Recently in Cheap Pens Category

March 31, 2005

Mike Rohde likes pens, too

Mike Rohde is a self confessed pen freak. His tastes are a little different than mine now - he sings the praises of Flair pens. Flairs are porous point, and I used to like them somewhat - but in general they are too light weight for my tastes.

As useful as Mike's post are all the comments he's attracted. Lots of fans of the Namiki Vanishing Point.

March 21, 2005

Mark Shea reviews cheap pens

Back a couple of years I noted that I have a thing for cheap pens.

Mike Shea has posted a review of various cheap rollerball and fountain pens, which I found via this article in Journalisimo, which lead me another article about notebooks and pens.

Mike used to favor Pilot G2s, but now favors the Sakura Gelly Roll, which I'm not familiar with. But I'm guesing from the look and description of the Sakura that I'd find it too lightweight. In general, I don't generally like roller balls - my somewhat odd handwriting style tends to smear gel ink.

Lately, my two favorite pens are the Pentel Ergonomix ballpoint and the Roting Skynn ballpoint. As cheap pens go, they're on the higher priced side: the Pentel is around $8, the Roting around $15. And both are ballpoints, which don't smear as much, and suit my writing style better. What most people notice is that they're both thicker and heavier than most pens. I like a pen to have some heft, and the thickness just helps me write a little neater. (That's probably a lie; nothing really helps my writing. But I like the feel of these two.)

May 12, 2003

Correction to my cheap pens story

More proof that everyone remembers more than I do. We had dinner with Kurt and Kathleen Eiselt over the weekend. I asked Kurt about his story about my strange notetaking habits. As it turns out, I apparently got the story all wrong.

He hadn't noticed me taking notes in class; it was my homework that caught his eye. And apparently what he noticed was my strange, randomly-colored TTL logic diagrams. He'd being going along, grading page after page of monocromatic logic diagrams, and here would come my work. It was done with done with one of those old Bic 4 color pens; he recognized them from his days at Disneyland, where he used to sell them. He spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how I decided which color to use for different parts of the diagram, and finally decided it was random.

I was apparently quite amusing to him and the other TAs. When one of my assignments would end up in a pile for someone else, Kurt would grab it.

Listening to him tell the story, I tried to claim that my choices weren't random: I was simply providing examples of the four-color theorem. He didn't buy it.

Oh, well. I'm a software guy, not a hardware guy.

May 8, 2003

Cheap pens

At 42, I'm old enough to remember a time when Big Box office supply stores didn't exist. I can still remember going into the local stationary store (as office supply stores used to be called) in San Leandro, CA, and just reveling in all the supplies.

If you like office supplies, one of the great pleasures is go in, find the pen aisle, and try out new pens. Places like Office {Depot|Max} aren't much good for this; they seem to stock pens without much flair or interest. Smaller stores are better for trying to find what's new in good in the world of cheap pens.

In Atlanta, the best place I've found for pens is Artlite. I first discovered them when I was considering buying a fountain pen, but it turns out they have a great selection of all kinds of cheap pens and pencils. $15 will get you a nice selection of low end writing instruments. ($15 won't even get you a clip on a nice fountain pen.) I'd tell you which ones I like, but that would mean I'd have to find them .. and as much as I like pens and pencils, they like to run and hide when I come near.

Along these lines, Mark Pilgrim came across a series of commentaries from Phil Agre about cheap pens. (link to Mark's article with the pointer). The commentaries are a few years old - ranging from late '97 to late '00 - but still interesting.

Our old friend Kurt Eiselt tells a story about me that involves pens. Kurt was in the computer science program at UC Irvine at the same time as me. I didn't know Kurt at the time, but he was the TA for a computer hardware class I was taking. At some point, he noticed that I came to class armed with an engineering notepad and a rainbow of Pilot Razorpoints: black, blue, red, purple, and green. Kurt noticed that I would periodically switch colors as I was taking notes. Growing curious, he spent considerable time trying to discern what my scheme was for choosing which color to use next.

Eventually, he concluded that I had no scheme. It was random. I switched colors for emphasis, and I picked colors based on the whim of the moment.

5/12/03 - I checked this story with Kurt, and I got the story all wrong.

One more pen story. A few years later, I was in a seminar that had something to do with AI and modeling knowledge about the world. I wasn't that interested in the subject, buy my girlfriend was; she was a Psych/Linguistics major, and she asked me to sit in with her. One day during the seminary, the professor walked over to my desk, picked up the purple Razorpoint and walked off with it. After a minute he returned it to me, and asked "Why didn't Paul protest when I took his pen? It's because of my special role as professor. No one else in the room could take Paul's pen without him protesting." At this, my girlfriend reached over and grabbed the pen. The professor grinned and bowed slightly.

We were married in 1981. She still takes my pens.