Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy New Year

Okay I've had a great 2008, and hoping for a good feeling in 2009 also. I'm not one for new year resolutions but this year I shall try to blog more. Instead of the half hearted attempts since October I shall try to blog once a week. Will I?
Who knows? I only managed 3500 words for NaNoWriMo so what are the chances?
I want to include more photos also to illustrate each blog.

I hope everyone has a great Hogmanay and a guid new year

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Poppies and Remembrance Day

I've noticed that poppies are on the counters in shops once again. I feel that it used to be they were only on sale/available the week before remembrance day but it is a few weeks ahead of that now. I can understand the desire to ensure as many donations as possible. It has been a long lasting British tradition that still maintains popularity and success. We continue to have British soldiers killed and damaged on behalf of our country who need or will need extra support through this charity. In recent years I've noticed alternative white poppies available. I haven't quite worked out their point. Is is about pacifism? Not supporting war? Wearing of red poppies doesn't signify a support of war but a support of people who need help. Perhaps a way of thanking those who fight on behalf of their country but remembrance is not really about thanks is it? It's about remembering. Remembering lives shattered, torn for example. where does the money go for white poppies?

The most famous peom that mentions Flander's red poppies was written by John McCrae, a Canadian. The first verse is

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row

That mark our lace; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing fly

scarce heard amongst the guns below.

It's interesting how strong and long lasting the words of the war poets are. It's a shame that we often come across them in school where being taught how to read poetry seems to ruin anyone's desire to read it ever again. Today reporting of war is all pictures, sanitised CNN. War, and the horrors of war are rarely communicated as powerfully as was done during the first world war. Have a read of some of them at this time of year and feel the power. Siegfried Sassoon is my particular favourite

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Moleskine Monthly Pocket Diary 2009

I always find it a bit depressing when I am writing in several meetings into next year's diary and it's only September/October time. The clocks haven't even gone back yet! So at this time I use a temporary measure before my A5 page a day diary arrives. As I'm always trying to minimise weight in my bag I don't want to carry two A5 diaries about for 3 months.

This year I've chosen the pocket Moleskine monthly planner. It actually has space for 2010 too so I'm hoping it will last for two years as my Autumn temporary diary, so that's a saving. Moleskines themselves are not inexpensive and I am still unconvinced with the quality of the paper. Some people seem to love it and rave about it but sometimes I wonder if it's just the name they fall for. Clairefontaine paper blows Moleskine out the water as does many Oxford notebooks. Still I've gone for it this year. It is small and lightweight which is what I want. I'm interested in any positive or negative opinions on Moleskine diaries.............

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Notebook Have a Look - C.Over

I've had this C.Over (see over) Cover for a while now but not really used it. It's one of those quite good ideas that probably wont ever be promoted enough and will die a death. The covers come in a range from gel to fabric to leather. Mine is fabric weave. Inside the cover are 3 elastic strands that fix separate notebooks into the cover. It means you can have a notebook for work, addresses, diary personal items, fitness, shopping. Whatever and interchange them so that your planner may be all work one day and all play the next or a mixture. It's a neat size (16cm x 9cm) thats about 3 3/4 x 61/2 inches for empiricals amongst you. As well as coming with a 2 section diary you get a plastic insert that has a smaller notebook, address book section and a mini pen.

I have ordered some refill notebooks and some spare elastics on the basis that I dont think they will be around very long. Greenwitch is an Italian company which has been around a while but getting these covers in the UK might be a different matter. The Journal Shop and Retro51 are the only places I've found and Retro51 say they will stop keeping them (Note January2009-Retro51 still have various C.Over items on their website).

Because of this I was having a wee play about with it and a Moleskine Cahier pocket will fit in the cover. Slightly wider than would be perfect but a decent alternative. Luckily they come in packs of three anyway, although I'm not greatly keen on the paper within. Probably plenty of other options for refilling the cover so I have another excuse (as if I needed one) to search through notebooks in shops once more. It may be a goner already this C.Over idea but I do think the cover can be used in a few different ways if you like doing a bit of hacking.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008


It's been ages since I did a post and I do think it might always be this way. Haphazard. To fill my free time or rather to refill non free time with something different I am going to have a go at NaNoWriMo. This is an annual event every November where individuals are encouraged to write a 50000 word novel in a month. No mean feat! Of course the output is rarely going to be a novel you would get someone else to read I think but the aim is to just write. get the words down instead of staring at a blank page. All you win is the satisfaction of writing 50000 words but the challenge itself seems enough. There are forums to discuss plots and characters and even local meets (Edinburgh and Glasgow both have a region amazingly).

I hope to use time on the train between Glasgow and Edinburgh and maybe a bit at lunchtime (if I have time) to write as much as I can. Unlikely I'll have time in the evenings so it might be pretty much impossible to do (over 3 full A4 pages a day). Anyway I hope to just do what I often avoid and that's write something.
Why dont you do it too?

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Global Warming?

Well it feels like global warming. It's warm in Scotland (by our standards) but my is it wet! Last week the commute to Edinburgh was extended quite a bit due to flooding in Princes St Gardens. Two and a half hours to Edinburgh in the morning and two hours back to Glasgow. It's a 50 minute journey normally. Rail company was actually not bad at communication although when the train arrived at the outskirts of Edinburgh and we were told it might take an hour to get into Edinburgh I did think they could've mentioned that in Glasgow. Some folk might have decided to give the trip a miss. The water was certainly higher than the tracks and the noise of the wheels wasn't normal. I dont think there was much else that could've been done. Luckily I had several notebooks with me to do some work on....

This week we've had flash floods in Fife and Lanarkshire. All very unusual. We have a lot of rain but usually spread over the whole year. Is it global warming? Is that something we can change? I'm not convinced, keep feeling that the Earth does this on it's own regardless of human beings. Wonder if I'm alone with that view.......

Maybe I need to do an article on inflatable boats soon.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Notebook Have a Look - Rhodia

This is my Rhodia No14 notepad (11x17cm). One of my current favourites. These little beauties are made in France and available in a few UK stores. Blackwells and Paperchase (in Borders) sell them but there are also a few online suppliers with wider ranges.
It's a strange design in a way. The staples at the top mean that you have to fold the cover up or round the back of the notebook but it does this easily. You can use it portrait or landscape and each sheet is perforated for easy removal. They are inexpensive but the quality of the paper is fantastic. I usually write in pencil which writes smoothly over the surface but I've also written with my Stabilo Sensor (in the photo) and other gel type pens-all write smoothly with no bleed through. The red and black band is a velcro cable tie that I've put round it which slides down the notebook to both hold the notebook shut and hold my pen.
The pages of the number 14 will also fit into a personal size Filofax or a Compact size Franklin Covey binder. A bit wider than both these page sizes but great for adding notes in.
There are a variety of sizes, from wee cute ones that would fit in your trouser pocket to A4 size for fitting into your folio. They come in plain, lined and 5x5 grid. I've taken a shine to the grid version.
The Rhodia site has an English version so have a look at what they have.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Poetry in Season

Scottish strawberries are in season just now. In fact I'm eating some right this minute in between typing. It brought to mind one of my favourite poems, Strawberries by Edwin Morgan. Such a beautiful vision he portrays in it. I have no wish to break copyright but luckily you can read it at the official Edwin Morgan website
Morgan was born in1920 he has had a long literary career and is still going strong at this time. In 2004 he was made The Scot's Makar which is a kind of national poet laureate. A true literary legend. Check out his poetry.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Asus Eee pc

I said I would start with a few words about my Asus eee pc. Its the 701 4gb version. It's the type of thing that I've wanted for years. Something I can type documents on while I'm on the move. I like to write and I often do work on the train. It also allows surfing on the move thugh that's not without its problems a I'll come to later. Every option until now either didnt have a keyboard or was just ridiculously expensive for something that was really just an extra. This would never be my main computer but neither is it intended to be. It can play music and video and show pictures, all nice to be able to do.
The reason Asus can keep the cost down is the open source software. It uses Linux as its operating system and all the other software is open source too but Open office is compatible with Microsoft office so that's fine for work. Now if you want to change anythng it can be tricky. It can really mess up your machine if you use the update icon on the eee pc - strange but true and to sort out any problems you really need to use linux. Anyone who remembers DOS will know what I mean when I say it involves commend lines etc. I've only come across a couple f things I've needed to 'fix' and the ee pc user forum is fantastic. Lots of people who know linux give good instructions on how to do things and the wiki is great. Forums are amazing things aren't they? They are a sign that people are basically good. The number of really helpful people on all sorts of different forums is amazing.
I've found the wifi simple and easy on the eee pc. It has worked wherever I've tried it. I'm typing this in the garden. It's a pity the UK doesn't have many free wifi spots that i've found. Pubs tend to be the best places for free wifi. Coffee shops always seem to involve a cost or time limited options. I did take it to the US this year and it was great for our hotel stay. They had wifi everywhere and it allowed us to keep in touch and find out about different places we wanted to go, and look at our pictures.
I have given in and got a modem. It is pay as you go and cost £39.99 on on the 3 network. This hasn't been perfect and the signal isn't that good in many places. There are also issues where the eee pc looks for an internal modem it doesn't have or when you go from 3g to 2g it hangs up, but there seemingly is a way (through linux) to sort that out. I shall try it next time I'm on the move. It seems to be the e220 modem that works most easily with the eee pc. Not sure how much I'll use it but as its pay as you go it doesn't matter too much.

All round I'm very happy with my eee pc. t does what I want it to do. If I wanted more I guess I'd have to pay more but for £200 it's fab. There are a few other manufacturers realising the potential of this tye of device now and it'll be interesting to hear how they perform. First isn't always best (ask Philips....) Let me know if you have anything different in this line of device.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Welcome to my blog

I bought an Asus eee pc at the beginning of the year and it is a fantastic handbag sized computer, ideal for blogging. Never blogged before but this has tempted me to type while on the move so here goes.

I plan to take you through my eee pc experiences but also my stationary fetish will feature. There are many US based sites and blogs on stationery but I wanted UK information too.

Blog started.....tick that box