When you stumble across this sign on your way home and think “ah, I HAVE had a lot to drink tonight, am I allowed past?” 

Then running past in case the police are watching.

When you stumble across this sign on your way home and think “ah, I HAVE had a lot to drink tonight, am I allowed past?”

Then running past in case the police are watching.



Close-ups of butterfly wing scales! You should definitely click on these images to get the full detail.

I’ve paired each amazing close-up (by macro photographer Linden Gledhill) with an image of the corresponding butterfly or moth.  The featured lepidoptera* are (in order of appearance):

*Lepidoptera (the scientific order that includes moths and butterflies) means “scaly wing.” The scales get their color not from pigment - but from microscopic structures that manipulate light.

The great science youtube channel “Smarter Every Day” has two videos on this very subject that I highly recommend:

Helping you help yourself, and your stationery cupboard.

There appears to be a correlation between the price or cost of a pen and a borrower’s desire to steal/failure to return (FTR) it. Although, through my study into the subject, I believe it to be not quite as simple as – what many an amateur analyst may presume – the cheaper the pen, the higher likelihood of theft/FTR. No, I think that there is something distinctly more premeditated and sinister to this tale of ballpoints and fountains.

Firstly, pencils don’t even become part of the equation, no one steals pencils. Yes, I can hear you: blah blah blah actually I have very expensive pencils blah blah someone stole my pencil that one time blah. Well I don’t care. No one steals pencils. You’re mistaken.

Now, to correctly consider this FTR concept, one has to, possibly unfairly, categorise our favourite of all writing implements into expense divisions, or bands. For myself, I consider three bands thusly: band one between 1p and 99p, band 2 from £1 to £3.99, and band 3 from £4 upwards. And I do know that some people, such as myself, may have invested on ink-ware that far exceeds this upper bracket, but for argument’s sake, the bandings lie as mentioned.

I believe that the prime band to pilfer from is the middle band. This range of pen is usually the slight premium pen. Not the dire “crack-n-shatter” affair you get when you order a box through the in-company stationery system, but also not the golden nibbed Onoto that you might have seen on that website that one time, when you were deciding whether to buy a new pen or put down a deposit on a three bedroomed bungalow in Kent. These are the pens that, when assessing the validity of your reasoning behind minor theft, cross quite nicely on the graphs of “I-can-probably-get-away-with-nicking-that” and “I-actually-want-to-use-that-pen-in-future-times”. The former and latter bands both fall away at both sides of this. So, this middle band has the highest rate of theft, but also the greatest trust improvement factor when one is returned.

You can put down the theft of a “Push Me Pull Me Chew Me Snap Me” biro to genuine absent-mindedness, as I have, on more than one occasion, walked off from another’s office with a similarly described pen betwixt my digits, and have either mistaken it for my own, or decided that the cost of the company time wasted by my turning around, strolling back to their office, apologising for taking and returning the pen before returning to my office is probably higher than the cost of the damn bin bag piercer. Expensive pens are inexplicable. But then, I don’t let my band three (B3) pens leave my sight.

But how can I be sure that the person who I’m lending a pen to will return it, I hear you cry. Well, worry not my little scribble-stick guardians, I’ve concocted a brief formula for you to quickly reference whenever a dubious pen-lending scenario presents itself. This has thwarted me for years, having to see my faithful line-making companion disappearing into the sunset, never to be seen again. But now, I can simply work out the likeliness of seeing the pen again (L) and I can be confident – or not – that it shall return to my desk.

It goes:


Wherein, R is Reliability, T is general Trust, x is estimated pen value, and Z is the time/frequency reliability-trust factor.


Wherein, a is number of pens returned in band one (B1), b is number of pens lent in B1, c is number of pens returned in B2, d is number of pens lent in B2, e is number of pens returned in B3, and f is the number of pens lent in B3.


I do sincerely hope that this aids you in knowing who you can really trust in your office/workplace/educational environment/kitchen/pen store/designated pen-lending area.

You’re welcome.