22 February 2024

Bali Tourist Tax/High-capacity Charger/Worst Airport Uber Premiums

Nomadico issue #92

A weekly newsletter with four quick bites, edited by Tim Leffel, author of A Better Life for Half the Price and The World’s Cheapest Destinations. See past editions here, where your like-minded friends can subscribe and join you.

Bali’s Tourist Tax is Live

Valentine’s Day showed no love for foreign visitors in Bali: you’ll now need to pay US$9.60 to enter the once-bucolic, now-crowded island as of yesterday. As this article notes, they’re not alone: taxes that will reportedly be used to offset the damages from overtourism are planned or implemented already in at least five other destinations, some levied specifically on cruise ship passengers. Meanwhile though, Turkey dropped its visa charge for U.S. travelers this year.

High-capacity Gadget Charger

Small travel chargers are convenient, but they typically get your phone to 100% just once or twice before running out. This POWERADD Pro charger I took on my last two trips is heavy, but its 65 watts and 20,000 mAh stats delivered 5 full phone charges or 3+ tablet charges at high speed before running out. It can supposedly charge up a Macbook to 50% in 30 minutes. Ideal for places where outlets may be scarce, when on the move all day, or when going off the grid for a while.

Dubious Digital Nomad Visas

The new year has brought more announcements on the digital nomad visa front, though the appeal may be limited. The one for Japan requires $68K in annual income (which will rise when the yen does) and the Korean one requires $66K, plus that one is only for salaried workers with great insurance, not company owners. Read the details before making plans when you see these giddy announcements taking off in the media.

The Highest Airport Premiums for Uber

You’ve probably already experienced this: your ride from the airport with Uber costs far more than the ride to the airport when you return. To gain access, Uber often pays hefty fees to the airport authorities, which is passed on to you. This study highlights which airports are the worst and the #1 spot goes to Santiago, Chile, with a premium of 203.5%. Others where the fare is at least doubled are 3 in Australia and 4 in the USA, including Orange County (CA) and Boston. The worst in the UK was Gatwick (UK) at 70.3%.


21 February 2024

What’s in my NOW? — Adam Hill

issue #168

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Adam Hill (He/Him) is a dad who loves science, cooking, math, engineering, skepticism, espresso, and politics! He has been a teacher, an engineer, and now a software business analyst. Curiosity now and forever!


  • Burley Bee Bike Trailer – This is our family’s second car – it has room for 2 kids and plenty of groceries! I pull it behind my ebike, and it is safe and lightweight.
  • Nanofoamer Pro – easy foamed milk for cortados. Jut got my Kickstarter model, and it outperforms other foamers while also being able to do tiny amounts of milk, perfect for cortados and piccolo lattes. Issue #151 featuring Ben Reuter already mentioned my espresso maker – the Flair, though I have the Pro 2 model. With these two things + a hand grinder I can make home drinks better than any big machine, with a tiny countertop space.I recently got an organizer so my espresso setup looks pretty nice 😊
  • MagSafe wallet – I kept forgetting my ID on the rare occasions I drive. Now, I always carry my two most important credit cards, my ID, and an emergency $20. My big wallet stays behind 95% of the time, and my butt + posture thank me for it!


  • Eat Your Books – an online cookbook index. If we want to cook a type of recipe or use a particular ingredient, we can search our cookbooks (and a few favorite blogs) and see ingredients. It’s so nice to actually use the older cookbooks that aren’t on the top of our minds, and we can plan a week’s meals without pulling too many books off the shelf. It’s just an index though – you still need the book for the full recipe if the author didn’t publish it on a blog. Free account worked for a while, but the premium was worth it for us.
  • Mixel – cocktail recipe app. Clean interface, high quality recipes, ingredient tracking. It will tell you based on what you have in your bar what drinks you can make, and it can suggest if there are recipes only missing one ingredient. It says I can buy Orgeat syrup and unlock 51 recipes, or Green Chartreuse to unlock 35. I pay $12 a year for access to all recipes, and since it has replaced buying 2-3 cocktail books a year this is a steal. The free recipes cover all the basics, and the quality of the recipes is quite good – very little adjustment needed for my tastes.


  • If it can’t fit on your calendar, is it worth doing? In “4000 Weeks”, Oliver Burkeman suggests that it is surely impossible to schedule reserved time for everything on your ambitious to-do and project lists onto your calendar. This highlights the importance of prioritization – it is much more impactful to decide where to direct your attention and time rather than on increasing the speed at which you complete tasks on a list that is always growing faster than you can complete. I wish I could teach college-aged me this lesson!

What’s in your NOW?

We want to know what’s in your now — a list of 6 things that are significant to you now — 3 physical, 2 digital and 1 invisible. 

If you’re interested in contributing an issue, use this form to submit: https://forms.gle/Pf9BMuombeg1gCid9

If we run your submission in our newsletter and blog, we’ll paypal you $25.


20 February 2024

Head Lopper / The Disney Book

Books That Belong On Paper issue no. 2

Books That Belong On Paper first appeared on the web as Wink Books and was edited by Carla Sinclair. Sign up here to get the issues a week early in your inbox.


Head Lopper
by Andrew MacLean
Image Comics
2016, 280 pages, 6.6 x 0.9 x 10.1 inches, Paperback

Buy on Amazon

A tale of swordplay, magic, and treachery, Norgal the Head Lopper travels the countryside with the severed head of Agatha the Blue Witch to vanquish the Sorcerer of the Black Bog and rid the land of the Plague of Beasts.

Head Lopper is an action-packed, dynamic, and bloody adventure story of a mighty serpent-slaying swordsman who lugs around the head of a wise-cracking witch, leaving a trail of dead behind him. He battles bat creatures, mega-arachnids, the ghosts of warriors, and the undead giants that devour the ghosts of warriors. Many heads are lopped.

A handy sketchbook details the concepts behind the characters, and a pinup gallery at the back of the novel highlight some covers drawn by noted artists Mike Mignola, Dave Stewart, and Mike and Laura Allred.

Featuring muted colors befitting a dark, cursed land of monsters spread over lively, energetic panels, poetic, Tolkein-esque dialogue, and an epic, Homeric plot, Head Lopper is a funny, exciting read. Hardly a page goes by without swordplay, spellcast, or intrigue. Heroes, villains, and royalty are all run-through with various weaponry, limbs of humans and beasts are amputated, and heads of all styles are decapitated, so those looking for subtlety should probably look elsewhere. Those looking for a ripping adventure are in the right locale.

– SD


The Disney Book
by Jim Fanning
2015, 200 pages, 9.2 x 0.9 x 11.1 inches, Hardcover

Buy on Amazon

The Disney Book bills itself as “A Celebration of the World of Disney,” and boy oh boy is there a lot to celebrate. Essentially an all things Disney history book, in here you can find a complete timeline of Disney’s creations, starting from Walt’s first work at a newspaper all the way up to now. The book has three major sections: “Drawn Disney,” including information and images about the animated classics; “Disney in Action,” a history of live action movies; and “Experience Disney,” concerning the theme parks and Disney’s appeal around the globe. If Disney made it, it’s in this book.

Content within these sections is broken up into smaller topics that cover a specific film or time period each. It follows a chronological order, so over time you can see how the Disney brand shaped itself into what it is today. Every page has multiple images of some kind to decorate or add additional information. Pictures are a mix of movie stills, behind the scenes photos, and pre-production artwork. This third category is the most fascinating for me, giving the opportunity to see what an early version of Snow White looked like, or Tinker Bell, or even classic Pixar characters like Buzz Lightyear and Woody. A Finding Nemo storyboard is a particular standout, showing how detailed they can be, even in the early stages of production.

While there are some great factoids that are sure to surprise even the most diehard Disney fans (for example, did you know there was a Stitch anime in Japan? Because I didn’t!) if you’re getting this book for information I would mainly use as a springboard towards other research. It’s a delightful book to explore a bit of Disney history, but it’s encyclopedic in its approach to information, in that it has so much to cover that you aren’t going to get the full story with every topic. The trade off is that the content here is varied enough to please fans of all ages and obsession levels. The production art and behind the scenes photos from so many films, across such a large period of time, is enough to warrant a purchase on its own. If you love Disney, you will love this book.

– Alex Strine


19 February 2024

Tire Care

Tools for Possibilities: issue no. 74

Once a week we’ll send out a page from Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities. The tools might be outdated or obsolete, and the links to them may or may not work. We present these vintage recommendations as is because the possibilities they inspire are new. Sign up here to get Tools for Possibilities a week early in your inbox.

Re-inflates tires on the go

Campbell Hausfeld 12-Volt Tire Inflator

I have a Campbell Hausfeld 12-volt tire inflator that has kicked around in the back of my car for years. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve re-inflated a tire with a slow leak, and then gone on my way. The brand isn’t nearly as important as the fact that it runs off your car battery; it has a tire pressure gauge built in, and it has a work light.

Small 12-volt compressors like this run from between 15 to 30 bucks new, and will do a fine job of re-inflating tires or rubber rafts or volleyballs.  Most compressors come with attachments that will do all of these things.  In my case, we often travel on industrial roads that lead to the local dump, so we tend to pick up more than our share of nails and screws. My little compressor has lasted through several cars and many tires. — Amy Thomson

Flat prevention and repair


Yes, this little thing really will fix your flat. Even huge pick-up and SUV tires. No need to jack up. Just press the nozzle — whizzzz — and it repairs and re-inflates your tire. You definitely should carry one in your car or truck. At $8 it is cheaper than getting your tire repaired at a shop.

But that’s not the best thing it offers. This amazing can of stuff will also PREVENT flats and slow leaks. Fix-A-Flat inserts a complex liquid into your tire. Leaking air instantly polymerizes it to plug up any hole. This magic material is similar to the stuff which keeps bicycle tires intact — see the amazing video in this review. Although I have not used the industrial version of this invention, farmers and the army use a similar compound to keep their gigantic tires going.

This consumer version works great as a flat cure. I need to pump up my treated tires far less often, even the tires with chronic leaks in them, and have had no flats on well-worn tires.

For non-emergency prevention you can buy the sealant in a non-aerosol squeeze bottle, but I found this hard to find in stores. They make a bicycle version which I have not tried yet…* — KK

Optimal source for tires

Tire Rack

Maybe Costco has cheaper tires (I’d have to be convinced) but I suggest you check out Tire Rack online for real bargains on tires. What Costco can’t deliver is the peace of mind that you have actually bought the optimal tires for your car, ones where you have made the correct trade offs regarding handling, ride, quietness, and tread life. And when it comes to your car, these can literally be life and death decisions.

You can’t get this information by looking at a tire. You have to find reviews. So who is actually testing tires for your car? Well, it seems like Tire Rack is; their reviews are both quantitative and qualitative, based on user response. Plus they also do their own direct comparison tests, with different tires put on the same car driven over similar conditions to try to achieve objective, repeatable results. And their inventory isn’t just the mainstream, largest selling tires, but many more specialized, performance-oriented, or just plain excellent but less popular tires.

How, you may ask, do you buy tires online — like who mounts them? They have local tire retailers they work with who will mount your tires for a fixed fee you know ahead of time. Tire Rack ships direct to the retailer; you bring your car and they mount the tires as if you bought them there. Even with shipping and mounting, the cost of Tire Rack tires is competitive with local prices, even discounters.

I’ve bought tires for both our cars now through them. Using their surveys and tests, I ended up deciding on Pirelli PZero Neros, which are definitely not available at Costco, at prices which I believe were completely competitive with more readily available Michelin or Bridgestone brands. The process was entirely painless, from online ordering to final mounting. And the tires have been nothing short of a revelation, changing the handling, ride, and quietness of our cars significantly for the better. — Louis Rossetto

Accurate tire inflator

Tire-Pressure Nozzle and Gauge

I have always hated inflating my tires. It’s always a struggle to keep the inflator nozzle pressed against the tire valve stem while alternating between inflating and checking the tire pressure.

I recently got one of these clip-on tire inflators. It lets me quickly and easily inflate my tires without needing to remove the nozzle to check the pressure. You clip it on, and your tire pressure appears on the gauge. Then you just pull the trigger to inflate. If you over-inflate, you can easily bleed off pressure.

It’s an inexpensive addition to your air compressor and well worth the $9. — Mike Polo

Emergency puncture fix

Tire Plugs

What happens if you’re on a trip in middle of nowhere and you get a flat? You swap to your spare, right? OK, now you are in the middle of nowhere, with no back up. Your only option now is to head to civilization to get your tire repaired, which can wreck a camping trip fast. This weekend I was reminded how few people know about these tire plug kits or how to use them. For under $10 and a few ounces, you can use the same tools that the tire repair shops do. They are available at almost every gas station. You just find the leak (a little soapy water works best) remove the obstruction, rough up the hole with the rasp tool, and push in the sticky rope plug with the other, then re-inflate (which requires a pump of some kind, but even a bike pump will work). This is the same thing they do in the repair shops, but is no harder than changing a tire and sometimes easier as you don’t always have to take the tire off the car (but you will have to jack it up or somehow take the weight off of it). This won’t work for really large blow outs or slashes, but will fix 90% of all tire punctures you encounter and keep your weekend from getting ruined. — Alexander Rose


18 February 2024

Untranslatable/Acquired/Drawstring Tea Bags

Recomendo - issue #397

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Discover linguistic curiosities 

Untranslatable is an online dictionary of idioms and expressions contributed by native speakers all over the world. All entries are verified and insights are offered into the usage, context or significance. It’s fascinating to explore the entries and different cultural nuances. — CD 

Business Long-Form

I find business boring. But I am totally engrossed by the long-form stories on the podcast Acquired. They present a book-deep report on a current world-class company, spending several hours on the story. The histories are never boring, and they are invariably unconventional and improbable. The Acquired guys, two VCs, accompany this rich history with insightful and accessible financial analysis along the way. Each episode is a master class in business. Some of the outfits they have covered include Nintendo, Nike, Nvidia, and the NFL. Their most recent episode (2 hours) on Novo Nordisk, the pharma originators of insulin therapy and now weight-loss drugs like Ozempic was phenomenal and eye-opening. (And that is just the companies beginning with N!) — KK

Drawstring Tea Bags

My wife pre-loads these disposable tea bags with her favorite loose leaf tea before we travel. They have a drawstring closure, like a laundry bag, to seal the tea inside. They are robust enough for multiple uses, too. — MF

Libby Deep Search

I use the Libby smart phone app to read Kindle versions of books and listen to audio books. You just need a library card from your local library to activate your free account. If you have trouble finding a particular book, use the deep search function listed under “Filters” in the app. Here’s a video that explains it. (Note the not all libraries offer deep search.) — MF

Better work breaks

It’s hard to take breaks even though I work from home. I appreciated reading these “5 Simple Guidelines For Better Breaks” and the reminder that 1. Something beats nothing. 2. Moving beats stationary. 3. Social beats solo. 4. Outside beats inside. and 5. Fully detached beats semi-detached. I need to remember to stop multitasking during breaks. — CD 

Good Movies

I’ve recently enjoyed some good streaming movies that were not blockbusters, and maybe not even Great. I thought they were entertaining, maybe just good, yet still recommendable, if below the radar.

Society of the Snow. Everyone’s heard of the sports team whose plane crashed in the Andes and the boys had to survive for 2 months. It was a great book (Alive!), and later an okay movie, but this 2023 movie, filmed in Spanish by a Spanish crew, is stunning, moving, accurate (parts filmed in original crash site) and as close to being there as anyone else will get. This one is memorable.

The Holdovers. A sweet drama about a jaded prep-school teacher and bratty, troubled students who have to spend the Christmas holidays together at school and they all get life lessons. Despite the well-worn premise, there are almost no cliches, and the turns are unexpected, in part because the story is semi-autobiographical. Perfect for a Christmas movie list.

Jules. A comedy about an elderly man living by himself (played by Ben Kingsley) who makes friends with an alien who crashes his space ship in his back yard. The alien is non-verbal and needs dead cats to fuel his rocket. It’s a rom-com with an alien. — KK


16 February 2024

Kern Kelley, Technology Integrator

Show and Tell #401: Kern Kelley

Kern Kelley is a Technology Integrator at Maine School Unit #19. Starting his teaching career in New Zealand, he has provided support to educators for over two decades and conducted professional development across the globe. He advises a student produced technology show for the Maine Department of Education at MLTI.me and brings his student presenters, the Student Leadership Ambassadors of Maine to numerous conferences around the world and authored the Google Apps Guidebook.

0:00 – Intro
0:45 – Air Rocket Launcher Educational Kit
9:44 – Creality CR-30 3D Mill Infinite Z Belt Printer
16:33 – GoPro Hero 10 (used with High Altitude Balloon Launches)
21:57 – DJI Mavic Pro 3

To sign up to be a guest on the show, please fill out this form.



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Personal outsourcing

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Adventure Medical Kits

Full medical station in a pouch

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Crowdsourced design

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Raven Maps

Best US state wall maps

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Eneloop Batteries in bulk

Rechargeable battery tip

See all the favorites



Show and Tell #401: Kern Kelley

Picks and shownotes

Show and Tell #400: Rich Edwards

Picks and shownotes

Show and Tell #399: Brent Deverman

Picks and shownotes

21 February 2024


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.

13632766_602152159944472_101382480_oKevin Kelly started Cool Tools in 2000 as an email list, then as a blog since 2003. He edited all reviews through 2006. He writes the occasional review, oversees the design and editorial direction of this site, and made a book version of Cool Tools. If you have a question about the website in general his email is kk {at} kk.org.

13918651_603790483113973_1799207977_oMark Frauenfelder edits Cool Tools and develops editorial projects for Cool Tools Lab, LLC. If you’d like to submit a review, email him at editor {at} cool-tools.org (or use the Submit a Tool form).

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