Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Post-It Primer For Future Game Shows

We here at Office Supplies Talk hope your holiday season was a good one. Now that the presents have been opened, the food has been digested and everyone has returned from their family gatherings (unless they live in the Northeast), the nation's attention turns to what truly matters this time of year- the history of the Post-It Note.

America, you're starting to catch on.

The impetus for the new-found interest in removable adhesive technology stemmed from a controversial question on the new Fox game show “Million Dollar Money Drop.” Which came first? The Sony Walkman or the Post-It Note? Let's go to the tape!

Soon, viewers realized that Gabe was mostly right. Okay, 3M actually started in 1902 as the Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company and yes, Brittany was right that they started out in other markets: they were first known for sandpaper products. I'd be remiss if I didn't point that out. But everything else he said was generally true, granting certain allowances as he was busy shoveling cash onto a platform.

While the Post-It Note was hardly invented accidentally, the removable adhesive that it uses was indeed a surprise result of random tinkering in the lab. Dr. Spencer Silver developed the formula in 1968, but it took six years before colleague Art Fry figured out the “removable adhesive + notepad = Win” formula. His creation was first sold in 1977, two years before the Sony Walkman.

And Now They're Huge

The show has since realized its mistake and invited Gabe and Brittany to try their luck again. America will surely be monitoring the show's questions carefully. Especially if they concern office supplies.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Conserve With Cleaning Products

Back in school, the concept of 'going green' was framed around the three Rs. Not that old reading/writing/arithmetic combo; the one that wasn't embarrassingly bad at spelling- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The discussion of green products typically revolves around the latter. It's all about buying products that are either recycled or recyclable. From binders to mechanical pencils, almost everything in office supplies has a green choice.

Cleaning products, however, are a bit of a snag. Simple Green, while a great product, is a bit of a misnomer in this regard. It's hard to recycle products that disappear into the countertop, sink or air. Thankfully, Baumgartens has picked up on R number two with its Conserve lineup. It reuses the one thing that really clogs up landfills- the bottle.

The product is shipped as an empty plastic bottle with a package of four tablets, giving you four bottles for the price of slightly more than one. When ordering online, the prospect of not having to trust a shipping company to handle liquid cleaner is a winner in itself. To best explain this neat new item (and because I ran out of Febreze), I tried out their odor eliminator at home. The process is easy: drop a tablet into the bottle and fill with warm water. The tablet dissolves much like a certain antacid.

Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz

The tablet takes about seven minutes to dissolve completely, at which point you have a full bottle of cleaner at your disposal, and three refills taking up very little storage space. Testing it out, I found that the product is definitely an odor eliminator more than an air freshener. Odors are reduced considerably, but the lavender scent is not overpowering. It will work nicely for all my febrezing purposes (good thing we declared that an official verb, as this is not a Febreze product).

Conserve is also available as a glass cleaner, bathroom cleaner, and multisurface cleaner.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Febreze the Air

I'm declaring that Febreze is now officially a verb as well as a product.

–verb (used with object)
1.  to spray with Febreze in an attempt to cover odors :He febrezed the couch before his parents arrived.
2.  to attempt to improve something without effort : He febrezed his essay by running spell check again.

People have been using Febreze for a long time now, and using febreze as a verb for quite a few years, but I haven't seen anybody make the official proclamation.  So go ahead and add it to your computer's dictionary (upper and lower case) so it won't think you are misspelling it.
If I'm remembering correctly the original Febreze used to be more about spraying it on fabrics and I guess people liked it.  So now we have Febreze Air Effects as well as some other kinds of Febreze products.  The question is, of course, did the people behind the original Febreze expand their product for a multi-usage spray application, or is this just "brand-washing" as Proctor and Gamble use the Febreze name to sell otherwise boring air freshener? A quick check of the Febreze home page reveals they are selling all manners of candles and oil diffusers.  I think they've strayed from the original product line.
Just because Proctor and Gamble is going crazy with different lines of Febreze products doesn't mean you can't keep it real.  You, after all, are an OG.  Check out this huge jug of Fabric Refresher you can buy (They even released an MSDS for it). I'm not going to make any guarantees, but I have a feeling that this much Febreze should be able to take care of just about any problem.  Remember that even though Febreze isn't dangerous to pets in the course of normal usage, it definitely would be in this form.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Neon Dry Erase Markers

So the other day a package was thrown at me without much warning, so I opened it up and threw away the plastic and whatever promotional paperwork was included. That paperwork is the equivalent to an instruction manual and my manly instincts are to discard them when ever I can (like shredding the instructions for a shredder). Inside was a Jetstream 101 pen that is pretty brand new (not all suppliers have photos or pricing for it at the time of posting). As the name would suggest, it is a very simple ball point. It has a softer plastic than the most basic pen, and it feels a little thick to me, but it is a solid stick pen. I also got a Sharpie Liquid Pencil (as previously discussed) and something I didn't know was on the market, a Neon Dry Erase Marker from Expo.

Now I know when you think neon you either think about the hottest fashion trends or a crummy little economy car (ask me about my road trip to Canada sometime) so not many people have fond memories of neon things. If you are a hipster or want to kill hipsters you'll already have made up your mind about neon. Since I'm still mostly hipster agnostic I can dig the total bright explosion on my white board. They are great for drawing circles around things I need to emphasize.

The new extra bright color does come at some cost though. My normal dry erase eraser doesn't work perfectly on the new neon dry erase marker. The magic neon doesn't dry as perfectly as my normal set of markers so when attempting to erase I have to use more pressure and usually go over it several times. I checked the dust created from my normal expo markers and the dust created from the neon expo markers and the neon dust has just a little moisture left, so they didn't completely dry. I don't know what would happen if I attempted to let it properly dry by leaving it on my board for several days, but leaving things on the board for that long just isn't my style.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Humans Don't Work Well Blindfolded

Just last week NPR posted a video showing, in a very cool animated fashion, just how difficult it is for people to walk in a straight line when blindfolded. Without visual cues, we humans have a tendency to just meander all around in circles. Why circles? Nobody knows. Take a look at the video below.

So I was thinking, if people who are blindfolded can't walk straight, how well will they do drawing a straight line blindfolded? Well, I didn't have a whole lot of paper around the office (compared to the time people walked in the video), so I just performed a few experiments on a standard piece of copy paper and overwhelmingly they weren't interesting. I had my coworkers shut their eyes and slowly draw a line across the page. Sure, their lines weren't perfectly straight, but overall the results were not interesting enough to take a picture and post here.

While my interest was piqued by drawing blindfolded, I found this bit of technical paperwork about blind people using rulers to draw straight lines called "A study on the straight-line drawing tasks for the non-sighted people" that looks like it was published as part of a book. I didn't have enough interest or the attention span to read a whole lot, but apparently blind people need a special ruler. Luckily for most sighted people we can just pick out any standard ruler that's available with the rest of your office supplies.

Just as soon as I started to lose interest in the whole blindfolded drawing thing, I remembered those blind contour drawings I dutifully created in art courses of yore. One of my favorites that I could easily find was a blind contour drawing of a Honda Civic that actually is similar to the artwork used in the opening drawing.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

John Kenn Makes Post-it Art Monsters

While treading through the piles of emails and other digital correspondence that people regularly send me on Office Supply related topics (actually, I made that whole part up), I happened up on some awesome original Post-it art.  I ran across John Kenn's blog/art gallery of monsters called, oddly enough, Don Kenn Gallery.  I assume that he is John Donald Kenn or Don Jonathan Kenn and goes by either name depending on what the situation calls for and just goes with it.  His name doesn't really matter since he's not drawing these monsters to attempt to become the next big meme, but it is a point of curiosity.

Of course again with most Office Supply artists, a big part of the work is taking common place items and in this case making a "little window into a different world."  Information on John Kenn is pretty slim and sparse, but I managed to track down an interview with him over at My Modern Metropolis.  It is about as much as you would expect from an art enthusiast blog, all about inspirations and what his current "real" job is.  They wouldn't ask him a hard question like "What brands of adhesive notes are you using?"  If anybody has a way to get in touch with John, I would also like to ask him he uses the ubiquitous BIC Round Stic as well to flush out the using Office Supplies theme.

It is obvious that he prefers to use the slightly less common rectangular Post-it notes and the blog title does say he uses Post-it notes so we'll assume he uses the proper 3M branded stuff.  He does have some pieces that use a square Post-it note, but the most common stuff now is on a rectangular Post-it note.  If you have a penchant for monsters in your office doodles you'll want to click that ghastly image above and check out his work.  If the monsters were more cartoony and poorly drawn, surrounding notes about synergistic interactions, it would look like something from my regular meeting notes.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Papercrafting: Gamer Art from Office Supplies

Chalk another blog entry to "I'm way behind the times" if you like, but I just recently started to look at some of this Papercrafting in a more serious light, and I'm impressed. Origami (as talked about previously) is all about folding a piece of paper, but Papercrafting is all about folding, along with cutting and pasting. When you are allowed to cut and paste, you enter a whole new realm of paper art and as you would expect, the results can be downright astonishing.

If you start looking online for Papercrafting, you will no doubt discover that a large portion of the Papercrafting community centers around building video game characters and objects from video games. Because Papercrafting is essentially reverse-engineering a 3d model, people have been able to grab models from video games and lovingly recreate each polygon as a cut or folded piece of paper. There are sites dedicated to recreating Nintendo Characters or specifically Pokemon. Of course, there are different versions of the same character in different poses from different games.

If you want to think outside the box and build an original piece of artwork, you can take a cue from this giant Papercraft Castle built in Tokyo, but you are going to have to start with the same basic materials. As suggested by Nintendo Papercrafting, you'll want to find some glue, a knife , cutting mat and some paper; unfortunately, the products they list aren't available outside of Europe. Powerpritt Universal Gel is suggested as an ideal papercrafting glue, but I think Elmer's Office Gel Glue Stick should work perfectly as it is easy to apply and will dry quickly. An X-Acto Cutting Set should be the perfect fit for you papercrafting cutting needs, the kit comes with a self healing mat and several replacement blades. Lastly, you aren't going to find any 120gms Card Stock around, but I dug around and this 67lb Bristol Cover Stock is just what you are looking for (at the equivalent of 148gms).

Now that you've got your supplies, time to get out there and do some Papercrafting and create something.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sharpie Art (Fine Point Black)

Newell Rubbermaid has been doing some odd things with the Sharpie brand lately (like expanding their lines to the Sharpie Pen and Sharpie Liquid Pencil) but in most people's eyes they are still best known for selling the good old reliable black fine point sharpie marker.  Everybody I know has a cache of these sitting around their house somewhere and everybody I know prefers the full-blooded Sharpie to any of the lesser generics.  A Sharpie is a Sharpie is a Sharpie.  You always know what to expect and they are readily available just about anywhere at discount prices.  Because of this consumer friendly permanent ink, it makes a great option for artists working on the cheap or making any number of artistic statements.

From Charlie Kratzer in Kentucky who decorated his whole basement in Sharpie line art to Meilena Hauslendale (she managed to nab the SharpieArtist.com domain name) who sells her Sharpie and Watercolor Artwork to a wide swath of the population.  Even more graffiti inspired artists like Chris Dunlap (which seems a more classical fit to the Sharpie marker) has done some cool stuff, and even tricked out his Pontiac Fiero then covered the right side in Sharpie.  In my own personal endeavors I've used Sharpies as a compliment to just about anything I've ever done.  Painting a black line that is smooth and even is just to difficult for me to do with a brush.

Of course the people who work at Sharpie wouldn't be in Marketing if they were unable to recognize this burgeoning audience of artists and market to them.  So Sharpie created Sharpie Uncapped to showcase some unique uses of their products.  This is one of those gray areas of marketing that nobody really understands.  If people are using your product to create underground art because your product is common place, and you take that underground art and promote it on your fully branded glossy web 2.0-ish site, does it degrade the very underground nature?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Abrasion Resistant Gloves and Ratings

I'm going to diverge from the straight and narrow of Office Supplies again because I saw a pair of gloves being sold as "Safety Equipment" - that is tangentially related to Office Supplies. I've never been in a proper office that required people wear gloves designed in a specific color to help "hide grease and grime," but every small-business is unique. Kimberly-Clark sells these knit nylon gloves where the entire usable surface is coated in foam (Yes, you can make a solid coating of foam). Solid foam, aside the thing that caught my eye about these gloves is that they carry an Abrasion Resistance Rating of 4 out of 4 using EN Standards.

That's not a great photo, it looks oddly alien, but don't mind it. These Abrasion Resistant Gloves are available in a rage of sizes as Medium Gloves, Large Gloves, or X-Large Gloves. So I was curious about just how Abrasion Resistance was measured and what that actually means, so I went digging. First thing I found was a page with a bunch of tables and a bunch of overly technical nonsense, but it did tell me that the EN Standards refers to the EN388 Mechanical Rating and that a rating of 4 means that it took more than 8,000 cycles "to abrade through a sample glove." Of course inquiring minds want to know what kind of cycles, and what kind of abrasion?

So I went looking some more and found this company called SATRA that builds an abrasion machine that is the industry standard for these tests. I have no clue how it works, but I found this photo of the machine in action that provides no actual insight. I found another document that states 300g/m glass paper as the abrasive source (glass paper is just like sandpaper except with glass particles). I also found that SATRA sells this awesome Pedatron that is essentially a giant Android leg that will test your carpet and/or shoes for wear. In conclusion, for The Kimberly Clark Abrasion Resistant Gloves to receive their 4 out of 4 rating they need to survive 8,000 attacks from a sand paper machine before it wears through.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Highlighters are Cheap!

Have you seen the prices on highlighters these days? They come in a wide variety of colors and they are dirt cheap. I was looking at them, and it turns out the standard chisel top highlighter that we all love is known as a "Tank Style" highlighter. Not a Tank like the armored vehicle but more like a storage tank because it holds a lot of ink. Speaking of Tanks, did you know that they are still creating and publishing Tank Girl comics? Yeah, that odd film (of the same name) from '95 didn't kill the franchise.

A single yellow highlighter can currently be purchased for only 38 cents, and I don't know how volatile the highlighter market is, but you will probably pay more or less for a highlighter when you actually purchase it. Now for 38 cents you aren't going to get anything fancy, but you are going to get a tube of plastic enclosing a bunch of florescent yellow pigment that can be easily dispensed when you want to.

A single orange highlighter can currently be purchased for only 43 cents. Why is orange exactly 5 cents more? Nobody knows. Maybe making the yellow highlighter 5 cents cheaper is a nod to the vast Yellow #5 conspiracy. It clearly isn't a matter of supply and demand that makes the yellow highlighter cheaper, because everybody always wants yellow highlighters. I can only assume that it is a matter of the economics of scale. Integra makes so many more yellow highlighters that they are able to produce them slightly cheaper than the orange ones, and when you consider that their markers are almost identical, you have to really be manufacturing a lot more yellow markers to make up that difference.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Notice: Local Stapler News is Confusing

As a current Wisconsinite, I do have a keen interest in local news because we have some gems living in this state. I don't think we'll beat the kind of local news you can dig up by reading a Police Beat from Alaska (shame on you David Chiklak), but we have our own breed of amusements down here. Like this great news blurb from Sheboygan, where some guy was getting hit in the head with a stapler for some reason. I've read it a couple times and I'm still not sure exactly what happened (poor understaffed Sheboygan Press) so I'll take you, my loyal reader by the hand and relive the excitement.

First our victim's wife (we'll call her Wifey) is awoken by such a clatter that she ran to the kitchen to see what was the matter, and what to her wondering eyes should appear, but 24 year old Aaron A. Bell beating her husband (we'll call him Hubby) about the head with a "heavy-duty stapler". Wifey joined the fray and pulled Aaron off of Hubby and Hubby ran to the bedroom. Hubby tried to climb out the Bedroom window to get to the porch but he was too drunk (it makes me wonder what was so important on that porch). Hubby fell out of the window and was knocked unconscious. Aaron eventually escaped the grasp of Wifey and went outside to yell at the now unconscious Hubby. Aaron decided to try to run away, but the Boys in Blue used their top notch detective skills and tracked him down by visiting his house.

Now I did a quick google search for Heavy Duty Staplers, and the most common type are similar to the image above. Something with a solid base and a big handle is what the industry likes to refer to as a "Heavy Duty Stapler", and while I don't in anyway encourage or endorse beating on other humans with staplers, I would theoretically encourage you to use a Long Reach Stapler as it would allow you to get a little more muscle behind each swing. Aaron was charged with "misdemeanor battery with a dangerous weapon" but if you attacked somebody with a Long Reach Stapler you would probably be saddled with a felony charge.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Is a Paper Clip a Children's Product?

As it would happen those killjoys at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (yeah, those guys who force companies to recall products because they explode, catch fire, or contain to much lead) were recently discussing what is and isn't a "children's product" and how the contents of science kits would be affected. Currently, you can sell a science kit with a bunch of regular house-hold stuff (like paper clips) thrown in it and advertise it for kids and the CPSC doesn't care too much because kids have access to that kind of stuff all the time. The Science Kit people don't like this because they'll have to spend extra time and money performing tests to see if their paper-clips are toxic and that means less profit for them. Science Geeks don't like this because that makes the kits more expensive and fewer people may take an interest in science from an early age.

I'm just worried about this because they might find out that these paper clips that I have previously been throwing around my office and using to hold stacks of papers together with reckless abandon might be toxic. I'm not sure how a piece of steel that's been rolled out thinly and folded oddly would be more toxic than any other piece of steel, but I'm just making wild speculation here, not factual examination.

It is possible that those colored paper clips that the kids think are so dope these days might be a little dangerous. Sure we know that they have a basic steel construction that is covered with colored vinyl, but we don't know what kind of vinyl it is, or what kind of dye is used to color the vinyl. I'm sure it is completely non-toxic, but because Sparco doesn't intend their gorgeous vinyl-coated gem clips as a "children's product", but rather an "adult office supply product," they don't have to test their products. Sparco is probably glad they never have to test what might happen if somebody puts their paper-clips next to a piece of cheddar cheese and fries it up between two slices of rye bread. I don't know if you should eat it, but it would probably be delicious.

Kid's Science News via Yahoo! Associated Press Feed

Monday, October 18, 2010

Purple Hanging Folders

With Smead's purple hanging folders you can come one step closer to treating your files like the royalty they are. Even though purple dye or purple ink is no longer limited to the richest of the rich, you can still pretend that normal purple dye used on these hanging folders is Tyrian purple and your files won't know the difference (they are just papers after all). The people at Smead want you to think that these colored folders are just to help you organize your files so you can easily find what you are looking for, but sometimes your files need to be pampered.

So, because everybody already knows that purple is the obvious choice for royalty, shouldn't we question why royal blue got to have royal in the name, while nobody ever says "royal purple" to describe a color? What evil cabal of designers is running this color naming scheme? Check google images for the Queen of England (you can't get any more royal than she is) and I couldn't find a picture of her in blue or purple, mostly white or pink and one picture in a lime green something or other. Hey evil cabal, how's royal lime green sound? Judging by those photos, and the lack of availability of pure white hanging file folders she'd be most happy with the multi-color pack of hanging file folders.

And what about everybody's favorite King? He doesn't wear purple or blue anything. Depending on if the King Kong you are watching was filmed in black and white or color he was either brown or gray, neither of which are very exciting colors. But let's just assume for one minute that King Kong had some files he needed a hanging file folder for, what would he pick? Of course he'd pick the Safco 14" x 18" Hanging File Folders. They are the only folders big enough for a giant gorilla. So next time you are shopping for file folders ask yourself WWKKD (What Would King Kong Do) and have a laugh at yourself for being clever and remind yourself you don't need anything that big and get some reasonable purple hanging file folders instead.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Internet Loves Chilean Miners

So unless you've been living under a rock, or under 2,040 feet of rocks, you've surely heard all about the Chilean Miners. If you haven't, go look at your Facebook or Twitter updates and you'll see all your friends and family writing all about it. Even the Hipster Kitty is talking about them. So who am I to buck the trend and not write about the Chilean Miners? I mean sure this blog is all about Office Supplies, but surely there must be some wild version of Six Degrees of Office Supplies that will be able to create some kind of link. Well, I was in luck.

The products description for WypAll L40 clearly states that they are "Ideal for health clubs, mining/manufacturing and schools" and who am I to argue with the Kimberly-Clark marketing team. Sure, just a few days ago I was blabbing about how Duct Tape isn't an Office Supply, but this is different - this is awesome. Just stay with me for a minute here, in this box you get 200, yes two hundred, individual use, bath towel sized "cloth-like" towels. Now some of you might get ants in your pants because each of these towels measures in at 19.5" x 42" and a standard Walmart bath towel is 30" x 54", but it is still a nice big towel.

So why would a Chilean Miner want a box of 200 slightly smaller than normal cloth-like towels? I really have no clue. What similarities do mines, health clubs, and schools have? Again, you are asking the wrong guy. The only thing I know for sure is that the Internet loves Chilean Miners and I think they are keen as well. The Grandfather of a friend of a friend of mine was actually a Chilean Copper Miner in the 1900's (honest to god truth) and maybe he'd know why this box of towels is perfect for a mine. Me, I just think a box of disposable towels is cool... but not as cool as Chilean Miners.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Build an Office Supply Gun

So I was checking around the usual blog and news postings for something informationally entertaining about Office Supplies. As usual, there are lots of snooze inducing press releases about Staples doing something boring, and Office Depot doing something even more boring. Just as my eye-lids were about to close, I saw a whip built out of duct tape and had to mop up that little bit of drool off my desk left over from the press releases. I am not an expert on all offices everywhere, but I wouldn't technically consider this an Office Supply. Yes you can technically buy duct tape at a nice discount from just about any Office Supply Retailer, but I prefer to buy that kind of stuff from a building that smells like tires.

Then I happened upon OfficeGuns.com. You'd probably want call me an Office Supply Poseur since it took me this long to finally stumple upon OfficeGuns, and you'd probably be right. While they do showcase a number of highly advanced guns you don't want to take anybody's eyes out, you just want to have some fun. So I suggest you stick to the Double Maul (named after the Mauly binder clips they like to use) for your inter-office warfare needs. Now unless you are friends with an international importer/exporter you won't have access to fancy German binder clips, but you can instead use normal binder clips.

The Mauly 19 and Mauly 32 are nothing more than standard binder clips that are 19mm and 32mm wide. An easy alternative for the Mauly 19 is the Universal 3/4" binder clips, and instead of the Mauly 32 you can grab some Universal 1-1/4" binder clips. With low prices like that on binder clips, why not pick up enough to keep all your enemies at bay. After you've successfully built a Double Maul and used it inflict pain on your least favorite Graphic Designer, why not try out more of the Guns at OfficeGuns.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Canon KP-36IP Eases My Printing Burden

I assume everybody has printed something somewhere at some point. Now some of you, I imagine, have attempted to print on something that wasn't exactly 8.5 x 11 and that is never, ever easy or fun. The fine people over at Canon have felt the pain of hundreds of thousands of pieces of paper getting fed backwards, crumpling jamming paper, and printing on the wrong half of a document. Back in 2002 Canon released the CP-100 in an effort to ease our inkjet printers from our own stupidity and actually make it easy to print a postcard sized image on a glossy piece of paper. Along with the new consumer dye sublimation printer, Canon started selling the KP-36IP to easily supply their end users with a replacement Ink Cartridge and Paper.

Canon has been selling the KP-36IP for many years now with minimal changes, and it will work in your vintage CP-100 as well as in your shiny SELPHY CP800. Because it is a dye sublimation ink cartridge, it contains exactly enough ink to print 36 photos and contains exactly 36 pieces of paper. If you are used to inkjet printers, you know you can make your ink cartridges last longer if you print things that are smaller or use fewer colors, but the same doesn't go for dye sublimation cartridges. They operate in a manner similar to the old ribbon in a typewriter or dot matrix printer. Once you print from particular piece of ribbon from the cartridge you can't reuse it.

Just like those old typewriters, you can technically reuse the ribbon on a dye sublimation printer. You'll have no guarantee that the color you want will be where you need it when you need it, but it is technically possible possible to reuse a a dye sublimation cartridge as long as you can find a way to rewind the ribbon. You'll need some additional photo paper if you are going to try it, but I'll guarantee you right now, that any other paper isn't going to be the exact weight as the Canon paper that we all know will work.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Marker of the Beast

One RStevens (purveyor of fine hosiery, pixelly (occasionally NSFW) geeky humor, and math joke shirts) has decided to jump headlong into the exciting world of Satanic Office Supplies. He is selling a limited quantities of what he calls "Marker of the Beast." These are your standard beautiful fine tip Sanford Sharpies that we all know and love, but with the original printing removed (I assume a sacrifice was involved) and relabeled with "666" or "Marker of the Beast" depending on the color. So for $6.66 + $3.49 for shipping you'll get two custom labeled Sharpies, with a glossy black box to keep them in.

Now I'm no slouch with it comes to my love for all things Sharpie related, but paying over $10 for one black and one red Sharpie seems like overkill (especially considering I usually lose them) in this day and age. RStevens doesn't even pretend that these are something special, he just knows there are always going to be a fair number of people interested in purchasing them just for the novelty.

Your standard black Sharpie runs about 60 cents, but you can probably do even better if you find a coupon or a sale. If you look to buy the blister packaged 5-pack of black Sharpies you'll end up paying more, so just buy them individually. Your standard red Sharpie runs about 70 cents (I couldn't tell you why it's more expensive), and Sanford doesn't offer them in the more expensive blister pack, so you can save yourself the simple division.

If you are looking for a Sharpie that will make your friends green with envy, you could pick up a Marker of the Beast pack (and don't forget the shirt) or you could get one the Special Stainless Steel Sharpies. They will easily out last a standard Sharpie in durability and the replaceable refill cartridge means you'll never have to throw it out.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Studies Show Your Office Need Hand Sanitizer

As the weather starts to get a little colder, and our local Walgreens starts advertising for flu shots, you know that Influenza (your friend and mine) is about to show up any day now. Sadly, you can't rid your office of the flu by calling an exterminator (or even prevent it from visiting you), but you can do your best to make sure that when it does show up that it makes minimal impact. Infectious Diseases at BioMed Central published a briefing (and a long version )from a controlled study that shows by simply providing easy access to an alcoholic hand disinfectant you can greatly decrease the amount of time employees spend sick at home.

I'll spare you the gory details and the extremely boring statistical analysis, but basically by supplying an office with easily available hand sanitizer you greatly increase the number of people who will not be spreading diseases and they'll spend less time at home due to things like diarrhea and other words that are easier to spell.  One of my favorite hand sanitizer accessories is this little Purell Pal.  Who knew that hand sanitizers could be cute?  Pick one up and a few 8oz replacement bottles when it gets empty.  While you are here, click the Purell Pal above and check out the 360 degree view so you can uncover the secret to how he stands up.


Hand sanitizer isn't made from any magical secret ingredients, it is mostly alcohol and water, so you don't need to spend the extra money on a name brand if you don't want to.  Genuine Joe hand sanitizers work every bit as well as the more expensive brand names and at a fraction of the cost.  I'm not going to tell you exactly what fraction of the cost it is, because it depends on the size, but ounce-to-ounce Genuine Joe is the best value for your dollar.  Unfortunately, when you buy Genuine Joe you don't get the opportunity to buy the super cute hand sanitizer holder, but you can always buy the Purell Pal and then refill it from the 4 pound hand sanitizer jug.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Origami Paper for Star Wars Origami

 Earlier today I was wondering about the difference between "to" and "too", so I had to take an extra minute to look that up just to make sure I don't abuse it too badly.  Here is the hard and fast rule; you can almost always replace "too" with "excessively" or "also", if those replacements don't make any sense then you need to use "to".  If you don't believe me, then go look it up in your Mirriam-Webster Dicitonary.

Completely unrelated, but it also happened today, visions of origami flashed before my eyes and I was intrigued.  If you weren't aware of the situation, origami is where you take a piece of paper and fold it and contort it on all manners of manipulation (without cutting or gluing or taping anything) and create a new object.

I found a pretty cool site of Star Wars Origami that would be a perfect jumping off point for kids that are interested in making something a little more exciting than the standard cup, boat, or crane.  So go ahead and knock yourself making yourself an origami fleet of A-Wings.  Unfortunately, most of the people working on origami these days are also trying to publish or sell a book so you can't expect them to give you all the goods for free.

Pacon primarily sells two different sets of origami paper and the pricing seems odd to me.  40 sheets of 9 x 9 bright colored lightweight paper will cost around $7, but 55 sheets of 9-3/4 x 9-3/4 bright colored lightweight paper will cost around $6.  I don't know why anybody would pay more money for less paper, but maybe 9 inch origami paper is just that awesome.  Now please go and purchase some origami paper and build a origami Gamera for me (Gamera explained).

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pushpin Pixels Produce Plumber

I ran across this series of photos on flickr that a group of students created back in 2008.  They had a bulletin board and took the time to fill it up with pushpins to create an iconic Super Mario Brothers scene.  The flickr posting claims that over 17,000 pins were used in the creation here, and it doesn't take a genius to realize that it probably took a long long time to get this finished.  So maybe some video game sprites aren't as artsy as photo-realistic replications in pushpins, but it does appeal to a fair number of people.

As you can see from the above images there are clearly blue pushpins, green pushpins, black pushpins and white pushpins.  There are red pushpins, a few orange pushpins and even fewer yellow pushpins, with a smattering of peach colored pins.  It is most probable that they just repainted a number of pins to get the custom coloring they needed.  I can tell from another photos on flickr that they did have a number of clear pushpins as well as a freakish variety of skin-toned pins.

If you were going to attempt to reconstruct this on your own I'd recommend you find the cheapest multicolor pushpins that you can (these Universal Rainbow Pushpins are under a dollar) and buy enough to fill your wall.  You could save a couple more cents by buying these OIC Pushpins in Bulk if you wanted.  Any set of pins will supply you with the basic red, blue, yellow, and green, and finding any specialized colors will be very difficult so you would be better off picking up a can of spray-paint designed for plastic and making sure you get a perfect orange, and a perfect skin tone.  Oddly enough Universal does sell a pack of all red pushpins, but any other color you'll have to risk a variety pack.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pilot G2 vs. Zebra Sarasa

I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the pens I use from day to day.  Sometimes I grab for a FriXion pen if I think I'll be making mistakes, or a cheap ballpoint if I think I'm prone to forgetting it.  I use a pencil on occasion, but more often than not I'll grab for my Sharpie pen.  Today, on a lark, I grabbed a random pen from the back and wrote my notes with that, nothing special, just your standard Gel pen.  I read the clip: "Zebra Sarasa 0.7" and thought to myself, that sounds cool, but isn't very memorable.

Of course the next thing I needed to do was open the pen up and see what format the ink refill was and what kind of spring it used, and was shocked to see it reminded me an awful lot of the Pilot G2 that everybody loves.  So I dug up a couple Pilot G2s from around the office (what office doesn't have them running around these days) and was surprised to see that the Sarasa refill would fit perfectly in the Pilot G2, but the G2 refill doesn't quite work in the Zebra Sarasa.  I checked some prices and it turns out that the Sarasa refill actually costs slightly more than G2 refill, so it doesn't work as an economical replacement.  The Sarasa Refill doesn't have that funky yellow/orange waxy/pus thing, so that's a bonus.  The Zebra Sarasa Pen is actually a little cheaper than Pilot G2 Pen so given the lifetime cost of either pen, they probably even out.

When you first see the Zebra Sarasa next to the Pilot G2 it does look like Zebra was trying to imitate Pilot and did a poor job.  The G2's clip is a little more organic, and the finger padding looks, but isn't actually, thicker.  When you take each pen and actually write with them, they make almost exactly the same lines with the same thickness and same fluidity.

The one thing I noticed was that the G2 has, for lack of a better term, amplified Desk Noise.  When people test-drive cars they always talk about Road Noise (the unintentional noise that the wheels on the road make and how well you can hear it) and the pen-to-desk noise seems like a fair comparison.  There must be something about the way that the G2 is constructed that allows the refill to rattle just enough in the casing that creates this, while the Sarasa must be built with just a fraction less space that doesn't allow as much rattle.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Girly Office Supplies

I've been married long enough to know that I don't know a whole lot about what kind of things the fairer sex are interested in.  Sex and the CitySex and the City The MovieSex and the City The Movie Part 2?  I'll never understand the appeal.  I tried to watch part of an episode once, to try to keep up with the pop culture and see what the kids were watching.  After a couple minutes of them making baby noises at shoes and talking about something else boring I changed the channel to watch some robots kill people.  I accept that my tastes are not universal (see Lifetime Movie Network as evidence) and in the interest of fairness I present these Office Supplies for people like Sex and the City.

If you watch Sex and the City you might know enough about shoes to say that this was styled after such and such a shoe from such and such a season, but the only thing I know about high heeled shoes is they come with in varieties, expensive and uncomfortable (sometimes both).  This shoe shaped tape dispenser is made by 3M and since they are the Scotch tape people you know that they make a good dispenser.  It comes with one roll, and of course tape refills are easy to come by.

Those marketing geniuses know that females are tempted by more than just shoes, some of them love purses too.  So they have created a Post-it dispenser that is shaped like a purse complete with pseudo-crocodile-skin-textured plastic.  It  comes with a special pad of Pop-Up Post-it Pads that are unavailable anywhere else (they alternate between hot-pink and bright-green).  You can buy plain-Jane pop-up refill pads, but if you want the special ones you can just buy another purse shaped dispenser.

Sadly, 3M stopped innovating on their Sex in the City themed office supplies and doesn't have a lipstick shaped pencil sharpener for us, but those guys over at PaperPro have created a great pink stapler that will look great on your desk next to your shoe and purse shaped dispensers.  This stapler does more than just proclaim to the world that you are a proud carrier of two X chromosomes, it helps raise some funds for Cancer research.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

B2P Pen: Made from a Bottle

Have you seen these B2P pens that Pilot makes?  You can read about them on the official Pilot B2P pen site and see a number of thier youtube commercials already available.  Sure lots of people have already talked a lot about them, but that doesn't mean I can't continue to talk about them.  Sure you already know that clear blueish plastic pen body is made from recycled plastic bottles, but there is more than meets the eye.

The people at Pilot always want to show off their pen with the label in place because it allows you to easily identify the pen, but that label is a sticker that is pretty easy to remove.  Then you get a pen that is unlabeled and looks cool.  It hearkens back to the days of semi-translucent electronics.  Of course once you remove those few stickers you can easily see your G2 ink cartridge which means you can see how much ink is available until you need to refill it.  All the standard G2 ink refills and G2 compatible work flawlessly in this pen.

One thing that isn't always advertised is that this pen is completely manufactured and assembled in France.  This means that you can rest assured that the people building this pen were paid a fair wage and that is is really 89% recycled and not just a counterfeit.  Before you blow your nose at the French as a bunch of frog-leg eating surrender-monkeys, remember that they totally save our collective American bacon in the Revolutionary War, and they still make some fantastic food.

Don't this pen is 100% sunshine and rainbows just because it is 89% recycled though.  That means there is a full 11% of this pen comes from some other sources.  To make matters worse, the G2 ink cartridge isn't even included in that 11% of unrecycled materials (they don't count it because it is replaceable).  Using some very unscientific science I'd say it is closer to 50% recycled content.  I'm not really sure what you can do with the refuse from the pen after it breaks on you.  I don't think any of it recyclable, and I know the ink refills are just supposed to be disposed with the rest of your trash.  Sure there are bigger fish to fry (like my neighbors who put all manner of recyclables in their trash cans), but this in the Internet so I'm allowed to gripe about any small thing I want.