26 February 2017
Recomendo: issue no. 31
A maxim I am paying attention to is an anonymous quote: “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than think your way into a new way of acting.” This is a handy way to remember the fact that smiling makes me happier, and acting as if I am confident makes me more confident, etc., and that changing my behavior is a great way to change my mind. — KK
There are a lot of mood tracking apps out there and most are free, but I have yet to find one as easy to use and well-designed as Moodnotes ($2.99, iPhone). You can customize to the app to check in with you as many times a day as you want, and your level of participation can be as little as adjusting a smiley face from frowning to grinning, to journaling and learning about common “thinking traps” and practices to avoid them. It also provides insights/stats about your moods over time. — CD
Hotel rooms typically have a lot of bright LEDs in them — fire alarms, phone, TVs, clock radio, etc. — that can be annoying when you want to sleep. These “Super Sticky” black Post-it notes are an easy way to cover them up. — MF
An awesome podcast episode that I loved is “The Man of the People” on Reply All. In only 42 minutes it tells the nearly incredible true story about a charlatan who made millions by surgically implanting goat testicals in men, almost became governor of Kansas to escape censure, moved to the Mexico side of the border to broadcast in the US without US oversight, made country and western music a national thing, by his quackery provoked the creation of the AMA (American Medical Association), and invented commercial radio. This podcast has the distinction of being the first podcast to be turned into a Hollywood movie, starring Robert Downey Jr. If you want to know what podcasts are about, try this one. — KK
I came across Menagerie wine pourers/aerators at a winery and wish I would have bought more. They’re made from stainless steel and they definitely feel heavy and high-quality, but mostly they’re just really cute. They have almost 100 different creatures to choose from — animals and make-believe — I chose an octopus. – CD
Get the Recomendo weekly newsletter a week early by email.02/26/17
25 February 2017
24 February 2017
Furniture assembly aid
I am not the handiest person: the skill level for IKEA furniture assembly, though, I can generally handle. Even so, I have a tendency to drop tiny pieces into unreachable recesses or into the great unknown (sometimes they get rediscovered by the washing machine), or to confuse similar looking screws or bolts.
For a long time, I’d dump all those screws and widgets into a little pile on the floor, where it seems they would walk away or burrow into the carpet. Then I dumped them on piece of cardboard (too easy to spill), then a shoebox (easy to reach into, but not enough organization), then a tacklebox insert meant to hold things like fishhooks and weights (good organization, but not finger-friendly).
The best antidote I’ve found for these headaches, though, is a divided enamel-on-metal tray of the kind used in some cafeterias for food service, and a mindset shift. (I have one blue tray that probably came from a yard sale, and another in orange.) Now, when I start a flat-pack furniture assembly job, I snip open the bag of fasteners, disposable wrenches, and doohickeys, and sort the contents into the sections of a tray, and count them. It’s oddly satisfying to see them all lined up, too — a tiny organizational sculpture. The rounded slides of each compartment make them easy to grab bits as needed. I like that the trays I have are in bright colors; I’d otherwise like a nice stainless steel, but the orange and blue finishes have better contrast when looking for a tiny washer or screw.
I consider this system to have two small debits. One: unlike some more specialized divider trays, this one isn’t magnetic, anti-scratch, or equipped with non-slip feet. If I was building flat-pack furniture or sorting beads for a living, I’d want an even more specialized system. Two: these trays aren’t made for securely covering or storage, in the way of a tackle box or a multi-day pill box. (Bonus points if you can tell what I’m about to assemble here.)
23 February 2017
An avid cyclist shares his road gear
I log about 10,000 miles per year from my home in San Francisco and around the world. I use this gear for short city loops or for 100 mile adventures. It’s reasonably light and easy to carry, and iit gives me what I need to handle mishaps and get home safely.
Silca Seat Roll (discontinued, 100 grams)
Some riders carry all their gear in their jersey pockets, but I like to reserve those for my jacket, phone, and food, so I use a small bag under the saddle. My current favorite is a Silca Seat Roll, waxed canvas that wraps like a burrito. It’s discontinued but similar products are available. I like the tool roll design because I can unroll it on the ground and easily get to all my gear when I need to make a repair.
What’s in the bag:
Spare Tube (varies, 110 grams)
Lighter tubes are available.
Park Tool Self-Adhesive Patch Kit ($6, 4 grams)
Emergency use only if I flat more than once.
Tire Levers ($5, 24 grams)
These are Lezyne Matrix Power Levers which work well for me.
Tire Casing Boot (varies)
If a flat tire damages the casing of the tire it’s helpful to have a tough, flexible material like Tyvek to patch or “boot” the tire.
Ritchey CPR-9 Multi Tool (discontinued, 24 grams)
This handy little multitool includes 2-6mm allen wrenches, a screwdriver and a spoke wrench. It’s got no moving parts and it’s very light weight. I bought a few before they were discontinued. For bigger adventures I sometimes bring a larger Ritchey multitool with a chainbreaker.
CO2 Cartridge (58 grams) and inflator (14 grams)
Although I carry a good pump, on this bike I also carry CO2 cartridges for quick inflation when I’m on group rides and people are waiting. This costs me two ounces, on some of my other bikes I just rely on the pump.
- $20 for emergencies
- Personal cards with my name and email address for when I meet people
Total weight of the packed bag = 347 grams
Lezyne Road Drive Hand Pump ($45)
I’ve tried just about everything and I recommend the Lezyne Road Drive pumps that attach with a threaded hose. The larger ones weigh about 110 grams, make it easy to inflate a tire to 100 psi, and mount securely on the bike’s water bottle screws. Doubling up with the cartridge and pump on this bike is overkill, I know.
Knog Blinder Mini Dot ($30, 16 grams)
This rear light is so light and small that I leave it on the bike all the time. For a front light I use a Light and Motion Urban 800 ($100, 120 grams), which I mount on the handlebars when needed.
Shimano CM-1000 Sport Camera
I’ve been using this because of its slim and unobtrusive profile, but the image quality isn’t quite a good as a GoPro and there’s a lot less support.
On a lanyard around my neck I carry a dog-tag style personal ID and a reading monocle by Nearsights ($60) — very handy for middle-aged eyes.
If I might be making a quick coffee stop I’ll throw a small skiing cable lock in my back pocket.
Garmin 500 GPS ($250, 57 grams)
Still my favorite.
Of course I vary this kit depending on the ride and the conditions but as a base kit, this works pretty well for me. Many happy miles.
(Cool Tools Readers! We will pay you $50 if we run your "What's in My Bag" story. Send photos of the things in your bag (and of the bag itself, if you love it), along with a description of the items and why they are useful. Make sure the photos are large (1200 pixels wide, at least) and clear. Use a free file sharing service to upload the photos, and email the text to email@example.com. — editors)
23 February 2017
Mudguards for road/race bikes with minimum clearance
I believe RoadRacer fenders from Crud Products are the best road bike fenders there are.
Fenders are common on other types of bikes, especially commuters and cruisers. But for some reason, they haven’t caught on with road bikes yet. So it bears discussing why most road bikes should have them.
Advantages of fenders on road bikes:
– Unless you live in the Mohave Desert, you will encounter rain sometimes. Everywhere else, fenders mean you can ride more often. Also, unlike jackets, fenders stay on the bike, and will help you cope with even unexpected showers.
– They keep water off you. Nobody likes a stripe of water sprayed up your tuchus. But the front wheel also can throw water on your feet and legs.
– They keep water off your bike. Actually, I believe the FRONT wheel is more critical here than the back. Without a front fender, the front wheel will kick up road water (which is full of dirt and grit, unlike rainwater) and throw it on your bottom bracket, crankset and chain, and thence to your rear derailleur and cogset. They don’t like that.
– They add a bit of weight. But I use my road bike for commuting. It is faster and more fun than city bikes or commuters. Also, it is the only bike I have right now. So it is loaded with a rack, lights, saddlebag with a flat kit, and a lock. So it isn’t going to break any weight records, and the weight of fenders won’t make much difference. It will still be lighter than most city bikes.
– Some buses or trains have bike carriers that hold onto the bike with a hook that presses down on the top of the tire. A fender might get damaged or keep the hook from working correctly.
– Some fenders can be difficult to mount, especially if the forks and stays wrap tightly around the tire.
– Depending on your bike’s geometry, a sharp turn can swing the front wheel out so it contacts your outside foot as you pedal. If you have a front fender, that can pull it out of position. But you can avoid that issue easily by being just conscious of where your pedals are when you are turning (Hard to explain, easy to do).
– If you have to take wheels off for transportation, say when you want to throw the bike in your car trunk, the fenders will be unprotected and easy to damage.
Advantages of this particular RoadRacer fender set:
– It offers a lot of coverage, about 50% of the wheel circle. With all extensions installed, the tail of the front fender is just a few inches off the ground.
– Being made entirely of plastic (including the screws and mounting hardware), they are very light, just 260 grams. Compare that to Planet Bike’s system at 465 grams, and the SKS set at 689 grams. – The all-plastic construction is designed to break if it hits any part of the bike, like the spokes. So if you somehow jam part of the fenders into a moving part, nothing dramatic happens (you don’t fly over the handlebars.) Some of the Amazon reviews complain about their flimsy construction, but I consider that a safety feature.
– It uses unique system of brush-like pads to prevent rubbing. The pads stick to the inside of the fenders, and have numerous fine, long fibers that actually touch the wheel and “float” the fender away from the wheel. They do add a truly minuscule amount of friction, almost unmeasurable. It works great. It also makes installation easier, because it doesn’t have to be adjusted with the micrometer precision of some other systems.
– The system is quite modular. The front fender itself consists of three or four pieces (depending on how long you want it.) If a piece breaks, you can replace it separately. All the pieces may be purchased separately.
– It has a graceful, swoopy but not extravagant design that I personally like.
– They use nylon nuts and bolts to connect certain parts. They are very light, but prone to shaking loose. But you can prevent that with a drop of threadlock, or by just flattening the end of the bolt with pliers, so it goes out of round. The nut can still be removed. The nuts and bolts can be replaced at any hardware store, incidentally.
– They are made in Great Britain, so replacement parts can be slow to arrive.
Purchasing notes: The link below is to the Mk II version, with long “stays” (note the graceful curves.) A Mk III version is just out, which is compatible with disk brakes and tires as wide as 35mm. They attach to the fork and stays higher up, away from the hubs.02/23/17
22 February 2017
An extension for your eye
We own a four bedroom house on a mountain in Saratoga, California. I built our house 20 years ago, it is still a very beautiful house. However, year after year the house needs quite a bit of maintenance work.
Since we live so high on the mountain, we use water from our well. Before I got the ScopeAround, I had to drop a rope into the well, and if the rope came up wet, I would know we had water and wouldn’t need the water truck to come up.
After I got a ScopeAround, I can now just drop the cable into the well. I’m able to see if the well has water, and see if the water is clean or if there is any moss on the wall.
My son is a car racer, and he borrowed my ScopeAround to check for an oil leak on his car. Before, he had to use a stick attached to a tiny mirror.
Non-toxic, bio-degradable formula for all-purpose cleaning
For better bonding to metal, wood, plastic, ceramics, magnets, and other non porous materials
ASK COOL TOOLS
|Recent Questions||Answers Given||Answers Favorited|
Good source for downloadable audio walking tours?
I am a fan of self-paced audio walking tours, of the kind that some museums offer on electronic “talking sticks” …
How does one report a problem with CT? I recently provided an answer to the dental floss question, and another …
What’s your favorite dental floss for closely spaced teeth?
Some of my teeth are very close together, and there are fillings between them, so they shred floss like crazy, …
COOL TOOLS SHOW PODCAST
What's in My Bag? 23 February 2017
An avid cyclist shares his road gear
This appears to be a shill review. Many thanks to Cool Tools reader Matthew Connor for looking into this. He wrote:
Meaghan Hollywood works for CargoRAXX. Meaghan Hollywood put a review up quasi-anonymously on Amazon. A similarly worded review is now anonymously on KK.org.
On Amazon there are two reviews for the product (https://www.amazon.com/CargoRAXX-S1A-Interior-Management-System/dp/B01A6X4MBS). Neither is attributed by name but the one from January 18th, 2016 refers to “my Tahoe” and read similar to the KK.org review. Let us suppose the author is, in fact, the same person.
Clicking on the name for the review – merely “Amazon Customer” brings up their profile (https://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A1CF94IIWSAE00/ref=cm_cr_dp_pdp). This profile contains one Wish List on the left side. Clicking on it revels – the name of “Amazon Customer” – it is Meaghan Hollywood.
Ok. I believe at this point the author of the KK review and the author of at least one of the two reviews on Amazon are in fact the same person and that person’s name is Meaghan Hollywood.
Here’s the kicker, CargoRAXX has a website with a blog feature – their blogger’s name is Meaghan Hollywood. (http://cargoraxx.com/5-reasons-re-organize-suv/)
About Cool Tools
Cool Tools is a web site which recommends the best/cheapest tools available. Tools are defined broadly as anything that can be useful. This includes hand tools, machines, books, software, gadgets, websites, maps, and even ideas. All reviews are positive raves written by real users. We don’t bother with negative reviews because our intent is to only offer the best.
One new tool is posted each weekday. Cool Tools does NOT sell anything. The site provides prices and convenient sources for readers to purchase items.
When Amazon.com is listed as a source (which it often is because of its prices and convenience) Cool Tools receives a fractional fee from Amazon if items are purchased at Amazon on that visit. Cool Tools also earns revenue from Google ads, although we have no foreknowledge nor much control of which ads will appear.
We recently posted a short history of Cool Tools which included current stats as of April 2008. This explains both the genesis of this site, and the tools we use to operate it.