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Filtering by Tag: Field Notes

Field Notes no. 2 Review

Fr. Kyle Sanders

I have been a Field Notes fan since having heard about the notebook from Brad Dowdy and Myke Hurley on the Pen Addict Podcast in the fall of 2013, when I subscribed to their quarterly service to get the Drink Local colors edition. With that purchase and each subsequent quarterly delivery, the notebooks were always accompanied with a pencil or two. Now after two years as a subscriber, I had amassed quite a number of these no. 2's. Until midway through last year, I rarely used them. I gave a few away to friends, but for the most part they multiplied in my pencil cup. When I decdied to use only pencils for Lent last year, the Field Notes no. 2 became the pencil in my office. I had a lot of them so I figured I might as well use them often. Here are my thoughts.

Form

Prior to my conversion to pencils, they had two basic forms: octagonal and yellow or circular and colorful. I found the FN pencil a breath of fresh air. It is circular and natural. It's understated and simple. It declares to the beholder, "I'm not here to be flashy, fancy, or gimmicky. I'm here to be exactly what I am, a pencil, nothing more and nothing less."

The cedar body is uncolored leaving the wood to make its mark. The wood has a nice light color. What I like most about this natural unfinished look is as it is used. The wood absorbs oil from my hand ever slightly darkening the pencil. I love this. It's an anti-patina. The pencil dulls and darkens as time goes on. It lets me know the pencil likes me. It takes a little bit of me into itself making it "my" pencil.

The traditional Field Notes Futura font is imprinted with a non-toxic black ink across the entirety of the pencil, in the simplicity that has become a hallmark of the 'Field Notes aesthetic.' On one side of the pencil, they printed the brand, website (the irony is not lost on me), and type of lead. On the opposite side is an explanation of the green-ness of the pencil, the only time I've seen that on a pencil. The printing is reminiscent of the info they print in the back of their notebooks. It's like they have their window shades up for the whole world to see. It wouldn't be hyperbole to call this pencil naked. 

The green eraser tops off the look of the pencil. It gives the look of a bud sprouting from a limb. Only this end get smaller instead of getting larger. It's supposed to be bio-degrabable as well, although I don't think that's merely because it's green. 

The ferrule completes the 'Field Notes Aesthetic' of keep it simple {expletive deleted}. It maintain the simple lines, fat and skinny. It's a pleasure to look at.

Function

Over the course of the last year, I've gotten more used to the smaller circumference of woodcased pencils compared to fountain pens. This pencil helped. The lack of a lacquer allows my greasy, sweaty fingers (when they're greasy and/or sweaty) to grip the pencil well. The cedar aids in grip without the fear of getting splinters. They've been well sanded. I don't fear fragments. 

This pencil is also one for long writing sessions. It keeps a point for a long period of time. It's perfect for taking notes in class or writing 1,667 words a day for NANOWRIMO. You won't have to stop every paragraph to sharpen the pencil. I call this the idea pencil for that reason. It doesn't halt your thinking process to stop and sharpen. This aspect also gives it great felicity to be used in a bullet pencil. It can become the quick draw (pun intended) pencil. 

On the darkness spectrum, this pencil puts down a light line. That being said, it's not light enough to be bothersome. I'd prefer it to be darker, though.

I like to use my eraser. I will wear down an eraser, and I did so with the FN no. 2. Using it so much last year, I used up the eraser before I'd used up half the pencil. It does a decent job of erasing, but there might be some ghosting. 

Feel

This is a decent piece of graphite. I don't find any scratchiness other than the normal pencil feedback. It's not a smooth as a Blackwing 602, nor is it as inconsistent as the Black Ticonderoga (the newer one) I have.

Financials

I've never actually bought one of these pencils since they come with the Colors Subscriptions. If you wanted to purchase a half-dozen from Field Notes HQ, it'd cost you $4.95. This certainly isn't the premium price of the Blackwings, but it's not as cheap as a dozen Palomino Golden Bears, $2.95, or 30 count of yellow Dixon Ticonderoga's, $5.97. They do fall below a dozen General's Test Scoring #580, $12.60. I would choose it over the two cheaper pencils, so in that sense, they're priced decently. I think there's still a small premium, though. 

Is the Writing Reverenced?

There's not much bad I can say about this pencil. It is a solid writer, comfortable in its cedar birthday suit. Reverenced. 

Paper: Nock Co A4 Notebook

Fall-en for Pencils Giveaway

Fr. Kyle Sanders

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Unlike many of you who live up North, fall has only just begun in South Louisiana, just after the official start of ’winter.’ Leaves are turning colors and temperatures are dropping below 70°, sometimes. Laugh or cry you may but our winter is your fall.

Now this weather gets me in a sentimental and reflective mood. I’ve come a long way over the course of this year in my relationship with woodcased pencils. At the beginning of the year, if you would’ve told I’d traveling to my year end retreat with a 2B triangular pencil and a pencil encased in what looks like a bullet I would’ve thought you off your rocker. I was through and through and fountain pen guy. As I said back in February I despised pencils. Then I chose them to be my Lenten sacrifice. Unfortunately, from a sacrifice perspective, by the time Easter came I had begun to enjoy using pencils. After those 40 days I reviewed the Blackwing 602 and didn’t consider it reverenced. I think if I were to review it again my position would change.

Over the course of the last 8 months I found myself purchasing single pencils at art supply stores and off the internet. I even subscribed to receive a dozen special edition Blackwing pencils four times a year. Special edition pencils, really? 

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I now enjoy using pencils. The smell of cedar can just be sensed by my weak olfactory sensors. it's such an enjoyable experience to sharpen a pencil. That statement itself is new to me; it feels weird to write it.

Part of what helped me is this stationary and pencil community. the Erasable Podcast Facebook Group has been a blast. I’m not as deep into pencildom as I am in pendom, so I’m still learning.

To say thank you to you my readers and to the community, I have a giveaway courtesy of my friends at Metalshop CT and Nock Co. I know it seems like all I'm doing is giveaways but I promise, posts are on the way.

Here what’s up:

I've chosen colors than remind me of fall.

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1) an orange Twist Bullet Pencil with a green tip

2) a sky/pick Nock Co. Fodderstack with Dot-Dash notecards

3) two orange Palomino HB's with erasers

4) a CW Pencils 2B Triangular pencil

5) General's Pacific #2

6) Field Notes Orange Pop #2

7) Kita-Bosch Red Pencil

Here's how it works:
Make a comment on the blog.
CHECK BACK ON THE BLOG ON JANUARY 1 at NOON CST to find out if you won. If you did email me through the letter button on the top right of the site. You have 4 days to respond before I choose another winner.

NANOWRIMO Materials, 2015

Fr. Kyle Sanders

Hey, everyone (if there's anyone left). It has been nearly five months since my last full post, which is way too long. I apologize. I don't do thee justice. Nevertheless, there is always time for renewal and starting afresh in this earthly life of ours. So I come to you again two days before the start of NANOWRIMO.

I have been participating in National Novel Writing Month three years running. My total number of words I wrote, over the three year period, didn't reach the coveted number of 50,000. I have tried short stories, a novel, and non-fiction. The intention of NANOWRIMO is to get us writers to write, to do away with our inner editor and just put down what's in our minds, as incoherent and ungrammatica asl it may be. It condenses a small novel (50k of words might be 3 chapters to George R.R. Martin) into a frantic period of writing, to stir creativity, since we have been trained by numerous teachers and college professors to produce our written work by a deadline. Deadlines direct and focus the writer, which is partly why you haven't read much from me as of late (shrug); I lost my writing rhythm and couldn't find the beat. So now I decide to step onto the empty dance floor to go all Kevin James in Hitch doing my thing without a care for what people think. 

Psychologically this is quite overwhelming. Fifty thousand words (putting numerals into words always helps) is quite a bit to write, especially when I'm used to writing in blog post and homily sized bits. Developing an idea or story over such a long span of writing seems insurmountable. I know it's not because I personally know people who have conquered it. But there are still lingering doubts. 

With all this in mind, I decided to slightly bend the traditional NANOWRIMO rules, which usually call you to write on one project. I chose to continue my current, or rather more comfortable, mode of writing, in short chunks. So I will switch between projects I'm working on, rotating through them. They are: this blog, my other blog, my homilies, and the non-fiction book I started last year on the theology of alcohol; 1,667 words per day on each subjext. Some days this might be more, other days it might be less. That length, however, isn't any longer than a long blog post. I think that is doable in my mind. I'm really excited about this and am looking forward to finally reaching that 50,00 word mark. 

Being that I am a stationary snob and certified pen addict (Brad Dowdy how is this not a thing). My long journey in words will take place on paper as opposed to screen. It starts with the instrument. I saw an add from Conklin a few weeks ago in the latest edition of Pen World about three new pens the company produced recalling models the company made in its heyday nearly a century ago. One of the pens in particular caught my eye. Although it is gimmicky, I fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. A piston-filler, modern Conklin's first, the Word-Counter is, to my knowledge, unique among currently produced pens. It has, etched on the misty-yellow demonstrator barrel, levels to show how many words the pen has written through measuring the level of ink. This gives the writer some semi-scientific indication to the length of his writing. It seemed perfect for the NANOWRIMO endeavor. It says it holds approximately 5,000 words worth of ink, which would mean I'd be inking up the pen at the alarming rate of every three days. That's quite a bit of inking. 

I figured I would mark every filling with a different ink. This way variety can aid in inspiration. In monotony, I find difficulty. I chose nine inks to handle this, the whole course moving from dark and dull to bright and vibrant. I start the first three days with Aurora Black, a solid base on which to stand. Moving slightly off color, I will then turn to Private Reserve Ebony Purple, a self explanatory color, really. This will be followed by Diamine's Cult Pens Deep Dark Blue. These first nine days will cover a solid base of writing and gives me confidence to continue on. 

The next nine days starts with Sailor Jentle Epinard, which, although being a dark greeen, gives some sheen in comparison to the three previous matte colors. I will then enter the most difficult time in the NANOWRIMO month. I have chosen an ink to mirror the start of the dulling of my perception and the small ways in which, after approximately twenty thousand words, reality starts to waver, delirium not yet set in, but certainly walking up the street like a self-righteous proselytizer who perceives my weakening mind and body, this being Montblanc Meisterstück 90th Anniversary Permanent Grey. After which, I will fill in the grey hole with a matte, bright color reminiscent of leaves falling elsewhere in the country, Organics Studio F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

The final three days will grow in brightness, joy, and vibrancy. It starts with one of my favorite inks, which I will need after such a somber mind-month. Lamy Turquoise will brighten up my paper and give my writing some nice shades. With Organics Studio Nitrogen jumping up the vibrancy of the blue, my words will pop off the page. Hopefully, it will help words pop forth from my slowly tiring brain as well. To give me energy like that last cup of coffee at three in the morning the dawn a paper is due, I have chosen the inimitable J. Herbin Rose Cyclamen. A pink that, hopefully, will bring me to the finish line. 

You might have noticed I only choose nine inks approximately leading to only 27 days of writing leaving three days unaccounted for. After my experience of pencils during Lent, earlier this year, I have incorporated them into my rotation declaring Fridays as pencil days, coloring them with graphite alone. Four of the thirty days will be ferruled by the pencil. The pencils used will vary from mechanical to woodcased, whichever is closest when writing. My tastes there are not yet sharpened. 

This year, I have done something I've never done in my previous three years, through the inspiration of Johnny Gamber, of Pencil Revolution. I sat down and mapped out a basic plan of the topics I would cover in the various projects, recording them in over 30 pages of a Field Notes Shenandoah, leaving 18 pages for notes and other things. This will be my companion through this scribal pilgrimage. It will be my map and my odometer. With it, I have three other notebooks, my Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, each already assigned a task and therefore ramping up their workload for the month. I will continue using the Zequenz 360º from last year to expound on alcohol in a theological manner. I have been using and will continue to use as my homily prep notebook the Nock Co. A5 notebook, which has been covered by stickers. Finally, to develop my thoughts for both blogs I've been using, since May, the burgundy soft-cover and lined Monsieur Notebook. 

With all these tools on hand and a plan somewhat sketched, I feel more ready than ever to mount the heights of the Zion of post-modern writing, a NANOWRIMO win. 

Are any of you embarking on this NANOWRIMO journey? Let me know in the comments, we certainly need mutual encouragement. If you are, are you going analog or digital? If analog, what tools are you using?

Paper - My Rule of Thumb

Fr. Kyle Sanders

It had been too long since I've been here. I apologize. November took me by surprise. Hope this whets your whistle.

Paper has been one of the universal experiences of childhood before the onslaught of touch-screen phones and tablets. We colored on it. We practiced our alphabet on it. We did our homework on it. As we got older, we took tests on it and did reports on it. Paper was used as means to test the concept of flying and, mixed with a little spittle and a straw, became a comedic means to annoy someone from across the room. As I got older, my creative time, my writing was spent on the screen. I wrote high school papers on the family computer. I wrote my college essays on a laptop. More and more, I separated myself from the tactile experience of pen to paper.

That changed when I began writing with fountain pens. I realized that certain papers didn't respond well to the ink. So I began searching for good paper to enhance my writing experience. Paper I found was a lot cheaper than pens, as a general rule, so it seemed more justifiable to buy. The deeper down the rabbit hole I went the more of a workflow with my paper evolved. When I do a review of a specific notebook, it is because I am using, or have used, that notebook in a specific part of that workflow. Whether it is a good or bad experience, I will use every leaf (or just about). So without further ado, here is my rule of thumb. 

Daily Carry

When I have a back pocket, I carry with me a pocket journal. I have found these to be both incredibly useful and incredibly helpful. I was introduced to this style of notebook by Moleskine in their Cahier line, but I have since broadened my brand horizons. I use this notebook for exactly that: quick notes, things I want to remember, phone numbers, addresses, doodles, quotes from things I read, and book titles to be read in the future. I own a OneStarLeather cover which keeps the book in better condition due to the particular conditions of being next to my rear.   

Currently Using: Field Notes Northerly Edition

Bullet Journal

I am not the most organized person, and I have found the Bullet Journal system very helpful. (If you aren't familiar with it, go check it out.) I knew I needed a medium sized journal so the first three notebooks went in that direction: Moleskine Evernote Edition (I don't know why everything started with Moleskine. I blame Barnes & Noble), Rhodia Webnotebook, and a Leuchtturm 1917 medium size. The latter has been the best of the bunch so far. Unfortunately, I filled it with three months left in the year, so I chose a smaller one to finish out the year.

Currently Using: Field Notes Sciences Edition

The case is a This is Ground Mod

Blog Journal

I have turned to writing most of my thoughts by hand. That includes all my blog posts. I have been blogging since 2008. I maintain this one and another blog as well as being a contributor to a third blog. So I'm writing often. For about two years, all my blog rough drafts have gone into a journal before I transfer to whatever format I'm using. Physically writing takes longer and allows me to distill my thoughts much better than typing would.

Currently Using: Basic Clairefontaine Life. Unplugged Staple-bound

The Clairfontaine is the green one.

Homily Journal

In the same vein, I have another journal dedicated to homily preparation. This doesn't need to be a certain size. The notebook I'm using now was originally dedicated to something else, but I never used it so it has been rededicated, in the no-page-left-behind rule I have for myself.

Currently Using: Moleskine Ruled Hardcover Extra Large

TWSBI 580 for size comparison

Homily Delivery Paper

Then, just like my pens, I have a notebook set aside to write down the homily I will deliver. This is always a top staple-bound notebook because I need to be able to tear out the pages.

Currently Using: Rhodia Ice No. 18 Lined

Scratch Pads

I keep scratch pads in front of my office computer and in front on my home computer. They allow me to take quick notes and are very helpful with phone numbers and computer file names (especially photographs).

Currently Using:

Doane Paper Large Flap Jotter - Home

 Doane Paper Small Writing Pad - Office

Project Notebooks

Finally, I set aside notebooks for particular projects I'm working on at a certain time. These notebooks vary in size and shape and are determinded by the project. I keep a pocket notebook dedicated to show notes for a podcast I participate in. At the moment I have two other projects going on: NaNoWriMo novel (yeah, don't ask me how that went) and an altar server training video.

Currently Using:

Field Notes Red-Blooded Edition - Podcast

Moleskine Cahier - Altar Server Video

Zequenz 360º Lined - NaNoWriMo

Hopefully this gives you a good idea of my paper workflow. Next up will be how I choose and use my inks.

Pens: Kara's Kustom Ink  & Pilot E95s Fine Nib 
Ink: Schmidt P8126 Refill & Noodler's Antietam (respectively)
Paper: Doane Paper Small Writing Pad