Editorial: PD's Christmas survival guide part 3.
Travel: Travel tip: on board essentials.
Technology: Halberd - forget your passwords.
Stationery: Vanishing Point Ruler.
Gadgets and Gear: TACK.
Books and writing: Thomas Campbell.
Project of the week: The World Through the Eyes of Alexander von Humboldt ending soon.

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EDITORIAL: PD's Christmas survival guide part 3

With only a week to go, PD turns to family matters at Christmas time. This is when families gather. If you are fortunate to be in a family in which every one gets along you are lucky. Unfortunately there are some families in which there are factions or people who do not get along with the others, in which case Christmas can be very stressful.

[Glædelig Jul, ca 1906]

If this is your situation, do not spoil Christmas for others. Accept that people have different views and that some are quirky. Apply the same rules that you would for a work party (see PD last week). Do not engage in snide remarks, even if provoked, regardless of who is in the right and who is in the wrong. Do not bring up old feuds. Be next to people that you get along with. You can vent in private later. Lastly, if you feel that you may not be able to take it any more, leave politely, saying to someone you do get along with that you have to go and leave it at that.

Merry Christmas!

Next issue: New Year's resolutions - how to make them work.

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TRAVEL: Travel tip: on board essentials

D believes in travelling lightly and avoids having check-in luggage whenever possible, however there are times, especially on long trips, when this is not possible.At those times you can minimise your on board luggage but you need some essentials in case your check-in bag does not make it to your destination.

It should go without saying (but you will be surprised) that all of your money, credit cards and identity documents should be with you at all times. Keep them buried deeply in your bag and preferably split them into at least two separate wallets or envelopes, so that if you lose one you will still have some left. Keep copies of all cards and documents in separate areas to the originals.

[Japanese passport 1866]

Pack a spare set of light clothes - a top and underclothes - to have until you are reunited with your suitcase or until you can get to a store. Also have a toothbrush, and travel sized toothpaste and a deodorant with you.

A pen and notebook are handy, and keep your cell phone with you, together with a charging cable.

Although non-essential items, it is common sense to never put valuable items such as cameras and jewellery in check-in luggage.

Happy travels!

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TECHNOLOGY: Halberd - forget your passwords

How often have you walked away from your computer forgetting to log out? This leaves you exposed. The Halberd from Untethered Labs may be the answer.

Simply put, it is a Bluetooth fob that works with an app on your computer, working on proximity to the computer. When you walk away the device locks your computer and it unlocks it when you return. This is complex technology that simplifies your life.

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STATIONERY: Vanishing Point Ruler

"Vanishing point: in perspective, the point at which parallel lines receding from the observer seem to come together."

[Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition, Unabridged, The World Publishing Company, 1958]

The Vanishing Point Ruler, or rather two rulers - a right hand and a left hand one, is useful for making drawings quickly and accurately. It prevents smudging or tearing of the paper.

The ruler can be rotated around the vanishing point and also extended or retracted, as these animations show:

Ingenious. You can buy either a single right- or left-hand ruler or both as a pair.

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Americans love acronyms. TACK stands for Titanium Anywhere Card Knife, which describes it beautifully. Credit card knives are easy to carry without damaging pockets or dangling from a key ring.

The maker has had a previous very successful Kickstarter campaign with the TRAK (Titanium Runner's Anywhere Knife). This knife is well thought out, unlike some other credit card knives which are too card-like and hard to hold. The TACK has finger holds and a cut-out for gripping it.

One add-on that PD would recommend is the tungsten carbide edge treatment. Tungsten is harder than titanium and so the treatment will increase the wear resistance of your knife.

You can have your tack anodised in a range of colours.

There is also a carbon fibre and titanium version which looks classy.

You can also buy a leather wallet to house your knife as well as credit cards.

PD has "road tested" the TRAK, which is strong, beautifully made and sharp. The TACK should be a winner too.

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BOOKS AND WRITING: Thomas Campbell

The poet Thomas Campbell, 1777-1844, was born and educated in Glasgow. He wrote sentimental poetry dealing with human affairs. He was the founder of the Literary Union Club, later renamed the Clarence Club. He was also a founder of the Literary Association of the Friends of Poland, together with Adolphus Bach.

[Painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence. National Portrait Gallery: NPG 198]

He published his first work, "The Pleasures of Hope" in 1799 and his second collection, "Gertrude of Wyoming" in 1809. He is buried in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.

[Photograph: Carcharoth]

One of his haunting poems is "Lord Ullin's Daughter":

A chieftain to the Highlands bound
Cries ‘Boatman, do not tarry!
And I’ll give thee a silver pound
To row us o’er the ferry!’

‘Now who be ye, would cross Lochgyle
This dark and stormy water?’
‘O I’m the chief of Ulva’s isle,
And this, Lord Ullin’s daughter.

‘And fast before her father’s men
Three days we’ve fled together,
For should he find us in the glen,
My blood would stain the heather.

‘His horsemen hard behind us ride—
Should they our steps discover,
Then who will cheer my bonny bride
When they have slain her lover?

Out spoke the hardy Highland wight,
‘I’ll go, my chief, I’m ready:
It is not for your silver bright,
But for your winsome lady:—

‘And by my word! the bonny bird
In danger shall not tarry;
So though the waves are raging white
I’ll row you o’er the ferry.’

By this the storm grew loud apace,
The water-wraith was shrieking;
And in the scowl of heaven each face
Grew dark as they were speaking.

But still as wilder blew the wind
And as the night grew drearer,
Adown the glen rode arméd men,
Their trampling sounded nearer.

‘O haste thee, haste!’ the lady cries,
Though tempests round us gather;
I’ll meet the raging of the skies,
But not an angry father.’

The boat has left a stormy land,
A stormy sea before her,—
When, O! too strong for human hand
The tempest gather’d o’er her.

And still they row’d amidst the roar
Of waters fast prevailing:
Lord Ullin reach’d that fatal shore,—
His wrath was changed to wailing.

For, sore dismay’d, through storm and shade
His child he did discover:—
One lovely hand she stretch’d for aid,
And one was round her lover.

‘Come back! Come back!’ he cried in grief
‘Across this stormy water:
And I’ll forgive your Highland chief,
My daughter!—O my daughter!’

‘Twas vain: the loud waves lash’d the shore,
Return or aid preventing:
The waters wild went o’er his child,
And he was left lamenting.

[Storm in the sea, 1690, Il Cavaliero Tempesta]

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PROJECT OF THE WEEK: The World Through the Eyes of Alexander von Humboldt ENDING SOON

PD featured this beautiful book in PD: Cool Things issue 158. The project is ending soon and needs more backers to succeed.

Give this book another look as PD would like it to succeed. Whether you are interested in science, art, nature or just beautiful things then do yourself a favour and back this project. It would also make a wonderful gift. Some rewards include beautiful notebooks and postcards.

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Contact Prowling Dog at

Important disclaimer: Remember that crowdfunding sites are not stores. You may decide to back this project and provide funds, however there is no guarantee that any project will be delivered - the rate of failure is about 10%. PD is in no way accountable for the success or otherwise of any project and writes in this column purely for entertainment purposes, and will in no way be held liable for any failure or money lost by anyone. It is a case of "buyer beware". It is a sad reflection on the era we live in that PD must resort to this type of disclaimer.

Note: Photographs and illustrations are from the relevant websites and are the copyright of the respective owners.

© 2017 Prowling Dog