The best days are the days in which I write in a little notebook. The things I write are myriad: 20 drafts of a haiku, big goals for a project, a TODO list for the day, an outline for a lecture, a draft of a talk, a humorous thought, a record of a dream, an idea that will revolutionize my teaching (next semester), the names of people I meet, a sketch of a diagram or interface, a mathematical function that I’m trying to work out, and a lesson learned after a hard day of coding.
I’ve carried a little notebook around with me since 2007. At the time I was working on some molecular visualization software for the Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory (not NASA), and I wanted to reflect away from the computer on the graphics algorithms I was learning. I went to Staples and found these portable thought collectors:
Twenty-eight have been filled since that time. I lost one in 2008, which devastated me. I’m pretty sure I left it in a restroom, but custodian Jerry hadn’t seen any sign of it.
Paper anchors my thoughts and keeps me accountable. Handwritten thoughts circulate longer than typed ones. I’m grateful for these little notebooks.