Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pencil in Hand

Life has an unusual way of throwing curve-balls at a person.  I have spent the past weeks using pencils of various sorts in an attempt to find the passion some have for the Graphite.  After an exhaustive use and having nearly experienced a breakdown due to ink withdraw, I have come to the conclusion.  I am not fan of graphite for everyday use.

I have discovered and realized a few things after this experience though.  I have discovered how much I missed drawing and art.  Drawing was a past time of mine during high-school and most of college.  It became an after-thought soon after graduating and becoming a drone to the corporate world.  Since then I’ve only sketched here or there with my boys.  There have been a few times I re-visited my sketch book but, never for any length of time.  My re-introduction to the pencil has given me reason to draw again…

Another thing I noticed quickly after using a pencil was that I gravitate towards printing my words rather than writing in cursive.  I noticed this while taking notes during a conference call at work.  Flipping through my notebook supported this.  There was a noticeable change in the way / style I wrote.  Looking back I attribute this to when I took drafting in high school.  That was the days before CAD became the norm.  We drew everything by hand and one’s hand-writing was imperative to understanding a document.  Though I can honestly say my hand-writing is now where near the level of The Pen Addict himself…I pale in comparison.  

I also discovered I have a particular lead range I prefer.  No harder than HB and no softer than 3B, optimally staying in the 2B range for everything.  I also prefer mechanical to wood cased.  I believe that would change if I were to try a Blackwing.  I really wanted to try one out but, could not justify a $20 purchase for a test…especially since I felt strongly I wouldn’t stick to pencils.

Finally, I realized I could not find a pencil I really liked again, the Blackwing may have changed this.  I continued going back to my green Pentel P205 0.5mm with 2B lead.  

Because of this experiment I have incorporated the Pentel into my EDC and use it for specific purposes.  It is nice to have especially in wet weather and when I don’t want to worry about ink leaking.  My writing style has also changed.  I no longer write everything in cursive handwriting.  My notes are printed when I am on conference calls or in meetings and depending on the note I will vary my script form print to cursive to add emphasis.

For those who are strict pencil users, my hat’s off to you.  I just couldn’t continue writing my notes and such in graphite…it’s a mental issue and I am seeking counseling.  Admission is the first step.

Again, my apologies for the long span of time between posts…

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Pencil Challenge

To Use or Not To Use

Love em, or hate em, the pencil is a tool that has been around much longer than the pen.  On a rare occasion do I use a pencil in my day to day writing.  The other night though I found myself writing at 3:30 in the morning and with a pencil in hand.  I know when I started writing I was not fully awake and was actually just trying to get thoughts out of my head to go back to sleep when I became aware of the pencil in my hand.

It was your "everyday" yellow Dixon Ticonderoga 2 1/2 F wooden pencil.  I sat at the dining room tabel and stared at the writing on the paper.  Why was it so light, I thought to myself?  This got me wondering and waking up.  Do I even own a pencil that will lay a dark line?  I walked upstairs to the spare bedroom in which I've taken over as a home office.  Serching through my box of pens I found a mechanical pencil I've had for nearly 12 years.  Acquired from work when I was a paid engineer I remember coveting this pencil because of its uniqueness.  It is an average Pentel P205 mechanical pencil.  What makes it special is the color.  Pentel pencils are colored based on the thickness of lead they use.  Yellow for 0.9mm, blue for 0.7mm and black for 0.5mm but, this 0.5mm pencil was green.  Because of this distinction I would not let the pencil slip my grasp.

Removing the pencil from the box I gave it a little shake next to my ear and low and behold I could hear the clicking sound of pieces of lead within.  A few clicks of the end later and I was set to write.  I sat down at my desk and realized that I must have a 2B lead loaded in the pencil.  I continued to write.
I woke up later that morning and while gathering my "stuff" for work I remembered the pencil.  I loaded it in my bag before heading out the door.  I kept thinking to myself why don't i ever use pencils anymore.  The thought remained in my head all day until I had a chance to get into the garage and leaf through old journals and notebooks.  I then realized why...pencil lead smears quite easily.  Maybe it is the lead I use but, all my notebooks reveal the same problem.  Later notebooks, in which ink is used do not have this problem.

So what is it that separates the pen user from the pencil user?  I seriously think there's a distinction and that most people have a preference.  A collegue of mine rarely uses a pen, writing all his notes in pencil,  yellow Pentel 0.9mm to be specific.  He prefers the thickness of the lines and prefers to be able to erase mistakes when writing.  I also have a co-worker who writes with the standard No.2 yellow wooden pencil from Officemax.  I watch him get up at least 4-5 times a day to sharpen the point up.  He too enjoys the ability to erase mistakes or changes to what he writes.

This led me to want to experiment with the pencil.  For the next two weeks I will replace my standard pen with the pencil.  I am going to see if there is any spark left within in which to light the flame that once burned within me for the pencil...I won't give up my pens, I rely on them for my Chronodex among other things.  I want to see what it is about pencils that appeal to so many people.  This should be interesting...

...To Be Continued...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Uni-Ball Signo RT

I Miss the Uni-Ball Signo RT - Purple/Black

I am making a plea to resurrect the Uni-Ball Signo RT in purple/black ink.  Oh, how I miss you so.  The Uni-ball Signo RT was the first pen I ever bought from JetPens.  It was also my introduction to my favorite color...super dark purple.  I still haven't figured out why I like this color so much.  I think that the subtle hint of purple within the dark lines of the ink allows me to be an individual at the office without looking like I'm using crazy colors.

I happened upon the Uni-ball Signo RT while casually browsing JetPens' gel pens.  At the time I was just beginning my use of the Chronodex planner, thank you Patrick Ng.  I wanted to color code various categories of tasks in different colors but, didn't like the thickness of the Pilot G-2.  Voila, the Uni-ball Signo RT.  It accommodated every requirement I came up with.

  • various colors
  • 0.38 mm line
  • retractable
  • inexpensive 
  • gel ink

I bought several in a variety of colors but, the purple/black was the first to run out of ink.  The barrel is a transparent color mimicking the ink.  The grip follows suit and is made of rubber, unlike the Pilot G-2 the RT's grip is smooth and almost silky to the touch.  I've never had it slip from my grip either and unlike the G-2 it has never suffered from loosing its sponginess.  

Though I am not a fan of the fact that the Uni-ball Signo RT is not very "professional" looking, I will point out that it writes like any $50.00 ballpoint I've ever held in my hand.  I have never had it skip, drip, false start or scratch.  This pen has never, and I repeat NEVER let me hang...

I must give "props" to Uni-ball, this pen is great to write with and has replaced my Pilot G-2 use.  I have also adapted the refill to my Pilot G-2 Limited pen...though I'll get into why that combo didn't last in another post.  I have been able to use the refill in various other pens that accept the G-2 refill but, haven't found the same feel at the original Uni-ball Signo RT's feel and balance. 


Shipping Weight: 0.37 oz.
Body Color: varies
Body Material Plastic
Clipable: Yes
Diameter - Grip: 9.6 mm
Diameter - Max: 10.6 mm
Grip Color: Varies
Grip Material: Rubber
Ink Characteristics: Waterproof
Length - Extended: 13.8 mm
Length - Retracted: 13.9 mm
Length - Uncapped: 13.1 mm
Mechanism: Retractable
Tip Length: 4.4 mm

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Pilot G-2

The Pen That Began an Era
Pilot G-2 0.7mm & Pilot G-2 0.38mm pens
My introduction to the realm of the gel pen was with the Pilot G-2.  The G-2 began from humble beginnings, coming in only two colors and one size (0.7 mm).  The clear smokey barrel with ink colored complimentary grip and clip is a pen nearly all offices have seen for the past decade.  The Pilot G-2 has become as commonplace as the “stick” pen.  They are a non-flamboyant simply designed pen that like their predecessors functioned right out of the packaging.

I’ve never had too many issues with the Pilot G-2.  These pens have worked for me for years without any hesitation and have become a “work horse” for many offices.  The rubber grip is textured and tapered permitting a better grip.  The “click” is strong and the clip secure.  Though I couldn’t see it used in a board meeting it is a significant upgrade to the common “stick” pen.

The ink quality on most office paper is good however, there is a bit of a wait time when writing in a Moleskine and other better quality paper.  Below are a few samples of paper I use regularly that show the dry times…

Overall quality of the ink is good.  I fell in love with gel inks ever since my first Pilot G-2 in blue.   Nowadays, the pen comes in an assortment of colors:
·         Blue
·         Black
·         Red
·         Green
·         Navy
·         Purple
·         Orange
·         Brown
·         Burgundy
·         Pink
·         Turquoise
·         Periwinkle
·         Teal
·         Lime Green
·         Hunter Green

I’m still hoping for purple/black though.  Pilot also diversified the point size, pleasing even the finest of lined writers like myself.  The Pilot G-2 is offered in 1.0, 0.7, 0.5 and 0.38 mm sized.  Though all colors are not available for all sizes there are workarounds for the imitated.  I have taken the tip section off the ink chamber and secured it onto various colors in the past…this was until I discovered JetPens. 

The pen is a very light weight pen and balances in the hand effortlessly.   In the original and “standard” size of 0.7mm writes smooth and flawless.  The lines are bright and vibrant and stand out on the page and I’ve never had a Pilot G-2 skip in a 0.7 mm.  I have had some skip while using a 0.5 mm and more so with the 0.38 mm.  Though a bit frustrating the love I had for the pen overcame even the most extreme cases of skipping. 

The Pilot G-2’s are inexpensive enough not to be concerned with carrying them in a pocket or just throwing them in a pack/bag on the way out the door.  Because they are plastic they are durable little suckers, the only time I’ve broken one was by running it over with a forklift inadvertently.  It crushed the pen completely and left a blue stain on the concrete that remains 5 years later.  I’m still a little sad when I see the stain, it was my first Navy dark blue inked pen. 

I can’t continue without pointing out one major defect in the design of the pen, the grip.  I completely understand this is a manufacturing defect and just a pet peeve but, the Pilot G-2 has two small “nibs” from where the grip must have been in the mold.  I find them completely annoying and think they should have designed them to be on the inside of the mold and not the outside.  It’s been a few years since I’ve pick these pens up so that might have changed. 

Still, the pen is a solid writer and that’s all that is expected of it.  For under $2.00 I can’t really get too fussy.  Thank you Pilot for introducing me to the gel pen.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pilot Acroball PureWhite

A Ballpoint I Love

The Pilot Acroball PureWhite is the only ballpoint I have used since being introduced to gel pens, such as the Signo DX and the Pilot G-2.  I absolutely love how dark the pen writes.  I was looking for an inexpensive pen that I could take hiking.  It had to meet several criteria:

  • I wanted a ballpoint because it is less affected by the weather.
  • It had to be light weight, I’m a minimalist hiker.
  • It had to be visible if I dropped it.
  • It had to put a dark line on the page.
The Pilot Acroball caught my eye one day while walking aimlessly through my local Target.  Being an Apple fanboy, the sterile white body drew me in.  I even held my white iPhone up to it to admire how well they complimented one another.  I immediately grabbed a pack and purchased.

I was surprised to find how well the pen wrote.  It is very similar to writing with a gel but, it’s a ballpoint.  Doing a little research I found out the ink is water-based not oil based ink like most ballpoints.  Make sense why it behaves the way it does, which is amazing.  It is extremely smooth and I have no “skipping” problems.  It works right out the pack every time.

The white plastic is easily visible and stands apart from my normal group of pens, making it unique among my collection.  It is light weight and the rubber grip is textured to not allow slippage.  Because of these attributes I’ve been able to write for a few hours without much hand fatigue.  This is very import attribute for me, I tore a tendon in my hand a while back and have yet to get it repaired.  It makes gripping a challenge especially if I’m doing it for hours.

The Acroball, even though it is a plastic pen it seems at home with my Midori Traveler’s Notebook.  The stark whiteness of it is a great contrast to the dork brown leather of the Midori.  I went with the non-expressive silver accented version but, Pilot makes them in an assortment of colors: blue, lime, turquoise, pink, purple, orange and silver.  Pilot also offers the pen in three different models: Acroball Pro, Acroball Color & the Acroball PureWhite with the PureWhite being the only to come in a fine point.  All other Acroballs are medium point pens.

Now if you go to JetPens, they offer a different Acroball than what the US Pilot website markets.  Perhaps because of JetPens getting a non-US supplier?  I also notice they offer the pens in three point sizes: 1.0 mm, 0.7 mm & 0.5 mm. 

Some of the quirky things I look for in a pen is the “click” of a retractable pen.  The Acroball PureWhite has a firm retraction mechanism and feels solid and the clip, though plastic, is shaped to hold on and go for a ride.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with these pens and enjoy writing with them.  I would like to see them in a really dark purple/black ink....not sure what the appeal is to that color but, love it on paper.

Shipping Weight
0.33 oz
Body Color
Body Material
Clip Material
Color Set
Diameter - Grip
11.4 mm
Diameter - Max
11.4 mm
Grip Color
Grip Material
Length - Extended
14 cm
Length - Retracted
14.2 cm

Tip Length
4.2 mm
Tip Material
Tip Size
0.5 mm
Tip Type

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Pilot Knight Fountain Pen

The Pilot Knight Fountain Pen


I have no idea when I first came into possession of this pen, but I do remember that is was my first and only fountain pen for a few years.  I liked the way it looked, that is was made of metal and just said to me, "I'm a professional."  I'm pretty sure I ordered it online because I bought a bunch of cartridges with it.  I this pen had been in my hands before buying it, I'd never have spent the money.  

Sorry about my penmanship...too much caffeine!!

Don't get me wrong I like the pen but, it took me a few years to warm up to it and even now I only use it in certain now.  Before I get into what turns me off about the pen, let's dive into the good points...

  • It's a very professional looking pen.
  • The clip is very secure when clipped to something, it feels spring loaded.
  • When capped it is a very solid pen.  I think if I dropped it from a few feet it would be fine.
  • And , it writes a very smooth line every time I've used it.
It's really a nice pen and for the cost is a good deal. But....I have a few issues with it...
For one this it is a heavy pen, even without the cap posted, which I couldn't imagine  anyone writing that way.  it also only comes in a medium nib.  It writes very smooth like I said.  It's just a lot thicker than what I prefer.  The cartridges dry out quickly.  And, did I mention it is a heavy pen?  Being made of metal though makes it durable and, like I stated, looks professional.
It really upset me that it was so heavy and for a long time I just let it sit in a drawer.  I'd ink it up every once in a while write a letter or in my journal, only to clean it out and put it back in the drawer because I didn't like how it weighed down my hand and tired my grip out.  It was a constant battle between writing and cramping.  
Finally, I hung up my fountain pen desires and wrote solely with gel pens.  I prefer the thickness, the smoothness of the lines and I can write for hours.  
It wasn't until the I was influenced back to the world of fountain pens by the dynamic duo, Mr. Brad Dowdy, THE Pen Addict and Mr. Myke Hurley, the silky British voice of many of my favorite podcasts.  It was after a couple podcasts in which they discussed fountain pens I decided to give them a try once more.  

Since then I have used a fountain pen daily, mainly for journaling.  In a future post I'll review the pen that hooked me to fountain pens but, for now I'll say this.  I've come to learn how to write with the Pilot Knight and use it at work when taking meeting notes.

I absolutely love the blue-black cartridges.  They are a deep dark, 'don't go in the water' blue.  And like I said the pen lays a really smooth like.  Overall I've learned to roll with the weight and not fight's an elegant dance much like aikido.  I used its force against itself to write.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Searching for a Rollerball

The Uni-ball Rollerball MICRO

I have made many attempts to use this pen in the past but just never have we "clicked".  Perhaps it's that the grip is slippy or that it is a capped pen or maybe I just don't like the way my hand writing looks when I write with the pen.

Though it is made by one of my favorite pen manufacturers around, Uni-ball.  Their micro rollerball pen in black, not sure it comes in any other colors, is a pen I've used since I was in high school.  Back then it was strictly for inking artwork.  Today as I progress in my career I am looking for a more "professional" look.  So, once again I find this pen back in my bag in "test" mode.

I've already stated the grip is slippy, I constantly have to readjust my grip on the pen, which is annoying <whining>.  It is extremely light weight.  The matte black arrel and cap have that "executive" look to it.  The clip is secure but, I've never been comfortable clipping a capped pen, too risky.

I'm writing on junk paper...a Tops legal pad (recycled paper) from the office.  I wanted to test it on an average, ordinary canvas found in most corporate environments.  There is some feathering and I won't be able to use the backside of the page...

I also noticed there is an inconsistent flow.  The ink is a deep and dark and drys quickly but, I remain unimpressed.  I must continue my quest for the perfect rollerball, for me.  This Uni-ball just doesn't fit my needs.  Perhaps something a little more Retro will fit the bill...