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Whew. Another two weeks without an update. Truly, I’ve started to suck at this again.

Well, the truth is it’s been a busy last two weeks—mostly busy at work. That’s been good, of course, and it’s not likely to get much less busy, which is also good, but it’s keeping me from getting much else done. The free time I had over the weekend was mostly spent beating my head against some “homework” from the writing group, not all of which I got done anyway. Ack. I did get a (slightly lame) critique of [livejournal.com profile] jakebe’s story done, at least, and one of the other two assignments. The one I did was “Witness Protection,” described as

Put a character in a situation entirely new to the character, e.g.; college, a new school, a new job, a new city or country. Let the character improvise a new identity, as most of us do when we’ve moved into a new world. This exercise should not be about the new situation but about how the character adjusts themselves and their mindset to the new situation.

…and it was pretty fun, really. My 400-word vignette ended up being about 1200 words, and could almost be a standalone short story of its own; it certainly contains a few story seeds.

The second assignment I didn’t get done involved writing a synopsis of a novel that I haven’t written yet, the idea being that it might help me crystallize what I need to do with it. It’s a good idea, but I’m not at the point I can do that yet with it, despite having been working on the setting for the damn novel for well over a year at this point.

Random Notes

With the busy-ness at work has come happy aspects of a promised raise and apparent real stability (despite the annoying tax status). Sometime before the end of this month I’ll work out my taxes, as much as I loathe the thought; it’ll help me work out a plan for knocking down my remaining debt quick. (Not to mention other expenses on the horizon, like fixing my car’s air conditioning and having the engine looked at. I’m hoping this thing’ll last me a few more years, despite my tendency to put about 25K miles on it a year.)

Yesterday I switched my keyboard at work to a Macally IceKey. The IceKey is a weird keyboard initially, because it uses the “scissor” key switches laptops use: it feels like a laptop keyboard that’s been stretched out. But the surprisingly positive reviews on this one are right—it’s one of the best keyboards I’ve used in years as far as haptic quality goes. I may get a second one for home use, assuming I start using my desktop computer more again.

In other unnecessary purchase news, I also bought shaving cream and aftershave from Truefitt & Hill, specifically their “West Indian Limes” scent. I don’t know if I’m really getting a better shave this way, but it’s sure neat stuff.

The Rock Bottom Brewery in Campbell is having a $18 three-course dinner special tonight in celebration of the “fire chief ale” tapping. This may bear a visitation this evening!

Just as another reminder, while I haven’t been journaling as much here, I do my “linkblogging” fairly regularly at Coyote Tracks (syndicated here as [livejournal.com profile] chipotle_tumble).

chipotle: (Default)

So I’ve been neglecting the journal again, I know. I’m considering beating myself into either writing something here every week, or (shorter things!) every day.

To catch up from where I last left off: I attended Further Confusion and had a fine enough time, mostly from meeting people I don’t see that often, which is the real reason I go to conventions in the first place. I didn’t buy anything much — if I’m remembering correctly, only an omnibus edition of Phil Foglio’s Girl Genius, something I’ve been meaning to read for a couple years.

The day before the convention, [livejournal.com profile] shaterri, Jeff, [livejournal.com profile] ladyperegrine and I went out to Kaygetsu, a fairly new and regionally-acclaimed Japanese restaurant. While it was suggested that I should do more “foodblogging,” I’d better remember to do such blogging quickly, since at this point I don’t remember much about the individual dishes we tried, other than the blanket observation that they were all good. My main entree was a marinated black cod, which went past good to pretty fantastic. (I think I’ve only had black cod before at a Seattle-area restaurant that [livejournal.com profile] shaterri’s taken me to twice.)

The razor handle that I’d bought at Target last year and written about has started to flake out, not holding its little Mach 3 blade cartridges securely anymore; the brush that came with the set fell apart quite quickly. (Fortunately I had a considerably better shaving brush I’d been given as a gift a couple years before.) So this last Saturday I decided to take the plunge I’d been considering and buy a “safety razor,” one of those old-fashioned razors that takes double-edged blades. (Nowadays that doesn’t sound very safe, but they replaced straight razors!) While I could have done this by mail order, I happened to know that the new Westfield San Francisco Centre shopping mall — which the Powell Street BART/MUNI station has a direct entrance to — has an Art of Shaving store in it, and that they sell safety razors there, at the “immediate gratification from a boutique store” markup. So, I made a trip up to the city and bought that razor, with its one sample blade and a couple free sample packs of Art of Shaving’s own shaving cream.

I’d like to say that after three shaves I’m getting the closest, most bestest shave that I ever have, but I can’t. On the flip side, I only got two nicks on the first shave and none on the other two, and I’ve been managing to get slightly closer shaves with each try; I’m hoping in a week or two I’ll be up to par. The one thing I have noticed is that the shave really does seem to be less irritating: the closer the shave gets the more it feels like I’m removing the top layer of skin, I’ll grant, but after even the gentlest cartridge blade shave, I could see the blotchy unhappiness of irritation. With the safety razor, that isn’t there.

The irritation that is there the last couple of days, though, is my fingers/wrist on my left hand, a somewhat hard-to-localize pain that increases with some movements and pressure. While it could well be the onset of the carpal tunnel syndrome some might think I’ve been courting the last thirty years, I’m not convinced I didn’t sprain it in some odd fashion this weekend. (I’m also not convinced I don’t have the onset of arthritis already in that hand, but that’s another story.) After a bit of deliberation I’ve bought one of those cheap wrist splints at the drug store; I’m going to see if keeping it mostly still a few days helps. It almost certainly can’t hurt.

chipotle: (Default)

In addition to the quest for the perfect cup of coffee, I also idly search for the perfect shave—how to get as close to the skin as possible without irritating or breaking it. (Stubble: bad. Blood: also bad.) I’ve come to a few conclusions over the years:

  • Electric razors don’t give you the best shave, no matter how much Remington and Norelco want you to believe otherwise.
  • All that stuff about shaving with the grain of the beard? It’s right.
  • The weak point in most non-electric shaves isn’t the blade, it’s the cream.

I’ve known more than one fellow who swears, swears, that the only way he gets a good shave is in the shower, with no shaving cream at all. It’s true shaving after (or during, if you insist) a shower is easier, because the beard is softer, but most “shaving cream” and “shaving gel” doesn’t do much more than foam up into a huge half-inch-thick lather. You might as well be shaving with Cool Whip. What you want is to first wash your face with hot water and a good face scrub, then to apply a thin layer of shaving cream (ideally with a shaving brush, I’m told).

You have to get out of the drug store to find anything that isn’t a fantastic foaming wonder. Audrey Organics and Aveda show up in natural food stores; department stores sometimes carry high-end (and high-priced) goods.

But now, there’s… Target. No, really.

Recently they decided they wanted to get into men’s grooming products. So they came out with a line called “Caldo,” with various toiletries—shaving cream, shower gel, aftershave, etc.—imported from Italy, and including a razor set that takes Gillette Mach 3 blades. This got mentioned on Gizmodo, with much mocking from the “$40 for a razor?!” peanut gallery, but $40 for a good razor handle, shaving brush and chrome stand for both is just about unbeatable. (There’s actually a cottage industry of “serious razors” using the Mach 3 system, some of the razors being much more expensive than that.)

So, yeah: I needed new razor blades, so I got the razor along with it. And, as Target’s also carrying a couple of famous shaving product lines along with this, I bought some “Sharps” face scrub, too. I have to say it’s effective stuff.

Is my quest over? Of course not: there’s some shaving regimens which call for a “pre-shave oil” before the shaving cream, and while I’m dubious, Target actually sells Italy’s Proraso oil—and cream for the shaving brush that came with the razor!—pretty cheaply, so I may give it a try. (There are also shaving oils which take the place of shaving cream entirely.) And, of course, there are people who swear a good single-blade safety razor will give you much better shaves than cartridge razors do. Right now I’m figuring I’m close enough to the perfect shave for government work, but of course, when I started thinking about making a better cup of coffee, I never figured I’d end up grinding fresh-roasted beans and brewing in a vacuum pot.

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