Category Archives: root

Book of the Notes

Through my years of school, university, working in journalism and simple personal writing, I’ve gone through a few notebooks (or journals for those of you that don’t like the moniker ‘notebook’). By a few, I’m guessing between four and five hundred. Working for various newspapers taught me more about paper than I ever thought I’d want to know. After all these years, I also know what I like and what I don’t. These are my thoughts on the various journals available on the market today.

And before we get too far, yes I have a fountain pen (a Mont Blanc) and I do not use it. Ever. Sure, they’re elegant and an old-world work of art. But they’re fussy, a monolithic mess and a general pain to use. Transporting them in a bag or jacket is a recipe for disaster, in most cases. So none of my observations are from the point of view of using a fountain pen. Ballpoint, pencil, gel ink or rollers are my usual tools of the trade.

Journals have to tick a certain number of boxes for me. They have to have a certain quality of paper. They must hold up well over time and extended use. Craftsmanship has to be at a fairly high bar, particularly when compared to the price (value ratio). I prefer a hardbound book for larger journals, or ones with page counts over 150 or so. I absolutely prefer a stitched binding, even with soft covers (as opposed to staple bindings). And I won’t use a spiral-bound notebook for all the rice in China… no matter how well it’s made.

Moleskine used to be my go-to brand. They were consistent, the hardback journals were very well made, and I never had any issues with them year after year. Then, something happened. I don’t know if it was profit margins, or if it was their rise to popularity driving demand that was hard to fill, or what. Maybe they sold out when they went ‘mainstream,’ or whatever. The craftsmanship started to falter here and there. The paper quality definitely fell a few notches, particularly with their smaller (as in, size as well as smaller page-count) books. That’s a real shame, as their trio-pack of Cahier journals was one of my absolute favorites. They had 80 pages, which was just enough, and the card stock cover weathered nicely over the course of using it. By the time the 80 pages was filled, the cover was about to the point it was distressed without being beaten up.

But as paper quality is my main focus of a journal, the Moleskine has fallen from my grace.

Field Notes are decent enough, but they never took hold of my heart. Granted, they are made in the U.S.A. (and, there’s something to be said in that for me). But the books are staple bound, which I find to not hold up as well as heavy thread over the time it takes to fill the 96 pages of a Field Notes book. The covers were thinner, and as such they didn’t fray and weather as nicely as the Moleskine. There was something I didn’t like about the paper feel, and it would bleed with some of my pens (meaning, the lines weren’t crisp – they got fuzzy as the ink soaked into or on the paper while writing). I do have their birch storage box that I admire and use constantly, however. I wish I liked their books more than I did.

Leuchtturm1917 is another journal I’ve tried. Their quality is really, really high. Paper is very nice with no bleed or show-through. And, the two I own have shown themselves to be true warriors of time with sturdy covers that have lasted and the binding showing no signs of breakdown. Pricing is very reasonable considering what you’re getting for your money (maybe a dollar or two higher than a comparably sized Moleskine). So winner, winner, chicken dinner, right? I wish. The A5 sizes (just smaller than a standard piece of copy paper) are simple to find, but it is shockingly hard to find the smaller pocket size. Like, I have to wonder if there’s some sort of conspiracy regarding the sale of the things…

Rhodia I’ve not had the chance to try, yet.

My current daily driver is the Midori Traveler’s Notebook. Granted, it’s more of a modular system: the leather cover is your permanent home and you add or remove various notebook inserts as desired. The size is a bit odd – narrow but long, almost like a pamphlet or brochure. I generally don’t mind since I know it’s Japanese, and their traditional writing was vertical. Yes, the notebook inserts are staple-bound, but the paper quality so far has seriously impressed me. The leather cover will surely hold up to time well, but I don’t have enough miles on the inserts to make a call.

But for a great pocket notebook, I’m still searching.

Featured image used under CC license from Pexels.

Just. Stop.

*** WARNING *** 

The filters have come off completely for this post. The editors have been shackled, bound, gagged and shipped to spend 10 to 15 with The Gimp. This is the result of climbing atop a soapbox and then launching the Sputnik straight into the stratosphere. Full-on rant mode. You have been sufficiently warned. Proceed with caution.

 

The more I see the state of the world today (various economies around the world, corporations trying their level best to profit-monger on anything and everything, snowflakes and the general inability of independent thought, governments stooping to all-time lows of morality and ethics, Congress selling personal information like browsing history*, and the general death of the Constitution), the more I want to eventually buy a sailboat and ride off to the Sovereign State of Fuck All, population two. (I’m not leaving my cat behind, and she counts as a populous…. heck, she has to pay Pet Rent at our apartment, so I figure she has some rights.)

The Internet and this prevailing wind of instant gratification has birthed an unending stream of bile, bullshit and bat-shit insanity. Most music these days is garbage (no, not Garbage – they were a fairly decent act from years ago), pop culture is obsessed with who/what can be the dumbest (apparently), and technology seems more interested in quantifying people like rats in a maze for monetization rather than, I dunno … actually improving the quality of life. It’s enough to make someone want to start kicking ass. (“Who’s Tony Romo now…?!? UPRIGHTS.”)

Granted, I’m generalizing. There are exceptions and moments of pure and endearing brilliance. But the world at large has drug itself to the precipice of total stupidity and, not having sufficiently quelled this self-imposed dare to see how far it can go, flung itself spread-eagle right over the edge.

Could we all just stop? Stop buying all this crap. Stop believing all the lies. Stop thinking we’re all entitled or better or immune. Stop letting others (corporations, the government, advocacy groups, anyone) think for us? Stop being so busy we think that’s an excuse or a means to an end? Just stop for a minute, and think. Think about what is opinion and what is fact. Think about what those facts tell you. Think about how those facts make you feel. Think about what needs to change.

Then, start making those changes yourself and not waiting for someone else to do it.

 

*Okay, so Congress isn’t technically selling your browsing history. They only voted approval for all ISPs to sell it… and I daftly wonder if any of those extra revenues of selling people’s lives like slaves will wind up back in the coffers of those same clowns in Capitol Hill as ‘campaign contributions.’ The statement above marked with an asterisk merely cuts out the middle man (the ISPs) and calls the situation as it is.

Deuces, 2016

Out with the old… and the bath water, and maybe even the baby.

The year draws to a close, mercifully. Smoking is now defunct, as promised to my little guy. Coffee has replaced soda, though I’m still uncertain if the Chemex or Press is my favorite. Razors are now like my guitar – from the 50s. Debian and Kali are still my two favorite distros, and my Sirius seems to stay on Chill more than 80s lately.

If none of the above makes any sense to you, that’s quite all right.

Spoiler-free thoughts on Star Wars: Rogue One. We enjoyed it in the theater, though it was surprisingly grim to be a Disney-fueled flick. The beginning 30 minutes or so are rough… really rough. As in, what the #$&@ is going on rough. After the auspicious start, it seemed to find its footing and becomes an enjoyable tale. Thankfully, it doesn’t follow the same, tired plot road map of usual Star Wars fare. And even more thankfully, there’s no Jar-Jar-type nonsense in this one. The flip side to that coin is there’s no lovable sidekick. I’d pay to see it again, if that says anything.

My cat hasn’t managed to kill her pet fish, so there’s that, at least.

Here’s looking to 2017, Cowboy Bebop in HD (yeah I know, I’m a bit late to that party) and Nier: Automata. And stiff middle fingers to Oxford commas. AP style and Grove Street…

Post up

So a great number of my non-Linux tutorial posts contain a certain level of sarcasm and snark. Many of those, deservedly so. But there also exists a need and time for shout outs. Here are a few:

Number one shout to my parents. Without them, I wouldn’t be possible. Ha! (HI MOM!) Seriously, my family is the best and all that I could have ever asked for, now or as a kid. The same goes for my kid, my cat and even my fish (plural). They keep me grounded, sane, and motivated in life.

Props, too, to my job and my co-workers. After twenty-some years of working, I’ve landed a gig for the past four years that is pretty fantastic. I still enjoy going to work every day, and my co-workers are nothing short of phenomenal. Double that for the rest of the I.T. team with which I work. I am absolutely blessed to be with them.

Can’t forget Maddie and G – they always put a smile to my face, and Mads has this innate way of making me feel better about everything. They aren’t exactly sane, but good friends usually aren’t.

The others that have been in my life and continue to be good people: Susan S. and Brian C., Alan H. and so many others. Kevin N., Debra B., our local UPS driver that always has a smile and is enthusiastic about his job. It’s always humbling to see how good people can have a positive influence on your day.

So to all of you: thank you.

Reboot

Web site reboot.

There are so many things these days in need of a reboot. The first that springs to mind is this country’s political eco-sphere. Well, maybe not so much a reboot as a good, old-fashioned enema. If you want political rhetoric or commentary, however, flip over to any of the billion other news (sorry, “news”) sites or channels or podcasts covering that quagmire. I’ll refrain, though it still irks me I can’t register as “Anarchist” on the state’s voter ID.

Speaking of anarchy… Esmail: what the F*CK are you doing with Mr. Robot, season 2?!? He claimed that episode six was “our best one” yet. Best what, exactly? Best attempt at turning what could have been a stellar show into an all-night orgy with its partners Stupid, Esoteric, Cheese and Ineptitude? Best shot at ensuring no viewers will return for next week’s show? Esmail, you have done a bang-up job at resurrecting the notion of Jumping the Shark. Well played.

Now for the love of all things cool and decent in this world, somebody take the pen out of his hands and give him a series of scripts that will save this show from its bullet train ride straight to Hell. And wake me up when this nonsense is over. Oy vey.

A word from our sponsors… as I have a quiver of Linux machines to update.