• Ever dreamed of a career in pens?
A Philadelphia Business Journal profile of a high-end fountain pen maker shows that it's possible to make the transition from pen hobbyist to pen pro.
According to the paper:
Alan Shaw, a 56-year-old former computer programmer from Cheltenham, Pa., got kicked around in the corporate world and decided to follow his passion.
“I worked as a programmer, then a consultant,” he said. “Basically, I got tired of being laid off.”
Six years ago, he started his own own small company making fountain pens, rollerballs and ballpoints trimmed
ni in exotic materials and has racked up some impressive sales, including one to former President George H.W. Bush.
Are your mental wheels turning yet?
• If you ever have the need to visit City Hall in Wichita, Kan., you'd best leave your Sharpie at home.
Security officers will take the pens away from citizens upon entry to the building and return them as a person walks out.
"At the surface, I can see how there would be some concern or maybe thinking this is just ridiculous," said WPD spokesman Lt. Doug Nolte.
Nolte said there have been at least 20 incidents of vandalism at city hall since 2008 in which markers or Sharpies were used to deface the building and spread hate speech or anti-government messages.
Other dangerous items similarly banned include guns, knives and explosives.
Sounds like some city official got mad after his phone number turned up on a bathroom wall.
• A writer for a talk radio station in Washington State has penned a charming little essay about his trouble finding just the right fountain pen.
Like a lot of stories, it begins with a girl.
From Jeff Green's essay:
Well, there was this girl in one of the English classes I took during an ill-fated semester at San Jose State in the fall of 1967. She sat at a desk next to mine and she employed a fountain pen to take notes. It was a Parker model and used ink cartridges. I found it fascinating that a student of that era actually used a fountain pen, which called back to an earlier time when people rode trains and sent each other telegrams.
He tried Montblanc and Parker and Pelikan but was never quite satisfied...until he found an old Swan pen online.
The pen dated back to World War II England and, I fantasized, perhaps it had been used by a British intelligence agent, a real-life George Smiley, one of my all-time favorite fictional characters. Now all I had to do was find a bottle of ink...
...That day I returned home and filled the pen, then rejoiced when it slid effortlessly across a piece of paper, the ink flowing fully and smoothly. Now, I'll use it for letters and other writing projects that don't require speed. The kind you take your time on. The kind you enjoy.
We wish him many long hours of happiness with his lovely pen.
• Lucy Mangan has written a great ode to stationery in The Guardian and goes on to explain why she loves it so.
We all love stationery (some more moderately and tastefully than others). But why? It seems to me to offer two great and seductive promises.
The first is that it will unleash your creative potential. The unsullied page, the pristine pen offer limitless possibilities (also, on a bad day, unlimited fear)...
...The second promise is baser but, I find as I get older, even more attractive than bestsellerdom, or hot monkey sex with Jake G. It is the promise of organisation.
We highly recommend reading the whole thing. And, if you want more after that, check out her show, 'The Stationery Cupboard' Friday morning, March 2, at 11 a.m. on BBC Radio 4.