When told to put a fun night into a small cylinder, many high school and college students (according to my health class) might immediately think of their personal vices, from one plant to the next chemical or powder, containing toxins that can make the body feel “good.” When I think of a can of excitement, I immediately turn to my faithful pens and pencils. I’ve sold my soul to the arts and it will remain that way until the day I die.
Tonight, I went on a search for a special pen. My efforts were rewarded with eleven mind-blowing writing utensils. Among the fruits of my rummaging were pencils from my father’s workplace and another from the chemistry teacher I spent the semester with, followed by two other pencils. The remaining seven were pens, including two bearing the mark of St. Louis Bread Co (Panera) from when my grandmother worked in their offices. Now I work in on of their cafés and can’t quite deny the excitement in the new found evidence of our connection.
What sends my mind for the largest, most thrilling loops are the simple intricacies contained in each separate writing stick. Of all the pens I discovered, only two were the same model, but one was missing an ink cartridge, allowing the claim that each is unique to stand.
Beyond the trip through time brought on through the Bread Co pens, the mechanisms of the pencils are far more intriguing to my mind. Unlike the mechanical pencils I’v used in the past, the ones featured have erasers that are aesthetically stowed away, rather than being bared to the world, or completely missing in action. What’s more: two of the erasers have nifty metal sheaths that allow the pencil to grip the erasers more tightly, while allowing the amount exposed to be regulated.
The tips have been spruced up quite a bit as well, with a single direction, free-sliding feed on the pencil from my teacher, and a highly sophisticated feed on a plain silver model I discovered in my grandparents’ old stash. Lead is stored in the body of the pencil, just like in any other, but when it comes time to replace the lead, this one requires that the back-up sticks be taken out and re-inserted from the tip. There is a metal mechanism much like that around the eraser that grips the lead so it can be twisted into and out of the barrel smoothly, with no jumps or integers. Furthermore, a small metal probe is stowed behind the lead, and as the pencil uses the last of the graphite, the probe ejects the small stub from the metallic sheath so that another stick may be inserted.
For those that made it through my geek-out session, congrats: now you’ve seen a bit more into my mind. Art and science are certainly two of the quickest ways to my heart (forget food, it’s far to overrated), and when the two come together in a way that can inspire further experimentation and documentation, I can’t help but stop and gawk.
Make sure to take the time this week to take a trip to the land of the geeks and analyze something you enjoy!