Traveling with my pens

I’ve recently enjoyed the company of 200+ people inside the tube of one of Boeing’s finest air travel dreamliners, and I say that with tongue firmly planted in cheek. I have a great job that requires me to travel occassionally and with my passion for fountain pens I have consumed every bit of learning I can about traveling with said passion. What have I learned?  That I don’t have a clue what is safe and what is not relative to the sudden presence of ink on parts of my luggage or attire that are not frequent or preferable to me while on solid ground.

When you read an Amazon review of a product you can usually get a feel for the truth. 100 reviewers say it’s junk and 2 reviewers love it then I’m not opening my wallet. In other words the majority is usally close to accurate. When it comes to flying with pens the split is almost spreadsheet accurate right up the middle. 50% say they have had no problems and the other 50% have a magic formula for draining the ink, removing and shipping the pen’s clip seperately and stripping the gold plating off the nib to keep it from leaking.

This past trip I took the safe route and left my fountain pens at home. My destination this time was a field operation so I decided to skip my nicer rollerballs as well. Below is what I ended up with.

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I love the disposable Zebra Sarasa and just recently discovered the 1.0 mm version. Great writer. The little Zebra SL-F1 pocket writer was light enough for my nice dress pants and the mini Sharpie came in handy to mark my name on the free bottles of water the host was handing out in the hot Texas sun.

I didn’t end up taking alot of notes so as usual I obsssesed about my choice of writing utensils before the trip far more than what was necessary.

I would love to know what you travel with when travel takes you to 30,000 feet in the sky.

Remember: Write something nice…

 

 

 

Writing with my children

I have a week off from work and enjoying my two youngest children for the week. At ages 8 and 10 only the 10 year old has taken a real interest in writing. She loves her Pelikano Junior.  Today my 8 year old was outside playing and his sister couldn’t stand the heat so she was finding things to do inside. What a special treat it was for her to ask Daddy if he would sit at the table and write some with her. I jumped at the chance and after taking more than about 30 seconds trying to choose a pen and journal to write with she got antsy and asked where was I at. I realized that was not what it was all about and I grabbed the next pen I saw and then proceeded to thoroughly enjoy the next 45 minutes watching my daughter write on her legal pad and me enjoying a great pen and paper experience surrounded by love.

Any family moments with pens you’d like to share?

Remember: Write something nice..

 

My Jet Pens Order

Pay day Fridays are good for many things. First, with this economy I am very blessed to HAVE a pay day Friday. Secondly, and far less important but more fun is scrapping off the top $25 to launch an occassional JetPens order of goodies I haven’t tried before. For those not part of the JetPens club $25 is the magic number for free shipping!. YAY!

I could shop their website for hours but this last order was a break from the norm in that I had to reorder some favorites that had gotten away from me or those I had read reviews about. Most selections were in my wishlist feature of their website so order placement was quick and I knew if I launched the order in the morning they ship same day.  Their shipping same day performance has been 100% for me and I know to expect the order on Monday so a short weekend away I get new toys!

We all know weekends go by quickly so Monday afternoon all the way from Sunny California in my Florida mailbox was a bag full of pens. How I love that service!

Jet Pens Load Out

This week’s take:

Zebra Expandz White .7 mm Black

First up is a replacement for my first Zebra Expandz. The first one of these I got was the conventional black and I fell in love with it. For $6 it was a great pocket pal. Showing it off to a good (non-Pen) friend he was enamored by it. In my effort to build the pen community I gave it to him. On this order I picked up a white.

Zebra Sarasa Push Clip Gel

I love these pens in the .7 mm. I picked up a black and a blue-black 1.0 mm on this round. Zebra also makes this pen in a more conventional clip design but the clip on this one is the best I’ve seen on a disposable. It has a seperate piece of spring steel in the plastic clip that gives it great capacity and secure attachment. Now ask me how many times I clip it to anything. Ha…I am a sucker for smooth gel and rollerballs. This Zebra line takes the top award in my pencil cup plus the push button deployment is my favorite as well. I’m a sucker for a broad dark wet line and the 1.0 mm version does not disappoint. Granted the wide point equals lots of ink which equals a smooth contact to paper mating so I don’t think there is any rocket physics here but I just love the whole line.

Pilot Hi-Tec-C Gel 0.5 Blue Black

I tried the smaller tip version of this one and just wasn’t impressed. Came off a bit scratchy to me which I would expect from a <.5 mm so nothing real negative about the pen itself.   I have read so many good reviews of this pen I figured I’d try the .5 mm.  It’s ok but will end up in the kitchen drawer for everyday consumption. Nothing special to me.

Uni-ball Signo UM-151 Gel 0.38 Bordeaux Black

Nice writer that I haven’t tried before. Fine line but still smooth. The Bordeaux Black was a little misnomer to me as it come out closer to burgundy which I really like so no complaints. Another one of these will be coming soon for the home desk.

Stabilo Bionic Worker Roller Ball 0.5 Black

Love the thickness and boldness of this pen. I lost my first one to my wife when she tried it and fell in love with the smooth writing. Seperate cap is not my favorite configuration for a disposable writer but this one writes very well and I just like it hanging around the desk.

Uni-ball Signo RT1 UMN-155 Gel 0.38 mm Black

The Signo line gets alot of press and I know they are on many pen lovers favorite list. It’s a good pen, writes well and the .38 mm tip is great for small writing and detail work.

So are you a card carrying member of the Jet Pen club, what’s your favorite?

Remember: Write something nice….

White is an Interesting Pen Sight

I recently got a lead on a close out at Staples for Cross Gel pens.

I liked the clean look of the white so I placed my order using the free ship to store option. It came in yesterday and when I got home I realized I have accumulated more white pens than I consciously realized. Here are my whites:

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Left to right

1. Ok the first one is not technically a white pen but white ink. I needed white ink for some very dark Crane envelopes and sure enough my friends at Jet Pens had a Uniball Signo in broad white ink. Writes well though a little weird when you’re used to writing on white paper with dark ink and now it’s reversed on you.

2. Next is the very popular Lamy Safari Fountain Pen. I like it’s near cult status in the FP world and it was my second fountain pen I purchased several years ago. Similar to the  Cross I have no idea why I chose white. If I had to do it over again I would go with something different as I have a little bit of ink staining around the feed but no big deal. For $28 it’s a great writer but today it just doesn’t end up in my rotation very often.

3. In the middle of the picture is my new Cross Gel Rollerball. This is a new variant of their classic thin twist ballpoint that company logos have adorned millions of for corporate giveaways. This new version has the convenience of click mechanism and uses Cross Rollerbal refills which I find rather nice.

4. Next over is my shorty pocket pal Zebra Expandz. The first one of these I got was the conventional black and I fell in love with it. For $6 it was a great pocket pal. Showing it off to a good (non-Pen) friend he was enamored by it. In my effort to build the pen community I gave it to him. Later I found the black was sold out so I picked up a white.

5. On the far right is the closest I get to simply bling. Sherpa makes this cool product that is merely an attractive shell for the ever popular Sharpie marker. A Sharpie fits in it snug and the cap is a nice friction fit. I find I use it all the times when a sharpie is needed. This is another one where I don’t really know why I picked white except maybe it just caught my eye. The finish is actually the most striking white, more of a pearlescent white that reminds me of my ’88 Anniversary Corvette, but that’s a whole other post/blog.

That’s all my whites.  I’ve heard and seen the early pics of the new TWSBI white so maybe I’ll spring for one of those since technically I have a collection.

Any white pens you really like or another color that you’ve accumulated more of without really realizing it?

Remember: Write something nice

 

Cross Pen Fans?

I’m not a huge Cross pen fan but I always felt they made respectable products and their quality, I think, has stayed relatively consistent in past years even with all the global sourcing going on.  Plus I admire the logevity of their marketing success.  Similar to maglites in the flashlight world.  Many who are not real flashlight enthusisats view Maglite as a very highend flashlight. Now Maglite makes a good light but it’s far from the high end of the market but their mass marketing has been well executed. Same with Cross, many non-pen enthusiasts see Cross right up their with Mont Blanc as top end. Like Maglite I think Cross makes a good solid product but certainly not the highest end to choose.

Where is this going you ask? During some recent surfing I found a great blog over at The Clicky Post that reviewed the Cross Click. I went to the Staples website and sure enough looks like they are closing out two models cheap, compared to their original price.

The Cross Click Gel Pen in white, black, pink and blue. This is a new variant of their classic thin twist ballpoint that company logos have adorned millions of for corporate giveaways.  Also a popular choice for graduation gifts.  This new version has the convenience of click mechanism and uses Cross Rollerbal refills which I find rather nice.

The other bargain is the Cross Edge in black, green and pick. A little beefier pen than the Click and it has a slick expansion of the short body to deploy and extract the writing tip. Quite convenient and makes for a more compact travel size. Same nice rollerball refill.

Either one $15.00 and shipped free to a local Staples store if you have one nearby.

What do you think of the Cross line?

Remember: Write something nice…..

Meet The Zeller Writing Company

I enjoy buying over the internet and waiting for packages to arrive. Patience is not a virtue of mine so I think that trait raises the euphoria in me after I place an order and countdown for the package to arrive. Coupled with a hobby that does not lend itself well to brick and mortar type stores I have found a fairly steady stream of suppliers and the Postal Service and brown truck frequent my driveway often.

Frequent in this hobby I think we all run out of ink and paper from time to time. I am nearing the end of blank pages in my daily journal so I knew I had to buy a new one soon. I like the Rhodia Webbies but had been hearing about the release of TWSBI’s journals. Being a TWSBI fan I found a few reviews and decided I would try one for my daily rambling by pen. The review that helped me the most was from a company I had not heard of before. The Zeller Writing Company. Like other sellers in this industry they publish a blog and run an ecommerce store. Their blog is www.inkonhand.com. AJ there did a great review on the TWSBI journal so I jumped over to his store and read up on the company before I released my hard earned cash. A young company with an interesting mission statement. I liked it, I liked it a lot and his price was as good as any I found on the google box.

Zeller Writing Company uses the Volusion eCommerce shopping cart engine and they have implemented it well using all the features of the program that make the ordering  experience easy, informative and quick. I placed my order at 8:26 am. Just at an hour later I got my order confirmation, good so far. Later that same day I got my ship confirmation. Impressive and now the wait begins.

Priority USPS shipping was a very reasonable $7.95 so shortly I could go to USPS.com and get my estimated date of arrival. With the holiday that was Friday yay!

As promised the package arrived Friday. My order was for a TWSBI medium journal so a padded envelope was fairly standard fare.

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I tore into the padded envelope and was quite impressed by the content and care of packaging.

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Inside was my order carefully wrapped and taped with white tissure paper, almost like you would wrap a gift, including a nice fabric ribbon tie and a Zeller Writing Company stamp. Similar to a package from upscale sellers like Levengers or Macys.

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Unwrapping my new present revealed protective padded wrapping around the actual journal itself so a safe travel was assured.

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The goodies just kept flowing as you can see below:

  •  Candy to munch on while I explored my first order.
  • A handwritten note from AJ thanking me for the order. Classy
  • A nice bookmark
  • Business card showing their company history
  • A nice (blank) Fountain pen related postcard that I could send to one of my two friends.
  • Typical invoice packing slip

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The whole experience was very upscale, making me feel that I got more than I expected. Subsequent emails to AJ have been answered promptly and personally. The product was high quality, well priced and got all the way to Florida quickly. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

I like supporting the small business, especially those that are expending a lot of effort to be affordable and offer high quality service at competitive prices.

Try the Zeller Writing Company, I know you won’t be disappointed.

Remember: Write Something Nice…

A tale of my Pelikan M1000

I want to like this pen, I really do, I even put it as the header graphic of my blog here. But right now I don’t. The big 1000 was one of two grail pens for my collection. My other, a Nakaya Long Cigar, has arrived and it is everything I hoped for but that’s for another blog post.  I got my big Pelikan over a month ago when I was still checking the nibs.com website everyday hoping to see a new stock of Nakayas arriving.  I had sold several pens and received an Amazon Gift Card as a gift so my toy budget was relatively well funded at the time. I was shopping Amazon and found my 1000 at a price that seemed too good to be true. I called the dealer and they were honest and up front with me. I called Chartpak and the dealer I was looking at was an authorized dealer so no warranty issues (good thing!) so with very little fresh cash out of my pocket I ordered the medium nib with great anticipation.

Great service from the online dealer and I received it a few days later. Inked it up and although a smooth experience I got hard starts, missing first strokes of letters and an occassional click from the tines hitting when I would write. If I didn’t have bad luck I would have no luck at all. I had read all the stories of sub-standard nibs out of the box on a large percentage of Pelikans. For a $600 writing instrument I think ANY percentage of bad out the box is LARGE.

I contacted Chartpak and they were very nice giving me instructions on sending it back and explaining how they swap nibs for free. With insurance it was just over $9 to ship it back. I was disappointed but felt good I would get it back right. 2 weeks, feeling like eternity, went by and my pen was back. After seeing my writing sample Chartpak changed me to a Fine nib which I told them was ok if they found a Fine that was smoother than any of the mediums they had on hand. I inked it up and it wrote wonderfully! No clicking, complete letters every time WOW just like I had hoped for originally.  I was even starting to play with that flexy nib to make cool line variations.  I do wish the story ended here.

A week letter after finishing up a nice thank you card to a relative I Iooked down at a couple of splotches of ink on my finger where I gripped the pen. No big deal I got a little too close to the feed right?  Cleaned everything up and couple hours later same thing AND a glob of ink rinsed from the cap this time.  Cleaned, flushed and left overnight hoping, though I don’t know what I was thinking that a flush could have to do with a leak but I guess I was desperate.

Next day I got some more leakage though not as bad, still quite annoying so I cooled a bit and fired off an email to Chartpak. To which they responded that it could be a loose replacement nib or a hairline crack in the body. They told me to send it back up (USPS $9) but not to send to the regular repair send it marked as a RUSH…silly me thinking that might be a different level of service. I requested Chartpak swap my pen back to a medium nib but they were out of stock at the time so I was OK with the FINE, it was just a bit too fine for me. 2 weeks later I received a call from Chartpak saying they found some leakage so they replaced the barrel and swapped the nib to a Medium that had just come in. As promised it shipped the Friday at the end of week 2 via 2nd day air.  I anxiously awaited the second attempt.

In the meantime I had ordered some Pelikan Black ink in ther normal line and their premium Edelstein line just to see how it would react in a Pelikan pen. I assumed it would be a good combination. My pen made it back and I once again anxiously ripped it open, inked it up with the Edelstein ink and took to paper. A gusher of a medium nib. I’m all for wet and juicy but this was over the top. Smooth and no clicking sound but I noticed skipping and missing first strokes right away.  I started to perspire as I felt quite defeated.  I relaxed and thought maybe with that huge nib and the shallow vials of sample ink maybe I didn’t get a good fill and the nib was starving. I rinsed, flushed and tried a full bottle of ink to be sure and get a good fill. Even following the Pelikan instructions for a proper fill.

Back to my Rhodia dot pad and just as bad performance, I am crushed. No emails this time. I tore out the page from my first writing sample with half drawn letters and I shipped the pen back once again to Pelikan. Fortunately, and I will say nice touch by Chartpak, they set aside the fine nib I liked so much in case I didn’t like this medium so I’m glad I can be reasonably sure I will get that exact fine nib back which was a real joy.

It left today via USPS, which I have now paid $30 to ship my pen 3 times. The count down to July 19 begins.

I really do want to love this pen, It fits good in my hand, I love its size and the smoothness of its piston. The good news is my Nakaya is in and I’m having fun playing with it so I hope the 2 weeks go by quickly.

You have any stories about a higher end pen that disappointed?

Remember: Write something nice…