Metatalktail Hour: office supply confessions January 11, 2020 5:01 PM   Subscribe

Hello weekend! Tonight I’m wondering, do you feel the magic of the office supply aisle at the store? Is there a particular stationery item that speaks to you? Do you covet fancy pens or have a rubber band ball? Let’s hear it.

Or just tell us how things are with you; as always it’s a conversation starter not limiter.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 5:01 PM (105 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

I have a weakness for post-it notes, myself. I don’t think there’s anything that sparks little jags of creativity like a blank yellow post-it note.

Not so great for actual organization, though. I have drifts of the things all over the place.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 5:06 PM on January 11, 2020 [6 favorites]

Pencils. I cannot pass any display of pencils without perusing. Quality is so variable, too: Dixon and Papermate are fairly universally terrible now. Pleasantly surprised even by cheap Write Dudes or pretty ChungHwa 6151s (though Staedtler would like a word about the Tradition look-alike colouring). But Muji make about the best everyday pencil.
posted by scruss at 5:46 PM on January 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

Document/binder clips.

Not just for the office! In the freezer, I have a couple of open bags of frozen veggies that are currently being held closed with them. I have also deployed some as Christmas light fasteners in our window. A jumbo one is currently clamped to the edge of my desk in order to act as a (highly adjustable!) guide conduit for a bunch of different small-gauge cables for audio line-in/line out, device charging cables, etc., so they're not running all over the place or slipping onto the floor behind the desk.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:54 PM on January 11, 2020 [13 favorites]

Oh and I got one of these unreasonably cute cat pens and it's pretty great. A+++ gift for the silly cat pen person in your life.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 5:56 PM on January 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

My handwriting is only neat and recognizable as mine if I use good quality rollerball pens. So I spend a dumb anount of money on nice pens, which other people inevitably steal because they’re the best pens.

I’ll add that someone decided to sexually harass me in public WHILE I WAS BLOWING MY NOSE this afternoon, which is a whole new level of...something, on top of the world falling to pieces.
posted by centrifugal at 6:12 PM on January 11, 2020 [9 favorites]

I covet what no longer exists: Good quality blank index cards. What the hell happened to the index card market? They're like a thicker version of toilet paper now.
posted by HotToddy at 6:27 PM on January 11, 2020 [11 favorites]

My middle school million dollar idea was to offer basic office supplies in brilliant colors and patterns, so you could fashionably wear, say, a binder clip in your jeans' back pocket or hang paper clips in the shape of elephants from your earring (or other) holes. I was gonna call it Accessorize with Office Supplies. While the concept of sprucing up basic black/bare metal office supplies has really taken off it definitely went more in the direction of Lisa Frank and Sanrio than trendy wearables. Ah, well.

Where I personally have ended up is fetishizing my Zebra F-701 all-metal, filling it with fancy ink, and making sure you can always see it peeking out of my shirt pocket.

I've been laid low this week with a fever and bronchitis, been quite some time since I felt as shitty as I felt on Wednesday. Thankfully, by today the fever is gone and I'm not whistling every breath, it's just down to low energy. Tomorrow I'm going to try for a bike ride.
posted by carsonb at 6:30 PM on January 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

Oh and I just realized this is probably the best place to share this (and I've been wanting to share this), but I got my BURN YOUR KINGS wickerman shirt from Corey Press a while back and I feel like a fucking superhero whenever I wear it under my sweater.
posted by carsonb at 6:32 PM on January 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

Fasteners of almost any kind. Especially paper clips. But not staples. Don't talk to me about those.

That's why one of my (many) works in progress is centered on the God of Paperclips (and other small office supplies)
posted by Tabitha Someday at 6:38 PM on January 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

For years I was irrationally drawn to the romantic promise of fountain pens, but every one I was willing to blow my hard-earned cash on (i.e. no more than 20 bucks or so) was disappointing* - they all felt scratchy to write with and the ink never seemed to flow as evenly as I'd hoped. Then I encountered the joy that is the Uniball Jetstream ball-point pen, and lost all further interest in aspirational handheld writing technologies.

For the first 20 years of my office-dwelling career I kept my desk reasonably stocked with just about every item available in the company's supply cabinet - all manner of sticky notes and index cards; letter and legal-sized writing pads (white and yellow); pencils; pens, markers, and highlighters of all colors; every conceivable paperclip from the tiniest typical bent-wire job to gigantic ream-holders (painful if misused!); 3-ring binders narrow and wide; all types of rubber bands; erasers; and envelopes of various sizes. Not a prodigious hoard, you understand, just a few of each, because you never know, right? But I've been working from home for the last 10 years, and let me tell you it curbed the hell out of my interest in accessoires. Now all I have are the aforementioned ball-point pens, a couple different sizes of sticky-note pads, one box each of assorted-size paper clips and rubber bands, a very nice block eraser, and a couple different sizes of chisel-point black marker pens. And really, 99% of my work is computer based, so the only stuff I use regularly are the ball-point pens and the sticky-note pads. Also, any page I print out but don't end up needing to keep goes in a pile of scrap paper that I user for scribbled notes or lists that won't fit on a Post-It. I still wouldn't mind finding the Platonic Ideal fountain pen, if only to satisfy my curiosity about them - not that I'm willing to spend any money on it, but still.

In other news, after having used Flickr strictly for showing my photos to only friends and family (and Metafilter) for something like 13 years, in the past couple of weeks I've joined a few groups and am actively posting some of my better shots in them. It's nice to get a little feedback, and I'm also seeing a lot of work from some very good artists that have reignited my interest in photography and inspired me to improve my skills. (here's a link, if anyone is inclined to bask in the (unripened) fruits of my artistic vision. :D ) In fact, I've decided to spend whatever my tax refund ends up being this year on some better lenses - a couple of primes and a macro lens are at the top of my list.

*Come to think of it, I had a similar brief and unsatisfying experimentation with cigars and pipes as a young man.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:47 PM on January 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

Metafilter: painful if misused!
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:49 PM on January 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

I have an almost-life-long loyalty for PaperMate Flair felt tip pens, especially the ones in green. The green felt markers were my personal trademark in my last several jobs. I was quite relieved to learn that El Trumpo's pen of choice was Sharpie, not Flair. I hereby declare green Flairs to be the writing impliment if the Resistance (please nobidy tell me who PaperMate's parent company is).

I also have well-esrablished loyalties to binder clips and post-it notes (but with all the non-standard colors of post-its) and in a crossover from a different store department, I like to organize my frequently accessed paperwork in gallon-sized slider zipper bags. (They're transparent!)

I started the year 2020 coughing, and while I got past the 'non-productive' phase after 3 days, and the 'coughing up green' phase after 6, I'm still coughing up white foam after 11. I have a long history of bronchitis and nagging coughs; my personal record is 18 days and I do NOT wish to go for a personal best.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:50 PM on January 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

From the title, I thought that this was going to be the place for confessing to theft of supplies from the office.

Which yes, I have been known to "borrow" from time to time. Trickier is convincing the person who orders office supplies to order the exact pens I like, rather than the generic versions that don't work as well.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:23 PM on January 11, 2020 [9 favorites]

From the title, I thought that this was going to be the place for confessing to theft of supplies from the office.

*raises hand*

I mean, where do you think I got all of these binder clips from?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:25 PM on January 11, 2020 [6 favorites]

Trickier is convincing the person who orders office supplies to order the exact pens I like, rather than the generic versions that don't work as well.

At a place I used to work at, the person who was ultimately in charge of all of the administrative staff once waved a printout of an Excel sheet at me in disgust and said, "Do you have ANY idea what [Office X] spent on orders of Werther's Originals last year?" (this candy was available in the office supply catalog used for office supplies).

"No," I said.


"Whoa," I said.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:29 PM on January 11, 2020 [13 favorites]

One of the admins at my job keeps a drawer full of the fun office supplies, which is separate from the cabinet full of regular office supplies elsewhere. She doesn't let just anyone and everyone into the fun office supplies, but if she likes you and you demonstrate a solid interest in fun office supplies, she will share.

You can legibly write on a teal post-it note with a teal pen, in case you were wondering.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:37 PM on January 11, 2020 [11 favorites]

I would end up later hearing about someone from [Office X] who was complaining loudly about the types of items that could be ordered being significantly restricted. I suspect this was the Werther's aficionado.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:37 PM on January 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

I really like fancy art pens. Fountain or otherwise. Everyone in the card club knows I love glitter pens and metallic pens. Anything with shimmer.

Well. It's been a hellacious few weeks. For obvious reasons then, the blog wasn't updated as much, and stuff didn't get done, or was done a tad slapdash. It started out so promising. But I had a lot of things do do in December. I did most of them, though the leeks still taunt me. The herbs at least got planted- though I got poured on in the process. That link has some bonus rain video. I then finally put in my seed garlic- months after I'd squirreled it away. Yes I made an "It's alive" joke, no I'm not sorry. Finally I was able to move some stuff around and pull the last squash vine. Still got wet. Then a mid month Captain's log. And then, FINALLY I could plant my cabbages.

That was the last thing I did before dad fell and... Well it was bad. Internal kidney bleed, many days in ICU bad. He almost died. But he's ok now- and my end of month log was appropriately melancholy. I started the month underestimating tarragon, And starting some spring seeds. But the effects of the earlier weather freak-out are still felt, and it looks like I have even more work to do.

It's a slow time at work which has been the saving grace here, If it was as crazy now as it gets in Spring I think I would have blown a gasket. (more then I maybe already did)

I'm still hoping for more brassica posts in the rest of the month- c'mon people there's some sign art on the line!

Anyways it's been a trip, and I love you all.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:49 PM on January 11, 2020 [9 favorites]

I kind of love planners. I mean, I’m picky enough now that I have my one style that I’ll buy, so there’s almost not a point in shopping, but why let that stop me?

Goodbye party for a friend this afternoon *snif*. Unrelatedly, Little eirias was having A Day, oy. It was sort of amazing she handled “potluck with no food I like and only grownups and toddlers to talk to” as well as she did.
posted by eirias at 7:55 PM on January 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

H.n., I had assumed “nematode treated” meant something like “preventative treatment against nematodes” (having not the faintest idea what a nematode was) and then the bag mightily confused me.

Best wishes to your family.
posted by eirias at 8:02 PM on January 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

the God of Paperclips

Werther's aficionado

the leeks still taunt

underestimating tarragon

Lots of great sockpuppet names in this thread....
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:16 PM on January 11, 2020 [11 favorites]

Likes: White, Super Sticky Post-it notes or bust. Gray de-lighters, for the opposite of highlighting. Used to be hard to find in the U.S.; don’t know whether they still are since I’m still working through the box of de-lightful Staedtlers that a U.K.-based colleague sent me years and years ago. Enough colors of roller balls for all color-coding needs. Wide-ruled, hard-backed double notepads. The simple, stick-style staple removers, no hinge.

Dislikes: Notepads that are supposed to be gummed at the top but that shed pages. Notepads that are supposed to be perforated but that fail to tear right on the perf. Fine tip pens. Hardened pencil erasers.
posted by daisyace at 8:23 PM on January 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

I love it all. My father's first real Job was running all the office supply/ furniture for the then new 777 building in Ann Arbor. The subfloor boasted his area, complete with a walk-in vault that could house all the blue prints for a nuclear power plant. A bank, cafeteria, etc.

I love this guy's site on typewriters
My grandmother had about 10 boxes of
typing paper from the 30s and 40s. A few sample of thick bond and onion skin survive and I have my great grandfather's Schaeffer pen. Life time guarantee, called the company direct and the 90 year old warranty is good. Also, three of his leather bound notebooks from 1903. Filled with blank paper.
Grandpa worked for Michigan Bell, a few cool things. I have 3 types of pen/pencils with balled tips for the rotary phone.
posted by clavdivs at 8:25 PM on January 11, 2020 [9 favorites]

remember the hipster pda?
posted by niicholas at 8:45 PM on January 11, 2020 [11 favorites]

I like Field Notes steno pads (I use them as scratch pads). They just fit in the hand so well. But, in fact, our office supplies are so shoddy that just about the only supplies on my desk that I didn’t bring in are the redwelds.
posted by praemunire at 9:58 PM on January 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

My kids, 8 and 10, call their binders that hold all their folders of school papers “Trapper Keepers” thanks to me and my wife.

Then I encountered the joy that is the Uniball Jetstream ball-point pen, and lost all further interest in aspirational handheld writing technologies

I was in rural BC, Canada on my way to our favorite backcountry ski cabin and stopped at the grocery store for some supplies. For some reason, USians still have to sign paper when we use our credit cards, and the teenage cashier handed me a pen and warned me “This one is special, you have to give it back.”

I immediately recognized the Uniball Jetstream he handed me, I tapped the side of my nose and said “You know the truth about the One True Pen.” We had a minutes-long conversation about the salvation we each had discovered through that pen and agreed to continue to evangelize world peace and harmony through the universal adoption of the Uniball Jetstream. You need to get this pen.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:11 PM on January 11, 2020 [15 favorites]

I was like, "what the hell is a Uniball Jetstream?" so I googled it and the very second I laid eyes on it I muttered to myself, "Yeah, those are nice pens!" having fondly used them many times in the past only to have each and every one of them mysteriously disappear. I'm quite sure that this is by design.

FYI, binder clips are excellent key holders! Take one of the folding metal bits off, slide a key or two onto the folding metal bit and then reattach said metal bit back to the clip. Now clip it wherever you want: hem of your shirt, in a backpack, a hidey-hole...guaranteed that it won't fall off.
posted by ashbury at 10:44 PM on January 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

Graph paper, for me. I spent a while in grad school with a stock of graph-ruled index cards at my desk so I could jot down ideas or topics I wanted to talk about with the professor or to give little notes to the students I TAed when I wanted them to remember something. This carried over into a love of spiral-bound graph paper notebooks, and I still like keeping one of those around when I want to sketch something out that needs some structure and precision (I have lots of unlined paper for more artistic pursuits, and I just never liked regular one-set-of-parallel-lines lined paper).
posted by wanderingmind at 10:49 PM on January 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

I love a pastel highlighter for my weekly todo lists. I use Uniball Jetstream pens and since I’ve started partly working from home, I have to lock them in my drawers when I leave the office as they walk. On Friday I was in the office for 4 hours (thanks Paris strikes), and one disappeared when I went to the kitchen!
posted by ellieBOA at 10:55 PM on January 11, 2020

Are you okay-ish centrifugal?, that's horrible.

Faber-Castell's Albrecht Dürer watercolour pencils, sharp colour when you need it, and a dab of water and you have a nice blur, no muddy colours here - I use them for roughs, and increasingly final concepts to show clients - people respond SO much better to hand-made.

I only use about 30 colours but always gaze over the whole lot when I occasionally get to the only artstore that sells them in the lower South (and yes I like my lawn wild, if you're wondering what's outside the window).

Oh and we're actually having summer today, yes, real sunshine maybe 22°C, gentle breeze and a blue sky. Very rare in this oddest of summers - it's been about 9°C most of the time.
posted by unearthed at 11:13 PM on January 11, 2020 [5 favorites]

I will see your hipster PDA with the porn that is Bujo. It took my daughter and her voracious pen needs for Bujo to enter my consciousness. I was familiar with the original bullet journal but had no idea that there was like a cult around creating highly customized bullet journals.

I have a profound weakness for stationary and lord, I was the person that did the supply was great. All them jetstreams and Sarasas and any pen one desired though the clickable fountain pen was just too expensive to justify.

When I want some quick stationary supply porn I go to JetPens. I am afraid that I would spend all the monies in a Japanese stationary store. My note taking fascination right now is Window Sticky Notes which are basically sticky note made of tracing paper. This would have made me drawing diagrams out of textbooks to a new level.

For cheap stationary thrills go to the closest Daiso and get some nice washi and other stuff that is too expensive at Muji. However, Muji pens are great and hit that perfect cost to value proposition.
posted by jadepearl at 11:15 PM on January 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

From the title, I thought that this was going to be the place for confessing to theft of supplies from the office.

My dad liked to bring home post-it notes from work. Lots and lots of post-it notes. After he retired my parents moved and while we were packing we found at least four 64-quart storage bins full of post-it notes.

Google tells me that's 8.5 cubic feet of post-it notes.
posted by bendy at 11:59 PM on January 11, 2020 [8 favorites]

i was frustrated to find floppy papers masquerading as index cards too.

i admire a nice pen and a sturdy notebook of unlined paper. used to write a lot of letters but don't so much anymore. so i have some fine stationery in a drawer; not really stationery-aisle stationery though.

don't like my pens to have rubber or a whole lot of shape. was partial to the uniball micro as fine a tip as available back when it was but a slim matte black column with a metal clip in youth.

mostly avoid the stationery aisle in drugstore because it is near greeting cards and where greeting cards are, scented candles are not far. and i try to minimize exposure to those things.

today i was chasing little lurk and a friend at the playground, following friend at a steady lope across the yard, up the stairs of a wooden gazebo and intending to follow her up a step to the spiral slide out the other side (i'm a little old and sore for much sliding, and generally too big, but was trying to give good play today) and down into the yard beyond. but instead, stepping up and really expecting to plant my hands and get fluidly into the top of that slide, slammed my head into the crossbeam of the gazebo roof, just above that step, hard enough to knock myself down and leave me wondering for a while if i was of fit mind to judge whether i was seriously injured. it is my second plausibly-hat-brim-related head trauma on a playground with little lurk. i was able to more or less immediately get up and make it down the slide, but the quality of my play was much reduced. i gingerly stepped over fences i'd earlier less-gingerly jumped. but it was hours ago and i've focused on things and digested food and driven a car and engaged in commerce, so seem unscathed but for a pretty bad road-rashy bruise-blister-scrape on my pate and some soreness about the neck and shoulders, so seem to be okay. if concussion, mild and mostly passed by now. um: i bet it looked hilarious. pure, brutal physical comedy. as best i could tell nobody saw it: pretty sure i'd have brayed a loud involuntary guffaw before guiltily growing concerned and going to check on that possibly-injured person. i'm glad. hilarious and humiliating. but less humiliating when unobserved. little humbling: i think i am lucky i did not injure myself beyond the capacity to immediately supervise my child. and should be more careful.
posted by 20 year lurk at 12:24 AM on January 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

8.5 cubic feet of post-it notes

Wasn't that the name of Russell Crowe's 80's band?
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:36 AM on January 12, 2020 [5 favorites]

To those who are Uniball Jetstream fans, there are now Jetstream multi-pens. That's right, 4 colors and a push point pencil all in one pen. Did I mention cheaper than $7?
posted by jadepearl at 2:00 AM on January 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

My current favorite pen is the PILOT G-2 10 ball-point. Black ink.1
1 Because why would anyone use blue?2
2 Ever.3
3 For any reason.


the joy that is the Uniball Jetstream ball-point pen,
My interest is piqued. A quick search on Amazon tells me that they are quite proud of this product, and want me to part with but a small (yet considerable, for a flippin' pen) sum to partake of its joys. I am assuming that I would be happier if I purchased this Uniball Jetstream ball-poin pent vs this other Jetstream ball-point pen.

Pray tell.


So I burned hell out of myself, Sunday before Christmas, grease fire, splattered super-hot grease left arm and shoulder then across my chest and down my gut. It was a real pain in the ass to keep showering to get the scrud off, then re-bandaging -- took over an hour, bacitracine out the wazoo, band-aids of every size and description, gauze pads of every size and description, white tape out the wazoo. I looked like a patchwork quilt. But! Maybe a week on, I was *almost* totally healed, ran out of tape and gauze, went to the local supermarket to buy some more.

So far so good. Showered, rebandaged everything up, went to bed.

Only to be awakened a couple of hours later, clawing at my body, ripping at all of the bandages, tearing them off. Turns out that I did *not* get the good-guy 3M tape I have used for years but instead the stores cheap-ass, garbage generic brand, packaged to look like the good-guy 3M tape I have used for years. I had a huge allergic reaction to it, my whole body, which had been healing ever so nicely, now red and raw and oozing and running and itching like hell, I'm eating anti-histimines to take the itch out, blah blah blah. This was on 12/30. I spent the early morning hours of 01/01//2020 swelling up such that I could not believe it, my elbows big as my knees, my lips swelling, my hands swelling.

I was In Deep Shit.

9:00 AM, 01/01, ER, here I come. Except it's an ER, so, since I wasn't dying, it went from here I come to here I sit. Literally swelling as I sat there -- unreal. Three hours later I see I doc, she sees my hands, elbows, lips, listens to my tale of woe, gives me a big double fistful of steroids to swallow and a scrip for a five-day pak of prednisone, sent me on my way. I had my new (to me) cell phone and didn't (yet) have lyft or uber in it, I had no cash on me, none of my friends picked up, so I walked home, stopping four maybe five times to rest, to snivel, to be miserable, to wallow in self-pity, and snivel more, and moan, and moan some more, etc and etc. Maybe two miles, maybe three, no telling, to me it felt that I was walking to The End Of Time. Or something.
(I honestly don't at all mind being in an ER if I've arrived there honorably, say maybe after a great bicycle wreck or heart attacks or what-have-you. But being in the goddamn ER behind some stupid, lame-ass reaction to some stupid, lame-ass cheap shittin' tape? No. Just no. I was Not Pleased.)

I slept like being in a coma. Gawd.

I did of course hold to the priorities each day, I got my bicycle ride in, and got the push-ups in.

Tired or not, sick or not, I do not give a damn.

Unless I'm dead, those things happen.

The best news out of that is that the prednisone totally wiped out this long, lingering lung congestion-infection crap, just knocked it on its ass. That's just great. Awakening coughing, as a way of life, now in my rear-view. Cool.
posted by dancestoblue at 2:10 AM on January 12, 2020 [7 favorites]

Gauze pads. I looked at the prices here locally, then on Amazon -- for about a buck more than a tiny pack of whatever size gauze pads you're looking to buy, Amazon ships four times more to your door. Band-aids the same.

If you need gauze, or band-aids, I can help.
posted by dancestoblue at 2:22 AM on January 12, 2020

I blame Metafilter for my recent fountain pen thing - I asked for knicknacks to order from the US and got recommended Birmingham Pens. I ordered a red Avicenna and after other attempts to like $30-ish fountain pens, this $8 thing writes and handles like a DREAM. Two months later I have way too much ink, three pens being shipped (one of their Platos, a Jinhao X750 and a Moonman T1 because I'm a sucker for pretty) and finally an urge to write longhand.

It's been a hell of a week, but you don't argue with a therapist going "don't go home, your unmedicated bipolar husband may hurt you", so I now have a lodger on my couch. Probably only for a few more weeks since she's already picked out a rental flat, but it's a damn good thing I put so much work into fixing my relationship with my mother. Head trip and a half, mind you.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 2:43 AM on January 12, 2020 [5 favorites]

I discovered Pilot FriXion pens a few years ago and I LOVE them. Erasable pens! Witchcraft, honestly. The 0.7mm clicker ones are especially satisfying to write with, and they erase beautifully. The only downside is that the ink starts fading after a year or so, but they're perfect for things like shopping lists or brainstorming things.
posted by jglitter at 2:58 AM on January 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

I only use about 30 colours but always gaze over the whole lot

I have the tin of 120. They are one of my possessions that bring me the most joy. And I used tape and tiny bits of paper to number them all, so I can put them back in exact order and match them to the colour chart I made and stuck underneath the lid.

My mother saw this once and said "Why can't you be like this in the rest of your life!" Because I am normally a total scatterbrain. But my pencils are always organised and my clothes always neatly folded and sorted.
posted by stillnocturnal at 3:19 AM on January 12, 2020 [5 favorites]

So also have a Thing against rollerball pens. Sire, in a pinch they're better than a traditional ballpoint, but I still don't like them much. I only really enjoy writing with artists fine tipped pens. Fine liners I think they're called?
posted by stillnocturnal at 3:29 AM on January 12, 2020

I've loved stationery roughly my entire life. The writing implement of my childhood dreams (courtesy of the Levenger catalog, from which I'm not entirely sure my family ever ordered anything, but we got regularly) was the Lamy Safari Twin-Pen, which appears to no longer exist. I never got one, but I did get a Safari fountain pen at age 21, purchased in a very awkward transaction in Stuttgart. (The Safari is seen as far less fancy a pen in Germany than it is in the US and you can often find them out with the other pens, rather than behind the counter. But the pen department in Stuttgart was small. I was trying to be polite and do this transaction in German, the sales assistant was trying to be polite and do it in English and neither of us had learned to talk about pens in school.)

It is very weird to me that fountain pens have become fashionable, at least in a sort of niche way. I started writing in fountain pen in high school (having found one at the grocery store and then finding an old one in the pen pot at home) and the Latin teacher taught me to lick the nib to get it going again when it inevitably stopped (all the damn time). I had one or two fountain pen using friends in college, but we were weird (and would get laughed at by TAs from countries where you learn to write in fountain pen who were all "who does that after age 10?"). But now people occasionally try to draw me into conversations about fountain pens at work and I'm thinking "People, the most expensive pen I have ever bought was the Safari for €18, this is not my conversation." (I have received more expensive pens as gifts. Admittedly one of those was found on a ferry.) I also get funny looks when I lick my pen.
posted by hoyland at 3:37 AM on January 12, 2020

The Uni Kuru Toga mechanical pencil.

Without any particular effort on your part, the Kuru Toga draws perfectly sharpened pencil lines all day long. Its characteristic rotation mechanism is not so great for cursive longhand, though you would probably prefer a pen for that, but it's perfect for the mix of notes, sketches, diagrams and maths equations that I put in my notebook during the course of a work day.

The Kuru Toga pencil's fame comes from being used by some influential manga artists for their roughs, and the sheer force of fangirlism has ensured that it's now widely available. I literally just bought another one because I wrote this.
posted by Eleven at 3:42 AM on January 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

I’m not super excited about office supplies but I do have a pleasant office supply-adjacent story.

A few weeks ago one of the ICU docs at work was in my (large, shared) office and asked to borrow a pen, and I handed her one, not worrying much about its fate. Before she left, though, and without prompting, she just... gave it back to me. So I have found the most trustworthy of physicians.
posted by obfuscation at 4:58 AM on January 12, 2020 [13 favorites]

I adore office supply stores, which is kind of hilarious because I'm one of those people who has chosen the Correct Version of basically every office supply that I use and I have no time for anything else. I've talked before about the One True Pen, but there's also the Only Sketchbook (which I use for writing; ruled paper is never a size that works for my tiny handwriting and I need some tooth to the paper.) Otherwise I don't *use* anything at office supply stores (I have a vast collection of Sharpies already, and yeah it's always a temptation but I can resist! I am strong!) but I love them anyway and wander around them happily at every opportunity.

I do count myself lucky that I am so attached to my pen, though, because fountain nerdery has absolutely overrun my social circle and that is a deep, deep rabbit hole.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:42 AM on January 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

unrelated to stationery, we had a nuclear emergency this morning, and then we didn't.
posted by scruss at 8:09 AM on January 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Scruss, that's distressing.

I am on Team Hipster PDA, except I can't find my index cards, and I use Evernote and Keep on my phone, so, I guess I was on Team Hipster PDA.

Hard erasers can be revived with sandpaper/ an emery board.

The marginally competent and foul-tempered office manager at my old job ordered cheap pens. I throw away any pen that won't write, what a bad bargain. I am quite frugal, but cheap crap that doesn't work is Nope. I put some Jetstream Uniball pens in my shopping cart to remind me to buy some at Staples, because a trip to the office supply store is always fun.

Scissors got cheap, and I have scissors in many rooms because they are so useful. Really, this is all just nerdery for practical people who like good tools. Not office supplies, really, but I also have LED flashlights in quantity, including headlamps, gave them as stocking stuffers; they are supremely useful.
posted by theora55 at 9:06 AM on January 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

fountain pens
*chews carrot*
posted by Namlit at 9:07 AM on January 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

restless_nomad: I have a vast collection of Sharpies already, and yeah it's always a temptation but I can resist! I am strong!

Good for you. I'm not.
I was wondering when someone would finally mention Sharpies, and you came through for me!
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:11 AM on January 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Uni Kuru Toga mechanical pencil.

Oh my god yes. I happened to come across an Alpha Gel version when I was working with high school students in Hong Kong. A student clearly just forgot it in my room after a session. I kept it there for a good few months waiting for someone to claim in (while simultaneously hoping someone wouldn't). At the end of the semester, I claimed it as my own.

It has since carried me through many a biochemistry flow chart through grad school. The super squishy grip is also great for anxious squishing during exams. I never lent it out to anyone, preferring to say that I didn't have any pencils for someone to borrow if it was the only other one in my bag.
posted by astapasta24 at 9:12 AM on January 12, 2020

I've been wanting one of those no-staple staplers.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 10:45 AM on January 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

I thought I was ordering a box of 10 binder clips on Amazon and it turned out to be 10 boxes of 10. That was 5 years ago and having what is essentially an infinite supply of binder clips is magical. I have 5 or 6 of them in regular rotation on my desk and in the kitchen and if I lose or break one I just grab another from the big box o' binder clips.

Also, I kind of do a GTD/Hipster PDA thing. I have a small notebook with a page each dedicated to a GTD list (projects, phone calls, at computer, waiting for, etc) and I put my lists on post-it notes on each page.
posted by selfmedicating at 11:23 AM on January 12, 2020 [6 favorites]

I have a great weakness for office supply stores. (More so when they weren't yet quite 80% electronics and furniture. . . but, even so today.)

I don't actually need, want, or use most of the stuff there. But, it just smells like overwhelming possibility. So many raw materials just waiting to do something. The same is true of art supply stores and hardware stores.

It's been decades since I've used adhesive lines, foam-board, report covers, or plastic desk organizers. Much less portable whiteboards, fancy vellum paper, or wall tack. But, I can't help but look at them and wonder about the possibilities. I'm still struggling to get rid of the last few youthful impulse buys that I've been dragging around for decades for no reason: a bendable ruler, an angled matt-cutter, some fancy pens that were never any good.

I now find myself in need of a stapler. I brought my well-used and very good stapler to an exam I was proctoring. One of the students dropped it on the ground and broke the housing. Then I brought it to a second exam. . . and it vanished. I can't believe any of my students would bother to steal a cracked, five year old stapler, so I can only assume it got knocked to the ground and kicked under a desk or something. But, I really looked hard for it and couldn't find it anywhere in the classroom afterward. So, I have an excuse to visit an office supply store for the first time in a few years. The trick is going to be walking out of the store without ten things that aren't staplers.

I've already gone on at length about my favorite pencil, found in an Office Depot fancy pen case in the early '90s.
posted by eotvos at 12:43 PM on January 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

Also, I'll nth a love for binder clips. I mostly use them in the kitchen to close packages and to brace the branches of houseplants. It's pretty rare I ever deal with single documents thick enough to use them for their intended purpose.
posted by eotvos at 12:45 PM on January 12, 2020

eotvos, I think the old Ace 102s are the best desk top staplers.
posted by jamjam at 1:00 PM on January 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

When I was still a child, I wanted to either own a stationary store or be a detective. It didn’t occur to me that perhaps I could do both. I am so old that I learned how to make proofreading marks in pencil and, as needed, erase them with a Pink Pearl eraser, the professional eraser for those of us who worked on a copy desk. I love independent stationary stores and I love stationery supplies, even if I am sometimes obligated to get them at megastores, which makes me cranky.

Hey poster sneering about blue ink: Here is why blue ink is useful. It is useful because you can use it to sign your name on documents that are printed in black type on white paper and that must be scanned and returned promptly. If your dad, say, had had a stroke in December and had taken everyone off his medical power of attorney form except the one daughter who lives outside the US, you might have discovered the value of blue ink. It makes it much easier for the medical bureaucracy to see that you have, in fact, signed all the forms in all the places that you were supposed to sign because the blue ink pops on the page against the sea of otherwise black type and does so consistently page after page after page after fucking page (because there are 24 pages of this shit) while you wonder why he never told you that he had changed his medical power of attorney form 14 months ago, and now you never will.

You will never know because he turns 90 soon and this is his second stroke. So even though his housemate recognized that he was having a stroke, and even though he was at the VA hospital when he was having the stroke, and even though the VA hospital put him in an ambulance and got him to the local hospital that has stroke care, and even though he got to the hospital soon enough to get the clot-busting drug that is recommended for stroke victims, and even though in an amazing feat of surgery the local hospital was able to thread a wire through his groin and through the rest of his body up to his brain and literally remove the blood clot that caused the stroke, and even though he is not paralyzed because of that surgery, it is very hard for him to speak. On the phone most often there is silence or, worse, a kind of grunting.

Your dad did ask someone for a pad of paper and a pen. You don’t know what color of ink is in that pen, only that he has been unable to use it. Your dad has been dying slowly of various things for several years; now, it seems, his impending death is picking up steam. Blue ink: Consider using it for all your unexpected, long-distance medical emergencies.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:20 PM on January 12, 2020 [7 favorites]

I like to put eyes on staple removers to make them look like monsters.
posted by Splunge at 2:02 PM on January 12, 2020 [10 favorites]

I, too, have a massive soft spot for fountain pens. My partner got me into them a couple of years ago because "oh, look, it's environmentally friendly! and you can fill your own ink!" and then I found out about shading inks and shimmering inks and sheening inks and it all went to hell. You guys. You guys, there are SO MANY COLORS. (I stare at Mountain of Ink a lot.)

I started with a Pilot Metropolitan and a couple of Platinum Preppies, learned I love stub nibs, acquired a couple of TWSBIs and a Jinhao 750x and then hit Moonman and basically fell in love with eyedroppers. Did you know you can get professionally ground Moonman-compatible nibs for cheap on ebay? because I know this now, and now I have a sweet-ass M2 with a 0.7mm stub and eventually I'll put a bigger stub on my Wancai Mini, but the EF nib it came with worked really well out of the box and it's just the right size for my tiny hands. And if you get demonstrators, you can see the ink swishing around in the acrylic--it's underwhelming just to look at but incredibly cool once you get ink in the pen.

I've been toying with the idea of trying to set up a FPP on a few new inkmakers like Troublemaker Inks out in the Philipines--if I can find a good story piece, I might yet do it. Or maybe if I can find a piece explaining why, chemically, the different ink properties work.

I am also a big fan of shark-themed staplers. because sharks, you guys.
posted by sciatrix at 2:19 PM on January 12, 2020 [6 favorites]

sciatrix, I do not want to add to your stress level in anyway but oh my God I am so wanting that FPP and also the one you mentioned recently related to food and cognition (I think). No pressure but yeah, both of those would be great. I want to know more about fountain pens, I really do. It’s so nice to read enthusiastic comments. Am much enjoying this thread. Apologies for being a downer earlier but my love of blue ink is pure as well as practical.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:24 PM on January 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

I love office supply stores and have since I was a kid. I've never spent very much money in them and tend to buy only exactly what I need - but I've definitely relied on them for quality pens, paper or random art project supplies.

I also grew up in an analog print shop and design studio so I remember graphic arts supply houses where you could go and buy things like graphic arts camera supplies like polyester photostat film and chemicals, typesetting supplies, bulk high quality india ink, drawing tools and tables like high quality straight edges, t-squares, triangles, French curves, flexible curves and more. This was the kind of store where you could find precision drafting/drawing triangles and tools with specialty purposes like ones designed for use with technical or fountain pens, or ones designed for extremely high precision with mechanical drafting pencils.

I love technical pens and grew up with them but am glad I don't own any Rapidographs or anything right now because then I'd also have to have an ultrasonic cleaner and really high grade india ink and so on.

I spent so much time with technical pens at a young age that there's still a bit of a divot and saddle on my middle finger from tightly gripping the barrel of a Rapidograph or Koh-i-noor. I can manually stipple a photograph into a highly passable hand-dithered halftone monoprint. It's a fantastic amount of work and really easy to screw up because pens leak and fingers aren't exact every time.

I also love the Micra fiberpoint pens and really like the new flexible point ones they have, but am annoyed at how they leak and aren't bulletproof (with care) like the original straight point Micras.

I also seem to really like the Pentalic pocket notebooks. I find them to be higher quality and cheaper than other similar pocket notebooks like the Moleskins and much more useful. I reinforce the pockets with fabric tape or washi tape and they last forever.

I think my favorite office supply of all is the humble binder clip. Especially a really good, high quality one, like one of those vintage brass/gold plated extra grippy ones. I actively hoard and covet high quality vintage binder clips, especially the plated ones that don't rust.

They are incredibly useful in hammock camping and in ultralight style bivvy camping where you forgo a tent in favor of just a rainfly and your trekking poles to make a little open A-line tent with a ground cloth.

I have used binder clips to do everything from hold together tarps or cloth to make windscreens and doors to holding flashlights or even hanging a pot or can over a fire. Clothesline clip, makeshift tarp clip, garbage bag holder. Food bag clip, of course. Need to leave a note on your tent, car or bike or something? Binder clip.

I covet good binder clips so much that I am basically incapable of not eventually pilfering and rescuing a good vintage plated binder clip if I happen to see any lost in the dross and duff of office supplies somewhere I that might be theoretically working.
posted by loquacious at 2:36 PM on January 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

Come to think of it I'm not sure if I've ever actually purchased any binder clips, ever. Hmmm.
posted by loquacious at 2:36 PM on January 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

The problem with spinning up a story about Troublemaker Inks is that it looks like there's got to be a good story about how and why fountain pens are taking off in the Phillipines and now there's not one but two boutique inkmakers who are really, really getting good reviews based out of there. But no one has actually written the story up that I can find, and I think it's a case of people picking this hobby up on the internet and sharing it with each other and maybe a particularly good fan community for the hobby on the Fountain Pen Network group and its sub-chapter in the Phillipines? I just don't know enough about Filipino culture to understand why fountain pens would be spinning up in popularity over there, and I would want to do some careful work to make sure I didn't fuck it up.

There's also a story somewhere about the story of inexpensive Chinese-made fountain pens and why Chinese brands are really taking off right now... amid the infrastructure left behind by European and American penmakers experimenting with having their pens manufactured in China and then pulling out, plus the growing Chinese demand for fountain pens, plus some pretty neat design decisions like an increased focus on eyedroppers which have more ink capacity and also don't require expensive converters to use. Maybe I could focus it on the Parker 45 clones and the aftermath of Parker pulling out of China, or there's the story of the PenBBS company which is, I think, out of Taiwan and started as another enthusiastic offshoot of one of these online forum groups. The Fountain Pen Network is one of the most active old-timey forum communities I see around, come to think of it.

Maybe I can find some stuff if I google around. HRM. There might be some good information about the Manila Fountain Pen Show as a place to start....
posted by sciatrix at 2:45 PM on January 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

I own hundreds of pens - Staedtlers, all the good UniBalls, Frixions, glittery ones, shiny ones - and the pen I return to again and again is the Flair. When I'm outlining or notetaking I love to switch colors constantly and there is something that sensorily just feels right to me with the slight catch of the felt on paper.

I also use binder clips a ton in the kitchen and garden, and mourn the loss of decent index cards. I make my own planner forms that I can print at home as needed, and investing in 28 and 32 pound paper feels like a shocking life improvement because it is SO much nicer to touch and write on.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:15 PM on January 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

When I got my first job in an office, I was so confused about how binder clips were supposed to work. I'd only seen them in their unused state so I had no idea that the black part was supposed to be squeezed open for the paper to be inserted. I flopped the little legs open and shut around the paper to no avail, tilting my head to and fro like a confused animal. I only figured it out once I got into a filing project and discovered one in use.

One of my favorite office supplies is a set of highlighters in different colors. I like being able to differentiate sections of highlighted text in a document by color. I really hate highlighter pen in books, though, even though I do like to be able to mark certain lines and passages. Highlighter is so glaring and often messy; underlining in ink is not much better. Recently I hit upon the idea of using light, bright colored pencils to highlight text in my books and it is so much better.

I have had a love-hate relationship with those mini legal pads. I grab one for quick notes at work, eventually wind up writing a grocery list or to-do list on it, and stick it in my purse to take with me. Then I take it out of my purse at home. Repeat times infinity. When we moved I found like 40 of them at my house, many with only a few pages used, which I ripped off then returned all the slightly-used pads to the office supply room at work. I'm sure that caused a bit of a puzzle at inventory time.

I have since switched to using Workflowy for all my notes, lists, etc. The mini notepads were actually a nightmare of chaos for me, as I never could find the notes I needed when I needed them. It's so much better having it all in one place.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:16 PM on January 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

I take a lot of notes manually, so two things:
Notebooks - mostly bound a la Moleskin et al. I do have a couple of spiral bound that I really like too. I favor a 5x7-ish size, easy to carry, but big enough to last a couple of projects. I also got some small stitched notebooks for my purse, and boy are they handy for jotting notes at the doctor and the like. I got nuts a places like Kinokuniya - Japanese notebooks are really appealing, for some reason!
Pens - I liked rollerball for a while, but they just smeared to much for me. For a long time I used pencils, but then discovered that pens glide more easily, so I could write faster. I really like the Levenger True Writer, and have about 3 of them. Their ballpoint ink refills last and last, it's good quality ink. I've also found that chunkier pens are easier for me to not over-grip (I have a crap handwriting grip).
posted by dbmcd at 3:29 PM on January 12, 2020

unrelated to stationery, we had a nuclear emergency this morning, and then we didn't.

I was momentarily concerned. Then I checked the morning's headlines and thought "Fuck you, 2020, if this is it, this is it," put my phone on airplane mode, and went back to sleep.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:42 PM on January 12, 2020 [5 favorites]

Swingline 747 stapler
Uniball Vision pens in black or blue
1.5 x 2 post it notes

It was 65 degrees in CT today. Spectacular, but concerning all at the same time.
posted by sundrop at 5:26 PM on January 12, 2020

I still have a coffee jar easily 80% full of half-rusty paperclips which probably legally belongs to a girlfriend of 25 years ago. By some wyrd science it hasn't run out in all that time. Never worked out whether to blame auto-replenishing nanomachines or shoemaking elves for that one. Not looking to rock the free paperclip boat!
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 6:04 PM on January 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

For pens, I pretty much only write with Uniball Vision Elite ones, black ink, 0.5 mm. They're my One True Pen.

I have a great weakness for planners, but have since found that bullet journaling works much better for me than a pre-printed planner. So every new year I have to sit on my hands to prevent myself from buying one of the cool new planners out there because I know I will use it for a month or two and then just stop (whereas I've been able to keep up with my bullet journal for a couple of years now). I always come back to the same notebook for it too - the Leuchtterm hardcover A5 with a dot grid.
posted by peacheater at 6:25 PM on January 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Then I encountered the joy that is the Uniball Jetstream ball-point pen, and lost all further interest in aspirational handheld writing technologies

Any of you out there like me who are in love with the Jetstream ink but not the plasticky form factors they tend to come in, just know you can buy the ink fills by themselves. It's what I'm running in my all-metal F-701, and it is the perfect melding of the ultimate pen body with the ultimate ink.

Another fun tip for you office supply people, in the spirit of the 10,000, is that you can usually rotate the anvil of a stapler 180° and make it fold staples out.
posted by carsonb at 6:31 PM on January 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

Jetstream all the way. Bought a bag of assorted binder clips from Amazon, little baby ones to gigantic. The odd thing is finding that I needed a stapler like once or twice a year so instead I just started making bespoke staples. I use pliers and a pin to punch a couple of holes, strip a little bit of copper wire, lovingly bend it into shape and crimp it in place. I really doubt anybody at the IRS ever notices my bespoke copper stables.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:09 PM on January 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

Rarely a day goes by that I don't have a Federal Supply Service notebook in my shirt pocket. But that's just one of many stationery items I use and enjoy.

I also enjoy several stationery-related podcasts: RSVP, The Erasable Podcast, The Pen Addict, and The Nib Section.
posted by audi alteram partem at 7:31 PM on January 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

In the freezer, I have a couple of open bags of frozen veggies that are currently being held closed with them.

My people.

A longer story about office supply-ish stuff.... It's a joke with me (the flinty yankee) and my sister (the overshopper) that every time I go to the post office and I pick up a week's worth of mail from my PO box, it comes with a rubber band and, even though I am a grown lady with money and a job (and rubber bands) I always think this is neat "Hey free rubber band!"

So my sister always thinks this is sort of funny but also maybe that I am rubber band-deprived so one holidaytime she gave me one of those HUGE boxes of rubber bands and who is laughing now? (Reader: I gave them all away, please do not tell her). She also had, for some reason, a huge box of deadstock old index cards and gave me a ton of them (Hot Toddy hmu and I will mail you some).

For holidaytime this year she gave me something like 9000 googly eyes. All of these are adorable presents, but there's something about having too much of something that makes me itchy so she gives me these things and then I spend time trying to give them all away. I am afraid to tell her what my favorite pens are. I have this stapler and I love it.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:51 PM on January 12, 2020 [7 favorites]

I kept Jetstream 0.7 around for papers that bleed to much but recently did a big test to see if I could find something better or felt closer to my current favorite (Stabilo OH superfine). I landed on the Zebra 0.7 Sarasa. It's gel (a little bit of a concern for a lefty), but the flow is consistent and doesn't feel like it ever scrapes the paper. The pen I've probably used the longest without tiring of it is the Pilot SCA-UF. They dry more quickly than other permanent markers but that can produce interesting results for sketching. I would mark them with draft dots to indicate how weak the line was so you could with with them like varying lead weights.

If you haven't experienced the joys of Jet Pens, make haste.
posted by 99_ at 7:54 PM on January 12, 2020

My weakness is old Swingline staplers (random example of the type). They are *tanks* and work well for years. I already had one, and inherited several similar old ones from my father, which I'm sure date back to the 1950s or 1960s, and I shared those with people at work. They are still going strong, and never jam.

I also have tried fancy mechanical pencils, but still default back to Paper Mate SharpWriter mechanical pencils, because I like that they twist to advance the lead.
posted by gudrun at 8:51 PM on January 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

Are binder clips what normal people call those black plastic clips that come in all sizes? Because I have always called them cockroach clips. Not just because of the sensation when stepping on them, also the way that, in any office where they're used, they turn up on random empty desks, on chairs, on the floor, you never know. People who have worked with me now know what to look for when I say "Could you lend me a cockroach clip, about this big?"

Everything in the new year is fine, on the micro-scale of my general environment anyway, except that for the first time in a long time I have a hideous atmospheric-pressure headache now in its third day; I thought it was going away yesterday but oh no. Advil and Excedrin (NOT taken together) don't do much and I have work to do and fuck headaches.
posted by huimangm at 9:08 PM on January 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

old Swingline staplers ... are *tanks* and work well for years

Especially the red ones.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:23 PM on January 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

This is the correct Uniball Jetstream. 1.0, black. The one with the cap.

I’ve been curious about the Kuru Toga, but generally I stick to Ticonderoga #2 and an electric pencil sharpener. Something very satisfying about the perfect pencil being the most simple and time honored classic.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:33 PM on January 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

The bit of stationery I use that a lot of people don't seem to know about is the supaclip - I find them really useful for the situation where you want to clip something together that's thicker than a paperclip or staple will comfortably do. They're like bulldog clips but much smaller with a plastic tool to clip them on that is very satisfying to use.
posted by crocomancer at 3:25 AM on January 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

I discovered Pilot FriXion pens a few years ago and I LOVE them.

Another cool thing with the FriXion pens is Rocketbooks. You write on the pages with your FriXion pen and then you can take a photo of the page and send it to anyone of several cloud storage places. It even does pretty good OCR. Then you wipe down the pages with a damp cloth and use them again.

The only office supplies I buy more than one at a time are the Rhodia Graph Reverse Standard Notebook and uni-ball Roller Grip Pens. Every time I see one I want to do calculus.

When I was in engineering school I discovered the Pentel Twist Erase which is awesome because I made a lot of mistakes and it has a huge eraser. Every time I see one I want to do calculus.
posted by bendy at 5:08 AM on January 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have an almost-life-long loyalty for PaperMate Flair felt tip pens

My mom also swore by them until the end of her life. She loved Werther's Original candies, too, but she never worked in an office, so that wasn't her in [Office X].

The best gel pen is the Pilot G2, whatever color. I haven't tried the Uniball Jetstream, but all the other Uniball pens I've encountered were inferior. The Jetstream costs 3 times as much as the Pilot. Papermate gel pens are shit.

The little Post-Its make good bookmarks. Even better are those stick-on tags for marking places in documents. This is something you'd have to read physical books to care about.

Binder clips make good chip-bag clips. Better than that are the clips that come as part of skirt/pants hangers you sometimes get when you buy clothes at the store. Cut the clips off and smooth rough edges with a file.

Bostich staplers are the best. Especially this one. They're indestructable, and better than the Swinglines. The attached staple remover is worlds better than those sabertooth things. I don't know why the stapler in that link has the remover put on backwards.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:10 AM on January 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

It's funny, when I started at my current job two years ago I was given one (1) company branded pen and one (1) notebook. My desk doesn't even have drawers to store office supplies. I had to swipe a box of paperclips when my office mate left. The pen was actually quite nice as far as swag goes, wrote quite well, but someone walked off with it a couple weeks in to the job. The notebooks are also nice - Ampad computation books, grid lined, nice heavyweight paper that won't bleed through. Much nicer than the cheap Staples-branded spiral notebooks with the cheap paper at my last job.

I was digging through my desk at home a couple weeks ago and found my old fountain pen, so I brought that to work and started using it again. I bought it at a craft fair from a wood turner and it writes decently well. I'm just realizing now, though, that the body is starting to crack so I wonder how much longer it's going to hold out.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:23 AM on January 13, 2020

The best gel pen is the Pilot G2, whatever color. I haven't tried the Uniball Jetstream, but all the other Uniball pens I've encountered were inferior. The Jetstream costs 3 times as much as the Pilot. Papermate gel pens are shit.

I rely on the G2, black, 0.5 for pretty much everything. I keep my stash squirreled away, not in the office supply closet where people would take them as fast as they take sharpies.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:33 AM on January 13, 2020

At my old job I had to go to many, many meetings, at which I needed to take copious notes, and for years I tried to find some way to do this electronically, to facilitate the later searching of said notes and finding of relevant information. Though I'm an excellent typist, I found it extraordinarily difficult to take notes on a laptop; it felt -- rude, I guess? -- to type while people were talking. And I spent a lot of money and time trying various versions of tablet + stylus, with handwriting-to-text conversion, all of which ended in frustration.

So finally, I gave up and started taking notes on paper and quickly settled on the Pentalic 8.5x11 colored linen wirebound sketchbook as the perfect medium. I hate flimsy paper, and because I have big sprawly handwriting I hate writing on lined paper, or in small notebooks, and the Pentalics are sturdy and spacious, with nice heavy paper, and allow one to stash even a thick pen inside the spiral binding, clipped to the wire. (Plus, they were inexpensive and available in the nearby bookstore.)

And my pen of choice became, I am embarrassed to say, the Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pen; on the one hand they're environmentally unsound and kind of tacky, but on the other hand they're cheap (which is good since I am an inveterate pen-loser) and IMO write very smoothly and pleasantly, and my colleagues were impressed that I was using a fountain pen, which amused me, and it's always pleasant to inexpensively impress one's colleagues.
posted by Kat Allison at 8:39 AM on January 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

I love stationery, a love only deepened by years of living in Korea and the zillions of wee sticky notes shaped like raccoons and notebooks with grouchy pandas on the cover and pink binder clips that have smiles.

I also am a treehugger who is always looking for post-consumer recycled paper products.

Can anyone recommend the best notebook with recycled paper?

Also binder clips all the way. I have all the sizes.
posted by spamandkimchi at 8:56 AM on January 13, 2020

Because I have always called them cockroach clips.

I love this! They are everywhere. Even a vacant office is crawling with them.

My infestation is not the result of an organized campaign of theft, but rather the result of years of bringing home printed reports, presentations, etc. to review at home. Invariably things are unclipped and sorted and, and yet another clip or two is left behind and makes it into the desk drawer or the junk drawer.

But it's a handy infestation -- 8 kg of jasmine rice that was on sale for stupid cheap is a three clip job.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:24 AM on January 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

Several years ago, my husband told me that some of his coworkers were making fun of him for not having any fun personal shit on his desk, so I went out and bought him a few things, including a red Swingline stapler.

A few years later, he moved on from the job and brought his desk stuff home in a box. "What happened to the red stapler I bought you?" I asked. Him: "I think someone took it."
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 9:56 AM on January 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

9000 googly eyes
This sounds like a challenge to decorate your neighborhood.

Ten years ago I made 200 three-inch diameter googly eyes and fastened them to roadside utility boxes in order to make them look like robots for a photo project. Then I got busy and lost interest. I've got about 40 left. Everyone who cares about the original motivation for it has moved to distant places, had kids, and stopped participating in the community that spawned it. But, one of these days, I'm going to finish that task. Until then, I've a whole drawer full of googly eyes.
posted by eotvos at 10:50 AM on January 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Black Post-It notes and metallic Sharpies - fuckin' magic.
posted by ersatzkat at 10:56 AM on January 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

Uni Kuru Toga Roulette .5 for most of my desk pencil writing, replaces a brace of Zebra M301s, which I paired with the Zebra A301 until I discovered the One True Pen (Jetstream). A 4 color (plus .5mm pencil!) Jetstream now handles 95 % of ink writing at the desk. So useful to be able to switch colors when marking things up in the check/approval process. Redline the errors, blue ink for note/explanation, green for my signature, black for anything else.
A pentel Kerry .5mm for when I need the mechanical pencil to look classy. One of each of the Pentel P20x series: bought back when I was going through drafting school, these things are made of a plastic that is as tough as an old pay phone handset. The .9mm doesn't get much use because I write sooooo small, and the .3mm doesn't get much more because I can get a bit too heavy handed for it and I get tired of snapping lead. Interestingly, I was given a .2mm pencil as an inspection tool (a Pentel ORENZ p502 , if you've got a hankering for such a device). It has instructions on the barrel to not advance the lead past the protective metal sleeve...
I have about six or seven non-expensive fountain pens that don't get enough use, but are waiting for when the ink drawing/calligraphy bug bites again.
Pens and pencils and sketch pads and notebooks and graph paper. So much potential! Anything could happen!
posted by coppertop at 11:34 AM on January 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

I don't use them much anymore, but I have well over 100 mechanical pencils of many different brands and subtypes collected over decades, and only two of them have a feature that in retrospect I would have expected to see much more often.

My Yasutomo Ohto 0.7 and my Rotring 600 0.7 with a retractable point like a ballpoint pen both have spring loaded leads that move in and out of the sleeve under pressure. The springs are pretty stiff, but I still think it's nice to have the variable force on the paper that results from hand movements and pencil orientation smoothed out a little by the springs — and I'd think it might reduce the frequency of broken leads — yet that's evidently a small minority opinion.

The other really uncommon feature is lead autofeed, which shows up only on a couple of Nijis, the old Grip 700, and a premium all metal model with a cap that I don't remember the name of. Niji accomplished this with a sliding sleeve that pushed back under very light pressure from the paper without carrying the lead with it as you wrote, and then reextended itself when you lifted the pencil off the paper, this time carrying the lead with it. Not completely satisfactory.

Now that the Uni Kuru Toga has introduced a really elegant rotating point (that is, not the lead) system, I wish they would find a way to introduce a screw that would advance the lead very slightly as it rotated. Which I don't think is necessarily all that easy, but still.
posted by jamjam at 1:12 PM on January 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

I have a deep adoration and fascination with scientific graph paper. I even had a fever dream about it once - where I was writing down ideas in some sort of massive binder, full of graph paper, and a zillion sections.

I did remember that when I woke up, decided that it was an awesome idea, and now I have a loose leaf binder with scientific graph paper in a couple of different sections - one for work, and one for personal projects. I work from home, and it has helped my work life immensely.
posted by spinifex23 at 5:14 PM on January 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

Finally a topic I can write about from my personal exp. I've been with stationery for over a decade w/notebooks and FPs. I have to say I love talking about it at the local pen club when we have events and FPN is where everyone goes to compare inks and reviews.

TBH most notebook paper is LQ so I rarely write w/FP instead I have gel pens for notes and ideas. I keep a journal and write letters on better paper but that same time it's still very much a side hobby that I wish had more practical use. Yet nothing stops me from admiring (Nakaya) and custom FP makers in my free time.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 7:38 PM on January 13, 2020

Rite in the Rain are my notebooks for outdoors or shop. I don’t keep cooking notes in a notebook, but have just realized that I can get RitR letter-sized paper and cut it into fourths for index cards for the kitchen.

I went back to a card file for recipes because I take so many notes on them that a notebook got all out of order. A box meant for 4" x 6" cards, but slightly oversized, works with printouts folded up, too.
posted by clew at 8:43 PM on January 13, 2020

Field Notes (currently Two Rivers), and a bright pink Hi-Tec-C Coleto N 3 Color in 0.5 mm.

Fountain pens - mostly TWSBIs. As far as blue vs. black ink, I'm firmly in the por que no los dos? camp of blue-black.

The bit of stationery I use that a lot of people don't seem to know about is the supaclip

posted by zamboni at 8:30 AM on January 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

I am a huge, huge midori MD fan. I bought a few of their notebooks almost 10 years ago when I went away to university, and was finally in the shipping area for a store that sold them. I still have the three notebooks I bought; some of them with doodles from classmates through the years, and at least one that's nearly empty. They're big, A4-size notebooks; great for carrying in a bag; less idea if you're going to a bunch of meetings at work.

And now that I do, in fact, go to a bunch of meetings at work, I've replaced those with the A5 size notebooks. I'm partial to grid paper (especially the Midori grid; it's got a really appealing break in the lines between cells), but I couldn't resist trying to collect all of their anniversary notebooks. I've got plans for a few of them, but if anyone has any suggestions...

I also have a pig leather portfolio that fits one of their notebooks perfectly, a few MD grid paper sticky pads, and a set of tiny, cute office supplies. They also make a great box cutter and some small, serious scissors.

Non-Midori-wise, I have a ton of Platinum Preppy pens - I love the 0.2 extra fine nib and the matching body colors. Being a completionist, I've also got a set of Preppy highlighters and a set of markers. I treated myself to a 'fancy' fountain pen recently - I'm not a huge fan of the classical-style cigar pens, so I wound up with a Kaweco Special. It's nice and slim, and is *extremely* satisfying to handle.

I barely write in pencil any more, but to my mind, the ideal mechanical pencil is the Pentel P2 series - my shop teacher in junior high had a 1mm lead version, which I always envied, and I've sought them out ever since. Cheap, solidly built, good looking, and has enough bits that it's good for taking apart and fiddling with.

Apparently, I have more thoughts on stationery that I expected! I do a lot of quick-and-dirty bullet journaling for keeping track of things at work; I'm about 80 pages into my notebook over the past year. Just the feeling of filling up the notebook is satisfying to me, and I love being able to colour-code things for my own amusement, and rotate through different colours of pen as a flag.

Misc things that I like: Colored looseleaf paper (I've got a bunch from TOPS in this style), and paint markers. I've rarely got a reason to use either, but it's nice to have something I like around. The paint markers are great for semi-long-term marking of mugs and water bottles and that sort of thing; I've also started writing plant names right on the pot with one in white.
posted by sagc at 9:40 AM on January 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've been relying on Pilot G-2 07s, but now I'm willing to experiment with the possibility of a new One True Pen...
posted by desuetude at 2:15 PM on January 14, 2020

I'm a little surprised that I haven't seen any love for the Staedtler Mars 780 pencil yet. I got one of these from my dad when I went off to university and by the end of first semester engineering drafting class had converted about 15 people...which among other things meant that my sharpener kept growing legs. Turns out that was the last year they did pencil drafting in first year eng at Waterloo. I still have my Ames lettering guide and eraser shield and etc.
posted by hearthpig at 4:14 PM on January 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

I work at a not for profit so the office supplies tend to go the other way. I buy things for the office.
posted by Stanczyk at 4:17 PM on January 14, 2020

hearthpig, 2 mm lead holders are where it's at. I love them because I have a pretty heavy hand and tend to snap 0.5 and 0.7 mm lead a lot, and you can sharpen them to a wicked sharp point.

I'm a FriXion convert for most writing these days, though.

I've always been a hardcore office-supplies addict, and then... I took an art class. So, of course, I had to get enough lead-holders for every grade of lead. And every type of eraser that exists.

Now that I've got the knack, sharpening wooden pencils with an Xacto knife is pretty fun. Hurray for colored pencils.

Now I need a sketchboard. And a decent T-square. And more colored pencils.
posted by BrashTech at 5:07 PM on January 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

BrashTech, my main problem (on a lot of fronts, maybe) is that I am left handed so excessive pencil use leaves a lot of grey shit on the back of my hand. Perhaps counterintuitively this is why taking up the fountain pen was such a boon (assuming non glossy paper and fairly fast drying ink).
posted by hearthpig at 5:49 PM on January 14, 2020

Field Notes, currently Coastal Edition. I have a couple pens from this guy. The ones that I've refilled, I've used Monteverde gel ink refills (the broad-tip blue-black is my favorite).

I have something close to a complete collection of ink Sharpies (not the paint ones, though).

Uh, let's see--vintage Swingline 747 stapler (and one of these guys, which I inherited from somebody who left it behind when they retired--I don't know why, it has a sort of springy snap that makes it just a joy to use), small collection of vintage rulers, binder clips in, like, seafoam green and periwinkle that I won in an office gift exchange... yeah, I really like office supplies.

I'm going to keep an eye out at antique stores for one of those Ace 102 staplers.
posted by box at 12:00 PM on January 15, 2020

Thanks to jamjam and jessamyn, I bought myself an old stapler. (An ace 102, of uncertain vintage.) I'm both happy to learn that it takes regular, contemporary staples, and a little disappointed because I already bought a lifetime supply of Swingline SF-35s. But, I guess subsidizing the antique stapler market with fifteen bucks isn't too bad, all things considered.

It works pretty well and I love the design. The spring that raises the arm after a staple seems a little week. You need to pull it up a bit by hand to let a stapled paper clear the staple-folding bit. I'm going to try stripping it down, cleaning, and oiling it to see if that helps. Then I might replace the spring. But, it's a lot of fun. That it's only 2X the price of a reasonably good stapler in the store is surprising. (I went to the office supply store anyway, since it's across the street from the coat store and I needed a coat. Managed to escape with only 150 colored folders and a set of ultra-fine sharpies. I'm still curious what all the cans of putty were in the checkout aisle. . . and proud of myself for not buying one to find out.
Another fun tip for you office supply people, in the spirit of the 10,000, is that you can usually rotate the anvil of a stapler 180° and make it fold staples out.
This is something that's been bothering me since I was around 8 years old. Every stapler I've used had this feature. But, I can't imagine why on earth anybody would ever want to use it. It seems like a button that makes your staples less good. What am I missing?
posted by eotvos at 10:39 AM on January 20, 2020

Folding your staples out makes them easier to remove. Lots of times I know I'm going to have to remove them, so I would use that setting.
posted by wellred at 12:57 PM on January 20, 2020 [2 favorites]

Six or seven years ago I was helping my mom clean out her hall closet. She was planning to move to a retirement community, and needed to downsize. We came upon her stash of random office supplies, and I made a joke about using them to feed my office supply fetish. She told me in no uncertain terms that these were hers, for her office supply fetish.

Now she has Alzheimer's, and resides in an uncertain place between assisted living and full-on memory care, but all her long life she has never come as close to cursing as she does when she can't find a working pen and a pad of Post-Its near at hand, and I think she doesn't have an office supply fetish but a genetic office supply condition which she cannot shake even in her dementia and has passed on to me.
posted by lhauser at 8:05 PM on January 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

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