Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Lost Pencil

Let me start by saying that I am a real fan of the mechanical pencil. But recently others have gone so far as to mock the traditional pencil. Sure...it may not sharpen itself, and the eraser may wear down before the "lead" runs out...but it is still a useful tool. There is certainly no reason for cruelty toward the pencil.

Let's trace back the root of the pencil, shall we?? Sometime before 1565 a large deposit of graphite was discovered in England. The locals found that it was great for marking sheep. It could also be sawed into sticks. The value of graphite was soon realized to be enormous, and graphite had to be smuggled out for use in pencils. Graphite sticks were at first wrapped in string or in sheepskin for stability. The news of the usefulness of these early pencils spread far and wide, attracting the attentions of artists all over the "known world."

Pencil "lead" is graphite (carbon) and not the chemical element lead. Residual graphite from a pencil stick is not poisonous, and graphite is harmless if consumed.

So, while that information provides some fun facts, it is true that there are some problems with standard graphite and wood pencils. You have to sharpen them. No body likes to twist forever attempting to achieve the perfect point. But that's why we made a game of it. Remember...who can get the longest unbroken pencil shaving?!?! That is just good, clean fun.

Instead of mocking low-tech, let's remember how simple life used to be in the day of the #2 pencil. Sub-prime mortgages barely existed, the stock market was as confusing as it is today, but it certainly didn't make headline news. Life was pure. SO, maybe that's a stretch, but you see my point. Enjoy the gains of technological advancement, but honor the past!

1 comment:

Maranda said...

You.... are incredibly amusing.

Remember in elementary school when they would tell you to bring a number 2 pencil for those stupid bubble tests?