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Write with a fountain pen


Writers and artists know it's all about choosing your tools carefully.

In our case it's a well traveled 15-year old Mont Blanc Meisterstuck 149 piston fountain pen, with a 14K gold nib and platinum inlay. The art of writing. Language, writing, culture and civilization.

Been with us since passing through Hong Kong en route to a hotel management gig in Beijing. It's the feeling, joy of heft, ink distribution and quality. The edge on Moleskine paper, touch, sensory stimulation. Slowing down.

If you use a fountain pen you know what we mean. These days people crank out material with anything handy. Just a small suggestion to test out a fountain pen next time you're in the market for a quality writing instrument. Savor the precision.

Many Chinese students learn writing using them, especially at the pre-university level. Maybe it's the ancient influence of calligraphy and the fine arts. Before ball points and gels become ubiquitous in their lives. An Edinburgh, Scotland school teaches students how to use a fountain pen.

"The pens improve the quality of work because they force the children to take care, and better work improves self-esteem," principal Bryan Lewis said. "Proper handwriting is as relevant today as it ever has been."

Here's the link. Happy writing. Go with the flow.


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School shuns tech, teaches fountain pen




Helping people rise from poverty using microcredit has been Muhammad Yunus's project for the last 20 years.

An economist from Bangladesh, he accepted the 2006 Nobel prize yesterday. His vision enables poor rural people to take out a small loan; buy raw materials, a goat, a cell phone to rent out.

The idea has spread around the globe over the decades and is said to have helped more than 100 million people take their first steps to rise out of poverty.

Yunus said commercial banks may now have to rethink how they lend money, perhaps setting up special branches to provide microcredit.

Yunus said his half of the $1.4 million prize money would go toward setting up "a social enterprise" to provide low cost food to the poor.

"I have said it many thousand times before," Yunus told a news conference. "But when I screamed before, people hardly heard me because my voice didn't go very far. Today, with the Nobel Peace Prize, if I whisper the whole world hears me loud and clear."


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The Nobel Peace Prize


Dialogue with an Irish fly


“Your machine, memory and imagination are your friends. Keep them clean, sleep with them. Remember to take out the garbage. That’s the advice your old buddy Mike, your old fishing buddy, said years back, or was it in the future he told you? I can’t remember exactly, it’s all a blue blur," said the fly.

"You’re in a place full of archetypes, spirits and dancing death."

“Cast a cold eye on life, on death, horseman pass by” and all that said Mr. W.B. Yeats.

Mike reminded him to take out the garbage. Cut out the the vague shit and remember the reader doesn’t want to work too hard.

Always fondly reminding him of this truth.

The fly goes into cardiac arrest. “My god! A fly fisherman. You gotta be kidding!”

“Yes speaking of fly speak. He uses you to snare trout skis. No worries, he ties his own flies. He was talking about revision. Yes. Finding the thread in the story as we work through and wander along the labyrinth with the ancient clew of our pilgrimage.

“When he isn’t writing a collection of stories about growing up in orchards full of sweet delicious oranges, working in his garden planting future salads or pounding pavement and isolated paths near Colorado tributaries to prepare for the pleasant torture of Hawaiian iron man events, he defends humans in Cuba.

“He argues for a living. He’s busy filing appeals when illegal Military Tribunals sentence clients to death. Execution. It’s a job.”

“We are all in various stages of appealing sentences,” said the fly recovering from a comma.

“Here. Read my mind.”

He tends thorns in life’s rose garden wondering if people scheduled for execution on death row see the complete impermanence all around them. Maybe they see everything shrinking down to a finite particle of light reflected as rainbow spectrums zoom across the sky. Maybe people on death row just breathe, sit quietly in their cell and experience detachment.

“Maybe," said the fly, "they live in the eternal frozen moment of non duality with complete lucid clarity until the executioner wearing a black hood with eyes burning so bright, so close he can see where warp and weft meet, throws a switch.”

“Electricity? Public utilities? Deregulation of energy sources. Prayer wheels turned by water for hydroelectric power fingers sliding to the switch, the button on the console, transportation rooms filled with prisoners sitting on thin mattresses near cold metallic sinks, shoes carefully arranged, eating freeze dried popcorn, staring at calendars with Aztec and Mayan sun gods designating virgins through family genealogy destinies threaded together on looms of acid pellets sliding into a ceramic dish spinning inside a wheel of gas?

“Injection? Hypo syringes dripping toxins, lethal molecules, subatomic particles of Technicium or TC-99 from Hanford’s Nuclear Reactor seeping a slow death into the Columbia River and passing camels through a needle’s eye into deserts watering solitary confinement.”

The fly had heard enough. “In Texas they call it the barbecue pit where Friday is fry them alive day. The Bush throws the switch.”


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Tra-Na Rossen, Donegal


This delightful layout, entitled "Working Late," is courtesy of Nollind Whachell, a freelance web designer and consultant with Squarespace.

More joy-in-process. His design appealed to our vision as planetary manifestations transit toward 2007.

A little travel tale.

“There it is,” Pat, the area bus driver said, pointing toward the hostel in the distance, a big gray building with two gables and a loggia with natural stone facing and gray slate roofs blending into a rocky hill below Crocknasleigh Mountain standing 544 feet.

Tra-Na-Rossan was the northern most hostel in the Irish Republic, and donated to An Oige in 1936 by Mrs. Phillimore, a respected and well liked lady in the community. She had a Catholic cross constructed on a green sward so villagers wouldn’t have to walk the two miles to church.

It was a large, comfortable, cozy isolated place with miles of beautiful countryside, beaches and mountains for exploring with views east over large grassy fields full of grazing sheep and west to the Atlantic coast.

The lower area below the hostel was all bays, wide green pastures, low rolling hills, inlets, patchwork designs of land leading to distant beaches and beyond to Horn Head, a massive projection of rock miles away and only accessible by leaving the peninsula. A single road past the hostel led toward Melmore Head.

He opened up, moved into the warden’s separate living area, read the previous warden’s notes regarding emergency numbers, checked supplies and rang up Dublin on the hand crank phone verifying old accounting ledgers and filing his report with the home office. They mentioned “the problems” to be sorted out.

Flagstone floors. The spacious common room had a fireplace, couches, chairs, tables, book shelves with games and reading material. A small pantry stocked basic canned goods. There were drying closets, bathrooms, hallways with many small windows, lots of plants, a miniature greenhouse, notice board and dining area. Exterior buildings held turf and coal supplies, a general storage area, a pump house next to a burn trash heap and piles of rusting cans.

The hostel accommodated 36 travelers in a warm, comfortable place along their journey. The warden area contained a bedroom, kitchen and small sitting room. The Smith Corona had a new table and a lamp to illuminate his work.

Sitting in his Donegal kitchen with life’s operating manual on the table he heard wind blowing banshees as a peat fire roared.

One morning his Aussie lover headed south and home where she worked as a nurse in the outback. Their wild intense affair satisfied their primal natures. Helen stopped along her way and they moved through collective consciousness sharing quick painless conversation, laughter, tales and uninhibited passionate animal behavior. Her long red hair was on fire. They expanded and regaled collective energies through lust, attraction and attachment phases with a strong gravitational energy.

The hostel was deserted in the dead of winter.


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One Laptop per Child


On 12 October we ran a blog piece and link to One Laptop per Child. It is a program out of MIT to get laptops to kids in Nigeria, Libya, Argentina, Brazil and Thailand, among others.

..."The OLPC's produced earlier this week in Shanghai still need to go through loads of testing, such as knocking them off desks and dropping them in mud, as kids are wont to do. They may also be kicked around, like soccer balls, a popular sport in 99.9 percent of the world." - Tech Web

"We have to test, test, test this machine under conditions of extreme cold, extreme heat, mud, dust, jungle and daily abuse by kids," said Nicholas Negroponte, in an interview with the International Herald Tribune.

John Markoff at the NYT just published an article on the machine, the economics and educational pros and cons.

An on-going NYT blog containing 340+ comments, opinions and discussions about this article and OLPC issue is good reading. Share your ideas.


For $150, Third-World Laptop Stirs a Big Debate