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Mathematicians Are Hoarding a Type of Japanese Chalk (gizmodo.com)
244 points by curtis on June 16, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 109 comments



I remember news of the demise of the company hitting Japanese media outlets a couple of months ago. Here are some tidbits from that article that weren't covered by the Gizmodo piece:

- A group of American mathematicians reportedly purchased 1 metric ton of the chalk.

- Hagoromo was a technologically pioneering company, with things like (1) innovations in a greener manufacturing process for chalk, (2) chalk that can write on a wet blackboard surface, and (3) colored chalk that could be discerned by people who are color blind.

- The company is shutting down not because of revenue problems, but because of the ailing health of the President and lack of a successor. Iirc the current president is the 3rd head of the company in its history.


"Lack of a successor".

This is a very common problem these days; during the winter I bought a sweater at a Portland outdoor gear shop after searching all over creation for real wool clothing as it was a bitterly cold winter.

The owner told me that he could not find someone to buy his store as everyone shops online these days. When he retires he's just going to shut it down.


Can't he hire someone who would go online?


All sorts of high-quality stationery are becoming impossible to find. I used to love poking around real stationery stores as a kid. Today's "warehouse" stores are a lot less fun that a real stationer. For people who don't know, a real stationer would have 10x the number of SKUs that Staples and Office Depot carry.

- Elastic bands from almost any store today are now a synthetic beige or grayish-tan material that is much less springy than pure rubber, and it rots leaving a sticky residue in less than a year. A real stationer used to have dozens of shapes and sizes of elastics, not 3 or 4 choices you have now.

- A high quality manual stapler is really hard to find. I haven't found any equal to my Apsco 2002 stapler which is no longer made. Everything I tried jams more often.

- If you want to put an envelope snugly inside a slightly larger envelope -- for example, to enclose a reply envelope -- good luck finding that in any brick-and-mortar store today. You'll have to order it.

Those huge arts and crafts stores like Michaels do have an overlap with what a real stationer used to be, but it's not a superset.

I've noticed some differences by country too: Compared to the US, good quality stationery is very hard to find in Brazil (even in rich neighborhoods)[1]. Generally in brick-and-mortar stores in Western Europe, you find high-quality stationery more easily than in the US warehouse stores. I've never been to Japan, so I'm curious to know what it's like there.

[1] http://brazilsense.com/index.php?title=Items_more_expensive_...


I came back from my last trip to Japan with more than $50 in pens and notebooks, so in a nutshell: the Japanese stationery market is amazing, and even a 7-11 on any random street corner will have a better and dramatically higher quality stationery selection than most big box stores in the US.


> - A high quality manual stapler is really hard to find. I haven't found any equal to my Apsco 2002 stapler which is no longer made. Everything I tried jams more often.

Luckily, the dimensions of a standard staple haven't change in 50+ years, so you can purchase a beautiful used old Ace Pilot for under $15 - http://munk.org/typecast/2014/05/21/stapler-of-the-week-1938... (Or just get a new-used Apsco 2002 on ebay..)

But I agree. We (?) have a tendency to turn iteratively refined utilitarian items into commodities, and in the process, lose the subtle design aspects that made them remarkable in the first place.


That's capitalism in a nutshell. Quality, or "actually working" is not an important value and in time it gets cut out (those who don't get outcompeted by those who do).


That's human nature, not capitalism. Remember the socialist republics of the 20th century? Their goods were shoddier still, because they didn't have enough competition to keep them honest.


Boy that is one of the most inaccurate definition of capitalism I have ever heard. By your definition there would not be any quality product left in US or in any free market. As others state, this is human behavior. Most people does not care about the quality of the trivial items, so they prefer cheap but functioning goods. For niche consumers, prices will be high and production will be less. There are however things block actual capitalism to function well, such as protectionist policies that prevents you importing superb Japanese staples and pens cheaply.


Yeah absolutely. There's definitely no market for high quality items and people are most decidedly not willing to pay extra for quality. Nope, everyone wants the exact same mass produced crap, which is why everyone shops only at the dollar store and why the terms handmade, handcrafted, and artisinal are now in the popular lexicon.


Hold on, there's no "mass" market for high quality items. If you want extreme quality handmade stuff you can find it, but you may need to look for it rather than just go to "box store" and you pay a lot more.


Do you know about http://www.jetpens.com ? They import lots of stuff from Japan. It is a fun place to get interesting pens, etc.


the selection of Drafting Pencils and stationary are top notch!


> I've never been to Japan, so I'm curious to know what it's like there.

There's no comparison, Japan is light years ahead of the U.S. when it comes to stationery. Premium stationery items in Japan are often more technically-oriented than those of Western Europe, which has more of a conservative/old-money feel to it.

For instance, I recently bought a Sharbo X LT3 three-way multi-pen (two ink colors plus a mechanical pencil component). The pen is all-metal, perfectly balanced, no wider than a regular pen, and (with Jetstream ballpoint refills) writes beautifully.


> All sorts of high-quality stationery are becoming impossible to find.

I'm starting to feel like a weirdo looking for decent bookmarks.


I've been a coder for 27 years. My experience was that it was always far more effective to apply for jobs with dead-tree cover letters, resumes and envelopes, all on matching stationery.

I prefer a formal yet understated look, either pale blue or pale grey watermarked cotton bond.

A while back I looked for matching paper and envelopes at office depot. I quite sadly found a few scattered boxes of paper and envelopes, but none that matched each other.

I have two partially empty boxes of paper but no envelopes. I know I can order them online but I far prefer to support brick-and-mortar stores.

I went shopping for what I thought was a desk lamp but it turned out I wanted a "task lamp". I found just the right lamp at Sears.com so I dropped by a Sears store in Portland.

"No, we don't carry lamps but you can find them all on our website," said the cheery young salesgirl.

"Yes I know, I found just the lamp I want at Sears.com," I solemnly replied.

"But the reason I am here today is so you will have a job."

Her face fell; that had simply not occurred to her.


Whether it occurred to her or not, she most likely has absolutely nothing to do with Sears' inventory decisions, so I don't understand what the need of saying something like that is.


Perhaps to get other people to realize the impact of online-all-the-time shopping has on brick and mortar retail and the people it employs, and the human contact lost.

I might have said the same thing, with no malice.


Then your problem is with the corporate office, and not individual salespeople who don't need to be reminded that they're being obsoleted by online shopping, and who can't do anything about it even if you do.


What I'm hearing is that ignorance is bliss.


I don't think she was aware that the corporate office was working towards obsoleting her.

I eventually found the exact same lamp at Fred Meyer.

One time I went to pay my AT&T bill. "Use the kiosk" they said. "No I want to pay in cash." "We can take cash but there's a fifteen dollar service charge for that."

"I just took the bus twenty miles so you will have a job."


I was pointing out that her management had instructed her to make herself unemployable.


And she's supposed to do what? Disobey, when it's already been made clear that management doesn't care about her job? Apart from boosting your own ego or scoring points against a low-wage retail worker, I really don't see anybody benefiting from your pointing this out.


Sears grew up as a mail-order catalogue merchant — they were the Amazon of the day, tookin de jerbs of local brick-and-mortars.


Or more likely her face fell because she took it as an insult.


(I don't mean to come across as standoffish -- quite the opposite. I'm just being curious) How that could be taken as an insult?


Offering charity to someone can be seen as putting yourself above them socially, and someone could read that as the primary intent. She might see him as denigrating her job. Especially if it is after she just offered help and the he seemed non-plussed.

I don't know if that was the case here. There is a lot of phrasing and body language involved as well, which we aren't seeing in his retelling (other than her own, "face fell," which he manages to read large amount into the same as she might have read (or misread) out of his).


I grew up writing on blackboards, so obviously this is purely my subjective preference, but I also find blackboards much better to think on than whiteboards. One thing I particularly don't like is that I tend to write quite fast; the faster you write, the more likely it is that a marker will leave a thin, washed out, barely legible stroke, whereas chalk is always nice and clear. I also tend to leave things up on my board for a few days, after which a lot of dry erase markers become a pain to erase, whereas chalk always erases nicely.

I have a whiteboard in my office, but if I could get it switched out with a blackboard without bothering my nice office manager who already has way too much work to be bothered by my weird requests, I'd do it in a heartbeat.


I was not allowed to have a blackboard in my office because the boss said the chalk dust gets into the computers and causes problems (or makes you have to clean them frequently). We were a software company, so there were a bazillion computers around.

I don't know if this is true or not, and if it is true whether or not with careful use you can avoid the problem, but if you ever do ask for a blackboard, make sure you have some answer for this in case someone brings it up as an objection.


I was at a university some years ago that had blackboards in all the rooms except the computer labs, which had whiteboards instead, also citing this reason. At the time I believe whiteboards were more expensive (and less familiar), so they were put only where "needed", i.e. rooms with computers. These days I see mostly just whiteboards everywhere, though.


Whiteboards also make dust in the form of dried ink...


It is nothing compared to the quantity of chalk dust generated. I've used chalkboards for years though in computer labs and around other electronic equipment, it has no noticeable effect.


On the topic of writing-surface ergonomics, I've always been curious about what it would feel like to write on a sufficiently-large magnetic drawing board (i.e. a scaled-up version of one of those toys containing iron filings that comes with a magnetic stylus.)


How about scaled up e-ink display, which is essentially a grown-up version of the same toy you mention?


What's on the back of the whiteboard? Can you flip it over and paint it with blackboard paint?


TIL it'l not so hard to make your own blackboard. http://thedecorologist.com/dont-use-chalkboard-and-magnetic-...


Where I live whiteboards are usually made of plastic, and blackboard of wood or painted directly on the wall.


Can you list a few other weird requests you've made? I'm curious if there's anything you can recommend!


Whiteboard surfaces become harder to erase if cleaned with alcohol, which is quite common. I find that you can write quite quickly if you use high quality markers and I tend to bring my own markers everywhere just to make things easier.


My father was an old-school physics teacher before he retired. He had the last blackboard in his school. It was glass, painted with special blackboard paint. There were signs hung both sides warning the cleaners never to touch it, ever. Apparently there had been an incident when they'd cleaned a blackboard with silicone polish and completely ruined it.


I don't speak spanish, but I'll forever remember "No Borrar Por Favor", because it was written on a large sign stuck to every single blackboard in my high school and college.


I like whiteboards a lot more now that I've discovered the joy of fine-tipped whiteboard markers.


> I also tend to leave things up on my board for a few days, after which a lot of dry erase markers become a pain to erase, whereas chalk always erases nicely.

This. If they could fix this with whiteboards, I figure they'd be a lot more popular--and no I don't need to know tricks to clean the whiteboard, indeed even deodorant spray works well enough, but it'd be nice to have a whiteboard that just wipes clean as well after a few days as it does after an hour :)

That, and the problem with pens running out. But that's a problem I feel I could have more control over if I were to use a whiteboard more often :)


I find the erasability of blackboards and whiteboards is a function of the quality of materials. Crappy markers look washed out and yet erase poorly, as does crappy chalk. Better markers (I bring my own into work for this reason) write smoothly and erase nicely. Obviously the quality of the boards themselves also plays a role.


I recently discovered that common alcohol-based hand sanitizer works very well to remove stubborn white board marker. Not sure if it just works on my particular brand of markers or if the solvent is more universal, but give it a try.


I've found that drawing over the mark with a white board marker seems to make it removable.


I've found that it also works for permanent marker.


I've found that people keep repeating this but it doesn't work. So a couple of places in our office have permanent marker marks with smudges all around it from where someone tried to wipe it off with alcohol then a dry-erase marker.


I've found the opposite, IME; perhaps the issue is with your boards? We regularly have this happen at work and the permanent marker is always removed. It also works on plastic containers - I've successfully done this hundreds of times on both reusable plastic bins for my food at work, as well as items I buy (and resell) from Goodwills and Savers / Value Villages. I've not yet run across a plastic container that this hasn't worked on.

I've obviously not tried this with "hundreds" of whiteboards, but the one we have on the fridge at home works as well as the several size and types we have at work.


Drawing over permanent marker with a white board marker does work provided the permanent marker hasn't dried yet.

Or, at least, I have done this successfully before now - so my current working assumption is "people are waiting too long after which it doesn't work", but since I like my white boards I'm unwilling to run the necessary experiments to test this.


I don't think time has anything to do with it. Rather it's the solvent in the dry erase marker. I used to use dry erase markers to remove extension numbers from the little tabs on 66 blocks back in the days before IP phones. Sometimes those numbers had been there for 15+ years.

So, my advice would be: if one brand of dry erase marker doesn't remove your permanent marker mark, try a different brand. I think I used Expo.


It definitely works under the following conditions(I have done it dozens of times when a dangus has written on my whiteboard with the wrong marker):

1. You have just applied the permanent marker

2. You have a fairly wet dry-erase marker

3. You blot the perm with the dry-erase so as to flush the site with ink

4. Attempt to wipe/remove

5. Do this fast


Hand sanitizer will usually have moisturizer. It's better to use isopropyl alcohol as close to 100% as possible.


You can get black dry-erase boards too, with white markers, if you prefer light-on-dark instead of the other way around.


Can you just get one from an office supply store and swap it out yourself?


In case anyone's wondering what the formula on the blackboard is:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tupper's_self-referential_form...


In my mind the real tragedy is blackboards. Almost nowhere has good blackboards anymore except for math departments in older universities that stubbornly refuse to replace their old boards. Since the 1970s everything has been replaced with inferior materials.


What makes for a good blackboard? Could they be reproduced?


The old good ones are heavy, dark, and silky smooth. The new ones are lighter, noisier, have more friction, and erasing leaves more of a mess (in my opinion). Reading online people say that the old slate ones were harder to erase and had glare problems. I agree with the glare, the old style boards do show glare from sunlight coming in from side windows which is annoying.


The reason you have problems with markers is that, when a marker is out of ink, people put it back on the whiteboard instead of throwing it in the trash.


That's a strange phenomena. People don't seem to think of whiteboard markers as disposable things. If one isn't writing they think it either needs to be fixed, or that they aren't using it correctly and it might resume writing later. I've tried to fight this by ostentatiously throwing them immediately in the trash the first time they stop writing, and it seems to be catching. I don't encounter nearly as many empty ones as I used to.


The problem is likely that there aren't spares available. For some reason companies are notorious for locking up whiteboard pens and only giving new ones when you've signed some obscure form in triplicate.


I feel irrationally responsible. I used to steal them out of the stationary cupboard in high school during the 1980s and give them away to anyone who wanted some, and was surprised at how popular they were with other students. At the time I thought that either everyone else liked art class as much as I did, or that perhaps some of them were using them for graffiti, but some years later it dawned on me that they provided a relatively safe way to abuse solvents :-.


Just need a small green bin with the "chasing arrow" logo marked "marker recycling."

Then at night the custodians will just tip it into the trash as they do with most recycling containers now.


> People don't seem to think of whiteboard markers as disposable things. //

Perhaps that's because they're usually refillable - the writing tip lasts much longer than the ink supply.


Usually when a marker "runs out" it just has all the ink drained to the back of the pen. If you hold the pen with the tip facing down, it'll drain the ink back to the tip and it will write again.


Considering the fact that most whiteboards are installed vertically and that writing involves the tip being at a higher elevation than the back of the pen, this doesn't seem very sustainable. Yet another reason to prefer blackboards.


Price history is interesting [1], I'll take a guess that information of Hagoromo discontinuing this product went viral in January.

[1] http://camelcamelcamel.com/Hagoromo-Fulltouch-White-Chalk-72...


Oh my goodness what a wonderful site. I wanted to make something like this years ago and even registered a domain (buyitwhen.com) but everyone I explained the idea to just laughed at me and I didn't really know how to get started on it. Who's laughing now? Well mostly the people who are monetizing this thing but I am laughing along with them in an I-knew-it-would-work fashion. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.


Watch video lectures from MIT, they know what's up. 9 blackboards sliding on vertical rails. The lecturer doesn't have to waste time erasing boards, and the history stays up for a long time in case students fall behind on their notes.


Umm, wasn't something like this a standard thing already long ago? I gave the exercise lessons for programming courses at TKK (now Aalto University) over 25 years ago, and in the bigger lecture halls, we had a system where there were four or five blackboards rotating up/down with an electric control. So you'd fill one blackboard, and then push a button, and the used up blackboard would lift up, remain visible, and you'd go on with the next blackboard. The system looked like it had been in use since the 1960's when the campus was built.


Also, when the professor is done deriving some physics formula and is a factor of pi off, everyone can go error hunting to see where it was dropped. Respect for those who just show up to lecture without any notes.


Ah yes, pre Gutenberg teaching, the lecture version of 100 monks making copies of your work


You know what? Those lectures were the ones I remember 10x better than the ones with printed handouts and powerpoint slides.


Well, the Gutenberg Method of teaching suggests that instead of just reading handouts in the lecture you read them beforehand and do the problem solving in the lecture time, when you have the experts available to help when you find out you actually don't understand.

http://entropysite.oxy.edu/morrison.html


Ok, but I'd tend to call those "classes" or "supervisions"/"tutorials" if in small groups.

That essay seems to focus on how copying from the blackboard can go wrong, without covering the experience since 1986 of how powerpoint and handouts go even more wrong.

This isn't to say I totally disagree. I didn't bother with many lectures in undergrad, and most of my learning happened in classes/supervisions, which I guess are equivalent to what that guy calls the "Gutenberg method". It's just that I found when the lecture was copying from a blackboard, it tended to be worthwhile going - especially since it forces a slower pace and forces you to read the material exactly.


because writing in those classes dragged you down so much for the rest of the day you didn't read the slides again!


Wow: is this factually accurate? Hence the term 'lecturer'? From[1]:

"You wonder how on earth such a system ever arose because you know very well that nobody in his right mind would invent a system like this today. What I've heard, and I imagine that this is correct, is that it started a very long time ago, when books were rare and very expensive, and the only way to transmit information was for the teacher, who knew, to tell the students, who did not yet know. And they would write it all down and take it away with them, like a bunch of scribes. Remember, scribes were very big in the Middle Ages."

[1] http://entropysite.oxy.edu/morrison.html


Transcribing the notes is much better than simply having a copy printed for you.


The solution to your whiteboard woes: don't use dry-erase markers. Use washable crayons (as sold for small children). You'll never be surprised by an empty marker again. They take a damp cloth to wipe off, but they wipe off completely, regardless of how long they've been on the board.


My experience is they don't wash as well as dry-erase markers.

Propbably the best approach is just to carry two sets of dry-erase markers everywhere, one always sealed.


Thanks, I will try this.


OT, however, this made me think of Brandon Sanderson's book The Rithmatist where chalk and its formulation is an integral part of magic.

http://smile.amazon.com/Rithmatist-Brandon-Sanderson-ebook/d...


I remember a discussion about this on MathOverlow http://mathoverflow.net/questions/26267/where-to-buy-premium...


I remember that being linked from this article.


I taught with blackboard and chalk at a university and then at a high school for 9 years. I'm allergic and hated the chalk with a burning passion.


Someone pointed out that it's really hard to erase white boards. While it's trivial to erase a blackboard. Better for top secret stuff.


Point them to this helpful link. :)

http://rumkin.com/reference/whiteboard/index.php


Another evil of whiteboard markers is that they dry out. Leaving them open hastens their demise. This is especially noticeable right at the end of their lives when capping them in between periods of drawing and switching between several dying markers can get you through a talk.

Chalk is not entirely without treachery itself. The common North American breed is thinner and prone to snapping if you press too hard. If you don't bring your own with you, you're likely to have to make do with one of the tiny stubs that have been left behind. It's also pretty common to run into chalk brushes that contain more chalk than your chalk box.


I have two large blackboards in my own office in Phnom Penh. I couldn't live without them. There is a shop that makes them out of wood. They aren't nearly as nice as a proper ceramic coated steel chalkboard (they still make these in china -- look it up on alibaba) but wood still does the job. The only problem is that it's difficult to find large chalk sticks. Couldn't find them in Cambodia or Thailand, but there is a shop in Vientiane (the capital of Laos) that bought a crate of buckets of multi colored sidewalk chalk years ago, and I'm the only one who buys it. I've now bought at least 10 buckets. The only problem is that there are only two white sticks in each bucket and Vientiane is very far from Phnom Penh.... sigh.


Blackboards are better, but the argument about superior chalk is pretty dumb.

I had/used everything from blackboards to digital whiteboards. I still like blackboards better, but it's only going to last as long as digital displays improve.

Blackboards lasts forever. Whiteboards, especially the cheap ones, inevitably start to have stains that you cannot clean without some solvent.

Blackboards work with any chalk, essentially. You have to be careful about whiteboard markers, because many stink to oblivion (I get asthma out of them), and many others don't erase properly. One of the best markers I tried are the water-based made from Edding, but they're harder to clean, and you have to clean within a couple of hours in order to be able to clean at all. Chalk, on the other hand, lasts forever and can always be cleaned. If you want a perfect blackboard, just use a damp cloth.

There's this illusion that whiteboards are cleaner. Actually, they're not. Whiteboard "dry" markers work by depositing a fine powder on the surface. It's initially suspended in a liquid, and then sticks on the whiteboard "ideally" only due to electrostatic tension. Dry marker powder is often toxic, the suspension liquid is often toxic (especially when you breathe it), and the powder sticks fucng everywhere. If you're careful when erasing, a blackboard can be kept very clean. I have one in the kitchen.

The markers are expensive. Especially when you want the good, water-based ones. I often have to order those. Chalk is inexpensive, I can buy it anywhere.

Why the hell are we using whiteboards??

I built several whiteboards myself. They suck. The best approach to a whiteboard is buying a piece of glass the size you want, and gluing a piece of white adhesive plastic on the back side. Dry marker on the glass always cleans. You might get stains if you leave the marker for days, but they come off easily, with just water.

Now what.. digital whiteboards. It's a love-hate relationship. They're completely clean, which is what I like about them, but there are many downsides too. You need power, which means that you need to switch the screen off. A white/blackboard on the other hand shows you stuff all the time.

The screen is large, but the pixels are too large. The DPI, at close distance, is ridiculous. They're also too bright when seen at close distance. There's glare. The "pens" suck. But if you did the same with some e-ink technology, I would switch to digital whiteboards instantly, as it would solve all these problems at once. It looks like a dream application where the price of the display wouldn't matter much (ardesia costs a fortune nowdays anyway).

I had to use at some point an Epson projector which had some whiteboard capability on it. The pen had an infrared sensor/reflector on top, which meant that you had to hold the pen without making a shadow between the projector and the pen. Who's the idiot that thought this would work??


So you get asthma from whiteboard markers but chalk dust doesn't bother you? In my anecdotal experience, that is anomalous.


The smell of the marker has an almost instantaneous effect, like many perfumes. I'm not immune to chalk, but chalk doesn't smell/make enough dust by simply drawing. Things are different when you re-use the cleaning pad too often. In my place, I always wipe with a damp cloth to avoid the problem.


I don't know the reason, but I feel nearly intellectually crippled since losing access to the multitudes of blackboards available on college campuses. White boards do not even approach the utility of blackboards for me.

People in this thread have suggested fine tipped markers and washable crayons—I will try them both!—but I truly feel I will simply not be able to recover the efficiency and value of a blackboard any time soon.


While I grew up with mostly whiteboards, there's just something magical about blackboards. Disregarding my disgust for screeching on a blackboard, mathematics on a chalkboard seems so natural. Where I study they've been constantly removing blackboards and even whiteboards. Now we're left with dozens of terrible document cameras, which nobody can be enthusiastic about.


How is this the only post that mentions the chalkboard screeching? That noise was the bane of my existence in school. Maybe I'm just more sensitive to it than most, but it would make my skin crawl for the rest of the class, and if there were someone inexperienced using the board and producing considerable squeals, I couldn't focus on anything and had to restrain myself from just getting up and leaving the room.

If for no other reason, this makes whiteboards a godsend.



"there’s no way to tell when a marker is running low"

Hm, maybe that's a problem that can be solved and earn the inventor good money?


For a product that's disposable, I doubt any such system could justify its cost.


http://i.imgur.com/UDAZQUI.jpg

Depends on the cost to implement and the margin you can charge over competitors I guess.


The whiteboard pens we have at work have a semi-transparent barrel:

http://www.postofficeshop.co.uk/images/product/extraLarge/2/...


I personally cannot fathom why anyone at all uses whiteboards.

When I was at Caltech, we called our Physical Chemistry prof "Wild Bill Goddard" because he wore a cowboy hat and boots to his lectures. His course was largely conceptual, illustrated with balloon-shaped drawings of electron orbitals, drawn with 3-D projection in which the yellow and red were in the plane of the chalkboard while the pale blue projected in and out.

We all complained that we could not see the blue diagrams. "That's OK, you're not supposed to, that's why I use pale blue."

On night Sonja Benson and I snuck into the classroom to put the arm on his blue chalk. We took it down into the steam tunnels where she doused it with her hairspray, giving it a hard coating so it would not mark the board anymore.

The very instant Wild Bill saw what we had done, he cracked his blue stick in half then continued drawing orbital diagrams we were not meant to see.


One reason to prefer whiteboards: I find the feeling of touching chalk unbearable.


There's also the occasional teeth-curling screech when a fingernail or little bit of hard matter in the chalk scratches the board. Even at that though, I think I prefer chalkboards.


I teach math, and just as some people cannot taste the bitterness in Brussels sprouts, I'm not affected by the fingernail-on-blackboard noise. I find it very useful for taming a class of wild freshmen, though. I only have to do it once.

"It finds the correct delta or else it gets the noise again."


Why did you need to take the chalk into the steam tunnels just to spray it?


Ha, that must have been a long time ago. Around 2009 Bill would wear a beret all the time. I don't think his drawings were that detailed anymore, but his orbitals were still "pooched".


The reason is dust.


"The Reason is Dust" would make a good album name.




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