Collet Tool System – In the Collection

Of the things I collect, tools are probably the easiest to justify to myself, as they actually serve a purpose, and having a good tool has helped me out tremendously over the years. But, while I do appreciate quality, the usefulness or sturdiness of an object doesn’t always come into play when I find something fascinating. I’ve got several “clever” tool ideas in my collection that were cheaply produced in China and never caught on (perhaps rightfully so). The one I’m looking at this time is a nameless collet-based system for attaching different tools to a single handle.

The case says YPF/Maxus, which is/are an (depending on how you look at it) energy company that put their logo on a cheap Chinese product. The case is a terrible pleather that does such an unconvincing job I just want to call it plastic, with red nylon backing on the inside. Contained behind the flimsy zipper and loose elastic is an assortment of tools: and adjustable wrench, tiny pliers, a small slotted screwdriver, a colleted handle, and 6 attachments for said handle. The dedicated slotted screwdriver is the only thing vaguely usable in the whole package. The wrench is almost laughably weak, with the adjustment knob (worm screw) and jaw rattling even at their tightest. The pliers are cast out of a cheap pot metal that one can easily feel deforming in their hands. And while the slotted screwdriver is obviously cheap, at its size one likely wouldn’t be using it for anything more heavy duty than taking apart electronics or the like.

But the best part is the colleted driver. It uses the same handle material as the smaller driver but has a brass collet and tightening knob affixed to the tip. Its six attachments have “wings” at the base of their shafts that slot into the collet, allowing for more grip when it is tightened down (it’s still loose enough to wiggle at that stage, though). These attachments are: two additional sizes of slotted screwdriver, one Phillips driver, an “awl”, what I can only describe as a “screw awl” or “screw bore”, and most hilariously of all, a claw hammer. So that adds to the uselessness with a few wobbly drivers, a fairly blunt pokey thing, a thing that might be used to start or enlarge screw holes (I really don’t understand it), and a 1oz hammer that, if swung with enough force for it to be useful as a hammer, would quickly lead to something in the little device breaking.

It’s all such a strange and poorly implemented idea. If one uses tools with much frequency, they would know that there are a few standard ways to link various bits together that work just fine, and that integrating a hammer with any other tool isn’t the best idea. But still perhaps a nice little kit like this could be forgiven for having a proprietary system if it was high quality, and as it is I’d barely qualify them as play tools. I got my set essentially for free and basically unused, and it will unfortunately stay that way in my collection, not as a set of tools, but as an oddity.

Business Cards

Every time I walk into an establishment I grab a business card. I almost never use this card to contact said establishment later, I just keep it with all of the other cards I have. There is absolutely no reason for me to be doing this, aside from the odd joke about me having a card for “My Shaman” etc.

So why in the world do I do this? Well, I just like to, and business cards can be useful. I know several (okay more than that) businessmen (people) who would get sick to their stomach at the idea of taking in more business cards than they already do. I’m sure many people routinely purge their business cards either from their systems entirely or import them into something digital and forget them. I don’t have enough business interactions nor do I walk into enough establishments that have prominently displayed cards for that to be necessary.

I (as with many things I acquire) like having them. But in this case I “can” (should I want to) use them later as well. When indexed properly I can easily find businesses or people in whatever area I’m in that I frequently go to and find contact info or even business hours (and since I’m in the middle of nowhere and many places have no web presence it’s sometimes the only way to find out information like that). And sometimes they are wacky and unique (see “Shaman” above), or pieces of art. But many times they are good examples of what not to do on a card, and upon occasion something you can point to as the best way to make a card ever (that would be my business card, I’m sure of it).

As far as collections go, this one is nice because it doesn’t take up much space and some people can understand why you would want to keep information easily available. And sometimes I realize I’m just a graphic design junkie and I like having all of the styles, sizes, and materials available for reference or brain training or something similar. The cards just look pretty sometimes, which just cements their place in my collections.


When collecting things one ends up with quite a few categories. For instance, I have a box labeled “flags” and I’m not exactly sure why. I like flags, but I haven’t set out to collect them, though I do wish I had more now.


I have a few of the small flags that one would have at an Independence Day celebration or the like. I have the American, 13-star American, Texas, Texas sesqui-centennial, Wyoming, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand flags in that size. I like the size, and the 13-star American version has its own little stand to display it on. It’s hard to display more than one at a time, but they are nice to have in a pencil holder once in a while.


I also have the German, Mexican, POW/MIA, Come and Take It, and a Fake Texas Confederate Battle flag (got it before they apparently became illegal) in the larger size with grommets. These are much easier to display, but they take up quite a bit of wall space, so more than one is hard to put out, and they aren’t hefty enough to be flown outside (and putting the Confederate flag out might get you in trouble).


Again, I didn’t plan to get these, or specifically order them. I just picked them up slowly as I went about collecting the other things I collect. They have no real use, but they look nice. I’ve always liked flag design and thinking about how flag design affects one’s opinion of a country or group. Most of the famous flags aren’t masterpieces. They’re either much too complicated or much too simple, but they still represent something, and the design process that was going through their creator’s heads would be fascinating to know. It’s good to keep some in decoration rotation anyway.

New Odd Dice

I have a dice problem. I have bought far too many for my own good. But they are great. Rolling dice is a very enjoyable activity, and all of the various sided dice are exciting to find and look at.


Of course everyone is familiar with the standard 6-sided die (D6), and perhaps some of the more common others like D8s, D10s, D20s, D4s, and D12s. But those are just the most simple shapes one can make easily. They are all regular figures which should guarantee a mostly fair roll. In making dice that deviate from these shapes, manufacturers must do more testing to ensure fairness, or at least relative fairness. That hasn’t stopped them, though, and all of these oddballs are now being helped by the easy info access from the internet, and are easier to make with online 3D printing services (


Recently I obtained quite a few of these more unusual (but still common) variations. And I have been having an immense amount of fun. The various strange shapes required to make the dice, especially the odd numbered ones, require quite a bit of thought, and seeing some of the creative work-arounds the designers attempted is interesting and fun. Some of them don’t really lend themselves to usability, like placing the numbers across a crease to get them to fit on the odd- sided dice, but some do, like simply leveling out planes on a sphere for any dice number that couldn’t be created with an standard tiling pattern. And, of course, there’s the standard cheat of “just put a bunch of triangles around a center point and mirror it on the other side”. Nevertheless, they are all still functional (even the D1 which I think is tied with the D2 for my favorite of the 3D printed versions)


Now, I can’t find a “practical” application for any dice really; but it’s even harder to find a use for these very odd dice. They are fun, but not really good for games, as most of them tread old ground or use ratios that aren’t necessary or are too complicated. Most people playing games, even complex ones, want the experience to be as simple as possible. There’s no need to add things that will just confuse them, and so these dice’ll sit, unused.

But if you like shapes, or just the feeling of rolling dice, and want to impress your friends (I can roll a random number between 1 and 10,000,000 or 1 and 7) I’d definitely encourage you to grab a few of the more common ones. The 3D printing isn’t necessary, and the plastic is hard to work with, and some of the more expensive ($10-20) will just weigh you down, but a D7, D18 or a D30 are always fun to bust out now and again and may even serve a purpose.

Back to Playing Chess

I like chess; I’ve always liked chess. Perhaps that’s just my general favor of board games, or perhaps it is the greatest game ever: that’s not for me to judge. Still, I’ve played it for a long time, and still play and enjoy it. In the past few years I played very little, though. That was mainly because I was no longer in school, and the main place I used to play chess was in my math class after I had finished assignments. I still played on my phone, but the AI on there is far too dumb to be interesting or far too hard to be fun. It just wasn’t like playing with the average or slightly below average casual chess player. I say that because I’m very bad at the game. According the, at the moment I’m about a 700, which is very low (and everyone beats me). I’m getting better, but my head just doesn’t really work for chess. Even though I enjoy playing the game, figuring out even a few of my opponent’s next possible moves just doesn’t click in my brain. From the middle game on I barely know what to do.

And with chess, it’s never really been just the game.  Even though I enjoy the game, there is so much more surrounding it. I’m almost forced to look at it since I can hardly find the time to play chess, mostly because when I do play board games they are for more than two players, because it’s just easier that way. So I mess with the board.  A set up chess game, unlike many other set up games, looks quite nice sitting about, so I bought a few different ones to change out now and again, and then a few more. I have quite a few chess sets now, and every time I find one different from what I have at an affordable price, I buy it. There are so many different permutations of chessmen that I’m not sure I could ever see them all, and that means I can afford to only get the ones I want. Looking at them, and playing on them is great, and the tactile feel of each different set is wonderful.

Beyond that I also enjoy looking up variants and strategies. I’m no good at employing the strategies and tactics myself, and I can barely remember them at times, but clever puzzles and other such things are very fun indeed. I think my favorite part, though, is the variants. Chess is such a simple concept, and its individual pieces break down so well, it seems like it would be infinitely variable, and it is. From regional variations like xiangqi and shogi (more on xaingqi next article, hopefully) to piece variations (chess 960 and most older variations) to board variations (hexagonal chess) to adding cards (Knightmare chess) and even just creating a whole new game from chess-like mechanics (the Duke, etc). Having all the different boards, rules, and pieces, and knowing the different games is just fun, and it immensely increases the options one has when attempting to start a game.

Still, I find myself going back to basic chess quite a bit. It is a masterfully-crafted game that may indeed last, almost unchanged from its current state, for a significant portion of human history. It’s a one-in-a-million formula that is great for both casual and experienced players (as long as people of vastly different skill levels generally play each other in moderation, and those on their own levels more). I hope to play more often in the future than I have been, but even so I know for certain that I will continue playing, both in real life, and on the computer, and even when I inevitably lose, I will have a blast