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Ballpoint Pens

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posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 04:35 AM
BP pens used to be my favorite pen believe it or not. Ever since I was a kid (and that was a long time ago) I've loved writing instruments. I don't know why, but I always have and BP's always held a place in my heart. For the longest time I had this thing about simplicity and it's pretty hard to get any more simple than the old Bic (crystal) BP pen. Back then I had tried FP's, but they were messy and required too much attention (the cheap ones, I couldn't afford a nice one). BP's seemingly never ran out of ink, pretty much always wrote when you needed them to, didn't need to be capped and could take a beating and still keep going. There was something about how a full note page written in BP took on a life of its own. It had to do with the way the pen embossed the paper and changed it somehow. There was this sense of the effort it took to complete, a certain romance to it.

All of this was floating around in my head, unformed, when in about 7th grade there was this girl in one of my classes. I don't remember her name, but I had a mad crush on her. She was as cute as the day is long, just drop-dead gorgeous, but she was a bad girl...a rebel. She slouched, she smoked, she cut class...and she wrote on every single surface which would take ink. Nothing was spared. She doodled on paper, she wrote on the table, she wrote on the wall, she wrote on her books, she wrote on everything. I'd never seen such a prolific 'writer'. She even wrote on herself. She had beautiful handwriting too, and was a really good artist. I remember one day sitting there looking at her as she drew some exotic mural all over her blue jeans. Her weapon of choice was a simple ballpoint pen. One end of it was chewed, but the other end was all business. I remember thinking to myself how she must have had something inside of her which just needed to get out, and writing was how she was going to get it out. She didn't have a favorite pen, any old pen would do. Heck, half the time she didn't even have a pen at all and needed to borrow someone else's. One thing was certain though; she always used a pen, a blue pen to be exact, and it was always a BP.

The sheer quantity of writing / doodling this girl could do in just an hour or so was stunning, bordering on staggering. She would fill up a sheet of notebook paper with so many things the paper would literally curl, and in the span of an hour she could fill an entire notebook of paper. Her sketches were vivid and her writing expressive. Every surface in her world was covered in BP pen ink. I marveled at the things she could do with a simple BP pen. I began to wonder how many BP pens she had used up completely in her life. It's pretty hard to use up an old Bic BP pen, pretty hard indeed. Most will lose the pen before they use every bit of ink in one. We moved away after 7th grade so I never knew what became of her, but I never forgot that girl and her writing.

One day I found myself looking at a Bic pen and marveling at its utility. Thinking back on the girl from 7th grade I set out on a quest of sorts. I made up my mind I was going to take that pen and try my best to use every single bit of ink in it. I would find out it's nearly impossible to completely exhaust a (medium) Bic BP pen. I came close a few times (where you could no longer see ink), but inevitably the pen would get lost or permanently 'borrowed'. (Side note - Bic pens in fine point are fairly easy to expire for some reason, but the mediums will write forever). It became a challenge to me...for many, many, years actually.

For years, everything I did in pen I did with a medium BP pen. Sure, I still used pencils (and there's another story here too) when the situation dictated, but when I used a pen it was a medium BP pen. It started with the simple Bic crystal and eventually moved on to other pens like the Parker Jotters and others. Then a funny thing happened. I realized that my love of medium BP pens now had me on a different kind of quest; I was determined to find the absolute best BP pen available. The style of the pen meant little really, it was all about the writing experience for me.

Through High School and then college this quest continued. Even after college, in my professional career, I still sought out the ultimate BP pen. Along the way pen technology changed. First there was erasable BP's, then rollerballs and ultimately gel (and more on this in a moment), but my focus remained on BP's

I can honestly say, I believe I have tried just about every single type of BP pen known to mankind. I've traveled the World for business and everyplace I ever went I made an effort to try every single BP pen a country had to offer. After all these years, up until just recently, my conclusion has always been; it's pretty hard to improve upon the age-old Bic crystal BP pen. Sure, you can find more expensive pens in a prettier wrapper, but the sheer utility and writing experience with a Bic is hard to beat. Recently though I've discovered a pen which just may have unseated the venerable Bic, it is the Papermate Ink-Joy pen. Time will tell.

Then there's the fountain pen... (GAAA!!). Thank god I 'discovered' them after I had a good paying job!!!!

And now you know...the rest of the story. (to the extent you cared in the first place)

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 04:51 AM
Well written mate.

Thanks for sharing.


posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 05:03 AM
That is a nice piece of writing. I love a good pen and some just seem better than others.
my pens always seem to get a little piece of fuzz stuck to the tip though and smear a bit.

So whatever became of the girl? I think I have a crush on her now too lol

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 05:43 AM
a reply to: tinner07

Don't really know what ever became of her. For all I know she went on to become the next Agatha Christie. That, or got pregnant, dropped out of school and became a trailer park girl.

Whatever she did I'm sure she did it with a lot of expression (and a ballpoint pen).

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 07:20 AM
Best ballpoint pens are probably just your average Parker or cross click or twist pen.
I used to be like you, always used them. Then when I went to university, my dad got me some fine tipped fountain style pens, and they wrote like the wind when you got the hang of it. I took notes clear and efficiently.

I got into calligraphy a few years ago, and have an assortment of writing instruments, but anything BUT a ballpoint for your average daily commute, or when you are on the go, is terrible. I used to carry around a nice fountain Parker pen, but the nib would dry up, and it had to be kept upright at all times while in my pocket or else it would bleed. Basically it's an office pen, nothing more.

Ball points are definitely the best over all, especially if you get your hands on the ones that writes upside down.

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 07:27 AM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk
FCD. I too enjoyed a good pen. I suppose it wasn't until junior high that I became enamored with the joy of an easy flowing ink pen that just seemed so relaxing for some reason. I remember the erasable pen because it was the tool everyone had in their new Trapper tucked away safely inside that plastic bag like pen and pencil holder. While at the time a wonderful idea, I just remember hating it for the sole reason it just didn't flow right. Not the fact it didn't erase completely.

I haven't tried one for years but am sure the technology has evolved for the better. I have never had good penmanship, which annoyed me to no end no matter how much I tried (and still try) to improve.
I remember my Grandmother had beautiful caligraphy like handwriting.
I asked her once how she learned to do this because she came to the United States as a girl of 9 from the "old country" as she would say. (Croatia) She told me they had an entire hour of penmanship a day with the old quill like ink pens that one would dip into an inkwell on your desk after every other couple of words or so. This hour or so of penmanship was done in both Croatia and the U.S.

I don't remember spending much time as a child that was devoted solely on penmanship. I don't have children so I have no clue what is done about the art of penmanship these days.

I would imagine typing skills are more important these days with the proliferation of computers in the classroom today.
Jeez I remember it being a big deal that our school had 8 big old computers to teach "computer science". I think teaching code is what was done in these classes and I had no interest in learning another language and the extent of my computer experiences back then were the 3 dollars in quarters I used playing Centipede on Saturdays at the Mall.
At work when I am writing out ideas for some proposal or another it is always done with my beautiful Mont Blanc Classique Fountain Pen. My penmanship still sucks and I have ruined more pairs of pants and shirts that I really feal comfortable saying, but I get into a Zen like trance when I'm brainstorming.

Thanks for bringing up a topic that I have never really put into words or even discussed with anyone before!
edit on 2-11-2015 by Spader because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 07:34 AM
a reply to: strongfp

I am a self described writing instrument nut! Fountain pens are definitely the top of the line for writing experiences, but the ballpoint is hard to beat for its all-around utility. Rollerballs and gel pens, gel pens in particular, are good for some things, but not all. No one pen can do it "all", but BP's come closer than anything.

Yes, the Fisher space pens are nice (the ones that write upside down or in zero 'G'), I have several.

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 07:39 AM
a reply to: Spader

Interesting you mention the erasable pen...I was just now working on a follow up piece to my OP regarding the same. It is entitled...

Rollerball Killed the Ballpoint Star

On August 1, 1981 (at 12:01am) Music Television, or "MTV" as it was known then, debuted and the very first song to air was a tune called Video Killed the Radio Star by a group named the Buggles. The song was a celebration (of sorts) about advancing technology while worrying about its effect on the future. Not too long before this (1979 actually) a similar fate befell the venerable ballpoint pen.

Prior to 1979 the gold standard in general use pens had been the ballpoint pen. Even though rollerball pens had existed for well over a decade at the time, they were not widely recognized/marketed and the ballpoint's rule over the common writing world was secure. However, in 1979 all that changed...

Strangely, it wasn't the rollerball which dethroned the ballpoint pen, but rather another type of pen...the erasable ballpoint pen. In 1979 when the first erasable ballpoint pen was introduced by Papermate company (most commonly known as the EraserMate 2) the ballpoint pen world was thrown into chaos. (Note: there actually was an EraserMate 1, but most people have never seen one of these). Up to this point people viewed pens as being permanent and pencils being erasable. The erasable pen changed all that. The erasable pen blurred the lines between a pencil and a pen, but they also did something more.

Because the paradigm had changed, people who historically would have used a pencil began using erasable pens for many things. Likewise pen users, fearing a mistake and resulting cross-out, also gravitated towards erasable pens. At the same time something more subtle was happening.

The quality of writing with an erasable pen was terrible. They jumped, skipped and smeared, but because they were erasable people still used them. In time people forgot about the differences in writing quality between a regular ballpoint and an erasable ballpoint; they viewed them as the same, but they were far from it. This had, in essence, lowered the bar for all ballpoint pens. Seizing upon this quality gap the Japanese pen companies who had developed the rollerball a decade and a half earlier saw an opportunity and began flooding the market with rollerball pens. The rollerball had been developed originally as a bridge between the fountain pen and the ballpoint pen, but with the ballpoint's firm grasp on the market, and its low price point, there was little hope for the competing rollerball.

When the erasable ballpoint hit the market and ultimately 'dumbed' down the ballpoint pen writing experience the market was ripe for a competitor. From there the rest is history. The rollerball moved in and quickly dethroned the ballpoint as the pen of choice. At just about the zenith of the rollerball's reign the gel pen was introduced. Gel pens turned the common use pen world on its head and the ballpoint was relegated to the bottom of the proverbial junk drawer.

Rollerball pens, and gel pens in particular, do have some sizable down sides however. And it was these down sides which kept the venerable ballpoint in existence. Rollerball pens can cut paper (especially on forms) and gel ink is worthless around water. Ballpoints avoid both these problems.

In the end though it was like ballpoint manufacturers just gave up. Rather than improve on the ballpoint experience they just accepted the crappy status quo. (This is the fundamental issue I have with ballpoints by the way). Only recently has someone stepped forward with a real improvement on the ballpoint experience, and that company is none other than Papermate with their Ink-Joy product (which really is a pleasure to write with, surprisingly). Time will tell.

So Rollerball didn't really Kill the Ballpoint Star (it just sounded cooler in the title), erasable ballpoints did.

And lastly, just for fun...a rewind all the way back to that famous video from August 1st, 1981

edit on 11/2/2015 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 07:46 AM
Well I am no pen afficanado
Though like the bic that has the four colours, play with the four sliders when you are thinking, under pressure or just chatting on the phone
Damn thing is always on green when you sign an important document

Maybe they should have one all blues

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 08:27 AM
Oh Thank God. I thought I was the only pen nut. Every pen I see, I write my name or a few sentences to see how it'll perform. If it doesn't have the right "drag" or is too "slick", doesn't flow the way I like or just doesn't have the right feel in my fingers, I'll just put it back in the jar and move on to the next one. Right now, I carry a Sharpie extra fine tip that does very well. Doesn't leak, smear or smudge and has the perfect [ for me ] drag.

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 08:30 AM
And for you trivia buffs...

Does anyone know who was playing the keyboards in that now famous 1st video on MTV? He wasn't a member of the group, but a guest musician.

It was none other than a very young...Thomas Dolby

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 08:32 AM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

I always thought he and Alton Brown looked very much alike.

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 09:09 AM
My everyday work pen of choice is the Pilot G-2, I prefer the wider point (07), as it doesn't cut paper as easily and I can press hard enough to make the copies when I have to write on NCR papers.

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 09:15 AM

originally posted by: DAVID64
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

I always thought he and Alton Brown looked very much alike.

Amazing that the industry is still trying to improve the good ole ink pen. They have been "Blinded by science!"

Sorry it was like a booger you know is stuck in there, I had to pick it.

ETA: By the way FCD, that was an excellent piece on the erasable pen.
edit on 2-11-2015 by Spader because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 09:38 AM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

What is this "pen" of which you speak?

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 09:45 AM
a reply to: greencmp

BP = Ballpoint Pen
FP = Fountain Pen
RB = Rollerball pen

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 01:23 PM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

i use ink joy pens. Best pens i can find for under ten bucks in a pack of 3.

And i use them suckers until they are dry. Takes me for ever though. I just use it to take notes and sign stuff at my desk, typing almost anything important.

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 06:38 PM
When it comes to writing ... Pilot fine point BP pens. Accept no substitute. They made several different ink colors: pink, red, black, blue, green and purple. I used one of each in college to take my notes. Different color for each day so I had an easy time distinguishing each day's notes.

Always wrote smoothly, never had ink "hiccups" and lasted forever. The barrels were slender, not fat.

You can't find them anymore unless you specifically order them from the manufacturer. I do.

I also like Zebra fine points.

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 07:08 PM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Pretty great prose when you can romanticize a writing instrument and get actual replies.

My preference is a fine point sharpie, I even get them in my Christmas stocking. I used to like pilot gel pens but they kept disappearing. No one takes a fine point sharpie - too bleedy.

You've tapped into something though....people are certainly passionate about their pens, at least judging by the prices and vast selection. Second only to toothpaste or razors.

posted on Nov, 2 2015 @ 10:24 PM
a reply to: kosmicjack

My preference is a fine point sharpie, I even get them in my Christmas stocking.

It's a a beautiful thing the fine point sharpie - especially when they're brand new


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