If you have never been to Midland Liquidators on Kingsway here in Vancouver you may want to check them out. They are a not bad place for cheap prices on cheap crap. Plus every so often they have cheap prices on some good stuff. Usually surplus stuff they pick up. In fact I buy all my t-shirts there. Best deal in town at $3.99 each. (those are in the cheap crap pile) I buy stacks of them as that is all I wear.  

     Anyway a few years ago at their old location I was snooping around and found all these pencils. There were boxes of them. Each box must have had three or four hundred pencils in it. I think I picked up about eight or ten boxes. They were elephant brand and I am sure very old. The had an old musty and moldy smell. Strangely a smell I found delicious?? All the erasers had died, gone very hard and were covered in tiny little carcinogenic mold spots. Not a big deal to me and besides were only two bucks a box!! 

     Those old pencils took me back to when I was a kid spending most of my time sharpening my pencil. I loved the feel of that pencil sharpener and how it used to just eat up that pencil as I cranked the handle. Sharpening my pencil was just a way to get a break from the unbearable tedious boredom of learning the crap they teach in school. After it was sharpened I would pretend the lead was cracked and had to re-sharpen it again. The whole time gazing out the window and dreaming of funner things.

     Pencil sharpeners like a lot of things back there just were what they were. It was before "liar marketing" took over and they started using the term "heavy duty" You see marketers back then figured out that most people were stupid and if you called it "heavy duty" and made it "lighter duty" people would buy it like crazy. Cheaper to make and more sales meant more profits. The truth was people were not stupid they were just trusting. Anyway this all got out of hand and now today a heavy duty pencil sharpener will barely last long enough to get it home. I know since after finding the pencils I rushed out and bought a new version of those old sharpeners. My plan was to burn through a pile of those pencils just for old times sake.

     Well what a let down that was. After years of studying Death Stare kung fu, Steel fist kung fu, Iron lung non stop running, and Never Die Marathon Non-stop Weight Lifting I could barely crank the handle on that piece of shit. I fought that bloody sharpener for a long time before I figured out it was useless. In fact it was just a fifteen dollar pre marketing sales pitch for the fifty dollar, almost as useless, electric but gutless, break in a month version. My dreams of chewing up a pile of pencils for fun had been dashed. I was out fifteen bucks for the pencil sharpener. I could have bought sandpaper at least it would have been quicker.

     Well a couple of years later I was scrounging around this garage sale when I came across a box half full of small paintings by Arthor Lismor. They were nice but not something that would have went well with our couch. In that same box though was a old original Giant Pencil sharpener in mint condition. I could not believe my eyes and wondered it was the same one I used to use back in school. The guy wanted ten bucks for the whole box but I only wanted the pencil sharpener. I had no use for a pile of old dusty paintings. At first he would not sell it separately but I waved five buck cash at him and he bit. I grabbed that sharpener and made a break for the door.

     After getting home I got the feeling that I had been kind of stupid. After all I did not know for sure that this was the same style I used in school . Just the same I kept my hopes up and pulled the new one I had mounted on the wall off and lopped it into the garbage can. I then mounted this old one up on the wall and gave it a try. Well what a shock that was. That sharpener just chewed into that pencil like it was butter!!!! Smooth clean easy cutting action that even a kid could use. I was amazed beyond belief. In fact so much that I pulled the new one out of the garbage can and remounted it on my bench to try again. Sure enough not worth the time or plastic it took to make it. At first I wanted to blame the inventors but quickly realized that it was just another case of accountants eroding the passions of mankind.

     Ever since then when ever I feel the burden of learning getting me down I go over to my sharpener and plow a few pencils through it. It worked for me back then and still works for me now...