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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Mongol 482, April’s Calendar and Cookbook Wednesdays

Today’s musing is an amalgamation of a little bit of this and that. So grab a cookie and some milk and let’s get started:)

Let’s begin with a question. Do you know what day today is? Why it’s National Pencil Day; that’s what! There’s a reason why we celebrate National Pencil Day today. Here it is!

"Be it known that I, HYMEN L. LIPMAN, of Philadelphia, in the county of Philadelphia and State of Pennsylvania, have invented a new and useful Lead Pencil and Eraser; and I do hereby declare the following is a full, clear, and exact description thereof, reference being had to the accompanying drawing and to the letters of reference marked thereon.

I make a lead-pencil in the usual manner, reserving about one fourth of the length, in which I make a groove of suitable size, A, and insert in this groove a piece of prepared indian rubber, (or other abrasive substance,) secured to said pencil by being glued at one edge. The pencil is then finished in the usual manner, so that on cutting one end thereof you have the lead B, and on cutting at the other end you expose a small piece of indian-rubber, C, ready for use, and particularly valuable for removing or erasing lines, figures, etc., and not subject to be soiled or mislaid on the table or desk". (patent)

Yes siree, it was on this day in 1858 that Mr. Hymen L. Lipman forever altered our lives by “allowing” us to change our lines, words, errors and thoughts by the mere inclusion of an eraser to a pencil, which by most accounts has been mass produced, first in Nuremberg Germany, since around 1662.

Hold your applause. Mr. Lipman’s patent was challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court. However, not only does the patent still exist and get the recognition it rightly deserves, Mr. Lipman had sold the patent to Joseph Reckendorfer for $100,000 long before the court case was ever heard. Whew! Now, I wonder, why are writing pencils usually yellow?

Why Are Pencils Yellow?

Thanks to the folks at the California Cedar Products Company and their website pencils.com, we learn the answer.

During the 1800s, the best graphite in the world came from China. American pencil makers wanted a special way to tell people that their pencils contained Chinese graphite.

In China, the color yellow is associated with royalty and respect. American pencil manufacturers began painting their pencils bright yellow to communicate this “regal” feeling and association with China. However, according to Henry Petroski’s history of the pencil, the European producer Koh-I-Noor was the first to introduce a yellow pencil.

Are you a Famous Pencil User? I think I’ll share this post with my grandson Noah. He may just have the makings of being a future Famous Pencil Use. He penciled this eye for me just a few months ago. Personally, I think it's pretty darn terrific! Noah is eleven:)

Before we venture on, I’d like to share part of an essay by Leonard Read first published in the December 1958 issue of The Freeman. The title of the piece is "I, Pencil: My Family Tree as Told to Leonard E. Read.” It is said Mr. Read visited an Eberhard Faber pencil factory in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania while researching the essay. I, Pencil is written in the first person from the point of view of a pencil. (official name Mongol 482.) Enjoy:)

I am a lead pencil—the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write.

Writing is both my vocation and my avocation; that's all I do.

You may wonder why I should write a genealogy. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mystery—more so than a tree or a sunset or even a flash of lightning. But, sadly, I am taken for granted by those who use me, as if I were a mere incident and without background. This supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the commonplace. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist without peril. For, as a wise man observed, "We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.”

I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me—no, that's too much to ask of anyone—if you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because—well, because I am seemingly so simple.

Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn't it? Especially when it is realized that there are about one and one-half billion of my kind produced in the U. S. A. each year.

Pick me up and look me over. What do you see? Not much meets the eye—there’s some wood, lacquer, the printed labeling, graphite lead, a bit of metal, and an eraser.

Just as you cannot trace your family tree back very far, so is it impossible for me to name and explain all my antecedents. But I would like to suggest enough of them to impress upon you the richness and complexity of my background.

My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons and the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement into saws, axes, motors; the growing of hemp and bringing it through all the stages to heavy and strong rope; the logging camps with their beds and mess halls, the cookery and the raising of all the foods. Why, untold thousands of persons had a hand in every cup of coffee the loggers drink!

The logs are shipped to a mill in San Leandro, California. Can you imagine the individuals who make flat cars and rails and railroad engines and who construct and install the communication systems incidental thereto? These legions are among my antecedents.

Consider the millwork in San Leandro. The cedar logs are cut into small, pencil-length slats less than one-fourth of an inch in thickness. These are kiln dried and then tinted for the same reason women put rouge on their faces. People prefer that I look pretty, not a pallid white. The slats are waxed and kiln dried again. How many skills went into the making of the tint and the kilns, into supplying the heat, the light and power, the belts, motors, and all the other things a mill requires? Sweepers in the mill among my ancestors? Yes, and included are the men who poured the concrete for the dam of a Pacific Gas & Electric Company hydroplant which supplies the mill's power!

Don’t overlook the ancestors present and distant who have a hand in transporting sixty carloads of slats across the nation from California to Wilkes-Barre…continue...
“To keep our past failures ever before us would cause us to continue to fail, so take out your pencil, rub out the mark and start over again.”
Rev. Silas Delmar Conger (Who Made That Built-In Eraser?)

It would seem in this day and age of digital everything, the lonely pencil would join the ever growing list of tools of the past. However, global pencil sales are expected to reach $2.6 billion this year. Whoops, now that I type that, it doesn’t seem like very many. Uh oh, what’s a pencil loving girl to do? Succumb to hand entering each and every recipe of interest through the impersonal keyboard? I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have a pencil between my fingers rather than have my fingertips jumping all over a mostly unfriendly keyboard. Not to mention the touch feely comfort I get of actually holding that pencil written recipe in hand.

How To Make a Pencil

April’s Food Calendar

The first thing you may notice about this month’s food calendar is the blank dates. I can explain:) You see, there were just to many variations as to whether some food “holidays” were actually “real.” I didn’t just want to fill in the blanks so the calendar looked stuffed so, I chose to simply highlight those days I thought would be of interest to us all. I do hope you all agree:)

The next thing you might notice is April 4th which spells out Square Root Day and the Opening Day of baseball season. It just so happens that this year Square Root Day coincides with Baseball’s opening day. That dear readers does not happen often. As a matter of fact, Square Root Day only happens nine times in a century! (The last Square Root Day of the century will be on September 9, 2081.) And, according to my research, this is the very first time that Opening Day and Square Root Day happen together!!! (if I’m wrong, please let me know:)

Square Root Day is an unofficial holiday that occurs when the month and day are square roots of the last two digits of the year.

Some people will celebrate Square Root Day by preparing foods in the shape of the square root symbol. Others may simple cut root vegetables into squares. (square carrots, parsnips, yams and turnips; maybe, I’m not too sure about kohlrabi and ginger though) If anyone does celebrate Square Root Day by cubing their root vegetables, or in any other novel way, please share:) I guess creative bakers out there could also bake up some square baseballs cupcakes:) As much as I know my grandson Noah would LOVE them, I think I’ll be leaving that task to his baseball coach who just happens to be his Mom:)

Cookbook Wednesdays

Beginning next Wednesday, April 6th, Cookbook Wednesdays will once again be a day for all of you to share some of your favorite cookbooks. We’ll be using the Linky Tool again so everyone can link up:) There aren't rules "per se" to participate in Cookbook Wednesday. Just dig out one of your favorite cookbooks and post about it on your blog. You can share a recipe, tell us why you like it or simply post a picture for all to see:) What? You don’t have any cookbooks! Oh my, we’ll have to do something about that in the near future:) In the mean time, start that wish list, lol…If you would like to grab the logo I made to include in your post, that would be wonderful! If not, that’s fine too:) Either way, please do link back to this post or any Cookbook Wednesday you participate in. I’m looking forward to seeing all your cookbooks. “See” you next week, Louise:)

Cookbook Wednesday Logo
"If it thunders on All Fool's Day, it brings good crops of corn and hay"
Topsy Turvy and a Humpty Dumpty Cake:)