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Racing Ducks with Staedtler’s Minerva 4

Waddington Duck Race

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.

Waddington Duck Race

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.

Staedtler Minerva

My employer, a university, also sold it in its shops. Unfortunately, since then the Minerva has disappeared nearly as fast as it appeared.

Waddington Duck Race

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.

Waddington Duck Race

The race started at this end.

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.

Waddington Duck Race

Goodbye, Waddington

 


Goodbye Graphite? 4

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.

It can…

  • …”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.

Read more about it in this article from Lancaster University.

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.

Graphite (Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Similar stuff on Bleistift.blog:

Graphite from the moon

Graphite in the news

Soapy graphite


9H 5

Well, I managed to crack another screen protector for my phone. Time for a new screen protector.

I love how the hardness is described as 9H. I assume this is because the measure of hardness most people are most familiar with is the B – HB – H system used for pencils.

I image how the manufacturer imagines the customers to be very impressed: “9H… that’s as tough as it gets‽”


The Bookstore at Oriental Pearl TV Tower’s Gate 8 2

Pearl Life Aesthetics Museum

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’.

Pearl Life Aesthetics Museum

Tea and cake

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).

Pearl Life Aesthetics Museum

One of the gardens

Inside, it is an unexpected oasis of calmness, though. When you enter the bookstore you are in the Café area.

Pearl Life Aesthetics Museum

Nice desk accesories

Coffee and cakes aren’t cheap here, but then again they aren’t that much more expensive than in nearby chains like Starbucks.

Pearl Life Aesthetics Museum

The bookstore is split into different small buildings

The bookstore consists of several small building, all encased in the garden that surrounds them.

Pearl Life Aesthetics Museum

..and another building

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.

Pearl Life Aesthetics Museum

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..

Pearl Life Aesthetics Museum

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.

Pearl Life Aesthetics Museum

Next to the Oriental Pearl Tower (Image from Apple Maps)


Quiet! It’s a bookstore

Sisyphe

Sisyphe’s entrance

‘Quiet’ said the employee to a customer. Wherever I look, I see books in the shelves. You’d think this is a library, especially because of what the employee just said, but funnily enough, the employee doesn’t mind talking to another customer ..talking even louder than the customer she just shushed.

We are in a bookstore in Shanghai’s Hongkou Dragon Dream Shopping Centre1.

Inside Sisyphe

Inside Sisyphe

I wonder whether this shushing is some sort of marketing gag – like when you see employees at makeup counters dressed in lab coats – to make you think they are kind of like scientists or pharmacists.

‘Quiet’ is so that people can read their books in the library, but as a store, they want to earn money, so you wouldn’t want to visitors to read the books in the bookstore, you want them to buy the books, at least that’s how I thought it works. The shushing might be intended to make you feel as if you are in a less mundane place. Shushing = library, library = the equivalent of a spiritual 1UP.

Monami Olika and fake Hero Safaris

Monami Olikas and fake Hero Safaris (bottom right)

Like in virtually all bookstores in Shanghai, there’s a nice selection of ‘lifestyle stationery’, i.e. stationery that looks nice and is ‘trendy’. In the photo above you can see some of the cheaper fountain pens they sell: Monami Olikas and fake Hero Safaris (they look like Safaris, but instead of Lamy the brand name Hero is embossed on the barrel).

Sisyphe Fountain Pens

They also sell more formal looking, more expensive fountain pens (on the right in the photo above and in the photo below). These days glass dip pens also seem to be popular in Shanghai (on the left in the photo above ).

Sisyphe Fountainpens

I like bookstores in Shanghai. Many have a very similar choice of stationery to each other, but you can often find new and different stationery – and the stationery always tends to be presented in a nice way.

Coming soon: More blog posts about stationery in Shanghai.

  1. Unfortunately the Carl’s Jr. (a fast food chain from Los Angeles), which used to be on the same floor as this bookstore has disappeared from the shopping mall. []