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January 18, 2012

My favorite pen

I travel a lot and, even with an iPhone and laptop, I sometimes need to write things down. At some point on my last project, I found a red pen in my backpack that I slowly realized was the best pen I've ever held in my hand.

I can't say where it came from. Origin is uncertain. Possibly I lifted it from the client. Possibly I picked it up at a rental car counter. There's no way of knowing. That bit of trivia is lost to the sands of time.

But this pen...omg. It's so awesome. First of all, I should mention that I hate Bic pens. They're horrible. When I try to scratch something out with them, I end up with two lines on the side of the ball colored in black or blue, and a big gaping hole down the middle. Like I can seriously see where the ink is missing in the pen's trail. So, I've always hated Bic's. Like...I'm seriously surprised they're on the market, they're so weak.

Then, you have the PaperMate. The PaperMate pen tries to fill in the blank inkless spot that Bic leaves, but overcompensates. So, when I write with a PaperMate, it always blobs up on the pen tip, and everytime I change the angle of my writing ever so slightly, everything goes to h3ll leaving big blobs of ink all over the page to smear beneath my hand, and I end up throwing the whole kit and kaboodle in the trash.

How is it 2012 and we still can't make a pen that writes better than a feather dipped in ink? How is that?

So, you have to see that I'm not sane to begin with. Probably most people carry Bics and PaperMates and their scribbled messages are either emaciated or bloated and no one notices and no one cares.

But that's not me.

So, I find this pen and I'm like....OMG...this pen is freaking AWESOME!!!!111!!

But I don't tell anyone, because I'm not sure where it came from, you see? Maybe I unintentionally lifted it from my boss' desk. Not that I would steal it intentionally. I'm not that low. That would never happen. I mean, I have access to all of the supplies at work, and they let me in there whenever I want for supplies. It's not like that at all.

But my point is that I'm just so paranoid that someone might take my precious that I don't dare mention it to anyone. This secret gem that I'm now harboring in my backpack. Mind you, I've got an envelope in my backpack with several grand in it, and I can't even keep straight where that is. Like...that's not a big deal, but this pen...it must be defended at all costs.

So...the pen....the pen says "JETSTREAM". The ink is red. Not my favorite color, but it comes in blue or black, of course. And the color just flows out of the pen like an airbrush artist on the beach spray painting some tourist slogan over labor day in the air-conditioned back room of some beach shack in LA (Lower Alabama).


It says "UNI" on the pen also.

And it also says "JAPAN", although the letters are so small you'd have to find someone younger than me to read them, I think.

It has a rubber grip. Not that splintery clear plastic straw that is the Bic handle. Not that watery smooth slippery collar on the PaperMate. A freaking rubber grip. It feels like you're holding the most expensive paring knife ever made.

The end cap is a piece of clear red plastic, indicating the ink color presumably.

The only potential drawback to this pen, and now that I'm thinking about it, I've seen these pens before. Because, if it's closed, it will confound the h3ll out of you trying to get it to write. It looks like you'd just click one end of it and the writing thingy would pop out the other end, but really, it's sort of an illusion. You have to pull the cap off to get it to write. Jennifer has actually handed me this pen before, exasperated, as she could not figure out how to make it write. And I'm not dissing her on this issue. I've felt exactly the same way. I was as confused as the first time I tried to take a show at my sister's house. Took me some time to figure out how to make it work, but I prevailed in the end just because I figured there had to be a way.

Unless I'm mistaken, this is the pen I have stumbled across. The more you know...

There's a review of this pen (I assume this is the same one I have) a similar pen here.

Update: My pen appears to be the "old body style with three ovals on the clip".
Update 2: There's a similar pen called the Uni-ball Jetstream Sport, but this pen doesn't have a cap. It's a retractable rollerball that doesn't have a cap. So, this is not the pen I have. My pen has a cap.
Update 3: Apparently the Jetstream Sport model is a relatively new addition to the Jetstream Uni-ball pen lineup. Mine, I believe, is an older version that's been made for some time in Japan with a cap.
Update 4: This pen, the "Pens uni-ball® Jetstream™ Stick Roller Ball Pen SAN40173 Jetstream Ballpoint Stick Pen, Black Ink, Medium SAN 40173", looks very close to what I have. The only difference I notice is the "UNI 0.7" at the top of the pen.

OK. I have to admit that the thing that's confounding me at this point to no end is the amount of names attached to this product. If you can't imagine how confusing this is, consider that the following proprietary names are associate with a product that sells for roughly a dollar:
1) uni-ball ®
2) Jetstream™

Apparently, the model number for these pens is SAN99999 where 99999 is a 5 digit number designed to confound anyone determined enough to try to order one of these pens that they find in the wild.

OK. Now I'm getting somewhere...hold the line...."Sanford is the exclusive distributor in North America for Uni-ball pens and pencils, which are made by the Mitsubishi Pencil Company of Japan."

Wikipedia is blacked out. So is the Wayback Machine. So, I can't get to wikipedia very easily. I've already contacted Mark Udall and Mike Bennett though. So they both know I'm p1ssed as h3ll. Probably have the Secret Service up here again in no time. OK. Here we go. Here's the cached version of the article.

OK. So, apparently Uni-ball is a consumer brand owned by the corporate giant Newell Rubbermaid, aka The Very Big Corporation of Amerika. The uni-ball website home page is here.

And, of course, their web pages are all bogged down with MacroMedia Adobe Flash presentations. Flash is to the internet what mud is to turtles.

OK. So, apparently, Uni-ball® has various lines of pens/pencils, one of which is the Jetstream™.

Their website is cleverly coded in JavaScript so that you can't link to anything meaningful. So, this is sort of what happens when a big corporation takes over a successful product, I think. They hire a bunch of retarded product consultants to design a website that's as useful as tits on a bull.

But, if you're patient, and if the website eventually loads successfully, and dazzles you with all of the fvcking useless Flash presentations, if you can get past all of this corporate razzle-dazzle bullsh1t, then eventually, you can click Jetstream and you'll see the following products:

Apparently they're fond of CAPS. If you then click "CAPPED", it narrows down the list to:

The Jetstream comes in a three ink colors (Black, Blue, Red) and two different point sizes (Fine = 0.7mm, Bold = 1.0mm).

The Jetstream 101 is sort of a cheaper, scaled-down version, apparently. So, what I have is apparently a slightly older version of the "uni-ball® Jetstream™ Roller Ball Pen".

Helpfully, they don't give a part number here, so this is greatly appreciated. You get lots of razzle-dazzle, but not the critical information you need. Predictable really, I suppose.

The website says "We're into details.", but they don't trouble you with any tricky little details like part numbers or anything. Brilliant.

So, I sent them an email asking them to help identify this pen I've stumbled across. Lord knows if this corporate behemoth with actually be able to respond to a simple request like this. I'm not holding my breath.

At this point, to the best of my knowledge, this is what I have. It's some flavor of a "Newell Rubbermaid™ Sanford (L.L.P.) Uni-ball ® Jetstream™Roller Ball Pen". As rendered on my screen, the name of the pen is literally longer than the pen. Classic.

Here's a review of the pens on CoolTools. They link to a couple of websites that sell the fourpacks.

Here's a 4-pack of the Bold (1.0mm pens, 2 black, 1 red, 1 blue) on Amazon.com.

Here's the same 4-pack (I think) on the Staples website. Now, the Staples website makes me want to kill myself. It's very busy, no part number, no price, no way to add it to a cart or anything like that, but they do mention something I was not previously aware of "Visible ink supply so you never run out unexpectedly". So, this got me to looking at the pen more closely, and I see now that I can actually see the red ink inside of the pen, and now I recall that the pen is probably a refillable pen, so I hastily disassemble the pen, hoping to finally resolve the mystery of what I actually have, here, in my bleeding hands.

The little ink-refill disposable writing-part-thingy inside of the pen says the following:
"uni SXR-C1 JAPAN 03 - 11 - K102". Googling this, I eventually determined that this is a 1.0 mm refill, so this equates to the "Bold" as opposed to the "Fine" version of the pen.

So, I'll order this 4-pack of the Bold (1.0mm pens, 2 black, 1 red, 1 blue) from Amazon.com and see if this isn't the pen I fell in love with.

Posted by Rob Kiser on January 18, 2012 at 12:26 PM


I used to purchase office supplies, so I became a bit of a pen geek. I never liked roller ball or gel pens because of the smear/bleed factor. These Jet Streams are some sort of ball point-roller ball hybrid. They are like the next evolutionary step up. Gets good reviews on Amazon, except they are pricey and don't last long, they can fail before the ink supply is gone. They write smoothly, almost zero friction. It's probably the ink formula.

Posted by: Kryten on February 23, 2012 at 12:38 PM

Yeah, I got these pens in the mail now, and I've been using them to sign my books. I like the way they feel in the hand...the way the ink flows onto the page. Ink dries much faster than most other pens I've used. I'm happy with them. :)

Posted by: Rob Kiser Author Profile Page on February 25, 2012 at 12:41 PM

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