Saturday, August 5, 2017

How to save money wet shaving with a classic safety razor the fast and easy way, no subscriptions required!

If you're like me you probably started getting tired of the Gillette monopoly on your face and the price tags to match every time you go to get a new razor blade. For me I found I liked the Mach 3 Turbo the best of all the Gillette lineup and it started getting harder find and more expensive to replace the blades for that razor. I tried the Fusion and all that stuff and finally I was like enough blades already.

When I started shaving I used a Bic single blade safety razor that came in bright yellow and they still do. Super cheap and does the trick, but I never liked all the plastic I had to toss since it was literally one use for me and toast. I tried the Dollar Shave Club but was a little annoyed by the marketing and the shave wasn't as good as the Gillette and wasn't that much cheaper really. Then I tried Harry's which I did like the razor better than the DSC and you could get them at Target which was convenient but still expensive and disposable plastic.

Enter the original safety razor, non-disposable and will outlive you! Check out this post from Lifehacker on the Merkur Safety Razor
Merkur 34C
If you really want to go retro you can find them in antique stores but I'd recommend getting a new one from Amazon and I'm not alone recommending this razor especially for beginners like myself.

This post is just to save you some time, I am not endorsing these products or getting any kick back for calling them out. Mostly I'm documenting this for myself so have an easy link to my shopping list if I need to reorder anything. If you start Googling safety razors or wet shaving you may find yourself in a bit of a shaving rabbit hole. I was on YouTube quite a while before I pulled the trigger on my safety razor. First let me dispel your fears, there's a reason it's called a safety razor you will not hurt yourself with this thing. Well if you really try you can. I watched a lot of videos and read a lot of articles trying to figure out what to do. Here are the main tips from what I've learned first hand and from others.

  1. Get a washcloth hot and wet and apply to your face for a while or take a hot shower before shaving, or get a mirror in the shower and shave there (that's typically my approach but the lighting in the shower has me miss a spot or two usually but I can hit them when I get out). 
  2. Always shave with the direction your hair grows if you feel the razor pulling on your hair try a different direction for that area (around my Adam's apple is a tricky spot prone to nicking so I go slow there). 
  3. Everybody's face is different and responds to razor blades differently so get a sample pack and try them if you don't like the shave from one blade the next one you may love. I ordered this sample pack from Amazon and to test blades initially. 
  4. Not all razor blades are created equal, some are truly terrible and will make your face hurt but since every face is different you may have to try a few before you find the one that works for you, for me it was the Feather brand and they are fantastic (slightly more expensive than other brands but worth it in my opinion).  

There are tons of resources which makes it a bit overwhelming just deciding on the razor was the hardest part but now this one seems to have become the go to for a lot of folks. I travel with it now and it is my only razor.

If you're like me and don't want to spend a lot of time shaving you can skip the whole brush and soap bowl routine which is messier and more time consuming but a nice sustainable way to get shaving cream without all the disposable packaging. I just use shaving cream any brand you use already with your Gillette will work fine as long as you get your hair nice and warm and wet before you start. I like the Dr. Carver's Shave Butter personally which I ordered from the DSC when I was trying their razors.

The only other items I picked up was a razor stand pictured above just because it looked nice hanging there but it's really for hanging the brush on you can put your razor anywhere. I also got a little disposal bin to put the old razors in because I have a 2 year old and you never know what she'll get into.

If you do decide to go the brush and soap bowl route there's another rabbit hole to meander through. I tried it I found the boar hair brushes itched my face and irritated my skin I then tried a synthetic brush pictured above which actually lasts longer and felt great. The different shaving soaps I tried seemed to dry my skin out a lot so I went with a Shea butter one that sounded the most moisturizing. I still find my shaving cream is still superior to the brush and soap method and faster and less messy.

Thanks to Avinash Kaushik for inspiring this post with your King Gillette TMAI newsletter!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Post election insanity, and Mike Rowe or David Pogue wisdom to bring us all back to normal

I have friends from all religions, political parties, sexual preferences, genders, and even several countries including Russia and what I know from having these friends is that we are all a lot more alike and actually agree on a lot more than we disagree on. My friends might not all like each other or ever want to hang out in the same room, but if they did they'd find the reason they are all my friends. Trump is now OUR President elect and like it or not denigrating him before he's even done anything AS President is like painting a picture of a monster and expecting to see something different when you're done. Protesting a legitimately won election is not good for democracy. Yes the electoral college is an upsetting feature of our democracy when the popular vote outnumbers it and for most of us this isn't the first time we've seen that happen. So protest that, instead of hey ho Donald Trump has got to go, let's try hey ho, the electoral college has got to go and so next election it could be one man, one woman, one transgender, one vote.

In the meantime here are some things to think about to broaden your mind a little no matter what side of the aisle you're on.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Life after Bernie

Watching the Trump campaign unravel on their own and the always looming scandal over Hillary makes me wonder is there life after Bernie?

The Bernie camp has started a new push called "Our Revolution" it's a little a harder to get behind donating money to a more amorphous cause. I feel like you need a face with the cause to keep interest and focus alive. Of course the modest amount of media attention that Bernie got during his campaign also helped. Now that coverage is done, Bernie has a battle to try and stay on the stage given all the nonsense coming out of the presidential race. 

August 24th Bernie is doing a live stream for "Our Revolution" and attendance for this event if substantial may be just what we need to keep the progressive agenda on the ballot. I'll be tuning in to see what happens and we will see what if anything the media does with this event. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

It looks like snow on the beach in Huntington!

Turns out it was just hail, but still for that much hail to accumulate and stick around long enough for a photo is pretty unusual. It finally feels a little like Winter and just in time for Spring!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Disconnecting in the age of information overload - a 4 day experiment with no internet

And no I wasn't on a camping trip, this is 4 days of no internet over Thanksgiving weekend and all that free time at home.


It all started with a stupid tweet on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, where I foolishly said I would try 4 days with no internet after reading Dean Anthony Gratton's (@grattonboy) article "My Life without Wi-Fi" and I thought why not try no internet at all. I binged on Wednesday, went crazy. I downloaded movies from VUDU so I could watch them offline. I downloaded music from Google Play so I could listen offline. I was starting to panic...

Day 1 

I couldn't trust myself to turn on my computer and work offline, I had already disabled Wi-Fi and cellular data on my iPhone, so I woke up and picked up a book. I decided to finish reading a book I had started years ago call "On Mexican Time" by Tony Cohan. Sat down on the couch and started reading and realized after putting it aside for so long I needed to start over. I got 4 pages into it and came across a word which in context I understood, but wanted to look up. Instinctively I reached for my phone and realized it would be of no use without the internet. So I got up off the couch and rediscovered the old standby - The Dictionary
Day 1 - Discovered dictionaries can still be useful

I ended up on a tangent after looking up insouciance:
1. Blithe lack of concern; nonchalance.
I continued on with blithe:
1. Filled with gaiety; cheerful. 2. Casual; carefree.

This was interesting to rediscover, the dictionary can take you down the if you give a mouse a cookie path.  Blithe was never a word I associated with cheerful. 

After this brief diversion I decided maybe I should blog about this experience without the internet and share my boring internet free 4 day weekend with the rest of you. I should I have just gone out of town into the wilderness or something, but I also woke up Thursday with a nasty cold and no internet. Could Thanksgiving get any worse?

The real genesis of this idea started when I was on the hunt for a new mobile phone plan and a new smartphone. Of course once you start searching for anything these days you are then followed all over the internet with banner ads galore. I was tired of the constant barrage (3. An overwhelming concentrated outpouring, as of words or blows.) of marketing messages going on about switching to this plan or that plan, with this much data or that much data and so on... I was beginning to wonder if I could wind the clock back a few years and live without the internet in my pocket. Trying to find the best deal in wireless these days is like opening the floodgates of a dam when you're living downstream. Thanks to @grattongirl's tweet 
Sarah-Jayne Gratton@grattongirl
"My Life without Wi-Fi" by Dean Anthony Gratton (@grattonboy)… via@ADVAOpticalNews cc @WiFiAlliance@garethspence
04:33 PM - 25 Nov 14
that led me to the inspiring article, I was thus fueled to proceed with my internet free experiment, but one thing I had forgotten was that without cellular data your phone won't text. I turned the cellular data back on to test it then back off and sure enough you can't send a text without it (or without Wi-Fi).  I immediately got out my most trusted word processor that required no internet connection and began to write about my experiences of the first day with no internet. My iPhone was now not much more than a camera and an iPod, which 10 years ago would have been an awesome idea and even with no internet still a useful device. 


My most immediate discovery on day one was the dictionary, then the typewriter, then the camera on my iPhone. One thing in reflecting back on the experience now I realize that the world actually becomes a lot more tactile when you take it all offline. Looking up a word in the dictionary with the pages and indented tabs to take you to sections more quickly, these were innovations at some point possibly heralded as the doom of reading or who knows what. My typewriter from the garage, humming and clacking (driving my wife nuts) and actually running out of ink mid-blogpost. Finding a new ribbon in the garage and getting my fingers all inky... do you see what I mean about the world becoming more tactile?

Day 2

Cut off from all internet access, including data on my iPhone. While day 1 wasn't too difficult with the Thanksgiving holiday, I basically woke up did some reading and writing and then had to head to the in-laws for an early dinner. I was fairly certain I could make it through day 1, and since I had nothing really going on in my pocket to distract me and no notion of going home to binge watch some show on Netflix we ended up spending the night at the in-laws, something I'm usually very reluctant to do. I found my disconnected self enjoying the company of real live people and taking in all the little things we tend to ignore in our daily lives. At this point I had left my phone at home realizing the temptation to pull it out and Instagram some moment, or text some friends would be too overwhelming. So I apologize I have no photos for this post so I'll try to keep it short.

My in-laws are in an experiment of their own in raising to young children now 5 and 8 years old in a house that started out virtually free of any technology for the first 5 years of their parenting lives. The idea comes from the Waldorf education that discourages the use of electronic media for children kindergarteners and earlier. They stuck with it for the first child strictly through the first 5 years even going so far as to hide the television and computers and never using their iPhones around the kids. It was impressive and the oldest kid developed a great sense of imagination, language, and verbal skills. The younger kid who has been exposed slightly earlier to Disneyland, Disney movies, the iPad, Legos, and other commercial products seems to have a slightly different developmental experience. Of course personality differences could be just as much a factor as anything else.

The point in bringing all that up is the following anecdote. Friday morning we had eaten breakfast and were all planning to take a walk to the local farmer's market. Everyone is excited about the idea, but one of us has a slightly different idea for how to get to the farmer's market. The youngest kid is having a fit as the house alarm is being set and we are walking out the door. I get the story from the oldest kid who says the younger one wants to ride in a stroller and play the "Mickey game" with an iPad on the walk to the farmer's market. To keep it short this is how it all panned out, mom and oldest child begins the walk with me and my wife, while dad stays home with the youngest determined not to cave to the request for the iPad. We've gone about two blocks before we see them dad pushing stroller and youngest child with a stuffed animal clutched to her chest. A compromise had been reached and electronics had been left behind. 

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, we ate lunch, played around the house, and then we left to go home. One piece of internet I was missing at this point was just a simple check on the Los Angeles traffic via Google Maps before I hit the road. Fortunately my car has GPS with traffic provided via XM radio. On returning home the missing internet became more apparent as now my only media options were to dig through 1,000 old DVD's or watch one of three movies I had downloaded. Ironic how the one thing you are in the mood to watch is the one thing you didn't download...

Day 3

Perhaps some more background is necessary so you don't think I'm someone who would normally just knock around offline for the weekend anyway. Every vacation I've taken since 2005 has included a plan for how I would stay connected with work and the connected world in general. I'm a bit obsessive about tracking my financials regularly as well, every day I look at everything in my financial world to make sure I haven't been a victim of fraud or identity theft. You could say I'm a bit paranoid, but after all the breaches these days I'm wondering if I'm paranoid enough. I've rented pocket Wi-Fi devices in England, Scottland, Japan, Costa Rica (which didn't work most of the time), Italy, and Spain. I used my LG VX8700 flip phone as a tethering device for my laptop before most people were even aware of the term tethering. I stay connected no matter what. 

I've missed Black Friday entirely, at least the digital version, I haven't checked my email since going to bed on Wednesday, no Netflix, no Facebook, no Instagram, no Twitter, no Live365... what am I missing?? I tell myself I'm not missing anything but it is getting harder to believe. 

My wife has not joined me on this experiment but she's not even online and I resist asking her to look and see what deals are going on out there. As a result we've spent Saturday out and about looking for an open house that my grandma sent me a newspaper clipping of via the United States Postal Service. My grandma is offline and the biggest oversharer of them all somehow and all done with stamps and scissors and envelopes. I love my grandma, she's old school hipster all the way. 

On the way to the open house we see a sign for the USS Iowa battleship museum and remember we've been wanting to check it out so we go. I of course don't have my phone so no photos this outing exist, but I have the memories (and now the internet again which has tons of photos of it). 

We find a different open house and enjoy an amazing view from a beautifully remodeled home. We head back down to the hill and check out the craft market Crafted at the port where we find all kinds of gift ideas for the holidays and come across a taste of Choriman's now famous green chorizo and it's delicious. Back home as the rain begins to fall and we light a fire and sit around reading books and drinking hot apple cider. I almost feel like I'm on vacation. 

Day 4

By now I'm relaxed, I wake up Sunday morning and enjoy a leisurely morning with no email from work to remind me that Monday is coming. I'm starting to understand the German philosophy of a strict work life balance that fosters productivity. Without the constant distraction of notifications on my phone I'm more relaxed, more focused, more... productive? I check the newspaper for local movie times and I can't find them, maybe that was in Friday's paper? I realize I can't even remember the last time I used the paper as a reference for my daily life. Now I get it more out of nostalgia and because of my deeply rooted desire to be a journalist some day (thought I'd be there by now but got distracted by 19 years in advertising). It's early so I decide to head to the theater to see if I can catch a matinee of Interstellar and have a lunch of popcorn and Milk Duds. I'm in a luck, there's an 11:50 showing and it's only 11:40 now so I buy the ticket and take the ride. 

It's not worth it, Interstellar is no Gravity and as odd as it is for me to say this McConaughey and Hathaway are no Bullock and Clooney it just didn't work for me. Love is apparently all you need to solve the question of time travel, well that and a black hole. It was an hour too long and too corny of an ending. Think of the movie Contact with Jodie Foster and you'll know what I'm talking about, or you'll have no idea either way. 

At least the movie has killed over three hours of my day without the internet and now I'm ready for lunch and a good book. 

It's now Monday morning and I'm reflecting back on the whole experience as I write this post. I feel more relaxed than I have even after a week or two of "connected" vacations. I've forgotten a lot of things without my phone around to remind me, but I don't feel I've missed anything important being offline. I feel I've gained a new sense of awareness of how distracted life can be when you're connected and I feel like I will moderate my use of technology moving forward. I will definitely still be binge watching on Netflix in the future, but when I'm with family and friends I'm going to leave my phone offline. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

A brief review of Paulo Coelho's new book Adultery

There were some of the emotional insights into the human condition that we've come to expect from Mr. Coelho in this book, but I really think he should have made the characters older, they do not read like 30 year olds, they read more like 40 year olds (if you feel this way at 30 man you're life really sucks). I found I could relate to almost all of it though as I hit 38.  I'd give the book 3 stars, I liked it I don't regret reading it, it was a quick and easy read compared to my other projects of trudging through Tolstoy's War and Peace or Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century this was like reading a comic book).  I could see why this book would generate mixed reviews though, I think you'll either hate it, be annoyed by it, think it was entertaining, or you'll love it... it all depends on your frame of reference. Bottom line though it was written for entertainment and it delivers on that front no problem at all. 

My favorite lines are noted below as well as my final thoughts on the book.

page 4 "I mean, what's wrong with routine and boredome? To be honest, nothing at all. It's just... it's just the secret fear that everything could change from one moment to the next, catching me completely unawares."

page 6 "I think that passion is strictly for the young. Presumably, its absence is normal at my age (30), but that isn't what terrifies me. Today I am a woman torn between the terror that everything might change and equal terror that everything might carry on exactly the same for the rest of my days."

page 19 "Being riddled with guilt because you have no reason to feel like this when there are so many people in the world who are really suffering."

page 29 "Not everyone needs to feel happy all the time. Besides, no one can be happy all the time. I need to learn to deal with the reality of life."

page 45 "I can't stand myself any longer. My life is like a film endlessly repeating the same scene. When we meet with friends, we always talk about the same things and the same people. The conversations seem new, but it's all just a waste of time and energy. We're trying to prove that life is still interesting. Everyone is trying to control their own unhappiness."

page 51 "And all these things make us feel old, make us feel that we're leading dull, in adventurous lives as our skin grows ever more flaccid..."

page 123 "There is nothing else to discover, and we try to get as much pleasure as possible from the same things. This is like eating chocolate every day, without changing brands or trying new flavors: it's not a sacrifice, but isn't there anything else? For me I could eat the same chocolate every day if it's a good one like Godiva or better. Sometimes you try other brands and they are crap."

page 138 "One week later, I do what I promised myself I would never do: see a psychiatrist."

page 143 "If the man in the middle had been born today, everyone -especially Catholics, in France and around the world -would call him a terrorist. His name is John Calvin, and Geneva was his field of operations."

page 150 "Everything is awful. Please, leave me alone, because I have no more tears to cry or heart left to suffer. All I have is insomnia, emptiness, and apathy, and, if you just ask yourselves, you're feeling the same thing."

page 206 "I watch people coming and going, all so busy in their own worlds, tiny enough to fit on the screen of their smartphones from which they are unable to unglue their eyes and ears."

page 216 "What is really contagious is fear, the constant fear of never finding someone to accompany us to the end of our days."

page 242"Do you think all this beauty an grandeur can fit in a little square of film? Record things in your heart. It's more important than trying to show people what you're experiencing."


Really she should consider herself lucky it was only a year, for some people this madness and depression lasts a lifetime. If only we could all fuck our way out of depression and loneliness with no consequences for our actions, we'd all be a lot happier.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Display ad click through rate - courtesy of John Oliver

It's not often I discover the latest benchmark rates for display ads while watching HBO, having a glass of wine and trying to forgot about what I deal with for a living. But last week on Last Week Tonight I was confronted with advertising stats out of the blue from my favorite weekly news source Mr. Oliver. 

Now considering this was news from #doubleclick in April I should have known this already and as a user of the internet I should know how rarely (never) I click on ads myself. The rate of .17% seemed even lower than I imagined but then again it's not much worse than our "targeted" acquisition email campaigns for a large wireless carrier that will remain unnamed but that falls later in the alphabet than the other three large wireless carriers. Our email campaigns have a response rate of .22% on a good day. 

Oliver's joke about what happens when you click a banner ad (AKA display ad) taking you to a site that insists you must need help and an ambulance has been called is probably not far from the truth. 

The facts he shares next are no surprise to those who browse the news online and find that series of images at the bottom or side with teasing tag lines that in turn will take you through a paid advertisement for a weight loss product endorsement. These thinly veiled sponsored content pieces garner better click rates but what is the conversion I wonder?

Native advertising or branded content basically drives all the revenue for online media channels like BuzzFeed and now companies like Time Inc and even now the Los Angeles Times. Native advertising blends in so well as legitimate news content on the sites that less than half the visitors to the sites can tell news content from sponsored ad content. 

While this may be good news for struggling old media companies like newspapers and news magazines it is a bit alarming as to the future state of journalism in this country. Time Inc has effectively dismissed the notion of editors and advertisers being completely separate entities, how soon before journalists and ad men are one and the same?

Others that have lost objective separation of their advertising unit and the editorial unit are The Atlantic, The New York Times (Chevron sponsored articles already appeared), and many more will follow. "Press can't be free and independent if we aren't willing to pay for it. And it seems no one is willing to pay for it." - John Oliver