Brain dump

A few great things to read:


What else?

  • Drafting the last chapter of my novel. Writing this chapter is pure indulgence. 
  • runDisney virtual 5k race medals have arrived. Going to earn my first medal today. 
  • My Nock co Lanier briefcase arrived and I’ve started using it. I may do a review after using it for a few days. For now it carries my iPad Pro 9.7”, a Moleskine large notebook, and some loose papers. 
  • Something dreadful is attacking my plants. Investigating…

Top 5 pens

In the recent Pen Addict Podcast, Brad and Myke discussed their top 5 pens, and that made me think about my top 5 pens. Do I even have a top 5? I never actually ranked my pens until now — I just use them.

After a bit of thought, I came up with this list of my favourite five pens. These are all perfect for long writing sessions, but they’re not necessarily the best for begninners, or for showing off your handwriting, so take that into consideration before you purchase any of these:

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Nakaya Cigar Piccolo Negoro Kise Hon Kataji black/red with elastic flexible medium rhodium nib — that’s quite a mouthful for a relatively small pen. This pen was made to order for me, and I had to wait quite a while and pay quite a bit for it, but it was totally worth it. The nib is a dream, and like no other nib that I own — it’s springy. It isn’t a wet noodle by any stretch, but shows a good amount of line variation, is very comfortable to write with, and is super easy to clean. The most beautiful pen that I own, in a very understated way, it’s the best all-rounder in this list.

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Parker 51 — I have quite a collection of these vintage classics, and I have yet to be disappointed with one. They somehow manage to make my handwriting really good looking, and they are fun to write with (though a bit of a pain to clean). Not the prettiest of pens, but I love their sleek looks, and they are workhorses.

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Franklin Cristoff Model 66 Stabilis Antique Glass with a 1.1 stub converted to an eyedropper pen — this pen is gorgeous, comfortable for long term writing, helps show off ink (both because you can see it sloshing around and since it lays down a significant line), and makes even the simplist handwriting look great without going overboard in terms of line thickness. It’s also super simple to clean out (though beware of staining inks), and the nib is a stunner, especially for a steel nib.

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Ti Arto with a Uni-ball UMR-85N refill— this has now become my daily journaling pen, and although it isn’t a fountain pen it is comfortable for long writing sessions, mainly because it has a relatively thick barrel and is relatively light for a machined pen. It writes well on all types of paper, including Moleskines, is relatively cheap, and accepts a dizzing array of refills. This is a pen that I don’t mind slipping into my pocket or tossing into my bag — it’s built to last and can take the punishment.

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Lamy 2000 Fine — this pen is not without faults, as the little metal prongs that hold the cap in place can get in the way of your grip, and my old 2000 is cracking in several places (ugly-fixed with superglue), but I still love it. The gold nib allows for just enough line variation to make it perfect for both writing and sketching, and the capacity is just fantastic. I’m also a big fan of its understated looks, but if you’re looking for something with more zing, this may not be the pen for you. I also bought another one, in extra-fine (after my old 2000 started cracking), and I have to say that its nib isn’t as good as my old 2K. So I’d recommend it, but only if you’re willing to tune it (either yourself, or take it to a nibsmith), if necessary.

These are my workhorses, and at any given time at least two or three of these are in use. Experimenting with pens in nice, but when you’re working on writing a novel or have a good chunk of writing to do, the snazzy wet noodles and music nibs give way to more dependable choices that are also always a joy to use.

This week’s long run

Yesterday was blistering hot, so I ran this morning instead. A lot of rowers were out on the Yarkon.


At the Daniel Center for rowing, stopped for a moment to admire the sky.


The sun was out in full strength, which made for some pretty dramatic lighting, with all the clouds.


Ducks and rowers (this was taken on my way back).


This cheeky little egret was waiting by a group of pretty terrible fishermen. They would toss it all their small fry, which is much more convenient than having to go fish for them itself. 


Monthly antique market at the port.


My cat, totally unimpressed that I ran 9K this morning. 

Improving my sleep

In the past few months I noticed that I’ve been sleeping less and less at night, and it’s been affecting my health, writing and work. So I’ve decide to take a look at my sleeping habits and see what I can improve.

After just a few days of taking a better look at my life, it was clear that I had three bad habits to break if I wanted to get better sleep:

Stop watching TV or YouTube videos until late at night. I never mean to do this, but one thing leads to another and it’s easy to veg out in front of the TV. I dealt with this by cutting my evening TV viewing completely. As for YouTube — that was taken care of when I dealt with my third bad habit.

Not reading in bed. I thought this helped me fall asleep, but the only thing it helped was my reading goals. Sleep > reading, so this had to go.

Not taking my phone to bed. This has been the hardest, and so I’ve had to make myself a 30 day challenge plan, just to make sure that I create the habit of not taking my phone to the bedroom. It has paid off though, since this was the number one reason for me getting so little sleep at night.

So far I’ve been sticking to my plan for ten days now, and it’s been working pretty well (though it has been a challenge to keep at it at first).

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This is what I aspire to — I’ve never seen anyone enjoy their sleep like a cat does.

This week’s recommendations

Podcast: The Daily, by the New York Times. A 20 minute daily podcast that doesn’t sum up the news of the day, but instead gives interesting insights into a few top stories. There’s a very good reason that this podcast has become so popular even though it’s so relatively new.

Book: If you’re looking for an easy summer read, try M.C. Beaton‘s Hamish Macbeth or Agatha Raisin mystery novels. They’re dirt cheap, even in dead tree format, short, not too trashy, not too violent — the beach books.

Tea: if you haven’t watched this delightful YouTube TED Ed video by Shunan Teng, I highly recommend that you do. It briefly goes through the history of tea: youtu.be/LaLvVc1sS20

And also: Monument Valley 2 is out and it’s as awesome as the first one was. Really taking my time to enjoy it.

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Summer is here. Get thee to the beach.

IBM Watson Tel-Aviv Summit

I was at the IBM Watson summit in Tel Aviv today. A very impressive event, with a slurry of local celebs taking part in it. 


Yair Nizani, an Israeli comedian, MCed.


Marina Maximilian Blumin “sang” (lip synced).

The usual buzzwords were thrown around: disruptive technologies, cognitive learning/age, Software/Product/Infrastructure as a service. 

What wasn’t said was:

These technologies cost people jobs, without providing them with alternative means to proved for themselves.

These technologies have deep social implications, but the people making them and funding them give little to no thought to what is the true cost of these technologies. 

Machine learning/cognitive learning can improve our world, but they can also cause immense suffering. Unless we constantly consider the ethical implications of these advances (as best we can), we will be the creators of our own dystopia.

The caterpillar 

This ravenous beast has been wrecking havoc on my Nasturtiums. Anyone recognise him?