July 15, 2008

More About Lifetoys

Last year, I made a deliberate decision to slow down.  Not so much to do less, but to do more simply.  Part of it was an unhappiness with my life, but also an unhappiness with the way I was living my life.  Too much stress.  Too much seriousness.  And too much giving, to the point where I was neglecting myself.  You have to take care of yourself, pamper yourself even, if you're going to thrive while still giving of yourself to others.

You can judge for yourself when I went all introspective, because that's about the time when Rocket Jones slowed down.

One of my resolutions was to write more often.  As in "write", as in pen and paper.  My mother was a horrible letter writer, it was easier to pick up the phone.  I take after her, to the point that even firing off an email seems a chore sometimes.

So I've taken to writing again.  Real letters, on fine paper, using honest to goodness fountain pens.  I have a nice little collection of pens and ink started, nothing very expensive, all what are considered "budget" pens.  I may write about them in the future, mini-reviews if you will, or I might never get around to it.  I don't know.

But, if anyone would like an old-fashioned pen pal, or someone to exchange an occasional snail mail with, well, drop me an email (hey, I'm not a fanatic).  You know the address:  RocketJones *at* gmail *dot* yourpants *dot* com.  Remove your pants before sending, you know the drill.  Yes, that amuses me.

So, what good has the more relaxed pace done?  Well, for the fourth straight year I've lost weight.  Not a great deal in any one year, but the downward trend has continued and that makes me happy.  Last year my doctor put me on a minimum dosage of a mild blood pressure medicine (I was at the high end of the normal range).  During my last visit, my blood pressure was back down to where it should be, and there's talk that if I can keep dropping the pounds and keep up with the stress reduction, then I can quit taking the medicine altogether.  Worthwhile goal, methinks.

More reading, less web surfing.  More organization, less clutter.  That sort of thing.

Seriously though, about the pen pals.

Posted by: Ted at 12:35 AM | category: Lifetoys
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June 09, 2008

Life is Too Short to Use Cheap Paper

So now you've gotten your hands on a Fisher Space Pen or Pilot G-2, right?  That's only half the battle, because it's not just what you write with, it's what you write *on*.

My favorite paper for everyday use is Hewlett-Packard 32# Premium Choice Laserjet paper.  Yep, 32 pound, compared to that shitty 20# recycled crap you snag from the copier room.  It's smoooooooth and heavy enough to be noticed.  Bright white too, although I prefer a cream or off-white paper.

You can get this stuff at Office Depot and places like that.  I recently saw half-reams on sale for $4.00, and when it rang up for $3.00 I went back for more.  Normal price is about $17.00 a ream, which sounds like a lot until you remember that this is 500 sheets of quality writing paper.  I suppose you could feed it through your printer or copier too.  If you insist.

The HP 28# paper is almost as good.  Almost.

Here's another goody for you, because I'm a nice guy.  If you go to the website for the Mohawk Paper Company, you can order free samples.  Five sheets of up to five different types of paper, including Strathmore!  Did I mention free?  As in nada, zip, zilch.  Not even postage due.  It's not a one-time offer either, you can go back later for more (not the same day though ya oinker).  I ordered a swatchbook from them and it's chock full of interesting and excellent papers.  It's free dammit.  Go try some and see what I'm talking about.

Oh, they're big-time green too, which is a great thing.

Pamper yourself in little ways, that's part of what Lifetoys is about.

Posted by: Ted at 10:01 PM | category: Lifetoys
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The Bestest Cheap Pen You Can Buy

Seriously, try the Pilot G-2 and see if it doesn't make your ballpoint feel like you're scratching wood with a rusty nail.

They're about a buck each at any office supply store or the stationery aisle of your favorite mega-chain.  For that price, how could you *not* try one?

Posted by: Ted at 09:05 PM | category: Lifetoys
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May 31, 2008

Dad

Last month Liz and I flew out to Arizona to visit my Dad and his girlfriend, Beverly (more about that in a later post).  Now, just a few months ago we got a call from Bev letting us know that Dad was in the ICU and the doctors didn't expect him to make it.  I started to make plans to go and then, hours later, Bev called back and said Dad was out of the woods and would be fine.  I called Dad a little after that and he sounded amazingly good.  Good enough that we decided that I could wait until our already scheduled vacation.  He was going to need dialysis for a short while (everyone hoped), but other than that and the usual "old people" problems he was gonna be fine.

I prepared myself for the worst when we saw him.

I come from tough stock!  His kidneys had gotten going again almost immediately, so no more dialysis.  I knew he used a breathing machine, but didn't know it was only at night because of his sleep apnea.  He used a walker, but only when he was really tired and he never did during the week we were there (nor did I ever think he needed it).

In fact, he was the same old Dad.  We moved furniture from their old house to the new one, including a massive metal workbench that weighed a ton.  We hung two flat-panel TV's on wall mounts.  We put up a new television antenna on the roof, and ran the wire inside.  He showed me the extension he built to his workshop.  It was just like old times.

At one point, we were working on two different projects right near each other, and I told him that he was working too hard.  His reply caught me by surprise:

I don't work hard.  I work steady.


And it's true.  Dad gets more done than most people half his age, and he does it by methodically taking it a step at a time.  There are no frantic bursts of energy, no show-stopping surprises in mid-project, he just thinks things through and then follows his plan.  Give the man a hammer and a two-by-four and he'll build you a spiral staircase.  He's amazing that way, and his secret is as simple as "don't work hard, work steady."

I've been going through some fundamental changes in my personal life over the last year or so.  Call it a midlife crisis (like Liz does) or just finding myself (whatever that means), I've done a lot of thinking about and tinkering around the edges of my life.  Examining everything closely and figuring out what I really want and how I can change things to make it better.  That's part of what the new "Lifetoys" category is about, where you're gonna see some of the things I've looked at and experimented with.

Those five words, distilled down to their perfect essence, explain perfectly a huge part of what I've been trying to do.

Thanks Dad.

Posted by: Ted at 06:04 PM | category: Lifetoys
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May 29, 2008

Space Pen

So have you tried the PocketMod (I talked about it here)?  Visit that first link to at least find out how to fold the paper, it's worth the minute or so it takes.

All righty then, you've got a handy piece of paper or small notebook to jot down stuff, but what are you using to write with?  To me, the PocketMod is only half of the equation, because I also carry a Fisher Space Pen!

You know that bit 'o history about NASA spending a fortune on a pen while the Russians used a pencil?  It's an urban legend.  Fisher developed the pen technology on its own dime and then sold pens to NASA, hence the "Space Pen" name.

Works like a champ too.  Upside down.  In the rain.  Greasy paper.  No worries, because this puppy will write!

Best of all, you can get their little bullet pen and it's small and rounded and fits perfectly in your pocket without snagging or poking.  When it's time to write the cap fits perfectly on the back and you have a full-size pen.  I got the matte black one without the clip, and I love it.  It goes everywhere with me.

Check out the various types and colors at The Writer's Edge.

Remember, life is too short not to have cool toys.  And coolness does not have to be digital.

Posted by: Ted at 11:41 PM | category: Lifetoys
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May 25, 2008

Pocket Mod

Last summer I stumbled across Pocket Mod and started carrying the little things every day.  Basically, it's a cleverly folded piece of paper for note taking and jotting crap down.  When you fill it up, just print up a new one and you're good to go again.  I've found it to be very useful and I always have one in my pocket.

Now the link above is full of nifty little templates and such to customize your Pocket Mod to be just how you like it, and I used them for quite a while.  Recently though, I've simplified things even further.  I go here and print a sheet of graph paper and then do the folding thing.  No trimming needed.  A small hack I've done it to cut out a snippet of manilla file folder and slipping it inside to stiffen it up just a bit.

Pocket Mod. Making my life a little easier, one simple toy at a time.

Posted by: Ted at 12:27 AM | category: Lifetoys
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May 22, 2008

New Category

Lifetoys.

Let's see where this takes us, shall we?

Posted by: Ted at 01:05 AM | category: Lifetoys
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