From Old Notebooks: Print On Demand

Posted: 30th August 2010 by Mike Swickey in Uncategorized
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I recently read on Notebook Stories about a little book that I just had to order the same day. So far, it’s been a great read (I haven’t finished it so this isn’t actually a review). From Old Notebooks by Evan Lavender-Smith is full of little nuggets of this and that — it’s exactly what it says: just stuff From Old Notebooks.

Beyond the content, it’s the first “Print On Demand” book I have ever actually seen. POD books are books that aren’t printed until they are ordered. I would never have been able to tell the difference except, on the last page it says, “Printed in Lexington, KY – August 26, 2010.” It was quite a different experience to order a book on August 25th, know it was printed on the 26th, and pull it out of my mailbox on the 27th (Thanks Amazon Prime). I was actually holding a book printed the day before! A book that didn’t even exist only 48 hours prior. It’s a different world to be sure.

Here’s the official product description of From Old Notebooks:

From Old Notebooks is a memoir, a novel, a poem, an essay — a self-styled memoivel — which exemplifies how love of language and literature enriches our lives, and explores, often with great humor, the many pitfalls confronting a young writer and father on his journey to maturity. Each entry in From Old Notebooks is literally that — an idea written in a writer’s draftbook. Within this unconventional format, Lavender-Smith is able to tell us the story of his life while ruminating on subjects ranging from fatherhood to philosophy, art, football, music, politics, TV, teaching, fear of death, and everything in between. In the process, Lavender-Smith lays bare the day-to-day trials and tribulations of an artist confronted by the pressures of culture, family, writing, and, simply, being. Witty, original, poignant and deeply insightful, From Old Notebooks is a coming-of-age story, an ode to writing and reading, to living and loving — a celebration of ‘human thought in all its glory, all its mundanity.’

From Old Notebooks at Amazon.

‘The Art Of Manliness’ On Pocket Notebooks

Posted: 28th August 2010 by Mike Swickey in Notebooks

I regularly read ‘The Art of Manliness’ and I have no idea how Brett and Kay’s notebook post, dated August 23rd, got by me. The title of the post is, The Manly Tradition of the Pocket Notebook

And far from being a modern fad, the pocket notebook has a long, important, and manly history. Pocket notebooks were part of the arsenal of a long list of great men from Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Edison (we’re working on an in-depth post of how these men used their notebooks for the future). The repositories of eminent men’s personal effects nearly always includes a pocket notebook full of their ideas and musings.

The most interesting part of this post, to me at least, is the research that is shared. Good stuff.

I spent many hours combing through the google book archives looking for references on the use of pocket notebooks by ordinary men during this past century. The following excerpts I collected show the pocket notebook’s history and demonstrate that far from being the domain of the modern hipster, the pocket notebook has always been used by men from many different walks of life.

The above is followed by eight examples of how pocket notebooks have been used by men over the years. It’s good research, good writing, and a great look at men and notebooks. I’ve been working on a post concerning men and journaling, and while this excellent post from The Art Of Manliness might seem to steal some of the thunder, I am going to be looking at the topic from a different angle. This AOM post only adds to my inspiration to get men journaling!

This comment from ‘The Manly Tradition of the Pocket Notebook’ shows some of the good old-fashioned values of the blog as a whole:

Hopefully the excerpts above inspired you to start carrying a pocket notebook yourself. It’s a manly tradition that ought to be continued today. Along with a pocket knife and handkerchief, a notebook should reside in the pocket of every man.

Besides having a great post on notebooks last week, I feel every man can benefit from making ‘The Art Of Manliness’ a regular read. I wish there were more blogs with the professionalism and values it represents.

Read the post “The Manly Tradition of the Pocket Notebook” from THE ART OF MANLINESS here.

The Blackwing Pencil: A Rebirth

Posted: 24th August 2010 by Mike Swickey in Uncategorized
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The boingboing blog recently reported that the much loved Blackwing pencil will be returning. I’m not surprised at who purchased the trademark: The California Cedar Products Company. I wrote an article back in February of 2006 about CalCedar and their pencil-loving CEO Chuck Berolzheimer II. He’s quite a guy and I hope you’ll read his story here in the Paper Notes archives. Unfortunately, I didn’t import the comments from the old TypePad site (they don’t make it easy — it would have to be done one-by-one) and there were some good ones on this post. Chuck even wrote and left a message:

Mike – Just checking up on a few of my favorite blogs before hitting the pillow here in Tokyo. Wow. Thanks for the great review.

Truth is if you think I have some passion for pencils then you wouldn’t believe the dinner I just finished with our Japanese subcontractors for our Palomino product range. We were covering issues regarding our next production run and these guys spend incredible time discussing every last, very minute detail to assure it’s going to get done right. True artisans. Just another interesting topic for a future post on Timbelines along with about 5 other things from this trip if I can get the time.

I couldn’t be happier to see the Blackwing now a part of CalCedar. It couldn’t be in better hands.

If you didn’t catch the story of Chuck Berolzheimer back in 2006, I hope you’ll read it now; it’s easily one of my favorite posts: The Man Behind The Palomino Pencil.

Planners, Planners — and more Planners

Posted: 23rd August 2010 by Mike Swickey in Uncategorized
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I’ve enjoyed Laurie’s Plannerisms blog, but today she outdid herself with the post, “The Planner That Saved My Sanity: The Quo Vadis Trinote.”

“You may remember my Planner Crisis post at the beginning of this month, where my sister Sandy convinced me to use the Quo Vadis Trinote planner to get me through my move. Now that I’m here on the other side, I wanted to follow up and give you the details on how this planner absolutely saved my sanity before and during my move, and is working spectacularly well for me now in my new life.”

This is a must-read for those of us who love all things paper. I plan – pardon the pun – to make ‘Plannerisms’ a regular stop on my blog reading. If you like ‘Paper Notes In A Digital World’ — you should too.

I also appreciate her gutsiness in showing us large images of her planner in action; something I (cowardly) failed to do in my post last week on “21 Ways I Use My Notebook.”

Great job, Laurie! The full post is here.

21 Ways I Use My Notebook

Posted: 19th August 2010 by Mike Swickey in Notebooks

I know, you’re probably thinking, “Oh no, he’s not doing list posts now is he?” Well, yeah, not too often, but I think you’ll see it just makes sense for this purpose.

I recently finished an excellent book, Writers And Their Notebooks, which, as the title says, is a collection of essays by various writers on how they use their notebooks. I found it fascinating how people use their notebooks in drastically different ways. Some call their notebooks ‘journals’ and call their daily writings ‘diaries’. I’ve written my opinion about this before and strongly believe it doesn’t matter a whit what you call your book of jottings. I personally call my in-depth entries a ‘journal’ and my random jottings a ‘notebook’ and I keep a simple daily log of events I call a ‘daybook’. But truly, it doesn’t matter what you call yours.

Sue Grafton, the mystery writer of the alphabetical series, says in Writers And Their Notebooks she uses her “journal” to write her book ideas in and I found this little tidbit very interesting: Grafton’s journals (notes on her books) end up four times longer than the completed book! That’s some serious writing. This is truly one of the better books I’ve read in some time about how notebooks and journals are actually used. In fact, it inspired me to think about and write this post.

What’s in your notebook? Not your journal/diary/whatever you want to call your keeper of personal thoughts, but your notebook (or whatever you choose to call it) that collects your thoughts, ideas, random writing?

I’m not going to ask and not share how I use my own notebook.

Here Are 21 Ways I Use My Notebook…..

1. To-do lists. Many of them. Many with the same unfinished things on each one. Months apart!

2. I have four pages of random remembrances from childhood. My thinking is if I don’t write them down as I think of them they will one day be gone – forever.

3. Random book titles and authors I hear about. I’ll later look up reviews or take a look at the Amazon page. I’m a big reader, so looking through my notebook for this post, I realized it makes up a larger chunk of my notebook than I realized.

4. Song titles. Despite spending 25 years+ in broadcasting, I’m not that great with matching artists and song titles. If I hear a song on the radio and I would like to have it in my music collection, I’ll write down the songs and artist for later purchase at (usually) Amazon’s mp3 store. If I don’t hear the title, and don’t know it, I’ll write down a line of the lyrics and use it later in a Lyric Search.

5. Website URLs. I’ll hear something on the radio and think, “I’ll have to check that out.” I’ll almost always think that I’ll remember the site name, but realized I rarely do, so they started going into the notebook.

6. Ideas for future writing. There is a lot of this. I’ll kick out several pages of writing that is meant for a future writing project. It’s a natural place to keep this material.

7. Something from a magazine I find interesting. I’ll cut something out and tape it in the notebook instead of having to copy it all down. I kept this small paragraph long review for a cool “2-second pop-up tent.” When I finally went to purchase the tent, I discovered it had been recalled as a fire hazard. I wrote that down beside the magazine snippet.

8. Magazine subscriptions. I confess to liking my magazines and reading them in their paper form. I even wrote about this once. It really drove me crazy though not knowing when my subscriptions expired. The magazine publishers themselves start sending renewal notices after your 2nd issue, it’s ridiculous. So, I made my own (long) list, simply the name of the magazine and the last issue as noted on the magazine label.

9. Ideas that need further research. Something will come to mind during the day and I’ll think it’s important (it’s usually not) and write it in my notebook to see what others have thought of this idea – or – if anyone has ever thought of it before. (Yes, they almost always have.)

10. Lists of things to buy at the store. Sometimes there are lists that are store-specific, like “Next Time I’m At Best Buy.” Mostly, routine lists of stuff I need sooner rather than later.

11. Quotations. Ahh, my love. My notebook is full of quotations, aphorisms, etc. from books, conversations, newspapers, magazines. I collect these and they all eventually go into another couple of notebooks of nothing but these things. One of the great joys in my life is collecting these and going back to enjoy favorite thoughts from others.

12. Business ideas. I’ll write down ideas, sometimes in great depth, for some business idea. Most of these go nowhere after I’ve written the details down. Sometimes though – I’ll end up doing exactly what I wrote down as it came to me while driving down the Interstate. (I’ll wait for the next stop to actually write it down.) This seems to be a good time to mention the use of voice mail. Sometimes, I will use my cell phone to call my own voice-mail and quickly leave a reminder or idea to hash out later. I use YouMail and their voice-to-text service, having my voice note transcribed and waiting in my inbox when I get home is really nice.

13. Trip planning. There are so many things that go into planning a trip. Potential destinations. Airfare comparisons. Hotel rate deals. Car rentals. All of it, goes in my notebook.

14. Some random something I want to buy. Example: We had low water pressure at the last place we lived. I heard that there is a shower head that seriously puts out the water and makes for a nice shower. I assumed it was some expensive fancy shower head. Nope. It was called the “Incredible Head Power Shower.” It cost all of seven or eight bucks at Home Depot and showering has never been the same. Had I not written it down when I heard of it, I would have forgotten it. (I know me — I would have.)

15. Notes from someone on the other end of the phone. Example: I got a call from my doctor telling me the results of a blood test. I would be sent the results, but I wanted to know the levels on the things we were concerned about. I opened up my notebook and began writing. As you may have noticed by now, I write almost everything down.

16. Film Noir movies I haven’t yet seen. I’m a big fan of film-noir and own most of the classics. But the beauty of these 40’s and 50’s black and white films (many…no, most…are so-called ‘B’ films) is that there always seems to be another title I’ve never heard of. Many of these aren’t available on DVD so I’ll write them on my list and look out for them on Turner Classic Movies or watch for a DVD release. The major studios are always releasing collections of these gems. Things like “Film Noir Classics 8” or some such thing. This is an important one for me as I don’t want to die without having seen every film-noir film ever made. Notebook to the rescue – again.

17. Research. Lots and lots of this. I’m not one to capture information from the web and put it in some online organizer. It’s just never worked for me. So, surprise, it all goes into the notebook.

18. Thoughts that will go into my journal. Sometimes I’ll have my notebook with me, but not my long-entry daily journal. I’ll sometimes write a paragraph or two to remind me to write about this or that in more depth in my actual journal. I don’t do this often, but flipping through my notebook, I do it more often than I thought.

19. Traditional notes from a class, podcast, audiobook. Another example: I listened to Energy Addict: 100 Physical, Mental & Spiritual Ways To Energize Your Life and as I listened I jotted down notes that stood out to me. This little gem came from those notes: “Rituals help us create positive habits that will become our foundation in a crazy world.” Good stuff and it went in the notebook.

20. Horrible artwork. I can’t draw or sketch if my life depended on it. But sometimes I’ll make various graphs or sketch out an advertising design. It aint pretty, but I do it — in my notebook.

21. New numbers or data I’ll otherwise forget. One thing I hate about our lives today is the plethora of numbers, passwords, pins, etc. that must be remembered. (Yeah, right… I know I won’t actually ‘remember’ these things so I’ll write them down.) Sometimes I must disguise things when I put them in the notebook, as I am very careful with personal and identifying information, but I write a lot of these things down. Have to.

That’s a pretty good summation of the various categories of information I keep in my notebook. In general, it’s a catch-all for anything and everything. It sounds so cliché but it really is an extension of my brain. I can’t stand things on 137 little pieces of paper scattered here, there and everywhere, so it goes into my notebook. Others do things very similar to what I do, they only do it online. As I mentioned above, I have tried that and it just doesn’t work for me. Too many steps are required to actually get it down. And, after all, I’m all about — Paper Notes In A Digital World.

So, how do you use your notebook? Feel free to share your thoughts.

(UPDATE: COMMENTS HAVE BEEN CLOSED AND REMOVED DUE TO SPAM)