No, the TSA still doesn’t allow cattle prods.

At least not in carry-on. You can, however, check your cattle prod. (Not kidding; check out the link at the bottom.)

I totally get why the TSA has banned most items. There are times, however, that a multi-tool would be very handy when traveling.

  1. Knife to cut tags from purchase or plastic packaging
  2. Corkscrew for a wine bottle
  3. Screwdriver to fix sunglasses or open battery compartments
  4. Poking device to clear mud from shoe treads

But, they still aren’t allowed in your carry-on.  Trust me. I have had a key chain Swiss knife and  a corkscrew (that little blade to cut the foil got me on the return trip, but not the outbound) confiscated. In both instances, I was not trying to get away with sneaking something banned on board. I either didn’t realize it was in my bag, or in the case of the corkscrew, naively thought it would be fine.

There is one simple multi-tool that I have always, unwittingly (I swear), managed to get through security. Probably because it would only be good for #1 & #3 above. (I’m still working on the pocket corkscrew without the foil cutter.)
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Twist ties out, Gear Ties in.

Nite Ize GT3-4PK-A1 Gear Tie Reusable 3-Inch Rubber Twist Tie, Assorted ColorsEar buds, charging/USB cables,  power cords… our lives are ruled by them.  There are many ways to cinch up cords to be more compact… reused twist ties, cable ties,old hair ties, velcro straps.

If you haven’t yet tried them, I recommend Gear Ties by Nite Ize ( Gear Ties are reusable, sturdy, and will not cut into your cords.

Available in various sizes (some ready for heavy duty outdoor use) and colors, Gear Ties are relatively inexpensive. Example: a 4 pack of 3-inch ties is around $3.

What do you see?

“What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. … In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.”
― John Lubbock, The Beauties of Nature and the Wonders of the World We Live in

Maya Angelou on lost luggage

“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”
― Maya Angelou

Don’t forget the dog tags!

Product DetailsWhenever you travel, you should tag your bags (all of them, not just the suitcases) just in case you accidentally leave them somewhere.

Most people use luggage tags. You know the ones – bright colors, meant to stand out on the airport luggage carousel. But, if you put them on camera bags or purses they scream “Tourist!”.

So, I propose an alternative: dog tags. I have a dog tag in every bag I carry – purse, messenger bag, camera bag, backpack, luggage, etc. And I use them year-round, not just when traveling.  Continue reading

Life begins again…

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Alessandro Michelazzi… stunning photography.

Alessandro Michelazzi

Photography blog from Florence – a definite must.

Disclaimer: Do not let the lack of photos here to keep you from checking out Michelazzi’s blog. I did not have permission to share his copyrighted work.

Before today I had no idea who Alessandro Michelazzi was. After today I will be sure to check in on his blog frequently.

To put it simply, I find his photography stunning.

How did I hear about Michelazzi? Randomly. I recently purchased a Samsung NX300 mirrorless compact camera for traveling. I was online searching for tips and tricks to help me get the best photos I can for an upcoming trip to Europe. My search first led me to There I found several guest posts about the NX300. One was a September 2013 user review by Michelazzi where he shared some photos from a trip to Russia.  Continue reading

Strengthen man’s heart…

And wine [that] maketh glad the heart of man, [and] oil to make [his] face to shine, and bread [which] strengtheneth man’s heart. – Psalms 104:15

Love vino? Try these apps.

Uncork with help from these apps: Wine4.Me, Hello Vino, Out of Milk.


“Wine4.Me uses rock solid data to take the guesswork out of finding the right wines for YOU.”

I love Twitter. I learn so much. Mashable recently Tweeted a link to an article called “5 Can’t-Miss Apps”. One of the apps they highlighted was Wine4.Me.

I’ve admitted before that I am not a wine expert. I know what I like, but sometimes the tasting notes provided by the winery are little help to me. just might solve that problem.

According to the publisher, VineSleuth, breaks through all of the hype and marketing and gives you recommendations based upon your reactions to wines you already know you like. The app also offers food pairing advice, and not in a snobby way – they even mention mac n’ cheese.

As of now, Wine4.Me is available only in the Apple App Store, but they say it will soon be at Google Play, too. I can’t wait to give it a try on my Galaxy s5.

Hello Vino

“Need Help Shopping for Wine? There’s an app for that.”

What can Hello Vino do for you?

  • suggest wine pairings
  • recommend wine based on your likes
  • offer gift ideas for wine lovers

Hello Vino is a repeat winner in the best wine app categories on multiple sites, including Wine Enthusiast, RefuGeeks, and NewsWatch. Available for in the App Store and on Google Play, this free app is highly rated.

Hello Vino touts itself as “a free app for the rest of us”. I am definitely a member of “the rest of us”.

If you need wine suggestions, Wine4.Me and HelloVino should take care of you. But, wine lovers can also use apps to help them inventory the wine they already have, or add wine to their shopping list.

I’ve used several grocery apps over time – some free, some paid for. I keep coming back to Out of Milk.

Out of Milk 

Out of Milk is more than just a basic grocery list. OOM allows you to create and modify lists on your phone, tablet, and via their web site, then sync it all together. You can also share your list with other people – spouse, personal shopper, the best friend that always seems to be going to the store. Continue reading

Paris never disappoints.

IMG_2048 IMG_2425 IMG_2423 IMG_2421 cropped-img_20001.jpg IMG_2112

The skies in Paris have never disappointed me. Paris really is the “City of Light”. I’m not sure what it is, but on a sunny day the skies are the bluest blue. As the sun sets, the clouds filter light into mesmerizing patterns that bounce off of the Seine, the cobblestones.

I’ve heard many say that they really weren’t that impressed with Paris. I simply don’t get it. I cannot explain how someone cannot be enthralled with this gorgeous city.

Maybe it’s the lens.

Looking through the lens of a camera, I see more beauty, more play of light, more grace. The loud tourists mute. The dirty stone seems brighter.

The lens has never disappointed me. Paris has never disappointed me.

All photos ©Emily Coombe. Photos shown unedited.

To be an optimist, think negatively. Huh?

“Another way to be prepared is to think negatively. Yes, I’m a great optimist. but, when trying to make a decision, I often think of the worst case scenario. I call it ‘the eaten by wolves factor.’ If I do something, what’s the most terrible thing that could happen? Would I be eaten by wolves? One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist, is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose. There are a lot of things I don’t worry about, because I have a plan in place if they do.”
― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Worried about losing your travel docs while away?

When you travel, no matter how well you plan your trip, there are several circumstances beyond your control:

  • Transportation strikes, especially in Europe where protesting is a sort of national sport
  • Lost or delayed luggage
  • Illness
  • Pickpockets, tramps and thieves – wait… is that a Cher song?

While you can’t fully protect yourself against these trip-altering situations, you can do your best to protect yourself with a few simple, and often inexpensive, steps.  Continue reading