Toolbox Pencils


Last November a small, brown, padded envelope with a tracking number showed up in my mailbox. It was from my dad. He hadn’t mentioned he would be sending me anything. The package contained a single, stubby pencil, which he had attached to a piece of cardboard with two pieces of transparent tape. I’m looking at […]

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Some Pointers


An antique-dealing friend of mine recently showed me a neat little drafting supplies catalog, the F. Weber & Company Catalogue of Architects’, Engineers’, and Draughtmen’s Supplies issued in December of 1895: A long, long time ago–in the era of classy catalogs with lovely engraved drawings–they were called “pointers”! Before single-blade and hand-crank “sharpeners” came to […]

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Sudoku Pencils


Can it get any more specific? Yes, it can. How about Sudoku Book Cover Pencils? Unless you’re one of those mad geniuses who does the NY Times Crossword Puzzle in pen, you probably associate word searches, crosswords, and Sudoku with wooden pencils–wooden pencils with working erasers, thank you. So, it’s no surprise puzzle books often […]

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On Cone Patina

Cone Patina - 3 of 6 (1)

Between puffs on his pipe, Sherlock Holmes alluded to various obscure monographs he was working on: “My dear Watson, this reminds me of a study I’ve been putting together, Upon The Distinction Between the Ashes of the Various Tobaccos.” During his career, Holmes privately published about twenty different monographs, including The Typewriter and its Relation […]

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Be the Purple


Go then and act your tragedy, but I will not do so. You ask me, ‘Why?’ I answer, ‘Because you count yourself to be but an ordinary thread in the tunic.’ What follows then? You ought to think how you can be like other men, just as one thread does not wish to have something […]

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Shim Shim Shirroo!

Unless you live in a cave without wifi, you’ve probably heard of crowdsourcing–when a whole mass of people, usually an online community, creates content, or news, or cheerfully debugs an operating system. We like the idea, but we tend to steer clear of crowds. They’re just too damn loud. They have a tendency to jostle. […]

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The Kluge

Kluge - 1

It’s pronounced KLOOdj. A “kluge” is a quick and dirty, often clumsy, sometimes hard-to-maintain, solution to a problem. Kluges are cobbled together, but do the trick. They are improvised, using whatever is at hand. On a recent trip to the library, I noticed this little guy in the pen and pencil container, next to the […]

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