Photos from far away.

Melony sent some great photos in recently. These are just a few:

You can check out Czech out Melony’s blog here.
[Images, M. Used with permission.]

Pencil of the Monthâ„¢ Club update.

This message is from Don at Pencil Things:

Support for the Pencil of the Monthâ„¢ Club is strong. So, we’re going to do it!

We’ve ordered mailing supplies and penciled in a workable flowchart. Of course, we’re having a lot of fun obtaining and evaluating pencils, and that’s well under way. PencilThings.com will start taking subscriptions today, and send the initial packet out the first week of May.

KUM is wishing us well by generously contributing their new-for-2006 pearl-effect Ellipse Container Pencil Sharpener (magnesium inner sharpener) to go to the first 150 subscribers. That’s a very nice gesture of support, isn’t it?

We have a few good ideas, and you have many more. It’s your involvement which will really make this venture interesting. For example, there’s a direct link between the comment by “Bill” and KUM’s contribution of sharpeners.

Thank you to all who commented on Pencil Revolution and by private email. And to Pencil Revolution go kudos for giving us all a pencil forum, and to Woodchuck go special thanks for sharing generations of pencil experience.

Please send Pencil of the Monthâ„¢ Club suggestions and comments to PencilClubATpencilthingsDOTcom.

Myriad thanks to Don for putting together what is certainly going to be an adventure of world-wide proportions! By the by, I have one of the ellipse sharpeners that KUM makes for Prismacolor, and they are really great sharpeners, even for jeans pockets.

One and all are invited to sign up officially for the most exclusive of pencil clubs here.

Mantis.


These are some great photos from Rob H. of a tiny mantis on the tip of a normally-sized pencil.


You can view larger versions here.

[Images, R.H. Used with kind permission.]

Puzzle.

This is fascinating: What is this object? The only hint that you get is that we’re posting it on a pencil blog:)

The solution can be found here (scroll down).

[Images, Rob H. Used with permission.]

Pencil of the Month Club?


Don at Pencil Things has a great idea that he would love to get some feedback on. We’ll let Don explain it:

Isn’t it interesting to try out new pencils?! I actually most enjoy browsing for new brands, models, hardnesses, and colors at local stores, rather than online. You get to touch them and write with some of them. But I’ve exhausted the selection in Santa Fe. And I usually don’t want to risk buying a 6-pack online of the same pencil to try and/or pay the disproportionate shipping charge for a few pencils.

What about you? Do you think it would be fun to have a “Pencil of the Month” club? I’ve researched it, and it appears we at PencilThings.com can gather together enough pencil variations to have a monthly mailing for at least a year. We’d send out 3 to 4 high-quality different and interesting pencils each month — graphite and colored. About $24/year subscription should cover the cost of the pencils, protective envelopes, labels and postage.

What do you think of the idea?

If any Comrades have suggestions or would be interested, please leave a comment or two or three! Many thanks in advance! This is not necessarily a sign up list per se, but a way to get a good idea of the interest, since I imagine there will be considerable effort required for this project from Pencil Things.

UPDATE:

Comrades can sign up for the Pencil of the Month Club at Pencil Things (follow link). 

Pencil tower.


This was taken by Réjane in Switzerland, who was kind enough to let us post it here. A much larger version can be viewed here. It’s just one of her great photos that you can view at her Flickr page. It does look like a familiar tool, no?

[Image, Réjane. Used with very kind permission.]

Office ransom.


A few months ago, I came into the department where I study and found this on my desk, a joke from a colleague (and fellow Revolutionary) which reads:

“This could easily happen to all your pencils,
if you don’t follow these directions exactly.
Get 100 dollars in nonsequential 2 dollar bills
and wait for further instructions.”

[Ransom note, Alex. Photos, J.G.]

Pencil spinning.

This is a link that Nick from Blanketfort sent us months ago that I somehow lost and didn’t get posted: a cool website devoted to the art of pencil spinning!

“Fake Reverse 2 & 1/2: Twist the pencil by curling the index finger in while pushing with the thumb. Also use the middle finger to push and balance the pencil. Keep the index finger curled and tucked down out of the way so the pencil can pass over it. This trick is called the Fake Reverse, since the pencil rotates over, rather than around the thumb.”

Another one I lost is from Dave in New Zealand on pencil spinning: Pentricks.

“The articles section provide you with reading to improve your knowledge about Pen Spinning. It also helps answer commonly asked questions. In Pen Spinning, it’s not enough to just practice tricks day and night and hope you’ll get better. If you want to be a good pen spinner, it’s also necessary to understand the tricks you’re doing, as well as other principles that are applicable to Pen Spinning. This section will help you acquire this knowledge.”

Many thanks to Nick and Dave. Sorry I lost the links for so long; perhaps it was an unconscious effort on the part of my complete lack of the necessarily dexterity for adeptly twirling a pencil.  If anyone has photos of pencil spinning, I promise not to lose them and to instead post them straight away if you send them in:)

Review of General’s 3-in-1 sharpener.

This review is from Gary Varner from Inkmusings.  Many many thanks to Comrade Gary! 

The General’s 3-in-1 Pencil Sharpener:  Form AND Function?

What’s about $5, doesn’t make a mess, and even keeps colored lead shavings from staining your Palomino? Why, the General 3-in-1 Pencil Sharpener, that’s what! But before you run down to your local art supply to pick up one, there’s some good news and bad news.

First, the technical specifications:

Type:  Three blades, double receptacle.
Blade material: Steel.
Shavings Receptacle:  Two plastic snap-off cups.
Point Type: 5/16” pencils on colored pencil side, 7/16″ and 3/8″ pencils on lead pencil side.
Markings: “Made in Germany” on bottom, “Color” on colored pencil cup lid,”Made in Germany” on metal blades.
Physical size:  2-1/2″ high, 1-5/8″ wide.
Availability: Online at most art supply sites; local art supply; some office supply stores.

And now, the good news:  the General 3-in-1 definitely scores points for form. The halves snap together solidly and keep any debris from messing up your pocket or backpack. Snap the sharpener open, and there’s a side for colored pencils (yellow) and a double sharpener for non-colored (orange). Separation means your colored pencils won’t gum up the sharpeners for your serious pencils. The black receptacle caps snap off easily to empty the shavings cups, and while not holding a lot, they certainly help when you’re places you don’t want to make a mess. All of this combines into one compact, portable sharpening solution.

So does it score as well for function? Not exactly. The quality of sharpening is okay, but not great. Colored pencils seem fine, but harder lead tends to chatter a bit in turning, but with practice produces a decent point. And that’s the bad news, although not terrible news.

Ah, comrades, don’t despair: the Revolution is all about finding a better way. There is a simple hack that will make this sharpener with its snap-cups and multi-point versatility, a “must take” tool. With a flick of your fingernail lift the plastic stops (see photo), remove the orange double blade, and replace it with a KUM double-holed wedge. NOW you’ve got a heckuva sharpener, and you won’t incur the wrath of your wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/roommate for getting shavings all over the carpet.

Life is good.

[Text and images, G.V. Used with kind permission.]

Pencil and ink, side by side (i).


We are not divisive enough here at Pencil Revolution to hate pens. Ink users will not be guillotined, French Revolution style. Rather than putting pencils over pens, I personally seek instead for the more realistic and peaceful telos of obtaining for pencils equal status with their inky counterparts. Along with my private stockpile of pencils (for when the Revolution really comes), I do have a lot of pens, with a particular affection for Fisher Space Pens.

This is a great photo by Jennifer Guillory of This Is Your Brain On Lithium (see photos here) that depicts graphite and ink in the same Moleskine notebook. A testiment of what is possible.

[Image J.Guillory. Used with permission.]

Pencil Things arrives!

PencilThings.Com is a new online store that has just about anything pencil-related that one is likely to ever need. They are currently the only US dealer that sells the entire line of KUM sharpeners, from the elusive Long-Point sharpener to the wonderful wedge and blades for everything KUM.

Don Bell, the man behind Pencil Things, was gracious enough to answer some questions about himself, his new business and our favorite writing and drawing tool:

PR: Can you say a little about yourself?

DB: After college and Coast Guard service, I owned a Schwinn bicycle franchise for 5 years. During the subsequent 25, years my oil & gas company explored for and produced reserves in the US Southwest. During the height of the Internet boom, I started two high-tech firms. One failed, and the other continues to be my principle business. My wife and I are celebrating 38 years of marriage in April, and doting on our 8-month old grandson. We live and work in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

PR: What is it about pencils that you like so much?

DB: I’m rebelling! As a serial entrepreneur in high-tech industries, I’ve owned nearly every bleeding-edge electronic tool (and gadget) made. I still have a lot, and I use them daily. But most rankle me because of their complexity and multi-tasking capabilities. I like a tool whose use is obvious and focused. It’s OK if the results obtained from using the instrument are complex (e.g., books, drawings, calculations, etc.), but I want the tool to be simple-in-use. With a pencil I make a mark, I can erase it, and that’s about it! My left-brain requires excellent pencils, and my right-brain seeks elegant and varied pencils. They’re out there to be found and experienced, and that’s the fun of it.

PR: What made you want to become such a comprehensive source of pencil gear?

DB: A boutique store like ours prospers by being a place where one finds what one wants, and then browses around for other interesting items. I study Pencil Revolution’s “want list/wish list” comments and product evaluations. If somebody wants a pencil-related item, I search for a manufacturer already producing it. If successful, it’s reasonable to assume a market exists — greater in size than one person — because a company has invested its resources to manufacture and distribute the item. Well, your readers and other pencil-users express a wide variety of “wants and wishes” and that’s what drives us to become a “comprehensive source” of pencil things.

PR: What goodies have you in store for the world at Pencil Things?

DB: We’ll continue developing the KUM line of sharpeners, by importing many more items. Coming from KUM during the next several months are: a 2-hole magnesium wedge sharpener for left handed users; single and 2-hole magnesium sharpeners with black soft grip pads on the sides; palm-grip sharpeners especially designed for those who have difficulty gripping a sharpener with their fingers; a 2-hole KUM 9-volt battery-powered sharpener; and a pencil box set containing a sharpener, eraser, metric ruler, pencil grip and pencil.

We will begin small-quantity custom personalization of California Republic pencils in April. Artist Ian Nicholas’ hand painted and decorated pencil boxes should come in April, too.

Meanwhile, we’re posting on our home page new items on order and their estimated dates of arrival.

Many thanks to Don for his gigantic contribution to the world of pencils and for his time in answering my questions! If there’s something you’ve been looking for unsuccessfully, chances are that it’s either already stocked or on the way from Pencil Things! By the way, my ordering experience with Pencil Things was very very pleasant: I ordered very late at night, had my order shipped the next day, and it arrived quickly and packed very nicely. A treat!

Modern John Henry dies.

The pencil lives, but the human dies by successfully outwitting a computer program with his brain and a pencil. This article could post some perplexing philosophical issues of modern life: human willpower over machines that are only made by humans in the first place. Or it could just be extremely funny:

BALTIMORE—Office laborers across the nation are mourning the passing of Wallace Peters, 42, the mythic three-column accountant at Chesapeake & Ohio Consultants who pitted himself against Microsoft’s latest version of the popular spreadsheet program Excel.

Although Peters was able to balance his sheet a full 10 seconds before the program did, the man celebrated in song and story as the “cubicle worker’s John Henry” was pronounced dead of a coronary thrombosis late Monday evening.

The late Wallace “Wally” Peters, whom colleagues are calling a 21st-century John Henry.

“He died with his pencil in his hand,” shift supervisor Thomas Kaptein said. “Wally Peters was an accounting-driven man.”

Accounting crewmen who worked alongside Peters said his legend as an accounting hero was formed by his willingness to answer to the challenge.

“He’d tell us, ‘Now, 20 rows down, the accounting’s hard as granite—it’s the hardest thing an office man can stand,'” said Huddie Ledbetter, one of Peters’ former trainees, “‘but you keep your pencil sharp, and you keep your pencil working. It’s the life of a numbers-crunchin’ man.'”

Sources say Peters, who was born to poor temp workers in eastern Virginia, would often go to offices where his mother worked and sit on her knee. According to his family, he once took up her pencil and said, “Pencil be the death of me. Oh, Mommy, this pencil be the death of me.”

Read the rest of the article at The Onion here.

Thanks for the link, Michael!