30 November 2006

The Unbearable Thinness of a Year

I need to reread The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. It's been too long. It's one of the first books I read out of college. One of the first books I chose to read as an adult, not had to read. No matter how many years I use a Filofax, I'm amazed on a daily basis how little paper a year fits onto. Not a year's worth of thinking or feeling, but certainly a year's worth of doing. A year seems like so much more to us little humans.

This picture shows the entire thickness of a year in week-per-2-pages in a Personal-size Filofax. And yet, it is so much more. A single word written in a diary can capture 1 or 6 or 60 hours of emotion, of thought, of revelation.

How much more does one need?

26 November 2006


The trendy Filofax UK site, http://www.itsawayoflife.info, has not been abandoned, contrary to my report on Nov. 2, 2006. It has been updated since I last wrote, and appears that the webmasters are updating it about once a month. So while it's not what you can call an active Web site, and no longer has a link on the Filofax U.K. main page, it's still being updated and maintained.

23 November 2006

Happy Turkey Day!

If I were any kind of a blogger, I'd be supplementing this post with a photo of one of the many wild turkeys that bop around suburban (and even almost urban) streets where I live. But I have captured no such pictures; so I found a piece of clip art that looks very similar. Due to recent deadlines, the energy I have to devote to this holiday has been minimal. Since this blog's readership isn't exclusively, or maybe even primarily, American, I suppose I don't have to do a Thanksgiving entry at all.

But since I'm American, it's relevant for me to share how Thanksgiving appeared in my Filofax:
- 2 days before: purchase champagne, wine (beaujolais nouveau?), 3 kinds of cheese, 2 boxes of crackers (we were bringing the wine and hors d'oeuvres to my mother-in-law's house)
- 2 days before: send TG e-cards to parents, brother's family
- 1 day before: put champagne in fridge, charge digital camera batteries
- Thanksgiving morning: find a (silver?) tray in dining room or basement.
- Thanksgiving morning: remember that I forgot to put doilies on the shopping list
- Thanksgiving morning: arrange cheese and crackers (directly) on tray; cover with plastic and store in fridge
- 1/2 hour before leaving for mother-in-law's house: take cheese tray out of fridge
- just before leaving: put batteries in camera, put pics of nephew to show people in Filofax, figure out a way to carry wine and cheese tray

My parents didn't do Thanksgiving this year, but they always made an astoundingly delicious meal. They drew up a backwards-timeline, so that they knew when to start each item in order to have the meal ready to serve. A big item was putting the bird out to brine in a bucket on the deck, in a cooler if necessary. If I were doing dinner at my house, I'd do a backwards-timeline, too.

They use letter-size paper, the same size they keep all their recipes on. I have a letter-size recipe book, too, but in order to integrate the shopping and related tasks, I may want to use an A5 Filo.

17 November 2006

Mark Your Meteors

NPR brought music to my ears this morning -- news of an exciting natural event that some of our gentle readers will want to mark in their Filofaxes. The Leonid Meteor Shower is on! In North America, where this writer is, the visible dates of the shower are Friday, November 17 and Saturday, November 18. And, according to the radio, this year's show will be a spectacular. Instead of the usual 20-30 shooting stars per hour, we'll be able to see 200-300! Apparently, this boon is due to the earth's passing through a particularly heavy band of debris from an ancient comet.

I found this page from StarDate.org, which has all the information you need to mark your Filofax for meteor viewing for the year. (This link is to the 2006 metor calendar, which is almost over. Presumably, StarDate will produce a similar page for the 2007 meteors in due time.) This page also has some handy tips on meteor viewing (Pack comfortable chairs, bug spray, food and drinks, blankets, plus a red-filtered flashlight for reading maps and charts without ruining your night vision. If you can see each star of the Little Dipper, your eyes have "dark adapted," and your chosen site is probably dark enough. Under these conditions, you will see plenty of meteors).

Space.com offers thorough and technical information, but I find the site hard to navigate. So no guarantees, but here's a currently working link to the site's Leonid page.

15 November 2006

Holiday Harbingers

Apologies for my recent scarcity. I've been busy with work. I'm in the publishing business, and this week marks the deadline for getting new books into people's Christmas stockings.

Which brings me to today's topic. An inspiring comment from a fellow philofaxer got me thinking about using the Filo to mark the changing seasons.

So, when does the Christmas season start? There's the old cliche about the commercial holiday season starting earlier every year, but this year I'm able to say that it's gotten ridiculous. Starbucks had their gift displays, holiday coffees, and red paper cups out in force barely a week after Halloween. There's a radio station in town that always plays "all holiday music, all the time" starting the day after Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November). But this year, they've started already! Six weeks of all-Christmas, all-the-time? That's just insane.

Two days ago, I started seeing Chrismas-present-themed commercials -- from Garmin, the company that makes GPS devices. Ah, just what every woman wants to unwrap on Christmas morning! (I can hear the divorce papers rustling now.)

Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas. The Christmases of my childhood were magically wonderful -- no matter how crummy and impoverished the rest of the year had been. I even make my own Christmas cards. But there's just something dispiriting about starting the holiday season on November 1st. And so unfair to November as a month. It's like they're trying to create a double December. November has every right to be annoyed.

06 November 2006

There You Have It

After my Halloween entry a new posts ago, one of our readers did the obvious thing (well, obvious to someone more intelligent than me, I guess) and posed the question directly to Filofax: Why not include Halloween in your diaries?

And here's the answer:

Dear [Customer],

I honestly don't know why Holloween is not printed on October 31st. It
is a possibility that the calendar is printed in England or somplace in
Europe that doesn't recognize Holloween. It could be that it is
considerd a pagan/wiccan holiday and it doesn't count. I guess you could
look at it all different angles. I do know when you get a diary that
there is a page that lists Religious Festivals that include Christian,
Christian Orthodox/Greek Orthodox, Islamic,Hindu, Buddhist,Sikh,Jewish, and Chinese. Wiccan/Pagan is not recognized.

So, I guess, there you have it.

Donna Castro
Customer Service Representative
Filofax, Inc.

02 November 2006

It's a Way of Life

A couple months ago, a faithful Philofaxy reader told me about a new feature on the Filofax UK Web site. It's a lighthearted (and, frankly, a little airheaded), Flash-animated little Web site called It's a Way of Life (www.itsawayoflife.info).

Personally, I'm not big on Flash animations. Sure, my computer can display them, but I don't have the patience for them. I always feel that they're concealing information from my eager, curious eyes rather than revealing it.

But I promised to review the site for this blog, so I'll get on with it. Once you get past the annoying part of the animation (a hand-sketched picture of a Filofax opening to reveal its table of contents), the Flash is not excessive. The contents include a "What's it all about" page, which actually gives the It's a Way of Life mission statement (more on that shortly), Games, an Agony (that is, advice) column, The Big Question (a user poll), suggested Things To Do list, a Lifestyle Test, and the obligatory Registration (please give me spam) page.

I'm not sure who It's a Way of Life's intended audience is, although it's clearly an attempt to appeal to a feminine consumer. It can't be young women -- they create Web sites like this, not visit them. Middle-aged women? Maybe. But I'm pretty close to being a middle-aged woman, and neither I nor most of my pretty-close-to-middle-aged friends have either the time or the inclination to sit through Flash animations and play simplistic computer games. Older women? Well, that's a possibility. Older women who feel younger when they click their way through colorful, artsy, trendy Web sites that conceal the technical side of the Internet.

Now for what I like about It's a Way of Life (for those of you who are still reading and haven't yet come to the obvious conclusion that I have no ability as a reviewer): As for the mission statement I mentioned earlier, I have to agree with its underlying principle -- the importance of balancing work with rest and play.

Here's what the "What's it all about" page says:

- However busy your day, always make time for some ME TIME

- It’s not all WORK WORK WORK - the times they are a changing, and achieving a proper work/life balance is the key to a happier life

- With a bit of organisation, you can make time for yourself TO DO MORE THINGS – don’t just veg-out on the sofa

- Being busy and organised is a GOOD thing – being busy and stressed is a BAD thing

- A Filofax personal organiser is YOUR personal space that YOU control when YOU want to

(I especially agree with that last statement!)

The Things To Do page is also pretty interesting. It offers alternative activities with Web links (for UK residents) that most of us don't currently have on our task list: rafting, bungee jumping, snowboarding, and so on.

And the Lifestyle Test is worth a moment of your time (well, while you're waiting for your email to download, maybe). "Answer 11 scientific questions and we'll tell you how well you're organising your life (or how badly)." Sample question:

After a night of passion, do you find your clothes…
- Neatly folded where they belong
- All over the place - but you’ll tidy up later
- Missing without a trace
- On your partner

For the record, I came out a Sorted Simon (or Stephanie): Lots On, Always Doing Something. It says I'm "living the dream, perfectly balancing interests and committments."

Well, that's not quite true. I do use my Filofax a lot, but it's more like, "I don't do it all, or always do it well, but I at least know exactly what I'm NOT doing and WHEN I'm not doing it."

I'll end with my biggest qualm about It's a Way of Life: Since I first visited in September, the site has not been updated. The Agony question, poll, quiz, and all those things that should change regularly are exactly the same. If Filofax holds any hope for this site, they've got to keep it fresh.