Lyra Ferby pencil extender

Lyra Ferby pencil extender

I’ve written before about the Lyra Ferby. I think it’s a great pencil that deserves more recognition. For a start, the artists who enjoy the Koh-I-Noor Triograph should give the Ferby a try.

But there has been a problem with the Ferby – as a short pencil, it won’t remain usable after a dozen sharpenings. Well, I just discovered that Lyra makes a pencil extender for the Ferby. (Shown above.)

The extender’s form is very simple – a wood cylinder.

While it was fun to discover this item, I’m afraid that I find this extender awkward and unwieldy. There also appears to be a better solution – Lyra makes a full length version of the Ferby, called the “Super Ferby”! Unfortunately, I’ve never seen them for sale. But I’ll keep my eye open!

The (in)convenience of online ordering

Canada Post Final Notice

I’m often asked how to “order” a pencil or stationery item featured on my blog. Though online ordering can appear to be a great convenience, sometimes that’s not the case. We may simply be postponing our inconvenience.

The photo shows a Canada Post “Final Notice” – more on this later.

Some years ago, sending an item by courier, even to a residential address, was a serious transaction. If the address had a minor error, if you were out, if there was bad weather, it didn’t matter at all. These were the challenges that were accepted as part of the service – the reason one paid a generous surplus over postal delivery.

Today, basic courier services (used by a broad wealth of online retailers) offer almost no “service” at the final stage of delivery. Though they may charge up to $20 (US or Canadian), this includes one or zero visits to the destination, with a “notice” postcard (or similar) left. You then have to go to the outlet/office of the courier to get your item.

For anyone with a day job (possibly a good percentage of those buying online) – this can be the “inconvenience” part. Though the photo shows a Canada Post notice, I equally include Purolator, UPS, and Fedex. Getting one of these notices and being told that I have X business days to appear and claim my package at a remote, out of the way office is always inconvenient and stress inducing.

Preferable is a higher level of service, such as when I’ve ordered items from France or Malaysia, and found a DHL courier at my doorstep in the evening. (“We check if an address is residential, and if it is, try the customer in the evening.”, a courier said. That was enlightening. It should be more common, but it isn’t.)

Or – regular postal delivery – a box of pencils in the mailbox, the value of which doesn’t merit the courier surcharge.

Upfront, click and point ordering is clearly convenient, but all that has happened is that my trip outside the house has been delayed. And the trip is not to a nice local stationery shop – my visit will be to a lineup in a grim faceless suburban courier depot.

The flip side, retail purchasing at a store, has lots of merits. You can see the true colour of an item. You can explore the texture. You can feel it’s weight. If it’s something like a fountain pen, you can dip it and see if you like how it writes! You can even talk with a real fellow human being.

It may be more expensive than buying from an online vendor who has no main street commercial rent to pay, but today we often pay for convenience – and what’s more convenient than this – being able to examine an item in detail – and should it meets your needs – pay for it and walk away with it.

So anyhow, I’m hoping there will soon be a snowstorm free evening here. I just received a final notice for a waiting package.

Seed HeshIQ 01 Eraser

Seed HeshIQ 01 Eraser

These are a set of nine “L”-shaped erasers from Seed of Japan. (Shown on Strathmore 400 Series Artagain black paper.)

The nine erasers together form a 3x3x3 cube. If you search the web, you’ll see that this is an example of a range of tiling/puzzle/cube problems that have attracted interest over the years. Mathematician John Conway is especially well known in this area.

Though interesting, I wish that the eraser pattern was a little more challenging to reassemble.

The erasers are good quality white vinyl, though probably impractical for frequent use. Of course with the pieces scattered on your desk, one will likely always be in sight, so there are merits.

If you like this sort of amusement, here’s my favorite online tile puzzle: Quzzle. I’ve neither solved it nor lost interest.

I also recommend browsing around the Seed site if you’re interested in erasers. They appear to have some very interesting products which unfortunately aren’t yet widely available outside Japan.

Lead Box Art

Lead Box Art

An eBay seller sent me a few “bonus” items with some pencils I bought – vintage lead refills.

The leads are 1.18 mm in diameter. Though once the standard, this diameter is infrequently used today. Unfortunately, I don’t own a pencil that can use this lead.

What has kept me interested is the packaging – these quotidian items have some beautiful graphic design.

Lead Box Art

The instructions and charts are engaging. (“Rear Drive vs. “Front Drive” – are we conversing of cars or pencils?)

I’m hoping to get a pencil that could use this type of lead.

“Saving forests one pencil at a time” – the Forest Stewardship Council of Canada pencil

Forest Stewardship Council of Canada pencil

I ordered these pencils from the Forest Stewardship Council of Canada after learning of their new marketing initiative. The pencils have an imprinted slogan, “Saving forests one pencil at a time”, which I found intriguing.

I’ve enjoyed using the ForestChoice pencil, and had hoped this might be some sort of equivalent.

The pencils are round with a diameter of about 7.5 mm. They are unfinished, with a silver coloured ferrule, and a lime green eraser.

When I say unfinished, I mean unfinished. While there must have been some fine sanding or equivalent done, since there are no splinters, there is no obvious lacquer, paint, coating, wax, or any other type of finish on this pencil!

Forest Stewardship Council of Canada pencil

The pencil is also aromatic, much beyond typical pencils. Never mind “whiff of cedar”, this is more like “timber mill floor”. I haven’t decided if I like it, but it is strong enough to be distracting at times.

The feel is rough. I suppose this is the trade off for not using any finish.

The lead – it makes a mark, but it’s rough and scratchy, though not crumbly. It’s not going to be the choice of anyone who has ready alternatives.

Forest Stewardship Council of Canada pencil

One of the most interesting aspects of the pencil is it’s adherence to the FSC’s chain of custody policies. The pencil has an imprinted FSC serial number (SCS-COC-00287) which let’s one trace the pencil’s origins. To my surprise, the manufacturer is the venerable Musgrave Pencil Company of Tennessee!

In the end, I’m wondering how many would choose to use a pencil this raw.