Wednesday, November 02, 2011

How to Hack a Moleskine

I discovered this technique at Yarn-A-Go-Go and have refined it to apply to my own situation (and OCD). I recently found myself reading Allison Hewitt is Trapped: A Zombie Novel, by Madeleine Roux, in which Allison Hewitt, a blogger, is trapped in a bookstore with several colleagues when the inevitable zombie apocalypse happens. This, of course, started me thinking about what I would do if I found myself in a similar situation. Being me, rather than thinking in terms of weapons, I think in terms of information and creature comforts.

The creature comforts part of the equation mostly goes to what I carry in my day bag (a black leather backpack)--iPhone, wallet, keys, tissues, pain relievers, moisturizer, glasses, earbuds, pens and the inevitable Moleskine. The information part comes when I start thinking about what might happen if I'm holed up somewhere hiding from zombies and don't have access to electricity or wifi (Allison Hewitt, the fictional blogger, is trapped in a bookstore with both of those things, luckily). Or what if the cell towers are out (probably more of a worldwide armageddon than the zombie apocalypse, but you never know.

Thus, the Moleskine hack, my version.

  1. As soon as you get a new Moleskine, number the pages. I number mine in the upper right-hand corner, and leave the first few (at least two) pages in the book blank. These first blank pages will become your index, or table of contents. Alternatively, you could use a few back pages as the table of contents ... okay, this is what I did, but only because I didn't think of adding it at the front until after I had started writing in the book.
  2. Starting after the first blank pages that will be dedicated to the index, put your important information, i.e., information that you would want to have close to hand during the zombie apocalypse, such as phone numbers of relatives, doctors' phone numbers, medications you take, etc. This information will be the first entry in your table of contents. Mine is: Phone Numbers, Medications & Allergies, Mom's & Dad's Medications, Surgeries (Bob's and mine)
  3. Go to those first few blank pages and add the page number, the date of entry, and what the information is, i.e., Page 1 - 10/31/11 - Phone Numbers.
  4. Write only on the right-hand pages, leaving the left-hand pages blank for editing, adding notes, clarification, etc.
  5. Write whatever you usually write in the rest of the book--notes, drawings, shopping lists, whatever. When you write something that you might want to be able to access later without flipping through the whole book, go to your table of contents and write it down. That way when you want to refer to notes from a particular meeting, you can find them easily by the date or title. Mine currently includes: Ideas for Christmas 2011, books I want to read, notes from doctor visits, blog ideas, sewing patterns (so I don't buy the same one twice).
  6. Mark the index/table of contents with a post-it flag or some kind of tab so you can open the book to it easily. This is really only important if your table of contents, like mine, is at the back rather than the front.
  7. When you fill the book up and start a new one, re-copy the "important information" into the new book. That way you have a fighting chance of having the information you need when you're holed up in the basement waiting for the zombies to break down the door.

Updated Birthday Offers List

  • Office Max/MaxPerks - $15 off a $75 order
  • Colorful Images - Free shipping on an order of $20 or more
  • Nature's Bounty - $1.00 coupon
  • Michael's - 20% off any regular price purchase
  • Pizza Hut - Free dessert or free side with any online order
  • Knorr - A recipe for "Nacho Supreme Rice"

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Birthday Month!

I don't want to be, and am not, ungrateful, and I've never been one to turn down something free, but I noticed this last year, and I'm noticing it again this year. All those places that ask for your birthday so they can send you something are sending out the most lame deals you can imagine. I just got one from Office Max giving me $15 off a $75 dollar order. Someone, I think it was Boston Market, recently sent out a coupon where if you buy two dinners you get a free drink.

This is just my personal opinion, of course, but if you're going to give someone a gift, which these offers purport to be, make it a real gift, i.e., with no strings or requirements attached. Chances are, I'm not going to walk into a restaurant and just ask for my free drink, or free cookie or whatever, it's going to get me into the place and then I'm going to have a meal and get my free item. But making the free thing contingent on purchasing quite a bit of other stuff just rubs me the wrong way.

And I guess the thing that really irks me is the way these things are presented, i.e., an email with a subject line like Office Max's -- "A Special Birthday Gift for You." Really? How special is that? If I come up with $75 worth of stuff, I'll only have to pay $60 for it. Sure, it's something, but is it going to make me run out to Office Max and buy $75 worth of stuff? Not likely.

I know that fast food restaurants and other places offer these kinds of coupons all the time--buy one meal, get one at half price, or buy a meal and get a free drink, or upsize or whatever--I think it's the fact that they act like it's such a big deal, and that they're giving you something of such value when really, like in the case of a free drink when you buy two meals, they're getting you in to spend $20 or so and giving you something worth maybe a dime, realistically.

I think I'll keep track of the birthday offers I get this month and see who actually gives things that are worth getting and not just deleting.

  • Office Max/MaxPerks - $15 off a $75 order
  • Colorful Images - Free shipping on an order of $20 or more. Not bad. I probably won't use it, but I always appreciate free shipping.
  • Nature's Bounty - $1.00 coupon. I can't tell what the $1 is off of, though, because I would have to install a coupon printer application in order to print it, and I'm not doing that. Something else that I find completely irritating.
  • Michael's - 20% off any regular price purchase. Nice, but not too exciting, since you can usually find 40% off coupons in the Sunday paper.

Oh, and by the way, since the holiday season is coming up, I wanted to mention that I have given up the post office box, and the forwarding order has apparently expired (if it was ever effective in the first place), so if anyone wants to send me a Christmas card and you don't have my home address, just email me and I'll give it to you. Assuming you're not the creepy stalker dude . . .