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To write or not to write, that is the question

Submitted by Eric Daniel

Irwin Carpenter Pencil

The Army is fixated on two things, paperwork, and ink pens. Everything must be in ink; if it's not, then it's not official. Yet over the years I have come to fear the government-issue Skilcraft pen. I cannot count the number of times I've had one of those little black demons vomit all over my uniform pocket. Moreover, ink doesn't work worth a flip in the rain, even if you're using storm-proof or treated paper. One way to get around that issue though is to use pencil, and in that arena, the best tool for the job that I've found it the carpenter's pencil. In the event you don't know, carpenter pencils are those big, flat, pencils with a large lead you see construction folks using. They are easy to grip with gloves on, they don't tear wet paper when you use them, and they are easy to sharpen. Most importantly, they're something like 50 cents apiece, which makes them cheaper than mechanical pencils and the tube of replacement leads they require.

Another nifty writing implement, again courtesy of the construction jobsite is the lumber crayon. Basically a grease pencil (or china marker for you old timers) writ large, lumber crayons come in a variety of colors, are cheap as hell, and will write on just about any surface, wet or dry. This makes them useful for marking up structures or vehicles to communicate status or contents, rather than trying to do so with spray paint or a sharpie.

Both of these are available at just about any hardware store, home improvement store, or construction materials supply store.

Submitted by Joe Brett

The grease pencil was used in Vietnam by us 0-1 Bird dog pilots in three ways: 1. to make a mark on the front window that was became gun site for shooting our WP rockets; 2. A marker to write on the window the coordinates, call signs, frequencies and other data for running air strikes and adjusting artillery; and 3. to mark the cylinders on the engine. The mag with the cold grease was the one with a magneto drop.

Buy the Irwin Carpenter Pencil

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