Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, but first I need more coffee.

Month: November 2021

On Refilling non-refillable fountain pens (and non-refillable cartridges)

In the past few years I’ve become a fan of fountain pens. I was actually looking for a way to write quickly and a lot on my iPhone. To no avail. I even tried the Swype keyboard once it became available to iOS, but still I just couldn’t get the hang of it. Someday, I hope to learn how to write quickly on my mobile devices (other than a laptop).

I’ve been writing in notebook since high school. I’ve never kept a formal diary or journal. In fact I tossed a large number these notebooks in 2000. About seven years ago I upped my game when I bought a moleskine on a lark. At first I used a regular ink pen, but eventually gravitated to fountain pens when I started reading on how to improve my handwriting (see whole arm movement or muscular movement).

My first fountain pen was a Pilot Varsity that my wife had amongst our pens and I started to play around with it. I eventually bought some more from an online retailer as I had no luck finding them in a local office supply store (though I didn’t check art stores). I suppose I could write this as a piece of article marketing and link to the online retailer where you can buy these pens and earn a pittance for directing you there. And maybe I will, but I’ll be up front about it. The idea isn’t to think of ways to earn money then write an article, but to monetize an idea.

And by that I mean, if you want to write with an fountain pen, you’ll need to buy materials, and I can make recommendations on what I’ve used and where I got them, I’m sort of giving free advertising to a retailer, and I may sort of earn a little money on the side from those recommendations, but it is all in the service of sharing my joy of writing with a fountain pen.

Technology shapes how we do things. Fountain pens lend themselves to writing in cursive.

Anyway, back to the Varsity. It is “non-refillable” unless you know what you are doing. This post shows you how, but it is missing one critical step. The author says how much ink he used and if you can measure it, great, but what if you need to eyeball it and just keep putting in the barrel until it’s full enough. Where do you stop? I looked at how far the nib goes back into the barrel and remembered where it stopped. It’s easy to see there’s a line where the barrel widens just a bit to fit the nib, so I used a straw which was narrow enough to fit inside the barrel and I dipped the straw into my ink bottle, put my finger over it, then lowered the straw into the pen barrel and removed my finger. I repeated this process about 3 times with the last step only getting a third the amount of ink, the first two put plenty of ink.

I don’t know if this is going to work. I put the nib back in with my Leatherman. It clicked. I turned the pen nib down to make sure no ink dripped out. I used an old newspaper and paper towels to catch and clean up any ink spillage or drips. I put the cap back on and letting the pen sit for a few minutes nib down to let the ink fill it, and I’ll give it a test. It could take several hours before enough ink gets to the point where I can write.

How to refill your Pilot Varsity


I wrote this post about three years ago and left it as a draft. Forgot about until now. Decided to update and publish. Once you start buying fountain pens you can use converters and refill them with ink, but you can also take the non-refillable cartridges and refill them with a blunt needled syringe. Just make sure you wash the cartridge before using them.

Second Addendum

If you want to try out fountain pens, I’d recommend getting a Platinum Preppy with some of their proprietary cartridges. For less than $10 you can decided if you like them. And if you do, you can prepare to spend a lot more on pens, inks, and paper. A lot more. You can get decent pens under $30 but don’t be surprised when you see them going for $200 or $500.

Armistice Day

Fun fact: Up until the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, soldiers were still shooting and killing each other until the moment The Great War (aka World War I) ended. Thank’s to the punitive surrender conditions, it helped to lead to the even more devastating World War II.

Today it is known as Veteran’s Day. When that change took place, I don’t know. I’m too lazy to look it up at the moment, but a number of people including Kurt Vonnegut it should still be Armistice Day. Veteran’s Day should be a different holiday. We should be commemorating the end of a war. Veteran’s Day means we need will continue to create new veterans. The best thing we can do for Veteran’s Day is to stop creating veterans.

When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut. 1973


Let That Be Your Last Duncan Idaho

About that title*

After giving it much thought and research, I’ve decided to go ahead and read Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune and that’s it. I’d read up to God Emperor of Dune, didn’t really care for and decided long ago to get rid of all Dune books except Dune. 

I know that Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson wrote a ton of books in the Dune-iverse and never had much interest in reading them. Chapterhouse: Dune ends on a cliffhanger. Frank Herbert had planned to write one more novel, but death intervened. Brian and Kevin wrote a bunch of prequel books and then wrote Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune to finish out the original series. Allegedly based on notes left by Frank Herbert. No one has seen these notes. They may exist but we cannot compare them to what they actually wrote.

I thought, well, okay, they won’t be as good, but they complete the arc, and I’ll read those, just those. But upon reading further commentary, people were saying you need to read the Bulterian Jihad books before reading those two. I thought, wait, what? You shouldn’t have to read any prequel books. Only the first six should be necessary.

Brian and Kevin may be good writers. I saw Kevin as a guest at a local convention and he was interesting and a good panelist. I even bought a graphic novel he collaborated with Neal Peart of Rush on (they’d become good friends before he died). He’s a prolific writer and has lots of fans. Commentary says their writing isn’t as good as Frank’s and they focus on different things. That may or may not be a bad thing. I’m inclined not to read them. There’s a long tradition in fantasy and sf of writers writing in other authors universes or writing in a shared universe or even finishing series the original author wasn’t able to (I’m looking at you George RR Martin). When J Michael Straczynski announced a reboot of Babylon 5, he said you cannot cross the same river twice. You change and the river changes. So even if another author finishes someone else’s series, it won’t be what the original author would have written. It’s probably why Zelanzy’s son hasn’t let anyone else write more Amber books even though Roger had notes for more books in the series. Though I think there are a few authors that could do justice to the series.

Some of the comments were more even handed, suggesting I read Chapterhouse: Dune and then decide if I want to read the BH & KJA books. That others are saying I need to read some prequel books gives me pause before reading them, means they went in a different direction than Frank would have. I thought about just reading some summaries and then reading HoD and SoD. There are some things that end up as cliffhangers and that’s it. I watched a sci fi TV series, Space Island One, whose season 2 finale was a cliffhanger and that was it.

What prompted me to go ahead with the final to Frank books? I recently watched the new Dune (part 1) adaptation and decided to read Dune again and thought about the series and the prequels. I don’t plan to re-read the other Dune books. Of the three adaptations, I think this one is the best. Looking forward to part 2.

*If you are a fan of the original Star Trek and have read God Emperor of Dune, you’ll get the title of this post, though you’ll probably still get it even if you you’ve only read GEoD.

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