Of Pens and Gel

I normally follow Rands in Repose for his humorous, insightful commentary on software development and managing programmers. However, the other day he posted on a topic which, I daresay, is as close to my heart as writing code: gel pens.

I avoided a total pen breakdown for a few months simply by looking for this pen in my home and work environments, as I was sure I’d find remnants of the six boxes of pens that had mysteriously liberated themselves from my office over the past four years. In a week, I’d built a small stockpile of reclaimed, partially used pens, but it is a fundamental law of office supplies that a pen wants to be free. Despite my best efforts, my stockpile was slowly depleted.

From there he proceeds through an insanely detailed testing of several pens, with checkbox grids laying out the various factors considered. It reads like the sort of thing I’ve considered, but narrowly avoided doing myself. “I’m nuts,” I’d say. “It’s just a pen.” I have, however, probably spent days worth of time pacing the pen aisles at various office stores, searching for that perfect pen.

My own criteria have a lot in common with Rands’:

  • Gel ink is the absolutely a must. Smooth, less likely to bleed, lasts longer (in my unscientific observations)
  • Clicking pens annoy me… and that’s just when I’m clicking them obsessively myself. Capped pens are the word of the day since I carry one in my pocket.

  • A narrow body is preferred to the more chunky varieties. I don’t need lots of padding or jumbo grips.

Since I’m going to be writing more new material in the near future, it might be time to start hunting for a new pen myself. Hurray!