Paper notebooks :
Moleskine, Leuchtturm1917, fountain pens and ink in a bottle …
I’m crazy, I’m mean we are living in electronic age, are we not …
I think that I can class myself as a techno geek, I rely heavily on computers or electronics devices, I tend to buy most gadgets that are around, though mainly if I feel them useful, the latest GPS for my bikes, a new phone about every six months, in fact I’m writing this on my Motorola Milestone 2 and am awaiting for the Milestone 3 to come available here in France . Probably my next gadget shall be a tablet.
Update 2012 : The Motorola Milestone 3 or 4 never came to France, so now using a Sony Xperia S. (2014: its now a Nexus 5)
So anyway the other day I needed to buy a small notepad for when I’m out and about looking for geocaches and need to write something down, OK I could use the phone, but as the battery life on the phone is rather short, the less I use it, the better, try running a couple of geocaches in the sticks using non stop the compass and the GPS and you ‘ll know what I mean.
So there I was looking for a notebook, I’m a difficult / choosy bugger at the best of times, so of course a cheapo, any old notebook is not my style. So looking at all the models in the shop, I came across two very small notebooks made by Moleskine which seemed rather nice at just the right size, 6 x 10 cm, just right at the time for noting GPS position, cache details etc.
So I bought this notebook or rather these as they are sold in pairs, Each Moleskine notebook includes a short history of the legendary Moleskine notebook inserted inside the back cover, one was open so I read it, this helped me to buy then as I found it very interesting, The cost was around 7 euros I think.
For more details check this link : http://www.moleskine.com/moleskine_world/_the_legendary_notebook_moleskine.php#top
What pleased me about Moleskines straight away was the quality of the fabrication, the paper that is acid free, the ribbon that is used as a book mark and I loved the expandable inner pocket in the back cover that can used to keep/hide slips of paper even a credit card though for me I have a wallet for that, simplicity, also not to forget the leather cover and the elastic band that hold its closed. Quality has to be the word best describing these notebooks.
After buying these Moleskines and reading up about the name, the history, the buzz around it, and other details on forums, even if some of the posts are rather dated, and seeing that many people are tweeting about Moleskines ( how strange tweeting about paper notebooks, a contradiction, no ? ) I went out a bought a second model, this time the pocket size 9 x 14 cm, to see if writing in a note book was my style or rather that I could / would use.
Not for a blog, as WordPress for that is just perfect, not as an agenda as Google agenda and Memotoo.com do this just fine and course they are synchronised with my phone. Just to jot things down, what I’m not sure yet.
I just wanted to see whether in this day and age and with 53 years behind me I and all the gadgets that I own would I use pen and paper, I feel as if I’m taking a step back into the stone age
I also bought or rather ordered a Moleskine pencil as they have a pen and pencil which are rather cleverly designed as the clip on the cap can be clipped to the edge of the notebook (sideways) rather than over the top.
The reason I like this is I find it difficult to have a notebook and a pen or pencil that is just clipped with a horrible clip to the top or just just lying around at the bottom of my bag, OK this paragraph make me sound a bit like ‘Rainman’, but I admit I can be slightly complicated.
So back to the first pocket-sized unlined notebook, I added a couple of printouts from my printer, for instance for the moment I getting some new biking clothes designed and made for myself and my team mates, so after each change I cut them out and glue them to the pages, scrapbooking …… also I’m started to write little things down, “picked up xx from the airport” or “started writing probably the biggest page in my blog that nobody will read …” nothing of importance but I admit I always have things floating around in my head, so why not try to jot them down.
Update 2012 : Scrapbooking I’ve left aside as no longer do it.
At the same time I’m writing down the things to do, OK I have that on my phone and on my computers, but I never use them as they just don’t work for me.
More time spent on the forums and I came across and an article or rather a couple concerning GTD (getting things done) planning using pens and paper, I tried many planners in the past either on my phones or computers and again, never have I found one the works for me, so these articles were at least worth reading and trying out.
So I have just bought some more Moleskines ( now my wife is laughing at me) , all the same size pocket-size as they can be slipped into a back jean pocket. 1 with lines, 1 with blank pages, 1 with squares rather than lines. This one I’m going to try using it a planner for my work, using some of the ideas taken from the above finds on the forums. I will try to post how and if later.
So I have now about four of these notebooks, a couple of pages have already been filled, dribble, useful (if so only to me but what the hell, when I pick up these notebooks I feel good, maybe it reminds me of a first days at school, though god only knows I didn’t go much, and what I do feel which is very strange is how to start writing something on such clean virgin pages, really weird.
I came across after spending some time on their site a travel Moleskine notebook, the one that I purchased is for New York, http://www.moleskine.com/moleskinecity/cities/new_york.php the travel notebooks I think are great, it didn’t take me long to realise that they could be very useful and make great presents, they have maps, underground guide, useful phone numbers, addresses and such and many other details that may be needed when on holiday somewhere. Now when I’m away from home in France I often use Yelp or Tripadvisor to find a good pub or restaurant, but the problem when in a foreign country data on the smartphones costs an arm and a leg, and free wi-fi is never available when you need it, so this travel notebook will be filled with many details that may need when we go to NY late this year and of course before I go.
Update : The New York notebooks was just great, I had written everything down that I wanted to do for our trip to the states, addresses, phone numbers, what to see etc. and it worked perfectly
Update : though the moleskine pencil in its form/shape is perfect, with a side fixing clip, the lead for me is to soft, it’s a 2b, so I’ve ordered their pen, which has the same form, now waiting for the delivery.
I’ve also ordered a Lamy2000 fountain pen (all the critics are very could) so does that mean that are not critics but ……..
I’m still awaiting the ballpoint pens from Moleskine, update received them, same shape as the pencils,very nice, they write OK, (these are for when I’m about and about and don’t want to carry my Lamy) so I bought some Faber-Castell PITT artist pens S, these are very fine tips 0.3 and am using them on my second moleskine for the time being though they will have to lie at the bottom of my bag :(
At work I’ve always used a fountain pen to sign all documents and cheques, etc. (I’m the boss) so I’d ordered a Lamy2000 for another notebook that I am going to use for my projects here at work, this notebook will stay at work most of the time so clipping it to it will not be a problem.
The Lamy 2000 has arrived and I must admit it’s completely different from my Parker sonnet, it is so smooth its unbelievable, it just slides over the paper, I wanted some Shaeffer blue-black ink to go with it but the shop got the order wrong and delivered black Lamy ink, but TBH it’s fine. the tip is the M size and it’s a little on the large size as I tend to write badly and smallish so I might change it for a F or VF size.
I bought this pen after reading so many good things about it on the forums, the photo pleased me and when receiving it I was not disappointed , it holds just right in the hand and feels just perfect posted or not posted, I love the Bauhaus look and feel.
I am continuing with this analog craze of mine, I bought some more notebooks yesterday except that I purchased two Leuchtturm1917 a small and a medium size, that have a couple of differences that seem to make them better. The paper is slightly thicker as its 80 gms against 70 gms for the Moleskines, They have labels / stickers with them for archiving them nicely, the pages are numbered, this is nice in the medium size as I use it for planning / projects for my work, have started a GTD system afer reading many articles and so far so good
I also bought some ink yesterday as am awaiting a second Lamy2000 to arrive with a finer nib, I went mad and bought some Iroshizuku ink (now I have a notebook and ink with unpronounceable names … ) this ink cost me an arm & a leg as it’s over 30€ the bottle.
I also bought some J. Herbin ink to try, I bought the famous ‘Violette Pensée’ as this is a colour known to most French people (of a certain age) who used it at school, surprise when I showed it to my wife, “I want some” she said, So I going to have to buy her a pen as well …..
I will try these inks and notebooks later and add more info :)
I’m using four different notebooks now :
Small reporter notebook, this one is when I’m geocaching and need to scribble GPS coordinates down clues to find the next cache and such like. (update : used when out doing geocaching)
Small lined notebook, this I’m already writing one to two pages per day, anything and nothing, not dates or meetings as these are on my agenda on my phone, just ideas / thoughts that may be useful at a later date (update : used all the time, but mostly when at home)
Medium size squared paper, this is for work, ideas, planning, projects; Am working on a slightly modified GTD system, will when finished I’ll add details. (update : used at work or in meetings)
Small blank page carnet, I’m ‘scrap booking’ images in this one , not sure if it will be continued but my wife laughs when she sees me gluing images in it, so when she laughs I’m happy UHU …….. (update : used rarely, will not re-buy)
Update : The Lamy2000 VF has arrived and is being used with Kon-Peki ink, a nice not to dark blue colour ink that cost me a arm and a leg (about 35€ a bottle), The M sized Lamy I gave to my wife with the Herbin violet ink, which she apparently uses at work)
What is amusing is the marketing around these notebooks, check twitter with Moleskine, its alive with tweets, check with Leuchtturm1917 and there’s nothing and yet TBH they are (to me anyway) the same, both just notebooks, both coming from smallish but decent company’s that aren’t multi national … MARKETING
I find that after years of not writing (just typing) hard too put things to paper, its strange to actually write and not just type even if the end result is the same.
example: I updated the bios on my MB, and so had written “updated my bios”, “ram setting to XXX”, etc. a week later crashed the system and of course couldn’t find the ram settings to reset them, so I just flipped back some pages and found the settings that I written down, OK I could have written these down in Evernote (which I use as well) but one the computer was down and two, it’s not normally the sort of details that I take time to : open the program, find the section that I’m going to use and then type it in, the notebook just sits on the table next to me in the sitting room and just gets jotted in when I think of something.
Update January 2012
I’m still using my notebooks, for work I use a medium size for taking notes for work, this is just perfect. I use a one ligne index to point me to the main page and then just jot down the things I need, if I run out of space I then go to the next free page, and this page number is written down the previous page used. It works well. GTD. When I get back to my office I transcribe the notes onto http://www.workflowy.com, a rather simple but very clever web site and at last the only one that suits my needs, almost perfectly (I have tried many in the last couple of years, this is by far the best), for an online GTD /idea system https://workflowy.com/
For my private notes I use a Leuchtturm1917 small notebook, http://www.leuchtturm1917.de/ olive’ish green colour, (now gone for the black colour) I find the build quality better than my first Moleskine (which I’ve filled up since starting this article)
I write something down nearly every day, “went to the gym”, “diner at so and so’s”, “doctor” etc. mostly rubbish of no interest to any one, at the end of the book, I have a small index, with one line max and the page number (another reason why I prefer Leuctthurn’s notebooks, their pages are numbered), so when I visited my Doctor : I note it with the treatment that I received, on the index page I note “Doctor – ears, page xx”, simple and effective.
As for the pen the Lamy200 extra fine is just perfect and I’m still using the Kon-Peki ink as I love the colour, I had tried some Shaefer ink, it wrote finer than the Kon-Peki, and so after a page I went back to the Kon-Peki.
I’v gone back to the dark side? Iv’e been using Diaro https://my.diaroapp.com/ on my phone and sometimes using their web site to note my thoughts and private diary
Its simple but easy to use, I like being able to add photos and go back and correct my spelling or add later thoughts, so the note books have been left on the shelf, when I write I still use the Lamy 2000 but am a little annoyed with it as its been sent back twice for repair, concerning leaking problems.
PS I still use the Moleskin NewYork notebook, we have been to NY 3 times in the last 2 years and every time I add addresses, things to see, notes etc as havinge a data connexion abroad costs a arm and a leg, so a paper notebook is very useful.