PD: Cool Things issue 242


Editorial: Juggling work part 3: Solutions 2.
Travel: A touch of Lisbon.
Technology: Land Rover finally replaces the Defender.
Stationery: The ideal size of notepad.
Gadgets & Gear: Why you need a carabiner.
Books & Writing: Travels to Turkey and Egypt - in 1784.
Misc.: Modern Manners: the series.

CONTACT PD: pdcoolthings@gmail.com


EDITORIAL: Juggling work part 3: Solutions 2.

Part 3 is probably the bit that you have been waiting for. This is the practical bit, so tune in. You should have the groundwork done. The habit of being fit and rested (with no "I don't have time to sharpen the saw", as discussed last week) should be maintained.


In order to organise yourself follow these steps:

  1. List all of your projects, including deadlines for those that have a due by date.
  2. Discard any projects that will have no or little impact on your future.
  3. Now organise remaining projects in order of importance, taking due by dates into consideration.
  4. For each project list the tasks that must be done.
  5. Now check which tasks or even entire projects can be delegated to others, and do so. Remember that your time is precious and that no one can do everything by himself or herself. With a little bit of trust you will be surprised that delegation is not a disaster, as long as you choose the right person for the job.
  6. If you are working on projects with others, or if you have delegated tasks or projects, diarise meeting times to check in on progress and to solve any glitches that may come up.
  7. Remember that life is an unfinished business and therefore you may not be able to do everything that you want to do. That is why you have to prioritise things, making sure that you do the most important things first. Usually the less important things are not urgent and therefore can wait.


TRAVEL: A touch of Lisbon

Portugal is very popular with the English, because of its weather and more relaxed lifestyle. It is easily accessible from most places in Europe (particularly from England), and even those from further away, such as from America, should consider it as a final stop-over for a little bit of relaxation before heading home from that work trip. For those with little time, Lisbon makes for a good break.

Belém is a nice compact area 6 km from the city centre and an easy tram ride. Everything here is within walking distance. The area is dominated by the beautiful Jerónimos Monastery, which is well worth a visit.



There are plenty of wonderful museums and galleries in the district, including the Navy Museum which houses ornate old boats.


Across the road are expansive gardens.


Across from the garden there is the river bank walk, which takes you to the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, a monument to the 15th-century Portuguese explorers, which you can climb for views from the top, and then on to the Torre de Belém, perhaps Portugal's best known landmark, a 16th C. fortification, accessible by a pedestrian bridge.




Hungry? There are restaurants on the water front, however PD suggests going to the nearby Rua de Belém, which has a large choice of restaurants. Try a genuine Portuguese restaurant for superb seafood with a local wine.


End the day at the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém, the home of the famous pastel de nata, the delectable custard tart. This huge establishment dates back to 1837. Go in the evening, as during the day hordes of tourists queue for a taste of this tiny delicacy with its delicate pastry and sweet custard filling; one is never enough.



If you want to go to the old city centre, catch one of the tiny old trams. They are more fun than the modern trams and buses.


If you need a place to stay, the Hotel Jerónimos 8 is across the road from the monastery and very close to restaurants and the tram terminus.



TECHNOLOGY: Land Rover finally replaces the Defender

Land Rover had a huge hole in its line-up when it stopped producing its Defender, the car that defined the brand. After several years, the wait for its replacement is finally over.



This Defender is an all new car, with modern suspension, upgraded engines, lots of electronics and a luxury interior. It will still do the rugged stuff, but it has now moved from utility vehicle to luxury car, with pricing to match. PD guesses that it may lose the faithful, but there is a larger lucrative market out there, so this is probably a smart business move for the company.


We now need some other company to come in and produce an equivalent of the old version for the die-hard adventurers.


STATIONERY: The ideal size of notepad

Notepads come in all shapes and sizes, but what is the ideal size?

Of course, the obvious answer relates what you want it for, whether to carry it in a pocket or to take lecture notes, however if you want a good all round size, in PD's opinion, go for A5.


This is small enough to easily carry with you, yet large enough to take down serious notes. Although too large to fit in a pocket, you can easily throw it into a bag. In lectures and at meetings, it is large enough to take good notes. It is also easy to file away.


And while you are deciding what to get, a dot grid pattern for the pages is the most versatile. Numbered pages are a bonus, as you can use the first or last page for an index to easily find anything in your notebook.


[Images from Pebble Stationery Co.]


GADGETS & GEAR: Why you need a carabiner.

The modern carabiner was designed in the early 1900s for climbers, who needed a quick way to connect and disconnect ropes. Today their versatility is recognised and they are everywhere, particularly small key-chain versions. Many are cheap and have limited load bearing capacity, and this is an important consideration when choosing a carabiner if you are to use it for more than a handy key ring.


For the travellor a good sized, properly built carabiner can come in handy. Its uses are too numerous to mention. They can of course be used to hang bottles or other things on your backpack for easy accessibility, as a handle, or to help with ropes in an emergency, when you need a shackle or in place of a simple pulley. For the latter, make sure that it is a well made one rated for heavy loads.


One well made carabiner is the GPCA unit, now funding on Kickstarter. It is well designed, and although not rated for climbing, can hold very heavy loads (unofficially tested at approximately 480 lb/217 kg), and comes in aluminium, stainless steel and titanium versions. It has a locking gate to prevent accidental opening.


This carabiner also sports some built-in tools, such as a small blade and screwdrivers, and comes with a hex driver to remove or add on tools. Although PD does not normally approve of such multi-tools, the carabiner impressed him enough to include it in PD: Cool Things.


IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: If you intend to do climbing, choose a carabiner rated for climbing from your specialist store. The unit described here is not rated for climbing or similar activities where the safety of a person relies on it, and as such should NEVER be used for this purpose. PD will not be liable for any injury or loss arising from use of this carabiner. PD has not tested the unit and it is described here for entertainment purposes only. Always consult your expert advisor before purchasing any tool.

BOOKS & WRITING: Travels to Turkey and Egypt - in 1784

Count Jan Potocki (1761-1815) was a Polish aristocrat who served in the army, travelled widely and was an author.

[Above: Alexander Varnek, after 1810, Jan Potocki with the Pyramids]

Most famous for his novel "The Manuscript Found in Saragossa", he also wrote memoires of his travels. In 1784 he travelled to Turkey and Egypt, sending letters back home, which described his adventure. The letters were published in French in 1788 and translated into Polish in 1789.


The letters make for interesting reading, not only describing the scenery but providing an observation of people and customs in those countries.


Rambler Press has republished the letters (bound together with Potocki's travels to Holland in 1787) in a fine edition (with a print limitation of 25 books), which includes beautiful illustrations by Louis François Cassasa (1756–1827).



MISC.: Modern Manners: the series

Manners are considered by some to be old-fashioned and irrelevant in the 21st century. Many of today's young people have no manners because they were never taught, yet good manners are as relevant today as they have always been. They are important for good social relationships, as well as for getting jobs and promotions. Starting next issue, PD begins a series on modern manners.

[Above: Erasmus of Rotterdam, De civilitate morum puerilium, 1544]