Why Pencils: A Penchant for Paper.

Heather has been reviewing pencils for quite a while now, and I have been thoroughly enjoying her reviews — being a reader of her blog for literally years. A recent post really struck a chord with the Pencil Lover in me:

“For whatever reason, pencils have a charm for me that pens, even fountain pens and inks, just don’t. They seem friendlier, somehow. Homelier. More comfortable. You can always count on them to write. You don’t have to worry about the ink drying up, or about tricky issues like feathering, bleed through, drying times, fading, or waterproofness. You can break them in half and they still write. You can forget about them for a decade or two in the back of your desk drawer and they’ll still write. If you take notes in pencil, you can count on them to last, unless someone burns them or goes after them with an eraser. You can’t always count on that with ink.”

I feel like I should add some sort of commentary in an Academic way to justify this quotation. But Heather’s piece is very well-put, perfectly, already. Check out the rest of the post here.

Review of Pentel EnerGize X.

Shoplet, one of the largest online purveyor of office supplies, and Pentel recently sent a package over with a lot of goodies from Pentel, including the EnerGize X mechanical pencil, a graphite companion to the EnerGel pens. I’ve started (Blasphemy?!) a pen blog to review the inky samples we receive. It’s called Fundamental Emanating Pen-itude (with a nod to Plotinus.) Check out the review of the gel pens that go with this pencil.
There is no retractable metal sleeve to protect the lead at the point. One less moving part is not a bad thing; the extended plastic at the point certainly holds the lead — much more than I thought it would. But since it isn’t retractable, it is a little sharp in one’s pocket. The grip is one of my favorite things about this pencil. It is slightly tacky, with a subtle wave pattern. The “frequency” of the ridges and valleys and the material combine for a nice, soft, grippy grip. It’s about as wide as a beginner’s pencil at the grip, and it’s very comfortable.
The click mechanism is solid, and I can’t say much more than that. The eraser sleeps under a plastic cap. In addition to keeping the eraser clean, the cap blends into the style of the pencil. The eraser performed surprisingly well, though I wish it was a little longer and/or that it was extendible, like that on the P-207.
If I have gripes, it’s the unattractive printing on the clip and the fact that they only only ship the pencil with two leads. But this are easily ignored and remedied.

The clip holds paper might more tightly than it looks like it will. It holds well, though it leaves slight marks on, say, the cover of a notebook to which it’s clipped. But I’d rather it actually work than cuddle my field books.

This is a surprisingly pleasant pencil to use, with an excellent grip, and it might replace the Pilot G2 as my favorite very cheap mechanical pencil. While I’m certainly no heavy user of mechanical pencils, I have kept this one in my pencil cup, where there are very few Mechanical Warriors.

Bucky’s Quest for Nature’s Pencil.

R. Buckminster Fuller is famous the world over for his geodesic dome designs and for his unrelenting questioning that makes him sound more like a philosopher than anything else.  When he summed up his search for what one might call “truth,” he uses the metaphor of the pencil.

“Buckminster Fuller never gave up his searh to find ‘Nature’s pencil.’ Like so many geniuses, he was constantly searching for the essence of how things worked best. And when he found such solutions in Nature, he applied them to his projects. Thus, we have his most famous invention – the geodesic dome – modeled after structures found in Nature.

Still, the question continues to be in the quest. Fuller and many others constantly seek the next evolution of ideas, and the really cleaver people always look to Nature first. Were all humans to do that, we would realize that there are enough resources to go around, and what we need to do is be very careful in using exactly enough. Not too much and not too little.

Nature’s pencil is such a sustainable model. She writes and draws with a precision and exactness that humans have difficulty understanding or modeling. Still, people like Bucky and many of today’s great minds continue to search because they know that the search is as important as reaching the goal.”  (More.)

This resonates with me, personally, since one of my grad schools was where Professor Fuller taught and worked from 1959 to 1970. He’s still a legend around those parts.