Phil Olin

The D&D 5e collection grows. Just added Xanathar’s and Mordenkainen’s. 🐲

Packing up the D&D stuff for this weekend. Probably not going to play, but it will be nice to refresh the rules and maybe build up a couple characters. 🎲🐉

Moose got a bath this morning, and is now exhausted. 🐶

Time to do some bike maintenance. The bottom bracket on my Moonlander started creaking last time I rode it. 🚵‍♂️

I absolutely love this pen, a limited edition Karas Decograph, 049/100, with a smooth cursive italic medium 14k nib. Fantastic writer, and the material is beautiful. 🖋

The views and scenery are what makes central NY beautiful.

Getting somewhat excited for the new iPhone release this fall. I think I’ll be read to upgrade from my 6S Plus that I’m currently using. Not looking forward to the new price tag, but I think 4 years out of a mobile pocket computer is pretty damn good, and I’ll do it again.

This one is too good not to share, good taste, and it has a nice peppery bite.

Game night this afternoon. Played a round of Mystic Vale, 2nd time playing it, very interesting mechanics, but really enjoyable. Then we played some Elder Sign. Failed miserably the first time, all three of use got devoured twice in the first 3 rounds. Second game went better, but ran out of time before we could finish the game. 🎲

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Local fountain pen club (GNYPIG) meetup. Pens and inks have spread out every where.

Inspired by @cygnoir‘s post, I put together a currently inked list.

Managed to get out for a fantastic bike ride after work this evening. The trails were mostly dry and fast. 🚵‍♂️

He’s middle aged now, but still an amazing dog. Moose still wants to go for his long walks, but we are starting to need to cut them back a bit for him now.

He still thinks he’s a lapdog, and when it’s time for a walk, it’s time for a walk, but we still love him.

Took some work but I’ve got the skinny bike ready to hit the trails again. I haven’t ridden it in probably at least 4 years, so it will be nice to have a light and fast bike again.

Put together a nice little fire pit for the backyard. Should be able to put it to use next weekend.

Deleted my Instagram account. It was my last link to Facebook Co. and it feels good to get away, even though I know they’ll still track me with a shadow profile.

Haven’t posted a currently inked fountain pen photo over here, so figured now is a good time to do so.

an open notebook with a list of pens and inks on the left side, and the corresponding fountainpen on the right side

First time trying out a cold brew with my Chemex. Looking forward to trying this in the morning.

Festercrook J

It has been a while since I’ve written anything about the modern Esterbrook. While I wish I could report some better news, unfortunately, Robert Rosenberg’s ownership of the Esterbrook name is still a thing.

I’ve been watching new releases from Rosenberg via the Esterbrook name, and they are atrocious. No need to bother looking; all the new Esterbrook releases are pretty tacky.

Robert Rosenberg has made a pretty poor impression on the fountain pen community due to several factors. The first pen he created under the Esterbrook name was called the “J.” This is important because the most common and well loved original Esterbrook pen is the “J” series pen. These pens were affordable, simple, yet robust, and had a huge variety of nib options. All those nib options are one of the biggest reasons why people love picking up vintage Esterbrook pens.

Rosenberg’s new “J” was a cheap Chinese-made pen. There is nothing wrong with some Chinese pens, especially at the appropriate price point. Poorly designed, with a huge step between the section and barrel, the new “J” is not a comfortable pen to use. While the original “J” had so many nib options, the new “J” pen only had one nib choice: medium. A $15 Pilot Metropolitian has more nib options than the new “J” which retails for five times the Metropolitan’s price point.

Rosenberg also introduced the Abraham Lincoln pen. Celebrating the death of Lincoln, this pen was done in poor taste. In spite of these poorly-regarded pens, Rosenberg continues now with something “new” again.

This time, Rosenberg is teasing a new Esterbrook “J” pen on his Esterbrook Facebook page (side note: on the Esterbrook Facebook page, he will delete any negative comments about him or his products) using three original Esterbrook pens — the real Esterbrooks made by a quality American company, not whatever Chinese factory he can find with the best price.

The teaser image on Facebook states that the new, “new” (or is it “old”) “J” pen will arrive in early 2018. It claims to be “an exact replica of the original Esterbrook Classic.” Somehow, our genius of a human has gone from throwing darts at a catalog of shitty pens available from Chinese factories for pennies to creating an exact replica of a classic.

The only other information currently available from Esterbrook comes from a comment the company made on the image posted on Facebook:

“We are confident that the New J series will satisfy all Vintage Esterbrook Fans as we are putting a great deal of effort to ensure that it is true to the Original model.”

I am very skeptical about this given my past experience with Rosenberg. If it is an exact replica, then why should we spend the money on it? Original restored J pens are available for pretty awesome prices, usually around $40, depending on color and the nib included. How does he expect to compete with the original?

Of course, not only does Rosenberg have to somehow make this new “J” appealing in comparison to the original “J” pen, he also has to appeal to the fountain pen community. Not many of us would be willing to give him the time of day.

Affordable resin pens are easy to do. Plenty of manufacturers, like Lamy and Pilot, make such a thing. In order to make an exact replica, though, Rosenberg has to have the following:

1.interchangeable nib units

2.lever filler (although I’d be OK with a cart/converter for ease of maintenance/cleaning, but he doesn’t get that option)

3.affordable and available in multiple colors

Requirement 2 isn’t bad and 3 is just simple. We don’t see many modern lever filler pens, but they are out there. The modern Conklin Crescent filler is technically a lever filler, for example.

The issue will mostly be the interchangeable nib units. This will not be cheap to accomplish, unless he’s planning on skimping out on quality, which I wouldn’t put past Rosenberg. In order to be a true replica, the newest “J” also has to support the original 1940s Esterbrook nib units. Rosenberg has a history of very limited nib options. While most of his pens are available only in medium, some pens do have fine and broad options as well. Matching the breadth of nibs available on the original Esterbrook will be a huge stretch for him.

Yes, this is a bit of speculation based on prior experience with Rosenberg’s idea of Esterbrook. Could he change? Yeah, maybe, but I will always see him as someone that bought the Esterbrook name just to make a quick buck, and his current lineup of pens just proves that. I hope to be proven wrong, and the newest “J” makes a triumphant return to pen shows to prove it to the community.

But honestly Robbie, if you think you can just call me like last time I wrote about your spectacular shittyness, I won’t be answering your calls. You can contact me like a normal person, either on Twitter, Instagram, or via the contact page for BYOB Pen Club Podcast. We’ll be discussing this pen on Episode 3 of BYOB Pen Club, and in the future when it is actually released, and if needed if your behavior requires further discussion.

Not another Wordpress? Already points ahead. Micro.blog looks like it is off to a good start already, eager to see it grow.

Festercrook, the Modern Esterbrook

Update: I would just like to make a note of the phone call I just received, from Mr. Rosenberg himself. I did not continue the call once I realized who it was because I didn't not want to have to deal with a bully, plus I was working. Mr. Rosenberg, if you would like to have a discussion, you can use the contact page like a civilized person. Calling my personal phone is NOT fucking cool. Oh, and if you want me to edit this post or remove it, ~~you can just go fuck right off~~ I can't be bothered to.

The new Esterbrook company is quite the show. I remember when the new Esterbrook J pens were announced. It was a turd of a pen. A cheap Chinese pen being sold under the name of a great historic pen company. Reviews of the pen were not good. King of Esterbrook, Brian Anderson, did a review of the pen, and pretty much said it was crap.

They fell under the radar mostly. I hadn’t heard about them very much recently, but apparently Robert Rosenberg hasn’t given up. He recently put a new pen up for sale, on both eBay and Massdrop, the M-2. For “sale” for $50, the pen looks like a cheap Chinese pen that has been made to be as ostentatious as possible. A pen that you could easily find on eBay for $5.

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The drop didn’t even make it a day before the truthful but “negative” comments started coming in. For the $50 price of the drop, you can get a nicely restored vintage Esterbrook (a true Esterbrook). You’ll have a much better pen, and even some money left over. Or if one still desires a cheap Chinese pen, plenty can be found on eBay at their appropriate price point.

But the best part of the entire drop wasn’t the comments, or the fact that Massdrop closed the drop after only 10 people purchased pens, it was the after the drop was closed and then cancelled when Massdrop sent out an email to the people that were participating. I should also mention that the first 100 people to buy the pen would also get a set of ink cartridges. Ink cartridges that didn’t work with the pen they were buying.

Massdrop has deleted the listing now, so unfortunately we can’t go back to read the comments, but the email that they sent out to buyers said that Mr. Rosenberg wanted Massdrop to censor the comment section and delete everything negative about the company.

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Interesting. If you check out the company’s Facebook page, you will find it devoid of anything negative. Must be nice to be able to make your company look like a perfect little angel. Of course it also means that customers can’t see the true company.

From Esterbrook’s website:

“We are thrilled to bring back the Esterbrook brand of fine writing Instruments and we look forward to restoring this iconic name with products which utilize the Esterbrook Heritage of design and quality”

Well Mr. Rosenberg, I suggest you actually read your own statement, because you are doing a pretty shittastic job at it so far, and the majority of the fountain pen community thinks you are greedy and are just using the Esterbrook name to make some quick cash, before you sell it off like you did with Conklin.

InCoWriMo 2016

InCoWriMo or International Correspondence Writing Month, is almost here. For February, write one letter a day, every day, all month long. I participated last year and had a blast, and will be sending out letters again in February.

It is “vintage social media,” and I recommend taking part. Don’t expect an answer to every letter you write, but I’m sure some people will respond. I reply to every letter that comes in my mailbox.

Well Stamped InCoWriMo Letter

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I received this InCoWriMo letter yesterday from a writer in California. I love the collection of vintage postage stamps all over the envelope!

Old stamps have character and class that modern stamps just can’t touch, and this envelope is loaded with character. I’d have to say that the 6¢ red & blue Airmail stamp on the right is my favorite out of the bunch.

InCoWriMo Results

InCoWriMo is over. It was a blast. Over the month I wrote 41 letters, and received 27 letters (I do expect that a few will trickle in over the next month or so). Many of the letters I received were from new people, but some were replies from letters I sent, and my usual penpals.

I got to see new inks, papers, and some beautiful handwriting. A few international letters came in. I sent only a few international letters, Australia, Slovakia, Wales, and Canada, and received some from Australia, and the Netherlands. Most of my letters incoming and outgoing were domestic letters. Next year I’ll put my address up on the InCoWriMo website, this year I only shared it on the FPGeeks forum.

I expect I’ll keep writing to many of the people that wrote to me. I’ll respond to any letters I receive. Analog correspondence is much better than anything online.