The Bitter End

When I started work as an engineer, everyone in the office performed calculations using pencil on pads of “calculation paper” – graph paper with pretensions – and marked up drawings using pencil. We had an office color code involving red, green, yellow, blue, and regular gray pencils; I later learned that every office had a similar code.

That’s long gone: we perform calculations on the computer and check shop drawings by marking up PDFs. Somehow pencils have survived, though, and in marking up drawings for internal use we’ve been working our way through a massive box of various colors. Like pretty much everything else in our office, pencil use is on the honor system: we assume people will take a new pencil only when they need it. At my first job, we had to turn in the stub of a pencil to the office manager to show it was less than the specified minimum length (I forget how long, maybe 1-1/2 inches?) and we’d get a new pencil of the same type and color.

With that context, it should be clear why “Different Methods for Using Pencils All the Way to the Freaking End” by Rain Noe struck a chord with me. I had an extender back in the day, because I found that using a too-short stub gave me hand cramps.

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