Prismatic Limited Edition Archer Pencils by Baron Fig

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Deep thinking. Big ideas. Changing the world. Like Baron Fig, I’m for all of that. But some days (most days, honestly) I don’t have the time or energy to think big thoughts. You’ll usually find me stuck in the weeds, hunkered down, getting my work done. Am I making progress? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. If I’m changing the world, it’s inch by inch.

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But still, I like good stuff.

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And these are good stuff. I’m no pencil connoisseur. I can’t take a deep dive  into the details of the wood and the lead-grade and the clues the experts obtain by sniffing a pencil. Honestly, when I take a whiff of a pencil, I only smell elementary school. BUT, I know when a pencil makes me happy, and these do that.

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Baron Fig’s packaging is, as always, eye-catching and functional, compact and colorful. The twelve pencils nest together perfectly, with virtually no wiggle room. It’s like a little pencil puzzle. The cardboard tube holds four pencils in each of the three colors—light blue, red, and yellow—all with a deep purple end dip.

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What appeals to me is the simplicity of the Prismatics—the primary colors and printed prism graphics that remind me of the doodles I used to draw in school. Pyramid, cylindrical, and square prisms are featured on one side of each hex-shaped pencil. On the opposite side, you’ll find Baron Fig’s name printed in the same understated white. It’s all pretty subtle. And subtle feels just right.

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I only sharpened one of the dozen—in my Classroom Friendly sharpener—and had no issues. The pencil sharpened cleanly, the core was centered, and the point sharp. As I said, I’m 98% pencil user and only 2% expert so take what I say with a grain of salt, but I’d judge the graphite to be a solid HB. On a scale from creamy to scratchy, I’d put this lead right in the middle. Pleasant, but not particularly memorable. It writes as a decent pencil should, with good line darkness, a little feedback, and impressive point retention. This is a well-balanced pencil in look, quality, and feel.

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Life feels like it’s getting more and more complicated and hurried, so when a simple tool comes along that makes you slow down and smile, you take notice. The Baron Fig Prismatics may not transform me into a deep thinker, but they make me happy.

Happy is good.

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The Limited Edition Prismatic Pencils are available directly from Baron Fig for $15/dozen.

The Prismatic pencils shown here were graciously sent to me by Baron Fig to facilitate this review. I was not otherwise compensated, and there are no affiliate links in this post. As always, this review represents my honest thoughts about, and experiences with, the provided product.

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Ubiquitous Capture Device: The Nock Co. DotDash Pocket Notebook

“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything.” -Shunryu Suzuki

I first came upon David Allen’s Getting Things Done in March 2007. It was not a particularly good year. I was feeling overwhelmed at work, home, church—well, everywhere, really. I felt like I was going under for the third, fourth, and fifth time; drowning in a sea of to-dos and meetings and obligations. I’ve always considered myself pretty organized, but even so, I was struggling.

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I also started to physically fall apart (related?), and wound up in the hospital having major (and surprise) surgery. This was not my finest hour. Somehow, during my extended recovery, I latched onto a copy of Getting Things Done and devoured it. I felt hope. I felt relief. Most importantly, I felt understood in my struggle.

“Rule your mind or it will rule you.” -Horace

I implemented David’s system and saw immediate results. I could finally breathe. I was still dealing with the same obligations, but now I was getting things down on paper and into my “trusted system.” My life and circumstances were the same but I was engaging with all of the inputs in a more systematic fashion. My head no longer felt like it was going to burst into flames from grinding on everything it was trying to remember. There was a very physical kind of relief, along with a lovely mental weightlessness.

Since then, over these ten years, my system has evolved. I’ll always be tweaking things, looking for ways to implement the system more efficiently or more completely. I work largely with analog tools because I enjoy them (understatement of the year) and they are usually RIGHT THERE. I also use Trello to manage all of my various lists digitally. I’m happy with my current set-up, for the most part.

This week, David Allen appeared on the Whole Life Challenge podcast—in an episode that I just finished listening to this morning. I’m doing the WLC for the ninth time, and it’s going very well. I feel great. This week’s lifestyle challenge is called “Brain Toss.” In order to score your lifestyle points for the day, you have a generate a list of the things that are on your mind—things that you can’t deal with right now. No sweat for me. I’m up to my eyeballs in lists.

“There is no reason to have the same thought twice, unless you like having that thought.” -David Allen

But as I listened to that episode, I realized that while I have my daily work and personal to-do lists, I’m not capturing my thoughts as completely as I should be. Over the years, I’ve slipped in that key area. I write a lot of stuff down, but not everything. I’m still trying to keep track of things with my brain, which means that I’m not doing GTD as well as I should or could be. I need to, I realized, capture everything— the mundane, the important, the incidental, the large and small ideas, the smart stuff as well as the dumb stuff.

But what should I use? Normally I’ll grind on this decision much longer than I care to admit, but this time, the answer came easily.

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I have a healthy stash of pocket notebooks. That’s putting it mildly. I use Field Notes or Story Supply Co. or Write Notepads pocket notebooks on a daily basis, but I still have boxes full of unused editions. For this task, though, there’s one clear choice—Nock Co. DotDash Pocket Notebooks.

These memo pad style notebooks are 3.5″ x 5.5″—small enough to be carried everywhere— and feature a top staple binding. The fact that they’re top-bound makes them ideal, in my eyes, for use as a ubiquitous capture tool.

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I labeled the front cover for personal capture, and the back cover for work capture. Because the covers are very understated, customizing them to fit your own needs is simple. For my personal to-dos, thoughts, and random ideas, I’ll write in the notebook from front to back, then simply flip the notebook over and write from back to front for my work life. That way, both aspects of my life are captured in one notebook, but are still kept nicely separated. I love this setup.

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Throughout the day I’ve been jotting down thoughts and tasks and ideas in this notebook. From here, they’ll go into Trello for safekeeping and review, and then onto handwritten daily to-do lists when the time is right.

“Anything that does not belong where it is, the way it is, is an open loop pulling on your attention.” –David Allen

Once again, I’m capturing everything.

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Ready and waiting for the work deluge

Ten years in, I’m still practicing and honing my GTD methods and skills. Spurred by this week’s Whole Life Challenge lifestyle practice and podcast, I’ve decided to read the 2nd edition of Getting Things Done to see if, or how, I can move my understanding and practices to an even higher level. Starting today, I’m taking things up yet another notch by carrying the simple and perfectly formatted Nock Co. DotDash Pocket Notebook with me literally everywhere.

I really do hope to one day achieve “mind like water,” where I’m neither underreacting nor overreacting. Life goals.

The notebooks featured in this post were purchased with my own funds. There are no affiliate links in this post. All quotes credited to the first edition of Getting Things Done.

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Baron Fig Squire: The Limited Edition Experiment No. 108

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A week ago I went shopping for jeans, by myself. Hoo boy, was THAT an ordeal. Lots of dressing and undressing, lots of sweat, lots of trial and error. Too tight. Too loose. Too short. GAH!! I burned up my patience and a workout’s worth of calories trekking back and forth to the dressing room, tugging pair after pair on and off. Then—finally—the angels sang. The perfect fit. Boy, you sure do know it when you feel it.

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That’s exactly how I feel about Baron Fig’s Squire Experiment No. 108 rollerball pen. It is—simply put—the perfect fit. Like the jeans I finally found, or perfectly broken in sandals, the shape of the Squire feels “just right” in your hand. This pen is 100% comfortable.

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Though it might be hard to tell from this photo, the pen widens just slightly in the grip area, which is why it’s so pleasant to hold. The design is simple and stream-lined, but I bet that arriving at the Squire’s shape was anything but simple. There was probably as much sweat expended during the design phase of the Squire project as there was in my shopping excursion. Probably less grunting and swearing, though. Maybe.

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The color of the Experiment No. 108 Squire is gorgeous—bright and rich—really fresh. Described as “Chemical Green on the distinctive packaging and “Nuclear Green” on the website, this is a nicer green than I’ve seen in any lab. Most solutions in actual labs are <drumroll, please!> clear. How boring. I’m pleased that the team at Baron Fig took a bit of artistic laboratory license to create a pen in this striking color. “Clear” simply would not do, so “Chemical Green” it is.

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As someone’s who’s worked in and around labs for 40 years, I absolutely love the theme and branding on this pen. The bubbling round-bottom flask is a precious detail. As always, the folks at Baron Fig keep things simple, but interesting, and have another hit on their hands with Experiment No. 108.

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The writing tip deploys with just a twist of the end of the pen barrel, and here’s where I have one small complaint. It’s not with the mechanism, which works easily and smoothly. It’s that gap. As Brad mentioned on “The Pen Addict” podcast #257, the gap between the twist mechanism and the pen body is slightly wider on this pen than on my original Squire—enough so that it looks like something is just a bit off, like the tolerances weren’t as tight on this pen as they were on that original Kickstarter Squire.

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This difference really is in “The Princess and the Pea” territory—very minor—and probably only a niggling bother to OCD folks like Brad and myself. As I said, the twist mechanism works perfectly, with the tip deployed quickly and consistently every single time.

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The Experiment No. 108 Squire comes with a green Baron Fig branded Schmidt P8126 (o.6 mm) refill that writes solidly and smoothly. The ink is a bright and legible green that complements the pen’s anodized body perfectly. It’s cool to have a refill that’s not just standard black or blue. I have very few pens with green refills that write well. Rest assured, this green refill is flawless.

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This particular limited edition Squire has been universally embraced—universally loved—thus the bad news. The Experiment No. 108 Squire sold out very quickly, and is no longer available. That’s too bad. BUT—I think we can be sure that the folks at Baron Fig have plenty of other Squire surprises up their collective sleeves. There’s even a Squire subscription option to ensure that you don’t miss out on future limited edition offerings.  The current Baron Fig Kickstarter project wraps up in just a few days—on June 6th—and includes the option to add a Charcoal or Fig Wine Special Edition Lightbulb Squire to your pledge. (I’ve backed the “Starter Bundle: The Backpack” that includes notebooks and the pen. I’m all about the Fig Wine color.) The original Squires—in silver or charcoal—are always available and have everything going for them that the Experiment No. 108 pen does, with the exception of the special color/theme.

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The Baron Fig Squire is a well-designed pen that fits my hand perfectly. The theme of the Experiment No. 108 Squire fits my professional laboratory-based career just as perfectly.

What will they think of next?! I can’t wait to find out.

Thanks to Andi at Baron Fig for sending the Experiment No. 108 Squire my way. I was not compensated for this review which describes my honest thoughts and experiences with the pen.