Posts filed under Guest Post

Pilot V5 Hi-Tecpoint Cartridge System Roller Ball Pen Review

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(This is a guest post by Johnny McClung. Find more from Johnny at the awesomely-titled blog Johnny Anypen and on Twitter.)

The Pilot V5 Hi-Tecpoint is the latest in the Pilot V5 line of pens. I have enjoyed these pens since I bought my first capped Precise V5. I was so excited when I first saw the new Hi-Tecpoint had a cartridge! Now, I could use practically any color in my favorite pen.

The standard black that comes with the pen seems to be the same ink as I have come to know and love. It may not be exactly the same, but the performance was equal, if not better than the Precise V5 retractable.

I'd like to thank Mr. Dowdy for agreeing to send me a Pilot CON-20 converter to see if it would work with the Hi-Tecpoint. In addition to the Pilot cartridge, I put ink in the standard cartridge to see if that would work. Although I have yet to try it, this pen could be converted into an eyedropper. The O-rings available at Goulet Pens fit around the barrel of the Hi-Tecpoint. And the barrel held water. With a little Silicone grease, I think this pen would work.

I had some trouble cleaning out the black ink which may be inexperience on my part and not a reflection of the pen. I received my ink order before the converter arrived so I tested out the standard cartridge first. I did have some trouble getting the ink down the feed, but eventually, the wonderful Diamine Emerald ink shown on the paper. When the converter arrived, I transferred the ink over to the converter and used it. With this push converter, I found it much easier to get the ink down the feed.

This is an excellent $3 pen and with another $3 you can pick up a CON-20 converter and have a superb pen in any color you choose. Since Pilot's cartridges are proprietary, this converter should work in most other Pilot cartridge pens.

I have seven more sample vials of fountain pen ink that I am just dying to try out in this pen. Highly recommended.

Posted on February 5, 2015 and filed under Guest Post, Pen Reviews, Pilot, Hi-Tecpoint.

A Story Of Office Subterfuge

(This is a guest post by Jon Bemis. You can find Jon on Twitter @jtower42)

Since becoming a Junior Pen Addict a year ago, I have tried to evangelize the message of a better writing experience. As is the case in many offices, our supply closest is stocked with the cheapest paper (generic legal and steno pads) and pens (BiC “Xtra Comfort” medium points) our purchasing people can find. By sheer accident, there are some gems like PaperMate Flair plastic tip pens and Dixon Ticonderoga pencils, but mostly the shelf is a cathedral of mediocrity.

I have made some inroads with a few co-workers. I noticed one of our commodities buyers is a woodcase pencil guy, so I gave him a couple of Palomino Blackwings. I checked in with him after a few weeks, and he somewhat sheepishly told me “When you said I would feel a difference between these (Blackwings) and the pencils I normally use, I thought you were nuts. But wow, these are SMOOTH.”

A member of our graphic design team is a kindred spirit as it relates to design and typography – I have introduced her to Field Notes and Mr. Aaron Draplin, and she’s digging it. Our sales analyst admitted to me that she “really likes, you know, GOOD paper.” I gave her an extra Rhodia A5 top staple-bound notebook that I had lying around, and it blew her mind.

I’ve had failures, too. Our corporate attorney, who happens to be a friend, is a Pilot G-2 fan. That’s a great pen; I thought that might serve as a gateway into fountain pens, so I lent him first my Lamy Safari and then my Pilot Metropolitan. It hasn’t taken. He always quickly goes back to the G-2’s he loves so much.

But the effort of which I am most proud was not so overt. This office needs to know the love of writing, dammit. So I did something a little sneaky. A little underhanded. I stocked the pond, if you will.

I decided to make a contribution to the supply cabinet. I knew the Pilot Varsity was a great entry-level fountain pen, and they’re inexpensive. I bought about two dozen in blue and black from JetPens, and snuck into the supply cabinet with them on a Tuesday afternoon. I carefully reshuffled the Bics and the Flairs to make a space. Luckily, JetPens had included a Varsity box, so once I was done it looked as if the interloping pens belonged there.

The pens I snuck into the supply closet.

The pens I snuck into the supply closet.

Two weeks later, they were gone.

All twenty-four. GONE. In seven working days (not counting days the office was closed for Christmas and New Year’s.

About a hundred people share this particular supply closet, which is a lot. But for FOUNTAIN PENS to disappear that quickly? I couldn’t believe it. People had actually taken them to use. This only served to increase the audacity, the sheer madness of my next move. I didn’t plan it. I hadn’t thought about it. But in the moment, it seemed right.

I took a Post-it note, stuck it on the now-empty Pilot Varsity box and scribbled (hoping I was disguising my handwriting) “Please reorder. Thanks!” My heart was pounding. I felt like I had crossed some line, violated some rule. It was a little silly – I know some people ask for specific pens or paper from time to time, and my company generally will try to accommodate. Requests for staplers, tape dispensers, letter trays, wall calendars and white boards are generally approved without any raised eyebrows. But still, I had hacked the system! I had introduced a foreign life-form, and now I was hoping the office supply ecosystem would accept this new animal.

A week later, this.

Fresh boxes. Ordered by whoever orders office supplies.

Fresh boxes. Ordered by whoever orders office supplies.

Three fresh new boxes of Pilot Varsities. It worked. I couldn’t believe it.

What I don’t yet know is if fountain pens are on the regular re-order rotation yet. I will be monitoring the inventory to see if folks are still taking them, and I’ll be keeping a sharp eye to see if I can spot people using the pens they’ve acquired.

Basking in the glow of having pulled off my own version of a “covert op,” I find myself wondering why I did it.

I’m excited that my co-workers will have the opportunity to use a pen that’s new to them, to have an experience that maybe they’ve never had. Moreso, I’m hopeful that just a few people will enjoy using a fountain pen so much that it makes their day a little better. We have a pretty great work environment here – people treat each other with respect, we’re pretty family friendly, and people stay a long time. But work is work, and days can get frustrating or mundane. Maybe, just maybe, my little surreptitious act will add a dash of enjoyment to someone’s day.

Posted on January 15, 2015 and filed under Guest Post.

"I use a fountain pen older than my grandparents"


(This is a guest post by Taylor Skidmore. You can find more from Taylor on his blog, Twitter, or

This fall, I will be heading to college at Indiana University to study Informatics and Linguistics. As part of the tour, all prospective students participated in an icebreaker question: "What's a fun fact about yourself?" When I responded, "I use a fountain pen older than my grandparents," the response was exactly what you might expect from a group of 16/17 year old high-schoolers: utter confusion.

I've been using fountain pens on a relatively regular basis for two years now. I first discovered a pack of Pilot Varsities at Staples and fell in love with fine writing utensils. Since then, I've found myself with a Lamy Al-Star, a Pelikan m205, a TWSBI Vac700, an 'infamous' Noodler's Ahab, and an azure Parker Vacumatic. (As a student in high school, I've struggled to afford much more than that.) Although my collection is meager, I can't ever imagine going back to using those free BIC pens from hotel rooms. But using fountain pens at a rural, relatively low-income high school has lent itself to a few issues in my pursuit of the hobby.

"You Must Be Some Sort of Rich Momma's Boy."

Yeah. That's a reaction I've gotten when I use my Vac700 at school. And no, my parents have never bought me a pen. And no, I am not rich. This reaction, however, is not unique to fountain pens. I often get the same reaction talking about, Spotify, and other recurring subscriptions with free alternatives. I just think my peers struggle to grasp the concept of paying money when you don't particularly need to do so; it baffles teenagers (or at least the ones I know).

I try to compare my purchasing of pens to another expensive hobby: video games. A number of my peers happily throw away $70 buying a new video game that offers 10 or 15 hours of playing time without a second doubt. A new TWSBI Vac700 runs for $80. In my honest opinion that offers a marginal price difference, especially when you take into account my peers who buy multiple games a month. On the other side of things, I do not buy pens every month, nor did I have to buy an expensive console to use my pens. Why is there such a large difference between the two?

"My $0.25 BIC Pen Works Just As Well."

Well, no, $0.25 BIC pens do not work as well, or at least they don't in my opinion. I struggle to explain why I just enjoy writing with fountain pens; it's nearly euphoric sitting down to write in my journal every night. I could say things like, "The words flow through my pen as easily as the ink," or, "I like all of the inks I can use, and the way I can change the thickness of the pen's line with the slightest pressure." In fact, I have tried to explain those feelings, and I'm almost immediately met with "Wow, that's dumb," or some other more colorful phrase.

Whether we like it or not, pens are becoming obsolete, especially fountain pens. It breaks my heart that I might not be able to open a sealed, hand-written letter and enjoy communicating with people I never would have without letters, but unfortunately, I think it's the reality of the matter, and most of my peers have never been exposed to anything other than Facebook on a variety of laptops and iPads, let alone the wonders of hand-written mail.

"Wow, that looks really cool!"

Reactions like these are few and far between. Some just like to see the ink slosh around in the barrel of my demonstrator. Others think the nibs are pretty, or the lines graceful. I ask if they'd like to write with it, and the answer is usually yes. I hand them my pen, and they gingerly take it from my hands as if it would shatter if they held on too tightly. They take some filler paper, scribble their name and hand it back, enjoying the isolated experience. Of the dozens of people I've let try my pen(s), only one enjoyed the experience enough to ask more questions about fountain pens.

I absolutely adore fountain pens, ink, paper, and even a high-quality wooden pencil or two. Most of the time, no one says anything about my pens, and when they do, my peers often look at me with confusion, completely oblivious to the wonders of such a simple technology.

Posted on May 8, 2013 and filed under Guest Post.