Posted in Uncategorized

Jetpack, Addition through subtraction

“Stats, Notifications, and the Reader – have a new home: the Jetpack app! These features will soon be removed from the WordPress app”

This is totally off-topic and it will not be a recurring feature, but I just wanted to vent. In case you did not read the press release, WP is splitting its blogging app into two parts: the blogging app and the et al app known as Jetpack. It sounds like this is only happening to the mobile app…. for now.

“Simply download the Jetpack app and you’ll be “auto-magically” logged in with all your content in place.”

Excuse my English but bullyshit. I made the switch on my iPad. It was a PITA, I had to delete the Jetpack app reinstall and try it again. Finally got it working after I stumbled onto an issue in my WP blog setup. I corrected that issue, and was then able to convert the blogs (yes I have 2), well sort of – I lost stuff. Better yet, in my fun sarcastic blog (it follows our Frenchie and her view of worldly things), I have all the posts but they are verboten to me. I can’t even display them. Yet, all the statistics, comments, followers, etc are there but no posts. WTH, stats but no posts! And the conversion blew away my profile picture. I know, no biggy but when you are already pissed! The only benefit I see is a trend graph of visitors over the last 7 days. I turned that off, I don’t care, I do this for fun. Maybe that is my problem, I don’t care, but clearly, I do. This isn’t fun!

This is when my wife tells me I’m manic and need an anger management class. I told her Mindfulness is failing me at the moment.

“Either app is available for you to use. Once you’ve decided which app is best for you, please delete the other. Managing your site across both apps is currently unsupported and may lead to issues like data conflicts.”

Great, so now I will use the Jetpack app for this blog and the WP app for the Frenchie blog, all because I cannot switch between sites anymore. Yes, there is an option to switch sites, just like the old WP beloved app but that is when the verboten thing happens. I’m sure I could post new stuff, but what about the old stuff? Why is it hidden from me? Addition through subtraction!

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. I don’t have a computer. All my blogging is done on my phone or an iPad. This means I have no recourse, I’m nothing but victimized. Yes, I occasionally I will use the “work” computer to log into the WP website to edit a post with a block that is not available on the mobile app (which there are many).

I feel better now. Hopefully, your experience will not be like mine. Let me know how it goes.

Posted in Pens, Uncategorized

Eco-Friendly Stationery, Pens & Pencils

Going green has not only become a hip trend, it is a way of life for many. Regardless of the politics, today I am focusing on environmentally conscious options relating to paper and notebooks. I sorta feel this is an underserved topic/community. With the gift buying frenzy upon us, I thought it is appropriate to mention the options. Never know who may be looking for unique or special eco-friendly gifts.

Disclaimer: For transparency, I have no relationships with any of the vendors listed nor have I tried their products. I was interested in the topic and found their products or websites interesting to me. I have no idea if any of the paper, stationery, or notebooks are fountain pen friendly. Also, I am relying on others so if the statistics are wrong or unagreeable, sorry I’m restating the claims of others – don’t shoot the messenger. Sounds like a potential future blog topic.

Eco-friendly stationery is way more than just notebooks and paper stock made of recycled newspapers. Going green now includes sustainable stationery, zero-waste (fully recyclable), eco-friendly pens and pencils, ethical stationery made from ethically produced materials like sustainably managed timber. So much for buying notebooks or paper stock based on paper weight (gsm), lined vs dot vs grid print, hard vs soft covers and pretty artwork.

Fun fact: traditional pens are not recyclable because they contain an assortment of metals, plastics, and chemicals so they can’t be recycled. Well, unfortunately neither can eco-friendly pens. Annually, 1.6 billion pen make it to the landfills, so next time someone smugly asks “why do you write with a FOUNTAIN PEN?” Now you have THE answer for them – “Fountain pens are a lifetime investment and won’t be joining their 1.6 billion cousins any time soon.”

I never knew! – Click each picture for purchase information

Eco-friendly pens and pencils: available in a variety of materials often tree-free and biodegradable, no polymers toxic-free. Often made of recycled paper, bamboo or other organics. Eco-Fountain pens like the Zenzoi (made from bamboo) while others are sustainably harvested wood from 70% certified PEFC forests.

Recycled paper pencils have no splinters, sharpen easily and come in cool colors, plus their erasers are latex-free and PVC-free. I even found an eco-friendly pencil called Sprouts, instead of recycling it stick the stub into a pot of soil and watch it grow into a plant. Available on Amazon.

Relying heavily on the American stationary blog post (included in the reference material) on this topic let’s walk through what eco-friendly stationery options are available.

Recycled paper: much like it sounds, recycled paper from 10% to 100% recycled materials. Using recycled stationery means less wasted energy, water usage, and landfill space.

Renewable energy paper: is paper manufactured from wind power and other renewable energy sources. This reduces air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants released into the atmosphere.

Chlorine-free paper: White paper is often made with chlorine as the primary bleaching agent, this paper is made from only environmentally friendly bleaching processes.

Sustainable Forestry Initiative certified papers: this paper is made solely from practicing sustainable forestry and land management. This is a direct response to the issues that face North American forests.

Tree-free paper: this paper is made completely free of trees. Instead of chopping down trees, other sources of fiber are found like cotton fiber and other non-wood fiber materials. This saves trees and prevents the demolition of forests.

Posted in Stories, Uncategorized

The “Seinfeld” (a blog post about nothing)

Going a little off topic but hey it’s my blog. Anyway, I’m 45 posts in and I feel it’s time to request constructive criticism, to question the Blog, to evaluate it, to figure out what works, what doesn’t and for that, I need YOUR input. I would really appreciate a comment or two – don’t be shy.

You may ask why am I doing this at posting 45, I plan my posts in advance, I try to pair related posts and have topics planned all the way into August 2022, so now is where this topic hits. I considered making this posting number 42 (as it is the meaning of life) but I wanted to coordinate the Esterbrook Pastel refurbishment with the how to start a pen collection.

Some fun statistics about the blog: this is the 45th post, to which I’ve made 26 revisions. Overall, the blog contains nearly 27k words. My posts have been shared on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr and Pinterest. The average post takes me upwards of 10 hours to research, write, edit, etc before it is published. My posts have been visited by +620 visitors from 23 countries excluding the US, generating +1000 views, 81% of my viewership comes from Facebook and I have 16 followers. The surprising thing, the blog is about pens!

What am I doing? Why am I doing this? Is it worth doing?

I have NO interest in becoming an “influencer” or receiving free “stuff” nor do I judge my success or failure by “likes” and “followers,” this isn’t about inflating my ego. The blog is all about creating content that I hope others can use or find interesting. When I told my daughter I was blogging she told friends and they all got a good laugh. Was it because the “old guy” is blogging or the content or both? Can’t tell you how happy I was to hear this…..really. There are millions of blogs focusing on book reviews, movie reviews, food, travel, or feelings. Which is great and some I follow, but I was looking for an outlet for my experiences, maybe I could help others, and hope someone may learn from my mistakes. So I started creating content that bucks the trend. In an era when everything is disposable, I’m refurbishing pens that would otherwise end up in a landfill. There are no special skills necessary, so hey look the old guy is doing it.

Tell a good story.

Spike Lee

How many people do you know have or can create home DIY nickel electroplating? Better yet, how many do you know would try, including construction of a project box (I so miss Radio Shack). Actually, I found building the box and doing the electroplating was a blast and I wanted to tell someone, hence the genesis of the blog. Also, I am a bit sentimental, when I write with these vintage pens I try to appreciate the stories these pens might tell if they could talk, or the history they’ve seen, or the joy and the heartbreak they’ve realized on paper. Some pens are personalized, naturally, I research the owner and include their story in the blog. “I’m just trying to tell a good story and make thought-provoking” content.

You have to create content that they want to read.

Personally, I find it challenging to read long blog postings, I usually skim them more often then not and I should know better as I am quite the wind bag. Early on, my typical post was +800 words so I decided to limit the future posts to 600ish words. To accomplish this I’ve split topics into multiple posts and I’ve added more pictures (worth a thousand words).

A Penny for your Thoughts”

Sir Thomas More (1535)

Please feel free to comment on the following:

  • Are the posts still too wordy?
  • Is the style ok, I prefer conversational like I am speaking directly to you
  • Is the content ok?
  • How about the theme, is that ok?
  • Any thoughts, likes or dislikes.
Posted in Stories, Uncategorized

How about the way you write

I came across this topic while “discovering” potential blogs. I read somewhere that handwriting can be attributed to 5,000 personal traits. I guess it falls under handwriting analysis (aka graphology) and can be used to identify if the writer is telling stories (lying like a rug) and possibly identifying health ailments. As it ties very nicely with fountains pens, I thought I’d share.

From physiological conditions like high blood pressure and schizophrenia to personality traits like dominance and aggression: if you can write by hand, graphologists can analyze you.

I checked and handwriting that is sloppy as Hell and nearly illegible is not apparently an analyzed type. Seemed like fun so I took the handwriting quiz (it’s like 5 questions) and this is what they found

Use the links below to learn more, take the test and see what your hand writing says about you – have fun. Please let me know if you take the test and the results, lets laugh about it!

Handwriting Analysis and Personality Quiz

—————————- Read More About It ———————-

Posted in Stories, Uncategorized

Six Degrees of Stephen King

The primary pillar of this blog is the telling of a good story, while highlighting fountain pens. There is only the briefest mention of any pens in this post, sorry; however, this tells the genesis of a great story and who doesn’t enjoy a good ghost story. I was recently in Estes Park and toured the Stanley Hotel, thus I couldn’t help but blog about it knowing the connection between Stephen King, the hotel and fountain pens.

Northwest of Boulder, Colorado in the front range of the Rocky Mountains lies Estes Park, home to The Stanley Hotel. The hotel gained notoriety after the famed horror writer spent the night with his wife at the Stanley Hotel back in 1974. That night has forever changed the image and fortune of the Hotel.

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO

Suffering from writer’s block, and alcoholism, King moved his family from Maine to Colorado where he took a teaching position in Boulder. One day, the couple were heading to the Rocky Mountain National Park when they found the road blocked by a landslide so they turned around. On the way back to Boulder they passed through Estes Park, where Stephen noticed the Stanley Hotel on the hill “overlooking” the town. He knew instantly that he was spending the night. At the time, the hotel was suffering from neglect, and heading for bankruptcy. The hotel staff initially turned him away as the season was over and the next day the hotel would be closed for the winter season, but as a winter storm was imminent the staff agreed to let the couple stay (does any of this sound familiar). They were offered the Presidential Suite (room 217) as it being the only room left with clean bedsheets and they would be the only guests in the hotel.

Stephen and his wife Tabitha, took their dinner in the Grand Hall by themselves. Afterwards, Tabitha retired to their room and Stephen wandered the building and property culminating at the hotel bar. The bartender, Lloyd Delbert Grady, is busy packing up from the season when King slides $20 across the bar. Grady told him “your money is no good here” – the season was over and the till closed out for the year. Instead, King is offered a glass of whiskey for a story, hence began an exchange of book ideas and hotel ghost stories.

The Stanley Bar

Stephen spent a great deal of time drinking whiskey that night. Some people postulate that afterwards is when he explored the hotel not after dinner. While others claim that while he roamed the hotel hallways in a drunken state, he ran into two children on the fourth floor. A very odd sight since there are no other guests staying at the hotel. When he made inquires, he is told that there are no children on the premises.

The Stanley Hotel rests on a bed of quartz and limestone, believed to be a conduit for “negative energy.” Under the hotel is a series of tunnels, built to facilitate the movement of the staff without inconveniencing the guests. Room 217 lies a couple floors above and directly atop a massive quartz outcropping.

Room 217

After retiring to his room and falling asleep, Stephen has the most horrifying nightmare of his life. In the dream, he heard the cries of his 3 year old son in the hallway. He threw open the door to see the fire hose across from his room chasing his son down the hallway, eventually strangling him. Stephen reminisced that he “woke up with a tremendous jerk, sweating all over, within an inch of falling out of bed. I got up, lit a cigarette, sat in the chair looking out the window at the Rockies, and by the time the cigarette was done, I had the bones of the book firmly set in my mind.” It took Stephen 4 months to write The Shining.

The Pen

“One final note,” King wrote in the back of his novel Dreamcatcher, “This book was written with the world’s finest word processor, a Waterman cartridge fountain pen.” He claimed that it put him “in touch with language” in a way no other way of writing could. King started writing longhand after he found sitting at a computer too painful. He said the act of using a fountain pen forced him to slow down and think about each word. His choice of pens NOW is a Waterman Hemisphere, which was introduced in 1994 a full 20 years after his experiences in the Stanley Hotel. The photo of Stephen King at work was taken in the latter 1970’s. The Wang Word Processor behind him appears to be a 1200 WPS which was released in June 1976, but as we can see he clearly is using a pen. As for the pen, it appears he is not using Bic Cristal disposable pen (LOL), it is impossible to determine what kind of pen he is using. I was unable to find an interview or written material indicating his choice of writing instruments prior to the automobile accident in 1999.

One of my Waterman Hemispheres

In his book On Writing, King does not mention his experience writing The Shining; however, he does say that the two preceding novels were written on his wife’s portable Olivetti typewriter in the laundry room of their rented double wide trailer. Later, he details how the first chapter of the initial draft of Misery was written longhand out of necessity. Fun fact, Misery also came to King in a dream.

P.S. If by chance you have the good fortune of running into Jim Carrey, don’t ask him about his experiences at the Stanley Hotel in room 217, he only managed a 3 hour stay.

P.S.S. There is adequate source material to blog about King’s return to writing after the accident and why he made the leap to longhand first drafts. If interested feel free to include your interest in the comments.

Suggested Reading and Referenced Material: