The Travelers Notebook

So, I do not mean to sound Jerry Seinfeld here, but is this thing The Midori Traveler’s Notebook, or is it The Traveler’s notebook, which happens to be have notebooks made by Midori?

    

    I have been using the Lihit Labs A5 cover, before this.  I have been talking myself out of getting this system for over a year now, but with an impending trip to New York coming up I was basically obligated to get it.  I mean, we will be traveling, and this is the Traveler’s Notebook, it just would not have made sense otherwise, right?  

    I am not going to list paperweight, dimensions, materials, everyone else does that and, if you have made it to this point, I am betting you can read, and all that information can be found here.  Really, I cannot do reviews of a lot of things, I have tried it, and I realized my problem was the technical standpoint, I am no good with it.  My area is the emotional realm, the personal, the…this isn’t true either.  My area is the inconsequential and unnecessary.  

    The Midori (as I will henceforth call it), is not simply a notebook, it is a system.  When you order it, it will show up in a cloth bag, which is in a box, and that is in plastic.  If you are OCD, you will love it.  I did not even want to open it.  It was neat and orderly, it was something you find in a clean room ( I have never found a clean room) and it just had a wonderful symmetry to it.  It is like buying a new shirt, you dont want to take it out of the plastic and remove the pins, you know it will never go back.  

     When you do open it, after you have enjoyed the packaging, you will find inside the bag the cover and a plain notebook.  I have not used the plain as I enjoy lined and grid paper.  The way this works is it has a main band attached through the leather and this…lug?   

    If you use just the notebook it comes with, you can just put the band on the staple page (dead middle) and walk away.  If you use more than that, you will need to order some of the hand elastic bands.  

    I placed the lined notebook in the picture so that you could see how they package things.  It is beautiful, it even has a nice little number on it.  Anyhow, the elastic bands, you use these to stick multiple objects into the system.  You place one around the front cover of one notebook and the back of the other and voila!  Me?  I have four things in mine so far, with a fifth probably on the way.  This is my lay out.  

    So I have a zipper pocket, a file folder, a daily planner, and a notebook.  The zipper pocket and the file folder are placed under the main band as the anchors, and then I put a notebook on either side of the file folder and placed an elastic band around the covers and the kraft file, BAM!  Amazing notebook.  

    Why does this appeal to me?  I think this requires a trip back in time.  

     That is my journal from high school and partly just after.  If you see the stuff sticking out of it, you will see that it is chocked full of souvenirs.  It has tickets, flower petals, movie stubs, a drink ticket after an ABI party in Germany, a drawing I stole out of a bathroom stall of Hitler using a toilet brush on himself, all kinds of stuff.  If you are still reading this then you know what is going on here.  The people who read this kind of stuff, you, they know notebooks.  The best way to describe this is, the way outsiders would,  I like to stuff my notebooks full of crap.  

    The travelers notebook facilitates this!  You do not have to break the spine of a book, and you do not have to depend on the back pocket like in a Moleskine, because while the back pocket is cool, it is only good for me to get the stuff back, I need it to be put in with the page that it goes with.  The notebooks for this thing are small, so they will be used quick, probably before I bust the spine.  That is not the best part.  The best part is that they make accessories for it, like double sided stickers for mementos, or, and this is the best, STICKER POCKETS!!!!!!!.  The sticker pockets are stickers applied to a page that put a pocket on it, and I do not know if they are purposefully this size, but it is the perfect size for Fuji Instax photos! Which I love to stick in a journal.  They used to be such a process, but no longer!  The stickers and pockets come on a sheet that is, of course, sized to the Midori books so they fit in your accessories pockets!!! The OCD is just being stroked sensually!  

    Everything fits together, and I love it.  I have not even gotten around to the actual paper.  Do not buy this if you hate ghosting (where you can see what is written on the other side of the page.  I have used both fountain pen, and regular pen, pencils of all sorts, and they work great, unless you hate ghosting.  Let’s go down the line of what I love and how I use it.

Daily planner:

  • It has room for two months, with a 31 slot index before each one.
  • Each page is numbered, so you can use it as the day of the month or a page number
  • A slot to check off which day of the week it is.
  • One page, one day. 
  • This leads to the notebook

Notebook:

  • I enjoy the paper quality
  • There is enough room to throw a date on it and use it like a journal i I need more space than is allotted by the daily planner
  • Because they are paired up with the daily planner, I do not feel the need to number the pages or conserve, it is simply an extensions, so paste all photos!
  • Did I mention the price isn’t bad once you are just buying the notebooks?

Zipper pocket:

  • I currently use it for stamps, envelopes, basic stationary…despite there not being any tear out stationary…I’ll fix that
  • I plan to put an eraser or two, which was basically impossible with he Lihit cover 
  • I could put a pocket notebook in the front pocket, but the back would be better.  
  • The back pocket is not a zipper, but it is an open faced pocket, two actually one on either side.  I store the stickers and sticker pockets in it.  I will leave one open in which I will place things I pick up until I get home and can put them in the notebook, temporary storage.

Kraft File:

  • Two sides, pockets on the inside, one per page, that allow you to store things you may need through out the day.  Each one also has a smaller slot for things like business cards.  
  • I plan on using it to hold our items for our trip, plane tickets, show tickets, schedules, reservations.  It is kind of the official type of pocket.  The formal pocket.  


   This may become my go to system.  I will come back with an update after New York.  

    The parts I plan on ordering are some pan am stickers which will go in the pockets, so that my travel writing it kitche, a pen holder, a book mark/stencil, and a weekly planner.  I feel the need for a weekly spot.  This system could really fill the gap for those who need a bullet journal, but hate the idea of drawing their own planner pages, like me.  This is officially part of my EDC.  It comes with one leather page marker in it, and I made one out of a thing my kids made me for Father’s Day, but I think you could put more leather cord into the lug.  

    I will tell you my favorite part.  When you are finished for the day, you put the second elastic, which is tied in the back, around it to keep it closed, and you throw it down on the table, it hits with a heavy satisfying thud of a notebook that speaks of someone who is well travelled and worldly.  When you hear this thing hit the table, you know people know you are interesting because of your heavy leather notebook.

5/5 

Analog Savage

Brandon Bledsoe 

Kites, Kites, Kites: Analog Activities

We love analog toys, and Kites are one of the very best.  

     It does not get much simpler than kites.  This photo is as analog as it gets, instant photo of a kid running around with a kite in hand.  

     When was the last time you enjoyed something simple?  Something where you went out and waged a small battle against the elements?   That is how I see kite flying.  I got the love from my grandfather, he seems to be obsessed with making odd little things fly.  He used to have a couple of wooden planes with motors and wires that I suppose could be made to fly in a circle.  

    Say the word to yourself, kite.  There is something life affirming about it.  I mean yes, there is also something Charlie Brown about it.  You could lose your kite, my son got one stuck once.  We got it back.  He gets frustrated with the erratic winds ( so do I ) and he thinks maybe the kite is broken.  

    Today we went to a kite shop.  Call me Vikrum, a real kite shop.  If you have not heard of them, get Bridge Kite Shop on your radar.  They do not have a retail front yet, but they will in the future.  You can book them for parties, they do workshops, and best of all they sell kits for classic washi kites.  I sent them an email, seeing if I could come by, why pay shipping if you do not need to, and these awesome guys just had us right on over.  

    Cade and Stuart are two of the nicest people I have met in the kite industry.  Given, they are the only people I have met in the kite industry, but they are still amazing.  They had us over, let us shop, did not complain about kids, and passed the ultimate test, they let my kid use their own restroom when he inevitably had to go, despite going before we left.  We left with some kite kits, some of which you can get in sets of five, or more, to entertain groups.  These guys have taken San Antonio up a notch.  

    Kites do not have to come in kits, the Walmart ones are good, they do what kites do.  They go together in under a minute and they have string.  Get one, for 5$ you can kill the tv for the afternoon, take your kids outside.  You only have to unplug and engaged a little everyday to take the parenting away from the electronics some.  Stay tuned and we will show off our kites.  

Analog Savage

Brandon Bledsoe 

Stamps of the Soviet Union: 1983: Part 2

We are back with some more postage stamps from the Soviet Union.  The year is still 1983 (and at the rate I work, will be for a while.)  Some stamps will be more interesting that others, some I will do in large groups just to get them out, others may be here by themselves.  The Savage has four stamps for you to read about today.  

Firstly, something less interesting, in terms of actual Soviet things.  A commemorative stamp plate for Rembrandt’s “Potrait of the Old Man in Red.”  

     Rembrandt’s work is often featured in commemoration on Soviet postage.  Why?  Was he Russian?  No, he was Dutch, and they so much as tell you so on this plate.  The reason for so much Rembrandt is told to you on this plate as well, in short.  Catherine the Great purchased a good few of them–twenty-three actually–and they live in the Hermitage museum to this day.  

     It was issued on 1983/11/10 (YMD) and comes individually numbered.  The top of the plate reads “State Hermitage Musuem: Leningrad.”  The top of the stamps also says “State Hermitage.”  The bottom of the gold border on the stamp says Rembrandt, and the tiny print below that is the name of the actual piece.  The middle of the plate reads (roughly) “An assembly paintings situated in The Hermitage by Rembrandt, 1606-1669, the greatest Dutch artist of the 17th Century.”  Below this is the seal of The Hermitage.  

   The Hermitage actually has a Rembrandt room for all of these pieces.  I suppose it is worth noting the city is no longer called Leningrad, today it is Saint Petersburg.  

Next, is the 60th Anniversary of Aeroflot.  

    Instituted in 1923, Aeroflot was the state airline of the Soviet Union, and today is the flag carrier of the Russian Federation and their largest airline.  The airliner featured is an Ilyushin-86, introduced in 1980 and retired from civilian service in 2011.  The Russian Air Force may still use a couple.  There were 106 of them produced and they were the first Soviet wide body, and the second four engine wide body in the world.  The plane was reliable, but the engines, in true Soviet fashion, came off the assembly line outdated by twenty years when they were new.  Still this model never saw a fatal incident.  

     The bottom of the commemorative plate says “The largest airline in the world.” Below that says “60 years.”  

    A lesson came with that translation.  A lesson about Russian.  The three words came out by my hand as a name, airlines, and peace.  I typed them into translation software individually and they each came out as I had translated them.  On a whim I typed the same three words, no more no less, in as a whole phrase, and it came out “the largest airline in the world.”  I have learned not only a new trick, but a lesson that some things will not be easy, and I may need a Russian…
Now, let’s get into the really good stuff!

The 113th Anniversary of the birth of V.I. Lenin


    This kind of thing is in now way special.  I have seen all the years, but it is not far fetched to think that the only years there were not stamps celebrating his birth were 1922-24, the years he was alive and that they had stamps, and the year he died.  However, what makes this one interesting, in my opinion, is the sketch on the bottom right of the plate.  It has Trotsky.  Trotsky!  Trotsky was a no-go.  Stalin hated this guy, had him assassinated even.  Animal Farm tells the tale.  There were even some assassinations arranged in house of people falling out of favor, and their murders were blamed on others as being members of supposed “Trotskyist Plots” against the state.  This was the start of the purges!  Color me red with surprise at finding Trotsky on a Lenin stamp less than thirty years after Khrushchev denounced the boss.  The Rest shows Lenin with peasants, and with a soldier.  The bottom left sketch I am unsure about.  The Stamp itself is not bad either.  I feel it shows Lenin the revolutionary, speaking to a crowd.  Note the banners on the top and bottom right, and Lenin’s cap crushed in his hand.  
  Lastly, a stamp to commemorate World Communication Year.  

    Aside from Leon making an appearance, this is my favorite of the day.  In 1981 the U.N. decreed that 1983 was to be World Communications Year, a year to develop communication infrastructure.  They were not simply talking about improving phone lines, what they were describing was globalization.  

     Globalization was a term that came into use in the 70s, and is embodied, I feel, by the 1980s.  World Communications Year was supposed to show that in this new age of technology and progress no person (in a U.N. member state) was not to be disconnected from his local, state, and global community.  To me this is globalization.  It calls forth images of movies like Jumping Jack Flash in which Whoopie Goldberg works on a computer in a bank, effecting transactions in seconds between far away nations.  It is the sattelites in the sky, the computer, world news services, it is again, the bank seen in Ghost featuring ultra modern money laundering via the wire.  It was the cell phone and finally some things that we today call collectively, the internet.  That’s what 1983 was supposed to be about, to me that was what the 80s represented, and it is what the symbols on this stamp show.  I am not unsure what to make of the horn surrounding the globe in the image, and I do love how they highlighted their nation on the globe (The U.S. would have done the same.) I feel the idea of this stamp, the year, globalization, a good bit of the Cold War, and the 80s can be summed up by the largest symbol on the stamp, the radio waves which emminate from the stamp and onto the plate.  

Go watch and 80s movie and hunt some themes.  Better yet, do it while enjoying your stamps.  

Analog Savage

Brandon Bledsoe 

Dungeons & Dragons: pencil and paper roll playing games: Analog Win

The Savage is back to discuss one of the great analog wins, pencil and paper roll playing games, and the king of them all, Dungeons & Dragons.  

     Have you ever seen this guy?

     That is Gary Gygax (RIP) and way back in 1974 he gave the world (along with Dave Arneson) something great.  He gave us Dungeons & Dragons.  

     You may never have heard of this game.  You may have heard of one like it.  You may have heard of this one in a less than favorable manner, as it has a notorious reputation that is utterly undeserved.  I’m not going to go into it, but lets just say the zealots blame this game for a lot (along with metal and Harry Potter.)  This kind of thing is amazing.  I was brought in when I was around nine by my cousin David.  Later as an adult I joined the army and moved away, but any time I was home I was welcome in the games of David, My cousin Seth, or my Uncle Lonnie, family gathers around the table.  

    If you know the game, even a little, if you just know about it, then the mere mention of a D&D session causes something in your soul to spark, the promise of adventure, the smell of the trees and grass, the calm before something sinister comes into being.  If you are a player, then this is, of course, paired with the smells of Mountain Dew, cheetos, and a table full of books and dice.  The pleasurable tingle of an impending D&D session SHOULD be like the opening sequences of Skyrim in your head.

     That is the point, it is kind of like video games, but better!  Why better?  Well it forces you to get in touch with something you may have forgotten.


    People have forgotten their imagination.  Here are some more reasons that tabletop RPG is superior to the video game.

  1. It involves books.  You get locked into the books, you learn the worlds, lets face it, books ar amazing.
  2. No video game will ever be as open world as a pencil/paper RPG.
  3. It involves real people, gathered together, doing real things.  
  4. Going with the imagination, it does not involve artificial stimulation, it allows you to exercise your creativity.
  5. It allows you to get locked into a pretty serious dice collection.  
  6. Again, you have to talk to people, with your mouth.
  7. No call of duty kids.  You start being a nine year old and suddenly the other players might just roll up on you and straighten it out.  

     I tell you this.  You need a place to play.  Most of the games I have ever played, were in the homes of other people, or my own.  In fact, that is how I met my best friend Carl…by spying through the window on a session being played in his home, which I was later welcomed into…but that is another story.  You will also need a place to acquire your books and dice.  I’m going to slam down my die hard belief in shop local for this kind of thing.  The local game store must not die.  The game store does not neccesarily end up being where you will play, but in my case it is, and that is why I buy my stuff from them, they give us a place to play with local soul and players.

    I give you Knight Watch Games of San Antonio Texas!  This place is amazing.  The owners have made such an amazing store that, it has a Facebook players community all of it’s own.  That was how I got my current game put together.  The owners told me about the community and within a couple of hours I had players.  That can be one of the hardest parts of playing, is getting committed players together.  I was concerned about this when we moved recently, having to leave Carl and all, but Knight Watch and their community made it all a lot easier.  Now I am there till closing a couple of nights a week.  The new boy has made friends.  

    You don’t have to know all the lingo right away. Here’s a primer though.  

  1. Numbers paired with an E is a reference to the addition of D&D.  
  2. Editions last quite a while.
  3. 4E was pure garbage.
  4. Hot garbage.
  5. Most people stuck to 3.5.
  6. Others turned to pathfinder.
  7. 5E is amazing.  It is simple, elegant, beautiful, and gets back to the game.

In my opinion, 5E is what always should have been.

    If you have been on the fence about getting into a game like this, let me give you the push, go for it, get into it, give it a go.  However, some things to keep in mind that will enrich your playing experience, and that of those around you:

  1. Shower. 
  2. Be willing to commit to play semi regularly, everyone needs to sit down with their schedules and plan as much in advance as possible.  Some land mines are unavoidable (my last game was made up mostly of fellow college students and a night cop from campus.  I didn’t make it easier by getting into a play during the semester.)
  3. Do not expect to have an easy go.  Embrace player death.  That is part of it, if there is no risk, the game is no fun.  Be ready to be written back in as a level 1 and enjoy the hilarity that ensues. 
  4. If you witness a player argue with the DM a few too many times, ask the other players if the DM sucks, if not, punch that argumentative person. (Kidding)
  5. The real number 5 is for the DM.  If you are new, utilize the guys who have the books mostly committed to memory.
  6. Have fun.
  7. Try to imagine.
  8. Play the character that makes you happy.  They are not always practical (bards), and may die fast (bards), but you will die smiling.

A side note:  D&D is obviosly not the only game like this.  It is kind of a rule #34 effect.  If you want it, there is most likely an RPG for it.  Star Wars, Warmhammer 40k, Zombies, The Lord of the Rings (which is actually set up to work with the current edition of D&D *happy noises*).  Try one, try them all!  I really want to play the Star Wars games, and am hunting on eBay for the old Robotech RPG books.

    Get off Xbox and fire up the brains.  Sharpen your #2 pencils, and prepare to roll the dice.  Be ready for the thrill of success and the plunging sickness of a rolled 1.

Brandon Bledsoe

Analog Savage
Some Shots of myt current game, players, and the much beloved Knight Watch Games of San Antonio Texas.

Analog Win: Kettlebells

Ok, so let us be honest, no one has ever shown a digital means of exercising.  There was an interesting bit on how that might go in Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, but that is still not a serious option for people to entertain in this century.  

     So what would warrant the use of the word analog for the win in this case?  Machines, exercise machines.  The rise of the exercise machine is not something we here at Analog Savage celebrate.  We subscribe to the philosophy of Pavel Tsatsouline, great destroyer of the machine, turner of the Soviet themed phrase, and all around bad ass.  Give this guy a google.  He is hilarious, his videos are dramatic and over the top, and I am inclined to believe that maybe his accent is not that thick, but he is still awesome.  

    Let us keep this simple, Pavel says machines do not work, and that a gym should look like a rusty junk yard full of heavy junk on the ground that needs to work against physics by being forced to cease to be at rest.  Now, given machines probably do have their uses, if you are trying to build some kind of crazy mass for looks or the cult of body building.  Pavel is not concerned with looks overall, he wants you to get strong, and believes that the appearance of strength will come with it.  Bring in the kettlebells.  

     This will not be a primer course on kettlebells.  In fact, I will do my very best to avoid giving you any actual directions on fitness or anything like that, as I do not want to have a lawsuit brought against me when someone fails to practice proper safety while swinging balls of iron.  What this is, is my opinion.  

    The kettlebell is the simplest fitness tool, once you know how to use it.  It is wickedly effective and punishing.  This thing goes where you go, I have moved twice since starting kettlebells and each time, I stick them in our car and take them with us.  They are compact, the gym goes where you go, they could be used inside of a jail cell (I believe).  

    Let’s get this out of the way, this is not crossfit.  Crossfit has incorporated kettlebells into their programming, but that does not make everyone who uses the tool a participant of the latest fitness craze.  You can focus on kettlebells without joining that particular cult.  

    Find yourself a trainer, and if you listen to me, buy yourself some real Russian iron here.  The Wal-mart or local sporting goods place probably has some wad of concrete, painted in some form of metallic paint, that you can get a result out of, but they will not last you very long.  Take this one from me, once that paint comes off, the concrete underneath is going to grind your hands away in a big hurry.  Kettlebells are an investment and like many things, you get what you pay for, buy the real deal and you great-great-great-grandkids can tell the people in their hover chairs stories about you and the kettlebell you passed down to them so they would be fitter than the future people.  The same goes for some good training.  Listen to me again, these things wielded properly will carve you from marble.  Used improperly they will devastate you, permanently injure you, and potentially kill you or someone who has a close proximity to you.  I am not being dramatic, iron enjoying some speed and force will wreak havoc and destruction on anything short of a larger kettlebell.  

     How do you spot a good trainer?  I do not know, but I will say to rule out anyone who cheers you on for getting injured.

    The Savage says kettlebell is a winner.  I will leave you to form your own opinion.

Do you really like that? Using caution and discretion on the road to analog

My Great-Grandmother passed away recently.  She lived through a lot of things that we study in school, The Great Depression and World War II come to mind first.  She was a young woman when the Chicago Cubs were in their second most recent World Series.  Her death was preceded by about four years of being in assisted living due to not being able to care for herself, basically Alzheimer’s.  When my family began to inventory her home, it was found to be stuffed full of dollar store deals, yard sale finds, and things that had been on sale in bulk.  Notebooks by the hundred, odd singing bears, crap from every era since not long after the sixties.  The house was not all, there is a smaller house and multiple falling in storage buildings on the property.  In short, she had been hoarding.  Not the worst I have ever seen, but some of it.

Last year David Sax published The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter.  I have not read it.  I may, it is nothing personal to the author, it is just another book on the stack…yes, an actual stack.  I hold firmly to my belief that you can run a page and blog called Analog Savage without having to read a book about analog things.  The point here is that the title reflects a point I had made before, the idea of ‘The Real.”

The real to us is things that matter.  It is the quilt I am making for my son and the hours of my life that are sewn into it.  It is the tactile experience, it is the activation of the senses.  The real is craftsmanship, it is something original, something with a purpose.  There are a million ways to describe the real, and it is almost certainly easier to point out what it is not, rather than what it is.

That brings us to the dark side.  The real involves real things.  Physical objects.  They actual mass, real things take up real space.  I would say they cost actual money, but you can blow money on digital things as well.  The real, being analog, it all involves actual crap that takes up space and has to be stored and maintained.

I am the worst about it.  I am not a hoarder, but my friend Carl says that my hobby is having hobbies.  My wife says that my largest collection is my collection of collections.  These statements are both true.  Let us introduce the book pile.

There it is.  That is my personal monster.  Now, before you set about judging, I did not buy all of those and just not read them.  Many of those I was given by my Great Aunt, in a story that goes back to the Great Grandmother, and I have just not been able to get to them, or I have been listening to them as audiobooks.  There is a convoluted twisty canyon of thought that you do not need to sort through here, but they are on the floor because if they are on the shelf I will forget about them.  I am working on them.

We seem to always be in a race to outperform previous generations in materialism.  We just have so much crap.  Those books are not crap, they are heirlooms, and a chain of the thoughts of someone I love.  My Baseball cards on the other hand…

I love comic books, despite my hate/hate relationship with the publishers right now.  When I was in my latest collecting and reading frenzy of comics, before the writers decided that having a good story was the wrong way to sell books and titles proliferated into madness, I carried a monthly collection of twenty books or more.  When the storylines started to turn, I kept buying.  When it had advanced well past the point of sticking it out, I kept buying.  When even my favorite characters failed to please (google Bat-Chappie), when they made sure to involve each character in multiple series and big world shattering events came every quarter to squeeze every cent from us (secret wars…) I kept buying.  Why?  The same reason that a lot of people buy more and more, to bee seen as being current.

Keeping up with the Joneses is not just about the house and pool anymore.  It is now about showing how much you love something by keeping piles of it to sleep in apparently.  I had to buy Batman comics no matter how much they sucked due to my status of self-appointed supreme Batman fan of the world.

Now I have to apply a simple test, asking myself “Do I like this or do I wish to be seen as liking this?”  It does not break the cycle immediately, but it does confront me with the truth of some things.  Am I going to enjoy this, play it with friends, read it, use it, or am I going to try to find a corner in a closet to get this out of sight out of mind so that I do not need to feel bad for having spent the money on it, maybe pulling it out once in a while to show off when the thing is mentioned.

If it fails the test, just be honest.  Being analog is about actually enjoying the thing, not piling the thing up.  Am I going to interact with my Soviet Stamps every day?  No.  Am I preserving something that there will never be any more of, and getting a truly rewarding experience while doing so?  Yes.  Will I interact with my baseball cards every day?  No.  Am I enjoying them for more than five minutes after having opened them?  Not really…

This post was just to caution you about the rabbit hole of the analog things.  Now people write books about how to get rid of crap.  One of them I enjoyed just for the irony of it.  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo is a book, in which there is a chapter about getting rid of your books.  This is where people got the notion of the whole “throw out things that bring you no joy,” I would caution against this extreme approach as I shove my treadmill, sister, and anything that resembles non-hobby work out the door.  The second irony is that they sell this book in the container store, and in the book she says that organizing is not tidying, it is just putting the crap somewhere else, somewhat neater.

This is the balance the tagline at Analog Savage speaks of, appreicate the printing press without buying one. To collect stamps you will need stamps, but start with a theme.  If you are going to explore the analog, be picky, be thorough, exercise discretion and judgement, and half fun without being buried under the weight of crap you do not actually care about.

Analog Savage

Stamp Collecting: Great Analog Hobbies

For many analog hobbies, it is true that if you look near the heart of the thing, collecting can be found in some form or another.

For me the love of the stamp came naturally, and was partially detailed in a previous post, but here is the short version.  My Grandmother was a Rural Letter Carrier.   My mother worked there off and on, My grandfather also worked there, and later my grandparents would retire from that post office.  It is/was one of my favorite places in the world, it is the post office for home, Soddy Daisy Tennessee.  I used to play out in the parking lot, and there was a wall to keep the ground from collapsing into the lot.  If you climbed to the top of it there were railroad tracks, it was at this rural post office, as a boy, that I saw the tan tanks on trains heading off somewhere in the early 90s.

Stamp collecting goes back to the advent of well…the postage stamp.  I love history, and if you look closely enough, there is a history lesson in every postage stamp.  What makes it great as an analog hobby besides that?  Well, it does not require a lot of start-up capital or specialized equipment or the thing we all seem to be short on, time.  It can be as simple as buying a sheet of stamps that you like at the post office and putting it away.  Places like Hobby Lobby sell bags of around 300 stamps for about ten dollars a bag, and there is a big mash up of stamps in those.  You will, of course, come across many repeats, but there are great things too, I have pulled plenty of WWII war bond stamps out of those bags.

I collected ever since I was a child, and it usually consisted of putting away sheets of the stamps that had come out and my family bought me what they believed I would like. Remember for me, the post office was a deep part of life.  I looked forward to the post office picnic every year.  There were good prizes for the games, usually postal related.  The point is, I was never one to trace rare stamps, or to have a giant book, but what I did have was Classic Movie Monsters, Bugs Bunny, and I Love Lucy.  This hobby allows you to pick your own involvement level.  Minimal investment, a vague interest, and the willingness to research.

Here is where I will say this for the first time: Digital for the win.  This hobby has been improved through the wonders of the Internet and the personal computer.  Guides, and lists, that used to cost money, are now available for free online.  My real collection is the stamps of The Soviet Union, and a website called Collectors Net has saved me the price of a sixty dollar book.


You will all have to forgive me from this point on with this post, I was just informed that I lost a family member tonight.

I decided to involve my son in stamp collecting and so we expanded a bit.

We buy the bags together, sort the stamps together, and then we do his favorite part, we soak the stamps in hot water and peel them from the paper they are stuck to and dry them in books.  It is time together, not in front of a screen (minus part of the research, if we do not use the hard copy encyclopedias) and he gets to learn some things.  Stamps do not offer much in the way of the tactile, but even at four, the taste he had gotten was enough to make him excited to see the National Postal Museum in Washington D.C. and as I said, it does not involve a video game or a television.  It steps into the real a little bit.

Bottom line-  You can start a quick and easy collection that can grow with your knowledge on the subject.  You can give the collection and the passion to your kids.  You will also be in some good company, FDR and Freddy Mercury counted among the great philatelist.

Let’s address that, philately, the study of stamps, is not stamp collecting.  However, you usually cannot collect stamps without some light philately, so do not get hung up on the two being used interchangeably.

The Bullets:

  • low initial cost
  • something for everyone-national icons, celebrities, sports, the stamp world almost has it’s own rule 34.
  • low initial knowledge need
  • Self-adhesive stamps are the devil

Tip  Bullets:

  • look up the Vario system, second to none stamp storage pages
  • The National Postal Museum has better articles than I could ever write on how to get started, right here.
  • get the kids involved
  • pick a niche at first-Hollywood, musicians, Soviet Russia, Cold War-era, the 80s, there is no limit to niches
  • Every year the post office puts out a complete guide to every U.S. Stamp ever, get it as your first serious purchase, runs about 45$
  • slow down, enjoy the learning, and the collection
  • pull it out and review it sometimes
  • Read articles
  • Getting a pen pal or two can help, they usually have cool foreign stamps if they are not from U.S.

Get out there and get an old fashioned stamp, and look at it.  If you are still collecting in a year, maybe you will be ready to study how they are printed.

Ganger-Bjorn, The Analog Savage

Baseball: The Greatest (Analog) Game

If there is one thing we love here at Analog savage it is the great American game of Baseball.  Let us get one thing straight right now.  I am saying Baseball is American in origin, not in total distinction, the world has picked it up and ran with it, and I love how far the national pastime has spread.

Baseball has always been there for me.  I remember watching the Braves with my family as a kid.  Those were good, easy times.  I did not play as much ball, organized, as I would like to have now.  Baseball was always best with your friends, out on some crap field, slamming balls in a disorganized fashion.  I don’t think I ever said thank you to the guy who taught me to play catch.  I still can, I have him on Facebook.  Might be to weird for him…

Anyhow, here is why things like baseball are so important.  They are real.  Analog games are real.  I am not here to put down someone’s lifestyle, but give me something real any day.  What makes it real?  It is the other people (if the situation calls for them,) it is the tactile experience, the ability to engage your senses.  Without those things, something is just well, it isn’t real in a way.

Before someone throws down and threatens to get their ninja gear, I have played my share of video games, hell I collect them, any of them that multi-player essentially means you have to be in the same room, cords optional.  I have even played a good amount of World of Warcraft, but that was many moons ago and it isn’t the same, not even close.

Real is the feel of your hands on that wood, the smell of the dirt, that crack that surprises you every time you connect with that smooth ball.  It is the uncomfortable dug out seats, it is your kids squeezing in next to you to ask 5000 questions about the game because they want to be close to you, and they want to love that game on tv.  Real is the sound of a slide, you know the sound, when a human being heading for a base sounds similar to a vehicle stopping on gravel.  Baseball is real, and sorry to have to disappoint, football will never be the national pastime.

My team is the Boston Red Sox.  Being a kid from Soddy Daisy (Chattanooga) Tennessee, we watched the Atlanta Braves.  They were the closest pro team.  My brother in law in South Carolina loves them, and I’m fairly certain it is still a proximity thing.  How did I become a Sox fan?  I did it experiencing the real.

2007, The Savage was in Baghdad, Iraq.  I was walking through the PX on the big base one day while we were there, a real treat mind you, and I came across a sporting goods section.  The base we were on did not even have an American owned store, so this blew my mind.  I was angry that these spoiled people had time for such things.  Then I realized, so did we on our base, and I could not blame them for where they were assigned.  What I could do was buy a bunch of gloves and balls, and surprise the guys with a game of catch.  It became our thing.  We made sure they occupied some odd space in our trucks and when the bigwigs had to talk to the Iraqis leaders for hours, we sometimes tossed ball.  It did not occupy every free second, some of them, if they read this, may not remember doing it, but we did it, and we loved it.

One of those guys was from Boston.  He is a great guy, we are friends now.  We do not speak much, but we are friends, and he could ask me for a going to jail favor today and he would have it.  This is the case because there was a time where we lived the real together.  He may not even know he did this, he may suspect based on my Facebook posts, but he was the one.  We talked baseball, and he told me about the Boston Red Sox, and Fenway park, and the team’s history.  I was sold.  I was hooked just in time to pay attention during the 2007 World Series.   Now The Sox, and Fenway are very important in our house.  We even have a “Fenway Wall” where we chronicle our trips to the park to see games.

We do opening day right too.  There will be more photos at the bottom for that one.  I wrote an entry for the first time we went to see a game at Fenway, my oldest son and I, it is here.  It is about the real.

You get a limited amount of time here.  Do not waste it.  Do not be that person on World of Warcraft with their kids begging them for five minutes attention.  A game of catch transcends gender, it is timeless, and it is the open forum.  You look for a way to connect with someone?  Get to the real, share something real.  Real can be found in some video games, but there is a fine line.

Baseball is the top of the analog games.  It can even involve a television set, because my family and I, my friends and I, we are connected to something during that time.  We get the senses involved, we get the right hats and shirts on.  I even found a way to make it cross lines.  I recently took up scoring games.  What a mind blowing way to get deeper involved, to experience the game on a level I never knew.  We play ball, we collect the cards, we watch games as ritual, but scoring a game was like a drug.  Try it sometime.  Learning how may be a little daunting, the best advice I can give, to clarify the tutorials, just score your team.


I want you to know the beauty of the real, of the analog, and baseball is as good a place to start as any.  Go to a game, eat a hot dog, play catch with your kids and neighbor, have an old worn out glove and stick of American Ash cut in Louisville you write your story on.

Baseball was best summed up in the movie “Field of Dreams” by James Earl Jones’s character Terrence Mann, “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again.”

I have talked enough, but here I will leave you with some resources for more on the greatest game in the world, and some summations of my take on ball.  Never forget, the first point and most important point is to experience baseball, then read about it and watch movies as it invades your soul.

  • Bats are made of wood, and Louisville Slugger is the best
  • The Art of Manliness made an awesome post about the 15 Best Baseball Movies, no need for me to re write it.
  • Here is some nifty info and a good score card download
  • Doping can and should be fought
  • I do not care about the designated hitter rule
  • Baseball cards have proliferated into madness, but Topps is best
  • The evidence says Joe didn’t do it, and it would be amazing to see him reinstated 100 years later
  • The best feeling is when the ball lands in glove
  • If it is not fun, stop playing, but never forget that you are there to win.
  • There will be a last game of catch, don’t let it be because you said no too many times and they stopped asking.

Ganger-Bjorn, The Analog Savage

What is in your pencil’s history? (National Pencil Day)

Today is National Pencil Day, and the pencil is by far the analog center of the savage’s world.  It is the thing in my pocket, that makes me use my notebook, that contains my entire world.

There will be a lot about national pencil day, but it seems the reason for the day (or at least being observed today) is because March 30, 1858 is when the United States first granted a patent for a wood cased pencil with an eraser on top.  I have seen various explanations for why pencils are usually yellow, and the one we will be going with is that it was to copy the Koh-I-Noor Hardmuth, but that is for another day.

My National Pencil Day bit will be about the pencils made by Mitsubishi.  Can you believe that these pencils are linked to the cause of the Korean War?

Now that you have read that outrageous and unnuanced claim let us get to the meat of it.  This will be a historical post.  In the interest of it not being forever long, it will be written in broad historical swaths.  If you would like to know the rest, I can provide it.  This is not meant to be a scholarly article, it is a blog post, but the history is good.

When people see my Mitsubishi pencils they say something like, ” Wow…Mitsubishi makes everything…”  That statement is not that far from being true, they do make an uncommonly large variety of products.  Off the top of my head I can think of they produce cars, television sets, pencils, microwaves, etc.  People do not seem to notice this until they see a pencil with the Mitsubishi brand.  When I hear this I show them the date (1887) on a pencil and embark on my little story.

In the late 19th century (1860s) Japan made the transfer from isolationist pre-industrial nation to effective imperial and industrialized nation.  Japan had seen the success and power of industrialized colonial powers and it was decided this was the way forward for Japan, constitution and all.  The Japanese had a large goal, to industrialize and catch up enough to be competitive within around twenty years.

This was a lofty goal indeed, but the Japanese pulled it off, remeber the Mitsubishi name is marked as established 1887.  Part of their method was to allow (again I am being broad here) wealthy families to invest massive capital into the hopeful national industries, in return, these families would hold pseudo-monopolies over the industries.  These families were the Zaibatsu or financial clique.  Similar to the early LLC of the United States if an example is needed.

Japan succeeded and by the late 1904 were able to defeat Russia in a war.  Later the industrialized and conquering Empire would take control of Korea.  With the Empire’s defeat in World War II, a power vacuum was opened in Korea, and like Germany, was essentially divided between the United States and The Soviet Union to sort out what should be done to fill the vacuum.  The Soviets set up the communist north, and the U.S. the anti-communist south.  The rest is history.

Now who could have known that all that history was contained in these tiny wooden pencils.

I hope you have a very good National Pencil Day, and that perhaps this is your chance to rediscover what is in my opinon, the best analog tool, the wooden pencil.

Ganger-Bjorn, The Analog Savage

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