Friday, 19 October 2012

nowt to do

This weekend I'm going to try and do a bit of catching up.

As I've blogged before I've got quite a lot of TV stuff unwatched so I'm going to try and clear some of that.  I was intending to watch quite a bit last weekend, but I didn't have as much free time as I'd initially envisaged, plus I ended up doing a lot of internet stuff.

This was good as I'd quite a bit of that backed up too, but it all took a surprisingly long time.  A lot of it was actually reading newsletters and articles by various people I follow on the net and it struck me that I used to do all that stuff while I was at work.

You know what it's like - you take ten minutes to read an article or a newsletter e-mail.  But just recently I've been so busy that I don't have that time spare any more.  Sometimes I don't have time to do anything except work - and that's with me getting in at 08:00 and going home at 18:00.

I therefore now find myself having to do all that stuff at home in big chunks because it's all gotten stacked up.

I mean, in some ways it's good to be busy at work, but in others it's tedious to basically do nothing but work all the time.

It's no wonder I don't watch any anime and I end up with stacks of DVDs and Blu-Rays to watch - I barely had time to watch a few of them before, nowadays I barely have time to read the e-mails telling me the DVDs have been dispatched!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

more on shaving

So I’ve not actually made the jump yet and bought a DE razor yet.

A big part of the problem is I’m not exactly sure what to buy.  You see when you use cartridge blades you have only two real options - but he official blades, or buy the knock offs, but the knock offs take a while to turn up (part of the real reason new types are launched, I’m sure).  So you lack choice.

For DE you’re drowned in choice.  There are loads of different razors - three different construction types and then several manufacturers of each.  But there also different types of blade too (stainless steel, carbon steel, different types of coating, different styles, different manufacturers).  And here’s the thing - apparently what works for you may not work for me.

I actually bought a book (on the kindle), mainly so I could learn about how to shave, but most of the book is actually taken up with stuff about all the different types of razors and products.  Because it’s not just razors, it’s products too - there’s brushes (badger, boar and horse hairs, different sizes, different manufacturers), pre-shave oils (loads of different types and makes) shaving creams  and soaps (different makes, different styles, different scents, different ways of getting lathers from them) shaving soaps (high-glycerine, but loads of variety again), styptic sticks, powers, alum blocks...

And I didn’t even mention the use of ancillary accessories like bowls and mugs to help you work up a lather and moisturisers for after you're shaved.

It’s a bit of a minefield.  And as I said before - all of it appears to be “this works for me, but may not work for you” stuff (or “your mileage may vary” YMMV as the book calls it).

As such I’ve kinda been in compromise territory - I’ve implemented a few things to see if they help me, but I’ve not gone the whole hog.  I mean I think I’ve finally narrowed down most of what I want to buy, but I’ve only pulled the trigger on some of it.  Most of what I’ve bought o far or am going to buy next is focused on the pre-have prep.

My theory is that I should be able to tell if these things actually help me with cartridge razors.  So I found the brush to be okay, but I’ve now switched from the chemical type shaving gel to a shaving soap to see if the two make much difference.  However, I’m also aware that one of the things that is recommended for the shave problems I have is a hot towel (like in proper barbershops) and I need to add this in before I’m happy that I’m giving all of the pre-shave things a fair chance (I’m going to buy some towels tomorrow as I type this and so will start using them this week).

I’m going to give them a go until the end of the month to see what difference it makes - can I do more passes and not have so many skin problems?  That sort of thing.  The end of the month is when my current cartridges run out so I’ll probably team up buying some more with buying a DE razor and some blades when my paycheque hits.  I don’t want to be without cartridges in case I have real problems with DE, but hopefully things will work out.

I’m trying not to expect too much of it, but it’s proving a little difficult.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

the three musketeers

What a poor film.

Paul W S Anderson seems to have a bit of a thing for churning out generic stuff.  He's not actually listed as a writer on this film, but it's a film very much in that style.

What they're tried to do here is a bid of a modern things in the old world vibe.  So one of the main things they use in the film is a flying galleon (as in like a zeppelin).  It's the slapping on of baubles, bells and whistles for no real gain or benefit - which seems to be quite the Anderson trait.

There are some good things in the film.

There's a sequence towards the front end which is like something out of the Civilization series or risk and is pretty cool.  The special effects are generally very good, though the water at the beginning looks a bit fake.  Also James Cordon is good and brings some genuine comic relief.  Also the bad guys are quite nasty, though you never really feel they're actually going to win at any point.

The real problem with the film is that the key elements - Dartanian and the three Musketeers are actually a bit meh.  I don't know if it's because they're very generic or because they're quite flat as characters, but I never really felt any connection - or, indeed, sympathy - with them.

After the opening sequence I think we're supposed to believe that the Musketeers have sort of been fired or put out to pasture.  But it's in no way convincing - they're clearly still in the King's favour.

There's also a fairly major tweak the basic plot.  It's a tweak I think has been used before, where the reason for them going to England is essentially flipped on its head, but I didn't mind that too much.

The flip does also allow Anderson to give the wife a bigger role (Mila Jovavic).  She plays the role well enough, but unfortunately she's the focus for much of the "new stuff shoved into the past".  So there's one sequence where she's basically doing a whole Mission Impossible stealing things riff.

I mean, it doesn't go so far as doing the whole zip wire lowers but stops inches from setting of the alarm, but it might as well have.  And that's kinda my problem - there's nothing here that doesn't feel like you've seen it a dozen times before.  It's all a bit cliché, but I didn't really feel any sense of irony to it, so it ends up feeling quite flat.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

a good shave

I mentioned before that I’ve been investigating shaving technique.

Currently I use what are called cartridge razors.  As the name suggests you buy a cartridge that clips into the handle.  You know the sort of thing - they’re heavily advertised, so it would be difficult not to know about them.

I actually have two - a Mach3, which has 3 blades and a Fusion Pro, which has 5.  The Mach 3 I’ve had years but my Dad got me the Fusion at Christmas.

And I think it’s really the Fusion Pro that’s been a big part of why I’ve been looking at the whole issue.  The cartridges are staggeringly expensive - around £14 for 8, so nearly £2 each!

Now if I could get plenty of shaves out of then that might be okay, but I don’t- I can get 3 good shaves and then one okay shave.  I know that’s a lot less than other men, but my beard is incredibly tough and very dense.  If I try to get more shaves than that then I just end up with horrible razor burn.

So if we say 4 shaves per blade then that’s 50p a shave.  If you say I have to shave about 200 times a year that’s £100 on blades alone.  Add in shower gel and aftershave balm and I must spend £150 a year on shaving.  That’s a lot of money.

The Mach 3 is a bit better in price terms in some ways, but I get fewer good shaves out of each blade, so it becomes a bit swings and roundabouts.

Now if it was a good shave then I wouldn’t mind, but in all honesty it isn’t.  To shave closely I have to take multiple passes, going with and against the grain.  However, this causes me to get razor burn, razor bumps, in-grown hairs and all sorts.  My neck is a particular problem area - the hair grows up on my neck, meaning it’s difficult to go with and against the grain and not miss bits.

One of the weir things with cartridge razors is they’re big - a good 1cm wide, so the front blade is in a different place to the back blade and it’s difficult to know where you’re shaving.

The compromise I’ve come to is a light shave each day - I take one pass and it involves going with the grain on my neck (so up) and against the grain on my chin and cheeks (so up again).  But with my beard being so thick and heavy and dark I therefore get five ‘o’clock shadow my mid-day.

It’s all a bit rubbish really, which is why I’ve been reading up about the possibility of going for a Double Edge (DE) safety razor - going old skool, basically.

I’ll continue later in the week.

Monday, 15 October 2012

oppa gangnam style?

Korean Grand Prix this last weekend.

As I was talking about last Friday the race is held at a time that means it's on pretty damn early here in the UK.  That’s a bit of a mixed bag - it means I can record it and watch it when I want in the morning or afternoon.  However, it also means that I have to be careful not to overhear the result and I also have to be weary in case the race over-runs: it’s been wet the last two years.

I thought the race itself was okay.  There was quite a lot of overtaking, though a lot of it was due to the DRS.  I mean, sometimes it just provided a bit of help, but other times the entire overtake was due to the DRS, which is a bit artificial, but it wasn’t so bad that the person couldn’t fight back - that’s when the DRS is bad.

Unfortunately, Lewis and Jenson had bad races.  Jenson got hit by Kobayashi on the first lap (he also hit Rosberg at the same time and was given a penalty).  To be honest, both of the Saubers were weirdly over the top - Kobayashi’s accident was almost of the same style as Grosjean’s recent problems - way too eager, trying to win the whole race on the first lap.  And Perez seemed to be displaying a weird level of inexperience, given he has been quite calm and sensible so far.  It’s like he’s trying to prove himself, even though he's already signed for McLaren.

Anyway, Jenson hadn’t qualified well and then got taken out, so a poor race.  Lewis qualified well, but apparently he had a suspension failure quite early in the race. He tried to fight, but it was clear he was a bit of a lame duck.  Then a few laps from the end after he’d had to take a new set of tyres and was trying to claw a few places back he ran over a bit of AstroTurf and took it with him!

Apparently they’d only just stuck it down the night before, which is pretty poor - you shouldn’t be sticking things to the track between qualifying and race unless it's an absolute necessity.

It was a great race for Red Bull, though.  They took the front row in qualifying and after a swap at the start; they never looked in doubt of finishing anything other than first and second.  It puts Vettel in the lead in the championship, some six points ahead of Alonso, who finished third, followed by a resurgent Massa.

Clearly the updates Red Bull made recently have just given them that little edge and with Vettel just in a position to pounce in the championship and a little bad luck on Alonso’s part then it’s something of a turn-around.

A two week gap now until the next race, which is a bit of a relief to be honest - holiday followed by two weekends filled with Grand Prix's has meant I’ve felt like I’ve not stopped in weeks.  Particularly since I’ve been horribly busy at work too.