Friday, 8 February 2013

first shave

So I had my first shave with a double-edge razor last night.

It was okay.

I was somewhat worried I might slice my face to pieces - that is the traditional criticism of DE shaving and certainly my dad always said he used to slice himself to bits.  That didn't happen.  There was a tiny nick on my jaw line, but we are talking scrape, rather than cut.

I have been using the prep technique for a good few months now as I wanted to have all that to a stage where it was natural and normal so that when I did finally give the DE razor a go I would be able to focus on that as the single new element, rather than totally confuse myself.  I think that worked well, although I was a bit heavy with the shaving soap and I think the lather produced dried out a bit much, but I don't think there was anything wrong on that front.

It wasn't a spectacularly close shave.  Partly I was a bit nervous, as I say, but also I had a lot of razor burn.  I went back and consulted the book I had read when working out DE shaving and it turns out that I had gotten the angles all wrong.

The blade for a DE sits between two edges of the razor (one above and one below, where it's clamped in) and I had done my angle based on the lower of these.  I'd remembered it should be a relatively shallow angle (30 degrees-ish) but because I was doing that from the lower edge, I essentially ended up scraping the blade across my face, scratching the skin and causing the razor burn.

I should have been going from the upper edge.  In other words, I'd started with the razor parallel to my skin and moved it up, where I should have started with the razor perpendicular to my skin and moved it down.

Other than that it was okay.  I don't think I applied too much pressure - I was all very "light touch," though as I say, difficult to really tell with me having the blade at the wrong angle.

Certainly the overall shave was not close one.  It was a brand new blade and I did two passes (one with, one across - I'm saving against until I'm more comfortable with the blade as a whole) and the resultant shave was similar to what I end up with after about the third or fourth shave with my mach3.  So not baby-soft smooth but clearly shaved rather than unshaved and with a touch of razor burn that would tell me to change to a new cartridge.

I'll keep going - this weekend I'll give it another go and see if I can get a better handle on the technique.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

new procedure

So when it was snowing I had a lot of difficulty with doing my laundry.

I use the local laundrette, which is just up the road, but they don't tend to clear the roads and pavements around here very much, so it's difficult to get too.  If I have multiple bags (generally I produce two bin bags of washing every week during the winter) then I have to drive.  So if I have to walk like I did during the snow, then I can only do a bit (a three-quarter full bin bag is about all that's practical to carry, so I just do the essential stuff).

Now because the worst of the snow as over the weekend I decided to try doing my laundry in the evening during the week after work.  Previously I have gotten up super early and done it Saturday morning and it normally works.

The real problem is people who clearly have washing machines but not driers.  There are only a handful of driers in the laundrette and usually at least one is out of action.  That unfortunately sometimes means I will have my washing in the machine and people turn up and fill the driers with clothes.

This is actually a bit of a bugbear with me as they tend to use the driers like they would a smaller home drier, spreading what are large home loads (or perhaps 2 loads) across multiple driers.  The whole point of the big industrial driers they have in the laundrette is you can get a big load in them.

Also, the best way to use them is to load them up with a few pounds and let them run for a good while.  If you spread the laundry out across multiple machines it is less efficient (obviously there's a tipping point, but these people are way below it) and then feed in small change, checking it all the time and therefore letting all the hot air out, it will take longer and therefore cost you more.

Anyway, point is that I discovered that generally the laundrette is not particularly busy in the evenings.  Certainly not as busy as at the weekends.

Now obviously part of the reason I have not previously tried the weekend is time - I get up early and therefore tend to go to bed early so spending 1.5-2hours in the laundrette after work is basically my entire evening.  But there are also some other issues - obviously it's more efficient for me to drive straight there after work, so that means loading the bags into the car in the morning.

Now that's fine, but what if I need to wash my work trousers or similar?  Also I only have a small number of vests, so it can get complicated if I'm not doing the washing at the weekend when I'm wearing casual clothes.  So yeah, there are some kinks, but I think I prefer it.  It's quieter, quicker and it frees up my early Saturday mornings.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

welcome to the space show

Rather shamefully, given that it's supposed to be my hobby, this is about the only anime I've watched in the last 3 months or so.

That's not really relevant to the review, just an embarrassing admission.

I wasn't entirely sure what space show was going to be about and I have to say if I'm totally honest it was a bit more... predictable than I'd anticipated.  I wanted to use the word cliché there, but I'm not sure that's quite right - it's more like it's generally familiar as the plot isn't hugely original.

The characters were more promising - there was a degree of usage of archetypes, but actually they weren't as bad as all that.  I mean, the tropes were there (nerdy kid, responsible but struggling with that responsibility older kid, "genki" older sister who's upset younger sister that adores her) but it was more subtle than all that.

The interesting characters compensated for the somewhat predictable story.  I'd also say, in fairness, that it's aimed at a younger audience than me.  It's broadly a family film, but really with a slant generally more towards children than adults.  I'm undecided if that excuses it using a very familiar story or not.

Also I have to say the bad guys weren't as convincing or interesting - they could have done with a bit more delving into their backgrounds, where instead it tended to rely on those familiar plotlines to short-cut the baddies.

Another thing in its favour is in the visuals and the awesome imagination on display.  When the story gets into space they really let rip with all sorts of odd aliens and the locations and backgrounds clearly show them having a riot of imagination.  As noted, it's also beautifully animated and looked awesome in Blu Ray.

I'd say overall then that it would probably work best for a younger audience, but it's certainly visually arresting enough and there's plenty of fun with the characters for older viewers not to be disappointed.

I guess Studio Ghibli's work is about the best comparator, but I thought it was quite distinct from those.  In other words, it would appeal to a similar audience, but if I'm honest it's not up to the same standard in terms of quality of storytelling.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

warmer than you'd think

For the last week at work it's actually been warm.

The reason is that a heating engineer came and took a look at the boiler, serviced it and put new valves on all the radiators.

It's always been a bit of problem at the office where I work.  I've always felt that the building had some issues - it's poorly insulated, there are a lot of windows, the upstairs where we all work is a big, single open-plan office and the downstairs is basically unoccupied.  However, I also felt that the current boiler wasn't man enough for the job.

A few years ago the old boiler packed up and was replaced and since then it's never been as warm during the winter as I recall it being with the old boiler.  In particular I've taken to wearing an extraordinary number of layers of clothes at work - a vest, two t-shirts, work shirt, jumper and often my work jacket too.

Now part of the issue is that the last few years it seems to have been quite a bit colder than it was when I first started work there so it seemed only natural that it wouldn't be as warm.

However, the building has been veritably balmy during this last week.  This suggests that the newer boiler was up to the job but that the system perhaps hadn't been optimised.  I know the boss often had to "top it up" and was forever going on about the "pressure in the system".  I believe they flushed the system and refilled it, so perhaps there was some bigger issue?

The other thing was the valves - the old values always used to stick and although they had temperature gauges on them they always seemed to act more like on/off switches, rather than gradual valves.  Well the new valves work like proper valves - if you turn them down half way the radiator is only warm, rather than hot.

To me this suggests the old valves were either gunged up in some way or were not the correct type of valve and were restricting the flow of water around the system.  I've actually already turned the radiators near me down as I don't tend to like it as hot as it's been.  And the result is that on Friday I only wore a vest and my work shirt, and the vest was because it was cold outside and I ended up rolling my sleeves up when indoors.

It'll have a bit more of a test next week though as it's meant to get a bit chillier.

Monday, 4 February 2013

not again

I appear to have had to work this weekend.

I'm not particularly chuffed with this, as you can imagine.  I've never had a problem putting in the hours fundamentally, but the problem is we don't work any sort of flexi at work, so whenever I do long days or work the weekend I'm basically just pissing away my free time.

There was actually an article on the beeb website this week about Gambia - the African country that's basically given all of its civil servants 4 day weeks.  As I understand it that's the compressed week version, rather than cutting a fifth off of their week and a fifth of their wage.

So in other words they work the same number of hours, but they just work them across four days, rather than five.  There is actually quite a lot of evidence that this works, if you'll excuse the pun.  By which I mean that people are just as productive if they work their hours in four days, rather than five.

It obviously sparked a bit of a debate on whether it could work here.  The answer is obviously "yes", but of course it will never happen.  And in some ways it is difficult to see how it would work in all sectors.  Part of the article had a quote from a guy whose company works like that (in Australia, I think) and he said part of it was to give his workforce the time to do chores on a day where others are working.

So the example would be getting your hair cut or doing bank stuff or something like that.  So obviously if the whole country worked some sort 4 day week then that would potentially evaporate - if all banks were closed for a 3 day weekend, you wouldn't gain any advantage.  And of course if the hair dressers compressed their hours then would they close Saturday and Sunday?  So then Friday would be the day everyone treated like Saturday now so the hairdresser would be as busy, so there'd be no advantage.

The answer of course is a flexible approach.  So for jobs where it sort of doesn't matter, like civil servants, you can do fairly simple 4 day week.  Other jobs you could have overlaps - so some have Monday, others have Friday.  Other people get more flexible arrangements.  And some (teachers, for example) it's perhaps not possible at all, though there are other perks (long summer holidays, etc.).

Anyway, I seem to have gone off track - my company doesn't work flexi and it's basically because the boss has a very Victorian attitude to work.  If you're not at your desk then you're not working.  Well, I say that - it's weird, because some people seem to have ended up with flexibility in their working patterns, but I guess that's been through individual negotiation and been particularly hard fought for - it's not company policy.

Weirdly there have been some newer employees where you can kinda see why she'd want that.  Now I wouldn't call them slackers, as such, but they certainly do a lot of chatting and "not quite" working.

Trouble is, someone like me who is properly dedicated when there are things that need to be done then simply ends up feeling like we're being screwed over, because I don't ever got those hours back, or, and this is probably why it's so annoying, feel like it's being properly appreciated.

It seems like a weirdly English thing to me - the bosses are always trying to screw as much out of you as they can.  You can kinda see why Marx formed his theories while living in Britain.