50 word story

In spite of all my care, it fell from my arms and broke. An old man saw my stricken expression, dropping to his arthritic knees and gently gathering it to his chest, protecting it like a dying child. It was the only one, I wept. There will never be another. 

Half the pressure, twice the speed

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Half the pressure, twice the speed.  Surely a better tag line was never written.  Doesn’t that make you want to write with a pencil?  With anything.  Who wouldn’t want to use (or experience) half the pressure.  And twice the speed.  Anyone who knows me will tell you  I’m all about speed:  I drive fast, walk fast, talk fast and of course, want to scribble as fast as I can.  I’ve always been like that.  I think I was born knowing how to write and once I got the hang of it, and was allowed to use something better than a big unsharpened crayon, I wanted to write as fast as I could, as much as I could.  I’ve never gotten over that pleasure, and I’m told that my writing isn’t much more legible than it was back then either.

I spend a lot of time writing (longhand, actual paper and pen) and I care a lot about the implements. I wish I didn’t, but I do, and I have requirements:  the experience of a particular pen must be aesthetic, it must be smooth, have a fine consistent line, and the pen must be light enough that I forget I’m holding it.  Thumb tendonitis.  If my hand aches I can’t write, so it has to be effortless.

And I love pencils.  Who doesn’t.  The smell of the wood after it’s sharpened; the way they look in a bunch; the thrill of graphite.  🙂  But the thing about writing with a pencil is, to get a fine line, that is consistent, I have to press down hard, and keep checking, and then keep sharpening.  So I use pencil for drawing, or designing something, but not for writing in my journal or taking notes during a meeting, when I can’t be distracted by my writing implements.

I have read about the legendary Palamino Blackwing pencil on blogs for years, and as they are expensive, I never thought I deserved them, or some such excuse.  $20 for 12 pencils.  One day I was feeling extravagant and ordered a box.  When they arrived I was already regretting getting sucked in one more time by the promise of a pencil I would fall in love with, and after a couple of sentences it would turn out to be just like all the others.  But, I sharpened up a couple of Blackwings, pulled out my trust Baron Fig journal, and the next thing I knew, my hand was flying across the page, effortlessly.  The words were flowing!  I stared in rapturous admiration.  It was true!  I didn’t have to bear down, and could write just as well as I could with a pen!  Of course all that goodness has a downside: it does need to be sharpened.  We could have a whole blog post about sharpening, but there are many bloggers that do that already and in considerably more detail than I’m willing to.  Suffice it to say, I sharpen (ok, I use a Kum Longpoint).

When I’m going to be writing for a while, say 10 minutes or longer, I will go to the Pentel Finito, the combination of weightlessness, fine point, and ink quality.  But for designing, when I need to scribble, erase, extend (mindmaps are an example), I’ll reach for the Blackwing.  The right tool for the job.

What’s coffee ever done for me


The answer is: what would I do without it? Some people think caffeine is a vice. Some misguided individuals, and I feel sorry for them, think it is a sin. It’s not clear to me what’s wrong with caffeine; one of the most strident coffee-will-send-you-to-hell people I’ve known had no hesitation about eating a gallon of mocha ice cream with enough caffeine to make a cow dance. So maybe it’s ok if it’s in food. If it’s in a drink, it’s N/G, but naturally existing in a healthy food, such as ice cream, somehow cleanses it of its devilish properties. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I am one of the fortunate who are not afflicted with that particular judgmentalism. Every now and then, I think, I should give up caffeine since it [makes my nerves jangly; interferes with sleep; costs too much]. Pick your reason. It is awful to get over the dependency, but after a week I’m doing well. After 3 or 4 weeks it’s as though coffee never existed, why did I ever feel that it was ok to be dependent on it!! And all that money, at least ten dollars a WEEK!

And then I hit the magic number, which seems to be around 6 weeks. I wake up and think ahhhhhhhhh, that aroma! The flavor! The friendly burbling of the coffee maker, urging me to shake off the torpor of sleep, to plunge into the very essence of life, to sample its infinite possibilities and drink deep of its sweet elixir. And just like that, I’m back at the joe. And I think, what is the point of living, if I can’t even have coffee?? The idea that coffee might somehow be … unhealthy? Huh? Coffee is one of the main reasons I’m still ALIVE.

And the next thing I realize after THAT is, I can’t even remember why I thought I should give it up in the first place. And it’s as though something has clicked back into place, after being annoyingly in need of adjustment.

Viva la Starbucks. Let’s get this done.

Always the trendsetter

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You saw it here first. This might be the exact first time that anyone did this and I predict a minor style trend: combining two different straps on the Apple Watch. (Obviously, both have to be Sport bands.) My life seems to have a color scheme of black and white: clothing, accessories; dishes, furniture. Even my glasses are black and white. For years I only worked in B&W photography, color is very distracting to me. That’s generally true; some people enjoy color but I don’t.

As a confirmed minimalist, I’d rather see my environment pared down to the essentials, and it is a relief from distraction to have a simple color scheme. Makes it easier to get dressed too, I don’t have to dig for things that match.

This half-and-half watch band came about when I started to swap my white band for a black one, and it looked so good like this that I decided to keep it.