31 August 2006

Everything New is Old Again

I'm feeling familial guilt about my return to analog. I recently visited my father during a brief hospital stay, and while we were in the room, a nurse practitioner came in and asked my Dad what medications/dosages he had taken thus far that day. He pulled out a small, colorful Palm device and showed her his medication list on the screen.

Later, I asked my mother for her hotel room number, and guess what I wrote it down in -- a Filofax. Shouldn't my "greatest generation" Dad be using paper and I, a cusp-of-baby-boomer-gen-x'er, be using the Palm?

A question for the ages.


I need to unburden my soul; come clean. I've never bought a motherlode of eBay refills for a Filofax size I don't even currently use. No, much worse: I buy them at full price. Hey, you never know when a page style may go out of stock or even get discontinued. So I'm laying it on the line. Here are the unused Personal refills I have tucked away in a drawer.

Coming tomorrow: New beginnings.

29 August 2006


A beautiful new blog, Notebookism, recently used a Philophoto of mine to illustrate an article by someone else. Hey, I'll take it any way I can get it! What's cool is that the article was about writing, and the benefits of using paper for same.

I suggest reading the full text of the story, here, which goes into more detail about the author's rediscovery of pen and paper.

22 August 2006

The Eaglet Has Landed

I have to squeeze this post off in the brief period between demands imposed on me by my son, three weeks old today. My wife has a doctor's appointment this morning, and it's the first time I've been alone in the house with the little devil. He's sleeping, so I'm posting.

Yesterday, I received my shipment from The Daily Planner. It arrived promptly, which I was happy about, given the somewhat sketchy ordering process. For some reason, their website insists at all times that I have placed 271 Moleskine 18-month planners in my cart, amounting to about $4,500. Be very careful when checking out there.

Anyway, here's the spread. (Apologies for the atrocious focus. I'm in a hurry here.)

[Postus interruptus. Baby flipped out, hungry. Had to wait for mommy to come home. She has arrived. All is well.]

This shows how micro-small the Mini Domino is:

Now I have to decide how to use it. I am considering two options:

1. A front-pocket portable note and data tool.

2. A wallet.

That's right. I am considering the possibility of simply making the Mini Domino my wallet. Why not? It isn't much bigger than my current wallet. Of course, it has a rigid ring binding system which could affect the comfort of my ass. (I am a back-pocket wallet guy.) I also haven't yet stuffed it with cards to see how it reacts.

Further laboratory work will be required.

18 August 2006

The Motherlode

I saw an intriguing listing on eBay yesterday. For the last day, it's been percolating in my head. My rule about eBay is that if I see something interesting, I let a day go by. If, after a day, drool is still gathering at the corners of my mouth and the product is still available, then I go for it.

So I went for it.

Check this out.

That's right. A lot of no fewer than 67 personal-size Filofax inserts of myriad forms.

Although I've switched to A5, and I just ordered a Domino Mini, I still have a forlorn-looking personal-size binder sitting around. Indeed, it was that binder that got this whole Philofaxy mess started. If I can't find a useful purpose for it after receiving this veritable cornucopia of Filofax goodness, then I don't deserve the name I've given myself.

Thanks to some of the odder inserts, this purchase might open some new doors for me:
  • There are five "Phrasefiles Guides: Spanish to English." So I should be able to learn Spanish five times better than if I just had one.

  • There's a fold-out map of Miami and Atlanta. I've never been to Atlanta! And I have only been to Miami twice! And one of those times, I just stayed in the airport hotel! And it was, hands down, the worst hotel I've ever stayed in! There were cockroaches in the bathroom!

  • Don't forget, three "London For Visitors Guides." I've never been to London. Now I and two of my closest friends can go and not get lost, even if we get separated.

  • And I will have a "pack of Selected USA Area Codes." Wonder which ones they selected?

  • I'll have tabs and dividers spilling from the rafters. And you all know about my current tab fetish.
Let's not forget the last consequence:

My masculinity will be a distant memory.

17 August 2006

For the Filofax User Who Has Everything Except This One Thing

This Depeche Mode single, in a pre-punched Filofax insert, recently sold on eBay for US$76. If you feel as though you have missed something by not winning it, please contact winning eBay user konzult, who might be persuaded to flip it for a profit.

(I hate Depeche Mode, so I do not feel as though I have missed anything. Now, if anyone runs across a Filo-compatible CD containing music from Wilco, Luna, Fountains of Wayne, Pixies, Pavement, or a band of similar bearing, then please let me know forthwith.)

15 August 2006

Cliff Diving

Being the crazy risk-taker I am, I decided this morning that I may, possibly, conceivably, contingent upon further consideration and analysis, pull the trigger on purchasing a Mini Domino. In red, because I am not afraid of my flaming femininity:

This potential purchase entails several kinds of insanity: (1) abandoning leather snobbery and purchasing a vinyl product in the interest of frugality; (2) telling my wife that I have purchased a third Filofax; (3) committing to its use without a totally clear idea of how best to deploy it; and (4) subjecting myself to further accusations of being a purse-carrying pantywaist.

I like the fact that the Domino doesn’t have a bulky snap closure. The snap closure is fine for a product that stays in my bag. But if I hope to carry something around in my pocket, the rubber band is perfect. (Dare I say, Moleskine-esque.)

I like the fact that I will be able to transplant pages from the Domino to my A5 binder. I’ll probably fill it primarily with blank paper, and maybe some project/task pages too.

I like the fact that it has ½-inch rings. Slim. Svelte. Just like I wish I was. (See, Filofax can be a role model too.)

I like the fact that it costs only $20.

I like the fact that it will remove one item from the very long list of excuses I give myself for not doing more writing – Unavailability of paper.

Will it gather dust like so many other purchases in my life that have, at one time or other, seemed to promise me deep happiness and salvation? Who knows? But I’ll still try it. That’s how crazy I am.

14 August 2006

A Quick Query

Succes finds itself among our links thanks to an anonymous comment left long ago, the poster of which attested to the quality of the A5 inserts offered by Succes. Can anyone give any more specific comments? Some of the forms look really cool.

Here's the more specific feedback I'm looking for: Are the fricking holes in Succes inserts drilled in a Filofax-compatible fricking manner? For reasons that elude me, I can't find any indication on their website concerning Filo-compatibility. For other reasons that elude me, they have declined to respond to my e-mail requesting confirmation of compatibility.

(Aside: Why do so many companies ignore e-mails like this? When I was in Europe once, I bought a watch made by the "Rotary" company. They don't sell watches in the U.S. A couple years later, the band -- a weirdly shaped, custom-sized job -- broke. No one in the U.S. had ever heard of Rotary. So I began an e-mailing odyssey that took months. It finally, happily, culminated in my receipt of two new bands shipped from England. [Two bands, because I did not want to go through that again upon the next band breakage.] The reason for the delay -- and subsequent damage to the goodwill they otherwise could have built in a globe-trotting, product-recommending person like me -- was primarily their failure to respond to my e-mails. I think that "local" distributors of international products not commonly available in the U.S. are the worst. Anyhoo...)

Any fricking feedback?

More on Tabs. (And I mean that the way it sounds.)

This has been my life over the past few months:

  • June 18 to July 3: Work all day, every day, and prepare for the arrival of a baby in my scads of spare time.
  • July 4: Take day off. Fall into 24-hour coma.
  • July 5: Leave home to go to New York for work.
  • July 6 to July 20: In New York, work all day, every day, late into the night. Obsess over looming due date and associated absent-spouse guilt.
  • July 21: Return home.
  • July 24 to July 31: One week of “regular” life. Regular work schedule. Regular home life. (Except for whole looming baby thing.)
  • August 1: BABY.
  • August 2 to August 13: Haze; recollections unclear. Something about a screaming, naked midget in our house. Scenes from Alien replaying in my head. Sleep a distant memory.
  • August 14: Return to work. Sit at desk. Wonder if this is what post-traumatic stress disorder feels like. Try to accomplish something. Succeed in accomplishing one thing: Reorganizing Filofax.

I have turned my words into action; thoughts into matter; time into wasted time. My Filofax is now organized thusly:

  • Upfront: The calendar (not designated by any tab). I toyed with the idea of moving this to the back, but it seemed too subversive. I’m not ready to rock the boat like that. At heart, my Filofax is still my calendar, and if I could preserve only one of its functions, that would be it.
  • A “Data” section (tabbed as such). A pure carryover from the old scheme, containing my passwords, logins, confirmation codes. (As I stated earlier, the passwords are recorded according to a code known only to me, so please don’t track me down and steal my Filofax for the purpose of transferring money between my checking and saving accounts, or changing my Fantasy Football lineup.)
  • A “Financial” section (tabbed as such). This is also carryover material.

Then I get crazy.

  • A “House” section (tabbed as such). That’s right: a section designated by subject matter, not type of data. This a major step for me. I feel tingly thinking about it.
  • A “Baby” section (tabbed as such). Hold me back. Another subject matter-specific section. Keep your distance: I could fly out of control at any moment.
  • A “Writing” section (tabbed as such). Good God, man! I haven’t even decided what to put back here, but I figure it can only encourage me to do more of what the tab says.
  • An “Other” section (tabbed as such). Right now, a necessary evil. I plan to tabify more subject matters in the future.

After all that craziness, you get to my addresses (using A-to-Z tabs but no prefatory “Address Book” tab). And then my clear plastic sleeves for cards and the like. Then a sleeve for my checkbook. Then, finally, a world map. (Which always seems so cool and useful. I haven’t consulted it once for anything at all.)

Phew. I’ll take some pictures soon of the new setup, and update you all on its continuing development.

12 August 2006

Super Tabs!

After my last entry, in which I mentioned removing A-Z tabs from my Filofax, a very nice reader emailed me personally about the virtues of A-Z tabs -- the tab inserts themselves, not what goes inbetween them. He brought up the point that you can write on the tab pages themselves. They're perfect for glossaries, lists of books to read or movies to see, and so on. So instead of a thickness liability, tabs can be an asset.

Ever since then, my tabs have remained securely bound into my Filofax.

09 August 2006

Tab Time

I can't contribute any cute baby pictures, but I wanted to at least add another Filofax picture. (My very cute then-6-month old nephew was holding my very cute Pocket Filo last Christmas and banging it on the floor, but so far I haven't located a picture of of it.)

All this talk of tabs has got me thinking. I have to weed out and reprioritize my Filofax. I need room for more notes and new ideas. I would make better use of my ideas if I had them in a separate volume and actually review them once a week rather than carry them around and never look at them because the book is too intimidatingly big to open. What I've been doing in my A5 Filo is developing a Commonplace Book. I remember reading that article about a year ago and feeling totally intimidated by it, but unwittingly I ended up duplicating it (on paper, not electronically).

My current tabs are: To Do, Checklists, Projects, Lists, Ideas, and Notes, plus A-Z tabs that aren't seeing much action.

My idea for a new set is (not in any particular order): To Do , Notes, Meetings, Projects, Lists (including ideas), and Address (including agendas). I'm going to eliminate the A-Z tabs, but still put the address pages in alphabetical order.

Mutability, as Philofaxer says, is what it's all about. Maybe Filofaxes are like sharks. If they stop moving forward, they die.

08 August 2006


When I bought my first Filofax, I dutifully sorted the preprinted tabs, in the order predetermined by their alignment on the staggered scale of their right sides. When I bumped up to the A5 size, I was happy to find that it included blank tabs, which could be configured as the user sees fit. So what did I do? I essentially created duplicates of the preprinted tabs I was abandoning. I made a couple tentative gestures toward originality: I created a "Financial" tab where there was none before; I created a "Data" tab for things like passwords, confirmation numbers, and the like. But the overall scheme was essentially unchanged.

The beauty of Filofax is its mutability. I want to change my system now, and I can.

But I'm struggling with two possibilities.

The first is the less radical one: Instead of generic tabs that designate the "type" of data contained under them, use tabs that designate the subject of the pages contained thereunder. For instance, the most actively used tab at this point would be a "Baby" tab. I would keep the "Financial Tab." I might introduce a "Writing" tab, or a "Shopping" tab. I would tie up the loose ends with a "Miscellaneous" tab, or a "Notes" tab.


But the second option would be far more radical. Ditch the whole idea of descriptive tabs and go to a straight, balls-to-the-wall, look-at-me-I'm-so-crazy-the-world-can-eat-my-poo (again, babies are weighing on my mind) A-to-Z system. Aside from the calendar, everything else would fall somewhere in the A-to-Z system. Address for Fred Flintstone? That will be behind "F", thank you very much. Research on "F"ormula for babies? Also behind "F."

I'm attracted to option two for the same reason I once wanted to get a tattoo. It's assertive, individual, pleasantly chaotic. Then again, I never got a tattoo. So maybe I'm not an A-to-Z person.

I will probably try option one first, see how it works, and determine whether option two sounds like a good idea. I may have to try option two just to get it out of my system. I don't want to wonder how my life could have been different if I had really thrown caution to the wind and gone A-to-Z.

In order to help deal with all of this confusion, here is a picture of Charlie mulling over the possibilities:

05 August 2006

Warning: Off-Topic Beauty Ahead

If your sole reason for being here is your undying love for Filofax, such that you are unable to reflect upon other instances of beauty in the world, you can stop here. However, for those of you who appreciate perfection manifested in forms other than leather-bound binders and calendar pages, I give you Charlie, my son:

He was born Tuesday night, two and a half weeks early. (We HAVE to get this boy a calendar.) In this picture, he is swaddled for the trip home, on Thursday. Now he's luxuriating in the glow of familial attention, alternately pooping, sleeping, and eating. And I'm luxuriating in his glow.

Does Filofax make a baby carrier insert?

03 August 2006

Regrets, I've had a few...

It was hard separating from my Palm handheld. When I went back to paper, I had to give up a pocket-sized a way to get online and send email, the ability to enter an address once and synch it up on every computer I'll ever own, reading newspaper articles and playing games in the palm of my hand.... But give it up I did. And it's been over half a year since I've thought of the darn thing.

Until today. I friend emailed me directions to a place we're meeting this weekend, and as I printed them, cut them up, and slipped the resulting strip of paper into my Pocket Filo, I had a flashback of cutting and pasting the directions into iCal, attached right to the relevant event. When I synched up at the end of the day, they'd be on my Palm forever. Just a few more clicks, and I could make an Address Book entry with the directions attached as well. If we meet at the same place again, a quick Find on my Palm will turn up the directions again, in the same mint condition as when I first pasted them in.

But then, the fact that Finds on my Palm kept turning up fatal errors was the last straw in the first place. There was the time it took 2 days to get Palm Desktop working again when my company upgraded to Tiger. (Palm no longer supports the Mac platform.) I lost another week of my life trying to set up my documents in StickyBrain when I decided to use iCal and Address Book -- iCal has no way to synch with Palm memos.

...Anybody wanna buy a Palm Tungsten T3?