The Quest for the Perfect Man-Bag

Through junior high, high school, and college, I was known for carrying a lot of stuff with me (I hated going to my locker or dorm room between classes) and therefore always had some sort of large soft-side briefcase or backpack with me. I could only afford cheap stuff, so I often went through two or three bags a year.

A few years ago, I realized that I was starting to carry more and more stuff with me all the time, and so the Quest for the Ultimate Man-Bag began.

I first started out with a small Timbuk2 Messenger Bag:

Timbuk2 Small Bag

I was never fully happy with the way it carried or felt. I ended up using it (along with a Sumo laptop sleeve, first with my iBook and now my MacBook) as a laptop case, and still use it for that today.

Next, I tried the Zitelli Z1 MOLLE Pack.

Old bag - Zitteli Z1 MOLLE Pack

At the time, I didn’t know that the Z1 was a cheap knockoff of a Maxpedition Falcon II. The Z1 was poorly made, cheaply constructed, and had strap attachment points prone to failure – you really do get what you pay for. It lasted about a week before I replaced it with a CountyComm Bail-Out Bag:

New Bag - Front

The CountyComm BOB was well constructed, solid, durable, and held all of my stuff. However, the shoulder strap was suboptimal, and I ended up leaving it in the car more often than taking it out and into my office. A month and a half ago, I relegated the BOB to use as a range bag for my handguns and accessories, and it has excelled at that use so far (so much in fact that I ordered another one in “Sage Green” for my AR15 stuff).

The BOB’s replacement, after much consideration, was a Maxpedition Fatboy Versipack.

Maxpedition Fatboy Versipack

However, a couple of days after I ordered the Fatboy (after it shipped and before it arrived) I realized it wasn’t going to be big enough for my needs, so I ordered a Jumbo Versipack and a “Janus” strap pocket to replace it.

Maxpedition Fatboy Jumbo Versipack

I used the Jumbo for a week or so before I discovered its sole flaw – the lack of a handle on top of the bag for “grab and go” situations. It (and the Fatboy) are designed solely for cross-body strap carry, and do not work well with either single-shoulder strap carry or by being carried in one hand. So, it ended up sitting in the back seat of my car for about a month. I ended up selling both the Fatboy and the Jumbo to a friend and his wife.

After much more consideration, research, and evaluation, last week I ordered my current “man bag”, the Maxpedition Typhoon Gearslinger in khaki (as I got tired of “Tactical Black”).

Maxpedition Typhoon Gearslinger

The Typhoon is the perfect size for all of my every-day carry stuff, while still having plenty of space for books and normal “from home to office” cargo. It’s geared for cross-body carry, but there’s also a nice durable handle on top for when I don’t want to use the shoulder strap.

I’ve added two small MOLLE pouches to the left-hand side, and a few Grimloc carabiners here and there just in case I ever need to strap something to the bag. I’ve also ordered some ITW Web Dominator clips to take care of excess straps – I hate strap ends flapping around, but I don’t want to cut them any shorter.

We’ll see how this one fares – I’ve been very impressed with the production quality and workmanship I see coming from Maxpedition, so it’s just a factor of finding which bag of theirs perfectly fits my needs. I hope the Typhoon will be the one.

December 2008 Update: I’m still carrying the Typhoon. However, I’d be open to doing a review and evaluation of any other similar bags if someone were to send me something different.

I wish people would grow up.

Yeah, I’m a fat guy. So?

I wish that a few individuals would get over it, and stop leaving harassing and trolling comments on entries here.

If you don’t have anything constructive to say, don’t leave comments.
If you don’t like what I have to say, you don’t have to read this site.

Stupid College Students

At 11pm tonight, Amy and I were sitting at the stop light directly across from Stahlman Lumber at the intersection of Greenbriar and Southwest Freeway.

We watched as a fairly recent white BMW M3 pulled into the parking lot, and two guys and two girls got out. They stretched, loitered around the parking lot for 10-15 seconds, then ran over and started grabbing the big plastic movable letters off the sign on the front of the building.

I didn’t have my phone on me (to call 911), so we had to drive around the block and then follow the car as it drove away until we were behind it at another stoplight in order to get the tag info.

As soon as we got home, Amy called Rice University campus police to make a report and was told that there was a scavenger hunt going on and this activity was not uncommon at this time of year.

I don’t care *why* spoiled kids (driving a new M3) are stealing signs, the fact is they’re stealing signs. Period. There is no excuse. If they needed certain plastic letters, they can buy them at a 24-hour Wal-Mart.

Tomorrow, Amy’s going down to Stahlman Lumber to give them the info as well. Hopefully these kids will get caught and learn a lesson, before they get shot for trespassing while stealing more signs.

Update: Apparently there were no off-campus authorized scavenger hunt locations. According to the Rice PD, the students involved admitted the theft, are being brought in front of a student judicial review board.

Good Samaritans Still Exist

Just when you thought everyone was a jerk…

Coming back from running errands today, I was heading east on Westheimer and about a mile and a half from home. The car started feeling “funny”, and I felt a rumble. I turned off the radio, and it got progressively worse, till I realized that I definitely had a flat.

I managed to pull off into the parking lot of the Hilton (about a mile from the house, and two miles from the place I bought new tires at about a month ago). Yep, right rear tire was shot. I started moving junk from the trunk to the back seat, and managed to finally get the donut tire and jack out.

Loosened the lug nuts before I jacked up the car (learned this lesson a few years ago) and started cranking. The jack that came with the car is a real piece of junk, and had a very non-optimal bar used to crank it with. I’d crank for a couple minutes, then sit in the car and let the AC run. At 90F and 75% humidity, changing a spare is no fun.

With the car jacked up about 75% of the way needed to get the full-size tire off, a random big athletic guy came up out of nowhere and asked if I wanted help. I said “If you can help, please, I’m about to have heatstroke here.” He cranked the car the rest of the way up, swapped the donut for the flat, and let the jack down. He then took off, refusing anything more than a “Thank you” for his assistance and advice to get rid of the jack that came with the car.

I sat in the car with the AC on full blast for a few minutes, then drove the rest of the way home. When I walked in, Amy looked at me and DEMANDED that I get in a hot shower before I passed out from overheating. While I cooled down, she took the car down to NTB to have the flat fixed (we’d bought a road hazard warranty). This was around 3pm. Amy came home about 45 minutes later via cab, as she didn’t want to sit around and wait at the tire place.

I finally took a cab back to NTB around 5:30, and they had the car ready fifteen minutes later. The old tire was too damaged to be repaired – apparently I’d run over a set of nail clippers someone dropped in the road, and then the 1/4 mile of driving on the flat cinched the deal. A completely new tire only cost us $34 (the cost of “renewing” the road hazard warranty).

From these events, I’ve learned a few things:

– Good people still exist. I’m very grateful for the help I got from Random Dude who was walking past the Hilton.
– I should ALWAYS take my cell phone with me. Amy was just about frantic by the time I got back to the house.
– I need to toss the crappy jack that came with the car, and buy a better one that is easier to crank/jack up.

Centerpoint Energy teaches me a lesson

A couple of weeks ago I picked up a new UPS for my desktop system and hadn’t gotten around to shutting everything down so I could put it on the UPS just yet. Centerpoint Energy (aka Houston Light & Power) decided to teach me a lesson.

Two days ago, we had a 15-second power outage. Everything came back up just fine except for my 500G external SATA disk that I’d been using as a Time Machine backup volume. It started flaking out, and late in the evening finally dropped off the bus altogether (it’s connected via a cheap SATA-to-USB adapter cable and housed in a gutted Sun disk enclosure).

I ended up ordering two Mercury Elite-AL Firewire 400/USB2 SATA disk enclosures from Other World Computing, and from Directron here in Houston I picked up another Hitachi 500G SATA disk.

My lesson of “ALWAYS KEEP EVERYTHING ON A UPS AND DONT BE LAZY” cost $245, but at least I have current backups again, and on FireWire 400 instead of USB2 so I get a performance boost.

The failed disk is under warranty, but it will take Hitachi about a month to process the RMA and send a replacement.

First official Pre-Meeting Dinner

I attended the dinner before tonight’s monthly Stated Meeting at Gray Lodge #329. Met some great folks, and got to attend an awards ceremony where they handed out 25 and 40-year membership pins and certificates.

My petition (application) was on the agenda to be read tonight; now I just get to wait and be contacted by the Investigative Committee.