Monday, February 20, 2006

The Manbag

My last briefcase was getting old. It was time to retire it. So the hunt for the perfect bag began.

I remember once seeing the President land in Marine One and thinking wouldn’t it be cool to own the same bag that the nuclear launch codes are contained in? Not the exact same bag (which would be impossible) but the bag from the same company. Despite an exhaustive search which entailed contacting numerous governmental department and several intelligence contacts I was thwarted in my attempt to gain “the football” I was told that a bag that was fire and bullet proof would be out of my price range and was told to look for something more civilian.

Last Christmas I received a briefcase from my wife, rather nice briefcase I may add. It was the newest version of my old Tumi bag that was old and tired.

She agreed to replace my last bag that she got me that lasted about 15 years and went and got me a Tumi fold-over computer brief for work.

As soon as I stepped into the office that week after the holidays the comments from colleagues, subordinates and supervisor started.

“Nice purse” a coworker commented

“Metrosexual tool bag” stated my officemate

“What does exactly one put into a man-bag?” said my boss.

The last comment led me to think, what should I start putting in this thing?

As soon as I got it I transferred everything from the last case into the new one.

Tumi of course makes a fabulous product and has some features that are both convenient and handy for the use.

As a bonus my wife got some small stocking stuffers that would go along with the theme of the gift. A small mini Mag flashlight with biteplate, a small LED keychain light and a mini micro tool that includes pliers, a file, tweezers and a knife. I added a Surefire G2 Nitrolon flashlight, the beam cuts through smoke, it’s waterproof and the body is virtually indestructible (one can never have too many flashlights).

Some of the features on the bag that I observed:

A water bottle pocket – the pocket is lined to protect against leakage to other compartments and has a drain hole in the bottom in the case of a water bottle or thermos blowout. This feature merited a quest to find the perfect water bottle for the pocket. After searching high and low I selected the Nalgene 16 oz bottle. Normally the 32 oz bottle is the standard fare for most outdoor types but the pocket would hold nothing larger that the 16 oz size bottles. Captain Tippy Cup was the latest comment received at the office as a result.

An expandable umbrella pocket – despite living in Phoenix, Arizona last year had proved to be quite a wet year comparatively speaking thanks to El Nino and the Pineapple Express from the Pacific. Having an umbrella handy has kept me looking civil unlike my wet-rat counterparts at work and school. However this year it has not rained here in Phoenix for over 120 days, so for now, it’s just extra weight.

Business Card Pocket – seeing this prompted me to immediately order some business cards. My wife some years ago had given me a sterling silver business card case with a Frank Lloyd Wright design on it. The case now sits proudly and snugly in the briefcase. Occasionally I remember to hand them out.

Headphone port – There is a small opening that allows you to thread your headphones through so you can leave your MP3 player in the bag. Despite owning an iPod I really don’t use this feature on the bag. When I use the iPod I just take it out of the bag.

The Office Group
I don’t use a laptop at the moment but do keep a large 9 x 11 organizer with me at all times. It’s large enough to occupy the space where a laptop computer would go. I use the large organizer and the Franklin Covey system to organize my work and personal life. Even though I really advocate the use of computers and technology, nothing out there can beat go old analog type organization for day-to-day tasks.

The List:
In the Main Compartment:

Full size day planner/organizer
Prescription glasses & case
Sunglasses & case
Compact folding umbrella
(Three band ham transceiver)
4 X 5 Moliskine journal & Fisher Space Pen
Manual for Ham Radio

Tumi Pencil Case consisting of:

Glue Stick
Collapsible scissors
Tiny stapler
Small inkpad
Date stamp
UFO eraser
Black Sharpie
Red pencil
Micron pens .01, .02, .05 & .08
Black warrior pencils
#3B Staedtler Mars pencil

For some strange reason I went on a bent to fill the bag with things that I may need in the case of an emergency. This really prompted even more comments from coworkers.

The Survival Group
Being the ex-paratrooper and eternal Boy Scout I carry a few survival supplies with me at all times. In my travels they have come in handy on occasion.

I carry two different kits in the bag, one for survival and one for first aid.

The first aid kit is made by Adventure Medical and contains the following:

1.Aloksak® waterproof bag, US Navy certified to 200ft
1 Splinter Picker Tweezers
3.Safety Pins
2.After Bite® Sting Relief
4.3X3 Sterile Dressings
4.2x2 Sterile Dressings
1Non-Adherent Sterile Dressing (3x4)
1.Conforming Gauze Bandage
2.Butterfly Closure Bandage
3.After Cuts & Scrapes® Towelettes
4.1x3 Adhesive Bandage
2.Knuckle Adhesive Bandage
1.Tape ½" x 10 Yards
1 Moleskin (7x4)
1.Tincture of Benzoin
2.Antibiotic Ointment

The survival kit was inspired by The SAS Survival Handbook by John Lofty” Wiseman. It’s a comprehensive survival kit that has come in handy over the years on travel, in the city or in the wilderness.

The survival kit contains:
Duct tape
Button compass
Purification tablets
Snare wire
Flint & striker
Hacksaw blade
Fishing kit
Sewing kit
Safety pins
Wire saw (with finger loops)
Condoms (non-lubricated, for water storage)
Survival instructions
Signal Mirror
Water bags
Single edged razors
Butterfly sutures

What’s even more amazing is that all of this fits into an Altoids tin

I also have an emergency space blanket in one of the pockets just incase someone around me should go hypothermic.

Kenwood TH-F6A
I get quite a few strange looks for carrying around a ham radio. It hangs on the outside of the bag and is conspicuously placed with 2-meter antenna sticking up. But when I saw this one it really did an impressive amount of things. Kenwood really did a great job on this radio. Aside from being a three-band transceiver over 144, 220 and 440 the radio has wide receive capabilities. Police, aircraft, television, regular radio and emergency weather can all be monitored from this little 2 x 3 x 1 package. I’ve used it at work to get severe weather and tornado reports and while traveling. One day as two supercells merged and approached overhead one of my peer managers said. “Maybe that isn’t such a bad idea” as the NOAA report about the impending thunderstorm and possible tornado spewed out of the tiny speaker.

The other day I came under close scrutiny from a gas station attendant. He fired off questions quickly and expected answers quickly as a test and gauntlet of truth.

Gas Station Attendant: “What’s in the bag?”
Ed: “Stuff”
Gas Station Attendant: What kind of stuff?”
Ed: “Guy stuff”
Gas Station Attendant: “You mean that’s a guy purse”
Ed: “No”
Gas Station Attendant: “Then what kind of stuff?”
Ed: “Business supplies, survival equipment and a few electronic toys, still a purse?”
Gas Station Attendant: “You keep your cash in there?”
Ed: “No”
Gas Station Attendant: “Credit cards, coupons or any kind of hair product?”
Ed: “No”
Gas Station Attendant: “Okay then.”
Ed: “Fill up on number 3 please.”

Son of Manbag
But if the manbag were not enough, there’s more. Now there’s schoolbag. I’m back in school during the day and because we don’t get lockers I haul all of my textbooks and resources in a rolling pilot’s chart bag.
There is a pass through pocket on the manbag that the handle from the schoolbag fits right through. As I roll along on campus people think that I am either a teacher or a well-dressed homeless person.

Man Sporran
Now on the weekends because I spend most of my time in running togs I often get sent on a random chore to the supermarket or the hardware store. But because my running clothes do not have pockets I had to buy the equivalent of a modern day sporran…a fanny pack. It’s just large enough to fit my wallet, keys, flashlight, Fisher Space Pen™ and a small knife. Nobody at work has seen me so other than the strange looks that I get from people in the market and Home Depot I have not received any comments, yet.

Hmmm…maybe I should get a real sporran. But as my Scottish actor, kilt-wearing friend Scott Cleverdon has told me there is no such plaid as Hunting MacFlores.


Barcai said...

Good God man! - As if ManBag wasn't enough now there is Son of Manbag?!

And a sporran?

I'm gonna need to see your 'man' card Ed...[looks it over] uh huh...expired...03'...[takes card away from Ed]

Move along folks...nothing to see here!

Ed said...

How do I get my "man card" back? Is there a department for that? What's the test?