What's in my NOW? — Rob Ray
Panasonic RQ-2102 Cassette Recorder
I have been recording a few minutes of my thoughts each morning into my Panasonic RQ-2102 Cassette Recorder. My recorder lives next to my coffee maker, so I can record while the coffee is being made. The RQ-2102 is straightforward to use. It has a built-in microphone, so I can press the REC and PLAY buttons and just start talking. The recorder can be powered with four "C" batteries or a wall plug. I don't like buying C batteries, so I use rechargeable AA batteries with those little plastic AA-to-C battery adapters, which work great. These recorders are popular in elementary schools, which makes them easy to obtain off of eBay for about 20 dollars + shipping. Some even have great "Property of" stickers on them! Blank tapes are easy to find on Amazon and eBay.
Hagoromo Fulltouch Chalk describes itself as the "Rolls Royce of Chalk." I'm not so sure about that, but I do really enjoy using it. Hagoromo chalk sticks have excellent density and rigidity while also writing very smoothly. There are many excellent vibrant colors to pick from, but I stick to white. Ten sticks of chalk cost about twelve dollars. It makes me feel smart when I use it.
Visualizing Complexity: Modular Information Design Handbook
I'm a design professor, so I can't resist recommending at least one design book! Nicole Lachenmeier and Darjan Hil's excellent "Visualizing Complexity: Modular Information Design Handbook" will delight designers and design-adjacent humans such as cartographers and data scientists. The book shares 80 simple approaches for clearly communicating information-dense ideas. Now when I bike or drive around my town, I find myself taking apart the information design systems used to create road signage and user interfaces.
I find the Mastodon platform to be a fun way to meet people and have conversations. I quite like that a person's local Mastodon server can be a mini-community with unique energies and enthusiasms within the larger "fediverse." There are many excellent mobile apps for using Mastodon. My favorite so far is the open-source Metatext client created for the iPhone by Justin Mazzocchi. It makes switching between the Home, Local and Federated feeds very easy.
QGIS is an open-source GIS system for manipulating map data. I'm not a GIS expert, but I enjoy pulling in Open Street Map information into QGIS and making my own maps. QGIS is a bit intimidating at first, but there are many blog posts and youtube videos that make it easier to get going. In my experiments with QGIS, I have discovered it can be really fun to take a map and liberate the buildings, bodies of water, and streets by giving them more imaginative names. I recently renamed "Niagara Falls" to "Is the Fame Worth Dying in this Barrel? Falls." Making your own little map is a great introduction to more elaborate world-building creativities.
"Even professional writers have days when they'd rather clean the toilet than do the writing." — Octavia E. Butler
What’s in your NOW?
We want to know what’s in your now — a list of 6 things that are significant to you now — 3 physical, 2 digital and 1 invisible.
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