I recently came across an amazing multi-color pen that reinvigorated my enjoyment for keeping score at baseball games. With Spring Training starting this week in Arizona, you might get a kick out of this as well.
The pen is called a FriXion 4 color from Pilot. What makes the pen so great, is that it features the Frixion erasable ink from Pilot. This means, you can keep score in ink and not worry about making mistakes.
Personally I enjoy scoring plays in black, outs in red (as well as errors), and player changes in blue. RBI’s, and outstanding plays earn green ‘!’s or ‘*’s. The 0.5mm gel ball tip writes smooth, and for the most part the ink rarely binds or runs dry. The fine tip makes it easy to make small annotations in score keeper boxes.
How does it work?
The ink is like a bit of science magic. When you heat the paper – say with friction, over 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the pigment molecule switches places with a transparent molecule and voila! It appears at though the ink has been erased. However, in reality the “ink” is still on the paper. In fact, if you freeze it, it will come back. However, I put the 140 there for a reason. In most parts of the world this is rarely a problem. In Phoenix however… 140 is easily attained in the summer in a closed car. So you could see all your hardwork quite literally vanish before your eyes. So don’t put your pen or scorebook anywhere you wouldn’t put your dog.
This week I have been listening to the excellent book “The Soul of Money,” By Lynne Twist. A friend of mine recently circulated an article that appeared on business insider. where the author has yet to meet a “rich person”. Everyone he met, no matter how wealthy in appearance, always had a tale of frustration and woe. No one it seems, feels rich.
Mrs. Twists book goes right at that concept and it dove tails nicely with Daring Greatly. It turns out in a culture driven by a Scarcity Mentality, few Dare to live greatly because there is never “enough”. I love books that challenge the status quo and make us reconsider the unquestioned answer.
Peter Thiel of PayPal fame and author of Zero to One, is noted for asking, “What one truth do you believe that very few other people believe?” This book is one of those truth. I first learned about it from Verne Harnish but it keeps popping up over and over again.
It’s worth a read.
My Pen This Week
These week I was fond of my Delta Skeleton Stub. This pen is a piston filler with an impossibly smooth nib. It is bold and writes great with Iroshizuku Ku-jaku Ink. You want to be careful because it does lay down a LOT of ink, but that’s partly what makes it fun. They pen is hefty with a steel exoskeleton over the signature orange celluloid. I picked up in New York at the Fountain Pen Hospital and it has been one of my favorites ever since.
The piston filler has a novel ratchet mechanism which keeps you from over tightening the screw. All in all it is a great pen, but not a cheap one. It took me a long time to pony up for Delta and my only regret is that I did not do it sooner.
If you love fountain pens the way I do, then you love to use them. In todays electronic society normal opportunities to write are scarce to say the lease. Everything is a pin code, keyboard, or touch screen interaction away. Rarely does a chance to put pen to paper exist and often times those occur when someone hands you a cheap bic and a receipt to sign.
What makes a quality notebook for the fountain pen user?
But what makes a good journal? There are a few things (independent of price) that make for a good notebook. Mr. Rohn said he was fond of buying expensive journals because they reflected the value of the ideas he captured there. For me personally, once you buy a $100 pen, and fill it from a $25 bottle of ink, the cost of the notebook is not all that important. The writing experience is important.
So what makes a good journal?
Here are my criteria – aside from side, shape, and page behavior. What I mean by page behavior is how the pages behave when the notebook is open. Some notebooks are quite stiff and the pages like to stand up and get in your way when you are writing. That is realitively easy to figure out in a store whether or not a notebook will behave well. However, how will it hold the ink?
The pages hold fountain pen ink well, in my opinion are pages that do not bleed through and do not feather. What is bleed through and feather? Read on.
Bleed through is when ink on one side of the paper bleeds through the page and is visible on the other side, discoloring or detracting from the writing that appears there. This happens when the paper is too thin, or is fabricated in a such a way that the ink finds a path through the threads to the other side. Paper thickness is not always a good guarantee of non-bleeding paper.
Until recently my go to notebooks were the moleskin line of note books available virtually everywhere. In the last year however, they have noticeably degraded their paper quality. Here are two examples of moleskin notebooks bleeding through:
High quality notebook paper does not let the ink bleed through.
Had I written using a ball point pen, this problem would never occur. With a fountain pen however, this is a problem. High quality pens are often free flowing with ink.
The second problem that you can encounter with “cheap” (and sometimes not so cheap) notebooks is the notion of feathering. Depending upon the length of the fibre in the paper. Again, with thick gel, or ballpoint inks this is not a problem. With a more fluid ink like a fountain pen, this can be a big pain. Feathering occurs when the ink follows a thread in the paper and spreads out.
What makes a quality notebook for the fountain pen user? A notebook with short fibers. You want the ink to lay on the page in sharp crisp lines.
The letters of each word splay out with small strands making them look “fuzzy”.
You can see in the above photo, taken from an Italian made notebook what feathering looks like. Despite the leather cover, gilded page edges, and thick paper, this notebook suffered from “feathering” due to the long fiber length in the paper itself. I still enjoyed the notebook, but not as much as others where the lines remain crisp and solid.
So where can you find a quality notebook?
Unfortunately they change often. For a very long time, as I said moleskin was extremely reliable. However, recently it would appear that they have wondered away from the quality product they used to make and are delivering a lower quality product at a premium price.
Surprisingly, some of the better values can be found in the store brand notebooks, such as the Barnes and Noble journals and I have been very impressed with Rhodia brand notebooks:
Exaclair also makes outstanding notebooks.
And while it is quite expensive, the best notebook I have found in recent years is the Zequence 360 Notebook.
While this is quite expensive ($38), it is a fantastic notebook that has the unusual ability to wrap around itself. The flexible cover and lay flat pages make this probably the best notebook I have used for a long time. What’s more it comes a high page count so it will last for a long time.
One final bonus. If you are looking for a cheap, almost throw away notebook, something for say writing the draft of a story, you might consider the Staples brand composition notebooks. I have been stunned as the quality of the paper for such an inexpensive notebook. They are smooth, polished, don’t bleed through and they hold the ink well in crisp sharp lines. I highly recommend these for drafts, and well, if you don’t care much about the look then they also make a great journal.
I hope that helps you find a notebook you love, and perhaps one of my recommendations will benefit you.
If you’re going to have a nice pen, you probably want nice paper to write on.
I bought an ONLINE Germany Fountain pen while I was in Perth. I had never heard of ONLINE German Pens before, and I certainly had never seen them in the US. The pen was a brilliant blue and was part of the Vision line of pens. I was pretty excited when I found it on sale for $50 (About $45 US). The pen wrote surprisingly well. It uses an international (Waterman) cartridge.
The Germans are famous for making good nibs. I think only the Japanese surpass them today. The pen wrote extremely well and the cap posts well on the body. It was designed for that. The pen had a good length, was light, easy to hold and the ink flowed very well.
In fact, it had only one difficulty. The cap does not like to stay on when closed. Something about the tolerance with the plastic body. It’s a real shame because aside from that this would be a fantastic pen at a pretty reasonable price.
Despite the trouble with the cap, I wrote the pen out (completing a full cartridge of ink). It rarely skipped, and started flawlessly every time I picked it up. The ink flow was nice and smooth, and despite being a medium it wrote more toward what I consider a fine nib to be. All in all the ONLINE German Fountain Pen was a nice pen for the money, but finding it in the US is a bit tricky.
Where to find one?
GoldSpot.com which turned up in a google search carries a wide range of ONLINE German Fountain Pens. I bought mine at T. Sharp & Company in Perth. As nice as the ONLINE wrote, the problem with the cap will keep it from getting into my everyday rotation.