Search Results for: moleskine

I’ve got a plastic bin in the basement with a stack of journals, notebooks and sketchbooks that goes back to my college days. I’m sure at some point I’ll recycle the majority of them (hopefully before we move out of this house) but for now they’re a fun physical time machine that shows what I was focusing on at any given point in time. At the top of that stack are a series of softcover unruled Moleskines, which have served the purpose of keeping daily notes, project sketches, receipts, and other things my brain isn’t big enough to contain.

I’ve dabbled with other notebooks but none of them have matched the shape and feel of a Moleskine—I’m a very tactile guy when it comes to my paper and pens/pencils, and I like the weight and tooth of the paper—rough enough to feel good under a pencil but not too rough to collect dirt easily—and the binding, which is a tough polyurethane that has stood up to my messy hobbies and lifestyle. The only two issues I’ve ever had were when I spilled water in the hospital and soaked one of my books completely—it wound up smelling like the chemicals coming out of my chemo-soaked pores and it was enough to make me sick, so I replaced it. The second was with this last book, where the elastic closing band came off only months after I’d started using it. (I wound up using one of two high-quality rubber drive belts I took from Rob’s two junked Sony 100-disc changers, which fit the cover almost perfectly.) I don’t like the hardcovers for reasons—I tend to tuck these in my waistband when I’m running to Lowe’s or tucked in a stack of stuff I’m carrying, so small and flexible is key.

I reached the end of my current book right before Christmas; doing a little archaeology I dated its beginning to July 2021, as I was painting shutters on the house and gearing up for a trip to Delaware to have the Scout looked over. I think 1.5-2 years per each book is pretty average; there’s something satisfying to see each page filled (and in some cases overfilled) all the way to the end.

Date posted: January 5, 2024 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »


Hazel has slowly been working on a routine as she’s gotten older, and some of her more annoying habits have been smoothing out over time. She used to launch out of bed like an ICBM with the first beams of light over the horizon and pace by the bedroom door whining and crying and nervously scratching herself. I’d shuffle downstairs with one eye open, let her out, and then collapse on the couch praying that I’d be able to go back to sleep for a few minutes before she banged on the door to come inside—or woke up the neighborhood barking her head off.

She’s sleeping in later these days, which is a blessing, and even if I’m up before she is and slowly pick up my phone to do the morning’s calendar/weather/news check (what time do I need to be put together for my first Zoom call/how cold will the morning walk be/what’s happening in the outside world) she’ll clock that I’m moving but won’t stir until she sees I’m actually getting up. She knows what reading the iPhone means, and she knows what the pre-rise bed stretch means. She can read the signs.

So on Saturday morning, we slept in for as long as my bladder would allow, and then crawled out of bed to walk downtown for coffee and muffins. Along the way we passed several signs for yard sales, which is your author’s crack cocaine. The pickings weren’t quite as good as the signs promised, but a nice lady gave Jen a 1996 Maryland Master Gardener Handbook for free along with a thick binder full of her notes; she had to carry it back home before we continued our walk.


After eating, I got out to the greenhouse and cleaned up the plants, pinching off all of the suckers, pruning spare branches, and keeping things moving upward. They all got watered, and I fixed the wooden foundation of the building so that it’s a bit more stable. Meanwhile Jen pruned a bunch of the day lilies around the entrance back and cleaned up the gardens around the house. it’s all looking really good out there—I’m optimistic for a good haul this summer.

We ran out to drop Finn off at a friend’s house and ran some errands at the local Home Depot, and while I was there I left my Moleskine in the basket of the shopping cart and drove off without it. On a good day this might have been only a small setback, but I left my vaccination card and some other stuff in the back pocket, which made it a bad day. Two calls to Customer Service and a trip to the store netted us nothing, so I’ve pretty much given up hope. At least I have a picture of my card.


Sunday we puttered around the house and got a late start on the day. After dropping Finn off at a friend’s house across town Jen and I took Hazel to Second Chance to look for some spare doors. To recap: Our fridge is stuffed in what was originally the hallway coat closet, and during the summer, our un air-conditioned house tends to get stuffy. Having the fridge in the closet with the door closed is a terrible idea, so we’ve had to crack the door open and let the cats wander in and out and generally deal with how shitty that looks for sixteen years. Jen’s idea was to find another door in the same style, punch out the center panels, and replace them with radiator screen so that the fridge gets enough airflow and the door stays shut.

Second Chance is one of the advantages of living near Baltimore. We found a very close twin to our doors on the shelf—only 1.5″ taller and 1/2″ wider, in the same large-over-small panel design. We also found a replacement door to the master bath, something to replace the thin wooden screen door we found on the side of the road back in 2004. We stumbled on a beautiful, sturdy 12-light door with good hardware and wound up getting both for $60. I found a way to stuff them both in the back of the CR-V with the rear window up, scooped the dog into my lap, and Jen drove us home with our prizes.

The weather, which has been pogoing up and down for the last month, is supposed to get up into the 80’s this week, which means Brood X is going to rise from their slumber. I don’t know that we’ll get the same number of cicadas without the tree cover we had in 2004, but I’m sure it’s going to be loud out there.

Date posted: April 26, 2021 | Filed under greenhouse, hazel, house | Leave a Comment »

Here’s a great article on the birth of Field Notes, the pocket-sized journal company started up by two designers in Chicago:

The form factor of Field Notes comes directly from the agricultural Midwest. They’re based off of promotional notebooks distributed by seed and farm-equipment that Draplin began collecting on drives through the Midwest[.]

I use a Moleskine for my everyday notebook but I use a large-format Field Notes journal for work.

Date posted: June 19, 2019 | Filed under art/design, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

At the risk of this blog devolving into Bill’s Poop Watch, I’ll give you a final update on the workings of my GI tract (because that is all I’m thinking about right now): I think I had the last of the IV poops last night, which is a blessing. During my stay in the hospital they had me hooked up to an IV called a TPN, which looks like milk and apparently contains all of the vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and other stuff that helps keep a patient alive when they can’t actually eat food. They added extra potassium to this, because apparently I was low, and I can say from experience that potassium hurts going in–and hurts worse coming out. This was further amplified by my GI tract expelling stomach acid the only place it could. So in the ranking schema, IV nutrition poops are slightly below chemo poops in terms of comfort. Especially when they’re happening every two hours.

It was great to sleep in my own bed but three weeks of getting used to rock-hard hospital beds completely fucked up my back. And the hospital schedule screwed up my circadian rhythm so I had to double-dose myself with melatonin to get to sleep before 11PM. Plus, I was stupid and decided to sleep with the windows open so I suffered through 100% humidity last night and got lousy sleep. Tonight I will set the A/C on “meat locker” and hopefully enjoy better rest.

Meanwhile, I’m a weak, achy mess. My conditioning is completely gone so I’m huffing and puffing up stairs and struggling to rise from my knees to a standing position. I’m popping ibuprofen every four hours to keep my joints from exploding. With that in mind, this morning I put my laptop in my backpack and walked down the street to Atwater’s to treat myself to another cup of decaf and a blueberry muffin as a reward for jabbing a needle of blood thinner into my leg without screaming. They have me on Enoxaparin, which calls for a subcutaneous injection into the stomach or other fatty tissue to prevent blood clots. My body fat index was low before I was in the hospital wasting away to nothing; I’m probably hovering somewhere above “skeleton” and just below “starvation” on the charts at this point. Months ago I had to administer these shots after cancer and gave up on it (when I actually had more fat) because the medicine would shoot out of my skin in a stream the moment I pulled the needle out. Why they can’t let me just take my goddamn Eliquis, I don’t know.

* * *

It was Prime day while I was laid up in Delaware, so I scrolled through the deals and found a great one on a Hero Session to replace the Hero 3 I’m selling with the drone. I used a couple of Sessions when I was in Colombia and found them very easy to use, so I’m familiar with the drawbacks and advantages of the model. I also scored a new HD Fire for Jen to replace her 3-year-old model. Unfortunately at some point my Moleskine ingested a cupful of water while on my bedside tray at the hospital and became completely ruined (as well as smelling like SHIT) so I had to reorder another one to replace it.

* * *

As mentioned in Instagram, during my absence the tomatoes in the greenhouse went absolutely nuts. And the cucumbers! I’d set up a drip hose on a timer before leaving for the beach to water everything for 15 minutes at 6AM every morning. Apparently this made everything happy, because almost all of the plants were bent double under the weight of all the fruit. The cherry plants are absolutely covered with fruit; I’d say four times the amount before we left. Even the balky heirloom plants are heavy with fruit now; I had to plant Jen’s 7′ tomato cages in the ground next to the tubs and lift the bent stalks to rest on top of each.

It’s all gotten too leggy to cut back, so we’ll just have to ride out August the way things are. I’ve got to go back out and prune everything way back (after I’d propped everything up my bowels were rumbling) and do some maintenance, but HOLY SHIT. I can’t believe it. My head is already spinning with plans for next spring–moving the tables to the center, reconfiguring the drip hoses, changing up some of the varieties, and seeing what else might grow in there.

Date posted: August 1, 2018 | Filed under cancer, garden, greenhouse | Leave a Comment »

Christmas has come and gone, and we are enjoying a quiet day of doing nothing in our pajamas. the house is quiet after an eight-day visit with my sister in law and her son Scott, who is a cute and very active two-year-old. It was challenging to fit the two of them into our daily schedule, host my folks last weekend (hooray!), host three cats, and prepare for Christmas, but now that everyone is gone I think we’re all quite depressed. The house is silent and we haven’t bothered to pick anything up.

Christmas itself was great. We hosted the Lockards here (there was a slight chance Rob might have joined us Christmas eve but his flight out of Philadelphia took off on time) and Jen outdid herself with milk-braised pork, brussel sprouts, potatoes, and arugula salad. Finley came downstairs to a new bicycle from Santa, as well as a bunch of excellent new books, educational toys, and, most surprising of all, a 3′ Crystle Carrington doll from Dynasty–yes, Dynasty (don’t ask.)


Santa was good enough to bring me an iPad Air two Christmases ago, when I settled into my commute to DC and needed something portable to read and write email. It was great, and I enjoyed using it on a (mostly) daily basis. It has a combination of excellent battery life, portability, and convenience that made my first year on the train an easy one.

When I started teaching, things got more difficult. This past semester, I found myself carrying a ton of extra stuff for each class. I bring a pad of paper to class, along with an attendance sheet that doubles as a notepad. Then I was humping design books, Pantone swatchbooks, paper samples, and other bulky items to show the students each day. Adding all this to a 13″ MacBook Pro, a camera, a Moleskine, and about 5 pounds of other stuff meant that the iPad got left on my desk more often than not. Santa brought me a medium sized Timbuk2 messenger bag, but as I’ve found, the bigger the bag, the more crap you want to cram in it, and the heavier it gets. My intention is to pare the things I carry down to the bare minimum.

On Black Friday I saw that Amazon had discounted the Kindle Fire to a price I couldn’t pass up, so I bought two of them. One for Jen, to complement her phone as an entertainment device, and one to replace my iPad.

I’m impressed with it so far. It’s less than a half the size and weight of my iPad, and it has the main features I was using my iPad for–watching Netflix movies and reading eBooks on the train. It takes time to get used to a non-Apple interface, but overall they’ve done a decent job of laying things out and letting me get to my stuff. I could do without the ads on my home screen, but I didn’t pay extra for that. The browser is responsive and small, but it’s good to have something to check smaller screens with. As with our earlier Kindle (thanks, Linda!) I can dump books on it with Calibre, the ugliest OS X application I’ve used in 20 years.

Meanwhile, my Mom has been using a white MacBook for email and websurfing since we got it for her in 2008. It’s getting very long in the tooth, and even though it’s still working, things have been getting funky with it; the browser chrome is blinking out, and the fan cycles up to “tornado” regularly. It’s running 10.7.4 which is the latest version the processor will support, so she’s way behind the times in terms of security. It only made sense to give her my iPad. During their visit, I wiped it and we got her set up with email, her browser settings, an Apple Store account, and found apps to replace the ones she’d been using on her laptop. She’s thrilled and I’m happy it’s going to a great home.

I’ve been using the Fuji X-E1 for about six months now, and I’m finding its limitations a bit frustrating. My primary complaint is that the shutter lag is maddening. Waiting for it to find focus is irritating, having been spoiled by years of lightning-fast DSLRs. It’s pretty useless in low light even with ISO cranked to the ceiling because the camera can’t find anything to settle on. I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not to purchase a used 27mm fixed lens for it to slim it down or to sell it and look for a better camera.

While my sister-in-law and her son were here, I made a conscious effort to use the Fuji as much as I could, which meant daylight and quieter situations to avoid movement and low light. It works great in those environments. However, I needed something that could keep up with an active 2-year-old and his mercurial facial expressions–which led me back to the D7000.

I’ve been noticing that the shots I’ve been taking lately aren’t as crisp as I want them to be. It could be the new 35mm lens I bought isn’t sharp, or that the camera is out of alignment, or that I’m just not using it correctly. Something I’ve got planned for this coming week is to set up a tripod and shoot comparisons of the AI 35mm and 50mm lenses I have as well as both non-AI lenses with both the D7000 and Jen’s D90 to see if I can nail down what’s going on.

Date posted: December 28, 2015 | Filed under geek, life, photography | Leave a Comment »

I drove up to Parkville on Sunday to pick up that lens I was talking about last week (it’s wonderful and was a fantastic bargain) and somehow misplaced this year’s Moleskine notebook, which has me feeling anxious.

As a longtime sufferer of ADD, I desperately need someplace to capture thoughts before they fly off into space. I’ve been using notebooks for the past 10 years to keep track of everything, collecting copious lists of tasks, ideas, plans, sketches, and other ephemera, and it helps me stay organized and focused. I carry a notebook with me wherever I go, and it sits at my bedside under my phone when I sleep.

Bel-Loc roofline

The last place I remember seeing this notebook was on the trunk of the car after I put it down to snap a picture of the Bel-Loc diner, where I’d just finished a stack of pancakes. I don’t think it made its way back into the car from there.

The big problem is, this isn’t the first one I’ve lost recently.

I keep a separate notebook for work, because if I combined the two I’d never keep anything straight–there’s too much going on in each place. The one I keep for work went missing last week.

I’m thinking this is the universe telling me something, because the sheer volume of projects we’ve got going on at work is too much to be contained in a notebook; they are all multi-level long term productions that require a lot more than one page to keep track of all the details and notes. I’ve been searching for a project management solution that fits with my particular needs, and I haven’t found anything yet–Basecamp’s organization is too convoluted, Flow isn’t robust enough, and Slack is more focused on chatting. Wrike could be close, but I haven’t had time to get it set up yet. Moving from paper to online makes me nervous, but if I can find something that works maybe I won’t need to buy a second notebook anymore.

Date posted: October 26, 2015 | Filed under photo, productivity | Leave a Comment »

I would have to agree with the author of this Lifehacker post: Carrying around a Moleskine note book for the last five years has saved me hours of grief and gray hair. I may have to try Field Notes next, because I’m not happy with the small Moleskine notebook–it’s too thick to lay flat and be useful as a sketchbook, which is what I ask of my notebooks about 50% of the time.

Date posted: June 23, 2015 | Filed under drawing, productivity, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I received a medium-sized box in the mail this afternoon with a new Rickshaw messenger bag inside. Ever since pressing the “BUY” button last Wednesday I was nervous that I’d ordered the wrong size, especially after my blunder buying a large Timbuk2 messenger bag on eBay (large is huge, what I really wanted was a medium) now that I have a 13″ MacBook Pro for work.


The verdict: I think this is going to be perfect. It’s just big enough for the laptop, a Moleskine or two, my iPad, and the few other things I carry on a daily basis. It looks like it’ll also hold a DSLR lens-down without a problem, and the fit is just snug enough that a camera won’t bounce around in the bottom. I chose waxed black canvas on the outside (for a nice weathered look in the future) and what they call Saffron–a shade darker than primary yellow–on the inside. Because it was 40% off, I splurged on a waterproof liner (hidden between the outer and inner layer), the smaller interior organizer, and a laptop case. I passed outside clips, because I never use those on my Timbuk2 bags, and I hate having lots of dangly nylon straps swinging around everywhere. I like the way they integrated the strap with outer flaps so that the bag doesn’t fold in on itself when filled with weight; everything feels sturdy and solid. The shoulder strap is a little lighter than Timbuk2’s but I like the buckle mechanism better on the Rickshaw.


Plus, it’s custom-made in San Francisco.

* * *

At work, I inherited a gaggle of older Canon point-and-shoot cameras from the middle aughts, which are mostly useless for serious work. Recently I read a news item about CHDK and the gears started whirring. CHDK is an open-source project to extend the abilities of older Canon gear by loading new software via firmware update, including RAW support, scripting, motion detection, and manual control. I’d read about it a long time ago when I was still using my Canon G3 regularly, but was sad to find I that camera’s wasn’t supported. A quick scan of the list showed me I’ve got three viable cameras, so I followed the directions, had to use a workaround, and loaded one up. Within minutes I’d shot a RAW image and was editing it within Photoshop. It’s a wee bit clunky, but just to have RAW support and a way to script event triggers opens up some interesting possibilities. I’ve got a vague plan for a large box kite carrying a camera rig for the beach this year; we’ll see if I can pull it off in time.

I used a different utility, called Stick, to format the card and install the latest version of CHDK as bootable firmware, and it works flawlessly in the camera. More experimentation to follow.

Date posted: April 29, 2014 | Filed under geek, photography | Leave a Comment »

I’ve been using a Moleskine for the last three years to keep track of things, jot down notes, sketch ideas, and hold important things close. I take it literally everywhere I go. I’ve worked out a crude system with it, but this site lays out a fantastic framework for note-taking. I’m going to switch over this week.

Date posted: August 20, 2013 | Filed under art/design, geek, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I drove the Scout into work this morning, during the worst heatwave in Baltimore history (or so the news would have you believe) because the A/C in the Saturn has crapped out. Normally, I’d choose the Saturn anyway because the kindly engineers at GM put heat insulation in between the little DOHC 4-banger and the passenger compartment, while the good folks at IH decided some horsehair carpeting and 1/16″ of foam padding would suffice to keep the blistering heat away from my body. Driving home in the Saturn last night was so hot, however, I decided that if I was going to sweat my balls off in a car, I might as well have the top down.

Going through my Moleskine last night, I made two discoveries: first, I’ve officially been using it for a year as of yesterday. Second, I’ve put a total of 937 miles on the Scout since November 17 of last year (the first record of date and mileage I can find).

Also, I’ve entered all of August and September of 2002 into WordPress, and the post count (including this one) is currently at 2,996.

Daddy Likes: A ’52 Metro Delivery van. This is exactly the kind of industrial design I dream about.

→ This is a syndicated post from my Scout weblog. More info here.

Date posted: July 22, 2011 | Filed under housekeeping, Scout | Leave a Comment »