Tag Archive for notebook

On Paper & Pen

My day gig is very much rooted in technology.

Every day, I’m telling teachers why they should be using Chromebooks and smartphones in their classrooms, teaching students to make the most of their Google Apps for Education accounts, extolling the virtues of Evernote and digital textbooks in class, and finding strategies to reduce our school district’s paper and toner consumption.

It surprises my coworkers, then, when they discover I carry a paper notebook and a pencil in my pocket at all times. To some it’s almost betrayal, as if everything I’ve told them is a lie.

Technology has its place, of course, and the majority of my workflow is definitely digital. Evernote is a huge part of my productivity, both in writing and at work, and when I’m writing I’m usually strapped in to Google Docs or Apple’s Pages. Early notes and brainstorming, however, is usually done in a notebook.

Pencil and paper still flows better for me. As fast as I can type, I’m faster with a pencil. I feel more connected to the words, as pretentious as that sounds, and the ideas just keep on coming.

A small notebook is far more convenient on the go, too. It’s not uncommon for me to throw some text or photos into a note in Evernote via my smartphone, but again, for brainstorming, it’s just so much faster to use a pencil.

Yes, pencil. Mechanical, .5mm. Right now my favorite is a Papermate something-or-other (the name has rubbed off), as seen in the photo below.

I’ve long felt pens are too messy. When I was a kid I exploded a few pens while fiddling with them because I can’t sit still, which probably soured me on the whole thing. I like being able to erase my mistakes, too. Despite having hurried and jagged handwriting which even I sometimes have a hard time deciphering, I have this weird insistence on the words being right.

So I dig pencils, and I dig good notebooks. I’ve talked about Moleskines several times, and after my experience with the Field Notes Pitch Black, I decided to try the Field Notes Expedition Edition, also in the photo above. It is definitely more durable than the Pitch Black, but pencil transfers across to opposite pages.

I’ve got three Expeditions now, so I wonder, should I find a pen that transfers its ink properly to the Expedition’s pages? By coincidence today, I read A Primer on Fountain Pens at The Art of Manliness. Surely, I thought, there’s a fountain pen ink that will do the job?

This is the part where I shock my writing brethren, especially those who are notebook and pen geeks:

I’ve never used a fountain pen.

I seem to remember fiddling with one, and scratching up some paper, but never a good pen and never at length. Typewriters? Sure, I dig typewriters. Love the feel and the noise, though I don’t own one. But fountain pens just never clicked. I never felt a need for a pretty pen when my handwriting sucks, and again, there’s the issue of the mess.

I know John Urbancik uses several, as do a number of writers I’ve talked to. I’ve heard artists talk at length about the various pens and inks they use in their work. Writers and artists alike talk about quality ink and flowing lines and the feel of a good pen in hand.

Hey, I get it. I’m down. But I do like my pencil scratchings, so I’m torn. Do I find a good pen, or do I abandon the Expeditions? I don’t know that I’m ready to get all spendy on fountain pens and screw with ink refills, but if anyone can recommend a good, durable pen with ink that won’t smear all over the place, I’d be willing to give it a shot at my notebook.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Corona Ritas and the Scare Bear

Never did get around to posting last week’s Photo Friday entry, so I’ll tack it on to this week’s.

First up, an example of how the real writing work gets done:

Corona Rita

Yes, both glasses are mine. Why do you ask?

This is an improved shot from the night Cullen Bunn and I got together to chat about the writing biz and do some brainstorming. There in the foreground you can see my trusty Moleskine notebook. Nothing fuels a night of brainstorming like a few drinks, a belly full of tacos, and pencil in hand.

The Cerveza Rita, aka Corona Rita, is mighty tasty, by the way. Mix up a margarita, upend a bottle of beer in it, and drink up. As the level of the margarita drops, the beer starts to pour in. It mixes for a bit, until pretty soon you’re just drinking the last of the beer. If you’re the type of person who likes a lime in your Corona, I would suggest asking the bartender to drop it in the bottle before upending the bottle into the margarita glass.

This, by the way, was the small Cerveza Rita. (Hey, we’d just polished off a pitcher of the regular stuff.) They make a regular size with a regular bottle of Corona, and they make a large which is big enough for two bottles of Corona. Drink up!

This week’s photo is once again off the smartphone:

Scare Bear

Scare Bear attack!

Little Bird is so bad ass, she chases bears up tress!

We’ve seen this a statue a few times before, but this is the first I came up with this idea. Once again I’m reminded to carry my Digital Rebel with me more often. Sometime I’ll go back and re-shoot this with the Rebel, but we had fun with this oen and for now it stays in the set.

In other news, another hellacious work week has come to an end. I think I’m finally through the worst of it and I can get some real work (otherwise known as writing) done for a change.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

I MUST HAVE ONE

I get a lot of my ideas in the shower. I have long wished for a notebook that works in the shower.

Now AquaNotes has made it possible!

Time to bust out the credit card.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Shuri-ryu: Year One

Karate Moleskine

Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

Last week marked the one-year anniversary of my Shuri-ryu karate training at the Academy of Okinawan Karate.

It amazes me how far I’ve come in just one year. In addition to losing a lot of weight, my stances have become longer and lower, my kicks have gotten higher, and my techniques have become a lot sharper. I advanced two belt ranks, I learned two kata, and I’m learning to use the sai and bo.

What surprises me most is we never stop learning; not just new techniques, but new applications for or tweaks to what we already know. For example, just as a punch feels natural, sensei starts pointing out finer detail like elbow position. Also, I’ve been running my kata the same way for weeks with little comment. Last night, sensei tells me my hand techniques look great, now we can work on my stances in the second half of the kata.

Something else I just learned was I should have had a notebook all along. I showed up to a Black Belt Club workout and saw several people with notebooks. I asked my sensei if I should be bringing one, and he told me karateka should have notebooks at every class. He doesn’t always give detailed lessons, but he frequently throws out terms I tend to forget after a week or two.

I bought a Moleskine sketchbook to rectify that, which is what prompted the photo above. I didn’t want it to get lost in the shuffle around the dojo, so I personalized it by stenciling the kanji for the word “karate” onto the front with a silver Sharpie. The sketchbook will be a little sturdier than a lined notebook, it will allow me to doodle in footwork and diagrams, and I’ve even started turning it into a sort of scrap book by including photos of some of the Okinawan masters in the Shuri-ryu lineage. (Yes, I’m a geek that way.)

This first year has been a good one. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this next year takes me.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.