Category Archives: Hobby

A Damn Good Shave – Part 1 The Basics

My Shaving GearAn old friend recently reached out to me, because he had had enough of the newer, better, greater claims of Gillette and Shick, and their ever rising costs with lackluster results.  The disposables are poor quality at best, and even some of the alternatives from Merkur and Parker have been said to be prone to pitting and breakage.  He had heard, and I confirmed, that old style double edge razors, from the likes of Gillette and others from a half century ago or more, are far superior in results, comfort and closeness than any of the modern day equipment.  I can’t speak much of the failure of the modern variants from Merkur, and would only add I myself have not experienced this myself.

I thought to lay out the recommended steps of traditional wet shaving in a series of posts, both for his benefit, and yours. :)

So I’ll begin with a description of what wet shaving is all about.  Whether it is referred to as classic shaving, wet shaving, barbershop style, DE (double edge) shaving, traditional shaving, or straight edge shaving, it is all the same process.

You begin by moistening the face, either by use of hot towels or taking a warm shower to open the pores and soften the facial hairs.  Sometimes if I don’t feel like taking a shower, I’ll just splash water as hot as I can take it, on my face and neck continuously for 2-3 minutes.

This is followed by using a shaving brush, usually made of badger hair of varying degrees, and a specialized shaving soap or cream to whip up lather.  Canned creams are known to dry out the skin, and contrary to popular belief facilitate the shave, but leave the face in worse shape than before it began.  Sometimes this lathering is done directly on the face, and other times in a bowl, scuttle or mug.

This lather is applied to the face, usually with the brush itself, and then is shaved off with the razor in a series of angled swipes.  If done correctly, it will minimize razor burn and cuts, while removing the facial hair and lather one stroke at a time, and progressing from spot on the face to another.  The remains are splashed off with warm water, the razor briefly rinsed, and the steps repeated, with a different direction used for the swipes to achieve an even closer shave.  Each cycle is also called a shaving pass.  This is usually repeated for a total of 3-4 passes, depending on beard thickness and desired closeness, with an ideal of “baby butt smooth” (BBS.)

After the final splash removes the lather and cut stubble remnants, a topical astringent is applied to the face and allowed to dry, usually Witch Hazel, and sometimes in conjunction with a block of alum for accidental shaving cuts.  After it dries, a cold water rinse is next to close the pores, and followed by applying aftershave or balm to soothe and care for the skin.

While the steps may seem a lot, in practice this can take perhaps 20 minutes on average for an experienced shaver.

Shaving in this manner is typically more cost effective, more comfortable and with better shaving results, and can turn what many see as a dreaded chore, into a luxurious time of enjoyment for a regular manly ritual.

My plan is to follow this post with the details of lathering and razor techniques, the aftershave, and suggested gear.

Check back soon!


Running updates and new minimalist shoes

trueglove2So I noticed my last running update was nearly a year ago, and thought it overdue to bring things up to speed.

I’ve kept up with the running, and have managed to get an official half marathon under my belt.  After the 10K I ran last May, I continued to push myself and grow my mileage each time bit by bit, and mile by mile.

I ran a few more races, including another 10K in the fall, and then signed up to commit to a half marathon.  13.1 miles and the near equivalent of a 21K.

Despite my planning, training, and the countless blisters, the half ended up getting canceled due to Hurricane Sandy.  It was frustrating, but my problem wasn’t nearly as bad as those who lost homes, cars, or lives so I took solace in that.  Despite the cancellation I ran a nice circuit around town and managed to achieve my goal time of a hair under 2 hours total.  And I do mean a hair, as the final time came in at 1:59:51.

Once the cool winter weather rolled in my shoes went into the closet, and didn’t see the light until late March.

Getting myself back up to speed took some time, but I began slow with a 6 mile loop, and again worked my way up.

2 weeks ago, on May 5th, I ran my official half marathon.  This was the same lcoation as my first 10K – the Redding Road Race for the Cows.  Again there were hills galore, but I managed to tough through it, and in better time than I expected as I was still ramping my mileage up.  I didn’t break the 2 hour mark, but came decently close at 2:06, and a better time than the lower 43%.

So with that under my belt, I have a handful more half marathons to run this year, plus a Tough Mudder and Super Spartan.  More than enough to keep the twinkle in my eye, and the rolls off my belly :)

I’m finding I am at a new level now.  It is actually pretty cool because I’m the kind of guy that likes mixing it up.  When I plan my routes, I typically do so using either or Gmap Pedometer.  Not only can it tell me how to get from A to B, but how far, so I can plan out a 9 mile run, a 5 mile quickie or a 13 miler for the weekends if I’m up for it.

Lately I’ve been plugging in a wide circle starting from my home, around 9-10 miles, but the best part… I don’t care about where it goes.

What I mean is that I feel like I have finally gotten to a plateau where I can run anywhere – hills or flat, and I love a route that takes me on meandering tours (like my meandering blog post.)  The other day I found roads that take me past no less than 5 farms, and all the beauty that they hold.  The wide expanses of fields, the picturesque fences filled with animals, and the rise of the hills overlooking the opposite side and all the greenery I love to enjoy.

It is a really, really good feeling :)

I’m also finding that using the minimalist shoes I like so much, are more dependent on proper lacing.  Over time it seems I’ve pulled the laces tighter and tighter each time I put them on, leaving no wiggle room as my feet naturally expand when I hit the pavement in the rhythm the music beats out over my headphones.  So in turn, the shoes rub, the blisters grow, and I hobble just a bit more a day or two after the run.  I’m sure it affects my gait, and proper form, and now the shoes I’ve been using have burned out barely a year later.

I spent time figuring out which ones are best suited for me, as I often do with entirely too much time sorting out the balance between cost, quality, needs and desires.  In the end, I chose an updated version of the shoes I already use and enjoy.  From the Merrell True Glove to the Merrell Flux Glove .  I’m not the only one who loves these shoes either, as many reviews rate them at or near the top of minimalist rankings.  An updated outsole, liner, and footplate that better suit mid to fore foot strikes, all tell me they should work out great.

To the pavement!!  {insert batman whoosh}MerrellFlux3


Adirondack Backpacking

Backpacking High Peaks Trail Imagine you went on a backpacking hike with an old friend.

Now head up to the high mountain peaks of the Adirondack Park outside of Lake Placid.

Lets begin with a nice relatively level 2 mile hike into base camp.

Now lets make it a 45 degree incline.

Now lets put in some large rocks and boulders to climb over as you go up.

Now lets add ice & snow on top of the trail, rocks and everywhere your feet should go.

Now bump up the weight of the pack close to 50 pounds.

Now take your boots and make them a half size small so your ankle rubs into blisters the whole time.

Add in 5 more miles up and downhill (one way), 15 degree nights, sleeping in bear country, and rules dictating no campfires.Backpacking the ice

THIS is what backpacking with Brian Cernik is all about ;)