Beginning today, the editors of Cool Tools will be recommending 6 items in an extremely short email every week. Mark, myself, and Claudia — the entire staff of Cool Tools — will suggest good stuff we have personally used, consumed, or experienced. We’ll try to keep each recommendation light and fast. They won’t be definitive reviews; rather they’ll be quick recommendations. Going back again to our roots, we’ve named it Recomendo — which, believe it or not, was the name of Cool Tools before I renamed it.
If you want great tools, stay on (or sign onto) the Cool Tools newsletter. To get all the other kinds of things we encounter and enjoy sharing, sign up for Recomendo here. As usual, we don’t do anything with your info except send you short and sweet one-screen news once a week.
Here's the first issue of Recomendo:
DESTINATION: The world's coolest nature museum: The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, England (pictured above). It's a day trip from London. Take the 1-hour train to Oxford, then walk 15 minutes from the station to the museum, co-housed with the Oxford University Nature Museum. Enter into a lost world of curiosity. You are surrounded by three floors of artifacts collected over centuries by eccentric British explorers. Displays include shrunken heads, voodoo dolls, tomb relics, weird insects, ancient folk tools, dinosaurs skeletons, taxidermy galore, uncountable biological and mineralogical specimens, all stacked in glassy cabinets with typed cards and labels. It's supremely old-school and hugely satisfying. — KK
EXPERIENCE: My family and I are obsessed with escape rooms. Twelve people are locked in a themed room (theater backstage, 1940s Hollywood private eye office, alchemist's laboratory, etc.) and given one hour to solve clues to get out. You'll quickly get over any shyness of strangers as you collaborate to beat the clock. There are escape rooms all over the world. I recommend Escape Room LA in downtown Los Angeles. — MF
TIP: If you book a one-day round trip on Southwest, you won't be allowed to check in for the return flight until after you complete the first flight. This means you'll end up with the dreaded C boarding pass (which means a middle seat). I've learned from experience to book two one-way trips instead of a round trip (it costs the same). This allows me to check in to each flight exactly 24 hours before take-off. That way, I get an A or B boarding pass. (Extra tip: set your alarm 23 hours and 58 minutes before each flight so you can check as soon as Southwest allows it. The A and B passes go fast!) — MF
THING: For some reason I frequently cut myself shaving when I travel. I've stopped trying to figure out why. I just bring along a pack of KutKit Styptic Swabs. They look like Q-Tips but have a glass ampoule of staunching liquid inside the straw that is released when you bend the tube like a light stick. It stops the bleeding instantly. — MF
ENJOYMENT: The broadway hit Hamilton is worth attending in any mode. Current tickets are precious and rare, but anyone can download or purchase the musical soundtrack by the original cast. Its super popularity is not just hype: Hamilton is as great as any Shakespeare play. The lyrics are topical, timeless, profound, and linguistically witty. The entire 2.5 hour play is sung, so there are 46 songs, each one memorable. You may have heard that much of it is in rap, with different characters rapping in their own style. It's an incredible experience just in audio. I've lost track of how many times I've listened to it, but each time I derive more understanding of that period of American history, more appreciation of early American culture, and more heartbreak about the biography of a political icon. And you can sing along! If you eventually are able to get reasonably priced tickets to some version of the performance, my tip is to listen all the way through the album at least twice before you go. This play is so dense with layers, and so packed with powerful language, that your enjoyment will be multiplied by 10 each time you pre-listen. — KK
TOOL: I’m a meditation-app junkie and have spent many dollars and downloads searching for the perfect one. I would recommend any app by Meditation Oasis. I use iSleep Easy (there is a free version) at night, which lets me create playlists of guided meditations and pair it up with either a background instrumental or nature sounds, with separate volume controls for each. My emergency go-to for quick and re-energizing naps is the 13-minute Deep Rest meditation, available on the Relax and Rest app. I usually start to doze off at around minute 10, but I come to feeling as if I had taken a super long nap, and without that awful groggy feeling. Individual apps range from $1.99-$5.99, but you can purchase bundles, which I suggest, because once you try one you’ll definitely want the others. — CL
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