I Guess I’m Now a Pen Collector

Published at 17:38 on 25 September 2014

I wanted a second fountain pen for my desk, so I can keep the first one I bought a year ago, a Pelikan Pelikano, in my pack to have handy at work.

I’m still a total cheapskate about such things, so I did some searching and found that Overstock.com sells discontinued models Parker Vector pens for very reasonable prices. The one I got was $12, about $8 less than I paid for the Pelikano. And darned if the new, cheaper pen doesn’t write even more smoothly than the old one (which in turn is much better than the one I used in college).

As a further plus, the traditional blue-black ink is readily available for Parker pens in the USA. (Not so for Pelikan pens, at least if you use cartridges.) Being able to use that ink color midway between blue and black (something not available for ballpoints) was one of the things I liked about writing with that old Shaeffer pen.

I’ve heard some griping about their shipping, and they were on the slow side to notify me that it had shipped, but it ended up getting here two days early. So, no bad experiences here.

And that’s probably going to be the extent of my collection. I have more than enough stuff accumulated in my life, and two fountain pens are definitely all I need, and probably bordering on overkill. I don’t write all that much.

(Almost) Giving up on Home Ownership

Published at 21:59 on 5 September 2014

After a half-year of keeping a close eye on the market, it’s becoming increasingly evident that housing available for purchase on Bainbridge Island breaks down to roughly three categories:

  1. Large homes on large lots. More home and more lot than I could ever want or need, in fact.
  2. Condos built one atop another, typically in a brutally modernist style (which I dislike) and with all-electric kitchens (I strongly prefer to cook with gas).
  3. Townhomes of the sort I would like, but only a tiny number, demand vastly outpaces supply, and I have no interest in participating in a real-estate feeding frenzy that leaves me no time to do due diligence on my purchase.

In short, nothing suitable seems to really exist. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find something, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that any such result depends on getting lucky, i.e. the odds do not favor it.

There’s really no rentals that have everything on my list, but that’s not so important for a rental, because rental housing doesn’t come with the long-term commitment that owned housing does. And there are rentals that have more of what I want than my current rental does. They’re pretty scarce, but one comes on the market about every quarter.

So it’s looking increasingly like the Island is neither a short-term solution nor a long-term one but a medium-term one. That’s about what a better rental that still falls short of what I’d really like is worth.

Still better than Seattle proper; each time I visit, my general impression of Seattle tends to be that I’m glad I escaped that mess, and this impression is particularly strong every time I have to contend with the freeway system there or think about what an onerous budget obligation Seattle is getting itself into with their multi-billion-dollar boondoggle of a highway tunnel under downtown.

Not only will the latter cause taxes to be high (for something I didn’t want built in the first place), but the it will also sap the ability of Seattle to spend money improving its long-neglected mass transit infrastructure. So it seems inevitable that Seattle will continue to be lacking in what a city needs to be a livable place for me in the decades to come.

Thus, despite the advantages of there being more social activities of interest (which does have its temptations), it’s still not the sort of place I’d wish to live.

“Whatever it Takes”: An Encouraging Change in Rhetoric

Published at 09:06 on 4 September 2014

Recently, those involved in the campaign for higher wages for fast-food workers have started employing the rhetoric “whatever it takes”.

It’s a sentiment that’s been sadly absent for too long on the Left in the USA.

Because, really, those in the ruling elite are always doing whatever it takes to continue their rule. That includes often ignoring the same rules that they themselves wrote to their advantage in the first place.

If you’re not willing to use whatever it takes to get the sort of world you want, then you’re a sellout and a fraud who places more priority on obeying the ruling elite than on your own principles.

Why Civil Unions for All Won’t Work

Published at 08:45 on 1 September 2014

By “civil unions for all” I mean the idea, floated by some, of getting the government out of the marriage business entirely and only issuing “civil unions” to couples. Existing state marriages would be converted to civil unions, and all rights granted to the married under the law would be transferred to those in civil unions.

“Marriage” would become a term used exclusively to refer to religious and other non-state ceremonies, which the private organizations conducting the ceremonies would be free to define the parameters of. Its advocates promote it as a way of defusing the Right’s concerns about “marriage being redefined.”

It almost certainly wouldn’t work. The Right is not interested in compromises here. They want existing privileges and injustices to continue, and one of those injustices they want to preserve is the oppression of non-straight people.

I can see hear Sean Hannity now: “So, am I correct that you actually support the proposals currently being advocated by militant homosexuals to remove all recognition of marriage from our law books?” At this point, the guest will either try and rephrase what’s being proposed with a more complete and accurate description (at which point Sean will shout at him for not answering his “simple question” with a “yes” or a “no”), or the guest will say “yes” (at which point Sean will launch on a long tirade of how evil and un-American the Left is). Or something very much like that.

What won’t happen is the proposal being received as a potentially reasonable compromise on the marriage debate.