Prompted by the notations and discussion of the compact tool kit, I paused and thought about my own evolution of equipment.

To this day, I have an extensive collection of (mostly) folding knives. Pocket knives, from an elegant, tiny three-blade “miniature” cattleman-style from an outfit in West Texas, to a single needle-nose set of pliers, to Sharpies and fancy Mont Blanc pens.

For years, I honed several sets of fishing gear, always looking for that ultimate arrangement that would always catch fish.


The prompt from the story reminded me when I first landed in San Antonio, my favorite tool was a cheap camera. On some days, that type of cheap camera is still a favorite tool.

Sorting and organizing for the last trip, I happened across two books, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones and Marcus Aurelius – Meditations.

Then I found a small notebook, blank, and one of old-school favorite writing tools, a mechanical pencil.

For maybe two decades, that kind of mechanical pencil, I preferred 0.7 mm lead, was the best tool for my work. I still have a half-dozen notebooks filled with scribbled notes about what’s most important.

If “Man is a tool user,” then which tools define us?

For many long years, a seven-foot graphite rod with a spinning reel and 8 to 20 pound test line was my preferred equipment.

Preferred software tools.

Another tool I’ve always kept handy — at home — is an older Leatherman tool. I still keep that older, full-sized version near my desk, and these days, I’ve got slightly newer, more compact, Leatherman “Micro.”

With a brief stint as a property manager, I wore the Leatherman to work, and I use it, most frequently, as pliers. Great pliers, for sure. That was about all I ever used it for, and these days, pliers, screwdrivers, and leather hole punch — useful for sandal strap repairs, and modifications. The pliers, although that tool is now more than two decades old? Still strong. Most used tools are hole punch (awl) and screwdriver.

The folding hunter knives I still own but no longer carry, one is the size of small sword. Not that unusual. At this point, I love the West Texas brand of Moore Maker for hardware like that. I have several locking blades, high carbon steel, not pretty, but retain an edge like no one’s business. Not stainless, but high carbon. Strong and ugly. Work very well.

It’s been written into a horoscope, so I shouldn’t do more than mention it, but my preferred markers, ones, like that old mechanical pencil that worked for so long? I went with Mont Blanc, including one that’s “heritage,” now, but those are losing ground to various “sharpie” markers. Cheap, plentiful, mostly broad-stroke. Honestly? I write very little by hand.