Blissful Ignorance? Bite me.

2016 Protest

NOTE: This post was written in rage, and originally published on March 12, 2017.  I deleted it within hours, not in the mood for a social media barrage from both sides of the administration’s loudest supporters and haters.  Like them though, I have strong feelings about the “swamp” (cesspool?) growing larger in DC, in both parties.  I have often regretted removing this post, so here it is.


A tweet in my timeline last week strongly inferred that those of us not participating in “The Resistance” and not availing all our free time to the news media’s political reporting, were not being good citizens.  It also stated that we’re all too comfortable in our state of “blissful ignorance”.  This got me pretty cranked up.

Ignoring the talking heads and spin doctors is not “blissful ignorance”, and neither is non-participation in street protest.  It’s one reaction to not being able to determine which news reports are credible and truthful, due to paid-for bias and the rating wars.  Add my core belief we are way past the point where any number of us in the 99% could collectively do anything to bring about change.

The two choices given to us for President of the United States of America last November shows that the ruling aristocracy in America owns the government, and that’s the way it’s going to stay.  Our children and our planet do not factor into their actions, as their only concern is keeping their power and satisfying their greed.

The Great Automobile Shuffle

We were a 2 car, 2 driver household. A change to one driver’s health status made both of our cars not amenable to this life altering event. Ease of entry and exit became a new requirement, as well as the need for easier access to manageable carry space for the extra things we now need to carry.

Our 2012 Camry was a joy to drive but getting things of substantial weight in and out of the trunk was not a simple task.  It was also not an easy car to get in and out of for someone with mobility issues.  The same problem existed on our other car, a 2013 Corolla S, with the added issue of a very hard ride due to the sport suspension and tires.

The Camry was sold to the Toyota dealer in town, and the Corolla was sold to CarMax.  With the purchase of the replacement vehicle we had decided to locate and buy, we came out financially ahead on the deal.

We had purchased a new 2005 Scion XB when they first became available in New England and we both loved that car, owning it for about 8 years.  My sister has driven it for the last 3 or 4 years.  They stopped selling new XBs in the US in 2015 or early 2016, so I hunted one down on CarMax, and found a very low mileage 2013 in Virginia.  I paid $300 to have it shipped to Hartford and within a week we were happily driving it home.

The car meets the requirements – easier accessibility and more, manageable carry space.  Lifting weight into the back is much easier due to the hatch back and it’s rear bumper-level sill, not requiring lifting the weight up and over to get it in the car.  With the rear seat backs folded down (forward), the extra space provided is ready for extended road trips requiring luggage and more.  In either scenario there are many hooks and loops on the inside body and rear seat backs to secure loads with bungee cords or rope.

The entry into the seating areas is a little lower to the ground than either of the 2 previous cars, making entry significantly easier.  We find the car is noticeably quieter and gives a nicer ride than the 2005 version.  The 16″ wheels (as opposed to the 15″ on the older version) and the slightly extended wheel base are the main reasons for the improved ride.

We need to wait until the honeymoon is over and more miles are put on the car to see what the actual miles per gallon will be, for both town and highway.  My initial feeling is that the newer XB may not be as comfortable at the highway speeds I used to drive the old one (70+ mph), and have been staying closer to 65 except to pass.

Time will tell if it will be as dependable and problem free as the 2005 model was, and still is for my sister, but for now we’re just enjoying the new ride.

A Hobby: Fountain Pens

Since my high school years (a very long time ago), I’ve always liked writing with fountain pens. In the last 10 to 15 years that interest grew more serious and I started purchasing pens off the web, upgrading a step up from the fountain pens I had been buying off the rack at the local drugstore for $5 to $15. The latter were usually not sturdy enough to carry around like a ball point, and often not reliable enough to be sure they would write every time without some prodding. They also made a much larger mess on your person when they leaked or dumped their ink without warning due to a bump or jostle.

The Lamy CP1
The Lamy CP1

The pen pictured above is my latest purchase, a Lamy CP1, with a steel fine nib. The term “fine” defines the relative width of the line it draws on the paper and is not a hard and fast measurement, as it can vary from brand to brand. This purchase was influenced by my experience with the 4 Lamy pens I already own. The Lamy brand was among my first purchases on the web and stood out from other brands in its price range as being the most reliable (write first time, every time), most durable (take a licking and keep on ticking), and easiest to write with. These 4 Lamy’s are all Safari models of various colors, with sturdy ABS plastic bodies except for one, a Safari Al-Star which has a light aluminum body. All are fixed with medium nibs, writing a thicker line than the fine.

The CP1 has a very slim metal barrel and a slightly textured finish. For me, it is a very comfortable pen to write with most likely due to the small circumference of the body and the smoothness of the nib. It shipped dry and as soon as I plugged in the cartridge it came with, it wrote immediately – no prodding or waiting for it to be ready. And it has been writing immediately every day since. I usually keep about 4 pens inked, and at least one of them has always been a Lamy. This pen will always be inked, so other Lamy’s will get a rest. From the feel of it I’m confident the CP1 will be as reliable and durable as the Lamy Safari models.

Sheaffer Prelude Black Matte
Sheaffer Prelude Black Matte

My most prized purchase is a Sheaffer Prelude (above), Black Matte with 22k gold plated trim and a steel two tone fine nib. This buy was influenced by a gifted Prelude I received years earlier. It was the best writer I had, meaning most reliable and sturdiest for daily carry and use, and was just easy to write with. The Black Matte lives up to that assessment, being a daily writer for me, staying inked all the time. Unfortunately, the first prelude was damaged by some idiot (me) dropping it onto a hard surface with the cap off – and of course it hit nib first. I want to get it fixed but it would probably cost more than just replacing it.

This is a hobby of mine. It’s fun and I usually make about 1 purchase a year. I have a small collection, around 15 pens, and I try to get almost all of them in use at least once a year, rotating them in and out of service.

Whatever I’ve learned about fountain pens comes from a very longtime, good friend of mine. If you have interest in fountain pens I strongly suggest you visit his web presence at The Fountain Pen Quest. You’ll find very detailed reviews of many different pens, ink, and writing papers, as well as a long list of links to more information on topic.

Since my high school years (a very long time ago), I’ve always liked writing with fountain pens. In the last 10 to 15 years that interest grew more serious and I started purchasing pens off the web, upgrading a step up from the fountain pens I had been buying off the rack at the local drugstore for $5 to $15. The latter were usually not sturdy enough to carry around like a ball point, and often not reliable enough to be sure they would write every time without some prodding. They also made a much larger mess on your person when they leaked or dumped their ink without warning due to a bump or jostle.