Old habits die hard

English works much better for this one; the direct translation of the equivalent phrase in Mandarin would be something like "Dogs can't change the habit of eating shXt".

Among all the "toys" that I own (and continue to buy more), books are certainly the most sizable (both in terms of weight and value). Ever since I have disposable income at 12, a good chuck of my play money went into buying books. As a consequence, they create a huge headache for me every time I move. Before our last move from Georgia to Arizona, I told myself that this can't go on forever and I made the resolution to do something about it (Book-Collector Anonymous?).

Sadly, old habits die hard (how surprising...). Even with the fact that that my books still fill my room in my parents' house in Tainan, a storage room in my in-laws' house in Hsin-Chu, and an embarrassing number of unopened boxes in our current house, I find myself started to buy more books again after a 2-month break.

I really don't know what to say.

Life is not fair

I got upset this evening when I heard Alyssa complained that "I am sad because daddy and mommy get to watch a lot of TV after we go to bed and we don't". I was so mad that I can't even tuck her into bed like what I do every day. Is this what we get for spending all our time and attention on our kids? Should I just do whatever I want whenever I want (and let them do the same) so my first-born would think that life is fair?

Of course life isn't fair, it never was and will never be.


Pen Review: Retro 51 Scriptmaster in Citron

A pen review I wrote on FPN (http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=76715)

Very happy with the newest addition to my collection and thought that I would share it here. This is my first review and I'm following the standard template made by our moderator The Noble Salvage (thanks again for the great job), hope you will find it easy to follow.

1. First impression
I am always attracted to pens with rich and brilliant colors. Initially I was considering a Retro 51 Double 8, but after hearing this particular model has problems with the nib assembly and the threads from several members here I decided not to buy it. However, I also found out that the Scriptmaster II seems to be a trouble free model and people who own it are very happy with it. After seeing FPH has the Citron color on sale, I decided to go ahead and buy one. I haven't got a chance to take some photos so I'll just use FPH's photo for now:

The pen arrived in a standard Retro 51 tubular-shaped box, which looks pretty good. If you are interested in seeing what the box looks like, it is pictured in another Scriptmaster review here. The pen comes with a standard converter, 3 cartridge, and a small info booklet.

2. Appearance & Finish
The pen is made of cellulose acetate, one of my favorite materials. The colors are rich and brilliant (which is why I decided to buy it in the first place). Not surprisingly it looks much better than any of the pictures that I have seen. The barrel/cap is rather thick (maybe twice as thick as the Bexley Americana), which adds to the depth of the colors so that's really great. The Citron is a lighter color and has some transparency to it so you can see the black nib assembly through the section. This is my only complaint, it would be nice if they can use white or other lighter color for the nib assembly for a pen like this; but then again, I am asking too much probably. The finish and build quality appears to be very good.

3. Design/ Size/Weight
This is a full size pen (comparable to the Pelikan M800). I always use my pens unposted and this one feels comfortable to be used that way. As I mentioned earlier the barrel is rather thick, which makes it a medium weight pen. I don't have a scale, but it is heavier than my Bexley Americana and lighter than my Pelikan M800.

4. Nib Design & Performance
Okay, the key point: the one I got has a M nib and it writes well right out of the box. The nib is firm and smooth. I inked the pen with Pelikan Green and the flow is pretty good (I rate the wetness at 6/10). It doesn't skip at all and starts right up after sitting overnight. The stainless steel nib has some gold plating on the edge, overall the dual-tone nib makes a very attractive combination with the color of the pen. The feed appears to be made of ebonite. One good thing about the nib design is that the whole nib assembly is self-contained and can be screw out for cleaning. So if you want, you can take the whole pen apart into (1) cap, (2) barrel, (3) section (a hollow piece of cellulose acetate), and (4) the nib assembly. Will be great if I can find some nib units in different width in the future.

5. The Filling System
Not much to say here, it is a standard C/C filler. I don't have strong feelings about this. It is nice that they have included a converter in the box, but then again, that is expected in this price range I think.

6. Cost/Value
The list price is $75 and I got this on sale from FPH for $49 plus shipping. I think the list price is fair and it is definitely a good value given the sale price. I would rate this as a better value than Pelikan M200 (which I have several), even at the list price of $75. I always have good experience with FPH and would recommend them without reservation (standard disclaimer here).

7. Overall Opinion/Conclusion
Overall I am very happy with it. Even though everyone seems to be happy with their Scriptmaster, the stories that I heard about the Double 8 still give me some not-so-good feelings about Retro 51 in general. If this pen holds up well in the future, I'd happy to buy more Retro 51 pens (may another Scriptmaster in a different color?).

David's thesaurus

We were watching the "Sound of Music" this evening. At the end of the "So Long, Farewell" song when Gretl pretends to fall asleep and Liesl comes down to carry her upstairs, David get really excited and stood up to shout "Her Alyssa picked her up!". We all laughed about this newest entry into David's thesaurus.

The other one he likes to use is to call all dogs "Nina". A good sample sentence from him would be "Our neighbor's Nina is barking at our Nina".

It's so cute to see kids exploring the magic of languages.


Yellow pen, black ink

More than 10 years after the first incident, I had my 2nd impulsive purchase for a fountain pen. This time, a Retro 51 Scriptmaster in Citron.

What can I say? I always wanted a yellow pen and the cellulose acetate used for this pen is so lovely. FPH has it on sale, and it certainly didn't help that Ann kept egging me on. :)

Since I'm ordering from FPH this time, I took the chance to get a bottle of Noodler's Old Manhattan Blackest Black (a FPH exclusive). I am quite please with the ink, the color certainly is the darkest black I have tried so far, and the water resistance is very good, just as advertised.


Oh happy life

Step by step, we are adapting to our new life here in Tucson better and better and I am really enjoying it.

Work is interesting and challenging. I do enough to be productive and still wanting to do more. Those crazy 100-hour weeks (and the accompanying I-hate-myself-and-everyone-else feelings) are such a distant past it seems like they never happened.

Outside of the work, I got enough time to be with wife/kids and still got some chances to go out for short rides on my Ninja every once in a while (did I mention that some great winding roads are only minutes away from our home?).


Ice cream time

Yum yum

I want some

Yum yum yum yum


Lamy Safari

Just as I thought that I am cured of my Fountain Pen Acquisition Disorder (FPAD), yet another pen makes its way into my collection.

The excuse this time? I "need" a pen with ergonomic section to help me correct my pen hold.

Ride safe

Ann called me at work this morning to make sure that I get to office safely after seeing the scene of a fatal bicycle/school bus accident right next to Alyssa's school. I found out later that the victim was a high school kid who was on his way to school. This is so tragic.


The guy who does not have enough balls

Two months into my bike commute, I met the first d-head in Tucson on the road. Probably provoked by my passing at the intersection, this guy took half of the bike lane and revved his engine like crazy when he caught up with me. What's funny about this incidence is that this guy has a pair of fake balls installed on his truck, and I can see them shaking violently as he drives away. The disgusting view is quite pathetic when you think about it.

Normally I don't really care what people do to their cars. But if someone is willing to go out of their way to harass me, I guess I am entitled to ridicule them in my diary.


The stupidest helmet use

On my way to work today, I saw a guy who "wears" his helmet by tying it around his neck and carrying the helmet on his back. It never occur to me that helmets can be used as a suicide device; apparently I am just not creative enough.

Einstein is right, human stupidity is infinite.


Man on a mission

One of our local supermarket, Trader Joe's, provides some kid-sized shopping carts and is a big hit with our silly children. Because of that we go there almost every other day so David can do some "shopping". The way that he is so enjoy pushing the cart around is really cute. A cashier spotted him on his way to put the cart back today and commented "that's a serious man on a mission". So funny.


Ninja250 mod fund

We went up to the Coronado National Forest to watch sunset this evening. At the vista point, we saw a Honda Goldwing with more LEDs than a Xmas tree. The kids watched it excitingly and then turned around to ask me if I want to put some lights on my Ninja. I joking said that I'll use their allowance to buy the lights, which provoked some really loud protests.

Of course I forgot about all these when we got home. Much to my surprise, Alyssa took out her purse, got all her money out, and handed me a dollar bill after thinking long and hard about this. I thought it was very cute and funny. So there it is, my Ninja250 mod fund with a $0 balance ($1 donated and returned).


Boss found out about my addiction

Our conversation this morning:

Boss: What are those? (referring to a bunch of Reform 1745s on my desk)
Me: Pens. Why?
Boss: I know, but why so many? Isn't that a little bit obsessive?

Hmm, maybe he is right. But I need all my pens at work you know. :)


A ride up to the mountains!

Finally we are more-or-less settled into our new life here in Tucson. There are not a ton of pressing issues at home that I have to worry about on the weekends and I took the chance of the Labor Day to have a good ride up to the mountains.

The view along the Mt. Lemmon Hwy is really amazing, it is so good that I decided to forgo the thrill of attacking the winding road aggressively and just go slow to enjoy the view. I stopped at the roadside several times to take pictures, including the Babad Doag vista point. I feel so lucky that a such good route is only 20 minutes away from our home.

One funny thing is that I planned to use today's ride as the first test for the newly installed GPS mount on my bike. Much to my surprise, the route was not in the database so I actually went off the map today. This somehow gave me a strange feeling of accomplishment.

A nice find

I enjoy going to book stores every now and then. In addition to finding the things that I want, there's alway some pleasant surprises.

This evening I saw the soundtrack of Something's Gotta Give was on sale at our local BN. While I like the movie, I just couldn't remember anything about its music when I saw the CD. However, the price was so good ($2.50!) I figure there's not much to lose. The music turned out to be great and I am very happy about this newest surprise.

Funny sweet dream

Dream from last night: Ann and I are having a wedding ceremony (again!) at her godmother's place. I was a bit stressed out, most because of worrying about being late (it was not easy to be on time while dragging 3 kids along). The ceremony turned out to be pretty chaotic, with all the kids running around and Ann and I tried very hard to catch them, but is a lot of fun. A whole bunch of our college friends came (as in our "real" wedding a couple of years ago) and it is great to see all the familiar and friendly faces.

I woke up very happy this morning.