If you know me pretty well, you know I’m nearly inseparable from a single gadget. That gadget is my iPhone. I won’t say I can’t live without it, but nearly so. I’d be limited in much functionality without it. It’s mainly the small conveniences I’d miss.

For example, in a typical day, it’s my alarm clock (and sleep monitor, so I wake up at a good time.) Then, it’s good background for music while performing the morning rituals. Traffic hardly phases me with the handy navigation software. Work’s a rare location I’d barely miss it, but it’s still handy sometimes. Then, heading home, or on longer trips, it’s great to have other good listening materials, such as audiobooks and podcasts, handy.

When did I first discover this multi-function device? That was actually years before I first purchased one. This is surprising since I’m also an Apple fan. I knew about the device from the day it was first announce, on January 7, 2007, at MacWorld.

It wasn’t until the iPhone 3GS that I made the leap from a very basic flip-phone, to the device that is like a Star Trek tricorder. I’ve skipped a few generations due to the 2 year contract cycle (I’m grandfathered in on the unlimited plan), but I don’t feel I’ll be leaving the platform any time soon.

What is one gadget (tech or non-tech) that you can’t live without? Tell a story of how you first discovered it.

via The Desk Community

Horny Okay Please

Sometimes, a mistyped, but catchy, phrase can lead to some interesting cultural discoveries.

First, I did a search for this phrase which apparently has its origins in India, and found that the phrase, reported to commonly appear on trucks, is actually “Horn OK Please.” It’s used to tell approaching drivers to sound their horn when passing the truck which has the phrase emblazoned on its backside. The origins are unknown, but it makes sense, and the information appears in a WikiPedia article as well.

I also found a few interesting stories, indirectly, such as an ambitious-looking travel project based on the phrase and a blog of a runner. Both sites appear to be dormant. I wonder if the road trip has any more interesting stories?

Searching can be..interesting, sometimes. Exploring the web is an adventure in itself. Give it a try sometime, and, by all means, write about it. What strange sites have you stumbled upon in searches lately?

Photo Credit: ToGa Wanderings via Compfight cc

via writingprom.pt

What am I reading? Good question.

I’m going to answer this, but before I do, I want to be clear: I love audiobooks for consuming stories. They increase the volume possible to get through and, frankly, the storytelling mode of one person to another (or many) is one I favor. I do enjoy directly reading when I can, but some locations (such as driving) prohibit that. So, without further adieu, here’s my current list:

Darth Plagueis (Star Wars)

by James Luceno

“Did you ever hear the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise? It’s a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise that he could use the Force to influence the midi-chlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the dark side that he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.”
—Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, 
Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith

When I saw that moment in Episode III, I thought it might be interesting to actually dig into that story. Roughly a year ago, I was informed by a friend and fellow Star Wars fan that this story exists. I knew then that I had to at least wishlist this story, so I did.

American Gods

by Neil Gaiman

Gaiman’s a well-known author and I’ve enjoy a few of his other works, and the fruits of them, in other media, so I decided to add this to my list.

I should note that both of these are sort of “on hold”, but they’re available at the tap of a button on my iPhone, so I will endeavor to get through them. I think I’ll alternate listening to them with podcasts (oh, yeah, I love those as well, but that’ll be another post.)

A much longer list is the list of books I want to read. I’ll keep chipping away at that as well.

The System of the World (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 3)

by Neal Stephenson

Confession: I like me some door-stopper books, but especially if they’re by Stephenson. I actually have this one digitally, however, to give my arms a break.

What are you reading these days and why? What’s on your reading list?

via Daily Post – 1.20.2015 – Daily Writing – Desk Community.

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’d be lying if I said I had anything deep or profound to say about the holiday celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. I can say that it was observed and even commented upon. I caught a bit of, but didn’t watch Oprah’s show about Roots, since the OWN station was being watched by our parents in the living room.

That reminded me that I had, a few years back, met Levar Burton (who portrayed Kunta Kinte), which was an interesting experience. I commented upon this, as I think my parents might not have remembered when I’d mentioned it shortly after returning home. It had been at a play he was a member of (I can’t recall if he’d produced it as well). He’d invited twitter followers, and even rented a restaurant out for a bit of a meet and greet dinner afterwards. Now that I think about it, while there were some of us who were basically fans there, I met a few people who had clearly been friends for a long time, even back to the days of Roots. It was definitely a diverse crowd. I heard a few stories from some who had been part of casts and crew on multiple productions.

The stories kind of faded since they’re the kind you might expect from people who enjoy working together. One thing’s for sure, he’s a warm and friendly person, and I’m glad I met even a single person involved in something that had an impact and is part of our heritage. Before he was the host of Reading Rainbow and Geordi LaForge, he was Kunta.

My younger brother did share his feelings on this with our parents, in a bit of an effort to influence a deeply ingrained thought pattern folks of their generation can seem “stuck” in, and I tend to agree. It’s this: we’re all people, not the separate races. If you just stop labeling and say “that man”, “that woman”, instead of “that black man”, and the like, it can go a long way towards continuing progress. I didn’t say anything, but kind of grunted affirmatively at the time. Of course, even then I remembered hearing a bit related to this on a recent Startalk podcast episode (with Sir David Attenborough as guest). In it, Sir David made the basic, but important point that, from a naturalist point-of-view, it’s just that simple, if there’s a birth as a result of mating between humans of any distinct racial background, the result is always human. Not some alien species, but homo sapiens. It’s just that simple.

I don’t usually think too deeply about this particular holiday because every day, the results, progress, and things that still need to be done are seen every day as I go about my daily business, but I might revisit this in time

prompted via Daily Post – 1.19.2015 – Daily Writing – Desk Community.

I admit it. I’m a bit chaotic with managing my own tasks. It’s why some fairly routine, and regular tasks, like renewing my car registration, have, in the past, been delayed, when they could easily be done as soon as a few moments are set aside.

I looked at various systems, such as Getting Things Done, and even bounced around with multiple tools, such as the basic reminders of my computers and devices. I’m also aware that it is as simple as putting pen to paper, but I am very reluctant to

Recently, I think I’ve settled, once again, on a set of tools, in the Things apps for desktop and phone. I know it might be overkill, but it feels “right” without having to learn any particular method. I’ll see how it goes.

Any Things or even just GTD users out there, or what other systems do people use to remind themselves about what to do?

Photo Credit: Pete Boyd via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Pete Boyd via Compfight cc

It’s another post about writing tools! I’m strangely drawn to them…

Photo Credit: 24oranges.nl via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: 24oranges.nl via Compfight cc

Pencils are a great writing tool (amoung other uses.) They can quickly be used to jot down nearly any idea, as well as to sketch out designs, should that be your cuppa. If there’s something you don’t like that you put on the paper using a pencil, then it’s easily able to be removed, or reworked, with a few rubs of an eraser. The only requirements to making a properly made pencil work is exposing its tip, and moving the tip across a peice of paper, or other surface you’re allowed to use.

Pens, on the other hand, are also good for many, if not all of the same reasons. The key differences are that pens usually use a liquid or gel-based material to make their marks, and usually, their marks are more permanent, or at least very difficult to easily remove, especially on paper.

Photo Credit: landline000 via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: landline000 via Compfight cc

Now, each has it’s pros and cons, but those are usually determined with specific writing situations in mind. If the final product is to be something that can and should be edited on the same document, a pencil is a great tool for it. Another example is using it as a basis for something more permanent, such as a sketch, to be gone over with a paintbrush, or entered in a computer. Note-taking is good to do in pencil if space is limited on paper, or if something needs to be neatly replaced.

Ink on paper, however is the preferrer, or even required method for many things, such as things that need more permanence, such as submitted reports, or authorizing legal and financial documents. Memorabilia is also more awesome with signatures written in ink.

I recently considered a particular type of pen, the fountain pen, since it’s a favorite type for me, but I do also have a preferred type of pencil; the mechanical pencil. Wood and graphite shavings lose every time, for me, to the click-click.

The bottom line is that the choice is largely a personal (or professional) matter. For me, I actually, somewhat regrettably, haven’t had much use of either over recent years, and, even then, it’s mostly form-filing out or signing receipts. Even check-writing is a rare act for me. “Paperless” no longer feels novel, and hasn’t for quite some time.

What’s your implement of choice? Pen, or pencil?


Found this prompt over on http://writingprom.pt/database/

It’s day 10. The final day. It’s time to reflect upon how things went, and lessons learned.

For me, that starts with looking at a basic question: how did I do on each day? My very analytical mind kicks in. Here’s how I did:

Day 1: Just Hit Publish

Ready, Set, Done

I did some free-writing to kick things off. I literally set a timer for 10 minutes, and just spewed. A bit of my views on work-related things slipped in there since I’m a bit of a workaholic.

Day 2: Why do I write?

Why I Blog

This post is one that I will revisit, over time, to both flesh out the reasons I write and to make sure to prune any that aren’t valid for me.

Day 3: Thoughts on the optimal writing environment

Where I Write: Part 1

This was just a start. I will also be posting more about my quest for the good writing environment.

Day 4: Rest

A quick breather.

Day 5: Patterns?

Spent time pruning the list of categories. I also combined some categories and tags and even converted some categories to tags. It’s not super lean yet, but is getting there. Spring cleaning started early.

Day 6: About Page

Went ahead and further refined my about page. I think it’s good for now.

Day 7: Analytics

An easy one, since I’m already using Google Analytics. I double-checked it’s working, but somehow didn’t get around to posting. I should remind my self better when there’s a deadline looming for the blog, just like for things like work and social engagements. Lesson (re)learned.

A brief, unavoidable intermission took place at this point. It delayed posting for a bit over a day since this site’s database server was down.

Day 8: Goals

I set a few goals. I think they’re challenging, but doable. The basics are laid out.

Day 9: Open Day

“Just write”

That’s what I did, sort of. I wrote about a writing tool, the fountain pen. It used a prompt from another great resource, the Daily Post Blog. That’s brings me to…

Day 10: Reflections

Today’s activity is simply this: I’d love for you to reflect on the last 10 days and write about how you feel completing the 10 day workshop. Naturally, some of you will also introspect a bit, asking yourself some of the “meatier” questions about where you’ll take it from here, how this has changed your perspective on writing and blogging, and why you feel the way you do.

Done! I think I’ve made improvements, and they will continue.

Here’s the complete challenge: 10 Days to a Better Blog!

Stipula fountain pen
I did an image search for “just write”, and the eleventh image that appeared was the first image in a post on a blog named Just Write.

This image (the image above is not the one I found) features a writing implement that I am fond of: the fountain pen. This immediately reminds me of the times I sought out, and purchased a few very basic fountain pens. For practicality, I chose a pen that was carried-loaded, as I anticipated heavy usage. I was in college, and anticipated copious note-taking.

I remember it was a Sheaffer pen, and I’ve had (and lost) a few since then. I’m very tempted to pick another up now, and perhaps to take better care of it, especially to keep my handwriting muscles in shape from more than just the act of writing my signature.

Of course, should I pick up another fountain pen, I really feel like I’d want a notebook to match, such as one from Moleskine.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Image Search.” and also part of a writing workshop, 10 Days to a Better Blog, over at the Desk community site.