Friday, March 25, 2011

What pen for fraudulating?

By way of e-mail, I discover that my choice of fountain pen at work is apparently a subject of interest.


Oookay, anything for blog fodder, I guess.

It's a Lamy AL-Star, the aluminum version of their popular Safari line. I like the Safaris, but I'm used to a bit of weight in a fountain pen, and the plastic Safari just doesn't feel like a fountain pen to me.

I have a Z-24 piston converter installed, which is kind of new to me. When I discovered cartridge systems for pens, I whole-heartedly leaped onto the new (for me) technology, trumpeting the ease of use and vowing to never use a converter again.

Here recently, though, I've become dis-satisfied with fountain pen cartridges. Unless you want to go to some trouble, you're pretty much stuck with whatever ink and colour the manufacturer thinks you need, and they can be a pain-in-the-tuckuss to change out.

With a converter installed, I can use whatever ink or colour strikes my fancy, or even mix my own personal variety.

As far as ink goes, I'm a fan of Noodlers, but I've picked up a couple of bottles of Levenger's house brand ink that I've been quite pleased with; and I've developed a bit of a jones for the Iroshizuku ink.

I seriously doubt if any of my critters will ever see a note scribed in that last, though. They're simply not worth it.

Why a fountain pen?

Well, I'd be lying if I said that ego didn't have something to with my choice of writing instrument. People will stop what they are doing when you un-cap a fountain pen, and watch in fascination as you write with it.

And in today's world of mass-produced ball-point pens and gel inks, there is something satisfying to the soul to be found in writing with an instrument which dates to the 1850s and can trace it's direct lineage back to the 10th Century.

The big plus to a fountain pen is the simple fact that it is easier to write with one. Fountain pen ink is liquid and flows freely. The scribe need only guide the nib across the paper, and the ink will apply itself.

Ball-point pens, on the other paw, use paste ink, and require the writer to firmly apply enough pressure to rotate the ball, dragging the paste out of the reservoir and onto the surface of the paper.

Granted, it is not a lot of pressure, but it does add up over the course of a day. Since I initial or sign over a hundred documents in a shift; answer a score or more Inmate Request Forms, Grievances and the occasional Citizen Complaint, and annotate or add suggestions to a double handful of stuff written by other officers -- my writing hand gets a bit of a work-out.

It may just be imagination, but at the end of the day I can tell a palpable difference between a shift using a fountain pen and a shift using a ball-point.

And I just like them.


Tuesday, March 01, 2011


Ted Gundy is a veteran of World War 2. He fought as a sniper through the Battle of the Bulge until he zigged when zagging was called for and snagged a German shell with his right leg.

He recently sent an e-mail to the producer and host of the Outdoor Channel's Shooting USA programme, asking about the intricacies of making a thousand-yard shot.

The result of that e-mail is here:

Grab a kleenex or two, the air is going to be a wee bit dusty in your area.

84 years old. 1000 yards. Five inch group.