A technophile lawyer rediscovers the joys of pen and paper

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Exacompta A5 Index Card Giveaway Winners

The envelope, please . . .

The winners are Chia and Amber, both of whom, it appears from their comments, are teachers. What are the odds that the random number generator at random.org would generate two numbers between 1 and 16 that pick the two teachers from among the 16 entries?

Some of you might be saying:


But I did use the random number generator . . . honest!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

If the Statue of Liberty were holding an uncapped pen instead of a torch, would the cap be posted?

Since the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France,
I think it goes without saying that if she were
holding a paper tablet instead of a stone tablet,
the paper would be Cairefontaine
I've seen some people rule out pens completely because it is impossible or impractical to post the cap. They can love everything about a pen, but if the cap won't post or it makes the pen top heavy, forget it. That's a dealbreaker.

I was having a chat with someone at the pen show last month about non-posting caps. Her view: that the only people who seem to be bothered by non-posting caps are Americans. Everywhere else, she insisted, people overwhelmingly write unposted.

So, is posting really just an "American thing"? Given that the USA is, according to Wikipedia, anyway, one of only three countries that continues to hold out against the metric system, some stubborn nonconformity when it comes to posting would not surprise me. But it is true?


Friday, March 11, 2011

Review and Giveaway: Exacompta A5 Index Cards

Exacompta A% Index Cards
My crappy photography really washed out the green
Karen at Exaclair sent me these index cards gratis for me to review, and I was thrilled. I've been dying to try these for some time now, but did not want to buy them because I was not sure I had a use for them. I had an idea or two, but wasn't committed.

After trying them out, I am going to find a use for them, even if I have to make something up, because they are awesome. 

And, I'm going to give some away! The sign-up instructions are at the end of this post.

The Review

The quality starts with the packaging. Index cards sold in office supply stores are sold in shrink-wrapped stacks. Once you open the shrink-wrap, your cards are all over the place. Exacompta came up with this ingenious idea to solve that problem. It's called a box (or, as they say around Exaclair headquarters, un carton). Which means you can take out however many cards you need and throw the rest back in a drawer and they all stay together. Man, what will they come up with next?

Better yet, the box is not a conventional box. The cards sit on a long piece of cardboard, the ends of which flip back over the stack. The whole stack slides through the outer sleeve, sort of like a matchbox, which makes it really easy to grab the cards you want. A cutout in the end of the box let's you see your supply.

The cards come in a 100-count box, with 25 cards each in blue, yellow, pink and green. They are marked on both sides with a 5 x 5 mm grid of violet lines. The lines are a little heavy for my taste (virtually all gridlines are) and not as pale as I'd like. I thought they'd interfere with readability, but even fine and extra fine ink lines read quite easily, at least so long as the ink is highly saturated. Also, the cards are nice and sturdy, made of 205g card stock.

The writing experience is everything you would expect from an Exacompta/Clairefontaine product. Very smooth, a real joy. I was a little worried when the very first ink I tried (Levenger Cardinal Red) feathered rather severely, but most of the other inks I tried didn't feather noticeably. The only showthrough came with a Sharpie marker, and even then on only the yellow and green cards.

Like Biffybeans, I saw performance differences in the four colors. Pink was noticeably better than the rest, and green noticeably worse. But even the green wasn't too bad. I'll just remember it for my drier writers and for gels and rollerballs.

Exacompta Index Cards

You may find these cards to be a little pricey. I haven't managed to find the A5 size online, but a slightly smaller size goes for $10-$12, depending on the vendor. At more than a dime a card, you've got to really like using these to buy them. But considering that Levenger's price for multicolored 3x5 cards works out to more than 7 cents per card for cards barely one third the size of these, the Exacompta price (whatever it is) is a bargain.

There are more photos in the Flickr photo set.

Keep in mind that cards you find at internet vendors might depart from what I've described. The product photos I've seen on various websites do not show the packaging. Also, they appear to be packaged with five colors (adding white to the four colors mentioned in this review), and I've only found them on U.S. sites in 4x6 in. and 5x8 in. sizes. I've been unable to find the A5 size for sale anywhere on the net. Anyone?

The Giveaway

There will be two lucky winners. Each will receive a sampler pack of 24 cards (6 of each color). To enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post.
  2. Email me at notebookeresqATgmailDOTcom (there's a handy link near the top of the sidebar). Your email must give the name you used to comment and the subject line must read exactly:


(Sorry to be so picky, but the email assures that I'll be able to reach the winners, and the subject line allows me to apply a filter to keep all the contest emails together automatically.) Entries will close midnight (Pacific Time) on Wednesday night. The winners will be announced on the blog and notified by email. If a winner does not claim his sampler pack by midnight the following Wednesday, I will select and notify an alternate.

Good luck!


Friday, March 4, 2011

Deadly Pens!

Want a pen that will make you feel like James Bond? Then check out these 5 Tactical Pens for Writing and Self-Defense, written up by Brett McKay of The Art of Manliness. What's a tactical pen, you ask?

"A tactical pen is a writing implement that can be used both for signing checks and as a last ditch self-defense weapon."

There's not a Lamy, Namiki, Pilot, Sailor, Mont Blanc, Waterman or Visconti in the bunch!