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Ask HN: What is the best thing you ever owned?
48 points by meagher on Oct 20, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 91 comments
Could be a piece of tech, car, clothing, book, pair of indestructible boots—I’m curious what is is/was and why.

My dogs, even though they probably own me more than I own them. No matter how stressful a day I have, we can go out back and goof off. They are eternally happy, and always want to hang out :)

If my house was burning down, I would rescue in order my wife, dogs, and a far third my computer. Everything else is replaceable. When I originally saw Fight Club in the theater I thought a lot about consumerism. I do buy/own things of because they bring some level of joy/fun/happiness, but I actively make sure their importance is where they should be - way below anything that really matters.

I was going to say pets, but that feels like cheating ;-)

I had a "building burning down" scare a few years ago. Turned out to be stupid downstairs neighbors and there wasn't any real danger, but I woke up early in the morning and panicked. Once the pets and humans were out, I ended up making a second trip inside to grab my laptop (for a copy of my photo collection)+a folder that contained lots of important documents. The next morning I realized how stupid that trip would've been if there were real danger, and went out and bought a cloud storage account and a fireproof safe.

Have an up vote. It does feel insulting (awkward?) to say "own" when there's talk regarding pets since they're often family.

I responded to your post because one time there was smoke in my building and what I thought was a fire when alarms went off. I immediately ran to secure my pets before everything else without even thinking about it. I even had thoughts going through my head about how to jump off the balcony if necessary. The difficulty I had is that the loud alarms caused the pets to hide and it made it difficult to retrieve them efficiently in an emergency situation.

I forget where I read this... set off your fire alarms every now and then and give your pets treats. That way they come looking for you when the alarm legitimately goes off.

Dogs can be very easily trained to go to a specific spot when they hear a fire alarm if your fire alarm is an old school one that just beeps at you (and not part of a larger whole building system). Just scatter treats around the evacuation point, turn on the fire alarms manually, and guide the dogs to the pile of treats. Repeat until they get it.

Current fire safety advice is for the humans to leave.

In a real fire animals are prey good at getting out. It's a tragedy for humans to die when they're looking for animals who've already escaped.

My dog is barking at the door right now, while I'm trying to work, he costs a fortune in vet and food bills, and takes up SO much time. But honestly I can't think of anything better that I could spend my money on.

A house fire made my substantially less attached to my possessions. I take care of things, but if someone doesn't give something back or I break something, I don't really feel much emotional loss over it.

I had an extensive midcentury science fiction collection (about three thousand volumes) - most of those are out of print and a lot largely forgotten. That was a bummer.

I've been doing a fair amount of soldering lately, and for some dumb reason was resistant to buying helping hands for a while, instead building complicated fixtures that didn't work well. I was a moron, and those tentacle-clips are currently my favorite things.

My bicycle.

I commute year round (even in the winter). Life is busy. It's not always easy to get to the gym or set aside time to exercise. But at the very least I do 20-40 minutes of cycling a day. It's an efficient way to transform travel time into physical activity.

My bike is not super fancy. It's an old Trek mountain bike, worth less than 80 bucks these days without the customizations. I've put some work into making it my bike. I swapped out the flat handlebar with a butterfly bar. I have Shimano pedals that are flat on one side and clip-in on the other. I also have a Topeak trunk bag that slides on and off the rear rack and a Nite Ize HandleBand to strap my phone to my handlebar. The HandleBand allows me to listen/watch to lectures while going on long rides (on secluded bike-only trails, I should mention).

That's awesome. I have a cheapo bike that I've customized and I agree, there's nothing like having YOUR bike.

That's a great reply and I really enjoy hearing the story of how you've made it "your" bike.

I had a very good experience with my original Leatherman Wave pocketknife. I carried it every day and it seemed like at least once a week I used it for something or other -- opening a package, tightening a screw, trimming my fingernails, or whatever. The selection of tools seemed pretty ideal somehow, it was possible to apply quite a lot of force with the pliers, and it was extremely durable. I even used the saw a couple of times, though I can't remember for what purpose!

I still have a smaller Leatherman tool on my keyring and use it not infrequently, but it seems a lot less awesome somehow.

> I had a very good experience with my original Leatherman Wave pocketknife.

I feel the same way about my Leatherman Charge, the toolset is great, it's solid and it does many jobs well. I don't think I ever used the saw but I believe I've used every other tool on it, even the ruler graduations.

My electric guitar. Not that it has any sentimental value, but I have put in a lot of time practicing and I have some results to show. I wish I would have learned the discipline of frequent schedule practice earlier in life

Agreed. The moment I saw my first electric guitar under the Christmas tree is a moment I'll never forget. To me, it's so much more than just an instrument.

Playing the guitar (or any instrument, I suppose) brings a level of calmness and serenity I know of know other way to capture. The only thing that comes close is the sense of peace I feel after a serious workout.

Guitars are great, partly because for the most part they are still built to last forever so investing in a good one isn't such a transient thing. I feel the same about kitchen knives, and surprisingly, headphones.

What is frequent schedule practice?

It took two things. One, playing every single day. Two, having a continuous stream of new music to learn. I did this by joining a local church's band who needed someone to conquer some solo passages. It's a great way to learn music and give back.

Practice regularly, and you get good.

Practice != play

Regularly == every day

Since someone already mentioned electric guitar, I'll go with: Petzl Grigri 2[1]

I was initially pretty skeptical of Grigris. Climbers have used far more primitive devices for a long time, why do I need a big, bulky hunk of metal and plastic to catch falls? But now that I have one, you'll have to pry it from my hopefully not cold or dead hands. I don't need to have a death-grip on my rope if my climber is hanging for a while. I can go hands-free on rappel to get stuck gear. Most importantly, it has certainly helped prevent some accidents that could have been catastrophic--one particular incident left me with a broken foot, but without the braking assistance from the Grigri, I may have instead walked over to a cratered climber. Best $99 I've ever spent.

[1] https://www.petzl.com/US/en/Sport/Belay-devices--descenders/...

While I agree with you, for toprope belaying I still like my old school Sticht plate. A round piece of steel with a rounded rectangle cut out the middle. You can lock off a climber and hold them indefinitely with barely a pinch.

Lasik - I had terrible eyesight (-12 in each eye) and I decided to get Lasik. It changed my life. Perhaps I was already going to be changing my life anyway, but it became a lot easier to go out for a run, workout, and be healthy. I don't have to worry about contacts late at night drying out.

Probably a close second might be my bluetooth Jaybird headphones (before it was sennheiser. The bluetooth cordless experience is amazing, they're waterproof (I sweat a lot when working out) and combined with Overcast, Audible, or Spotify - any situation has been vastly improved with audio. This by itself is how eons ago people would marvel at this ability once reserved for royalty.

'Computer' is the obvious answer (though I'd have to pick one from my early childhood like Commodore 64 or Atari 800 since it gave me the programming bug early).

My most surprising bit of joy that I never would have thought of, though, is a towel warmer.

There is something wonderful about stepping out of a shower and into a warm, fluffy towel and you get to have that every single day.

> My most surprising bit of joy that I never would have thought of, though, is a towel warmer.

> There is something wonderful about stepping out of a shower and into a warm, fluffy towel and you get to have that every single day.

I "invented" a box with a heating pad in it, that I put my clean boxers in when I take a shower. That's a nice feeling.

I think you're on to something, there.

Are you talking about a radiator in the bathroom, or some specific device?

I have what amounts to a special purpose radiator bolted to the wall with flat curvy panels that heat the whole towel when you hang them on it.

My wife bought it but I think it came from Bath and Body Works.

These seem very popular in Europe and especially Germanic countries. Never had an apartment or hotel room without one, including hostels. Or maybe I'm just always using the bathroom radiator to dry/warm my towels.

I installed some the last time I had works in my bathroom (France). They are fantastic in a flat where you do not have the advantage of a garden to dry your towels.

German here. Never see towel warmers. But they sound nice!

Probably my college degree.

First note: my high school was pretty bad, and being rural there were few opportunities that did not involve cows or driving.

The degree got me out of my town, started on my profession, even helped my find my wife (also in the list of best thing I've owned -- hey, weddings are expensive, and the process is the father handing her off to you, so...).

Sony Clie, ~5 years before iPhone. It's a major part of what convinced me to drop law school ambitions and go all in on CS.

Pretty fond of my Roomba. Maybe it's not the best thing I've ever owned but it is one of the things I have been most surprised about how much it's changed my life for the better.

Cool thread. I'm not sure if I can narrow it down to once specific "thing" - but here are a few off of the top of my head:

- A high quality pair of noise cancelling headphones. I use the Bose QC35. They're great for tuning everything out and either enjoying your music or focusing on work if you want. If you fly somewhat frequently, these are a godsend for tuning out plane noise and enjoying music/movies.

- A really high quality bed - a little while ago we splurged and bought one of the Heavenly Beds from Westin. It's seriously amazing, for me at least. Now everyone has their own preferences when it comes to sleep/comfort, but my larger point is that sleep is so important and you spend so much time doing it that its wise to invest in something high quality that works for you/your partner.

I'm quite fond of my Audi A4. I've had it almost 10 years, it's been paid off for 7 and still runs like a new (low end) sports car. Plus it's a convertible and driving with the top down is one of my favorite summer time activities.

I refuse to give it up even though I have a kid now and it is REALLY hard to get a car seat in the back of a coup.

But close seconds:

- My Sonos audio system (I love music)

- My Audible.com subscription - I wouldn't have time to "read" otherwise

Not on the list:

- My Mac Book Pro. I love the computer, it's lasted me years, but it is overpriced

- My house. I wanted to keep renting, my wife insisted we buy. It hasn't been bad I just wouldn't call it "best"

- My Galaxy note 5. Awesome phone, battery life stinks.

I'm not sure anyTHING has changed my life more than my smartphones (I've had both iPhones and Androids). I'm not sure I could do my job without it. It's changed everything for me in very meaningful and substantial ways.

My Kindle. Ever since it was gifted to me I have read a ton more and now have the opportunity to comfortably and very quickly read any book I'd like to for a low cost. Living in a developing country this is specially useful.

One of my favorite little things is when I get a little piece of crap mass-manufactured for things like trade show giveaways or party favors for which all the stars aligned and all the angels in heaven sang and by some cosmic miracle, something way better than what they intended to make popped out of the process. One of the best pens I've ever had came from a trade show, for instance. I also have a big soft spot for the all-plastic slinkies; I've got a rainbow one here on my desk that I like to use as a fiddle tool. (I'm a fiddler, but in this age of fidget spinners and fiddle cubes, I now call myself a free-range fiddler, because I prefer "real" objects for whatever reason. Dunno. I don't question the fiddle neurons in my brain, I merely obey.)

Dunno if it's the "best" things I've ever had, but they have the biggest gap between expectation and reality.

Also a similar situation, there is an astonishing variety of earbud headphones that run the gamut from "absolute shit" to "not quite studio quality but as close as you can get without being there", and remarkably, they all cost about the same overall. I use these: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00WP67G5Y/ref=oh_aui_sear... (which, again, I want to emphasize don't substitute for studio quality but for what you can stick in your pocket comfortably and just always have on you, are pretty darned good)

Just to pick something more unusual, my Porter-Yoshida & Co. waist bag.

Women can carry a purse and keep all kind of things in it, but for men it's not really the same. Where do I keep my wallet, pack of tissues, some band aids, keys? A backpack is way big, too burdensome and overkill in most cases. That's why a waist bag is so perfect, it's the right size for kindle, keys, wallet, etc. and is low profile. Though I don't wear it as a waist bag, but diagonally from my shoulder.

My writing desk.

My grandfather owned it well before I was even born, I got it from him and have used it in all of my offices or work spaces since I was in high school. It's seen very many different computers and electronics/mechanical projects over the years and is a very handsome and elegant piece of furniture on top of being highly functional, and it allows me to think of him having done the same with it whenever I have a spare moment to admire it.

A kitchen hand mixer from the time of the DDR inherited from my grandparents. Still works today, use it to make mashed potatoes, etc multiple times a week.

This is not a thing but a service : house cleaning. An extraordinary investment which relieved me from something I hate to do extensively.

I do not like to own things, but if I had to single out something : a simple kitchen robot which slices and chops things for me. Also a good mattress, hard and not that expensive.

What I should invest in but somehow never have the time : a finance advisor, I am bad with money and have zero interest in the subject (I sure like to have lots of money, just not to deal with it)

In order: My dog (as other's have said), my house (or really, the equity in it that provides a sense of financial security), my new car (my first new car ever, 1 week old today, transitioning from a 14 year old card with 255k miles, woohoo), and my last meal (if only owned briefly, and probably still in there somewhere).

I'm sure I'd have a different answer on a different day, but today the answer is a '68 Ford Taunus. V-4, front wheel drive, 4 on the column. It handled wet cobblestone like you can't imagine, had plenty of power for the autobahn yet spared the gas. Mostly, it was just fun to drive!

Commodore64 used daily from '84 until '92. I actually still have it packed away in a box somewhere. We've moved 40-some times, so certain things just never seem to get unpacked.

Yamaha FG-110. Not the greatest guitar in the world, but my first. (bought in '73) Replaced the frets over the years, and it could use frets again, so other guitars get more use these days.

Several dogs and few cats over the years, but I don't consider family members to be possessions.

Oh, the Commodore 64 is a good one. Playing Zork, Ultima IV, and dialing into BBS services stand out as some of the highlights of my middle school years.

Basically this, except the 3/8" drive version (which Snap-On apparently no longer make)


That's the only tool from Snap-On that I've ever owned, and since they don't make them anymore, I'd just about fight to the death to protect this thing.

A friend of mine once made the comment that "Snap-On tools feel like sex". That might be a bit of hyperbole, but they are very nice. But crazy expensive. I think that driver handle cost me around $80.00 back in the 90's.

I'm pretty fond of my black diamond sprinter headlamp [0]. It's great for running, and I used it the other day when soldering to get some extra light.

I'm also fond of the Bluetooth speaker I use on my bike for my commute, UE Roll 2. [1]. It works well, attaches quickly, is water proof and is plenty loud.

0. https://www.amazon.com/Black-Diamond-Sprinter-Headlamp/dp/B0...

1. https://www.amazon.com/Volcano-Wireless-Portable-Bluetooth-W...

My 2007 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck. It is rusting and makes a lot of noise when driving but it is the first car I paid for on my own. There are newer trucks with more bells and whistles but there is just something special about this truck.

My boxing gloves changed my life for the better. Best investment I have ever made.

Probably a DSLR. I've had a few different cameras since I picked up my first ~10 years ago but going back through pictures and actually having some quality photos of different memories is always a plus.

In 1989 I bought a backpack from NorthFace. It is still the backpack that I use. It has been all over the world. It has been on countless hikes and adventures. It is damn near indestructible.

I have the impression that NorthFace later retreated from quality. I suppose this was to boost profits? In 2010 I got a cheap daypack which has bears the NorthFace branch. It gave out after 2 or 3 years. Not terrible, but nothing like the backpack.

Commodore Amiga 500 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amiga_500

Things I do today to earn a living and enjoy myself (Design, Music, Games) I got into via the Amiga ツ

(A great retrospective of the Amiga here - https://arstechnica.com/series/history-of-the-amiga/)

I penny that my kids and I flattened in a machine in a general store in YellowStone Park in the 90s. If my house was on fire that's what I'd go back in to get...

My Rob Roskopp board by Santa Cruz is directly connected to some of the greatest memories of my childhood. It was a great board for its time and I rode it relentlessly. Light weight with a narrower cut than most boards during the 80s. Good times!


My high-visibility yellow Arai Signet-X motorcycle helmet. [1]

I do believe it is my single most used item, as I use it for my motorcycle, my gas-bike and my e-skateboard.

Haven't hit my head yet, but I feel confident that if/when I do, it'll be well-protected.

[1]: https://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/arai-signet-x-hi-viz-hel...

Hard to answer. But the things I use the most and are really old:

  * 2000 Ford Mustang
  * 2011 Lenovo T520
  * 2008 Citizen 8651 watch
  * Perl

I have a warm wool shirt that's lasted for going on 25 years now. I use it for a jacket in fall and spring. Shows very few signs of wear.

I don't own a lot of things, so it has to be my MacBook Air 2013. It's not a particularly powerful machine (with 4 GB of RAM I try to avoid using things like Slack), but it's been serving me well for the past 4 years. I've tried installing Arch Linux, Ubuntu, and now NixOS on it and all of those worked quite well for my needs. (Mostly Haskell and Rust stuff).

My grandpa military badge. It reminds me who I am, where we were and at what length we went for the sake of our honour and our people. I am part of a Nation, I am part of that history. And that badge represents, physically, the proud I have of being who I am. And it's a permanent call to what I have to be and how I should behave.

HP48 - About as close to LISP as I'll probably ever get.

A modest, tarnished silver cross - The only thing I have from my grandfather

I've gone my entire life owning at least one pair of skis at a time. Although it's a physical object, the sport of skiing brings me a lot of joy. Could be synonymous to computers, it's the activity of developing|coding|building something that brings me joy, not the "thing" itself.

In a similar vein, my bicycle.

I use it for commuting, transport, and leisure. A good bicycle ride, like a good ski, is magical and freeing, and the object is imbued with some of that.

It doesn't require much maintenance, but it's fun to maintain, as well.

My various memories installed in my brain.

I have an Epiphone Les Paul. I traded an old motorcycle for it. It's not a Gibson but it's the fanciest model that Epiphone ever made and it plays and sounds amazing. I'm so used to it that it's like a part of me now.

The other thing my Miata. It's a fabulous car. Mazda did everything right.

I still make my living on the same Macbook Pro from 2009. 8 year old and still no need to change it!

I don't feel attached to any particular thing I have bought. I can buy it again if anything happens. But really appreciate gifts and presents, I am really attached to one particular t-shirt that my brother gave me.

> I don't feel attached to any particular thing I have bought. I can buy it again if anything happens.

I don't think the question was about attachment, though. You can think something is good, or useful, while still acknowledging it's a thing that can be replaced if necessary.

There are apparently traditional Yiddish, Arabic, and Irish sayings that are nearly the same, when someone acquires a prized new possession, to the effect of "May you wear it out" or "May you outlive it". I thought this was a cool sentiment.

Workshop vacuum cleaner. Does the same job as one designed for home usage, but it's ergonomic, resistant to abuse, and requires so little effort in maintenance (especially important with two cats worth of fur).

iPhone 6+ in a waterproof LifeProof case.

Feels consumerist and horrible to say it, but it's lasted me almost 2.5 years without any issues. The gigantic screen is a great companion while I've been on the road. The case makes it almost comically large, but I can now use my phone as a coaster and never worry about tossing it in a bag.

Every smartphone I owned prior to this one wound up with some combination of bugs, hardware issues, and degrading performance. This one feels as good as the day I got it, and I never expected that to be true of a cellphone.

Stereo set. I bought some HiFi equipment from the first money I ever made, 16 years ago. Still enjoy it every day, be it for music or movies... And the tech hardly ages, awesome.

2004 wrx sti. I bought it new, it's been fun ever since.

Library card!

The five acres of land I live on in the Ozark Mountains.

1) The family farm. Technically I only own 20% of it. But I'll never be homeless.

2) migraine meds. In terms of quality of life, I would rather go without clothes.

Mac book/iPhone, unfortunately.

I use them more than anything else.

An electric mattress pad is one of my favorite things. Getting into a nice warm bed on a cold winter night is so wonderful. :)

An NS Design CR4 electric upright bass.

I have never owned anything this well made with such attention to detail and craftsmanship.

Smartphone. Not necessarily one brand over another, but the smartphone has been the best thing I've ever owned.

My sawstop table saw, because working as a dev without fingers would be harder. Also, it’s a great saw.

Sony PSP (first generation). That little sucker could do anything.

Our two Burmese cats - although I'm not sure who owns who.

A Sears ½" reversible 600 RPM 3 amp drill.

iPhone 3GS. Between iOS, Shazam, Maps, Safari... just felt like magic. My previous phone was a Samsung flip phone.

My Trezor wallet and all the crypto on it

My digital piano (yamaha clavinova).

My life - I own it !

Kinesis Advantage

A bitcoin

My dog

ruby language

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