5.10.15

Adventure Motorcycle - The Touratech 2015 KLR 650

Adventure Motorcycle - The Touratech 2015 KLR 650

18.9.15

Thoughts on Money-Making it and growing it:

I came across this post from Eric Nelson courtesy of the 5 Bullet Friday posts from Tim Ferris.  Tim is the author of two books I would recommend dipping into:  'The 4 Hour Body' and 'The 4 Hour Work Week'.  Tim also hosts a great podcast called 'The Tim Ferris Show' where he interviews world class performers in sport, business and creativity to determine characteristics they have in common, that we ordinary mortals can then use to develop ourselves into Supermenschen!  See it at http://fourhourworkweek.com/category/the-tim-ferriss-show/

I am also getting into 'You need a Budget' as a means of training myself out of mindless consumerism and profligacy.  I don't fully understand its processes yet but will report back.  You can find more out here:  https://www.youneedabudget.com/


George Clason wrote a series of pamphlets in the mid-1920's, which were eventually bound together and published under the name The Richest Man in Babylon.  


Available on www.amazon.co.uk


Since it was originally a series of pamphlets, the book is composed of short, allegorical stories, all intended to teach readers how to acquire money, how to keep it, and how to use it.  The persistent character in each story is Arkad, the richest man in Babylon, who is often the teller of the stories, describing how he earned that title and drawing attention to relatable truths.

I would suggest studying, from this book, the iconic 5 Laws of Gold:
 I. Gold cometh gladly and in increasing quantity to any man who will put by not less than one-tenth of his earnings to create an estate for his future and that of his family. 
 II. Gold laboreth diligently and contentedly for the wise owner who finds for it profitable employment, multiplying even as the flocks of the field. 
 III. Gold clingeth to the protection of the cautious owner who invests it under the advice of men wise in its handling.
 IV. Gold slippeth away from the man who invests it in businesses or purposes with which he is not familiar or which are not approved by those skilled in its keep. 
 V. Gold flees the man who would force it to impossible earnings or who followeth the alluring advice of tricksters and schemers or who trusts it to his own inexperience and romantic desires in investment. 

Some quotes that have struck me this week:

It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at the goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.

Arnold J Toynbee

We succeed in enterprises which demand the positive qualities we possess, but we excel in those which can also make use of our defects.

Alexis De Tocqueville








26.7.15

Writing revisited. Man of Sorrows-a fragment of writing from 10 years ago written as part of a novella.

MAN OF SORROWS

He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.

Isaiah [53:2-4]

As David Trent crawled out of bed, waves of nausea assailed him.  The strong lager he had taken to drinking had turned the furniture of his mind, in the morning, into hanging masses of grey snot. He spat a globule of grey into the toilet bowl.  Hawked again, broke wind with a ripping arpeggio of a fart and reached for his razor.  He could not but notice the strange colour of his eyes in the morning's mirror, the yellowing signature of a drinker’s liver and the pupils the rotten purple of dead leaves in a puddle. His skin looked grey and his nose was reddened with beer and whisky rouge.  He stuck out his tongue lathed in off-white mucus and scraped it distastefully with a soup spoon which he washed under the tap, listlessly watching the  clotted snot spiralling down the plughole. Suddenly he noticed a yellow post-it note stuck to the wall.  In big letters it declared-DUTY!
'OH SHIT!'  He shouted, at the fucking relentlessly mute, yet all-observing, mirror.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

I hate this piece of writing which is round 10 years old.  I hate its vile grittiness.  Its inherent disgust. Its removal from the subject.  As if the writer sits in her laboratory staring through the microscope with distaste at her creations.

So we shall write it again as if we love the creature.

David woke to the wailing alarm with a horrendous hangover.  He thumped the beeping button into silence and slid out of the bed.  He groaned and stumbled down the steep narrow stairs to the kitchen to make a cup of strong tea, flinching at the racket of the kettle and the chink of the spoon hitting the cup.  A hefty teaspoon of honey and he climbed back up the stairs to the bathroom to shave.
He regarded himself in the mirror with some concern.  A red spot had rouged the end of his nose and blood vessels pressed agains the skin of his cheeks.  His eyes were a strange mix of yellow and and a red roadmap to last night's excesses.  His gaze rolled over the bathroom cabinet and suddenly focused on a post-it note stuck on the mirror on which the word DUTY! had been written in shaky capitals.
'Oh noooo...' he groaned and hastily began soaping the shaving brush with water and cream mixing it to a lush paste with which he then coated his face and quickly shaved, drawing the safety razor down in long measured strokes.











Jim Davis on 1/2 Person conundrums in the world of Transactional therapy

Mobiles and modalities: whose is the shiniest?

I’m not used to playing the part of psychotherapeutic agony uncle, but I recently received the following letter.  With my steaming mug of liquorice herbal tea at my side I read:

“Dear Alterego
I wonder if you could help me.  I’m training to be a TA psychotherapist, and thought I was making good progress.  At first I learnt to observe my clients and help them to identify recurring themes and patterns linked to the past in order to enhance their self awareness and insight.  Albeit with some painful soul-searching I came to the Stark realisation that I was only being a 1-person therapist!  For the past year I’ve been focusing on becoming a better, 1½ -person therapist, decentering from my own experience and empathically immersing myself in that of my client, thus providing them with a ‘corrective’ experience – one they didn’t have as a child.  I must say that my work, along with my self confidence as a therapist, has improved enormously. 
All was going well until I heard about the 2-person therapist!  It came as a bit of a shock, and again left me feeling somewhat deficient, second best – just like when I bought my iphone4 some time back, only to superseded by the 4s model, and more recently the iphone5!  Both my iphone 4 and my 1½ -person therapist-self seem suddenly and sadly old hat, lacking ‘relational depth’, and inferior!  It seems that to be ‘with-it’, state of the art, relational I need to learn to become a 2-person practitioner (and get an iphone 5!).  I’m told that this will involve me focusing not just on my client but on myself and our here-and-now intersubjective engagement with each other, involving mutuality and reciprocity.  It does sound very like the experience they say you get with the iphone5, a more interactive, sensitive and contactful touch screen experience!  I’ve heard that you’re only a relational TA therapist if you’re the 2-person version.  Does this mean that I’m not relational? I thought I was!
Yours disconsolately,
Brin Reece”

I took a big swig of my liquorice and mint herbal tea and replied with the following.

“Dear Brin Reece, (was that his real name I wondered – it almost sounded like an anagram!)
I can understand how you feel.  I have an iphone 4s and to be honest (and 2-person?) regard mere mortals, and the diminished portals of their iphone4, with an attuned yet patronizing sympathy.  On the other hand I look up enviously to the proud owners of the latest iphone5 with a mixture of envy, desire and pointless self flagellation.  My friends say I should focus on embracing my iphone 4s, and by doing so accept myself, since there’s always something out there in bright new packaging, promising a better, superior and more complete experience, only to be superseded by something apparently shinier, but not really new.

Oh and I almost forgot about the other matter of the 2-person psychotherapist!  I’m sorry to have to break the news to you, but the 2-person version has already been superseded – by the Tudor’s ‘2-person +’ and Cornell’s ‘2-person separate’ versions – I won’t even go into what they mean now because I don’t want to confuse you or depress you further (have I?).  But take heart, like with mobile phones there’s a plethora of psychotherapeutic ‘providers’ of the 2-person-version, even just within TA, many of whom don’t even bother with ideas of the unconscious or transference.  
Within the psychotherapeutic sub-culture psychoanalysis, somewhat like Apple and Google, has generally been viewed as a superior model - the real McCoy – but then they’ve got the granddaddies of them all, Sigmund and Carl (the Steve Jobs and Larry Page of psychoanalysis) as opposed to our mere second generation models of the founding fathers Carl, Fritz, and Eric.  However, the psychoanalytic tribe were way behind the humanistics in reframing the therapeutic relationship as an encounter between two people as ‘subjects’ ie each with their own subjective, personal realities, scripts, transferences or whatever. 
To say you’re only doing ‘relational TA’ if you’re using the 2-person version doesn’t mean that you’re not relational if you’re not 2-person – if you see what I mean.  I don’t use the ‘relational TA’ label for myself Brin, despite my adherence to ‘The Principles’ (who doesn’t these days?) because for me it carries the implication (ulterior transaction?) that other types of TA practice are not relational – and thus lesser in some way - plus I simply don’t like labels on the grounds that they tend to feed unhelpful competitiveness, defensiveness and splitting.
We transactional analysts love lists of things, and numbers – or even better, numbers in circles – but it doesn’t mean that 2person+ is better than 1, or 1.5 or 2-person versions, even if it does very much create that impression!  They are simply different modes of engagement for different clients at different stages of the therapeutic process.  Who really wants to limit themselves to a big clumsy dull old handset with a small screen?  Who really wants to be 1-person when there’s 2-person+ available?  Who really wants to be practicing ‘non-relational TA’!  Not me Brin.”
Yours relationally,
Alterego

I went off to make myself another liquorice and mint herbal wondering how he (and you dear reader!) had received what I had to say, thinking maybe I’d give him a ring on my brand new iphone5!  I did ring him but the line was dead.  It was only then that it hit me!
Brin’s name was an anagram. Brin Reece - Eric Berne!  He was trying to communicate to me – thus the mobile phones metaphor.   Was he was struggling with the emergence of 2-person relational transactional analysis (the iphone5) – reversing the traumatic move he’d made away from the unconscious in breaking from/being rejected by the psychoanalytic establishment?   Did he bridle at what maybe seemed to him as the casting of traditional, classical TA (1-person?) as outmoded (the iphone4).  I hoped that my letter had reassured him. 
That night I had a dream, one that I took as yet another message from Brin/Eric; I was at the national TA conference banquet dinner and everybody, all the schools including ‘relational TA’, were there.  The dessert was a magnificent Apple Charlotte suitably accompanied by a delicious deluxe ice cream, which we were all enjoying, together!  I’ll leave you to work out the associations – at both the unconscious and organizational levels (I’ve italicized to make it easier).  I hope and trust that Brin/Eric is resting in peace with it all after all?  

17.5.15

Ace Psychotherapist Jim Davis on 'Research.'



Naughty-but-NICE: Research and cream cake.

Let me admit from the outset that I can be a suspicious person at times, and no more so when something is agreed by everybody as being thoroughly good! A bit like the ‘man in the crowd’ (see last issue’s Alterego column) I find myself taking exception.  Call me rebellious or simply curious, but certainly suspicious.  An example of this that’s been bothering me for some time is research.  The two most common sentiments I hear about research into psychotherapy is that it’s good and that it’s boring – unlike cream cake.  In fact research and cream cake seem the very opposite of each other - one moral but dull, the other immoral but enjoyable.  The cream cake however is definitely not good for us, whilst research apparently is.  But is it, and if so how?

Only 15% of factors responsible for change in therapy are about the therapeutic modality, and most therapies are roughly equivalent in effectiveness.  Why then is so much interest shown in research aimed at establishing the efficacy of any particular modality?  I’ve certainly never read any research project which concluded that the approach studied wasn’t effective.  There is of course a political and economic value of such research in terms of approval by the eponymous Mr. NICE.  His blessing might lead to the enhanced status of TA, with all the implications for the financial benefits to TA therapists and trainers.  But perhaps Mr. NICE is, like the cream cake, more naughty-and-NICE.  After all he’s wedded to that glamorous medical model Mrs. NICE and her modernist views on the causes and effects of objective truth.  Together they live off the outcome measured offspring born from randomized control trials.  Nice they are not!
Surely it’s impossible to design randomized control trial research studies that convince Mr and Mrs NICE that TA cures depression, for example, when there are several different schools of TA using significantly different theories and methods.  Even amongst TA therapists who belong to the same school of TA there will inevitably be significant variations in the therapeutic relationship, and thus the therapy itself.  In this sense TA is very different from Mr. NICE’s anointed ones - anti-depressant ‘therapy’, and the more regularized methods of CBT, EMDR, or mindfulness.  With these modalities clients do get the same treatment, a manual-ised conformity amongst practitioners (seen as a good thing!) and thus amenable to the trials (but also tribulations) of randomized control.
Do we really want to get into bed with Mr. (or Mrs.) NICE, and if so at what cost?  Is this where we want to invest our research energy?  Will we even be successful, or will it simply lead us up to a dark corner of a double-blind alley down a dead-end road?  More importantly, does it divert us from more valuable purposes of research?
For me there are two fundamental values of research, neither of which involve ‘proving’ the truth of the efficacy of particular modalities.  The first is the advancement of our understanding of psychological problems and how psychotherapy ‘works’.  There is a burgeoning development of qualitative research methods for pursuing this agenda that are gaining validity within the research community – methods that embrace relational principles of engagement (eg participant observation),  the importance of experience (of both client and researcher) and the inevitability of uncertainty (eg regarding ‘truth’).  This is the research I find more palatable, even if it’s not the NICE’s cream cake of choice, not their cup of tea.
This leads me back to the ‘research is good but dull’ point from earlier.  My second fundamental value of research is how it contributes too and enriches the process of informed discussion, intrigue and controversy within our therapeutic community regarding the development of theory and practice.  A paradigmatic example of this is the research of Daniel Stern which prompted a rich, wide-ranging and contentious discussion around key issues of child development and the implications for adult psychotherapy.  His critique of Margaret Mahler’s ideas was significant not because it established a ‘truth’ – in contrast to Mahler’s ‘errors’ – but rather because of the very rich discussion it fostered.  Stern’s ideas subsequently became the focus of further challenge and criticism in an ongoing turn of the epistemological wheel.  This is why the foundation stone of any good research project is the review of the literature, the main purpose of which is to locate the project within ongoing debates about the subject matter, to identify a problem, lacuna or interesting question remaining unaddressed etc.  In this way research is founded on what is of interest, controversial even, and thus much more likely to make research enjoyable - not NICE but simply nice!

And now back to enjoying my cream cake and reading both Kieran Nolan’s (PTSTA) fascinating Ph.D research dissertation on OCD, and Cathy McQuaid’s (TSTA) illuminating research based book on psychotherapy training.

29.3.15

FIRST GUEST POST BY THE AMAZING JIM DAVIS-SELECTIONS FROM HIS WRITINGS FOR THE JOURNAL OF TRANSACTIONAL ANALYSIS

Hair loss: a case study of mourning and melancholia in the countertransference.

Committed as I am to the significance of the body and countertransference in my work as a transactional analyst, I simply cannot avoid the painful subject of hair loss!   My column today constitutes a soul-searching examination and, hopefully, a working through of my issues around hair loss in the service of my more hirsute male clients, especially those sporting their newly fashionable beards.
Notice how, from the start, I use the anodyne term ‘hair loss’ rather than the darker, more shameful ‘balding’ or even the terminal ‘bald’.  There I’ve said it, Worden’s first task of mourning, ie acknowledging the reality of the loss!  The trouble with models involving stages however is that  treading on the first step  immediately raises fears of the following and worse, final steps – ultimately (qua Worden) presumably a wig!
Anyway, we talk about ‘losing’ our hair, but we don’t simply misplace it, like our keys, or as in ‘bloody hell it was there a moment ago’, or even ‘well it was on the top of my head when I went to bed last night’!  We don’t actually lose our hair, it simply stops growing.  Perversely it only stops growing on the tops of our heads – where we want it to be – and grows more in places we don’t want such as our ears and noses, like some sick weird proof that either god doesn’t exist, or is a woman!
And then there’s the I’m OK, you’re not OK discrimination against those of us ‘losing’ our hair, like the plethora of hair ‘care’ products for people with lots of hair – shampoos and conditioners giving it more body and shine so they can shake their lustrous locks, constantly sweeping it back from over their faces in faux annoyance – ‘cos they’re worth it!  No such ‘care’ for balding people, presumably ‘cos we’re not worth it!
Hairy heads and smooth heads - hairy people and smooth people.  If you think about it hairy people are more like our evolutionary ancestors, for example the apes and gorillas, who had hair all over their bodies.  We’ve all seen those depictions of evolutionary development, you know the ones where the figures gradually change from hairy creatures on all fours to hairy things gradually standing up, and onto the upright and smoother homo sapiens.  We’ve advanced in becoming smoother and less hairy.   I rest my case….or maybe not quite yet …..
As a contribution to this ongoing evolutionary progress I propose a raft of new policies for the next government to consider:
·       the more hair you have the more tax you pay
·       hair-free zones and banning of hairy people in public places - as with smoking
·       dedicated parking spaces for the sole use of bald people
·       enhanced evolutionary-friendly child benefits for families with balding fathers
·       creation of an Axis 2 DSM diagnosis – EHD (Excessive Hair Disorder)
·       establishment of special centres where hairies can get free hair removal, therapy and re-education classes about who’s worth it and who isn’t. 
However, persistent hairy ‘extremists’ would be banned from owning cars, bycicles and belts so they’d have to run for buses and fall over and everyone would laugh at them. (Let’s face it, I might as well give full reign to my envious Child ego state here).   By that time the  queen will have passed on, William will be king and called His Royal Hairless-ness, and a whole new generation of bald therapists will be trained up to work with Excessive Hair Disorder.  I will have worked through my countertransference, and the world will be a better place.

Alterego









Ignore history at the World's peril!

I think it was Winston Churchill who said the best argument against democracy was a five minute conversation with an average voter.  I guess he was referring to-stupidity or lack of imagination, maybe they're the same thing?

A recent episode on 15th January of BBC's 'Question Time' left me with a very similar feeling.  And also left me with the sour taste that I get often these days when watching television-that I am in fact watching a form of blatant propaganda.  That I am being sold an idea without foundation that is accepted as fact uncritically and is then foisted upon me by particularised use of language comprising linguistic signifiers that purport to be established world views.  These signifiers refer to 'the terrorists,' 'the insurgents', 'jihadists', or to the 'economy'  and to 'economic data' as if it refers to something concretised and actual whereas in fact it refers to wholly imaginary concepts devised at several levels removed for inclusion in a script.
The panel comprised:
Anna Soubry MP, Douglas Alexander MP, Baroness Brinton, Mehdi Hasan and David Starkey, chaired as ever by the wonderful David Dimblebly.
The question was to do with the murder of the journalists at Charlie Hebdo in Paris and what startled me was the almost incredible absence of the historical narrative that led us to these present conditions.

the is the real timeline:


  • the Russian Invasion of Afghanistan
  • The arming and support, by western powers, of the Mujahideen
  • The invasion of Iraq 1
  • The attempted capture in Somalia of General Aideed
  • The invasion of Iraq 2 Desert Storm
  • The continuing existence, illegally, of Guantanamo Bay
  • The invasion of Afghanistan by the Americans and their alllies primarily UK.
  • Abu Graib Prison and the sexual humiliation of young muslims by American guards some of whom were female
  • The Bush Cabinet's legitimisation of torture and illegal rendition of 'suspects' with British security services cooperation.
  • The ongoing American support for the illegal occupation and settlement of Palestinian Land by the State of Israel
  • Assassinations by drone


Do we not understand that, by any marker of morality or acceptable diplomacy the American and UK governments have themselves behaved as terrorists?  That is, specifically creating fear and terror in the hearts and minds of entire populations.  But without the narrative of history we have no explanation for the madness that besieges us.

















THE EVERY DAY CARRY (EDC)


THIS IS WHAT I CARRY ON A WORK DAY!
LIFEVENTURE THERMOS CUP/LEATHERMAN CHARGE MULTITOOL/TACTILE TURN PEN IN TEAL FINISH/IPHONE 5/RHODIA WEB NOTEBOOK WITH QUIVER PEN HOLDER/DOANE PAPER GRID+LINES NOTEBOOK/L10C LED TORCH/BOSE NOISE ISOLATING EARBUDS/MOLESKINE A5 NOTEBOOK/SPECTACLES CASE/TEETH FLOSSER/ASSORTMENT OF PENS IN PLASTIC WALLET

THIS IS WHAT I CARRY IT ALL IN:  AN OSPREY VIPER 13 LTR



8.3.15

New writers on 'The Art of Balance' blog!

Getting people to do stuff is really hard.  Particularly if they are really talented clever people and you're not offering them any money.  But I have managed to bag two really, really clever people who will be posting on this blog hopefully on a regular basis.
Our first post will be from Jim Davis, my beloved bro and friend.  I cannot begin to overstate how privileged I feel about Jim writing for this blog.  He is one of the most skilled psychotherapists in the field of relationship counselling.  He is probably one of the UK's best Backgammon players who only missed winning the British championship some years ago because I was mithering him about getting me to my train on time while he was playing the freaking final.  Yes that's the kind of guy I am!

My other contributor is Alan Moore, no, not the Northamptonshire comics wizard but a writer from Blackpool who writes with passion and grit like a modern Jonathan Swift with little time for the old Etonians screwing the country right now and their Bankster friends.

I truly hope you enjoy their contributions in the similar way that Lois Mansfield's brilliant post became one of the most popular on this blog.  Whatever happened to Lois?  Maybe I need to get her back here.  She's a lot prettier than Jim and Alan as well.  But what they have in common is they are all very smart and incredibly gifted writers.  Thanks for being here.

31.1.15

My Favourite Pen List from The Pen Addict Blog

Top 5 Pen Recommendations - Overall
  1. Uni-Ball Signo DX 0.38 mm - Vibrant, smooth, and consistent.
  2. TWSBI 580 - Hard to beat the value and versatility.
  3. *NEW Ti2 TechLiner - This pen has a real shot at the #1 overall spot.
  4. *NEW Retro 51 Tornado - I always have one in my backpack. It's about time it makes this list.
  5. Ohto Graphic Liner - Still amazed how good this pen is.
Top 5 Micro Gel Ink Pens
  1. Uni-Ball Signo DX 0.38 mm - More consistent than the Hi-Tec-C.
  2. Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.3 mm - The finest, crispest lines going.
  3. Zebra Sarasa Clip 0.4 mm - Super sharp lines, great clip. Needs more love!
  4. *NEW Uni-ball Signo RT1 - If you are lucky you can find these in your local office supply store.
  5. Pilot Juice 0.38 mm - A better option than the G2. By far.
Top 5 Pens In The Store
  1. Uni-ball Jetstream - Stay away from the 1.0 mm.
  2. Uni-ball Signo 207 - "But what can I buy at Staples that is good?" This.
  3. *NEW Uni-ball Vision Elite - I've been overlooking this one for too long. The new BLX line got me back on track.
  4. Sharpie Pen - Would be #1 if it was more durable.
  5. Pentel EnerGel - People swear by their EnerGels.
Top 5 Fountain Pens - No-Brainers
  1. TWSBI 580 - TWSBI should be Taiwanese for "Great value."
  2. *NEW Sailor 1911 - Can't go wrong with the standard barrel or the Black Luster model, which I own. Amazing nib.
  3. Lamy 2000 - The perfect combination of style, performance, and price.
  4. Pilot Vanishing Point - An elite writer, especially on the fine end of the spectrum.
  5. Edison Beaumont - From "I'm not sure" to "I can't put it down" in short order.
Top 5 Fountain Pens - Some-Brainers
  1. Edison Menlo - Great build and filling system plus fully customizable.
  2. *NEW Nakaya Portable - My first Nakaya. I made the right choice.
  3. *NEW Pilot Murex - Is this even fair? This pen elicits emotions I can't begin to explain.
  4. Pilot Custom Heritage 912 - The PO nib is that good.
  5. Franklin-Christoph Model 40 Pocket - Step up your eyedropper game. Masuyama nib option to boot.
Top 5 Fountain Pen Inks
  1. Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai - Blue Black inks are my favorites, and this one tops them all.
  2. Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa - I swap inks a lot and this one always makes the rotation.
  3. *NEW P.W. Akkerman #8 Diep-Duinwaterblauw - Amazing color and shading with this one and easier to come by than ever before.
  4. Sailor Sky High - Better than Kon-Peki? I think so. Also, is it fair to keep discontinued inks on this list?
  5. *NEW Sailor Yama-dori - I've never been a teal guy but red sheen on blue inks is hot.
Top 5 Blue Black Fountain Pen Inks
  1. Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai - It tops my overall ink list too.
  2. *NEW P.W. Akkerman #8 Diep-Duinwaterblauw
  3. Sailor Blue Black - I've come around on this one and love it in my Sailor pens.
  4. Pelikan Blue Black - Not available in the US but worth tracking down.
  5. Lamy Blue Black - One of the best bangs for your buck.
Top 5 Plastic Tip Pens
  1. Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Mangaka - One of the biggest surprises I have tested.
  2. Sakura Pigma Micron - Everyone can, and does, use Microns.
  3. Copic Multiliner SP - Beautiful and refillable...and expensive.
  4. Sharpie Pen - Readily available and solid choice.
  5. Uni Pin - Solid entry level drawing pen.
Top 5 Paper Products
  1. Doane Paper Idea Journal - Beautiful, durable, and portable.
  2. Rhodia Dot Pad - My favorite fountain pen paper.
  3. Field Notes Memo Books - Love the seasonal releases.
  4. Maruman Mnemosyne Inspiration - As good as Rhodia and more portable, but costs more.
  5. Tomoe River Paper - Might be #1 when it becomes readily available in more formats.
Top 5 Multi Pens
  1. Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto - So many options and a great refill makes it tough to beat.
  2. Uni Style Fit - Late to the game but compares well to the Coleto.
  3. Zebra Sharbo X - Only cost (initial and ongoing) keeps this from being #1.
  4. Uni-ball Jetstream - The best ballpoint multi pen option by far.
  5. Zebra Prefill - If you like the Sarasa Clip this is as close as you will get in a multi pen.
Top 5 Ballpoint Pens
  1. Uni-ball Jetstream 0.5 mm - Sharp, fine and solid lines. Elite, but not for everyone.
  2. Pilot Acroball 0.5 mm - More like a 1A with the Jetstream.
  3. Pentel Vicuna 0.7 mm - A big surprise with its pitch black ink.
  4. Pilot Dr. Grip 0.7 mm - The best of the traditional ballpoints.
  5. Zebra Surari 0.5 mm - 0.5 mm or nothing for the Surari.
*NEW Top 5 Roller Ball Pens
  1. Retro 51 Tornado - This may be the most recommended pen on this entire page.
  2. Morning Glory Mach 3 - Extremely underrated pen. In fact, I need to stock up on a few more.
  3. Uni-ball Vision Elite - A great writer with an impressive feature set.
  4. Lamy Tipo - Surprisingly good stock refill, also swappable for G2 compatible refills.
  5. Kaweco AL Sport - The pocket rocket of pens.
Top 5 Kickstarter Pens
  1. Ti2 TechLiner - I'm in love with my Kickstarter gonzodized version.
  2. Karas Kustoms Render K - Hard to beat the simple beauty of the Render K.
  3. Tactile Turn Mover - A complete surprise, and an amazing grip.
  4. BIGiDESIGN Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus - Refills galore fit the Ti.
  5. *NEW Karas Customs INK - Brand new and so good.
Top 5 Extreme Weather Pens
  1. Tombow Airpress - My pressurized refill pen of choice.
  2. Fisher Space Pen - The classic, but not the best writer.
  3. Uni-ball Power Tank - Writes great, could use a more durable barrel.
  4. Tombow Airpress Apro - Smaller, slimmer sibling of the Airpress.
  5. Pilot Down Force - Solid clip and barrel, average writer.
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