Some interesting titles, good, bad and wordy reviews:
Anita Brookner's books have always intrigued me, and she appears to have a new book out, entitled, "Strangers", reviewed here.
"The Angel's Game", by Carlos Ruiz Zafon at the WP. Zafon is the author of "The Shadow of the Wind," among my 2006 best reads. NYT reviews it here.
"Three Cups of Tea", written by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, long on the best seller list, appears to have been reprinted by Penguin; discussed here.
"Enchanted Hunters, The Power of Stories in Childhood", by Maria Tatar, sounds like an excellent read for parents, students of literature and me.
quick drawings on F train
How they stack up:
The Canteo and the Moleskine are both a good size to take on a road trip, throw into a messenger or hand bag, and have hard backed covers. The Canteo is linen covered but has held up with light to medium use.
Specifications for the Moleskine: 5.25" x 8.25" (13 x 21cm); Paper weight,Unknown; 100 pages, 50 blank leaves; vertical elastic closure; ample length ribbon marker; fully expandable back pocket
Specifications for the Canteo A5 : 5.4" x 7.6" (13.8 x 19.4cm); Paper weight, 100g/m; 192 pages, 96 blank leaves; slung elastic closure; ample length ribbon marker; front and back slip ins (not pockets).
The Canteo's off-white paper may be lighter in weight than the Moleskine and a writing tablet texture. Held up to the light or when turning a page some show through is exhibited with a Lamy Safari 1.1 nib (using Mont Blanc Burgundy.)
The Moleskine sketchbook shows no show through, and takes colour pencils rather well. It does not respond well to watercolours or wet media, but most other art media work better than average.
Testing the Canteo with wet media appears better than anticipated and as good as many of the drawing/sketching journals I own.
As the days and weeks go by, I will probably continue to test some of the sketchbooks and journals I have to see if I can find one adequate to meet my needs: sketching, watercolour painting, pencil drawing and good old fashioned writing with a pen, fountain pens at the top of the list.
If Canteo is a new name to you, here is a review of the Canteo with excellent photographs.
The Quo Vadis Equology "Scholar" Weekly Planner, 6x9 (16x24cm) is a new edition to the Quo Vadis family of planners with 88% recycled material, 100% recycled paper and a removable chlorine free cover.
- 12 months, August to July (started 20 July 09)
- Current Annual Planner
- Space for assignments, test dates, papers due, activities and notes
- 60 lb. extra white paper never smears or bleeds through
- Sewn binding
- Detachable address book
My first impressions of the new planner was whoa!
The chlorine free cover, which feels a little like rubber, is textured, sleek, attractive and flexible. I suspect it will take a beating on the road, in a handbag or backpack and stay clean. It may be the most rugged of the Quo Vadis planner covers I've seen (see my reviews).
The cover features two logos, one at the top and the other discretely at the lower right bottom.
Neither logo is intrusive as the cover material, colour and incised logos are totally discreet.
Pelikan 100, M nib (J. Herbin Lie de The ); Pelikan m215, BB nib (Noodler's Violet Vote); Sailor Sapporo, Music Nib (Sailor Jentle Black); and
unidentified metallic gel pen
Sailor Sapporo, Music Nib (Sailor Jentle Black); Pelikan m215, BB nib (Noodler's Violet Vote); unidentified metallic gel pen; and Pelikan 100, M nib (J. Herbin Ile de The )
The weekly planner provides for sufficient space for even my large handwriting and can handle most of the pens I tested on both the inner note page, and the detachable address book.
The wider the nib, the more show through, but it doesn't interfere with using both sides of the pages (see below):
I'm really pleased to have had the opportunity to review a "green" planner. The planner is well designed, attractive and totally utilitarian. I can't wait for July 20--the date this academic planner begins.
The Daily Planner is offering the planner for $20.00 in four colours: Chocolate, Black, Red and Rose.
Check here for additional availability.
(NB: I believe the planner may also come in a spiral version. I am reviewing the removable cover version.)
I think I caught up with Peyton Place in the early 70s on Dutch television, years behind the US scheduling, and I believe I saw Love Story, so I am no stranger to Ryan O'Neal but I was taken aback to see Ryan O'Neal play Temperance "Bones" Brennen's father in the police procedural drama in reruns.
But then it hit me: The "Bones" character is the age of my children.
Time flies even when it isn't all fun.
I don't believe I saw much or any of the Charlie's Angels, but Farrah Fawcett was a cult ikon in the 70s, and hard to miss.
Now it appears after a romance of nearly 30 years, both ill or recovering, O'Neal and Fawcett are tying the marriage knot.
Good on them! Congratulations!
And good on those of us in our 60s!
Update: Ms. Fawcett passed away on 25 June, reported as breaking news.
This same issue was previously raised in Great Britain and the Netherlands.
You might say I am fond of clipboards, all sizes and shapes and as I often write, draw and even paint away from a studio environment, I often use clipboards. Some of these are just modest office clipboards while others are more elaborate.
I have some made of plastic. The above clipboard is light weight, easy to toss around and was a gift from my accountant.
Other clipboards, like the Alvin (above) are too large for my lap and require a drawing board or desk surface.
And for writing I splurged on the Levenger's lap desk, the least expensive of their offerings, for writing on soft surfaces. It is quite comfortable with its pillow backing.
Now Exaclair's Exoboard can serve all those purposes: a good solid surface for drawing; a perfect surface for a legal or letter sized notebook and easy to lug around for those spontaneous moments you find yourself interviewing a dairy farmer.
The clip and spiral serve multiple purposes: holding down your tablet, but also the coil nicely takes a pen (I don't recommend an expensive fountain pen).
I found the Exaboard Portfolio at Santa Fe Pens for $22.95. Check for retailers and online sources at Exaclair, Inc.
A documentary about Lyme disease looks like a film worth searching out. I doubt it will be at the local cinema.
All parasitic diseases are problematic, often difficult to diagnosis, let alone treat, and folks are often misdiagnosed. Some patients who suffer from long term symptoms are often accused of exaggeration, psychosoma and frequently scoffed at by well meaning but not necessarily well trained diagnosticians.
Some with the disease do well with an antibiotic treatment, a treatment that should be prescribed immediately at early detection while others suffer endlessly with little hope of recovering their full health status.
It's not clear why some patients recover quickly and others don't. It is most likely individual predisposition, health history and fundamental to treatment, how quickly the disease is diagnosed and treated.
Controversy is already swirling around the documentary.
However, there is no controversy in my mind about the potential prevalence of Lyme in my community. I am surrounded by deer, fearless they come right up to the side of my house and are often in the yard, front and back, on the road or at a neighbours. Hungry they have chomped on one bush near the house that now is a stalk.
One of my closest neighbours, a careful but active male, was just diagnosed and treated.
And I am not always properly dressed to avoid a tick bite.
Some subjects are more difficult than others to convey without sounding nutz, and Cristina Nehring book "Vindication of Love" may sound off kilter to many. In my own lopsided brain, the theme sounds like a cloud separating in the sky to form a sun burst. Harper's review takes no prisoners while Katie Roiphe's review in this week's New York Times digs deeper and perhaps becomes more personal.
The book: Call it spin! Not that old fashioned wringer of clothes, but rather that weaver of romantic tales.
Given only two choices, a solid marriage/partnership or a fortnight of passionate courtship, which to chose.
What do we lose on either side of this lopsided see-saw?
Do all marriages bring joy? Do all romances bring passion?
I am suspicious of both sides of the playground we call love.
Take one of the referenced romances: Abelard and Heloise.
A canon of the Roman Catholic Church, Abelard tutored the young Heloise, and then bedded her.
We are talking 12th century. Exposed, his punishment is cruel, physical and morbid. But he goes on with his life.
Heloise, equally exposed, received what appears the lesser punishment: permanently sequestered in an abbey. She, however, cloistered in the Paraclete, fuels her passion with letters and entreatment to her lost love. He conversely is free to roam the French countryside, extorting conventional church practices, and thinks naught of his once beloved Heloise, and little of their love child, Astrolabe.
Was their passion and/or love worth the price?
Would we know of their love if it had ended in a 40 year marriage?
No certain answer!
I am discouraged, and perhaps even angry at how our news media, written and televised, report news.
I've been angry before and disappointed often, but I clung to the naive belief that a few of the major newspapers could be relied upon to write the news, and desist from editorialising and slanting it to match the opinion of a journalist.
One of the newspapers I thought I could count on was The Washington Post.
With an increasing number of opinion pieces by the neo-con right, fewer balanced pieces are appearing and just this week one of the few left of center bloggers was terminated.
It appears I am not alone in questioning the Post, and its motive for a recent firing; Salon article here.
Caught this reference via Michelle Ward.
I have tons of stencils, courtesy Tom, but no spray paint. I also know myself and aerosol can paint is not for me--not only messy, but a great way to make myself sick unless I do it outside.
Outside would be great if it would ever stop raining.
And the entire cellar is flooded.
My old HP printer will not respond to my Mac. I chatted on line with the manufacturer and then talked to their representative by phone.
Obsolescent. I hate that word and the idea that we always need something new.
But in this case, I must have a printer and had to succumb to buying a new one yesterday online. I tried to buy the recommended model, first at Staples, 50 miles round-trip. Then I forced myself to check the Walmart in Honesdale (another 45 miles round trip). Neither had this model and it was this model HP recommended as a good substitute for the one that died.
Unfortunately, I also have to replace a tired toaster and a landfill microwave oven. I never stop thinking of replacing two televisions, one 10 and the other 20 years old. I have a VCR that might work, no DVD player and a cell phone that works only in town.
Am I old fashioned? Absolutely not!
But I am learning I am resistant to change, and hate to replace these electrical appliances.
I often stroll around aisles peering at brands, designs, colours, prices, and find myself walking out the door(s) empty-handed.
I can't decide if (a) I want these convenience appliances, (b) if I want to buy high or low end replacements and (c) as there is little variety locally, and I feel overwhelmed by reviews, I keep postponing these purchases.
I can live without toast; make good meals without a microwave oven and live with an old television.
I wasn't able to live without a printer.
Biffybeans, and Kooky Chick both did in depth reviews of the two Rhodia Webnotebook sizes, Biffybean's covering the larger 5.5" x 8.25" size, and Kooky Chick the smaller 3.5" x 5.5" version.
If you aren't a member of the Fountain Pen Network you might not be aware that the right journal, coupled with the proper ink in a favourite pen is like a search for buried treasure. And if you are a fountain pen user, check out the forum and read all the comments coming in on the new, improved Rhodia Webnotebook here.
So what I can add?
I use a wider nib than some and tested the journal with a variety of nibs, top to bottom, three of which run on the very wide side:
- Lamy Safari, 1.1. nib, Mont Blanc Burgundy Ink
- Pentel Slicci .40mm nib, Brown gel ink
- Sharpie with a fine point, close to .40mm, black ink
- Pelikan 100, medium nib, J. Herbin Lie de The ink
- Sailor Sapporo, Music nib, Sailor Jentle black ink
- Pelikan m215, BB nib, Noodler's Violet Vote
- Sailor m1911, Zoom nib, Sailor Nano Carbon ink
The good, the bad and my own preferences:
The excellent Clairefontaine 90g paper in an off-white is smashing and among my favourites. The construction is excellent but as Biffybean noted in her review, the stitching is tight and hence the journal I have does not lay flat. The line width is compatible with my larger handwriting, but I would prefer an unlined or even a graph version.
Generally I use a larger journal, more on the size of a 5.5" x 8.5" and it is difficult for me to write in a journal half the size as a daily user. I am afraid it will get less use than it deserves. However, it may be a good substitute for another journal I've been using for project notes which I've nearly finished, and as this size is not cumbersome to carry in a bag or even a pocket, it can be a second but loved fiddle.
Not particularly keen on logos, I think Rhodia would have done better to restrict theirs to the front and/or back covers. I advocate less is more!
Speaking of covers, I like the feel and look of the cover--it has a more classy look than most journals and is sensually appealing.
Overall, I think Rhodia has a winner and that many journal users will find the Webnotebook their grail. As a reviewer I give the Rhodia Webnotebook an A; as a user I'll give the journal a B+.
Check the Exaclair, Rhodia Drive and Quo Vadis sites periodically for updates on availability and pricing.
And I suggest you encourage your brick and mortar, or online vendor to get you one as soon as they land in the States. I suspect they will sell out fast!
It is a great feeling pen in the hand, the line is smooth, consistent and the pen flows well.
It can be used as a drawing pen, but it is not water resistant and while doing a few watercolours, it appears most of the line(s) dissolved--possibly a positive attribute for some.
At $3.00 each, I'd say the pen is worth owning and thoroughly enjoyable to use.
At Easter time, 1989, I did a very similar trip, arriving in Paris, staying a few days with friends, and then taking the train down to Marseilles.
The first time I went to Marseilles was because of a book I had read about Utrillo that intrigued me as an adolescent.
The second time was to recapture those memories, one of which was a visit to the Notre Dame de la Garde. When I visited the romantic City in the 60s as an adventurous student with a young man, we reached the top of Notre Dame, in an open platform powered by a pulley and rope, twenty odd years later, we went up by a modern conveyance.
After seeing some sights, getting pounced on by town gypsies and buying some of the loveliest silk fabric for curtains, we rented a compact, 4 speed Renault and leisurely drove through Provence back to Paris.
The trip took about two weeks and if I could do it again I'd make it four.
Every day was a picture postcard and each meal a savoury treat. The wine was extraordinary but so was le petit déjeuner, coffee and pastries.
Check out the Paupered Chef for wonderful recipes, food talk and travel. It's a delight.
It is a pity Christiane Amanpour Rubin (CNN International Correspondent) does not speak a common Iranian language with the President. She does, however, ask the tough questions.
Through a translator, it appears that President Ahmadinejad is comparing the violent outbreaks in Tehran and elsewhere in Iran with a soccer match where the other team loses. He stresses the fairness of the election and believes there is no acrimonious feeling between those who voted for him or those who voted for his opponents.
But the President will not guarantee his rival's safely--a dangerous and possibly prescient remark.
But yesterday after a writing spree, my two Pelikan m200s went dry.
Now I can compare the five black inks I own: Aurora, J. Herbin Perle Noire, Noodler's Heart of Darkness and the two Sailor inks: Nano Carbon and Jentle.
The pens I used, from top to bottom: Sailor Sapporo, Sailor m1911, Pelikan m200 (Blue), Pelikan m200 (Grey) and Charcoal Black Lamy Safari
I tested all five inks on Staple's Bagasse paper with the results below:
With the naked eye it appears the Sailor Carbon Black and the Noodler's Heart of Darkness are the darkest. When I write without thinking of comparison I found the Sailor Nano Carbon just a tad darker than the Sailor Jentle.
The Aurora and J. Herbin blacks seem similar on this paper and just a little less saturated than the two Sailor inks.
The fountain pens and nibs I use definitely influence the way the inks respond.
It is very difficult to capture the written page so I gave up photographing the other samples as they do not significantly differ from the Staple's Bagasse.
Overall I don't find one of these five inks better than the others, all dried quickly, all are very responsive in four different fountain pens and on three types of paper (Canson cachet drawing paper, quality Clairefontaine Triomphe 90g tablet paper and the Staple's Bagasse). None of the inks seemed to feather or change the nib line.
Although I think the Sailor Nano Carbon is the darkest of the dark, I don't believe I will buy it over more accessible inks, notably the J. Herbin and Aurora. However, I am glad I purchased the Sailor Nano Carbon and especially pleased how much I appreciate a cartridge in the Sailor pens. The cartridges seem to have more ink than the converters and are easier to use.
I'd say you couldn't go wrong with any of these five inks and if price and availability are concerns the Aurora, J. Herbin and Noodler's are more than satisfactory. If you like variety, the Sailor Nano Carbon is a good choice.
Leah Hagar Cohen's review of Kate Walbert's "A Short History of Women " did just that--a desire to dash out, and drive off to the nearest book shop to gather this book into my arms and spend the weekend, or a solid evening absorbing the bits and pieces of these women's lives.
But with only one independent book seller in a 50-odd mile radius, this desire will go unquenched. Although the sense of immediacy may abate, the desire to read this book may warrant a trip outside my immediate area, or a pleading request to the library.
PS - Interestingly, Amazon readers are not excited about this book.
Fixated on the Bijou Box for weeks, I finally won one on the British 'Bay for what I want to be believe is a reasonable price, about 50% of Bromley's.
The box itself is enamelled, heavy weight and measures 79mm x 60mm x 16mm and contains 8 assorted colours. It appears colours may vary, but generally the box is fitted with Winsor & Newton Green B/S, Lemon, Yellow Ochre, Scarlet Lake, Burnt Sienna, Permanent Rose, French Ultramarine and Black. It also includes a pocket brush & two mixing wells.
While reading Charles Krauthammer's piece on President Obama, I asked myself, "what do I know about the writer?" Nothing.
So I explored and discovered more about the writer and his positions.
On a scale of 1-10, Krauthammer was formerly described as a liberal +5 by colleagues. Today it appears Krauthammer is socially progressive, and internationally as progressive as former President George Bush, or commentator, Bill Kristol, who is defined as a neoconservative. Taking his social biases and adding them to his international views, I'd rank him on the same scale as -5.
Having a few more facts about the writer's "come from" provides insight into his/her perspective and enables the reader to better judge the piece's credibility and validity--that is if the reader retains his/her own neutrality.
Another structured procrastination exercise!
And today I am wondering how these folks get all the attention they do.
Former elected official Newt Gingrich is pondering Judge Sotomayor's broken ankle.
The Israeli press is insulted by a photograph of President Obama on the phone with his feet on his desk.
And if I dug more I'd find more fascinating tidbits that seem to rock the foundation of politics.
But if these yappers can't be muzzled, it is more likely I'll give up reading the news.
I didn't read it for years and only got back to it with Obama's candidacy and a television set--something I didn't have for eons.
The other day someone posted on Wet Canvas asking about an out of print book by Mel Stabin. It is selling for about 4 or 5 times its original price.
It crossed my mind that I probably own this book--and I do.
Months ago, I had said to myself that after I finished my one year obsession with fountain pens, I'd take a good, hard look at the watercolour books I own and try to sell some of them.
Now, looking at a fountain pen doesn't take too much time, but reviewing an art book could take me days, or even weeks, especially as I glance at my bookshelves and see I have at least four (4) shelves of alphabetically sorted watercolour books--so approximately 100 books.
The last time I sold art books was when I left New York and I thought then I knew which books I wanted and why.
I realize I haven't looked at this book--once--since I read and reviewed it when I purchased it in 2005. So I am thinking, "isn't it time to pass it on to another watercolourist?"
But, and this is not a small but, I sold quite a few books for which I had nagging regrets, regrets I still have on occasion when I reach for a book and its loving space is empty or filled with another book friend.
So continuing with my structured procrastination, I am going to review each and every book and make a slightly more informed decision on their fate and mine.
Yesterday I pulled the 7 of swords, often associated with, yes, procrastination. As I know that is precisely what I have been doing, I went a step farther and thought I'd look up the word and accomplish nothing but a definition.
Instead I discovered this interesting read by John Perry, Sanford University philosophy professor, about "structured" rather than just plain ole "generalised" procrastination.
After thinking about it (yes, my major was philosophy), I realized that structured procrastination reminded me of behavior change. Not just ordinary behavior change, but the change model.
I was at the illustrious university where Prochaska and DiClemente developed their stages of change model and one of its earliest guinea pigs. Although I've always found the model itself brilliant I've not really seen it as much more than procrastination in its various applications.
Now of course I see why that tiny light bulb went off in my head: structured procrastination = change model.
And this entire blog entry has been not much more than structured procrastination!
From 14th Street to any corner of the globe, we see, hear and experience hate-mongering, fear-mongering, xenophobia, racial and tribal discrimination and blistering diatribes.
Terrorism, national and international, wars and scrimmages seem endless, and often without clear motivation.
Of all the towns or cities I've lived, Amsterdam felt the safest. It no longer is according to this article.
Now a country, once the embodiment of tolerance, and often cited as liberal and left-of-center, joins the pact of pyromaniacs we call pluralists, populists or right-wing extremists.
Some examples of how hate begets hate in the United States:
Rowe on Coulter here.
Michael Seitzman on hate here.
Joseph Palermo addresses incitement to hate here.