So, today, trying to do a bit of research, I wound up raging at the pencil I was trying to use (a Dixon Ticonderoga).
Ticonderogas - which are sold under the slogan, "The World's Best Pencil" - used to actually be GOOD. They were my pencils of choice, years back.
I don't know what happened. (Well: they used to be made here in the US, now they are made in China, that may be part of it - the company cheaping out on materials and quality control).
I finally wound up throwing the offending pencil (seriously, the lead snapped EVERY TIME I picked it up to try to write with it) in the trash, and went and got one of the "Quill" brand ones the office assistant keeps on hand.
But, gah. It makes me so sad to see what WAS once "The World's Best Pencil" become so cheap and shoddy. (Dixon: you might rethink that slogan.)
I thought, "Maybe I'm just getting old and cranky, or maybe it's my gorilla grip that's doing it." (Seriously: all my bamboo #1 sock needles are gently bent, because of the tightness with which I hold them). But really: Ou sont les crayons d'antan?
A quick internet search tells me I'm not crazy (Well, not about this topic, at least): What happened to Dixon Ticonderoga pencils?
I will say I'm old enough to remember when they were good, when they were made here, and when the cardboard box they were made in had a drawing of Ethan Allen on the front (Fort Ticonderoga, get it?)
I wish I could find a GOOD brand of pencil with "lead" that wouldn't snap. I prefer the traditional wood-type pencils; generally the thin "leads" in automatic pencils fare badly under my gorilla grip/pressing down too hard to write. (Years ago, my mom gave me a little box that came from Levenger - it was made from wood salvaged after over 100 years of being submerged in one of the Great Lakes - that had pencils in it. Those were good pencils and I was sorry to use them up. I don't remember the brand, unfortunately).
Part of the problem, I think, is if I want decent pencils, I'll probably have to mail order them. The wal-mart and such just carry the cheap stuff that's no good.