20 Questions Tuesday: 164 - Pencils and Erasers

Something very special happened today waaaay back in 1858. That's right on March 30, 1858 (that's right 152 years ago... 2 diamonds and some cotton according to anniversary gifts) the first pencil with the eraser top was patented by Hyman Lipman.

Oh, Mr. Lipman what you have given society is amazing. Thanks this week go to TheMikeStand, Lsig, Guido, Dr John P, and Some Other Guy. Thanks! On to the Questions!

1. Were you ever tempted to not use a #2 HB pencil on a standardized test? Would they even know if you did?
The trusty old #2 lead is all about levels of reflectivity. #2 pencil leads were opaque enough to register with the scanner. If I were to have used a non #2 pencil (HB) as a kid I would use a #1 pencil (B) because you needed a softer/blacker lead to register with the scanning machines.

All that being said, modern scanners for these kinds of tests can pick up much more subtle marks and should not be limited to #2, but that is just the industry standard now.

2. Mechanical or wood-and-graphite?
Mechanical all the way. My preferred pencil is the blue Pentel 0.07mm mechanical pencil. I do have other pencils for drawing purposes though, but the 0.07mm is the goto.

3. Why did none of us ever die from lead poisoning when we used to poke ourselves in the arm with pencils as kids?
Because it is not really "lead" in a pencil, but hard compacted graphite powder. The hardness of the lead determines the darkness of the mark.

4. Remember Kid from Kid n' Play? Discuss. Or, just comment. Or just continue laughing.
Those were some days, weren't they?

5. What was the logic behind the erasable pen? They never worked as good as a pen and were twice as smudgy (just made that up) as a pencil.
Firstly, I think the word "smudgy" is a perfectly crumulent word. Secondly, erasable pens are necessarily smudgy because erasers work by abrading the surface off of a piece of paper. inks typically absorb into the paper, but to be erasable it needs to dry on top of the paper such that if a mistake is made it can be removed. The bottom line is that if you are going to need to erase, do not use a pen.

6. In school, they always requested #2 pencils. What is a #1 pencil? Where can you buy one? What is it for? What is the difference?
There are 20 classifications of pencils in the world (9H, 8H, 7H, 6H, 5H, 4H, 3H, 2H, H, F, HB, B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7B, 8B, 9B) that goes from hardest lead to softest lead (lighter to darker) but the US decided to simplify that system to a system of 5 numbers. They are 4 = 2H, 3 = H, 2.5 = F, 2 = HB, and 1 = B (from lightest to darker)

7. How often do you use a pencil?
When I am drawing, it is fairly often, but I really like the feel of ink on paper when I am writing long-hand on paper.

8. Did you have mechanical pencils in elementary school? I remember having some where a number of leads (7-10 maybe?) would stack inside each other, each lead with its own plastic holder. When one would dull, you pulled it out and stuck it back in the top of the pencil to push the next one down.
I remember those as well. They sucked. Pretty early on I stole one of my dad's mechanical pencils from his work... probably around 4th grade.

9. What is your favorite lead-size? Hardness?
0.07mm HB.

10. Do you sometimes draw your maps in pencil, simply so you can have the power to wipe an area off the face of the earth on a whim?
Oh, yes, merely to remove whole countries and landmasses at a whim. When I am mapping, I AM A GOD!

11. No.2 is the standard I guess but could you use a 1 and a 3 on a test in a pinch...you know to average out?
Currently, you could use a stick dipped in jelly and most of the scanners for tests would be able to register the marks, but back in the day you could use a #1 but not a #3 and be okay.

12. So the old pencil sharpeners had like 8 different size holes but I am only familiar with the "regular" size and the giganto size we used in kindergarten. Are there really that many other sizes out there?
I never understood that myself. Especially since the largest hole in the sharpener sometimes was not large enough for the girthy kindergarten pencils.

13. My wife wants me to get rid of the unused pencils I have and I am waiting until they show up on antiques roadshow, should I just cave?
You should cave. Seriously, there is such a glut of old pencils on the market, that old pencils are worth less than 1990 comic books.

14. Where do old partially used erasers go to die?
They are wrapped in un-matched socks and accompanied by missing keys.

15. Do you do crosswords in pencil or in ink?
Umm... firstly, it is quite an assumption that I "do" crosswords. Secondly, pencil, cause I am not that a genius.

16. How many pencils do you own?
Other than the un-used pencils, I would say I have four 0.07mm pencils, two 0.05mm pencils and a 0.03mm pencil. I tend to use the 0.07mm's the most.

17. Was affixing an eraser to the pencil that big of a deal?
Hells yes! Genius. It is up there with sliced bread and the wheel... well, maybe not the wheel.

18. Hyman Lipman? What kind of name is that?
Jewish... clearly it is Jewish. What kind of a question is this? You could show some more respect with a question like this. Would it hurt to call your mother?

19. So, the first pencil with and eraser goes all the way back to 1858, when was the first pencil made?
Using my brown belt in Google-Fu the year 1565 marks the first record of a pencil consisting of a piece of graphite inserted into a wood shaft, making the first ancestor of today's pencil.

20. So on Picture Pages the song says:
"Picture Pages, Picture Pages,
Time to get your Picture Pages,
Time to get your crayons and your pencils..."

WTF is that about? Cosby uses a G.D. marker that makes a bunch of noise. Mortimer Icobod Marker my ass!
I am going to back away slowly and avoid eye contact.

To recap:
It is late and I need to go to bed
Just have to format this baby and be done with it
Now why am I still typing
The whole family is abed
Except for me
Gah! This is getting a bit meta, isn't it?
Anyone want to be interviewed?
I am looking at you Chris Corrigan
Listening (and watching) to the Kevin Pollak's Chat Show
Well worth the download