The Kohler Sink - 1 Year Later

It’s a cold day here at the homestead! Roughly 12 degrees or less on the thermometer, lots of wind and snow.

I realized the other day, we are coming up on a 1 year anniversary with our new Kohler kitchen sink. Last year, Sarah brought up the idea of replacing our kitchen sink. I was all for it, the old one was stainless steel and starting to look its age. With our hard water, it really adds to the dingy look.

You can read about that adventure here.

In the intervening year, Sarah put up a nice curtain to mask the under sink area, since we had to remove the cabinet doors. This is a nice touch that can be updated seasonally, adding color and personalizing the kitchen.

The biggest challenge has been keeping a white sink clean! We have found that Bar Keeper’s Friend is truly a lifesaver when dealing with the various marks that come from the pots, pans, and silverware. These marks look like scratches, but the enamel itself is not damaged. A quick scour with the Bar Keeper’s Friend will remove those marks very quickly. To avoid staining, we simply use bleach - a soft-scrub bottle with bleach will help keep the enamel clean and bright.

Kohler provides a small packet of paste cleanser that is specially formulated for their enamel products. My thought is that this is probably the best cleanser for the sink; but I haven’t got around to buying any yet, and the cleaners we’ve been using just work so well we’ve had no reason to change.

One year on, things are looking as sharp as ever. The hard water does a number on the hand sprayer, but thankfully those are cheap to replace when the time comes. Frequent vinegar usage will help keep the buildup to a minimum. A water softener is somewhere in our future, but there’s a few other things to do first.


Playing With Drones

A couple of months ago, we ventured to a ‘surplus store’ where they sell returned products at dramatically reduced prices. It was a lot of fun to peruse the aisles and see the random items that were available; a lot of the items may have come from WalMart or other similar stores. 

I was pretty intrigued by the drones they had. There were several different models, and the prices ranged from about $20 to $80. These were NOT DJI or other professional type drones. But rather that more toy style streaming drones. 

 Since I am interested in technology, and drones I thought it would be fun to pick one up. I made sure to get one that had its own controller because I knew that those are generally more responsive and capable. 


The one I got had decent flight and control capabilities: GPS for auto-takeoff and landing, along with telemetry in the remote control to provide back information about altitude, speed, compass heading and battery levels. 

The flight time on this drone was roughly 6-7 minutes, which is not great compared to most mid-level drones, but adequate for learning. Removing the video module saved on battery life enough to make it worth it - especially since the streaming video was very poor quality. Video is streamed over a WiFi connection to a smartphone app, and while the range was good the quality was just very poor. 

My first flight wasn’t so hot, as you can see. Never launch under a tree! Gradually, I got better at it., even flying one handed while I shot a video on my phone.

I really feel like this has been a great entry point into the exciting world of drones. They are so fun to fly, and terribly easy to crash - if you haven’t got a huge amount of money invested, then you can afford to be fearless. Graduate to something better when you’ve outgrown the cheap one, and have no regrets if you destroy it. 

My little drone currently needs a new propeller shaft, but it’s ready to fly again once I order it! 

The Pen Post - A Look At My Fountain Pens

I have always enjoyed the elegance of a fountain pen; the intriguing nature of writing by the controlled diffusion of ink to paper. Rollerballs, ballpoints, and gel pens have not captured my imagination the same way - though I am fond of a good very fine point regular pen such as a Pilot Precise series in a pinch.

Years ago, I purchased a couple of Jinhao fountain pens and played with them for a little while - but the quality was definitely lacking, as was my understanding of the pen brands, nib options, and so forth. Finding excellent pens at <$20 prices was also very difficult at that time.

Today things are quite a bit different, and there are many excellent pens that can be had for as low as a three or four dollars. In particular, the Japanese Platinum Preppy series is an excellent introduction and low cost option for those interested in fountain pens.

I’ve owned a few Preppys - and Platinum has iterated their design each time I go to buy another. The latest ones, available at Goulet Pens, are essentially a completely clear plastic body, with just the name of the pen printed on the side. This I find very ideal: I use these pens to hold colored inks for marking documents or writing out my schedule in my bullet journal. To have the ink sloshing around in there makes for a colorful and fun set of pens!

I had originally started with Preppy pens using the extra fine nib - but honestly that was much too fine for my taste. The nib tended to scratch, and when using lighter inks the lines were not all that noticeable. I’ve settled on their fine nib, and am very happy with that - though my red pen is a medium nib, which puts down a nice, solid line and feels good on the page.

As you can see, I choose to eyedropper fill the Platinum Preppy pens. They hold a LOT of ink, and it is worth setting them up with the O-ring and silicone grease to have unlimited ink choices. No modification to the pen is needed, other than slipping on the O-ring and greasing the body screw threads.

My Pens

The last pen I use is my Conklin Nozac Israel 70 Limited Edition. What a mouthful. It’s a standard Conklin Nozac, but fitted out with the colors of the nation of Israel in honor of the 70th anniversary of its re-birth. The cap is magnetic, which I love, and the pen overall has a very sharp look to it.

This is a piston fill pen - all you do is turn the silver knob at the end of the pen to run the piston inside. Conklin likens it to winding a watch, and indeed it really does feel that simple. The only caveat is that without an ink window, it is very hard to figure out where you stand.

I originally picked this pen up with a Conklin Omniflex nib; but after some issues with dryness and then over-wetness with the ink, I switched it to an extra fine nib. The Conklin extra fine nib is more akin to the Platnium fine nib, and rides very smoothly on the page. Long writing sessions are a joy with the Nozac - the feel and weight of it in the hand eliminate the possibility of strain on my hand. With the Preppy pens, the narrower body is just enough to give me hand strain after awhile, so I use them in a secondary fashion. All of these pens post well, though I prefer the balance of the Nozac without the cap posted.

Here’s an example of the inks I use:

Platinum Preppy Fine Nib with Diamine Apple Glory

Platinum Preppy Fine Nib with Diamine Pumpkin

Platinum Preppy Medium nib with Diamine Poppy Red

Conklin Nozac with Extra Fine Nib and Diamine Asa Blue

I really enjoy the vibrant Diamine inks - but they do tend to be a wet ink. Being a lefty, I can easily smudge if as I write if I’m not careful - but this isn’t usually a problem except with a broader nib. The color range more than makes up for it, and I really enjoy the opportunity for some creative fun with my fountain pens!