It's really that simple.
Which is why we are excited by some unique pens that combine the two in very sexy ways.
For example, Andrew Gardner's Kickstarter project for the Polar Pen, a modular pen made of rare earth magnets. (I won't pretend that I didn't have to go to Wikipedia to find out that a rare earth magnet is the strongest kind made.)
The barrel consists of a stack of cylindrical magnets with a silicone cap and a rubber stylus tip. A Pilot Hi-Tec-C ink cartridge runs through the middle and can be replaced with Uni-ball Signo UM-151 or Uni-ball Gel Grip refills. The pen is finished in either pure silver or 24k gold.
And the things Polar Pen can do – besides write well, which is pretty much guaranteed with any of the recommended refills – look like a lot of time-wasting fun.
Gardner, a Canadian designer, said he wanted to make both a pen and a toy. He achieved his goal. The pen can be disassembled simply by pulling the magnets apart, then reassembled in whatever shape you want.
He set out to raise CAD$14,000 to get production started on his pen design. He hit that mark and then some, pulling in more than $817,000 by the time he was finished. Now it's a matter of producing 25,000+ pens for his backers.
Unfortunately, he may have hit a snag. Canadian health officials are looking at the project to see whether the Polar Pen poses a risk to children...small parts, babies' mouths, etc. Why the pen would be any more risk than, say, a pocketful of change isn't clear.
Hopefully, the issue will be settled quickly and he can get to work getting Polar Pens to every work-addled person in the world who could use a little desktop distraction.
While you wait, there are a few other magnetic pens you can experiment with.
Magnet retailer K&J Magnetics held a contest on ways to use magnets and the winning entry was a tutorial that shows how to hack a Zebra Z-Grip into a magnetic pen. All you have to do is slip out the refill, drop in a couple of tiny diametrically magnetized cylindrical magnets and reinsert the refill.
The magnets cost just a few pennies each, and the whole process takes a matter of seconds. The result is a pen that won't be as much fun as the Polar Pen, but it will stick to just about any metal surface.
There's also the USUS io, a German-manufactured pen that has a sleek cigar design and is operated and held together by magnets. Twist the aluminum barrel either way to expose the writing point and retract it, and just pull the magnets apart when it's time to swap out the ink cartridge with a standard Parker refill.
Or how about this next one, which technically isn't a magnetic pen, but we're including it just because we like it.
You've probably seen these, the metal novelty/desktop pen with the little round magnetic cradle that makes the pen seem to float. Seems like it would offer a little occasional fun, pushing the pen over and watching it snap back – yes, for the record, we are easily amused.
Speaking of magnetic holders, here's a new one we've just seen that not only adheres to any surface and holds your pens, but it comes with a Zebra F-701 pen and Zebra M-701 mechanical pencil. The DropCatch is made from maple wood with embedded magnets to secure metallic pens.
That's all for now. We're going to go off and figure out how to attach a magnetic pen to a magnetic holder. It's all north and south, right?