The New TŪLs From OfficeMax And A Giveaway!

[UPDATE: Please note that the giveaway is now over.]

The nice folks at OfficeMax sent me a set of their new series of pens called TŪL. I don’t use many lower-end disposable pens, and for whatever reason when I do I stick to much older offerings like the BIC crystal stic or the Pilot G2. But when someone offers to send pens, well, it’s hard to say no! So, to be clear, I received the pens I tested for free.

I started with the gel pen and I think it’s my favorite. It was the only blue pen in the set, and it’s a nice color blue. There’s a hint of red in it, but it’s not the raging purple that some companies (looking at you, Schmidt!) pass of as blue. The grip is a simple rubberized cylinder, which I like. It’s rubber in texture, but not squishy. There is little to no cartridge rattle, which is nice. I can’t stand writing with a pen that clicks every time I touch it to paper and this pen is nearly silent.

The clip is a simple spring, with reasonable clearance, but low reveal – if you put this pen in a tight sleeve it may be a challenge to get it out.

The ball point is just about identical. Inexplicably, the grip is shorter, but still more than long enough. It’s the same simple yet functional grip as on the gel pen. The cartridge is smooth and nice to write with. It’s as good a ballpoint as I’ve written with and very close to the ink density of an Easyflow 9000.

While the two pens are very similar, it’s easy enough to tell them apart. The ballpoint has a dimple in the middle of the pushbutton, and the gel button is plain.

I’m not much of a roller ball or marker pen fan, but they both seem competent. Both have caps, and the grips are very similar to the gel and ballpoint, with the addition of a pattern of dimples which are aesthetic only for me. I couldn’t feel them.

The design of pen line is pleasant and functional. It’s clearly more fancy than a typical disposable pen and meant to stand in for an expensive, refillable pen. They are comfortable to hold and write with. The only substantial flaws I see are that the ink level is not visible on the gel pen, and there is no blue fine point gel pen. If you visit you can see the entire range of products. The older GL1 gel pens come in all colors in fine point, but the new GL3 line offers only black.


OfficeMax have generously offered a free set to give away. At midnight on Saturday, December 1, I will choose a random commenter on this post as the winner.

220 Days With The Master Dots

On February 19, 2012 I made my first entry in the Leuchtturm1917 Master Dots notebook, and 220 days later I made my last. I’ve written several posts about this notebook, and the last was about its durability.


I’m happy to say the covers didn’t fall off, and no pages fell out, nor did any serious tears develop. I hauled the book daily in my briefcase. I also carried it on vacation and traveling.

The useless perforated pages in the back that I used for a few lists even stayed attached.

The only really serious points of wear were at the corners, especially along the spine – you can see how the corners wore down. At first I was a little disturbed by this, but it’s harmless as far as the book is concerned, and testifies to the journey it has taken


So, did I like it? Would I use another one?

After I finished this book I thought about what I would use next. I made another Poor Man’s Midori, with a nice dyed cover and read place holder ribbons. That lasted about two weeks. I briefly thought about using a BookFactory book I’d received and started using for a dedicated notebook on a specific subject, but the page format was just too dominating and dark.

In the end I pulled out the leather Master Dots the folks at Leuchtturm1917 had sent me and it’s my current notebook.

I’ve written about the benefits of a larger page size before, and I’ve noticed that this last book lasted about 7 months – about the same as the book before that which was A5 size, or about one quarter the page area. In the larger book I did do a bit more drawing, but I still must have written at least three times as much if not more. Truth be told some of it was drivel, and some always will be, but because I had the space I wrote more about everything, which is the point of having a notebook in the first place.

I know I’m past sounding like some kind of brainwashed big-notebook zealot, but if you haven’t tried a big book you should.

Discovering The Chronodex

You may have wondered where many of the photos of that cool looking Midori Traveler’s Notebook come from. As I discovered looking at someone’s pinterest page, I discovered Patrick Ng, who seems to be the Midori Traveler’s Notebook champion. At least in terms of photography, if not overall Midoriness.

Anyway, Patrick has a blog post about the Chronodex. When I saw it I was reminded of the first time I saw a circular slide rule as a kid,

or the control panel of a mainframe computer. Visually striking, and compelling in a way that few things are to me.

(photo credit: Patrick Ng)

Have a look – if you’re a planner user, you have to give this a try.

Unfortunately for me, I know I’ll never use a paper calendar for anything but tracking diet and running stats, since Outlook has taken over American business. Still, I might try it for record keeping…

Leuchtturm1917 Large Dots Giveaway

[UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed]

In my quest to make dot-grid notebooks more common in the US, I’m giving away a new brown Leuchtturm1917 Large Dots notebook, pictured below. This is a US giveaway, and I will not be shipping to addresses outside the US – sorry!


You have until Sunday, November 18, 11:00pm (post time as shown on the blog) to post a comment. I will take the list of commenters to this post, remove any duplicates and posts datestamped after 11:00pm 11/18/2012, and pick one at random as the winner. I will post the winner’s comment here, and use the email address in the comment (it’s not posted publicly) to contact the winner.

Good luck!

Pen Review: Caran d’Ache Fountain Pen

The Caran d’Ache Ecridor is a nice ballpoint. It’s very similar to the 849, and I received on as a gift from Muller Martini a long time ago. I liked it enough that I wanted a fountain pen to go with it, and bought an Ecridor fountain pen.
I’ve shown it above in a tarnished state – it seems to get that way pretty fast in storage. The discoloration around the grip is a side effect of poor tarn-x usage. Below is is shown with the ballpoint (different pattern) with both in reasonably good polish. Strangely, both keep their polish well and don’t tarnish in use. Only in storage. Current Ecridor pens in silver are touted to be tarnish free.
The build quality is very good. It’s a heavy metal body and cap plated in sterling silver. It’s not easy to keep it polished, but it’s worth the (sometimes substantial) effort to shine it up if storage leaves it gray. The nib is extra fine, and that is a smidge finer than a Namiki fine and definitely finer than most European extra-fine nibs. The pen takes cartridges or a converter. I’ve never tried their cartridges, and the converter is the ubiquitous screw-type. Doesn’t hold as much ink as a Pelikan piston filler, but the pen writes fine enough that it’s not much of an issue.

The interesting thing is that the cap does not post. It also doesn’t have any mechanism to align itself with the body – they’re both hexagonal, so if you’re prone to a little OCD having them misaligned you may find yourself nudging them into alignment. The funny thing for me is that while I rarely post a cap, for some reason I notice it a lot more with this one. Maybe I post more often than I think.

The nib is not super smooth, but is more than competent. If I wasn’t so lazy, I’d put some chromium oxide on some leather make it sing. The grip is slim, like a Rotring 600 ballpoint.

The clip is a strong spring type. I’ve been surprised at the durability of the clip on my Ecridor ball pen – I’ve been convinced it was sprung a few times but it is still in perfect order. The reveal is maybe 5mm. If you carry pens in pen sleeves, this one is likely to be difficult to pull out.

The Ecridor is a minimal design. Slim, thin, short, and sturdy, all while being very well made and very high quality. It’s worth it’s price. Whether or not it’s a good pen is up to you.

Masukomi: Entrepreneur’s Notebook has a nice series on keeping what is called an Entrepreneur’s Notebook. Lots of interesting tips and observations, some I agree with and others not so much. The Midori notebook is featured, and there’s an offer to make a special refill if there’s interest. Definitely worth a look.

What is it about pictures of a Midori notebook in a travel context that makes me want to buy one? While I get why everyone loves the Midori, I don’t get why everyone uses the Midori. Too small, doesn’t lay flat very well, the pages are too small, and the refills are hard to find, and did I mention the pages are way too small? Still, it’s leather.