Buy me some peanuts and pencil slats

It won’t be long before professional pitchers and catchers report for spring training, and that has me thinking of how handwriting and baseball have a lot in common. In either case, they’re much better when the cylindrical instruments used are made of wood. The baseball season ends early in Alaska, when the collegiate players who come up for summer ball return to their campuses before the semester starts (and the snow flies). Thus, I caught my last in-person game in Seattle last August. Let me just say, I’m a purist when it comes to baseball. I think the Designated Hitter rule is garbage. I think a Greg Maddux complete game is infinitely more exciting to watch than anything Bryce Harper will ever do. So, you know I kept score. And you know damn well I used a pencil to do it.

Unfortunately, the problem with keeping score on paper these days is finding a scorecard to do it on. I was lucky that Mariners included a scorecard in their program for their bout against the Blue Jays (two teams I care nothing about), but when I went to see the University of Washington Huskies play nearly a year ago, the whippersnapper staffing the merch booth gave me the “what’s that?” look when I asked for one. Obviously, I need to buy a scorebook.

Then the question becomes: which scorebook? I’m sure I could grab whatever is on the shelf at Play it Again. I fancy myself a connoisseur, though. Any other baseball/writing lovers have a favorite? I’d love to hear about it. In the meantime, I’ll keep scouring Amazon in search of a contender for the pennant.

Notebook Review: Michael Roger Decomposition Book (pocket size)

We all love the humble but might composition book. But, have you ever tried a Decomposition Book? Michael Roger, Inc. has engaged in a little bit of witty wordplay with their well-known series of notebooks, the pages of which are made from 100% post-consumer-waste recycled materials.

Although the Decomposition Book started as a spin on the thread and tape bound comp book we all know and love, they’ve expanded into a full range of different sizes and formats. I thought I’d dip my toe into their products with a spiral-bound pocket-sized notebook that I picked up in Seattle (please excuse the wear on the book — it’s traveled 1,500 miles with me!) So now, after making the journey from the Emerald City to the City of Lights and Flowers, I’ve prepared my review.

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Praise for the humble composition notebook.

We all love our good paper, right? You know I’m a sucker for a nice creamy tint. Tight, subtle ruling. A little tooth. Substantial weight. Resistance to bleed-through and feathering of ink on the rare occasion I want to use a pen. I feel you, paper snobs.

But sometimes — and lately, it seems, more often than not — I just need something that works. I don’t need to shop around for “the one”. I don’t need something special. I certainly don’t need to drop $20. I just need some paper that I can write on, bound up securely in a manageable shape and size, with a cover that can take some abuse (and won’t make me feel bad about destroying).

In other words, sometimes I need a good ol’ Composition Notebook.

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Nice paper going to waste? Make your own notebook!

The world of notebooks is fraught with peril. It seems like most of the notebooks I find with great paper come in a format that I’ll never use. Then there are the notebooks that I pick up for a specific purpose, fill up half or 3/4 of the way, and then I’m simply done — there’s nothing left to add to them. I’m sure there are plenty of other scenarios that all result in the same thing: a bunch of perfectly good paper going to waste because I don’t want to use the notebook that it’s bound in.

So, what’s a writer to do? Cut the excess pages out and make another notebook out of them, of course.

It occurred to me, while scouring the internet trying to find the perfect Traveler’s Notebook insert, that anyone can make one of those things. It’s literally just a bunch of pages folded in half and sewn together. All you need is some filler paper (see above), some kind of hardier cardstock-type paper for a cover, a cutting tool of some sort, a needle, a thread, and elementary-school level sewing skills. The hardest part is finding the right paper, but if you’re in the same boat I am, that’s already taken care of. The rest of it is easy peasy lemon squeezy. I’ll show you how.

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Notebook Review: Apica CG-54 Grid

Good, affordable notebooks are hard to find. As much as I value notebooks — and believe me, I’d be lost without them — there is something that puts me off about paying $15 or $20 for a carry-around, soft-cover notebook just because it’s a certain brand or style that’s hip right now (you know the ones I’m talking about). So whenever I spot a notebook that looks solid, affordable, and cool, I grab it and give it a whirl. This notebook from Apica is a perfect example.

I picked up the Apica CG-54 notebook during my recent trip to Seattle. At the time, I really knew nothing about Apica notebooks, even though in hindsight I’ve found that the CD line has a reputation among fountain pen users. I just grabbed it because it was affordable, looked nice, and wasn’t something I’d found in shops in Anchorage. Even after searching back through Google for some background info on the Apica CG, I can’t find much — the interwebs are awash in information about the CD line, but not so much the CG. So, I reckon this is a prime subject for a review!

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Notebook Review: Paper-Oh Cahier Circulo (A4)

Every day at work, I keep detailed notes on my day and the progress of my projects. It keeps me motivated, focused, helps me process through technical details, and helps make up for my extremely spotty long-term memory. It’s a pretty important part of my workflow, and for some time now I’ve been thinking of upgrading from the budget Office Depot bleach-white notebooks to something better. When I had a chance to break out of the office for a work conference, and needed a slimmer notebook to take with me, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to give the Paper-Oh Cahier Circulo on A4 format a test-run.

For my second notebook review (after the recent look at the Kikkerland Writersblok New Wave) I’ve decided to approach things in a more organized, systematic way. I hope you enjoy this one! Check out more “below the fold”…

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Blogrollin’ with the homies

I noticed that some people are actually reading this blog now. This is mostly thanks to some rad bloggers who have been sending some traffic my way. So I just wanted to give a friendly head-nod to The Pen Addict, The Well-Appointed Desk, Pencil Revolution, Lexikaliker, and Bleistift. Y’all are the bomb dot com.

I don’t do this often, but I figure since those stalwarts of the writing blogosphere have helped a little guy out, the least I can do is pay it back/forward. So here’s a few links that I’ve enjoyed reading lately (“lately” defined very loosely):

From Comfortable Shoes Studio: Baron Fig Gather
From Fueled by Clouds and Coffee: Graphite Pencil Review: Kitaboshi Art Set
From The Looped Square: How Do You Use Your: Nock Sinclair?
From Pencil Revolution: Write Notepads The Deep
From Pencilism: The Point of a Pencil – 5 Reasons I Sharpen with a Knife (almost has me convinced…)
From The Weekly Pencil: Ticonderoga Neon

Seattle day 1 haul, or why Kinokuniya is like a crack den

I’m in Seattle. Seattle is a major city with a substantial Japanese population. Japanese people are serious about their writing supplies. So when my buddy who lives in the International District took me for drinks this evening, you know damn well we made a little stop on the way to the bar. So, this happened:

You’re looking at the Tombow La-Kea Recycled Pencil (HB/B/2B), Mitsubishi Uni-Star (HB/B/2B), Tombow 2558 (HB/B), Mono Plastic Eraser, Rabbit ECOfeel Eraser, Kutsuwa STAD adjustable manual sharpener, Ooly Mighty Sharpener, and the Apica CG54 grid notebook. All that and I still had my eye out for more finds on the walk back to my hotel…

Unconventional advice: Don’t schedule time for journaling

Have you ever googled something like, “how to start journaling” or “journal tips for beginners?” If so, you’ve probably come across one piece of advice that is suggested consistently on pretty much every single web article that has to do with keeping a journal/diary/whatever: you’re supposed to make a specific time in your schedule to write in your journal, and do it at that specific time every day.

That’s some bunk, yo.

I journal regularly. Probably excessively. But for a period of time I tried and tried and just couldn’t get into it. It wasn’t until I broke the supposedly iron-clad rule that says you’re supposed to journal at a specified, consistent part of the day that I was able to make it a regular part of my life.

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Journal what you read

I have a love/hate relationship with books. I want to be a reader. I enjoy reading. It just falls to the wayside, and takes me forever to finish a book. Sometimes it takes me so long to finish a book that I have forgotten the beginning by the time I get to the end. Sometimes I put one down for ages, pick it back up, and really want to read it but have forgotten the whole story thus far, or possibly even lost my place. I am the type of person that needs a deliberate system. So, I started writing a journal about each book that I read.

I’ll admit, it could be that I was just looking for an excuse to write more. But hey, whatever motivation I can grasp onto to make my brain actually want to do a thing, I’ll run with.

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