03 December 2021


Wendy Frauenfelder, Cocktail creator

Cool Tools Show 307: Wendy Frauenfelder

Our guest this week is Wendy Frauenfelder. Wendy is the family’s handyperson. She also likes to bake wild yeast sourdough. She’s obsessive about doing the New York Times Crossword Puzzle and Spelling Bee every day. And she loves to make and share cocktails on her Instagram called oh_happy_hour.

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Show notes:

Peeps Eyeglass Cleaner
This is a cool little gadget and the overall rating is really good, like four stars. But if you start to go down and look at the reviews, the first  20 are one star reviews. So I was like, uh-oh. I wasn’t really sure, but I was looking for something that was just easy to clean my glasses. Because I seem to smudge all the time. So I decided to give it a shot and I got one and I immediately liked it. The thing I like about it is you don’t have to use any kind of fluid with it. It’s a one step process, not a two step process. It’s got two little pads that feel like suede, which I don’t think it is, but they’re soft like that. And you pinch your lenses in between the two pads and just rub it. And at first you’re going to see some smearing going on and you’re going to think it’s garbage. And if you just keep it up for about 10 seconds, your lenses are just crystal clear. And when you put them back in the case supposedly they recharge. I don’t know how you recharge these because there’s no electricity in it. But that’s what they call it. I guess it sort of resets the pads.

RAK Magnetic Wristband
I do a lot of the handy work around the house, installing ceiling fans, repairing parts, replacing parts. I put in new doorknobs all over the house. Stuff that takes a lot of little bits and pieces. And you know, I end up either sticking little things in my pocket, especially when I’m going up on a ladder or in my mouth, which is gross. And this little wristband is lightweight, easy to put on, and it’s got Velcro. I have a tiny, tiny wrist and this goes down enough to fit my wrist. I think it would fit probably anybody. And it’s got little magnets all the way around it and a little dividing section. So you can put your little bits on there so you don’t lose them. And I even put my different drill bits on there. Because a lot of times I’ve got to switch out between the flat and the Phillips and it’s just a great way to store it.

PopSockets PopGrip for MagSafe
I know there’s a lot of people like me who like pop sockets so that you can rest your phone in your hand pretty easily and reach the front of your phone with your thumb. And I love it. I think they’re great. But I also find myself wanting to have my phone mounted in the car and I’ve tried a bunch of different kind of mounting systems and some are good. Some aren’t so good. Sometimes they ruin your dash a little bit or leave a sticky substance on there. And I saw one that was a MagSafe magnetic phone mount for your car. And I have a MagSafe phone and a case as well. And I thought, Oh, that’d be easy. But I like my pop socket. So I decided to give up my pop socket. And then I was at Target and I saw this pop socket that’s usable with a MagSafe case. And it’s just like a regular pop socket, but it has an oval back to it. And that oval back fits right on your MagSafe magnet. And it’s a tight, strong fit. You can’t shake your phone off it. It’s tight. And then you use it as you want to use it. I use it during the day. And then when I get in the car, I just slide it off really easily. Just pry it off and I can stick my phone on the mount in the car.

Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer
This is a hot tool for your hair that can be used two ways. One is you can use it to overall just dry your whole hair. If you’re the kind of person who does a blowout style, which is that you use a hair dryer and a brush with, which is a two-handed process, not a big deal if you’re used to it, but you know, if you’re not used to it probably as a big deal. So you can use it for that, which I do and it does give you some volume because you can lift at your roots, which is great. But the thing I really am finding I use it for more often is touch-ups. So if I’m washing my hair every two to three days, on the off days I wake up and it’s a little crazy. Instead of flat ironing it and getting it stick straight, I can use this, I can get a little curl into it. I can re-volumize I can make the whole thing look like it’s a fresh hairdo.


02 December 2021


Kids Toothpaste

Tasty toothpaste for kids and adults

I wondered why it took one of my sons so long to brush his teeth and why he spit every couple of seconds. It turned out that he didn’t like the mint flavor and mint sting and didn’t like the foamy texture. So, I set out to find other alternatives. What I found is that there is a class of kids toothpastes that are equal to the therapeutic qualities of adult toothpaste (they clean your teeth and have fluoride) but without the issues that annoyed my son and that limited his brushing. And I found that they are really very nice to use, kid or not, and whether you have issues with regular toothpaste or not.

The two that I have tried are Tom’s of Maine Kids toothpaste in a number of their flavors, Mango Orange and Blueberry, which have less foam than other brands, but still do have some foaming ingredients in them. Both flavors are very pleasant. Tom’s is a mass market brand available in supermarkets.

The other brand is Tasty Paste, a brand that I found only online. This brand comes in two flavors, Vanilla and Chocolate, has no foaming chemicals in them at all and most of all really taste great. They have an odd side benefit for me given that they taste like pudding or candy — I can fool myself that I had some dessert after dinner when I brush my teeth and feel like I have had a sweet. There are quite a few other brands on the supermarket shelves and on line that I have not tried. This is not a one-tool recommendation but a suggestion that there is a class of toothpastes available that might solve some problems that you have and make dental care more pleasant.

-- Lee Ellman 12/2/21

01 December 2021

What’s in my survival kit? — Dug North

What’s in my … ? issue #130

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Dug North is a maker, best known for his mechanical wooden sculptures. He spent five years running an antique clock restoration business. These days he enjoys outdoor bushcraft activities. You can find Dug on YouTube @dugnorth, and on Instagram @dug.north, and on Facebook @DugNorthCreations.


I am passionate about learning and teaching wilderness survival skills. As an example for my students, I put together a well-rounded survival kit. This kit is based on a design by my colleague, Tim Swanson of Owl Eyes Wilderness.

One of the hardest things to do in the wild is keeping track of your stuff. This is why every item in the kit is bright orange or red.


Orange Waist Pack ($13)
You must have these items with you if they are to be of any use. This is the reason for dedicating a small pack specifically for this kit. Let’s say you go for a day hike. You might take your main backpack off now and then. Only take this waist pack off if it is absolutely necessary.

ESEE Fixed Blade Knife ($70)
In most environments, the most essential survival item is a sturdy knife. ESEE makes two small fixed-blade knives that don’t take up a lot of room. The models I like are the Izula and the Candiru (shown).

Exotac fireSLEEVE ($18) for the Bic Lighter ($20, 5ct)
It may not fit with your mental image of wilderness survival, but the classic Bic lighter is the best fire starter you can possibly have. The fireSLEEVE protects this valuable resource by keeping it dry, preventing the gas button from accidentally discharging the fuel, and by making the lighter float in water.

UST StrikeForce Fire Starter ($20)
Isn’t it redundant to have two ways to start a fire? Yes – and that is precisely the goal. A ferrocerium rod can create thousands of fires and is an ideal backup for a lighter. This model is not only orange, but easy to handle, and has a small compartment to hold dry tinder. Scrape the rod with the metal striker to ignite the included tinder tabs.

Black Diamond Ion Keychain Light ($20)
This little flashlight puts out an impressive 40 lumens of light. Unlike most flashlights of this size, it has a twisting lock that ensures it will not turn on by accident while jostling around in your bag. The brightness can be adjusted and it has a dedicated strobe mode for signalling.

S.O.L. Utility Reflective Tinder Cord ($26)
Cordage allows you to construct shelters, repair gear, and make other helpful items. This utility cord has an outer sheath that glows brightly when light hits it at night. The inner core is a specially designed fire-starting tinder to use in conjunction with your lighter or ferro rod.

Orange 55 Gallon Drum Liner ($20)
Something as simple as a large trash bag can serve many uses — from improvised poncho, to tarp shelter, to make-shift sleeping bag. Few items are so worth their weight.

Aquatabs ($11) with Whirl-Pak Stand-up Bags ($9)
Drop one Aquatab tablet into one of these free-standing plastic bags filled with water and in 30 minutes you will have a liter of drinking water that is free of pathogens. This is a lightweight means for staving off potentially dangerous levels of dehydration.

LuxoGear Emergency Whistle ($8)
A whistle can signal for help at great distances and for far longer than the human voice. Remember: three blasts in sequence is the universal signal for distress.

Cotton bandana ($7)
This is another simple item that is easy to underestimate. A cotton bandana can serve as a signal flag, head covering, washcloth, dust mask, bandage, and water pre-filter.

Tiny Survival Guide ($12) with Plastic Fresnel Lens ($9)
This little booklet is actually a folded waterproof poster that provides concise information on a variety of survival topics. In a bad situation, a little expert guidance could be invaluable. Tuck a flat plastic fresnel lens into the guide as a backup for your reading glasses and third possible means to start a fire by solar ignition.

All of these items have been tested to my satisfaction. It’s true that the cost of the full kit does add up, but keep in mind that these items have been chosen to help save your life. How much is that worth?


30 November 2021


Melnor Quick Connects

Push and click hose adaptors

These plastic quick connects from Melnor are the go-betweens for the hose and whatever nozzle, sprinklers or other hose-end attachments you may have. They’re especially good for quickly moving and attaching hoses from one faucet to another.

I installed them on ALL my faucets (5) and hoses (perhaps 7) and external attachments (probably 10). I have used them for about a year and wonder how I ever got along without them. It takes less than a second (maybe 1/2 second) to attach or detach any hose or attachment. They are installed in pairs, a male and corresponding female connector, with the appropriate threaded fitting to attach to the faucet, hose or nozzle attachment, one on each side of the connection.

You just firmly push the connector into its counterpart, and it easily pops into place — firmly means it does need a little pressure, but even a small child could do it. To disconnect, you push the green collar about an eighth of an inch in the one direction it’s capable of moving, and it pops off. (Similar devices have been in use in industry for a long time — on compressed air lines, for example). No more screwing and unscrewing (no more scraped knuckles); no more leaks from incompletely tightened hoses; no more stuck connections because some gorilla (i.e. me) tried to stop a leak by tightening too hard.

One type is designed so that when you disconnect from it, an internal plug pops into place and stops water from coming out. The other type, for between a faucet and hose, does not have the shutoff. When you disconnect the hose from the faucet, water will still flow and the faucet can still be used. There are other brands and styles; some are even made of pricier brass, but I recommend you stick with one manufacturer because connectors are generally not interchangeable between brands. And these inexpensive plastic ones from Melnor are well made: I have (intentionally) very high water pressure (~100 psi, sufficient to burst hoses) on my garden faucets, and I have had no leaks from these connectors.

-- Robert Ando 11/30/21

(This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2007 — editors)




Cool Tools Show 307: Wendy Frauenfelder

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 306: Windell Oskay

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 305: Carol Tilley

Picks and shownotes

01 December 2021


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