A Notebook Proposal. You’ll Want One.

In one of my recent posts I wrote about potentially working with a company to create what I feels would be a great journal. I didn’t elaborate very much in the post, but I will here.

First of all, journals are different things to different people so I will define what journal is for me. It is a tool I use to remember, to grow, and to develop ideas and myself. I write about things I want to remember, like vacations and what my kids do. I write about myself, what I’m doing, what I want to do, and the difference between the two. Lastly I write about the ideas I have and try to organize them into actionable things.

For this, a journal needs to have some features to be at it’s best:

  1. Big enough to hold history, and remove any hesitation to write, draw, diagram or anything else. I’ve found through my own experience I write more in a larger book. For me this means 8×10 or larger.
  2. Be durable enough to get hauled everywhere, used daily at least, referenced frequently, and still hold together.
  3. Have page numbers. Ideas and their offspring come when they do, and there needs to be some way to refer to different places in the book to tie things together.
  4. Have a table of contents, with an entry for each page. I find that this works really well. Having just blank lines leaves me paralyzed over what might be worthy to enter into the TOC, but a line for each page converts the task into a simple summarization of each page.
  5. Enough ruling on the page to keep my writing from getting huge (which it tends to do when I use blank paper) and getting crooked (less of a problem now than it used to be), and to help with sketching orthogonal drawings, but not enough to really stand out when reading or sketching real life. For me this means a dot grid.
  6. Two place holder ribbons. One for where the last blank page is, and one for where I’ve left off re-reading.

That’s it, and I think I’ve found a way to get it. I’ve put together a draft of a typical page along with a table of contents page. Download the .pdf and let me know what you think. The dots may seem a bit faint on a laser printer – they’ll be proofed.

The last question is how many pages? 200? 300?

If I can get someone to make these, will you buy one? Leave a comment!

Pencil Review: Palomino HB

It was a matter of time before I tried the Palomino HB pencil, since I like the new Blackwing models made by the same company, and I prefer bright colors. I ordered them in orange:


  • Pretty much exactly the same lead as their Blackwing 602 pencil. Sometimes I feel like the 602 is a tad harder, but mostly I cannot tell them apart.
  • The finish is very nice. The paint is luxurious, and the lettering has a decent indentation. But despite that, the gold flakes off eventually. I’m not sure why this is such a challenge with Palomino when it’s not for other brands, but it’s not a big deal to me.
  • The eraser seems to be the same formulation as used on the Blackwing erasers. Better than a standard pink, but more abrasive than a vinyl eraser. The problem here is the ferrule that holds the eraser is not firmly crimped onto the pencil. It was loose immediately, and so far the three pencils I’ve tried have been the same. A letter to the company confirmed that they were aware of it, and if they found product that did not have the problem they would send me some. They offered to refund my money if I returned the pencils. Then the next day I got a notice saying an order had shipped, which I assume is replacement pencils, so they are responsive.

I love the color, and I love writing with the pencil. If the ferrule problem is solved, it’s a winner for me.

If you’re looking for a cheap alternative to Palomino’s Blackwing 602 I think this is it.