My Favorite Things

Not just a cheesy song! This is where you're going to find a couple of odds and ends, physical things I like and recommend having, and things I like and recommend doing.

Shakuhachi

We'll start with the Japanese bamboo flute, the Shakuhachi. I was actually looking for some taiko drum music when I ran across a CD of this music, and fell in love with it. Conveniently, my friend Leo from the karate dojo (Sid the cat's dad) played beautifully and taught, which I'd not known at the time. I took lessons for a few years before confirming the fact that our family's music gene laughingly passed me by, but not before I was lucky enough to get a few flutes of my own.

Buford literally used to groan and leave the room when I'd start to play. However, I've ripped an example from Stan Richardson's CD, playing the classic piece Shika no Tone. Hope you like it, it's my favorite.

G-Shock Watch

Okay, I know this seems kinda lame to be putting a wrist-watch here, but this is something I really have to tell you about. For years I would get a watch, only to have the cheap plastic break from the main body, so I'd have to replace it. And endlessly replace batteries, of course, not to mention adjusting the time every so often because it would either lose or gain minutes.

Enter the Casio MTG900DA-8V. This was on Amazon for around eighty dollars, as opposed to the $150 you see on the Casio site, but even at that full price it's worth it. Aside from the fact that it's freaky solid shock and water resistant to 200 meters, it automatically synchs up with the atomic clock four times a day -- no more adjusting the time, ever again. And the battery is solar recharged, so will not need replacing for an extraordinarily long time as watch batteries go. I've a few friends at work who've got the exact same model, have had it for years longer than I've had mine, and they've never seen the power indicator drop below the highest level. In years.

They also added a timer to the new version, which was a conspicuous absence. Check the Casio website.

Straight Razors

Kinda strange, I know, but I've been shaving with a straight razor for awhile now. The one on the left, though not mine, is almost exactly like my favorite, hand-forged by Tim Zowada with damascus steel and cocobolo scales (handle). I also have a Dubl-Duck, a Dovo, and a Henkels, if you have any idea what I'm talking about.

You see, some years ago I bought a Buddhist begging bowl. Included were a water filter, sewing kit, and really cheap straight razor. That made me remember I'd gotten a nice razor years before (the Dovo) at Cutlery World, and promptly ruined it by trying to sharped it like a boy-scout on a regular stone and at totally the wrong angle. But these days, of course, we have the internet. In no time, I'd had a YouTube video showing me what kind of honing stones I needed and how to fix things up.

I found the old razor, and got it honed to a point where I could use it, however uncomfortably. Had it professionally sharpened, too, and that didn't fix things much more than I'd already had it, which made me feel pretty good. I'd also found some other resources, like Classic Shaving for supplies, and Straight Razor Place for friends and help. I'm better at it now, thanks to their efforts, patience, and kindness.

Why shave with a straight razor? Honestly, it's not about getting in touch with my ancestors. Not about doing some macho thing. It is, however, about mindfulness practice. About taking the time to do this right -- because when you have a straight razor at your throat, you're very, very mindful!

Fountain Pen

As someone who's left handed, you'd think I would avoid using a pen where the ink takes its own sweet time to dry. Just taking tests in school on those blue books would result in a silvery gray hand of pencil smear, it would be a total mess with slow drying ink. Add onto that having a living working with computers, and being highly dependent on technology for my podcasts and other actitivities.

And yet, one of my favorite things to do is write letters the old fashioned way, by hand. It has become part of my mindfulness practice, too, as not only does it support the intention of careful awareness of each word said from a place of open caring, but I can't write more than a line or two before having to stop. If I don't, the ink smears from my lefty scrawl. This process has become a great support for the calming delight of taking my time while reaching out to those I love.

Enter the Visconti Alchemy pen, definitely not for the faint of heart or constrained of budget. This is one of the rare expensive treats I've given myself, and it's one I use every week. Aside from simply writing beautifully, the pen's holder has two built-in ink wells, as the pen itself has two ends and you can have different colored inks in each. I'm using Noodler's ink, the Midnight Blue on one side, and Ottoman Rose in the other. When a letter, complete with cutout paw prints or leaves, Star Wars stickers or birds, is finished, it gets sealed with wax from Nostalgic Impressions and stamped with any number of wax seal stamps. The envelope gets addressed with Noodler's Ink Black, which is water resistant, done with one of my glass pens.

Superman Christmas Plate

There are a ton of Superman items I'm lucky enough to have, including a plush Krypto, a Metropolis police badge, and lots of statuary. But this particular item is the one I like most. The pic doesn't really do the Alex Ross work justice, but it's a formal art plate with a picture of Superman flying with Lois, complete with Santa hat, over the city. The plate was sitting at The Source on a shelf; they'd forgotten they had it, and weren't even supposed to have it -- the plate was there by an accidental overshipment.

What makes this one special isn't just how I got it, though. It's the beauty of the period-like feel (Lois is wearing 40's style makeup), and the love showing between them as they fly together.

Hey, never said I wasn't a softie.

He's sitting atop my cube at work, so whenever someone asks where I sit, I tell them second floor, just look for R2. Without fail they find me in a matter of moments, and my droid gets to put on a performance.

The Dark Is Rising

This is my all-time favorite book. Mom got it for me when I was impressionable -- okay still am -- but it's a Newberry award winner, so I feel justified. It's actually part of a series, the first being Greenwich, which I wasn't as keen on, but The Grey King made it all right again.

I was very excited a few months ago to see previews of the movie The Seeker, because it seemed to have been made from the book. And sure enough, it was. Didn't quite capture the magic of the book, movies so rarely do, but it was still nice to see.

Guess How Much

Yes, still on the children's book theme, and not making any excuses, I'm quite unashamed of it. Clever mama bunny. If you haven't read it, you won't understand, but if you have? To the moon...

... and back!