The Crazy Suburban Mom: 2012-08-26

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Paper planners and human evolution - A (semi) scholarly look at Filofaxes

Being tech savvy, I've often wondered why a paper based diary system works best for me. If I'm never more then 10 feet from a computer and have a smart phone ever on me why don't I  use an electronic diary?  Ticking off boxes on a screen and having instant spell check certainly seems the way to go.

So why are several Filofaxes,  a notebook (or two), and a gallon of writing implements always at my side?  I don't know really but suspect using paper is a little like when Hansel and Gretel left a trail of breadcrumbs to get out of the dark, evil woods.

 Mark Changizi in Psychology Today said, "In nature, information comes with a physical address (and often a temporal one), and one can navigate to and from the address. Those raspberry patches we found last year are over the hill and through the woods — and they are still over the hill and through the woods.  And up until the rise of the web, the mechanisms for information storage were largely spatial and could be navigated, thereby tapping into our innate navigation capabilities. Our libraries and books — the real ones, not today’s electronic variety — were supremely navigable."

That makes exquisite sense. Memory is more then a random set of unconnected facts; there is an order to it.   Without a sense of place and time my memory would be be a library with no card catalog; all the facts I need but in the form of 52 card pick-up.

My brain - perhaps all brains - needs a trail of bread crumbs for recall. 

Paul Reber, professor of psychology at Northwestern University, said in Scientific American. The human brain consists of about one billion neurons. Each neuron forms about 1,000 connections to other neurons, amounting to more than a trillion connections. If each neuron could only help store a single memory, running out of space would be a problem. You might have only a few gigabytes of storage space, similar to the space in an iPod or a USB flash drive. Yet neurons combine so that each one helps with many memories at a time, exponentially increasing the brain’s memory storage capacity to something closer to around 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes). For comparison, if your brain worked like a digital video recorder in a television, 2.5 petabytes would be enough to hold three million hours of TV shows. You would have to leave the TV running continuously for more than 300 years to use up all that storage."

A  brain mushifying analogy,  isn't it?  My brain holding  three million hours of Television and playing it back continuously for 3oo years... But point is perfect. Without this interconnected order and flow to memory, recall would be hampered. Singular facts are lost without context and there is be no route back to them.

Maia Szalavitz, a  neuroscience journalist, describes it more eloquently then my bread crumb analogy.... "Context and landmarks may actually be important to going from “remembering” to “knowing.” The more associations a particular memory can trigger, the more easily it tends to be recalled. Consequently, seemingly irrelevant factors like remembering whether you read something at the top or the bottom of page — or whether it was on the right or left hand side of a two-page spread or near a graphic — can help cement material in mind." 

That last line was  a huge a-ha! moment.


Further along in the above article was another clue," What we found was that people on paper started to ‘know’ the material more quickly over the passage of time,” says Garland. “It took longer and [required] more repeated testing to get into that knowing state [with the computer reading, but] eventually the people who did it on the computer caught up with the people who [were reading] on paper.”

Memory, like everything else human, evolved over millions of years into an almost physical thing and it's very real.  You not only remember the fact but the where, when, and why of it.  How you felt at that original moment, what song was playing....  Even how it smelled are all contained and accessible, perhaps necessary.

These physical connections to other things are missing in digital materials.  (It's probably why if given the choice I prefer to read books instead of using an e-reader).  

Reading a book and physically writing something down is a product of the way we've evolved to process information; digital media is not.  As the studies suggest eventually digital readers caught up with people who were using paper but that won't help me if I have a Doctor's appointment at 10 a.m. today (which I do).  

I wrote the appointment in my Filofax, not once, but bunches of times...  It's on my year on one page insert, my week on two pages sheet (with stickers) and several to-do sheets this week...  If I used an electronic diary I'd have entered it once and at 10 a.m. today I'd probably be cleaning my toilet until the doctor called to tell me I'm not there but I still owe him the money.

Living in a digital age is a wonderful thing.  The ability to access all that  amazing web based information is something I wouldn't trade for anything - but it's still not as appealing as accessing my own brain. 

And to do that I have to put pen to paper and write.  For me that's the beginning of remembering...

Someday we may evolve into beings that can fly but flapping my arms won't make it happen any faster.  Maybe with time our brains will change the way they process information but not yet.  

Thinking became speech, speech became writing and, I think, writing (not typing or texting) it remains...


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Everything I know I learned from my Greyhound #4

I learned from Ventura you can teach an old dog new tricks... Lot and lots of tricks.

For more information on greyhounds visit Greyhound Friends of NJ and their list of adoptable greyhounds is here.


DIY Filofax Inserts Video Update

I've been using  my own inserts for about a week now so did a video of them.  It might be easier to get a feel for them this way.

All the individual written posts can be found here


Vintage ad of the day, August 29, 2012 Milk of Magnesia beauty cream?

Magnesium hydroxide, the main ingredient in Phillips Milk of Magnesia, is considered a stong  'base' on the acid-base pH scale.    People  took it internally for generations to neutralize stomach acid and induce... Well, you know. 

Many people don't know it was made into a face cream.  Apparently their pitch was if you use it you won't turn into  an old prune at 37.  

Is it just me or is that crazy offensive?

I don't know if there are anything positive about it for aging skin but it does help with oily skin.  My guess is it has something to do with pH levels and the chemical compound itself. 

 Skin's Ph is about 5.4 which makes it acidic, milk of magnesia's pH is about 10.5 (which is very close to ammonia at 11.0).

I wouldn't put ammonia on my face but okay, I admit it.  I put Milk of Magnesia on my face.

Can't promise it's good for you but a very (very!) thin layer applied to your face,  really does control oiliness.   

There are lot's of testimonials on line (and youtube videos) about this topic to be googled. 


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Printing inserts; the saga continues

Things are moving along with my inserts albeit painfully slow.  Printing them A5 sized on both front and back - so I get 4 inserts per page - remains a giant ink suck because I can't find the right settings although I'm closer.

This is a picassa screen shot of the latest (and best so far) print settings, it's not perfect but I did get two a5(ish)  images per side  (2 on one side, 2 on the other...)  The aren't spaced correctly in the middle and they aren't as big as when I printed them singularly.

I'm frustrated but things are moving in the right direction.

On a positive note, I found a great A4 paper to print on; Clairefontaine DCP 100 gram  8 1/4 X 11 3/4.   It came in a pack of 100 sheets for about $11.  Just put the name of the paper in an eBay search.

Decided to set the new inserts up in my Filofax Emerald Finsbury because I pretty much love that thing and it's been empty and forlorn. 

I stuck in a translucent envelope (punched) in the front  to hold some stamps, sticker, etc.  This makes it a more a functional filofax to me rather then something just storing pages.

I need a smaller overall  border and a bigger gutter in the middle. 

I like the one with the phone a lot....

This photo shows the size difference I'm getting when I print one as opposed to printing 4 to an A4 size sheet of paper.  The left side was printed today, the right was printed individually. I prefer the sizing on the right but I'm way printer-challenged.  Printing singular sheets wastes a lot of paper.  I may cut the A4 size in half and try to print them that way but I don't think that will help the gutter issue.

Then again, it might.  Printing is a mystery to me.

I added a way to track today's date on most of them.  This is perfect for me. 

Each sheet tracks days in different ways.  I like that they are different. 

Another version...

This paper is fabulous!  I wrote with a Lamy fountain pen on the flip side of this page and nothing came through, absolutely nothing. 

If I ever get these puppies to print the way I want and on this paper I'll be set forever!


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