Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for August 4th, 2012

First five surprise boxes ready

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Before I make more, I want to test the waters and make sure guys feel that they are getting good value. The boxes contain a variety of shaving stuff that I accumulated in the process of testing products so I could write about them in Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving; moving into a smaller place, I have to downsize considerably, so these surplus items must go.

I have 5 boxes, and I believe that the contents are well worth $20 plus $10 shipping (USPS Priority Mail Medium Flat-Rate Box). Contents in general include shaving soaps, pre-shave soaps, shaving cream, aftershaves, etc. Boxes are not alike—contents vary according to what I picked up. So there’s a certain gamble involved.

I packed carefully, with foam peanuts, but I imagine breakage is possible, depending on the handling. Again: a risk the buyer assumes. No returns; no exchanges.

On the whole, though, I think you will get good value and might well extend your shaving horizons in directions you like; at worst, you have some trading stock.

These first five will go to the first five who want them. Here’s the procedure:

Email me at to let me know you want to buy. I’ll then let you know whether a box is available and, if it is, my PayPal address. Shipments for this first sample are limited to the US (thus the $10 postage).

Once I receive payment, I’ll ship, and then I would like your feedback once you receive the box and inspect its contents.

UPDATE: All 5 boxes gone. Hold off on requests until next announcement.

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2012 at 10:41 am

Posted in Shaving

More on Meatless Monday

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According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a typical hamburger requires 4,000 to 18,000 gallons of water to make. And America is suffering through the worst drought since 1950. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, half of all counties in the nation are officially disaster areas — a situation that has devastated the country’s supply of agriculture commodities. Consequently, food prices are expected to skyrocket, and eventually, water-dependent power plants may be forced to shut down.

Taken together, those two statements (taken from the following article by David Sirota) suggest that having a Meatless Monday is a small sacrifice to make: a step toward a cooperative approach to meeting a cataclysmic catastrophe. But what happens when such a step is suggested in a minor, non-binding recommendation in an internal inter-office newsletter in the USDA?

Sirota’s article in Salon tells the story of the response—a response that seems totally divorced from reality, but was vigorous and loud and determined. From the article:

. . . Considering these numbers in juxtaposition to the drought, taking one day a week off from meat-eating seems like the absolute least we should be willing to do in a nation whose average citizen annually consumes an unfathomable 194 pounds of meat. And yet, in Washington, the USDA recommendation was a cause for outrage.

That’s right; upon the release of the USDA newsletter, lawmakers who have pocketed massive campaign contributions from the meat-centric agribusiness industry were out in force — as if the agency had declared war on the American Way of Life. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, called the recommendation “heresy” and pledged to “have the double rib-eye Mondays instead.” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told his drought-stricken constituents that “I will eat more meat on Monday to compensate” for the USDA suggestion. And Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, proudly posted a photo to his Facebook page showing a Caligulian smorgasbord of animal flesh that his Senate colleagues were preparing to scarf down as a protest against USDA. . .

Read the entire article, and note also that Congress failed to pass any measures at all to assist the drought-stricken farmers, in this story by Andrew Leonard, also in Salon. From that story, this chilling note:

. . . Conservative activist groups also opposed the House bill, on the grounds that farmers and livestock owners should have known better.

Seriously — that’s exactly the gist of a statement from Heritage Action, a congressional watchdog affiliated with the Heritage Foundation:

Proponents of the bill cite the drought’s impact on livestock — and the absence of livestock-specific disaster programs — as the principle reason for the aid package. However, the livestock-specific disaster programs expired in 2011, meaning ranchers knew that they had to plan for possible disasters, including drought … Not only does this $383 million spending bill extend well beyond drought aid for livestock farmers, it continues making farmers, ranchers and orchardists more dependent on government and bails them out for not adequately preparing for hardship.

I can appreciate the hardcore libertarianism inherent in the philosophy embedded in the Heritage Action statement. No bailouts, ever! If your farm fails, so be it! You can head off to California like the Okies before you. But I don’t think most Americans really want to live in that kind of country, and I think it’s absurd to imagine that in the few months that passed since assistance programs ended in late 2011, farmers could have been able to appropriately prepare for one of the two or three worst droughts in a century. . .

Many seem to have lost sight of the power of cooperation and mutual support. Benjamin Franklin, in the lead-up to the American Revolution, observed that “We must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately.” (Thomas Paine also wrote a statement along these lines.)

The United States today seems a house divided, groups unwilling to cooperate and provide common support. It’s a terrible weakness and great damage that we are inflicting on ourselves. No aid for the drought-stricken ranchers and farmers? If they do not survive, how shall we? Who in Congress is looking to the welfare of the country—the country as a whole?

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2012 at 8:31 am

Sports drink: A scam, but look at how they’re supported

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A network of financially interested groups pushes the pointless, high-calorie, expensive alternative to water. David Tuller reports in Mother Jones:

Just in time for the Summer Olympics in London, a top science journal has issued a blistering indictment of the sports drink industry. According to the series of reports from BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal), the makers of drinks like Gatorade and Powerade have spent millions in research and marketing in recent decades to persuade sports and medical professionals, not to mention the rest of us suckers, that a primal instinct—the sensation of thirst—is an unreliable guide for deciding when to drink. We’ve also been battered with the notion that boring old water is just not good enough for preventing dehydration.

I’ve been as susceptible to this scam as anyone else; I knew, or thought I knew, that if I’m thirsty after my half-hour go-round on the elliptical trainer, it means I was underhydrated to begin with. So for years I’ve been trying to remember to ignore my lack of thirst and make myself drink before working out. Not any more.

The BMJ‘s package of seven papers on sports performance products packs a collective wallop. The centerpiece is a well-reported investigation of the long-standing financial ties between the makers of Gatorade (PepsiCo), Powerade (Coca-Cola, an official Olympic sponsor), and Lucozaid (GlaxoSmithKline) with sports associations, medical groups, and academic researchers. It should come as no great surprise that the findings and recommendations that have emerged through these affiliations have tended to include alarming warnings about dehydration and electrolyte imbalance—warnings that conveniently promote the financial interests of the corporate sponsors.

And who knew there was something called the Gatorade Sports Science Institute? According to the BMJ investigation, “one of GSSI’s greatest successes was to undermine the idea that the body has a perfectly good homeostatic mechanism for detecting and responding to dehydration—thirst.” The article quotes the institute’s director as having declared, based on little reliable evidence, that “the human thirst mechanism is an inaccurate short-term indicator of fluid needs.”

Another study in the BMJ package finds that the European Food Safety Authority, which is authorized to assess health claims in food labels and ads, has relied on a seriously flawed review process in approving statements related to sports drinks. A third study reports that hundreds of performance claims made on websites about sports products, including nutritional supplements and training equipment as well as drinks, are largely based on questionable data, and sometimes no apparent data at all. One overall theme emerging from the various papers is that much of the research cited was conducted with elite and endurance athletes, who have specific nutritional and training needs; any such findings, however, should not be presumed to hold for the vast majority of those who engage in physical activity.

Critics have long blasted sports drinks as being loaded with calories and unnecessary ingredients. (Not to mention concerns about the environmental costs of producing, shipping, and discarding all those millions of plastic bottles.) Yet the product category represents a lucrative and growing market, with US sales of about $1.6 billion a year, according to theBMJ. In fact, Powerade is the official sports drink of the London Olympics, and Coca-Cola is hyping the brand with a campaign featuring top-tier athletes.

The BMJ papers address two related but distinct questions: Should people who exercise seek to proactively replace fluids lost, or can they rely on thirst to guide them during and after physical activity? And when they rehydrate, do they need all the salts, sugars, and other ingredients dumped into sports drinks, or is water fine? The correct answers are: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2012 at 7:52 am

Figaro & La Toja

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Another fine shave. The Mühle brush shown is one with a big, fluffy knot with enormous lather capacity. It’s soft on the face and is the type that was once—before shavers started taking into account how hard water acts against making lather from soap—was thought not to be a good “soap brush,” but with reasonably soft water it does a perfectly fine job of making lather from soap—efficiently and abundantly.

Figaro, though, is a shaving cream, though stiff and hard—enough so that I approach it as a soap, loading the brush at length directly on it. The bitter-almond fragrance is bracing, and the lather is quite nice. With the Gillette Slim Handle (gold-plated, so it’s an Aristocrat, I believe) holding an Astra Keramik Platinum blade, three pleasant passes produced a smooth face, to which I applied a splash of La Toja.

Another morning well begun.

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2012 at 7:43 am

Posted in Shaving

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