Notebooks and my past

Feb 24, 2013

I’m rarely without a notebook and a pen, and nearly every day, I jot a note or two about a blog post to write, or list of friends to thank, or projects to accomplish at work.

Back in 2006, to mark my grandfather’s final days as a driver, I posted Let me check my calendar. In that post, I also wrote about the pocket calendars that Grandpa Sisco would give me each year.

Every January, Grandpa would find a pocket calendar at the dry cleaners or shoe repair shop or bank branch, and he’d give that calendar to me. In the following months, he’d pass on pens and golf pencils and pads of paper.

As I recounted in that post, I even ordered pocket calendars for the organization where I used to work. A pocket calendar was still useful in 2007, even though fewer and fewer people were carrying around Franklin planners and instead using online calendars to track appointments. Now, of course, mobile phones are our calendars.

Notebooks, though, are still useful.

Notebooks For ScienceOnline2011, C&EN Online gave us a donation so we could order Field Notes notebooks for attendees, with enough left over to give a couple hundred to a couple of local high school groups. For ScienceOnline2012, we ordered notebooks, again sponsored by C&EN and this time with a very creative cover design by Karyn Traphagen, from Scout Books. Karl Bates at Duke like these so much that he ordered some for Duke Research, and he handed them out at the ScienceWriters2012 conference. Chris Barncard, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was at that conference, and it looks like he’s similarly ordered notebooks for his institution. I also found a new orange Expedition edition of Field Notes in my Christmas stocking.

All these notebooks would surely have pleased my grandfather.

And, I think Grandpa Sisco would have loved this video that I happened upon a few days ago on the Field Notes site (I missed it when it was first posted last year). It shows Field Notes co-founder Aaron Draplin talking about his collection of farmers notebooks that he’s collected across the U.S. — see a good selection of these on the Memo Book Archive page. Lo and behold, there are three DeKalb Corn notebooks there, and I swear I would have seen one or two of them when I was growing up in DeKalb, working on the farms of my relatives.

Anton Zuiker

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