A cool tool can be any book, gadget, software, video, map, hardware, material, or website that is tried and true. All reviews on this site are written by readers who have actually used the tool and others like it. Items can be either old or new as long as they are wonderful. We post things we like and ignore the rest. Suggestions for tools much better than what is recommended here are always wanted.
Co-founder Kevin Kelly and I both swear by no-metal belts for airport days and we also like the fact that these military-style webbed ones don't have holes either, so they fit precisely no matter what's going on with your waistline. I've been using the same one for five years and it looks like new. There's a stream of very similar ones on Amazon with Chinese names, but this brand has the highest ratings and you get two (of different colors) for under $20, with Prime shipping.
Tough Solar-powered Watch
Speaking of travel gear that holds up well, I've passed the 12-year mark on the watch I wear the most when traveling: My Casio solar-powered one with an altimeter. I've never replaced the battery because it recharges from sunlight. Even when it sits in a drawer for months though, it doesn't wear down because the display turns off to save power. Prices range from $35 to $350 and that vast range stems from how deep they can go in the water and what features they have, so if you don't care about underwater strength, the altimeter, or other features, then you can go with the low end at this page. Some have analog dials too.
The Return To Office Tug-of-war
Corporate efforts to get people to commute to cubicles again are not going well. Widespread employee satisfaction drops in surveys seem to be correlating closely with back-to-office demands. When dating app Grindr demanded that its workers return to the office, almost half of them said, "No thanks" and quit. At Amazon, efforts to drive workers back to the office have become a PR nightmare for the company and led to very public departures and protests. Meanwhile, remote companies are finding higher worker satisfaction, less turnover, and more diversity in their workforce. Remote work is a godsend for those who are trying to balance work demands with taking care of the kids, so why are "pro-family" leaders so hung up on butts in office seats? I believe the most obvious explanation is the most plausible: roughly half of commercial office space is sitting empty and a lot of powerful people own those buildings—or collect taxes from them.
Earth-friendly Toiletries in Europe
We tend to be North America-centric in this newsletter since that's where we and the biggest chunk of our readers are from, but here's one for the Europeans. Reader Mira replied to my earlier post about planet-friendly toiletry packaging with a recommendation for a Dutch company called Lekker. They make organic, sustainably packaged items like deodorant, lip balm, sunscreen, and soap. They ship all over Europe and in the Netherlands shipping is free with a minimum 35-euro spend.