Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Living My Dream

It hit me on Sunday. I'm living my dream come true.

I've been so busy, adding this blog to my busy-ness, that it didn't occur to me earlier.

Sparing you the details, two doctors told me in the latter part of 1992 that I had to find another line of work. After discussing it with my immediate circle as well as with counselors, after considering what I might do, with or without additional training or education, only my desire called out to God: All I want to do is write.

The year 1992 passed into 1993. I wasn't able to work for a year and was limited in my capabilities when I returned to the office. Continued pain and additional therapy filled my thoughts and my days, months, even years. I thought I'd never see the end of it although I tried to keep smiling. I was, and still am, so grateful for anyone who was kind to me and everyone who made me laugh.

Then, it happened. I was free to concentrate on my writing and forgot the rest. That's what dreams do. They take you away from real life to another world, another place, another time, another life, until you see how dreams and real life are interrelated. Until you're able to realize, as I did on Sunday, that real life is the dream and how much God has blessed us.

Psalms 34:8. O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

Lamentations 3:25. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.

Psalms 100:5. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Thank You, Lord!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reviewing My New Pens

The ink rollers aren't turning out anything like I expected. The Kaweco Sport, in particular, has raised a new issue.

Playing with my new pens, I discovered that the line from the ink rollers depends on the ink. The Pelikan is supposed to write a finer line than the Kaweco, but using the short standard international cartridge that came with the Kaweco, the Pelikan makes the same broad line that makes my writing sloppy and unattractive.

Switching over to the Sepia ink that I bought solely to have the great Montblanc bottle it's in, the Kaweco line shrinks down to only about .4mm. Very nice!

I've yet to try the drier Montblanc ink in the Pelikan, but since it followed the Kaweco by producing a broad line when I inserted the short cartridge, there's no reason to expect a drastic difference.

Have you guessed the issue?

I bought the ink roller pens to use up ink that I bought only so I could have the terrific bottles and now, I'm anticipating having to buy more bottles so I can have the ink.

How perverse.

(If you see discrepancies in the reasons I give for buying pens and ink, that's the addiction talking. The plain truth is that I just gotta have them as any true addiction demands. Good thing that I'm a writer, huh?)

So, the Kaweco Sport is turning out to be a nice writer. It's comfortable and lays down the fine line that I like.

The Pelikan is less so. Although it takes the long standard international cartridges, not only the short ones I reported previously, and would be better because I can go longer before needing to refill, it isn't as comfortable to use because there are hard ridges circling the grip. Also, the plastic clip feels like it would break if handled carelessly, although it makes a nice, clear, sharp, clicking sound when I play with it.

Yes, there's more to pens than merely writing with them.

Other than the dilemma raised by anticipating having to buy more ink that I intended to never buy again, the only disappointment is that the ink rollers aren't quite as effortless as my Parker Reflex rollerball. This translates to my not being able to write as long with them. The Parker rollerball Fine refills are among the best I've found (others are from Retro51 and Schmidt) and it's too bad that Parker discontinued the Reflex series a few years ago.

(If you'd like to have an excellent, inexpensive rollerball, Kingpen bought up the remaining Reflex stock from Parker and has the Reflex rollerball pen left only in green, a pretty emerald green, for $4.19 including a Medium refill.)

As for my new Pilot Petit1 and Platinum Preppy fountain pens - oh, my!

Forget what I said about my worrying about ruining fountain pens during travel. These pens are so inexpensive, yet are so comfortable and write so wonderfully, that it should be a crime for a pen addict not to have them.

I have to post the cap on the Petit1 to make it long enough to be comfortable, but once that's done, it's fantastic as is the Preppy. The only thing I can say against them is about the Petit1 - the posted cap lays against the base of my index finger which rubs it off if I don't post it securely. Other than that minor inconvenience, it's great. Anyone who has yet to try a fountain pen, or who tried a fountain pen and wasn't impressed, should give these tipped, Fine nib pens a chance. They write so much better than other fountain pens made by other companies, especially those priced under $7. At $3 for the Preppy and $4.50 or less for the Petit1, there isn't much money at risk and a whole lot of writing pleasure to gain. Accolades to Pilot and Platinum for producing such excellent writers for so low a price!

In regards to the Uni-Ball Signo UM-201, the lime green is great but the .18mm line is too fine for me. As a result, I ordered the .5mm pen.

That's right. The lime green ink compelled me to order another one along with more Petit1 and Preppy fountain pens for traveling. (Ahem!)

Monday, April 21, 2008

In View of Earth Day

It's easy for me to be on the band wagon for boycotting bottled water because I hopped on back in 1992 before there ever was a band wagon.

(It's nice to see others finally catching up to me.)

I just couldn't see any sense in wasting money on the small bottles that were becoming popular when gallon jugs are so much less expensive.

(Talk about throwing money away.)

No matter how poor your tap water is, with filtering devices, reverse osmosis, and bottled water available in gallon jugs and larger, there is no good reason to pollute by repeatedly purchasing those individual bottles. If you drink all of the recommended 64 oz. per day from 16.9 oz. bottles (3.79 bottles per day), at $7 per case of 24 bottles, it's costing you $1.11 per day ($7 / (24 bottles / 3.79 bottles per day)). It may not sound like much, but it adds up to $405.15 a year ($1.11 * 365 days). At $12 a case, it's $1.90 a day or $693.50 a year.

And if you go the convenience route and pay $1 per bottle, at 3.79 bottles, it costs $3.79 per day or $1383.35 per year.

(For one person!)

If you buy your own reusable bottle and fill it from gallon jugs costing $1 per gallon, the water costs 50¢ per day or $182.50 per year, cutting your cost to at least less than half simply by buying water in a larger container.

The store where I usually shop charges 64¢ per gallon, not $1, so it costs only 32¢ a day or $116.80 per year.

(Are you seeing how good it is to go Green?)

It gets better. By drinking reverse osmosis water at 25¢ a gallon, it costs only 12.5¢ a day or $45.63 a year.

And, after the initial cost of a faucet-mount filter or a filtering pitcher from such companies as Brita, Clear2O, and Pur, the only recurring cost is for replacement filters as long as you don't get something that requires a stupid battery that you don't really need, especially one that's not replaceable which requires you to buy a whole 'nother filtering device merely because the battery's dead.

(Beware the Evil Marketing Tactic!)

I buy filters in the 4-pack that costs $21 which works out to $5.25 per filter. Since each filter lasts about three months for me, that means only $21 per year for good-tasting water and a lot less waste than buying water in 16.9 oz. bottles.

And, if your tap water is fine, forget about bottled water entirely and forget about filtering. Just get a reusable bottle to fill and refill so you can drink your good tap water while you're out and about.

What would you do with an extra $400 to $1400 per person in your household? Save it? Invest it? Go on vacation? Buy something you've always wanted or the family needs and has been doing without?

Go Green by boycotting individual-sized bottles of water and enjoy the benefits for you and our environment!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

So, There!

Every once in a while, someone I know comments on my speaking or writing vocabulary. The nice comments are along the lines of, "You have a good vocabulary." The others complain about my using big words. One aspiring writer who complained that I speak and write over his head said that he doesn't want a broader vocabulary because he doesn't need to advance beyond the reading capability of the people he wants to reach.

Frankly, I never understood the complainers because we've all been to college and, supposedly, can read and converse at the collegiate level. When I check my writing in Microsoft's Word, the reading levels usually come out between the 8th to 11th grades, right where I need them to be. Since I've never discussed it with anyone, I've wondered if Word miscalculated, especially in the light of the comments I've received.

Until now.

CriticsRant has a blog readability test that verifies what Word's been telling me all along, that those who complain about my vocabulary either weren't taught very well by their schools or they weren't paying attention to their teachers or something else totally unrelated to me:

blog readability test

To those who have been to college AND think I use words that are too big --

Nyah-nyah-nyah! Phffbt!

So, there! :P

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I yielded to my pen addiction, yet again, by ordering a Pelikan ink roller from Pendemonium and a Kaweco Sport Classic ink roller from Swisher Pens. Nathan Tardif, the inventor of Noodler's inks, figured out how to retrofit the Kaweco Sport ink rollers into eyedropper pens and it was one of these that I ordered.

These purchases are justified because fountain pens aren't always practical; two of my more expensive fountain pens dripped ink from the altitude and temperature changes of my last road trip to the extent that I was afraid that they were permanently damaged. Fortunately, they're not, but I wasn't able to use them during that time and my creativity feels constrained by the black ink of my Parker Reflex rollerball.

As colorful as they are, I don't like to use gel pens because they don't write as easily as fountain pens or rollerballs which use liquid ink. Over time, they're also more expensive than using bottled fountain pen ink and, being disposable, aren't earth-friendly.

Another reason for these purchases is the difficulty I had locating the .5mm Uni-Ball Vision rollerball. The 8-pack I found was the only one left and that was only because it had dropped from its peg to hide amongst the ballpoints boxed for bulk purchasing while it was waiting for me to come along and buy it.

With the ink rollers, I can use the fountain pen ink I already have. The pens use the short standard international cartridges made by several companies such as Pelikan, but I like to refill cartridges by using the syringe from my inkjet printer's refill kit because cartridges cost more than bottled ink and don't provide as many colors. To fill the Kaweco barrel with ink, all I'll have to do is uncap and squeeze the Nalgene drop dispensing bottle to which I transferred my bottled ink for traveling. The Kaweco is more practical, but writes slightly broader than the Pelikan's .5mm line. Since .7mm pens and pencils drive me nuts, it's anybody's guess as to how I'll like the .6mm line of the Kaweco.

I also ordered a glass dip pen. There is no justification for this; I simply wanted it. Glass pens are attractive and are good for testing ink. I don't test ink, but I've wanted one ever since I saw my first glass pen over 10 years ago, anyway. They are that attractive. Maybe I'll be able to use it for those seldom-used bottles of ink pushed to the back of my cabinet shelf because I don't like the colors well enough to keep a pen loaded with them. Maybe it will be only eye candy.

I'm mentally salivating in anticipation.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Liberty Forever

Standing behind a woman needing to buy stamps at a contract post office for the USPS this noon, I can't help hearing her discuss with the clerk about how the postal rate is going up to 42¢ on May 12 for first class stamps. The clerk is advising her to buy Forever stamps to save money. The customer doesn't care about saving a few cents.

"I always lose the penny stamps and end up sticking on another first class stamp because I won't bother buying another penny stamp."


"That's another good reason for you to buy Forever stamps," the clerk says. "They cost 41¢ today, but on May 12, they'll cost 42¢ and you won't have to buy penny stamps to make the higher rate if you buy them before then because they'll always be good for whatever the rate is for first class postage no matter what they cost when you bought them and no matter how long it takes you to use them."

Buy a bunch and bequeath them to the grandkids.

"I need stamps today," the customer says.

"So, would you like to buy Forever stamps?"

"How many should I buy?" the woman asks.

The man at the next counter interjects, "Buy as many as you can afford. If gas goes up like they're talking, we might see another postage hike fairly soon. I'm thinking we'll be seeing 45¢ stamps before too long."

"I don't know," the woman says. "I bought a roll of 100 stamps and it took me over four years to use them all."

The clerk explains, "These stamps are self-adhesive and come on sheets."

The customer hesitates.

It's my turn to pipe up. "I'm sure we'll see 45¢ stamps eventually and you won't have to buy a bunch of one-, two-, three-, or four-cent stamps for the interim hikes if you buy Forever stamps and haven't used them by then."

"Okay, give me 200 of those Forever stamps," she tells the clerk.

(Cough!) That's eighty-two bucks!

I had thought, last night, about buying more Forever stamps myself. I have a sheet already, minus three stamps, plus the Christmas stamps for the cards I didn't send last December. I'll have to get penny stamps for those since I'm unlikely to use them all in less than a month and the woman's idea of never again losing penny stamps sounds really good to me, especially since I either miscounted or lost a stamp after the last increase that left me with a stamp without it's rate-hike mate.

After handing over my packages, I ask for and receive my Forever stamps.

Looking at the Liberty Bell on them, it dawns on me how appropriate is the design. The Liberty Bell for our independence, and the Forever stamps because they're good forever.

Liberty + Forever = Liberty Forever.

The way it should be.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Pen Slut

Hi, my name is Gail and I'm a slut for pens.

[Other pen addicts respond: "Hi, Gail!"]

I'm partial to fountain pens and use other types of pens as the needs arise. As a result, I have to shop for refills or replacements only once every several years; the last time being six years ago. This gets to be aggravating because the stores in town don't usually have what I need, even though they carry it when I don't need to buy any.

Yes, I keep an eye on them. I see how they are.

Therefore, I can't find any Pentel medium ballpoint stick pens and it takes me a few weeks to locate the .5mm Uni-Ball Vision that I need. Instead of getting the single rollerball with black ink as planned, I succumb to the pretty colors in the 8-pack. Several days later, a friend receives a correspondence card from me written with one of the new rollerballs in the

I've never before written with orange ink, but it was in the pack and looks really nice, all cheerful, spring-like, and rather frivolous; a party in a pen.

A few days after that, an orange lust causes me to decide to get orange fountain pen ink and a new pen in which to put it. Going to the website that has a pen that I like at an affordable price, with dismay, I see that the price has doubled. Ow!

Off I go to other websites to discover that Noodler's has come out with new colors and shades and more inks that are waterproof since I last shopped for fountain pen ink. Now, I can get waterproof turquoise and waterproof pink and waterproof gray and waterproof burgundy and waterproof orange and...

Oh-oh. The inks are adding up.

To make matters worse, that expensive Pelikan Souverän M400 Tortoiseshell & White (some call it Honey and White or White Honey) that I've lusted after ever since before I saw Judge Judy wield hers on her television bench is now discontinued and at half price. I put it in my shopping cart and concentrate on school pens that cost less than $20. That way, the expensive fountain pen is "mine" temporarily while I look for an affordable pen that can be mine for real.

In the process, I notice that a free fountain pen comes with a bottle of Noodler's Heart of Darkness. What's this? A free fountain pen? Why can't I like the shade of ink so I can have the pen? What kind of pen is it that it's offered for free? A Platinum Preppy? Gee, Platinums are reputed to be good pens. I've been wanting one, but not at the prices I've seen.

Can I get the pen by itself?

No, not at that site. No, not at another site. Yes, at this site, except they're sold out. No wonder, the Preppy is refillable and costs only $4 each or five pens for $15.

I google for reviews, attempting to assuage my lust. Most of the reviews are really good but for the few that suggest a glitch in quality control. For the price though, it can be treated as a disposable and I read that somebody did until someone else pointed out that it's refillable.

I finally locate the Preppy for $3 each at JetPens and put a pink one in my shopping cart. Whoo-hoo! Oh, look. JetPens has the refillable mini fountain pen, the Pilot Petit1 for $4.50. Goody-goody! I add an orange Petit1 to the cart and a brown one, too. And, the Uni-Ball Signo UM-201 gel pen for $3 in lime green. Of those, I get two. One is to give to someone I know whose favorite color is lime green. And...

ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-FIVE DOLLARS later, I start deleting items from the shopping cart. I don't need the Pentel watercolor set (What was I thinking? I don't do watercolors!), or the Ohto Tasche or the Pilot Cavalier or Young Rex fountain pens (The barrels are too slender for me!), or the....

Delete! Delete! Delete!

Oh, well. It was fun while it lasted. Maybe the Preppy and the two Petit1s will provide enough of a fix to save me from buying all that ink.

The lime green Signo may revive the lust again, however, just as the orange Vision Elite did.

I've never before written with lime green ink.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Princess, the Witch, and the Dragon

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there lived a princess, who was fair, kind, and loved by all who knew her.

Like every other story with a beautiful princess, our princess met her prince who is a mighty warrior and leader of men. Naturally, our princess and her warrior prince got married, planning to live happily ever after with their family yet to come.

Unbeknownst to them, however, a jealous witch cast a spell over them, calling upon an invisible dragon to take the life of their first-born, because the witch hated that the princess was living her dream come true.

Time passed and eventually a precious baby boy was born to our royal couple. As might be expected in a tale with a dragon sent by a wicked witch casting spells, the invisible dragon tormented the infant prince with its talons bearing down on his mother's belly while he was still in the womb, forcing him to be born prematurely. The tiny prince struggled valiantly for his very life under the blasts of the dragon's fiery breath, but, despite prayers and the best medical care, expired after only two days, leaving his parents bereft with grief.

Following the axiom that what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger, our princess and her prince regained strength after the death of their beloved son, joining other families and individuals who have bonded together all across the land, vowing to march against the dragon so other parents won't have to suffer through the loss of their own children.

Spies have been hired to hunt down the wicked witch who has cursed other families in similar ways and troops are battling the dragon even as you read this true-life tale. With all the villagers helping to defeat these enemies, this story, too, will have a happy ending.

Please help Erica and Jim Davel honor Matthew's brief life by supporting their participation in their local March of Dimes March for Babies.

Did you know?

- Premature birth touches half a million babies and their families every year.

- Babies born prematurely are more likely to die or have lifelong disabilities.

- 120,000 babies are born with serious birth defects every year.

- Every baby deserves someone in their corner and the March of Dimes is there for them whether they are healthy or need help to survive.

Please join the Davels in the battle against premature birth and birth defects by walking with them or making a donation; the dragon and the wicked witch must be defeated.

For information on how you can help, please visit Matthew's team website:

Thank you.

[In response to Roxie's comment, I edited this post on April 5, 2008 to add the following:]

The March of Dimes maintains that it is neutral on the issue of abortion, that it does not see abortion as a solution to the problem of birth defects, and will not pay for abortions, directive abortion counseling, or abortion research.

However, according to the several entries I read on Google, some of which included copies of letters or policy statements from the March of Dimes, the March of Dimes believes that safe and legal abortions need to be available as every woman's right and that "therapeutic" abortion is an option, that is, aborting babies that prenatal testing determines to have birth defects, disabilities, and other abnormalities.

Because of the conflicting statements and actions, those who are opposed to eugenics and all abortions no matter what the reason, the March of Dimes is not likely an organization you'll want to support.

For those who sanction abortion only in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother, please be aware that some local chapters of the March of Dimes have ties to local health centers of Planned Parenthood which supports abortion for any reason. One watchdog stated that grants given to Planned Parenthood have been "for prenatal education services" which may or may not include abortion counseling.

If you wish to contribute to the cause, but not to the March of Dimes, please consider an alternative, pro-life, organization such as The Michael Fund or your local Children's Hospital.

To search the March of Dimes website: