Since the year is so close to wrapping up, I thought it would be fun to share some of the coolest things I discovered in 2015. Here are 12 things that surprised, delighted, or engaged me with their coolness this year.
I could have made this list 100 items long, but I decided to keep it to a dozen (that way people will read it. Genius idea!).
If you like cool stuff, check these things out for yourself. By the way, this is really a list of stuff I think is cool. I receive no money, sponsorship, products, or even kudos from these brands. They do not even know I am talking about them (unless they happen to read my blog)… you know, like my relatives.
COOL STUFF I CARRY AROUND…
Ivation Portable Spray Washer: This little guy is handy for all kinds of things and is an essential part of living near saltwater. It is a portable 5 gallon sprayer that can be charged by your car’s battery (or any outlet). It rinses us off after a day at the beach, plus cleans our paddle boards. It is also great for rinsing the shower, washing your puppy, washing your car, or just about anything else you would need fresh water and a spray hose for. It travels great and always generates comments.
NSP Cocomat Paddle Boards: We took our time choosing our paddle boards. I did so much research on build quality, hull design, fin types, interior technology, durability, and rocker styles that I could probably build my own board! (There is no way I could build my own board.) Whenever people talk to me about paddling and say “Your board looks nice,” I have to restrain myself from talking about the epoxy resins, coconut fibers, eco-conscious design, weight distribution, and general amazingness of our boards. Paddle boards are like cars–people have different preferences and needs. The NSP Cocomats, though, are simply the best “general purpose” boards I have seen, tried, or heard of. I have yet to find an all-around touring board as lightweight, durable, or well-engineered.
COOL STUFF I WEAR…
O’Neil Traveler Shorts / Prana Stretch Zion Shorts: Living in Tampa has required to alter my clothing choices, but regardless of where you live, you won’t find better shorts than these. The O’Neil Traveler’s are affordable and engineered to near perfection. They dry almost instantly, look great in the surf or having drinks with friends, and squish into their own back pocket for travel! The Pranas are high-end amazement. They have a built-in belt (not a drawstring), gusseted in seams, look professional but are durable enough to scale a mountain with. I have put them through every environment and rubbed them against every texture you can imagine and they look like new. By far, the best shorts I have ever owned. The Prana Axiom jeans are equally amazing–the only ones I ever buy.
Mack Weldon or Uniqlo: If you want the perfect undies, then Mack Weldons are worth their weight in gold. They have the only legitimate “no-roll” tops, super comfortable fit, and tight legs that aren’t so tight they leave marks but still manage to stay up. Uniqlo has become my favorite “affordably priced high-quality” line for odd things. They seem to change their entire product line seasonally so if you like something, better buy it, but they make the best undershirts and blazers I have ever owned. Check out their “Airism” line.
COOL STUFF I USE (ALMOST) EVERY DAY…
Leesa and The Mattress Nerd: There is a new frontier of mattress companies like Leesa, Casper, and Yoga Bed that are taking the world by storm. My Leesa mattress has offered the best night’s sleep longer than any mattress I have slept on. It is surprisingly affordable with the best return policy on earth. If that does not win you over, though, don’t take my word for it. The Mattress Nerd, which I have written about before, is run by a mattress guru named Jack who offers a free service. He will do all the mattress research for you and provide you with a perfect solution based on your needs. He gets paid if you click the link (which probably has a coupon code for you) to his suggestion but you do not have to shell out a dime. In fact, he will probably save you a few thousand dimes! If you are shopping for a bed, give Leesa and The Mattress Nerd a try.
2015 Prius: I was a Prius hater since the day they arrived on the market. Now, I love what they are doing. My Prius is going to save half its cost by the time I pay it off, but what I really love was how surprisingly well Toyota tailored it to the market they are trying to reach. The SofTex “leather” seats are vegan (and better than leather). The tech both inside and out is cool, and the savings are real. I like trucks but I like having all the money they cost better! That money more than paid for the paddle boards.
Chromecast 2: This little gizmo delivers a lot of function on the cheap. It streams high-definition audio and video to my computer monitor and speakers. It was the best way to watch Jessica Jones and listen to YouTube Music this year. In fact, having an endless playlist of music videos based on my tastes was like having old school MTV back, except with no commercials and none of the videos I didn’t like! Pretty cool.
COOL STUFF IN THE CLOUD…
Google Now: Google Now has been around but this year it improved so much that it has become a staple of my day-to-day living. I can ask it for directions, definitions, recommendations, and anything else I can think of. The key difference this year is the new natural language contextual search engine. I don’t have to ask for what I want in “robot speak” so I think it will deliver the right results and it understands the context of a question. For example, asking “Okay Google, what is the weather?” will deliver something like, “69 degrees and sunny, with a high of…”. Leaving just one word out, though, changes my context and changes the result. Asking, “Okay Google, what is weather?” will provide a definition of the concept of weather.
Hulu: In the war for time with my eyeballs, Hulu has finally stepped ahead of its competition. Having access to my favorite shows one day after they air makes it so much easier than waiting an entire calendar year or more to find out what happened after the cliff-hanger last season with Netflix. A season at a time being released is great but not if I don’t even remember the characters’ names anymore because it has been so long since I watched the show.
Pocket: Having a super easy way to store stuff I find on the web, including articles, pictures, and recipes I want to look at later is amazing. Pocket has become my recipe book, reading repository, and sharing center on my computer and phone. Must-have.
Simple: Simple is my bank and they exist entirely online. A bank that leverages modern technology and service with contemporary marketing seems like the antithesis of every bank you have dealt with in the past… and they are.
Some examples: whenever somebody swipes my card, my phone is instantly notified with the amount, business name, and GPS tag. When there was a mysterious charge, I went into my app and suspended my card. Once I figured out what the charge was, I turned the card back on. Easy-peezy. Their customer service agents are available through the app, over the phone, or through email, and they are VERY friendly and responsive. There are no fees. I can instantly transfer money and create budgets (which will calculate how much I need to save and automatically adjust my available balance for me), and much more. If you want a new, better bank, check them out. They are a breath of fresh air.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: This is a young adult fiction story, which seems to be a popular category with old adults, too. I understand the rights to the movies for Miss Peregrine have already been procured. As a book, it is okay. It’s basically Harry Potter meets X-Men: First Class… so interesting, but what made it a keeper for me was the unique approach to writing taken by the author, Ransom Riggs (guessing that is a pen name).
Knowing this book will likely be read via apps like Kindle, Google Play Books, and Nook, Ransom Riggs decided to write it in a way that uses the technology. Interspersed through the book are old photographs, circa 1920’s. The story revolves around the photographs, which means the author found these old, real vintage photos and crafted the story around it. The book is basically made for an app and the approach, I hope, starts a trend of new artistry in writing. The story is pretty good, too, but written at a, maybe, 6th grade level (which is fine if you want something easy and fun to read).
I love being delighted and surprised by clever use of technology, marketing, design, or philosophy. The things that delight are the things that make life easier and joyful. Maybe one of my 2015 favorite things will become one of yours or maybe you have one for me. Let me know on your social media of choice and don’t forget you can subscribe to have these posts delivered to your inbox so you can read them whenever you want. That way, you won’t forget your favorite things!