Thursday, June 20, 2013

Morning Music: Chase, "Get it On"

Gotta love any band with 4 - yes 4 - trumpets. 9 members (from the youtube description):
Vocal: Terry Richards,
Trumpets: Bill Chase, Ted Piercefield, Allen Ware, Jerry VanBlair.
Rhythm: Phil Porter (B3 organ), Jay Burrid (Drums),
Dennis Keith Johnson (bass),
Angel South (guitar)

and here's the awesome studio version

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dave Barry in Israel

Dave Barry is a hero of the blog and since 2000 he's been married to a nice Jewish girl (the only female Jewish-Cuban sportswriter I've ever heard of). Here's his take on visiting Israel for his daughter's bat mitzvah: ‘I would convert and make aliya if it weren’t for the camels’ (Jpost)

h.t. Senderowicz

Friday, June 14, 2013

What Tourists Need to Know About NYC

This essay is so good that it makes me miss NYC even more: What Tourists Need to Know About NYC

Key takeaway: "The rules of the road from wherever you live are exactly the same as the rules of the sidewalk here."

Manhattan... best non-Jerusalem city in the world.

h/t Shanna

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Friday, June 07, 2013

Pencil, Pen & Highlighter Reviews

I possibly use more highlighters than most other humans. Anyone who knows me personally has seen my extensive collection of writing pieces and I try to find the best, because I use them so much. For pencils and pens, I think I've determined my favorites, and I'll list them first. But for highlighters, I haven't yet found the one that does what I need.

Pencil: I've been using mechanicals since I discovered them. They have stopped making the ones I really like, but to be a great tool I need (here's a page with the part names): (1) a long non-retractable lead-sleeve [this is critical], (2) I prefer 0.5mm lead for the precision and lack of smudging, (3) the body should be one piece otherwise the pencil will bisect in my jacket pocket (e.g. Pentel Twist-erase) and that means the pocket clip needs to be attached to the main body as well; (4) I would prefer a big, easily replaced eraser, but that has become optional; I now carry a Clic-Eraser in my pocket, and that serves me well.

Generally, the best pencil for my needs (and at a reasonable price), is the Pentel P205 0.5mm.

Pens: While I've been searching to have all my writing tools be retractable, sometimes that doesn't work. For pens, I have three needed categories: (1) standard note taking/writing - which means heavy use in lectures/rough drafts. One black, one blue, and preferably a red. (2) multi-colors for nuance in writing/note taking - the two most reliable colors for this are green & purple. (3) felt tip (or another broad nib) - for titles/indexing.

The gel-ink revolution of a decade ago has made many options for the first 2 categories. I have not found *any* retractable for #3. And, note, I stay far away from the permanent markers. I don't understand how they would fit in to a serious writing career. They bleed through most surfaces. They have their use, but for me they're more like screwdrivers or pocket-knives than pens.

As for now, the best pens for #1 are the Pilot G-2 series. The 07 for serious writing, but the 05 have their uses as well. The good news is that the blacks, blues, and reds are totally reliable, cheap, and plentiful. The bad news is that any other color is total garbage. Seriously, I don't know how they haven't been sued yet - the pens NEVER WORK.

For category 2, I haven't found a decent retractable. The best pen so far is the "Pilot Precise V5 Stick Rolling Ball Pens" - which write very smoothly, but in certain circumstances I've found that they leak. I don't know if its all the pens, all the time, but it makes me wary to carry them around too much.

Now onto highlighters. So far, I've found only three brands of retractables:
1. Pentel Handy-Lines
2. Bic Brite-Liner
3. Sharpie Accent

Pros & Cons of each:
Pentel Handy-Lines The best attribute about these pens are the colors. By far the best of *all* highlighters; the color is bright, yet light enough that it doesn't obscure the words beneath. Yet the worst attribute of these pens are the meager longevity. They just don't last long enough. And they are advertised as "refillable" but that's laughable. Nobody sells them and they're nearly the same cost as the pen. Yeah, its cheaper to get the refill, but if a pen + refill costs more than 2 other comparable pens, why bother.

Bic Brite-Liner These are brutal. Maybe it's me, but when I depress the clicker, it often catches on my index finger. The damn thing hurts. Why get a pen which injures you? The ink level also starts off too heavy (the paper is wet for a few seconds and it often bleeds through) and then doesn't last long afterward. It's the cheapest pen for a reason.

Sharpie Accent These are pretty long, so they don't fit in my jacket or pencil-cases so well. The yellow is workable and decent, and since the price is low, this is the best bet for that color. Sadly, the other colors are just too dark. The text under them is hard to read. They're closer to markers than highlighters (especially in the exotic colors, but even orange/blue are just too dark).

As it stands, I don't have 1 pen to recommend. I hope others will join the market.