Friday, January 15, 2010

Looking for a good ballpoint pen? Try this one.

Call me old-fashioned, I guess. When I find something that works, I stick with it. For a very, very long time.

The best pen I've ever used was a stainless steel Parker Jotter ballpoint pen. It had two problems. First, genuine Parker refills are expensive, and non-Parker refills are lousy. Second, people borrow it and don't return it, and it's too expensive to give away like that.

The second best pen I've ever used was a Hello Kitty ballpoint pen I borrowed from my daughter and never returned. Its only problem? Hello Kitty merchandise goes in and out of style, and I couldn't find a replacement when mine finally ran out of ink.

The third best pen I've ever used was, and is, a Pilot Better ballpoint pen that my daughter turned me on to after I ran her (I mean my) Hello Kitty pen out of ink. It always writes instantly (no need to doodle swirls in the margin to get the tip warmed up). The ink doesn't ball up or smear, it doesn't soak through paper (even the thin paper that Bibles are printed on), it doesn't fade over time, and it goes precisely where you want it and nowhere else.

The Pilot Better ballpoint pen comes in a capped version and a retractable version, with a choice of medium (1.0 mm) or fine (0.7 mm) point, and three different colors of ink. It has a textured grip, but not a rubber grip. I've tried several pens with rubber grips, and haven't liked any of them, so the Pilot's lack of a rubber grip doesn't bother me.

The Pilot Better Retractable ballpoint pen is cheap, and therefore I don't mind people borrowing mine and not returning it. I can buy a box of a dozen for about the same price as two Parker stainless steel pens.

Finally, it's not made in China; it's made in Japan. That's where Hello Kitty comes from.

Note: This is not a paid endorsement. Parker, Hello Kitty and Pilot don't know I'm writing this, and they're not paying me a single quatloo for my words. See my post,
Blogging for Dollars, for my position on endorsements.


Every now and then, a woman on Facebook will change her status to a single word, or post a single word in response to someone else, and it's always a color. I quickly caught on to what this was about.

I think it's an admirable show of solidarity, and I take my hat off to the sisterhood of women.

There's only one problem.

I know all of these women.

Not in the Biblical sense, but I know who they are. And when one of them calls out a color, a picture flashes on the movie screen of my mind. You can figure out the contents of the picture. It's only there for an instant, thankfully, but it's usually (okay, ALWAYS) a picture I really didn't want to see.

It's not their problem; it's mine. I'll deal with it. But I wonder how long it will take for Lance Armstrong to think that this exercise is a good idea for the rest of the species.

And how many men will be brave enough to honestly answer "white"?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Someone at Google Maps is pulling my leg

I recently went to, looking for directions from Denver International Airport to a location in Northglenn, a suburb on the north edge of Denver. Getting out of DIA is simple: follow Peña Boulevard to I-70.

Not according to Google Maps.

This first picture is the Big Picture of the route from DIA to Northglenn. I didn't know civilians could get into DIA from the north, and it never crossed my mind that DIA is surrounded by aviation-related businesses that do not use Peña Blvd for access. (You may need to click on the map to see the whole thing.)

The second picture is a satellite view of DIA and the starting point.

The third picture is a close-up of the starting point. That white building is not a tiny building. The taxiway leading into the building is wider than the largest passenger jet, and the parking lot north of the building is full of cars, too tiny to see at this resolution. But it's not the passenger terminal.

I didn't think it was this easy to drive onto the airport. I had assumed that, post-nine-eleven, major airports like this would be sewn up tighter than a wineskin. Maybe I should try to drive this route and see who I encounter.

Oh, there's an interesting note on the runway there: "Continental Airlines Flight 1404." No, Google Maps is not marking the current positions of flights on the runways. (I think there are other websites for that.) Continental 1404 had a little accident at DIA just before Christmas 2008. You can read about it on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Reflections on a holiday season gone by

First, it's amazing how a new baby can completely change the flavor of a holiday, especially a holiday which celebrates the birth of a Baby. We welcomed another granddaughter into the world on December 23, and we welcomed another honorary grandson into the world on Christmas day. When we sang (or listened to) carols about the newborn Babe this year, the songs had another layer of meaning to them.

Second, it's ironic how, when I had a Real Job™, I was excited to be able to take a week or two off during Christmastime. Now that I'm doing temporary and contract work, I'm excited to be able to work for Real Money™ during Christmastime. Talk about viewing things from a new perspective...

Next, we weren't surprised when our daughter, son-in-law and their kids got a little bit of snow at their new place near New York City, but we were surprised when our missionary daughter got a little bit of snow at her new place in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in western North Carolina. We were even more suprised when our son, daughter-in-law and brand-new baby had colder weather on the Emerald Coast in the Florida panhandle than we are having in Colorado.

And we have continued our tradition of going to as many of our middle daughter's concerts as possible. Last week we drove 120 miles to a middle school choir concert where she was, um, "performing." The difference was that this time she was the director, and aside from a flute accompaniment, her "performing" was all done with her hands, as she played the choir the way we've watched Lois Cunningham and Gaylen Darrough do it at LHS and UNC.

It's strange to gather with the rest of the ward family after church on the 20th to assemble gift baskets for the poor families in the ward, then go deliver some of them and see the joy and gratitude on the recipients' faces (that's not the strange part, hang on), then go home, hear the doorbell ring, and become the recipient of one of those baskets. Our basket had something that the other baskets didn't have: an envelope with an anonymous cash gift inside. I love living in this ward.

Finally, it's fun watching our grown children shed 10 to 20 years and revert to being children again when they get together. It was our 26-year-old daughter who insisted we hang up stockings this year. And she expected to find something good inside hers on Christmas morning. She was not disappointed.

I can't wait for next year.