Skip to main content

My Favorite Things: Printer Edition

Art lives from constraints and dies from freedom -Leonardo da Vinci

The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self. And the arbitrariness of the constraint serves only to obtain precision of execution - Igor Stravinsky

Sometimes constraints actually create success. Not being able to swim made me run.  And running taught me the discipline I needed as a writer - Malcolm Gladwell
I bought a printer this summer.  I bought it specifically to carry in the camper with us when we took our long national parks vacation.  It was the smallest, lightest, simplest printer I could find that did what I needed - it printed in color or black and white on letter size paper, period.  With it, I was able to run my reed business from the road, and it took up barely any space, and weighed almost nothing, and it was also white and cute. I loved it for the freedom it gave me - to mail reed shipments from anywhere - and for its adorable design factor. 

I had a printer, of course, at home.  My big business printer lived up on top of my filing cabinet, looming menacingly over my office. It could scan things on its huge glass plate, and it could feed a whole stack of documents through to copy and scan and print, and it could acknowledge our printing commands from anywhere in the house, from any device, and it had two paper trays for both labels and plain paper and always printed on the correct medium. It could print double-sided. It could print on smaller envelopes or photo paper as well. It was quite a nice printer, and I had been fond of it if not loving of it, and I did appreciate all of the smart things it did.  

Shortly after we got home from our trip, my big business printer died.  

But I did not immediately replace it.  It was summer, and we are poor in the summer, and after all I had my adorable white printer ready for action.  

My little white printer can live on my desk.  Because it’s not networked I have to plug my computer physically into it to print, so there’s really no need to have it loaded full of labels and paper - I'm sitting right there so it’s easy to feed the sheet I need in as I print each page.  I don’t mind the extra work because it’s so convenient having it right here next to me.  I can’t scan onto it - but I can scan on my phone now!  I can’t print effortlessly from my iPad or from elsewhere in the house - but why do I need that? It’s not such a crazy workaround to email something to myself if it’s truly necessary, and there are a surprising amount of things that are NOT necessary, and that I DON’T need to have on actual paper.  Why should I? 

It’s the dawning of a new technological age - one in which my printer actually can be MUCH dumber than all of my previous ones and I can make it work just as well in my life and also love it more!  

Looking for a tiny printer with a ton of perfectly reasonable constraints? I recommend this one! 

*This post contains affiliate links, which send a tiny kickback to me at no cost to you if you should order through them.


Popular posts from this blog

Discouraging Words

I can remember at least two old cranky violinists coming to talk to young me about NOT going into music.  There was a session, for example, during a Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra retreat in which a real RPO professional (who was probably 47 but whom I remember as ancient) told us that, statistically, no one who graduates from music school wins auditions for jobs because there are only like 4 jobs out there in the world and 7000 hotshots coming into the job market every week. 

Quit NOW. 

I may have misremembered the details of this speech, but I remember the emotional jolt.  It was designed to discourage.

Last weekend I was presenting at a Double Reed Festival, and heard some oboists grumbling about another presenter who had evidently given something of the same talk to a roomful of masterclass attendees and participants.  High school students and cheerful adult amateurs.

And look, there's an element of truth to this.  Classical music is not a growing field, and it is leg…

Generosity in Programming

I had the most interesting conversations with a few of my students after my first recital performance last weekend.  One thanked me for exposing her to so many interesting new pieces that she had never heard before.  One admitted unabashedly that his favorites were the familiar ones, the ones he already knew from his previous listening.  And both of these observations rang true to me.

See, I LOVE learning new music.  I really enjoy digging into a piece and breaking through an unfamiliar harmonic language to get to the depths of it.  To discover the composer's intention, and to find the universal emotion or experience at the heart of the work, and then to communicate that meaning back out to an audience.  This challenge is fun for me, and I think I do it well.

I have to be fair, though.  By the time I have put that kind of work into a new piece, it's not new to me anymore.  By the time I get it to the recital stage, it's an old friend.  I find great pleasure in performing i…


When we started the opera cycle (An American Dream, showing at the Harris Theater tonight and Sunday afternoon), the four woodwinds were sitting stacked in a rehearsal room.  In other words, the flute to my right, the bassoon behind me, the clarinet behind the flute, just like in the orchestra.  And it was OK.  We were fairly close together, the room was resonant, and we were working on orchestral details.  But when we moved into the pit, this seating felt VERY isolating.  The four of us were far apart, on two different levels, the wall was right next to me, and intonation and ensemble were very much more difficult.  Our entrances and releases were not clean together, and because we had to balance to the singers on stage, I found my playing getting more and more tentative.  Don't be too loud, don't come in early before the clarinet, keep everything in the box, try to lead the entrances but stay in the texture... And it felt like everything that was not quite great was my fault…