Hi, everyone. I've been silent recently because I've been repeatedly drowning in the waves of life - waves consisting of research papers, policy reports, book proposals, research conferences, job responsibilities, parenting responsibilities, moving to another house, breathing, etc etc.
I've also been having trouble restarting and revising old projects, because, as pointed out in a recent article on The Chronicle of Higher Education:
"The real hardest part of a research project is restarting it after a long absence."
It seems silly to get winded and tired at such a "late-stage" step, when the data has already been collected and analyzed, and all that needs to be done is just the writing and piecing all the parts together. I have also been procrastinating on sending some papers out because I need to rewrite some parts (ha!), which takes time. It's very difficult to juggle multiple balls at the same time, and we're all human. I have found, however, that inertia is key -- as the article pointed out, it is very, very difficult to start writing again after you've stopped for a long time.
In any case, in an attempt to keep up the momentum , I've decided to write (anything) every single day. This include silly pieces like today's post on pens.
Pens are a nontrivial part of my daily life. I always carry at least 3 with me, which is a habit I developed in graduate school. When you're working on a mathematical model, you can't really do it on a laptop or tablet -- you have to do it on paper. I used to only use pencils, because mistakes are easier to erase, but pencils are more of a hassle to carry than pens. If you like mechanical pencils, you have to carry both the pencil and lead. If you like "normal" pencils, you have to carry both the pencil and a sharpener. Plus, you have to carry an eraser because the ones that come with the pen are often really crappy, and don't work so well. So, in short, not so practical. Pens make uglier mistakes which are harder to erase, but they're more convenient to carry.
Now, imagine your ideal pen. How does it look like?
1. The ideal pen doesn't bleed into the paper you are writing on -- it dispenses ink at a reasonable speed. It also doesn't run out of ink after 2 pages of writing.
2. The ideal pen is not expensive. My parents gave me a fancy gold/silver Cross pen with my name on it when I graduated from college, but it lives on my desk now, doesn't move anywhere, and is barely used, because I'm always afraid that I'm going to lose it. I need to be able to lose my pens.
3. The ideal pen comes in multiple colors. Black for when I'm jotting down notes, blue for notes that are particularly important, and red for when I'm grading something and need my frustration with the assignment to really *pop*.
4. The ideal pen does not have a "thick" point, and writes very smoothly. (The thin part might actually be personal preference than anything, but oh well.)
I have spent an inordinate amount of time at bookstores in my lifetime, both because I am a freakishly fast reader (not even going to be modest here) and need to constantly replenish my supply of books, and also because I love testing out new pens. I have tried pens out at hotels worldwide (these people often have the best pens), Kinokuniya, Popular, MPH, random kedai runcit, Borders, etc etc. When we lived in the US, I spent a ridiculous amount of time reading pen reviews and ordering tons of them from Amazon. So, I feel that I am as close to being a pen expert as one could possible get. I am pleased to present the following 2 pens to you as the Best Pens in Malaysia.
1. Zebra's Piccolo Ballpoint Pen, Fine (0.7mm) - comes in red, blue, and black
Cost: RM 3-ish for a pack of 3 at Popular Bookstores. That's less than USD$1 for 3 pens.
2. Beifa's Gel Ink Pen, Extra Fine (0.38mm) - comes in black and blue
Cost: RM 8-ish for a pack of 10 at Mr. DIY. That's about USD$3-ish for 10 pens.
If preferences for pens are horizontal rather than vertical, then I guess this post won't help you much. Oh well.
Disclaimer: Nobody paid me anything to write this very exciting post. I wish they did though, because getting paid to review pens seems like a pretty sweet deal.