Friday, April 24, 2009

Going, Going...

If you ever wanted to buy one of the Kaweco Sport ink rollers or fountain pens that Nathan Tardif, who makes Noodler's inks, modified into eyedropper pens, but never got around to actually getting one, now is the time to get your new eyedropper pen before they're out of stock. Swisher Pens won't be getting any more because Nathan stopped converting the Kaweco pens to eyedropper fills.

The blue Kaweco Sport Ice is already out of stock for both the eyedropper ink roller and the eyedropper fountain pen. The Kaweco eyedropper ink rollers are still available in clear, green, orange, and red. The Kaweco eyedropper fountain pens are still available in green, orange, and red.

(The term "ink roller" differentiates pens using fountain pen ink from pens using conventional rollerball refills.)

There's no rush if you want one of the regular pens, only if you want one that was modified to be an eyedropper pen.

What makes the Kaweco eyedropper pens so desirable is that they hold a whopping 2.5 ml of ink. Compare that to the .5 ml held by the standard short international cartridge that a regular Kaweco uses. The Monteverde mini converter holds even less ink than a standard short cartridge. The eyedropper pens will continue letting you have the options of using a cartridge or converter, if you want.

By comparison, other pens that use the standard long international cartridge hold 1 ml of ink, so with a Kaweco eyedropper pen, you'll be getting a nice compact pen that fits easily into a pocket or purse that holds 150% more ink than a pen that uses the long standard international cartridge.

The only undesirable aspect about the ink roller is that it's more sensitive about the angle at which I hold it than is my Parker rollerball. That is, if I prop a writing pad on my knees, the Kaweco ink roller quits writing sooner when I get careless and try to write while holding the pen at an upward angle than does my Parker rollerball. As soon as I angle the tip back downward so gravity can take effect, the pen starts writing again. (I posted a review of the Kaweco eyedropper ink roller last November.)

Should you decide to wait too long to order, to the extent that they run out, you could make your own eyedropper pen by simply coating the threads with pure silicone grease or silicone sealant as others did without problems before Nathan's specially lathed-modified pens with o-rings got to be popular. Put enough of a layer of silicone to coat the threads of the section (the part that holds the nib and feed or the rollerball) and gently screw on the barrel, wiping off any excess silicone. Pendemonium offers pure silicone grease for sale in their section called, "Pen Repair Supplies" or you should be able to find some in your local home building supply store.

Happy Writing!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Susan Boyle SINGS!

I hadn't heard of Susan Boyle, but when I got online to check on a fountain pen last night, there she was in my email, newsgroup, and Facebook accounts. EVERYBODY's talking about her!

So, I clicked the links my friends provided, recovered my dropped jaw, and, after wiping away my tears, went looking for more.

Her performance of "I Dreamed A Dream" from Les Misérables for Britain's Got Talent on April 11 is what grabbed everybody's attention. Watch the YouTube video and keep an eye on Simon Cowell. I'm sure he sighs with pleasure while she sings.

This longer version includes her pre- and post-audition interviews.

On April 16, the Scottish newspaper, The Daily Record, got an exclusive by finding a recording of "Cry Me a River" that she did for a charity CD in 1999.

On April 17, Miss Boyle sang a verse acapella from Titanic's "My Heart Will Go On" for Larry King.

Then, music was added to it.

Yesterday, April 19, Boyle's idol, Elaine Paige, was reported to have suggested a collaboration with Boyle.

The same article mentions another BGT contestant, 39-year-old Julian Smith, a music teacher, who raised the audience to its feet in a standing ovation and brought unexpected tears to the eyes of judge Amanda Holden when he played West Side Story's "Somewhere" on his soprano saxophone.

Good luck to them both! I'm looking forward to buying their CDs.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

USPS Rate Increase

Are you aware that the price for most USPS mailing services will increase effective May 11, 2009? For example, a stamp for a first class letter will go from 42 cents up to 44 cents. Other services such as Priority and Express Mail went up in January and will not go up again next month.

Since we may expect rates to continue to increase each May, it's a good idea to buy Forever stamps to beat increases in the future considering that stamps went up 1¢ last May and are increasing by 2¢ this May.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Flat Stanley Project

I've been busy with personal projects, one of which was responding to the request for help with her Flat Stanley Project from a daughter of my friend, Roxie. The stated purpose for the students of Kathryn's class was for them to learn how to write friendly letters by asking the recipient to take Flat Stanley on an adventure. The result is that family and friends help teach the children by returning a letter and photos of Flat Stanley enjoying his adventure with them that are then shared with other students by reading the letters and posting them and the photos on a bulletin board.

Excited about the fun I could have playing with the paper doll and what knowledge I might convey to the youngsters, I settled on the concept of geographic antipodes inspired by an HBO documentary about the making of "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency," a show set in Botswana that reminded me that Botswana is the antipode for the Big Island in Hawai`i.

If you are a resident of the U.S., do you remember thinking or hearing someone else say that if you dig a hole straight through the center of the earth, you'd come out in China? Well, it isn't possible because vast majority of places in the U.S. have antipodes in an ocean.

The following are exceptions:

1. A place in northern Alaska has an antipode in Antarctica.

2. A place near the border of Montana and Saskatchewan in Canada has an antipode on Kerguelen Island in the south Indian Ocean.

3. The eastern part of Colorado is antipodal with St. Paul Island and Amsterdam Island, also in the south Indian Ocean.

4. The Big Island in Hawai`i and the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

The highlight of Flat Stanley's visit was when it snowed overnight. We rushed out the next morning to play in the snow before it melted and Stanley made a snow angel.

After mailing the letter that was hand-printed with Noodler's Baystate Blue fountain pen ink on Crane's stationery, I realized that the paper itself was educational and sent another letter:

"Dear Kathryn,

Since I already mailed Flat Stanley back to you yesterday morning, this is a second letter to share with your classmates. Flat Stanley watched me write my first letter, but I didn't remember to tell him the following information that's neat for everyone to know about paper and U.S. paper money in particular.

For hundreds of years, cotton was used to make paper. In the late 1860s, wood pulp from trees began to be used and, today, over 95% of paper is made from wood pulp.

The lowest grades of paper are used for paper such as newsprint. Better grades of paper use a combination of wood pulp and plant fibers. The best grades of paper use only plant fibers such as cotton and linen.

Fine writing paper is watermarked by the company that makes the paper. You can see a watermark by holding the paper up to the light. This paper has 'CRANE & CO.' with '100% cotton' underneath. Do you see it? Lesser grade paper will have a smaller percentage such as '25% cotton' in the watermark while the majority of paper won't have any watermark at all because it's made of wood pulp only.

Where my stationery is 100% cotton, U.S. paper money is 75% cotton and 25% linen. That's why it doesn't come apart when it's accidentally washed like other paper that's made from wood pulp. Crane & Co. has been making the paper used by the U.S. Treasury Department for our paper currency since 1879.

I hope you and your classmates enjoy knowing this because you'll be using paper in one form or another for the rest of your lives."

Please feel free to visit my website for more information about paper for social correspondence and for links to other manufacturers of fine writing paper.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Switch

My cell phone rang this morning as it did yesterday about the same time. Not recognizing the phone number yesterday, I didn't answer. After waiting long enough for voice mail that never arrived, I checked the phone book and learned that the number is from an area code in Maryland where I have no friends. This morning, I answered to ask the telemarketer to place me on the company's Do Not Call list and the recording instructed me to press "1" to speak with a person to get a lower interest rate than my current loan.

Jessica answered and asked for my name.

"Gail Rhea," I replied.

She hung up! I never before had a telemarketer hang up on me.

[Note: The FCC prohibits telemarketers from using automated dialers for calling wireless numbers and most telemarketing calls to cell phones have always been illegal whether or not the cell number is on the National Do Not Call Registry.]

If something like this happens to you, please be sure to file a complaint with the FCC and the FTC which operates the National Do Not Call Registry where you may file a complaint if your number has been registered for at least 31 days.

Unfortunately, the FTC page is in an infinite loop with another of its pages apparently since June 9, 2008. (Yes, I reported it to the webmaster.)

Click here to register your personal phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry.