27 February 2007

Miss Confidentiality?

Would you ever hand someone your Filofax and let them open it? Would you trust them to just ogle the well-burnished leather and not peek at potentially embarassing sections like your phone numbers, to do list, or weight chart?

Well, I did it today. My vocal coach caught me taking notes for an upcoming singers' party in my red Finsbury with a red Waterman pen, and demanded to examine the pen. (She loves cool pens, but then who doesn't?) "In fact, let me see that whole thing," she said. So I handed her my Filo and held my breath as she flipped it open. To her credit, she didn't leaf through the pages, but I'm sure she got a gander at my tabs (To Do, Projects, Ideas, Lists, Fitness, and Tel).

Why did I give it to her? Well, again this is my vocal coach. I can't possibly humiliate myself in front of her even more than I already have. The entire first lesson, I couldn't even sing and keep my eyes open at the same time.

I think I do things like let people look in my Filofax because I know it's probably going to happen anyway, and I want to stay prepared for it. In my career of using planners and handhelds, I've had plenty of embarassing moments. I left my DayRunner in a nightclub, and my brother, who was performing, found it and returned it to me by slipping it in my car window while I slept in my apartment above. My mother once checked out my Palm and found a packing list for a trip. She found it hilarious that I needed to write down a count for the number of slacks, sweaters, and dresses I was packing. One time I left a Palm at work, and called a co-worker to see whether it was there. When she found it, she started reading my To Do list to me: "Call Ford dealership. Pay your bills." These days, I figure anyone who has nothing better to do than read other people's organizers is no threat to me.

In other news, I'm going to pick up an idea from Philofaxer. I attended a wine tasting the other night and found myself taking notes on wines I wanted to purchase later. I think I'm going to resurrect my old Pocket Filo for a wine journal...and for other travel stuff, too, like hotel and restaurant reviews.

22 February 2007

Guest Blog: The Curse of the Cross -- Rectified

We're proud to introduce a new feature here at Philofaxy...the Special Guest Blog. Our readers are a thoughtful, articulate bunch, and we knew it was only a matter of time before one of them would ask for a piece of the prime time. It's the first time we've published a reader essay on the front page, but we hope it won't be the last.

So without further ado, here's today's reader story, from Miss Anon E. Mous:

Two years ago, I found myself at a point of having visted the Filofax Web site numerous enough times to warrant my little brother having to comment that "this obsession is getting out of hand." This 'madness' was enough of a worry that he committed to buying me the item I was lusting for; a black personal size cross Filofax.

When it landed on the floor of the hallway with a loud but not quite ominous thud one sunny February morning, I knew my beloved Filofax had arrived. Excitedly, heart palpitating, mouth salivating, and eyes ceasing to move in their sockets, my whole being waited till the final shiny cardboard box was tilted to reveal the dark, luscious, and classy organiser.

Fast forward 24 months... I have taken care of this baby and delighted in its simple design and wondrous beauty, but one thing has eluded me and driven me to distraction enough to prompt me to peruse the Filofax Web pages with manic obsessive regularity again: The silly thing would not lay flat!

Now dear reader, laying flat is one of the most important things an organiser can do for me... Laying flat means that I can glance upon my days plans and plan for my week ahead. Because the little darling did not open flat, and would instead balance precariously on its erect little spine flapping from side to side like a devious little vulture, I had little time or inclination to glance upon or fill in the languishing pages. This ultimately led to me being disorganised again. This was bad news.

The situation was thus that I conspired to dump this little lovely and as mentioned above began coasting the pages of Filofax looking for a alternative that would lay flat... I even began looking to A5s in the hope that my favourite Belmont’s inherent lay-flat-ability would resolve my problems, but then this solution was space consuming and unfeasible, and, frankly, my budget would not permit such spending...

Today after much soul searching and gaining permission from brother (after all he bought it for me and should have a say - plus I needed the go-ahead and hand-holding) I took it upon myself to commit the ultimate act of infliction upon my Filofax... namely physically manipulating my beloved organiser by bending back both the covers (I hear your gasp; don't worry, I supported the spine) and holding them back until my beloved Filofax developed creases where the stress was placed... This took a few goes, and now my perfect, albeit slightly creased, Filofax is laying flat. Hurrah...! The sacrifice has been worth it, now I will use my faithful Filo more often... Yes, I will... I promise. And you know what? It's still gorgeous!

I would love to find out if anyone else has manipulated/customised their Filos for the sake of manageability and organisation...? This would in part make me feel better. It would also be interesting to know what exactly you have had to resort to to make your Filofax more user-friendly…

I feel a little guilty for the violence acted upon my beloved Filo, but the results should be worth the sacrifice.


Miss Anon E. Mous. (a.k.a. AK)

20 February 2007

Shrive, Shrove, Shriven

(Insert your favorite pluperfect-subjunctive joke here.)

Check your Filofaxes. Although it's not a national holiday in many countries, our diaries label Shrove Tuesday on February 20 of this year (the day before Ash Wednesday).

Does anybody except me know what this means? I grew up calling it Pancake Tuesday, because that's what my Italian grandmother made us. Big stacks of them for an early, after-school supper.

"Shrive" is an English verb meaning "to confess and obtain absolution for sin." Going to confession was an English tradition on the day (Tuesday) before the start of Lent.

The other common name for this day (Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday) goes back to the pancakes. Ash Wednesday used to be a day of fasting, so in the days before refrigeration, people had to use up perishable items (eggs, butter, milk) before the fast began. Part of the idea is also to stuff yourself to help offset the upcoming deprivation.

17 February 2007

Year of the Pig

Lunar New Year (celebrated in China and some other Asian countries) begins at the first new moon of the first lunar month. Filofaxes recognize the Lunar New Year -- but stealthily.

First, as shown here, moon phases are represented on diary pages by empty (full moon) or blacked-in (new moon) circles. This photo shows a day-per-page format, but the weekly diaries have the moon phases, too.

On the International Information page (the one that lists national currencies, time zones, and holidays), you can see which countries celebrate the holiday by looking for the new moon dates (in 2007, February 17 and 18). Looks like Hong Kong (HK), China (CN), Taiwan (ROC), and South Korea (ROK).

Brazil (BR) also lists February 17-21 as national holidays, but I suspect that has more to do with Carnaval than Lunar New Year.

My favorite part of Lunar New Year as it's celebrated in China? Many people get days or even weeks off from work in order to travel back to their old hometowns and celebrate the new year with relatives.

14 February 2007

We ♥ Our Readers

As many...uh...a few...uh...okay, TWO of our millions of readers have complained, I'm now just as bad as Philofaxer. It's true. For one week, I honestly was on vacation without Internet access. Since then, I've just plain been a negligent blogger.

But I have the perfect excuse -- I've been focusing on doing the things inside my Filofax. Over the past couple of weeks, I've finalized my kitchen-counter Filofax, cleaned the house, taken down a pile of undone paperwork, started planning our next trip (including tickets to a TV show taping), got my husband a nice Valentine's Day present (tickets to a series of wine tastings), got my winter coat out of storage, had my car detailed, bought new sheets, and the like. (Well, that just about does it for my Christmas money.) I also prepared to sing in a recital, but didn't (it got canceled).

And, to be honest, I've been wobbling, as I know all Filofaxers do. A few more responsibilities have been added to my job description, including a new team member to delegate things to, and all of a sudden my A5 Filo work setup seemed wrong. Where do I track the delegated items? How do I remind myself to extract tasks from meeting notes without losing them? Are my project pages still working now that I have a lot more projects? Wouldn't a plain notebook be easier?

You get the idea.

However, I've pulled through. My work Filo sits at my right hand, a single recepticle for notes, work records, and schedule. Any failure to sort out my work is my own, not the Filo's. I think.

The next step for me is to start posting again, while trying to maintain my new level of offline activity, too. I understand that our faithful Philofaxy readers have missed the articles, and I appreciate the support. I'll try to give you more of what you come here for.

Meanwhile, it must be said that Philofaxy isn't the only place to read about Filofaxes on the Net. There aren't many oases for us lovers of the rings, but today I've one to submit for your perusal: Pig Pog's Moleskine vs. Filofax cost comparison.

02 February 2007

Public Service Announcement (Pee-ess-ay)

It has come to my attention that there may be some confusion about the pronunciation of this blog’s title. Namely, my wife told me that her internal voice pronounces it, “fuh-LAH-fuh-xee.” She said she had assumed that its pronunciation would track the syllabic emphases of “philosophy” (i.e., fuh-LAH-suh-fee). That sounds totally weird to me.

Most of you have probably never said Philofaxy out loud, but you must have adopted an internal pronunciation of it. Let me go on record as endorsing the following pronunciation: FYE-loh-FAX-ee. Or, expressed another way: Filofax-ee. Does this contradict any of your internal voices? At heart, I believe that the will of the masses should, within broad boundaries, govern. So if you disagree with me, then I will have to decide whether this is an issue that falls within the broad boundaries of majority rule, or an issue as to which I will enforce my will by invading your dreams and repeating my pronunciation over and over and over until you surrender.

(Please don’t tell me that Filofax is really pronounced “fuh-LAH-fuhx.”)