Saturday, November 22, 2008

How Get Me To Cuss Like a Sailor,

One Thing I Hate About Christmas,

You Gotta Have the Right Tool for the Job

It takes a bit to get me rattled. I'm usually described as calm and even tempered. However, at the beginning of every Christmas season, my vocabulary is reduced to four letter words strung together in tirade of filth and foul. What, you ask, could possibly reduce this otherwise mild mannered father of 4 into a crazed hate spewing monster?

Simple, the lighting of the Christmas Tree.

Yes that time honored tradition of Daddy putting the lights on the tree while expectant children impatiently await their turn at decorating the tree.

It got so bad that a few years ago my wife decided to purchase a pre-lit tree.
This certainly would be the end to all despair and restore peace in our home at the beginning of the holiday.

The situation has only gotten worse. Now every year I wrestle this 200lb monster out of the attic and down the steps. When I get it set up and ready to plug in, I wait expectantly like Clark W. Griswold for the 1000 light extravaganza assembled by some penniless sweat shop worker who will never see the finished product in all its glory, and think to myself how smart I am to have authorized the purchase by my wife of such a holiday shortcut and then, drum roll please...

Nothing.


Now I've been told by countless thousands about how these days Christmas tree lights are now wired in parallel, not like the old days where if one bulb was out, then the whole strand was out. I remember as a boy helping my poor Dad unscrew and replace every bulb from our old school, over sized, C-9 1/4 colored lights. This method worked great as long as you only had one light out, but heaven forbid you have multiple failures on a single strand. You could be hours replacing bulbs.

Today it's supposed to be different, but you know that isn't true. We've all seen sections of lights out in an icicle strand. How is this possible.

Two years ago, I wore my fingers out while replacing each bulb in the broken part of the strand. Each socket has a little plastic lock and then the replacement bulbs have these little filaments that have to fit into little holes just so.

Generally, in today's economy with the aforementioned sweat shops pumping out strands of 100 lights for $2.99, it's just easier to traipse off to Walmart for another set.

This was my plan last year. Angela and I just purchased a couple of additional strands to replace the sections that would not light. We discovered, however, that the sweat shop employees were diligent workers and had secured the wires to the prickly branches with a dexterity unmatched by soft American computer user hands. Six man hours later and looking like a couple of first year marrieds had wired their first Christmas tree, we had replaced the two burned out sections.

This year I was determined to outsmart the Christmas Tree Light Grinch and I Googled for possible solutions on how to fix Christmas tree lights.

Could it be true? Could it be possible? The Light Keeper Pro was the answer to all my holiday problems. God bless Google and God bless Rich Frederick.

I ran down to my neighborhood Ace Hardware store so I could pay full retail price for this tool. Not to be tricked by some snake oil salesman, I took the top of my tree with me and I planed to test the Light Keeper Pro on site at Ace and return it if I was disappointed.

The nice ladies at Ace made wonderful suggestions, "Honey, why don't you just buy another strand?" and "You could just wrap some new ones in with the old ones." but I was undeterred.

I bought the Light Keeper Pro, found the nearest outlet and proceeded to follow the instructions to a "T". Surrounded by Ace hardware staff and customers, I was prepared to pull the trigger the maximum of 20 times in order to get my lights working but with one unclimatic pull of the trigger all the lights came to life. It has worked as advertised. Christmas is saved.

Most miniature Holiday Light set failures occur when an individual bulb "shunt" fails to energize. These shunts are energized when a filament burns out. This causes a section of lights, usually 35 or 50, to go out instead of just one light bulb. This is because miniature light sets are wired in "series" and electricity must flow through each bulb, to the next, for them to light. The LightKeeper Pro Quick Fix Trigger sends a shaped, electrical pulse through the defective bulb, clearing the shunt. This allows it to operate properly. The current can then flow through the light set completing the circuit and illuminating the other bulbs.


I completely endorse this product and recommend it for every pre-lit tree or lawn ornament user.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Wisdom at Waffle House


I met a man last weekend who gave me some unsolicited advice but I haven't been able to shake it.

He was a working man in blue coveralls with his name embroidered on the pocket. He was an older, local fellow with some teeth missing and askew. He noticed me waiting for a table and stopped to comment on my children. He mentioned that he had raised 3 girls in his lifetime. And then proceeded to give me some advice. I leave you with his own words as best as I can remember them:

"People say raising girls is harder than boys, but I say it's easy. You just gotta be right there for them when they need Daddy. When I'm at work and I get a call from home, I just close up my tool box and head on home. My friends ask me, 'Don't you have a job?' but I tell'em my wife has 3 kids to raise and she can't do it alone."

I've reflected on his words all week and they strike a chord within me. You can find morsels of wisdom anywhere you go.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

There's Something Happening @ Fusion

I'm not exactly sure what is going on, but something is happening at Fusion Church.

We took a few weeks off after having the baby and when we came back, wow, the place is jumping.

Let's break it down:

  1. There are people I don't recognise and I wonder from where they came?
  2. The energy is really high. It seems expectant that God is going to do something.
  3. Scott Stewart is leading like a Fortune 500 CEO and working like dog.
  4. Stephen Lowe, who has my dream job, is doing an excellent job getting the church to run on all 8.
  5. The worship has been great. Seth is doing a great job. It is so nice when there is a full sound with 6 musicians.
  6. Chad's announcements and closing are hitting a stride that is very natural and upbeat.
  7. And the Preaching -

Let's talk about preaching for a minute.

My primary reason for going to church is to worship God. I do that through song and prayer and giving and the hearing of the Word.

If you are going to make the effort to get up on Sunday morning and attend church, you want the preaching to be life changing. It's not the preaching solely that changes your life, it's the application of the Word into your life.

You don't spend the time and money to go to the doctor and then not do what he says. Why then would you go to church, listen to the pastor unpack the Word, give you lessons for life and then go home without giving it another thought.

I'm telling you there is no way you could have attended Fusion Church today and walk away unchanged and a large part of that was the preaching. Pastor Tony was giving it everything (insert link to video when available here) he had to get the message across. Well it worked.

I'm not here to lift up one man. I know it is the Holy Spirit working through him, but he has to be yielded to it and do his due dilligence in preparation. I really appreciate what a gem we have in Pastor Tony. I have attended many churches and listened to countless pastors preach and very few are as good at communicating as Pastor Tony.

If the One Prayer series was indicitative of the best of the best preaching in America, then we really don't realize how blessed we are. And literally, thank God for One Prayer. Pastor Tony got a study break and look what it did for him. We should support him and make sure we give him the appropriate time off on a regular basis.

All in all, I could not wait to get home and post about this amazing experience. More importantly, I can't wait to apply all that I am learning into my everyday life. I am looking forward to the rest of the series and seeing the changes in my life as well as those around me.

Great job guys!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Skills


This young man has skills.

Not only karate skills, but intellectual and people skills. He is continually on some type of Dean's list and was recently awarded the Star Citizen Award at his school.

Now he has graduated to the level of Black Belt which to me shows dedication to personal fitness, discipline of the mind and body and commitment to a higher set of values than most young men his age.

I know that his whole family is very proud of him, especially his mother and father. I just wanted to publicly announce that I am one very proud uncle. I can't wait to see the great things you will accomplish in your lifetime.

Congratulations, Nick!

Monday, June 2, 2008

I Dream in Stress

This is typical of the types of dreams I have. I'm usually in some series of situations that require me to solve some problems, sometimes the same one over and over in a groundhog day fashion. Although this one does not repeat exactly, I can't seem to get back to the hospital after my wife has a baby and I continue to go through a series of challenges.

As many of you know, my wife is 8 1/2 months pregnant. Remember, it's a dream, not a Hollywood script. It doesn't really flow or make sense all the time.

It's time. So we're at the hospital. My wife decides to leave the birthing room with all of it accoutrements and have the baby somewhere else in the hospital, away from the doctors in another room. It's some new "program", offering a more natural birth experience with just the husband and wife present. I worried sick about her and the baby.

As the time grows closer, somehow I'm momentarily distracted by my 1 1/2 year old son who has decided to show up in my dream, in the delivery room which has no doctors. (In case you are unaware, both of my daughters, then ages 4 and 2, ended up in the delivery room during his delivery, but that is just my everyday stressful real life that I can recount in another post.)

As I mentally rejoin the game, my wife is handing me the new baby that she had by herself while I was distracted. Everything seems okay. She has cleared the mouth and the midwives begin to gather and start some care. My wife charges me with getting the word out.

Next scene, I'm at my parents house informing them but I don't have all the details of the birth. Since there was no doctor present to call the birth time and weight, I don't have the freaking stats. What good is a new father, getting the word out, without the stats? So I call my wife in the hospital but she has so many visitors and calls, I'm having trouble getting through. Finally, I get the birth time and weight.

I'm trying to write it down and tell my mom at the same time. She's halfway out the door because she wants to go up to the hospital before gallivanting off on some plans she had previously made. I'm there with my dad and for some reason, we have to take the bus back to the hospital. The distance required to walk to the bus stop is putting a visible strain on him and I'm worried for his health. Along the way, I'm not sure I've got $1.25 cash for the ticket. Check my pocket, yes, a wad of 1's and 5's.

We arrive at the bus stop to find everyone from "the door" assembled to ride down to the hospital as well. (I'm talking about the whole "vagabond door troupe" here. About 20 people.) Well, the bus is taking forever to arrive at the stop. I'm looking at my watch and trying to calculate, from the birth time that I just recently found out, how long I've been gone from the hospital. About 4-5 hours. I've got to get back to the hospital.

Some bus like thing comes but it is the wrong one. I get on it to find out what the deal is and while I'm on the thing, the real bus comes. As I emerge from the fake bus, I start running for the real bus. Everyone is yelling and cheering for me and they somehow get the bus to slow down and I'm able to get on.

Well if you have ever ridden the bus, you know it does not take you to your destination, but to a hub. This hub is Colony Square Hotel in downtown Atlanta. I meet up with a few more of my personal friends who are on their way down to the hospital and are waiting on the bus.

I can't take it anymore. I've got to get back to the hospital. So in typical me fashion, I grab the concierge and tell him I need a cab. He directs me to an older guy who supposedly is a cab driver who will take me to his car. I'm taking all my people with me (the door troupe is waiting for the next bus). I better check that wad of 1's and 5's to see if I have enough. Some 10's and 20's are there. The old guy starts leading us away from the bus depot down some stairs, as the buses are rolling in.

We proceed down what seams like an unending spiral staircase to the bottom level ground transportation garage. He has a limousine waiting for us since we are a bigger crowd. I check my pocket again, there's a 100. Now he tells us to wait there while he finds the driver. I thought he was the driver. I've got to get back to the hospital.

While waiting on the driver, I can look up from the garage and see the bus stop. I notice one of my people is still over there and we begin to yell and motion to him to hurry up and come on down.

I finally wake up. Seriously people, I would have rather not gone to sleep. When you sleep in stress, how do you function during the day?

Your interpretations welcome.

Friday, May 2, 2008

BUSTED!


At work we have a LATE CAMERA. It is a web cam that sits near the front door. From 8:31 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. any motion triggers it to snap a picture with a time stamp and then e-mail that to everyone in the company.


My Lame Excuse: I forgot that I needed gas and left the house just in time to get to work. I only pumped 2 gallons but even that made me 3 minutes late. Doesn't everyone have a lame excuse for being late?

There is a problem when people are later than 9:00, but we can't extend the time because the productive people are going back out the door. Also, some folks have tried to sneak in the back door.

An issue that I struggle with is that some of the people who are habitually late, stay late and are the most productive (aka profitable) people. Others not. Some of my early people leave before quitting time.

As an employer, I'm not sure if I should look at tardiness as a personal discipline issue or rather allow people to play to their natural rhythms and work when they are most productive.

Your comments welcome. Are you a late person or early person? Why?

Monday, April 21, 2008

The 2lb Double Face Sledge Hammer

I was feeling sort of down. My rental house that, until just a few weeks ago, had been occupied by a "family" was vacant. The tenants moved back to their home country and left $16,000 worth of damage to the house. (Apparently the phrase single-family home in English doesn't translate to the same thing in other languages.)

I left early Saturday morning, just after breakfast and protests from all of my children to try my hand at some repairs. The list is long and just reviewing it makes me unsettled.

After some bone jarring gravel shoveling on the driveway to try to smooth out the ruts, I started removing all the carpet. My hands were blistered and cramped up. I could hardly open them. I was beginning to get in a really foul mood.

But then it happened.

I was getting a knife from the toolbox and when I lifted the top tray, I saw it down in the bottom. There it was, beckoning like some sort of Tool Time Excalibur. It had been hiding down there, just adding dead weight but at that moment it was clamoring to be wielded by an angry soul.

The 2 LB Double Faced Sledge Hammer.

With fervor, I obliged.

First to go was the makeshift door frame they had installed to close off the family room in order to make it another bedroom.
Next was the makeshift closet in the same room.
And finally, the downstairs shower, damaged by the upstairs shower being used without a curtain, was the last resister.

I came down full force on the tiles. Crack. They easily busted into dozens of pieces. It was almost too easy. Then I hit it. The big block in the center. It was solid brick covered in steel reinforced concrete. A worthy adversary.

With every blow, the block barrier gave small but satisfying results. Chips and flecks, chunks and steel mesh loosening and crumbling. The sound in the small shower enclosure was deafening.


My ears were ringing but I couldn't stop until the whole thing lay in a heap of rubble on the floor.

Victory!

  • 16" Length


  • Double face


  • Polished face


  • Hickory handle


  • Forged steel head


  • Used for general sledging operations in staking wood, concrete, metal and stone


  • Common uses are drifting timbers and striking spikes, star drills, hardened nails and home security


  • No toolbox complete without one

Friday, April 11, 2008

Why Some People Hate Computers

Allow Me to Whine A Little

I have a new Dell Latitude XT Tablet with Vista. As configured, it costs around $4000. I say that not to brag but rather to help make a point. (Dell gave it to me.)

This computer is the latest and greatest technology and no expense has been spared. So you would think that everything should work. But you would only think that if you were an end user, a commoner, a man on the street, or a CEO.

As a tech guy, I know that stuff just doesn't work, and no, I don't have the answer as to why it does not work and there is a good chance that I can't "fix" it. Again, as a commoner, you might (wrongly) say I'm incompetent at my job.

Let me give you an example.

I use Microsoft OneNote. It is a program for taking notes and it uses tabs to navigate around the interface. I loaded OneNote 2007, the latest and greatest version on my new XT (which we have already established is the best of the best.)

Right away I noticed a problem. When I left clicked a tab, nothing happened. A small problem, an annoyance at worst but it did not work like it was supposed to. I downloaded the latest patches to OneNote and no change.

I figured out a work around that I have been using for a couple of months. I've searched for solutions but I could not find anyone having the same issue. If this were a client's computer, they would be all over me to fix it. By now, I would have put in about 10 hours troubleshooting. The drive would have been wiped clean, the OS re-installed, drivers, software and all personalized settings put back in place. The problem would still exist.

Well I checked the web again this morning and a fix was just released yesterday. See the progression here. It is a Dell issue but Microsoft figured the problem out. There is no way I could have been able to fix this issue.

If you are not technical, just skip the next paragraph or I'll lose you as a reader for life. If you are technical, you'll find this interesting.

Click Start, Run, type regedit, and click ok (acknowledge the Vista UAC prompt if it comes up). In the registry editor, navigate to "Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop" Locate the DragHeight and DragWidth values in the right hand pane Select the DragHeight value, click the Edit menu, and select Modify (you can double click as well to modify) In the Value Data field, type 4 and click ok. IMPORTANT! You need to do this step even if the registry editor already shows the value as 4! Repeat steps 4 and 5 with the DragWidth field. Logoff or reboot your computer.

The really cool part is the IMPORTANT point. My registry fields already showed a value of 4.
Even if I had known what the problem is I would not have changed a registry to the value it already stated.

My wife finally understands. Her iPhone malfunctioned (is that even possible?) and she exclaimed, "You are supposed to fix everything technical all the time. You're in computers." She saw it in other people as well and started to realize that it's not my fault. You wouldn't blame your doctor for a drug manufacturer's mistake.

Suffice to say, I love technology and I love solving problems. If you are lucky enough to be my client and are having a problem with your technology, I will find a solution if one exists. I'm not a programmer, a debugger, hardware manufacturer, or electrical engineer so I have to let those people do their jobs first.

If you want to impress your friends with bleeding edge technology, expect to be a Guinea pig for bug fixes. You'll pay more for stuff that doesn't work. If you want technology that works, try something that has been tested true. (No dad, you can't keep using Windows 95!)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Why I Hate Country Music

How to Make a Man's Man Bawl like a Baby

A Shoutout to my Father-In-Law

Why There should be Gun Control by 2020

If you have been following my posts, you know that I just got back from a trip to Statesboro, GA. If not, maybe you've saved yourself some valuable time. I told my wife that a trip to south Georgia would definitely yield some post fodder. This is the one you've been waiting on.

I forgot my iPod. The only disks in my car are Veggie Tales. I won't get XM radio until they take the commercials off. (Wasn't that the whole idea, you pay for no commercials?) AM reception, aka Talk Radio, is non-existent south of Macon. I was left with 1 sleepy gospel station, 1 head bangers ball, and half a dozen country stations.

I'm sure the country stations were different formats. But don't ask me to tell one from another. I'm doing well when I can tell the difference between Hip-hop and Rap.

All I know is every time I'm driving by myself in south Georgia, listening to the country music, some song will come on that tears my heart out and stomps it flat by the side of the road.

Last time it was Tim McGraw's Don't Take the Girl.



This time it was Chuck Wicks' Stealing Cinderella



Maybe it's just where I am in life right now. Maybe Chuck Wicks is a country music pop star genius and wrote the song to specifically elicit a response from a certain demographic. What I do know is that it started with a choke and then my eyes welled up and I let a single tear fall. I mean what the heck, I was by myself. If you can't be real with yourself, who are you?

But it doesn't stop there. The song was long over and the images kept flooding my thoughts. Here is a song about someone looking back to where I am now. Those memories that he has are what I am living every day. The thought of them being just memories... (Hold on, I need a minute.)

(I'm back) Is it bragging to say that I wouldn't trade places with anyone in the world? I have two Cinderellas, one sweet little boy who is healthy and laughs all the time and another little girl on the way.

We joke about how tough parenting is and about needing a break from our kids but the reality is I'd trade all the wealth in the world for one of them and not have to think about it 1 second. Any of you DINKY couples considering a childless existence, I beg you, forget anything your have heard me say about the difficulties of parenthood, forget about seeing my children melt down at 9PM after a full day and a 2 hour meal at some stuffy restaurant.

Instead, peek in on my morning routine as one of my daughters rises early and snuggles with me in the quiet of the morning for a Bible reading. Ride home with me after work and see my reception. Arms up in the air, everyone screaming "Daddy's home, Daddy's home!" Watch as I put my children to bed and they pray for others and then ask as I'm leaving their bedroom, "Daddy, will you always be my daddy?"

I might be a mediocre business man at best. As a Christian, thank God Jesus is a friend of sinners. But to these children, I'm the greatest dad in the world and they make me feel that way. I'd do anything for them.

Which brings me to my final two points.
1. Thanks John Borg for giving me your blessing to marry your daughter. These past 10 years have been the best ones of my life and I know that they were at your expense. You had to give up your princess and I hope I have done right by her.
2. Any young punk who comes snooping around my house in about 10-15 years better have the best and purest intentions because you have no idea what you are...you just have no idea.

And speaking of sleepy gospel music, this one says it all.



Friday, April 4, 2008

The Trilding



Trilding [tril-ding] -noun
1. a relatively permanent enclosed construction around any of various forms of vehicle for carrying goods and materials, usually consisting of a single, no longer functioning self-propelled unit, used for any of a wide variety of activities, as living, entertaining, or manufacturing while having a roof and usually windows.
2. South Georgia storage shed

3. The 8th wonder of Modern Day Redneck Construction


It's okay. Go ahead and click on the photo for an enlargement. I'll wait. Yes, you are seeing correctly. They backed the truck up, salvaged the wheels and bricked it in.


I saw this very unusual building addition on a previous trip to Statesboro. I was determined to hunt it down and get a picture this trip because I didn't think anyone would believe me. The picture speaks for itself.


After taking the picture, I wondered, "what type of establishment is this anyway?"


Well if you must know, it's Gnat's Landing. Seems to be quite popular with the locals.


Tonight: Barefoot Booyak

Friday: Do Good DJ's

Saturday: Triple Shock


Anyone know of other trildings? Post a link to a photo.

I Frequent "The Beaver House"

Anytime I get south of Macon, GA (some call it the gnat line) I start looking for South GA Sweet Tea. It's thick like syrup and served ice cold. I usually drink about 6 glasses in a sitting, the first one before the waitress leaves the table.

My company has a client in Statesboro, GA. We find ourselves down there about 2 times a year.

A couple of years ago I was down there with Mike Cowan, a graduate of GA Southern, and he introduced me to the Beaver House. Back in his day they served a meal plan for college students and they didn't keep track of how many times you had eaten during the week. Needless to say, Mike did not go hungry while in college.

These days he has quite a devotion to the place. I'm not sure if it's because the food is so good or just plain guilt from his former life, but I can't go down there with Mike and not eat at the Beaver House. He says, "I wake up at night in a cold sweat thinking about their fried chicken. I love that chicken."

Now that's all well and good until we get into a monthly financial review at the office and my other partners see charges on the company Amex for The Beaver House. Of course they are thinking what you were thinking when you read the heading of this post. (Which is probably the only reason you're reading this.)

So just to prove it's not some seedy truck stop off I-85 South, here is The Beaver House.

The sign inside says, "Seconds are a compliment. Thirds will cost you $1.00."



I recommend the sweet tea; Mike, the fried chicken.

Make sure you get your Prom reservations in on time.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Use is Ownership

I have a good friend, Steve Marto, who coined the phrase back in high school that "Use is Ownership". That phrase originated from the fact that we liked to go fishing but we had no boat and no pond. There was a guy that we knew who gave us complete access to his pond and his row boat. At first we would knock on his door and ask. Eventually he said, "Guys, you don't have to ask, just go and use."

That day Steve said, "We own a pond with a boat." To a couple of kids who liked to fish, this was heaven.

Now you've probably had someone offer something to you and it sounded sincere but you knew in your heart that there were limits. You know what I'm talking about. Phrases like "Come over anytime." and "Mi Casa es tu casa." What they really meant was, "You are an honored GUEST in our home."

My parents are magnificent people and they understand this concept. They've been blessed in this life with a cabin up in the mountains. It's in a gated community. They tell us to "come up anytime" and they mean it. I've had a key since the day they bought the place.

The gate has a "clicker". Well they not only gave me a key but also a clicker. The clicker is important because when you get to the gate, if you don't have a clicker you have to check in with the guard who is an off duty sheriff. Now the guard is always affable, but when you come up to the gate and he has to come out of his warm little security hut, he takes on this authority role and challenges you as to why you are there. You have to go through this rig amoral about who you are and who you are visiting. You are a guest. "Hey I'm Lauren and Fran Buckland's son. I'm here to VISIT my parents." I'm a guest.

But when you have the clicker, you roll up fat, click the gate open and experience a guard with a different attitude. He knows one of his "employers" is coming through. He tips his hat, waves and smiles.

There have been a couple of occasions through the years when they changed the gate electronics and I needed a new clicker. In the times that we visit before receiving the new clicker, I'm relegated back to guest status and I hate it. Really I quit going because I can't stand to be confronted by the guard. (Do I have a problem with authority or what?) This happened recently and last fall my mom finally gave me a new clicker. I felt like, NOW I really can come up anytime.

A few weeks ago I was challenged by my devotional. It asked, "Is Jesus an honored guest at your house, in your heart, or is he an owner?" The question struck a cord with me as I considered this guest/owner dichotomy.

Revelation 3:20 says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends."

This is a good beginning for a relationship but at this point in my life I would rather just give Him not only a key but also a clicker so he doesn't have to continue to stand and knock every time. I don't want to be the gate guard, charged with weighing if I'm going to let Him in this time or not.

Jesus, you don't have to ask, just come and use. Like Mary says in Luke 1:38, "be it unto me according to thy word."

Amen.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Pen

Recently a good friend of mine gave me a pen as a gift. I call him a good friend because he instinctively knew that I would love this pen. It was not on my Amazon gift list nor am I known as a pen collector. However, I am an aficionado of fine pens. I humbly accept this label after some deep introspection and a review of my pen purchases over the years.

It is a Fisher Space Pen, black bullet style with a clip. The Space Pen is the kind that writes upside down and that the NASA astronauts have used since 1969.
The pen measures about 3½” closed but opens to a full sized 5½” writing implement when the cap is placed on the back end. It fits unobtrusively in my pants pocket, has the weight and feel I like when writing and the ink always flows onto the paper from the first point I set the tip on without blobbing up like a cheap Bic.

If you are a Seinfeld fan, you’ll remember fondly Season 3 Episode 5 which is about a space pen that after reluctantly accepting the pen, Jerry returns because he realizes the gift offer was disingenuous.

A fine pen does not have to be expensive. It has to inspire you to write and flow the ink well when you do. It has to fit your hand both in size and weight. With the right pen in your pocket, you look forward to signing your name and would never dream of using the public string attached teller pen, even if it takes a couple of more seconds to produce your personal writing instrument.

My appreciation for pens comes from my father. In his early years he always had a nice desk pen set with both a ball point and a fountain pen. I was welcome to use the ball point. But no one was allowed to use the fountain pen because he said the nib gets used to the particular angle at which each writer holds the pen and another user can ruin the pen. That’s when I learned that pens are personal. He was right.

He was also a fan of the Pilot Razor Point. He taught me that a good pen lets the ink flow and does not require pressure on the paper. I can still remember him coaching me and my sister, “don’t press so hard or you’ll ruin the tip.”

I’ll tell you how I came to own my Mont Blanc Meisterst├╝ck.

I had always admired the Mont Blanc and wanted one for years. I was signing a contract at a local gym. (oh, they got you too?) The owner handed me his Mont Blanc to fill out the forms and when I was just about finished, he left his office. I waited for about 10 minutes and then left the pen and the signed contract on his desk.

He later called me to ask if I had “inadvertently” kept his special pen. I didn’t want him to suspect me so I went and bought him a new one and presented it in the box saying I was sorry I left his pen unattended. (Yes I also deal with a guilty conscience.) To my astonishment, he had either found his or already replaced it and refused my gift.

I decided to keep it but I rarely use it. Really it is a little light for my taste and I don’t like to pull it out because everyone knows the Mont Blanc symbol and it’s too flashy and nouveau riche.
Three other pens I own and like are:

A Cross Tablet pen my wonderful wife gave me on my first Father’s Day. Just because you go paperless does not mean you have to give up style and comfort. (Does not work with my new Dell XT but I blame Dell for their egregious design flaw. It might be reason enough to return to Toshiba. Anyone interested in a gently used XT?)

My hand-turned wooden pen I purchased at the Apple Festival in Ellijay, GA several years ago.

The Zebra F-301. I love the feel of the steel and it has a good weight for an “office supply” I can get my company to purchase.
Although not written with the space pen, but rather inspired by it, I close my first blog post. For unwittingly exhorting me to write again, I thank you my friend.