Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Sunday Post: February 26, 2012

For Christians, now is the time of Lent: a penitential observance leading up to Easter. For many of us, that means giving up something, some little vice or luxury: sweets, alcoholic beverages, TV viewing.

I'm taking a different approach. Instead of giving up something, I'm trying to gain something.

It's so very easy to get into a rut. I get up each morning, I go through the same routine; I go to work, taking the same route each day. Work is (barely) controlled chaos, herding cats all day, trying to keep all the balls in the air - but I'm pretty good at it, and have a certain comfort level with what I do for a living. I come home, and have the same routines each night.

Somehow it seems even more rut-like in winter, when much of what seems available to do is indoors. By about this time in the season I'm feeling rather boxed in.

My goal this Lent is to gain a clearer view. To see what is around me. Turn off the auto-pilot and truly observe and interact with my life.

Some of this is simple stuff. Always make sure that I give the person I'm speaking with the courtesy of my full attention, and be an active listener to them. I know better than to glance at my email or fiddle with my phone, but still I do it.

And some of it is not so simple. Sharpen my focus. Truly see and interact with my world, not treat it as background noise to be tuned out.

Have you ever had the experience of coming home after being gone for a period of time, say for an extended vacation or business trip, and when you walk in the house everything looks almost new and strange? You see details that normally remain oblivious to you. (Oh - so that's what my living room looks like!)

It's that "aha!" experience that I hope to regain.

Socrates famously commented that the unexamined life is not worth living. My goal this Lent is to begin examining again. Focus on living instead of existing.

This is my Lenten goal: to work toward being a more engaged person in the world. Time will tell how successful I am. I think it's harder than giving up chocolate.

Well, maybe.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Favorite Inks: Noodler's Ottoman Rose

You know, there's just something about Noodler's.

Other than Apple, I can hardly think of a company that polarizes people more. Some of the debates I've seen online nearly reach the level of conflict that discussing politics or religion is likely to engender (two things, by the way, that mother always said weren't good topics of general conversation at a cocktail party).

So let me just say this, at risk of my hair catching fire: I am not a big Noodler's fan.

My reasons are more empirical than emotional. I do not find the products consistent or reliable enough for me to be comfortable recommending the brand as a whole. (Not to incite a riot, but for those who may find this statement offensive, try looking at Blue Nose Bear reviews,or many of the comments regarding the flex pens, and even the new Ahabs in terms of start-right-up reliability. Or not.)

That being said, there are certain inks in the Noodler's line that I really like. And Ottoman Rose is one of them.

I love the not-quite-red, not-quite-pink color. I love the shading properties. And it behaves itself quite nicely, thank you. All things that I like in an ink.

Here's a review for you of this very fun ink. Grab some for yourself; you'll see what I mean!

(Image is clickable. The usual disclaimers apply: this is a color-corrected image, and looks a perfect match on my color-corrected monitor, but Your Monitor May Vary. If you are intent on a certain color, please try a sample first to avoid possible disappointment.)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

And the Winner Is....

(drumroll please...)

Kevin from Austin, TX! Congratulations, Kevin! The pen will be on its way to its new home by Tuesday!

Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing and participated in the voting. I had fun with my first giveaway, and I hope you did too!

And by the way - we decided we liked the pen so well, Joe has purchased another Jinhao! Might be worth checking them out for yourself!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Review and Giveaway: The Jinhao is here! The Jinhao is here!

(title with apologies to Steve Martin)

The Jinhao arrived the other day! I must say, for a rather inexpensive pen, it's a solid one. The finish was described as "sand" but it's really tiny holographic glitter on a black background - pretty flashy, though it may not be to everyone's taste.

The nib is steel and quite firm; it was described as medium, but it's a rather fine medium, not nearly as broad as an American M. I like the line it writes. In fact, I like the pen, and would be happy to have it - which means it's giveaway time!

Here's a brief video I shot (first time doing this, please have mercy on the videographer...not to mention: a hand model I am not!) going over the pen.

Hi res version:

Lower res version:

(Added the lower res version as the higher res version doesn't appear to work well on tablets or portable devices)
Here's the writing sample for you:

And now for the giveaway:

If you're interested in entering the random drawing for the pen, please complete the form below. Entries will be accepted until Saturday, February 18, 2012 at 12 midnight PST (GMT-8). At that time, I'll randomly select a winner and be in contact with that person.

Good luck!

(Joe in Seattle, you are NOT eligible for this...sorry dear!)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

It's Carnival Time!

February's Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper is hosted by OfficeSupplyGeek. Be sure to check it out if you're into those things - and  you wouldn't be here if you weren't! He was also kind enough to include my Study in Blues post. Here is a link to the fun!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Sunday Post: February 5, 2012

What constitutes success?

In my business life, I am fairly well-versed in working on projects, knowing the goal and the steps to get there, the timeline I am allotted, and milestone checkpoints along the way.

The growth of this blog has been more organic. I simply began one day. And as I've gone along, I have observed things I like and don't like about other blogs I see, and made a few tweaks along the way. One early tweak was working to improve the image quality. It's so true that pictures convey more than words can in some cases.

So when can I call this blog a success?

It's a puzzling question to me. I really have no defined goal, other than launching my thoughts and ideas out into the world to see if I connect with someone else. There are enough subscribers that I think I'm not just talking to those of my family and friends gracious enough to listen to my ramblings. My page hit count per day has increased steadily during the year or so I've been doing this. Some other bloggers, all of whom I respect, have listed me in blogrolls; a few things I've written have been featured by others.

I think the difference here is that it's not about the destination - it's about the journey. In writing the blog, I have learned things myself, researching where my knowledge is short to try to provide a fuller picture for you. I am pleased to see that what I have done is found interesting by others.

And I've made some friends along the way - people I would never have met in any other circumstance.

Thanks for coming along on the trip with me.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

And the Results Are In!

The poll for which pen to buy ended last night. The pen you chose is the Jinhao! I've ordered the pen and will post a review once it comes in. And, if the pen passes muster, I will happily host a giveaway for it! Stay tuned!

Hopefully the seller won't mind that I borrowed an image, since I just bought the pen!