When Interests Collide

Why hello there! Things have been scarce around these parts, as I’ve been busy narrowly avoiding being crushed by a falling tree on my birthday, looking at Mt. Hood from new angles, and learning how to saddle stitch leather.

This summer, I spent nearly every free weekend in the outdoors, sometimes motorcycling, sometimes camping, and oftentimes both in the same trip. Wilderness runs deep in my blood, and I needed this summer to get back into it after a few years without many wild travels.

ANYWAY, a few days ago I was watching a wonderful documentary called “Alone in the Wilderness” when I spotted what appears to be a Sheaffer Lifetime PFM(?) with a Triumph nib:

The gentleman pictured using this fine implement is Dick Proenneke, one of my heroes. In the late 60s, Mr. Proenneke built himself a cabin in a remote part of Alaska with hand tools and hard work, and then spent the next thirty-five years homesteading in the wilderness, observing and filming the weather and wildlife, and keeping detailed journals — apparently with a fountain pen.

If this at all appeals to you, the documentaries “Alone in the Wilderness” part 1 and 2 are worth checking out from your local library, along with the book “One Man’s Wilderness“.

I do love it when my interests collide.

Economical Links for 2018.04.27


Am I the only one who can’t believe it’s almost May already? Anyway, here are some links to the like-minded…

review: penbbs 309 (via winter sharks)
I haven’t wanted a pen in a long time, but I want one of these.
Pen Review: The TWSBI Diamond Mini (AL Gold Model) (via The Gentleman Stationer)
The TWSBI Diamond Mini is one of the best deals in fountain pendom.
Jinhao 992 (reprise) (via goodwriterspens)
goodwriterspens posted a long-term update to her Jinhao 992 review.
The Muji Fountain Pen (via The Pen Boffin)
Someone send me one of these to review.
Quick Look: Lamy Safari All Black & Al-Star Vibrant Pink Special Editions! (via The Pencilcase Blog)
Meh. (To the pens, not the post, which has pretty pictures of meh pens.)
Pure Pens Llanberis Slate
Pure Pens Saltire (via 7heDaniel)
A couple of reviews of some inexpensive ink.

A Few Thoughts on Pendom in Bulgaria

Short post this week as I spent the weekend tasting some lovely Pinot Noir and riding my motorbike to the coast to GET MY CRAB ON.

(Note that I didn’t taste any wine while riding my motorbike. I like to keep those vices separate.)

A few folks have asked about the state of pendom in Bulgaria. Unfortunately, I haven’t found much in the way of obvious fountain pen culture. Bulgaria is one of the poorest countries in Europe, and the idea of paying more than a couple of leva for a pen will get you some side-eye from most folks there. This is a country where pensioners are scraping by on less than $200 USD a month.

Fountain pens are a luxury. We’d all do well to remember that.

That said, there are a few online retailers of fountain pens in Bulgaria. We had an amusing experience ordering from one of these shops. The way it works is you place your order online, then a person from the shop calls you to confirm, then they send a person out to deliver the item to you and you pay them on delivery. The shop also expressed some surprise when I requested an extra-fine nib, as “most people don’t know that’s an option.”

I did encounter several little stationery shops in Sofia that carried the usual assortment of Chinese biro knockoffs and office supplies. And, nestled among the stalls in the wonderful open-air book market in Slaveikov Square, I chanced upon an antiques vendor who had an interesting fountain pen… More on that later, as it deserves its own post.

We don’t often see Soviet or Communist-era pens here in the US, but I know they’re out there, and that’s what I plan to focus my efforts on the next time I visit the country.

Economical Links for 2018.04.20


Here are some links to the like-minded…

Nothing wrong there is, in being small and green: The Pilot 78G
Is there Anything New to Say About the Pilot Metropolitan? (via Writing for Pain and Pleasure)
Could these two be considered titans of the economical pen world?
The Moonman M2 (via The Indian Marmalade Company)
I’ve been seeing this pen all over the pen blogosphere lately.
Italix Deacon’s Doodle fountain pen review (via United Inkdom)
A meta-review of the Italix Deacon’s Doodle, a pen with an odd name but a sweet price.
The Parker Urban (via The Pen Boffin)
Dangerous Pencils and Fountain Pens (via bleistift)
We discussed airplane friendly fountain pens earlier this week, but memm brings us a story about a fountain pen being used in a rather unfriendly way.

These Pens Were Made for Flyin’

I’m going to do something different with this post because the three trans-continental trips I’ve taken while carrying various fountain pens do not make me a subject matter expert in this area. Instead, I was hoping to hear from you, the jet-setting traveler.

Let’s discuss airplane-friendly fountain pens. I’ve had excellent experiences flying with these two:

On the left, a TWSBI Vac Mini and on the right, a Wing Sung 698.

The Wing Sung 698 is a piston-filler with a locking cap that keeps the piston from moving when you don’t want it to. Because it’s a piston-filler, it’s easy to fill extra-super-duper full, which keeps ink from leaking out as the pen travels from the ground to a pressurized cabin at 35,000 feet. I’ve noticed a bit of ink creep on the nib during flight, but no ink drops in the cap or anywhere else.

The TWSBI Vac Mini is a vacuum-filler with a valve that can be closed to seal the ink chamber in the barrel. The valve works. The pen performs as well in the air as it does on the ground, and the ink stays put. With a Vac Mini, you don’t have to worry about refilling the pen before a flight. It’s the most convenient pen I’ve found.

I’ve taken cartridge pens on flights, but I ended up with ink in the caps when they weren’t completely clean before takeoff. Even being careful about keeping the pen upright didn’t help when faced with the force of expanding air. I still take cartridge pens with me on trips, but I clean them before I leave and only ink them when I arrive at my destination.

And my precious vintage pens? Just, no.

What are your experiences flying with fountain pens? Any tips to share? Better yet, any stories of disaster?