An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

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Location: Philippines

Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

29 March 2013

Twelve thousand

That's how many titles I actually have for my Kindle Touch. Of course, they don't all fit into my Kindle, which can hold only about 4,000 titles. Right now my Kindle only has about 200 titles in it, and I don't store much in it because the navigation is really slow, finicky, and very primitive. But all my Kindle titles are in one enormous folder in my laptop, with a backup file on two different external hard drives, and on two of my Cloud accounts, in addition to my online Amazon library.

Many of you who know me well -- and many of you, too, who don't know me well -- know me enough to realize that books are my passion. I have been reading voraciously since I was seven years old. A sickly girl growing up in a large farm, I grew up with books. My childhood saw me staying up late in bed with a flashlight (which probably accounts for my miserable eyesight now), spending summer afternoons up in the mango tree with a cushion and a book, and mostly just always reading, even at family reunions. Books were my vehicles to the much larger world outside. That's how I traveled then, with my mind, within the comfort and safety and relative consistency of my own little reading nook. Very early on in my life, books were already my security blanket.

As I grew older, that didn't change. Over time, my own collection of physical books number about 800 actual books. Most of them are still on display in the bookshelves of my Makati apartment, although a lot of them are stored in plastic boxes as well, for lack of shelf space. (These plastic boxes also function as furniture. I stacked one on top of the other, draped a tablecloth over them, and they are now my bedside tables. Now I can claim that my books are my bedside tables, in a way.)

It's not just the concept of books that I love and need. it's the actual physicality of them. Their history, their components, the covers, the pages, the spine, the printing, the parts. I cannot live without actual books, with paper pages I can flip through, and actual ink that I can pore over, and actual spines that I can see lined up on my shelves, and peruse, and caress from time to time, whenever I feel lonely and lost.

When the Kindle first came out, I did not warm to the idea at once. I did not like the concept of reading a digital book. I still preferred actual books, of course, and being the old fogey, I resisted the idea for years. Even when some of my oldest professors have shifted to the Kindle, using their failing eyesight as an excuse, I did not budge.

Until a year ago

I purchased the Kindle Touch directly from Amazon just before it was phased out, to make way for the new line of Kindles.

And right from the moment I unpacked it, I fell in love with it!

Here it is beside a book that Mr. T, gave me months before I bought the Kindle, and which I had just finished reading at the time. And while I will always love physical books with their endearing parts and elements, I have a new love for the Kindle.

Because it was light, it did not look as high-tech as I thought it would, and it could carry Proust! And all of Dickens! And War and Peace! and Game of Thrones! and all Stephen King books! And Alain de Botton! And Umberto Eco! And Italo Calvino! All together, in just one small, light gadget, that even had a gorgeous leather case with a built-in LED light! And it still looked like paper! I wondered how I was able to live without it for as long as I have.

It's now what I carry around everywhere I go. Now it's not just a book or two, but an entire library. It will never trump actual books in my heart, but it sure beats bringing around the unabridged edition of The Adventures of Don Quixote of Salamanca.

And that is why I now have twelve thousand titles for my Kindle.

15 March 2013

Going radial

And just like all other brilliant things that came into my life, this one came to me at random, while I was looking for something else.

I think I was looking for a bag. Now I have already forgotten exactly what bag I was looking for. For all I know, I could have been looking for a book, or sunblock, or RCA cables. Whatever it was, it led to me to Patrick Ng’s blog, and the gorgeous nostalgic photos and the travel concept drew me in, and I just browsed and browsed and kept on browsing. Little did I know that I was being sucked into an entirely new world of technology-tinted analog.

And then I saw the Chronodex, and I fell in love with the idea straight away.

How wonderful to have an actual clock to mark my appointments on! By shading certain times, I can see at a glance if my afternoon was already full, or how much time I have allotted for a particular task, or if I have reserved enough time to make calls and send out emails. By using different colors, I can see how much of my days are spent on meetings, editorial work, production work, research, and reading. By blocking off certain times, I can dedicate that time to doing the more important tasks that need my concentration. There are so many possibilities with this format, and it’s not restrictive like the usual linear planners.

It can also be used for mind-mapping. Apparently a lot of people from the creative fields find this radial system really to their liking, because it allows for a more visual representation of actual time. With the Chronodex cores, the day is not just a series of hours that pass us by, but an actual pocket of existence that we can all grasp, make sense of, appreciate, and optimize. The day can now be seen as a wonderful, pliable tool that can tell us where we are at any given moment, like a compass of sorts, but referring to time instead of location.

A compass for time. How strange an idea, but in an amazingly efficient way.

Another advantage of this system is that it comes in printable files, giving me the freedom to lay out the cores according to how I need them, on the paper and notebook that I prefer. Here you can see that I have them on a week-to-a-spread layout, with cores only for the weekdays and none for the weekends.

Some people have laid them out day-to-a-page, allowing them more space on the paper to write down notes, reminders, and lists. Some have printed the cores out on sticker paper, and just stick that on their existing planners as needed.

There is also a Chronodex stamp in the works. And apparently there is even an iPad app for it.

Now, a couple of weeks into this system, I am loving it even more. And as I find myself being able to do more things in less time, I shall move to a core-to-a-page format soon, because I need more space on the paper for listing down actual unexpected and unplanned accomplishments for the day. Yes, I now have those. The Chronodex has helped me use my time more productively, leaving me more time for play, which in turn leads me to more creative discoveries, which of course I need to note down, because memory is a tricky thing.

If you are looking for a new system of organizing your days, this could be something that’s worth looking into. It has certainly worked wonderfully for me.

[Image credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

08 March 2013

Just a blog

I recently have had time to revisit my old blog posts, from five years back, and I’m quite amused by all the energy and time I have put in to make each blog post substantially grim and ponderous. I certainly thought blogging was a good way to practice writing, and I still think the same way now, but years ago, I must have felt that each blog post must be worthy of being quoted and noted and cited and reviewed. Such was the effort I put into each of them, and such was the gravity I have invested in them.

Which probably explains why I have not been able to keep it up for very long. Seriously, no one really blogs like that all the time. Even the most serious and celebrated writers that I admire tend to blog about less serious matters in less serious tones more often than I would care to admit. It was only little old me who tried to convince myself that every word that comes out of me and onto the page must resonate with magnitude, and must be worthy of intensive contemplation afterwards.

But then again, this is just a blog, and there are so many things to write about other than weighty and grave issues, and there are a million different ways to write about such things. Certainly it would benefit me to explore these many ways of writing and these myriad of topics to write about, topics that are fun, serious, weighty, flighty, frivolous, sad, annoying, hilarious, somber, silly, tentative, convoluted, open-ended. Because I don’t need to have all the answers, not right now, not for every blog post.

Many of you who have been reading my blog for sometime now may have noticed the new kind of blog posts I have been uploading since the beginning of 2013. Now I talk about things that I like, on top of keeping up with writing about matters and subjects that are important to me. After all, I still write so many more things other than blog posts, works that are longer, and for publication; I can be serious there.

It is quite liberating to finally be able to blog this way. By tweaking my own blogging standards a little bit, I get to share more of what I actually like, like fountain pens, inks, papers, notebooks, books, movies, physics, gadgets, people, family, love, moments, trips -- tangible and palpable things that need no abstractions. This new mix is something I like very much, and I hope you like it as well. And as my blog evolves yet again, I hope you continue to be with me as I try to make sense of things in this random, random universe.

[Image credits: 1, 2]

01 March 2013

Summer in my pocket

Ever since I was a child, I have always considered the first day of March to be the first day of summer. Even though school was not yet done for the academic school year, there was always an anticipation in the air, and the deeply comforting fact that school would always eventually end at some point in March, and then I would be free to get out of bed whenever I want, read whatever books I wanted that school did not require of me, and pretty much spend my days without planning anything beforehand.

I absolutely looked forward to summer every year when I was a child. For me summer was always this hot, dry, dusty pocket of time inside a year of on-again-off-again rains. And because in my grownup years I do not really get to experience it much anymore, because office work goes on and on consistently, every day, Mondays through Fridays, no matter the season, summer then attained a kind of mysticism for me. I have grown to love the rain, yes, but summer would always be that wonderful, magical time of year that was for children only. And each time summer comes, I would take a moment everyday to remember the child that I once was, growing up in the barrio, running around the great big lawn, climbing up the trees to stay in a branch and read a book, making paper dolls, picking petals off flowers and pasting them onto the pages of my notebooks.

Recently I have discovered a fountain pen ink that carries all of this wonderful nostalgia of summer: Diamine Kelly Green.

It’s a light and happy shade of green, and when used with good paper, especially one that is made for fountain pens, like the 85g cream Clairefontaine paper that is inside the Quo Vadis Habana, the shading properties of the ink is enhanced. I have loaded it inside a Lamy with a 1.5 italic nib so I can lay down more of this ink with every stroke, and it’s now my everyday pick-me-upper. Writing with this ink always makes me feel better about things, all the more if I am writing about the things that make me happy, like so:

This is one of my favorite everyday writing inks, because I like carrying a piece of summer with me.

[Image credits: 1, 2]