New researcher gear for Dinah!

Thanks to @thelancearthur's sharp eyes and insider info, I now have a lightweight mug and a new backpack for books/laptop.


See the fine researcher-friendly features of my swanky new Timbuk2 Q backpack ($99):

  • Easy access separate front pocket for empty lightweight mug (Delta Insulmug, bought at REI, $16). I can stroll out of the house with my morning tea, finish it before I go in a library, shake or wipe it dry, and then have it out of my way until the next morning.
  • Separate pocket for laptop power cable. Love!
  • The usual nice organizer found in Timbuk2 bags. I've stocked this bag with its basics (pens, pencil, good eraser, library and museum membership cards, business cards, a few little scraps of paper for noting call numbers, iPhone cable and earbuds, tissues in case of poorly serviced bathrooms, hand sanitizer, handkerchief, a few cough drops, a Luna Bar).
  • Big space for books, including a mesh pocket for large supplies like my bookweight.
  • Side-access padded laptop pocket.

This will be my third Timbuk2 bag, I believe, plus I've made good use of Joe's smaller messenger bag. Great products—and so pleasing to be able to buy locally.

Weeding through old bits of paper…

One of my Discardian goals is to have nothing which I have not consciously looked at in the past two years and said "Yes. I still want this." Every possession's 'service contract' is up for renewal or I'm canceling it.

Now this is a big undertaking. I have not suffered a big loss of stuff. There has been no fire or tornado or other disaster to destroy any home I've ever lived in. I have stuff that dates back through my entire life, and I've got some things from my parents, grandparents, and ancestors further back. I have made big moves – to college, to a year abroad, to Hawaii for six months – but all of those took place when my childhood home was still owned by my folks. That big old Victorian house had plenty of room for me to tuck things away while I was gone. It was not until they sold that house in the late 1990s that I really had to start winnowing down. Even so, I lived in big enough places (or had kindly friends with basement storage to spare) that I was able to keep a lot of stuff.

The first really stern paring down of my belongings happened in 2002, when I moved to San Francisco, with all the self-focus and self-reinvention that that move usually implies. This is a city which encourages you to be true to yourself and shed your old snakeskins. It was at the end of that year that I invented Discardia. Since then, I've been very consciously evaluating what I have and letting go of what isn't bringing me utility and pleasure.

There are still boxes to go through, however. Not many, but some. Today I sorted through a box of papers and put them into the recycling bin or one of a very small number of piles: shred, scan and toss the original, file (almost entirely health and taxes stuff, all of which I plan to re-evaluate and pare down in a subsequent project), and "capture into blog or contacts or something else digital" (the scan stuff actually is destined for that category after it's digitized as a picture).

So what are these bits and bobs that I am not ready to just toss? Ideas, memories, contact information, and personal history data that tells when I was where doing what. Here are the bits that don't fit in somewhere else, put into my blog where I can easily search for them.

– books I'm glad I read a long time ago (that helped shape my thinking): Kevin A. Lynch's Good City Form (which I think was assigned in a class as an undergrad at UCSC).

– on my first visit to New York City I planned a walk for myself with these notes: "St. Pat's -> Park Ave downtown to maybe duck in at Waldorf Astoria at E 49th, continue on Park, Grand Central Terminal, west exit, 42nd, Madison, "Library Way", 5th, downtown, pass Empire State Building". On that first trip Joe and I went to the Campbell Apartments, WD-50 (appetizers, Rye & Quince cocktail, and a happy introduction to Amaro Montenegro), and Pegu Club.

– The Rye & Quince led us to seek out quince syrup which we found at, "The Online Iranian Grocery Store". Along with that essential ingredient for a very tasty cocktail, we got a bunch of wacky stuff from them including willow water which is basically a refreshing-ish aspirin beverage. They currently only have quince lemon syrup which looks different from what we bought before, so I'm going to keep questing. Been craving a Rye & Quince again.

– Why the hell isn't Bill Irwin's brilliant show The Regard of Flight available on DVD? Grrr. Use the device, people!


It has just occurred to me that I can make my contact lists a lot easier to work with if I put zzz in front of the names of those I no longer am in regular contact with but for whom I want to keep the last known contact info. (I know, I know, I should use tagging or something, but this method will sync between any system I've got. Sometimes crude is more compatible.)

Significant repeated themes & motifs in my life

I'm reading Sarah Susanka's The Not So Big Life and while some of it gets a little woo-woo new agey for me, I'm generally enjoying it. The pieces which are more tightly connected to her brilliant work as an architect and thinker on how we can occupy spaces that keep us happier are better than the generic spiritualism, I find.

Along the way there are various self-exploration exercises. Here's the list I brainstormed up about what are the significant and/or recurring themes/motifs/objects in my life.

  • books
  • checkerboard spheres
  • little whimsical things (but non-obviously so)
  • approximately Edwardian things and art
  • wood
  • unexpected angles (thinking here of the ceilings of my room as a kid, of a little table I have from the club I used to work at)
  • walking
  • libraries
  • public transit (and I was writing this brainstormed list on the MTA originally)
  • fresh produce
  • spices
  • alphabetization
  • simple, practical, sturdy, beautiful objects (e.g. a wool blanket I bought in Scotland the summer after high school and still use regularly)
  • Japanese art and design
  • writing
  • sleeping enough (or more than enough)
  • dark bedrooms
  • practical shoes
  • The Web
  • Macs and iPhones
  • music usually playing
  • sounds of the world
  • lists
  • showers
  • reading
  • kindness
  • San Francisco
  • London
  • places where redwoods grow
  • sourdough French bread
  • British humor
  • wit
  • wordplay
  • dictionaries and encyclopedias
  • curiousity
  • spring green
  • all natural greens, really
  • guitar music
  • The Beatles
  • Vince Guaraldi
  • smiling
  • fresh-cooked meals
  • uncomplicated starts to the day
  • naturalness (e.g. no makeup, honesty)
  • dark chocolate
  • cheese
  • the feel of clean sheets
  • being warm enough
  • noticing details
  • old houses and new houses with a sense of time and detail
  • Victorian houses
  • Craftsman furniture
  • Craftsman aesthetics
  • trying out new foods
  • perpetual upgrade