Getting re-aquainted with the blog…

16 09 2009

Ah…it feels good to be back. It’s been a long time in the making, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to start posting a little more regularly than what you’ve seen from me in the past few months. There’s lots of cool new pen topics and interesting stuff to talk about, too. Despite the troubled economy, pen companies are still doing cool things, and there are always a few more vintage pens that don’t get the love they deserve.

In the coming months, I’m hoping to be able to stick to about two posts per month. Here’s a few ideas I’m working on: tips on smoothing scratchy nibs, a few new-ish pen reviews, some notebook short-takes, perhaps a hack or two, some history lessons, and maybe some additions to the budget writers series, too.

The Bean gets the scoop…Moleskine killers on the way from Rhodia!

8 09 2008

Steph is a great blogger buddy who’s apparently been in conversation with the folks who bring us our favorite orange pads…and guess what?  They’re bringing out some really solid competition for Moleskine! 

Check out the details here!  I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these!

Does this look a little strange to you?

3 07 2008

*Picture above borrowed from Speedmaster.

Speedmaster has a great review of a new notebook from Rhodia that’s built to give Moleskine some competition. Find out what he thought of it here!

Laser-engraved Moleskines…freakin’ sweet!

23 05 2008

Have you seen these yet?  They’re definitely for the hardcore Moleskine-ite, but wow, these are cool!  As I’ve said a few times before, I have sort of a love/hate relationship with the Moleskine notebook as the paper quality can be sketchy (and patently NOT friendly for use with a fountain pen), but these are outstanding.  Here’s a few of my favorites from their product catalog, but they also do custom orders.  I could easily see some of the more productivity-oriented consulting groups and/or companies making these into quite the marketing piece!

There’s a couple of other companies (other than that Etchstar/LaserMoleskine)are doing these too, I think.  Most notably, Modofly.  Here’s a few pics and links.  Cool stuff!




Like I said, I’m not always the world’s biggest fan of Moleskines, but I think this whole personalization concept is pretty cool. 

Stick around…next week we’ll get back to the $80 category, and finish up the series with the “What can I get for a Benjamin?” post.  Then…on to new and different and exciting things!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Hack.05: Signos and Sliccis and Bits…oh my!

14 05 2008

The uniBall Signo, the Pentel Slicci, and the uniBall Signo Bit are great rollerballs that are available in super-fine lines.  I’ve been a fan of skinny lines forever, it seems.  I’m not sure why, but I think it’s because I’m a lefty.  Ergo, thick lines = more ink on page.  More ink on page + left handed overwriter = messy hands.

I also like to fit a lot on a single page.  Saves paper.  It’s one way that I can reduce consumption of natural resources.

Ever since JetPens opened up its webstore, I’ve been wanting to place an order from them for some of the new breed of skinnier-than-thou rollerballs that you can’t find here in the States.  Pilot’s Hi-Tec C, the Pentel Slicci, the uniBall Signo Bit (which, incidentally, is the skinniest line on earth at the time of this posting), etc.  They’re all cool pens, but not one of them is easy to get if you’re in the middle of corn country. 

So when I got started with the testing for the Moleskine shootout that I’m finishing up, I decided I’d order a couple of things and give them a run for their money to see if they’d fit the bill.  I ordered a Slicci 0.25mm rollerball, a uniBall Signo Bit 0.18, and a handful of other stuff just for fun.  Here’s the problem with these pens, though.  They don’t fit very comfortably in the hands of big ham-fisted guys like me.  I’m 6’6″ tall, and I’m built like one of the guys on the Ohio State o-line…except I’m not nearly as fit. 

Time for a hack.  3 of ‘em, actually.  With very little work, you can easily make the refills in these fit in a handful of different pens that are more comfortable for bigger hands.  I used the Levenger TrueWriter, which I think is an incredibly well-balanced pen, the Lamy Safari, and the Sailor Gel Innovation. 

What you need in order to make these work:

  1. A Pentel Slicci.
  2. A Sailor Gel Innovation.
  3. A little piece of paper towel.
  4. 2 minutes.

What you need to do:

  1. Take the Slicci’s refill from the barrel.
  2. Remove the Sailor’s refill.
  3. Wad up a little tiny piece of paper towel, and shove it down into the Sailor’s barrel.  The Slicci refill can be used as a ramrod to get it in there.
  4. Put the Sailor back together.
  5. Enjoy hacked pen for big hands.  The shape of the Gel Innovation is really comfortable.

Here’s what it looks like.

The TrueWriter Hack:  The Signo RT Gel refill in a 0.38mm is a nearly perfect size (in my mind) for a refill.  Nice and skinny, and the RT Gel’s refill is remarkably well-behaved, too.  Pull the refill from the TrueWriter, and replace with the RT Gel.  Enjoy!

The Safari Hack:  This one is just a little more involved, but still easy.  Take the Signo Bit 0.18 refill, and use sandpaper to grind off about 1/4″ of the material on the bottom of the refill’s plug.  Keep test-fitting as you go, but you’ll know when it’s right.  Enjoy! 

Of all of these hacks, I’m still not sure which one is my favorite.  They all have their place in my life.  The Safari Signo Bit is my Bible marginalia pen, and as such, it works great.  Super-fine lines work well with the thin Bible paper and they don’t bleed through, either.  The TrueWriter Signo also works for this, although the lines are thicker.  The Slicci/Sailor works really well as a Moleskine pen/disposable, and I enjoy their blue ink quite a bit, too.  If I could only keep one, it’d probably be the Slicci/Sailor.  All three are great pens, but the hacked Slicci is the one that’s the most versatile.

(Yes, the Moleskine shootout is still coming.  It’s not quite ready yet…too many great products!)


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