for someone else to fix it.  I looked at this as a learning experience.

I ordered some new sacs online, along with a sac sealer.  Those will eventually arrive, but for now I got to play Mr. Disassembler.  I got some rubber jar lid grippers and worked with the nib housing in one hand and the pen barrel in the other and finally the pre-soaked pen came apart.  Just as I was figuring at that point, there was no sac left.  It was probably original to the pen, some seventy years ago.  I soaked the parts a little more and scraped off what was left of the sac neck from the pen and even used some brake parts cleaner (I know that some pen aficionados are cringing right now) and tried cleaning out the nib path and any crusted up ink in the barrel.  Hey, what did I really have to lose?  I know that videos listing mistakes that pen owners make included soaking the nibs or pens in rubbing alcohol or turpentine.  I figured that I am not soaking the pen in this stuff and the brake cleaner was really helpful in getting dirty firearms clean for me.  Well, no crusty ink or ink stained liquid came out.  So, I went back to soaking it in water for a while after thoroughly flushing the pen with water in the sink.

The lever action now works much better than previously, the pen seems fairly clean, and I am waiting on the new sacs and sac sealer to arrive.  I am hoping to give putting it back together a try and seeing if I can resurrect this old gem.  If it writes finally, I will have a sense of accomplishment.  If not, I learned something about fountain pens.

I still have my sights set on a nice Mont Blanc Meisterstuck pen.  I fell in love with its elegance decades ago.  I have bid on some on ebay but have let people outbid me since I am in no hurry to get one and I want to get a bargain, especially if it is used and there are no guarantees as to its quality.  I did OK with the Lamy 2000.  I saved anywhere from $40 to $80 by getting the Lamy used.  Maybe I can find a good one.  I am nowhere near being a major pen geek, but I do like nice writing instruments and do prefer fountain pens over ballpoint ones.

A few pens that are already on my hit list are
Pelikan M800 or M1000
Lambrou LB5
Sheaffer Ferrari series
I am sure that I will add many more to the list over time.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Don't settle for high costs of diabetic testing supplies

I have seen a lot of people decry the high cost of blood glucose testing supplies lately, especially under the ACA and declining coverage. This is the second time I will share this tip. eBay. For the second time, I scored some test strips at a bargain price. Diabetic testing supplies are OTC items at the pharmacy. WalMart has meters and strips right on the shelf. But even after insurance, my testing supplies were outrageously high priced. My last purchase was for lancets and test strips. I scored 400 lancets and 300 test strips for $111 cheaper than what my online pharmacy wanted to charge me for fewer supplies than that. They work fine with my meter and spring-loaded lancet device. I still have 100 days worth of test strips on the shelf and I just opened a vial of 50 to put with my meter. I just scored 8 vials of test strips (50 strips per vial) for $80 including shipping. That for me is 400 days of test strips plus the 150 I still have, so I am stocked up for a while. I will eventually have to buy more lancets since I have about 250 left, but that will last me more than another 6 months. My point is simply that you can find supplies if you look hard enough and for a price that will not kill the bank. Also, if you buy off eBay and then submit the receipts to your Rx plan, you may or may not get reimbursed. If you don't, the total can still be counted against your out of pocket maximum for the year. That is what happened to me last year. Another thought is that I previously had purchased a brand new (still sealed in the original packaging) duplicate meter that I keep as a spare, use at my work desk, and take with me when I travel.  It was only $10 for a second meter of the exact same model that I was already using. Just a tip.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

My little town providing free public internet?

There are a few issues that I have with the idea that the Town of Selma will be providing free public wi-fi.  First, there is no reason why we have to hire a "consultant" to do this for the town when there are high-speed network providers that can do the job right here already.  Furthermore, one of these same providers already does networks like this, and I use their services regularly to connect to computers and networks hundreds of miles away.  I have my company computer on this very desk connected 24/7 to do the very thing that the town is spending almost $60k to do.  This can be done for far less money.  Next, I have a problem with providing wifi hotspots at public expense, especially "the public would be able to have free Wi-Fi service up to two blocks away from all 10 public buildings".  Some of these buildings are near residential housing and businesses. That means that I will be subsidizing tenants, homeowners, and business owners with free internet while my neighbors have to pay full price for theirs.  With internet providers abound and mobile data plans in plentiful supply at reasonable prices (even free if you know where to look), why are we taxpayers funding internet for private citizens and businesses?  It is one thing if private businesses wish to provide free wifi as a way to attract, keep, and placate customers.  Different data carriers even provide free hotspots around the country for their own customers.  But a town government should not be giving away that for which we who fund the town have to pay.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Watched the inauguration

We watched the inauguration today. I watch regardless of who it was that takes the oath. Donald Trump gave a decent speech today. Still, I would love to hear the shortest inauguration speech in history that would go something like this.

"Moments ago, I took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. All federal officials, including the Vice President, swear to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; several of which are on this very platform with me right this very moment. GAME. ON."

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Musings on private interpretation

Over the years, I have run across a good many political liberals as well as theological liberals.  Here in the USA, we have a set of founding documents and principles.  In Christendom, we likewise have a set of founding writings and principles as found in the Holy Bible.  I have found a lot of parallels in the mindset of both sets of liberals, and they often coincide.

What I find in the world's system of politics in our nation, state, and local governments is the tendency to have one's personal affections and behaviors, then look for a way to justify them within the law.  And if the law doesn't quite fit, you merely either explain it away, or twist it through interpretation until it fits your desired liberty.  For example, Alexander Hamilton and George Washington stretched the concept of implied powers to get a national bank even though it was not an enumerated power in the US Constitution and both men were there when the document was crafted.  In Marbury vs. Madison, the US Supreme Court found a liberty that did not exist for them in the form of the power to declare laws as unconstitutional.  The Supreme Court found the right to kill unborn children while still in their mother's wombs via an unwritten nor intended right to abortion.  The SCOTUS has also found the right to "freedom from religion" and the "separation of church and state" where none exists and the ripping of old writings far out of their obvious context and applying it to a court case.  The constitutionality of Obamacare, Social Security, welfare, and homosexual marriage (not to mention even the concept that government has any business in defining marriage) etc. has been fabricated to justify what used to be considered deviant, sinful, or abhorrent behavior.  I could point to many examples in holy writ or even today's news about examples in the Church.

Just yesterday, I ran across a Twitter Troll that attempted to use the logic that I must be wrong about the US Constitution if a judge or even panel of three disagree with my reading of the scope of a constitutional amendment.  He assumed that one cannot have any true knowledge of the document, founding truths, original intent, or grasp of the text and yet proceeded to inform me of how he has to be correct because of his "interpretation" if a few judges happened to agree and ergo anyone else must be wrong.

Now, this may be a simple approach on my part, but I believe that the text of a law or of the Constitution, much as in the Bible, pretty much means what it says when laying out principles, guidelines, and the like.  A knowledge of both written context and historical context are helpful in understanding the meaning or intent.  And yet if someone wearing a robe, whether judge or clergy happens to render an opinion, then it must be accurate.  If those opinions are inaccurate or built upon a falsehood, those who stand for the truth of the text and disagree are vilified as being ignorant, pseudo-experts, legalistic, pharisaical, or simpletons.  A common one nowadays is to use the label of ___phobic; just fill in the blank.  Effectively, this is an ad hominem attack in that if you disagree with the elevated expert, commentator, or potentate then you are obviously wrong and therefore the veracity of your argument or position is likewise in error.  I instead stick by the quote of John Adams, "Facts are stubborn things." 

I find it hypocritical to assert that someone cannot be knowledgeable because they disagree with their chosen perspective or expert and that something must be interpreted in order to grasp it.  No, some things need no interpretation since they are self-evident and clearly written with a concise meaning.  To find liberties where there are none, dismiss prohibitions that clear, and excuse and accept as normal some abhorrent behavior is not enlightenment nor being saintly.  It is being loose with the truth.  Sadly that is the norm today.  But keep this one axiom in mind.  If you see it in our government and our society, it is because it was first allowed and accepted in the Church.  As the Church goes, so goes the nation.  I choose to stand against the prevailing winds of doctrine, whether in the world or in the Church.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

A Board of Education Appointment and a Conflict of Interest

The below is a letter that I sent to the editor of "The Selma News" this morning.  I attempted to send it to "The Smithfield Herald" but that paper only accepts letters of 200 words or less.  I can hardly ask a question in 200 words or less.  So, I am also blogging it here.


To the Editor:

On Tuesday, January 3rd, the Johnston County Board of Education appointed Mr. Todd Sutton to fill the Board’s vacancy created when Larry Strickland resigned his post to serve in our state legislature.  In total, nine people applied for consideration for the open position, myself included.  I say that to stress the following point.  I am not writing this letter because I was not the one selected to fill that position.  I was under no illusion that I would be the front-runner for that slot.  There were some fine applicants, Mr. Sutton included.  My philosophy was simply that one cannot be considered if one does not apply.  I do not personally know Mr. Sutton, and from everything I have read about the man written by mutual acquaintances, he seems to be an honorable individual.

Mr. Sutton has two children in the Johnston County school system, as do I.  I am glad to see that a parent is willing to get involved in the educational system that is instructing his children, which was the same motivation I had in proffering an application for consideration for the open position. 
According to the Johnston County School System’s own web site, a news story was published the same day as Mr. Sutton’s appointment.  One of the things mentioned caught my attention.  “Sutton’s wife, Lynda, is a teacher with Johnston County Schools…”  That, my fellow citizens, is where I have a problem with the Board of Education’s selection.  Many corporations and government agencies have regulations against someone being in a position of oversight of one’s spouse or family member.  This should be no exception.  Although Mr. Sutton may very well be an excellent candidate otherwise, this one item should be a cause for disqualification for the position.  Furthermore, this was an appointment, not an election, so such a consideration is even more relevant.  My saying this is why I wrote the disclaimer at the front end of my letter.  

As a taxpayer in Johnston County, a voter, and a father of two (soon to be three) children in the   This is my only gripe about the selection of Mr. Sutton for the open school board seat.  This is a potential conflict of personal interest.  If Mr. Sutton’s wife worked as an educator in a different school system, a private school, or even one of the local charter schools, I would have no problem with the appointment of Mr. Sutton to the Board of Education.  As a matter of fact, I voted for Mr. Sutton in November’s election because of the reputation he had.  However, as I wrote earlier, I don’t know Mr. Sutton personally, so I did not know that he was running for the Board of Education while his wife was and is employed by the same school system that he would potentially oversee.  Had I known that at the time, I would not have voted the way I did.
county’s schools, I have a problem with the spouse of an employee of the school system being in a position to influence working conditions, budgets, compensation, and policies that personally affect their household.

This is nothing personal.  I tend to be objective about such things and I would have the same perspective regardless of whomever it was that got the appointment should they have been in the same circumstance and whether or not I had submitted my own application for the position.  I do know that out of the eight other candidates that applied, there was probably an excellent candidate that should have instead been primarily considered by the Board of Education.  Instead, the board unanimously agreed to allow a potential conflict of interest, and for that I blame the Board of Education, not Mr. Sutton.