Impeccable logic

David demonstrates his impeccable use of double negative at the age of two:

CH: 小弟你知道嗎?
David: 爸爸我沒有不知道。
CH: 那是知道還是不知道?
David: 知道。


Good parenting advise

From Miss Cellania (where else?):

Enjoy your kids, but remember that your job is to make yourself unnecessary to them eventually.


The long and the short of my FP addiction

Originally posted at FPN as my self-intro.

The one pen that started it all
Sometime back in elementary school, possibly when I was around 10 to 12, my brother brought home a really cool looking pen (a Platinum Standard) and explained to me how this strange looking thing works. I was immediately taken by it and decided that I must have one. After saving up my allowance for quite some time, I finally got a shiny blue one of my own. The sensation of gliding the nib across papers got me hooked for good. This pen accompanied me all the way to college. The tip has been completely worn out by then so I was forced to replace it with another pen (a Cross Townsend this time). I still have the Platinum with me and it will remain as one of my most cherished collections.

Early stage of addiction
With the help of the Cross Townsend (along with a Rotring 600 that joined later), I made it out of the college 4 years later. To celebrate the event, I used my first paycheck to buy a Pelikan M800, the pen that has been my daily user for the last 10+ years. Soon after the Pelikan, I was bitten by the vintage bug and started to collect pens. Wahl-Eversharp Doric and and Parker Vacumatic are my favorites.

Passing the point of no return
With the arrival of our first baby, my fountain pen collection frenzy came to a screeching stop. While I still use FPs daily, I no longer have the time and energy to think about getting more. In a sense, I was almost cured.

Unfortunately, my father passed away in Dec 2007. After the funeral, I watched a lovely Japanese film "Closed Note" on the flight back home. Curious about the pens featured in the movie (possibly a Nakaya, I have never seen Urushi pens before that), I did some googling and found FPN (which I shouldn't have done, darn it).

Wondering through the FPN re-ignited my passion for FPs. With all the great info (and many evil enablers), my FP/ink collection went through an explosive growth in 2008 (I know for sure that I am not alone on this). It didn't help that my wife has been more than understanding about my addiction. She said things to me like: "Honey, you really need to have that Bexley Americana to celebrate you PhD degree.", "Your birthday is coming up, what kind of pens do you want?", or "Hey there's a pen show coming up, do you want to go?".

Where I stand now
After going through all these, I finally have a better idea about what I like (or at least I think I know). Now I prefer non-expensive full-size modern pens (say under $200-300), ideally light and colorful. That said, a nice Urushi pen from Nakaya/Danitrio remains as my dream pen. Maybe this can be my next milestone pen when I finally land a permanent academic job.

My biggest regret
Just very recently, I remembered that my late grandpa had a FP, possibly a Parker 51. I lived with my grandparents for the first 3 years of my life and was extremely attached to them. Sadly, them both passed away very early (when I was in high school). The pen, along with all other of their stuff, was cleared out of the house long ago and nowhere to be found. I soooooo wanted to have that pen as something that I can keep in their memory (I do have a jade pendant from my grandma that I wear on a necklace all the time). Alas, such is life.

Nonetheless, one must learn from history and look at the bright side of life. I am proud to say that, my three kids, along with all my future grandkids, will have no trouble getting my pens should they want to do so. Now, isn't that a great excuse for me to get some more pens? ;)


A strange visitor

A young man showed up at our house this evening and offered to do some yard works or other thing around the house. Initially I thought it's just another person who was looking for some extra cash (been a couple ones recently), but surprisingly, he is not here for money. Instead, the reason he asked was:

"I set that saguaro in your front yard on fire about 15 years ago when I was a kid. I feel bad about that and want to do something to make it right."

I told him not to worry about it, since the saguaro is doing quite well now (except for the scars, now I know why they are there). I thought the whole thing was quite bizarre and deserves an entry here.


Evolution of human culture

As a part of the celebration for Darwin's Day, our department invited Daniel Dennett to give three talks at UA this week. I attended the first two, "The Evolution of Reasons" and "The Evolution of Words and Other Memes". Both are excellent talks and I really like the second one. The parallel between evolutionary biology and human culture/technology is really thought provoking. My favorite example is the analogy of languages as virtual machines that allow us to "digitize" and faithfully replicate memes.

All these reminded me of my first reading of The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins back in high school, which may be a key reason of why I ended up as who I am today.


Not an egg

David: 我不是臭蛋, 我是臭小弟.


Out of reach

Now that Ann's parents are back to Taiwan, the kids are back to their daily international phone call routine, and here, is what David has to say today:

"Grandpa, I am being naughty but you can not tickle me because you are in the phone."

Quite impressive for a 2-year old.


Not so fast young lady

I took Alyssa to her first chess tournament today. She really enjoyed the event and seemed to learn a lot from playing with other kids. After the final match, I decided to buy her a new chess set as an encouragement. Having the chance to pick out the bag/board/chess set made her really happy, and to my surprise, she also asked for a "I Beat Dad at Chess" sticker to go with the new chess set. My answer? "Not so fast young lady!"


A good trade

I have been wanting to get a pen for my dear father-in-law (who is a fellow fountain pen addict) a pen for quite sometime now but never quite sure about what to get. After all, fountain pens are quite personal (particularly for FP addicts). Surprisingly, my dilemma was easily solved this week when he saw my newly expanded Levenger True Writer collection. When I saw him showing interests in those pens, I urged him to pick whatever that caught his fancy. In the end, he picked Kyoto (I was not surprised) and Carnival (I am very surprised about this, just as my wife said when she saw me getting this pen).

I am more than happy to give the pens to my father-in-law. What I didn't expect was that he insisted on buying the pens by himself. Given that he is going back to Taiwan in a few day, the package are not likely to make it. After much persuasion, he agreed to take the pens on the condition that he will order replacements for me.

Now here is how the things got out of the hand. You put two FP addicts together in front of a computer and have them both urge the other to click that evil "Add to Cart" button, and the online pen shops are likely to see sales going through the roof. In the end, he (or we?) bought 5 new pens in one setting. What's really great for me is that my dear father-in-law insisted that I keep all 5 pens (and put them to use!) until his next visit or our next trip back to Taiwan, whichever comes first.

What can I say? I am a lucky son-in-law.