Ink Review: Noodler's Ink Berning Red

Noodler's Berning Red

Noodler's Berning Red

It’s an immutable karmic law that, when an ink producer creates a new color specifically to mock a presidential candidate, one then must use said ink to write the candidate’s campaign slogan, regardless of how one actually feels about said candidate. In this case, Nathan Tardiff, the man behind the curtain of Noodler’s Ink, created Berning Red in honor of Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist senator from Vermont, and one of the two remaining candidates for the Democratic nomination. The tagline for the ink is “a red for lefties that dries fast.” Because Sanders is a socialist, he’s a lefty on the American political spectrum, and left-handed writers need a quick drying ink - get it? Also red, because red is equated with socialism, as evidenced by the Soviet-propogada-inspired label.

Politics aside, Berning Red is quite a good ink. It’s a bright, candy-apple red - it doesn’t lean purple or brown, and no magenta is in sight. It’s a quintessential red that’s easy to read on the page. It has a moderate level of saturation, fading a little in the really broad strokes of a calligraphy pen, but producing a crisp, bold line with low levels of shading when used with a fine nib. It’s easy to write with, having a moderate level of flow and producing no sensation of scratchiness on most paper.

After I was done testing it, it cleaned up easily, flushing quickly from the converter and feed. It did not stain. Berning Red is also an extremely cost-effective ink. Noodler's standard line of ink is the best value on the market - the 3 oz bottles run roughly $12.50, which works out to a cost of $0.14 per milliliter - the lowest of any ink I’m aware of.

Paper Dry Time
Copier 1 second
Bagasse 5 seconds
Rhodia 5 seconds
Midori MD 15 seconds
Carson XL 10 seconds
Leuchtturm 10 seconds

So how does the quick-drying claim stand up? Well, it dries faster than a lot of Noodler’s ink, though not so quickly as I’d have imagined for an ink specifically designed to be fast-drying. Overall, it was dry to the touch and smudge free in less than 15 seconds, with cheap office-grade copier paper being the fastest and Midori MD paper the slowest of those I tested.

It is generally well-behaved across each of the paper types I tested, though it has an increased tendency to show-though on absorbent papers, and to bleed through when used with a really wet nib, like the Pilot Parallel pens. It’s not something you’re likely to encounter if you’re using good quality paper in a fine-nib pen, but it is something to keep in mind.

Noodler's Berning Red water test

Noodler's Berning Red water test

Berning Red held up surprisingly well in the water resistance test, in which I simulate three scenarios: something wet gets dragged across the page, droplets of water fall onto the page and get blotted up, and the paper gets soaked. It smeared easily enough when I ran a wet finger across the page, which resulted in a lovely red smudge - so it is not suitable for painting over with washes or watercolors. However, it didn't completely lift from the page when I blotted it, nor when I soaked it under the faucet, which means that your work won’t be completely obliterated if you do happen to get it wet by accident.

Noodler's Berning Red bottle

Noodler's Berning Red bottle

Noodler’s 3 oz glass bottles are, in and of themselves, utilitarian. They’re stock bottles ordered in bulk in order to keep the cost of production down. It’s the labels that are always interesting, even if they occasionally make you shake your head in bewilderment. Berning Red is certainly one of those cases. The Soviet-style design with hammer and sickle, and Bernie Sanders’ smiling face plastered on it is…fascinating. One cannot deny that it is eye catching. Whether you display the bottle proudly on top of your desk or stuff it in a drawer is likely to be driven more by your politics and sense of irony than by your aesthetic sensibilities.

Berning Red is a great ink. I’m very happy with having had the chance to test it. While it doesn’t displace Diamine Red Dragon as my current favorite red ink, its good behavior, ease of reading, and cost effectiveness make it a go-to choice when I’m in the mood for a vibrant red ink.

This bottle of Noodler’s Ink Berning Red was graciously provided by Pen Boutique.

Review notes: the handwritten portion of the review was created on 160 gsm, acid free, mixed media paper from Canson’s XL line. All lines, broad and thin, were made using a Pilot Parallel pen with a 3.8mm calligraphy nib. 

The Power of Intentional Change

Change can be scary. The path between point A and B never seems to be a straight line. It is filled with twists and turns, false starts and false stops, missteps and side steps. It always seems to take longer than you’ve anticipated, and you may not even recognize the destination once you’ve arrived. Sometimes, you may start your journey without knowing where you’re going, and in today’s fast-paced world, just keeping track of where you’ve been can be a challenge.

Faced with the seeming difficulty of change, many people abandon their efforts and resign themselves to the status quo. Businesses spend all of their resources on incremental improvements that don’t drive growth. People sit in front of the TV instead of learning a new skill. Relationships languish because neither partner knows where to start making a difference.

Fortunately, desired, sustainable change doesn’t have to be scary. Intentional Change Theory, developed by Professor Richard Boyatzis at Case Western Reserve University, provides a framework for understanding how change works. Once you understand the process, you can harness its power, reduce uncertainty, and make change work for you.

The Five Discoveries

According to Intentional Change Theory, desired, sustainable change occurs when five steps are completed in a specific order. As we’ve already discussed, most people encounter change as a chaotic, discontinuous process, so when they finally complete each step, often by happenstance, it is usually accompanied by a feeling of epiphany or discovery. Therefore we call these five steps the five discoveries.

However, once you become aware of the process of Intentional Change, and are mindful about applying it, you’ll find that the process will feel controlled and continuous. There is still discovery to be had, but each step will feel like a natural progression from the last.

Ideal Self – discovering the Ideal Self answers the question, “Who do I want to be?” This sounds like an intuitive place to start the process of change, but people often start by looking at where they are now and then asking where they can go. Taking that approach may seem practical, but it is ultimately self-limiting. It is critical to keep an open mind when discovering your Ideal Self.

Worse, some people jump right into action, figuring that doing something is usually better than doing nothing. Unfortunately, all that energy ends up wasted if you’re not moving in the direction that you really want to go.

Real Self – discovering the Real Self requires taking an objective look at yourself to assess which strengths you can build on to achieve your Ideal Self and where you have gaps that you’ll need to bridge. By starting with the Ideal Self, this step in the process will be aspirational, instead of critical. You’ll be moving toward the future instead of being trapped in the past.

Learning Agenda – the third discovery is the development of a concrete set of steps to move you from your Real Self to your Ideal Self. You’ll take the gap analysis and strengths assessment from your discovery of the Real Self and use that to create a plan. Once you have that plan, then it’s time to take action, which brings us to the fourth discovery.

Practice – when we talk about Practice, we mean practicing until mastery. The old adage that amateurs practice until they get it right while professionals practice until they can't get it wrong is the key to sustaining your desired change. The change you seek needs to become intuitive, or else you’re likely to return to old habits when times get tough.

Resonant Relationships – the last discovery is the development of supportive relationships. Change doesn't have to be scary, but it is rarely easy. Resonant relationships will help you to completeeach step of the process as well as to move from one discovery to the next. They can provide an editorial voice when preparing your Learning Agenda, a critical eye when discovering your Real Self, positive energy when discovering your Ideal Self, and emotional support when Practice gets hard.

It’s important to keep in mind that this process is iterative. You should expect to envision your Ideal Self, assess your Real Self, develop a Learning Agenda, and Practice over and over again as you make progress toward your desired change.

Multiple Levels

So far, we’ve talked about Intentional Change using the language of the individual, but the theory applies at all levels of human interaction, from the very intimate to the global stage. From a leadership perspective, we most commonly apply Intentional Change at the following four levels:

Individual – that’s you.

Dyad – two people involved in a sociologically significant relationship: romantic partners, parent and child, manager and employer, business partners, mentor and mentee, and so on. A dyad can apply Intentional Change to the relationship itself – making it stronger or deeper, for example, or to the focus of the relationship: a business, a family, etc…

Where does a dyad find resonant relationships? Business partners might find them out in the larger business community – perhaps as part of a local organization. Romantic partners may rely on family and friends. Managers and employees can look to the rest of their team or to fellow leaders in the organization. Resonant relationships are out there, but we aren’t used to thinking about them in the same way we think about them at an individual level.

Team – a team is a group of people working collaboratively toward a common work product. Teams can use Intentional Change to work on their own team structure and dynamics or to chart the course of their work.

Organization – a team of teams. A business, church, non-profit, or community organization can apply Intentional Change in the same way. The logistics get a bit trickier, with far more cats to herd, but the process remains the same.

By harnessing the power of Intentional Change Theory, you, your team, or your organization can tackle desired change, make it last, and make the process itself positive for everyone involved. Change is scary, but Intentional Change doesn’t have to be.

Midori (Traveler's Company) Traveler's Notebook

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The Traveler’s Notebook is a revered product in the pen and paper community. All the cool kids have one, but for a long time, I wondered what the fuss was about; I was perfectly happy with my Midori MD notebooks and Rhoda notepads. Then, about six months ago, as I was getting to the end of a notebook and deciding what to buy next, I had a bit of an existential crisis. I realized that, each time I finished a notebook, I would put it on the shelf and start over. There was no sense of continuity from one notebook to the next - no set of memories to carry with me. One of the great things about fountain pens is that they aren’t disposable, generally speaking - they become a familiar tool that becomes part of your life, and I wanted the same from a notebook.

The logical choice was the Traveler’s Notebook, so I took the plunge. I looked online, blinked a couple of times at the UD$60 price tag, and then placed the order. The TN comes in two sizes: Regular and Passport, and two colors: brown and black. A camel version will be joining the lineup later this year, and Midori also occasionally releases special editions in different colors - there was a blue version available in 2015. I settled on the Regular brown version.

When you buy a Traveler’s Notebook and open the box, you might be slightly underwhelmed. I spent US$60 for a piece of leather and an elastic band, you might think? It's a very nice piece of leather, but $60 nice? Then, though, you start using it and it starts to develop character, and you start ordering refills and accessories to make that notebook your notebook, and you realize that you haven't spent $60 on a piece of leather. No - you bought an extensible tool that became an indespensible part of your life.

The key to the Traveler’s Notebook is its refillable and customizable nature. Out of the box, it is a blank slate: outside, it’s a piece of rough-cut leather, an elastic band, and a tin clasp. Inside, it is filled with a slim, blank notebook made with Midori MD paper. The only indication that the notebook is made by Midori is a small embossed logo on the back of the journal.

As I mentioned, it’s a very nice blank slate, but the lack of adornment or features is one of the reasons that it provoked the “Huh...” reaction that I had. That design is intentional though - it is intended to be customized. The elastic band can be replaced with a band of different color or threaded with charms, baubles, and beads. Dozens of accessories can be added: pen holders, brass clips, pocket stickers, and zippered cases among them; and almost as many different types of refills are available: lined, unlined, grid, diary, sketchbook, and on and on.

Depending on your sensibilities, the number of options can be overwhelming or empowering. After spending a few months with mine, I’ve found it to be the latter - I love my Traveler’s Notebook, and understand why it has the following that it does. 

Inside front cover.

Inside front cover.

Inside back cover - you can see that the elastic band that stretches around the middle is secured inside the back.

Inside back cover - you can see that the elastic band that stretches around the middle is secured inside the back.

The tin clasp lies at the top of the spine. It fastens the elastic band that holds the refills inside the notebook as well as securing the bookmark.

The tin clasp lies at the top of the spine. It fastens the elastic band that holds the refills inside the notebook as well as securing the bookmark.

The back of the notebook. Here you can see the elastic band that holds the notebook closed emerging from the center of the back cover.

The back of the notebook. Here you can see the elastic band that holds the notebook closed emerging from the center of the back cover.

The only trace of branding on the notebook is this very modest embossment on the lower left corner of the back cover.

The only trace of branding on the notebook is this very modest embossment on the lower left corner of the back cover.

An additional aspect of customization for the Traveler’s Notebook is the ability to add more than one refill at the same time - it can comfortably hold up to three with the addition of a rubber band accessory. If you’re a note-taker and a visual artist, you might choose to have both a lined notebook and a sketchbook. Or you might have a grid notebook, some craft paper, and a planner. In my case, I have the 013 Light Paper Notebook - a version of the 003 Blank Notebook, but with thinner paper and more pages - for note taking and doodling, and the 005 Diary, for my daily journaling.

Two refills side by side. The 013 Light Paper Notebook is on the left and the 005 Diary is on the right.

Two refills side by side. The 013 Light Paper Notebook is on the left and the 005 Diary is on the right.

A closer look at the 013 Light Paper notebook.

A closer look at the 013 Light Paper notebook.

Beyond being a notebook, the Traveler’s Notebook can also function as an organizing solution. One of my first purchases was the 020 Kraft File Folder. The front pocket has been perfect for keeping receipts from business trips - it is called the Traveler's Notebook for a reason - and the back pocket holds sheets of each of the types of paper I use for ink reviews so that I always have them handy. 

The inside front pocket of the 020 Kraft File Folder stuffed receipts. This photo was taken mid-flight.

The inside front pocket of the 020 Kraft File Folder stuffed receipts. This photo was taken mid-flight.

The back of the 020 Kraft File Folder with my paper samples for testing ink.

The back of the 020 Kraft File Folder with my paper samples for testing ink.

A sample of the many available refills.

A sample of the many available refills.

Once you begin exploring, you'll find a range of refills and accessories manufactured by Midori, but you'll also find them manufactured by third parties. Beyond accessories, though, you can even find the notebook itself manufactured by others in a wide range of colors and materials. Leather, vinyl, bright colors, patterns, even two-toned covers are available. They may have exactly the same size, shape, and set of features, or they be wider, taller, thicker, and come with two or three elastic bands to allow you to carry more refills at once. One could conceivably end up with a Traveler’s Notebook manufactured entirely by third parties, without a single component manufactured by Midori.

One other potential point of confusion is that I am writing this review in the midst of Midori rebranding itself as “Traveler’s Company,” so you may see the Traveler’s Notebook referred to as manufactured by either of those two company names depending on when and where you’re shopping.

The Midori (Traveler’s Company) Traveler's Notebook, refills, and accessories are available from many fine retailers, including:

Ink Review: Kaweco Palm Green

Kaweco Palm Green ink

As I mentioned in my review of Diamine Meadow, I am not a connoisseur of green ink. I had a grand total of three specimens (J. Herbin Vert Empire, J. Herbin Vert Olive, and Iroshizuku Shinryoku) sitting on my self until I picked up Meadow. Vert Empire and Shinryoku were too dour to be of interest to me, and Vert Olive is so vibrant as to be all but unusable. Additionally, green isn’t a color that tends to hold my interest, especially when compared to blue, red, and violet, but Meadow opened my eyes to the versatility of green ink.

I mention this so that you know that I am neither damning with faint praise nor speaking from a position of scholarly authority when I say that Kaweco Palm Green is my favorite green ink after Diamine Meadow. It is a lovely forest green that has the best shading of any of the eight Kaweco colors, and which exhibits the excellent behavior characteristics of the line.

Palm Green behaves admirably across all paper types, exhibiting low levels of feathering and a narrow, crisp line even on cheap paper. This comes at a cost of a fairly dry flow, but it is not so severe as to be off-putting. It dries quickly across the board.

Paper Dry Time Bleed Through Show Through Feathering
Copier 1 second Low Moderate Low
Bagasse 3 seconds Moderate Moderate Low
Rhodia 10 seconds None Low None
Midori 10 seconds None Low None
Canson 10 seconds None None None

Kaweco Palm Green water test

Kaweco Palm Green performed identically to all of the other Kaweco colors in the water resistance tests. It has little in the way of water resistance, turing into a green smudge on the smear test (where I run a wet finger across the page), easily lifting from the paper on the drip test (where I let several drops of water sit on the paper before blotting), and washing cleanly away on the incorrectly labeled soak test (where I run the page under a stream of water for half a minute).

I wouldn’t recommend using it in any application that requires water-resistance, like addressing an envelope or signing a check. 

Kaweco Palm Green bottle

Kaweco Palm Green bottle

Kaweco ink comes in two forms: cartridges and 30ml glass bottles, which is the format I used during testing. The bottles themselves are pleasantly designed, and the labels accurately reflect the color of the ink inside them. I have no real complaints about the bottle, other than I had to tip it to the side slightly in order to create sufficient depth to fill my test pen properly.

Of the eight ink colors, Palm Green isn’t quite my favorite - that honor belongs to Caramel Brown, which I haven’t reviewed yet - but it is the one that has gone back into my in rotation more often than any of the other colors since I did my initial testing five months ago. If you need a great green ink that behaves very well, and are willing to put up with a relatively dry flow as a tradeoff, then I would recommend Kaweco Palm Green.

Kaweco Palm Green is available from many fine retailers, including:

Review notes: the handwritten portion of the review was created on 160 gsm, acid free, mixed media paper from Canson’s XL line. All lines, broad and thin, were made using a Pilot Parallel pen with a 3.8mm calligraphy nib.

A bottle of Kaweco Palm Green was generously provided by the fine folks at Kaweco for review. 

What I'm Listening To

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I'm late to the podcast game. While technically savvy people have been listening to the format for years, I never quite found a set of shows that compelled me to listen. I could catch This American Life and Radiolab on my local NPR station, and I had only so much space on my phone, and I tend to go on broad musical explorations that wander from female-fronted symphonic metal to contemporary classical to dubstep to the complete works of Mahler to the Hamilton Original Broadway Cast Recording.

Lately, though, I've been on a podcast kick. I listen to them in the car on the way to and from work, and I've managed to find just the right mix of shows so that I neither fall behind nor run out of content. If the length of my commute ever changes, I'm screwed. In the interest of sharing, here's that mix, with some comments from me:


This first set of podcasts are ongoing series comprised of self-contained episodes. You can jump in anywhere, listen to them out of order, or skip a few, and you'll only miss out on the awesomeness of each individual episode.

Note to Self

Manoush Zomorodi is your charmingly eccentric, slightly anxious, incredibly smart friend who's a blast to hang out with and who always has a great story to share. She also happens to be an excellent journalist who has a podcast about what it means to be human in our increasingly technological world. That podcast is called Note to Self, and it comes from WNYC studios.

Lore

If Stephen King wrote Wikipedia articles about folklore and then narrated them in a style characterized by a love of unnecessary pauses rivaled only by Christopher Walken and William Shatner, you'd have the Lore podcast. If the previous sentence appealed to you, you're probably downloading it now. If not, you might want to move on to other shows in this list.

Mystery Show

Starlee Kine was a producer for This American Life. Starlee Kine is charming. This is a show about Starlee Kine being charming whilst solving the mysteries of everyday life. One episode in the far-too-short first season featured Jake Gyllenhall. Another a belt buckle. Would you believe that the belt buckle episode almost made me cry?

Only Human

Only Human is a show about health told in an easily relatable way, covering everything from the state of the American healthcare system to the search for immortality to people with amazing medical conditions. Their tagline is "...every body has a story." It's the second of three shows from WNYC on this list.

Radiolab

If you're not listening to Radiolab, you're doing life wrong. Listen to Radiolab. This is the third of the three shows from WNYC on this list.

Surprisingly Awesome

The Adam who founded the Planet Money podcast and the Adam who directed Anchorman and Taledega Nights spend each episode trying to convince each other that topics that one finds boring (e.g. mold, interest rates, and broccoli) are actually really interesting. Surprisingly entertaining.

Esquire Classic

David Brancaccio, host of Marketplace Morning Report, examines some of the most popular non-fiction pieces from the Esquire magazine archives. He places each piece in its historical context while talking with other guests about the creation and impact of the piece. It's a very well produced examination of journalism throughout the twentieth century, in addition to re-telling a series of very interesting stories.

Criminal

In the same way that the Only Human podcast is about health, Criminal is about crime. Specifically, it examines the effects that crime has on the people who perpetrate it, are victimized by it, and fight it. The host, Phoebe Judge, has one of the best voices in podcast-dom.


The following three podcasts are serialized docu-dramas that have an ongoing storyline. You'll need to start at the beginning to make sense of them, but each started recently enough that it is still easy to catch up. Just plan to spend a week binge listening.

The Black Tapes

Host Alex Reagan investigates cases of the paranormal with the assistance of the enigmatic Richard Strand, a noted skeptic, and head of the Strand Institute. The series gets progressively creepy and esoteric as it progresses, but still remains well within the bounds of mainstream paranormal activity. One of the highlights of the show is the Mulder/Scully-esque relationship between Alex and Strand. They just launched season two, so now is the perfect time to binge on season one.

Limetown

Take the Serial formula (you did listen to Serial, didn't you) and apply it to the investigation of a mysterious town where every inhabtant disappeared overnight, and you have Limetown. The show manages to dial the creepy up at just the right rate to overcome suspension of disbelief issues and, while it goes slightly astray in the middle of the first season, finishes exceptionally strong. I listened to about half of season one on a flight to LA. I'm looking forward to season two.

Tanis

I'm hesitant to recommend Tanis. It's produced by the same production company as The Black Tapes, but it's overly ambitious, attempting to tie every possible conspiracy theory into one of their own creation. The host, Nic Silver, who is a producer on The Black Tapes, comes across as mostly out of his element in tracking down the mysterious Tanis. What is Tanis? A place, a thing, a force of nature? Nobody knows! Maybe the acerbic-but-charming, near-omniscient, mysterious hacker MirKatnip, who I'm certain has a dragon tattoo, can figure it out for him.

Also, the dialogue is exposition heavy, and mostly written using the following template:

"Blah, blah, blah, important term."

"Important term?"

"Yes, blah, blah, blah, second important term."

"Second important term, you say?"

And so on. Yet, I keep listening. It's currently in the middle of its first season, and I really hope that sticking with it will pay off in some way.