Clone Wars!

November 2008:

Clone wars!

At last back amongst the surviving packets on the grand isobaric terrain of the intArweb.  In my travels I have seen many lonely deserted packets, dropped needlessly from their groups… 8, 32, thousands… why do they not care for the feelings of a single packet, leaving them to separate into fragments of bits at our very feet.  But behold, I have before me packets folded to my bidding.  Networks staged on the very air over my living establishment are now mine, MINE, at my very bidding… my beckoned call to bow upon my every whim and desire.

Oh yes… I have internet access now.  Clandestinely perhaps, but I never claimed to be a Greenpeace activist.  I’m not armed enough for that role, yet.

June 2010:

Time progresses and this blog consists of things I have ran across and/or learned within the last 2 years.  In some cases, simply being a documentation for me to refer to later, along with sharing to the rest of the world.  I forget more than I ever type, sadly.
No longer am I clandestinely pirating airwaves to gain ‘net access.  I find my own connection to be far more sound.  That, and I can afford it now ;)

Desert Essence Face Wash

I decided to try a new face wash to replace the St Ives facial scrub I’ve used for years.  I wanted something not so gritty, yet does the same cleansing of the skin.  I found a brand named Desert Essence, which is a combination of castille soap, tea tree oil, and various other ingredients.  I picked up a 32 ounce container due to discount pricing, and found it to be unmanageable in that container.  I went to the store and picked up a foaming soap dispenser, like the Dial brand foaming soap you buy at the store.  I bought one Dial brand foaming soap and emptied it to use (it was on sale for $0.99) and later I picked one up at the Container Store that looked quite nice to use in the master bathroom, for like $7.00.
It works wonderfully at cleansing my face, surprisingly quick at breaking down oils/grease without really scrubbing.  It’s also good at not demoisturizing my skin like alcohol would.  It’s a must to keep your eyes closed, since if it gets in there it’ll hurt a bit.

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Since it worked well on my face, I decided to try it as a shower body soap.  I was amazed how well it works!  I normally use the body soap which requires scrubbing and isn’t doesn’t work terribly well, but with this in foam form I was able to lather up and clean nicely.  It also didn’t require using much since the foaming soap dispenser increases the volume  by quite a bit as it comes out.  The nice thing about it all is the pH isn’t off balance, so it doesn’t leave the skin dry and brittle.  I still use Moisturel lotion on my face, and in some cases olive oil however.

As as side note, since I normally use special shampoo for psoriasis on the scalp but I keep my scalp shaved, I use this to quickly clean my face and head in a minute before I shave and it takes care of the psoriasis style scalp oils which can impede proper shaving.  I’m glad I found this, it’s a great addition to the mix.

Homemade Menthol Aftershave

Good Aftershave can be expensive.  Like very expensive, nearly $15-$20 for 4-6 oz of it.  After shopping around, I grew tired of it and decided it’d be fun and exciting to make some on my own!  So, on I went and researched.  I found out it’s actually easier than I thought it would be.  All that’s needed is an antiseptic, astringent, styptic, and fragrance.  Most of the ingredients perform more than one of those tasks.  I wanted a menthol aftershave that would be good for my sensitive skin along with make damned sure all bacteria is cleaned up.  I’m very happy with it, after the first night of use!

Since I’m making it only for myself, I went with 190 proof grain alcohol.
Before I go too far into things, this is what I bought before doing anything:
1x 1.7 liter Everclear 190 proof grain alcohol (Bevmo)
1x 4 oz bag of menthol crystals (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003SAB3VY/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_S_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=24LO9JO7FO0QC&coliid=I1WR8TA00BX17R)
1x 10 oz bottle of vegetable glycerin (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IAQS1VQ/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1)
1x 32 oz bottle of aloe vera gel (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00028POGA/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1)
1x 12 oz Thayer unscented witch hazel (http://www.amazon.com/Thayers-Alcohol-Free-Witch-Formula-Unscented/dp/B001DJDP7C/ref=sr_1_1?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1454566191&sr=1-1&keywords=thayer+unscented+witch+hazel)
1x 8 oz flask bottle (Container Store)

There’s enough resources purchased to make lots of bottles of aftershave, minus buying more witch hazel.

I started with an 8 oz container and filled it halfway with Witch Hazel.  Then, I added 1/4 of it with grain alcohol. (Everclear 190 proof)  I then added 2 1/2 menthol crystal pieces, and soaked the bottle in 110 degree water for 5-10 minutes until the crystals diluted.  I then added 10-15 drops of vegetable glycerin and filled the rest of the bottle with aloe vera gel.  Close the bottle, and shake it vigorously for 10-15 minutes then soaked it again in 110 degree water for 15 minutes until everything went clear.  Everything was mixed together and ready.  I let it cool for an hour or two.

When I used it tonight, I was happily surprised.  It didn’t hurt (even with a nick or two) and was very soothing.  I used it on both my scalp & my face, liberally.  The nice thing is, it left my skin nicely balanced and I didn’t need to add any moisturizer afterwards.  Very surprising, for me.  I shave my head and my face daily, and this will be very helpful!

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International transactions

I find it amazing how in this day and age, we can perform transactions internationally with barely any limitations.  Granted, I’m talking about low-dollar items, and not high dollar.  Back when I was growing up, shipping something from a foreign country to the USA (or reverse) was an expensive and potentially disastrous activity due to postal surcharges, package audits, border seizes, etc.  Now I can order Absinthe from France, Razor blades from Russia, and random trinkets from many random countries throughout the world with barely any issue at all.

I’m glad I lived to see this day.  Even though things are still bad, it’s nice to see improvements.

Safety Razors

I’m tired of the quality of razors diminishing over the years, along with the prices increasing almost laughably.  When I was a child, my father would go to the local drug store and buy a pack of razor blades for what seems like pennies comparedly.  Those blades would slide out of a holder, and he’d use it for 1 or 2 times then toss that blade.  After 1979-1981 everything seemed to go to disposable razors and it wasn’t easy to find the double-edged blades any longer.  I was fine with that until the prices started to increase to the point that it almost seemed like the industry was seeing how far they could go.  I bought a 12 pack of cartridge blades for $27.  That’s over $2/cartridge, with materials that are obscenely below that price.  I decided it’s time to make things I’ve learned in history useful to me.  I’ve decided to go with double-edged razors (safety razors).

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In the above photo are the three models I’ve used so far.
From left to right, Weishi butterfly razor (chinese model), MyLifesDesign Minotaur razor, and a 1930’s/1940’s Gillette Tech razor (USA).

I wasn’t too terribly happy with the Weishi, honestly.  It’s priced on par with other razors that are far better, so I’ll chalk it up to a newbie learning thing.  The Gillette Tech I was pretty happy with!  It firmly held the blade, and the angle was just right.  The difference is I’m shaving my scalp along with my face, so I needed heft/weight along with a deeper angle.  That’s when I decided to go with the Minotaur, which I have to admit was well worth it.  The weight allows the blade to control itself and hold it’s body down in the hair follicle as the head runs through.  This allows more hair to be removed per run, which makes it easier on the skin.  It also felt more controllable when out of view, since I could “feel” it in my hand more.  It definitely takes hand control though, as  you can quickly cause devastation if you do not control the blade motion.

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Using a shaving brush and shaving soap in a shaving cup, the lather that I use makes Barbasol shaving cream seem barbaric and expensive.  One bar of soap will last 150-200 shaves (head and face) without any issues, and above all is about luxury and ritual.  Your face and hair is yours, treat it better than anyone.  It took me probably 3-5 times of trying before I found the smoothest way to shave, but now I’m baby bottom smooth.

The razor blades I’ve gone through so far are Gillette Silver Blue, Astra, Personna, and a couple of korean & chinese models.  Gillette Silver Blue is rough but does a great job on the face.  Astra is less aggressive and took 3-4 runs to clear my head.  The Korean & Chinese models were sharp but not very clean cutting.  The last one I’ve used is Personna which is made in USA and it’s clean cutting and smooth.  I’m going to try a couple of other models as well like Voskhod, but so far Personna is where I’m staying.

EDIT February 5st 2016:
I tried a sample of the Voskhod blade and I have to say it’s amazingly forgiving on the scalp.  I’m learning how to control it and get the most out of it, but the teflon coating seems to really help with not scratching up the skin when ran across too harshly.  The downside is it’s a Russian blade, but I can get 100 of them through ebay for about $10.

Getting back into bicycling

Since my motorcycle accident in 2007, I’ve been unable to really get back into bicycling due to healing of muscles.  I’ve been moving a lot more progressively over the last 3-4 years, and found myself missing the freedom and fun that comes from bicycling.  I used to ride to/from work between 2005-2006 (20 miles each way) and it made me feel alive inside.  It’s hard to meet that cardio workout and enjoy it, like I did with bicycling.

Since I have knowledge of components and such, I felt safe buying a used Trek that has been very well maintained.  It’s a 2005 Trek 1000 SL, and I’m extremely happy with how clean and issue-free it is.  The only thing missing is a portable Presta air pump which I’ll pick up soon.

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After taking the time cleaning the socket, chain, and aligning the seat, I took her out for a first ride.  I quickly found out how much I have to work on, and my need for locking pedals.  My body has degraded quite a bit since I rode last in 2007, so I have lots of cardio to work on.  Yesterday the best I could do was 2.16 miles in 10.35 minutes.  I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, but if I don’t then who will?

My short term goal is to get locking pedals/shoes and slowly work my heart back to where I was before.  My long term goal?  To be able to strap on a heart monitor and ride anywhere… like I did before.  There’s more than health at stake here, it’s ego and self esteem.

Dell SonicWall NetExtender on OS X El Capitan

I’m sure there are quite a few people in the world that have ran across the same roadblock I did.  Updating from a previous version of Apple OS X, and finding you are not able to use Dell SonicWall NetExtender to connect to their work’s VPN connection.  I held off of updating until yesterday, and hit that a much needed time.  I figure I’ll share an easy fix to those that need it.

The El Capitan version brings more security, and a filesystem protection layer.  This gets in the way of changes that NetExtender needs to do in order to clean itself up for the new version.  To get around this, you can reboot your computer and when you hear the Apple boot chime, press command-R.  I don’t know if you hit it once or hold it, as by very nature I hold it until the screen appears.  What will come after a bit is a recovery mode OS X.  Go to the bar at the top and select Utility -> Terminal and type “csrutil disable”.  Then select the apple icon in the upper-left and reboot.  Once your system is back up, start the NetExtender as you normally would, and attempt your login.  It should prompt you for an administrator login to make the changes as it’s doing so.  Once that’s done, it will connect and you can disconnect and close out.  Reboot, and once you hear the Apple startup chime again press command-R.  Once you are in the recovery mode desktop, on the top bar select “Utility” then “terminal” as last time.  Type “csrutil enable” to enable the filesystem protection once more.  Then, select the apple icon in the upper-left and reboot.  You should be good now.

Some people have said that they needed to change the permissions of /usr/sbin/pppd but I have not needed this.  It looks like El Capitan is automatically placing pppd into the wheel group, and adding a suid bit to it to allow it to do what it needs to do.

Thanks, and have a great one!

Sockeye Salmon Sous Vide

Being a single guy, it’s never easy to make “gourmet” foods for dinner since I’m not one to put an hour of my time into food making when I’m the only one who is going to eat it.  This makes having diversity at dinner time a little rough.  I’ve decided in the last few months to try out sous vide.  It makes cooking almost idiot-proof, honestly.

I have a thing for fish, but I also have an issue with needing to handhold it’s cooking and preparation.  Add in sous vide, and BAM.  It’s so easy to make a good quality sockeye salmon, and the timings not an issue.  When I buy the salmon (and other fish, as well) I cut it into serving size and store in quart size ziplock to freeze.  When the time comes, I pull the bag out and pour about 1/2 cup of olive oil in as buffer.  I then pick and choose my spices which usually is a mix of thyme, a small touch of soy sauce (at times cayenne powder), a small bit of onion powder, and that’s about it.  I then lower the bag into the water up to the ziplock seam and close it.  This evacuates the air from the bag without needing to use a vacuum sealer. Then I swish the bag around a bit to get the sauces mixed, and make sure the sous vide cooker is set/prepped to 135 degrees.  Toss the bag into the water, and set a timer for 45 minutes.  Boom, done.  Afterwards, I simply empty out the olive oil.  If I wanted a firm skin, I’d seer the fish, but I don’t so that’s it.

I’ve done this many times now, and each time with different spices.  It makes for a great and easy dinner where I can take 2-3 minutes out of my time and prep things, letting the sous vide do the rest of the work.

I’m going to start doing my breakfast with sous vide soft poached eggs and other foods.  Side dishes as well, which should be simple with the temperature of the fish and the length of time.

Here’s to experimentation.