I now have a dog.

My wife asked me today if we could go look at dogs. We’ve been talking about getting one for a while. "Well," I said. "You never just look at dogs. If there’s a dog there, you’ll come home with one." I know these things. So I asked if we were ready if we came home with one.

She said we were. Next thing I knew, we were driving home with a dog in the back seat, trying to worm her way into the front.Her name is Angel, and she’s a mutt, but mostly Labrador Retriever. What I liked about her is that she was affectionate but calm. She didn’t let the other dogs get her riled up.

We thought she was a year and three months old, but she’s actually more like 10 months old. So she’s still a puppy. A really big puppy, but a puppy.

Growing up, I had a dog until I was a junior in high school. Mom got a dog while I was in college, but I haven’t really had a dog since I was 17. So it’s time.

How to organize your thoughts and notes

I know a lot of people keep notebooks pertaining to their hobbies. Any time they find something good on a discussion forum or elsewhere, they made a copy, print it out, punch holes in it, and put it in the notebook. Some people even put their own notes, from experience or discussions, in there.

These notebooks are a good way to learn a lot and retain it–you may forget some things over the years, but reading through the notebook again will refresh your memory.

There’s just one problem with notebooks–finding the information buried within.Notebooks are, after all, reference works, not something intended to be read cover to cover. The key to a good reference work, though, is a good table of contents and index.

Who wants to spend the time putting that together? But that’s the perfect use of the piece of software I discussed yesterday.

Just install LyX, learn how to insert a table of contents and index, learn how to flag something for inclusion in the index, and then, as you find things, copy and paste them into your “virtual notebook.” As you add things to it, you can print new copies of your notebook, and your notebook will have page headings and page numbers and a table of contents and an index so you can find stuff quickly. Keep your working copy for adding new stuff in LyX, but output a PDF from Lyx that you can read on your computer(s), and print a copy that you can keep in the basement where you’re actually going to use a paper copy.

The better you organize it, the better it’ll work, but even that isn’t strictly necessary since you can flip to either the front or the back to find stuff.

I can’t think of a hobby that this wouldn’t help. I don’t believe that information overload is so much a problem of too much information as it is a problem of not being able to sort through the information available to find the bit that you really need.

Where’s this software been all my life?