A technophile lawyer rediscovers the joys of pen and paper

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sustainable Earth Notebook Winner

ShelaM is the winner of the Staples Sustainable Earth Ruled Spiral Notebook that I reviewed last week. I'm planning another giveaway next week, but I'm not sure what it will be yet.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Do you match up pen and ink colors?

It seems that a few of my pens almost require ink of a certain color group. Not because of performance issues, but because any other hue just doesn't seem to match the personality of the pen. Three cases in point:

Monteverde Invincia Stealth
Monteverde Invincia Stealth

This is the most obvious. I tried other inks with this pen. But this pen is so completely, utterly black that any ink color other than black just doesn't seem right. Even Noodler's Lexington Gray seems to be pushing the envelope. This is all very unfortunate, as I don't really care for black ink! (So can someone please explain why I have about 8 samples of assorted blacks?) This is giving me second thoughts about a Parker Premier Black Edition.

Brown Esterbrook J
Brown Vintage Esterbrook J

I've used some blues in this pen, and even a burgundy or two, but I keep coming back to Private Reserve Copper Burst. If I want to stretch the pen's range, it's Iroshizuku Tsukushi (Field Horsetail Brown - a slightly reddish brown). Lots of browns would probably work. Oranges might work, too.

Blue TWSBI Diamond 530
Blue TWSBI Diamond 530 XF
I'm still on my first inking of this pen, but I can't imagine shifting away from blue. Luckily, while I initially found blues boring, I absolutely must have a blue for work, and I've got some blues I find enough out of he ordinary to be interesting. Pictured is Diamine China Blue, but I also like Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo.

I think one reason I may be doing this lately is that I keep way too many pens inked at one time, and this is one easy way to remember what inks I have in these pens. I'm not sure.

Oddly, on other pens, the color does not seem to call for any particular ink. Nothing seems unusual flowing from a Lamy 2000. Even other all blue pens, like my blue Safari and blue Waterman Expert, feel comfortable with any color ink. So, what is it about these three?

What about you? Do you find yourself color-matching any of your pens and inks? Or perhaps consistently mis-matching them?


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Start 'em young!

The Booker household held a garage sale yesterday, and it was the usual fun. whenever we have one, we usually get three or four nearby neighbors to join in and its like a big party.

What sticks with me about yesterday's sale is a very young girl —no more than four, certainly — walking around, looking very carefully at things. But she didn't pick anything up. You see, her hands were already occupied, and my face broke into a big grin when I saw what she was holding:

She was clutching that pencil and notebook as if they were very important to her. Not until posting this photo did I even notice that the notebook was open. Now I wish I'd talked with her about what was in it. Maybe next time.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review and Giveaway: Staples Sustainable Earth Ruled Spiral Notebook (UPDATED with winner)

The Sustainable Earth line is the apparent successor to Staples' "bagasse" sugar-cane based paper, which has lots of rave reviews on the Fountain Pen Network. Many people were lamenting that Staples was no longer carrying the the bagasse looseleaf, so others were pointing out that the paper was available in notebooks under the new "Sustainable Earth" name.  With everybody clamoring for it so much, I had to pick up a notebook to try it out. (See the end of this post for giveaway details.)

The Review

Staples Sustainable Earth Spiral NotebookSo, is this sugar cane based paper as sweet as everyone at FPN says it is? For me, the answer is no, but it has more to do with the paper's feel rather than its performance. In fact, other than the feel of the paper, I like everything about this notebook quite a bit.

The FPN posters are right that this paper is very fountain pen friendly. I tried quite a few pen-and-ink combinations, and not one of them feathered significantly. Same for the gel pens and rollerball pens I tried. All of them, even the wettest fountain pens, delivered very sharp, crisp lines. Bleed-through was minimal, but show-through was quite significant with all the fountain pens, certainly too much for me to use both sides of the paper. Show-through was far milder with gels and rollerballs, enough so for me to consider using both sides of the paper with those pens, were it not for another problem.

Fountain Pen Ink on Staples Sustainable Earth Notebook

Gel and Rollerball Ink on Staples Sustainable Earth Notebookt 2011-01-20 at 5.14.48 PM

Bleedthrough and Showthrough  in Staples Sustainable Earth Notebook
Click the picture to see the show-through and mild bleed-through

Which brings me to my beef with the paper: it's very thin and feels crinkly. I didn't see a spec anywhere on the label, but it feels similar to the 15-lb. paper on the Staples graph pad. As a result, the pen leaves an imprint in the paper, so its difficult to use both sides even where show-through is not too bad. Maybe I need to develop a lighter touch.

In fact, the paper almost feels brittle, as if the corner is going to snap off when I turn the page. It doesn't, of course, but it feels like it could. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but it's enough for me not to enjoy it. Every time I turn a page I think they could have used a roll of this stuff to test Grasshopper's stealth in Kung Fu:

I love almost everything else about this notebook, so let me give credit to Staples where it is due.

Cover. There is a variety of covers available, but what I really like about the cover is how sturdy it is. It's like the cover of a hard-bound book and feels virtually indestructible, and it's not just because the paper inside is so thin by comparison. I do have one small complaint. That's the inside front cover, which explains the environmental benefits of the sugar-cane based paper. I tend not to put much stock in green claims because I find they tend to be pronounced in a vacuum without mentioning offsetting environmental downsides.

Binding. This is not a twin wire binding. It is a true spiral binding, and it is quite impressive. Normally, I prefer twin wires because they seem stronger (two wires going through each hole in the paper) and less likely to snag on things. The ends of flimsy metal spiral bindings snag on things, start to unwind, and they are usually so flimsy that they crush easily. But the spiral binding on this notebook uses the thickest gauge wire I've ever seen in a spiral binding, and appears to be exceptionally sturdy. The ends are neatly tucked, unlikely to lose that position, and thus quite unlikely to snag on anything.

Spiral Binding on Staples Sustainable Earth Notebook
Fantastic spiral binding. LEFT: end nicely tucked. MIDDLE: wire gauge compared to Levenger twin ring wire binding; RIGHT: spiral binding means covers are not aligned when open.

Ruling. I didn't measure, but this looks to be college ruling. What I like about it is the pale beige color, similar to a Field Notes notebook, but the color is more neutral and the lines are somewhat thicker. Still, it's a good combination. The ruling guides you but is virtually unnoticeable when you read from the page.

Perforated pages. In my opinion, perforated pages are a must for any wire-bound notebook to be used at work. After a brief experience with bound Moleskine-like notebooks, I've decided that notes simply have to be detachable to be practical in a law office. The perforations make that practical because they eliminate the raggedy edges one gets from removing pages from a wire-bound notebook.

Pockets. There is a two-sided "kraft" pocket at the front of the notebook. Like the cover and binding, quite sturdy. A nice touch for such an inexpensive product.

Price. I missed this part of the discussion on FPN, but part of what bagasse paper lovers really loved about the paper is that it's very inexpensive. This notebook has 100 pages and costs only $3.99!

The giveaway

My first thought was to give away this notebook, but then I wondered if that wasn't defeating the "sustainable earth" aspect of it. Is it really worth the energy, fuel and cost to mail a $4 notebook? Would anyone interested even sign up if they can get one for $4 at Staples?  But, what the heck, a giveaway is a giveaway!

So, the usual giveaway sign-up procedures apply:

1. Leave a comment.

2. Send me an email at notebookeresqATgmail.com. The body of the email must include the name you used to comment and the subject line of the email must read exactly:


I need the email so I can be sure I can contact the winner. If you leave a comment without sending a proper email or email me without leaving a comment, you will not be entered.

I'm not setting a deadline. How long I let the entry period run depends on the number of entries, traffic, and whether this giveway makes it into this Saturday's "Ink Links" at The Pen Addict. I'll pick a winner when I'm ready.  Good luck!

UPDATE (1/27/11): And the winner is, SheilaM. I'll email you shortly, Sheila. Everyone else . . . I'll be posting another giveaway next week . . . just not sure what it will be yet. Come by again!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Score one for digital, No.1: Redbox

In my post a few weeks ago about digital-to-analog changes in my life during 2010, I mentioned that I still keep all my contacts in my iPhone rather than a paper address book, and I wrote, "Score one for digital."

So, I got to thinking about other areas that digital still tules over pen and paper, and decided they might make a good series for the blog, as a sort of counterpoint to my usual ramblings. This is the first installment.

Before we got Netflix, we would occasionally rent DVDs from the automated Redbox DVD kiosk at the grocery store. Hard to go wrong for a buck a night.

So one Saturday my 8-year-old daughter and I wanted to rent The Spy Next Door, but it was already checked out. I whipped out my iPhone, searched for the movie in the Redbox app, and found where it was stocked in another kiosk about a half mile away, which I hadn't known about previously. Five minutes later, we had it in our hands.

No matter how much I refine my planner layout, it won't be able to do that!


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Senator Marco Rubio's office (don't worry, this is not a political post)

Conservative blogger joking about the temporary office of Senate newcomer Marco Rubio (R-FL), emphasis mine:

Alas, poor Marco! Florida’s Tea Party superstar has been stuck in a temporary office in the basement, behind the cafeteria, on a dead-dead corridor across the hall from the Senate stationery store!
 Ok, maybe being behind the cafeteria and in a dead-end corridor are bad things. But doesn't being across from the stationery store make up for all that?