Judging a pen by its color: The Uni-ball Jetstream 4&1 (for short)

Saw body color. Had to have pen. The end.

That’s the BASIC story, but maybe I’ll flesh it out a bit. I was goner once I discovered multi pens on Jetpens. And then to find a Jetstream multi pen in my favorite green? Well this one was a must-have. No need to ponder, rationalize, or make a pro/con list. Since that nanosecond purchase, this is one of a few pens that I just keep reaching for. Especially when I’m heading out the door and don’t know what kind of writing situations I’ll run into. What if I need green? Or red? Or a pencil? (I’m kidding here…sort of. Okay, maybe not. My brain really DOES work like that. Eeek.)

Maybe I should’ve stuck to the short version of the story.

But honestly, the Uni-ball Jetstream 4&1- 4 Color 0.7 mm Ballpoint Multi Pen + 0.5 mm Pencil- Bright Series- Green Body is the Swiss Army knife of pens. You’ve got black. You’ve got blue. You’ve got green and red and a pencil. You’re prepared for anything (pen-wise). If you have to start a fire, you’re on your own. This pen is good, but not THAT good. Correct things. Make lists. Check boxes. Edit. Work a puzzle. Draw a comic. You can do any and all of that WITH ONE PEN. So cool.

I forgot to mention the eraser. Yup. There’s one of those, too.

Jetstream ink is one of my favorites. It’s a hybrid ink that leaves solid, clean, and smooth lines. Jetstream green may be a hair less vibrant than a few other hybrids (like Vicuna or Surari inks), but it’s quite good, and definitely good enough for the amount of time that I write in green. Which isn’t much, honestly.

I like this pen so much that I bought one for work and one for home to eliminate all of that carting back and forth. Not that it’s heavy. It’s just that it always seemed to be at the place I wasn’t. So now I have two. Problem solved. Multiple multi pens. Yeah.

The color selection plungers engage easily and smoothly. No issues there. To deploy the pencil? Just push the clip towards the pen tip and there it is.

The grip is rubberized but quite solid, with just the right amount of “tackiness.” It’s not a grip you particularly notice, but you’d miss it if it wasn’t there.

The only ding I hesitantly give this pen is its girth. Because it’s so stuffed full of refills, it’s a good-sized pen…about a 1/2″ in diameter. Doesn’t bother me, but it might bother those who prefer a narrower feel. For me, its attributes cancel out this minor (to me) issue. Your experience may vary.

So there you have it. My favorite bright green body color + smooth Jetstream ink + multi pen colors + a pencil + an eraser = I had to have this pen.

It just adds up.

End of story.

Oh, I hemmed and I hawed: Doane Leather Utility Notebook Cover

I did. I pondered this one for a long time. Seems pricey. Do I need it? You know the mental loop that starts playing when you see something you want but can’t quite justify it? I played that loop over and over and over.

Eventually I cracked, using my favorite argument. Life is short. Buy the stuff you want. Just make sure that you REALLY want it. Which I did.

TA-DA! Behold the Doane Leather Utility Notebook Cover.

Made in the USA.

Genuine Horween Leather.

Cool blue contrast stitching.

When I was a kid, in late August we’d make the annual visit to Karaz Shoes for our new school shoes. Mr. Karaz had crazy Gene Wilder hair and made shoe shopping an OCCASION. After the oh-so important selection was made, I’d sleep with my new shoes next to my bed so that I could see them immediately upon waking and so the subtle leathery scent wafted up to me as I read in bed. The smell of this notebook cover takes me right back to that memory, and I love it for that. It smells good. It feels good. It is good.

I love my digital tools…

but with my analog utility notebooks…

life is good.

Target’s Loss, My Gain: The Pilot Plumix Fountain Pen

The winter’s been very odd here in central NY, but last week we had a couple of bursts of actual blowing and drifting snow. Because of the (momentarily) frigid wind, we did a little mall-walking one evening. More like mall-sauntering, really. Not a lot of calorie burnage going on there. ANYWAY…Fred must’ve downed a carboy of water that day because he had to make a few pitstops, a couple in Sears and one in Target. (It’s like walking with a puppy, I swear.)

I know what you’re saying…SNOW? MALL? BATHROOM BREAKS? GET TO THE PEN! And so I shall.

While Fred was using the facilities in Target, I hit the office supplies aisle, as per usual. Not much there to get the pen juices flowing, but I poked around and pawed through dinged up, marked down journals and scanned the pen displays. Then, BINGO. There was a dotted line from my eyes————– to this package (just like in the comics):

My find was marked down from $6.14 to $4.28. After thinking that the prices were odd ($6.14?), I knew that the snow and the mall-walking and the excessive water consumption had put me right where I was supposed to be. And so I slapped down four singles, one quarter, and three pennies, and had myself a new Pilot Plumix.


(The cap looks like a little space capsule, doesn’t it?)

I love how the packaging points out that it’s a “REAL FOUNTAIN PEN!” (As opposed to…?) But what it doesn’t say is that it’s an ITALIC fountain pen. At first that threw me. But then I just started writing like I normally do, and wow, my handwriting became…ummm…instantly italicky. Cool.

You never know where a day will take you. Maybe karma will flop you down in front a fun little pen.


A Happy Ending: Lamy Safari Ballpoints with Monteverde Soft Roll Refills

You probably already know what the Lamy Safari ballpoint pens look like. If you don’t, here they are:

They’re sturdy and colorful and have that iconic accordion style knock. Problem is, they write like crap. (Familiar Lamy complaint from me, eh?!) I bought one, KNEW it wrote lousy and yet, bought another one! Can’t explain it, but there it is. I think the colors got me. Or the clip. Or a magic Lamy spell.

Yet the pens languish in a desk drawer because of the poor writing performance (the ink looks washed out, and when the tip moves across the page, it draaaaaggggs). This is not what you would call a fast writing pen, is what I’m saying. I like the pen colors and construction, but I NEVER use them. Never.

All of this changed about two weeks ago, when I stumbled upon an alternative refill for the Lamy ballpoints…the Monteverde Soft Roll L131BU. Within minutes, my fingers were  flying over the keys, my credit card was out, and I ordered a couple…one blue, one black.

Oh, how I tracked their journey and awaited their arrival.

And THEN, the test drive. See for yourself:

Night and day.

The Monteverde refills are still ballpoint refills, so they aren’t hybrid ink perfect, but they’re sooooo much better than the Lamy refills that I’m finally using the pens. And I kind of like them.

A serendipitous find. New life for my Lamys.

For the time being, all is right in my little corner of the pen universe.