When visiting the Waddington Duck Race, a duck race taking place once a year here in England’s North West, I was happy to see that the bureaucratic side of the duck race was run by Staedtler’s Minerva pencils.
The Minerva didn’t used to be common in the UK at all, but a few years ago it suddenly made it into lots of corner shops.
My employer, a university, also sold it in its shops. Unfortunately, since then the Minerva has disappeared nearly as fast as it appeared.
This made me even happier when I found many of them in the booth where the race tickets were sold (in the cardboard box in the photo above). They were used to record details of participants.
Luckily Staedtler pencils haven’t disappeared. They are still the staple pen of British schools. I hope this will be the case in the future, even after Staedtler’s switch to more Gmelina wood.
In a few years, we might all be carrying less graphite with us.
Not because we’ll be switching to harder pencils with less graphite and more clay, but because of our mobile phone batteries. There’s a new carbon in town (called OSPC-1) that might replace graphite in lithium-ion batteries.
…”store more than twice as many lithium ions, and therefore power”
…”store lithium ions at more than double the rate as graphite – meaning charging speeds can be twice as fast”
“Discharge speeds can also be vastly improved […] which means it can also be used to power more energy-hungry applications”
It also seems to avoid the problem current lithium-ion batteries have (dendrites) that can cause them “to explode into flames”.
It also seems to be “much more longer-lasting than graphite” meaning batteries might not deteriorate so fast.
One thing to mention though: Graphite is quite cheap (unless you buy it in the shape of a CalCedar Blackwing or a Graf von Faber-Castell pencil). The new material isn’t (yet?). Who knows how long it will take to end up in consumer products.
Another Shanghai post and a quick look at another bookstore. This one is in Shanghai’s Pudong district, very close to the Oriental Pearl Tower. The official English name seems to be ‘Pearl Life Aesthetics Museum’.
It’s one of the most unusual bookstores I have seen. It is directly outside some of the busiest streets of buzzing Shanghai, the most populous city in the world (more inhabitants than Australia or more than Ireland, Austria and Switzerland together).
Inside, it is an unexpected oasis of calmness, though. When you enter the bookstore you are in the Café area.
Coffee and cakes aren’t cheap here, but then again they aren’t that much more expensive than in nearby chains like Starbucks.
The bookstore consists of several small building, all encased in the garden that surrounds them.
People can sit there and read a book, while enjoying their hot drinks.
Most tables also have buttons you can press to summon a helpful employee.
The whole place was extremely clean, but despite outside being very busy (nearly chaotically busy) there was only one other customer (except us) in all the small buildings..
I hope this kind of bookstore can survive. I assume it is somehow subsidised, but I am not sure how long that will last in a fast changing place like Shanghai.