Win A Pen!

When I was younger a year seemed an eternity. The summer would end and the long winter would creep along as I waited for warmth and fun to return. Now that I’m much older the moments seem to run through my fingers like sand. Yes, an overused metaphor but it’s the first thing I found at the metaphor lending library. Now I’m struck dumb by the fact that I started blogging a year ago today. I’d say, “where did the time go?” but I’m pretty sure there isn’t a temporal reservoir that holds the flow so I’ll forgo doing that.

Looking back and ruminating on the process of writing something and putting it up for people to read I find I’ve only accomplished some of what I wanted to do. Many people share a bit of their souls in blogs giving readers insight into their lives and personality. That’s the one thing I thought I might do but really never did. In the end I did what came naturally to me and wrote about things or events that I thought were interesting.

I feel that a blog is a lot like the old-fashioned vanity press publication in practice and I mean that in a good way. It’s a nice feeling to be able to get ideas out of your head and present them without obstruction. Since I’m not very vain, and when I am it’s in spurts and about silly things, that may explain the lack of more meaningful content over the year.

But there are a lot of good things that came of this endeavor. I managed to keep creating content even if it wasn’t as often as I wanted. Writing is hard for me and I thought doing it more often would make it easier. Well, it didn’t and struggling with that and mostly overcoming it has been a win. Also I think I put out some valuable and semi-interesting information for people who have the same odd interests as I do. Technically it was fun learning how to set up a blog and customize my WordPress theme a bit.

Initially I didn’t tell more than a few people I was blogging and felt odd about promoting my ramblings. I’m mostly over that now and I’m happy to see that both friends and strangers have peeked in and read a bit here. In appreciation I’m giving something away as an anniversary present of sorts: A circa 1941 green Parker Vacumatic. This is a full size double jewel model that was made in Canada. The nib is somewhere between fine and medium with a hint of flex to it and some of the original silver plating still intact. It’s in working order so all you have to do is add ink and go.

Now you are saying “this sounds too good to be true” or at least “what’s the catch?” Well, the pen isn’t perfect. There is a transverse crack in the barrel that doesn’t go all the way through but I’ve stabilized it and it’s not easy to see. The feed is missing a couple of the comb’s teeth and there is a touch of brassing. The filling unit is a plastic one from a later pen and not the aluminum speedline that should be there. Overall this is a user grade pen so don’t expect a museum piece.

Win this pen!

In order to win this pen I’m going to do the usual: count the comments and use a random number generator to choose a winner. However there is one additional requirement: In your comment tell me what the first sentence is you would write with this pen if you win it. That’s all you have to do to be eligible to win! I’ll pay postage anywhere in the world but realize if you are far away from the U.S. it’ll take a while for this to get to you via normal mail. I’ll pick a winner one week from the date of this post. You’ve got 48 hours to respond to the “you won” email or I roll the random number generator again for a new winner.

Thanks very much to all of you for reading my blog over the last year (or just looking at it and grunting). Additionally thanks to all my friends who provided support and so many great comments. Some of them have blogs (better than this one) listed to the right. This here blog certainly has not contained any deep philosophical content or life changing information but maybe I’ll steal some for posts in the second year. A few ideas never were pursued or lived beyond an initial post so perhaps I will revisit them in the upcoming months. Of course any suggestions are always gracefully accepted.


Here’s a tiny writing sample of the Vacumatic to look at.

  1. February 18, 2010, 3:38 pm

    Having just passed my own first anniversary of blogging, I congratulate you and have enjoyed your work since I subscribed (I think I found you via SEotB or MLaaV). Best of luck for the coming year. I think I would write my standard handwriting/pen/ink test sentence, “Amazingly few disotheques provide jukeboxes” because I am a creature of habits.

  2. February 18, 2010, 4:11 pm

    Congratulations on your blogging anniversary. If I’m lucky enough to win the pen I think the first sentence I write will be “Trying out the first vintage pen I’ve ever owned”.

  3. February 18, 2010, 4:11 pm

    How generous of you! Congrats to one year of blogging! I didn’t find it until recently, but I really like it and hope that you will continue writing for many more years.

    I think I would write something like
    “This pen was manufactured in the beginning of the 1940’s and it would be interesting to know what its been through. Maybe letters written to a loved one overseas, worries in a journal about someone in a far away country.”

  4. February 18, 2010, 4:19 pm

    Happy anniversary!

    Because I’m a big fan of writing letters, the first sentence I would write with this vacumatic would be “Dear [insert name of pen pal],”

  5. February 18, 2010, 4:25 pm

    Win or lose I wanted to say Happy Birthday to your blog. I’m relatively new to it, but I truly enjoy your writing!

    That said, the first thing I’d write with this beauty would be to my wife:
    “Kristina, I wanted to take another opportunity to tell you I love you.”

    [Yeah, I am that mushy.]

  6. Joe
    February 18, 2010, 4:26 pm

    I would write, “I am thrilled to add this pen to my modest collection, and my wife is thrilled that I could do so without spending any more money on my ‘addiction’ to pens and pencils.”

  7. February 18, 2010, 5:08 pm

    Congrats on a year!! My first year is coming up so I’ll have to come up with something good.

    My first sentence would be in a letter:

    Dear Bleubug, Thank you for the opportunity to win this pen, here it is in action.

  8. February 18, 2010, 5:13 pm

    I have been blogging, successfully and not, for several years. I would like to congratulate you on your one year anniversary. My posts tend toward what the late George Carlin would so eloquently describe as brain droppings…

    My sentence? “truly fine writing instruments are meant to be wielded for both attack and parry, not kept sheathed or placed on display!”

  9. ToasterPastry
    February 18, 2010, 6:11 pm


  10. TAO
    February 18, 2010, 6:54 pm

    Wow, quite a few people have commented already. Nice first sentences, even the mushy ones. I’ve also not seen the word “disotheques” in a long, long time.

    ToasterPastry: Is “grunt” your reaction or the sentence you’d write? 🙂

  11. Eric C
    February 18, 2010, 7:56 pm

    I would write “OH MAH GAWD I WON A PEN!!!”
    thanks for the giveaway and congrats!

  12. MaryMG
    February 18, 2010, 8:10 pm

    Congratulations on your first anniversary. Please don’t include me in the pen drawing (despite your generosity – nice pen). I’ve really enjoyed your blog and look forward to your second year.

  13. hazel
    February 18, 2010, 8:22 pm

    i would say: i wish this came with the paper it sat on in the picture

  14. February 18, 2010, 8:36 pm

    Happy Anniversary~! I really must insist that you continue to write … I need pen-a-holics to reassure me that I am quite not-normal in an okay way 🙂

    My first sentence would probably be “omgosh work drained the life from me… again.”

    Thanks for the chance!

  15. TAO
    February 18, 2010, 8:42 pm

    MaryMG: Well, you do have so many nice pens already that this one would feel like the ugly duckling.

    Hazel: If you win you get the paper too. How’s that?

    Sara: I’m not sure if we’re not-normal in an “OK” way or a “run away screaming” way.

  16. ToasterPastry
    February 18, 2010, 8:48 pm

    “Grunt” is my first sentence. I will scan it and e-mail it to you.

  17. Mer
    February 18, 2010, 8:50 pm

    Hey, congratulations! (I followed Okami over, I hope you don’t mind.)

    The next podcast I’ll be working on will answer a question posed by scifi legend Spider Robinson, so I will start the drafting by restating the question.

    “If a hen and a half lays an egg and a half in a day and a half, how long would it take a monkey with a wooden leg to kick the seeds out of a dill pickle?”

    I almost wish I was kidding, but that’s on my todo list.

  18. Tom
    February 18, 2010, 10:54 pm

    Congrats on the blogger-versary! I just subscribed a few weeks ago because I’m an avid pen enthusiast and have a glutton for pen blogs. The first sentence I would write is : “Hopefully, this will be the start of a beautiful friendship.”

  19. Chervatruffle
    February 19, 2010, 1:36 am

    I would love to win this lovely Canadian fountain pen! It would be my first vintage pen ever. I think the first sentence I would write with it would be:

    “My hovercraft is full of eels.”

    Congrats on one year of blogging! You’ve certainly got some fabulous fountain pen photos that I’ve been enjoying.

  20. February 19, 2010, 5:20 am

    Weeee! Congratulations!

    My first sentence? The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

    (I’m so weird.)

  21. TAO
    February 19, 2010, 7:56 am

    Tom: You have to be a glutton to read some of what I write here.

    Chervatruffle: Does it mean I am a dork if I instantly knew where your sentence came from? Also, I will not buy this tobacconist’s, it is scratched.

    Chette: Compared to some of what I’ve seen so far you may be the most normal.

  22. Jenny Ortuoste
    February 19, 2010, 1:20 pm

    Happy first birthday, Bleubug’s Blog! A year of wonderful words and pictures – thank you for sharing your gifts – and your pens! If I win that luscious flexy Canadian Vac (I’ve always wanted one since I tried DOB’s), I’d write the first sentence of a short story:

    “Ah, Mr. Puggy! *air kiss* Dahlingk, you look absolutely adorable in your pink fur boa. Have you tried wearing it with your tiara?”

  23. TAO
    February 19, 2010, 1:43 pm

    Jenny: Thanks for the nice words. Mr. Puggy says “never again” to the boa question.

  24. February 19, 2010, 2:25 pm

    A DJ vac is something I lack….

    As a first sentence, were I to win it, I think I would mark the joyous event by transcribing the opening paragraph of “War of the Worlds”, which is one of my favourite openings to any book.

  25. Lance
    February 19, 2010, 6:14 pm

    How generous of you, TAO!

    The first thing I’d probably do, if I won the pen, would be to write you a thank you note on a postcard. “Dear TAO…” 🙂

  26. February 19, 2010, 6:58 pm

    Oh dear, my old nemesis the typo.

  27. tiffany hong
    February 19, 2010, 7:40 pm

    congratulations! I’ve been a member of our yahoogroups fpn but i haven’t attended a meet yet. im kinda shy. anyway the first thing i would write would probably be: i can’t believe i won! then my name

  28. February 19, 2010, 9:09 pm

    Congratulations, and thanks for the contest you’re hosting. The first thing I would write with the pen would be Ezra Pound’s “In a Station at the Metro” in its entirety:

    The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
    Petals, on a wet, black bough.

  29. Reggie
    February 20, 2010, 3:04 am

    Happy Birthday, Bleubug’s Blog! It’s been an interesting year, indeed 🙂

    If I strike it lucky, I’d load that baby with Waterman blue-black and write “Dear TAO, thanks for the wonderful pen, she’s a real beauty!”

  30. February 20, 2010, 3:48 am

    Hi TAO, has it been only a year since you started? Since I started visiting your blog I’ve learned a lot about pens, things useful and curious and fascinating. Am amazed by the amount of effort you put into making vintage pens work, and am confident that the Vacumatic can give some lucky commenter years of enjoyment. (Fingers crossed! 🙂 ) Just keep writing and tinkering, and I’ll keep reading and learning. Thanks!

  31. TAO
    February 20, 2010, 4:06 am

    Dirck: A very good book indeed.

    Adam: Wasn’t making fun of your typo. I guess I meant I’ve not seen anyone attempt to use that word in a long time.

    Lance: that’s a very nice thought.

    Tiffany: I’m glad to see that some FPN-P folks have entered. Although I’ve obviously never been to one of those pen meets I know the folks are very friendly and welcoming and have never disturbed the peace enough to draw the attention of the police. I hope you get to one soon!

    Reggie: Thanks and it has.

    Mona: I don’t want to be a stickler but you didn’t tell me what sentence you would write. I’ll need that since I don’t want to break my own rule. 🙂

  32. February 20, 2010, 4:24 am

    Tee hee! I’d write: “Happy surprises come to those who wait, and thank you for this Vac!”

  33. SKRIMnoq
    February 20, 2010, 4:29 am

    I would write: “SKRIM to be spared”

  34. February 20, 2010, 5:17 am

    Happy Anniversary Bleubug! 🙂 It’s been a year! If I win this pen, I’d probably write, “This is a Canadian Parker Vacumatic F-M nib with some flex, inked with Parker black green from Mona’s 3:1 formula.” This goes for most of my pens when I write with them for the first time.

  35. Edrich
    February 20, 2010, 5:22 am

    Hi TAO,

    Many congratulations on your first year milestone of thoughts, insights and experiences.

    The first things I would probably write with the pen is, “Parker Vacumatic Green in XXXX ink”.

  36. Lourdes
    February 20, 2010, 5:28 am

    Congratulations! Happy Anniversary to your blog! 🙂 My first sentence with this pen would be: “Studies have confirmed that Bt brinjal (eggplant) is as safe as its non- Bt counterpart.” [in BOLD letters.] Thank you for this giveaway! LOL! 🙂

  37. sonia
    February 20, 2010, 5:41 am

    you have a wonderful blog, it’s good read even without the pen raffle, but here’s my first sentence: YAY! I’m a Parker Vacumatic!

  38. February 20, 2010, 7:46 am

    Wow, it’s only been a year since you started blogging? I had this impression that you’ve been doing it for years – you seem so comfortable with the medium and all. But anyway, congrats on your first year!
    Your experience and skill with restoring vintage pens is something I could only hope to achieve; hopefully the Vac will go out to a commenter who’ll appreciate it for as long as it works (and then he can get it fixed and appreciate it again!). Fingers crossed here too though 😉
    If I were to win the Vac, I’d probably ink it up in a nice matching Iroshizuku Shin-ryoku and then write in big, flexy letters- “Now what do I do?”.

  39. Jon
    February 20, 2010, 10:20 am

    Congratulations on your blogging anniversary. I’m pretty sure that the first thing I wrote with the pen would be something like, “Testing, 1, 2, 3, testing. Emerald green Parker Vacumatic.” That’s more or less how I test out a new pen.

  40. Sam
    February 20, 2010, 10:28 am

    Waw. One year already. That’s a long time for a blog.

    Anyway, I would write as my first “sentence” of that pen, if I would win it, some group of statistical formulas. Or a definition for some mathematical theorem. I’m a college student, and I use all my pens for those purposes.

  41. Caloy
    February 20, 2010, 11:46 am

    Congratulations Tom … despite it’s pretensions of being boring, a lot of people (me included) find the blog interesting … The first things I would scribble would be my name — several times in different styles, as I would do with any newly acquired pens… the complete sentence will be “Thank you very much, Tom” (now that is boring)….

  42. TAO
    February 20, 2010, 12:32 pm

    Wow, a burst of comments overnight. Well, it was day on the other side of the world.

    Mona: Now you’re in the running! Congrats on winning the cool ink at the meet.

    Clem: Thanks and great job providing all those Exaclair goodies!

    Lourdes: Everyone seems to be crazy against GM foods here. The eggplant sounds like a great step forward in lower pesticide farming so I hope it gets wide approval.

    Sonia: Oddly I have heard your name several times in the last few weeks. I got news of when you bought Chette’s pen, for example. Thanks for your nice comment.

    John: I only dabble in repair and there’s nothing I do that anyone else couldn’t pick up easily. Blogging for years? I’ve almost run out of ideas to use here after only one. 🙂

    Caloy: I certainly am pretentious. 🙂 Glad you like the rambles.

    Everyone else: Thanks for the great comments. Good luck.

  43. February 20, 2010, 1:45 pm

    Congratulations on your blogging anniversary. I would fill the pen with some elegant green ink and write “What a beautiful green Parker Vacumatic.”

  44. February 20, 2010, 3:19 pm

    Let’s see… I am very vain so I would write out my name.

    Nah, don’t count me I have too many pens! Vacs are cool. I’m afraid to touch one or they might multiply.

    It’s fun to give stuff away, though, isn’t it? Happy 1 Year Blog-versary!

  45. February 20, 2010, 6:45 pm

    Congratulations on a very interesting blog…and your one-year anniversary. I started my own blog with original content, grouped under ‘essays’, but rarely seem to find time to do more than link to interesting websites now. Perhaps when I retire (hah!) I can do so again. Should I receive your beautiful two-jewel Vacumatic, my first sentence would be “The Vacumatic has always represented the prototypical ‘fountain pen’ to me, and two jewels are better than one!”.

  46. Marion in Cebu
    February 20, 2010, 10:02 pm

    My first sentence would be: “Ahhhhhh, Yesssssss it flexis!” This is a great idea Tom. I do hope I win as I don’t have any kind of Parker as they are beyond my budget. I haven’t added a new pen for a time. So nice to find your blog. I must put mine back online. Am considering Wordpress, what is your take on that? Best regards
    Marion in Paradise(mostly).

  47. February 21, 2010, 2:21 am

    @Marion I’ve been a user of WordPress for three and a half years and I highly recommend it as a publishing platform. It’s very simple and intuitive to use, and doesn’t clutter the screen with needless stuff. The hosting doesn’t offer much in terms of customizability, but there is more than enough for those who just want to write. If you have a wordpress install on your own webspace, there are a lot of plugins and themes to customize your blog, if you wanted to too. Leigh (of FPN-P) also uses the platform, so you can go to her blog (My Life as a Verb, on the sidebar here) if you want to get her opinion on it. Hope that helps 🙂

  48. TAO
    February 21, 2010, 8:38 am

    Marion: There are a lot of blog hosts out there. As John said Wordpress is the leader in terms of users but check out the others like Blogger. In the Philippines I see a number of people use Multiply to blog etc. as well. If you self host like I do (which is more complex) Wordpress is still the leading platform probably followed by MovableType. This blog is Wordpress but I was initially going to use B2Evolution since I heard good things about it and I favor the underdog. Shortly after I started to put the blog together I won the Thesis theme for Wordpress in a contest so I changed over. When you start your blog make sure to let us know!

  49. Sam
    February 21, 2010, 10:48 am

    Congratulations on your blogging anniversary. I’m still a way off from mine and have huge respect for anyone who’s made it through a whole year of posts *applauds* 🙂

    Wow Bleubug, what an absolutely fabulous post and contest – looks like I’m home from my winter holiday just in time to enter.

    My first sentence would have to be, “Hello new (to me) Parker Vac, I hope you’re going to be very happy writing with me, now let’s pen a quick note of thanks to Bluebug before we do anything else.”

  50. pep manalang
    February 21, 2010, 9:51 pm

    one year! I’ve never been able to sustain a blog…
    The first sentence I would write would be
    Hello, user-grade Parker Vacumatic.

  51. Jack Ruaro
    February 22, 2010, 12:43 am

    Congratulations on one year of blogging! I’ve only been trolling here a couple of months and it’s been great.

    I’d probably write my standard pen-test quote:
    “Painful zombies quickly watch a jinxed graveyard.”

    Happy Birthday bleubug!

  52. Stephen
    February 22, 2010, 4:53 am

    Congratulations! There should of course be a creation story where time is fed out from a vintage wet noodle! =D

    The first sentence I would write would be “Wow, my first hint of flex!”

  53. Sam
    February 22, 2010, 8:20 am

    Again, congratulations for a year’s blogging.

    Oops. I just realized. Someone has the same nickname as me. I hope I don’t confuse anybody ^_^

    I just wrote on my other comment that I would write mathematical equations and whatnot. Truth is, I love fountain pens. 🙂

    Thanks for the chance! XD

  54. February 22, 2010, 10:37 am

    Hey hey! Here’s hoping for my chance! You know how I love these pens!
    Great job blogging too, keep up the great work.
    I’ve been working on a Sci-Fi story, so it’ll be the first line from that:
    “I have a secret. And that is the problem.”

  55. February 22, 2010, 12:50 pm

    TAO and Marion, I’ve used a few other blogging services like Blogger and Xanga (lol), but what really lets WordPress (and Movable Type) stand out is their professional look that you really cannot find in most other platforms. Multiply is pretty useful if you wanna easily link up some posts with say, pictures or videos or other media, but for straight posting, WordPress or Movable Type are the ways to go. Movable Type isn’t as popular in the Philippines as WordPress however, because you get full functionality for free! (provided you have your own host)

  56. Richard Jarvis
    February 23, 2010, 8:26 pm

    That which you do for the least of these, you do for me …

  57. February 23, 2010, 8:27 pm

    Happy blog anniversary!! 🙂 If I won this pen, the first sentence I would write with it would be, “Hi there.” I don’t know why, but I always write that first with any new pen! 😀

    Thank you for the chance to win such a generous prize!

  58. February 23, 2010, 9:40 pm

    I admit that my favorite phrases is one I found from FPN:

    “Stupid, do not hit! Beer will slosh!”
    I realize it doesn’t have all the letters of the alphabet. But it is fun to write.

    Happy Blogiversary!

  59. Jen
    February 23, 2010, 10:33 pm

    I would write “vacumatics always remind me of a city at night”

  60. Wildoaklane
    February 24, 2010, 8:49 pm

    The first sentence I would write with this pen is, “Dear Mona, I no longer have a decent excuse for being so slack in writing.”

    TAO, congrats on your one year anniversary! You add more to those around you than you’ll ever know!

  61. CFClark
    February 25, 2010, 3:02 pm

    “Thomas Overfield is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.” 😀

    Let’s see if flattery gets me anywhere…

    Congratulations on the anniversary, keep up the good work!

  62. TAO
    February 26, 2010, 12:49 am

    The winner has been announced in the post from today. 🙂