Archive for June, 2009

Ink, paper, and where to go

Posted June 30, 2009 by
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Thanks to Julie Bynum, ink-and-paper aficionado and “Where to Go” contest entrant/winner, for her thoughtful review of the Clairefontaine Basics notebook and Vert Empire ink we sent her…

Stay tuned for news about June’s winners, and the upcoming red-and-blue ink giveaway we’ll be doing for the 4th of July and Bastille Day.

And keep those “Where to Go” entries coming for July!

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Equology: same quality, better for the environment

Posted June 29, 2009 by
in Pens, Paper & People, Planning Tips | 11 comments »


Thanks to Pentamento for the first review of our new Equology eco-friendly notebooks and planners… Reading it reminded me that I’ve been meaning to post my own photographs and impressions, so here goes.

I, too, love the heavy duty rubber-like cover, to which pictures don’t really do justice—it’s soft and bumpy and dry, sort of like a cat’s tongue:

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What should I do with this tiny Rhodia pad?

Posted June 24, 2009 by
in Cabinet of Curiosities, Pens, Paper & People | 19 comments »


One of the new products from Rhodia this year (already available at Vickerey!) is the no. 10 staplebound notebook, an adorable 2 x 3 pad that fits right in the palm of your hand.

I fell in love with it immediately at the Stationery Show, but I still haven’t decided what to do with the one that Karen sent me. Ink tests? Tiny notes, or sketches? I’ve got half a mind to create a mini flip book, but it’ll probably take me a while to get around to actually doing it. (In the meantime, I’ve discovered, it’s not half bad as a paperweight.)

Closeup after the jump… What would you do with this notebook?

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Posted June 23, 2009 by
in Cabinet of Curiosities, Planning Tips, Where to Go? | 2 comments »

Quo Vadis staffers are in the process of finalizing plans for 2012 editions and cover styles.   But, will we need to discuss 2013? Maybe not, if the scenario of the movie 2012 comes true.

Roland Emmerich, the director of the mega-hit, Independence Day, and the eco-thriller, The Day After Tomorrow, brings his third crack at the apocalypse, this fall’s 2012.


See the movie trailer here.

December 21, 2012 is the day various sources throughout history predict the world will experience a massive cataclysm.

The Mayan Calendar – 2012 gained the patina of doom with the best-selling 1966 book, The Maya, by Harvard archaeologist   Michael D. Coe. He noted that the Mayan culture’s famously complex “Long Count” calendar simply ends on 12/21/12, speculating that civilization might come crashing down on that date.

Galactic Alignment - Astrologers have also pointed out that during the winter solstice of 2012, the orbital planes of the solar system and the twelve zodiacal constellations will intersect with the “Dark Rift”–a black bit of the Milky Way located next to Sagittarius. Some argue this intersection is precisely why the Mayans–who were brilliant astronomers–ended their calendar when they did.

Timewave Zero - And then there’s counterculture thinker Terence McKenna, whose Timewave Zero theory–drawing off elements from the I-Ching, the teachings of philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, and modern fractal mathematics–determined that 12/21/12 is the exact date of a profound change in the world.

Pole Reversal - One theory that has some traction in the scientific community is that a solar flare will cause a sudden shift in the magnetic orientation of the earth’s poles, causing all kinds of planetary problems like volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. NASA is predicting strong solar activity around 2012 and there’s evidence that the magnetic poles are slowly weakening, something that reportedly presages a reversal. (Of course, most scientists think this reversal will take centuries, not days, to occur.)

So how does Roland Emmerich end the world in his film? “Pole reversal,” he said in an interview this week. “All kinds of stuff going on. But it’s basically major earthquakes and volcano eruptions which kind of cause this global flood.”

“We found this obscure theory of ‘Earth crust displacement,’ written in the ’50s by someone called Professor Hapgood. Albert Einstein wrote the forward to his book. It pretty much says every X number of years the whole Earth’s crust shifts, all together. We thought that was a great underlying theory that can explain why there can be a flood.”

Emmerich was asked what is he going to do to prepare for the fated date.. He said, “I don’t believe that the world will come to an end in 2012, but it’s a great scenario.”

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A disposable fountain pen?

Posted June 22, 2009 by
in Cabinet of Curiosities, Pens, Paper & People | 10 comments »


The Pilot Varsity is a strange animal indeed: a so-called disposable fountain pen with a stainless steel nib that sells for a couple of bucks, which is just about what you’d pay for a decent rollerball. I came across it by chance when a pen aficionado I know (who restores vintage nibs in his spare time) gave one to me to play with; they were, he explained, a sort of guilty pleasure.

For that amount of money, you might not expect very much, but I was pleasantly surprised—to a point.

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Daylily redux

Posted June 18, 2009 by
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And now, as they say, for something completely different… My first daylily of the year! I’m not sure what this variety is called (I swiped it from my mom’s garden last year), but it’s now the first daylily to open for the second year in a row… I love how it looks against the industrial green garage door thingie that serves as a section of our fence.

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Guest post: On doing nothing

Posted June 16, 2009 by
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Do you find it hard to take time for yourself and do nothing? Guest blogger Kate Marshall reflects…

I hate sitting still. If I’m working on one project, I start to feel like I should be working on another one. If I do chores around the house, I should be writing. If I’m writing, I should be… de-grouting the tile or something. And then I berate myself for not taking more time to just stop, take a deep breath… and do nothing.

Being still—no to-do list, no pressing appointments, no alarm—can be a difficult task for people. I suspect that the more driven and ambitious a person is, the harder it is for him or her to spend time doing “nothing”: staring into space; letting one’s imagination run wander; walking, etc. If personal experience has taught me anything, it’s that if I don’t give my brain some downtime, I can’t do my best job. How hard can it be to just take a few minutes for yourself every day?

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Writing gets medieval

Posted June 15, 2009 by
in Cabinet of Curiosities, Pens, Paper & People | 9 comments »


Before I traded the uncertain existence of a career in academia for the uncertain existence of a career as a freelance writer, I spent a year in Cambridge getting a master’s in medieval literature. One of the perks of studying in England is that there are a lot of old manuscripts lying around, and included in my coursework that year was a class on paleography—the study of handwriting.

So we learned about the different hands that were used (Secretary, Anglicana, Textura), letters like thorn (“th,” and, thanks to an alternate form that looks a lot like a Y, the source of the misguided “ye olde” that graces so many would-be “shoppes”) and yogh (a sort of guttural “g”), and the crazy abbreviations that were used to make the task of copying a long manuscript a little easier.

One of the things that stuck with me is the fact that scribes would often add their own personal notes to the end of a manuscript. Most would simply say: “This manuscript was completed on such-and-such a date by so-and-so, humble scribe,” but some would append things like: “…who, God willing, is now headed to the pub for a drink.” Some scribes would complain about how poor they were; others might make little drawings.

At any rate, when I first took J. Herbin’s medieval writing set for a test drive, I began to sorely sympathize with those scribes!

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Good question: How to write a family memoir?

Posted June 11, 2009 by
in Pens, Paper & People | 2 comments »


We got an intriguing email the other day from a reader in Arizona:

I have recently been charged with the task of scribing my great-grandfather’s biography, which includes both World Wars and a Medal of Honor, to keep as a family heirloom.

To this end, I would like to ask your opinion as to which pens, inks, and paper would be most ideally suited for this task. I should also mention that my own personal script is quite unique and legible, but somewhat small.

Also, I’ve been inspired to begin writing some of my own memoirs, stories, & letters to keep and share for many, many years. However, I feel the need for a more inspiring medium than the dull life of a notebook and ballpoint. I would like a pen, ink, and paper that could be used as often as everyday, resist fading, and that would also provide a distinguished style and flair.

Karen already suggested he post his query on the Fountain Pen Network, and make sure to use acid-free paper. But we figured you guys would have many more helpful suggestions… So how about it? What writing supplies would you use to tackle a task like this?

Image via Fimb.

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The Exaboard: A better clipboard

Posted June 9, 2009 by
in Pens, Paper & People | 9 comments »


Last year, Karen sent me a great new product from Exaclair called the Exafolio, a sort of combination binder/accordion folder/notebook-and-pen holder that’s like an adult Trapper Keeper.

A couple of months ago, she sent me another product from the same line, the Exaboard. It’s like a clipboard, but so much better: it’s large and sturdy, with a front and a back plastic cover and a clip inside that holds a large Rhodia pad (or a President planner) and a pen. There’s also a slim pocket on the inside cover that could hold a couple of loose papers. Oh, and a little elastic closure to hold it all together.

Whereas my Exafolio is great for business meetings, the Exaboard is pure pleasure. I use it when I’m reading in my armchair and want a sturdy surface for taking notes. I use it when I want a break from my desk to do some offline outlining or brainstorming. I don’t draw, but I imagine it might also make a nifty surface for smaller on-the-road sketches, too.

At the moment, none of our retailers seems to show the Exaboard online, but Karen suggested people call Vickery in Colorado at 800-963-1050, or Racine’s Office & Art Supplies in California at 866-374-6972, if they want to try it out.

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