August 30, 2007

Monk and Roses


Mindfulness on amazon

I’ve been listening to this book on tape but you can also read it. I feel very relaxed. This is not some new age thing. It is written by a Zen master. I like his methods and metaphors. One metaphor which have stuck with me is of a stone thrown into the body of water. It accepts and sinks to the bottom. This is the position for meditation. He discusses the Sutra in layman’s terms. These ancient philosophy and methods illuminates. Another metaphor is of the breath. He describes each breath as a climb on the rope to get to the top. He talks about the concept of the five aggregates. This is Dharma. This book seems to touch up on a lot of smaller detail items that I’ve read in the life remix, life hacks, and life improvement tip blogs. When I eat, I slow down and respect the food, I’m mindful and thankful. When I write, I’m mindful and thankful for the paper, computer, and typewriter etc. Hand writing has now become a form of meditation. An example of mindfulness image which the author gives is when one breathes, focus as though it was the axis on which the planet rotated.

Thay on speaking of faith public radio program thich nhat hanh

Update:  September 25th, 2008  I saw a video VHS of “Walking Meditation”.  In it, Thay is talking about walking while meditating.  The breath unites the count and the step, three into one.  When walking allow yourself to be happy and smile.  He mentions the metaphor of the rope again.  He also mention that he was helping the boat people in Singapore.  He hired a boat to go out and help 700 refugee to land in Singapore.  The Government didn’t like it.  They wanted to deport him and 700 refugee in 24 hr.  It was 2am.  He did walking meditation in his room until 6am when a solution came to him.  

Green Gulch Farm Zen center in California produced the video.

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Kawaii-Cat’s Circa

August 30, 2007

Kawaii-Cat’s Circa

Originally uploaded by Duc N. Ly.
It’s never too early to introduce the GTD methodology. Here, you see my twelve-years-old niece’s custom notebook. Kawii-cat likes the 4×6 grid index cards combined with the Real Simple 3×5 index cards as GTD tabs. She keeps a list of worries: mostly about piano practices, a neighborhood play ‘Ella’ which is a modern day Cinderella story in which she has the lead roll as ‘Ella’, and her Tamagotchi ideas for the forum ‘TamaTune‘ in which she was promoted to ‘Admin’ yesterday! Congratz Kawaii-Cat!


Cira Manila Folder 2

Originally uploaded by Duc N. Ly.
I do like to use the thick Moleskine blank sketch notebooks. I’ve already filled up about half of one. I was thinking of getting another one but I decided to save some money and make my own! The thing about the Moleskine is that I can’t re-arrange the pages. Often the good sketches need to be gather into a sensible organized order. I’ve toy with the idea of cutting pages from the Moleskine and then punch them with the Circa/Rolla paper puncher to accommodate the discs. This project accomplished both objectives nicely. I’m always hesitant to draw on the more expensive Moleskine sketch books. With these home-made pages, I am more likely to draw on them.

There were a lot of discarded Manila folders in my office which I was starting to hoard until one day there wasn’t room in the drawers any more. So I decided to recycle them into a notebook! The legal size is cut down with the paper guillotine, and the corners rounded. I bought a corner rounder at a scrap booking store or they even have it at Target’s scrapbook section. To minimize the waste, I first clip the tab edge as these can get damaged in the file shuffle. I line up to the seven inch mark and chop the tab edge. Then I measure eight inches and chop the folder again. You can use what ever dimensions you want.

The corner rounder is from EK Success.

The paper puncher and discs are from Rollabind.com and Levenger.com

This is your tip of the week! Enjoy!

Featured in notebookism.com/2007/08/31 circarolla-mani




If you like this hack please digg it/design/CircaRolla_Manila_Folder_2 

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Tschai’s Journal

Originally uploaded by Duc N. Ly.

A while back, Tschai sent me this notebook. It is only now that she begins to tell me a story about the paper. Well, I actually discover a post on her new blog about paper notebooks that she’s been making. I would like to read more of her stories about the collection of notebook for purchase. What began as a few journals has grown into an extensive collection of both traditional and modern types of journals.

How wonderful it is to know that it was made in a convent. I’ve had a fascination with monastery and was fortunate enough to visit some of the monasteries in Europe. It’s good to know that the paper came from a pure source and that it was done diligently and perhaps with meditation.

D: So tell me a little bit about the Convent that made the wonderful paper.

Tschai – They are Franciscan sisters, (order of St. Francis of Assisi) and in order to augment their “outreach” program, they have livelihood projects. They are rather famous for their handmade paper. They have invitations,
boxes made of handmade paper, paper fans. The handmade paper comes in different colors and is usually sold 20″ x 30″.
On my end, I love their papers as inside sheets for my journals, it has an amazing texture and when clumped up into a book block, its not as heavy as the regular bond / board specialty paper…
D: What about the square cubes?
T: Those? those are just from fashion jewelries i thought i thought would look good as journal embellishments if you had to know, all holes found on the edges are hand-punched and hand-stitched… but I’m sure that is obvious…write something on it with you fountain pen… and take a picture…
D: So do you have a picture of the convent?
T: Nope. hehhehe
D: Darn
T: I’m sure ur imagining a cloistered convent of some sort.
D: Yes…so don’t ruin it for me…lol
T: my friend who is a nun sent me a journal made there with nice handmade paper (i don’t know what its made of) and their signature cloth.. the weaved one… off topic, just remembered my friend when you mentioned ‘nun’
D: oh wow soo cool….so you get free journals too
T: Once…hehhe as our “friendship book” i gave her one. And while away with each other, we write on those journals and exchange when we see each other in 3-5 years.
D: oh wow…another good story…okay i copy and past.
T: and i forgot to tell you, the book is side bound using Cinnamon stick to hold the cover and page.
D: so tell me about the cinnamon stick
T: well let me describe it in my own simple way: the whole book is bound by strings, sewn, but at the end, instead of the strings, sewn directly back into the book, they used a stick to stabilize the binding.

flickr photos of the cinnamon stick

poems cinnamon



The Red Jacket

August 24, 2007

blue sky mynd

Originally uploaded by Duc N. Ly.
This is a red jacket. This photo was taken few months back with the DMC-LC1. That camera has a bad sensor in it.  I miss that camera.  I thought this jacket could fit also a CircaRolla 3×5 index cards. I bought it, rescued it from the sales bin at Office Max. The jacket is made of faux leather from China. The brand is call Blue Sky. It came with a small spiral notebook.

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My Hero ‘329’

August 21, 2007

Hero ‘329’ was a fountain pen my family brought over from Vietnam. I used the jet black from 1990-1993. I dropped it on the hard concrete floor of the studio. The nib chipped and the top of the barrel cracked. It pains me to this day when I think how clumsy I was and still am to some extent. The hero was my constant companion. I wrote with it, sketch with it.

The Hero ‘329’, as I later learn of its domination or numeric designation, has many sentimental values. I’ve been looking for this pen for a very long time now. Last nigh, I found it! Let me start with last Saturday, August 18, 2007. I rode the bus to Downtown Portland to get some refills for my Parker Vector. (The Vector was also a 2005 birthday presents from the In-laws.) On my way out, I discovered ‘PenWorld’ magazine. The last page has an interview with Norman Haase of Hisnibs. After a series of email exchanges, I found it on his website! Bingo! I wrote back to Norman. The picture shows a streamline design which was inspired by the Parker ’51’ and ’61’. Frankly, I prefer the Hero ‘329’ over the Parkers. It has a modern sleek look and feel of the 50’s stream lines. The modern touch, almost futuristic, resides above the hooded nib. Some Star Trek fans have mistaken this as their insignia.

Last Christmas of December 2006, I inherited some pens from my mother-in-law. She used to write with Hero fountain pens in school. Unfortunately, the only Hero item left is a ballpoint pen. This brought back many memories. It reminded me that I used to own and write with a Hero.

The year was 2003, I was in Poland on a sojourn, an artistic residency. I was in an art supply store and found a Hero ink bottle but no Hero pen. (I also bought a pencil case.) Later, I open the Hero ink bottle cap to smell the elegant perfume. I had a Proustean moment. The scent transported me back to Vietnam when I wrote with a dip pen and made repeated dips into the Hero ink bottle. I put a piece of blotter paper between the pages of a notebook. The thick pink blotter page lay like a piece of baloney in a sandwich. When I withdrew the blotter paper, it had soaked in the mirror image of what I had written, only faintly and blurred, as if it was an inkling of some distant memory.

Here’s a bit of email exchange I had with Norman:

Hi Duc,

Do you mean that this is the pen you wanted? Here’s the link to its page:

This was the model that launched His Nibs! My wife, who is from Hong
Kong, brought a few of these back for me for my pen collection about 10
years ago (she grew up using them). I was so impressed by the quality/price,
that I had her sister send me some, which I put up on the then new eBay.
They took off, and I then ordered the entire Hero line into the U.S. Within
6 months, I was selling fountain pens full time. 🙂

Hi Duc,

A very nice piece of writing. Thanks for sharing it and for the website

The woman I helped set up in business, to import Duke and Uranus pens from
China — Linh Nguyen — is also from Vietnam (she’s recently ‘retired’,
having just had her first child!).

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The Bare & The Bio

August 20, 2007

Earlier, I had the privillage to unveil the Mynd-bio-roll-out pictures. Now the actural product is available!

I got a very exciting message from Jason on Face book:

Hey Duc!

Just thought I would pass along a note to let you know that we just officially released our new products this week. Here’s the URL to our official DIY post:


They’re all available on the Disc Bound Page here:


And FYI, I’m working on getting you the samples too…I should get them to you shortly!


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