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Totally Random Pen Stuff

• Travelers in the U.S. frequently complain about the mauling they get from Transporation Security Administration agents while trying to board airplanes.

But apparently, they sometimes do more than just grope the passengers.

A TSA agent in South Florida was recently arrested for allegedly stealing a Montblanc StarWalker valued at $450 after a passenger forgot it at the security checkpoint, according to the Broward New Times.

(Toussain) Puddie, a 30-year-old TSA employee, says he had seen the pen on top of a filing cabinet and, not knowing it was anything but a stray pen someone had left, took it home.

"I didn't think the pen was worth more than ten bucks," says Puddie.

It wasn't until a few weeks later, on June 22, when he realized the gravity of his action. Police talked with TSA employees, conducting an investigation. Puddie was called into the BSO office at the airport.

After he 'fessed up and turned over the pen, he was arrested and charged with theft, the paper reported.

C'mon, if these guys can't tell the difference between some Bic left laying around and an expensive Montblanc that obviously belongs to someone, then our airports really are in trouble.

• Two young men from North Carolina are using the Internet to raise money for their own range of handcrafted wood-barreled pens.

They've launched the project on Kickstarter – the site where entrepreneurs turn to the public to fund small projects – according to Tech Crunch.

The pair are calling their company Baltz Fine Writing Instruments and, while pens have gone the way of the 50-cent milkshake, human kindness, and the Dodo, it’s nice to see two fellows so dedicated to a rapidly dying art.

The half-size gel pens are called Exemplar and sell for $100.

• Speaking of handmade pens, LiveMint.com had an excellent story recently about a family that has been making ebonite fountain pens in India for more than 70 years.

K.V. Ratnam started manufacturing fountain pens in 1932 in response to Mahatma Gandhi’s call for swadeshi. The letter Gandhi wrote on 6 July 1935, which now adorns the two establishments that are Ratnam’s legacy, says, in the Mahatma’s scraggly hand, “I have used it and it seems to be a good substitute for the foreign pens one sees in the bazars.”

The Mahatma’s endorsement worked, not the least on his chief acolyte, for Nehru made a trip to Ratnam’s shop to buy one when he visited Rajahmundry in 1937. Today there are two “Ratnam” pen makers in Rajahmundry, owned by K.V. Ratnam’s two sons, on either side of a narrow lane. That’s not all, there are two other manufacturers who have been touched by his legacy. Guider Pen Works in the same city claims a Ratnam link. Two hundred kilometres away in Vijayawada, I was told, his son-in-law produces fountain pens under the Brahmam brand.

One interesting bit from the article: The author actually had the shop make him a custom ebonite pen body that would accept Pilot G2 refills.

"Cutting-edge Japanese technology inside a traditional Indian classic could not have turned out better than this," Nitin Pai wrote.

The article is an interesting read and a great reminder than exciting things in pens are happening in places we least often look.

• There was an odd pen-related passage in an article from Scotland's Daily Record about a man in prison for killing one wife and attempting to kill another.

Malcolm Webster apparently committed the deeds for the insurance money. He was recently convicted of the scheme and sentenced to at least 30 years.

According to the paper, he doesn't quite have prison figured out yet.

Everyone had a laugh when they heard him trying to demand the screws bring him a fountain pen.

"He actually said 'Could one possibly bring one a fountain pen?' He seemed genuinely shocked when he didn't get it."

I guess even bad guys recognize the beauty of a fine writing instrument.

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