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Thursday, October 27, 2016

My Biggest Ebook Frustration

I confessed on Tuesday that I've reached a point where I prefer reading ebooks over print books, something I never thought would happen. I started out on a regular Kindle, but now I read on my iPad and I prefer the backlit screen, maybe because it's what I'm used to with computers.

But what makes me absolutely crazy is the organization system. Tagging books into collections isn't good enough.

I like folders. Collections are in folders, sort of, but it's a PITA to tag the titles.

On the iPad I want to be able to hold on the book with my finger and then slide it into a folder like I do with apps on the main screen. This would be so much faster and a lot less frustrating than the current procedure.

Instead when I hold with my finger, a menu appears. I have to select collections and then another list appears with all of my collections listed. After I select one, I have to choose done.

It's cumbersome, and because I had hundreds of ebooks before Kindle created collections, I have a ton of books that need to be sorted. Gah! And just to make it extra hard, the books view still shows all books, even ones that I've already tagged. The only way to know they've been put in a collection already is to go through the process and see the title is already checked.

This is sooooo frustrating. Sigh.

I read a fair amount on the Kobo reader for iPad too. This is probably my favorite reader and they make collections slightly easier. When I create a collection there, it pulls up a list of all my books and lets me go through them and check each one I want in the collection. This is so much easier! I wish Kindle would adopt it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

I Heart Purple

I found a pen that I absolutely love! The ink flows smoothly, it comes in purple, and it's erasable! That makes it perfect for using in my planner and perfect for making notes on any stories I'm working on. I adore it!

(Not to discount my fountain pen, which I also love, but it's not erasable and it bleeds through my planner pages, so I don't use it there.)

Anyway, I love this pen and I was at work when the ink ran out. Boo! Actually, the ink ran out rather fast compared to other pens I use and like, but I'll live with that as long as I have the ability to erase. I hate having to cross things out when I make a mistake. It's my perfectionist streak, I'm sure.

Sorry. So the pen runs out of ink and I check to see if it's refillable. It is. Cool. I jump online (it was lunch) to buy some refill cartridges. And discover the purple is only available as part of a three-pack with aqua and pink. Hmm. It's not that I don't like the aqua or pink, but I haven't really been using those colors and I can see a situation where I end up with 30 aqua and pinks and I'm out of purple.

The only solution I can see is to buy the 12 pack of purple pens. I hate to throw the barrels away because that's plain wasteful, but they don't sell a box of just purple like they do for blue ink and I'm sure black ink, too. I guess there isn't the demand for purple, but I'd rather buy refills and reload the pen.

The other solution, I guess, would be to use pink and aqua regularly and then buy the three pack. We'll see. :-)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

I'm a Dolphin

***Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this post. I do not know the doctor who created the quiz and I have not read his book. I read a news article online and thought this was interesting. Nothing more.***

I found an article online that talked about chronotypes. There's basically a theory that there isn't just night owls and early birds, but that there are actually four different chronotypes--Lion, Wolf, Dolphin, and Bear.

There's a brief quiz at The Power of When website to figure out which type you are. I took it and found out that I fit in the Dolphin category. I don't think I'm a pure dolphin, though, because not everything in the description is correct for me. A lot of it, however is right on the money and makes me believe there is something to this 4 type thing.

Dolphins are cautious (yes), introverted (yes), neurotic (maybe), and intelligent (I like to think so). They strive for perfection (I'm a raging perfectionist), have OCD tendencies (guilty, although definitely not full-blown), and are detail oriented (oh, yeah).

Lions appear to be the morning people. Bears cycle on the sun and are about 50% of people. Wolves are the night owls.

The site also talks about how these different body clocks evolved in prehistoric times to keep a tribe safe. The wolves stay up until the earliest lions wake up, then drift off and the dolphins awake at the slightest noise to warn the group.

Anyway, I found this premise interesting and the part that really sold it for me was that dolphins wake up tired and get a kick of energy late in the evening. This is totally me. It's frustrating, too, because I have to get up so early for my day job. I'd love to wake up refreshed and be able to go to bed earlier without tossing and turning. Alas, I am not genetically predisposed according to this website.

***Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this post. I do not know the doctor who created the quiz and I have not read his book. I read a news article online and thought this was interesting. Nothing more.***

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

2017 Planner Frenzy

***Again, no compensation was given to me for anything written here and I have the credit card bills to prove it. My opinions are my own.***

Okay, maybe not quite a frenzy, but choosing a planner for 2017 was difficult. But Patti, you're thinking, your Start Planner goes through June 2017 and you just blogged last week about how much you like it. Why are you shopping for a 2017 planner?

Good question! I do love my planner, but it's heavy. There's literally no way I'm willing to take it with me to work, so I leave it at home and then come up with things I need to write in it while I'm at work. I usually try to write these things on Post-it notes and transfer it to my planner later, but well, sometimes I think, I'll write that down later and then I totally forget. Also, little Post-its are defeating one of the reasons I wanted a planner to begin with.

So I ordered a new Start Planner for 2017. This one is called Fancy Pants and it comes in a 6-ring binder. It's designed to carry no more than three months of daily pages with you at a time, but all the monthly pages, so if I need to make a note for a particular day that isn't in my planner, I can still do that. They also sell inserts, so I picked up weekly pages as well.

My plan (no pun intended) is to use my big mid-year planner at home until it runs out and take my Fancy Pants planner with me everywhere I go. I know it means having things in two places which isn't optimal, but darn it, I paid for the other planner and I'm going to finish it! ;-)

As a side note, once I saw the add-in inserts, I started to think, hmmm, I bet I could create my own customized inserts and have everything I want.

This way lies madness! But I began researching how to create my own pages.

I don't have time to do this! Why am I reading on how to do it? I'm not a graphic designer and I'm not familiar with most graphic design programs. Nothing I can come up with is going to top what's out there, but when I see the prices people are charging on Etsy for downloads! that I have to print myself on my own paper and cut and punch myself, I want to at least try to make something.

Although, in all honesty, I probably don't need to make any other pages. The weekly and the daily pages, plus the rest of the sections that come with the Start Planner should be more than enough for me, but I keep thinking that I want the ULTIMATE planner, perfectly customized to me. :-)

I will post a review of my Fancy Pants planner closer to 2017 and try to take a few pictures, too. I'm hoping the binder cover color matches what was on my screen, but it was so gorgeous!

***I received no compensation for this post and it's a PITA that I have to post this every time I want to talk about something I like because no one has ever offered me anything to talk about anything, but there you go. All opinions are my own and I've purchased everything at full price that I've talked about here today.***

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Writing Notebooks

I used to carry a stenographer notepad with me wherever I went and I'd make notes for any book or idea that came to mind there. I'd use Post-it flags to color code what story/world the notes belonged to. I'm pretty sure I have every color they make.

This was an okay system. It kept me from having to haul multiple notebooks with me to work, but it was more than a little annoying to try to find something in particular, especially once I reached my third notepad.

Then there was the extra fun of bent flags. I'm not quite OCD, but let's just say I lean that direction and the less-than-perfect flags bugged me. So did the fact that once they were bent, I might not see them too easily and it made it even easier to miss the notes I'd be looking for. The stenographer notepad also didn't protect the pages as well as I needed and after months of hauling it with me, the pages would be bent and banged up, too.

Recently, I tried a new system--one notebook per book or world. These notebooks are also not as easily worn by being carried. One of them is actually bound. I like this one because it's narrow enough to fit in the front pocket of the tote bag I take to work and it has room at the top of each page for me to write the date, the story it's about, and what the notes are about. Like I'd put heroine's GMC or something in that third spot, helping me to find what I was looking for.

I also had a spiral bound notebook that was far beyond the quality kids use in school. This one had nice, thick paper (thick enough that my fountain pen doesn't go through it) and a hard plastic cover that is doing an excellent job keeping my paper in good shape. It's also smaller than a school notebook, which I really like. The only downside is that it won't fit in a tote pocket. :-( Too wide.

I've only been doing this for about a month so far, but I like how it's working. If I have an idea or thought for another project, I just write that on whatever is handy and transfer it into another notebook that I leave at home. This one is also a bound book. I've decided it's worth the extra money to get a harder cover notebook, so I'll continue buying them.

I did try buying a bigger bound notebook, one that's bigger than 8.5x11 because I thought I'd like more room to sketch out character stuff, but as it turned out, it was too big. I couldn't take it with me, I couldn't use it easily while sitting on the couch or chair, and sitting at the table is too boring. (And my dining room chairs aren't that comfortable.) So I have all this cool stuff sketched into the book, just waiting to be filled in and I'm avoiding it. :-) Lesson learned.

I just wish I could come up with a really awesome way to organize my information. I tried listening to a workshop about it, but while they talked about what information would probably be handy to keep, they said nothing about how to organize that info. Seriously, I know what to keep, I just don't know how to organize it for easy access. I know it's personal preference, but give me a hint!

Until I stumble across some heavy-duty organizational details, I'm just going to stick with my notebook habit. It works the best for me right now and there's something about handwriting book details (with my new fountain pen) that gets my brain working in different ways.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Start Planner Revisited

***I received NO compensation for this post and I paid full price for my planner. These are my own, uninfluenced thoughts.***

Now that I've been using my Start Planner for a while (since the beginning of July), I've decided I really like it. It's a daily planner with hourly breakdowns as well as nearly half a page for the To Do List. I don't make as much use of this space as I could/should, but I like that I have it.

The other things I really like is that alongside each page (running vertically), there's a checkbox for exercise, an AM/PM designation for medications (I just take vitamins in the morning, but I like having it there so I don't forget), and a hydration chart where I can cross off the water I drink from 1-8 cups. Um, I'm really bad about drinking water. Give me coffee! ;-)

Another thing I like is near the bottom of the page, there's room to menu plan by listing each day's dinner on that day. There's also an idea box, but I use that to record how long I worked out and how many miles I did. And at the very bottom of each page is a 3-line section titled "My Day" where I can record thoughts. I wish I had a few more lines here because it really isn't enough to really talk about anything in depth, but it's good for quick jottings.

There are a few things that I still don't like. Saturday and Sunday are on one page, all scrunched up with nearly a half page for a grocery list. At first I thought, well, maybe I'd use it to remember what to add to my electronic list, but quite frankly, I never use the grocery lists in the book and there are monthly lists as well as the weekly ones. I really need that lost space. Desperately. Since I don't use the planner at my day job, my weekdays are very light on items. The weekends are when I do my home things and there are lots of them! I'm way too compressed here.

Other features I thought I'd use more and don't also include the financial section. I have a spreadsheet that I use for budgeting, and while I thought it might be nice to have everything available on hard copy, it turned out to just be redundant. I'm sure if I didn't have my budgeting spreadsheet, I'd use it more, but I do, so yeah.

The Projects section. I thought I might use that for my writing, but there isn't enough room for it and (again) I have a spreadsheet I use to track word count and such. It's a nice idea, but I haven't figured out anything else to use it for yet.

I do really like the Goals section and I have referred back to that on several occasions to keep myself on track. I wish the monthly goals sections were larger. There's not much room there.

The other thing I've discovered I really like is the top three is built in to each page. That's actually handy and I like having the focus without having to create that space myself.

Overall, I'm happy. That doesn't mean I'm not tempted to try other planners--there's always that chance that the absolute perfect on is out there if only I could find it--but I probably will buy another Start Planner, and considering the price, that's saying a lot.

***I received NO compensation for this post and I paid full price for my planner. These are my own, uninfluenced thoughts.***

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Review: Of Miracles and Men

I recently joined Netflix and was looking for things to add to my watch list. I wanted to add the movie Miracle, but (of course) it wasn't available to stream. Almost none of the movies I wanted to add on my watch list were available, which is another story. What I found instead, though, was a documentary about the 1980 Miracle on Ice titled, Of Miracles and Men.

When I started streaming it, I assumed it would focus on the US team like a few other documentaries I've seen have done. I was wrong. The documentary told about the Miracle on Ice from the point of view of the Soviet players who were on the ice that day.

It started out showing some history of Soviet hockey, which was actually interesting. Not as interesting as the main story, but still better than I expected.

The middle section was about that 1980 Olympic game and this part was riveting because it's the first time I've seen anything that talked about the Soviet side of the equation. Who these men were and what happened to them afterward. And one of the players we meet in our travel back to 1980 is Slava Fetisov who spoke excellent English and didn't require subtitles like the other former players did.

One thing to keep in mind is that while I was a huge hockey fan most of my life, I had a falling out with the sport because of my local NHL team and hadn't been following any NHL stuff by 1989 so I didn't know the names of any of the Soviet players that came over to play in the National Hockey League, not even the name of the first man who was ever released from the Red Army so that he could come over to play for the NHL. That man? Slava Fetisov.

His story is the focus of part three of the documentary. It did talk about the ramifications the loss caused inside the Soviet team, but it also was the story of how Fetisov was finally allowed to join the NHL. It wasn't quick or easy and it might have been a more interesting story than the Olympic miracle itself.

The documentary is nearly 2 hours long (1 hour and 42 minutes IIRC), but the time flew by and I enjoyed this story a lot. Definitely an interesting way to spend a couple of hours. Highly recommended to anyone who has an interest in the 1980 Miracle on Ice.

Two thumbs up. :-)

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Test Driving a Fountain Pen

This planner group I'm in on Facebook has a lot of people who use fountain pens. They made it sound so cool that I decided I had to try it myself, so I bought an inexpensive one to test drive. It arrived on a Saturday, and after loading the ink cartridge and letting the ink work its way to the nib, I started writing.

I have mixed feelings on it. On the one hand, it's actually kind of cool to write with it. On the other hand, I'd prefer darker ink. I'm using a purple that's a bit too light for me. The problem is that I don't have enough experience with fountain pens to know if the issue is the ink or the fact that I should have bought a medium nib instead of the fine. Should I be shopping for ink in a bottle instead of using the cartridges? I just don't know.

I also really like my favorite regular pens, the kind that are erasable. Not only is the purple ink nice and dark, but if I make a mistake, I just rub it away and try again.

That said, I'm tempted to order both a medium tip pen and a bottle of ink and see if I can't make this work for me. There's something so cool about writing with it. I honestly had never used a fountain pen before, so I haven't experienced anything like it before and, well, it's something I'd like to keep using--if I can get my writing to be darker.

***I received NO compensation for this post, which I figure you guys realized since I didn't name the pens I use, but just in case.***