Word Notebooks Adventure Log Review

I'm a big fan of the movie Moonrise Kingdom, and when I first laid eyes on the Word Notebooks Adventure Log I thought this is totally a notebook Sam would use. The artwork and color choices of the Adventure Log are a throwback to a simpler time where we could capture our travels and dreams in the most analog way possible - with pencil and paper.

The Adventure Log is laid out so you can capture the highlights from your recent travels, a day trip, or even that fantasy camping trip you hope to have someday. There are fields for date, location, conditions, companions, and notes, all of which are not too big, and not too small. It's just right for capturing the most important details.

As with other Word Notebook products, the Adventure Log is made with quality Made in the USA materials. It screams "use pencil in here" to me, so that's exactly what I did, choosing my Metal Shop Bullet Pencil from Kickstarter. The royal blue anodized aluminum barrel loaded with a Blackwing 602 pencil nub are the perfect match.

Pens work well in the Adventure Log too, including fountain pens. This is a carryover from Word Notebooks other products. There is only minor bleed, feathering, and ghosting no matter the pen I used. Gel inks performed the best, which is to be expected, but don't hesitate to use almost any pen inside this notebook.

Is this a product I am going to use every day? Of course not. But it is a very cool item for those looking to capture bits of their travel, especially as we head into the summer months. In fact, I think my kids will get a real kick out of filling these up when they are out of school and bouncing around on vacation.

(JetPens provided this product to The Pen Addict at no charge for review purposes.)

Posted on May 4, 2015 and filed under Word, Notebook Reviews.

Three Questions With Brian Greene from Office Supply Geek

If there is a cool, must-have new office supply you can be sure that Brian Greene has found it. He has been at it for years at Office Supply Geek, a blog that is one of the stalwarts of the community. My thanks to Brian for answering Three Questions.

1. What role do analog tools such as pens, pencils, and paper play in your day to day life?

From a practical perspective, I just learn and remember much better when I'm actually writing things down.  I think my brain takes it do a different level because sometimes I will be trying to remember something that I wrote down in my notes, and the way I start looking for it is by thinking to myself "Hey you wrote that with your Pilot Vanishing Point and Pelikan Edelstien Aventurine ink" then I can scan my notes for some pretty thinly written green text and hone in on the content I was looking for that way.  For that reason I try to alternate what pen and ink I use between different days or topics to help create those visual markers for my brain to fall back on when I'm trying to find something.

From a more aesthetic perspective, I just really enjoy the experience of writing on some great paper like my Levenger Circa Rhodia refills with a great fountain pen, usually one of my Pelikan's as of late.  Its a great experience, and I also just enjoy the look of the whole package of great ink being put on nice paper by a smooth fountain pen nib.  

2. What are your favorite products you are currently using?

This definitely spans a wide range of things so I'll try and reign it in a bit.  If we were to stick strictly to office supplies, I'd say its my new Pelikan M805 Stresemann which is just an amazing pen. Its larger than most of my other fountain pens, so it has a bit of visual presence when you look at it.  The elegant striped pattern with the black and silver accents also add to that visual appeal for me.  It also gets a place in my Nock Co. Hightower, I carry 3 pen cases on a daily basis, but I love the Hightower because it keeps my favorite fountain pens safe and easy to get at.  The Hightower is my home for what I consider to be my core fountain pen rotation.  My other pen/pencil cases are more of the mass storage types for things like my numerous Uniball UM 151s and Jetstreams that are more every day beater pens. 

From a technology perspective, its definitely my new Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook.  Although its got Windows 8.1 loaded on it which isn't ideal, the laptop itself is super thin with an metal shell and so light and powerful that its hard to believe how relatively inexpensive it was.  I've been spending a ton of time working on the website using the laptop, but one of my favorite things on it (and my Samsung Galaxy S5) is the Microsoft OneNote application.  Its essentially electronic note taking application that has a ton of screen capture, image capture, text search, organizational and other functionality.  I don't know that I could ever go strictly electronic in my note taking, but I think OneNote is probably the best experience you will find in that category.  I'm sure plenty of readers here will say that Evernote is better though, but I never had much luck with it and I'm pretty dug in with my OneNote notebooks now so its a keeper for me that I've come to rely on daily in my personal and work life.

3. What post are you the most proud of on your blog?

I would honestly say its two different posts on two different ends of the spectrum.  

On one side its the Sharpie Liquid Pencil Review that I did because its honestly one of the most disappointing products I've used and between the reader comments on that review and other emails and feedback I've gotten its really nice to know that I've saved more than one person from wasting their money on what seems like a product that was a good idea that was not quite ready for prime time yet.  I also take a lot of pride in that review because its easy to write a glowing review of a great product, but I think it requires a good deal of sensitivity, objectivity, and documentation if you are going to point out the various (and fatal) flaws in a product.  I've had the occasional person ask in a less than positive way if I just write nice things for companies that send me free stuff, and I usually point them to this review to answer that question since the review sample was provided directly from the PR folks at Sharpie.  I do find it ironic that this was one of the last review items that I received from Sharpie, but I think that is because they seem to have cut their social media efforts, and not because of my negative review of their product.  In fact they actually responded with some positive feedback that I shared on the review as well.

On the other end of the spectrum is my review of my Saddleback Leather Briefcase that I did a few years ago.  Because it is such an expensive item I thought it was important to include lots of pictures and as much detail as possible.  Its one thing to drop $3-$4 on a pen that might not work out for you, but with an item like this, a reader looking for a review with as much written and photographic detail as possible so they can be comfortable with their purchase, or with their decision not to ultimately purchase the item.  Regardless of their purchase decision, if someone has read my review before deciding on such an expensive item, its genuinely nice to know that I've hopefully helped them make a more educated decision on an item like this.

Posted on May 2, 2015 and filed under Three Questions.

Akkerman Shocking Blue Ink Review

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

I sought out a bottle of Akkerman Shocking Blue after seeing a close up of the ink on Instagram. Akkerman isn't the easiest ink to find in the USA, but I was directed to Vanness Pens. I had to wait a week or two until they got some in stock, then I clicked on the pay button. At $30.00 a bottle (60ml), this is expensive ink. But, when I saw the beautiful bottle, I understood why. Plus, most U.S. retailers don't carry Akkerman, so it comes at a premium.

The bottle itself is a work of art. It looks like a piece of antique glasswork with facets and a genie bottle shape.

The unique shape of the bottle is also functional. There's a ball in the upper chamber that moves away when you tip the bottle, allowing ink in. You fill your pen, and tip the bottle again so the ink can flow back into the bottom chamber.

The ink flows well in my Montblanc 146 with a stub nib, but it really shines in flex nibs.

I suspect it would be stunning with the Franklin-Christoph 1.9 music nib (hint, hint, Brad). The ink has a slight odor, but it's not overpowering.

The color is simply amazing. It's a vivid blue with incredible shading and a cool purple-red glimmer outline you can see in close up shots. I just wish you could see this with the naked eye, and maybe you can with super-wide nibs.

I did a chromatography comparison of Shocking Blue with a few of my other blue inks. The closest parallel was Iroshizuku's Asa-Gao, but the Asa-Gao has purple in it, whereas Shocking Blue does not. I don't know why the purple-red outline I see in the close ups doesn't show up in the chromatography. I made several attempts, and in every case Shocking Blue exhibited only varied shades of blue–no purple, no red.

Compared with some other blues, Shocking Blue is a true blue whereas Diamine Sargasso Sea contains lots of purple. Sailor's Yama-Dori is more of a dark turquoise, Iroshizuku's Asa-Gao is close in tone to Shocking Blue, but also contains purple, and Diamine Denim is a blue-black.

Shocking Blue takes some time to dry on the Rhodia DotPad paper. Of course, the wider your nib, the longer it will take the ink to dry. And the paper you use makes a difference. On my Tomoe River paper, the ink dries almost immediately. It's definitely not waterproof, so if that's important to you, you'll want to look elsewhere.

I purchased my bottle from Vanness Pens for $30.00 plus $7.00 shipping. They have great customer service and my bottle was shipped almost immediately.

Please note: the adorable cat is not included with the bottle of ink.

Posted on May 1, 2015 and filed under Akkerman, Ink Reviews.