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.

A Little Love for Apple’s Smart Keyboard

My iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard and a stack of books sitting on my bed.
My iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard and a stack of books sitting on my bed.

As much as everyone seems to be crazy for the Apple Pencil, my favorite thing on my new iPad Pro is the Smart Keyboard. Comfortably writing and doing research from my bed, while using keyboard shortcuts and being mobile AF? (That’s “as the f-word” for old fuddy-duddies like me.) It’s like productivity CPR.

(So much so that blogging has fallen by the wayside. True fact.)

If you like to write, and find yourself in the fortunate position of being able to obtain either a 10.5 or 12.9” iPad Pro, do yourself a favor and spring for the Smart Keyboard.

I have gnawing twinges of guilt over buying the iPad. (This despite the facts that 1. paying for the iPad involved and obscene amount of Best Buy gift cards stockpiled by my wife throughout the year—Pro-tip: You can only use 15 methods of payment per purchase at Best Buy, and each gift card counts as one method—and 2. we waited until Best Buy had discounted the price by $125. So, yeah. It came relatively cheap.) But none at all over buying the Smart Keyboard to go with it.

It should be noted that this post was composed entirely in my bed, written in Ulysses, edited and published in the WordPress iOS app, and typed up entirely on my Smart Keyboard.

It should also be noted that my Smart Keyboard stopped working, briefly, while writing this post. It’s the first time I’ve had that happen, and I suspect some sort of user error was involved.

Still. Life’s funny like that.

Now, if you’ll pardon me, I’ve got lazy typing to do.