Tips 7

If you are ever even remotely near Nazareth, PA, go visit the Martin’s Guitar factory. It’s one of the best factory tours I’ve ever been on. And I don’t even play the guitar. Most “tours” these days are perfunctory tours (or not even a tour at all). This is detailed and you get right next to the people who are handcrafting these instruments. It makes you really appreciate how they’re made.

— Jeff Gates


Two-inch diameter concave mirror from Edmund Scientific magnifies your face when you look into it, and the shorter the focal length, the more magnification you perceive. While this mirror is intended no doubt for high school students conducting optics experiments, I use it to examine my own eyes. Why, you ask? Because when I am traveling, there is a small but tangible chance that I may get a particle of foreign matter in one of my eyes at a time when there is no one around to see it and remove it. (I once paid $200 to an emergency room, merely for removal of a tiny piece of soot adhering to the underside of an eyelid.) I don’t use contact lenses, but I am imagine this problem is more acute for people who do. The downside of transporting the mirror is that it is fragile, but I have managed to avoid breaking mine for a couple of years now, and recently I was glad that I had it when I was in Florida on my own, everything was shut down because of a hurricane…and I got something in my eye.

— Charles Platt


Dumond Tech is designed as a bicycle chain lubricant that goes on wet and then dries, leaving a long-lasting polymer coating behind. It’s great for lubing all sorts of things around the house. The only down side is that this stuff is hard to find. I bought mine at REI’s flagship store in Seattle. You may also be able to find it at full-service bicycle shops.

— Brian Grutzius