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😉

Yerba Mate

Being geeky and explorative has it’s plus sides.
I was trying out different types of teas one by one, and ran across the type of tea called ‘mate’.  For the most part it’s included as fusions with other teas, such as “Java Mate”.  In fact, that’s how I was introduced to it.  I purchased “JavaVana Mate” from Teavana because I wanted a tea that was like coffee.  When I was at Teavana I tried a sampling and fell in love with the idea of an alternative to coffee but with the texture and consistency.  Unfortunately, it seems that Teavana has discontinued JavaVana Mate, but I ran across Churchill Teas ( and they carry Java Mate.  Different, but the same basic concept.

I thought about it for a bit — I should try the base ingredient in these types of teas, and see how they are.  I started reading about mate tea and realized it was a whole world of it’s own.  It was then that I discovered “Yerba Mate” (MAH-tay).  It’s a tea, but it’s a class upon it’s own and a culture wrapped around it.  It’s fairly prominent in South America (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, etc etc), and I’ve always been interested in their cultures.

Yerba mate is chopped from a plant named… yerba mate.  From there it’s processed into it’s final form which is smoked/unsmoked, stems and leaves/only leaves, and various other alterations.  It’s a huge thing in South America, more prominent than the coffee industry in North America.

On to my exploration of it.  Before I go too far, I just want it to be known that during my time drinking yerba mate I have felt far more concentration and clarity.  It does help me with energy but in controlled ways, not like caffeine.  I’m integrating it into my daily regimen.  It’s culturally drunken from a gourd carved out and cleaned/cured/dried.  They’re pretty small actually, about palm sized.  I bought one online, cured it with yerba mate  moistened for 24-48 hours.  To drink from the gourd, what’s known as a “bombilla” (bomb-isha or bomb-bee-a) is used which is basically a wooden or metal straw with a filter at the tip.  After that, I filled the gourd halfway with yerba mate and shook it upside down to get the dust towards the top.  After, I gradually tilted it sidways and removed my hand, tilting back a bit more until the yerba mate was piled against the wall just stopping at the top lip of the gourd.  the gourd is called a mate, as well.  The bombilla is inserted into the gourd from the opposite side of the pile, the tip penetrating the pile and resting deep against the wall of the mate gourd, inside the pile of yerba mate.  Then, a little water is poured over the pile with the mate gourd a little tilted to allow the pile to be more horizontal… letting the water concentrate on the pile itself.  This is to dehydrate the yerba mate a bit, and to stiffen up the pile and allow it to be more steady.  Allow the pile to soak for 2 minutes, then slowly fill the cavity with water 150-165 degrees fahrenheit.  Let it soak for 30 seconds to a minute.  There you have it!  The picture below is completely filled up, actually after 4-5 fills.  You’ll notice the pile is more spread since it’s hydrated and much larger… and buoyant!


This was my first mate gourd & bombilla, purchased through GoYerbaMate. (  They also offer a free sample of one brand of yerba mate with every purchase, which I used to try 2 other types.
After the mixture has been drinked, it can be refilled with hot water many times.  The taste is the key indicator of when the yerba mate has been fully milked of it’s nutrition and taste, but usually beween 5-10 fills.

So far, I’ve tried 4 different brands of yerba mate, purchased through Amazon along with GoYerbaMate.  So far, my favorite is Rosemonte Especial which is a stronger smokier flavor.  Oddly, I found it to be smoother than the other three I’ve tried so far.  The three I’ve tried so far are Guayaki traditional organic, Nobleza Gaucha blue, & Taragui traditional.  I purchased a couple of others to try as time passes.  (Amanda, Rosamonte traditional, & Union BCP)

I’ve realized quick the gourds can be a bit of a pain, since they are plantl ife and if not cleaned/dried properly they can mold.  (which can be taken care of but that’s not the point)  I went to Etsy ( and purchased a ceramic gourd with a thick lab glass bombilla which handles quite a bit better in the work environment.  The glass also doesn’t absorb heat from the water which is very nice.  At the base of the glass bombilla is a spiral of silver cord to act as a sieve as the water slips between the cords through pores in the glass.  I’m impressed actually, very impressed.

I have a 24 oz thermos full of hot water from the break room coffee machine every morning, and use that through the day to fill the mate gourd.  Thankfully most of my time is at my desk performing UNIX/Linux duties.

As with all things in this world, it can be used in ways not culturally accepted but still okay.  Yerba mate can be used as a normal tea as well, but with different potency and not the same absorption of nutrients.  Thus it’s inclusion into Java Mate and other fusion mixes.  Some people even treat it as a sun tea, basking it in the sun while immersed in water for hours.

Wilkinson Sword Razor Blades

Today I tried a Wilkinson Sword brand razor blade, one of the many different styles that came in a sample pack.  I was having high hopes since I’ve heard good things, but for my use it wasn’t that great.  It was sharp, but it wasn’t smooth and was rough across my scalp.  Even on my Feather razor, the Wilkinson Sword cut through the skin twice.  I was not impressed for my particular use.  It was good for face shaving, though.  I still prefer the Feather brand razor blades, however.  The search goes on for something as good or better.

Keep in mind, this wasn’t the Wilkinson Sword Classic, simply the non-Classic.

Feather AS-D2 counter holder

As I was shopping around for my razor, I was not satisfied with this significant price increase for the brand of feather razor that had a counter holder with it. (AS-D2S).  So naturally I purchased the model without the counter holder, saving approximately $50-$75.   To me was the task to get a holder of my own.   I’m not the kind of person who likes cheap looking things, and that’s one of the reasons I did not go with the feather brand one.

Shopping around for holders in general was a little bit of a disappointment pricewise, since most are in range from $30-$60.   Soon actually it meant  I needed to get one of my own without the title ‘counter holder’

Measuring the dimensions of the handle shows that it’s almost exactly the same as a 44 Remington Magnum shell.   There are gages available that are used to validate 44 Remington Magnum she’ll dimensions.   Almost all of them are made of metal and I are of a decent weight.   So, I went and looked around in all of them are a very decent price, ranging from $22-$30 a piece.   Quite a few look like they are very industrial looking, with a Knurled surface surrounding almost the entire circumference.   Not quite good-looking when used as a razor holder.

The two that I chose between that both look very nice are named ‘shooters box’and ‘Dillion’s precision’.   I chose shooters box primarily because it was two dollars less I was purchasing, and it was on Amazon which means that I get it delivered that weekend.


With a polished (not chromed)  Service, this made the razor look great when mounted inside.


This also opened up a lot of horizontal space around the razor so that other items could be place without cluttering the area.   It may look like it is just holding it from tilting left and right, however there is an inset surface on the inside that suspends the razor from touching the surface below.   There is also no  lateral movement of the razor with in the gage, due to its near exact sizing.

The price when I purchased it was $22.95. Shipping was free due to prime membership.

To keep this fair, and to show which other one I was choose from, this is the Dillon precision 44 magnum case gage on eBay –

Here is an image they have on the page, which will show a little bit of a difference in Polish and such.



New stainless steel safety razor!

I changed from cartridge razors to double edged safety razors a couple months ago due to price and how it takes so much to shave with cartridge razors due to clogging and needing so many passes to cut hair.  I started inexpensive with a cheap Weishi brand razor and a bit later bought a 1940s Gillette Tech razor.  I needed more weight due to shaving my scalp, so I picked up a Minotaur brand.  I’ve used that one for a couple months with many brands of blades to test.  I finally settled.

I decided it’s time to go luxury, so after exhaustive research and testing of blades I went with a Japanese brand… Feather.  Their blades are a bit more expensive but are amazingly accurate and sharp.  I used it on my Minotaur and I didn’t even get one nick on my scalp.

I’ve also decided to go with their razor, as well… The AS-D2 model.  They are a lot more expensive than ordinary razors, but with as much hair as I remove from my body (head, face) on a daily basis I believe it’s worth every penny.


After handling many varieties of razor, when pulling this one out it felt solid.  Not super heavy though it’s a good weight, but the stainless steel body feels like its indestructible.  The slots in the head hold the blade perfectly with no need to align.



The blade sits in the head in a very mild fashion.  This makes shaving with the Feather AS-D2 razor a whole new world.


I used this razor for the first time tonight, and I’ll be honest I’m in love.  Using the Feather brand razor blades that came with the razor, I shaved my head and my face after lathering with shaving soap.  The first thing I noticed as the angle of shaving is much steeper (45+ degrees), so steep it’s almost like shaving with a cartridge razor.  The next thing I noticed was the almost effortless feeling it was to shave with this.  Unlike the other safety razors I’ve used, I did not feel any of the razor tracing along my skin and hair was just disappearing off my scalp.  Granted, I washed the blade very often.  I also noticed that I didn’t need to be so cautious about the razor runs and doing random cleanup traces here and there.  After my first pass, I was able to re-lather my head and wet my other hand to feel along my head for any hair spots to shave them down.

Without any effort, my scalp is baby butt smooth.  Of course my face is as well, but I don’t have a thick beard or anything so it’s just touch-up.
I really wish I had put out the extra cash and bought the Feather AS-D2 razor before.  I know why I didn’t, as I was new to safety razor use and learning.  I’m extremely happy.

EDIT 4/5/2016
I have tried several different razor blade brands with the Feather brand razor, so far.  The brands I have tried so far are:

  • Feather
  • Voskhod
  • Gillette Silver Blue

Since I’ve only had the razor for 5 days, that’s more razors than I’d normally use.  I put 3-5 shaves through a blade, normally.  I would normally choose Voskhod as my selection, but with this razor the Feather brand works beautifully smooth!  There is a surprisingly huge difference between Feather brand razor blades and the rest of the brands so far, when used with this Feather AS-D2 razor.  The cuts are smooth, and sometimes I just can’t tell it’s cutting until I see the hair disappearing.  It definitely has a sharp edge though, and is to be respected.

EDIT 4/12/2016
I ordered another set of razors to try out, and I’m actually happily surprised by these.  I picked up a 100 pack of SuperMax Blue Diamond titanium coated double edged razors from eBay for $11.44 (free shipping, from Turkey).  Made in India, distributed by a business in the UK.


They came in a dispenser box full of 5-pack razor paks.  I tried them out tonight, and surprisingly it felt just a little bit less smooth then Feather brand but very close!  I shaved my scalp with 1 day of growth, so I’m going to leave the hair grow for 2 days to see what the quality is.  With Feather razors, even with 3-4 days of growth I just need to make sure it’s lathered well and it carves right through without skin irritation.


Let’s see how the SuperMax do with that much of a workload.  To be continued in 2 days…

EDIT 4/14/2016
After 2 days of hair growth, I tried out the SuperMax Blue Diamond razor again.  It feels almost as smooth as the Feather razor blade (almost…), but it wasn’t nearly as sharp.  It took 3 passes plus touch up with the SuperMax, while Feather brand usually has touch up on the 3rd pass.  It’s still a respectable blade, and I’ll continue to use it when I’m not using Feather, Voskhod, and other brands.

The next blade I’ll be testing is Rapira Platinum Lux which I purchased recently.

EDIT 4/16/2016

I used the Rapira platinum lux razor blade tonight, and honestly I wasn’t impressed by it.


Sure, it was smooth in the respect that it didn’t dig in and cause cuts, but it wasn’t sharp at all.  I did 3 passes, and even with touch up after the 3 passes I wasn’t able to get baby butt smooth skin on my scalp.  It worked great on my face, but then again that doesn’t require a great razor to do.

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.


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 (
1x 10 oz bottle of vegetable glycerin (
1x 32 oz bottle of aloe vera gel (
1x 12 oz 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!