Trendsetting Curmudgeon: Oxymoron?

A couple weeks ago I posted an article about backpacking nutrition titled Candy for the Curmudgeon. In that post I outlined several curmudgeon attributes, one being

Does not follow trends or fashion, but is a trendsetter

A good friend of mine sent me an email with this subject line: “Trendsetting Curmudgeon, now that’s a great Oxymoron” 

There was nothing in the body of the email. I need to point out that this is the same friend who sent me a box of Blackwing 211 pencils for my birthday last month.

The fact he sent me this limited edition pencil should have been a clue on the trendsetting attribute.

blackwing 211 box
Box of 12 Blackwing 211 pencils

At first I thought he was referring to some sort of laundry detergent, so I Googled oxymoron and found this definition on Wikipedia:

An oxymoron is a figure of speech that juxtaposes elements that appear to be contradictory. Oxymorons appear in a variety of contexts, including inadvertent errors (such as “ground pilot”) and literary oxymorons crafted to reveal a paradox.

It has been well established that I am indeed a curmudgeon. So the question is, am I a trendsetter. With the appearance of the Blackwing 211 on the market, the answer must be a resounding yes. You see, I probably inspired the makers of Blackwing pencils to release the limited edition Blackwing 211. I cannot validate this irrefutably, because no one from Palomino, the company that manufactures Blackwing pencils, has ever communicated with me. But then, how would they contact me? Not via this website – no one can leave comments or messages.


May 2013 

A little satire or parody in a search for Which Pencil for the John Muir Trail created a bit of a firestorm and approval by some over at

June 2013

This post presented the solution, A Pencil for the JMT, where I suggested the only pencil suitable for a hike of the 211 mile John Muir Trail is the Blackwing 602.

December 2013

In the long running, Which Pencil for the John Muir Trailthread on I wrote this:

So let’s get back to pencils. Since we are discussing the John Muir Trail, let us not overlook the fact that Mr. Muir, himself, operated with a pencil and paper.

His pencil and notes led to generally accepted glacier theories in the Sierra Nevada, especially Yosemite Valley; even though Muir was not a trained geologist. Not to mention many excellent books that led to protection of wilderness areas and a Movement. All this was accomplished with a pencil. Not a cell phone, not a camera, not a voice recorder, not a GPS, not a SPOT, not a PLB. How did Muir navigate these uncharted areas with just a pencil? How did he survive without those electronic devices, or even BPL to guide him in the proper gear choices to survive in the wilderness? More important than how, is the simple fact he did. We should emulate Mr. Muir.

August 2014

In my post Backpacking the Cedars of Lebanon I made this observation

In 1867 Muir walked from Indiana to Florida, a distance of 1,000 miles. Once in Florida, he worked in a lumber mill that processed eastern red cedar, which was used to manufacture —- you guessed it —- pencils!

September 2015

Palomino released the limited edition Blackwing 211. Inside my box of Blackwing 211 pencils was a paper insert with the following

John Muir was a writer, poet, and artist, but most notably, he was the most widely recognized environmentalist in American history. Perhaps his biggest accomplishment was being the key figure in the founding of Yosemite National Park.

We pay tribute to John Muir and his impact on creativity and the environment with the Blackwing 211. The John Muir Trail, the premier hiking trail in the United States, starts in Yosemite and continues 211 miles through the Ansel Adams Wilderness, ending at the highest peak in continental United States, Mount Whitney.

Coincidence or a Trendsetter?

I’ll let you, the reader, decide.

I have been putting the Blackwing 211 through the paces while camping, backpacking, and at home.

blackwing 211 scrabble
Playing Scrabble in our camper and keeping score with a Blackwing 211

Heck, I might even do a gear review of it. Much more interesting than reviews on backpacks, tents, or sleeping bags. Besides, you can’t buy a Blackwing 211 at this point in time. I tried, thinking they would be a nice Christmas present. No one has them in stock. They are gone. Kaput. I think more will be available in April 2016, so a review might be helpful.

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