Towards the start of this year, I posted a list of the best things I'd purchased in 2013 (and here is the facebook post). I figure I should make this an *annual* thing. So, with an appropriate drumroll, here are the best things I've bought in the year 2014...
Car Interior LED Lights
Your car's interior lights -- the ones that switch on when you open your car door, say, or pop open the trunk -- are (most likely) dim, incandescent bulbs. They also use a fair amount of energy: if you leave a dome light on, you'll run down your battery pretty fast. But for $15 or so, you can buy a set of LED bulbs for your model of car, and replacing the incandescents with the LEDs takes maybe fifteen minutes. Suddenly, you have CRAZY BRIGHT interior lighting, *and* the LEDs use far less energy than the original bulbs. Why doesn't everybody do this? Why don't these come standard?
Speaking of lighting, my headlamp is the dorkiest thing I bought this year. Face it: most times you're using a flashlight, you also want to have both hands free. This well-designed, cheap headlamp solves that problem. You look somewhere, and the headlamp lights it up. You can also adjust the lamp to aim its beam up and down.
I have two desks. I now have power strips uhu-tac'd in place on both of them. It's wonderful.
Until this year, I used a laundry *basket* for my dirty clothes. In retrospect, I'm pretty sure that means I've failed as an adult. A hamper is a much better solution. It looks clean and stylish. It hides away your pile of dirty clothes. And best of all, it typically has a much larger capacity than a basket. C'mon, past!Peter -- what were you thinking?
Clip-On Guitar Tuners
These tuners are awesome. They're cheap ($13 as of this writing), and you can just leave one clipped to your guitar. When you want to tune up, press the button to turn on the tuner, pluck a string, and a color display tells you what note you're close to and how sharp or flat you are. Yes, some people swear that guitar tuners are a Very Bad Idea (it means you have less practice tuning by ear), but I love being able to tune incredibly quickly, accurately, and easily.
As someone with no particular love for physical books -- they're heavy, they're easily damaged, they take up space, they're easy to lose, and they're troublesome to track down and purchase in meatspace -- I'm shocked it's taken me this long to buy an e-book reader. But I finally did, and as a result, the amount of time I've spent reading has skyrocketed. The Kindle is a simple, straightforward device whose sole disadvantage, as far as I can tell, is the general odor of evil that wafts off of Amazon. That said -- and I suppose this is ironic -- buying a nice faux-book cover for my Kindle was, for me, key. The form factor of the quasi-tablet didn't quite sit right with me, but once I had the Kindle in book 'form', it was perfect, fitting in neatly with my years of physical-book-reading.
By the end of 2013, I felt really at sea with respect to guitar. I tried a few different things -- I tried a book about basic fingerpicking; I played through a DVD that applied clawhammer-banjo techniques to guitar -- but I just couldn't seem to *learn* anything. jamplay, a site which offers an extensive selection video courses on different styles of guitar, turned out to be just right for me, and I've been happily playing through one of their blues courses for several months now. I'm not an amazing blues guitarist now by any stretch, but I'm learning new things, and I'm happy.
A Really Expensive Scanner
2014 was the year when I finally discovered that, when it comes to scanners, you get what you pay for. I have owned any number of $200 scanners that barely, or didn't work, and this year I finally saved up and bought a $420 (!) one that *does*. This allowed me to scan in around 8,000 pages of accumulated paper from the last twenty years, and now, when new paper comes in, I can run it through the machine with no worries at all, and get a beautiful PDF of the document. Shoulda bought one of these years ago.
There are a few other bits and bobs that don't really merit separate discussions. I found a Bluetooth speaker for my shower that works nicely. I bought some neat screw-on lenses for my camcorder. And finally, I've been really happy with my iPhone stand, my camera bag, and my OXO-brand coasters.
Mood: contemplative · Music: none