The Great Palace Vine fountain pen

Inspired by this really bad comparison:

His fountain pen was so fancy it looked as if someone had grabbed the pope, turned him upside down and started writing with the tip of his big pointy hat.

I wanted to see if I could get close to this with a fountain pen. This started as a vague idea, then with the arrival of the Great Palace Vine fountain pen component set, I thought this might be able to become a reality.

The component set is plated with rhodium with rhodium accent pieces. The body and cap of the pen is a black with gold web TruStone, and the nib is an upgraded black-oxide fine point nib from Goulet Pen Co.

I think this gets close to the original comparison.

Even though it is a large, heavy pen, it is very well balanced. I made this pen for my son-in-law and he has informed me that it writes exceptionally well.

Great Palace Vine fountain pen

Great Palace Vine fountain pen

Nib and section detail

Great Palace Vine fountain pen

Posted in Pen Turning, Wood Working Tagged with: , , , ,

Latest fountain pen

This latest fountain pen was made from Alumilite, a two-part resin that I mixed and poured. There’s a lot going on in the swirls. It’s mostly red and gold, with some other stuff in there as well. I’m fairly pleased with how it came out.

Thanks for looking!

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Beach sunset photos

A couple of weeks ago, I wanted to go take some sunset photos on film. So my wife and I made our way up to Huntington Beach, and I was able to shoot a roll of Kodak Ektar 100 in an old Canon Elan 7e with my 24-70 f/2.8L lens. I was pretty surprised at how the photos came out. These images were created from the negatives using my old Minolta Scan Dual IV scanner using VueScan on an ancient Lenovo T61 running Windows 10. Photoshop has not touched these photos, just some straightening and some dust spot removal in Lightroom.

Sunset at Huntington Beach

Sunset at Huntington Beach

Sunset at Huntington Beach

Sunset at Huntington Beach

Sunset at Huntington Beach

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Fixing Dropbox Camera Upload

Dropbox Camera UploadI’ve had an iPhone for nearly a year now, and it’s been a wonderful device. I’ve been very happy with it. Some months back, I installed Dropbox so that I could keep some files in sync between my laptop and an office computer. This also worked great. Then it got even better when I found I could sync the photos on my iPhone to Dropbox. An auto-magic backup of my photos and videos!

Then it broke. I’m not sure exactly why, but the auto-play settings on one of my computers got all messed up. I’m pretty sure I know what program did it (it’s a media management program that has a simian inspired name). I tried many things to just get the auto-play camera upload to work again. I wound up uninstalling the media management program, thinking that uninstalling would set things back to normal. It didn’t.

So I just lived with it. But I knew that it should work. All the auto-play settings in Windows looked like they were supposed to. And Dropbox was at the latest version.

I looked into it again today, and found a post on a forum that suggested these steps:

  1. Have the iPhone connected to the computer
  2. Go into Device Manager/Portable Devices/iPhone
  3. Delete the phone (right click)
  4. Disconnect then reconnect the iPhone.
  5. Watch Windows install the device drivers for the iPhone
  6. It should now AutoPlay normally after reinstalling the device driver.

Device Manager showing iPhone

Right-click to delete or uninstall the iPhone. Unplug and plug the iPhone back in to re-install the drivers.


I still need to try this on my laptop where I have iTunes and sync my iPhone.

If for whatever reason you don’t have a Dropbox account and would like one, please click here and get one set up.

Posted in How To, Tech Fix Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pen casting experiment

So I thought I’d try a little bit of casting and see how it goes. I’d never done any casting of any kind before, so I’m glad for a good pen turning forum and that there are some very informative videos on YouTube.

My wife and I went to Hobby Lobby a couple of weeks ago to get some basic casting supplies. She had a 40% off coupon, which we used on the resin. Even though they didn’t have the largest selection of pigments, I got some lavender, pearl and a small bit of fine silver glitter (Note to self: fine glitter gets everywhere even when you are careful).

For the molds, I used some old schedule 40 PVC pipe. I didn’t have any corks, but I did have some duct tape which made a dandy cover for one end of the PVC. The resin was poured into some 3 oz. cups and I added the pigment, glitter several drops of MEKP (according to the directions) and stirred. When it was ready (about 15 minutes later) I was able to fill two and a half sections of pipe.

I left them to cure and knocked the blanks out of the tube the next day (it was about 23 hours later). I waited a few more days to turn the pen, wanting to give the resin plenty of time to do it’s thing.

It may not look like it with the cell phone shots, but this is a chrome cigar pen with the lavender/pearl/glitter blank. It’s been polished to 12,000 grit using micro mesh abrasive pads and then polished with Hut’s Ultra Gloss. The depth in this pen is incredible…you can stare into it, move it slightly and it just shimmers from a different level.

I’ve since done a little bit more casting, which has turned out pretty well. I’m continually amazed at where the wood turning rabbit hole can lead you.

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Pens for Interns

Our church has two Bible college interns working here for the summer. They’ve spent the summer doing all sorts of things, helping out around the church, ministry related tasks, helping out with our youth group. So I decided that they could use some good pens.

This pen was made from Australian Lace Sheoak. It’s been finished with 20+ layers of a cyanoacrylate adhesive, and then buffed to a glass like finish. This pen gave me a problem while turning it. Can you spot it? The fix is visible in the photo. 🙂

This next pen was made from Mexican Bocote. This is a hard, dense and coarse exotic wood. It’s been finished with around 25 layers of cyanoscrylate adhesive, and buffed to a glass like surface.

Both pens are made using 10K gold hardware, and should hold up quite well.

Tim and Garret, I hope you enjoy your pens and that they give you many great years of service! Just be sure you don’t stir any coffee with these pens!

Posted in Pen Turning, Wood Working Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

A quote I like and yet not

For some reason, I really like this quote. While at the same time, not liking this quote.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
— C. S. Lewis, English essayist & novelist (1898 – 1963)

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Re-enabling a pesky write cache

ds3400So at work we have a number of disk systems made by IBM. One of them is a DS3400 filled to the brim with 1TB drives. It’s used in our backup system as a storage device. It sits idle most of the day, but is very busy at night when all of the backup schedules kick off on our various servers.

This disk system recently notified us that its cache batteries needed to be replaced. We received the batteries earlier today, and swapped them out before lunch. This was very straightforward and my co-worker and I encountered no surprises, which is always a good thing when you’re pulling controllers out of disk systems.

The only hiccup was that the write cache on the disk system would not re-enable itself. As you can see in the screen shot, it shows a status of “currently suspended.” No fun, especially as this has a negative impact on performance.

I ran a number of commands via the disk system’s CLI that I had in my notes and some I found via internet searching. None of them left me with an enabled write cache. So it was time to contact IBM. They got back to me and wanted me to try these commands:

set allLogicalDrives writeCacheEnabled=false;
set allLogicalDrives readCacheEnabled=false;
set alllogicaldrives mirrorcacheenabled=false;

to be followed by these commands:

set allLogicalDrives writeCacheEnabled=true;
set allLogicalDrives readCacheEnabled=true;
set alllogicaldrives mirrorcacheenabled=true;


I ran both sets of commands, the first set changes the cache settings to false or off.


After the second set of commands ran, I checked the logical drive in the DS3400’s profile.



Thank you IBM support for you quick response and for providing just what we needed to get the write cache enabled.

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Alyssa and Keenan are engaged!

Alyssa and Keenan are engaged!

Keenan wanted his proposal to be a surprise for Alyssa. It’s a good thing we’re all photographers, so she didn’t get suspicious with all the camera gear. She knew he was going to ask her, she just didn’t know where or when. Little did she know that this particular trip to the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park, San Diego would be an unforgettable experience for her!

Keenan really did get down on one knee to ask Alyssa to marry him!

In a flood of emotions, Alyssa quickly and tearfully said “Yes!”

Some time later, I had the opportunity to take some other engagement photos of the happy couple. Alyssa and Keenan are a super fun couple to work with, and it’s obvious that they kind of like each other.

Posted in Personal Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Orange Calendar gadget?

Okay, I admit it.  I like the calendar gadget in Windows 7/Vista.  Yes, I know Windows will show you the date down in the lower right hand corner of the screen.  But that’s just the date.  I like seeing the full month.

One day, the calendar gadget on my Vista laptop turned orange.  There was no calendar, no number, nothing but a hideous spiral page of orange.  It’s an eyesore.  Since I don’t use my laptop on a daily basis, I turned off the calendar gadget so that my eyes could heal from the garishness of the orange.

Then the calendar gadget on my Windows 7 desktop PC turned orange.  Nothing in the options would get rid of this unsightly orange blotch on my screen.  Rebooting did not fix the problem.  Adjusting video settings did nothing.  It was time for the gloves to come off.

I began doing a few searches and found out that I’m not alone in loathing the orangeness.  It’s happened a lot of other people, too.  And there are lots of fixes out there.  I know…I tried several of them before running across the one that fixed it for me.  The fix I found isn’t even in a new post, and it isn’t on a Microsoft page.

The folks over at posted a fix here: which I’ll sum up:

  1. Run a command prompt in administrative mode
  2. In the administrative mode command prompt window, type (or paste) this and press Enter:
    regsvr32.exe vbscript.dll
  3. Click on OK in the registration dialog box
  4. Reboot Windows and enjoy your calendar gadget once again.

There are other things on that page to try if this method doesn’t work for you.  Fortunately for me, this has banned that hideous orange blob from my desktop.

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