InCoWriMo Recap

It’s the end of February which means InCoWriMo (International Correspondence Writing Month) is over. This was my first attempt and from my point of view it was a success, in no small part because I made my own rules. I do think I kept to the spirit of the event.

My main goal was to respond to each of the remaining entries that I received during my Fountain Pen Day giveaway at the end of last year. I had replied to some, but February began with a month’s worth waiting for a reply. I dropped a postcard in the mailbox earlier today which completed this goal.

I sent out 31 postcards during the month so I also met the InCoWriMo goal of one per day, at least on average. I didn’t write one every day. I generally dislike one a day challenges because for me they often become nothing more than an item on a checklist that I rush to get done, often at the end of the day when I’m tired. Because I wanted to avoid writing simply to check a box, I only wrote postcards 19 of the 29 days. Usually more than one at a time and often during lunch. Most of the missed days, 6 of them, occurred during the last 10 days of February when I was also feeling a little under the weather.

It wasn’t a complete success, even with my own modified rules. I had intended to write a real letter every Sunday. I didn’t write any. I do still owe some letters in response to those I received. I’m confident that since I’m now in the habit of writing I’ll get those done in the near future (which I define as sometime before March ends). I want to continue to correspond regularly.

Will I participate again next year? Sure. It’ll be tougher to fit in because I’ll want to do letters, not postcards. Hopefully by then letters will be more of a habit and I’ll be able to write them faster and more importantly, respond to ones I receive in a more timely manner.

Sunday Notes and Links – February 28, 2016

What I Used

No real standout favorite fountain pen this week. I didn’t use my pens very much this week, and I ended up using each pen about the same. Goulet Pens published a post titled The 7 Biggest Fountain Pen Mistakes and the first one listed was carrying your fountain pen in your pocket with your keys. I just want to point out that some of my pens were born to be carried with my keys, it gives them character. To be fair, Brian does mention this doesn’t apply to all pens, but when I saw the headline I immediately thought of these pens.

Three Kaweco Sports with some keys

What Others Used & Did

Dries at The Pencilcase Blog made an impressive pen display case and shows us how it was done, in great detail.

Matt at The Pen Habit has created a “Currently Inked” log, both a physical notebook and a pdf that you can download and print. My own past experience is that this type of thing doesn’t work for me but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea or implementation.

Eivind shares his his February loadout which includes some new things, and hints at some upcoming changes.

Michael reviews an ink he’s used for years at Inkdependance. And one that I like too.

Website Spotlight

This weeks spotlight is on a collaborative website, United Inkdom. It’s by three UK pen pen bloggers (which you may have deduced from the name. They started off by giving their individual takes on the same pen, each using a different review format. Ian’s is a written to review with pictures (what I consider the standard review format, Ruth’s is a video review and Scribble’s is a handwritten the review (using the product being reviewed of course). Occasionally there are other reviews. They’ve recently expanded to interviews and profiles of UK pen companies or retailers which I really like. I’m not from the UK but I like how the site is developing a bit of a UK flavor beyond the nationality of the bloggers.

Pen Shows & Other News

The Arkansas Pen Show is history. The next US pen show is the Baltimore-Washington International Pen Show on March 4th through the 6th. The name is a bit more grandiose this year, don’t confuse it with the Washington DC Pen Show which happens in August.

My knowledge of European Pen shows is limited but the next one I know of is the Eastern (UK) Pen Show on March 6th.

The Resources and Links page got a small update. If you’ve got a pen or stationery related website that’s missing please let me know.

Subscription Madness

I was browsing the Write Notepads website tonight when I noticed they had a new pocket notebook subscription service (they call it memberships). Do we really need another subscription service, especially one for pocket notebooks where Field Notes dominates?

I’ve never used their pocket notebooks although there are those who like and use them. Plus, assuming you use everything included it does seem like a good value. So, I’ve got no complaints about the product, but I still have to ask – why?

I actually do like and use their larger wire bound notebooks. It’s why I was visiting the site, it’s almost time to replenish my stock. I think this is why this subscription, I mean membership, annoys me. They missed an opportunity to add some variety and skip the “me too” pocket notebook subscription and build it around their other notebooks. They know their sales better than I do (duh!) so maybe they know there’s not enough of a market there. I can’t say I would subscribe to a subscription based on their wire bound notebooks, but I would certainly consider it since I use them regularly.

I’ve been extra cynical and grumpy these days (I blame all the politics in the news) so I’ll continue on but you’ve been warned. I do see this as a “me too” to Field Notes so calling it a “membership” annoys the hell out of me. Yes, there are other promised perks but they are all opportunities to give them more money.

It only gets worse after “membership”. Calling it an “amazing opportunity” opportunity adds to the annoyance. That’s a term a marketing department uses, even if they’ve never seen the product. Yes, there may be a discount, but you take the product whether you like it or not. I wouldn’t argue that this isn’t a good deal if you want the notebooks, but I fail to see the “amazing opportunity.” A free trip on the space shuttle is an amazing opportunity, a discount on products is not.

Finally, they call us friends which further irritates me. I’m sure they have friends and are nice folks. But a business calling their customers friends simply because they’ve given them money is insincere and insulting.

They are asking for money in exchange for a product. This is just too much marketing speak for me and if I wasn’t already a happy user of their notebooks I’d be moving on. No, I don’t think they’re evil and we should stop doing business with them, but marketing would be better with pictures of the products, not empty superlatives that every marketing department uses. I’ll keep right on buying the spiral notebooks, but they need to dial it down a bit.

I’m note sure any of these subscriptions are really a good deal, whether it’s pencils, notebooks or a mix of stationery supplies. I’ve subscribed to Field Notes in the past but received notebooks I didn’t like, so I gave them away. Plus I have dozens of 3-packs waiting for their turn. So I’ve spent more money with the subscription than without.

I hope their subscription is successful. If you want and like the notebooks (and will use them) it seems like a good deal so go for it, although I’d recommend waiting for the first release to get a better idea about what to expect. But, if you are interested check them out here. Shipments start March 31st.

Sunday Notes and Links – February 21, 2016

What I Used

Edison Menlo Pump Filler with Athena Sepia ink bottle

My favorite fountain pen and ink combination of the past week was the Edison Menlo Pump Filler with Athena Sepia ink. I hadn’t used the pen for a few days and when I picked it up I immediately remembered how much I like this combination. The pen is gorgeous and a good size for my hand. The Athena Sepia ink also loves this pen.

What Others Are Using

William is the notebook addict of the week at Notebook Stories and he shares how’s he’s used his notebooks for over 20 years. It’s an interesting read.

Matt from The Pen Habit gives a video tour of his ink shelf. He also shows his studio where he records the video but personally I found the ink shelf tour more interesting. The ink shelf tour starts at about 8 minutes into the video.

Eivind from The Ink Smudge has put up a page describing how he uses pen & paper for task management.

Website Spotlight

This weeks spotlight is on the Vintage Pen News blog. It’s written by David Nishimura who also runs a much larger website where he buys and sells vintage pens and provides even more information about them.

The blog is in my RSS reader and I enjoy reading little tidbits about vintage writing instruments without being overwhelmed with information from his main site or other similar reference sites. It may not be information I’ll ever use or need, but I enjoy the regular flow of random history.

Pen Shows & Other News

The Arkansas Pen Show is less than a week away, running February 26th and 27th, which is a Friday & Saturday.

My knowledge of European Pen shows is limited but the next one I know of is the Eastern (UK) Pen Show on March 6th.

It looks like Omas is fading away. Classic Fountain Pens has stopped taking new warranty work for Omas pens. Pen Economics has a great overview of the decline of Omas and gives hints to a potential future (or lack of one). There’s a lot of rumors and conjecture online about its future but what does seem certain is that there won’t be any new Omas pens in the foreseeable future.

Ink and Pen Notes: Parker Vacumatic Maxima with Montblanc Permanent Grey

Parker Vacumatic Maxima Silver Pearl with Montblanc Albert Einstein ink bottle

I inked up the Parker Vacumatic Maxima (c. 1942) with Montblanc Albert Einstein ink back on December 27th, so it was inked up for just under 8 weeks. MB Albert Einstein is a gray ink and the Maxima is the silver pearl finish so there was a little color matching going on in the selection. Albert Einstein is one of Montblanc’s limited edition inks.

I haven’t been inking up my vintage pens very much these days but this is my first choice when I’m looking for a vintage pen to ink up. I love the finish, despite showing some wear from age and use, and I like the way the pen writes. The pen is not an exactly perfect size for my hand and the section feels just a bit small for me. Despite this the pen is still comfortable enough for long writing sessions.

It holds a lot of ink which partially accounts for how long this was inked up. But another reason is that I rarely carry it in my shirt pocket so it doesn’t travel much. I have this aversion to carrying vintage pens in my shirt pocket due to a fear of them leaking or spitting ink.

And this one did spit out some ink when it was close to empty. I did learn that Montblanc Permanent Grey takes a little extra effort to wash off skin but it doesn’t stain iPhone screens if it’s not wiped off for a couple of minutes. The ink shot out as I reached for a pad while holding the uncapped pen in the same hand. Despite this there wasn’t any noticeable ink in the cap that needed to be cleaned out so it wasn’t like this pen was dripping ink. Other than this incident the performance was great, no skipping or hard starts with a nice even flow.

Cleaning was tedious as is the case with every ink in a vacumatic but it was about as easy as I could hope for.

I’ve decided to set the Parker Vacumatic Maxima aside for now so it will spend some time in storage. This leaves me without any vintage pens currently inked.