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  1. Hi all, For those of you just tuning in, I just got back into fountain pens after a long layoff. Among other things, I am studying for IT certifications (Security+, RHCE, passed the CCNA two months ago) and it is well-documented in the scientific literature that taking handwritten notes (see, e.g., https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-learning-secret-don-t-take-notes-with-a-laptop) improves retention dramatically. So, I figured if I am going to be writing a lot, why not pick up some tools that make the job nicer and easier? The first "nice" notebook that I got, which I use for my RHCE studies, was a Moleskine. The hard cover and ribbon place markers are both very nice, but I quickly discovered that the paper quality left a lot to be desired. More specifically, I got awful shadowing and bleed-through even when using well-behaved inks that usually do not have those issues. Truth be told, I was very disappointed, especially given that I forked over nearly thirty bucks for the thing. Disappointed as I was with the Moleskine, and after watching numerous ink review videos that mentioned Rhodia and Leuchtturm1917, among others, I decided to take the plunge. Previously, my only experience with "fine" paper was the bond lawyer letterhead/pleading paper that my boss at my last job insisted upon continuing to purchase and use. My first foray into this new world was a Leuchtturm1917 Master A4+ notebook, which I now use for my bullet journal. From the moment I took the plastic off, I knew I had scored something extraordinary. The pages in that thing feel like what you would find in a wedding guest book or something else reserved for similarly formal occasions. It was/is magical, otherworldly, nothing like the bond paper I mentioned, and certainly nothing at all like the reams upon reams of copier paper I had grown accustomed to at my last job. I also could not believe how well the nibs of my pens glided across that paper, as opposed to the constant skipping and feathering I experience with my Moleskine. Also, I love love love dot grid paper as it allows me to keep my outline format notes straight. It's like nothing I have ever experienced before. After my Great Awakening with Leuchtturm1917, I ordered some Rhodia spiral pads, also in dot grid. Admittedly, I was loath to spend close to US$35 on notebooks that I had grown accustomed to getting for 1/10th the price. I used them in class tonight and, well... same thing. Magical. I just... I can't even. I'm hooked. I love the stuff. I can't get enough of it. It is amazing to me how much of a difference a few small luxuries like nice paper, ink, and pens make what would seem like a mundane everyday activity like writing something truly special and extraordinary. I'm not a snob and I loathe conspicuous consumption, hence a distaste for Mont Blanc. I am a practical guy and I am loath to spend big bucks on innocuous things like paper. And I constantly hear the voice of my dearly departed grandmother who lived through the Great Depression: "It costs ten times as much, is it ten times as good?" Well, in the case of this paper that is expensive as all get out, yes it is. Moleskine? Pfft. What I really feel now is best not repeated in polite company. Trouble is, I have half of my RHCE notes in it, so pitching it is not an option. Once again, experience is a cruel teacher that gives the test before the lesson. I also find that, when I hand-write study notes, daily plans, thought logs, agendas for meetings, or whatever, it is much easier for me to get into a state of "flow" than when using the computer. Why, I'm not sure, maybe it's because I spend more time putting thoughts to paper than constantly having to fight M$ Word as it does its best to botch up even the simplest of documents. One more thing: I can't help but wonder how much of the cost of these fine papers is import duties and taxes. Are they cheaper in other countries?





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