I left a meeting this afternoon and headed towards the elevator to go back to my desk. I had the small Moleskine pocket notebook that I carry with me to jot down notes and reminders in my hand.
I suddenly flashed back to the memory of one of my all-time favorite co-workers, a brilliant guy who got a 4.0 GPA in computer science from St. John's University and currently works for Microsoft. Throughout my engineering career I made it a habit to keep a notebook/daily journal in which I scribbled technical details, derivations, sketches, handy tidbits, etc. I would date and index them for "easier" cross-reference, but being paper my ability to recall things was limited.
I'd write small personal notes in the margins. For example, each time my wife called with news that we were expecting one of our daughters I made a note of it.
After abandoning engineering and embarking on my software development adventure I tossed them all out.
I might have thrown away the now-useless notes when I stopped being an engineer, but I kept the habit. When I met my friend at the employer we had in common for a year, he gushed about the fact that I carried a notebook and wrote stuff down. He told his wife about it, who said it sounded like a great thing to do. I felt "cool" and high-tech, pleased and a little embarrassed by his effusive praise.
Flash forward twelve years. I still have my Moleskine in my hand, but now that I'm surrounded by young bucks with iPhones I don't feel very high-tech or cool anymore.