Phil Olin

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. 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.


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.


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


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.

Moose: A Christmas Dog

We got a dog for Christmas this year. Ashley’s sister-in-law called me to tell me that the Broome County Humane Society had a Saint Bernard that would be going up for adoption the following day. I’ve been wanting a St. Bernard for a while, but we weren’t in any rush to adopt a dog.

I decided that we’d at least go visit him, without telling Ashley why we’re driving to Binghamton. We got to the humane society before they opened, so we filled out an adoption application before even meeting him. Turns out, we were the 3rd to fill out an application for him. In our short visit with him, we met a well behaved and very loveable St. Bernard. We told the humane society staff that we’d love to take him today if possible. Later that afternoon, we got a call asking if we’d like to bring him home.

He is now called Moose, came with the name Maurice, but it didn’t fit him at all. He’s just over a year old, and very well behaved. Walks great on a leash, and we’ve been working on other skills. He learns quick. He loves his new family and has adjusted quite well.





Postcard Series 1: Charles Bridge

bridge One of the few unused postcards in my inherited stamp collection.

The Notebook Search

I’m in search of a new notebook. My Arc notebook is almost finished and I don’t want to refill it for everyday usage. I love the Arc system, but it is too bulky for everyday carry. As a notebook system, it is fantastic. I love being able to easily swap pages, and there are no binder rings to bend. As an EDC journal though, I don’t like it. Recently, I’ve been looking at other journal/notebooks.

Rhodia web notebooks, Baron Fig Confidant, Midori Travelers Notebook, or a Tomoe River notebook. Prices range anywhere from $16 to $50. I’m kind of leaning towards the Midori because it is customizable, and I can put different inserts in the notebook, or even make my own.

But I also wouldn’t mind trying a notebook filled with beautiful Tomoe River paper, and the Baron Fig Confidant looks pretty nice also. Maybe I’ll order all three and try them out. I’ll end up using them for something anyways.

Ello: My Thoughts

Ello is the new kid on the block. A new social networking site, similar to Facebook, Twitter, etc. It is brand new, still in early alpha/beta stages. No mobile apps yet. The web interface is the only way to use it at the moment.

Ello currently (who knows, this could change), promises to be ad free and to be free to use with premium features. For the internet’s sake, I hope Ello grows and succeeds. We need more options from the giants of Twitbook.

App Dot Net was a great idea, and I loved it, but it is about over. Sure there are still many people using it, and the servers are still up, but it isn’t growing. There will never be new features. It will continue to sit there, stagnating until enough users leave and it shuts down.

Ello, please don’t fuck up. We, the internet, need you.

If you’d like to join Ello, message me for an invite at @sgtstretch on either ADN or Twitter.

Stamps & Postcards

I inherited my great-grandfather’s stamp collection a few years ago. In includes hundreds if not thousands of stamps. Stamps from all over the world. Some of those stamps are still attached to the postcards they carried through the mail system.

I am going to start showcasing the stamps and postcards on this blog. I think it will be a cool idea to show some of the history of the postal system. So many unique stamps to show off, along with the artwork of the postcards.

Some postcards will need a disclaimer though, as they were produced when racism and sexism was okay. The postcards consist of old photograph prints, artwork, and drawings. It will be a historic look at what was once sent through the mail.

L.A. Noire

I finally finished L.A. Noire on my 360 recently. Yes, the L.A. Noire that was released back in 2011. What took so long? I got tired of trying to figure out what the facial expressions were supposed to mean.


The game is beautiful and I loved that the cars drove like wallowing whales, which is what I expect they actually drive like. I know the game was developed especially around the facial features, but the interrogations were the hardest part of the game for me. It frustrated me to the point of needing 3 years to finish the game.


I’m going to keep the game, and will probably play it again in the future as the story is pretty good. But honestly, if it wasn’t a Rockstar game, I’d probably not have bought it.

The Riddle of Strider

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be the blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

-Bilbo Baggins

Pilot Vanishing Point in Copper

Pilot has released a new Limited Edition Vanishing Point fountain pen. This year’s color is copper. I think copper is a beautiful color, and the Vanishing Point looks fantastic in copper.


While the pen looks fantastic, it is an expensive fountain pen, retailing around $200. As much as I’d love to have the pen, I can’t justify spending that kind of money on a pen. So for those of you that do pick it up, enjoy!

iOS 8

iOS 8 has been out for a few days now. Overall, I’d say it has been a pretty good release, but I wouldn’t call it a solid release. Most things have worked OK. Numerous apps are broken, but it seems that Apple is pushing out updates quickly, for the most part.

Some are getting special treatment from Apple though. I’ve seen multiple updates for Dropbox, and other big name companies have had multiple updates approved. Meanwhile, other apps are sitting in review limbo, and don’t work properly on iOS 8. I wish Apple wouldn’t play favorites with some developers.

I’m looking forward to the 8.0.1 update as Apple has a few bugs to fix in the 8.0 release. Hmm, reminds me of last year’s iOS 7 release. It seems to be doing OK on my iPhone 5S, iPad Mini and Ashley’s iPad 2.

Green Apple KoolAid™

I recently found a new to me flavor of Koolaid in the grocery store recently, Green Apple Koolaid. Green Apple is a hit or miss flavor. Sometimes it tastes great, like with Jolly Ranchers, but much of the time it doesn’t taste very well.

I like (love) Koolaid so I picked up two flavor packets so I could make a gallon of green apple. Now that I’ve finally gotten around to making it, I think I’d be fine with just one packet and making a half gallon. It isn’t horrible but I’d be ok with not drinking it again the rest of my life.

Dungeon Crush Farm®™

The future of video games has been described by Bill Amend in a recent Foxtrot comic.


Lake Jimmy

I’ve been up and down many of the numerous mountains in the Adirondack Mountains on New York. Being local to the Adirondacks, it was usually the first place we turned to when looking for a place to take a hike or backpacking trip. One of the best hikes I’ve done was the Mount Adams hike.

One of my best friends and I drove up late the night before and snagged a camping spot on the side of the road to sleep. Early the next morning, we got up early to go climb a mountain. It turns out that driving up the night before was one of the best ideas we had.

The climb up Mount Adams involves crossing Lake Jimmy on an old 4x4 log bridge. We crossed that bridge around 7 AM, which left the sun low in the sky, resulting in an amazing photo.


Goodbye Facebook

I’ve been putting it off for a while now, but finally went in and deactivated my Facebook account. Why? Because FUCK Facebook.


No, I don’t plan on coming back soon. In fact, I never plan on coming back. Facebook’s sole purpose in life is to mine your data. If you decide not to delete your account, just remember you could be part of a psychological experiment.


We finally got around to watching The Lego Movie. It may be one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Ashley and I both loved it. I also like how the Lego™ Group is creating and releasing all the “master builder” models as sets.


I picked up the most important one of the “master builder” sets this weekend. Set 70816. Benny’s Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP! Why is this set the most important? Because nostalgia. Growing up in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, I spent a lot of time staring at classic Lego spaceship sets.


The Space Police, M-Tron, and BlackTron sets don’t compare to the more modern space sets. Benny’s Spaceship is the closest modern take on the classic space sets of my youth. I finally have a suitable option to all the sets I stared at as a kid but couldn’t afford. I’d still love to pick up those classic sets, but probably won’t find them affordably unless I strike it lucky at a garage sale.


5/5/14 Bike Ride

I took the 29er out for a trail ride tonight. After riding the Moonlander for so long, it was an entirely different experience. It was nice to have some suspension under my arms, but it was much more of a workout than with a fatbike.

The Moonlander has traction galore, and just goes. The 29er has to be carefully balanced to maintain traction. With trails still a bit wet from all the rain we’ve had over the past week, I found myself spinning out on a few of the hill climbs.

Turning with a fatbike is also a challenge, until you get used to the characteristics of a giant tire. You really have to push the bike over to turn, and the grip of the fat tire holds that corner. I found myself corning as if I was still on a fatbike, and then proceeding to shoot off in the direction I was turning because the skinnier tire corners easier.

Overall it was a great ride, but I’m sore now, and will probably be feeling it in the morning. Need to get out on the 29er more this year.


PIXELS by Patrick Jean from ONE MORE on Vimeo.

Apple Beta Program

Apple has announced that anyone can join download and install beta versions of OS X. You’ll no longer need a paid Apple Developer account. This means anyone can and will be able to download the beta OS X versions.

This means anyone will be able to download beta versions of OS X. This is bad. Every year, after WWDC and the new version of iOS is announced and the beta is released, people scour the internet looking for the beta iOS and will pay a few dollars to join someone’s developer account just the use the newly released beta on their iPhones. The beta that is loaded with bugs and broken features. These people then proceed to complain about their phone not working properly.

I can see why Apple wants to allow more people to test the software, but if the people using the program are just doing it to get the beta, and don’t treat it as such, Apple isn’t going to get any benefit.