5 Things Revisited
Five Things I'm Diggin' series and see what I think of them now, after years of change and experience.
You'll notice that there were some large time gaps between Five Things posts in recent years. To be honest, that's because I didn't want my blog to be viewed as a shill for products.✦ But lately I've been reconsidering that because as a consumer and reader, I like that sort of content. I think people can tell when somebody authentically believes in a product and when they're just shilling.
- Vacuum Insulation – Still digging the resurgent old technology of vacuum insulation. I'm drinking from a vacuum insulated tumbler as I write this, as a matter of fact.
- One-Bag Travel – You'll notice a trend of "COVID casualties" from this particular post of Five Things. I'm very much a convert to one-bag travel. The problem is, I'm not actually traveling right now!
- Merino Wool – We just got our first days of fall weather, which means that I broke out the merino bottom layers. Still a big fan. It's not quite the miracle fabric that some people claim and it does have some drawbacks, but its properties make it ideal for outdoors activities and travel, which is why I like it.
- Boots – Still diggin' my Thursday boots, but I don't get to wear them much since I'm working from home now.
- Puppies! – Inigo has completely enhanced our home. It took almost 7 years after Edison died that we felt up to getting another dog, but I'm very glad we did. In fact, seeing my kids with Inigo makes me wish we'd done it sooner.
- iWaveStation – The iWaveStation is fun to play around with, but I've come to realize that for me, all tablet synths are just toys unless you have a keyboard controller. I still don't have one, so until then the iWaveStation remains a interesting diversion, but not a musical instrument.
- Universal Orlando – Still the best amusement park I've been to. I'll be glad when (if?) COVID is under control and we can visit it again.
- Kayak Fishing – Kayak fishing remains my favorite way to fish and 3 seasons of the year, I get out on the water whenever I can. But I've since let my blog on the topic languish. That's okay though. I've covered most everything I wanted to.
- Salomon XA Pro 3D – The XA's I wrote about lasted 3½ years and I just recently replaced them with the current model of the same shoe. For my purposes, I still think they're the ideal crossover between hiking shoe and trail running shoe.
- ThinOptics reading glasses – This is one of a handful of products from Five Things that I wouldn't recommend again. The size is super convenient, and they're great for quickly reading the tiny print on a label or something. But they simply aren't very comfortable for extended use.
- NATO Straps – Yep, still loving the NATO straps and I have several of them. They're supremely functional, fun, and inexpensive.
- Texas Longhorns – Looking back on when I wrote about the Longhorns in my Five Things post, I have to laugh. Grimly laugh. The dumpster caught fire just days after I wrote that post and they ended up finishing the season 5-7, including a thoroughly humiliating loss to Kansas that I believe finally ended any remnants of loyalty UT had to Charlie Strong. At the time of my post, the Longhorns were in the middle of a decade-plus long period of mediocrity from which they still haven't emerged. All the same, I'm still a fan and the Horns give me the full emotional roller coaster – hope, frustration, joy, and despair – every fall.
- Catfishing – Oh yeah, still enjoying the catfishing. I prefer to target big Blue cats and Flatheads now, but I will fish for Channel cats whenever I just want to get on the water quickly without a lot of prep work involved.
- My Rod & Reel – The Whisker Seeker Chad Ferguson rod and Abu Garcia 6500 C3 reel are still my go-to setup and I've caught a ton of fish on them. I'd like to buy two more sets, actually.
- Apple iPad Mini – The Mini ended up only giving me 3 years of service before it started giving me issues, which was a disappointment. Functionally it was a great device, until it didn't function anymore. I ended up replacing it with a full-size iPad which I'm still using. I hope it lasts longer.
- Mefoto GlobeTrotter – The GlobeTrotter is probably one of the very best things from Five Things. I use it a lot more than my full-size tripod. I use the monopod configuration on my kayak as an action cam pole. And I just used the tripod with a webcam at work to host a couple of webinars.
- ThruNite Ti3 – I still think this flashlight is awesome. I keep it in my briefcase and it gets used regularly. I love the tiny size, the surprising amount of power, and that it uses ubiquitous AAA batteries.
- Leatherman Skeletool CX – I took my Skeletool backpacking just this last weekend. That pretty much says it all.
- Franklin Barbecue: A Meat Smoking Manifesto – My copy still gets referred to quite often and has a special place on our bookshelf. I think this book as the only one you really need on the topic.
- J. Rockett Animal – The Animal remains my favorite overdrive pedal. The latest version doesn't have a Snarl switch, which is probably not a good thing. Both settings of that switch are useful and excellent sounding, and I'm thinking that you'd have to be giving up one of them without the switch. That's a shame.
- Rogers Family Coffee – They've changed their name to San Francisco Bay Coffee, but it's still the same coffee and I'm still a happy customer.
- Flipside 3X wallet – I have to admit that I got pulled in by the marketing hype of this product. After the novelty wore off, I realized it has some issues. The biggest is that no matter how much you minimize your carry, it's always the same thickness. There's no reward for carrying less junk. When it comes to wallets, the thinner the better in my opinion. So I've switched to minimalist leather wallets, which have all the same benefits of the Flipside and are way more comfortable because they're thinner, especially when you minimize your carry. They're also soft-sided so they conform to your butt, they don't look plasticky, and you can find them for a lot less money.
- Tracktion DAW – Tracktion (now called Waveform) is still my primary DAW. I get along with the user interface well, it's not overly bloated with features, it's mostly reliable, and it's not very expensive.
- Aviator Smokehouse – Unfortunately, sometime after the pandemic Aviator changed their Black Mamba sauce recipe and they %$#@ed it up. Consequently we don't get take-out from Aviator as much anymore. That's a shame.
- 3 Displays – Still loving my 3 displays and when I'm forced to work with only two, it feels very cramped.
- Fall in North Carolina – Fall color is one of the great joys of moving to NC. Hopefully this year I do a photoshoot because I just found a terrific location to do it!
- Gerber Dime – Still have my Dime. I'm more likely to carry a folding pocket knife now, but the Dime still gets used because of the box opener and mini scissor tools. It's actually quite handy to leave one in your car or your briefcase/backpack.
- Master Magnetics Stud Finder – It's not fancy, but it's still the best stud finder in my opinion. The electronic stud finder I used to have was fussy to use and that turned me off of them. However, some of them have one feature I'd really like: showing you where the AC lines are in your walls.
- Citizen Hyper Aqualand – I've since bought a couple more watches, including a good automatic watch. But the Hyper Aqualand remains one of my most-used watches. Mine is currently in need of a new battery.
- Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 – Such a workhorse. Focusrite have updated the model at least once since I bought mine, but the origianal 18i8 is still the centerpiece of my studio.
- Google Play Music – Unfortunately, Google changed the way Play Music worked and made it a lot harder to add your CDs to your online collection. That's a real shame because I liked it. So I gave in to the (other) machine and I use Apple Music now.
- Klymit Static V – We still have our Static V pads, but I've given them to my sons. My wife has a more plush pad and I switched to a camping hammock. If you're going to sleep on the ground and you want a pad that is pretty small, lightweight, and won't break the bank, the Static V is a great choice, although I'd recommend the insulated version.
- Black and White – Oh yeah, definitely still doing a lot of black and white.
- My Studio – When I wrote that 5 Things post, I was still living in Katy TX and my brother had just built my dream studio in our detached garage. It will probably be the best home recording studio I will have ever had. I have a studio in my current house and I use it even more than the one Katy because I've been working from home in it during this COVID outbreak, but it's not nearly as nice.
- Apple iPhone 5s – I no longer have the 5s but still have an iPhone. This is a religious debate for a lot of people, but I like iPhones and iPads because to me, they just work. I'm not saying they're perfect, but stuff just seems to work better and more seamlessly on iOS than Android. I wish I could say the same for MacOS however!
- Sigma 17-70mm lens – I still have this lens and still like it a lot. But I don't use it as much because the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 is my favorite lens of all and it overlaps a fair amount with the 17-70. But I keep the 17-70 because it's very handy for one-lens only scenarios.
- Sierra Designs Drifter jacket – Still my rain jacket of choice, although it is getting a bit aged now. I love how lightweight and packable the Drifter is! Too bad Sierra Designs doesn't make one like it anymore because when I replace my Drifter in the future, I'd buy it.
- Microsoft OneNote – For awhile I switched to old school notebooks because physically writing stuff down on paper commits it to memory much better. But now I'm back to OneNote because being able to do keyword searches across your notes is just so powerful. Unfortunately the Mac version of OneNote is a poor imitation of the Windows version and it's missing a lot of key features. At some point, I'll probably switch to Evernote, which seems more robust on the Mac.
- DoggCatcher – DoggCatcher is still the best podcast listening app I've found. Unfortunately, it's not available on iOS or I would still be using it.
- Edison – Edison passed away almost 7 years ago. We recently got another dog, but for me, Edison will always be the best dog I've ever had the pleasure of knowing and I miss him terribly.
- GSI Personal Java Press – Still going strong. I take it with me almost every camping trip and before COVID I often took it work too.
- Somebody Else Doing The Lawn – Yes! Nowadays my oldest son is doing the lawn. So I have had to revive my lawn equipment, but at least somebody else is still doing the work.
- General Finishes – The library bookcases turned out spectacularly and came with us to NC. I'm currently refinishing our den tables and bought some General Finishes for the job. So yes, I'm still a fan.
- Op-Tech straps – Still using my Op-Tech straps and I remain completely happy with their performance. I did make a small modification that allows the Op-Tech Utility Strap Sling to attach to the bottom of the camera, Black Rapid style. With that mod, it's pretty much ideal. And much cheaper than the Black Rapid.
- V-neck T-shirts – V-necks are still my first choice in T-shirts, although I dislike deep V-neck T-shirts, especially when worn by themselves.
- Grilling – I've definitely upped my grilling game. I've perfected my steak technique and also expanded my skills into smoking as well.
- LL Bean Ballistic Touring Messenger Bag – The bag is still going and working well, although it needs a refresh to its waterproofing. The product has been good, I’ve come to prefer backpacks because they’re more comfortable, and when I do carry a shoulder bag I have a swanky leather briefcase that I use more often.
- Feedly – I still like the concept of RSS, but it's lost popularity with content sites because they (understandably) want you to visit their site, not get their content indirectly through an aggregator.
- Tokina AT-X 124 AF PRO DX 12-24mm – Yep, still my main ultra-wide lens. There are modern lenses that are a lot sharper, but my Tokina hasn't held me back so I haven't bothered replacing it.
- Faking Neutral Density Graduated filters in Photoshop – A very useful technique to learn and I still use it from time-to-time.
- Lowepro DSLR Video Fastpack 250 AW – My Fastpack is still going strong and remains my main camera bag. I think the nylon will decompose before the bag construction fails, but right now it shows no signs of doing either. I've acquired enough camera gear that my only wish is that I'd gotten a little bit bigger bag with a heavier duty suspension because my current one is a bit over-stuffed. Lowepro still makes a version of this pack.
- Person of Interest – I watched the entire series. I wasn't crazy about some of the cast changes, but it remained an engaging show to the end.
- Chi'Lantro – I definitely miss this food truck since moving to NC! In fact, I have to say that as much as I love North Carolina, Texas is a better place for foodies.
- Stuff You Missed in History Class
– While it's still on my download list, I'm not as much into this podcast as I was. There was a shift in content emphasis with the new hosts and the stories weren't as interesting to me anymore.
- Textures – I don't use textures as much any more, but it's still a good technique to have in your bag of tricks.
✦ I don't think there’s any question, but just in case: I don’t get any sort of compensation for anything on my blogs. It's a totally money losing venture for me and I only do it because I like to write. I don’t even participate in e-tailer affiliate programs, although I’ve considered it just to defray my costs. But then I'd probably have to do a lot more product reviews to make that juice worth the squeeze, and I haven't wanted to do that very much.
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