Our first winner was unreachable for over a week and forfeited the prize. We randomly selected another winner, and it is Antonio, whose entry consisted of an original quotation (which I really like!):
“If only people could be sharpened as easily as a pencil, so many people are so very dull.”
Congratulations to Antonio, who will probably have his sharpener this week.
I mentioned that a couple of us at Pencil Revolution HQ went camping early last month. I learned a few things about pencils and about camping.
First, if you are prone to cracking fingers (and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, count yourself lucky!), take a fat pencil with you. My pocket-knife sharpened My First Ticonderoga came in handy when I was bandaged one night.
Also: pencil shavings are way way way more flammable than I thought. Comrade Dan shaved magnesium from a block designed for the purpose of making fire. There was too much wind Friday night (and we were hungry) to get it to light. We resorted to matches. Saturday, just for fun, he shaved a nice pile of magnesium shards into a box of a few months’ worth of pencil shavings from my house. Despite fierce sparking, none of the magnesium lit. But the pencil shavings did, and we lit a fine fire that way — which burned for about 20 hours until we thoroughly extinguished it.
Finally, (and I think I knew this), naturally finished pencils are perfect for camping. They grip well, get nice and dirty, and when you get home, they smell like fire forever.
Via Comrade Brian.
Don’t trade in your pencils and paper for a keyboard just yet.
A new study that compared the different brain processes used for writing by hand and typing has found that there are cognitive benefits to putting a pen to paper. These findings give support to the continued teaching of penmanship and handwriting in schools.
Children who don’t learn the skill of handwriting, like generations before them had to, may be missing out on an important developmental process. Compared to using two hands to type out letters on a keyboard, writing with one hand uses more complex brain power.
Read more at The Huffington Post.
Also in our box of review items from Write Dudes: the USA Silver pencil. In short, these are very good for budget pencils. In fact, I find them to be the very best very cheap pencil I’ve tried. Ever. I have to admit that I wasn’t excited about reviewing these pencils, but I was taught the old lesson about appearances soon enough.
The wood is not cedar: “The wood comes from all over (from sustainable sources) and they are assembled/manufactured here in the USA.” (email from WD), to distinguish them from the cedar-cased USA Gold pencils. I was confused by the name of these pencils for a while, since most are not silver. The original version of the USA Gold is a yellow-gold; I don’t think I was that crazy to make that assumption. Either way, the wood sharpens very well, almost as nicely as cedar.
I’ve seen USA Silver pencils in black that are finished very well, perhaps better than the USA Gold. The yellow review samples we were sent feature “Write Dudes” instead of the URL (which will be removed from the USA Gold). The finish various from good to acceptable. Again, at this price, it’s actually not bad at all. The ferrule is plain and attractive and complements the pink eraser and yellow finish very well. The eraser feels…dry, but it works well enough.
The star of this pencil is the core. It’s smooth and soft and durable. In a cheap pencil! This is the best writing cheap pencil that I have ever used. Ever! I can’t tell if it’s the same as the USA Gold, but it feels softer to me somehow — maybe it’s just in my head.
There are a lot of very bright pencils that would appeal to children in this series (USA Silver). Big deal? These are made several notches above most novelty pencils, and they are, largely, made in the USA. Shopping for party favors for my daughter’s upcoming third birthday, she picked some glittery pencils (think Princess Party) that not only look like they are made pretty well and have pretty nice cores – they are USA made, which a few of the parents I know will appreciate. In fact, we picked some USA made pencils from this manufacturer for birthday presents for my daughter’s friends’ birthdays this spring (to go with pencil sharpeners and books).
When I started to be really interested in pencils, part of the fascination came from their, well, cheapness. Of course, back then, truly cheap and good pencils were less rare, in same ways. But the American Naturals went for something like $1 a dozen in 2004 (and I wish I had bought more, since they are gone). I suppose we’ve been a bit…snobbish lately with what we review on Pencil Revolution. But it’s wonderful to encounter a pencil that is, plainly, cheap, American and also very good to write with. If you see these locally, definitely grab a box. A big box. (Ours had two dozen.)
Office managers: If you have to stock a supply cabinet with store brand pencils, try these instead!
From Comrade Dan:
“In Parkville, in a basement by a work bench…I thought it was a neat, well loved sharpener. Unfortunately it looked as if it hadn’t been used in a while.”
Do other Comrades have strategically placed sharpeners, mounted or otherwise? (I keep a single-burr in my dining room on a bookshelf, where it’s easily accessible from the kitchen or living room.)
The oddly shaped Pencil Nebula (NGC 2736) is pictured in this image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. This nebula is a small part of a huge remnant left over after a supernova explosion that took place about 11 000 years ago. The image was produced by the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.The oddly shaped Pencil Nebula (NGC 2736) is pictured in this image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. This nebula is a small part of a huge remnant left over after a supernova explosion that took place about 11 000 years ago. The image was produced by the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.
[Please excuse the bad phone picture.]
Seen while taking a nice three-mile stroll on a lovely day in Baltimore (lower Charles Village/Old Goucher). Dawn’s used to have really interesting window displays. They have either stopped doing this or were between displays today. I’m not sure any person can go in and browse (or if there is browsing to be bad), though I might reach out and see what kinds of pencils they have just for fun.
Hen sent some very nice pencils for my daughter this week, and I realized how great it is to run a blog like this one. I am fortunate to be on the receiving end of folks all over the world just being plain NICE.
Since this blog started in summer 2005, I have been lucky enough to:
- Try new pencils before they come out and even to try some pencils that never quite made it to the market
- Receive wonderful packages of pencils varying from pencils we just can’t get in the USA (from Daniel in Brazil, Dave in New Zealand, Matthias in the UK, Hen from Rad and Hungry), to very cool vintage pencils, to very nice pencil gear (Shane from Utah)
- Receive encouragement from folks when times get tough & the trolls get tougher
- Connect with pencil and stationery enthusiasts all over; I have quite a few internet friends I would otherwise never know
- Learn! I’ve gotten recommendations for books, films and articles that have changed my thinking on many subjects (childhood summers, environmental issues, trade issues, etc.)
- Hoard pencils a bit; I won’t lie: our stationery stash contains a few dozen free pencils, notebooks and sketchbooks, a few sharpeners, some protectors, a book, etc.
- Share some art, writing, and reviews from very talented and generous Comrades who have reached out to us or been gracious when we’ve reached out to them
- Realize just how nice a lot of people can be, especially when they stick their necks out for you or heal with kind words
The last seven and a half years have been very different and much better for the folks I’ve come to know because of this humble blog, even when posting was…slow. Myriad thanks to everyone who has been kind to us with pencils or encouragement or compliments, to everyone who has shared their work, and to all of our dear Comrades the World Over who read this site and keep using pencils to record, to create and to inspire.
While looking for pink pipe-cleaners (!!) today at my parents’ house in Baltimore, I happened upon a box of Sanford American pencils, circa 1999, with half of the dozen left. Two were obviously sharpened with some kind of point-stopped electrical sharpener (which I’m not aware that my parents have ever owned), but the other four were just factory sharpened. I was gladly given the box.
While I grew up with an older version in the 1980s, the color of the paint, the plain ferrule and the typography warm me up on a surprisingly chilly Maryland evening. One is behind my ear right now.