PD: Cool Things Issue 234


Editorial: The Beast of Gévaudan.
Travel: Gévaudan.
Technology: The BoringPhone is anything but boring.
Stationery: Snap Calendar 2020.
Gadgets & Gear: Stona revolutionary grinder.
Books & Writing: The unwinding.
Misc.: Beasts' teeth.
Next issue: Compelling reading.
PD: Store is under renovation and is currently unavailable

CONTACT PD: pdcoolthings@gmail.com


EDITORIAL: The Beast of Gévaudan

The Beast of Gévaudan terrorised France in the 18th century, killing hundreds of people. Who or what was the Beast? Gévaudan, in southern France, was a poor region at the time. Between 1764 and 1767 the region was terrorised by the Beast, which killed at least 119 people and injured 49; some accounts put the number of dead at nearly 300. The victims had their throats torn out. The beast was said to have a preference for young females.

In one description the beast was

Reddish brown with dark ridged stripe down the back. Resembles wolf/hyena but big as a donkey. Long gaping jaw, six claws, pointy upright ears and supple furry tail — mobile like a cat’s and can knock you over. Cry: more like horse neighing than wolf howling.


Stories of the attacks spread to Paris and abroad. King Louis XV intervened, sending troops and offering a huge reward for killing the feared Beast. In September 1765 François Antoine, Louis’ lieutenant of the hunt, shot the enormous “Wolf of Chazes”, believing it to be the Beast.


The animal was stuffed and put on display in Versailles.


However, attacks continued until June 1767, when the hunter Jean Chastel laid low the last of what had turned out to be the Beast of the Gévaudan.


So what was the Beast? Scholars are still debating this. Hypotheses vary from a large wolf (wolves were plentiful in the area), a cross between a domestic dog and a wolf, a pack of wolves, and a lion that had escaped from captivity. More fanciful explanations include werewolves. Remember that in those days people had little true knowledge of what unfamiliar wild beasts looked like. Drawings in books were often fanciful, and in the poor region few would have had access to them anyway.


TRAVEL: Gévaudan

You can visit what was Gévaudan. The French revolution saw Gévaudan cease to exist as a name in 1790, being replaced by the Department of Lozère. It mainly consists of forests and rural areas. Tourism plays an important role, and includes skiing, kayaking and trout fishing. The Cévennes National Park is in the region.


In the village of Auvers you will find the statue of Marie-Jeanne and the Beast. This statue, made by Philippe Kaeppelin, commemorates the brave Marie-Jeanne Valet. On August 11th, 1765, while walking, she was attacked by the Beast and fought it off bravely, wounding it with a home-made spear that she was carrying.


In the village of Saugues there is the Musée Fantastique de la Bête du Gévaudan in which the story is told through a series of dioramas.



[Map: Google Maps]

TECHNOLOGY: The BoringPhone is anything but boring

The BoringPhone (nothing to do with Elon Musk) is an interesting concept. We know that cell phones can be very distracting and can keep us from either having real fun or doing our work. There are "real" phones out there, such as the Lite Phone, which only allow voice calls and text messages. The BoringPhone is more a half-way compromise between these phones and smart phones. It is, as in the Goldilocks story, "Just right".


The BoringPhone does away with the biggest distractions. It has no internet browser, social media, mobile games or app store. It does however have essentials such as voice and video calls, text messaging, maps, GPS and several other functions.

It uses a modified version of the open source LineageOS.


The specs look decent too. Free up your life here:

STATIONERY: Snap Calendar 2020

Japanese company Postalco makes top quality products, including its Snap Pad notebooks. The idea behind Snap Pads is that you use loose bits of leftover paper. Simply use a standard 2-hole punch and insert the pages into the holder. The holder is available in various sizes. You can also buy inserts from Postalco if you don't have scrap paper.


For 2020 Postalco will be releasing calendar inserts for the Snap Pad. They are one month to a view, starting with December 2019, as well as a page with a whole year view. Just the thing for making next year's plans.


Available soon. Details here:

GADGETS & GEAR: Stona revolutionary grinder

When it comes to grinding herbs and spices most of us use a mortar and pestle, a traditional grinder or a grater.


Stona is made from wood, space grade aluminium and glass.


The grinder/lid stores herbs and spices. The blades can be changed between fine and medium ones.


The Stona is beautiful and functional. Get yours here:

BOOKS & WRITING: The Unwinding

Some books are meant to be read, some are admired for their illustrations and some have both. The unwinding is one such book. Written for children and beautifully illustrated, this creation is from award winning Jackie Morris. It is a pillow book, with fragments of dreams that invite children to enter a magical world.



Check out more beatiful illustrations and extracts, and enchant your children at Unbound:

MISC.: Beasts' teeth.

Speaking of beasts, does your collection lack dinosaur teeth? Real ones are expensive and some countries prohibit the importation of fossils, so authentic-looking replicas may do the job.


Peregrine360 produces these realistic replicas of fossilised Megalodon & T. Rex tooth replicas. The teeth are life-sized. They are limited editions.

If you want one or two, grab them here:

NEXT WEEK: Compelling reading.

Next week PD discusses some scary things. Warning: This edition may not be for the sqeamish. Or are you that curious that you will not be able to stay away?