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Pen Review: Monteverde One Touch Stylus

Ron at Pen Chalet asked me to review a pen, and I chose the Monteverde One Touch Stylus. I’m into ballpoint these days, I like click pens because they’re so easy to deploy. They also give me a good outlet for fidgeting by letting me click them repeatedly.

The pen arrived quickly in fine condition and upon opening the box I was greeted by a pen quite a bit fatter than I was expecting. This pen is pretty girthy compared to an Ecridor, Jotter or Fisher AG-7.

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The click mechanism is fairly smooth, reasonably quiet, and seems to be positive. The pen has a fair bit of reveal – about an inch – with the clicker having a shape that makes for very easy pen extraction from whatever pocket or sleeve you put it in. This is good especially because the pen is fat is likely to be a snug fit in sleeves.

The clip has a big ball on the end so it should be easy to get it over most pocket hems. The clip has enough clearance for a suit-coat pocket for sure, probaby enough for most winter coat pockets. It grabbed a shirt pocket hem just fine.

The Monteverde Soft Touch refill is black, and in extra broad. In actual practice it’s not that broad unless you press fairly firmly but it is a very smooth and easy rolling experience.

To replace the refill you have to unscrew the cone of the pen, and there you see an exposed spring. The spring is retained by a bit of friction and it didn’t fall out for me, but I get a bit worried about changing cartridges in places where it’s not easy to retrieve any pieces that go missing, like when sitting on an airplane in coach. The cone is also small and can’t be put down in a way where it doesn’t roll. These are pretty minor complaints.

I ordered the pen in carbon fiber finish, with a yellow accent on the clip. The yellow is more like gold – it’s just not bright enough in my opinion. The carbon fiber looks good, although I can’t be certain if it’s really carbon fiber or some kind of effect. There is a seam in the weave that runs the length of the pen that suggests it’s not a printed wrap but the real deal. It shimmers when the pen is rotated, something my CF Namiki Vanishing point does not do. The finish on the body is matte while the furniture is gloss. This is the right combination for a pen that should look manly without looking tactical.

Last but not least is the stylus. On the clicker is a small rubber hemisphere that can be used on touch screens. It worked fine on my iOS devices, and it was part of the reason I chose this pen. I do a lot of writing on my iPad these days, and some of the controls in Ulysses are small. I’d also like to keep the screen cleaner. Time will tell if this a feature I use or not.

Overall I like the pen. It’s more than fancy enough for the office, takes parker-style refills, and feels good in the hand. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble taking it with me since it’s about the same price as an AG-7 and the shape makes it easier to grab out of the pen sleeves in most of my bags.

Monteverde One Touch Stylus at Pen Chalet.

Disclosure: The pen was provided at no cost to me. The words and opinions are my own.

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Is Your Journal A Liability?

Do you keep a journal? Ever have someone pick it up while you were across the room, and they start paging through it saying “Hey, whatcha writing about?” Did you feel hopeful, like your writing might inspire them or lead to a fun discussion? Or did you leap, in slow motion, yelling ’Noooooooo’ as you arced across the room to snatch it out of their hands. Or maybe you did the cool-dude approach and acted totally bored, hoping your bad handwriting and disdainful demeanor would save you, and they’d decide it wasn’t worth the effort and put it down.

This is no way to live, man. In my mind, a journal should be a body of work that can be shared. Maybe not publicly, maybe not with everyone, but certainly family & friends should be able to take a peek without feeling uncomfortable. Make your journal an asset instead of a liability.

What? How can that be? We’re supposed to bleed on the page and all that. Spew our emotions for further reflection. That’s where the real growth is.

I respectfully call bullshit. Spewing doesn’t make for good reflection. Spewing makes for a liability. A literary boobytrap waiting to go off in the hands of the unexpected reader.

Spewing is necessary sometimes but it’s best done on something disposable, that is quickly disposed of.

Instead make something you’re content, perhaps not happy or proud, but content to show others. Include thoughtful reflection on the things in your life. Just do it in a way that results in sharable work not a liability.

How is this accomplished? By following just a few rules:

Don’t make your journal a liability

Don’t write anything you’d be embarassed to show to literally anyone. Ok, I do write some things that, when fresh, might be a little rough to show the person I mentioned but that’s ok. Years later the roughness is gone.

What I’m writing about here is the afore mentioned spewing/stream of conciousness stuff. Stuff that starts conversations that don’t end well when read by the wrong person. Sensitive stuff is unavoidable, but secret stuff should be left out.

The difference between sensitive and secret

Sensitive is something that for a moment is not for public consumption. Secret implies life-long celibacy.

Let’s say I’m thinking about making a big change at home. I’m going to ask my wife to buy a cat. I know she hates cats, and I’m working on my arguments in my journal. That is sensitive – I don’t want her to read the work in progress, because it’s a work in progress, but once the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, it doesn’t matter.

You’ll always have a few things that are sensitive – potential life changes, things that haven’t been all the way thought out, etc. – but there’s going to come a time when they’re no longer sensistive.

Secrets? They tend to have real staying power. They’re usually things the keeper does not want revealed to anyone. Why do they need to be written down in a journal?

Ok, if you had something in your past that was potentially embarrasing and still raising issues for you, and you were writing about it to work it out, then yes, perhaps that should stay secret. It should also probably stay in it’s own notebook.

Write like a man.

Take responsibility for your emotions and the resulting words, and use the English language. No pissy blaming and name calling.
So, when writing that your boss, Mr. Blemish, has angered you by refusing to authorize your new budget, instead of this:

“Mr. B was a total asshole again today, wouldn’t approve my budget, because he’s being an idiot as usual.”

You write what a professional would write:

“Very disappointed today that Mr. Blemish refused to approve my budget. I disagree with his point of view, I don’t think he’s looking at the situation clearly, but I often struggle to get him to do so.”

So at first you might seem the second bit is not very genuine. Well, perhaps when it was written maybe not, but it conveys the same feeling and it does so in a way that doesn’t paint you in a bad light. It also puts the blame where it belongs – on the failure to communicate and persuade. Sometimes peope are genuinely intractible people, but most of the time we’re just lazy in dealing with others and fail to deliver the goods. Writing like a man means we state things as they are, and take responsibility for what we need to do.

You might also notice a small shift of responsibility – in the first paragraph Mr. Blemish seems to be incapable of doing what we need. In the second, the focus is more on my lack of ability to persuade. This isn’t to say Mr. Blemish doesn’t have issues, but they’re issues I can’t change directly. I can’t change his behavior except by changing my own. The second paragraph promotes a much better mindset for solving problems.

Besides, years later, when you read the second example’s words, you’ll remember how you felt at the time. Reading a bunch of victim spew isn’t going to be much fun anyway.

Lastly, when I read statements like the first it reminds me of my weakness. When I read the second, I remember the problem.
Another way to think of this is Write like the person you wish you were. Think of someone you respect and look up to – how would they describe it?

Facts first, reflection second

Stick to the facts when reporting life’s punches, disappointments and challenges. First report the facts, then record how you feel and what you want to do. Reporting on the facts helps promote objectivity. Focusing on the facts leaves out the assumptions that tend to blind us to opportunities.

Yes, spew if you must, but elsewhere

Buy some Field Notes notebooks. They’re small, easily hidden, inexpensive, and most importantly, burn well. Spew in those. If you have to keep deep dark secret writings, do it in something that is easy to hide and easy to destroy is my advice.

Save your journal for the good stuff.

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