My Pilot Kaküno Demonstrator Collection

Pilot Kaküno demonstrator fountain pens customized with Kaweco Sport N Pen clips
Pilot Kaküno demonstrator fountain pens in extra fine (times two!), fine, and medium; filled with Namiki black, Iroshizuku Yama-budo, Iroshizuku Juro-jin, and Namiki black (again), respectively. The clips attached to them are Kaweco Sport N Pen clips color-coordinated to indicate the pen’s nib size (chrome = EF, bronze = F, black = M).

My wife and I each have a small collection of fountain pens. Neither of us owns anything that would be considered expensive, as far as fountain pens go, but we’re both happy with (most of ) the pens that we have. We also recently signed up to an email list for the Orange County Pen Club, and we had every intention of attending the March meeting, until the arrival of SARS-CoV-2 in Southern California smashed first our intentions and then the meeting, itself.

I’ll be honest, though: I felt a little insecure about showing up to a gathering of fountain pen enthusiasts with our collections in tow. The most expensive pen we own is my wife’s Pilot Prera (which she doesn’t actually like very much; it needs an adjustment to improve its flow). We would be frauds if we passed ourselves off as actual collectors, rather than enthusiastic users. We would be liars if we said that we knew how to adjust that tight Prera without ruining the nib. We would be dishonest if we implied that we had any intention of buying pens that we don’t intend to write with.

And I’m a picky writer. I always have been. I was picky about my writing tools before I started using fountain pens, and I’m picky about them now. I like Japanese extra fine nibs made of steel. I like lightweight pens. I like pens which allow me to easily see how much ink they have inside them. I don’t like gold-toned trim. I like pens with metal clips (even if I have to install the clip myself), and I like for my pens to be ready to write as soon as I’ve filled them.

Pilot Kaküno nibs in EF, F, and M, with various degrees of nib creep.
Pilot Kaküno nibs in EF, EF, F, and M. Some are creepier than others (The M sees very little use.)

(For the uninitiated: When you fill a fountain pen with an ink cartridge, you have to wait for the ink inside the cartridge to start making its way down into the pen’s feed. This can take more time than I’m willing to wait. When you fill a pen via converter, ink is pulled up from the bottle, through the feed, into the converter, and it’s ready to write, no waiting required.)

I have six Kakünos in my collection, two of which are not demonstrators. I also have one Pilot Plumix, used for writing letters to friends and family, one Monami Olika, and one Platinum Preppy. I only see my fountain pen collection growing through two pathways: I keep adding EF Kaküno demonstrators to hold different inks, or Pilot makes and markets a lightweight demonstrator Vanishing Point with a “special alloy” nib.

And as for the wife? Let me quote her:

I’m happy with my Metropolitan.

(She prefers smoothness to feedback and actually likes heavy pens. If you could see me, you’d see that I’m shrugging.)

We still want to check out that pen club once the COVID-19 crisis is over. We may be playing above our level by doing so, but I think we both hope that meeting other people who love fountain pens will expand our horizons, even as our collections remain constrained.

At Home With the Wife, Thank Tao

I’m almost always at home. Linda has been at home since Wednesday, and it’s a good change. I feel a little guilty for enjoying her presence (given the reason that I have her here to enjoy: the COVID-19 outbreak in Southern California), but I’m enjoying it nonetheless. My heart rate variability—as measured by my Apple watch—has gone up. I’m less anxious. I’m losing weight. (This may be due to panic-induced food rationing.) I make a much better breakfast at 8AM than I do at 5:45.

I want to believe that when/if this novel corona virus has been controlled/contained, Linda will continue to be able to telework, but I know that won’t happen.

Linda is a data analyst in a healthcare setting. She’s been working from home for years now, on weekends, on her days off, and in the evening when she gets home from the office. She worked pretty much anytime she was awake while the organization was implementing Epic. She’s been working way too much since then to implement Tableau for her group.

But she still had to spend 8-hour days in the office, after non-essential businesses in Orange County had been shut down, up until March 25th. The organization she works for is unquestionably essential, and she’s essential to that organization. But I don’t think I’ll ever accept that her physical presence in the office for that week or two, increasing her risk of exposure to the virus, was essential.

My personal joy and annoyance over Linda’s work aside, I want this to end. I want it to end soon. I want the restrictions on business and social activities to last as long as they need to in order to flatten that COVID-19 curve; but I want it to end as quickly—with as few deaths and illnesses as possible—as it can.

If the powers that be see fit to continue to let Linda work from home afterward, that’ll be a nice bonus dollop on the huge serving of relief that I’m more than ready to stick a fork in.

If not?

I’ll still compliment the chef on that main dish.