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[Pen/Pencil Review] Enter the Spreadsheet

Posted by reudaly on January 22, 2018 in Review, writing instruments with Comments closed |

I had super good intentions for earlier today – but meetings and such took care of all of that (including a meeting over lunch). But I’ve actually begun a major pen project that probably should’ve been done years ago when I started this blog.

The bin of pens (and sadly not all of them).

Enter the Spreadsheet.

I’m not an Excel person. There are people who can make spreadsheets sing and dance and even turn somersaults (isn’t that what a pivot table does?) Me? I’m barely functionally literate when it comes to spreadsheets. But… but it’s long past time for me to create a spreadsheet to FINALLY organize the above mess of writing instruments (and the ones not shown there). So, as I said on Facebook over the weekend, I willingly and of my own volition created a spreadsheet – with column suggestions from Jimmy (he’s the dancing spreadsheet guy).

It’s a slow start, but it’s a start!

The plan is to not only find the pens/pencils I haven’t reviewed yet. Perhaps revisit some of the really early pens that didn’t have the more objective numerical rating. Many may be old, discontinued, or what have you – but that could be the fun part of it.

SOME people got all silly and suggested I needed to forgo the spreadsheet and go straight to a database…to that? I just laugh. Spreadsheet is about the best I can make happen.

Darn it, Jim! I’m writer, not a data expert!

But I’m going to try. It’s part of the whole being better this year. Let’s see how it all works.

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[Write the Story] Doctors off Duty

Posted by reudaly on January 19, 2018 in Writing with Comments closed |

Prompt: Doctors off Duty

Words: goose, anatomy, Spanish, pitcher, topography, smoke, homeward, gritty, sailor, salt


“Don’t be a silly goose. No such thing as ‘just Spanish wine’.”

“Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?” Marie reached for the pitcher, letting the breezes from the beachside bar ruffle hair not kept tidy in quite some time. “Goose? My my, Tilda, you’d make a sailor blush.”

Tilda rolled her eyes at her friend and colleague. Sure, they’d gone through at least one carafe, but Marie seemed much more affected. Maybe her anatomy didn’t…No! Stop! No work. They’d finally escaped the hospital after ninety hours of duty for far longer than she could imagine. But now…now they needed to be heading homeward.

“Come on, Tilda. Last call.” Marie pulled everything away.

Tilda blew a raspberry as she drained her glass. She swayed on her feet, making Marie jump to support her friend. They staggered outside and down the boardwalk stumbling in the uneven topography.
In a whiff of smoke marred the salt sea air followed by sirens. Something was burning, something close to the bungalow the two young doctors rented for the weekend. The wind picked up, becoming hotter and gritty.

“We need to hurry, Tilda. Someone may be hurt. We might be able to help.”
Tilda pulled away, suddenly stable and sober seeming. “Will not. We’re off duty and now…maybe we’re free of everything.”

Marie’s eyes went wide. “What did you do? I’ll kill you.”

“Too late. In a few minutes, we’ll already be dead.”

Word Count: 239

Written: 11/8/17

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[Pen/Pencil Reveiw] Post Holiday Plans

Posted by reudaly on January 15, 2018 in Review, writing instruments with Comments closed |

Last year I did a pen post about the Holiday Haul and the GIANT BOX OF PENS, and this is a continuation. The GBoP is still very much a thing that needs to be gone through, inventoried, etc. Except now is a BIGGER box and plastic (with handles), so that’s a bigger priority (stop laughing).

This is the pen grouping I got this year for Christmas. That’s always a really good start. Play with the new pretties first then start going through the “vintage stuff”. I’ve already had some fun with them and look forward to seeing what I can do with them all.

There’s a wide range of materials here. I already started with the Palomino Blackwing 16.2. I’ll move forward with the rest of them. And yes, if you look closely there’s a Barb Stranger Things pen because…Barb. I totally related to her in the first season, mostly because though she was a little older than me, she and I were VERY, VERY similar. I think I may have had that hair and glasses. I <3 Barb.
And yes, I now have a Whataburger Condiment pen. Plus some other novelties and good pens – new disposable fountain pens, a decent fountain pen, rollerballs, and ballpoints. I did get them all. Again, the thing is to put them to use. I’ll still be working through the Write the Story and the 300 Writing Prompts books from Piccadilly.

Let’s have some fun this year. Looking at new things and older items (there’s a reason I put vintage in quotes most are just old – some are legitimately vintage thanks to gifts and such). Let’s have some fun.

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[Write the Story] A Fishing Trip

Posted by reudaly on January 12, 2018 in Writing with Comments closed |

Prompt: A Fishing Trip

Words: jig, unsightly, wait, beam, shoulder, grey, reminder, mouth, Canada, river


“Wait. Are you sure we have to go to the river?” George asked, blowing on his fingers in the chilled Canadian morning. He fought the urge to do a bit of a jig to try to keep warm.

“Don’t be a baby, George. It’s just a little cool out. You’ve seen and done more unsightly things in your career.”

“Yes, but that’s my job…this is different. ” George rubbed his shoulder. It ached in the grey dawn, a constant reminder of days gone by, of events he couldn’t remember.

“This is my birthday present, George. You said anything I wanted. This is it.” Her lower lip trembled ever so slightly, but it was enough.

“Come on, then. Let’s go.” George knew he was sunk, hopefully only metaphorically but the way her expression beamed. She smiled with her whole face, not just her mouth. He would do anything for that smile, even going aboard the rickety-seeming boat.

“You won’t regret, George.” She pulled him on deck as the boat cast off.

They were in the middle of the river heading around the bend when she lunged at him with a scaling knife. As his sleeve ripped, it all came screaming back. He dodged as she screamed and went overboard.

“I’m never going fishing again.”

Word Count: 213

Written: 10/25/17

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[Writing Post] Oh Bother

Posted by reudaly on January 10, 2018 in Writing with Comments closed |

It’s Wednesday… and I am not feeling this blog post.

I’ve been struggling with my Wednesday posts for some time, and wonder if it’s worth continuing them. The pen blogs and the story exercises are “easier” in some ways because that’s a concrete thing. See a pen, write about it. Type a short story from a notebook.

These? I don’t know the purpose of these posts any longer. I know I still have so much to learn about writing. I have so much writing to do, but I don’t know that I need to natter on about it. Or what I have to offer that others don’t. Maybe I need to figure out something else to write about or just go to two posts a week. Or maybe I’ll make it more sporadic. Talk about conventions and appearances and stuff. But take the pressure off of producing a weekly blog that isn’t accomplishing much.

Heck, I posted guidelines to an anthology I was editing on here. I apparently did THAT all wrong. Wrong time of year. No one saw the guidelines. People are donation-fatigued (totally get that). Whatever. But it’s one of those things that makes me do the “oh bother” thing. I don’t know if it’s going to go, but we’ll see.

And I know this sounds super whiny. But it is what it is. Just for the clarity, I’m not contemplating giving up writing at all – ever. I’m not fishing for comments or compliments (though, let’s be honest who doesn’t like a good comment/compliment every so often).

We’ll see.

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[Pen/Pencil Review] Palomino Blackwing 16.2 – Ada Lovelace

Posted by reudaly on January 8, 2018 in Review, writing instruments with Comments closed |

This year I received a second “little black box” of pencils. This year it’s the Palomino Blackwing 16.2. The Palomino Blackwing 16.2 is part of the limited edition “Volumes” collection of these amazing pencils. I’ve reviewed the classic Blackwings – which hasn’t changed. What has changed is color and a bit of design to make them special. The classic Blackwings are black with gold accents. These are white with silver wording and black eraser holders with white erasers.

The Palomino Blackwings are a dark, soft lead like I like. There’s nothing on the white lacquer body to tell you what the lead actually is, but it feels like a good B to me. Which means it’s NOT A #2 PENCIL for standardized tests/scantron sheets, but really, why would you? These are too pretty for that. The white body and the silver and black trim just makes it a pretty, pretty thing to look at. It’s also a sturdy pencil of solid wood, not that plastic pseudo-wood that bends and doesn’t sharpen well.

The Blackwing also caters to those of us who like to erase. Instead of the standard eraser on the end of the pencil, the Blackwing was a flattened, rectangular eraser that resembles a paintbrush in shape. The white eraser rubs the graphite out cleanly without crumbling. Over time it remains flexible instead of going hard like cheaper erasers. It’s also held into the end of the pencil with a spring clip so it can be adjusted to length – and makes it an oversized eraser so you don’t run out of eraser before you run out of pencil. And if you’re using a LOT of eraser, JetPens sells replacement erasers in black, white, and pink, so you can choose your look.

What makes this design special – besides the white body – is that the 16.2 “Volume” is dedicated to Ada Lovelace – mathematician, writer, and visionary. There’s a biographical insert to the box talking about Lovelace’s accomplishments including this quote: The number 16.2 is a nod to the Analytical Engine’s storage capacity of 16.2 kB (0.00005% the storage of the average smartphone) and the backside of each pencil bears a binary pattern stamp of the initials she used to sign her work, AAL.

Now to the numbers.

1.How does it work?1 – I really like these pencils. They’re a good, solid wood. When I fidget with them, I have no worries that I’m going to snap them in half or bend them out of shape, like with really cheap pencils. It is a soft lead, so if you like a hard, sharp point, you might be a little disappointed, but I like a solid, dark line, so this is my happy place pencil.

2.Grip and feel1 – It’s a standard, hexagonal pencil. But like with the above comment, it’s a good sturdy pencil that feels good in the hand.

3.Material1 – One of the best built pencils I’ve had in a while. Solid wood, nice accents. The eraser mechanism is well-built and solidly attached.

4.Overall Design1 – I don’t know what else to say about this pencil’s design. It just rocks – for me.

5.Price Point0 – It’s an expensive wooden pencil. A box of 12 will run about $25 They may be worth it if you really like wooden pencils and/or replaceable erasers, but this is not going to be your “back to school” pencil. You are paying for the fact it’s a darned good wooden pencil – and if you go for the pretty gift box? You’re paying more. That’s the only real drawback to this pencil. If you’re used to getting a dozen for a $1…this will be sticker shock. But it’s a gorgeous one.

I give it 4 of 5 bronze pencils.

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[Write the Story] A Woman’s First Day in a Convent

Posted by reudaly on January 5, 2018 in Writing with Comments closed |

Prompt: A Woman’s First Day in a Convent

Words: nun, zealous, grateful, stature, lick, attend, film, page, recognize, pomegranate

“Ladies, you are about to embark on the greatest spiritual journey. It is a calling, not a job. One who answers this call will be recognized by God on Earth and in Heaven.”

The nun giving the tour didn’t seem the zealous type. Rachel was grateful for that. She wasn’t so sure about this calling thing, but she’d not much choice now. She was here. It was time to turn a major page in her life. She couldn’t lick the feeling that something portentous was about to happen…

“Well set up the key lights there and there. The cameras need to be set up in nave and along the aisle over there and the choir loft.”

The film crew swarmed the chapel of Sisters of Perpetual Frugality, setting up equipment and barely avoiding the marble statues and other icons.

“Ignore them, as we all learn to ignore the vanities of the world.”

Rachel heard the nun’s words but felt her attention drawn to the crew as if to a ripe pomegranate. Would she or the other sisters-to-be be permitted to attend the filming? Maybe even be in it, if only in the background.

“I hope this is worth it.” Rachel heard another nun say as the group passed.

“Just think of all the people we can help with the location fee, and they have already bought cases of our wine. They’re a gold mine waiting to be excavated. ”

Maybe the convent wouldn’t be so different than the rest of the world.

Word Count: 252

Written: 10/17/17

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[Writer Post] The First Wednesday of 2018

Posted by reudaly on January 3, 2018 in Writing with Comments closed |

It’s the first Wednesday of 2018. I’m on better track than I was the end of 2017. Yay? The last few days have actually been productive, so here’s hoping the vacation actually did what it was supposed to which is recharge my brain.

I’ve extended the deadline for the Cancer Can Suck It anthology for a couple of weeks to see if we can get some more submissions in. Right now, we don’t have a whole lot, but we’ll see what happens.

Got to read a whole lot during the vacation. That was lovely. Now, I’m delving into the “to be written” pile. It’s time to address all those projects that have been mocking me for the last several months. Productivity is a lovely thing – which is why I’m trying to not scare that away.

Okay, so here we go. I have some deadlines looming, which makes for motivation. There are things I want to do and am now working to make that happen. So let’s do the thing. ONWARD!!!

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[Pen/Pencil Review] NIOA Pen Set

Posted by reudaly on January 1, 2018 in Review, writing instruments with Comments closed |

Happy New Year! Starting 2018 off on what is (hopefully) the right foot. I give you the first pen review of the new year with intent to stay on track this year. We’ll see how that goes. 😎 Anyway, I’m a member of a professional organization – National Information Officers Association (NIOA). They send a small gift with membership dues. Last year I think it was a thumb drive. This year it was a fairly nice pen set in an awesome box.

The pen set includes a ballpoint pen and a roller ball. The pens are wave etched chrome metal for the long part of the barrel and black lacquered tops with chrome metal clips. The ballpoint pen is 5.5″ long with the ink. The ink retracts with a twist mechanism that’s smooth and easy to use. The rollerball is 5.5″ long capped and not quite 6″ long with the cap posted. The cap posts securely on both the end and the barrel. The grip of the rollerball is black lacquer.

The grip is smooth on the rollerball with a slight lip where the cap meets barrel – which could dig into fingers. The ballpoint has a bit of grip to it with the wave etched barrel, but both are smooth and have no real ergonomics. They’re a good width for comfort for all sizes of fingers.

The inks are generic. The ballpoint has a typical Parker-style refill with a 1.0 mm point in black ink. The ink flowed pretty well and didn’t smear. Once this review is done, however, I’m changing the ink out for a gel ink Parker-Style refill with a 0.7mm tip that I got on Amazon – because preferences. The rollerball has a generic ceramic style refill – with a 0.7mm tip in black in. The inexpensive nature of the refill made the feel seem scratchy and not as smooth as it could be. I’ll probably be changing this out as well for a smoother ink.

But over all I’m very pleased with the quality of the pens NIOA sent their members. I’m not surprised, considering the organization is all about writing and communicating. The pens are solid – with a good weight and heft, but not overly heavy to be tiring to use. They’re also gorgeous, which would also put a professional communicator in good stead. I look forward to using these for years to come – even if the logo comes off over time – I believe they’re screen printed on, not lasered, but I could be wrong.

The numbers:
1. How does it work?1 – They work fine. The mechanisms of use are solid – the retraction on the ball point is a twist mechanism. The cap on the rollerball is secure.
2. Grip and feel0.5 – There are ridges that can dig in on the rollerball. Both have smooth grips with little to no ergonomics
3. Material1 They’re substantial metal barrels with lacquered and etched accents. They’re nice quality of pen. A good weight and diameter.
4. Overall Design1 – They’re gorgeous and functional – the higher end promotional pen with a great, magnetic closure box. They write well with what ink came with them. It’s a very professional looking set.
5. Price Point0.5 – I don’t really know, actually, but for a promotional pen set, it wouldn’t have been cheap, but since it’s a professional organization, it won’t be the most expensive thing either – probably in the $5 – $10 range per set.

4.0 out of 5 Bronze Pencils
Pencil 4.0

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[Write the Story] A Police Investigation

Posted by reudaly on December 29, 2017 in Writing with Comments closed |

Prompt: A Police Investigation

Words: ominous, arrest, decay, squeal, reduce, feline avoid, feet, blackberry, bark


The feline cry followed by the crash of a trash can caused Detective Crabtree to start. He fumbled his aging Blackberry as he picked his way through the alley toward where the GPS said he needed to be. He managed to avoid most of the muck and decay as he made his way to the certain spot.

“Detective Crabtree, over here. There’s something you need to see.”

That sounded ominous to the young detective’s ears. He approached the uniformed officer carefully, marking the signs of the struggle. The scuffs and smears in the alley. “Is there a body, Nathan?”

“Over here, Detective, behind the dumpster.”

He found irony of the large Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. logo on the dented metal set askew from the old brick wall. Feet stuck out, clad in old, turn-of-the-century clothing. Whoever the victim was, he – or she – was in costume. The next while went by in a blur of tedious busy-ness as crime scene photos were taken and the coroner pulled the bin away with a squeal of metal.

“If you were anything like the Crabtree on television, you’d already be making an arrest.” The snide comment was accompanied by a bark of laughter from the others.

“Hah. Hah. Canadian television jokes, but I will take a moment to pull a Sherlock Holmes if you want. About the angle of the wound, the proximity to a bank, and the fact you, Detective Tillson, have the same muck on her your shoes as the victim could have me looking at you as a suspect. Will I find your prints on him?”

“Detective! I have something.”

“Good evening, and don’t leave town.”

Word Count: 274

Written: 10/11/17

Note: Yes, I’m a big Murdoch Mysteries fan and totally Team George.

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