New from This Is Ground: Mod Tablet 5

It’s the Everyday Carry for your Everyday Carry: the Mod Tablet 5 from This Is Ground.

 

 

First thing I did when it arrived: I emptied out my pockets and satchel pouches and put my EDC into this suave, all-grown-up version of a Trapper Keeper.

Behold:

 

 

There are more compartments than I have been able to use this first week of owning it, but I think that is sort of the point here: maximum versatility.

 

 

Here it is from the front. You can see at the left that it’s got a collapsable carry handle, and a front pocket for a phone or notebook that you want to regularly reference.

 

 

The construction is careful:

 

 

The logo on the back is subtle and done well:

 

 

Here’s a closer look at some of the lines and zippers:

 

 

It’s got a pretty slim profile. It measures 8 x 11 inches and weighs 1.4 pounds—not light, but pretty compact for all it does. It’s easy to throw into a satchel or carry around on its own.

So far there are two things I find wanting:

  1. There are tons of loops for pens or cords, but most of them are too big for just one pen or pencil to securely stay put.
  2. There are lots of little pockets (and the mesh insert pictured above is awesome), but just one big pocket for an iPad or larger notebook. One more large pocket would help.

However, the “modular case” is “built to solve the needs of those that carry tech and other small gear,” so perhaps it’s best conceived as one part tech Dopp kit, one part notebook/writing utensil holder.

Where it really excels is in its versatility in helping the user stay organized… plus it looks and feels really good. The leather pictured above (“Rhum”) comes from South America. And it’s full grain!

The Mod Tablet 5 isn’t cheap: $385. In that sense I’d consider it a luxury item.

It’s been a lot of fun to use this first week—I’ll post more after further use. The color of the Mod shown above is “Rhum,” a beautiful, dark, rich brown.

You can read more about it and find purchase information here.

 


 

Thanks to This Is Ground for the review sample, sent without expectation as to the content of my review. See our other This Is Ground reviews here and here. Cross-posted also at Words on the Goods.

Now Reading: How to Break Up With Your Phone

3d+Book+Cover+HTBUWYP+jpgYes, the book you’ve always wanted to read (and that I was starting to write!) is now available: How to Break Up With Your Phone, by Catherine Price.

Despite the book’s title, Price teaches us not how to break up with our phones per se, but how to renegotiate the relationship–which requires a break of sorts, at least at the outset.

I’ve just finished the first part, where she builds a compelling (and alarming) case for limiting screen use. Part Two is the “how-to,” which I’ll share more about later.

I learned about the book from a New York Times piece of hers. It’s relatable from the very beginning:

The moment I realized I needed to break up with my phone came just over two years ago. I had recently had a baby and was feeding her in a darkened room as she cuddled on my lap. It was an intimate, tender moment — except for one detail. She was gazing at me … and I was on eBay, scrolling through listings for Victorian-era doorknobs.

We all have our “Victorian-era doorknobs.” And, until users rightly started jumping ship this last week, Facebook.

Many of us will nod our way through the book’s description:

Is your phone the first thing you reach for in the morning and the last thing you touch before bed? Do you frequently pick it up “just to check,” only to look up forty-five minutes later wondering where the time has gone? Do you say you want to spend less time on your phone—but have no idea how to do so without giving it up completely? If so, this book is your solution.

Check out the book here. Ten Speed Press has been kind to send me a review copy, so I’ll write more about it when I’m done, but I already know this is the rare book I’ll re-read once a year.

The Busy Pastor’s Guide to Inbox Shalom

Screenshot 2017-07-24 14.58.10

 

I’ve recently had a new article published at CTPastors.com: “The Busy Pastor’s Guide to Inbox Shalom.”

It begins:

A ministry supervisor once told me a quick way to lose respect in ministry: Don’t return people’s phone calls. The same holds true for email.

The article suggests how pastors (or anyone) can reset to Inbox Zero in two minutes, and then recommends some strategies for keeping your Inbox in a state of shalom.

You can read the whole article here.

My (Mixed) Review of Maria Semple’s Today Will Be Different

today-will-be-different-semple

 

I’ve got a review of Maria Semple’s Today Will Be Different over at Englewood Review of Books. An excerpt of the review:

Eleanor Flood’s day is about to be different—but not in the proactive way she had committed to. Today she wants to be her “best self,” because “the other way wasn’t working” (7).

A writer and illustrator, Eleanor lives in Seattle with her eight-year-old son Timby (Timby?), a forgotten and forgettable dog Yo-Yo, and her husband Joe, well-loved hand surgeon to the Seattle Seahawks.

The review continues here.

Scrivener for iOS: $19.99 –> $11.99

Scrivener Logo

 

This summer I used Scrivener’s iOS app (in its beta form!) as my primary app for writing at a week away. Even in its beta form it was good.

I’ve written about the desktop app here and here. You can read about my eight most-used features on iOS here.

Just today the price has come down from $19.99 on iOS to $11.99–easily worth it if you’ve got the means. Check it out here.

 

Resist Injustice, Reshape the World (My Article at Sojourners)

abram-sojo-article

 

Yesterday Sojourners online published my article, “Resist Injustice, Reshape the World.”

In it I reflect on the challenges a Trump presidency presents and say:

Being honest about reality is a primary role Christians can play in society.

And:

The prophetic task of all believers is not just to react to reality rightly named, but to reframe it in the light of a grander vision of the future.

Read the whole thing here.

The Joy of Analogue: Outlining the Book of Joel for Preaching

One essential step in my sermon preparation process is reading the book of which the preaching passage is a part. I find it a discipline to hold off on reading commentaries and sit with the text itself. This is easier with a short book like Joel, from which this Sunday’s Old Testament lectionary reading comes.

I find myself more focused to read through and outline the book in analogue fashion. Here’s what it looked like for me yesterday morning:

 

img_8646

 

(Having fine writing implements like a fountain pen and nice paper helps!) I have since transferred my book outline to MindNode, from which I’ll continue my sermon planning. Starting device-free is important (and really enjoyable) for me.

Here’s my two-page provisional outline of the book of Joel, complete with a misspelling of “devastation”:

 

img_8647

 

img_8648

The Freedom Simply to Begin (First Draft Co.)

When creating something—whether writing, sketching, jotting lyrics, or laying out a plan for a new project—getting started is often half the battle. To feel the freedom simply to begin—to make a first draft—makes the work possible.

Any writing teacher or art instructor will tell you that good creative work begins not with a finished product, but with a draft. That may seem obvious, but lots of folks involved in creative pursuits forget that the first goal of putting something down to paper should be, well, to put something down to paper. It need not be a finished product; in fact, in all but the rarest bursts of inspiration, it’s the working over the initial insight or burst of effort that leads to a refined or compelling outcome. As Ernest Hemingway put it, in a dictum variously attributed to others, “Easy writing makes hard reading.” It’s the constant, if not obsessive commitment to drafting and revising and redrafting that leads to strong work.

That’s one reason I like the name of the company that produces this journal, which suggests that what happens in the pages of its product will be a starting place, a beginning. “We started First Draft Co. with a passion to build tools and experiences that inspire creativity,” the web site announces.

 

front-cover

 

The blank book provided for this review looks impressive from first glance. But it also has a solid feel. The hardcover boards, covered with library buckram, give heft, and make the book feel like more than a sketchpad or casual notebook. The satiny place ribbon also conveys something classy and useful, making it easy to resume work once the journal has been put away.

 

open-inside

 

The pages are blank—no lines or dots—leaving the creator ultimate freedom. The elastic cloth band holds the pages and cover together. Slipping it off takes a couple of seconds but that need to perform a ritual act allows for a moment or two or reflection, allowing a pause for gathering one’s thoughts, perhaps one’s scattered presence for the promising task at hand.

 

with-pen

 

Some specs:

  • 104 gsm bright white paper (fountain pen-friendly, smooth, makes for a top-notch writing experience)
  • Smyth Sewn binding (yes! lays flat easily)
  • sustainably sourced paper
  • 224 pages (you won’t need a new one any time soon)
  •  5.5” by 8.25”
  • Made in the U.S.A.

You can find the First Draft Co. notebook (together with the Blackwing pencils and gorgeous desk gear they offer) here.

 

–Reviewed by author and guest blogger Timothy Jones

 


 

Thanks to the kind folks at First Draft Co. for the notebook for review, provided without any expectation as to the content of this write-up.

The Rhodia Webbie for Long-Range Planning (by Hand!)

Back before the days of advanced task management apps, I rocked a Franklin Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People planner. It had everything. Insert pages for contact information (before we kept that all in our phones), daily layouts for schedules and to-do items, and a section in the back for values planning and writing out my personal mission statement.

Task tracking for me is significantly easier on a device, since I can see what I have to do (and check it off) from just about anywhere. But hashing out the bigger picture life stuff doesn’t seem to quite fit in OmniFocus or 2Do.

So for long-range planning and goal setting, I’ve gone back to paper.

I now have as many dedicated-use notebooks as I have to-do apps—a liability transferred to merely a different medium—but a notebook just for “the 30,000-foot view” has been helpful. Here’s what I’ve been using—the black Rhodia Webbie:

 

rhodia-webbie-0

 

As you can see, it looks much like the hardcover, 5″ x 8.25″ Moleskine. But the Webbie (a.k.a., Webnotebook) is better, not least because it’s got 90 gsm Clairefontaine “brushed vellum paper,” which seems to be made for fountain pens. (Moleskine, by contrast, is not fountain pen-friendly.)

Much like its counterpart, the Webbie has a hard and smooth leatherette cover. I’m not in love with the cover, but I’ve grown accustomed to it and it is fine. The notebook is bound shut with an elastic wrap-around strap. This offers a nice way to store a pen with the notebook, in fact.

 

rhodia-webbie-1

 

There’s an expandable back pocket, so you can keep papers, receipts, photos, etc. with the Webbie.

 

rhodia-webbie-2

 

An 8.5” x 11” piece of paper, folded in half, just barely fits inside the notebook, though its edges come out a bit. No matter—this is not a notebook with U.S. dimensions! It’s A5, which is as tall as the Moleskine, but wider, which I find more natural for extended writing.

It does remarkably well with a fountain pen. The smooth paper feels wonderful, and provides no feathering or bleeding of ink. For that matter, there’s hardly any show-through.

 

rhodia-webbie-3

 

rhodia-webbie-4

 

My one complaint about the Webbie (besides the fact that my text editor keeps wanting to auto-correct it to Rhoda Debbie) is that the ribbon marker feels too short. It just barely extends out of the notebook, about an inch or less.

Other than that, the Webbie is as good an all-purpose notebook as I’ve written in. And it’s working great for me to replace the role those 7 Habits planning pages once played. There’s plenty of room on a page to do some serious writing, note-taking, brainstorming, or drawing, but the size still makes it portable enough to go anywhere. In terms of specs, look, feel, and quality, the LEUCHTTURM1917 notebook is quite similar, though the Webbie is a bit slimmer and has slightly fewer pages.

With 192 pages of paper (96 sheets), the Webbie ought to last its users for at least a couple months before they need a new one.

You can find the Webbie here or here.

 


 

Thanks to the kind folks at Rhodia for the notebook for review, provided without any expectation as to the content of my write-up.

MindNode is Free on iOS This Week

 

MindNode

 

 

One of my favorite and most-used apps–MindNode–is free in the iOS App Store this week. After thinking mind mapping wasn’t for me, I tried it just over a year ago and loved it. Now it’s a regular part of my brainstorming and writing workflow.

Here‘s the link–download it while you can, for iPhone and iPad. (Regular price is something like $10.)