Cool Tools — favorites posts from the past

Access All Areas

This book is packed solid with great practical advice on how to explore this unexplored realm. Every page has something I didn’t know about gaining access, staying safe, and discovering new paths in the urban wilds. While this activity is generally considered illegal, the respect for the buildings, and the owners, nurtured in this guide is impressive.

Blurb * Lulu

Having tried most of the services available and created dozens of books, I’m ready to recommend the best services to use. My advice is slightly complicated, because the success of book making and book publishing pivots around your aims.

To turn a text manuscript into a regular book, either softcover or hard, I recommend Lulu. Their website has a very thorough step-by-step process which will enable you to make a book with the least amount of money.

Fiskars PowerGear Bypass Pruner

As you squeeze, the bottom handle rolls slightly and this motion leverages the power in the scissor cut. I find I can now tackle stuff that ordinarily I would have had to run back to get the larger pruners for.

GustBuster Umbrella

The GustBuster is a cool-looking, lightning resistant umbrella with a patented system of vents that is, the manufacturer claims, “wind tunnel certified to 55+ mph.”

Lighten Up!

“Ultralight” even has a definition now: it’s when your pack and everything in it (except consumables such as water and food) weighs 10 pounds or less. Backpacking becomes a jaunt instead of a slog, and that liberates the whole experience.

Nesco Food Dehydrator

The Nesco Food Dehydrator is a simple, affordable, and well-built tool for drying foods quickly and thoroughly. Though not an every day use item for most people, when it is needed it becomes absolutely essential.

NOLS Thelma Fly

I first used a Thelma fly in Yellowstone in January of ’84 and have used this extraordinarily versatile piece of camping gear in many situations since then. They are manufactured by NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School). I rarely take a tent when I go camping, and instead just take the fly. I use it for car-camping, backpacking, or even just for shade at the beach. Unlike many flys, this one is large, 13′ long x 9’2″ wide, and well designed in that it has many guying points, crucial for keeping out the weather when things get a little dicey. It sleeps three easily with lots of gear.

The Daily Plate

The Daily Plate at does for dieting what Quicken did for my checking account. I have been using it to log my food and exercise for the last three or four months. Basically, you type in what you eat, and it searches for a match, gives you the calories and nutrients and adds it to your daily and weekly totals.

CreateSpace is the self-publishing arm of Amazon, providing a service that makes it easy for an individual to self-publish books, CDs, and DVDs. I’ve used CreatSpace for books and highly recommend it.

The 100 Best Business Books of All Time

Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten, two guys who sell biz books, seem to have read all of the ones in print, and they have done the world a favor by selecting the 100 best business books ever, and then packing summaries of them all into one meta-book. If all you want is their list, you can go to their website and check it out.

Oxfam America Unwrapped

my Cool Tool for the holidays is Oxfam’s Unwrapped project: I buy a gift in someone’s name, they get a card, I get a tax deduction, and someone in a developing country gets a goat, some chickens, a school desk and chair, some text books, or something else they really need.

Vacation Rentals By Owner is an excellent means of finding reasonably priced accommodations, in the U.S. and abroad, that are often larger and more comfortable than hotel rooms, at a lower price.

Scottevest Hidden Cargo Pants

The Hidden Cargo Pants are more formal than the Ultimate Cargos, or 5.11 Tactical Pants. The Hidden Cargos feel more like dress pants. The main difference between the Ultimate and Hidden is that the Ultimate have a rougher fabric, cargo pockets, and zip-off lower legs. The main pocket suspension is the same.

Geocaching Tools

Trangia 25-7 UL/HA

Littlbug Stove

Bessey Ratcheting Spring Clamps

Specialty Bottle

— This retailer sells all sorts of glass, plastic and tin containers at extremely low prices.

Personal Safety Emergency Pack

If you’re camping or hiking in a group, you can’t go wrong with the previously-reviewed Adventure Medical Kit. But if you’re a citygoing 9-5’er (read: not a search-and-rescuer), the Red Cross’ personal safety kit packs many of the basics — whistle, blanket, face mask, glow stick, poncho, germ wipes and first-aid kit — for a price that’s more or less unbeatable.

Sounds Oasis

Free topo maps

The easiest way is to download a free nifty app for Google Earth, called the Topographical Overlay, that will add a KMZ “layer” of official US topo maps on Google Earth.

Gratitude Loop

Ten minutes before you’re due to start, while everyone is finding their seats, run the presentation. It’ll cycle 5 or 10 times before you start speaking. When you get up, start your presentation and just dive into the meaty stuff.

Every single person you feature will be famous! “Hey, I saw you in that loop!”

The Personal MBA

Josh Kaufman has put together an excellent and very hefty reading list which forms the core of his PMBA course. It is downloadable as a free PDF. The recommended readings are wide, deep, holistic, and very good. You could purchase all of these easily available books for $500, and if you combine study of them with actually trying stuff, you’ll be far ahead in the business game.


Every year 2,000 miles of railways in the US are abandoned. So far, about half of the 300,000 miles railways built by 1916 (the railroad peak) have been taken out of service. Some 13,000 of those miles have been repurposed into bike/hike trails.

Comments are closed.