Saturday, December 23, 2023

Great decor idea pencil and some artificial flowers

This was quite a nice surprise, to see that a restaurant has opted for pencil sets to create great looking decor. Some pencils, some artificial flowers/feathers, bright colors and you are done.

I realize that it might involve some elbow grease DYI. But a glue gun or some other kind of glue would help to do such decor in no time,it does look very good, simple and fresh.

It was a even nicer surprise as I ended up randomly at this restaurant after a great day road trip.
Very dramatic scene close to the mountains having their peaks covered with snow while the city is covered in fog and drama.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Bic mechanical pencil in TV Series Gen V

 As I enjoyed the unique approach and presentation of superhero movies in "The Boys" I started watching the Gen V spin-off while waiting for a new The Boys season.

It didn't take long for a Bic mechanical pencil to makes it's way in the hands of a super hero in the becoming.

It is not the first time a super hero chose a Bic, check out Thor

Friday, August 18, 2023

Celebrating a Decade, Paper and Digital Turns 10!

The story of the blog started 10 years ago, when I decided to share with the world my passion for pens and pencils, a journey not just to celebrate their charm and allure but to immerse myself in the world of analog tools in a time overrun by digital. I started the blog with a few ideas and with the hopes that it will be mildly interesting for others with similar interest as mine. 

Besides pens and pencils I do have other hobbies, like erasers for example 😊. Once in a while my other hobbies peak in the posts of the blog, but I try keeping them to a minimum as I don't want to divert too much from the main topic.

I haven't started the blog with a goal. Perhaps this was not the most productive way, and certainly not the best way to reach more readers. But by doing things at my own speed and without too many sacrifices has helped me to keep the passion vivid and made me share my experiences for this long.

Even though I didn't start the journey with much hope the results in the first years were even less than expected. There were one or two hundred visits per month in the first three or four years, and this in good months. I asume a part of those numbers were not real readers but some bots doing bot things. After the first grueling years I started seeing some traction, which I guess made me a bit more prolific in posting more regularly in that period. Now after 10 years I roughly get 10k visits per month (in the more recent months, less at the beginning of the year). In the end I try not too focus too much on this metrics. Even though they are a good way to judge the success and analize what people are drawn too, which can help focus more attention on particular subjects I find it too "job" like to analyze, plan, forecast, etc. Also from my observation the randomness factor sometimes is too big. Wild spikes in traffic due to bots, google algorithms or cosmic rays.

A lot of inspiration for starting the blog came from two blogs that I was reading regularly Dave's Mechanical Pencil and Bleistift. In case you don't know them (slim chance) check them out.

And I would sum up the 10 years with a few numbers

Blog Posts so far: 168
Blog Post on average per month: 1.4
Top 3 most prolific years (when it comes to writing): 2018, 2019, 2020
Top 3 average most prolific months: April, July, December
Total words so far: 66.497 words
Total pictures posted: 716 pictures
Total videos posted: 2 videos
Longest blog post: 2442 words
Most pictures in a post: 55 pictures
Average blog post length: 396 words
Average number of photos per post: 4 pictures
Total read time for the entire blog (225 words / min average): 4 hours 55 minutes 32 seconds
Longest blog post read time: 10 minutes 51 seconds
Average blog post read time: 3 minutes 58 seconds

If I would start again what would I do differently? Probably not much. I guess a little more strictness in posting regularly and increasing the content quality would be a good idea. 

Because this is not a resolution I am not going to make promises that will be abandoned sooner rather than later. What can I say is that I will keep doing it as long as it is fun.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Develop skills that are so good, that they can't ignore you

A little while ago I went through the book So Good They Can't Ignore You, and why skills trump passion in the quest for work you love by Cal Newport, and these are the main ideas and the lessons I took from the book:

    The book has a few simple rules that can create a successful work life while enjoying what you do. Besides the rules there will be a lot of examples of how different people used these rules in their lives and how they managed to succeed, also at the end is the authors experience with the rules.

The #1 rule as stated in the book So Good They Can't Ignore You is don't follow your passion. Unpopular opinion in these days. When it seems that everyone thinks that ditching their current job and pursuing their greatest passion will give the bliss. Usually "follow your passion" approach applies to very few individuals, as passion in general is hard to monetize and tricky to do as a job. Less than 4% of people have passions that are related to work or education, while the rest of 96% are describing hobby style interests like sports or arts.

The type of work done does not predict how much people enjoy it. Other attributes are more important. According to Wrzesniewski the happiest, and most passionate employees are those who have enough experience and are good at what they do. A good example here could be people who seem to have the perfect job, like gamers or youtubers, who seem to have the perfect job. After a while finding a subjects for new videos, filming them and editing begins to feel more like a chore and a real job. Same with gamers who have to play for hours daily, stream, increase views etc.

People thrive by focusing on question of who they really are. If you focus only on what you don't like about the work, you are on a path of chronic unhappiness, especially in entry level positions, where the projects you will tackle will not be challenging, with little to no autonomy. Being stuck in a job as a junior might not be fun, but as time passes and you accumulate knowledge that is rares and desirable (people are willing to pay for it) you can climb the ladder, while accumulating "career capital". This way you can get a better job that has more benefits, and more control. This will help you create the work you love.

Where these rules don't apply? In jobs where with few opportunities to distinguish yourself by developing relevant skills, job's that focuses on something useless or even bad for the world, and jobs that forces you to work with people you really dislike.

Start with positions that gives you an inside clear look of how things work and are done. Jobs that are allow you to grow and understand the business from end to end. Getting god at something will mean you have to put in the hours of work, you will have to do deliberate practice and real study (practice that is purposeful and systematic, with problems that are at an appropriate challenge level for allowing you to increase your abilities, with consistency and preferably feedback)

Most people will not go through all of the work needed to become really good. They will put in just sufficient work to reach an acceptable level of abilities and knowledge. Doing things that you know to do will be enjoyable but will not allow you to grow. If you are not uncomfortable (mentally) then probably you are stuck at an "acceptable level". If you want to really love what you do you will have to go the extra mile to outshine the average person.

Once you accumulate enough "career capital", and there is evidence that people are willing to pay for it, you can negotiate for more control in your work life. This will create some conflict with the employer, who will resist you most likely. Because it is not in the company's interest for you to gain more control over your work life, but rather reinvest the career capital back in your career to obtain more money and prestige while producing more for the company. Instead of loosing a good employee most companies will choose to negotiate. For example negotiating for more free time to pursue what you love, cherry pick projects to work on and so on.

The final step in truly loving what you do is finding a mission, an organizing purpose to your work life. Every week expose yourself to new stuff in your field, and keep track of the stuff (read a paper, attend a talk, have a meeting). An effective strategy for making the leap from a tentative mission idea to a compelling accomplishments is to use small projects called little bets. A little bet in the setting of mission exploration has the following characteristics.
     It's a project small enough to e completed in less than a month
    It forces you to create new value (example master a new skill and produce new results that didn't exist before)
     It produces concrete results that allow you to gather feedback

Use these bets to explore new ideas, keep only a couple of bets active at a time so they can receive the needed attention. Also it is a good idea to use deadline to keep the urgency of their completion high. Don't procrastinate on this work by turning your attention on more urgent but less important matters.

When a little bet finishes, use the feedback it generates to guide the research efforts going forward.


Don't obsess over finding your true calling, instead master rare and valuable skills. Once you build up career capital invest it wisely. Use it  to acquire control over what you do and how you do it, identify and act o a life changing mission.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Factis OV 12 eraser review


Trying out another eraser from Factis. This Factis OV 12 is a large oval shape eraser that looks simple and elegant at the same time. The eraser comes with no wrap. The branding and the bar code is written directly on the eraser with a thin black font while the model is a punchy red font. Also a Made in Spain is written just below the model name.

The shape and size sits very comfortably in the hand. And like the other Factis erasers I have tested it is made out of a soft compound. The size of the eraser is about 6.5 cm in length and around 2.5 cm.

But what really counts about an eraser it how well it erases. So I will test the OV 12 against a standard HB lead (rotring). I will test how well it does against standard pressure pencil marks and high pressure pencil marks, one pass of the eraser versus multiple passes.

As you can see the eraser leaves a fair bit of eraser dust behind. It was expected from the fact it is a soft eraser.

Cleaning the dust off the page and I am left with a pretty good result from the Factis eraser. Even in the case of a single pass the pencil marks are almost entirely gone.

I have tested how it fairs against a standard wooden pencil lead. Using multiple strokes the lead is almost completely gone. You can still see some marks just below "test" but it is minor.
In conclusion I can say that this 0.75 $ eraser does a good job. If you are not bothered with the eraser dust you will be pleased with this budget eraser, that is a good performer..

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Most popular office pencil


I went through the pen holders on my colleagues desks, and found that the most popular pencil in the office is ... the Rotring Tikky 3. Four out of seven people, or just a bit over 57% of the people in the office use the Rotring Tikky. Affordable, reliable and available in a multitude of colors, this Rotring is the perfect companion in the office, school or anywhere for that matter.

Starting with my 0.7 mm Light Blue pencil. The color was introduced by Rotring in 2017 (code 2007252 for 0.7 mm and 2007253 for 0.5 mm pencil). It is a pale, almost pastel blue color. To my eyes, it looks a lot like baby blue.

The second pencil is the Rotring Tikky 3 Blue 0.5 mm (code 1904701 for 0.5 mm and 1904508 for 0.7 mm). This shade of blue is much darker and more saturated and vibrant looking. A classic royal blue never gets old.

Third pencil in the lineup is the Tikky 3 Red 0.5 mm (code 1904699 for 0.5 mm and 1904507 for 0.7 mm)

The last one in the bunch is the updated Red 0.7 mm. The updated color was introduced in 2017 (code for the updated version remain the same as for the previous red, 1904699 for 0.5 mm and 1904507 for 0.7 mm). Comparing the updated red to the old red, the new color is a bit brighter and more vibrant. Also, the color of the rubber grip has changed to a darker gray.

The love for 0.5 and 0.7 mm lead is equal, 2 of the pencils being 0.5 mm and the other 2 0.7 mm. The same thing can be said about the colors, half of the pencils being blue and half being red.

Comparing the shades to each other.

All the colors look very nice. It is hard to pick a winner. Both blues are interesting in their own way, and both reds look very nice.

Do you have a favorite color? It doesn't have to be one of these.
More on the Rotring Tikky

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Fountain pen nib sizes, #8 Nib vs #5 Nib

When I reviewed the Jinhao X159 I kept saying how big is a number 8 nib compared to a standard fountain pen nib. Here are a few sample shots comparing the Jinhao X159 with #8 nib and the Jinhao 922 with #5 more standard nib.

Even though the design of the two fountain pens is quite similar, the classic cigar shape, due to the size difference, the feel of the two is quite different.
On the left is the Jinaho X159 and on the right is the Jinhao 992. 

Both nibs are size F, and both write well. The X159 with dual tone nib is dwarfing the 992. The number 8 nib is taller and a lot wider than the number 5.

To accommodate the large nib, the grip section has to be a lot thicker.

Also, the feed is massive

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Jinhao X159 fountain pen review

Jinhao made me very curious with one of its latest fountain pen in the lineup. I had to have the pen just because of its nib. It is a bit unconventional for a basic pen to come with an interesting nib, and on top of that, the Chinese nibs usually have nothing special to them, just the same plane Fine or Extra Fine nibs. This pen is special not because it breaks the XF / F tradition, but because of its size. The pen that caught my eye is the Jinhao X159. The X159 comes with a number #8 nib, which is quite big compared to more conservative sized nibs. A "normal" size for a nib is 5 or 6, so this is 2 numbers bigger. It is not easy to judge the size based on this information but, there is a noticeable difference when you pick the pen up.

So with my eye on the interesting offering from Jinhao it was time to embark with patience, as I ordered the pen off Aliexpress.

Jinhao X159 is a sibling of the older model Jinhao 159. I can't compare the two as I don't have the 159. But the main difference is that the 159 has a regular nib size and a metal body while the X159 is made out of plastic and has a big nib.

I have seen some reviews of the X159 prior to buying it, and in general people focused very much on its appearance, with clickbait titles like: "Montblanc replacement", "Better than a Montblanc??", etc. The pen is a "copy" of the Montblanc 149 to the millimeter.

This was not what made me buy the pen, but the unusual nib that came with it. I was very curious how a number 8 nib feels to write with. If you are interested in the pen and my experience using it for a little bit over a month, just jump and the review part, and skip how I ramble about the world...

Me rambling

I advise you jumps straight to the introduction

You have been worn, last chance to scroll..

First thing I have to point out: clickbait titles promoted everywhere, in every domain, and by everyone. Many who reviewd this pen have made this pen a Montblanc nemesis. Why would a fountain pen which costs $6 replace a Montblanc? Just because it "copied" it's design?(coming back to this part in a minute). Foremost, the Montblanc's are more a status thing than anything else. You buy one because celebrities, presidents, kings and queens have used them over these years. And that makes them desirable. Because they are expensive, not everyone can afford one, so this brings the exclusivity to the table (the same thing with brands like Rolex or any other brand that is focused on finer things in life). Nobody will buy a Jinhao, a Wing Sung or something else along these lines instead of a real Montblanc, just because they look the same...(I have to clarify that Jinhao is not dishonest about the pen, it doesn't have the Montblanc's logo, and Jinhao is present on the clip, they look the same in general appearance, the pen is NOT A FAKE). So why start a review with something like this. I could write much more about this, but it is more than enough.

My second point is about how Jinhao "copied" the design of the Montblanc 149. The pen is a cigar shape, which is considered by everyone a classic. The design is nothing innovative, and several other brands have products similar fountain pens in size and looks. Sailor King of Pens, Pilot Custom, etc. Aren't those copies?
There are so many original designs until the water starts to get murky, and you see influences here and there, and after many inspirations and many years it is hard to tell which design is the legit one and which is the copy. If Jinhao had made the pen a few millimeters thinner or thicker, shorter or longer, would it still be a copy?

Not to start my third point on how fountain pen producers (like Kaweco but not exclusive) rest on the laurels of designs that are decades old, without innovating and coming with new products on the market.


The pen arrived in a mail bag, those yellow paper ones with a coating of bubble wrap inside, nothing more, nothing less.
aliexpress package for fountain pen

First thing that I notice was the size. The pen is large in every dimension. It is a long and thick pen (horizontally challenged).

What surprised me, even more than the size, was its appearance. I find this cigar shaped look a bit boring and dated, also I am not a fan of gold trim. I usually go for the silver trim if available. But this particular pen was a big surprise right from the moment I took it out of the bag. It surprised me that it came in one piece with so little protection, and how beautiful it looks. I ordered the X159 in blue. I didn't want another boring black pen, but I wasn't feeling too ambitious to buy an orange one.

There are 2 variants of the pen. The original model came only in black with silver trim, and the successors came in a multitude of colors with gold trim and nib. The difference from the information available is the number of turns to take the cap off. Original 3, second iteration 2.

The blue resin in person looks unbelievable. It is a dark blue that in the right light looks splendid, from teal, navy blue and in dimmer light it looks black. The gold trim compliments the color very well. I am very pleased with what arrived.


The pen is made entirely out of resin (plastic). Even though it is big, in hand it feels just right. 


The top of the cap is nicely rounded and besides the esthetic purpose, it also holds the clip in place, fixed between the finial and the cap. The metal clip is strong, made out of rolled metal, nicely finished with no sharp edges. The cap also has a golden ring at the bottom, on which Jinhao and X159 is written. I am not fond of the font used, but the fact it is discrete makes it better, as you don't see it unless you are looking for it.

The opposite end of the pen is not finished so nicely as the cap. It has a gold ring on the barrel, with no other function beside esthetic. The barrel finishes with a rounded shape, but the injection molding is visible.

Also, the molds lines are visible on the barrel, although you really have to look for them.

The cap is removed with 2 and a quarter turns, reduced from the 3 turns on the original. I think Jinhao is trying to make a compromise between the functionality and integrity of the pen. What do I mean? The Jinhao 992 which is a similar looking pen in a smaller size has a cap that needs just a little over 1 turn to take off, but the original X159 needed 3 turns, while the X159 gen 2 has 2 and a quarter turns... I think Jinhao resorted to this to make the cap more secure and solid. Because even with 2 turns the cap doesn't feel very solid. There is play between the cap and body (side to side) and reducing the number of threads would just accentuate this situation.

The section tapers a bit a flares just above the nib. The threads are very smooth and shallow. They offer a comfortable hold. I keep my fingers on them as they are smooth enough for griping but offer good grip as well.

The pen can be capped, but for this one I think you are better off laying the cap on the table. The pen becomes huge and a bit top-heavy. The barrel is long enough for the pen to be used uncapped without any problems. I have to state that I usually prefer not to cap pens.

The barrel screws onto a gold metal section. The threads are well done on both ends. But a concern I have is the thin walls of the plastic barrel due to having threads on the inside and on the outside. Also, the plastic doesn't feel that sturdy. I feel you need to treat this part very gentle, or it just might crack.

There is an o-ring at the end of the metal threads, with the purpose of preventing the barrel to be tighten too much, and cause cracks in the material. I will have to see how good it will work in the long run. So far the ring did it's job.

As most Jinhao pens, this one comes with a converter. The X159 takes international cartridges long and standard.


The pen is big and bold. It has a length of 15 cm

 Taking off the cap leaves a length of 13 cm

The nib 

The nib is the star of the show, being a number #8 nib it dwarfs the regular fountain pens. The nib is a dual tone, gold and silver, and has a nice design, with Jinhao and F printed in the middle. The lines engraved on the nib don't match the dual tone very well, but it still is better than a plane silver look.

The pen writes really nicely out of the box, at least the one I've got. The ink flow is just right, even though a bit on the low side, like the majority of Chinese pens. The feed is interesting, very big matching the nib and it looks like it can hold a lot of ink. I haven't had any starvation issues or burps so far. The fins of the feed are very long and soft.

Even though the nib is large, it doesn't flex at all.

Reverse writing is possible but it is dry.

What I don't like about the X159

Even though the pen looks impressive, you can definitely see some corners cut. Take into account the pen is just 6$ so don't expect miracles from it. The injection molds are barely visible, but they are there.

Another thing that makes me raise an eyebrow are inner and outer threads on the barrel. The section is very thin in that place, and the material might crack from normal use, or if by mistake you over tight it. I always feel I am stepping on thin ice when I take off the barrel to ink it. I have the same felling with the Jinhao 992, so if you tested that one and are ok with its build, you will be very happy with this one as well.

Another small minus to the pen's construction are the caps on the section and cap. The cap has a little play side to side when screwed on, making some cracking sounds. Tightening the cap helps, but the risk of cracking increases.
I think the number of turns to take off the cap is related to this issue. In the first generation, Jinhao's X159 cap had 3 complete rotations to take off the cap, and they reduced it to just two and a quarter in the second generation. If the plastic and threads had been a higher quality, they could reduce the number of turns to one, just like they have on the Jinhao 992.

Another drawback that is true for all the Jinhao's tested is the converter. It is a plus the fountain pen comes with a converter at this price, but they don't work very well in my experience. I don't know why converters that are provided by Jinhao don't allow the ink to flow correctly. The surface tension is high, and pockets of air are formed inside that in the end starve the pen of ink. This never happens in a cartridge. It could be some residue from the manufacturing process that creates this. For me is not a big deal as I like cartridges more than converters, but it kinda makes the free converter not that useful. I will fiddle a little more with them to see if a good clean solves the problem, or adding an agitator is the only solution.

The last thing on my complaints list is the limited nib options. A medium or even a broad would better suit such a big pen. The pen comes with a F or XF nib, which is usually the case for most Chinese nibs.



The only reason I bought the pen was for it's number 8 nib, and my curiosity for how does such a large nib feel and compare to the usual #5 or #6. But after seeing the pen in person and using it for a little over a month I can confidently recommend the pen to you. It is not a perfect pen and, it will not be a Montblanc replacement, but it is a very good fountain pen. It writes well out of the box, it looks very good, it doesn't feel cheap (most of the times), it has a "unique" large nib (most pens come with a much smaller nib), and it is very affordable. It is a pen I would recommend to everyone. Give it a try.
The pen sits comfortable in my small hands, and it is a delight to write with it.
I might try other colors in the future, the blue is gorgeous and I expect the rest of the colors will be interesting as well.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Fast note taking

Writing with a pen and on a piece of paper is an ability learned at a young age, even though nowadays I think most kids know how to type on a phone before they learn to write by hand.

I do enjoy the speed with which I type, the legibility remains constant even if I type faster, and not to mention the autocorrect feature, which is truly amazing. But writing with a pen is very satisfying. Choosing beautiful writing instruments, is another perk of writing by hand. I am not saying that there are no nice keyboards, custom-made or prebuilt, because there are a lot of them, but that is a subject for another time.

If you have a bit of proficiency using a computer, you will be able to write a lot faster compared to a pen. For starters, you just have to press a key for the computer to register the letter and second you can use all your fingers to press keys really fast, while when you write with a pen you have to create each letter one after the other. There is a caveat though, if for example you are taking notes, and they are graphs or drawings / sketches involved you will probably be able to make them faster the old-fashioned way (or you can use a tablet and a stylus and a keyboard for the plain text)

The most common question among typists is, how fast can you type?  There are dedicated sites where you can practice typing, and also you can compete. 

Starting from this idea, I am curious to know: How fast can I write?. And not only this, but also how will the writing instrument influence the speed with which I am writing by hand.

For this test I took a small text sample as I didn't want to get hand cramps and RSI from all the writing needed. I started with typing to have a reference, as I imagine it will be a lot faster than writing by hand. First time typing, I got 71 words per minute, a total of 14 seconds to type the sentence.

Then I started testing writing instruments. For the test I chose a: fountain pen, pencil, ball point, ink roller, gel pen. I want to see if some writing instruments are slower than others. For example, ball points usually feel slow. I feel each time that they are "sticky", I definitely feel slowed down by the majority of ball points. But that is just a feeling, I wanted to quantify the feeling in seconds. Will a smooth fountain pen be faster?

First thing I noticed is the big difference when I compare typing to writing. If typing the text took me 14 seconds, the writing took me double the time. For a longer text, the difference will be notable.

On the first run, the fountain pen was the slowest but, it was the first time writing the text by hand. So obviously, practice makes perfect. I wrote the text several times with each of the instruments alternating them, and the best results and the worst were very close together.

After a little practice with the text, you can see the differences started to shrink, to just a couple of seconds between the fastest time and the worst time.

To reduce the influence of the order in which I use the pens and pencils and to reduce the impact of mistakes or brain freezes, I wrote the text 3 times and measured the total time needed to complete. Also, to keep the sample size down I did this with 2 different pens

So the fountain pens represented by Faber Castell Loom F nib and Jinhao 51A F nib. Three runs took me 1 min 27:48 seconds using the Faber Castell Loom while the Jinhao 51A took me 1 min 29:71 sec


After completing the runs with all the writing instruments, I came back to the Faber Castell Loom and managed a much better time of 1 min 22.94 seconds

This tells me that more testing and practice is needed to reach maximum efficiency writing the sentence down, but for the purpose of the test I think this is good enough. I will take in consideration the last run of the Faber Castell Loom as the reference for the fountain pen.

The second head-to-head testing included 2 popular ball points. To be honest, I expected the ballpoints to be the worst in this test. They feel slow, and offer a dragging / sticky sensation when writing. But they felt much better than I imagined, and the times were very, very good and consistent. 1 min 22 seconds for both the Bic Round Stick M and the Parker Urban Premium. I am not saying that Parker Urban is a very popular ball point, but rather that Parker refills are very popular and used by a lot of people.


Next were the rollers (ink/gel pens). For this category I chose a Staedtler cool roller with red ink and a generic gel pen Forster. Both were admirable in the speed event, and also they offered very nice feedback, especially the Staedtler cool roller. The Staedtler completed the writing sample in 1 min 15:45 sec while the Forster needed 1 min 18:97 seconds.


The last category included 2 mechanical pencils, a Rotring 500 0,7 mm and a Kuru Toga 0,7 mm. Both pencils offered very nice feedback with a great smooth writing. The Rotring completed the run in 1 min 20:79 seconds, while the Kuru Toga needed 1 min 22:38 seconds.

Even though the times between all the writing instruments were very close, they still offered some surprises to me. I expected the pencils and fountain pens to battle for the first place, but instead the ink roller was the fastest in this small sample pool.
From the bunch, I expected the ball point to be the worst performer, feel wise and speed wise. The parker refills are great, smooth and with good flow, but then again so was the Bic Round Stic M which performed admirably for such an inexpensive pen.

The winners of the speed test are, (individual results)

Staedtler roller cool                      1 min 15 sec  (1st place)    - 25 sec/sentence
Forster gel pen                              1 min 18 sec (2nd place)    - 26 sec/sentence
Rotring 500 mechanical pencil     1 min 20 sec  (3rd place)    - 26.7 sec/sentence


The winners of the speed test are, (team results)

Rollers                                            1 min 16.5 sec (1st place)  - 25.5 sec/sentence
Pencils                                            1 min 21.6 sec (2nd place) - 27.2 sec/sentence
Ball Point Pens                               1 min 22.5 sec (3rd place) - 27.5 sec/sentence
Fountain pen                                   1 min 22.9 sec (4th place) - 27.6 sec/sentence

I took the best time of the fountain pen 1:22:9 because after a few more runs I managed to get under 1:20 sec with both fountain pens managing a 1:13 time with the Faber Castell and a 1:18 sec with Jinhao, without sacrificing much legibility. I didn't take these times in the consideration, as I think I offered more practice to the fountain pen compared to the rest of the pens and pencils.


The instrument used doesn't offer a significant speed benefit (except the computer), but all the instruments offer very different writing experiences. Which one you chose is up to you.

Practice and what you regularly use for writing will influence the speed of your writing more than anything else.

If you need to write fast, like note-taking during a class, use a pen, pencil or fountain pen that offers good feedback. Too smooth, and you will lose a lot of legibility, too rough, and it will not be pleasant to use. The Goldilocks is a combination between the paper and pen used, but I find mechanical pencils too be quite good at offering the best of both. Their performance is offered by the lead, which is not specific to the pencil you use. In contrast, the fountain pen's nib will influence the writing experience much more than the ink that is in it.

And if you need to write really fast and keep legibility just use a computer, it is going to be twice as fast as the more traditional way of writing, at least. Of course this is valid for general writing, because if you need to add graphs, drawings, mathematical equations the traditional way of taking notes will probably outpace the computer and keyboard.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Bad pens

A pen set, is a good and considerate gift, but can also be a bad gift if you do not buy a good one, especially the bad quality of a fountain pen is going to ruin the hole experience of such a gift. These sets (fountain pen +  boll point) are popular among people with not a lot of knowledge about fountain pens. Shoppers gravitate towards these kinds of sets because they usually come in a nice box, this fact alone makes it a nice gift, and also the set will offer the best of both worlds, a "sophisticated" fountain pen and a "high quality" ball point (when I say high quality I mean it is not the generic plastic disposable pen). Be aware and don't judge a pen by the box it came in.

In the previous post, I said that even unknown brands can have a decent offering with quality products, but this is not always the case. Many times, getting a brand name guarantees a certain level of quality.

I have to apologize about the quality of the photos, I only realized now that the white balance is everywhere, but I will consider my in existent photography skills the icing on the cake when it comes down to these pens.

I am starting the year with cleaning and decluttering, so without any further ado the first spot in bad pen sets gifts is going to Alfa branded set consisting of a fountain pen and a ball point. The pen and fountain pen come in an interesting looking case, made out of metal that opens to revile the pens inside.

The set is kind of old, but it hasn't been used. The metal bodies don't look that good. The finish that was supposed to protect the metal didn't do a good job, and the gray finish is now doted with dark spots of oxidation (I think).

The clip works great, and this is the only thing great about the fountain pen. The nib and feed didn't work properly, and after a few letters the nib was starved of ink, skipping every other line.

Don't pay attention to the current condition of the nib, it was mangled in frustration a long time ago. The cap is a screw cap with 2 and 1/2 turns to take it off. The grip section is metal, same as the rest of the pen.

Not much else to tell, except the ball point pen works as intended. But the body has the same problem as the fountain pen regarding the corrosion.

All I can say about this writing set is, case closed.

Moving on to the next gem, which comes in an impressive wood box. This writing set was a corporate set. The box is branded with the name of a company. I deleted the name from the photo, as the idea here is not to point fingers.

The box is padded on the inside with a foam covered in a green soft material. The contrast between the shade of the lacquered wood and the green velvet like material looks very nice. The set has a fountain pen, a ball point and a letter opener?!? It was intended for someone classier than me, that is a fact.

The fountain pen and ballpoint are made out of the same wood as the box, and have nice gold looking trims. I usually don't like gold color, but in this combination I am convinced that it looks better than silver would.

The cap is a snap cap that fits securely on the body. When you take it off, it will reveal the section which is on the thin size, made out of black plastic. At the end it has a gold collar and a golden nib. The wooden barrel has a metal threaded insert that screws on the nib section. The fountain pen takes standard cartridges.

Unfortunately, the fountain pen doesn't write, the nib has a severe baby's bottom.

The packaging is interesting and this is why this kind of products are gifted. It is obvious the money went in the packaging rather than in offering decent writing experience. Gifting a pen in a plastic bag might look underwhelming, but make sure when you choose a gift, the products actually works and is not just a decor piece.

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