“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Sunday, December 15, 2013

An new, old thing

   Many of the young'un's in the "tactical" arena may not remember the dark days of the 80's and 90's - when there weren't three thousand dealers of various nylon bags, pouches, accessories and the like, in everything from black to the latest Unobtanium-Camouflage shades, all at the click of a web button. Yes, at one time your choices were straightforward issued gear, or doing some work with a needle and thread on your own - or if you were super lucky, paying the local Asian laundry seamstress or the nearest parachute rigger to modify something just a bit.

   Yes, some of you may not know it, but many of the designs you take for granted today such as the "three day/assault pack," the "dump pouch" or "modified chest rigs" were born out of a guy somewhere going "I like this but damn I wish it had X... what can I do?"

   And then came the dual scourge/blessing of the internet and a prolonged military conflict. Now anyone with a heavy duty sewing machine and a few ideas could sell his varied wares to folks world-wide; and the consumer had not just one or two gear choices, but a plethora which would make anyone dizzy to truly comprehend. Packs in this and that color. Belts with or without accessories. Clips and straps and dangles and dongles and the latest in technology because you know that unit is using it, I read it on a web forum from a guy who's cousin knows another guy...

   I was just as guilty. You can ask my wife how many packs I've gone through over the years, or how many different little pouches I ordered because "this one is just a bit different and does something better." The standing joke in my old community of "900 pounds of lightweight gear" certainly applied - I had packs, pouches, bags, attachment points, rails, do-dads, thingamajigs and the like pouring out of bins. Because, by God, if I was going downrange on a live device, or making entry on a really bad situation I wanted everything to not only solve the problem at hand, but to also rebuild a civilization, construct a space program, and style my hair while doing so. Anything less would be a waste of all the work that was put into developing the "high speed low drag" kit that was out there.

   But over the past few years, something subtly changed. I got tired of having so. much. crap.  Having to haul it in my truck, carry it on my body, and deal with it when working. Part of it being getting older, not in the condition I was twenty years ago, and physically not the same man. But most of it being a slow mental realization. I don't NEED every available tool right on my body. I can often accomplish the same stuff going old-fashioned with some simpler tools. And I can't say I don't like it. I think the kit I wear on bad calls now is probably half the weight of five years ago, and yet I feel I am probably 200% more effective.

   Which leads to this. Again, I have been victim of pack/rig/nylon of the week fetish as much as any other. But - in so many cases, things would be just "not right." Missing one accessory I wanted. Or overburdened with something. So I'd make do, and just wait for the next big thing to come out and solve the problem.

    But it never did. And with the prices of the quote "specialized" items I often need, that kind of adds up.

   And somehow, about a month ago, something happened. I was looking at one piece of my bomb gear that I "liked" but I didn't "love" - thinking out loud that if it just had "this" it would be much more effective. And, instead of writing them, or Googling and finding someone who might come just that fraction closer, I did something different.

   I picked up a set of scissors, a needle and thread, and some nylon, and I made the changes myself.

   It wasn't the prettiest work in the world - but I used it on a call the very next week and was so much more pleased with the results.

   And it got me thinking. And working. Because, despite what my house looks like, I am slowly working to simplify. So, in the time since, I've tweaked my daily pack to be just that bit better and have what I need. A few more pieces of work stuff. And I'm trying to think through my other things in terms of what needs to go or stay, or to be modified by me instead of someone getting to charge tons of money for the right outsourcing. And it's kind of nice.

   Don't get me wrong. My work certainly isn't lovely enough to sell. And I'm still willing to buy someone else's project should they build the better mousetrap. But, I think it was important for me to remember that I'm capable of my own fixes - and that sometimes, instead of relying on others to "build the perfect tool" it might be better to just head on to the workshop myself.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

With most things these days we are spoilt for choice and I think this can make us complacent. It sounds like you’ve gone back to basics and with good results.

When my brothers and I were younger my Mother would often quote that old saying “Necessity is the mother of invention.” I think that was her way to make us more productive. Sounds like you’re there.

Enjoy your fixes.

Who knows even your stitching may improve. ;-)