The Perfect Paper

The Perfect Paper

As my fountain pen hobby has grown, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect paper. I’ve tried 2 A4 notepads, 1 A4 loose leaf pack, and 8 A5 notebooks.

At first, I tried a cream A4 loose leaf Tomoé River set and quickly followed it up with Clairefontaine Triomphe A4 notepad. The former was so thin that it couldn’t stand up to a wax seal. The latter was capable of handling a seal, but it surprisingly didn’t feel as smooth as the former.

After experiencing the A4 paper, I ventured into notebooks. I favored A5 size. I started with Clairefontaine. The paper was just like the Triomphe A4 notepad only lined and clothbound. I quickly realized that it was not easy to write in this notebook because it didn’t lay completely flat. Before attempting to fix that issue, I tried an Apica CD Premium, but the pages weren’t truly white as advertised, and it also suffered from the same issue with laying flat as the Clairefontaine. I did try a Goulet Pens A5 notebook, which is slightly thicker Tomoé River paper, but it didn’t lay flat either.

So, I tried wirebound solutions. I tried Clairefontaine side bound as well as Maruman Mnemosyne. I liked how these laid completely flat, but the side binding was an issue when I tried to write on the posterior side of the paper being that I am right handed. As a result, I ventured into top bound solutions from Clairefontaine and Rhodia. I even tried a top staple bound Rhodia notebook. The paper between the two brands is near indistinguishable, and I know Rhodia uses Clairefontaine paper in the Webnote, so it makes sense to me that they probably use the same paper in their other products. But the Rhodia seems less glossy—though this point may be my mind playing tricks on me.

At this stage, I picked up a white A4 Tomoé River notepad. I feel that it is the best paper overall, but I’m going to stick with the Rhodia No. 16 Top Wirebound Notebook for my notes. If I can get Tomoé River paper in a notebook that is top wire bound, I’d do it—I just haven’t found it yet!


The Perfect Red

The Perfect Red

As my fountain pen hobby has taken hold in the last 6 months, I went on a quest to find the ideal, nay—the perfect red. And I found it.

Thanks to Goulet Pens samples, I was able to try about 10 red inks.


As you can see in the image above, I tested the following:

  • Diamine Oxblood
  • Diamine Poppy Red
  • Diamine Wild Strawberry
  • Diamine Matador
  • Diamine Red Dragon
  • Monteverde Ruby
  • Monteverde Valentine Red
  • Waterman Audacious Red
  • Sheaffer Skrip Red
  • Noodler’s Red

My first favorite was the last one I tested—Noodler’s Red. Everything else was too pink or too orange for my liking. My second favorite was Red Dragon as it was simply stunning and elegant but not what I was looking for in my choice of red ink. I really wanted to go with Ruby or Valentine Red since I really love Monteverde’s Horizon Blue and Yosemite Green, but they just weren’t to my liking. Noodler’s Red is true red to my eye, and I really like it.

Now, if you haven’t checked out Goulet Pen’s ink samples, do check it out!

More on Fountain Pens

Since my last post on fountain pens, I have made a few more acquisitions.

I have my Sheaffer Prelude. But I have switched from the Sheaffer Skrip Turquoise ink for Monteverde Horizon Blue. In my wife’s opinion, the turquoise was girly, so I switched to something more manly. And the Horizon Blue is a nice bolder and darker blue. It will be my blue choice for life.

I picked up a Lamy Studio Imperial Blue in a medium nib. I sent it back. The chrome grip was slippery, making it hard to write.

I replaced the Lamy with a Monteverde Invincia Deluxe, which is made of carbon fiber and metal. It’s nice and heavy. However, the fine nib is scratchy. My cheaper Sheaffer is more smooth! So, it’s disappointing.

I paired up this pen with Diamine Oxblood dark red ink, which looks like dried blood! It’s a bit too dark—nearly brown—so I will switch eventually to Sheaffer Skrip Red or maybe Diamine Poppy Red. I’ll have to get samples and make a choice.

I picked up a Pilot Metropolitan Silver Plain with medium nib. I heard that Pilot nibs tend to run a size small, and I like a fine nib, so I went medium—and it was the right choice. This pen is light but very smooth. It was cheaper than both of my other pens and it is providing the best writing experience to boot!

I paired up the Metropolitan with Monteverde Yosemite Green ink. It’s beautiful! This ink will be my green choice for life.

I decided to get a white pen to pair with my Lamy Black ink. I purchased the Jinhao 321 but it won’t be here for some time. It was super cheap. Less than $5 on Amazon new. So far, my cheaper pens are my best and smoothest ones, so I am willing to try this one out. Besides, there is not a great selection of attractive and affordable white fountain pens, so I had limited options.

I’ve also picked up Clairefontaine Triomphe A4 notepad in white. It’s super smooth paper and thick enough not to rip. But I also picked up matching envelopes, so I don’t have to worry about the wax seal ripping the letter. Writing on it is a fantastic experience!

In addition, I picked up a Clairefontaine A5 notebook. Same kind of experience in a journal form as the A4 notepad. But it lacks page numbers. So far, I’ve only written in it with my Monteverde pen, and it seems a bit scratchy. That may be the nib of the pen though, and it can also be that the notebook doesn’t lay flat, so the curves of the paper may be impacting the writing experience.

So, you live, you learn. More expensive pens aren’t necessarily better. Sample ink before getting a bottle. Page numbers and lay-flat are important notebook features.

Depending on how the Jinhao works out, I may stick to Pilot fountain pens from here on out. I hear they are not only smooth but also consistent. Some potential options may be:

As far as paper is concerned, I plan to try out these:

What about you? Have you decided to try out a fountain pen and paper combo?

Be careful when purchasing Xbox gift cards—don’t email—@xboxsupport

Be careful when purchasing Xbox gift cards—don’t email—@xboxsupport

In short, I’ve learned to look for “digital code” or “digital download” rather than looking for an emailed code. Here’s why:

For Christmas this year I had received a Vanilla Visa Gift Card.

What I wanted was an Xbox Gift Card.

Today, I went to Microsoft Store to use the Visa Gift Card to purchase an Xbox Gift Card.


I searched the store for “$50 xbox gift card” and found an Email a Gift Card option. I followed the link, made the purchase, and waited for my emailed code. Instead, all I received was the confirmation email that the purchase had been made.


After waiting a few minutes and not receiving the code via email, I grew impatient and went to the support page. The contact us window reported 1800 minutes until I could speak to someone (that’s 30 hours). It said I would be about 220 in queue via chat, so I selected that option. I waited and waited. It froze at 87 and staid there for about 40 minutes. At that point, I tweeted Xbox Support and never heard back.

I then called to speak to someone and only had to wait about 5 minutes. But she couldn’t help me because I had not received an order number in the confirmation email. So, she transferred me to “billing” who then told me after another 5 minute wait that she could not refund me. I asked her to honor the email that I did receive, which stated that a refund was possible. She also confirmed for me that the email was sent to the correct address, but I had to insist that I never received it. She told me she would ask her supervisor if they could refund it but she suggested it would not be possible (under-promise). She put me on hold for about 3 minutes to come back and report that the supervisor did refund me (over-deliver).

Now I must wait 3-5 business days for the funds to be returned to my Visa Gift Card.

I should have been more careful to select a digital download option on the Microsoft Store site, but Microsoft failed me in that the email should have gone out and I did not receive it. Never again.



The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

The pen—do you give much thought to it? You might want to if you haven’t already, because it is mightier than the sword, and that’s saying a lot!

I switched from the standard ball-points, gels, and the like about 6 years ago when I bought my fountain pen.

by Sheaffer
by Sheaffer

To go with it, I picked up some résumé paper and a red flexible-for-mailing sealing wax and a seal stamp. For these latter materials, I purchased them from Nostalgic Impressions, whom I would highly recommend.

I love this pen. It is smooth. Writing with it is easy on the hand. It is tough. It’s 6 years old and still kicking.

I just used up the blank ink above, and I decided to jump into different colors. My favorite color is blue, but more precisely it is turquoise. So, I picked up a Sheaffer Skrip bottle from Goulet Pens in this color.

I love this new ink. It is vibrant. It is bright. It reflects me and my tastes.

I tried a new sealing wax to match it in color, and I do not like it. If you ask me, avoid any sealing wax that does not have its own wick for the occasional seal. You don’t want to burn through your butane lighters trying to melt the wax to seal your letters. If it has a wick, simply light it and then let it melt away like a candle—but faster—and then blow it out when you have enough melted wax. I think I’ll switch to this one from Nostalgic Impressions.

I tried a new paper as well. It’s really thin and remarkably smooth but it rips easily with the wax seal as it bonds so well that you can’t open the letter without a massive and destructive tear without a letter opener. If you don’t plan your margins correctly, words will be lost when opening it up.

So, I am in the market for some paper solutions. I’m entertaining the idea of getting custom pressed prints but maybe some 100% cotton 36lb weight paper will do (the résumé paper was decent but it left me wanting more). I may go with this small note stationary and envelope set from Crane or this 100% cotton paper from Original Crown Mill.

In any case, put some thought into your pen. Write a letter to someone. They’ll enjoy opening and reading it it almost as much as you did writing and sealing it.



Best Buy customer for life

In my recent Xbox One Elite debacle, I had to go to Best Buy to swap out my bundle. I figured I would pick up an external drive while I was there.

I found a G-Drive 1TB 7200 RPM USB 3 & Thunderbolt portable drive for $65.99.

When I was checking out, it rang up as $179.

I immediately coughed up a chicken bone and said that I thought the drive was like $70 or $80.

The customer service representative asked me to show him. We walked over to the drives and we found the same unit sitting there under the $65.99 price tag. He said that he would take care of the difference.

I love Best Buy. They have good policies and, in my experience, they do right by the customer. I’ll be their customer for life!

Xbox One Elite: cool product, questionable support

I recently purchased an Xbox One Elite bundle as I wanted to plunge into a nice, premium controller.

My experience with the controller has had mixed emotions.

On the one hand, I like the features. Programming the buttons and paddles, adjusting the center LED brightness, saving 2 profiles—it’s all so cool!

On the other hand, I experienced a defective left-bottom paddle (P4) that was loose for some unknown reason. When I went to get it replaced under warranty within a couple of days of purchasing the bundle, Microsoft Xbox Support charged me to replace them. I didn’t understand it initially, but I later found out that the paddles are not covered by the warranty and neither are they covered for defective craftsmanship out of the box, which I found to be disconcerting. By the way, with tax they come out to $16.28 to replace.

I also had an issue where my new Xbox One Elite console was not working correctly with my Day One Edition Kinect Sensor. I would say, “Xbox, watch beINSport”, and it would pull up VH1 instead and, sometimes, it would then automatically switch from VH1 to NBC. Bizarre behavior. However, if I reconnected the sensor to my Day One Edition Xbox One, it worked perfectly.

As a result, I exchanged my Xbox One Elite bundle at my point of sale. I will have to wait to get a new Kinect sensor and test it out with this Elite. However, much to my surprise, my new Elite controller has a defect out of the box—the right joy stick clicks upon rotation! I just cannot believe it!

So, I like the features, but I’m upset with the policies and support.

How can a premium product such as the Xbox One Elite controller not be flawless upon unboxing?

How can a premium product also not be fully covered from top to bottom under the one year limited warranty (barring accidental damage of course)?

This experience has left a bitter taste in my mouth. I trusted Xbox, and they let me down in material craftsmanship, quality control, and questionable support.

If you are in the market for a nice, premium controller, you may want to look elsewhere. I hear quality support is hard to come by with third-parties, but maybe the quality craftsmanship is better with a Scuf Infinity1 or something else.

Getting Right with Wright: A brief synopsis of the first three volumes of Christian Origins and the Question of God

I recently finished Jesus and the Victory of God (JVG), volume 2 in the Christian Origins and the Question of God series by N.T. Wright. Prior to that, I first read volume 3, The Resurrection of the Son of God (RSG), and later volume 1, The New Testament and the People of God (NTPG). Much like this blog post’s title, these books are rather lengthy. Not including the appendices, bibliographies, and other indices, they are 476, 662, and 738 pages for volumes 1-3, respectively. It took me several years to slog through these books, not because they are boring—on the contrary, Wright’s writing style is exceptionally engaging—but because I am a slow interactive reader. Now that I finished these 3 volumes, I need to save up to get the fourth, which is something like 1700 pages at the cost of about $80.

Before I dive into the next volume, Paul and the Forgiveness of God, I believe I should sum up the first 3 volumes for my own benefit to ensure that I am rightly following Wright. Below is my brief synopsis of the first three volumes of this series.

The New Testament and the People of God

The New Testament provides stories that show elements of praxis and symbols pertinent to the Second Temple First Century Judaism of which Jesus was included and out of which Christians emerged. As such, it is not a privatized spiritual guide but a public proclamation of a subversive narrative about a creator and the world. Indeed, “. . . history, literature and theology belong together” (NTPG 471). The story—history, literature, and theology—are “rooted in Israel’s past, and designed to continue into the world’s future” (476). In addition, the New Testament “repeated the Jewish claim: this story concerns not just a god but God. It revised the Jewish evidence: the claim is made good, not in national liberation, but in the events concerning Jesus” (476).

Jesus and the Victory of God

Jesus was a eschatological kingdom prophet/Messiah by vocation who

believed himself to be the focal point of the people of YHWH, the returned-from-exile people, the people of the renewed covenant, the people whose sins were now to be forgiven. He embodied what he had announced. He was the true interpreter of Torah; the true builder of the Temple; the true spokesperson for Wisdom. (JVG 538)

The result of his life, death, and resurrection was to bring about the return of the King—YHWH.

Now, in the conclusion to the volume, Wright states practically out of nowhere that the resurrection, however it is to be understood, was the validation for Jesus as Messiah and to give any relevance to his words and actions long after his death (659). He went on to state,

But if he was an eschatological prophet/Messiah, announcing the kingdom and dying in order to bring it about, the resurrection would declare that he had in principle succeeded in his task, and that his earlier redefinitions of the coming kingdom had pointed to a further task awaiting his followers, that of implementing what he had achieved. Jesus, after all, as a good first-century Jew, believed that Israel functioned to the rest of the world as the hinge to the door; what he had done for Israel, he had done in principle for the whole world. It makes sense, within his aims as we have studied them, to suppose that he envisaged his followers becoming in their turn Isaianic heralds, lights to the world. (660)

I believe volume 4 will be focused on Paul’s missionary work to be the light unto the world and to bring about Jesus’ vision for his followers to implement what he had achieved, but RSG is all about the resurrection, which he did not cover in JVG.

The Resurrection of the Son of God

History does not work in logical or mathematical proof theorems; it works in the probability of unrepeatable events. The resurrection is one such event, and Jesus’ resurrection as an event sufficiently and necessarily explains the later Christian belief about Jesus as the Son of God and not the other way around. No other explanation will suffice. The resurrection of the Son of God itself has three meanings. First, “Jesus is Israel’s Messiah. In him, the creator’s covenant plan, to deal with the sin and death that has so radically infected his world, has reached its long-awaited and decisive fulfillment” (RSG 728). Second, “The resurrection constitutes Jesus as the world’s true sovereign, the ‘son of god’ who claims absolute allegiance from everyone and everything within creation. He is the start of the creator’s new world: its pilot project, indeed its pilot” (731). And, third, “The resurrection . . . declares that Jesus really is God’s Son . . .” (735). He is what would later be described as the second person of the Trinity. The resurrection shows God’s involvement in his creation, that he exists and acts in space and time (735-6).