Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Save when you Shave - 20 December 2011

I remember vividly the first time that I shaved. I was watching my father shave his well lathered face with a Gillette double edge razor. That razor is much like the one I used today.

He reached into the medicine cabinet and extracted a small 2 inch by 4 inch by 1 inch box. The box was garishly black, red and beige the colour of the cardboard it was made from. He gave me the box and upon opening it found a small razor, just like my Dad's but light blue in colour, a box of safety blades and a small bar of shaving soap wrapped in wax paper.

My father lathered up my face, stood me in front of him so we could both observe while I tried the new razor. It was a wonderful event that I will remember forever.

Of course, I was standing on the edge of the sink in front of my Dad, the razor was blue plastic, the blades were cardboard and I was 5 years old. That was 55 years ago, 1956 ...... and it was again this morning when I stood in front of my mirror and shaved.

Shaving is something that most men used to have in common. Not so much anymore. I shave the same way as my Dad did, although for several years I used a straight razor. I don't use a straight razor any longer as my eyes require eyeglasses to see close enough and I refuse to wear glasses when I shave so I have reverted back to the trusty double edge razor.

I don't understand why people use electric razors, I just don't get it. You don't get a clean shave, they are noisy, cause ingrown hairs to many users and are of dubious hygiene.

Nor do I understand why men spend over $3 per blade to have a wet shave with the latest multi-blade gadget and use expensive but crappy canned shaving foams.

I used the outfit below to have my shave this morning.

The cost for the first year is: $20 double edge safety razor, $23 boar bristle shaving brush, $1.35 lathering bowl, $10 for 50 razor blades and $20 for the wonderful Vitos shaving cream. Total - $75 plus tax.

But the cost for your second year is only $10 for 50 razor blades and $20 for the wonderful Vitos shaving cream - $30 for a year - or about $0.60 sixty cents a week - less than 10 cents a day.

The mass marketed super duper multi-blade scenario is, at one blade a week, not including anything but the blades, about $3.60 - that is 600% the cost of the system that I use. What utter nonsense to purchase such crap and waste your after tax money. I have better things to do with the $150 dollars a year than to give it to marketers and their henchmen while getting a crappy shave in the bargain.

It should be clear to the reader that I decided a long time ago that since I need to shave daily, I might as well enjoy the activity. So to that end, I rotate between brushes, 3 at the moment. A $25 Semogue 2000 boar brush, a $100 Simpson pure badger "Duke" and a very over the top custom Thater 2 band silver tip badger - the replacement cost for which I refuse to disclose on the grounds that it might, er will, incriminate me. All 3 of these brushes are a joy to use and are of the type suitable for face lathering, called fans.

By the way, when you are soaking your brush before shaving, use warm water, not hot as you will shorten the lifetime of your brushes appreciably if you use hot water.

I also rotate between various shaving soaps and creams. I am fond of almond scented soaps. I have a few others like the really wonderful menthol and eucalyptus scented Vitos cream. My normal rotation for soaps and creams are the wonderful Cella 1kg. brick, the Vitos 1kg. brick, and the Vitos 500ml. cream. The bricks will each last about 2 years when used daily and the Vitos cream tube is good for about a year. The costs for the Cella brick is about $40, the Vitos brick around $25 and the Vitos cream about $16.

I have several shaving bowls for soaking my brush and then making the lather. I have a large custom made scuttle by Robert Becker of Texas, a German apothecary style bowl, an older soap holding English style scuttle by Mason which has a cake of hard soap in it, which was new when I purchased it and a $1.35 ceramic rice bowl. I usually use the $1.35 rice bowl. There is nothing like shaving with fresh warm lather.

Double edged razors and razor blades are usually of very good quality today and when compared to disposable razors, very inexpensive to use. Currently, my preferred razor combination is a $20 butterly opening Weishi razor in gunmetal finish and the $17 pack of 100 ASTRA carbon blades. The razor is not aggressive and the combination works well for me, without my eyeglasses.

I also keep a stptic pencil on hand if I nick myself, which happens but very rarely. They can be purchased for a few dollars at every drugstore.

So there you have it. That is what I use and I suggest that the men out there give wet shaving a try. You can start by using your current multi-blade razors and buy a good boar brush, rice bowl and shaving soap and you will be on your way to enjoying what for most is a chore - the morning shave.

We are lucky to be living in Ontario as we have some very reputable sellers to purchase all of the shaving related items I have mentioned . I can safely direct the reader to both of these sites, Fendrihan and The Italian Barber for their shaving needs.

Monday, December 12, 2011

BABH Charity Lunch N'Brunch at Niagara College - 12 December 2011

I have been impressed with the work of the students in Niagara College's Bachelor of Business Hospitality (BABH) program as can be seen in this post so when I was told about their upcoming Lunch N'Brunch, I asked if we could purchase a few tickets and attend. The answer was "yes" and so off we went for a lunch.

We had previously asked a BABH student (Stacey) if she would be open and able to take one of our video cams and video some of the goings on in the kitchen. She sought  permission and then agreed. Thanks Stacey for the behind the scene insight.

This was a graded event for the students so I was delighted to see the video showing the students enjoying their activities. In my experience, this is in no small part due to the attitude of their instructors. Good, calm instructors create a good, calm environment and the students echo this.

So we sat down for the luncheon. We were seated with an interesting family of 8 who were there supporting the cause and their daughter / granddaughter / sister / neice. Nice people having a good time.

 It is nice to see students actually doing something with their hands and heads, actually creating something and putting their product out for consumption and criticism. Here is the video and stills from the event. 

Bouche - Smoked Salmon
1st Course - Local Butternut Squash Soup

1st Course - Classic Caesar Salad
 2nd Course - Vegetable Lasagna

2nd Course - Chicken Supreme

2nd Course - Roasted Striploin of Beef
Dessert - Creme Caramel
Dessert - Carrot Cake
Some Attendees, Students and Staff 
 I would like to thank the staff and students at Niagara College for inviting us to the event and for a very enjoyable meal and experience.

The students are welcome to use any of the material in this post to further their culinary careers. I wish them all the best in their professional futures.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Open House at Linda Crago's Tree and Twig - 4 December 2011

It started out cloudy and raining when I left St. Catharines to visit Linda's Open House at her Tree and Twig Farm. I entered the hoop house where the people were gathered and where the temperature was warmer than outdoors.
Then the sky cleared and the sun shone. Outside the temperature quickly rose to 13C (55F) and the hoop house became a summer like 23+C.

There were home made jams, pies and art pieces made by Linda, friends and neighbours. I put a dent in the inventory and I have to tell you, the blueberry pie is fabulous.
Linda took visitors on a tour of part of her farm and explained winter growing in her hoop houses. Joey the pig was in good humour but it is obvious that he doesn't like dieting - at all.
All in all, a good time was had by all. I encourage every one of our readers to get to know the people who grow your food and support them.
Community is not just a word, it is a lifestyle. If you live in the Niagara Region, participate in the community, your life will be much richer for it.
Linda, thanks for the inviting us, see you in February for the seed sale.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Late Fall at the St. Catharines Farmers Market - 3 December 2011

It is a beautiful fall day here in the Niagara Peninsula. So this morning I decided to head out to the Farmers Market and just walk across the street the St. Catharines Library main branch.

There were Carollers

The market was very busy and people other than food stuffs, the shoppers were gathering Christmas season related items.

 The colours of the plants were very festive

People should get out to their Farmers Markets and take in the ambience. Reality sure beats "Reality TV".

Thursday, December 01, 2011

A new term for the Canadian lexicon - "Hollow State"

It is time to insert a relatively new term into the Canadian lexicon. That term is "Hollow State".

Unknowing to most, this is a question being asked by many Canadians and non-Canadians although they don't ask the question directly but rather obliquely as most people haven't yet added the term "Hollow State" to their lexicon and they certainly won't be hearing it on the mainstream media.

First let me define a "Hollow State" in the political context. A "Hollow State" is a state which is generally considered to be a state that has the appearance of a properly functioning democratic nation. The state / nation has democratic elections, government laws, rules, regulations and standards. It has a agencies, police, taxation, ministries and a military.

Unfortunately what is doesn't have are the aforementioned acting in the best interest of the public but rather supporting the interests of autocracies, dictators, oligopolies, special interest groups and kleptocracies. The penultimate outcome of the hollow state is usually a corrupt totalitarian or dictatorial rule that exercises strict control of the public through  various governmental means. The ultimate outcome is violence.

So is Canada becoming a Hollow State? I would argue that it is well on its way to becoming one. And before I get bombarded with accusations of being anti Mr. Harper et al, let me say that this did not come about under Mr. Harper's watch. It is merely continuing under his watch.

It is going on in almost all, if not all, governments in this country and others. National, provincial, territorial, municipal and arguably tribal governments are all undergoing the processes that lead to a hollow state.

We see the Occupy Wall Street movement and wonder why they cannot offer a focused message. Their lexicon is lacking, what they are really complaining about is the emerging hollow state that is tangibly affecting their lives but their inability to name the situation properly is causing them trouble - It is the Hollow State issue.

More to come .......

Comments are welcome.