When it comes to Sharpies bigger is better

King Size "Pro" Sharpies are my go-to Sharpie. Read the rest

Pens painted like iconic space race rockets

Retro 51 has issued this handsome series of rocket pens that celebrate NASA's launch vehicles of the space race era. The line includes a Mercury-Redstone, Gemini-Titan II, and the Apollo-Saturn V that carried all the astronauts who traveled to the moon. (No word on whether the pens work upside down.) From Space.com:

The Mercury and Gemini pens retail for $50 each. The Apollo pen is priced at $60.

The pens are also offered as a boxed set with matching serial numbers for $170.

Retro 51 will be donating a portion of the proceeds from each pen to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF). Over the course of the past three decades, the Foundation has awarded more than $4.5 million to more than 500 U.S. college students excelling in science, technology, mathematics and engineering degrees.

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Pilot "V" disposable fountain pens travel well

Every year or so I buy another 5 pack of these Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pens.

I keep these in my travel bag. Unlike refillable fountain pens, of which I have far too many, these do not dry out if forgotten in the pocket of a jacket. They do not leak when airplane cabins pressurize. My hands stay clean and lack the telltale mark of ink on my middle finger that fountain pen travel usually engenders.

They write just fine.

Pilot V Pen (Varsity) Disposable Fountain Pens, Black Ink, Small Point Value Set of 5 via Amazon Read the rest

The classic BIC 4 color pen

Not particularly wonderful to write with, but awesome none-the-less, I had to have a BIC 4 color pen. Read the rest

Long Island officials to 'crack down' on crack pipe vending machines

Three vending machines dispensing crack pipes for $2 each were discovered roadside in Long Island. The machines were marked "PENS" and did indeed contain pens, well, ballpoint pens that had been turned into crack pipes. Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine tested the machine by inserting the required eight quarters and later remarked, "We're going to crack down on this."

ABC7NY:

Suffolk County police will decide if the machines warrant criminal charges.

"To sell a pipe is not illegal, but this is considered drug paraphernalia," Town Councilman Michael Loguercio said. "And it also is being dispensed from a machine that was installed illegally per town code."

Now, in the video, they report that the machines formerly dispensed tampons but I think they're wrong. Pen dispensing machines exist and look just like the ones found.

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Maruman Mnemosyne remains my favorite note paper

For note taking with a fountain pen, which I do, there is no better paper than Maruman Mnemosyne.

While there is a lot of variety in ink, and I like to swap between several colors and pens, Maruman Mnemosyne is the most reliable paper I've found to write upon with my fountain pens. It takes a lot of ink to bleed through, doesn't feather very much, and allows my nibs to glide over the paper.

I like quad-ruled paper, as well. Makes it easier for me to sketch things, or to organize the page. College-ruled paper annoys me.

Mnemosyne was the Greek goddess of memory and gave birth to the muses. "Nemo" is right there in the middle. He's my dog.

Maruman Mnemosyne Inspiration 5 mm Grid 6.3 x 8.3" via Amazon Read the rest

The EPA paid $1,560 for 12 fountain pens

Last year, one of EPA administrator Scott Pruitt's aides ordered a dozen $130 fountain pens paid for with taxpayer money, according to new documents that the Sierra Club retrieved through a Freedom of Information Act request. The pens were emblazoned with the EPA seal and Pruitt's signature. From CNN:

The order from the Washington shop Tiny Jewel Box also included a set of journals that cost $1,670.

An agency spokesman did not respond to a request for comment from CNN. But spokesman Jahan Wilcox told The Washington Post, which first reported the pen purchase, they were similar to purchases made by Pruitt's predecessors "for the purpose of serving as gifts to the Administrator's foreign counterparts and dignitaries upon his meeting with them."

The purchase stands out not only for the cost but also because it was approved by a close aide who Pruitt described in congressional testimony last month as "longtime friend."

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The best white pen is the Uniball Signo Broad

I tried a bunch of pens that promised an opaque fine white line on dark paper, and the only one that had an acceptable result was the Uniball Signo Broad. It was in a class of its own, superior even to markers (too chalky) and gloopy paint pens (hardly even work.)

I tried equivalent models from Sharpie (the water-based marker is too thick, and the metal-tube pen just doesn't flow well), Pentel (not remotely opaque), and Sakura (fine in a pinch.)

It wasn't perfect, though, and you'll have to write with more care than normal gel pens. In particular, the pigment dries fast on the ballpoint -- even as you write -- which can result in smudgy or lost corners or thin parallel tracks instead of the expected bold line.

I tried using it as white-out, too. It did OK over Pigma ink (not pictured), but was pretty rough over Higgins ink (below). Reinking over it with Pigma and Tombow pens was fine, but Higgins required a extremely light touch with a Hunt #102 nib.

UPDATE: My results comport with those of others! Here's Jetpens with a more exhaustive and illustrative roundup that nonetheless confirms that the Uniball Signo Broad is the best.

And here's a another roundup from Rachelle at Tinker Lab, which serves as an important reminder that craft store own-brand stuff is particularly terrible and that the best white pen is, you guessed it, sound the guns, stop the presses... the Uniball Signo Broad.

So, just get the Uniball Signo Broad [Amazon link]

P.S. Read the rest

Bic Cristal Xtra Bold is the best cheap pen

I've always hated Bic's cheap Cristal ballpoint pens as much as I've wanted to love them. An iconic example of 20th-century design genius, they are unreliable, ubiquitous, and produce a nasty debossed line even when they work. But look, everyone: they fixed it. Read the rest

7-pack of erasable, multi-colored gel ink pens

Somehow having a 10-year-old around makes pens evaporate! These erasable gel ink pens are favorites.

We seem to lose a lot of pens. These fine point Pilot gel pens have become the ones to order for replacement. The ink really does erase, even after a trip through the washing machine. Very cool for anyone who folks who make mistakes.

Trust me, mistakes are made.

Pilot FriXion Clicker Retractable Erasable Gel Pens, Fine Point, Assorted Color Inks, 7-Pack (31472) via Amazon Read the rest

A lovely leather pencil roll

Organize your pens and pencils rather than poke holes in your pockets! Read the rest

I made my own ink for the apocalypse

Meg Elison is a high school dropout and a graduate of UC Berkeley. Her debut novel, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, won the 2014 Philip K. Dick Award. Its companion, The Book of Etta, is now available. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and writes like she’s running out of time.

As an author of apocalyptic fiction, I get letters from all over the globe from people who are more prepared for the end of the world than the average individual. Many of them focus on the more popular aspects of prepping: growing and/or storing food, conserving water and even building their own cisterns, and weapons training and storage to be ready for the worst. When I first started writing in this subgenre, I thought about my own odds of survival in the worst sort of worlds. Nobody really survives nuclear war, so I didn’t build a bomb shelter. I’m not the fastest of my friends, so I hope to provide means of escape for them by being tasty zombie food. But those slow apocalypses allow for me to examine what my own role might be in another kind of world. The question is: would writers still write? Could I, if I had the time?

In my second book, it’s been a century since Bic and Parker and Pilot shut down. There are no new pens and ink isn’t as simple as one might think. In most cases, it’s a complicated combination of pigments, fixatives, and preservatives. Read the rest

Prison pen is bendy, "non-lethal"

The Flexi-Pen is the writing utensil of choice in prisons because it can't be used to shiv someone. I bet it's fun to fidget with too. Amazon sells a five pack for $13.

The Flexi-Pen is made with a soft rubbery material that bends under the slightest pressure, making it nearly impossible to do lethal damage with it. It's as close to a stab-resistant, non-lethal weapon you can get, while still providing the subject with a workable ballpoint pen to write with.

It's ideal for use in interview rooms, holding cells, and in any prison or jail environment. You go to great lengths to confiscate any potential weapon when taking a prisoner into custody, so why would you want to hand him one afterward?

5pk Prison Pen Flexible Ball Point Writing Pen Tool - Non Lethal (Amazon) Read the rest

Doane Paper: Grids + Lines for note taking with a fountain pen

Doane Paper makes wonderful pocket-sized notebooks with paper that is fantastically compatible with fountain pens.

I absolutely love my Maruman Mnemosyne notebooks, but they are big and rigid. These 5"x7" Doane Paper pads have similarly awesome paper, and fit in casual clothes pockets, if you need small they also make 3"x5".

The paper is slightly off-white and is quadruled with a light blue. My Levenger, Pilot and Parker's all glide over the paper very smoothly, tho the Pilot Vanishing point definetly shows its "travel-ness" when compared to the Duo-fold. Ink gets absorbed quickly and only slightly bleeds through unless I write with a heavy hand. I tried various Noodlers and Parker Quink black. Noodler's Blue Nose Bear is almost the same color as the grid lines.

Doane Paper Large Utility Edition, 3-Pack Grid + Lines Memo Notebooks via Amazon Read the rest

This beautiful rocket-shaped fountain pen is just $20,000

Swiss "writing instrument" manufacturer Caran d'Ache and watchmaker MB&F collaborated to create the Astrograph fountain pen, an otherworldly pen with the astronomical price of $20,000. There will only be 99 of them produced and each includes a small, magnetic astronaut. Do not chew the cap.

This writing instrument is fitted with an ink pump, but may also be used with cartridges. The pen nib is made from rhodium-plated 18-carat gold, available in size M...

The rocket-shaped pen body is rhodium-plated and either highly polished or sandblasted matt, or plated in ruthenium anthracite. The chequered pattern is made from anthracite lacquer...

The base of the "engine" is plated with ruthenium. The stabiliser legs, the joints and miniature ladder are polished, sandblasted, satin-finished and rhodium-plated.

The Astrograph (via Uncrate)

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Inexpensive calligraphy pen

This Pilot Parallel Pen ($(removed)) comes with two ink cartridges (red and blue), but you can a box of 12 cartridges with different colors of ink for $(removed)

Here are some videos of talented people using this pen:

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Giant Sharpie pen

When a regular Sharpie line is too thin, get a Sharpie King Size. When the King Size won't do, get a Sharpie Magnum. I bought a red and a black Magnum for a card trick deck (they also come in blue). It has a chisel point, and its easy to get three line widths with it. If you're an Amazon prime member, you can get one for $(removed)

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