A technophile lawyer rediscovers the joys of pen and paper

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How does my new Macbook Pro fit into my pen-and-paper world? (and other ruminations on 2010's digital-to-analog changes)

The title of this post is telling. As the year started, I was asking how pen and paper would fit into my digital life. Now, it's the other way around!

I bought a new Macbook Pro three days ago because the motherboard in my old Macbook died. A year ago, I would have been fidgeting with excitement all the way to Fry's Electronics. But yesterday, I think I would have been far more excited about buying a new high-end pen.

So, what are some of the other signs over the last year that pen and paper are gaining more influence in my life at the expense of digital devices?  Here's a partial list:


Then: iCal, synced to iPhone.

Now: Junior size Circa, in a Circa Master Zip Folio, using templates downloaded from DIY Planner. The office uses Amicus Attorney practice management software, so I just check my paper calendar against the office's electronic master calendar. For a helpful view of upcoming events, Amicus can't hold a candle to a monthly layout in my planner.

Task Management

Then: Pretty much driven off my calendar. Then, I tried implementing Getting Things Done (GTD). First, in Things. A trial run on Omnifocus. Then, when I had to use a PC at work and my Mac at home, I tried assorted web apps so I could keep things synchronized. I tried around a dozen different online task management tools, each for anywhere from a few minutes to a few weeks to a few months. The ones that didn't have too many bells and whistles did not have enough, and few satisfied me that their security was stringent enough for legal work.

Now: Junior size Circa notebook, with an on-again, off-again GTD-Booker hybrid system, without the overwhelming options presented by most online or installed applications. Definitely a work in progress, but easier to maintain than the digital applications and less prone to induce endless tinkering with the system. (I must confess that I keep toying with Remember the Milk. Like the theory that a monkey at a typewriter for an infinite amount of time will someday peck out the Great American Novel by accident, I keep thinking I'll stumble across the perfect task management setup in RTM. But the fact that I'm just playing around with it rather than trying to actually use it takes away a lot of the pressure.)


Then: Address Book on Mac and iPhone.

Now: Address Book on Mac and iPhone. I'm not about to copy hundreds of contacts into a paper notebook when they're already in my phone. Score one for digital.


Most of my email is business. In fact, I almost never initiate personal emails, unless its for something akin to something I would make a phone call for, but want to be less intrusive.

To keep family up to speed, I've been writing letters. Mom loves the letters, but she still likes me to call on the phone. Moms are moms.


Then: I devoured MacWorld and MacLife every month, going through each of them cover-to-cover, highlighting all those applications that were going to make my life better (worse yet, seduced by all the free utilities, actually downloading them, and even forking out dough for others), lusting after the latest release of a new line of computers.

Now: I don't read MacWorld or MacLife at all. Somewhere during the last year, I let both subscriptions lapse. I do not miss them. At all. I never would have believed it. I haven't subscribed to any pen magazines, though.


Then: Political blogs. Lots of 'em. Even had one myself. I could spend hours on those things. Sad, isn't it?

Now: Pen, paper, and stationery blogs. Lots of 'em. Even have one myself. I could spend hours on those things. Cool, isn't it?

Sleep (yes, sleep)

Then: hours every day on the computer, juggling emails, etc. left me fried, especially with several more "leisure" hours on the computer at home. Made me jumpy. Stayed up late.

Now: I was just kidding about all the hours on pen and paper blogs. I actually spend much less time on the computer when I am at home (and even less at work these days, too). That, and the fact that I find my letter-writing therapeutic, are two big reasons why I seem to sleep a lot better these days. I get to bed at least an hour or so earlier than I used to, on average. Then again, maybe I'm just getting old. Turned 50 this year.


Am I anti-digital? No. How anti-digital can you be if you have a blog? And I still have an iPhone capable of all sorts of things (but I mostly use it as a phone). Also, my dad gave me an Amazon Kindle for my birthday, and I use it all the time. I'm doing much more pleasure reading than I used to, with the e-books being so accessible and inexpensive. (All that reading is probably helping my sleep, too.)

I suppose it's always possible that I could still stumble across that magic software application someday, the one that will make everything come together. But that's unlikely . . . if it's out there, it will be hard to run across it, and if I do, I may not recognize it . . . because I'm not even looking for it any more.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winner of the world's most overpriced memo pad is . . .

Stationery Traffic.

To whom, unfortunately, I have no way of sending the notebook. I think I have matched an email to Stationery Traffic, but I have not heard back and there is no email link on that blog. So, ST, I'll give you until midnight Google Standard Time (the time stamp on your email) on Wednesday night (Dec. 22) to email me at notebookeresqATgmail.com. If I haven't heard from you by then, the notebook goes to one of the other nine bloggers!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

A new pen blog with a great name

Thanks to Brad's Ink Links this week at The Pen Addict, I discovered a new pen blog this morning, with one of the best blog names ever: "Confessions of a Lady Quiller." Looks like she caught Brad's attention with her second post ever. That's getting her blog on everyone's radar very quickly!

As much as I love the name of her blog, I think "sieze the dave" still edges her out in the clever name standings, in part because his URL, while playing on the same theme, is different but just as clever. (But you'll have to click [or at least hover over] the link to see it.)


Friday, December 10, 2010

Blogger-only giveaway of the world's most overpriced notebook memo pad: Metaphys Blanc Fabric Covered 44113 Memo Pad (Updated with deadline)

Metaphys Blanc 44113 memo padThat headline tells you all you need to know about what I think of this notebook. Which is why I am limiting this giveaway to other pen/paper bloggers: I want a second opinion! So, as a condition of entering this giveaway contest, you must agree to post a review of this notebook within two weeks of receiving it from me.

Now, here's why I think this is the world's most over-priced notebook . . .

Metaphys Blanc 44113 memo pad end papersThis notebook sells for $10.50 at Jet Pens, and its tiny! It has to be the most expensive notebook I own, on a price per square inch of paper basis!

Actually, it's not a notebook. It's a memo pad with a cover and end papers. (To be fair, Jet Pens actually calls it a "memo pad." But the Metaphys site calls it a "notebook.") Granted, it's got really cool end papers -- black, giving it the stealth look of a Rhodia Webbie -- but neither they nor the durable cover transform this into a bona fide notebook.

The glue binding allows the pages to tear out very easily. If you want a memo pad, this is fine. But if you like to carry your notes with you for a few weeks, like I do, it's not so good. I can see these pages coming out accidentally very easily (though I didn't really put that theory to the test).

This notebook is small. Tiny. Here it is atop a stack of 3x5 index cards:

Metaphys Blanc 44113 memo pad

The paper is nice enough. Very smooth to the touch and when writing on it. It does bleed pretty severely with fountain pens, much less so with rollerballs and not at all with the gel pens I tried. But even the gel pens had pretty significant show-through. Probably not a problem for most folks, since there's really no practical way to write on the back, because of the reporter-style design of the notebook, unless you tear the sheet out first. There was no feathering with the rollerballs or gel pens, and only one or two of the fountain pen inks I tried feathered at all, and then very lightly.

The paper has a very faint grid pattern that's very difficult to see. however, it nonetheless seemed to aid my writing, as if I could see it subliminally even though I had to have the light just right to see it on the paper. From what I can tell, the vertical lines are solid and the horizontal lines are dotted.

The worst quality of the paper, to my mind, is that is feels so thin and delicate. I prefer a "substantial" paper. However, this reviewer at Jet Pens says the paper holds up as well in his wallet as a dollar bill!

The cover feels quite durable, both because of the weight and the fabric covering.

Another drawback for me is that I like to keep a pen with my pocket notebook, and there's no practical way to do that with this memo pad. My Zebra Mini T3 Ballpoint Pen slips quite nicely into my pocket-size Moleskine Cahier (my usual pocket notebook), and its pretty darn small, but there's no practical way for it to clip to the Metaphys:

Metaphys Blanc 44113 memo pad and Zebra Mini T3 ballpoint pen

I know what you're thinking: Booker, you knew how small this notebook was when you ordered it, so what are you complaining about? Well, I'm not complaining, exactly. I don't hate this memo pad. I just can't figure out why it should cost $10.50! In fact, that high price is what made me buy it . . . I just had to find out what made it special, but I still haven't figured it out. Maybe I'm missing something!

Available at Jet Pens for $10.50.  Also available directly from Metaphys directly from Metaphys for 765 yen ($8.78 US at today's exchange rate). More photos (including photos of the bleed-though) at the Flickr photo set for this review.


To enter the giveaway, you must have a blog about pens, paper, notebooks, stationery, office supplies, or something similar. Leave a comment on this post with a link to your blog. A link to you Blogger, Wordpress, or Typepad profile will suffice, as long as it has a link to your blog. And, I need a way to reach you, so if your blog or profile page does not have an email link, shoot me an email at notebookeresqATgmail.com so I can contact you if you're the winner. (I will choose the winner by random selection of a comment using the random number generator at random.org.)

Remember: by entering, you agree to review this product on your own blog within two weeks of receiving it, so I can get my "second opinion." Perhaps you can even pass it on to another blogger!

Good luck!

UPDATE: gee, I should have set a deadline for entering, don't ya think? OK, Midnight GST Friday night (Dec. 17). Yes, you read that right: GST = Google Standard Time, meaning I'll use the time stamp on your comment.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What goes around, comes around

Usually one says that about something bad, but I'm saying it about something good. John at PencilWrap was kind enough in his Peanuts Special Edition Moleskine giveaway post -- learning from my comment that my giveaways are "cheap ploys for new readers" (I'm only talking about mine, not anyone else's) -- to link to me, so I am returning the favor.

Exit questions: Did Charles Schulz use a Moleskine? Would Snoopy?