Still shaving
Filed under: Shaving — nobrainer @ 8:37 am

‘Round about 8 years ago, I began to relearn how to shave. In general, not much has changed, but I have a few thoughts to jot down.


I’m still using a Mach3. I recently started trying the Fusion again. Again I don’t see the benefit of the Fusion. Maybe you can the job done with fewer strokes, but that seems like a minimal benefit.

Oils and Creams

I have changed the shave oil I use. I still don’t use creams or lotions.

When I started this adventure, I tried Shave Secret shave oil just because I happened to see it in the store and it seemed different. I liked it well enough. But I was still willing to try new things. Thus I purchased Pacific Shaving Company’s All Natural Shaving Oil and King of Shaves Kinexium Shaving Oil when I happened to see them at Bed Bath & Beyond. Pacific’s product I did not care for. The Kinexium shave oil I liked, but have had trouble finding (until right now as I searched for the full name and noticed that everyone has it now at affordable prices). Thus I was later enticed to try King of Shaves Alpha Oil since I couldn’t find the Kinexium oil. And I tried Somersets when I found it at Bed Bath and Beyond instead of the Kinexium that I was looking for.

As I said, I didn’t much care for Pacific’s All Natural oil. I thought it smelled like damp cardboard. It was actually difficult to dispense from the little squeeze bottle. And the consistency was watery. So even though it generally worked fine, I realized that I appreciate other products which provide a better shaving experience even if they don’t provide a better shave. I also learned to appreciate the one strength of this product: it rinses away very easily. This contrasts with the Shave Secret oil which I found to be sticky — not tacky, but sticky in how it stays in place and doesn’t rinse away very well.

Otherwise I don’t see much difference between the products. The Somersets product has really grown on me. But I would rank them in this order:
1) Kinexium – Feels slick and I like the pump action dispenser
2) Somersets – Probably the most jarring product due to having more methanol or something. It was offputting at first, but now I’m on board.
3) AlphaOil – Doesn’t have the same dispenser as its King of Shaves cousin. Is an otherwise unnotable shave oil.
4) All Natural – Works well but is somewhat annoying to use.
5) Shave Secret – Works well enough, but I have concerns with the stickiness.

Razors and Oils

It occurs to me that certain razors are going to work much better with certain oils. If you’re going to use something like Shave Secret, you’re going to need a razor that can be rinsed out / cleaned easily. The Fusion probably doesn’t pair well because the blades are so close together. The point is that if you decide to change razors, you might have to spend a long time searching for the right cream or oil that works well with that razor.

Final Thought

Back in January, I read this Yahoo! Tech article a $500 razor. The writer got to try the razor. And the first attempt went terribly, even though he had received hands on instruction from the inventor of the thing. Then he got more instructions.

“Make sure your beard is wet and warm; hair tensile strength is cut in half when wet. Use the cream and badger brush; lather your beard against the grain with the brush. Multiple short, light strokes. First pass, 30 degrees on the blade with the grain (that is, down your face in the sideburn area). Try varying the angle from 30 down to 5 degrees (blade nearly parallel to your skin at 5 degrees). You should feel and hear the sound of beard hairs being felled!

“Then reapply shave cream and go across the grain. I would not go against the grain for a week or so until you’ve got your motor memory re strokes and your skin is ready.”

I bring this up because it highlights to me how little the razors matter and how much the process matters. This is what I found 8 years ago. And it’s refreshing to see my findings confirmed by the people who are designing and selling new razor blades (even if they aren’t saying it outright, but what do you expect from salesmen?)


Another thing I don’t get. Or at least don’t like.
Filed under: General — nobrainer @ 7:08 am

Some websites now, and for a while now, automatically load more content as you scroll down the page. Take this NBC News article for example. I’m not sure that they’ve thought this all the way through.

This feature, if you wish you call it that, seems intended to keep readers immersed in content and thus locked in to the website. Despite feeling a bit manipulated, I don’t entirely object. I would rather they do this than the opposite whereby you have to click a million links to see all of something so that the website can increase their “clicks.”

No, the problem with these pages that have no end is that the designer, nonetheless, has installed a footer with what should be some other useful thing. Some other useful thing like maybe the “Contact Us” link. Someone like me might like to tell a website operator that their website sucks, but the site sucks so much I can’t even offer feedback. And I can only assume then that it must be a truly dumb — or perhaps cruel, designer who would do such a thing.


More on Energy Vampires
Filed under: General — nobrainer @ 7:06 am

After looking over my last post about energy vampires and especially how people always seem to talk about cell phone chargers when they are just about the last thing to worry about, I took a look at the standby power website by Lawrence Berkeley National Labs. There they barely give cell phone chargers a mention in the text, but based on their images, even they are not immune from overhyping the “threat” from cell phone chargers.

Here’s some of their advice:

Unplug products that are rarely used. The best example is the television and VCR in the second guest room.

Sounds reasonable. Here’s some more:

Use a power strip with a switch to control clusters of products. The most likely targets are computer clusters (PC, display, printer, scanner, speakers, wireless transmitter, etc.), video clusters (TV, DVD player, powered speakers, game consoles, etc.), audio clusters (receiver, amplifier, CD players, etc.). Be sure to keep the set-top box and modem on a separate circuit to avoid loss of connection.

Notice they said “computer clusters”, “video clusters”, and “audio clusters” and nothing about cell phones or cell phone chargers.

Then possibly even better advice, emphasis mine:

Limited research suggests that an informed and aggressive approach can reduce standby use by about 30%. Frankly, there are more productive ways to save energy with an investment of an hour but if high standby energy use stands between you and the goal of a zero energy home, then it’s an hour well spent.

And lest you think I’m copying and pasting a bit too selectively, here’s a broader example:

How can I reduce standby power use in my home?

It’s not easy, but here are some suggestions:

  • If you aren’t frequently using a device, unplug it. (This works fine for the 6th TV in the guest bedroom or the VCR.) Warning, don’t frequently unplug and plug in appliances because you could get electrocuted from frayed wires and plugs.
  • Use a switchable power strip for clusters of computer or video products. That way you can switch everything to zero with one action.
  • When shopping, search for low standby products. (Asking a salesperson will probably be a waste of time.) ENERGY STAR products have lower standby.
  • Buy a low-cost watt-meter, measure the devices in your home and take targeted action. You will certainly be surprised at what you discover and this exercise might even pay back the cost of the meter in savings. A list of watt-meters is here.

Limited research suggests that an informed and aggressive approach can reduce standby use by about 30%. Frankly, there are more productive ways to save energy with an investment of an hour but if high standby energy use stands between you and the goal of a zero energy home, then it’s an hour well spent.

But as I said at the beginning, despite all their words making sense, they screwed up the images.
standby power
For one, they manage to show a car stero, which obviously you wouldn’t have sitting around your house sucking power. But then they have to include the cell phone charger instead of something that sucks way more power like a computer.


Forget it with the cell phone chargers
Filed under: General — nobrainer @ 10:14 am

On the occasion when I hear people talk about “vampire” electronics, I inevitably hear people talk about cell phone chargers, and how they’re sucking power even when the phone is not attached. Better unplug them and save power!

I knew this was overblown, but it really shouldn’t even be mentioned. Check out this table:

energy vampire comparison

Cell phone chargers are such a small deal in relation to other electronics that the continued mention of them takes away from the bigger issue. They are two orders of magnitude less of a problem than a host of other “vampire electronics.” Or, in non-engineer speak, they are basically a rounding error in your energy use, and maybe even less. If you’re taking the time to unplug your cell phone charger every day to save a quarter every year, then you’re basically just a big old idiot. And shame on people, even actual utilities (such as where I found this table) who continue to mention this unused-charger BS.


And I Learned Something
Filed under: General — nobrainer @ 9:28 pm

While trying to figure out why my recently purchased CFLs are failing with exceptional speed, I learned that I must be way behind the curve.
Efficient Lighting Lessons From This Old House TV – Your Fixtures May be Shortening the Life of Your CFL

By now, most of us know these bulbs will burn out quickly if they’re turned on and off too frequently or placed in enclosed fixtures that don’t let heat dissipate. But the same thing can happen if the bulb is installed upside down, with the ballast above the bulb. One theory is that excess heat from the bulb rises, potentially damaging the ballast components. “That’s why many recessed CFL ceiling fixtures are designed with the bulbs oriented horizontally, not vertically,” says Bergman, referring to U-shaped CFLs with prongs instead of screw-in bases.

I had no idea about this. I thought CFLs, aside from not being dimmable, could be used like regular incandescent bulbs. As best I can tell, I can use standard CFLs in only 5 of the 36 bulb sockets in my house, and those 5 don’t even get used very much. Blerg.


Sounds for electric cars
Filed under: General — nobrainer @ 7:23 am

AFter work yesterday, on the walk to my car, I swear I heard a car that sounded like the flying cars from the Jetsons. And I thought, wouldn’t it be great if they used that sound to make electric cars more audible? Apparently I’m not alone. Crunchgear has a youtube clip with 10 sounds options. Some of them are pretty good. I thought ‘Caddyshack’ was a pretty good option, but the Jetsons wins in a landslide.

Caution: NSFWish

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