All is well

After a crazy travel day, where my luggage went on ahead of me, what a great sight to see my LL Bean duffle waiting for me when I arrived in Albuquerque. I have clothes! And pens!

Let the conference begin!


Kickstarter #2: The Troubadour by Allegory

Out of the blue, I got it into my head that I’d like a wooden pen, and then whattayaknow, one popped up on Kickstarter. Great timing. Pen karma, it seems. After a couple of delays (fairly minor ones, as far as Kickstarter delays can go), my pen arrived last week, and it’s a beauty.

The Troubadour

Chad Schumacher, of Plainfield IL, is the creator and craftsman behind Allegory, which produces a line of pens “handcrafted from reclaimed, ancient, and historical woods.” Pretty cool. My pen, the Troubadour, is made from Sinker Cypress and Picklewood Redwood, which means it has its roots in pre-Industrial America, when logs were floated down rivers and pickling vats were used to preserve food. You can’t say that about your Bic Clic, or even about your Mont Blanc. The wood is smooth and warm, and makes me think about the stories it could tell. You can feel the history.

For a small additional pledge, I selected Allegory’s Maple & Rosewood gift box. It’s a gorgeous storage box which then opens on a hinge to become a beautiful desk stand. The set looks right at home on my mission-style desk.

Maple and Rosewood gift box

Where the pen, and the history, lives

The Troubadour is a twist-style ballpoint that takes a Cross refill. Cross refills are not stellar, but they’re not bad, either. The black fine point refill is acceptably smooth and dark enough. It’s not a Jetstream or a Vicuna or a Surari, but I enjoy writing with it. There’s a bit of streakiness in the line, but nothing terrible. The feel of the wood, combined with the gunmetal accents, makes this pen a winner, even without a top tier refill. I’m a fan. I may, in the future, swap in a Cross-style Fisher Space Pen refill to bump up the writing performance a notch.

Troubadour writing sample

Did you miss the Kickstarter project? No worries. You can read about, and purchase, Chad’s full line of handcrafted pens on the Allegory website, where the motto is “Pens with a legacy, so you can leave yours.”

I’d best get writin’.

Thanks, Chad

Inkfest 2012 Begins: The Lamy Nexx with Mont Blanc Toffee Brown Ink

The players

Pen: Lamy Nexx with EF nib
Ink: Mont Blanc Toffee Brown

I’ve had this pen for quite awhile (maybe for years?), but never did much with it, despite the wonderful smoothness of the nib. Even in the EF size, this nib glides! I stuck with the standard Lamy cartridges in basic black (or sometimes blue, if I was feeling particularly wild). Sooooo…nice pen, but kind of boring, which was entirely MY fault.

But I’ve been learning a lot this year, pen and ink-wise. Thanks to the…
1) Pen Addict podcasts;
2) Fountain Pen Geeks website & podcasts;
3) SBRE Brown’s youtube reviews (like THIS one on the Lamy Nexx); and
4) The Goulet’s Ink Nouveau website.
It’s like attending pen and ink college, and my “teachers” have made me crave something beyond the blue and black cartridges. I have, finally, started to explore the world of bottled inks. And what a world it is!

I’ve always pictured that bottled ink would lead to stained fingers and clothes, stained countertops and carpets, maybe even stained pets, but I have remained relatively stain-free (knock on wood!). What this HAS lead to is a new-found love for my languishing fountain pens.

I ordered this Mont Blanc Toffee Brown ink from Dalys Pen Shop, and literally said, “WOW!” as soon as it hit the paper. Like, OUT LOUD. This is exactly the brown I was looking for. I know how to describe ink about as well as I know how to describe wine or art (not very), but I know what I like when I see it. This brown instantly clicked with me. Was I influenced by the word “toffee” in the name? Quite possibly.

Mont Blanc Toffee Brown ink on Levenger Circa paper

I picked up the Lamy Nexx from JetPens because of the orange cap (which apparently they don’t carry anymore…sniff). Shallow? Maybe. I also like the look and feel of the brushed aluminum barrel and clip.

Lamy Nexx

Cap & clip

The triangular aluminum barrel and rubber grip section feel great. No grip issues for me at all. I’m pretty sure that my handwriting improves when I use this pen, and I credit the triangular grip for that. (How many times can I say “grip”? A lot, apparently.)

Aluminum barrel

Rubber grip

On Twitter, lots of folks (kiddingly) “blame” other pen reviewers for making them empty their wallets to purchase reviewed inks or pens. But I’d like to give credit, rather than blame, to my pen & ink “faculty”…Brad Dowdy & Myke Hurley (for The Pen Addict podcasts), Eric Schneider & Dan Smith (for Fountain Pen Geeks), SBRE (Stephen) Brown (of youtube fame), and Brian and Rachel Goulet (of The Goulet Pen Company and Ink Nouveau) for quietly encouraging me to dust off my fountain pens and explore the world of bottled inks. There’s a WHOLE inky world of color out there.

Let’s play!

In a bad mood? Erase it!

It’s been an odd week. Lots of little frustrations and glitches keep cropping up in my work day and even in my evenings (e.g., prescription debacle…so fun). So when I came home to a complimentary little package from JetPens the other day, I ripped into it immediately. And what greeted me in that package instantly made me smile.

The Iwako Giraffe Novelty Eraser is simply adorable.


It’s small, about 1.5″ tall, but Iwako packs a lot of cute and rubbery goodness into the little critter.

I smiled. Despite the prescription thing. Despite a broken refrigerator. Despite a non-functioning car window. I smiled.

Could my usual erasers make that happen? I don’t think so.

Erasers, yes. But no novelty. And no smile.

Believe it or not, I actually have an eraser story from my childhood. (What? You don’t?) In the first grade, a friend let me borrow her Frito Bandito eraser for a few days. Problem is, I bonded with Mr. Frito Bandito, and remember feeling crushed when I had to give it back. Yes, I actually MISSED an eraser. I’ve since recovered. Sort of.

Whereas the Frito Bandito eraser was one molded piece, the Iwako giraffe can be disassembled. I found that the head pops off easily, as do the giraffe’s “side panels.”

A little disturbing, maybe?

“Put me back together, please!”

Because it’s so easily disassembled, obviously this product is better suited for those who are old enough to handle erasers without taste-testing them.

Once reassembled, I took the giraffe for an erasing test drive. Can something so adorable really get the job done? The answer is a resounding YES.

Erased squiggle

Erased 3 and 5

I have to admit that I was surprised at how well the giraffe’s butt (I couldn’t bring myself to use his cute little head) erased both the squiggle and the numbers. This thing has the looks AND a serious work ethic, which is quite the bargain at $0.99.

“This isn’t all that comfortable.”

Available individually, or as part of a 6-piece set (you could swap heads!), the Iwako giraffe is just the ticket to erase a bad day.

Simply irresistible. Take THAT, Mr. Frito Bandito!

Winner: Frixion Pens!

The random number generator picked:
True Random Number Generator
Min: 1
Max: 27
Result: 23
Powered by RANDOM.ORG

So the winner is:
23. derevaun said: July 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm Sciency! I’ve been intending to try the frixion out.

I’ll email you shortly for your mailing address. Enjoy the Frixions!

Celebrate with the red, black, & blue: Pilot FriXion pens…AND a giveaway!

Pilot Frixion Retractables, 0.7 mm

The retractable Pilot FriXion pens are wonderful, but that wasn’t always the case. I first tried the FriXion pens years ago (capped version, weird tribalesque design on the barrel) and was, quite honestly, seriously underwhelmed. They erased well enough (yay!), but the ink was dreadfully washed out looking (boo!). Despite the novelty of being able to erase ink, the Frixions were quickly set aside.

THEN- a new generation of FriXion pens was born, and they truly are new and improved. The ink colors are stronger, especially the blue and red which are super. The black is much darker than the original washy gray, but isn’t super dark. Very nice, though. Take a look–

FriXion black

FriXion blue

FriXion red

The tips of these pens absolutely GLIDE across paper. They are a blast to write with. I use the pens for everyday writing but especially for writing in my Planner Pad and scribbling to-do lists in my Field Notes. A bit OCD, I hate cross-outs, so when plans and priorities change, being able to neatly erase INK is a big plus.

But how DO they erase? Let me show you–

Erased swatches

Erased letters

If you erase very soon after writing, the erasure is not as complete and clean as if you wait just a bit, but it’s still quite good.

Eraser ends

In reality, the ink is not actually erased (in the normal sense), but the “friction” (friXion, get it?!) made during the erasing action creates heat which makes the ink disappear. Which leads to one point of caution- DON’T LEAVE your notes/journals written with Frixion pens in a hot car! I’ve heard stories from distraught folks whose notes disappeared! (Hmmmm…may have to experiment with this! Be right back…I’m putting a page of notes in my car to see what happens.)

I’m back. Will report my findings later on.

After a little hiccup with my phone last week (lost all of my bookmarks for a bit…eek!), I decided to make sure that I have old school HARD COPIES of my address book and calendar, and I plan to use the FriXion pens to fill those out. Addresses & phone #’s change, as do commitments and appointments. I can erase and update without CROSSING OUT. A dream come true. (Okay, maybe a small dream, but a dream nonetheless.)

LOVE my Field Notes…but that’s another post!

Homemade Field Notes myCAL (used the 0.5 mm pens here)

I’ve also started dabbling with sketchnoting, and the FriXion line is PERFECT for this because I erase A LOT.

HAZWOPER training sketchnote

I’m certainly glad that I gave the Pilot FriXion pens a second chance because they are fun to write with, the ink colors are MUCH stronger, and the erasable feature is just too cool.

FriXion grips

FriXion clips & branding

Super smooth tips

So, this Fourth of July, think about celebrating with the RED, BLACK, and BLUE…FriXion pens, that is. These pens truly do deserve fireworks, and you can celebrate your independence from cross-outs!

Now for THE GIVEAWAY! Thanks to the fine folks at JetPens, I have a lovely little set of all three FriXions reviewed here to award to one lucky commenter. Here’s the scoop:

Leave a comment on this entry by 11:59 pm Sunday July 8th.
Each comment will be assigned a number (Comment #1 = 1, etc.).
The winning comment will be selected via random number generator on the evening of Monday July 9th and posted on this blog.

Stuff to remember:
ONE ENTRY per person, please.
USA only, at this time. (Sorry ’bout that.)

Happy Fourth of July, and good luck!

[Click on any of the pictures for a larger version.]

The page BEFORE it was placed in a hot (mid 80’s outdoor temp) car for approximately three hours…

After three hours in a hot car, the page looked like this…

You’d be screwed if these were your chemistry notes! Or WOULD you be?

Here’s the page immediately after it was removed from the car…

Looks like the writing is starting to return.

And here it is after spending a little time (1/2 hour or so) in the freezer…

Mostly back! Phew! Your chemistry notes are safe, after all!

Despite the return o’ the writing, I’d still be careful using this pen for critical notes, if there’s a chance that the paper or notebook could be left in a hot car. Why take chances?

Thus endeth this afternoon’s Frixion experiment. You may now return to your lawn chairs.