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About Rob

I ask the next question — sometimes it’s not about changing things, but about changing how we think about things. I don’t know how to be late. I’m relentless, obsessed with language, and a pattern seeker.

As a certified Green Belt in Six Sigma, I help companies and individuals manage and improve their processes and operations. This means I’m usually designing assembly jigs, deliberately asking lots of stupid questions, and probably telling people where to put their furniture.

Recently, I have started up again as a tutor and academic coach, after taking a number of years off. I have also, among other things, been a typographer, a substitute teacher for middle school & high school, a singer/songwriter, and a repair technician for Macintosh portable computers. I was also a customer service representative way back when people still bought things using telephones and glossy four-color catalogs printed on paper and bound with staples. A writer’s résumé.

I own nearly three thousand books and I’ve even managed to read some of them. (Speaking of which, I would definitely not blame you if, on learning that I’ve read Gravity’s Rainbow eight times (so far), your reaction was to back away with an expression of mild horror. You have three thousand books, and you’re reading that thing again? Really? Yeah, well: those last hundred pages are actually starting to make sense — but maybe that’s just the Stockholm Syndrome kicking in…)

I was born in Chicago and grew up in Saint Paul. At one time or another I’ve lived in Santa Fe, Salt Lake City, New York City, and Portland, Oregon. For most of that time, I felt like George Bailey if he had managed to get out of Bedford Falls. Stickers on my suitcase, stamps in my passport. But I discovered to my surprise and dismay that to be happy, I need four sharply delineated seasons — especially if two of them are seemingly endless and absurdly brutal in their extremes. So I have returned to the Twin Cities, for good.

I use only Macintosh portables, but I’ve been disappointed by recent iterations of the MacBook Pro and their terrible keyboards, so I’m clinging to my late-2011 13" model like Ishmael to the coffin. and now that Apple has finally acknowledged the keyboard issue and implemented a service program, I have finally upgraded to a MacBook Air. Liking it so far. The first things I install on every new Mac are Quicksilver, Alfred, 1Password, and Cocktail. When I write on my Mac or iOS device, I use Scrivener, Bear, or iA Writer, depending on the project. But almost everything starts in Drafts.

That said, I’d rather use paper notebooks and journals. You probably should, too. Not only do they lack intrusive ads, and will not track you, they also don’t require batteries. And I promise that you’ll think better, you’ll own all your own content, and they pose an almost insurmountable challenge to online hackers.

Zebra Sarasas are virtually the only pens I use. They are vastly superior to, say, Pilot G2s. Darker lines, and the fastest instant-dry on virtually every type of paper I’ve tried. Are you left-handed? Then you need to use these pens. I may love Sarasas, but I prefer pencils — Blackwings (but only the ones with the 602 or Natural cores) or General’s Cedar Pointe, Pacific, or Goddess pencils. But honestly, most of the time I use any ballpoint lying around, because life’s too short.