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Things I didn't buy

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Oct. 11th, 2008 | 02:50 pm

A Space Pen.

bullet space pen

I keep reading people writing about Space Pens and how wonderful they are and how convenient they are for people who carry little notebooks around, which I do. Yesterday, I was in a WHSmiths where they had a Space Pen at the "fancy pens" counter, and I asked if I could try one.

The chap extracted the thing from its display box and passed it over. It feels quite nice in the hand, and isn't awkwardly small as I'd feared it might be, but writing with it just feels like writing with any other ballpoint pen, and I don't like writing with ballpoints. There's too much friction between nib and paper, and the ink flow isn't consistent. If I'm going to write with a biro I'll just use a plastic Bic for 20p.

I scratched it around on the pad he handed me and looked very nonplussed. "It just feels like a biro," I said. "I keep hearing people talking about how great the things are, but it writes like any cheap ballpoint." He shrugged and said "well, they're supposed to write in all sorts of different conditions I suppose". "Yeah, upside-down and underwater and so on, but how often am I upside-down and underwater?" He smirked and put it back. Nobody works on commission in Smith's.

It's a shame, because the things look very nice and I was hoping for a really nice, even ink flow with little pressure required, but that one certainly didn't have that - and while it was the display model, given all the claims of durability made it should be just as effective as any other whether it's been left in a case or not. So I'll stick with fountain pens and the occasional gel for the moment.

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Comments {15}

The Princess of Id

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from: danaseilhan
date: Oct. 11th, 2008 02:11 pm (UTC)
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I love the story about how the U.S. worked so hard to come up with a pen that wrote in space, and the Russians just used pencils. Don't know if it's true but certainly illustrates our drive to constantly re-invent the wheel.

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fridgemagnet

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from: fridgemagnet
date: Oct. 11th, 2008 02:16 pm (UTC)
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As far as I remember it _is_ apocryphal, but it's still a good one.

I've heard of new-school-low-tech types who do use pencils, come to think of it, but that's going a bit too far for me. Pencils are a pain in the backside unless you're drawing with them (and they are even then but there's more point).

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The Princess of Id

(no subject)

from: danaseilhan
date: Oct. 11th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
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My only objection to pencils is they aren't permanent. I like them fine otherwise--and you can erase them, too. (I've used that erasable ink and I'm underwhelmed.) I particularly like mechanical pencils because they don't need sharpening.

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fridgemagnet

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from: fridgemagnet
date: Oct. 13th, 2008 06:29 pm (UTC)
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Sorry, please ignore the cretin, someone banned from a board I moderate.

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The Princess of Id

(no subject)

from: danaseilhan
date: Oct. 14th, 2008 04:55 pm (UTC)
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And here I thought he hadn't messaged me until I checked my email. Wow.

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Tannhauser

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from: spyinthehaus
date: Oct. 11th, 2008 05:46 pm (UTC)
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It's apocryphal, and also the Fisher space pen wasn't US-funded - it was invented by an entrepreneur, who saw the opportunity to supply pens to NASA as a marketing gimmick - a very good one, certainly.

I have a space pen with a stylus built into the cap - the stylus is actually very useful, because writing on a touchscreen with something pen-shaped is a lot more natural for me than writing on a touchscreen with a thin stylus. I almost never use the actual _pen_, though - as you say, its just like a biro, and I almost always have a pen that I'd rather use.

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Nina

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from: janinazew
date: Oct. 12th, 2008 12:04 am (UTC)
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The Americans originally used mechanical pencils and the Russians grease pencils on plastic slates which the Americans adopted so there is a story but it's a bit less snappy than the apocryphal tale that's spread about.

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fridgemagnet

(no subject)

from: fridgemagnet
date: Oct. 13th, 2008 06:29 pm (UTC)
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Sorry, please ignore the cretin, someone banned from a board I moderate.

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The Princess of Id

(no subject)

from: danaseilhan
date: Oct. 14th, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC)
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That's hilarious. I think the reason the original joke gets so much mileage is we do have a tendency to re-invent the wheel on a regular basis.

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Another Green World

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from: stardances
date: Oct. 11th, 2008 02:15 pm (UTC)
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I have been using a Bic Velocity Gel (that has a little gripper thing, a clip and a click type on/off) lately and it writes more like a fountain pen than a ball point. It is also inexpensive and comes in a variety of colors.
I personally love fountain pens too, while hating on most ballpoint pens the gel ink flows better than most Bic's I have tried.

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fridgemagnet

(no subject)

from: fridgemagnet
date: Oct. 11th, 2008 02:16 pm (UTC)
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Oh, I think I might have seen those... next time I'm around a shop I'll give one a try.

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The Princess of Id

(no subject)

from: danaseilhan
date: Oct. 11th, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC)
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I love gel pens. There is one type of ballpoint I like too but can't think of the name off the top of my head. But they write pretty well for ballpoints, they're fine-point, and the black ink doesn't have that red cast to it at certain angles like regular black ballpoint does.

And of course there are always Sharpies if they don't bleed through the paper.

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Space pen

from: anonymous
date: Oct. 11th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
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I've got one I was going to give to the charity shop - I'll send it to you. Seeing as how I have stopped hanging upside down and writing underwater these days it needs a good home where someone just MIGHT do those things one day.
OP

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Nina

(no subject)

from: janinazew
date: Oct. 12th, 2008 12:06 am (UTC)
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I use a black biro, they suit my handwriting and they provide just the right amount of resistance.

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soho_iced

(no subject)

from: soho_iced
date: Oct. 15th, 2008 02:35 pm (UTC)
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Fine Bic pens (the cheap orange kind, black ink) are my pen of choice, mostly because I like tiny writing. Also reliably non-leaky, cheap, long lasting etc.

Haven't used a fountain pen in years, not since the one Dad gave me for my exams was stolen in my first year at university. (I was too annoyed to replace it with a poor imitation at first, then I just didn't get round to it.) I have a bad track record with smeary things though so will probably not change this soon: also the only time I do much sustained hand writing is when I'm on holiday writing a diary, and if I had a nice pen I wouldn't want to travel with it.

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