Saturday, October 31, 2015

October Miscellany: Writing, Drawing, Note-Taking

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm back blogging again, and I think I'm going to be back for a while this time.  If you missed them, be sure to check out my two new posts, a review of J. Herbin Rouge Caroubier and a post on my university study and revision process.  If you need more reading, then see the links below.  I've been collecting links all the time I haven't been blogging, so you're going to see some older posts here, but they're all good ones.


That's all for now!  Look forward to many more posts from me in November!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

My University Study and Revision Process

The subject of this post may seem odd, since I've been out of university for almost 4 years now.  But it recently occurred to me that, while I had this blog while I was in university, I never wrote anything about my study process.  I've decided to remedy that now, and I hope that this post will prove helpful to some readers (it will also be a reminder to myself if I ever decide to go back to school!).

Rough Notes

Most of my instructors used PowerPoint in their lectures, and usually made a copy of the slides available to us before class.  I would print these out and then add my handwritten notes to them during class.  I usually took notes using a mechanical pencil, but sometimes added colour using a ballpoint or gel pen.  If the instructor did not use PowerPoint or did not make the slides available, then I would take notes in a ruled notebook or on a loose-leaf page.  Neatness didn't matter as much as getting down the important information.  Here's an example of my rough notes:


Re-Writing Notes

As soon as possible after class, I rewrote my rough notes (and any information on the PowerPoint slides) out by hand, using a variety of coloured pens, usually gel pens.  Doing this made my notes easier to read, and also allowed me to review the material covered in the lecture.  I would not re-write anything that was not essential.  In the example below, I underlined key words, drew diagrams by hand, and used different colours to make things clearer.  This step was by far the most time-consuming one, but it was also the one I enjoyed the most: I usually listened to music while I wrote, and re-writing allowed me to use all of my favourite pens.

If you're wondering what the weird shadows are, it's the show-through from the other side of the page.

Study Cards

After creating a good copy of my notes, I transferred the most important definitions and concepts to 3x5-inch index cards (usually unlined, as that gave me more space to write).  This step is most useful for classes where there is a lot of information that you need to memorize, and I did not make study cards for most of my calculus and physics classes, because those classes were more focused on solving problems rather than memorizing information.  Study cards were especially useful in those classes where I needed to be able to identify (and know the scientific names of) different plant and animal species.  When creating my study cards, I wrote the keywords (or glued an image of the species) on the front, and wrote the information I needed to know on the back.  This step may sound time-consuming, but it actually wasn't: as long as I kept up my habit of re-writing notes and making study cards after every lecture, I usually only needed to make a few cards a day.


Regular Revision

Whether you follow any of the above steps or not, the most important part of any study process is regular revision.  I read that you should revise once in a day, once in a week, and once in a month, so after I created my study cards I would write these three dates (in pencil) on each card.  (For example, if I created a card on Oct. 29, I would write the dates Oct. 30, Nov. 5, and Nov. 29.)  At the end of each day, I would find all of the cards with that day's date and review them, erasing the date when I was finished.  (If you don't use study cards, you could also write the dates on the pages of your handwritten notes.)  I usually only needed to review a few cards each day, so it didn't take very long, and the extra time I spent every day was worth it, because it made things much easier and faster when it came time to study for the final exam.  (Before I figured out this process, I made all of my study cards and studied from them just in the week or so before the exam, which is not a method I would recommend at all!).

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What is (or was) your university study and revision process?  Also, if you would like me to write more university-related posts (or if you have any questions about this post), feel free to let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ink Review: J. Herbin Rouge Caroubier

I'm not much of a fan of red ink, or of the colour red in general, so I had my doubts about whether I would like J. Herbin Rouge Caroubier - which means "Carob Red" in French.  (The carob is a tree in the pea family that produces edible pods.  The red leaf which is shown on the Rouge Caroubier bottle or tin appears to be a carob leaf.)

J. Herbin Rouge Caroubier on Rhodia dotPad.

I received this ink in cartridge form along with the J. Herbin Refillable Rollerball that I reviewed a while back.  J. Herbin ink cartridges are short international sized cartridges, so you can use them in any pens that take that size.  The cartridges come in a truly adorable tin.  The tin is round and comes with six cartridges.  Using ink cartridges may not be as cool as using bottled ink, but I could see myself buying more J. Herbin cartridges just to get more of these tins!  This is the kind of packaging I like - aesthetically pleasing and (even more importantly) reusable.


Rouge Caroubier is not a true red; rather, it has a distinct pinkish tone.  I'm not sure that I would even have chosen "red" as the best word to describe this ink.  It's a light, bright, happy color, but not one that I personally like.  (I like pink even less than I like red.)  If you like lighter and pink-toned reds, you may love it.

Mandala drawn with J. Herbin Rouge Caroubier on an index card.  There is some feathering on this cheaper paper.

Shading appears to be slight with this ink.  You may see some when writing on paper such as Clairefontaine or Rhodia or when using a broader nib.  Flow seems to be excellent, though it's difficult to judge as I'm testing this ink in my J. Herbin Refillable Rollerball (not the smoothest writer) rather than in a fountain pen (I don't yet own a fountain pen that takes short international cartridges, something I think I need to remedy!).  There is some bleed through and feathering on cheaper paper, none on Rhodia.


Overall, J. Herbin Rouge Caroubier is a decent ink, but given that it is far from being a conventional red colour, I would not recommend it unless you are specifically looking for a light pinkish-red or reddish-pink.  I am glad to have had the chance to try this ink, as I would never have bought this colour for myself.  (And I still love the tin, even if I'm not crazy about the ink!)

Other reviews: Spiritual Evolution of the Bean, The Dizzy Pen, Quo Vadis Blog, Ambrosia's Ink Rack.

P.S.  And oh yes, it appears I'm back blogging.
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