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Blog

Fisher Q-4 Review

Fr. Kyle Sanders

I am excited to announce a review partnership with The Pen Company, a small family run stationary retailer in the UK. I received the following product from them for review, however, this does not sway my view of the product.

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 In trying to chose a review item, I wanted to choose something 1) I've never owned or used 2) preferably something something I've never seen reviewed (because I'm prideful). These are both selfish  reasons I know. Hopefully the choice comes to bare to aid in your purchasing. 

For some reason, I was interested in trying a multi-pen. I don't use one often and when I do it's the Hi-Tec C Coleto Me. Their concept, however, intrigues me, a vertisble Swiss Army tool of writing instruments. In my search I stumbled upon a multi-pen produced by Fisher, to whom I connect the famous Bullet Space pen with its patented pressurized ink cartridge. I knew they made other pens, but I had not seen one, until now. It fit my parameters and The Pen Company's, and, two weeks later, the pen showed up in the mail from across the pond. 

I was excited about getting a new pen and starting this new aspect of the blog. It seems I caught my office manager, Steve, in an equally excitable mood. We opened the box together finding the pen in the Fisher 'space case.' I gave him the honors of trying it first, since it wasn't a fountain pen (he's more keen on rollerballs but I forgive him). He took it out of the box. We both looked at the gunmetal barrel and ribber grip, and the four functions printed on the top of the barrel right below the nock mechanism. He clicked the nock and out came the stylus. He clicked the release button, clicked the nock again, and out came the stylus. He repeated this one or two more times before I snatched it from him in impatience only to find the same results from my attempts. After 5-7 minutes of varied success getting different functions to come out, black ink, or red ink, or the stylus would come out, but never the pencil. There seemed no rhyme or reason by which to eject the desired function. As we were sitting out in the front part of the office, the parish secretary probably thought it was hilarious, us sitting there trying to figure out how the mechanism works properly. At her commensensical recommendation, we decided to look at the directions provided by Fisher (did I say pride earlier, add stubbornness), and they didn't disappoint. Once we 'figured it out' we were both completely fascinated by the pen. (I've got to leave some suspense. I'll tell you how it works later. I guess I'm a prideful, stubborn tease). Steve then went all around the office showing everyone how it works. For the next 30 minutes, every visitor to the office got a demonstration of the pen's operation. I think I effected the efficiency of the office that day.

I carried the pen in my shirt pocket for three months and have a good handle of it. Here, then, are my thoughts. 

 Form

Fisher prides itslef on creating writing instruments for the space age. That futuristic aesthetic is present in our current charge. The pen is sleek and unadorned. It says I'm here to take scientific measurements on the moon, in mulitiple colors. The pen is larger than the Pilot G-2, and its slender length gives the feeling of an apollo rocket. The body bulges slightly at the rubber grip section giving the whole pen pleasant lines. 

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The body has a gunmetal color to it. Although such a color lends itself to the thought of space age, as opposed to teal or pink or Irish green, it leaves the pen looking like a fancy advertisement pen. Instead of looking ready for the space age, it looks more comfortable at the doctor's office or with a law firm's name on it, leaving the pen looking cheap. The chrome accents at the tip, in the band above the grip section, in the click mechanism, and with the clip up the class just slightly.  

Even so, all of the colors of the pen balance well. The black of the grip section mixed with the chrome accents find a happy tonal medium in the gunmetal grey of the body. This monochromatic feel gives the pen a '50's futuristic aesthetic in line with what I would think Fisher was looking for, but it still looks cheap.

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The branding is simple with its white words sitting nicely within the greyscale. Above the grip section band, is says "Q-4 PEN by FISHER." Below the cap, written in the same font are the four functions of the pen: Red, Black, .7mm, and Stylus. Stamped in profile on the side of the clip is "Japan,"  which makes the pen look cheaper still. After spending three months in a breast pocket the printed branding is starting to be scratched off; eventually, after a few years of hard use, it will become impossible to know what function is being chosen. 

I do like the interplay between the dull black rubber of the grip with the polish of the body and accents. It settles the eye after all that reflection, a reflection which gives the greyscale a vibrance black and white film wished it could convey.  

Function

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This is where this pen shines. It has a unique mechanism to 'discharge' the desired function. It uses gravity to determine which function is ejected for writing. The names of the four functions around the top of the barrel are not just decorative reminders but are functional keystones (pun intended). The function whose name faces up when the pen is horizontal will be the function that is extended. This is where myself and the office manager ran into the random ejection experience. We held the pen vertical, like every other pen is held, when ejecting the refill. We hadn't operated the pen correctly, hence the headaches. We were telling it to do something it wasn't made to do. 

This fascinated me the first week of use because it was new and a rather ingenious way to solve the  multi-pen problem of multiple cartridges playing bed buddies in the same barrel. They have to play well together or there will be a serious problem. After the first week, however, it became more of a frustration. I still hadn't gotten the orientation of which function was where on the barrel for me to eject it, so I would end up spending a few seconds looking for my desired function. "Oh there's the red pen." This extra time seems counterintuitive to the click function of the pen. You have quick access, but wait, let me find the right passage way. 

The click function itself runs smoothly. There are no snags or hangups. It has a comfortable tension that doesn't make it feel too loose and shakey nor is it so thight as to require the strong thumbs of a video gamer or portrait texter. The release function is also smooth. Although it is a small button it doesn't get accidentally pushed causing me to look for the function again. It requires an intentional push. Each function fits well through the extension hole. No one of them feels skinny or misshapen, all fits seamlessly 

The pencil function, after being extended, requires another click to extend the lead. The nice thing is that I can leave the lead extended even if the pencil function isn't ejected. When I do find the pencil function to click I can get right to writing.

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I don't know when the pens were first produced, but the stylus is completely useless. It looks like an old Blackberry stylus. It is't capactive for the modern touch screen; it dosn't even work on credit card machines in the gorcery store. This basically makes the pen into a Q-3 + nothing.

There is also a hidden eraser in the nock push. It doesn't look any different than the eraser on a Rotring, but it doesn't function as well. The nock,when engaged, is rather springy making it difficult to erase, because, when you push down, the nock just goes farther down. It doesn't lock to allow you to erase. I had to hold the nock to erase anything. Again, ease of use is the issue.

Feel

 The pen has a good weight to it, definitely having more heft than the analogous advertisement pen. The weight is situated at the grip section preventing it from being top heavy and leaving it feeling very comfortable in the hand. 

I like the feel of the rubber grip. It feels like my fingers are sitting on a lazy boy. The rubber itself has some shiftiness to it. It isn't dense or immobile like tire rubber. For a while I thought the shiftiness lent to the  cheap feeling of the pen, but as I wrote with it I came to like the waterbed feel it gave.

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The Fisher space refill is one my favorite ballpoint refills. It's smooth. It has a consistent line. It can write anywhere, anytime. The black refill lacks some darkness of a good rollerball but the charcoal color is pleasant nonetheless. The red refill is just as enjoyable. It puts down a little bit thinner line that the black despite having the same tip size. These refills really help to make the pen something I'd use on a regular basis. They're enjoyable, pleasant, and useful.

The pencil takes a .7mm lead. I prefer .5mm, but I can tolerate the width. Because of the relatively light weight of the pen (a Rotring is heavier) along with the particular installed lead it doesn't put down a very dark line. I can always change out the lead to something more my liking.  

The stylus ... Well.  

Financials

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The Fisher Q-4 is $48.37 at The Pen Company. This is below the Lamy 2000 multipen, $57.66, and above the Lamy Logo multi-pen at $34.47. Although the price sits between these two pens, I don't think it would be as durable as those to Lamys. Consisering the advterisemnt pen-type body, the price seems high even at the $35 price range you find at discout retailers. The price might be attached to the unique nock system, which was probably some fun engineering R&D. I'm a little shocked, having experienced the build quality of the bullet space pen, and its simple beauty, Fisher couldn't have made something that looked nicer and warranted the higher price tag. This is especially the case when rival Uniball has its Jetstream multipen + pencil priced at $16.50 with a cheap plastic body.

I'm assuming the model is also no longer in production since one of the functions is obsolete.

Is the Writing Reverenced?

I love the uniqueness of the mechanism, and those Fisher refills are some of the best ballpoints on the market.  However, these two things don't redeem the chinky look, relative unease of the mechanism, and complete uselesness of the stylus. Not reverenced.

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Paper:  Clairefontaine Classic Top Wirebound Notepad A5

Fall-en for Pencils Giveaway

Fr. Kyle Sanders

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Unlike many of you who live up North, fall has only just begun in South Louisiana, just after the official start of ’winter.’ Leaves are turning colors and temperatures are dropping below 70°, sometimes. Laugh or cry you may but our winter is your fall.

Now this weather gets me in a sentimental and reflective mood. I’ve come a long way over the course of this year in my relationship with woodcased pencils. At the beginning of the year, if you would’ve told I’d traveling to my year end retreat with a 2B triangular pencil and a pencil encased in what looks like a bullet I would’ve thought you off your rocker. I was through and through and fountain pen guy. As I said back in February I despised pencils. Then I chose them to be my Lenten sacrifice. Unfortunately, from a sacrifice perspective, by the time Easter came I had begun to enjoy using pencils. After those 40 days I reviewed the Blackwing 602 and didn’t consider it reverenced. I think if I were to review it again my position would change.

Over the course of the last 8 months I found myself purchasing single pencils at art supply stores and off the internet. I even subscribed to receive a dozen special edition Blackwing pencils four times a year. Special edition pencils, really? 

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I now enjoy using pencils. The smell of cedar can just be sensed by my weak olfactory sensors. it's such an enjoyable experience to sharpen a pencil. That statement itself is new to me; it feels weird to write it.

Part of what helped me is this stationary and pencil community. the Erasable Podcast Facebook Group has been a blast. I’m not as deep into pencildom as I am in pendom, so I’m still learning.

To say thank you to you my readers and to the community, I have a giveaway courtesy of my friends at Metalshop CT and Nock Co. I know it seems like all I'm doing is giveaways but I promise, posts are on the way.

Here what’s up:

I've chosen colors than remind me of fall.

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1) an orange Twist Bullet Pencil with a green tip

2) a sky/pick Nock Co. Fodderstack with Dot-Dash notecards

3) two orange Palomino HB's with erasers

4) a CW Pencils 2B Triangular pencil

5) General's Pacific #2

6) Field Notes Orange Pop #2

7) Kita-Bosch Red Pencil

Here's how it works:
Make a comment on the blog.
CHECK BACK ON THE BLOG ON JANUARY 1 at NOON CST to find out if you won. If you did email me through the letter button on the top right of the site. You have 4 days to respond before I choose another winner.

Winner of the 2015 Fountain Pen Day Giveaway

Fr. Kyle Sanders

I loved hearing all of your stories. The fountain pen community is such a gift to us. You made me smile, one of you even made me cry (you know who you are). A few of you left me wanting to hear more. I have "hearted" a few of the comments in the last post. If you see your comment "hearted" shoot me an email, I would love to do a whole post on your story.

Without further ado, the finitely almighty number generator gave me the number 21 which corresponds to Nicklas Abrahamsson. Congratulations! I'm glad I can add another pen to your arsenal. Nicklas send me an email (just click the letter on the top right of the site) so we can talk inks and shipping address. 

Thank y'all for entering. Keep reading and commenting. 

Fountain Pen Day Giveaway 2015

Fr. Kyle Sanders

I remember the first time I realized there was a group of people like me who liked fountain pens. It was at a time in my life when I couldn't go out and do things like normal 20-somethings because of a freak basketball injury that left me immobile for 3 months. Moving from freedom of movement to dependence was not an easy thing, especially for someone who had never been seriously injured before.  

It started with videos from Brian Goulet about his products and the Fountain Pen 101 series. I realized from the comments on his videos there were others like me. Youtube, as it does, then led me to S.B.R.E Brown with his analysis and shenanigans. Comments on his videos led to the Fountain Pen Network. I realized, then, how much of a newbie I was as guys and gals talked pens that cost more than my annual income at the time (which in seminary was quite meager and rightly so). I found a place I could geek out in and learn safely. It is from there that I grew deep into this online fountain pen community. I am grateful for this community both in the mere pleasure of sharing a mutual love of something but even more so in the genuine friendships that have arisen from all quarters. 

Now we have a day (thanks to Cary) we can call our own, a Fountain Pen Day, which is only solemn in some quarters but those quarters have hymns, incense, and ritual to honor the gift of this community we love. Yes, it says Fountain Pen Day, as if we honor these little pieces of beauty and utility, but, in essence, it is a communal celebration of what fountain pen people mean to each other (or at least that's the meaning I pass along to you). 

So in honor of this community that has give so much to me in genuine pastime, friendships, and support, I offer as tribute one of my fountain pens, an unused notebook, and some samples of inks.

Whatcha get:

  1. a Waterman Eclipse Fountain Pen with a Medium Nib
  2. a Furrow Books Great Plains Notebook from the Kickstarter with guidesheet
  3. three ink samples of the winner's choosing from my collection

How ya win:

  1. You make a comment about your experience of the fountain pen community
  2. You make only one comment
  3. On Monday. November 9, at 9 am CST I will close the bidding.
  4. I will choose a random number via a generator. 
  5. I will post the winner on the blog and he/she has a week to respond to me before I randomly choose another winner. 


NANOWRIMO Materials, 2015

Fr. Kyle Sanders

Hey, everyone (if there's anyone left). It has been nearly five months since my last full post, which is way too long. I apologize. I don't do thee justice. Nevertheless, there is always time for renewal and starting afresh in this earthly life of ours. So I come to you again two days before the start of NANOWRIMO.

I have been participating in National Novel Writing Month three years running. My total number of words I wrote, over the three year period, didn't reach the coveted number of 50,000. I have tried short stories, a novel, and non-fiction. The intention of NANOWRIMO is to get us writers to write, to do away with our inner editor and just put down what's in our minds, as incoherent and ungrammatica asl it may be. It condenses a small novel (50k of words might be 3 chapters to George R.R. Martin) into a frantic period of writing, to stir creativity, since we have been trained by numerous teachers and college professors to produce our written work by a deadline. Deadlines direct and focus the writer, which is partly why you haven't read much from me as of late (shrug); I lost my writing rhythm and couldn't find the beat. So now I decide to step onto the empty dance floor to go all Kevin James in Hitch doing my thing without a care for what people think. 

Psychologically this is quite overwhelming. Fifty thousand words (putting numerals into words always helps) is quite a bit to write, especially when I'm used to writing in blog post and homily sized bits. Developing an idea or story over such a long span of writing seems insurmountable. I know it's not because I personally know people who have conquered it. But there are still lingering doubts. 

With all this in mind, I decided to slightly bend the traditional NANOWRIMO rules, which usually call you to write on one project. I chose to continue my current, or rather more comfortable, mode of writing, in short chunks. So I will switch between projects I'm working on, rotating through them. They are: this blog, my other blog, my homilies, and the non-fiction book I started last year on the theology of alcohol; 1,667 words per day on each subjext. Some days this might be more, other days it might be less. That length, however, isn't any longer than a long blog post. I think that is doable in my mind. I'm really excited about this and am looking forward to finally reaching that 50,00 word mark. 

Being that I am a stationary snob and certified pen addict (Brad Dowdy how is this not a thing). My long journey in words will take place on paper as opposed to screen. It starts with the instrument. I saw an add from Conklin a few weeks ago in the latest edition of Pen World about three new pens the company produced recalling models the company made in its heyday nearly a century ago. One of the pens in particular caught my eye. Although it is gimmicky, I fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. A piston-filler, modern Conklin's first, the Word-Counter is, to my knowledge, unique among currently produced pens. It has, etched on the misty-yellow demonstrator barrel, levels to show how many words the pen has written through measuring the level of ink. This gives the writer some semi-scientific indication to the length of his writing. It seemed perfect for the NANOWRIMO endeavor. It says it holds approximately 5,000 words worth of ink, which would mean I'd be inking up the pen at the alarming rate of every three days. That's quite a bit of inking. 

I figured I would mark every filling with a different ink. This way variety can aid in inspiration. In monotony, I find difficulty. I chose nine inks to handle this, the whole course moving from dark and dull to bright and vibrant. I start the first three days with Aurora Black, a solid base on which to stand. Moving slightly off color, I will then turn to Private Reserve Ebony Purple, a self explanatory color, really. This will be followed by Diamine's Cult Pens Deep Dark Blue. These first nine days will cover a solid base of writing and gives me confidence to continue on. 

The next nine days starts with Sailor Jentle Epinard, which, although being a dark greeen, gives some sheen in comparison to the three previous matte colors. I will then enter the most difficult time in the NANOWRIMO month. I have chosen an ink to mirror the start of the dulling of my perception and the small ways in which, after approximately twenty thousand words, reality starts to waver, delirium not yet set in, but certainly walking up the street like a self-righteous proselytizer who perceives my weakening mind and body, this being Montblanc Meisterstück 90th Anniversary Permanent Grey. After which, I will fill in the grey hole with a matte, bright color reminiscent of leaves falling elsewhere in the country, Organics Studio F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

The final three days will grow in brightness, joy, and vibrancy. It starts with one of my favorite inks, which I will need after such a somber mind-month. Lamy Turquoise will brighten up my paper and give my writing some nice shades. With Organics Studio Nitrogen jumping up the vibrancy of the blue, my words will pop off the page. Hopefully, it will help words pop forth from my slowly tiring brain as well. To give me energy like that last cup of coffee at three in the morning the dawn a paper is due, I have chosen the inimitable J. Herbin Rose Cyclamen. A pink that, hopefully, will bring me to the finish line. 

You might have noticed I only choose nine inks approximately leading to only 27 days of writing leaving three days unaccounted for. After my experience of pencils during Lent, earlier this year, I have incorporated them into my rotation declaring Fridays as pencil days, coloring them with graphite alone. Four of the thirty days will be ferruled by the pencil. The pencils used will vary from mechanical to woodcased, whichever is closest when writing. My tastes there are not yet sharpened. 

This year, I have done something I've never done in my previous three years, through the inspiration of Johnny Gamber, of Pencil Revolution. I sat down and mapped out a basic plan of the topics I would cover in the various projects, recording them in over 30 pages of a Field Notes Shenandoah, leaving 18 pages for notes and other things. This will be my companion through this scribal pilgrimage. It will be my map and my odometer. With it, I have three other notebooks, my Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, each already assigned a task and therefore ramping up their workload for the month. I will continue using the Zequenz 360º from last year to expound on alcohol in a theological manner. I have been using and will continue to use as my homily prep notebook the Nock Co. A5 notebook, which has been covered by stickers. Finally, to develop my thoughts for both blogs I've been using, since May, the burgundy soft-cover and lined Monsieur Notebook. 

With all these tools on hand and a plan somewhat sketched, I feel more ready than ever to mount the heights of the Zion of post-modern writing, a NANOWRIMO win. 

Are any of you embarking on this NANOWRIMO journey? Let me know in the comments, we certainly need mutual encouragement. If you are, are you going analog or digital? If analog, what tools are you using?

Today's Tools - 8/8/15

Fr. Kyle Sanders

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Saturdays are usually homily prep days so I'm doing a lot of writing. My current Homily Prep journal is the Nock Co DotDash A-4 notebook. I'm really liking that ruling Brad and Jeff designed. It fits my handwriting perfectly and really allows me to get the most out of one page. I was filling it with my Sheaffer Triumph Desk Pen with a fine nib filled with De Atramentis Sherlock Holmes. 

Now that I have my ideas down. I'll turn to the Rhodia n. 19 Dotpad to write my delivery notes. The detachable pages make it really easy. I'll be writing those out with my borad nibbed Lamy Joy which is filled with Pelikan Edelstein Adeventurine.  

What are you writing with this balmy Saturday?