Review: Savage Industries / Mafia Bags EDC ONE

I’m a big fan of former Mythbusters host Adam Savage — his enthusiasm and curiosity, dedication to making the most impressive and beautiful things he can, and his entertaining thoughts and storytelling style.

Fairly shortly after learning that he had designed a shoulder bag for Every Day Carry (EDC), I ordered a Savage Industries EDC ONE in March 2020 for US$225. I have used it nearly every day since, and in my view it is superbly designed and functional both as an urban commuter shoulder bag and a bag for outdoor exploration and long-distance urban walking.

I got the model with the original concept of an all-white interior and exterior. The idea for the white interior is brilliant — “first order retrievability” where the absence of pockets and the ability to see everything in the brightly-lit interior means everything is easily found and nothing gets lost in a sub-pocket because it is not visible with the bag open. I have found this very effective. Inside I carry a Klein Tools 55470 Utility Bag in Orange/Black to hold my keychain and SAK as well as my wallet. Those are the only things that ever go there, and those are the only places those things go, so a momentary glimpse at the bag confirms that I have my wallet and keys. The Klein pouches are deigned to be tough enough to hold tools, so I don’t need to worry about the sharp edges of my keys cutting other things in the bag or the upcycled sailcloth of the EDC ONE itself.

Speaking of the sailcloth, both its toughness and its water resistance are excellent. I routinely carry books and electronics in the bag without fear that even heavy rain will get past the sailcloth and tough (but not indestructible, if you overfill the bag) main zipper. As I understand it, the all-white exterior is part of the concept for the bag too, and meant to develop a unique patina which is revealing about the specific uses each owner puts theirs to. I always wear mine over my right shoulder, because of my injured left shoulder, so I see a wear pattern and pattern of light staining that shows where it always rubs against my blue coat. The bag actually gets most worn of all in the perhaps-unexpected spot where the handle on the body-side attaches to the main body of the bag, since walking motion causes one piece to routinely rub against the other there.

In addition to the pouch for my wallet and keys, I carry a 9″ x 7.25″ Defy Bags (made in Canada, so no international taxes or customs chartes) Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF) water-resistant pouch containing an Anker 20,000 mAh external battery which will cover my original iPhone SE for at least three days of heavy and data-intensive use, as well as make sure to start the phone reliably even at temperares around -20 ˚C. I have a less tough pouch for my Bose noise-cancelling over-ear headphones, for when I am not wearing them. I use a 4.5″ by 3.5″ Defy Bags DCF pouch as a micro first aid kit, with Aleve; antihistimines; diarrhea pills and Pepto Bismol tablets; a pair of non-latex gloves; and a few tiny adhesive sutures for serious cuts. In the one small wallet-sized internal pocket, I carry a Bic lighter, PaperMate Sharpwriter pencil, ballpoint pen, and Sharpie. I also have a vanilla and myrrh scented lip balm which I am using in an Andy Warhol-inspired memory experiment, to try to reinforce my recollection of approximately six-month periods by associating a distinctive lip balm odour uniquely with each.

I don’t have anything bad to say about this bag. The strap might seem a bit thin, but I have carried it a long way and sometimes with a lot of weight and it is solid. The bottom of the bag is sufficiently waterproof to let you fill the bag with water in the bath and pick it up, as well as to float quite tolerably if it ever tumbles out of a canoe (though the bag does have holes in the side to let air escape when it it closed and gets squashed down, so it won’t float forever). The handles are excellent for when it is heavily laden, and very comfortable and intuitive with the embedded dowels and magnets. The way the large zipper unzips to leave the bag standing open, ready to look inside, reinforces the functionality of the “first order visibility” from the white interior. The only trouble I have ever had was when I damaged the zipper by forcing it shut around too many groceries which were pushing up and keeping the lid open. The manufacturers at Mafia Bags in San Francisco graciously replaced the top panel and zipper for me for free, as part of the lifetime maintenance warrantee.

I have found the bag to be well-sized to carry my day-to-day needs, to pack away a layer or too for if/when the weather changes, and usually to pick up a supplementary batch of groceries on my way home from an exercise walk too.

Perhaps the strongest testimonial for the bag is this: if you see a photo of me taken outside since March 2020, this bag is probably over my shoulder or on the ground beside me. I have carried the bag on by far the greater part of 6,000+ km of pandemic exercise walks, so I can testify to its durability, suitability in adverse cold and rainy weather conditions, and general toughness and ability to exclude water.

(If you are Adam Savage Googling reviews of your gear, thanks for making such cool stuff with people who have a manifest commitment to quality construction and long-term customer support. I have the EDC ONE and EDC THREE, plus your pouch set and tape measure. I also have v2 of your bedroll currently in the hands of UPS.)


Prompt to ChatGPT:

Have people written about how life is like a river delta or the path of a particle through the detector in a particle accelerator lab – it spreads out in a triangle or cone as decisions are made and outcomes are determined


“The metaphor of a river delta or a particle’s path through a detector in a particle accelerator lab as a representation of the spread of possibilities and outcomes is a common concept in several fields, including philosophy, physics, and psychology.

In philosophy, this concept is often explored in discussions of determinism and free will, where the metaphor of a branching tree or river delta is used to describe the way in which the potential outcomes of a decision or event spread out in a tree-like structure, with each branch representing a possible future.

In physics, the concept of a particle’s path through a detector in a particle accelerator lab is often used to describe the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics, where particles exist in a superposition of states until they are observed or measured, at which point they “collapse” into a specific state.

In psychology, the concept of a branching path is often used to describe the way in which life choices and experiences lead to different outcomes and potential paths, with each decision or experience leading to a different branching point in the individual’s life trajectory.

While there may not be a specific work that focuses solely on the metaphor of a river delta or particle path as a representation of the spread of possibilities and outcomes, these concepts are frequently explored and discussed in various fields and contexts.”

My hand-crafted text guarantee

Long ago, I turned off autocorrect on my phone. Sure it would sometimes turn a typo into a properly typed word, saving me a second or two — but whenever it turned something correct or outside the dictionary into something wrong, it would annoy me enough to undo the value of hundreds of correct corrections.

Now the world is abuzz with ChatGPT and its ilk of so-called articial intelligence that writes. Even people who I know are excited about using it as a labour-saving device or for tedious tasks.

I will not.

While I have worked in a variety of job positions, the common characteristic has been the centrality of writing. I am a writer first and foremost, though I have never held that formal job title, and it is important to me and to me my readers that the sentences, paragraphs, and documents I produce came from my own mind and took advantage of my abilities to express a thought in a comprehensible way, as well as to imagine what impression it will make on the reader and adapt my language accordingly.

To call ChatGPT-style AIs stupid and likely to be wrong gives them far too much credit. You need some intelligence in order to have a low level of it, such as stupidity. You need to have the slightest ability to distinguish right from wrong claims in order for readers to be truly confident that what you have produced is accurate or inaccurate. A highly sophisticated parrot which regurgitates fragments of what it found online can clearly be very convincing at imitating thinking, but it’s a deceptive imitation and not the real thing. A ChatGPT-style AI will blithely repeat common falsehoods because all it is doing is telling you what sort of writing is probable in the world. At best, it gives you the wisdom of the crowd, and the whole basis of academic specialization, peer review, and editing from publishing houses is that serious texts should meet a much higher standard.

My pledge to people who read my writing — whether in academic papers, job applications, love letters, blog posts, books, text messages, or sky-writing — can be confident that it came from my own brain and was expressed using my own words and reasoning. I will never throw a bullet point into a text generator to expand it out into a sentence or paragraph, or use an AI to automatically slim down or summarize what I have written.

My writing is hand-crafted and brain-crafted. In a world where there will be more and more suspicion that anything a person wrote was actually co-written by a parrot with godlike memory but zero understanding, I think that kind of guarantee will become increasingly valuable. Indeed, part of me feels like we ought to make an uncontaminated archive of what has been written up until about now, so we at least have a time capsule from before laziness drove a lot of us to outsource one of the most essential and important human activities (writing) to a tech firm’s distillation of the speculative and faulty babble online, or even some newer language model trained only with more credible texts.

It is also worth remembering that as ease-of-use leads language models to produce a torrent of new questionable content, the training sets for new models that use the internet as a data source will increasingly be contaminated by nonsense written earlier by other AIs.

TO360 wayfinding consultation

Though I had noticed some of their signage (and, without knowing it, their printed Toronto cycling map has been a key planning tool for our urban hikes), I did not actually know about the city’s TO360 wayfinding project until I saw a post about it a few days ago.

They are currently working on the Long Branch area west of Humber Bay, and held a consultation yesterday at the local library.

The consultation was unlike anything I have done, and really cool. Some knowledgeable local residents turned up, and the TO360 people had printed maps the size of large dinner tables where people could correct errors, note things that ought to be included, and suggest places where they should include custom graphics for something like a building or monument rather than a generic labelled marker. It’s awesome to see a group with so much capability and official support working to map the city from a non-driving perspective.

As shown on p. 11 of the slides, the group is working through the whole GTA as they are funded by the city. It would be neat to explore new areas as they focus on them and contribute to forthcoming consultations. The results won’t just be used for map posts on the street and map posters in subway stations, but also future versions of the cycling map.

Limits of ChatGPT

With the world discussing AI that writes, a recent post from Bret Devereaux at A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry offers a useful corrective, both about how present-day large language models like GPT-3 and ChatGPT are far less intelligent and capable than naive users assume, and how they pose less of a challenge than feared to writing.

I would say the key point to take away is remembering that these systems are just a blender that mixes and matches words based on probability. They cannot understand the simplest thing, and so their output will never be authoritative or credible without manual human checking. As mix-and-matchers they can also never be original — only capable of emulating what is common in what they have already seen.