Archive for December, 2009


Safety Razor

December 28, 2009


For Christmas I got a safety razor and the accompanying shave mug and soap.  I had asked for these items because I’m tired of using a mach 3 (high cost, good shave with several days worth of growth, decent shave with only one day’s worth of growth) and wanted to see what else was out there.  Based on what I’ve read there is about a one to two week learning curve before you start seeing good results.  My prediction is that my Monday morning shave will be about the same as it was with the mach 3 but that my Tuesday – Friday shave will be better than with a mach 3.  Additionally, the cost for replacement blades are far cheaper than for a mach 3.  ($10 for 30 versus $15 for 4).  Here are my initial impressions:

Day 1:  2 days worth of growth using standard canned shaving foam.  Razor cut through growth with no problem.  Difficult to get a feel for the proper angle to hold the blade.  Had to go over trouble areas multiple times resulting in mild razor burn.  Final results comparable to mach 3.  Overall rating:  Decent.

Day 2:  1 day worth of growth using standard shaving foam.  Razor cut through growth with no problem, which is good because a major drawback to the mach 3 was that it had a hard time cutting only one days worth of growth.  Better feel for the proper angle.  Required fewer passes over trouble areas.  Still had some mild razor burn.  Overall rating:  Decent.

Day 3:  1 day worth of growth using new shaving soap.  First day shaving before going to work.  Time wasn’t a factor but I still felt rushed.  Unable to get as close a monday morning shave as I’m used to but this had more to do with having shaved yesterday rather than having 3 days worth of growth.  Will hold off on judgement until next monday.  Increased razor burn due to multiple passes.  Had trouble getting the soap to lather, which contributed to the razor burn.  Need to focus on getting better lather and making fewer passes.  Overall rating:  OK.

Day 4:  Much better lather.  Still not quite where I need it but awfully close.  Still had to go over areas multiple times at different angles to get the same results as a mach 3 but far less razor burn due to better lather.  Small nick on the chin – will have to watch out for that.  Time not a problem and I found the whole process fairly enjoyable though we’ve still got a way to go before ‘zen like.’  Blade far more comfortable on one days growth than a mach 3.  Overall rating:  Good.

Day 5:  Too much water in the lather.  Required fewer passes to get decent results.  No nicks.  Razor burn OK so far but worried if it will get worse as the day goes on (as happened yesterday).  I think it’s time to change the blade.  Overall rating:  Good.

Day 6:  Good lather.  Still needed a fair amount of passes but got very good results.  Minimal razor burn that went away fairly quickly.  Able to devote more time than usual due to not going into work today.  Starting to see the benefits.  Overall rating:  Very good.

Day 7:  The same as day 6, which is good.

Day 8:  This was the true test.  The first work monday with a full weekend’s worth of scruff and a brand new blade.  Overall I’m not terribly impressed.  It didn’t get as close a shave as I get with a mach 3 and to make it worse, the blade hurt going over my goatee area just as much as a mach 3.  This is not an encouraging sign.  Plus, it takes me a lot time to shave my chin area.  On the plus side, my skin is now used to the new blade so there is no razor burn.  I’m starting to think the safety razor is a bust, but, all is not lost because I like the shave soap and mug.  I’m thinking I’m going to finish out the week with the safety razor so I can get a good two week test and then try the shaving soap/mug with a mach 3.  Overall rating:  good.

Day 9:  A good day.  If every shave was like today I would be pleased.  Overall rating:  Very good.

Day 10:  We’ve finally reached the point where it’s become routine.  I’ve settled into a nice rythmn, there is zero razor burn, and the shave is where I want it to be.  Overall rating:  Excellent.

Day 11:  Getting better each day.  Overall rating:  Excellent.

Day 12:  Last day of test and overall I am satsified and plan to continue using the safety razor instead of the mach 3.  Overall rating:  Excellent.

Final thoughts:  Now that I’ve gotten used to the safety razor I’m really starting to see the benefits.  First, the soap is very nice.  It feels good rubbing it on your face and you feel like you’re not only prepping to shave but are cleaning out your pores as well.  I also like that I can throw a little cool water on my face when I’m done and the soap comes off quite easily, whereas with shaving cream I had to wipe my face down with a wet towel.  Not a huge deal but it makes you feel better that what you’re using is a natural soap rather than a bunch of chemicals.  Overall my face seems cleaner and I get fewer blemishes, cuts and other unsightly skin problems.  I can’t swear it’s due solely to the shaving soap but since I haven’t changed anything else it would seem to make sense.   Second, the razor is very good once you get a feel for it.  It’s not, ‘Holy Crap, this is the best shave of my life!’ good, but it’s consistently as good any day as a mach 3 is on it’s best day.  Plus, it’s cheap.  Once you’ve bought the razor, the blades are very cheap, which means you can put a fresh one in each week instead of having to choose between seeing how long you can stretch your mach 3 or buying new blades all the time.  Third, no in grown hairs.  I didn’t get them all that often using a mach 3 (usually only on Mondays) but when I did they hurt.  So far, no in grown hairs and I don’t think they’ll be any because of the way the blade cuts compared to a mach 3.  Finally, the entire process is enjoyable.  It’s nice to force yourself to take your time instead of rushing through.  By hitting the snooze one less time I have plenty of time in the morning to devote to shaving.  This doesn’t make shaving something I look forward to but it does make it something I no longer dread.  I’m not about to throw away my mach 3 and proclaim the safety razor the greatest tool ever, but it does do a very good job and now that I’ve got the hang of it I’m quite pleased.


Insurgents hack US drone

December 18, 2009

The press is now reporting that insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan have ‘hacked’ US drones and pulled off the video feeds being relayed from the drones to the ground units.  This is not good.  In fact, it’s almost impossible to overstate how bad this is, not so much because of what was done, but because of what it says about the Pentagon’s approach towards cyber warfare.  Pulling a video feed off an unencrypted data link is bad on numerous levels, but it’s not nearly as serious as it sounds.  First off, the link wasn’t protected.  Easy enough to fix (and by easy I mean it will cost tens of millions of dollars to backfit an entire fleet of drones).  Second, it was only a video feed, not actual control of the drone.  It’s like tapping into your neighbor’s unprotected wireless network; just because you can suck up their bandwidth doesn’t mean you can start changing the way the network is run.  The bigger issue here is this breach reveals just how far behind the times we are when it comes towards cyber warfare.  While the rest of the world is actively developing / using cyber warfare to undermine enemy networks, the US is still trying to decide whether or not cyber warfare is an area that needs investments.  This is not to say that there aren’t people working hard on improving US cyber security, but it does show that there isn’t consensus as to the dangers posed by cyber threats.  I suppose I can understand the point of view of people who think cyber security is too expensive.  After all, it’s not like there’s much precedent, I mean, it’s not like Russia launched a massive cyber attack against Georgia’s networks prior to their ground assault in 2008, or that Israel preceded their air attack against the Syrian reactor with a coordinated cyber attack designed to shut down Syria’s air defense system, or that insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan have learned to tap into our drones…oh, wait…maybe we should start putting some funding into this…after all, what good is a ten million dollar system if the data it collects can be compromised with a $30 piece of software?  The more dependent we become on cyber-based systems, the more susceptible we become to having that dependency exploited and the more we risk losing the advantage our cyber-based systems provide.  Cyber warfare is real and we are way behind the times in our thinking.  If only our Admirals and Generals had watched ‘Sneakers,’ we might not be in this mess.

For a more detailed analysis on just how big an issue cyber security has become, check out


Movie List

December 17, 2009

I’m in a list making mood today so here is my list of favorite movies:

Best overall (m0vies I can watch a million times and never get bored):

1.  Casablanca – simpy put, the greatest movie ever.

2.  Sneakers – predicted the rise of the internet and the whole idea of cyber security before anyone had ever heard of a modem

3.  Hunt for Red October – the movie responsible for me joining the Navy.  Thanks, Sean.

4.  Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – The only movie that has ever made the study of religion look cool.

5.  Finding Neverland – I cry every time.  That’s right, I cry.  Deal with it.


1.  Airplane – the funniest thing the Zuckers have ever produced

2.  Top Secret – the second funniest thing the Zuckers have ever produced

3.  Naked Gun – If for no other reason than the line, “Nordberg (played by OJ Simpson) wouldn’t hurt a fly!”

4.  Christmas Vacation – In part because it’s the holiday season, but also because the jokes are timeless

5.  You don’t mess with the Zohan – I think you have to have lived in Israel to fully appreciate the hyperbole, but trust me, it’s true.

Sci fi (movies that inspire me to push the limits of what I believe to be possible)

1.  Stargate – religion, aliens, and the air force getting it’s ass kicked.  What more do you need?

2.  Aliens – Because the effects remain completely believable.

3.  Iron Man – makes me proud to be a defense contractor.  Sort of.

4.  Wall-E – there’s more going on here than I’ll ever know.   

5.  X-men 2 – If for no other reason than Cyclops is nowhere to be found.



December 16, 2009

All you Jews, listen up!  Enough with the Chanukah crap!  It’s one of the most minor holidays in the entire Jewish calendar and if not for having the good grace to occur near Christmas people would care no more about it than Tu’B’shevat!  I’m hereby issuing a call that we stop pretending that Chanukah means something or is in anyway on par with Christmas.  Furthermore, it’s time we accept that America is predominantly a Christian nation, and as such, it only makes sense that there is Christmas crap everywhere.  Finally, it’s time we accept that not every Christmas display has to be countered with something Jewish.  Simply put, mainstream Christmas has for all intents and purposes become a secular holiday.  While there are undeniable parts of the holiday that remain religious, those parts are largely limited to people’s homes and places of worship.  Rarely do any of the public aspects of Christmas have any religious meaning.  Santa Claus, Rudolph, lights, trees, cookies, elves, none of these have any religious context.  (even if there is some obscure historical religious connection, no one else knows it, meaning it doesn’t matter)  It’s time we accept that there are two distinct parts to the Christmas holiday:  The religious part, which is celebrated privately, and the secular, which is celebrated publicly.  Accepting this separation of Church and Santa, there is no reason to believe that a Menorah (which is religious) is required every time there’s a Christmas tree.  Making a big deal out of Chanukah just makes us look small and petty.  “Ooh, look at us, we have a holiday too!  See kids, you don’t need to be jealous of your Christian friends!  You get presents also!”  If you’re really worried that your kids’ faith in Judaism is so weak that they’ll abandon their faith at the first sign of Santa then you have not put enough effort into solidifying your child’s religious beliefs.  If you really want your children to embrace Judaism, then show them how their faith is different from Christmas.  Point out the waste inherent to Christmas, point out the hollow joy that comes from getting mounds of presents, point out how disgusting fruit cake is, and then explain how they don’t need any of those things because their faith allows them to rise above all of the negative things Christmas has come to symbolize while still providing the postive aspects of the holidays.  The lesson may not take the first year, or the second, or the third, but when they’re adults they’ll understand, and their faith will be stronger as a result.  Religions fail when they try to adapt the practices of other faiths that they perceive as being more popular than theirs, which eventually results in the total assimilation of the smaller faith.  The only counter is to stand up and argue why your faith is different.  After all, if your faith is no different from another, then where is the incentive to remain true to your beliefs, especially when the other faith offers a fat guy giving out gifts?


Metro Courtesy

December 15, 2009

It must be the holiday spirit but today I saw no less than five different people offer up their seats on either the shuttle or the metro.  The best part is about 2 out of 5 were really forced.  The person to whom they offered up their seat clearly was young and healthy and had no need to sit.  The only reason they were offered the seat was because they were female.  But it made the guys (who were old and feeble) giving up their seats feel good.


Odd things / lessons learned today

December 11, 2009

1.  I saw a woman wearing a full hijab driving an 18 wheel tractor trailer.  Odd.

2.  I saw a girl on the metro platform with icicles hanging from her hair.  Odd.

3.  Never walk outside when it’s below freezing.  Even if you are following a cute girl.  Just kidding, honey.  Lesson learned.

4.  Putting your sweater vest in the dryer before putting it on is a good thing.  Lesson learned.

5.  Having the metro gates close while you’re walking through and crushing your thighs.  Odd / lesson learned.



December 8, 2009

Today someone brought in a plate of homemade fudge and left it at the front door to the office.  That plate never even made it past lunch.  Sucker never had a chance.