My Luggage Fetish Part 2 – Duffle Bag Weekender Face off


I’m a luggage junky… Certifiable. Here’s part two of my confessional. Part one on laptop bags is here if you haven’t read it. I’ve also written before about my awesome Waterfield Designs gadget bag.

This time around I’m looking at Weekender style bags or duffles suitable for an overnight or short trip for work or pleasure. Here’s what does it for me:

Defy R & R Weekender

R & R Weekender

I’m crazy about this bag… It’s ideal for weekend trips away or any kind of car travelling. I bought if for myself as a Christmas present a while back. I pre-ordered this bag before they started manufacturing them.

We’re planning a South Island road trip at the end of the year and this will probably be my main carry. Here are the specs:

  • Inspired by Israeli Defense Force standard issue field duffles
  • Rugged 20 oz. truck tarpaulin exterior provides ballistic strength structure and aesthetics.
  • The interior is lined with uber durable black canvas.
  • YKK zippers and hand-crafted Horween Austin Calf leather trimmed pockets.
  • M35 Military truck tarpaulin vinyl/canvas
  • Hand-crafted on the gritty west side of Chicago using industrial machines, threads, and techniques learned from disassembling vintage military bags.
  • Adjustable and removable Military Spec shoulder strap uses solid steel hardware commissioned from a US Military supply company.
  • Full-grained Horween Austin Calf leather pocket, trim and strap handle.

Defy Ultimate Gym bag

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These bags are pretty darn cool as well. I bought three of them. One for each of my kids as Christmas presents. Each one in a different colour combo. How cool is this orange and camo version

Trouble was I got so excited about giving them the bags that I couldn’t wait until Christmas. We had to use them on the next trip away after they arrived. Generally, the kids take one of these away when we travel (at least that’s what I tell them…) Key specs:

  • Perfect for athletic or travel gear
  • Made from 500 Denier ballistic strength Cordura Fabric
  • Lined with 1.9oz Coated Ripstop Nylon Fabric

Waterfield Designs Tote

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This one has been my wife’s main carry on a few recent trips. It’s perfect for her to stuff things in for overnight or just for getting around the place. And it matches the Muzetto I bought her for her iPad.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Distressed-looking waxed canvas plus sturdy leather.
  • Perfectly sized for an iPad or tablet.
  • Sturdy self-locking zipper
  • Hefty leather handle is just the right length to wear over one shoulder or hold next to you without dragging the tote on the ground.

The only problem with this bag is that it’s just not quite big enough for her for overnighters or short trips. Which brings me to my next bag.

Waterfield Designs Duffle

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This is Gary Waterfield’s latest creation. I’m keeping this one hush hush… Hopefully, Susan won’t read this blog post and I won’t have to get it for her. At least not yet. I’ll probably get it at some stage. I mean… it would be perfect for her as an overnighter. And it would match the Muzetto (and the other Tote)…

This one’s probably next on the list… I just need to save some money and think about how I can justify it. Specs:

  • Waxed canvas or sturdy ballistic nylon
  • Leather color accents: Black, Chocolate, or Grizzly
  • Two sizes

Goruck Civvy Kitbag

0000461_mil-kit-bagThis bag is enormous… I’m not really sure what it’s for. But I bought it anyway. It’s served us well on various trips away with the whole family. Travelling with kids means that you need big bags to stuff all sorts of junk into. This bag is perfect for stuffing full of kids clobber: bedding, blankets, toys, clothes, nappies etc.

It’s modelled after an even larger military version that, in turn, is a replica of the flight bag that the paratroopers used to use to drag all their kit around in. My one is the olive colour in the image below for the smaller kit bag. Specs:

  • Military-grade, highly water resistant materials
  • One main compartment opens widely for packing and visibility
  • Main opening is protected with rain flap to protect contents of kit
  • One external open pocket on end of kit for external organization for newspapers, books, etc.
  • Small internal pocket next to main zipper provides quick access to keys, cell phones, or travel tickets
  • All internal pockets have YKK zippers with red 550 paracord allowing user to locate pockets more easily
  • MOLLE webbing on one external end for customization with carabiners or Field Pockets
  • High stress points are strength tested at over 400 lbs

Now that the kids are getting bigger I’m going to have to think of a new purpose for this bad boy.

Goruck Kit Bag

Coyote_32L_Kit-1This looks pretty cool as well. I don’t own it, but it would make a worthy opponent if I had to choose an alternative to my Defy R & R Weekender. Specs:

  • Built in the USA of military-grade, highly water resistant materials
  • One main compartment opens widely for packing and visibility
  • Main opening is protected with rain flap to protect contents of kit
  • Two external open pockets on both ends of kit for external organization for newspapers, books, etc.
  • Small internal pocket next to main zipper provides quick access to keys, cell phones, or travel tickets
  • Three total internal pockets total

Part three of this will include suitcases… Any comments? Let me know what you think about these bags (and whether I have a problem).

My Luggage Fetish Part 1 – Laptop Gadget Bag Face off


Confession time

My name is Graeme and I have a luggage fetish. I can’t help it. Every time I see a really cool laptop bag I want to buy it. I can’t buy every bag I see but I do own several really serviceable pieces of luggage that I absolutely love.

There are three bag companies in particular that I think I pretty darn cool. They are, in no particular order:

Here are my current favourite laptop/messenger bags. They are all high quality, hand made bags made in the USA.

Waterfield Designs Cargo

The Waterfield Designs Cargo (medium) has been my go-to gadget bag for several years. I’ve written about this bag before.

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The orange leather on the top flap of mine has faded slightly, but apart from a few scuffs on the bottom, the bag is pretty much in the same condition as when I bought it. It’s travelled extensively around New Zealand on work trips with me and it works fantastically well as carry on luggage. I’ve even managed to get away with taking it as an over night bag by stuffing a change of clothes into the main compartment.

It has a zip across the top which makes for super easy access to the main compartment where my laptop would normally live. There are other compartments and pockets in and under the flap. It also has a built in key chain attachment inside which I’ve found really useful when travelling.

I would totally buy this bag again. I’ve bought several other products from Gary Waterfield and I’ve had very fast and helpful feedback when I’ve emailed him.

Waterfield Designs Rough Rider

The Rough Rider a new design with an old world look which I’m currently coveting. I think if I told my wife it’s for her, I could probably get away with buying one at some stage.

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This well tooled laptop bag looks high quality and I’m sure it would last forever. Can’t stop drooling…

Waterfield Designs Muzetto

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I bought one of these for my wife a few years bag as a birthday present. She’s used it constantly since, and man… this bag just keeps looking better and better as it ages. I bought the smaller size so it just fits her iPad. It’s not really a laptop bag, but it’s still cool. Now she wants a nice weekender bag or duffle to match. That’s another post.

Waterfield designs are a very cool company. I love this gear. I’d buy more of it if I had the money to spend. Great company, great products, great design.

Defy Recon

The team at Defy Bags are awesome. Again, this gear is handmade and the personalised touch is hugely evident. I’ve had lots of personalised email, Facebook, and Instagram contact with Chris Tag and his team. I bought this badass bag about a year ago.

Recon

It doesn’t fit quite as much as my Waterfield Designs Cargo, so I use it on trips where I don’t need to take quite as much. This bag makes me feel good… it’s made out of up-cycled M35 military truck and tank tarpaulin edged with used bicycle inner tubes.

Oh, don’t forget the US$60.00 worth of 2” solid steel and brass, imported AustriAlpin Cobra Quick Release buckles used by U.S. Special Forces in theater today, as well as the recycled seat belts used for strapping and handles.

Defy Bags are starting to branch out into other products. I’ve been pestering them for a while to make me some guitar straps. They’re about to make a belt with the same quick release buckles for, you know, quick release.

Defy Defender Workcase // Horween Austin Calf Leather Edition

This looks nice too… It’s hand made out of Chicago’s century old iconic Austin Calf Horween Leather. I haven’t bought one. It’s expensive. Just looking thanks…

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I’ve have some other luggage by Defy, but I’ll leave that for another post.

Defy O Positive Zombie

Better not forget this one either… I got this for my daughter when she started high school. Excuses excuses.

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I can’t speak more highly of the Defy team. And they have their own Spotify Playlist that you can follow. It’s pretty cool. You should definitely check them out. Defy something today.

And you can find them on Instagram.

Goruck

These guys are a more recent discovery for me. I bought one of their indestructible military spec backpacks (to keep my laptop safe when travelling for work – but that’s another post).

I’ve been fantasising about their new line of laptop shoulder bags. This one, in particular. Of course, I have a problem in that I can’t choose between the 15L commuter version and 20L Road Warrior version. I’d probably go with the 20L I guess, since I could probably use it as an overnighter.

This gear is well made. Every last detail… Even MOLLE webbing. I guess I could use it to stuff pens in.

Goruck Shoulder Bag

What’s your favourite laptop/messenger bag? Let me know in the comments. I’m also going to do a post on backpacks and other bags I love soon.

 

 

 

Weekend creativity project – get your writing groove on…


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The BNZ Literary Awards entries closes off in a couple of days – 11.59 p.m. New Zealand Time on 30 June 2014 to be exact.

For those who didn’t even know it was open:

The 2014 BNZ Literary Awards is back for its 55th year and now is your chance to get your entry in for New Zealand’s pre-eminent short story writing competition. And, for the first time this year, we’re introducing New Zealand’s first writing award done on Twitter.

For over half a century, we’ve been proud to support these awards for aspiring and established writers. For many of New Zealand’s famous writers, such as Frank Sargeson, Keri Hulme and CK Stead, winning the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award was where it all started.

There’s more information on their website. And there are some cool categories including a twitter competition which I think everyone should enter:

Short and tweet

  • A short story submitted via a single tweet on Twitter using the hashtag #shortandtweet. Terms and conditions apply.*
  • Length: A single tweet (including the hashtag #shortandtweet)
  • Prize: $1,000
  • Check out the other entries on the #shortandtweet tagboard.

There’s also a short short story competition that you can enter via Facebook

Short Short Story Award

  • A short story submitted through Facebook
  • Length: Maximum 150 words
  • Prize: $500
  • Enter now

And there are also the high profile awards as follows:

Young Writer Award

  • For writers at secondary school
  • Length: 1,000 – 3,000 words
  • Prize: $1,500 for the student; $2,000 for the winner’s school
  • Enter now

Novice Writer Award

  • For unpublished writers
  • Length: 1,000 – 3,000 words
  • Prize: $1,500
  • Enter now

Katherine Mansfield Award

  • Length: 1,000 – 5,000 words
  • Prize: $10,000
  • Enter now

I’m working on the final draft of mine right now… Should be finished today.

Please support the new Adult Literacy & Numeracy Education qualifications


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Well… they’re out for consultation. Here’s the breakdown from the NZQA website. This is just out and it’s now in the public domain for consultation.

Key points first: Please support the need for three distinct ALNE qualifications. These are

  1. the 40 credit NZCALNE (Voc) which replaces the NCALNE (Voc).
  2. the 80 credit NZCALNE (Ed) which replaces the NCALNE (Ed).
  3. the 120 credit NZDipALNE which replaces the NDipALNE

We think it’s going to be a coherent framework. Details still need to be fleshed out however…

The 120 credit Diploma still has some question marks attached. We think there is both a need and a demand. Please show your support for this in the comment section in the online NZQA survey which you can complete here.

Here’s how the qualifications break down. I’m pasting in from the NZQA documents:

New Zealand Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (Vocational/Workplace) Level 5 – (40 Credits)

This qualification is for existing practitioners who seek to develop the literacy and numeracy skills of adult learners within the context of a training or education programme.

Graduates will have applied knowledge, skills and attributes required to embed literacy and numeracy into vocational or workplace programmes.

This qualification supports the New Zealand government strategy of developing the literacy and numeracy of adults.

Graduates of this qualification will be able to:

Design (10 credits)

  • Design embedded literacy and numeracy strategies to enhance learner outcomes in a vocational or workplace programme with consideration of New Zealand’s unique context.
    • Notes: This outcome includes practice informed by historical, political and organisational contexts. Consideration will be given to add these to the qualification specifications, at the next stage of the review process.

Deliver (20 credits)

  • Foster an environment which gives primacy to learners and their learning.
    • Notes: Environment includes a values-based framework that respects: the mana and diverse cultural backgrounds of learner, the Treaty, the unique characteristics of adult learners as individuals (including literacy and numeracy skills) and what they bring to their learning, collegiality with colleagues, professional relationships with learners, … This outcome is not to be assessed separately but in conjunction with assessment of other outcomes.)
  • Apply embedded literacy and numeracy strategies in a vocational or workplace programme with consideration of New Zealand’s unique context

Assess and Evaluate (10 credits)

  • Use assessment and moderation of literacy and numeracy processes to enhance student learning.
  • Evaluate own practice to improve learner achievement through embedding literacy and numeracy.

New Zealand Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (Educator)
Level 5 – (80 Credits)

This qualification is for educators who seek to develop specialist expertise in adult literacy and numeracy education.

Graduates will have broad applied knowledge, skills and attributes required to apply a literacy and numeracy framework to a range of teaching and learning contexts.

This qualification supports the New Zealand government strategy of developing the literacy and numeracy of adults.

Graduates of this qualification will be able to:

Design (30 credits)

  • Design for learning to meet diverse literacy and numeracy needs of learners in a range of contexts.
    • Notes: This outcome includes practice informed by education theories, Māori literacy and numeracy concepts, approaches and frameworks, and current trends and research. Consideration will be given to add these to the qualification specifications, at the next stage of the review process.

Deliver (30 credits)

  • Foster an environment which gives primacy to learners and their learning.
    • Notes: Environment includes a values-based framework that respects: the mana and diverse cultural backgrounds of learner, the Treaty, the unique characteristics of adult learners as individuals (including literacy and numeracy skills) and what they bring to their learning, collegiality with colleagues, professional relationships with learners, … This outcome is not to be assessed separately but in conjunction with assessment of other outcomes.)
  • Select and apply adult literacy and numeracy teaching strategies and activities to meet learner needs.

Assess and Evaluate (15 credits)

  • Select and use assessment processes to identify specific literacy and numeracy learner needs and strengths.
  • Evaluate own adult literacy and numeracy practice using a range of sources for continuous improvement.

Collaboration (5 credits)

  • Collaborate with other education professionals to enhance literacy and numeracy outcomes.

New Zealand Diploma in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education Level 6 – (120 Credits)

This qualification is for experienced educators who aspire to a leadership role in adult literacy and numeracy education.

Graduates will have in depth applied knowledge, skills and attributes required to be effective in a leadership role within adult literacy and numeracy education

This qualification supports the New Zealand government strategy of developing the literacy and numeracy of adults. Graduates will be able to inform organisational change and capability in adult literacy and numeracy education.

Graduates of this qualification will be able to:

Literacy and Numeracy Skills Development (30 credits)

  • Design for learning to meet diverse literacy and numeracy needs of learners in a range of dynamic contexts.
  • Analyse the learning environment in order to implement literacy and numeracy interventions and improve professional practice.

Issues, Theories and Trends (30 credits)

  • Analyse the educational environment in relation to literacy and numeracy issues, theories, trends and research as a basis for informing own and others’ decision making, innovation and change.
  • Utilise theory- based literature to investigate factors of Te Ao Māori to improve literacy and numeracy practice.

Lead (60 credits)

  • Analyse the learning environment in order to implement literacy and numeracy interventions and improve professional practice
  • Notes: Literacy intervention = 30 credits. Numeracy intervention = 30 credits

What are the reasons for low levels of adult literacy and numeracy?


What do you think…? I tried surveying this a few years ago, but I think it’s worth having another go now. I’d love to have a couple of hundred responses here so when I talk about this it’s informed by a set of wider viewpoints.

Is everyone working in education burnt out…? Part 2


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So actual burn out is pretty darn serious… But, if you work in education, consider this list below and see how many of these you can identify with. Or think about how many of these you see affecting others:

  • critical boss
  • perfectionism
  • lack of recognition
  • inadequate pay
  • under-employment
  • tasks with no end
  • impossible tasks / nearly impossible problems for solving
  • difficult clients (e.g. students)
  • incompatible demands (many demands that may not be achieved together)
  • bureaucracy
  • conflicting roles (home, family)
  • value conflicts (personal / workplace values)
  • meaninglessness of achieved goals
  • social and emotional skills deficit

This is pretty much just pasted in from the Wikipedia entry on short-term burnout, also known as occupational burnout.

I’m not suggesting that everyone working in education is actually burnt out. It’s just a sensational headline to grab your attention.

However, I do think that if we work in education we are in danger. The reason is we tend to care about what we do.

Typically, we tend to be strongly motivated, dedicated, and involved in our work. For better or worse, we tend to find meaning doing what we do. And this means that when we don’t achieve our goals or if the job fails meet our expectations we get frustrated or start to feel exhausted.

If this continues over time, we end up feeling drained, become cynical, and generally become negative and crappy at our jobs.

And, sure it’s not full blown burnout. But it’s still debilitating and can be hard to come back from. Some times it’s easier to quit your job.

I think that’s why one of the major issues in tertiary teaching, particularly for those work with youth, and in trades and vocational training in general, is the churn rate.

Two questions for you then:

  1. How can we prevent this kind of short term, occupational burn out?
  2. How can we make it better for tutors who are feeling the effects?
  3. Can we stop or at least slow the churn rate for trades or vocational tutors by dealing with the effects of short-term burn out?

Ok… that was three questions. What do you think?

Is everyone working in education burnt out…? Part 1


BurnOut1

I’ve been thinking about burn out quite a bit recently… Actually, I’ve been thinking about it since last year when I got really sick and went to hospital for 5 days.

I also meet and work with a lot of people who work in education. And I get the sense that many working in this space are exhausted. Sometimes, I wonder if they’re actually burnt out.

Burn out is serious. I thought perhaps I might be burnt out too. But I read the Wikipedia entry tonight and I decided that I’m not.

Here are the stages of real burn out:

  1. You feel compelled to prove yourself.
  2. You work harder and harder and you become obsessed with this work..
  3. You neglect your own needs and the needs of your friends and family.
  4. You know something is wrong but you can’t tell what it is.
  5. You revise your value system so that it now equals your work
  6. You become intolerant, anti-social, and deny emerging problems
  7. You lose any sense of direction or hope and withdraw, perhaps into drugs or alcohol
  8. Your behaviour changes.
  9. You lose touch with yourself and your own needs.
  10. You feel empty inside and look for meaning in other activities such as alcohol or drugs
  11. You feel exhausted, hopeless, indifferent and depressed believing that there is nothing for you in the future.
  12. You collapse physically and emotionally (and should seek immediate medical attention).

If you know someone who might be heading down this slippery slope they may need help. That might mean your help or a trained professional.

Just one caveat though: I think it’s perfectly normal to experience any of these things at any time. We all do.

Feeling exhausted, or that your work is meaningless, or that you’re going through a patch where you need to work really hard… well, that might just be how it is.