The weight of analog

Inside Lands End BagAnalog vs. Digital, the debate has been going on since the dawn of portable electronics and will probably last for eternity. In the last 25 years or so digital has really stepped up their game due in no small part to advancements in technology. ie. cheap processors, cheaper screens, cheap memory and the list goes on that makes our latest electronic devices more powerful and talented than ever before. As a reader of this blog I suspect you still enjoy some aspects of the analog world. Analog is far from extinct and some would argue its back on the rise. I have no plans to give it up even though I suspect I have more than the average number of connected devices in my home and probably in my possession at any time. Que the watch, ipad, work laptop, personal mac book, kindle, android smart phone, iphone and a very underutilized fitness tracker.

A key drawback in the analog way of life is the wait. Wait to get something you wrote to someone else. You can digitize and upload your scribbles, wait for that letter to arrive, wait for the ink to dry from that broad wet nib. Analog typically takes longer than digital. I think one area when a pen and notepad is the hare instead of the tortoise is I can write down a quick phone number or web address much quicker than I can find my electronic device, power it up, find the right app then record said information by tiny keyboard pecks. YMMV.

I have gotten used to the traditional waits of analog and plan my communications transfers according. This morning I realized my struggle lately is the WEIGHT of analog. Here is a picture of my typical daily load out:

Everything in the Bag

My analog deployment is by no means a model of efficiency but as I have evolved and started various writing projects most of them just don’t fit well together so I end up with a lot of stuff. I have seen a lot of bag dumps on social media and I don’t think I’m too far out in left field so maybe it’s the bag area where I need to explore.

Here is my EDC bag of choice, boringly simple:

Lands End BagI have tried many other bag and cases but keep coming back to this simplicity and ruggedness. I have lost track as to how old it is but it’s been my off and on daily carry (more on) for 10+ years. I have a whole plastic storage tub in the garage of replacement candidates that I have tried over the years and retired them like new when I go back to old faithful.

Coming into work today I realized how heavy this thing really is. I tried the shoulder strap approach and that helps. Fortunately I have short walks from house to car and car to office.

What are your daily carry challenges of all things Analog?

Remember: Write something nice……

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My new Edison Collier from Indy-Pen-Dance

Edison CollierI’ve been moaning and complaining lately about my experiences with the nib performance on brand new pens. Admittedly I do not buy a lot of pens but I don’t think my standards are all that unusually high either. I believe the answer for me is to channel my purchases to companies that are taking the time to ink up and test write with the pen they are shipping me. I realize I will pay for this service and I’m not knocking any company that doesn’t do this level of testing. A reasonable increased cost for this small bit of insurance is worth it to me personally. YMMV.

I have really been jonesing lately for another Edison Pens fountain pen. I have a 76 in Medium and a Huron XXF that are outstanding writers out of the box. Going to Edison’s site I saw that Indy-Pen-Dance was now a dealer for Edison’s production line. I recognized Indy-Pen-Dance from a study I did a while back on Gate City pens and learned Richard Binder is out of the retail pen business. He was one of my nibmeisters  of choice for buying new pens. I didn’t pull the trigger on a Gate City but decided to give Indy-Pen-Dance a try for my next Edison. I chose the Edison Collier which is just on the larger size of Edison’s production line. I drifted away from my usual dark colored pens and had already decided on a broad nib. Broad has been a trend with me lately and has really burned up some ink!. I decided on the Silver Marble and couldn’t be happier.New ImageThe Indy-Pen-Dance website was easy enough to navigate and give them my money and in a couple of days (I ordered on a weekend) I got a ship notice for a USPS Priority Mail shipment. $8.00 shipping I thought was reasonable for packaging and 2 day service.

Right on time I watched for the beautiful OUT FOR DELIVERY message on USPS.com. The pen arrived packaged in the usual nice pen box that Brian Gray of Edison packages with all his pens. A nice label on the outside shows the model name in case you’re a box keeper. Indy-Pen-Dance wrapped the Edison box nicely with bubble wrap, nice service.

Upon opening the pen I was very pleased with my choice to go light color for a change. Attached to the clip was a small write up from Mike and Linda explaining that my pen was inked, not just dipped, written with, adjusted as needed then flushed and repackaged. Upon inspecting the pen I saw some water droplets in the converter which made me feel good and assured me that happened.

Inking up the pen and putting it to paper for the first time was pen nirvana, ok so maybe some hyperbole there, but after my last big pen purchase disappointment it was a joy to experience a super smooth nib with perfect flow and no skips immediately. I knew Edison’s were great writers so starting out with Brian’s craftsmanship and then Indy-Pen-Dance double checking it made my experience that much better.

Thank you Mike and Linda for the great service and that extra care in every pen you sell!

Dear readers: This is my third Edison pen and my first pen from Indy-Pen-Dance. I am not finished with either of these great companies.

Remember: Write something nice……

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How Much Must We Spend For A Great Nib

raw nibI’m a believer in one gets the quality that one pays for. That spans many products and hobby / accumulation projects that I have. A $500 pocket knife is usually better than a $50 pocket knife. Of course the $50 pocket knife will probably cut everything I ever need to cut but as a collector there is something about the $500 knife that appeals to me to define it as better. They are probably both equally sharp but we know much more goes into a knife than sharpness.

I find many of the same parables with collecting Fountain Pens.   After a certain price point a knife is not any sharper and a pen doesn’t write any better. Many blog and forum posts have been written about what that price point is. Like many I have some super smooth writing pens that cost well under $50. The more expensive pens are where my aggravation comes to light. I do have an Edison pen and several Bexleys >$100 that write perfectly out of the box so this is not a sweeping allegation. My problems have been with Pelikan and now Visconti.

At the Atlanta Pen Show I planned to buy some pens, as in more than one. In my aimless search I ran across two tables that had a Visconti Divina series that I absolutely fell in love with the size and color. I already owned a 23K Palladium nib and loved it so I added up my funds and changed PENS to PEN. I was not able to write with the pen as the dealer did not have a broad nib at the show but UPS got it to my doorstep a few days later.

The pen was as beautiful as I remember and my anticipation built steadily as I flushed the pen and chose the first ink for it.   Putting it to paper the first time I got a slow start on the up stroke and a significant ink puddle at the end of my stroke. I flushed again, adjusted my grip and changed inks but I could never get the flow right or eliminate the slow starts completely. I was extremely disappointed. The US Visconti distributor has been extremely responsive and helpful in getting my pen over to Mike Masuyama to have it tuned at no charge but why all the extra expense for everyone?  In this price point I would be glad to pay another $20 for more consistent quality.

I am a 3 year tenured fountain pen newbie but in those 3 years I have learned a lot and most importantly I have learned what I like. Maybe I expect too much and maybe there is more customization to tuning a nib than I’m aware of. Hence making it nearly impossible for a manufacturer to tune every nib to please every buyer. I just don’t believe this surging flow of ink and skipping starts appeals to anyone. What price do you have to reach before these nibs become consistent performers out of the box every time? Not customized to an individual but just consistent quality. I am 1 for 3 in my short historical purchases.

A couple of solutions. Buy from a nibmeister that tunes the pen before it goes out. Richard Binder and John Mottishaw NIBS.COM come to mind but I understand Richard is out of the retail business these days. Second is buy a pen, hope it’s good out of the box and if it’s not send it to a nibmeister like Mike Masuyama. Mike does great work but his lead time is around 12 weeks, $30 and insured shipping to get it to him. That raises the price of the pen and makes you wait 3 months.

Maybe this is more common than I know and I just needed to vent but I would like to hear your opinions on it.

Here is the tale of my M1000 and now it’s happened to me again with my Visconti Divina, so frustrating. John over at nibs.com or Pendleton Brown will probably get my next purchase and I’ll just buy something they carry.

What are your thoughts on manufacturer’s tightening up nib tuning quality?

Remember: Write something nice……

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Paper-Oh Notebooks Review

opener_all4When I was little one of the most exciting things for me was when my parents would tell me they have a surprise for me. One could argue this probably contributes to the commercialization of our youth and always putting so much emphasis on STUFF and consumption of same stuff but it never really mattered to me if it was a 10 cent thing, a project to work on or a fun field trip. The anticipation was always the high that invariably ended with a smile. Sometimes it was way over the top cool and other times it was just cool. With 6 children I have carried on this habit from my parents and admittedly some of my children are old enough that the gleam in their eyes lack a little luster unless I produce the latest Apple iGadget from my bag of tricks. My 9 year old and 12 year old still get it, and its fun.

A couple of weeks ago I got a message from Chris over at Paper-Oh, a division of Hartley and Marks. They have brought their Paper-Oh notebook designs over to the United States and they wanted to get some in the hands of reviewers. To me that’s a “I have a surprise for you” tailored to my passion for pens and the stationery they write on. I didn’t know what to expect, which is half the fun. Mail call last week delivered a super cool surprise of 4 different models of their notebooks.

Paper-Oh Company

I have reviewed and used a fair amount of notebooks and stationery. The usual options are size, cover thickness, how the pages are held together and what is printed on the paper, grid, lines or nothing at all.

Paper-Oh takes the notebook design to a higher level. Even the names are cool. They use the popular alpha numeric sizing conventions which seem to be have been universally standardized. Colors, binding, closures and covers are a big part of the Paper-Oh differentiators. Here is a link to a great marketing document that shows the colors and size combinations that are available. Maybe it’s the analog in me but this approach seems so much easier printed out in front of me then online links of so many combinations.

Paper-Oh has partnered with Jenni Bick Bookbinding. If I have held your interest up to this point I would encourage you to go to the Paper-Oh website and read about how much thought and effort they have put into their product. Impressive.

The Paper

The heart of any notebook is the paper. The paper is what defines the experience and really controls how long you will use the notebook. Many cool, beautifully designed, notebooks are sitting on shelves or in drawers with just a page or two written on. Paper-Oh has put as much thought in the paper as they have the aesthetics. They market an 80 GSM and a 100 GSM weight. The notebooks I reviewed covered both.

Paper-Oh paper starts with 100% sustainable growth product. I don’t claim to know all the green environmental buzzwords but I think I know what this means and I applaud the company for putting such an emphasis on it. Performance with gels, ballpoints and rollerballs is perfect. Fountain Pens fare very well. I am a wet gushy nib fountain pen user so that is hard on paper. The best paper for no feathering and absorption is challenged with drying time. Paper-Oh has struck a very good balance. Dry times are very respectable with 5 seconds for the 100 GSM and under 15 seconds for the 80 GSM. Feathering was barely perceptible but I did get some ghosting on the back side. Remember these are wet medium nibs so if you’re a fine or dry nib writer I don’t think you’ll have any issues at all. I only write on one side of the paper anyway so it’s not a problem for me at all.

Paper-Oh explains their cream colored paper has no added coatings and is run through the press a second time to give a smoother finish. I don’t understand the technical piece of that but the result they achieved is a very smooth paper with no drag or sluggishness, regardless of the pen and very good drying time. I really like that combination.

Lines and grids are printed in a nice bluetone and consistent coverage across the whole page. Well executed.

GSM100_Paper_WritingGraph_Paper_WritingGraph_Paper_Writing2Dry_TimeGhosting 100 GSM

Bleed_Through_GSM100

Bookmark

Even the bookmark is different. A bookmark is included with some of the notebooks and its use can be customized for the user’s taste. This is the first bookmark I have ever received that comes with its own instructions. Not that it’s all that complicated but the graphic explains the flexibility and the thought put into the design. I am still experimenting with the different configurations and so far I really like attaching it to the front page of the notebook then folding it over onto the page I’m currently using. This makes opening the notebook an easy thumb grab.

Bookmark_and_PaperBookmark_Visual

B5 Ondulo

B5_Ondulo_Front

  • B5 Ondulo
  • 100 GSM
  • Blank
  • 112 Pages
  • 7” x 10”
  • Corrugated Cover
  • Flexi Page Marker
  • Magnetic Wrap Closure

The Ondulo is a good meeting notebook and the cover has held up well with the running around that I’ve been able to put it through. The cover is corrugated and the best way I can describe it is imagine peeling the layers of a cardboard box apart and that rolled construction is corrugated. Now the Ondulo is much classier than a cardboard box and the resulting cover is easy to grip, unique and holds up well. Writing in the Ondulo is a pleasant affair with the pages lying flat and after a short amount of exercising the flap stays back out of the way.

B5_Ondulo_InsideB5_Ondulo_LabelB5_Ondulo_BackB5_Ondulo_CoverA6 Circulo

A6_Circulo_Front

  • A6 Circulo
  • 80 GSM
  • Lined
  • 128 Pages
  • 4 ¼” x 5 ¾”
  • Flexi Page Marker
  • Magnetic Wrap Closure

I feel in love with the Circulo. For many years I have carried a Field Notes style book in one of many leather covers I have collected over time. I was finishing up a book right about the time the Paper-Oh products came in and I started this little notebook as my daily to do manager. The magnetic cover has the right amount catch to make my constant opening and closings a breeze. I’m getting used to the bookmark which is ingenious and the paper is great when I need to jot down a note quickly on the go and I can close the book without worrying about smearing.

The most important criteria for me, after paper quality, for a daily notebook is how well it lays flat when I’m thinking and composing in my head. Paper-Oh does a good job there. As with most notebooks the first few pages are a bit of a struggle but after that it’s among the best I’ve used. Reading the website they take great pride in the engineering and experience they have with book binding. I am certain it’s more complicated than I think but for me the proof is in the use and I really like what they have done.

The cover is a unique two layer, two color, almost like an attractive pegboard look. I think it gives it a nice grip and quite unique in its style and look. This one will see a lot of use in my paper stable.

A6_Circulo_BackA6_Circulo_LabelA6_Circulo_InsideA5 Circulo Cahier

A5_Cahier_Circulo_Front

  • A5 Cahier Circulo
  • 80 GSM
  • Grid
  • 80 Pages per book
  • 5 ¾” x 8 ¼”
  • Pack of 2 Books

The Circulo Cahier is a thin profile notebook with what appears to be a conventional center bound folded paper construction. Not my favorite for lying flat but that’s not any design fault of Paper-Oh, it’s just the price one must pay for the ultra slim profile.

With the Circulo Cahier they did a nice contrasting color with the dual layer pegboard design. Mine is a very attractive red and black. Want the Paper-Oh coolness factor in a form factor that can reside easily in full briefcase? The Circulo Cahier may be your choice.

A5_Cahier_Circulo_BackA5_Cahier_Circulo_End_ViewA5_Cahier_Circulo_LabelA5_Cahier_Circulo_InsideA5_Cahier_Circulo_Graph_SpacingB6 Buco

B6_Buco_Front

  • B6 Buco
  • 100 GSM
  • Lined
  • 112 Pages
  • 5” x 7”
  • Elastic Band Closure

The Buco is probably the most conventionally covered notebook in the bunch that I reviewed but don’t think its run of the mill boring. Where most default to black closure bands Paper-Oh includes a contrasting colored elastic band that runs horizontal with the book. Another aesthetic touch is the edges of the paper alternate between the cream color of the paper face and the color of the cover. All the paper is the standard cream offering but Paper-Oh has taken the effort to add a splash of color to the paper edges. Very Cool.

Great binding again that give you a very flat laying notebook. Another thoughtful feature is the tiny cut out on the covers that trap the elastic closure band. That made me smile as one of my personality defects would have forced me to spend way too much time making sure the band was perfectly centered if those notches weren’t there.

B6_Buco_BackB6_Buco_LabelB6_Buco_BandB6_Buco_InsideB6_Buco_RulingConclusion

This was a fun (Long!) review of some unique notebooks with great paper, a fair price, a splash of style and even some bindery engineering thrown in. Thanks Paper-Oh!

Remember: Write something nice……

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