Reflection: I Write Heaps of Words

For those of you who have followed my blog for any period of time, you know I write. I write many words, some of them go here. Many of them are wrapped up in half finished art guides that need editing and photography to be finished. While cleaning my office, I came upon one of these manuscripts. The large binder clip that held it together was stretched to gaping, and the stack of paper was marked up with my favorite blend of Noodler’s red inks; Nikita and Fox red. It looked as though I had cut an artery open on the page. Each page with edits had a orange post it tab letting me know they were on that page.

It brought me back to the frustration of making the edits, knowing that an edit was on page 55 when I made the edit wasn’t helped by the fact that by the time I’d made the 100 edits before suddenly it was on page 75, and thus hard to find.The back and forth of editing has never been my favorite part of writing. While it is something I’m perfectly capable of doing, I’ve avoided it out of annoyance. That is why you get blog posts with misspellings, various typos, and grammatical errors. I lack patience.

I started writing a novel a few months ago. It began as a way to unwind from all the heavy reading and writing I’ve been doing. Because I’ve been reading heavy nerdy stuff, it’s definitely getting to be heavier than intended. It is also slow going because I had no process on how to write. I was sort of throwing ideas on the page and seeing what I liked and as I went I  developed my characters. I got 10,000 words into it and realized it would never work as a novel because, well it just wasn’t readable. As an exercise in writing, well it was something else. I realized I needed to write my novel like I write my researched papers. Start with an idea, flesh it out, make an outline of the points i need to hit, then flesh those out, and soon enough I have my 10 pages of researched goodness.

Except with a novel I’m creating a world, and shit needs to be consistent, and ideas need to be right for the character. Anyway, I’m figuring this stuff out and it’s a necessary distraction from all the heavy stuff I’m reading. I’m relaxing my brain and with the relaxed, creative mind I’m finding new ways of thinking about the heavy stuff I’m reading. I’m able to come up with better ideas, my papers are flowing more smoothly, and I think my writing has gotten better. well, not my blog writing. This stuff could still  you some serious editing.

Anyway, my novel may never end up being anything serious, right now it’s serving it’s purpose by helping to relax my mind,  but who knows what the future holds?

Coffee: Keep Cup

Travel mugs. We all use them and no one really talks about them. Everyone has one that they think is the BEST ever, and they aren’t shy about telling you why theirs is better than yours. We’ve all been disappointed by one in the past. Well, at least in my circle of friends. I’ve gone through a slew of travel mugs over the years. Most of them I have destroyed through dropping, dishwasher, or some other mishap. The big problems that I’ve found with mugs is that they leak either through the sippy mouthpiece or from around the lid. Either way it’s shirt disaster.

I’m always on a search for a good travel mug, and I’ve accumulated a lot of them. Save 3 of them, they are in my cupboard abandoned. Occasionally, one gets taken to work and abandoned, mostly they sit and collect dust. I really ought to toss them in a bag and take them to the thrift store.melchiorThat brings me to today’s review. Keep Cups. I realize I’m slow on this product, they have been around for a few years but I was finally able to get one locally.

Keep Cups are plastic travel mugs with a lot of silicone leak-proofing offered in many color combinations. When ordered online you can get any color combination you want, which is nice. When I bought mine in person I had to make a choice between a few color combinations that I really didn’t like all that much. In the end I chose a blue cup, orange band, light teal top, with a green stopper. It is a bright, eye searing color combination, one I actually like quite a lot.* Everywhere I’ve used this cup I’ve gotten compliments on it, and people ask me where they can get one. In disclosure, mine was purchased with my own cash, at Equal Exchange on Causeway Street near North Station in Boston.

Mine is a medium, which means it will hold 12 fluid ounces of my favorite beverages. It has a line in it so that it can be filled with only 8 ounces if one so desires. The plastic is sturdy and doesn’t break when dropped. Yes, I know this for fact. The grippy textured surface of the plastic reminds me of old Tupperware cups, in a good way. I like it. It’s tactile and nice. It’s easy to keep clean too, it washes by hand or in the top shelf of the dishwasher with ease. All the parts and pieces disassemble to a thorough cleaning. I like this very much. One of the things that I hate with a travel mug is that sour stale coffee taste you get when old rancid coffee is held in the mug since the last time you used it. Gross, the Keep Cup’s easily separated parts solve this issue.

The lid of the Keep Cup is easily sipped through, and allows a decent amount of coffee through, large gulps and small sips are possible. The vent is hidden and seals as you turn the stopper. It doesn’t leak so I didn’t get a nose full of coffee as I walk and sip, or sat and sipped.

As much as the Keep Cup solves many of my travel mug problems- unbreakable, leak-proof, right size, and is lightweight, it has two main issues. The first is that it is made out of plastic. I really hate drinking out of plastic. HATE it. Plastic is gross, leaves a taste, and just blech. I feel juvenile drinking out of a mug that looks something like a sippy cup designed for my 3 year old nephew. If this thing was made out of stainless steel, oh baby, it would solve so many problems, not to mention, dead sexy. They do offer a glass version, but that defeats the breakable beauty of these cups. The second issue is that it is not insulated. A fresh hot cup of coffee quickly heats the body of the cup to scorching and it’s all cold from there. These cups quickly lose their heat. The cup’s warmth doesn’t last, and soon enough the brew is chilly.

Overall, I really like the Keep Cup. It’s small and light enough that I can toss it into my bag and not notice the additional weight. I don’t have to worry about dropping and breaking it.** It’s bright, and many of my friends (and a few Baristas) have complimented me on it. A stainless steel double wall version would still be lightweight, unbreakable, and insulated. It would be the perfect travel mug.

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Coffee: A Tale of Two Grinders

I purchased a Hario knock off coffee grinder on Amazon around six months ago. It’s worked great for me. The version I bought has an all steel drive system and has worked flawlessly at grinding anywhere from 16g to 40g of coffee almost every morning.  Grinding my coffee in the morning has been a  great way to get the blood flowing and a somewhat meditative exercise. In all fairness, I did make a lid for the grinder, since I was slopping beans all over the kitchen and irritating my spouse. To do so I simply cut the soft plastic lid from a tub of cashews to the right size. It works well at keeping my beans in the grinder and not making a mess. When I purchased the grinder it was $25, it is now hovers between $25 and $30 on amazon. When compared to all the other hand grinders on amazon that is not a bad deal. If I were to do it over again I’d go with the Hario portable version. But that is a whole other blog post that goes into hand size and grip and, yeah, not going there.

I troll the waters at kickstarter on a regular basis. I love kickstarter. I’ve backed a few really awesome things (Twist Bullet Pencil and Metal Comb Works Titanium Page markers,) some things that have been just okay,  and one thing that I’m STILL waiting for (Let’s not talk about it, I’m sore about it.) J love the idea of helping someone create something awesome or even mediocre, makers need help, and I’m glad to do it when I can afford it, and it fills a need. I happened upon a couple of coffee grinders. One that I’m considering backing and another that smacks of hucksterism and snake oil.

Let me explain the hucksterism and snail oil aspect of the second grinder I linked to. First, when I got my Hario knock off grinder, I took it apart to wash and clean oils and any unsavory particles that might have remained from manufacturing. Manual coffee grinders are very simple machines. Basically, you’ve got a handle and a crank that rotates a ceramic burr against another burr resulting in the grinding of the coffee. To adjust the distance of the burrs from one another you rotate a series of nuts and washers along the long bolt that goes through the whole assembly. If you don’t put it back together properly, it rotates sloppy, just like in that GIF. When you adjust it right, it’s not sloppy. Also until you get beans into the grinder the top burr will seem to float around. This is normal and not a problem.

When a creator offers a solution to a made up problem such as the “sloppy burrs” of a coffee grinder that is obviously not put together properly, well my red flags go up and my spider sense screams out, “Watch out!” In short, my opinion is that the guide they have created is worthless and not necessary. (I also think that what they are billing as a bearing is a bushing, but that may just be ignorance of the difference by the creator.)

Then we come to the general design of the grinder. Yes, the glass is different and there is a necessary lid, but inside it’s not so different from the grinder I bought on Amazon 6 months ago. The little silicone base is the same, the same frosted black plastic, the same lid for the cup. This grinder is so similar to the grinder I bought on Amazon that I at first thought it was the same grinder.

The grinder I bought on Amazon is a damn fine grinder. It is simple, easy to use, and cheap. It’s not going to win any design awards but it does the job. So for $25 to $30, this kickstarter item isn’t a bad deal, even if it does claim to solve a problem that really doesn’t exist. Any price over $30 is a waste. Personally, I wouldn’t back it because it encourages this hucksterism and snake oil sales on Kickstarter and that is a damn shame.

Addendum:

As an addendum to this piece I want to point out that I’m a tad on the hyperbolic side of writing with my opinion here and that snake oil may have been a strong term to use. The main issue that I have with the kickstarter in question is the GIF used of the grinder in a position that can’t possibly grind beans. If I were to adjust my grinder so that it had that much slop when I dumped beans into the hopper they would pour through the grinder, without grinding. Some amount of play or float is expected with these simple grinders.

In my mind when you buy a hand crank grinder in the $20 to $50 range you look for one that is well built, has a metal drive mechanism, and of course, has good reviews. Even though it’s only a $20 to $50 investment you still want it to work well for however long you need it.

I digress. My point is that some amount of slop, float, and movement is expected in these grinders. I happened to get one that grinds pretty well, some do a shitty job. I picked well, others don’t. You can’t expect a $20 hand grinder to do the same job as a $200 electric machine. It’s just not going to happen. What you do need to do is be aware of what is acceptable to you and what grind you plan to use. For me, my cheapie Hario knock off does the job because I keep it at a medium fine setting, which allows me to use it for both my aeropress (modified brew method not tradition aero) and pour over. When I want to use it for French Press I have to adjust it. I don’t very often, it’s a pain in the arse. Anyway, these grinders, while they do the job, and do a better job of grinding than other grinding methods, they aren’t perfect. To expect an antique method of grinding beans to do as good a job as the grinder at the local cafe or even the large grinder at the supermarket is the way to madness.

So when I said that this was an answer to a “made up problem,” I am specifically speaking to the slop they show in the GIF. I believe in truthful advertising, and when someone shows me a picture of something that is so unrealistic as to not be usable, I feel I have to then question everything else they are saying. If they aren’t truthful to make a point in one space, it is likely they aren’t being truthful everywhere. Ethics, it’s not just a thing for Doctors, Attorneys, and Therapists, it’s something we should all strive for. And yeah, I think selling something based on a half truth or a stretched truth or exaggeration is unethical.

Perfect Pair

I particularly enjoy Staedtler Wopex pencils, sadly they do not perform well on my notebook paper. I recently started to write in a Poppin Medium Soft Cover Notebook. The paper is smooth and allows my pencils to glide over it’s surface. This got me to thinking that if my harder pencils are not only gliding over the surface but leaving a nice dark line then maybe my Wopexen would work especially well.

And I was right. Not only do the Wopexen work really well on this paper but so do the generally horrible Write Dudes Recycled Denim* pencils. They write well on this paper but they still sharpen horribly.

Finding a paper that works particularly well with a particular pencil is kind of awesome. I happened upon this perfect combination randomly. As I mentioned that I use the last page of all my pocket notebooks as a place to test my pencils and pens for compatibility. Which is what I was doing with the poppin notebook. I’m really happy that I tested the pencils and found these perfect combinations.

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Review: Sakura “Super” Foam Eraser

A few week’s ago Johnny Gamber of Pencil Revolution, my comrade in pencils, posted a picture of the always wonderful Staedtler Mars Plastic Eraser(SMPE). It’s one of my long time favorite erasers. It’s plastic is gentle on paper and soft enough to clean graphite out of almost any rough paper. It is an eraser that I suggest to friends who are seeking a good eraser. I do this for many reason. First you can’t get a SMPE just about anywhere. Every art, craft, or stationary store carries them. Second, I have used them for years and know they are reliable. Third, there is something safe in recommending this old standard. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like it, it’s a safe recommendation.20150212_100920It has a few problems. The largest is that it’s a messy eraser that leaves crumbs everywhere. It also collects dirt as if it is a magnet. So if you are bothered by your erasers looking filthy, well, this one is going to piss you off. Finally, without it’s paper sleeve it tends to tear into smaller pieces if you don’t support it well with your fingers. Th9is is why I told Johnny to “up his eraser game, and get the Sakura “Super*” Foam Eraser.”SakuraFoamThe Sakura Foam Eraser (SFE) is a soft, white plastic eraser that arrives in a bit of cellophane and a card sleeve. It has a sticky texture that I’ve grown to love. The stickiness allows the crumbs to be rolled into a ball that sticks to the end of the eraser or picked up by pressing the eraser to the crumbs. When I read the sticky rubber info online I thought it was kinda stupid, but oh no, it makes clean up so much easier. That’s not just add copy, that’s a really real useful addition to the plain old plastic eraser.SakuraFoamIt is a super soft plastic that wears down pretty quickly on rougher paper. But it’s also relatively cheap at Jetpens. I don’t find it to be that much softer than the SMPE in use they seem to wear down at about the same rate. It cleans the page of every trace of graphite. On some paper it’s as if the writing never existed at all. It is soft enough to get down into the crevices left by the writing and clean the graphite out. Which is pretty amazing. Then when you are done cleaning, the crumbs are all clumped up and clinging to one another or to the eraser.SakuraFoamI have has small bits break off the edges of my eraser as I used it, but like I wrote, these bits were small, and didn’t affect performance of the eraser. I did not get any cracking where the eraser and the paper sleeve met. I also purchased the smallest offering on Jetpens, though I later purchased a much larger version when I neared the end of my small SFE W60. This should be an indication of just how much I enjoy this eraser. I own over a dozen different erasers and I bought a duplicate. I haven’t bought a duplicate of any eraser save a kneaded, a SMPE, and a few that were required in college. For me to buy a second of any eraser, now, when I can purchase any eraser that I desire. Well, that’s a ringing endorsement.SakuraFoam SakuraFoamSakuraFoamAnyway, you can up your eraser game by purchasing a Sakura “Super” Foam Eraser of your very own.
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Reflection: Feeling Accomplished via Pencil Use

When the new semester began I decided that I was going to pick a pencil and use it until there was just a nub left. The first pencil I used down to nothing was a Creatacolor fine art graphite in B grade. Because it is a drawing pencil, the point retention was junk and I quickly wore it to a nubbin. It fit into my Stad One Touch well and I was able to use it until there was less than a centimeter left. I felt accomplished in using a single pencil until there was an unusable piece left, as if I could measure my learning through the amount of pencil used for notes and writing. Ridiculous right?

Feeling accomplished is a good intrinsic motivator. (For me anyway, I don’t know what intrinsically motivates you.) I like to feel accomplished. For a lot of my life I’ve done things and thought to myself, “Ha, I did that! That’s an accomplishment!” as if knowing that I did something, even a simple thing, was an accomplishment. And when I think more deeply about these thing, even the smallest of chores can be turned into an accomplishment. “I washed the floor! Yay, I accomplished something today!” Looking back at the pencils and learning, learning, other than counting the articles read or papers written, has little in the way of measuring itself daily. Rather, I write a paper and wait for the grade. I read an article and make notes, maybe journal a few ideas that come up. Until the end of the semester there is no way to measure my accomplishment. Enter the pencils. Using up a pencil gives me a measurement of use; notes taken, ideas recorded, and time spent.nubbins

Using a pencil from new down to a nub is not something that can be done in a short period of time. It takes dedicated use, concentration, and a lot of writing. Supposedly, an average (what is average? HB#2?) pencil will write 35 miles of words. That’s a serious amount of writing. Thirty-five miles. How many miles of notes, journaling, ideas, mind dumps, and grocery lists have  I made? Just thinking about writing for 35 miles makes me feel even more accomplished and less ridiculous.

I’m almost finished with a Dixon Ticonderoga Renew Wood. I’ve got an inch and a half left. After that I’m going to finish the last 5 inches of my Staedtler blue Norica from Canada. I’ve had the last 6 inches of a Palomino HB on my desk for a month, that will get the nubbin treatment next. While my enjoyment of using a single pencil down to near nothingness is holding true, I will admit that for ease of use I keep a pencil box full of sharp pencils with me for note taking. I’m going to pare this down to 4 pencils so that I can really focus on how much pencil I’m using. nubbins

Organization: Pocket Notebook Set Up

I often refer to  how I set up my Field Notes on social media, but I’ve never done a full blog post about my set up. I keep waiting for a time when I have just set up a new book but not written much yet. I am finally at the perfect moment- I have just started a new book and have only filled a few pages.FNindexedI start by numbering each page, preferably with a red Uniball Signo 0.38. If I can’t find the red I’ll use a black ultra fine pen. I use the Signo for it’s waterproof ink and super fine writing capability. It also does not feather or bleed on any paper.

The first page becomes my index. I fold the page in half and write 2- 48. Each line represents a page in the book. As I fill the page, I log it on the index page. I try to stick to simple one or two word descriptions. This lets me find pages with ease. On books with a large top margin (Ambition/Word.) I’ll write an expanded description on this line, otherwise, nothing.FNindexedI have a few set pages that I put in each book. Page two is always a catch all page. This page captures quick info; phone numbers, passwords, websites, words, page numbers, and the like. Specifically info that is ephemeral and I may not need to dedicate a full page. Page three becomes my shopping list. Generally, this isn’t for things like bread and milk, but larger items we run out of less often; light bulbs, laundry detergent, or things like staples, glue, etc… The things I might forget to buy when I’m in a store like home despot or target.  Pages four and five are my to do lists. Four is usually dedicated to my blog while five is my school and life. Page forty-eight, the final page of the book, is always my pen and pencil testing page. This lets me test out pens or pencils in store to see how they will work on this particular paper. Then page forty-seven is where I log the types of brews I’m using for my coffee.  How much coffee to water was used, how did the brew turn out, etc.FNindexed FNindexedFNindexedThe final addition to the book is a 3 month calendar. You can find them online or as a word template. I print one off and then cut out 3 months. I use washi tape to stick it into my book over my address section. I cross off the days as I remember, but this has become very useful when I’m planning things for classes and meet ups with friends and I don’t want to drag out my planner.FNindexedAfter that the rest of the book is a free for all.

When the book is filled I log it into a master index book and file it away. The master index is another field notes book where each page looks like the index for each book. Each book is logged on it’s own page. The descriptions are expanded slightly to be more descriptive, but only if they need to be. If the index states “paper,” it is expanded to state, “Theories F14,” so that I have a better idea of which paper it refers. However if it’s logged as “journal,” there is no need to expand upon that , unless the journaling deals with something specific that I may need to refer to later. This system lets me grab my index book, flip to about where I think I logged something, scan through quickly and find that “Theories F14” entry and pull the right book in less than a minute.

Of course this system works because I’m only searching through an index of 20 or so books. (I did not go backward and index my older books, I’m not quite that neurotic.) As my index, and number of books, grows searching will become more difficult and more time consuming.While I was a wiz with the card catalog when I was a kid, I don’t relish the idea of combing through multiple index books. At some point I will need to digitize my collection of notebooks. I’m resistant to this now, but I do see the need for it later, as I amass more and more books. I’m not sure what application I’ll use to do this- Evernote, OneNote, or some other platform. Who knows what will be available when I do finally decide to digitize.

School: Organization with Teffa Bag-in-Bag A4

My office in a backpack is something of a misnomer, as I use one of 3 different bags depending on where I’m going, how long I’ll be out of the house, and what I’ll be doing. The previously mentioned Tom Bihn Brain bag is for days when I’ll be out of the house for the majority of the day or I know I’ll be doing research. I also have a Tom Bihn Imago, which has been discontinued, but is for days when I’ll be home within a few hours or only need to  carry some of my “office.” The final bag is a Tom Bihn Small Cafe bag, my least favorite and will only hold a very small amount of my “office.”

A lot of the office requires charging cords and cables that for ease of swapping bag I bought duplicates of and had in each bag. This is both inefficient and expensive. I also had a few items that I wanted to put in each bag but didn’t want to duplicate- like my BT keyboard. To make switching from bag to bag and to cut back on some of the duplication of chargers and cords I picked up a Lihit Teffa Bag-in-Bag in A4 size. This is the largest size available and fits in 2 of my 3 bags, and the 2 I use the most, the Imago and Brain. The idea behind this is that you can put the stuff you use all the time into the Bag-in-Bag and transfer it to another bag, easily swapping bags. Makes a lot of sense.baginbagOn the outside I filled the pockets with an assortment of pens and a bullet pencil. The smaller pocket got a spare eraser, pencil sharpener, and spare batteries for my BT keyboard. The larger pocket holds my planner. The next row of pockets has a packet of wet wipes and tissues and an Unexposed folder with 3 spare Field Notes.baginbagInside the zippered pocket I have a cord for my iPoo, another for either my phone or tablet, as well as a 2.1 amp charger. (It is an AmazonBasics charger, and it works great.) Also in this pocket I have my BT keyboard. The zippered pocket is very slim and snug. To keep a laptop in this pocket you’d have to be using a very slim laptop. I can keep my tablet in it’s case in there, but it zips hard. Anyway, the slimness of the pocket actually does a great job of holding the cables, charger, and keyboard in place. It really doesn’t shift around all that much.

What I keep in this organizer may shift and morph over time. I really prefer to have my planner a little more accessible and in one of the outside pockets of my bag. So that maybe one of the things that changes pretty quickly, but I see that the rest of the contents might stay pretty stable over time.

I have to say that the limited edition blue color is a very nice shade of dusky light blue. The brown of the interior is nice as well. The stitching is pretty good, I did find a few loose stitches that were easily seared with a  lighter. Over all I find it a pretty good looking organizer.  Because this is a very simple organizer it has limitless options for customization and personalization. It would be super easy to add some elastic strips or velcro to the back of the zippered pocket if things needed to be held in place better.

The downsides that I can see to this organizer is that it is a tad on the bulky side, but any organizer adds bulk. The padding is very thin as well, so it doesn’t provide a lot of protection for bumps.


If you want to get one of your own, head on over to Jetpens.

School: Office in a Backpack

I decided to write a little bit on here about some of my school/study aides. Typically, I’m a pencil and paper type of woman, but sometimes I need technology. Being in graduate school means that I often have to write lengthy papers in APA 6th edition format. Carting around a heavy laptop is just not something I want to do, so I’ve found a way around doing so.

The first, and perhaps, most important part of my carry for school was to buy a quality backpack that can carry everything I need safely. For this purpose I bought a Tom Bihn Brain bag with a Brain cell insert. The bag is big enough to carry books, notebooks, tablet, and sundry items. It does the job well and is comfortable.

Rather than carry a laptop I have decided to use a tablet for my computing needs. Most of the time the tablet alone is suitable for reading PDF articles, but sometimes being able to edit or write papers on the go is a necessity. The on screen keyboard is crap for typing for anything other than short bursts. Getting a bluetooth keyboard has been a necessity. Originally I bought the AmazonBasics android keyboard and I loved it but I put it into a crappy case and tossed it around in my bag without enough protection and broke it. I bought a replacement  and it works well  enough, but it’s much louder. I plan on replacing it with another AmazonBasics when school starts up again, this time with a nice case.

Using the tablet as a word processor involves setting up Google Drive with blank documents and saving them to the tablet so I can work on them without wifi. The is important since many areas where I might want to work on my papers don’t always have the best or speediest wifi, like the commuter rail. Sometimes I get a seat near the wifi and it’s speedy and works other times I’m on a car that has terrible wifi. Or the coffee shop wifi is too slow to allow updates. Anyway, being able to work offline is a huge thing when I’m on the go. If you want to figure out how to make your google docs available on your tablet when offline go read here.

I make all my reading notes longhand in a cheap composition notebook. I favor the Staples brand because they are 50 cents at back to school sales and I can buy a bunch for low money. The paper is also acceptable for any of my preferred writing tools. Also, they are sturdy enough that I can cart them around for a full semester and not have them too beaten up. With 200 pages I can take copious notes on my readings, classes, and jot down the first outlines for my papers. (How I generate my papers is another post for the future.) Additionally I can cut pages out if I need to do so.

I use 2 different writing tools for notetaking. The first is fountain pens or gel inks, the second is soft dark pencils. I prefer pencils lately but often switch them out for a spot of color. Either allows me to make notes quickly and effortlessly. Fountain pens glide across the page as do soft dark pencils. The pencils I like range from B to 4B in grade. I keep a pencil box ready with a sharpener as well as an assortment of sharp pencils ready to go. This allows me to keep writing without pause if I need to, but generally I can stop, listen, and sharpen if needed.My first year I used fountain pens almost exclusively. This year I’ve been using pencils almost exclusively.*

I also carry a small pocket sized planner. I’ve been using a Bandit Apple Carnet PeeWee size but I’m transitioning over to the Field Notes Ambition planner in February. Being able to transfer over in February is the great boon of using an undated planner. Current I carry both in a leather cover by Davis Leatherworks. An additional way of keeping track of my life is another Field Notes in a leather cover along with a pocket. This acts as an idea/mind dump as well as a to do list and shopping list. Thus far it’s working very well. Though I  have to work better on my journaling.

Anyhow, all the above is what I use to not only keep track of my life, but to process and record all the stuff I’ve got going on for grad school. I’ve really needed to pare down and figure out how to use tools in a specific manner. This is, of course, a process and how I use tools changes over time, but for now this is it.


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Review: Sonic Rachetta Capsule

When I saw these on JetPens I immediately added the blue and green color Capsule to my wish list. I then made the mistake of tweeting and posting pics of it. By the time I was ready to buy it, in just a few days, they were all gone! I  had to wait over a month for them to get back into stock. 20141031_172315This sharpener uses the Sonic Rachetta ratcheting mechanism. In stead of continually twisting the pencil, you twist it back and forth. It works pretty well and quickly. It’s only slightly faster than using a regular twisty sharpener.capsuleThe point produced is a short point without a needle tip or a blunt point, your choice thanks to the nifty switch. The great thing about the needle tip is that there is little tip breakage when using the pencil after sharpening. Which is pretty great. The sharpener takes the thinnest shaving of wood off my pencils, producing see through shavings and dust. It’s great to use with my nicer pencils because I’m not wasting a ton of the core when I use it. I never use the switch on mine as I have no use for blunt pencils.capsule capsule capsuleI really enjoy this sharpener’s looks. I like the crystal clear shavings reservoir and the bright coordinated colors in the sharpener itself. I also enjoy the facets and details in the cap. My one complaint about this sharpener is that it looks a little… Phallic or uh, adult toy like. It’s one step away from “massager” design, all it needs is a button battery and a motor.  Of course when it’s filled with graphite dust and wood shavings the sex toy look is diminished. But opening up my JetPens package I had a little chuckle. If you are neurotic about your sharpener and want it to look “always clean” this is not going to be the sharpener for you. the graphite and shavings are always visible and while I don’t mind the look, in fact I LIKE seeing the shavings fill the clear reservoir* the graphite does cling to the sides and look dirty even when empty. capsuleAt $5.50 it’s not the cheapest sharpener but it’s not the most expensive. In several weeks of steady use, I’ve been very happy with this sharpener. The major downside of this sharpener is that the blade, while screwed in, is not technically replaceable, since you can not find replacement blades to fit it. Which is a major bummer.  That being said, I really like this sharpener and I’ll keep an eye out for blades that may fit, it looks like it might use the Staedtler sharpener blades.capsuleWhen compared to the other Sonic Rachetta** sharpener, it works much much better. The other sharpener was plagued by being hard to empty and having and odd shape which held the shavings in at weird spots.  This sharpener empties with a simple tap on the trash can. capsule Continue reading Review: Sonic Rachetta Capsule

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