The art of always being prepared


I'm really big on being prepared for any eventuality...well, as much as possible.  In the past, I have complained (to myself) that I carry all this stuff around and then, when I need something.  Its the one time I left that particular thing or, more appropriate for me, bag of things, behind.  Then, I had an epiphany.  Actually, I use the stuff I carry around all the time.  But, I am so focused on being prepared that when I don't have something I need with me to accomplish whatever it is I need to do, that sticks out in my mind.  I feel foolish for not realizing that was the problem sooner.  Probably after I post a few more things I'm going to appear like I have OCD.  I may, to some extent, but it isn't the problem kind.  It's the "Wow, he's got a lot a crap...but, he does usually have whatever it is that someone asks for" kind.  Some of it is even exacerbated by the spouse, Gail.  This is because she knows I have this fascination for cool bags and kits and organizing and the like, so she buys me gifts with this in mind.  I say this because I am attempting to not appear over indulgent.  She has given me a lot of very nice things over the course of our time together...starting at age 16.  Is this enough of a disclaimer?  So, on to my recommendations of cool things to help keep you organized and prepared.

OK, this is an example of what I have on my person on an ordinary start.



I generally end up carrying a briefcase if I'm going to be out for very long.  I mean, one only has so many pockets.  This is my favorite one.  I've had it since...forever.  And, I can carry it without it looking like a purse.  But, I have extraordinary circumstances.  We have two houses six hours apart.  Its kind of a long story, but, I'll try and make it shorter....never mind...we have two houses.  One is just outside Los Angeles and the other is just outside Yosemite.  The one outside Yosemite we operate as a Bed & Breakfast, so I'm going back and forth between the two.

So, depending upon how long I'm planning to be away from the house, I may have to add this bag.  Its just perfect for this kind of stuff.  Its made by Bucket Boss and its called a Contractor's Briefcase.  Its about as manly a purse as you could imagine.  How I came to be acquainted with this particular item is actually a somewhat amusing story.  My daughter, Whitny, has always loved Airstream trailers.  Since we have 100 acres to keep them on outside Yosemite,  I saw no problem in her acquiring them.  Our first one belonged to my uncle and it was sitting on my cousin's property adjacent to ours.  When my cousin, Dave, realized that Whitny wanted the trailer, he just gave it to her.  Once she had one, she started on a mission to collect more.  She watched Craig's list, asked around...just basically went on a quest.  The second one she found was in Crestline.  Now, I don't want to insult anyone who lives in or likes Crestline...but, this was perhaps one of the weirdest experiences in my life.  The woman who owned the trailer had a nursery that had gone out of business.  She didn't own the property and she had to get this trailer out of there.  Well, when we got there, it turned out that Whitny had been talking to the landlord, not the trailer owner.  This woman had told Whitny that the trailer was ready to tow, just come and get it.

I don't know if she just didn't understand, or misrepresented because she was desperate to get the thing off her property, but I was blown away when we saw it.  I have to assume that whomever put it there never thought that it may have to come out.  It was in mud up to the pan, the tongue was up against a building facing the wrong way and it was jammed between a chain link fence topped with razor wire and three trees that had obviously been planted after the trailer had been put there because they were damn near touching the trailer.  Worse, the only way to get it out was to somehow pull it from the rear while turning it at a 45 degree angle.  After about an hour of me just wandering around looking at everything hoping inspiration would hit, I realized that a large number of people had gathered.  I mean, really....a LOT of people.  I think we were the weekend entertainment.  There was this one couple hanging around and all of a sudden, the husband said to Whitny, "Hey, I've got to run some errands, you don't mind watching my wife do you?" and then scurried off in a rodent like manner before Whitny could stop stammering.  The wife was...well, we should have had a camera.  I guess we did have cameras on our phones,  but at the time, there was just so much else going on, she didn't stand out as anything we would want to remember.  But, now, telling the story, I do wish I had a picture of her.   Better yet, a video.  Because not only was she crazy looking, with her mismatched everything but she was a pathological liar...well, I think she was.  Maybe she really was the Dos Equis woman and her stories seemed to be geared to top everything anyone else said were really true.  But, if I had to put money on it...batshit crazy.  At this point, Whitny said, "Dad, forget it, let's just get the hell out of here, these people are creeping me out."

I could see her point of view.  But this sea of trailer trash tweakers covering the hillside with their picnic lunches were all muttering stuff like, "Awww...hell, that there dude ain't never gonna git that thing outta there."  Nobody offered to help...except in the form of offering drug or stupidity induced suggestions as to how I should go about tackling this seemingly impossible task.  I was inclined to ease our suffering and give in to Whitny's pleading.  It was much worse for her because I was concentrated on how I might get this thing out while she was  having to talk to these creatures who may have been contemplating cannibalism.

Well, without boring you with how I did it, I wasn't going to give up and with sheer power of will and refusal to be defeated, I worked the thing out.  In our desperation to get out of there, once it was out of the ditch and semi-hooked up to my truck, we escaped.

The point of all of this:  In my haste to get away, I left one of my tool bags behind.  It wasn't so much the loss of the tools as the bag.  I had bought it years before and I didn't even remember where.  But, I just couldn't find one to replace it.  Then, I found a place online.  MSC is the name of the company.  They are a supply house, not the manufacturer.  But, when I found them, I was blown away at how many cool bags Bucket Boss makes.  I've never seen most of them in retail stores anywhere.  But, I went crazy ordering bags online...which you shall see as I continue.  But this particular bag was one of them.  

At the time, it was sheer hell, and I almost gave in.  But, now we have the trailer, I found a treasure trove of tool bags, and a kind of interesting story.  Whitny may have a bit of PTSD, since she did the majority of talking to the cast of whatever show we were secretly on.  But...all in all...well, moving on...

This is something else I always have with me in one form or another.  A first aid kit.  You never know when you're going to have to utilize something from it.  As I remember, I had to go to it a couple of times that day in Crestline.  Other people that have them usually go with the ready made type.  I'm a strong believer in creating your own, personalized to your own past experiences.  Ever since I had to make one for Health Class in high school and my dad suggested using a tackle box, I have always had a first aid kit in a Plano brand tackle box.  I love Plano boxes.  I have one or more for tools for every avocation I engross myself in.  Whitny even asks me to get them for her for her makeup.  You just can't beat them.  Of course, my first aid kits kind of exceed normal first aid kits.  I have stuff like sutures and hemostats and rib spreaders.  I mean, you just never know.

This one may just be me, but, you never know what color of ink you may need.  So, I carry this with 12 vintage Esterbrook fountain pens, each having ink corresponding to the color of the pen.  This probably is just me...but, hey, think about it.

This is also usually in one of the bags, you know, if I'm going to be out for more than a few hours.

I go with this one if it might be overnight.  I've put a great deal of thought into these things over the years.  I mean, personal grooming aids will only get you so far.  Now, in my truck, I can afford to be a little more free with space, but one always needs tools, and one never knows exactly what they are going to need at any given time.  So, I have done my best to have the most useful, multipurpose tools in the places where they will most likely come in handy.

Now, as you may have noticed in the first photo, there were a couple of knives.  I essentially always have at least one knife on my person.  These are my favorites.  The three on the right clip on the back of my belt, where I can just grab them and with the flick of my wrist, I am ready for all kinds of handiness.  Nothing beats a knife in the category of "all purpose tool".

Right next to my knife, depending upon what I am doing and wearing....but, usually this wonderful combination of innovation, durability and coolness slides on my belt.  A large part of what I am going on about is the holster as much as the Leatherman.  This holster was designed by a saddlemaker by the name of Butler up near Sonora.  Unfortunately, he has stopped making them until he catches up on his saddle work.  No rancher in that part of the world would be caught dead with anything but a Butler saddle.  But, if enough people actually end up reading this blog and expressing interest, I probably could talk him in to making some more.  Really...dude...once you get used to having this on your belt, you feel like you've left your house without your shoes.  It just grabs the tool with no restraining straps to mess with, but, with the slightest push on the pliers through that hole in the bottom and its out in your hand read to ply something, strip a wire, tighten screws or hell, scale a fish.  There's even another really nice knife blade in there.  But, that doesn't make the other knife on my belt redundant.  As well-designed as the Leatherman is, its purpose is multiplicity of use, not necessarily concentrating on speed of use.  The Benchmade is there for when you need a knife....NOW!  Like say you're in a bad car accident, or you come upon one and a seat belt needs to be sliced....well....there you go.

If you can't get a Leatherman Super Tool and a Butler holster....this stuff is all still available and I carry this in one of my bags.  For the weight and space...the usefulness is amazing.

This is the type of bag I left in Crestline after the Airstream debacle.  Actually, I've never quite figured this one out.  It isn't exactly the same.  The one I lost was identical in design to this one, but the colors were a little more muted and the label was Duck Wear.  I still have the larger one.  I had used both of those bags for years and when I realized I had lost the smaller one, I started looking all over, trying to replace it.  I didn't find anything like it in retail stores like Home Depot, Lowes or the best home improvement warehouse types stores, All American Home Center...just a couple of blocks from us in Downey.  (Actually, if any of you watch "Big Love", they use All American as the set for his store).  Anyway, nobody had any bags like the beloved one I lost.  So, I started searching online.  As I mentioned above, I finally found this one by calling the place I mentioned above,  The woman that helped me was so nice and patient.  I explained my situation and she actually did some research and found me this bag.  I can't recommend this company too highly.  The bags I wanted weren't listed in their catalogs, but she found them for me and sent a link in an email.  I was so thrilled that I bought five of this size and a whole bunch of other Bucket Boss specialty bags.

This is one of the specialty bags, especially designed for reciprocating saws, like the Milwaukee Sawsall.  Between the two houses and the B&B and vehicles, I have like 5 of them.  But, the older ones came in steel boxes and even the new ones come in hard plastic cases which are just not conducive to ease of use and transport.  So, these bags are great.

This is one of my favorite bags and it always goes back and forth with me between Downey and Yosemite.

I just think its hard to beat DeWalt (as evidenced in the photo above). Growing up, it was always Craftsman.  Not any more.  Its true that they still have the lifetime replacement on hand tools like ratchets and hammers.  But, when I was growing up, it was kind of irrelevant, because they never broke.  In the last 5 years, I think I've broken 6 ratchets.  They just aren't the same tools they used to be.