A love letter to Rhodia notepads

I worked at Borders before they went out of business. A few years later, I worked at Barnes & Noble for a while. One of the noticeable differences between them for me was the quality of the notebooks section.

Barnes and Noble has a very consistent collection of quality notebooks at a great range. Within a bit of wiggle room, you can generally go into a Barnes and Noble and find the notebook you're looking for, if you know it's one that Barnes and Noble carries.

Borders had a somewhat more chaotic notebooks and stationary section. It often had an assortment of unexpected or unusual things -- things that felt rare. They may not have been, but finding something cool in that section felt like a treasure. Especially since the more obscure products were rarely re-stocked.

The Rhodia notepad was one of those things. A yellow lined one. It was discounted -- it wasn't too expensive, but I would never have been able to bring myself to pay full price for it. Paying more than five dollars for a notepad felt ridiculous, plus I was broke, and I used to have a lot of anxiety about taking risks on spending money for things I might turn out to not like.

It was amazing. The paper was smooth and sturdy, it took ink and pencil lead exceptionally well, and the perforations were better than any I'd ever seen before. They're really, genuinely reliable. I have a real problem with accidentally tearing sheets of paper in half trying to remove them from notepads. I never had that problem with that notebook.

I don't use up whole notebooks often, but I used up that one. Then, it was gone: I didn't really do online shopping then, at the time I probably didn't even have a debit card. And I didn't have free money. I would have switched over completely to Rhodia notebooks, but it wasn't within my power to do so.

Lately, I've been listening to the podcast The Pen Addict. They talk about paper a lot, and they mentioned Rhodia notebooks in a few episodes. And I immediately went to Amazon and bought one.

I got a plain white notepad, and it has been pretty close to the only paper I've been using since. I've been finding excuses to write stuff so I can use it. It's fantastic.

I downloaded and printed some line and grid guide sheets from The Well-Appointed Desk -- you can put them under the top sheet of a blank notebook and the lines show through -- and those worked out so well that I decided to make my own, structured around my note-taking style. I'll blog about those tomorrow.

(Disclosure: Product links are Amazon Affiliate Links.)

A fun word game

I had a very stressful evening so to distract myself (and play with my new pen, a fine nib charcoal black Lamy Safari, which is amazing and which I think I'll review soon) I started playing a game, that's a ton of fun, if you're a huge nerd.

First, you write the alphabet down the side of a piece of paper. Then, you make up plausible-sounding words for all of them. You're going for things that aren't words, but sound like they could be. Then, you google all of them to find out how well you did at actually making up new words.

I got as far as googling "G" before I remembered that I hadn't blogged, and here's what I've got so far:

  • Adrivant is someone's username.
  • Bosquire is a misspelling of a French surname, Bosquier.
  • Crainery appears to be either a first name or a last name. 
  • Dinfaile is a fake word.
  • Edile means building or construction in Italian, or is an alternate spelling of Aedile, an ancient Roman word for an inspector of buildings.
  • Finoil is a fake word, I think: a result for words in Hindi came up, but when I clicked it it showed me a page that had autocorrected to Final.
  • Gosper is a surname.

Once you get to the end of the sheet, you go back and come up with definitions for all the words that were actually fake. Then, you put them in a file and save them for when you're writing fantasy and science fiction stories.

I may report back tomorrow on what fake words I come up with.

(Disclosure: The pen link is an Amazon Affiliate Link.)

I've joined the Amazon Affiliate Program

Well, sort of. I still have to be approved. But, anyway, I want to talk about why.

First of all: because I live under the weight of capitalism and we all have to make compromises to survive in a system that is prepared to imprison or starve us if we don't generate value for capitalists. 

Least of all: because I actually kinda like Amazon and don't mind too much sending them a little extra traffic. 

But for the important reason: I expect it'll motivate me to produce better content.

I read a lot of books, watch a lot of TV and movies, listen to a nonzero amount of music and purchasable audio products. I also use products, often products that I purchased on Amazon, or that at least can be purchased on Amazon.

I have thoughts on many of these things. Often extremely detailed, well-formed thoughts. But I don't often write them down, and when I do it's not always to the best of my ability. There are a lot of things I'm really enthusiastic about, that I want to gush about for days. I often don't.

I think that in those cases, rather than compromising my integrity, a financial motive to write the best, most convincing posts about that content is right in line with my objective.

A financial motive to blog about content also softly encourages me not to write about things I don't like, which is probably good for me.

I will do my best to stay conscious of these influences, and to avoid the perverse incentives that might be created: to encourage people to buy things they can't afford or wouldn't personally benefit from; to fail to identify important criticisms of content I'm mostly positive about; to fail to criticize content that's seriously worthy of critical attention; and so on.

Feedback on this decision is welcome.