For Sale – Kaweco AL Sport Raw Aluminum



Kaweco AL Sport w/ medium nib in raw aluminum finish for sale!! SOLD
This pen was inked exactly once with the Kaweco cartridge it came with. In other words, it’s as close to brand new as it could be without actually being brand new.
Pen comes with three (3) blue/black Kaweco ink cartridges.
$60 (via Paypal) SOLD – Includes shipping within US via USPS.
International shipping considered so long as you agree to pay all shipping costs over $5.
Email if interested. Price is final so no bargaining please.

Pen for Sale – Kaweco AL Sport



Kaweco AL Sport for Sale!!  SOLD
Blue finish with fine nib PLUS an extra medium nib!!
Squeeze converter included
$55 (via Paypal) SOLD – Includes shipping within US via USPS.
International shipping considered so long as you agree to pay all shipping costs over $5.
Email if interested. Price is final so no bargaining please.

Pen for Sale – Karas Kustoms Ink



Karas Kustoms Ink for sale!! SOLD
Very lightly used
Grey finish with fine nib and aluminum section
Converter included
$55 (via Paypal) SOLD – Includes shipping within US via USPS.
International shipping considered so long as you agree to pay all shipping costs over $5.
Email if interested. Price is final so no bargaining please.


A Bucket of Pencils


The humble mechanical pencil has always been a key component of my writing arsenal. I have had a few favorites over the years, but I never really zeroed in one or two (or five for that matter) as my go-to mechanical pencils. Due mostly to its availability, cheap price and fantastic eraser, Pentel’s standard Twist Erase (usually in 0.7 mm) frequently found its way into my hand. That little guy got me through more than a few organic chemistry tests in college. The Twist Erase is a fine pencil to be sure but that never stopped me from buying and trying other possibilities. How many other mechanical pencils have a tried over the years? Well, here is the list of mechanical pencils currently residing in the dedicated mechanical pencil bin at home. This list does not include the odd pencil lost in an office drawer somewhere or pencil components in multipens, but it is a reasonably complete list of the mechanical pencils I have tried over the years.

(in no particular order…)
Pentel Twist Erase 0.5, 0.7, 0.9
Pentel Twist Erase GT 0.7
Pentel Twist Erase XP 0.5, 0.7
Pentel Twist Erase Click 0.7, 0.9
Pentel P205 0.5, 0.7, 0.9
Foray 0.7
Kokuyo PS-P100 0.9
Platinum Pro-Use 0.7
Pentel e-Sharp 0.5, 0.7, 0.9
Caran d’Ache 844 0.7
Staedtler 925 0.7, 0.9
Vintage Eversharp 0.9
Parker 45 0.9
Pilot G2 0.7
Pentel PG1009 0.9
Pentel Energize X 0.5, 0.7
Pentel Energize Deluxe 0.5, 0.7
Pentel Graphgear 500 0.3, 0.5, 0.7
Pentel Graphgear 1000 0.5, 0.9
Pentel Graphlet 0.7
Alvin Draft/Matic 0.7, 0.9
Alvin Draft-Tec Retrac 0.5
Pentel Kerry 0.5, 0.7
OHTO Promecha 0.9
Zebra DelGuard 0.5
Autopoint 0.9
Autopoint Jumbo 0.9
rOtring 600 Newton Lava 0.7
rOtring 600 Newton Black 0.7
rOtring Tikky 0.7
rOtring Rapid Pro 0.7
rOtring 800 0.7
Parker Jotter 0.5
Parker Lifestyle 0.7
Pilot Color Eno 0.7 (multiple colors)
Lamy 2000 0.7
Lamy Scribble 0.7
Retro 51 Einstein 1.15
Cult Pens Double Knock 0.5, 0.7
Staedtler 925-35 0.5, 0.7, 0.9
Uni Kuru Toga 0.5, 0.7
(By my count, that’s well over 60 mechanical pencils I could put my hands on right now. )

As part of my objective to simplify/reduce/focus my writing tools, I would like to curtail this unwieldy collection down to a final few. Getting down to 2 or 3 options for each of the common graphite sizes (0.5, 0.7 and 0.9) would be a nice goal. I have made considerable headway towards on this in the past several weeks, but I am not yet down to a final list. Maybe I will compare similar pencils along the way so do not be surprised if a few mechanical pencil posts show up around these parts.

What will I do with the pencils that do not make the cut? The less expensive pencils will make their way into the “free for the taking” beaker of pens and pencils I keep in my classroom. Any pencil worth a few bucks will likely head to eBay. More to come…

Palomino HB


Pencils, wood-cased and mechanical, have always been a prominent part of the collection but I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to the gents from the Erasable podcast. While my discovery of the Palomino HB predates this podcast, there is no doubt that those guys played a role in my pencil collection and knowledge getting larger and deeper, respectively.

Anyway, as part of my quest to simplify the writing tools in my life, I spent a fair amount of time going through all the wood-cased pencils in my collection. In a previous post, I identified the Tombow Mono as my wood-cased pencil of choice. There is no doubt that it’s a great pencil but my goal to simplify has brought a change of perspective. I want a go-to pencil and the Palomino HB is that pencil. Why the Palomino and not the Tombow? Eraser, color and feel. The Palomino has an eraser and the Tombow does not. Admittedly, the eraser on the Palomino is entirely average but in the simplified world I now occupy, pencils with erasers make a lot more sense than those without. Next, the blue and orange colors of the Palomino are just great. Why would I want a black pencil with an unsightly barcode on it when I can have one in blue or orange. Lastly, the Palomino feels better in my hand than the Tombow. There is not anything uncomfortable about the Tombow Mono, but the rounded semi-hex cut along with the smooth yet tactile finish of the Palomino makes it one of the most comfortable writing implements, pen or pencil, I own.


In the world of HB pencils, the Palomino HB is a touch on the softer side but clearly not as soft as standard-issue B graphite. They should label the pencil as hB to accurately depict its graphite grade. Importantly, the point retention of the hB graphite is rather impressive. To be honest, I like the slightly harder (therefore slightly better at point retention) graphite of the Tombow HB a bit better but the difference is ever so slight. I guess my perfect pencil would be a combination of the Tombow Mono HB graphite with the Palomino HB body and eraser (let’s call it the Talominobow HB).

So there we have it. My wood-cased pencil of choice is the Palomino HB. I’ll audition other pencils in the future. But, if it cannot clearly beat out the Palomino HB, then I am going to pass and never look back. It would take me five lifetimes to work through all the wood-case pencils I currently own and my newfound simplification demands that I only own and use what I need to own and use. As Yoda might say, “If beat Palomino you cannot then forgotten you will be.”


A conclusion but not an ending

For a variety reasons, it has been awhile since the last post around these parts. At the risk of making excuses I’ll just say that from the middle of May to the middle of June, things get very busy at school. Once school finishes, I need a few days to decompress and the past couple of weeks have been filled with vacation travel. Before I know it, more than 2 months pass and nothing new has happened on the blog.

Anyway, there is another, more pen related, reason why things have been quiet. I’ve been intentionally focusing on using fewer writing tools to see what really works for me and I wanted to go deep and quiet while doing so. Instead of looking for pens and pencils that I might want, I’ve been trying to get the most benefit out of using fewer implements. Instead of worrying about tracking down the next pen or pencil that just might THE one, I’m trying to wade through the massive assortment of stuff I have to find what I want to use. Actually, it is not about what I want to use so much as it is about what I can use. Let me explain.

After years of trying a variety of different pens and pencils, I have only recently come to the conclusion that there are certain writing tools that I just cannot use. I want to be one of those people who can use a whole range of implements. But for one reason or another, be it the way I write and/or the situations in which I write, the realistically useful options for me are constrained. I should have learned this long ago, but it turns out there are wwwaaaayyyy more pens and pencils that do not work for me than there are pens and pencils that do. Heck, it was not that long ago that I wrote a post about the stuff I use and it turns out that a good bit of that really isn’t true. In short, I’m coming to terms with the pen/pencil person I actually am versus the pen person I want to be.

Let me get specific. I want to be a guy with beautiful handwriting that looks even better when using a broad fountain pen nib laying down a bright color. In reality, my handwriting is entirely utilitarian and there is no occasion for me to break out a broad nib and go to town. Also, using a fountain pen for the sole purpose of reviewing seems too meta. There are plenty of sites out there giving readers the impression that reviewers are using certain pens more than they really are and I am not interested adding to that list anymore than I already have. I could take up journaling and use more nibs and colors, but that is just not going to happen. I do a decent job of jotting down random ideas and to-do lists in a pocket notebook (but not as consistently as I could if I’m being entirely honest) but there’s no way I’ll ever keep a journal. Between work, family and other interests, I will never have the time or desire to radically change the way I write. I may want to be a guy who writes beautiful handwritten notes to people but that’s just not going to happen. I want to play the trumpet like Miles Davis, but that ain’t gonna happen either.

What does this mean? It means that the vast majority of fountain pens I have go unused. After spending several years and plenty of money on a variety of fountain pens, it turns out I just do not use them that much. Do not get me wrong – I use them. It is just that I don’t use them nearly as much as I may want to and the reasons are (a) other implements make more sense for most of the writing I do and (b) my writing does not look as good with fountain pens as it does with other tools. That second part probably sounds strange. Fountain pens are supposed to make writing look better, right? Under ideal circumstances (flat surface, good posture, smooth paper, fresh ink, clean nib, etc.) my writing does look pretty good with a fountain pen. However, I almost never write under ideal circumstances. I keep an inked fountain pen on my desk ready to go but I probably use it once or twice a week and usually out of a sense of obligation as much as anything else.

Here’s another example of where I have arrived. I want to love the Retro 51 rollerball pens. I dig that they offer so many different styles and their build quality is very, very good given their moderate price. Unfortunately, rollerball pens and I do not get along. I have tried different brands and different points sizes but for whatever reason, I get a lot of skipping with rollerballs and I do not like the look of my writing with them. I have been in denial of these facts for the longest time. However, no matter how many times I come back to a Retro 51 hoping that this time will be different, it never is. My writing style always causes too much skipping and the end result is unsatisfying. Yes, I could hack a refill that works for me into the pen. Been there, done that and it simply is not worth the aggravation. Yes, they work with the classic Parker style refill as well but I find the fit to be a bit hit or miss between these refills and different Retro 51 bodies. Nobody reading this should take this as a criticism of Retro 51 or their refills. I have and will continue to recommended them to anyone looking for a groovy, moderately priced pen. It’s just unlikely that I’ll ever use one again in any significant way.

On a related front, I also want to be a guy who uses different notebooks but that too just is not going to happen. Right now, I have more paper in stock than I will ever write on in this or two additional lifetimes. In fairness to myself, I came to this realization a long time ago. I have not added any paper products besides Field Notes, legal pads and some notecards to my pile in over a year. I’m sorry, but I’m just not going to fill up a Rhodia Webnotebook or a Moleskin journal anytime soon, later or ever. Are they great notebooks? Yes. Do I use them? Nope and I never will.

In conclusion, I am in reduction mode. I am getting myself down to a very small handful of writing tools that I enjoy and I can use. Moving forward, I will not purchase a writing tool unless I am confident that it could compete for a spot in this handful. Maybe a new purchase will not make the cut, but I need to be convinced it can compete for a spot before I hit the buy button. In the past, I have accepted items from vendors for review. I will not be doing that anymore either. Other sites do a much, much better job than I when it comes to reviewing items. Also, I do not like the obligation of writing a post because someone sent me something. In short, if I do not use it (and I mean really use it) then I will not write about it. The days of impulse purchasing are over. The days of reviewing something just to review something are over. The days of simplifying and using are upon us.

If you’ve read this far then you might be asking, “So, what are you using?” As for paper, I’ll go ahead and tell you that it’s all Field Notes, legal pads, notecards and Post-it Notes and I doubt that will ever change. I may seek out different brands if I hear good things, but the formats are unlikely to ever change.

As for pens and pencils, I’m not fully prepared to answer that just yet. If the course I’ve been on for the past several weeks continues to hold then I can tell you that (a) there is a lot more graphite involved than you might think based on this blog’s history, (b) a pen that I spoke highly of in the past seems to have locked in a spot and (c) a pen design I dismissed in the past is getting very serious reconsideration. More details to come.

X-Pen Master Ballpoint


For many folks, ballpoint pens are the epitome of boring but they are incredibly versatile and, if we are being honest, they are probably the most efficient choice for most office spaces. So, you mine as well use a ballpoint that is comfortable and easy on the eyes. For me, the X-Pen is one of the most comfortable pens (ballpoint or otherwise) that I own. While it does have a certain “gift-box” ballpoint pen look, the design element that makes the pen so comfortable also adds a bit of design flair.

That design element is the graph-shaped ridges of the pen body. The combination of this pattern, the thick, tactile plastic of the body and the matte black finish of the upper portion result in a pen that is lies in the hand nicely. Also, the center of the pen body has a diameter of about 0.5 inches which is just about perfect for me. There are thin pens that make me feel like I need to grab tightly and there are fat pens that seem too unwieldy. This X-Pen hits the diameter sweet spot for me.


Retractable ballpoints deploy with either the snap of a button or a twist of the upper body. The X-Pen Master is a twister. I can’t lie – I prefer button action retractable pens but the twist mechanism built here is perfectly fine. There is the smallest hint of metal on metal rubbing in the twist action so it’s not the smoothest mechanism in the world. I also like the fact that the refill extends fairly far out of the hole when deployed. Refill tips that barely extend out of the hole are just the worst.

The silver-colored trim works nicely with the matte black of the body. The width of the clip matches the overall size of the pen and there is a bit of depth to the clip design where it connects to the top of the pen. With respect to the clip and pen, there is one minor design feature that bothers me more than it should. The bottom of the clip does not evenly bisect the X-Pen logo printed near the middle of the pen. I really like that the logo has a handwritten look to it but the obsessive part of me wishes the clip lined up with the middle of the logo. Yes, I’m probably being overly fussy.


The X-Pen Master ballpoint goes for a reasonable $33 on their website. I paid a fair $25 for mine during a recent visit to a New York City pen store. In short, the X-Pen Master is a reasonably priced, comfortable ballpoint with enough design flair to be more than a run-of-the-mill gift box ballpoint pen.