Blog Articles 6–10


My collection of pens and inks

About a year ago, I switched from technical liners to fountain pens for the bulk of my writing. It started with picking up a Platinum Preppy, and Jennifer giving me a Speedball set for my birthday. I now have quite a few, with different inks and purposes.

Many of them I use largely to write in my notebook; analog productivity rituals are important to me. Most of the ink reports here are on the paper in a Leuchtturm1917 notebook, my primary notebook for both work logging and personal journaling.


My principal journaling pen is a fine-nib Pilot Metropolitan loaded with Noodler’s Blue Black ink. It writes beautifully and smoothly with a clean, fine line.

The Noodler’s ink is relatively slow-drying, though. It’s fine for writing flowing text in my journal, but for more outline- or bullet-oriented text in my work notes, I wind up smearing rather too much ink on my hands.


I can find no objective reason that I should love this pen as much as I do, but I truly adore it. It’s a Hongdian Forest Matte Black, EF nib, loaded with Waterman Intense Black ink. I picked it up for less than $20 on Amazon; cheap pens from unknown vendors can be hit-and-miss on writing quality, but this has been a reliable hit. I use it as my primary pen in my work notebook, as well as for other random black-ink writing.

The Waterman ink is working well enough, I definitely plan to finish the bottle before changing. It’s not quite as dark as I might like, but I’m hesitant to use Platinum Carbon Black in it. This pen’s solid heft, steel construction, and literate metal steampunk aesthetics make me think it could pair well with an iron-gall ink, so I might try Rohrer & Klingner’s black next.

Purple Rain

This purple Pilot Metro Pop (equivalent to the Metropolitan, but with flashier trim), also fine-nib, I keep filled with Pelikan 4001 Violet ink. I use it for marking up student work and papers I am reading, along with quite a bit of my grading. It also provides accent colors in my work notebook.

You Shall Not Pass

This is a Faber-Castells NEO Slim, EF-nib, that I filled with Rorher & Klingner Morinda Red. I originally bought this pen hoping it would be my go-to black pen, but when filled with the Waterman ink it was on the scratchy side and had more feathering to the line than I wanted. It seems to actually work better with the Morinda, and is serving quite well for notebook accents and paper markup. I picked up the Morinda ink because JetPens rated it highly for writing on plain copy paper, and it hasn’t disappointed.

Something Blue

I use blue from time to time, my Platinum Preppy was running out of ink, and its durability was not such that I wanted to invest in keeping it going (plus Preppys are a mess with a converter). So I browsed around on Amazon and found this Parker Vector for $15. It’s not a great pen, it truly feels cheap, but it also somehow feels right. It seems to be pretty durable — I’m not worried about the barrel cracking like they do on the Preppy — and works admirably as a tertiary pen in my active collection.

Right now I’m running the blue Parker cartridge it comes with. Once that is empty, I’ll put in a converter and pick up another blue ink for it.


This is the latest addition to the collection; I like my black Hongdian enough, when I decided I needed to be able to write in orange too, I bought the Hongdian 516 Stainless Steel (F nib) and filled it with Pilot Iroshizuku Sunset Orange (Yu-Yake). It just came today, so I don’t have much experience with it. Its nib design is similar to that of the Parker and Faber-Castells, very rounded and curved down at the point. It doesn’t seem to write as smoothly as the Matte Black, but we’ll see what happens as I use it more. My first impression is that it will do its job admirably, but I probably don’t want it as a primary pen.

Sport Black

I have a Kaweco Sport, stocked with a cartridge (usually Kaweco, but I have a few other short international cartridges lying around too). It fits in my pocket, and writes tolerably well but not as pleasantly as the Pilot or Hongdian. I have problems with the cartridge coming loose and spilling ink all over the inside of the pen, which gets annoying.

Inactive Pens

I started out my fountain pen adventures with the Platinum Preppy; these are cheap ($5) and write very well. They have two problems, though, that keep me from using them as my regular pens. First, they are not very durable: it is easy to crack the barrel screwing it on to the section. Second, the nib and section design is very difficult to clean after filling with a converter, as there is a groove around the nib that fills with ink, which it then drips all over your paper and the inside of the cap. This second weakness is also shared with the more durable Platinum Plaisir, which I tried for a little while as my primary black; I still keep it in my desk to have a pen handy. I whole-heartedly recommend the Preppy to anyone who wants to see if a fountain pen is right for them, however, as it is a minimal-cost way to get started.

I also bought a 4-pack of Wing Sung 3008 piston pens. These pens were fantastic for trying out different inks as I was getting started with fountain pens, but they are bulky and uncomfortable for sustained writing. I keep them around for future ink experimentation, but do not use them regularly. They do write well enough, though.

Spoiler Alert: Jedi: Fallen Order

Picture of the Second Sister with two purge troopers.

When I first saw the Jedi: Fallen Order banners showing up in Origin, I was intrigued. Something struck me that this could be a really good game. Possibly good like Knights of the Old Republic, one of my favorite games.

That's a high bar. Fallen Order is not KOTOR; is it as good? I don't know, and I don't know if the question even makes sense.

But I had a great deal of fun playing it, and also appreciate what it did with video games as a creative media. It's a good game, in my opinion, and shows what can be done with Star Wars as a video game environment.

Using YubiKey as a Windows SSH Smartcard

A key in a hand
Photo by CMDR Shane on Unsplash.

Some time ago, I got a YubiKey 4. I use it to secure access to a number of web services I use, but also to authenticate myself over SSH. Among its features, it supports being an an OpenPGP smartcard, which means — with some fiddling — it can be used for SSH authentication, so my SSH private key does not actually live on my physical computers.

Spoiler Alert: Foundation

Cover of the 1966 Avon edition of Foundation

We're going to try something new here. Writing about books. And maybe other creative works. I'd like to put some more content on my blog, and books seem like a good source of that.

This isn't a formal review, or an essay submitted for academic consideration. It's just some of my thoughts about the work, why it's meaningful to me, what I think it says to the world, that sort of thing. It's opinionated and full of spoilers — if you would prefer to avoid them, the close-tab button is up there somewhere.

So with that, let's get started. Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy (comprising Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation) was probably, until last year, my favorite trilogy.