Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What I'm writing in....

On a day to day basis, I use a couple of different vessels for thought, to-do lists, appointments, and so on (just like most of you.)

I'm writing my journal-type stuff in a Moleskine Large ruled notebook. I'm not partial to the advertising and marketing, but I am a sucker for it. The book has a nice heft and fits in a bag pretty easily. The 240 page count gives the journal a pretty good duration, though I find that I'm burning through leaves faster than I thought. The oilskin cover has a nice retro feel to it and seems to age pretty well. The paper writes nicely for me, but I'm not yet an expert pen/paper-ista. I haven't really found a good use for the pocket that Moleskine puts in the back cover, but I haven't got out for much traveling or sight-seeing. If I was out and about more, I could use it as a memento pouch.

I'm not sure if the next journal I make or buy is going to be a lined journal. I had an unlined journal for my last book but I used a lined sheet behind my current page (which got annoying). I want to try and free hand my handwriting in my next journal.

I received a a Moleskine Pocket 12-Month Daily Planner for a present last Christmas. Awesome. 400 pages of awesome. Same nice paper and cover as the Moleskine notebooks. It has a lot of neat reference pages like a time zone chart, an international area code and internet domain list, an address book insert at the back. I definitely use this one daily. I go back and forth on whether my next planner is going to be weekly or daily.

As a quick aside: why would I buy a paper planner when I have a computer and an iphone? The calendar on the computer is free. It synchronizes with my iphone. Kinda. I had the syncing between my computer calendar and my mac calendar break 3 times in 90 days. Three different reasons. I got tired of troubleshooting it. Have I mentioned how much I hate troubleshooting my own tech kit?

I don't have to troubleshoot my daily planner. It doesn't crash. It doesn't run out of batteries. It's an archaic way to track my appointments and classes and life, but it's one less thing I have to *maintain*.

I use a Moleskine Cahier book for a rolling to-do list right now. I got a set of three a few years ago and haven't used them up yet. I'm almost done with this one and then I have a couple of different notebooks to use for my rolling list of "executables." I switched to a pocket list after I tried one of the to-do apps on my iphone. The iphone had to be reset. All my to-do lists = gone. The app was still there on the iphone back up, but my to-dos weren't.

I know I could pay for a program that would sync between the computer and the iphone, or I could use google tasks. Really, I just like the tactile feel of striking off a to do on a piece of paper.

Note taking/ Handwriting practice/ Temporary working space:
I use a generic 8.5 x 11 inch legal pad as a "temporary working space." It's cheap, large, portable. I started using it for notes in my classes. I'd take notes on the pad and then copy them over to my class notebook at home. It gives me a way to review the notes at least once within a week of taking them. But I used a legal pad to work on my math review a few weeks ago. I'm using the backs of the pages to practice my cursive writing - which is really quite atrocious (the handwriting, not the backs of the pages). Sometimes the cheap solution is the right one.

So that's what I use every day. How about you guys?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hit Parade 1: Moleskine Journals

So I finally started journaling a couple of years ago. I'd always wanted to keep a journal even when I was in high school. It seemed like anyone who had ever done anything interesting kept a journal or diary of some sort. I made several attempts over the years to write my thoughts down every night, and I failed consistently. I felt foolish and self-conscious. I felt like I had to write down something that was "worth" writing down. So my words came out maudlin or bombastic or empty. I tried in college. I tried in early adulthood. I tried in notebooks. I tried on the computer. Writing always just felt forced and awkward and lame.

I finally realized I could just write down what happened that day. Just that and nothing more. No pressure to be brilliant or artful. I could write down what I obsessed over. And I could write down my then-current goals. Right then I started writing pages of stuff. It's all crap. Boring as boring could be and certainly not art or artful. But it 's nice to read back through the book and remember what I thought as I wrote the words on the page. So now iI have an easy time writing in my journal. I'm kind of obsessive about it. It's a mini-catharsis at the end of the day.

In a roundabout way, this brings me to the Moleskine. They have great branding. They talk about Hemingway and Chatwin using notebooks that inspired the current brand. They talk about creativity and inspiration and have some great galleries of the kind of art and writing people do in their books. They have a plain black cover. They lay flat when you open them. The paper is nice and works well as a writing surface. And they're even moderately priced (as you'll see in some subsequent posts).

I'm a sucker for good, premium branding. So I bought one. It's got a really nice feel. The problem is that I hesitated to just *use* the damn thing. Would my mundanity live up to the legacy of the notebook?

Here's where my ridiculousness comes in. Is it the best journal I could use? Are they wasteful? Shouldn't I buy a journal with a nice cover that takes refills? Could I possibly get a better journal for a lower price? (Answers are, in order: How do I define "best journal"? Any paper journal is wasteful to some degree, but if I use it then it's not wasted. I could buy a nicer journal with refills, but it won't improve my writing. Not really, any journal with decent paper in a 5 x 8ish size will cost $10-$20 for roughly 200 pages.)

So, this is all a way of leading into a baseline comparison for the other journal-type items I'm going to list up here. This way you can see where I'm starting from when I talk about the other items.

Ratings -
Ridiculousness of actual item: low
Ridiculousness of marketing: high
Cost: $16 for a 240 page 5.5 x 8.5 hardbound journal
Coffee/ Plane ticket equivalence: 16 coffees from 7 Eleven or 8 from Starbucks

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Captain Ridiculous

"Hello, this is your Captain speaking..."

So I stopped posting almost exactly 3 months ago. It depends on whether you count months as "blocks of 30 days" (in which case, I last posted slightly less than 3 months ago) or whether you count months as calendar months (in which case, I last posted 3 months and one day ago). In any case, life has kept me busy busy busy. Mostly I've taking care of little miss Elliot, who has been nothing but a joy and a blessing. Okay. Maybe she's been a pooper and a barfer, too. But hey it's cute when kids do it, right?

I've been taking some classes to get some prerequisites done. What kind of prerequisites you say? The kind of prerequisites necessary for a health care-related job. The kind that involve labs and maybe cadavers (except at my school) and microscopes. Those kind of prerequisites. They are fun.

And in the little time that I have left over after Elliot and school, I don't get to do much adventuring. So I mostly obsess. I get downright monomaniacal about trivial stuff. I have a hard time channeling my imagination properly. I invent fantastic scenarios for the most mundane items on the little big-screen projected on the inside of my forehead. Most recently, those items have been journals, bags and (to some extent) pens. In an semi-cathartic and wholly, publicly narcissistic sort of self-expository therapy, I'm going to share some of the items that I came across in my mad window-shopping spree on the internet. The best part is that I am going to try and post things that I actually like (and want) and that have some real function but still express sort of ridiculousness.
Like being way overpriced.
Or maybe a little goofy.
Or a profound mismatch to my lifestyle.
Mixed in to this menagerie will be some items that I own that may not be ridiculous in and of themselves. They might be ridiculous because of the amount of time I spent thinking about them. Or they might just be illustrative of why I have gear lust for some of the other things I plan to parade through here in the next several postings.

Mocking comments are expected and deserved in most instances. I know this isn't the sort of adventure travelogue, fun time story I usually dish out, but bear with me. It could still be pretty entertaining.

"Please make sure your tray tables are secured and seat backs are in their upright positions. Welcome to crazy land. Flight crew prepare for landing."