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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

My kingdom for a pencil that sharpens properly!

Today it rained and was only about 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  At the end of the month of April.  I don't know why I'm making a big deal over that.  It's pretty much standard protocol in Rhode Island.  That being said, the school day was tough.  Indoor recess is a nightmare for all involved.  The kids are loud and we spend all our time in the gym, which smelled of floors that had just been waxed with rancid oil.  You know the smell of oil that's been sitting in the cabinet too long, or those long forgotten nuts you found?  You open the package and it smells wrong.  Bad.  That smell was my life for over an hour (because right after indoor recess, my class went to PE...in the gym).

Anyway, last night Alex was doing homework (like he does) when his pencil broke (as they do).  That's not an issue for most people, but we break lots of pencils around here given that Alex doesn't know how much force he's using from day to day, and the pencils we have are just garbage.  They don't sharpen anymore.  I have actually taken a brand new pencil from the box and sharpened it right down to the half way point just trying to get a point that was free of wood.  You sharpen the pencil and then it's pointy, but half of it's still covered with wood.  If you get the wood off, the graphite tip is wobbling around in the wood casing and as soon as you put the point to the paper, it snaps off again. 

I asked a few teachers, and one recommended the Dixon Ticonderoga brand to me, however I realize that I've used those and still had issues with the wood sticking to the point. It wasn't until I read a review of the Dixon Ticonderoga black pencils that I understood why this was happening.  The graphite isn't centered in the pencil.  This is a huge problem when trying to sharpen the pencil.  Another friend recommended that I might need a better sharpener, however I realized that I actually own the exact brand she recommended (the x-acto brand in fact) and I've had the same problem.

It used to be that you could just go to the store and get the box of bright yellow pencils, and be all set.  Then all sorts of companies started making the yellow ones and I couldn't remember which ones were the good ones anymore.  Now I realize that the company that made those outsourced the work and now they're made in another country with lower quality materials.  That's when I realized that one brand really sharpened nicely for the kids at school, and I asked my special ed teacher what brand they were.  The winning pencil is the Mirado Black Warrior HB2, and she gave me a few from her secret stash to take home.  So far Alex isn't having any difficulty with them and I'm planning to order a big pack from Amazon.  As a matter of fact, I just broke one on purpose and sharpened it to a super sharp point with my regular manual sharpener.  And by the way, who knew there was an entire blog on pencils?!

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