outside gear

A few outdoors gear spotted at outside recently.


I’m still looking for a backpack. While I’ll happily get another one of my current samsonite, I’ve been saving reviews when I come across them. Top of the list is wirecutter‘s recommended LL Bean quad. But this group of daypacks is also worth noting, especially since many of them are cheaper. The outlander is only US$20, can’t really beat the price.



The post is about boat shoes, but they all look really nice. The adidas is yet another adidas I’d wear, but the one that caught my eye was the nrs vibe. Never heard of the company before, they seem to be quite a specialist company that make watersports shoes for kayakers. This one is made from technical material, is tough and has good grip. It also drains and dries quickly, which is more important to kayakers but will be useful in rainy weather. I like it because, in the words of outside magazine, of:

the skate-shoe aesthetic

whisky tumblers


I’m not usually the one for single use items, so read this post with sceptism. Sometimes when mm and I go out, we’d take some whisky for picnic. We’d carefully pack two glencairn glasses in tissue paper–i have the small ones I picked up in Scotland, they use them in distilleries for tasting. The small tumblers have lids and are insulated to keep the liquid cold. Useful for cocktails. The testers say that none of the tumblers tested changed the flavour of the whiskey (spelled with an ‘e’ because they were using bulleit, I’m not as fanatical as some people think I am).

The one they liked is by klean kanteen. I’m a bit turned off by names like that, too cartoonish. And at around US$16 each I wonder if it’s worth it. May be I’ll stick with the carefully packed glencairns.

new glasses


I have new glasses. I got the last pair over 3 years ago, after the sunglasses attachment of an earlier pair fell off in the middle of Chicago marathon, I was so annoyed I immediately switched to photochromic glasses.

These look innocuous, but they are superduper glasses. Super light, super thin lenses, photochromic and, because I can no longer live in Egypt, varifocal. Luckily there isn’t the telltale split of traditional bifocal lenses, these are progressive.

Apparently it takes from a few hours to 2 weeks to get used to new glasses, especially those with a varifocal element. They seem fine, I’m getting used to where to focus when I’m reading and when I’m switching from short to long distances I need to blink once to refocus, that’s it.

one person’s junk…

I had stuff leftover from the garage sale, plus more stuff that ended up in the “give to charity” pile. I was going to take it to my local charity, but wasn’t sure if they wanted everything — I had kitchen stuff, clothes, stationery, dvds, video tapes and other misc junk. In the end, I took them all to work and gave them to my colleague, who will take them to her local christmas sharing program. They take all sorts of things, and support families in need, some of whom are refugees who arrive with just the clothes on their back. It’s the least I can do to help them.

I have too much stuff

zenhabits via bb, 9 questions to identify whether something is junk or not:

  1. does it work? if not, then throw away
  2. would I replace it if it were broken or lost? if not, then I don’t need it
  3. does it seem potentially useful, but has never been used? applies to far too many gadgets bought, especially kitchen gadgets
  4. was I saving it? then use it, otherwise it’ll go bad
  5. does it serve its purpose well? if it isn’t that useful, chuck it
  6. has it been replaced by a better model? do I have that better model? if yes, throw away the old version
  7. is it nicely put away in an out-of-the-way place? where I’ll never find it, get it out and get rid of it, it’s taking up useless space
  8. does this memento actually prompt any memories? most souvenirs only succeed in taking up room
  9. have I ever used this thing? most likely not

If I can focus, I can probably get rid of at least half my possessions and I won’t miss them. I should make myself do that.


cablebox01before cablebox02after

Sooner or later, with all the gadgets we own, we end up with a mess of wires everywhere. There are plenty of cable organisers around. I bought 3 of these cableboxes for: a) their aesthetics — they’re well designed, almost Swiss; and b) their capacity. I was able to fit a wide surge protector, the mbp adaptor, the airport, stiff cable wires, adaptor for the modem and usb charger for the iPhone/iPod into the box. Impressive.

space01before space02after
While I was on their website, I ordered a spacestation to replace the usb hub and other wires for the mbp. This one isn’t as useful as I thought, and since I already have a coolsink, the “prop the end of the laptop for cooling” bit is less relevant. Still, looks nice.

life hack upgrade

Jason Kottke was talking about upgrading your life by buying and using better quality items of every day stuff.

I rarely buy anything anymore but the things I do buy are usually better versions of things I already have. As things break or wear out, we’ve been replacing them with items that are nicer to use/wear/whatever and will last a whole lot longer than the cheaper stuff.

It’s the usual argument. Get cheap and cheerful stuff that don’t last, or more expensive higher quality stuff that may last longer. I find that when I was younger and just starting out in “life” I could only afford the smaller, cheaper things. Now I’m at a point where I don’t need to buy new stuff, so I’ve been upgrading my life, so to speak. Here are some of my upgrades:

  • aeron chair — I’ve had the aeron chair for over 2 years and considering the amount of time I spend sitting in it, it’s money well, well, well spent
  • dual monitors — especially at work when I need to work constantly with multiple spreadsheets
  • camera lens — it’s universally acknowledged that the kit lens that come with the camera body are no better than plastic toys but it took me a while before I finally got new lens
  • earphones — to be upgraded. i’m still using the apple earphones that come with the nano, although i bought a nike sports earphone for running. The plan is to get one of those Shure noise cancelling earphones — the reason I hadn’t gotten them yet is because they’re much more expensive than the US here
  • pillow — those tempur pillows really make a difference. I spend hours sleeping, so all the more reason for quality pillows
  • mattress — the Simmons I have are over 10 years old, it’s a good mattress. But time to get a new one, can’t decide whether to get it now or in Chicago though
  • knives — i have a set of le Creuset knives from London. When I bought them they were one of the high quality ones although now they’ve been taken over by carbon fibre Japanese knives. I sharpen them and keep them in good care, I think there’s a few years left in them. I pretty much only use 3 knives — a chef’s knife, a smaller chef’s knife and a small serrated one
  • pots and pans — i have 3 le creuset pans I use: an everyday pan with sprout, a large stockpot for soup and the grill-it. Additionally I have a daily use aluminium pan that is fantastic. I’ll probably gradually upgrade to lightweight Berndes
  • salt — kosher, salt, fleur de sel…good cooks know the secret of good salt. I use good with everything salt i get from lakeland, it’s sea salt plus a bunch of herbs, pepper and lavendar, i swear by it

Some people over at the ask mefi thread said macs, which is like, duh!

#71 throw away 101 clutter items

Did a little clean up today. I have too much stuff — intended presents and just general junk. Threw a bunch of them in a big plastic bag to give to Sis. Apparently my niece’s school will be holding a jumble sale soon so these will be handy. Some of them are still in their original wrapping so hopefully people will buy them.

Here’s 30 of the jumble sale items. Altogether there’s 40 items in the batch.


In the basket is an olive oil jar, 3 small rugby balls, a neck cushion, a pig photo frame. There’s also some tapes of very old sitcoms, a candle set, tiny Paris pictures, toy car, snoopy puzzle, Nigel Slater’s Appetite (which is a duplicate), a portfolio, a couple of umbrellas, a poster, Monty Python rude sayings keychains and a couple of stamp albums I found in my mailbox unexpectedly one day (that’s a story idea). Nice stuff, not rubbish. But still, cluttering up my home.

Also threw away my old scanner, about 50 tapes and other junk that aren’t sellable. Put some old clothes in a bag for Sis’ helper. Total is definitely over 101 items.

handy calendar

calendar strip

We had this at OldJob last year and it proved very useful. via lifehacker, a great little strip calendar from marlie’s creative universe. Doesn’t fit on the mbp or the flat screen monitors at work but I will be pinning them on the bottom of the monitor stand or the top of the keyboard. It’s very convenient. There are two versions to fit different sized paper: letter, which is okay on A4 paper too; and legal for a longer strip.

new glasses

mm got me new glasses for my birthday. Nothing particularly wrong with the old ones, just that I’ve been wearing them for 3 years and the lenses are pretty scratched. My prescription hadn’t changed in more than 5 years.

These new ones have thick black plastic frames that mm says make me look studious and…brash? cheeky? It’s a new look anyway, not too bad.

I looked the model up, they’re ck Calvin Klein 5110 001 — the 5110 is the model number and 001 is the colour. I also got custom-made clip-on sunglasses, no need to specially find glasses with sunglasses attachment anymore because they can be fitted to any model nowadays.


big baggage

Over the last 18 months I travelled a lot, I think Sept and Oct are the first time that I’ve been home for two consecutive months without needing to pack my bag. It starts again in Nov though.

Whether I’m gone for 3 days or 3 weeks, no matter what flight class I’m travelling in, I take the same bags — my big wheelie bag, a bit like this one, except mine’s blue canvas and $30 from Costco.


I only take my backpack as carry-on, I can put it under the seat in front and it doesn’t fight for overhead space with those bulky boring trolley bags that proliferate everywhere. Talking about cabin bags, I read about the fidobag, which are a humorous take on cabin luggage. It’s shaped like a dog, with a detachable “head” for small items and is made from soft leather. Comes in blue, black, brown or white, all with retro piping finish.

fidobag4  fidobag2

Of course the reason they caught my eye is the second picture, aptly titled breeding.html. Snicker. However cute, I don’t think I want so spend $180 on it though.

I did a google search on fidobag and came across something amusing. Apparently last year gizmodo broke a story about a furry suitcase manufactured by samsung-italia that will respond to the voice of its owner and come at their command, even wagging its tail in the process. Also, if someone tries to steal the bag, it will bark at an intensity of 197.5 decibels, thereby drawing attention to the thief.

This was exposed as a hoax or joke. First, Samsung makes electronics, not luggage. Second, it needs to pack a hell of a voice recognition system to pick out the voice of its owner in a busy airport. Third, 197.5db? That’s louder than standing next to the Shuttle when it launches — human eardrums break at 150db. Fourth, even if it was above board, who wants to be seen traipsing around airports dragging a furry, tail-wagging suitcase?

fidobagfur  fidobagdude

As an aside, doing a google image search for fidobag also gets the Fido Dido backpack. Actually, out of the three, I prefer that one, dude.

Here’s a poll. Pick your favorite.

  1. The retro breeding doggie fidobag
  2. The furry tailwagging eardrum splitting fidobag
  3. The cool dude sk8er fidobag

When I get round to it, I’ll install a polling script so next time it’ll be a proper poll with radio buttons and graphical results. But this time, just put your vote in the Comments. It’ll be fun to see if anyone responds.