Kinda Sorta Bujo-in’ With a Hobonichi Weeks

No, not one of those pretty, pretty bujos with the frilly flowers and brush lettering and stuff, because I can’t draw and all of my journal flatlays turn out like this:

Yes, that’s a mug full of wine because THAT’S HOW I ROLL.

(Also: please contribute donations to my campaign to help those afflicted with Instagram Wristlessness. As you can see, I contracted this condition myself after browsing through the #bujo tag for two minutes.)

My goodness, this wine is delightful. Darlings, you simply haven’t lived until you’ve come to Bulgaria and tried their homemade vino. Seriously, everyone’s father, uncle, grandfather, great-uncle, grandpappy, etc. has at least a few barrels down in the basement. And all of it is TASTY. Trust me: I’m from Oregon, the land of pinot noir and snobbery.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, I was about to tell you how I keep a bujo for work.

I started using this Hobonichi Weeks back in mid-December to keep track of work to-dos, but it took a couple of months for me to settle in and get comfortable. The result is a hybrid system that mashes up the seven-day spreads in the Weeks with Ryder Carroll’s version of the Bullet Journal system.

The first week shows the , ×, and > bullets from the Bullet Journal system in use. I also highlighted time-specific events like meetings with a fluorescent pencil.

By mid-January, I’d ditched the colored pencil, which streamlined the utensils I needed for planning down to a single multipen with blue and red ink. Events and other important bits are written in red, everything else is in blue.

The bullet system is simple:

  • To-do items have a bullet.
  • If a to-do item must be done on a certain day, I write it on that day. If not, I just write it in the current day.
  • When I finish a to-do item, I × it out.
  • Time sensitive events have a bullet and are written in red.

Every Monday morning, I migrate all the tasks I haven’t completed by marking them with > and copying them into the new week.

One of the things that always annoyed me about analogue planners is handling tentative items, like a task or event that hasn’t been finalized yet. I don’t like having crossed-out items or eraser smudges all over the place. This time around, I’ve been using post-it notes to keep track of items on the days they might occur. Once finalized, I remove the post-it note and write the item down in ink.

Of course, I still have the occasional cancelled task or meeting, but using post-it notes has reduced the number of crossed-out items considerably.

As a computer sysadmin/programmer/jack-of-all-trades, most of my big projects are tracked in an online ticketing system. I don’t usually bother copying those items into my planner. Instead, it’s been useful for tracking the smaller things that can sometimes slip through the cracks of the workday.

My work planner isn’t pretty, but it’s simple and it works for me. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s 5:30pm in Bulgaria and I think I’ll have another mug of wine.


Economical Links for 2018.02.02


Here are some links to the like-minded…

In Defense of Cheap (via The Cramped)
I could write a whole blog in agreement with this post. Oh wait, I already am.
CHINESE PEN NEWS YOU NEED TO KNOW | FEB 2018 (via Frank Underwater)

That Moonman M2 sure looks interesting…

The Penton F20 Demonstrator Will Bring You a Barrel Full of Sadness

I don’t often come across a pen with no redeeming qualities, but the Penton F20 is one such example. I certainly won’t begrudge you if you decide to stop reading this now instead of wasting your time on this horrible pen, but for those of you who like a good pen rant, I’m about to tell you all the ways this pen sucks.

I ordered my F20 with excitement after my favorable experience with the Penton F10 demonstrator. And once the slow boat from China brought the F20 to my mailbox, things seemed to be going well as I removed the plastic wrapper and found a decent-looking pen.

Is this a rip-off of another pen’s design? I have no idea. It’s vaguely Prera-esque, though larger in size and with a different clip and cap band.

Design particulars aside, the F20 is a clear plastic demonstrator, with a clear feed and a steel nib.

It’s comparable in size with the Lamy Safari.

L to R: Kaweco Sport, Penton F20, Lamy Safari/Vista
L to R: Kaweco Sport, Penton F20, Lamy Safari/Vista
L to R: Kaweco Sport, Penton F20, Lamy Safari/Vista

The cap is clear plastic with silver metal fittings and no cap liner. Removing the cap requires a couple of complete turns, which I find annoying as I like to be able to uncap a pen quickly. The finial has visible threads where it screws onto the cap body, and this is where the clip is secured to the pen.

Penton should have left the clip off entirely, as it’s the worst I’ve ever seen on a pen. It measures less than an inch long, which is odd enough, and it’s far too stiff to be usable. I broke a fingernail trying to lift the clip just to slide a piece of paper under it, and I ended up using a screwdriver to pry it open. Its only functional feature is as a roll-stop.

The cap band is unoffensive, though the “Penton” branding is stamped upside down.

The plastic used in the F20 is thin and flimsy, and I found dirt-like specks embedded in several places. They proved difficult to photograph clearly, but I can see them and they drive me crazy. There are also machining marks and scratches all over the barrel.

Compared to the build quality of the F10, the F20 is a huge disappointment.

There’s a blind cap at the end of the barrel that holds a slim, silver ring of trim in place. The blind cap is secured with screw threads, and there’s an o-ring inside that keeps the F20 eligible for eyedropper conversion.

The F20 comes with a converter, though most of the marketing photos show the pen being used as an eyedropper. The converter appears to be a standard international size. I’ve used several converters from Chinese manufacturers, and this one is the worst of the lot. It’s poorly made, the parts feel wobbly, and ink quickly began to leak behind its piston.

The section is round and slim. I’d say it’s comparable in size to the section on a Pilot Metropolitan. The section is reasonably long, and the screw threads for the cap are gentle, so those of you with unorthodox grips can also subject yourselves to this terrible pen if you’re feeling masochistic.

In the hand, the F20 feels insubstantial and cheap. I suppose you could say it’s balanced, but there’s hardly any plastic there to balance. Anyway, I didn’t spend much time thinking about how it felt to write with the F20 because I could hardly get it to write at all.

The F20 comes with a generic steel “iridium point” nib, and the one on my pen is a very hard starter. Out of the dozen Chinese pens I’ve purchased so far, the F20 is the first pen that didn’t write perfectly out of the box. When I could get it to write, it produced a line in that middle ground between a Japanese and Western fine.

I’m not afraid to try tuning a nib on a cheap pen, and I spent 30 minutes with some micromesh and two different well-behaved inks (Pilot Blue-Black and Iroshizuku Yu-yake) and still couldn’t get it to start consistently.

After that, I was done. I’m sure a more experienced nib tuner could get this pen working, but after dealing with the annoying clip, the scratched plastic, and the janky converter, I’m not willing to spend any more time on a $6 pen when I have so many other, more compelling pens in my collection.

With the F10, Penton showed it can make a good fountain pen, but the F20 is a failure in nearly every way. I suggest you give it a hard pass, and spend your six bucks elsewhere.

This Penton F20 was paid for with my own funds. My opinions on this blog are always my own. Please see my review ethics statement for more details.

Economical Links for 2018.01.26


Here are some links to the like-minded…

A Fountain Pen In “Bad Taste” (via Inkophile)
Kaweco Perkeo (via Her Nibs)
A pair of reviews of the Kaweco Perkeo.
Platinum Plaisir (via Flex and Other Follies)
A look at Platinum’s entry-level pen that isn’t a Preppy.
Pen Review – Pilot MR (Retro Pop Collection) (via Pen, Ink & Paper)
I really need to try to find one of these while I’m in Europe. The MR is everything that’s good about the Pilot Metropolitan, but with standard international cartridges/converters instead of Pilot’s own proprietary ones.

In Praise of Boring Ink

Pen. Paper. Ink. These three things come together to form the experience of writing with a fountain pen. While I’ve made my pen and paper preferences well known on this blog, I haven’t written much about ink, and the reason I haven’t written much about ink is because all the inks I love are boring.

Sure, I dabble in inks like any other Diamine Oxblooded fountain pen addict. I sip and I sample, and I always toss a few more ink vials into the shopping cart because I’ve already qualified for free shipping so why not. I’ve swum the shimmery seas and had whirlwind romances with sheen monsters. But I always come back to the same few boring, boring inks.

A few months ago, Anthony at UK Fountain Pens wrote about picking ten “desert island” inks out of his collection, and at the time I commented that I didn’t think I even owned ten bottles of ink. That statement is still true. I may have a smaller collection than most, but if I ever ended up like Robinson Crusoe and had to hope for some ink to wash up on shore, I’d hope for some bottles of these:

  • a blue-black (my most fav is Pilot Blue-Black)
  • Sheaffer Permanent Skrip Blue-Black (gotta have a water-resistant ink on an island!)
  • Waterman Inspired Blue (just as well-behaved, pretty, and red-sheeny as Kon-peki — at a third of the price)

No one’s gushing over these inks on Instagram. They’re not getting reviewed on the same exact day by all the top pen bloggers. They’ve all been around for a while — in the case of Sheaffer Skrip Blue-Black, a several-decades-long kind of while. Yet they’re still here, working quietly, effectively, in that boring way. Without them, all the other (shimmery, sheeny) inks wouldn’t feel as special.

Perhaps you’d like to share your favorite “boring” ink?