The Best Night

Sixteen year old Sawyer Fredericks auditioned on NBC’s “The Voice” in 2015 with the song I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow.” I’ve been a fan ever since, especially because Sawyer is a local boy. Well, local(ish), having grown up in Fultonville, NY, about an hour from here.

Sawyer went on to win “The Voice,” released a post-Voice album, but ultimately decided to go independent—a decision that makes complete sense. He’s a unique talent that doesn’t fit the corporate record company mold, and has his sights set on making his music his way. He’s an old soul in a young man’s body—quiet and kind—with a voice that gives me chills.

One of my favorite songs is “Four Pockets,” which he wrote at age 14(!!!).

Last Sunday night, Fred and I attended our first Sawyer Fredericks concert at The Glove Theatre in Gloversville, NY. We purchased $30 VIP passes which included a pre-concert reception, priority table seating, and a post-concert meet and greet. Immediately before the concert, Sawyer premiered his latest video, “Gasoline,” which was filmed in the same venue.

After the concert, about 40 of us lined up to meet Sawyer. His mom was on hand to take photos with our phones, and he graciously signed his fans’ tickets, programs, and VIP passes. I had the presence of mind to bring my Hobonichi and decided to ask him if he’d sign the June 3rd page.

As you know, my Hobonichi has become my “everything” book—the place where I document the details of my life—so it seemed like the perfect place for Sawyer’s autograph. AND I think I have a better chance of hanging onto a Hobonichi through the years than I do a single concert ticket.

So sure, he signed our tickets and VIP passes, AND my Hobonichi.

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As he picked up his Sharpie, he quietly said, “I hope this doesn’t bleed through,” which I thought was adorable—his concern for my notebook. We had to move along so I didn’t launch into an explanation of Tomoe River paper, but just laughed and told him that I really didn’t care. I SO did not care.

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Sure there’s some show-through, but no big deal. I was just thrilled to meet him, capture this memento of a special night, and to say thank you for his music and kindness.

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It really was the best night.

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#mykeisprobablyright: Daily Tracking in My Hobonichi

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The best guys

One of the thrills of the Atlanta Pen Show was FINALLY meeting Myke Hurley. I’ve been a fan since his 70decibels days, and love seeing his hard work pay off with the success of relay.fm. I religiously listen to The Pen Addict, Analogue, and Cortex podcasts, bumping each new episode to the top of my bloated queue. I think he’s great.

Knowing that I’d be meeting him, I pictured myself waxing eloquent when it came time to tell him how much I admire his work. Instead, I sputtered out some jumbled praise, never really getting traction with my words. But Myke was gracious and kind as I garbled my compliments.

One point I did manage to successfully express was how I’ve taken to copying his latest foray into journaling. On Cortex, he’s talked about answering a series of daily questions in a journal, using different pens every day. I gave that approach a shot, but, so far, I’m having trouble making it stick. My evenings tend to be a crapshoot, with available time magically evaporating. But I haven’t given up on this. Morning journaling is now an ingrained habit, and I think I can make this evening journaling work as well. I’m going to keep trying.

The other day, on another episode of Cortex, Myke talked about using the monthly pages in his Hobonichi to track a handful of goals on a daily basis. This idea REALLY appeals to me, especially because my monthly pages are just sitting there waiting to be filled with something.

I love the idea of a quick way to track daily habits and goals. But which ones? Obviously Myke’s goals are not mine, so I had a little thinking to do.

After doing some brainstorming during my daily walks, I came up with a list of five goals (I guess you’d call them that) to track.

  • Eat well
  • Exercise & movement
  • Connect with/support others
  • Write/create/blog
  • Fun/laughter

These may change on a monthly basis, though I know that good nutrition and exercise will remain as constants. I set a scale of 0-3 for the daily score in each category, with the highest possible daily score being 15 (math whiz here).

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I also added a mood tracker—a simple hand drawn emoji—to document my overall mood for the day.

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And today I decided to also track the weather with a very quick sketch. I might as well use some of the colored pencils I have laying around. A tiny sketch is better than no sketch.

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I have no idea what all of this will tell me, but I’m curious to find out. Will my mood affect how successful I am with my goals, or vice versa? Does the weather affect my mood and my daily success? Will I be able to extract anything of value from this data? Will I ever score the elusive 15? That’s all yet to be determined.

If nothing else, I’m finally using those empty monthly pages. I’ve documented what I want to focus my attention on, which means that I have a better shot at success. I may discover something about myself, but even if I don’t, this is a quick and easy way to look back at my day and think about how I used my time and energy. How do I feel? What did I accomplish? What needs improvement? How can I make tomorrow better?

So Myke, keep doing what you love and trying new things (that I can copy). I’ll always be a fan of your work ethic, humor, honesty, and podcasts. And with this daily tracking, I’m thinking…

#mykeisprobablyright

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Is this thing on?

Egad. Do I even remember how to write a blog post? Let’s see.

So I DID go to the Atlanta Pen Show and HAD A BLAST, and I want to write about that—my experience, my purchases, all of the thoughts running through my head as I browsed and shopped and met other pen friends. And I will (promise), but time is short.

So here’s a quick post—sort of an appetizer—about a refill that I learned about at the show, thanks to a chance conversation with Ana Reinert.

Ana was passing around Studio Neat’s Mark One Kickstarter pen (very cool) so I scribbled with it and asked her about the refill. She had swapped in a Premec 0.4 mm G2 (Parker style G2, not to be confused with a Pilot G2 refill) gel refill, and it wrote great—fine, crisp, and smooth.

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As we talked, it dawned on me that this might finally be the solution to my desire for a fine point refill for my Retro 51s (of which I have…ahem…a few).

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The tip of the iceberg

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Clearly these are a thing

The standard Retro 51 refill (P8127) is a little too broad for my taste so I typically swap in the slightly finer P8126 refill which is 0.6 mm vs 0.7 mm. Those numbers are a little misleading because the refills contain liquid ink and lay down wetter/broader lines than their gel and ballpoint counterparts. As great as their pens are, I wish Retro 51 offered them with different refill sizes right out of the gate, or made the 0.6 mm refill the standard offering. But obviously this little quibble hasn’t stopped me from acquiring Tornados on a steady basis.

I’ve been on a quest for a FINE GEL refill for the Retros, and found my answer at the Atlanta Pen Show, thanks to Ana the refill expert.

The Premec 0.4 mm gel refill is great quality and fits perfectly in the Retro 51 Tornados. I swapped one into my Mission to Mars Tornado and have been using it regularly in my personal and work pocket notebooks. Very fine, in more ways than one.

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A glimpse inside my Sunday

I ordered a handful of these from Passion4Pens at the fair price of $2.55 each. Along with black, they’re available in blue, red, and green.

I do enjoy the 0.7 (P8127) and 0.6 mm (P8126) Retro 51 refills for their smooth bold lines, but when I want something significantly finer in a gel ink, these Premec refills fill that need perfectly.

Many thanks to Ana for the tip! (Yes…pun intended.)

Did you miss me?!

More good news: This refill also works in the Baron Fig Squire (twist version). I just tested it myself. 

 

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SO excited for…

the Atlanta Pen Show!!

My flight is booked, and I’m looking forward to sharing a room with a pen pal and friend I have yet to meet in person.

The pen community is full of wonderful people and I can’t wait to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. I don’t really need any more pens, but I can always use another friend. So that’s what this trip is really about—pen people, hugs, laughter, and sharing.

April can’t get here soon enough.

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The perfect travel journal, no?

Chicago Gets An Upgrade!

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What a view! What a city! Chicago—full of energy, museums, parks, great food, and art. I’ve only visited twice but always return home longing to go back. The trip, via Amtrak, from here to there is about 13 hours, most of it overnight. We leave Utica at 9 am and arrive in Chicago around 10 am. Usually with stiff legs and a crick in my back from sleeping on the train, but that soreness evaporates as soon as we leave the station and hit the streets.

Once we check into the Palmer House (an exceptionally well run hotel), we’re off and running. Literally. It’s easy to rack up 10 miles or more just walking to and through museums, to the various sight-seeing towers, and up and down Michigan Avenue with its high-end shops and stores.

Cities usually wear me down but Chicago has the opposite effect. It lights me up.

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Van Gogh’s The Bedroom//Art Institute of Chicago

So, in summary. Chicago is great.

And now it’s greater.

BECAUSE…

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Anderson Pens is adding a second location! In Chicago! On the ground floor of The Palmer House!

I’m absolutely thrilled for them, and, selfishly, for myself, too. I don’t get to Chicago often, but when I do, Anderson Pens will be there, right in my hotel.

This summer, thanks to the incredible kindness of Brian and Lisa, I was able to visit their Appleton, WI store when I was relatively nearby in Green Bay for a conference. During a block of free time on a Sunday afternoon, Brian drove me there and back (which was no small time investment on his part) in his beloved Corvette so that I could browse and shop in the pen and ink mecca that is Anderson Pens. Even though the store was closed. Even though they had a ton of packing to do for the DC Pen Show the following weekend.

The store was a lot like I had pictured it, except that there was more of everything than I had envisioned. More notebooks…

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more ink…

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and more pens…

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So much pen, ink, and paper goodness that it was hard to take it all in.

While I browsed and drooled and shopped, Brian and Lisa were the most gracious of hosts, telling me all about the store, their employees, and the quirky guy next door, while pulling orders for shipment, and letting me try whatever I wanted to try. They needed me like a hole in the head, but were 100% welcoming, patient, and entertaining.

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When it was time to return to Green Bay, purchases in hand, I’d checked off a bucket list item—visit Anderson Pens.

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My Sailor 1911 Standard//Fresca Blue (MF nib)

How wonderful for Brian and Lisa that they’re now getting ready to open Anderson Pens Chicago in Spring 2018. And how wonderful for Chicago.

All of the details of this exciting announcement are HERE.

Congratulations, Brian and Lisa!! Chicago just got an upgrade! Much happiness and success to you!

Oh, how you deserve it.