Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Path To Hell is Paved...

I've been posting on my intentions for almost a month and I have yet to build anything. I really ought to have some slivers right now, yet the most handy thing I've done this week is to reattach a towel rack that had deposed itself of our bathroom wall.

My wife was so impressed by my manhood.

Monday, April 30, 2007

A Kiln

A kiln seems to be a crucial element in making the graphite core of my pencil. A small kiln runs about $1,300, according to the DIY network.

How much labor is required to construct a kiln?

Will You Use This Pencil?

"If you happen to be successful at making this pencil. Will you actually use it? Well, I mean more than once to make sure that it works? "

Musgrave Pencil Company declares.
"The average pencil can be sharpened 17 times, write 45,000 words or draw a line 35 miles long."
The above being true, I will offer to sell my signature at $5.00 per signature. Tyler Farrer is two words and so should bring in about $112,500.00.

On the other hand, Musgrave Pencil also holds the following to be true.
"One pencil will draw a line 70 miles long."
I may double my money!

Timberlines Assesment of My Mental Health

The Woodchuck, pencil expert extraordaire, at Timberlines has a good synopsis of my mission, and predicts my eventual fate. He doesn't specify whether he thinks I will be able to afford the prescriptions that I'll have to take.

Please feel free to contribute to my 'Recovery Fund' by clicking on the Paypal link on the sidebar.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Yielding Graphite From Limestone

I'd love to be able to go out in my backyard and to dig up some graphite, but alas, that will likely be fruitless.

It isn't that I need to find a large cache, but just enough to supply one pencil. I've learned that graphite can be found in the veins of metamorphic rocks. Particularly limestone deposits. I'm aware of some limestone here in Utah, in fact a contractor for applications of this type of rock are headquartered in my town of North Salt Lake.

Here's some free advertising for Hughes General Contractors, Inc.

Timberlines: Pencil Pusher

Please pay special attention to Timberlines, listed in my sidebar. I've received some encouragement in my quest from its proprietor, Woodchuck.

As a successful producer of what I would call high-end pencils, Timberlines has my respect and awe.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Overcoming Pencil Bigotry

I volunteer in the Boy Scouts of America, working with 14-15 year old boys. Last night, while waiting for some pizza's to come out of the oven, I found a pencil sitting on the counter and mentioned my new interest in pencils to the youth in attendance.

One of them, after I had gone on a bit about pencil lore, suggested that he might do some real damage to my psyche by breaking this particular pencil in half.

"That's absolutely fine by me", I said. "The beautiful thing about the pencil is that despite the fact that it is a fantastic invention, that has been perfected over hundreds of years, it is cheap to produce!"

"Besides, when you're finished destroying that one pencil, you'll have created two more in its place!"

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Steep Learning Curve

Just one week ago I made a laughable gaffe in suggesting, in an obscure reference to uranium enrichment, that I should use Aluminum tubes to form my graphite "lead".

Wrong! Graphite is corrosive when it comes in contact with aluminum. Maybe that's the real reason that NASA uses pens in space.

Also, Graphite is a very different thing in a zero-g environment, and I must be careful when milling graphite. Don't inhale!

Graphite: Fruitless Searching

I am always amazed, not only at human ingenuity, but to what ends inspiration is directed.

Take a simple object, one that would ordinarily miss notice, because it is ordinary. Something that you take for granted, and reduce that to its simplest form. Take it in its form from which man first touched it--maybe you! What are its properties? How is one piece of matter different from another? How are they the same? What could be substituted for one thing to make up the difference for what is lacking in another?

I went on a serious search, the other day, for the place to find such a simple thing. I might have staked a claim, had I found it. In my search for graphite--I would think, not a rare mineral, I found that it is an exceedingly rare thing as things go. There are more rare geological finds, and people waste their lives trying to find the most rare of things, but try and find a commonplace thing! Try to--rather than spending pennies on its modified form--to get it raw.

That is a difficult thing indeed.

Now imagine, yet it is true, the many people who make a fair living from this thing that costs the consumer mere cents.

That is what is wonderful about capitalism!

The Pencil:Three Types Of 'Wood'

Maybe as a first step I should upgrade an existing pencil. For example, pencil wood comes in at least three varieties, of differing qualities. On the low end we have the pencils that are much more flexible and when broken, do so cleanly. These are actually made of a plastic composite. Pencil connoisseurs don't go for these at all. A tier up would be the pencil made of tropical rain forest trees, identified by the dark specks in the wood.. I, personally, think these are fine, but they aren't too politically correct--Killing the rain forest, and raining down pollutants on coral reef's, and all that. The top of the line pencil is constructed with incense cedar identified by a clear solid grain, and a clear seam.

I think it would cause no offense if I harvested the graphite from one of my plastic pencils and remade the implement into something better. Any wood should be an improvement. It doesn't even have to be cedar.

It would be something.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Pencil Poem

"An eraser's called a 'rubber,' "
wrote the lovely, lissome lass.

Her "British English" essay
just ran rings
around the class.

But hear me, all good Christians,
that poor girl learned all too late

As a pregnancy
preventer, her eraser wasn't great.
Brendan Beary

Saturday, April 14, 2007

They've All Got Pencil Envy!

As etymological origins intimate, the word pencil is diminutive of the word penis, and therefore has become a phallic symbol over the last 700 years. I'm not at all surprised to come across some competition among pencil makers to come up with the worlds largest pencil.

Since the word 'pen', meaning quill, has completely unique roots, we should see fewer attempts at making one that is large. I see only two results in google, compared to 74 results for the pencil.

Pencil makers have refined their techniques, added rubber erasers, and given us what we have today, to make it useful, but all along its remained a symbol of something else. Perhaps all of this can explain the obsessive attention that has been paid to this simple looking device. You'd think they were working with diamonds. (For an idea of how advanced the pencil has become, see this one from the 1600.)

Needless to say, I had no idea this undercurrent existed when I embarked on my quest.

And if you're here looking for you-know-what, you can forget it! Avast!

Pencil, Pen Definitions

pencil See Pen
[ME pensel, pencel, fr. MF pincel, fr. (assumed) VL pinicellus, fr. L penicillus brush, pencil, lit., little tail, dim. of penis tail, penis]

That pen 'enclosure' and pen 'writing implement' are etymologically unrelated may not be surprising, since the meanings are so distinct. The 'enclosure' pen traces its ancestry obscurely back to Old English penn and has no known relatives in other languages. Its homophone, by contrast, goes back to Latin penna 'wing, feather', for the original reference was to a quill pen.

Pen and pencil look close in both form and meaning, but again the resemblance is accidental. When pencil entered English in the early fourteenth centruy (as pinsel, among other spellings), it denoted an artists paintbrush. This was the meaning of its ultimate source in Latin, penicillus. English later also borrowed this Latin word unchanged, referring to a tuft-like structure; the root is more familiar in our word penicillin, produced by the Penicillium mold, which is named for its brush-like shape. Latin penicillus has an anatomical etymology: it is a diminutive of Latin penis, which meant both 'penis' and 'tail'.

ME.......Middle English (A.D. 1100-1500)
fr. ........French
MF.......Middle French (A.D. 600-1600)
VL........Vulgar Latin
L...........Latin(A.D. 200)
lit. .......literally
dim. ....diminutive

(Source The Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories