Saturday, June 6, 2015

Thixotropical disasters at dawn

After a brief Twitter exchange of you show me yours, I'll show you mine yesterday -- of pens, thanks -- and paring down the bag to a reasonable Every Day Carry configuration, I extracted my beloved Fisher Space Pen and got it packed up for my summer morning walks. I get an hour back in the morning where I'm not toting a child to school, and I've been using it for self-improvement purposes, i.e., undoing all the recent pinic-food binges and trying to crush my co-workers in our weekly office Fitbit challenge. Summer is advancing rapidly here in California, and by 8:00am it can get uncomfortably warm uncomfortably fast. Better to take to the paths at dawn, I say.

So in the pocketses goes all the Precious: step counter, music player, pen and index card... because always a pen and index card. The Space Pen is perfect for this task, and has given me years of trouble-free writing, despite being dropped, laundered, lost, found, lost again, lent to children, and tossed in endless pockets.

Evidently, today was the final straw, for when I uncapped the handy ball-point... no handy ball point met my eye. What did meet my eye is an overlarge quantity of thixotropic ink, which is a fancy science term for "an intensely gooey substance that stains everything it touches, especially skin, sinks, and pets." Somehow the ball broke free off the end of its little pressurized cartridge, and, free at last, the contents of the refill took that as an invitation. The ink didn't so much ooze out as erupt. The entire inside of the cap is covered in, to be equally scientific, inky assploded deathsplooge. Luckily the ink isn't so thick as to merely collect in the cap, and handily seeped backward into the body and grip sections of the pen.

It does not rinse out. It does not swab out. You can put a swab in the affected parts, but what comes out resembles less of a writing instrument's insides and more of an unfortunate sea bird after a run-in with BP. After covering my fingertips and most of my kitchen sink and parts of the dog with sticky indigo spots, the pen has been banished to a bath in the thrift-store ultrasonic cleaner in the garage. It's currently trembling like a beetle drowning in espresso and turning the water toilet-bowl blue. I think the ink is enjoying the ride.

Luckily, a refill awaits in the EDC bag. And hopefully this one will give years of splooge-free service, because honestly the last thing my wife needs to hear again is "Honey, there's a thixotropic storm in my pants, and I don't know how I'm going to clean it up."


Ted said...

ooh, dangers of the space age! I found a Fisher Space Pen refill and Parker adapter at a thrift a few months ago and put it in my favorite stainless Parker. I hope I don't explode on the launch pad! D:

Anonymous said...

+1 for excellent LOTR reference

Bill M said...

I've never heard of an exploding space pen. I've been carrying a Rite in the Rain pocket notebook and the bullet or the tactical in my pocket on trips, hikes, runs, and bike rides for a few years now and no sign of leaking ink.

Joe V said...

My Fisher Space Pen is somewhere lost in space. Haven't seen it in over a year.

mpclemens said...

I really do credit the failure of the refill to the years of abuse it has suffered at my hands. I've pledged to the pen that I'll take better care of it from now on.

Once I, uh, find it again.