Inktober: Ergonomic Pens and Grips Edition

One of the things I look forward to most about the month of October is Inktober, the drawing-a-day challenge that showcases the creative and diverse ways that artists can use ink and related materials. I didn’t make it to thirty-one drawings this year, but in honor of everyone who has given the challenge a try, I revisited the ergonomic pens, pencils, and grips I have tested over the years. Here they are, ranked from best to worst.

Grip on pen

1. Pencil Grip Pinch Grip. (Pictured on a BIC Round Stic ballpoint pen.) This is my go-to because it is so versatile. I use it all the time at work on standard ballpoint pens, and it fits over any standard pencil. I also use it on my slimmer paintbrushes (though sometimes it takes a little work to get it off again). This grip lets you hold a pen or pencil with your thumb and forefinger pinched together and your middle finger resting gently on the grip. The added thickness means you don’t have to pinch as tightly, and the comfortable, soft plastic prevents your fingers from sliding.

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Fairy Box

This story appeared in the 2016 Tiny Books zine, Little Things: Lives in Miniature.”

I have a fairy box. The box is about the size of a walnut. (If there were woodworkers who made walnut furniture out of walnuts, they would have made this box.) The fairy carved into the top has a bag full of stars by their side. They are either plucking stars out of the sky or placing them there. Either way, it doesn’t look like there are very many stars left.

I say “top” because it’s also a puzzle box. Like a walnut, it has no visible seams or cracks. It has no lid, but it can be opened. I shake it, and it makes no sound. It’s a box for keeping secrets in. The fairy, I think, would disagree; if I fill the box with secrets, where else will they put all the stars they are collecting?

It must be a very small secret, at any rate. I know what’s inside, because once you learn how to open the fairy box, you never forget. I’ll tell you: it’s a fortune from a fortune cookie. It tells me my lucky numbers. The fairy box holds the future!

I close it again, because the contents of the fairy box have failed to live up to expectations. But how do you open it? That, I won’t tell you.

Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” Disappoints

This article was written for the November 21, 2014, issue of the Pioneer Log. It was originally published online here

There are very few austere science fiction and space travel films made in the last 20 years that “Interstellar” doesn’t evoke. A man drives a truck through a cornfield in some unidentified part of the midwestern United States; he is asked to risk his life on a mission he may never return from, and his daughter tearfully begs him not to go. Even after Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), our fearless hero, is launched into space, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the film is just one long exercise in evoking déjà vu. Christopher and Jonathan Nolan, who co-wrote the screenplay, don’t give the audience much to distract them from that feeling.

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Renovations render Juniper unrecognizable

This article was written for the October 3, 2014, issue of the Pioneer Log. It was originally published online here

Once best known for its community garden, Juniper Hall has been set apart from its fellow Forest dorms in more ways than one by a recent renovation.

“We basically took the building down all the way down to the studs,” Associate Vice President for Facilities Michel George said. When they built it back up, not all of the changes were structural.

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Take me back to Greece

This article was written for the September 19, 2014, issue of the Pioneer Log. It was originally published online here. It was republished on Lewis & Clark’s website here

After a semester abroad in Rome, Allie McRaith (’16) spent another 10 weeks in Greece. But she didn’t spend her summer island hopping—she was working at the U.S. embassy in Athens.

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Diderot @ 300: Watzek’s new exhibit remembers our roots

This article was written for the September 27, 2013, issue of the Pioneer Log. It was originally published online here

Watzek Library has a new exhibit on one of the most influential figures of the 18th century. The library is celebrating Denis Diderot’s 300th birthday with an exhibit on his life, the Enlightenment and, of course, the Encyclopédie.

The Encyclopédie, which was edited by Diderot, exemplified Enlightenment thought and required hundreds of contributors. When completed, it contained 71,818 articles and 3,129 illustrations. A highlight of the exhibit is a series of these illustrations, or plates, showing craftsmen at work.

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I took this photo at the beginning of last summer. Now that I’m back in Portland for this summer again, I’ve been thinking about what this city means to me. Is the outline of that branch still there? How often do the lines on the side of the road get repainted? How quickly does the paint chip away?