Sunday, 24 January 2010

GTD etc.

A post of abbreviations. That saying is so true - why is abbreviation such a long word?

Anyway, much besides the point.

I've been doing some research into David Allen's 'Getting Things Done' system, and have just ordered his book to see what all the fuss is about. More to the point, I've been researching the GTD-spawned Hipster PDA and all the variations of it, especially those using Moleskines. On the one hand, they're brilliant. On the other hand, they're dead confusing and I'm not sure if I've technically got enough going on in my life to warrant using the system, but I want to, if that makes sense?
I've almost finished the Moleskine I'm on, and the Cahier too, so I'll be due a new notebook, but the problem is I've just ordered a Guildhall notebook and I think I might want to use that one next, so I'll have to wait. I'm not sure which will get here first to be honest, David Allen's book or the notebook, so I'm in a bit of a quandry.

I wont know til I get and read the book if I really need to use the system, or any parts of it like a lot of others, but I also think I do, but am not sure how to apply it to my life just yet.
So I'm annoyed, because believe it or not I like organization and I want a bit more of it in my life right now. So I'm waiting, and thinking, and attempting to sort out whether it'll be right for me.

These are just some of the links I've been checking out as research, to give you an idea of the sort of thing I'm actually on about;

Create a Moleskine PDA: The Student Hack

Does anyone have any experience with the GTD system or the Hipster PDA?
I'd love to hear from you if you do.


Friday, 22 January 2010


So as you'll well know by now, I've been on the search for the perfect bag, travel journal, and pen for the trip to Oz...yes I know it's in 6 months time but haven't you ever heard of forward planning?

Now, as far as the bag goes, I may have made progress! It turns out there is a leather maker in my very city, not 10 minutes away, who's online catalogue does have some bags in similar styles to the Saddleback Leather Briefcase, and considerably cheaper. He also apparently does do custom made bags, whether its just tweaking one of his existing bags or trying to make one to order. You can check out the link here. I've just been down there this afternoon, drove me and my dad and didnt kill either of us, but unfortunately his workshop was closed. Apparently he doesnt work weekends so I'm going to try going back in on Tuesday I think. I've got plenty of print outs and drawings and sketches of what I want, so I'm hoping he can help me out. In terms of price, the SBL bag was about £350 + P&P from America; this guys bags are about £115. Brilliant :)

As for the travel journal and pen, well...I'm very happy :)

Originally I thought the Midori Travel Journal was on the button, but after closer inspection I'm thinking not. It's not the right shape, too tall and while the refill system is very cool, its not what I'm looking for specifically for Australia.
Now some of you might know I'm a fan of the Moleskine notebooks, and have about 5 waiting for me, but again as with the Midori, I dont think they'll be as suited for what I have in mind for Australia. For starters, I'm looking for something softback, and I've already got hardback ones and dont fancy shelling out for a Softback Moleskine when I'm pretty sure its not right. Secondly, from what I've read online, I'm not sure how well it will lie flat.
I've also been looking at the Cartesio but think its a bit too Moleskine-ish for my requirements. Basically I've been reading through the Black Cover notepad review blog for inspiration, so take a look.

Then after much perusing, I discovered the Ciak. The review is promising, and I have found a site that sells them here, even 3 for 2! AND even more excitingly (cough) they actually do a specific travel journal, though its only in the medium size and part of me is leaning more towards the large. But the EXTRA special good news is that I suddenly remembered while reading some comments, that Paperchase at least used to have that very notebook. So after college yesterday I popped in, and they had ONE, single, solitary, lonely Ciak Travel Journal in red! It was perfect! It was the sample they'd had, and while the rest of the travel journals had sold, no one wanted the bashed sample one. I was the opposite! I'd been looking at the red one anyway, so I had to ask how much they'd knock off considering it was the only one left and the sample at that. Originally, the manager said she could give me 10% off... from £10.50. I was hesitant. She then offered me 15% off. And then, out of nowhere, while we were just talking and she was seeing if there were any other notebooks that were suited to what I wanted, she just said "Oh you know what, I'll give it to you for half price. It's been sitting there on its own for ages and no one else wants it, and you do, so I'll give you half price." Brilliant. £5.50 in the end, means I got the medium Ciak Travel Journal for less than they were selling the pocket version! And I couldn't be happier it with it. It's got the standard first page for information, but with more travel-specific details such as Passport Number and Drivers License. Then there's an itinerary page, and a world map, which is perfect for me because I can draw in the flight paths we take :)
Then you've got the usual pages of distances, and units of measurement and such like, then finally a check list before the journal proper. And what a joy it is... the paper is so smooth and soft, and though I cant bring myself to write on it just yet, I'm confident it will be a joy to write on. It comes with alternating blank and lined pages which is perfect for sticking photos on and writing notes. It doesn't fully lie flat, which is perhaps the only downside, but other than ring bound notebooks I havent used many notebooks that do lie sufficiently flat, and its not as if I'm going to be using this in a situation where I've only got one hand.

As you can see from these pictures, one great thing about it is that the elastic band is horizontal, not vertical like the Moleskine, which is perfect for holding a pen and keeping loose papers and such like inside. Its also slightly bigger than the pocket Moleskines I'm used to, yet still a really nice size to hold. It really does feel nice in my hand :) the soft faut-leather cover is smooth and supple with enough flexibility.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic ciak
I'm not bothered about the fact it looks bashed, because it was only going to get that way anyway. In some respects, if I'd bought one new I'd be too worried about bashing it, because I'm odd like that. So it suits me down to the ground. I'm not brilliantly keen on the lines in it, they dont go all the way to the edge and there's a top margin which seems a bit pointless, so I'm debating whether or not to bother getting one for my next notebook, but for this use, I love it.

As for the pen, well its there in the pictures. After we went to Paperchase, dad needed to go to the LCE for some new binoculars (£300 but he gets a free pair of compact ones worth £150?!?! Mine!), and then I persuaded him to let us go in Rymans. I spent about 10 minutes trying pens before I found the Uni-Ball Jetstream SX-210 1.0 pen, also known now by me as the perfect pen.
It's gorgeous. The barrel shape is brilliant and the pen feels evenly weighted when you write with it. The only flaws are that the rubber grip is probably not rubbery enough, and there's a plastic ridge right where I hold it, but nothing major. It really is ridiculously comfortable to write with, and this coming from someone who hasnt had to hand write anything much for months, so anytime I do my hand aches after about 2 minutes. But not with this pen. The ink is a very dark black, not like some of these 'black' pens that come out grey, and you dont have to apply much pressure to get an even line. I think its technically a rollerball, but it looks and feels more like a gel ink to write with, its that smooth and flowing. Apparently the ink is meant to me fade resistant and waterproof too.

All in all, after a good days driving today too, despite HTLeather not being open, I'm feeling rather contented today. Some of the things I'm selling are in the paper now and I'm hoping we do get some interest, as I need the money.

So yes, happy. Cold, very very cold, but happy.
And to top it all off, I'm going to see Jon Richardson and Shappi Khorsandi at the Exeter Northcott tonight!!!


EDIT: Another advantage of the Uni Ball SX-210's likeness to a gel ink is that it gives you the smoothness and darkness of a gel ink, with the durability of a biro/ballpoint eg it wont bleed through paper at all!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Australia wantings - the leather bag.

Ok so I made a list of all the things I want for Oz, and despite all my plans (which I still haven't posted yet) I now can't stop myself from looking into things in more detail as if I have all the money in the world.

Most importantly, the bag. The Saddleback Leather Company's Dark Tobacco Briefcase, to be more precise. There are reviews here and here, and despite the drawbacks, I've fallen in love. Check out the Saddleback Leather Company site to bask in the full leathery glory, but this is the one I've fallen in love with:

The pictures on the first link of the interior show just the kind of thing I'd be using it for.
But yes, the drawbacks are the price and the weight. Part of me thinks that $530/roughly£320, while steep anyway, might actually indeed be a fair price for something of apparent quality and durability, that will last, that I can consider as more of an investment... but then I think of the weight. The size I like weighs 6.5lbs with nothing in it! Can I physically even carry that? And with things in? As I grow up will I become strong enough to carry it?!?
But it's SOOOOOOO gorgeous, and although some of the pockets might not be 100% what I had in mind, they're 90% there. Another option would be to actually buy some thinner, lighter leather and make one myself, but I wouldn't really have a clue what I'm doing.
When it looks THAT gorgeous, can you blame me for wanting one? I could always sell a kidney I suppose...

And as for the travel journal and stationary... As I say, the trip is 6 months away, and I have vastly more important thins to be thinking about between now and then, but did you really think that logic was going to stop me from looking? No, of course not. So I did. The notebook I thought would be perfect, isn't, and I have currently not found the perfect one

I know I'm just being typical stupid impatient me, but hell, I'm excited!!!


Wednesday, 20 January 2010


So now I have plans.
After 3 hours in a cafe with my mother, I have plans.
I have plans and a more regimented time table, if you will, in which to do things.
I have goals, and aims. Clear ones.

First off: Weight.
I need to start losing on average between 5-7lbs every week for the next 20 weeks for me to feel happy and comfortable, to get back down to my happiest weight.
We're going to plan weekly menus that I will stick to, as well as a slow-but-steadily-increasing exercise plan. I'm starting with 10-15mins every day on our cool little stepper machine thing, (not just a step) then working my way to more time on it per day, as well as weekly badminton with the parent again.

Secondly: Money.
Basically I have a fair sized list of things I want to get/take with me to Australia, as you've seen, and in order to do that, I need money. As I said in my last post, I do have some things I can sell; 2 guitars (NOT my baby though, my electro-acoustic), a keyboard, CD's, a huge box of PC software worth £200 upwards from my uncle (long story - not stolen or pirated though, the real deal) and my old camcorder. But I cant rely on selling things as a source of income, so I need a job. Mum and I worked out that, on the basis of my old job (though obviously anything I earn will be dependant on whatever shifts are available in a new job), if I work 3x a 3hr shift a week (could easily do more) for the next 20 weeks, I can earn £900. Which is for me, a starting point, an aim in terms of income.

Thirdly: College.
In the next 6 months I will have to sit 3 exams, 2 of which are resits. I have a lot of revision to do. For English Literature, I have an essay to write, as well as poetry and drama text revision to do for the exam. As I started a lot of that when I was actually at college full time, I have a lot of notes to draw from.
Politics and Drama are a slightly different matter though as I wasnt at college when the work was being done in preparation for the exams. The politics exam though basically require me to read through the text book, and I have a friend who did the AS last year too that I will soon be asking if she has any notes or practice exam questions etc, especially ones she got marked and did well on so I know what I'm supposed to be doing.
The drama exam is going to be slightly more difficult to prepare for, as I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. Again, I will be calling on the assistance of two friends who were in my tutor group to ask them for any notes and exemplar essays they have from last year.
Once I have assembled as much help as possible, the leg work is down to me.

In general, what I need is structure. I need something more regimented to help me get back control of my life, something I've simply not had for the last year. We're planning a weekly menu each week (starting Wednesdays, our 'weigh day') and sticking to it in the form of a laminated sheet on the fridge, and I have a daily plan of activities on another laminate sheet on the fridge too. This all means I have much more structure to my days :)

So yes, this means good news I'm hoping :)


Australian wantings, now with pictures :)

So as you know, in 6 months time my parents and I are going to Australia to visit my sister and see the huge land mass :D
Almost as soon as the flights were booked, after being home less than 5 minutes, I was already diving into eBay and Amazon etc and my imagination was playing havoc with my empty wallet.

So basically, this is the list of all the things my tiny, tiny mind is telling me I would love to take to Australia with me :)

Leather bag.
Seen some really nice ones online, I'm thinking over-the-shoulder, darkish leather, kind of rustic distressed look with room enough for all this other stuff. It needs to have lots of little pockets, but not too many. The perfect amount. Unfortunately, leather costs. Even more unfortunately, the bag in my mind clearly doesn't exist; unless you count the Saddleback Leather Briefcase, left, which costs about £350.

Digital Camera.

Well my Casio Exilim EX-Z1080 10mpx camera is less than 6 months old and works a charm so I'm happy with that :) Love this bad boy. I'm no photography pro but this takes a sweet picture. Might need spare batteries and memory cards though.

Of course, I already have a laptop. In fact, I own two. The three of us in total own 4 laptops between us so you wouldn't think it'd be a problem, right? Well, you're right and you're wrong. First off, size wise my MacBook is probably best suited to the journey, but as it's the older white MacBook it's not exactly feather-light. So weight wise, dads would be best suited, and in terms of price his is the cheapest too so if anything were to happen to it, it's the easiest to replace. However, my inclination, in a perfect world (and this is just my Australia Wanting remember), would be to buy a cheap, possibly second hand from eBay, basic netbook thing to take with us and then sell when we get back. But then we all sit and think, well, do we really need to take one at all? Mum says yes: she can barely go one week without checking her facebook let alone 7! So it requires thinking. Ouch.

Polaroid camera - One600? SX-70?
Had a real craving for one of these for SO long now. There's something about the charm of those photos, and the simplicity of taking them. Plus, the photos are great for what I have in mind by way of a travel journal (more on that later.) Been looking at two models; the One600 which was the last mass produced Polaroid camera, therefore a bit more modern and sturdy/portable/less fragile, or; the SX-70, a very early model (not sure how early) that's apparently quite sought after but there's a few of on eBay.

Polaroid PoGo.

Basically the modern reincarnation of the Polaroid cameras of old. Can't be bothered to link you but google it, it's amazing. Size of an iPhone, prints photos in 60seconds, doesn't use ink, (ZINK technology) and the films are self adhesive on the back, yet another advantage for my Aussy photo journalling needs. Around £100 new, Amazon marketplace has them for £22.51 :D especially appealling seeing as the technically superior Fujifilm Pivi is an £100+ import.

Video camera.

Technically yes, I already have one, and though there's nothing wrong with it, it's so out of date already. I'd love to be able to capture Australia in all it's HD glory, rather than on the one I've got which is slightly grainy looking now. Sanyo VHC-FH1 HD looks good, and £350 on Amazon, but definately needs more looking into.

iPod :)

OBVIOUSLY. Two lots of 12hr plane rides just to get down under, not to mention the other 6hr flights across Oz, the 2 day Ghan train and the same two 12hr flights home! Not that my parents are so boring I'm going to want to constantly drown them out, but y'know, fair's fair. Does mean I may possibly need to invest in some superior headphones, but in that long run that'd just seem a waste of money.

Moblie phone.
Yes I have an iPhone, but no I won't be able to use it out there: A) I'll have upgraded to the 3GS by then and B) it'll only be a few months old so there's no way I'm jailbreaking it, and most importantly C) there is no way in HELL I'm paying O2's international roaming charges for 7weeks, especially not when I'll be texting mostly within Oz. We're going to buy Australian SIM cards over there, but obviously although mum and dad will be able to use their own phones fine, my iPhone and I will fail. Hence, I am also looking at Blackberry's on eBay. Plus I want a Blackberry as well as my iPhone anyway :P Specifically the Curve 8900, cos its hot :D

• And last but by no means least: Travel journal.
Some of you may know of my love of Moleskine notebooks and my general borderline-creepy love of all things stationary, but perhaps not of my love of the idea of photo journalling. I say the idea because as of yet my past attempts have ended up being rather neglected. There's an awesome blog at moleskine.vox by this guy who is a creative genius in my eyes when it comes to stationary and journalling. It's not even especially obvious, or even intentional perhaps, but to me there is something so innately and intrinsically cool and artistic about the perfect notebook and pens and such like. Even his handwriting is amazing to me. And he's SO organized! It makes me and my flittish, haphazard ways a little jealous actually. Anyway, partially from his own work and partially from a magazine he talked about and scanned in, I was inspired into trying again when I go to Australia. It'll be the perfect opportunity; sun, sea, sand, Aires Rock, Palm Beach, NEIGHBOURS :D. I can snap away on my digital camera at scenic sweeping outback, Polaroid pwn the Sydney Opera House, and then when we stop at a cafe for lunch or something, I can PoGo my pictures and stick it all in. I can cover the page with glue, grab a handful or sand and take some of the outback home with me. I can really keep track of this once in a lifetime opportunity (that I actually do hope to repeat but still, I'm more likely to keep on top of it on holiday with my parents than travelling with friends in years to come.) Napkins from restaurants will no doubt go in there, cards from hotels we stay at, etc etc. I really want to remember it. Of course, I'll have to be careful not to spend so much time travel journalling that I miss out on anything actually worth journalling. Same goes for filming, though mum seems to want me to film every minute of it.
Now, as any self respecting person will know (:P) the perfect journal needs the perfect pen. And glues. And pencils for sketches. And more pens in case the other pen runs out. And a perfect pencil case for all of the above. So for the next 6 months I will be on the hunt for my perfect travel journal and stationary. I can't wait :)

So that's my ideal Australia wish list, and at the moment it is very much a wish list; with me myself earning no money and anything my parents earn now basically going into the Oz trip, there are a hell of a lot of if's and but's. Firstly I'm going to try and get a job soon hopefully, if I can actually do it. If I cant yet, I suppose there's always my savings if I'm simply overcome with desire for some items, and I can pay myself back when I do get a job as it were. As I say; if's, but's and even a fair few maybe's in there too!
Plus, I've got plenty of shit I can sell.

So there you have it. One long, approximately £800 long list.

If anyone can help me out with any of the items in any way, do please let me know! :D


Sunday, 17 January 2010

Off to see the wizard...

Been out today in the ole' wagon :)

Did I mention I've passed my driving test?

It went pretty well so I'm pleased, although I cannot possibly imagine driving on my own just yet...the thought terrifies me if I'm honest! But I'm sure I'll steel myself and manage to at some point.

Decided to change the blog theme, no idea why really, just felt like a change.

In other news, still feeling a bit under the weather. Been feeling a bit rough for the last 3-4 weeks, and the other night I was up shivering like a vibrating thing (behave), coughing and spluttering and trying not to be sick, and I'm still getting over that now.
It's annoying that I'm a bit ill AGAIN, but what can you do?

The diet starts properly this week. I wont lie, some of you reading this and who know me on twitter might possibly have an image of you in your mind; it'll be wrong. I dont really like talking about my body because I'm not exactly proud of said body, but the next few months I'm going to be getting myself to the gym a bit more (something I HATE), eating more wisely, and the parents and I are going to resurrect our weekly badminton hour.

Why? Well, aside from the fact I need to because I dont like my body, I need to because I'm going to Australia in 6 months!

That's right, after 3 hours in a travel agent yesterday, we have indeed booked flights and stuff for our trip to Australia in July. My sister moved out to Oz about a year and a half ago to do her PHD so we're going out to visit her and see a bit of the country. I say a bit of the country, look at this map to get an idea of just how big Oz is; IMAGE Anyway, so we've booked our flights out there, some of the internal flights, our trip on the Ghan and flights home. We fly out to Sydney, then fly to Melbourne, then drive up to Adelaide, take the Ghan train to Alice Springs, then fly to Perth, and home via Singapore. My sister will probably join up with us in Adelaide, and when we're out in Perth her and I are going to rent a camper and go off for a few days.

I'm already dead excited, even though its so long away, but also nervous. We'll be away for 7 weeks, and none of us have ever been away for that long. I'm gonna miss my baby bunnies!!!! I'll come home and they'll have forgotten who I am!
We've by no means booked up everything; the only confirmed accomodation is in Alice Springs, and theres still some internal flights and car hire stuff to sort out, not to mention travel insurance, money to take with us etc etc, but I dont care; IM EXCTIED! :D

Not much else going on in this Finch's tree, sooner or later I'll get round to doing some more college work and playing on Assassin's Creed 2, when I can put down any of the gazillion books I'm reading.

Beep beep!


Saturday, 9 January 2010

Happy New year!

I've just realised I haven't made a new years post yet, so Happy New year everyone!
As you will know, I went away this NY to Looe in Cornwall with mum and dad, for a few days away. I have to say, I did enjoy myself. The cottage was lovely, and on new years night, we had a few drinks, watched a bit of Jools Holland, and then wrapped up warm to go stand outside with a drink to toast and watch the fire works.
We all got a little emotional I think, finally saying goodbye to 2009 and hoping 2010 treats us kinder. I know I did.

Other than that, I have been very, VERY happy recently. The reason? I FINALLY PASSED MY DRIVING TEST!!!!!!! :D Yes, finally, I dont know whether its third time lucky or new year lucky or both, but it happened :) I can finally cut up my L plates. Although not just yet actually. Because of the snow. Now I love snow and am very happy that Exeter has finally got it, seeing as for the last few weeks I've had to sit and watch the news and listen to people on twitter moaning/rejoicing about the snow in equal measure while I've been wishing for it, I dont really have any desire to drive in it just yet. Besides, I couldnt if I wanted to, as my doors are frozen shut, and the locks are buggered with it. Yay. So now I'm waiting for the temperature to warm up a bit so I can get into my car, and then I'll think about driving it. On my own. Oh god.

Other than that, things are definately good. I am LOVING Assassin's Creed II on the Xbox, and all my other games (not that I've played many of them since I got AC2).
I'm now on book 10, Crossroads of Twilight, of the Wheel of Time series, and I'm loving that too. Robert Jordan was a literary marvel, and I've only got a few more of his books left to read 'for the first time' as I have no doubt I'll be reading this series again. I've heard that Brandon Sanderson has indeed done a good job of book 12, and I cant wait to get there!

Anyway, I'm off to play more AC2 now, but happy new year and love to you all!