Analog

Photo wall

I hang random prints on these magnetized strings in my office. If I were to worry about order, or frames, or any kind of formality, nothing would end up on the walls. I love the chaos.

The “photo wall” in my home office.

Print your photos!

Contact Sheet: Josie

I adopted Josie years ago. She was a sweetie but was incapable of being around other dogs, and my life at the time involved being around other dogs. We found a new home for her with a lovely woman who enjoyed dogs but had none. What she did have was 5 acres of land and immediate love for Josie.

Josie contact sheet. Tri-x, shot with the Hasselblad.

I recently ran across the above contact sheet taken shortly after bringing her home. I love medium format contact sheets, since they make a fun polyptych. I often make a second contact sheet expressly for hanging. Sometimes I make a third and cut the small images out for my journal.

I could cheat with digital photos and make something similar, but it’s not the same.

Calm technology

I’m overwhelmed by social media right now. Visiting Twitter just makes me anxious because it’s become an even bigger shit-show and all anyone can talk about is how much of a shit-show it is.

And Mastodon is almost worse, since the only topics there right now seem to be the Twitter shit-show (but everyone calls it “birdsite” for whatever stupid reason) or how Mastodon is or isn’t confusing or is or isn’t racist or else over-explaining what the “fediverse” means to the future of the internet.

Everyone is just so breathy and I’m exhausted by all of it.

So, instead, I’ve been writing journal entries on my blog, updating my wiki, and sitting at my writing desk with a pen and a notebook. It’s the latter of these things that brings me a nice sort of calm. It’s not really even technology but it’s where I increasingly wish to spend my time.

Printing web pages

In 2020 I wrote,

I no longer try to read longer-form articles right away. I instead send them to Instapaper and, after a day or two, review the inbox, delete the ones I no longer care about, and print the ones I do.

Reading Long-Form Web Articles By Printing Them First

I still print web pages for later reading, but I’ve updated the way it works.

I’ve replaced Instapaper with Zotero as my read later service. Zotero is overkill for this, but it’s free, local, and makes the articles I save usable as references if needed.

When I’ve found an article that I want to print and read, I visit the page and use the excellent Markdownload web clipper extension. Markdownload grabs the meat of the article, converts the HTML to Markdown, and (optionally) adds front matter and metadata to the document. Here’s an example:

---
created: 2022-11-12T08:40:29
source: https://www.wired.com/story/tweet-dying-revolutionary-internet/
author: Paul Ford
documentclass: scrartcl
classoption:
- twocolumn
---

# A Tweet Before Dying | WIRED
source: ([www.wired.com](https://www.wired.com/story/tweet-dying-revolutionary-internet/))

> ## Excerpt
> The revolutionary internet is over, and we don’t have much to show for it. A new start is out there, somewhere.

---
i find it a good philosophical exercise to imagine the last tweet. It could come centuries hence, when a cryptobot offers a wistful adieu to another cryptobot, or in 2025, when Donald Trump, the newly ...

I add the documentclass and classoption front matter manually. These options are used by my pandoc template 1 when converting the Markdown file to PDF using Pandoc. The rest is handled automatically by the extension.

Once I have the Markdown file, I convert it to PDF either via a BBEdit script or pandoc-mode in Emacs.

Here’s what the PDF looks like:

Screenshot of printed output

After that, it’s off to the printer.

Admittedly, the setup for this took me some time, but now that the hard part is done I can go from web page to a typographically beautiful printed document in about a minute. It’s been totally worth it.

The West Wing Productivity System

The last time I rewatched “The West Wing” I was once again impressed by how good people were at their jobs. How productive everyone was. I wondered how I could be that productive.

I noticed that the entire process used by the staff seemed to be carrying around folders full of paper and barking things like “Get me the file on senator Jones and the notes from our briefing!” Within minutes they would be perusing a bunch of photos and papers scattered about a desk and they’d develop a plan right then and there. Awesome!

So, I started organizing all of my projects in manilla folders. One folder per project. I called it the “West Wing Productivity System”. I’d print meeting notes, mindmaps, emails, etc and put them in the appropriate folder. I kept a single summary sheet clipped to the inside with contact information, summary info, budgets, etc.

Whenever I needed to work on a project, I’d grab the folder, spread its contents across my desk, and get to work. It was nice knowing where everything was. It was nice being able to see everything at once, if necessary. (I had a big desk).

On the other hand, it was a pain when I needed to share something with colleagues. Search kind of sucked. And if I happened to be at home without the proper folder in my bag I was screwed.

It was fun for a while, but this was nearly 10 years ago. I still use folders, just not quite so deliberately. Just for the hell of it, I’ve brought back the system for some of my home projects. There’s not a lot of risk and I get to shuffle papers around again like I’m Josh’s assistant or something.

Some unremarkable pens the Internet made me buy

I’m an impressionable young man, and when I notice someone on The Internet raving about something, I want to feel that way, too. I often order whatever that thing is, only to be disappointed. For example, here are a few of the pens I bought after being told how remarkable they are. They’re not that remarkable.