Friday, March 7, 2008

Notebooks, Then & Now

Remember when you were a kid, the summer was drawing to a close and school was looming on the horizon? I think the most consistently good part of that transition time was going to shop for new school supplies. Pens, pencils and big pink erasers were all available at Woolworths or Warwick Shoppers World. I used to get one or two of the store bought book covers. I favored the ones with college logos on them. But the rest of the time it was brown paper grocery bags that I cut up, folded and fit snugly around my text books. (I just thought about how I used to do that and I think I remembered all the steps!) But it was the notebooks that really set my heart aflutter. Spiral bound, with white sheets of paper, covered with thin blue lines, just waiting to be written in.

I still love notebooks. Now I carry a Mead Five Star 6 x 9.5 two subject notebook, college ruled and a Strathmore Recycled Sketch 5.5 x 8.5. Both are spiral bound. Both fit neatly into my old Book Gear Canvas zippered pouch, which keeps everything neatly corralled and organized.

I also love my Apple laptop computer. And I really like the Apple word processing software called “Pages”. And the “Stickies” application allows for little computerized Post-It Notes to pop up all over your screen when called upon. But none of these things really approximates the old spiral bound notebooks.

Then along came Circus Ponies and a nifty piece of Mac only (sorry Microsoft folks) software called “NoteBook”. Bless their collective techie hearts; they did it! They made my frightfully expensive, incredibly powerful, uber-modern computer have as many genu-ine, old fashioned notebooks living in it as I want! Spiral bound to boot! Not unlike my Ferrari of a computer which I’m pretty darn sure I rarely get out of first or second gear, I have barely scratched the surface of NoteBook. But I am hooked.

When the plates started spinning again recently I created a new NoteBook called “Our Family NoteBook”. I have a page for each of our elderly relatives onto which I have been typing all the pertinent information: contact numbers, doctors names, medications, etc. Each of those pages or sections can be tabbed and labeled, just like in a three ring binder with dividers. What makes this computerized version so useful is that I can drag in clickable links to relevant web pages or e-mail addresses. I also can continually update it as needed and drag and drop information that applies to multiple people with ease. I still take notes about phone conversations with a pen and paper. But then I transfer that info to “Our Family NoteBook”.

For example, today we had to learn a whole lot about Medicare coverage for inpatient Rehabilitation Services. I spoke with a lovely young woman who gave me the highlights which I then typed up on its own page, in a new section called “Medicare”. This is what the page looks like from a screen shot. (I quickly created an edited example of our notebook for you to view.) You see the little curled corner in the upper right? If I click on that, the page turns. Or if I click on one of the tabs, it jumps to that section.

Apparently NoteBook is very popular with educators and trial lawyers. In part because you can drag in all kinds of multimedia stuff. Oh and it also automatically indexes everything for you. And you can use your computer’s recorder to insert voice annotation which it will date and time stamp! As I said, I have only begun to scratch the surface. If you go to the Circus Ponies website to see NoteBook, do take a few moments to watch their videos. They’re very cool.


Jeff said...

About ten years ago, I purchased a used chest of drawers for the sole purpose of storing all of my accumulated spiral bound notebooks. It sits down here in the blogging pit, to my left. I transcribed anything and everything I thought I ever might want to refer to onto text files in my computer, a long time ago.

Every once in a while, though, I do miss the days when I would go to a coffee shop and scribble my thoughts into a spiral bound notebook while sipping an endless cup of coffee...

dancingmorganmouse said...

I love all stationery - I regularly pop down to the big & fancy stationery shop in town at lunchtime, browsing the shelves, fondling the pens, finding excuses to buy notepads (I like the coloured ones). And a Moleskine notebook is a permanent handbag item!
Oh, and how I wish we'd gone apple all those years ago.

Pink Granite said...

Hi Jeff -
I've gradually been transcribing parts of my notebooks onto the computer. I still write 99% of my poetry in the Mead spiral bound notebooks. The "good" ones make it to the more advanced technology!
- Lee

Hi DMM -
All those delicious stationery items - crisp, colorful, lovely and full of unlimited potential! I've never owned a Moleskine. But I'm pretty sure it's a requirement if one wishes to be a writer or an artist!
As for Apple, it's never too late to step away from the dark side. Trust me, it feels sooo good!
- Lee

barbie2be said...

Lee, have i ever mentioned that i am a stationary-a-holic? seriously i have a problem...

i love the idea of notebook.

Pink Granite said...

Hi B2B -
I'm sensing a theme emerging among bloggers - a sort of paper/notebook/stationery/writing addiction.
I guess blogs meet a non-paper aspect of our obsession!
- Lee