May 312014

Longtime readers know I’m a big fan of the IndyCar Series. It started with me wanting to watch Danica in the 2007 Indianapolis 500, and I’ve never looked back. It is the fastest, most exciting auto racing in the world. If you’re into racing of any kind and you’re not following IndyCar, do so immediately.

Watching the Indianapolis 500 last week, I decided to follow the live board on on my tablet, and I was instantly hooked.


This adds an entirely new dimension to watching the race. You can track the entire field in real time (and it updates immediately, almost always ahead of the crawl on the TV coverage). You get not only position, but continually updating gap times. Want to know your driver’s fastest lap? It’ll tell you. Laps since he was in the pits? It’ll tell you that too. For road and street courses, how many push-to-passes does he have left? Is he on the push-to-pass right now? You get all of that the second it happens. Does your driver have red or black tires on? That’s there too.

It’s a riveting experience. Loved it for the first half of Belle Isle today. Looking forward to it tomorrow. What a great time!

 Posted by at 7:01 pm
May 302014

Lea and I have an ongoing junk mail pastime. We enjoy evaluating and discussing the methods by which junk mailers try to get you to open their crap.

She set this one right on top tonight, because she knew it was a good one.


This looks a lot like how a new credit or debit card arrives, doesn’t it? Indeed, it even says


Oh, my goodness! I can feel a cardish something or other in there, too! This is important. Indeed, it was even sent


Sounds like a classification of mail, doesn’t it? It’s not. Finally, we can see that time is of the essence:


Being both a professional communicator and a trained rhetorician, I have fun examining and dissecting these tactics. That they made it to a piece of junk mail means they’re effective for a statistically significant percentage of marks people.

Know what always gives ’em away, though? If PRSRT STD appears in the corner:


That means that exactly this piece of mail went to a great many people. There’s nothing unique inside except your name and address. Toss it sealed without a second thought.

Love to show you what’s inside this one, but that’s just what I did with it.

 Posted by at 7:56 pm
May 302014

OK, health ambiguity with a specialist over, and very highly satisfactorily concluded.

Visit to my regular doctor at which I had to tell her I gained five pounds this month worrying about said ambiguity over, and very highly satisfactorily concluded.

Retrench and reestablish steady, week after week loss, and by all means, bring the weekend!

 Posted by at 12:51 pm
May 292014
  • We’ve had kind of a herky-jerky start at Alabamians Can Read, and it’s mostly my fault. We do have a broadcast coming up on Sunday night, for Daryl Gregory’s intriguing Afterparty. Come join us!
  • Did you know we have a juice bar in Huntsville now? Did you know I took three little boys in there last weekend and reviewed it for Rocket City Mom?
  • “I want to write so well that a person is 30 or 40 pages in a book of mine … before she realizes she’s reading.” Thank you, farewell, and godspeed, Maya Angelou. RIP.
  • Apple has purchased Beats Audio for $3 billion. Beats Audio is evidently worth two orders of magnitude more than I would have guessed.
  • You guys brine chicken before you cook it? We tried it not long ago, and we may never do it any other way again. Wow, it’s tasty. For two pounds of boneless chicken, dissolve 3/4 cup each of salt and sugar in a gallon of water. Add a tablespoonish amount of any spices you want (for example, for pasta, I did oregano, basil, and rosemary). Bring to a boil, and let it roll for a minute. Remove from heat. When it cools to tepid, put your chicken in the pot and put it in the refrigerator for at least four hours. When you take it out, shake excess water off and prepare normally. (I’ve grilled it and skilleted it satisfactorily.)
  • Tabasco Sriracha is a thing.
  • Kiss 40 has enough surprises to be worth the money for me. My children shall see them in 2014.
  • I’m leaning toward just wearing my denim shorts. That denim pants of any sort should go so violently out of style seems capricious and arbitrary. And maybe I just won’t play.
 Posted by at 12:01 am
May 272014

I usually have a beard mostly for the same reason that I usually have a buzz cut: lower maintenance.

I haven’t worked up the nerve to wax my neck. So even with a beard, I still have to shave two or three times a week to avoid the dreaded neckbeard. (There is no stylish neckbeard. Neckbeard bad, no neckbeard good. That’s all the neckbeard guidance anyone needs.)

I used a Norelco electric shaver for years, and still have a nice one that I use mostly to finish off my head on those rare occasions that I go totally smooth on top. Thing is, as much as I tried to convince myself otherwise, and as many varied pre-shave rituals as I tried, it’s just not as close as a blade. I could get a smooth shave from it, but I had to do it every day. I can do every other day with a blade.

I’ve been using a Gillette Mach 3. It does fine. The only complaint I have about it is the same one we all have: the cartridges are too expensive. One day last week a Harry’s advertisement caught my eye, and I went to check it out.

Harry’s wants to be your lifelong partner. They sell razors, cartridges, and shaving cream, with customizable subscription plans available for the cartridges and cream. The cartridges range from $1.56 to $2.00 each, depending on how big a package you buy. That’s nearly 50% less than my current cartridges.

The “Truman” set includes a razor, three cartridges, and a tube of shaving cream for $15 shipped. (The free shipping threshold is only $10.) I ordered one. It came Friday:

harrys1One thing you notice quickly about Harry’s is that they have put a great deal of effort into branding and design. Every part of the experience is carefully crafted. There is style. There is humor. There is a sustained drive for a unique personality in this market. Taking a peek in the box:

harrys2harrys3The handle has a bit of weight to it, and is finished pleasingly. Holding it for the first time, I did wonder whether a subtle molded texture would be a good idea to make it easier to grip with a wet hand, but this turned out to be only a minor concern.

harrys4I’m hard to please on shaving cream. I’ve used Nivea for Sensitive Skin gel for decades, and had modest expectations of the Harry’s cream.

And then it was a pleasant surprise. Its consistency and appearance are both similar to Noxzema, with a slight menthol fragrance. It handles well, from tube to fingertips to face. It is a bit thinner than my usual, but I had no problems with it.

So how was the shave?

It was impressive. The five-bladed Harry’s cartridge glides noticeably more smoothly than my Mach 3, and the shave is quite close. One interesting thing about the design is that all of the flex in the head is provided by the body of the cartridge itself, as opposed to a dedicated mechanical pivot. This is a bit of a different feel, but I adjusted to it without a problem.

So I had a high-quality experience. Now I need to see about longevity. I’m accustomed to getting two or three great shaves, then three to five good shaves from a cartridge before I replace it. If the Harry’s cartridge delivers on this front, I’m switching. My rating below assumes that it will. I’ll come back and modify it if it doesn’t.

Good work, Harry’s! Pleased to be aboard.


(Please also see my review of Harry’s foaming shave gel and after shave lotion.)

 Posted by at 7:00 am
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