Pen Carnival Call for Submissions

Dear Pen Friends, Share your love of blogging about pens, pencils, paper and all things writing - submit your blog post to the Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper that is coming up on July 6th. The deadline for submissions is Sunday, July 4th. We will be posting the Carnival right here, so be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed, find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to get all the updates and keep "in the pen loop."


Pen Spotlight - Summer, Evaluating your Pen Collection and your Snooping Significant Other

We've officially hit summer, folks! Time for trips to large bodies of water, squeezing into a car, train or plane to get there and enjoying the extended amount of daylight we get from Earth's current revolution around the blessed Sun. To really "soak it in" and record our fondest memories of the summer season, we grab our cameras and our notebooks to capture the fleeting joy and peace that can be found while basking in summer's glow. We record because we don't want to forget and we want the images and the pages of memory to remind us of the good times, especially when you're trapped behind cubicle walls 50 weeks out of the year. We journal, diary and scrapbook to make our lives tangible, leaving breadcrumbs for our future selves to track backwards through time and space. What if someone else has found your breadcrumbs and leads to some personal thoughts that you would rather no one else read? Notebook Stories comments on the topic of significant others reading your journal. When packing for a trip, you may have a hard time selecting the lucky pens that accompany you on your travels. Inkophile talks about "Thinning the Pen Herd," and offers a solid set of criteria to decide whether a pen is worth keeping or removing from your collection. For visual people who like to illustrate instead of narrate, Leigh Reyes writes (and draws) her 10 tips for dooders. Go forth, doodle, journal and enjoy the great weather!


Free Download - Paper Task Manager

I know we mostly talk about pens on this blog, but the other half of the equation sometimes needs its due : Paper. I love "GTD." As our society gets progressively more hyped on technology and endlessly busier, we need to organize the barrage of "things" that get thrown at us on a daily basis. "To Do" lists are too general and don't help us separate the the truly actionable items from the multi-step projects. Yet, everyone writes them out every time they feel overwhelmed. How many times have you created a "To Do" list that never gets done? Simply listing tasks may only work if you're doing one thing (i.e. going to the grocery store). But we Americans love to multi-task and a linear "To Do" list falls apart at the seams when it comes to managing an influx of multiple, yet separate, projects. The Paper Task Manager is a unique, three-column design that breaks down a multi-faceted work flow into three separate parts. First, you have your "Next Actions." That is the very next action, whether it be a phone call, signing up for the gym or getting the oil changed. It is only ONE action and does not require any other steps to complete. An Action may be part of a bigger project. As a part of a project, the "Next Action" should progress the "Project" one-step toward completion. The middle "Waiting For.." column is for a piece of information or contribution from someone else that you are waiting on to further the current project. How to use... Let's say your Mom nominated you to host July 4th festivities this year. Even if you're getting it catered and having butlers serve you hand and foot, this is still considered a "Project." So write, "July 4th get-together" in the Project column. Problem is, you're not a very good cook, but you want to impress your Mom by making Grandma's Famous Red Bliss Potato Salad. Your "Next Action" would be to call Grannie to ask her the recipe. If she has to get it in her cookbook, but can't seem to find it at the moment (oh, that forgetful Grannie), she will have to call you back. Now, you're "Waiting For" Grannie to call you back with the recipe. Now that you've written it down, it is safe to move on to another action, like Googling a local catering company. How to get your Paper Task Manager sheets : click on the thumbnail images of the sheets in this post. A separate pop-up window should come up with the .jpg image of the paper. Download it or print it directly from your web browser.

There are two types that I've come up with : The full-page version for many tasks and projects, and the 2 half-page version, which is ideal if you have a work / home division (which is good) that you would like to see at the same instant. The idea is to have a high altitude to see all of the "stuff on your plate" at any given time.

You can print these pages on any normal inkjet or laser printer. I would recommend color copies because....well...it's pretty. If you need to, you may have to select an option to "shrink to fit page." Print as many as you'd like, but you will probably need one for the moment and then have backups when you've made progress on all of life's complicated tasks.

Sit down with this page and think of all the open ends in your life. Alternatively, take a walk around your home or office and you may be quickly reminded of a project that was never quite finished, situation that went unresolved, etc. Write them all down in the "Project" column and figure out the very "Next Action" that needs to happen to move the project toward completion.

The Paper Task Manager also works exceptionally well in a notebook, whether it be 3-ring binder or a Levnger Circa (I prefer the latter). Put it at the very front of your organizer so when you first open the cover, you will see where you left off from yesterday. When I get back from a meeting or a long phone call, I always check back with my sheet to see what can be worked on next.

So, if anyone gets the chance to try out the system, please drop me a comment and let me know how it worked for you and if there are any suggestions to make it better. Hopefully, it will help some poor, Post-It dependent, To-Do lister out there make a more comprehensive assessment of their tasks.

-- Republished with permission from www.tomoddo.com


Pen Spotlight - July Carnival Announcement

Just received the e-mail confirmation yesterday that Goldspot Pens will be hosting the next Blog Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper to be released on Tuesday, July 6th. Be sure to enter your submission before you go away for 4th of July weekend. To make it a bit interesting, I think we will give away a nice pen for author of the editor's choice. If you already haven't figured it out, Father's Day is this Sunday, June 20th. If you're still looking for dear ol' Dad, there is still hope! 2-Day Air or Next-Day overnight shipping is still an option! Just give us a call at 800-963-7367 to place the rush order. Goodie Pen Links of the Week : Inkyjournal reviews the new Lamy AL-Star in Coffee Brown. We don't have these available in the US just yet. That color is a questionable Coffee at best... Inkyjournal always has fantastic photography for every review, taking the additional step to provide an appropriate environment to complement the pen. You think you have a lot of pens? I've seen pen cases and pen boxes, but cabinets? Julie (Whatever Blog) writes about her extraordinary cabinet of fine pens.


It's all Material : The Gold Standard

Sometimes I feel like we're working in a jewelry store instead of a pen shop. Gold-Plating, solid palladium, 925 sterling, Chinese black lacquer, gemstones, celluloid, tungsten carbide, the list goes on and on of the different materials that go into the manufacture of pens. Many customers ask me, "What is the big difference between this $50 pen and that $500 one?" Most of the time it is due to the materials used, and the usual suspect that drives up the price of most pens is..... Gooooold! This is the first installment of a series that will serve to educate everyone (even myself) about the precious metals and materials that go into our favorite writing instruments. Gold has always fascinated the human race. "Au" has acted as a symbol of wealth since the dawn of civilization. It is the most malleable of all the precious metals, which means that it can be hammered, flattened and shaped into virtually any shape, like a nib or a wedding band. Its soft characteristic lends itself to providing flexibility to the fountain pen nib. The soft gold allows the tines to be spread easily, allowing a thicker line to flow on the paper. Your coworker may be allured by the yellow gold appeal of the metal on your nib, but you may want to recoil when he asks to borrow it to jot a quick note. The softness of the metal conforms to the way you write over time, so if another hand gets on it (and, Heaven forbid, presses down HARD) you may be left with a nib that is never the same. Yellow is the most common color of gold. White gold, which is usually alloyed with palladium, silver or nickel and plated with rhodium, is prevalent in fine pens that are offered with a silver trim and paired with a white gold nib to match. Rose gold is alloyed with copper to produce a pinkish-gold color. Copper is the most commonly used base metal, even when creating yellow gold. Gold content can vary in jewelry and pens. 10k, 14k, 18k, 22k and 24k are the most frequently-seen Karatage and refer to the purity of the gold. Commonly, you may see a 14kt solid gold fountain pen nib with the designation '585'. This denotes the percentage of pure gold that is in the alloy, in this case 58.5% pure gold. 24k "pure" gold is deemed too soft, even for use in jewelry. 18k gold (750) is most often seen in higher end pens like the Montegrappa Miya, Parker Duofold or Conway Stewart Coronet. 10k contains 41.7% gold and is considered the US legal limit for "real gold." Gold-Plated or Gold-Filled items are not solid gold. Many pen trims and clips will be "plated" in 22k or 24k gold, which means that the base metal underneath may be nickel, copper or brass. The gold layer is electroplated or chemically-bonded to the base metal. The thickness of gold can depend on the pen-maker's standards. The size is measured in microns. Gold-Filled, also known as "rolled gold" is a layer of solid gold that is heat bonded with a base metal, usually brass and tends to contain the bare minimum of gold content allowable by Federal Trade Commission standards. Gold does not tarnish, rust or corrode, which makes it an ideal material for pens. The malleable quality of the metal makes for a great, flexible nib. The main concern for consumers is to be cautious of the gold content when they buy jewelery or pens. The price of gold has skyrocketed, but that doesn't mean the 10k necklace or Cross pen has to be obscenely expensive.


Winner of Contact Keeper Giveaway

Congrats to Al Samuelson (@alsamuelson on the Twitter) for winning the Contact Keeper Giveaway!
Al, to receive your pocket-sized Contact Keeper, please direct message @goldspotpens on twitter or e-mail us through the Help Desk of our website with your mailing address.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway!


Pens and Ponies at the Park

The freshly-cut grass. The majestic thoroughbreds thundering down the stretch as the crowd cheers. The smell of fired-up charcoal and Grandpa's cigar. It's racing season.

While the kids can enjoy the ponies and ice cream, the adults indulge in a bet or two...or three or four. To make an "educated" decision, we buy a racing program that shows all the participating horses on the slate, the jockeys riding them, their colors, numbers, weight, age, parents and prior racing history, etc. With so many attributes to evaluate your pick, how can one make any sense of it?

Instead of forking over the additional 50 cents to buy the half-size pencil along with the program, bring along a multi-function pen. I picked my Parker Executive to assist me with picking the winners. The black ballpoint can be for jotting down possible picks, exacta and trifecta combinations. The blue ballpoint can be for correcting ill-advised picks or marking down what your significant other picked. The hi-liter can mark the handicapper's picks or cross out the scratches for later races. Finally, the mechanical pencil, well... can be the pencil. Make notes, erase them or draw pictures of horsies while you're waiting for the next race to start.

How did I do? Not very good. Lost every race. I know, not a shining endorsement my system, but it did work for some of the friends we went with.


Introducing Contact Keeper and a Giveaway

Goldspot Pens would like to introduce the Contact Keeper, an innovative system of organizing your business cards and contact information. If you've ever met a new business contact and had to scribble down notes on the back of their business card, you will know how much of a hassle it is to jot notes about the meeting on such a small area with nothing to rest the writing surface on. Contact Keeper provides the necessary writing surface to take detailed notes for every new contact's card while keeping your collection organized and easy to reference.

To see the Contact Keeper in action, play their video below :

 This is a great organizational tool for everyone in business from salesman to the CEO. Think of all the people you meet that hand over a business card. Can you find the card of the last person you met and recall the details of your conversation with that person? If you're still shuffling through your desk or your briefcase, then you could probably use the Contact Keeper.

If you need further convincing, read OfficeSupplyGeek's review of the Contact Keeper.

We're so eager to share this product with you that we are going to give-away one small Contact Keeper for on-the-go contact management. On Monday, June 14th, we will choose one random person who comments on this post or re-tweets this post on Twitter as the winner of the give-away.


Pen Spotlight - Carnival Time!

Tiger Pens is hosting the 11th Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper, which is always a great place to find new pen-minded people talking pens, writing and everything else in between. Tony made my head swell up a few hat sizes when he picked our post about Pens and the Age of Consumer Electronics as one of the Editor's Picks.

Another article I enjoyed was Whatever's Levenger Circa System to review ink and keep contact information.

Great pen recommendations from Brian Greene on Herman Miller's Lifework Blog.

Since we haven't done the Pen Spotlight in a few weeks, there are two reviews from Office Supply Geek that I wanted to share. First, there is the Monteverde Stealth Fountain Pen. This week, he wrote another review for the Fisher Trekker Space Pen, which he cooked and froze to prove how well it writes!

If you need some inspiration and motivation to be creative during your hectic schedule, Michael Nobbs throws down the gauntlet to take the 20 Minutes a Day Challenge. The main point is to pick something you're going to commit to and work on it for only 20 minutes a day. Sounds easier in theory than in practice!


Summer Pen Care

It's getting hot out there for most of us (and somewhat warm in Alaska). Funny things can happen when "the mercury rises" to the innocuous items that you own. Take your pens, for example: Extreme temperatures and prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause water-based ink to dry up and lead to poor flow, clogging or combustion (just kidding on the last one). "Why do pens need care?" You want them to work for you when you're in a pinch, right? You want to have that serendipitous idea for your next blog post written down before it escapes your brain and out into the ether. When you realize that you're out of sunscreen and need to jot it on your shopping list, you want to be able to pull out a working pen, or you may otherwise be burned. Keep your pens in a dark, cool place. Although your Waterman looks really awesome resting on the shoulders of the pewter Atlas on your desk, consider the amount of direct sunlight that is pouring in through the nearby window, beating down on your workstation. Sure, it's a beautiful view for you as you plot your early escape from the office on Friday afternoon, but your pen is probably getting more of a tan than you can shake a fist-pumper at. Not that you needed a better reason than the klepto co-worker to stash your pens in the desk drawer, but it would especially be a good idea to do so in the summertime. Put them in a case while commuting. OK, so you may not have a problem with being at your office or place of work since Bernice is always having hot-flashes and cranks the AC low enough to hang icicles off the copier, but you may want to travel with your pens, which poses more of a threat to their well-being. I habitually remove my pens clipped to my shirt pocket and put them back in my briefcase at the end of the day to go home. This prevents the pens from being directly exposed to the sun while I get behind the wheel of my sauna on wheels. Would you on a plane or a train? Lots of folks are traveling on summer vacation and my want to bring the trusty fountain pen along for the journey. On a plane, it is recommended to either fly empty or fly full. Most likely, you're not going to get past TSA with a few bottles of Noodler's in your carry-on, so be sure to fill before packing the toiletries at home. In the past, I've opted to travel with a ballpoint. Although, as an avid fountain pen user, it kills me to do so. Wipe off the Perspiration. One of our most popular pen brands, Sensa, is designed with a gel grip that sometimes "perspires" the plasmium gel that is inside the grip, which is sticky, but wipes off well with a paper towel and some Windex. We find that this happens mostly in the warmer weather of the summer months. Keeping refills Fresh. Bottled ink and refills should also be given the same cool, dark environment that the pens are hanging out in. If you have refills, you can ziplock them in baggies to "seal in" the freshness. Most refills we sell have caps or arrive in blister packaging that help add to the shelf-life of the cartridge. If anyone has any personal experiences that they would like to share regarding their pens and heat-related effects, please drop us a comment below. Please feel free to ask for advice if you are stuck in a "hot mess."


Ordering "Off Menu" Pens

To kick off June, we would like to talk about a topic that has been coming up more frequently in the last year or so. Part of it has to do with the economy (what doesn't these days), but the overall idea is better customer service on the part of the pen-makers and a more contemporary mindset of manufacturing. It's similar to what the restaurants call ordering "off menu."

Typically, you have a standard set of offerings from each pen manufacturer, similar to a menu at your favorite neighborhood restaurant. For example, Lamy has a regular set of colors for the Studio collection : black, palladium, blue and brushed stainless steel. Sometimes, they add a limited edition color into the mix, like Violet. Anything out of the normal or limited release of colors is not available. They would look at us with three heads if we tried to order an Orange Studio pen. And a McDonalds employee may do a double take if you request lasagna.

What seems to be the trend in the industry is that the pen-makers are becoming more accommodating to special requests, one-offs and small runs of customized designs. Brian from Edison Pens has made a living of it. Conway Stewart is offering a limited edition pen (50 piece runs) every month with a different, unique finish. You can custom design the look of a Retro51 Tornado or a Sherpa pen, provided that the minimum order is met. Even a Delta or Monteverde pen can be slightly modified in color or design to produce a special edition (minimum order as well).

Fountain pen nibs, usually offered in medium or fine, can be special ordered in a variety of sizes, depending on the brand and model of the pen.

Pen folks : Open your imaginations! It never hurts to ask for a special request.


What to Get Dad...

Pops can be hard to buy for sometimes. How many mugs, ties and "#1 Dad" hats can he possibly own? Then again, if he's a pen enthusiast, how many pens can he possibly own before it's too many (perhaps a topic for another blog post..)? You may find yourself saying, "I can't get him ANOTHER pen this year!" If you're in the same boat, here are some questions you could ask while deciding what to get for dear ol' Dad.

What is his favorite of pen?
Give yourself a place to start. It might need repair or replacing. You may want to buy him another pen within that same brand. Or another of the same type (ballpoint, rollerball, fountain pen).

What is his favorite color?
Helpful information to pick the color of a new pen or a new ink. Between Noodler's and Private Reserve, you can find an ink that will match the exact shade of the color he likes.

Is he always losing or breaking his pens?
A handsome wooden pen case or a portable leather pen case could be a better choice than simply buying him a new pen to lose/break.

Does he need more ink?
Even if he doesn't, sometimes its fun to switch colors every once in a while. Find compatible refills using our refill catalog.

Does he always have great ideas, but always forgets them later?
Check out a pocket Moleskine notebook. They are perfect for on-the-fly thinking and were the preferred notebook of such artists and thinkers as Van Gogh, Hemingway and Picasso.

Does he have a desk that could use some personality?
Jac Zagoory offers a line of pewter pen stands that instantly add flair and unique style to his desk-scape, while giving his pen a nice home to rest.

What if he has all that already?
If you want to get him something pen-related, but still can't decide or want to put the decision into his hands, give him the freedom of choice! Available in several denominations, you can buy a Goldspot Pens Gift Card.