My Addiction to Office Supplies Goes Outdoors

New school supplies still make me happy. When I started college as an engineer, I graduated from loose leaf paper and spiral notebooks to logbooks. I learned that a scientist has to use a bound book so that evidence is documented in a tamper-proof way. I liked that. Ok, I loved that! Then, I discovered logbooks with page numbers and graph paper pages. Ah, heaven. Soon I justified buying a scale instead of a plain ruler and next thing you know I had a few French curves and a lot of colored pencils to my name.

Now, as I prepare for my journey to Iceland (sounds awfully adventurous!) I was instructed to buy a geological field book. This notebook, my professor explained, would be turned in for grading at the end of the course. It needs to have accurate drawings (uh oh) and be kept in chronological order documenting all of the sites we visit. The date, GPS coordinates, and observed weather must be recorded along with geological observations.

I ordered my notebook online. I learned that there are many profession-specific field books. They are rain-proof, as long as you use a pencil or a waterproof pen. I scoped out the proper notebook and added two mechanical pencils, one red and one black. I wanted blue and maybe even green and yellow, but they didn’t offer anything but black and red. I also found a cover to keep the notebook and pencils together.Geologic Fieldbook

Looking at this notebook, the epitome of all scientific notebooks, I think about why I am so drawn to it. The empty notebook is a new beginning, the blank pages waiting to be filled with new experiences. Back in college, I began each new semester as an adventure and a challenge. It was tough going and as I progressed through the years, I started to count down the remaining semesters at each new start. Better to just enjoy the journey, tough as it may be.

My new notebook has a table of contents. I like the orderliness of this. Life is chaotic, but with this notebook, this one aspect of my life will be chronicled in an orderly way. Built into the back of the book are twenty pages of reference materials. These aren’t the random references that some notebooks capture, but information very specific to geology. When I am out in the field, with no internet, this will be my only reference. It’s nice to know that most of the basics are already at hand. Before I leave, I will add references of my own, particularly a map of Iceland.

Opening up the notebook, I find that each left-hand page is a blank table and each right hand page is graph paper. I wonder if my observations will fit neatly into this format. I doubt it, but this is where I need to be flexible. Hidden in the back of the notebook, I find a treasure…a scale! It’s flat and waterproof with an arrow and a big N. In the field, I can set it next to a geologic feature and point it north. Then when I take a photo of the feature, I will know its exact size and orientation.

It’s often said that planning a vacation is more fun than the actual trip. I hope that they are equally pleasurable, but I do know that I am enjoying the preparations for my next adventure. I have my precious notebook and I intend to follow up with my professor to get it back after he grades it. I am already making plans to take his fieldwork class next year…Cypress or Puerto Rico.

Who knew that a passion for notebooks could mesh with my newly unleased passion for adventure! Find the Joy in the Journey…What’s your next adventure?