Mini Review: Five Star Dry Erase Pocket

14 09 2014
Behold the majesty of the door of my work locker. The inside is a beauty of Tetris-like kitchen implement organization

Behold the majesty of the door of my work locker. The inside is a beauty of Tetris-like kitchen implement organization

At work, my half-size locker is packed full of various pots, pans, and assorted kitchen essentials so that I can fully utilize the breakroom stove/oven at lunch time. Because these half lockers are so small, and because a proper complement of kitchen cookware involves several items, it’s imperative that I organize my locker as efficiently as possible, while still having easy access to the things I need (thus the magnetic spice canisters above). Today, I want to give a shout out to that white oval thing in the middle, the Five Star Dry Erase Pocket. Previously I had one of those approximately rectangular mesh boxes holding my bacon tongs, serrated kitchen knife, straight edge kitchen knife, tiny whisk, pan scraper, vegetable peeler, and fork; it was a bit much for the two magnet strips on the back of the mesh basket. It frequently fell off the locker door, usually as loudly as possible, often taking down the green mesh tray below with it, sending my kitcheny goods everywhere. I saw the Five Star Dry Erase Pocket on sale for ~50% off at Target, and decided to give it a go. WOW. The entire back of the unit is a magnet. This thing is on the door and it isn’t going anywhere. I need to go back to Target and get another one for my fridge at home, because it’s that good.

 

Five Star Dry Erase Pocket (look around at the clearance sections of box stores and you might be able to find it cheaper, as I did at Target!)





Parker Duofold Historical Colors White Ivorine International Medium Point Fountain Pen

6 09 2014
A pen so fine deserves two of my most favorite inks, the Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa and Noodler's Apache Sunset

A pen so fine deserves two of my most favorite inks, the Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa and Noodler’s Apache Sunset

Some pens are just so terribly lovely that they make you want to cry. Even in a little cellphone picture on Twitter I could tell this was one of those pens. I tweeted the Goldspot Pens people, and they were kind enough to let me borrow this pen for a test drive.

It comes in a box, which I would rate as acceptable. The inside of the box is nicer than the outside of the box. The entirety of the box is not as nice as a top hat.

It comes in a box, which I would rate as acceptable. The inside of the box is nicer than the outside of the box. The entirety of the box is not as nice as a top hat.

I opted to give the White Ivorine a try, and it looks phenomenal with the gold plated accents. I may have said this about other pens, but this pen truly makes me wish I had a billiard room. If I had the time I’d take it up to the Biltmore Estate and demand they let me do a photo shoot.

Everything is magically comfortable

How many shades can I make White Ivorine appear to be? All of them, apparently.

One thing words and pictures can’t quite convey is how luxurious the resin feels. You pick up the pen and it’s the first thing you notice—this is different. This is nice. The grip is comfortably sculpted, the barrel that becomes the threading for the cap has its edge smoothly rounded off. The little details of design all speak of expert handling—as well they should; every Parker Duofold is finished by hand.

Or so the internet tells me. You can always believe the internet

Or so the internet tells me. You can always believe the internet

The cap posts quite high up on the pen. Personally, I like the balance of the pen with the cap unposted, but it’s not too terribly back-weighted that I couldn’t write with it posted. The Duofold logo on the top is wonderful—can I get a Duofold signet ring so I can stamp this pattern in wax? Possibly on everything from there on out?

Check your mouth. It may be hanging open, leaking drool. This is perfectly normal

Check your mouth. It may be hanging open, leaking drool. This is perfectly normal

I almost want to stare at this nib more than I want to write with it. It’s satisfying, but rather firm for a gold nib (a deliberate condition, just something I wasn’t aware of going into it). I’m not trying to downplay how it writes, because it does a good job with excellent flow, but it’s not the kind of life-changing experience that convinces you to have a first-born just so you can give it up in exchange for the chance to write with this nib. It’s good, but it’s not that good. I imagine, however, that the more you write with it, the better it will get. I’d be willing to write a mile of words with this Duofold. The feel in my hand leaves no room for complaints.

A scale of creamy-color reference. White Ivorine, Pelikan Creamweiss, and Pilot Vanishing Point White.

A scale of creamy-color reference. White Ivorine, Pelikan Creamweiss, and Pilot Vanishing Point White.

If you’re the kind of person who has Benjamins to throw down, this Parker Duofold will not disappoint. For the rest of us, now is a good a time as any to start a dollar-a-day Duofold savings fund.

 

Thanks again to Goldspot Pens for letting me try this pen!

Parker Duofold Historical Colors White Ivorine International Medium Point Fountain Pen at Goldspot Pens





Ink Drop Soup: Yoropen, Back Again!

27 08 2014

Remember the Yoropen?

This pen probably has more in common with some species of tropical, exotic bird than it does with other pens

It took about 8 minutes of scrolling back through my media library to find this

I mentioned when I reviewed it that there was a metal version. Little did I realize at the time that Yoropens had been pretty much discontinued since about 2008/2009, operations shut down…but they are back, and trying to get started up again through Kickstarter.

Image from the Yoropens Z3 Kickstarter

Image from the Yoropens Z3 Kickstarter

The Z3 is an updated version of the old metal Yoropen (the Z2) in a big way: instead of requiring only special, odd, proprietary ink cartridges, the inside has been redesigned to be able to accommodate generic refills after they’ve been bent appropriately by an included mold.

Image

Image from the Yoropens Kickstarter

I’m excited to see the new Yoropen Z3 in action, and Yoropen has reached out to me to send me one to try once it’s ready; keep your eyes open for a review in the future. In the meantime, the Kickstarter is live if you’re looking for a different pen from a company with previous success that’s trying to get back in the game.

Yoropen Z3 on Kickstarter





Pilot Dr. Grip Full Black Dual Layer Grip Shaker Mechanical Pencil – 0.5 mm – Blue Accents

8 08 2014
The more I think about it, the more I think that once upon a time I had a Dr. Grip mechanical pencil, not a pen when I was young

The more I think about it, the more I think that once upon a time I had a Dr. Grip mechanical pencil, not a pen when I was young

Let me just say that I almost nearly did a complete review of this pencil before realizing it was a shaker model. I was this close to making a complete fool of myself! And had I not written this, you would never have known!

Shaken, not stirred. Shake and bake and you'll end up with a mess of plastic and no one will help. Shake it like a Polaroid picture, only not like that you're not supposed to shake Polaroid pictures WHAT ARE YOU DOING

Shaken, not stirred. Shake and bake and you’ll end up with a mess of plastic and no one will help. Shake it like a Polaroid picture, only not like that at all you’re not supposed to shake Polaroid pictures WHAT ARE YOU DOING

The Dr. Grip Full Black mechanical pencil is every bit as attractive and its grip every bit as dust-collecting as its pen counterpart. The grip itself is more firm than the Uni Alpha Gel grip or the Pentel Selfit grip, while still possessing a little squish. The little weight of the shaker mechanism gives good balance to the pencil, but does bounce and make a noise if you lift your hand quickly. But maybe with enough practice I could work that to my advantage and shakerize to advance my lead as needed as I finish a line of text.

Look at that eraser, it's got a plastic rather than metal ferrule on it....my feelings on this are conflicted

Look at that eraser, it’s got a plastic rather than metal ferrule on it….my feelings on this are conflicted

Personally I find the shaker mechanism fun but a bit unnatural, so I don’t quite know how to evaluate them. What makes a good shaker mechanism? Do they make Dr. Grip pencil commercials of kids shaking these pencils around to a fresh beat until little sticks of lead go flying everywhere? MYSTERIES ABOUND. The shaker works, that’s all I can say, and I doubt it will ever be my go-to default way of advancing lead. But it’s good to know if I get my pencil glued to my hand and my other hand is lost in an unspecified tragedy, I can advance the lead without needing to be able to press the knock. The lead stays securely in place, and the eraser is your typical negligible little thing, its stark whiteness hidden away beneath a matte-black soon-to-be-lost cap.

This picture brought to you by subterfuge, chew toys, and lucky timing because a Malinois is pretty much never still

This picture brought to you by subterfuge, chew toys, and lucky timing because a Malinois is pretty much never still

Thanks to JetPens for providing this sample to review!

 

Pilot Dr. Grip Full Black Dual Layer Grip Shaker Mechanical Pencil – 0.5 mm – Blue Accents at JetPens





Ink Drop Soup: The Raleigh Pen Show

7 08 2014

Another great pen show was had! It only took me, uh, about a couple months to remember to write about it? Even though I was only able to make it for Friday and Saturday, I saw lots of cool pens, talked to lots of cool people, and tried very hard not to be the totally sleep-deprived zombie that I was. And there was chocolate!

Fancy chocolate. In strange, delicious flavors

Fancy chocolate. In strange, delicious flavors

And of course, I scored some goods.

SWAAAAAAAAAG

SWAAAAAAAAAG

A Delta Unica (which I kept calling a Delta Unicode, because I didn’t know what it was, I just let the Andersons sell it to me), J. Herbin Rollerball, 360° journal, and a Kaweco mini converter (not pictured) all from the Andersons, a little Golden Queen button-filler from Pendleton, a Hero 360 from Martin, and an Arabic/Hebrew italic nib grind from Richard Binder. Most amazingly of all, I stayed within budget. Well, within five dollars of budget. I think that’s close enough to count.

What's that? You'd like to see a random picture of my dog? Ok, here you go

What’s that? You’d like to see a random picture of my dog and her giant teeth? Ok, here you go

Hopefully next time I’ll be a little less debilitatingly sleep-deprived. Or I’ll give in and drink three coffees at a time instead of just two. As the barista pointed out, they have 4-cup trays.





Parker Vector Navy Body Fountain Pen

22 07 2014
I can't wait to get a good solid grasp of stylized drawing of my dog. I'm guessing it will look like a bunch of triangles trying to bite everything and projectile vomiting water

I can’t wait to get a good solid grasp of stylized drawing of my dog. I’m guessing it will look like a bunch of triangles trying to bite everything and projectile vomiting water

A recent ramble into my local pen store revealed that Alan had gotten his hands on some new-old stock of Parker Vector fountain pens. I wasn’t necessarily intending to buy another fountain pen, but how could I resist a good deal?

The answer is I can't resist. I think I may be in the grasp of the pen mafia.

The answer is I can’t resist. I think I may be in the grasp of the pen mafia.

By the packaging design, I was going to guess late 80s, but the markings on the cap indicate that this Parker hails from 1993. The barrel is plastic with metal accents—the grip, the bit you post the cap on, and the clip.

Do you make a Hawkeye joke, or a Green Arrow joke? NEITHER, because this pen is navy. Except on a cloudy day, when it apparently turns photogenically black.

Do you make a Hawkeye joke, or a Green Arrow joke? NEITHER, because this pen is navy. Except on a cloudy day, when it apparently turns photogenically black.

The plastic Vector is a thin, simple, everyday pen that nevertheless sneaks in some pleasing repeat design elements. I see it and I think “school pen.” There’s even a spot on top that’s got to be for either writing your initial on or for being perplexingly distracting from the dark navy/silver motif.

"F" for the grade you'd better not make when using this pen

“F,” for the grade you’d better not make when using this pen

I can’t help setting my expectations low when a fountain pen clocks in around $15, but in this case it wasn’t needed—the nib is nice! There’s definitely a sweet spot to it, moreso than some other pens I’ve picked up lately, but it’s got a wonderful tactile flow on that sweet spot. No skipping, no hard starts. That kind of reliability is exactly what you need in a school pen. The only major downside: proprietary cartridges. But these cartridges are huge! How washable is this washable blue ink? I think that will be an experiment for another day.

Man, I wish I had affiliated links of some sort. I spend enough money on Amazon Prime, they ought to throw me some kickbacks. Instead, I fuel my pen addiction with mindbending amounts of voluntary overtime. Hooray!

Man, I wish I had affiliated links of some sort. I spend enough money on Amazon Prime, they ought to throw me some kickbacks. Instead, I fuel my pen addiction with mindbending amounts of voluntary overtime. Hooray!

If the Parker Vector they put out today is as good as the Made-in-the-USA model they put out in 1993, then it’s a pen worth getting. If you live anywhere near Office Supplies & More, see if Alan has any of these left. If not, you can gamble with what’s on Amazon.

 





Tombow Zoom 505 Mechanical Pencil – 0.5 mm – Brown

27 06 2014
It has been requested that my new giant puppy dog make guest appearances much as my cat does, but she's currently too deeply embedded in the CHEW EVERY SINGLE THING stage to be trusted around fine writing utensils

It has been requested that my new giant puppy dog make guest appearances much as my cat does, but she’s currently too deeply embedded in the CHEW ALL THE THINGS stage to be trusted around fine writing utensils

This pencil was the very first item I put on my JetPens wishlist nearly four years ago, when the madness was just beginning to take hold, back when more than ten dollars for any one item seemed exorbitant, luxuries beyond the comprehension of my budget. Onto the wishlist this went, a maybe-one-day dream, until to my surprise I opened the bubble mailer to see that JetPens had sent me this sample to review. Inside the clip, I see the year stamped “2006.” I think I’ll consider this both a birthday (June 24th) and belated high school graduation gift (2006). Thank you JetPens for providing this sample!

Does this remind you of a robot cigar? A high-class fancy party robot cigar?

Does this remind you of a robot cigar? A high-class fancy party robot cigar?

The body is shiny aluminum, specially treated (so I’m hoping it will prove durable). The accent is rubber, like the grip. The whole thing looks fantastically executive, in spite of being a magnet for fingerprints and little debris specks.

Subtle "0.5" label in raised lettering, excellent choice

Subtle “0.5” label in raised lettering, excellent choice

Guess what happens when you post the cap? As you push down and it snaps into place…THE LEAD ADVANCES. Either right now you’re hearing a choir of dragonfly angels singing joyful hallelujahs, or you’re thinking, “DUH, why would it not?” Hypothetical second person, it only takes one pencil in your life where that’s not the case to turn such an intuitively expected bit of design into a delightful surprise.

It looks like it's got more ridges than a ruffled potato chip, but somehow still manages to be both comfortable and not covered in salt

It looks like it’s got more ridges than a ruffled potato chip, but somehow still manages to be both comfortable and not covered in salt

If you grip low (like on the nose cone), then this design won’t suit you, but for me the grip falls right in a goldilocks zone of comfort. The rubber has just the right amount of contour, and the material is neither too smooth nor too tacky. The pencil itself has a well-balanced heft to it, with or without the cap posted. Feels like I should be penciling in some significant or substantial things.

Book me to fill out your corner-office day planner today! Starting at a zillion dollars.

Book me to fill out your corner-office day planner today! Starting at a zillion dollars.

Technically, there’s an eraser. Practically, I would save it for only the most dire of erasing emergencies. If lives are somehow on the line, and erasing is the only thing standing between you and certain death. The eraser is the lead stopper; to get to it, you have to unscrew the grip from the body. Remember this when the time comes.

It was foretold at the hour of your birth that one day you would save the world with a tiny eraser. Probably.

It was foretold at the hour of your birth that one day you would save the world with a tiny eraser. Probably.

It’s lead! What more can you say? The sleeve holds the lead securely, and the cap keeps the whole stabby lead situation from escalating into puncture wounds if you’re reaching in somewhere blindly to retrieve this pencil.

Just needs a fancy matching easy-use eraser

Just needs a fancy matching easy-use eraser

The Tombow Zoom is a simultaneously shiny and classy mechanical pencil that seems to hit just about all the right notes. Thanks again to JetPens for providing this sample!

Tombow Zoom 505 Mechanical Pencil – 0.5 mm – Brown at JetPens

Tombow Zoom 505 Mechanical Pencil – 0.5mm – all models at JetPens








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