Sign of Spring: Biking After Work to Enjoy a Slice (or two) of pizza outside
“Go away or I’ll call the Brute Squad.”
“I’m on the Brute Squad.”
“You are the Brute Squad!”
One day when I was WFH, my daughter asked me to otter-sit (he’s in the purple hoodie). I staffed it out to a crack team.
New photo for my work badge (old on the left; new, right).
Can’t find Parker QuinkFlow refills by you? JetPens has your back!
With everyone abuzz about “March Madness,” I had to explain “brackets” to my daughter. As we don’t really follow basketball, we had to substitute things closer to our heart. Really, the robin is the Cinderella story of all this, beating both falcon and eagle. But did you seriously expect a cat not to take it all?
Trying a new WordPress Theme…let me know what you think!
From Lindsey Stirling‘s upcoming album. It’s like the cover to Tales from topographic Oceans in video form.
My first job supporting computers was at the library at Miami University. I was responsible for a number of computer-based indexes to periodicals and journals. During my time, a computer-based card catalog–an innovation at the time–was rolled out, and expanded my scope. My job was to make sure all the terminals were functioning, as well as provide instruction to the users as to how to use the systems. At this point, in the early Nineties, computers were no where near as ubiquitous, and the technology was still relatively basic. All of the systems were dumb terminals, hooked to a central server.
Among my duties was the care and feeding of the printers. In those days, inkjets weren’t common, and laser printers were quite expensive. To print the references you needed, the cheap solution was a dot matrix printer. In the case of the library, it was scores of Okidata 390s–you can still buy them today.
These really were reliable printers. Where my inkjet seems to take several moments of priming and humming before printing the first line, the Okis just went. When I consider the environment they operated in–a lot of start-and-stop print jobs in a publicly assessable area–the tractor-fed paper rarely jammed. Even then, it was usually due to a fellow student attempting to “fix” something. I’d have to lug a new box out to the card catalog every once in a while, but, for the application, the continuous feed paper was a perk. The ink lasted forever, and when I did need to replace it, a new cartridge just snapped in. There was no “aligning printhead” or other action on the printer. One person in my role could typically take care of the estate with a five minute pass every hour. Everything was just simple.
Granted, you couldn’t print graphics on it, and, if you wanted any speed at all, you were limited to the 3-6 typefaces built in. But, for just printing data, they got the job done reliably. Sometimes, when I have to pace back and forth between my desk and the office LaserJet, I wonder if it’s really worth what was given up.
I seem to not be the only one who feels this way. Over the weekend, I saw an Oki at a bookstore, lovingly tagged Old Betsy. The plastic clearly yellowing with age–it wouldn’t surprise me if it had been there nearly all of the store’s twenty-eight years. I pointed it out to my wife, and the clerk said that she was the most reliable printer in the shop. I absolutely believed her, and, for a moment, wondered if we had one kicking around our closet.
One of the fascinating things about house cats is that, while genetically identical to some wild subspecies (felis silvestris), they have adapted to live with humans. They did so not because man thought they’d be useful and bred them to accentuate such traits, but because cats chose to live with us. While selection favored traits that made them more suited to live with humans–cuter, tamer, fonder of boxes–it was not, until relatively recently, something man did.
It is generally held that cats domesticated themselves relatively recently. While dogs were domesticated as much as 15,000 years ago, cats have been living with us for roughly half that time. However, recent studies have pushed that out a bit:
Archaeologists once believed that cats were domesticated in the time of the pharaohs in ancient Egypt, approximately 4,000 years ago, between 2310 B.C. and 1950 B.C. But in 2004, researchers reported a 9,500-year-old joint burial of a cat and a human on the island of Cyprus.
Ancient Egyptian Kitten Skeletons Hint at Cat Domestication”
I think this is fascinating, both because it suggest humans have been living with cats for longer than previously thought, but also because the location. While most people associated cats with the Egyptians, these remains were found in Cyprus. Same general part of the world, but an island. I suspect the cats were brought with settlers.
Spring comes, and with it, the start of the fun holidays. We had Mardi Gras earlier this month, and St. Patrick’s Day coming up. Floating among them is Purim. For that, we make hamentaschen.
The recipe is my wife’s grandmother’s. Transcribed over the phone, I made it, then typed it up to share within the family. As my daughter’s skills in the kitchen improve, she’s taking on a greater portion of the work.
I somewhat expected to be one of the threads maintaining and handing down some of my family’s recipes. It never occurred to me I might also be doing it for my wife’s. However, when I think about it, as the primary cook in my house, it makes sense. I’m honored to be taking it up.
Besides, the hamentaschen is delicious!
As you use up ink in a fountain pen, the only thing that changes is the ink. The rest of the pen–the nib and feed (what moves ink from the reservoir to the nib)–stays the same. The writing experience stays relatively consistent.* With ball pens, such as ball points, rollerballs, and gel pens, all of the parts that put ink on paper get swapped out. Put in the snobbiest fashion, all a ball pen is a a fancy holder for a refill. That is a bit unfair, as the barrel and cap influence the balance and grip of the pen. Still, how the writing looks on the page is driven primarily by the refill.
One advantage is that a single pen body can take on a variety of characteristics, if a suitable refill is produced. There are several Kickstart pens based on this premise. Some can take refills of different designs (I’ve considered purchasing one simply to burn off a few refills I’ve accumulated over the years).
Alternately, some refill designs are almost de facto standards, designed by one manufacturer, but copied and used in a variety of pens. The Parker ballpoint refill, originally designed for their Jotter pen, turns up in a variety of pens, ranging from cheap give-away pens, all the way up to high end Duofolds. It is one option for my beloved Retro 1951 Tornados, for instance. The refill may be made by a variety of manufactures and materials, and filled with different material, but has the same dimensions and shape. Some examples:
- Ballpoint ink, which is more of a paste, produced by any number of companies.
- The Fisher Space Pen refill fits in Parker-compatible pens with the addition of an included plastic adapter.
- During the Palm Pilot era, there were refills with plastic tips to be pressure sensative styluses.
- Parker made a gel refill, with others following suit.
This is not the sole refill with these options–the D1 refill shows up in many pens. Given that most men are issued at least one Cross Century upon graduating high school, many companies make refills compatible with Cross pens. Parker, however, seems to be the most common refill, in the widest variety of pens.
I recently learned that Parker has added a new option for users of such refills, the QuinkFlow. I confess that I’m a bit late to the party, as this has been out since 2010. While I’m a huge fan of vintage Parker pens, modern ones (since the late Nineties) don’t show up on my radar; ball pens even more-so. Their designs went from classic to modern in a cheesy sense.
What got my attention was that the QuinkFlow uses hybrid ink. As I’ve mentioned in the past, the idea of hybrid ink is to combine some of the desirable characteristics of ballpoint ink (long life even without a cap) with those of a rollerball or gel (vibrant colors and smooth writing). As this refill could fit many pens, I decided to get one, and try it out.
Though I have a couple Parker ballpoints, both are a bit smaller than I typically go for pens these days. I’m happy to use them in my daily aresenal, but, for a test, I wanted something that matched by best case writing experience. I put my specimen, a medium blue QuinkFlow, into my titanium Retro 1951 Tornado.
Right out of the gate, it was the smoothest ball pen refill I’ve ever used, rollerball or ball point. Don’t get me wrong–it’s no Lamy 2000, but there are ((very) rare) times when a fountain pen isn’t the right tool for the job. But there is very low friction, letting the ball glide against the paper.
The ink itself is quite nice. It is more vibrant, in my opinion, than most ballpoint ink, though perhaps not as vibrant as most rollerballs–it falls into the middle. It starts a bit more consistently than most of the ballpoints I compared it to, which is definitely a plus.
I will say it smelled a bit more like a ballpoint. I find that at once a reminder of my youth, before my communications were primarily either with liquid ink or ones and zeros, and a bit of a turn-off. For ballpoints, it takes a page or so of writing before that kicks in with me. The QuinkFlow is not nearly as strong, making it a very tolerable choice for that.
Since I just got it, I can’t comment on service life. My hope is that it will last longer than a rollerball, which seems to be the common experience among hybrid ink pens.
Overall, I’d say the QuickFill refill is an upgrade for pens that use Parker-style refills. It is perhaps the best thing to come out of Parker since the Sonnet fountain pen. Given the ubiquity of pens that can use it, it’s bound to find a place in your pocket.
*Different inks behave differently, and the same ink may work better in some pens than others. In general, though…
It’s Mardi Gras! Time for the annual photo session for the cats. Luna checked out the beads.
Eddy is ready. “Throw me something, mister!”
Luna, of course, looks good in anything.
I look…goofy (perhaps because I’m not a cat).
But Beso just isn’t in the spirit.
Happy Mardi Gras!!!