30 December 2005

Changing the World, One Planner at a Time

As I've written before, the Filofax system is peculiarly amenable to wacky reordering, crazy page designs, and other ad hoc usages that are, like, totally wild. Now, mind you, I'm way too lazy to do most of that. Instead, I manifest the inherent craziness of Filofax by using poor handwriting, loopy lines intended to connect two disparate facts or events, and intentionally varying the color of ink or lead I'm using. When I open my Filofax, all of these say to me: "Damn, you one crazy lawyer!"

Since I'm too lazy to do anything other than write badly, I depend on others to make my life easier -- and crazier. Here are some ideas along those lines:

  • I want a Moleskine whose pages are perforated and pre-punched to fit into Filofaxes. Now that would make me a card-carrying Moleskine devotee.
  • What about a Filofax insert that would give me another pen loop? I want to carry two (at least) writing implements. There's no easy way to do this on my personal Cross model.
  • I want a checkbook pre-punched for Filofax insertion. Yes, yes, Filofax makes a checkbook holder. But it is overpriced and awkward.
  • I want more ruler options. First, I want a clear ruler that has markings for inches. I can't make heads or tails of the metric markings on my clear ruler. And the black ruler is simply a bad idea. Second, I want a ruler that lists all U.S. presidents and their dates of service. I have a full-size ruler that does this. Why can't my Filofax ruler?
  • I want a map of Washington, DC that reflects post-1995 changes to the area's transit system. According to the map I have, one of the subway lines I've used regularly for years is merely "proposed."
  • Oh, also, I want every single piece of paper in the world that I haven't already mentioned to be sized and punched for usage in my Filofax.

None of this will happen until Filofax acquires a substantially greater share of the planner market. How might that happen? Like the great orator Michael Jackson once said, "I'm starting with the man in the mirror. I'm asking him to change his ways. No message could have been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change!"

Buy Filofax!

28 December 2005

Filofax Nirvana

I've returned from a whirlwind trip to my hometown of Kansas City, where I dined on steak and barbecue, and reflected on the past year and the one about to begin. For the first time in memory, I'm committing to a couple New Year's resolutions.

First, I resolve to read at least one book per month. I am ashamed to say it, because I think of myself as an intellectual, but my book-reading has been waning dangerously over the past year or so. Indeed, it has waned to the point that a one-book-per-month commitment would be an increase in frequency. It actually pains me to say that. I mitigate my shame by telling myself that the one-book-per-month rule is a minimum, and I really want to read two books per month. (In life generally, I like to set low expectations, for obvious reasons.)

Second, I resolve to put a large number of typed words together in a reasonably coherent order, after which I shall affix the designation of "novel" to the assembled words. (I just can't say "I resolve to write a novel," because it is too much of a failure cliché. Who doesn't want to write a novel? Who doesn't want to lose weight? Who doesn't want to repair all damaged relationships with family and friends? Yet hardly anyone ever does any of them.) For the past couple of weeks, an idea has percolated in my head, and it appears to have matured into something strong enough to support a book-length project. I have never had a shortage of ideas. But they usually lack some key component of readable fiction: plot; character development; being-worth-a-damn. This idea seems to have some meat in it. I fear that it might resemble too closely a book I read about 12 years ago. I have to go back and check -- it is possible that every clever detail I have dreamed up has really been dredged from dormant memories of that book. Hope not.

What does all of this have to do with Philofaxy? Not much, but some. I will be maintaining a rotating list in my Filofax of the books that will enable my resolution-satisfaction. And I have already used the "Notes" section to record some thoughts about the planned long, coherent list of typed words. Ultimately, these are pedestrian uses of my Filofax, well within boundaries well-trod by previous Filofax users. But the promise of Filofax is fully realized only when it reflects the drudgery of life. Filofax nirvana -- pure Philofaxy -- is when the Filofax is a mirror of the user's life. It contains the entire user, nothing more, nothing less, nothing untrue.

19 December 2005

Preaching to the Choir

I was watching some movie a couple days ago that contained a scene taking place during a Sunday sermon. It struck me that preachers are the spiritual forebears of bloggers. Every Sunday, a preacher gets up and pontificates to an audience on whatever topic the preacher desires, linked only by a general continuing theme (supplied by the pertinent religion). One week, it's "Our religion tells us this about loving our family." The next week, it's "Our religion tells us this about work." The preacher could get up and tell the flock what their religion tells them about fast food. Or sports teams. Or whatever the hell the preacher wants.

That's blogging.

The preacher has two huge advantages over schmuck bloggers like me. First, the preacher has an audience that believes it may be eternally damned if it doesn't listen to the damned sermon. No Sitemeter is necessary for these preachers; if attendance is low, they can sprinkle their sermons with a few choice words about fire and brimstone to guarantee standing-room-only next week. Schmuck bloggers have to rely on content. Yuck.

The second big advantage is that preachers are expected, generally, to come up with their content once per week. They get a whole fricking week to think about a pet peeve, and then just a half-hour to talk about it. Now that's a cush job.

Which brings me to me. Damn, I'm lazy. I am not even going to make excuses about being busy, blah blah blah. When a blogger posts an entry like that, it's the surest sign the blog is just beginning to amass a record-setting collection of dust. No, I have time.

I have no excuses. But, if you've made it this far along in my masturbatory rant, you deserve a hack. Filofax -- even in A5 garb -- is a small format. The calendar pages, in particular, require some compression of thought and expression. If, like me, you are a former user of a Device, then you may be accustomed to unlimited virtual storage in your calendar. Confined to paper, however, you can't make every appointment include every last datum about every last detail.

Or can you? I use cross-referencing. I have numbered every blank page in my "Notes" section. When I make a calendar entry that requires more data than allowed by calendar space, I put the rest of the data on a page in the Notes section. Then, in the calendar entry, I make a notation like "5" "5B" (page 5 or page 5, back). Whammo, blammo. Quick, painless access to storage space of unlimited expansion capability.

11 December 2005

Strange Days

I have a long and proud history of quitting. Throughout my life, I have, at one time or another, considered almost every possible hobby my own. Let's review a few prime examples.

- Writing fiction. This one has come and gone through my life. When I was a little kid, I wrote short stories about military battles and techno-medieval fantasy worlds. As an adult, I've written short stories about people with ruined families and affective disorders. I've taken a few writing classes. Once, I even sent a story off to some literary magazines for their rejection. One corner of my mind is constantly grappling with the fantasy of devoting myself to writing -- maybe even getting an MFA. The other three corners, however, are more interested in TV.

- Painting and drawing. I have, again from early age, demonstrated some talent at the visual arts. Again, I've taken some classes. After classes ended, I resumed watching TV.

- Photography. Um, ditto. TV.

- Blogging. As most of you do not know, this is my second attempt at blogging. I used to be a contributor to one of the blogs to the left of your screen. (Shucks, no need to be coy. It was Banality Fair.) Then, I sort of lost motivation and quietly ducked out, feeling more shame than pride about my (lack of) contributions to the site.

So here I am, trying again, struggling against the eternal urge to watch TV.

The idea for this blog unexpectedly arose one lazy day. (There was nothing good on TV.) Without doing much thinking, I just started it. I mean, it was up and running less than two hours after the idea sprang up. In my risk-averse world, it was like jumping off a cliff. Holy crap. What am I doing? What if I quit again? I will have contributed another dormant husk to the growing pile of internet detritus.

Let me tell you, I am not someone to jump off a cliff. I would never, ever skydive. I wouldn't bungee jump. I've never even been skiing, in part because I grew up in a non-skiing Kansas family and in part because I am afraid I will break my leg. Starting a blog on short notice about something that has been in my life a short period of time -- my Filofax -- is damned crazy for me.

So far, I'd say the results are mixed. As my past suggests, my motivation -- both for blogging and actually using my Filofax -- comes and goes. Some days, I'm a pissing racehorse as to both. Other days, I just watch TV.

Right now, I'm sitting on my couch in front of the TV, but the TV is off. Strange days, these are.

08 December 2005

Mulling the Moleskine

How can one talk about paper without talking about Moleskines? I don't know. They are, after all, the 800-page gorilla of the back-to-paper movement.

I have many complex, conflicted thoughts about the spendy little black books. I've been trying to formulate a coherent opinion on them, but I keep getting hung up in inconsistencies. One day, I tote around a Moleskine, thinking, "Damn, I can just feel my creative juices flowing. Ideas are flowing out of me like pee, straight onto the pages of this here Moleskine." Other days, I think, "Damn, this thing doesn't comfortably fit in my pocket, it's expensive, and it may be better at creating the illusion of creative productivity than it is at actually inspiring it." On still other days, I think, "Damn, I haven't had a Quarter Pounder in a while. Maybe I'll stop by McDonald's on the way home from work."

I remember reading at 43 Folders the wise comment that it is more fun to shop for running shoes than it is to run in them. I am, no doubt, an obsessive researcher when it comes to all purchases, from running shoes, to notebooks, to planners. (Luckily, I hardly ever run.) Is my sporadic fascination with Moleskines a product of that truism? Is it more fun to think about Moleskines than it is productive to actually use one?

Or, am I deluding myself to think that I think in the free-form, crazy-ass way encouraged by totally blank books? Perhaps it is no accident that, while a Moleskine happens to be in my bag, it is a Filofax that I pull out and use every day.

Some day, I will post the definitive statement of truth concerning Moleskines, and I will tell you all whether they are worth it or not. I can't do that until I make that determination for myself.