May 1, 2022

55 Two Crazy Years

55 Two Crazy Years

In today’s episode, we celebrate 2 years of Stationery Orbit! We'll also talk about Postal Banking, some really expensive pens and some comforting storing about post offices and stationery stores.

The current top five episodes of SO

15. Brad Dowdy of The Pen Addict

27. Exploring the world of socially responsible stationery with Daryl of Musubi

22. Learning about fountain pen fluid dynamics from Nicole Sharp

1: The Pen Primer

25. Emergency Episode : Paper Source Bankruptcy

All Time Total Downloads18K


CITIES (1829 Total)

Postal Bulletin: Women’s rowing stamps, Mighty Mississippi Stamps, stamps and color postmarks, a few fun B&W postmarks

Postal Merch

Postal Banking?  It could happen… again.

More postal banking

More postal banking

More postal banking

More postal banking

To be filed away in the weirdest Post Office article I’ve seen:

Also: see Compassion

OK, Myke and Brad got me, I’ve been watching too much F1:Drive to Survive! Go Pirelli!

The damage

Out of my comfort zone for pens, but the picture of the Guilloche by CNC machine at Otto Hutt is awesome!

Looking for stationery that’s easy to find and makes you feel good about yourself?  Look no further than BeRooted Stationery at your local Target store.

And something to keep an eye on out of Malaysia:


55 Two Crazy Years

John: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 55 of stationery orbit, where we're all here to learn more about creative letter writing.

I am your host John West, and I'm joined by our cohost Evan Harris. In today's episode, we celebrate two crazy years of stationery orbit. We're going to talk a little bit about postal banking. We're going to talk about some really expensive pens and some comforting stories about post offices and stationery stores.

So good day. Good evening. Good morning, Evan. Delete as necessary.

Evan: It's evening for me, I'm having a celebratory whiskey to celebrate two years of a stationery arbiter a bit over a year since I've been on the show. 

John: I wanted to talk a little bit about the first two years of stationery orbit. As I said, it's been a crazy two years. I started the podcast Just after the pandemic started, I'd had the I'd had the idea for stationery orbit in my head before the pandemic hit. And then when the pandemic. It just spurred me that I really needed to do this as a podcast [00:01:00] because I felt that letter writing was one part of the podcast scene that hadn't been covered.

So I wanted to step into that space and for folks that are coming into stationery orbit late, After this two year mark or close to this two year mark, I wanted to cover some of the highlights for stationery Orban. These aren't necessarily my highlights. I'm going to just talk about the top 10 episodes in terms of downloads, just so I'll give our listeners a chance to go back and listen to the more popular episodes. Number one on the list is episode 15, Brad Dowdy of the pen addict. That was an absolute blast of a show for me to get to do as so many people in the podcasting world have mentioned, it is.

One thing to listen to Brad Dowdy on the pen addict on a weekly basis, it is a completely different thing to actually be listening to him [00:02:00] while you're interviewing him. And then having to go back through it and do the edit for the podcast. It's surreal too, to get to listen to that voice in that context.

So that was fun. And I was really. I don't know if proud would be a good way to say it, but I'm going to say I was proud of my intro for that one, because I really put some thought into it and put some effort into that. So I was happy with that intro.

Evan: Yeah. that, that was before I was on here and I thought that was a great episode. And honestly, I'm not surprised. . The episode of the Brad Dowdy is the most listened to.

John: Yeah. And then a number two on the list is exploring the world of a socially responsible stationery with Daryl of musubi. That is definitely a episode that we need to go back and revisit. Darryl lives in Singapore and I am now in Singapore and I totally need to hook back up with him and see [00:03:00] where he's at with that whole process.

Evan: Darryl was wonderful to interview. And I'm obviously not in Singapore, but I am using your Misouvi notebook now. 

John: Very good. Yeah. I'm hoping that there's been some movement on his folio cases. So hopefully fingers crossed. Yeah. Number three on the list is episode 22 learning about fountain pen fluid dynamics from Nicole Sharp. Nicole and I were both part of the Colorado Pen Posse I say were because I'm no longer in Colorado, but Nicole is, and she is a PhD fluid dynamicist and a very intelligent lady.

And that was a really fun episode. Got to talk about. Partial pressures and a capillary action and all of the fun fluid dynamics on a micro level. So that was a good episode then. Number four on the list. Number one, my pen primer looking back at that, I might [00:04:00] need to go back in and update.

Primer, but I'll listen to it again and see how well that one stands up. Number five on the list. Number 25, our emergency episode, right after Evan came on board, we decided to cover the paper source bankruptcy. And that was definitely a fun episode. Getting to highlight some of the smaller letter press shops.

Evan: Yeah. Nothing like drama to create a content. There's actually now a paper source near my apartment here in Dallas, have knocked going there even though they are under new or are under new ownership, I'll go directly to , the small letter presses. If I want something. 

John: yep. And that was entirely the moral of the story for that episode is if you're going to get into stationery like that, please look up some of these small letter press shops because they need your support, a number of. Six on the list. Now episode 29 for Pen clubs. And there is still a link [00:05:00] in the stationery orbit website, as well as I believe in that set of show notes for a map of the various Pen clubs in the United States.

And to a lesser extent around the world. The next on the list is episode 12, which is Kirk spear of Pen Realm and that was the first of the Kirk spear interviews and it will definitely not be the last we need to get him back onto the show.

Evan: And his work is amazing. My dad actually not long ago, sent him a pen and my dad has every time I see my dad writing with it, he made sure to comment that it writes better than when he got it. Okay. 

John: Yeah. Yeah. Kirk is a, Kirk is definitely becoming a force to be reckoned with. He finally got a chance to bump into Brad Dowdy at the recent Atlanta Pen show. And I haven't heard. I haven't heard a lot of necessarily feedback about the grind. No, take that back. He did because he did that really extremely fine needle point grind for Brad.[00:06:00] 


Evan: Brad talks about on the pen at, at and as a really great pen. I only have an architect from Kirk, but I love it. And I'm considering buying a second or maybe two and get a third as well. Cause they're just. 

John: Yeah. And Kirk is just an absolute, great guy. He is, he's definitely one of the harder working people in the business. Definitely want to get him back on next is episode 21, a visit from the queen of washy Beth Hudson. And she has actually I've I follow her on Instagram and she actually had her own little ex-pat journey to.

Last year so good for her. I think she's now back in the states. I don't remember what state she landed back in, but yeah, definitely fun to follow her.

Evan: yeah, I don't recall exactly. I think she actually, I do know. I don't know if she wants me to say. I owe her a letter and I have her address. I will say that. 

John: Okay.

Evan: Sorry, Beth [00:07:00] and Nicole and everyone on my letter, everyone in the pile of letters behind me. 

John: yup. Sam next one is episode 40. This is a more recent episode. This is David Parker, AKA fig boot on pens, and also a great episode. And David's been doing some really great things with Jonathan Brooks and Leonardo officio and yeah, definitely somebody to go look at his work. Yeah. Keep an eye on his custom pens as they're coming out because they go really fast.

Evan: They go fast.

than everyone I've seen has been wonderful. I only have one which I bought after our interview because it was the most recent project. I think he was working on something new. He always seems to be, and this one is beautiful and I believe it's the Carolina something material from Brooks design made for this pen set series. 

John: Yeah. I think that was like Carolina midnight.

Evan: That sounds right. I, it was Carolina, something it's blue. [00:08:00] Blue is one of my favorite colors. 

John: Yeah. And then a last and definitely not least episode 16, which is the, ask me anything episode with Jenny Hinchcliffe of red letter Jenny is one of the forces in the mail art world, and I was had a. Fun little thing there that I've actually managed to spur, not just Evan, but a couple of other folks into starting their own podcasts.

And Jenny was one of them. She actually started her own level. Podcast for mail art. And I think that's run its course at this point, but definitely go check out red letter daisies and Jenny Hinchcliffe. She's a really great mail artist has some really great connections in that world. And.

Evan: It's a great list of episodes. Obviously. I think all of our episodes have been wonderful. There's been a lot of great different topics we've covered. And.

if there are things that you think [00:09:00] we should cover, I'm sure we'd love to hear that. 

John: absolutely. And you can find an email to get us feedback on the stationery website. And I look forward to hearing from you and of course you can always. Pick up a pen and paper, if you have one of our addresses, which is more likely to be Evans at this point, because I haven't, I've released my Singapore address, but I've done so through a series of postcards to a select number of pen pals.

But we'll get that one worked out here shortly. So next on the list I wanted to thank all of the listeners I wanted to thank everyone who has told somebody about. Stationer orbit, because at this point in time, two years into this little program, we are at 18,000 downloads for our all time downloads.

And that is humbling to think that I have, that we've managed to get into that [00:10:00] many sets of ears and been able to contribute to the stationery and pen addict world. Very humbled by that. And I want to thank everyone for that. Similarly, we've got a listing of how many countries and territories that station or orbit has touched.

There is a total of 71 total countries. Of course, most of them are going to be English speaking countries. So our. Three are the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada next on the list is Germany. Then we have Australia. The one that surprised me, probably the most is Malaysia. Then we have Sweden, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand that are rounding out our top 10.

So a fun list of countries that are there and. stationery orbit has reached out to 1,829 cities around the world. And for me being a map geek, I absolutely [00:11:00] adore getting to sit down with Buzzsprout, which is our hosting service and look at all of the different cities where station or orbit has been downloaded.

And it is every time it was a new geography lesson. I'm always seeing somewhere that.

Evan: Yeah, it's always interesting to look through some of that.

data and it's fun. Of course, none of this is ultra specific, but sometimes. A very odd place because that's where the IP like the servers are out through. It's just it's fun. You learn about all sorts of interesting places. 

John: Yeah, absolutely. And like Evan said the location data is not overly specific. It is just the city. So don't feel like I'm going to come knocking on your door because you haven't downloaded here recently. But 

Evan: We're not the duo lingo. 

John: All right. So let's get into the postal bolus end. This last two weeks the women's rowing stamps that we had mentioned our official in [00:12:00] this bulletin. They also popped up the mighty Mississippi stamps, which is a series of eight stamps from four specific different regions coming down the Mississippi from the Northern headwaters, through the middle states and all the way down into the.

Evan: Yeah, that, that is right. These stamps feature , along the mighty Mississippi, all the way from a lake as a tire, not as a tire that not lake Japanese bar lake Isaka all the way in Northern Minnesota, that little boot that you get at the top of the. The top of the state all the way down to the Mississippi Delta in new Orleans, where it ends various different scenes. We get a traditional paddle boat. We see some tugs cargo St. Louis arch and several bridges. Along the river, the powers to a large portion of the. 

John: absolutely. Yeah, it's definitely a central artery for the United States. [00:13:00] And I think that a lot of people with the oversea shipping, it's easy to overlook how much cargo goes up and down the Mississippi. And it is absolutely massive.

Evan: It's incredibly massive.

And a large amount of that cargo is actually corn, especially corn shipped international. 

John: Yeah. We do have some new postmarks that are in addition to that, and I thought that the. Fun one on here. At least the fun one for me is there is a Cheyenne, Oklahoma one that's on here. It's a busy one, but it's a as soon as themed.

Kind of a postmark, but that ones I thought that was fun just because I'm so used to Cheyenne, Wyoming to see Australia and Oklahoma is a little different

Evan: Yeah, that's right. It's a celebration of the land run of 1892. It's the old settlers reunion. My favorite of these postmarks is [00:14:00] probably the Portland, Oregon station pipette station. And it is celebrating 150 years of the Portland street car. 

John: Very good. And the last one on here is a boy Scouts of America thunder base station. So not exactly 

Evan: there. There are a few other, there are a few others in here. I believe we've talked about some about last year's Wilkins bird stamp club postmark. I believe it was more interesting than. 

John: yeah, definitely more interesting. Last year, this one's pretty busy, but pretty generic.

And then in addition to the stamps that have come out for the women's rowing and the mighty Mississippi, there are also matching color postmarks for those. 

Evan: In addition to the new stamps and postmarks in the bulletin, something that was brought to my attention, thanks to the other Evan who we interviewed a few weeks ago. There's been a lot of merchandise including first day covers and variations on that, [00:15:00] that has grown up on the USBs site without being put in the bulletin or the such out that they're required to put in the bulletin.

But so like press sheets of title nine stamps or Shel Silverstein, or basically anything. We've talked about. So if you want to buy a giant sheet and frame it, you can do that or use the Ms. Stamps, lots of different pieces of merchandise, including a field notes. Note more of the field note notebooks with the.

stamps on them. 

John: Yeah, no, the, yeah, definitely field notes is getting some mileage out of this little partnership.

Evan: Yeah. So if you're interested in any of these stamps and having merchandise of it, I highly recommend you take a look. We're not going to link to every specific item cause there's a lot of them. But take a look on the USP. 

John: Yeah, absolutely. And then the next item on the list, and this is thanks to Evan a bit. Eagle eyed about what's going on with the postal service. In addition to the postal [00:16:00] reform act of 2022, they are now kicking around the idea of renewing postal banking. And I'll let Evan talk about.

Evan: That's right. I think I may have mentioned this when we discussed a little bit, when we discussed the postal reform act which I, of course, obviously still think is a great bill. This is the postal banking act. It was introduced March 22nd by in the Senate by Senator Gillibrand. So far, it has only been referred to the committee on Homeland security and government affairs.

Unfortunately, I don't think this bill is going to go anywhere as much as I am a huge fan of it. I think that postal banking act in addition to making the post office actually profitable. While, it's a service, not a business profitability of the post office is a different issue, but actually running itself without needing any sort of money while still being an incredible service for the country.

What this effectively does is it allows the post office to operate as a bank. It does put some limits on it. The traditional banks don't [00:17:00] have it. You can only have very basic financial instruments. So basic chatting, basic savings in the modern day, that would also mean credit and debit cards.

There's a limit on the maximum amount of money you can have in your account, which this bill sets at $20,000. You can get , very small loans up to $500 at a time not to exceed a thousand dollars. And there's some other more technical things, but I am a huge fan of this because if you're familiar with all of these check cashing and kind of payday lenders, which are incredibly predatory.

They have absurdly high interest rates and fees, and effectively are designed to trap people in a cycle of owing them money. So that's that people can never even attempt to save, let alone actually try and improve their standing through good financial choices. This makes a lot of very basic. More accessible to more [00:18:00] people.

And the post office is everywhere in this in America. So this is something that everyone would have access to. Whereas there ma many areas with very few. 

John: . Yeah. By definition, the postal service has service within almost an easy walking distance of almost every single postal code in the United States. And so that makes it to where. Even the most disadvantaged individuals would have the ability to access those services. And I thought the interesting thing about this is for those of us that are, we're not born, or that were born after 1967, that was the last time the us postal service had a banking service, which was called the postal savings system.

And it was active from 1911 through 1967. The most important little detail in that for me, was that [00:19:00] from 1911, when it was founded until 1933, when the FDI C was established, the postal savings system was the only way you could have money in a bank where that deposit was guaranteed to be there. And it was not until after 1933, when the FDI was established for commercial.

That That spread to other banks.

Evan: That's right. And a postal banking system is common in a lot of the world. But we don't have it anymore. And basically for the entire time that America did have it, it was the largest bank in the nation. Of course, as I mentioned, this act does require a maximum amount you can have in your account. And there was a maximum for the old postal saving system, which was at in 1911 when it was first started $500, which is equivalent to approximately 15,000 today. So a small increase relative [00:20:00] to the total amounts based on the law. A little more than inflation. And the other thing is that this would get rid of a lot of needs because if you just positive money in postal bank, you can withdraw it from any postal bank and lot. It makes it so that a lot of people do not get stuck in predatory systems, but instead can, they can also make poor financial choices.

Don't get me wrong. But instead of being stuck in a predatory system, it will allow you to choose and to actually be in control. 

John: sure. Or at least a little better control. And so I'm going to use this as a launching point for the next article in the show notes. As Evan mentioned, the United States. Potentially bringing back postal banking will simply be following the direction of a lot of other countries, including India.

And we have a link in here that I thought was a [00:21:00] really cool. Idea that in the Mumbai district of India, there are 229 post offices of those 229 post offices. The postmaster has decided that nine of those branches are going to be are all women staffed. And this specifically comes back to. , Come at the Perot branch in India and this branch really concentrates on helping women feel comfortable coming in and working with the postal banking, working with the post office.

And I believe there's even a certain level of counseling that goes on there. And this is. To me, it takes a level of compassion. That's beyond what I think we typically see from government bureaucracies. So I wanted to make sure that this one got noted and [00:22:00] called out just cause I think it's such a neat idea for a post office to have this kind of a personal feeling.

Evan: That's right. And one of the things that this post office specifically talks about is a lot of the women who are coming in are trying to make sure that their children have a better life than they do always an admirable thing, of course. And so they're doing their best to do that. Both the postal services and the other services are all in in direction. 

John: There's an awful lot of this that it's even trying to make sure that these women that have children are able to get birth certificates issued for those children. And it's definitely a problem that you don't see in the United States, but it's a problem that they have decided to tackle through this post.

Evan: Yeah, but th there's all sorts of other paperwork. Easiest. And sometimes only way to get is through a post office in America. [00:23:00] So things like passports and other identity verified required. 

John: Yeah. Okay. So we're going to go from the, one of the. Poorest sections of the world into the stratosphere of stupid money pens. So strap in we're we're taking off here. The next article we have is Montblanc celebrates the a hundred and 50th anniversary of Perelli tires with a limited edition Meister Shrek grandmasters fountain pen.

And. It is a stunning pen. I love the look of the pen. I love the idea of them celebrating Perelli, but the next shoe that drops is the actual link to the Mont block site where that pen is $35,000. So 

Evan: yeah,

that's right. This is it's a Mon blood measure stock, so it should be expensive and it is mostly.[00:24:00] And it is connected to Perelli and F1. So it is not cheap. 

I'm sorry. It is not silver. It's solid white. Gold. 

John: oh dear. I missed that part. I'm like, Ooh, shiny. Pretty. And I did, I missed the fact that it is actual white gold, so I guess $35,000 is going to be the way that one goes. 

Evan: Yeah. 

John: I did want to mention that Thank you, Mike Hurley and Brad Dowdy. YouTube got me. Finally, you talked enough about F1 drive to survive on Netflix.

And now that I'm in Singapore, I'm like what is going on with this F1 stuff? And I have become absolutely addicted to F1 drive to survive. So congratulations, Mike and Brad, you got me.

Evan: I still haven't watched drive to survive, but watch some of the racing this year, it's been enjoyable. 

John: Yeah. [00:25:00] Yeah, definitely some crazy stuff that goes on in that sport. 

Evan: Yeah, 

it is insane though. If you want Pirelli tires for a lot cheaper, you can get them for you by. 

John: yep. Yeah. There are lots of, a lot of. Larger automobile tire companies that make bike tires, including continental and parolee, and I think Kumo tires 

Evan: Oh, no, you definitely can get Michelin's. The . Continental is the most common bike tire I see around there. Gator skins are very popular for good reason. They're great bike tires, but I don't think we're becoming a bike tire. podcast. 

John: Nope. The closest thing to that, it's going to be possibly a mention of a tire brand spottings during the tour de France coming up here in July as close as I get. So we're not done talking about stupid, expensive pens. Yet. We [00:26:00] have another link in here to the Otto Hutt article from Quillen pad and their headline for this is Otto Hutt, writing instruments, Bauhaus style for your writing pleasure.

And they go into the design and history of Otto hutt pens out of Germany. The number one, and really only reason why I put this link into the show notes is they've got a picture in this article, which is their. CNC machine at Otto Hutt, performing guilloche work on a CNC level. And it is an absolutely fascinating picture.

So I encourage everyone to go take a look at that. And in case you are interested in what the capabilities of CNC are, and maybe it'll start you down the road to looking at what.

Evan: It's a great article. They talk a lot about the Otto Hutt. Which [00:27:00] is a really neat looking pen though. It is a captured converter which is not my favorite style. 

John: sure. Yeah, there, there are a lot of things about Otto Hutt that I suppose that for the right person for the right design aesthetic. Would it be a really great pen? They just don't turn me on.

Evan: Yeah I haven't found one that has made me want to get it as much as I really like a lot of their designs are things I have a lot of respect for find very interesting. None of them have been things in need to get my hands on.

I do have some Bauhaus pens though, because the LaMi safari is a Is a stalwart in the back of Bauhaus. 

John: Absolutely. Yep. The next item on here is just a quick article mentioned, and this is more out of recognition, but it turns out that. A stationery brand ended up [00:28:00] on the list of time. Magazine's most influential companies of the year for 2022. And this article is about Jasmine foster and her brand, which is called Be rooted.

And this she's a African-American and this entire company is her attempt to try to bring that design aesthetic in that. Appeal to the stationery world. And the reason why she is being listed in time, magazine's most influential companies is she got a contract to provide, be rooted stationery directly to target.

So if you want to feel good about the stationery brands that you're supporting through a major retailer, take yourself to a local target and go find the beat rooted stationery. That's.

Evan: Yeah, I have, we mentioned her brand [00:29:00] before. I feel like we have,

John: I don't think so. I know that we did talk about other minority owned stationery brands, but I think was not part of that list. I could be wrong.

Evan: Yeah. I clearly don't recall exactly.

John: Yeah. So the one thing you will not find in Singapore are target stores, but in the, not too far off area in Malaysia, there is a article in here which I'm putting in mostly for the recognition for it, just to get the word out, but there is a new. Concept store that's happening in Malaysia. And this is in Kuala Lumpur.

Petaling Jaya and the, at least two of the four cities that they're doing this in, and the name of the store is called Warung plus. [00:30:00] And we're warung is actually an Indonesian word that just means store or cafe or shop. And. Something that I've been introduced to here in Singapore because of the heavy Indonesian and Malay influence in Singapore.

And then I saw this article about the Warung plus store in Malaysia. And this was started back in 2018 and they started it to try to highlight local artists, local designers, and. Because of the need to increase foot traffic. They have increased it out to being coming a cafe with a small artist shop in the back, but they actually do some of their own stationery.

They do their own clothing lines. And as I said before they've now expanded off into becoming a cafe.

Evan: Looks like they also to do both sweet and savory waffles which looked for them. [00:31:00] 

John: yeah. Yeah. The Asian mindset towards breakfast and dessert spans a very wide range of tastes and flavor profiles that I've been introduced to a. Green mung bean soup, which is used for dessert over here. And you think to yourself, a bean soup, that shouldn't be a dessert, but when it's served cold and sweetened with coconut milk, it definitely becomes.

Evan: Interestingly, I've not had that. When I was in Japan four years ago Japanese breakfast, nothing like what in the west, but I would see a lot of the breakfast foods as desserts which was fun, especially matcha and either with red bean or with matcha but all of it was delicious and that soup does sound pretty good. 

John: Yeah, that one's actually relatively easy to put together. I actually did a batch of it in my instant pot and yeah, it turns out that works out just fine. [00:32:00] It does turn out that with it being, it is a hard bean style beans. So it takes a significantly long time. I think it was something like 12 minutes in, in an instant pot, which is a pretty long time for a pressure cook.

Evan: Have to look into. 

John: yeah. And I'm also going to include a link in the show notes to the Wikipedia article for warung, which is, like I said, it's an Indonesian concept that has managed to migrate its way throughout the APAC region. As a lot of other things do, you'll see. Thai influence. You'll see, Malay influence Indian influence Indonesian influence throughout the region, including China.

Of course the Chinese influence that's throughout the region. So yeah always a mixing pot over here. So a lot of fun stuff that I've been learning.

Alrighty. That does it. We're going to sign off for this episode. Thank you [00:33:00] all. So very much for two years of stationery orbit and hope to be in your ears in two weeks and be proud of your snail mail.