Monday, February 18, 2008

Fuck The Z-Grip: The Saga Continues

This past August, I made a grave mistake. Standing in a Staples aisle, I thought to myself "our Civilization has surely advanced to the point where we can't screw up mechanical pencils. I mean, we put a man on the moon, so of course we can make perfectly good mechanical pencils, right?" Thus foolishly mistaken, I grabbed the first bunch of pencils I saw. Given my propensity for losing writing utensils, I grabbed a lot (though, mysteriously, not a lot of pens, which I have since run out of several times).

This was the beginning of the Hell that was Z-Grip mechanical pencils.

They are ugly. Really, very, quite ugly. The eraser is the same thing as the clicky-make-more-lead-come-out thing, so every time you erase something, you end up with a dangerously long piece of lead. If you use an eraser too much, you'll never get it out and therefore never be able to load more lead into the pencil. They suck.

But that's just the beginning.

They jam incessantly. At times, it is impossible to get any workable lead out of them, even though there is clearly a piece 4 millimeters from the opening. In this event, you must disassemble the pencil and use a writing utensil that doesn't fail at life to poke out the tiny piece of lead that's jammed into the tip. This happens a lot because these pencil are psychotic lead serial killers. I don't know how it works, but somehow they manage to hack up pieces of lead internally. It's not that you break your tip off a lot while writing, it gets broken off inside the pencil. This means your pencil is constantly coughing up tiny pieces of lead, all too small to actually use. They go into the loader in one long piece, so some part of the clicky-make-more-lead-come-out system must butcher this stuff. So not only do you use only a fraction of your lead for actual writing, but you spend 50% of your time using the defective clicker to get more lead out instead of taking harried notes on FileNotFoundExceptions like you need to.

Why do I still use them? Well, most of my money goes towards laundry, LEGOs, and Bawls, so I can't justify buying new pencils when I still have some barely-workable ones. I've done everything I can to get rid of them; snapping a couple in frustration, lending them as often as I can, but they won't go away. I loose black pens at a rate of 1 per 6.8 days, and these stupid pencils at a rate of 1 per 43.2 days.



The Juicy One said...

sweet life.

dr_koopon said...

As a loser of about 10 of those, and a still-owner of 5 or 6 more, I extend my deepest sympathies. They really do suck.

That said, a couple points of advice. First, you can load mechanical pencils from the from without removing the eraser, but it takes some manuel dexterity and risks breaking the lead, but it works.
Secondly, papermate clearpoints are amazing. Haven't used them much myself, but I've examined them closely and they're very nice, and I know a couple people who have had single ones last literally years. Take a look at them, they are kinda expensive (6$ for a 2-pack) but that's with extra erasers (and they're giant too) and extra lead.

Staples site product info:

(if you want .7 mm, change the 461 to a 462)

justifiably_vertical said...

Best comment ever...(except the Elvish ones).

And (lol) my Google ads is advertising mechanical pencils...maybe they're good too...