Sunday, December 18, 2011

Razor Sharp

I heard several months ago that gently tapping my razor (Gillette Mach3) on a cloth about a dozen or more times after each shave would help extend the razor's "life." The theory is that by removing the water from the blade, you reduce the likelihood of rust and corrosion. I can't say I've ever seen any of those blades become rusty--mostly because I think they are stainless steel to begin with. Nonetheless, they do become dull.

I shave about 5 days every week, and one blade lasts about 3 months (yes, 3 months, not 3 weeks). So I thought I was getting a pretty good return on my money to begin with. Just today I was at Costco and priced the blades--they had a 24-pack for $48.00, or $2.00 for each blade, or about 0.67 cents per month.

A couple nights ago I decided to search the internet for other ideas to extend razor-life. First I looked on Youtube. I decided to summarize what I found, in order to have a single reference to share with others when this subject comes up.

The advice can be broken down into a few main points:
  1. Preparing to Shave
  2. Daily Maintenance of the Razor
  3. Weekly Sharpening

Preparing to Shave
I'd never really given this process that much thought. Like most guys, I learned to shave from watching my father. He never really gave that much instruction on anything in my life--he was more of a "just do it" sort of person. So after decades of shaving, I finally learned that even getting ready to shave can help extend the blade's life. First, put a drop of oil on the blade (I use olive oil). Even though most blades come with a lubricant strip, this step helps the blades glide easier over the face. I apply it by putting a drop or two on a plate then putting the blade face down on the plate.

Second: After applying the shaving cream to your face, do not immediately start shaving. Instead, wait about 1 minute to allow the shaving cream to soften your face and stubble. You will get a much smoother shave by doing this and also reduce the stress on the blades. (By the way, putting gobs of cream on your face like they show in commercials is completely unnecessary. Commercials do that both for dramatic effect and to get you to thoughtlessly waste product so you have to buy more. Applying a thin layer is plenty. If, after waiting the minute, the cream has started to dry out, merely put another thin layer on your face, and then start shaving.)

Daily Maintenance of the Razor
Drying: As I already mentioned, gently tapping the blade on a cloth (I use just a typical facial cloth) will help remove most of the moisture. One video I watched recommended putting the blade into a bag of rice because the rice will draw out any residual moisture. It works but that means you need to come back later to apply the oil. It just is not convenient. So tapping dry is better for me. 

Protecting: After the blade is mostly dry by tapping on a cloth, once again apply some oil to the blade. The oil will dispel any residual moister and preserve the blade.

Weekly Sharpening
First off, you do not have to do this until you first start noticing your blade becoming dull. After it comes dull, this will extend the life of your blade at least another month, maybe more. It can be used with any blade, including the use-once and discard blades such as the ones pictured here.
This video recommends using jeans to sharpen the blades. I thought this was a hoax but realized I had nothing to lose by trying it. Surprisingly it does work. In fact, the blade actually seemed to give me smoother shave than when it was brand new. Another video recommends merely using your own arm to sharpen the blade. I tried it and got razor burn on my arm. I wouldn't recommend it, but maybe it won't irritate your skin.

(Updated 2011-1226)

Friday, December 9, 2011


As noted in another post this month, I love public speaking & teaching. My Speaker's Storyboard idea addresses that need but at times my creative interests take other directions. For that, it would be nice to have a large whiteboard but they are too expensive and somewhat ugly in a home environment. I needed something that was less imposing.

I started searching Youtube for ideas and searched on "homemade whiteboard" and "makeshift whiteboard." The first one returned more results.  Here are my findings, hopefully, if you are looking for an inexpensive solution, these will be of value to you too:

First take a stiff piece of cardboard, the size of regular paper. Glue a sheet of paper on both sides. Slide the whole thing into a sheet protector, you can write on the surface of the sheet protector using dry erase markers and then easily wipe them off. Since sheet protectors typically have holes for 3-ring binders, you can place multiple mini whiteboards in a binder.

The next is for much larger projects. Perhaps you've seen the costly solution of static cling roll of whiteboard sheets. An alternate and much cheaper solution is to use cellophane. I priced it at my local Walmart and it was only three dollars (US). Here's a video made by the guy who first proposed this idea.

Another surface that I discovered all by myself is the hard plastic that encases most small electronics. That plastic is also used in selling other products. Recently I bought a shirt & tie combo that came encased in the plastic. I cut off the large front panel of the box, adhered a piece of white paper using double-sided tape and used it.

Here are some other fixed and semi-portable solutions:

I also discovered the following quite by accident.... I hesitate to post a link because it may not be available to you, however, at my local Home Depot, in the paint department, they have something called whiteboard paint. Essentially, it is paint that dries to become a whiteboard on whatever surface you apply it to. It was about $20. (FYI: They also had chalkboard paint, but that is nothing I'm interested in.)

Finally, here's an idea that does not use dry erase markers. Instead it uses Washable Markers. These are typically marketed as children's activity tools but they are useful as markers for a whiteboard concept. I use them on the back of my bedroom door to draw out ideas. After I am done, a damp cloth cleans the surface without any discernible residue--if left only for a few minutes. If you need a copy, take a picture using your phone or a dedicated camera.

So there you have it. Everything from a small portable whiteboard (using a sheet protector), to a much larger surface and you don't have to spend a fortune to get it.

Always Learning--Speaker's Storyboard

Every year I despise TV programming just a little more.

It started when I was in my late teens (late 1960's) while I was watching a rerun of Star Trek (the original TV series). I began to sense that it was all mindless & useless. Every once in while I'd find something that was mentally stimulating but, like foods you find in a grocery store that are later discontinued, those shows usually disappear. For a while I liked programs featuring the sciences. But lately, most of that seems to focus on UFOs, and now "USOs". And how does EVERY episode end?.... "We really don't have any hard evidence, we may never know in our lifetime." So, while many refuse to believe in the Bible which has tons more evidence than UFO research has, it almost seems you'll find more people "believe" in UFOs.

So, I turn off the TV. Once or twice in a month I'll find a movie that my wife and I enjoy and we'll record it and watch it I don't have to put with another mindless feature-commercials.

So at age 60 what in the world could possibly be left to learn? Plenty! I enjoy public speaking. For several years (on and off) I was a member of Toastmasters, which is an international organization dedicated to helping professionals develop their speaking skills. I am also active as a religious teacher/tutor. Learning how to teach effectively, so as to keep the student's interest, is an art-form in itself. Of the various "hats" I wore at AT&T, one of them was the officially designated instructor in a group of 200-400 people. It was during that period that I came across Nancy Duarte's books, "Slide-ology" and "Resonate." (These books are available on Amazon.)

I am the sort to pick books apart (figuratively) and piece them back together in a way that becomes a helpful reference for me. Although nothing that she wrote was new, it was very inspiring. With it, I started pondering afresh something I've struggled with for years--is it possible for speakers to use the concept of storyboarding ( in quickly fleshing out a speech? I am happy to say that it is. Although what I named the "Speaker's Storyboard" is nothing like the original concept, the end result--that of being able to quickly conceptualize the progress of a speech--is the same.

Here is what I did to create this storyboard:
Get a large posterboard. The color doesn't matter, but a single flat-color is easiest on the eyes. Using MS-Word's textbox feature, I created several small "tiles" that I printed on regular paper and then affixed them to the posterboard. I divided the posterboard into 3 main sections. The bottom section, which is used first, I have tiles for "facts, reasoning points, illustrations, experiences and other bits of info. I placed these tiles as headings across the bottom-3rd of of the board. Then, when developing the speech, I use one sticky-note for each piece of data. If I have 3 facts, I make one sticky note for each and place it under the "Fact" tile.

The top-3rd of the board is for the actual speech development. The 3 main tiles there are "Intro, Body, Conclusion." The "body" section gets the bulk of the top of the board. To use this section, I first review all the tidbits of sticky-notes I accumulated and look for two or three main points to drive home. I write those main points on separate sticky notes and place them under the body section. Based on those, I now know exactly what I want to teach the listener(s) and therefore I write the conclusion. Then, having the conclusion in mind and the main teaching points, I start moving all the tidbits from the bottom of the board under the main points. If a tidbit doesn't fit, it doesn't get moved up. Finally, after seeing the speech unfold in front of me, I write an introduction to raise the audience's interest and anticipate the points I want to convey.

(In the middle section, I've reproduced some graphical illustrations that demonstrate the development of a speech that touches peoples imaginations and hearts. These are mere mental joggers and only intended keep me (the speaker) focused on the creative process.)

As a personal challenge, once a week I prepare a speech, whether or not I am assigned to deliver it. This keeps my mind sharp and enjoying an artform (speaking) that can refresh the minds and hearts of others. You will find two of those speeches in this month's (Dec.2011) blog writings.

So, TV can continue to dull the senses of everyone else (like the people in the animation WALL-E), but I for  one, treasure this brain of mine and will continue to challenge myself to use my pastime for learning.

See also:

Addendum 2014-0605
I finally got around to creating a couple videos to show the actual storyboard I created. I divided this into two videos. In the first video, I show the actual storyboard and explain its features. In the second video, I explain the auxiliary information on the backside of the storyboard.

Pictorial-Composite Sign

If you look at any road close up, you will find minor flaws and yes, even inconsequential pits, even small potholes that any modern car tire can easily drive over. Now if you were driving along and someone yelled out "POTHOLE!" what would you expect? Something inconsequential. No, there has to be a reason for the warning--its because it is big enough to cause concern. And all of a sudden the car goes buh-bump!

The same goes for the warning that Jesus gave regarding the composite sign of the time of the end. Please turn to Luke 21:11 to notice a few of the mentioned elements about the Sign.

(Luke 21:11) and there will be great earthquakes, and in one place after another pestilences and food shortages; and there will be fearful sights and from heaven great signs.

We'll concentrate on just two of the elements, earthquakes and pestilences.

Are the earthquakes that we are experiencing now more frequent just because we have better reporting and recording? With the increasing discoveries of ancient writings from all periods of times and all corners of the earth, we are discovering that our ancient forefathers were just adept at recording details as we are. So, looking at 1914 as the see-saw pivotal year, lets look back from that point a period of 2,000 years. How many GREAT earthquakes were recorded? And by GREAT, I mean those measuring 7.5 or greater or causing 100 or more deaths or devastation  costing more than 5 million dollars. How many? 865, or, less than one-half earthquake per year. Now, lets look at the other side of the teeter totter. In just 69 years (report I looked at went up to 1983) since 1914 there were 605 major or great quakes. That is an average of 8.8, yes, nearly 9 major quakes a year. So from 0.43 (or less than one-half) to almost 9 is a monumental leap.

What about pestilence. In just the Spanish flu which took 20 million lives by conservative estimates and up to 100 million lives due to residual effect (based on the figures you'll easily find on the internet), that is substantial figure.Do you know anyone that was affected by the Spanish influenza? I do. My own grandparents. Yes, my mother's parents both died as young adults when she was about 3 years old. But how many is 20 million people? Well, presently, California's last census count was 37 million people. So you were to kill 2 out of every 3 people here in California, you would have the death toll of the Spanish flu. Bringing it home, reflect that today there are a little over 7 million Jehovah's Witnesses earth-wide. If all of them were to suddenly die, that would only be one-third of the people killed by the Spanish Influenza. But it is not the only pestilence to have struck since 1914. With increasing frequency, new strains of old diseases are popping up. On top of that you have cancer, AIDS, and other problems that have plagued modern man for decades. Some in the medical field feel it is only a matter of time before another major issue arises. Indeed these are difficult times hard to deal with.

So size, duration, increasing frequency, impact on human life, all of these are part of that Sign, just as noteworthy as is a large pothole. But there is one more thing that people minimize the importance of. While it is true that pestilence and earthquakes have always existed and are stand-alone events in themselves, what Jesus foretold was a composite sign. To illustrate, have you ever seen images like these that are made up of dozens of smaller pictures?

Mike Phelps:


Each picture is like the separate elements in Jesus Sign, each is a stand-alone picture in itself. However, Jesus wasn't talking about that. He was talking about the big picture that all those events combine to form. So, what you are supposed to see is not the individual images of this swimmer in various swim positions. You are supposed to see the gold-metal winner. Likewise, what people are supposed to see regarding Jesus' sign is not the individual events, but that they are part of a much larger picture marking a particular time in history.

So don't loose faith or hope friends. Even though the faithless people in this world try to discourage you with talk that the potholes of life's troubles have always been with us, we know that Jesus was warning us of something much greater than a typical pothole. This is major buh-bump! Hold on. The ride will only get rockier as Jehovah carefully drives us into the new order.


Reference: Other samples of composite or mosaic pictures (Google search on keyword phrase: "mosaic pictures")

Armageddon-Act of Love or Hate?

Index of Blog Articles

The article below considers the premise that the God who gave us our brain and power of reason is Himself also intelligent and reasonable.

Picture this--You own a set of condos on prime ocean-front property in Maui. Recently one of the tenants has stopped paying rent & the other good tenants are complaining that the bad one is littering the grounds & harassing them. You've taken all preliminary steps to correct the situation but you are left with no alternative, drastic action is required.

Which of these seems most reasonable to you?
1. You evict the bad tenant in order to restore peace in your condo community.
2. You evict all tenants, then burn down all your condos & get bulldozers to level the land.
3. You move the remaining good tenants to another location and leave the bad tenant where he is.

Which did you choose? All property owners I know would choose the first option. But why would I even suggest the other two options? They are so completely absurd that no one in his right mind would even think of such a thing. And you know what, you'd be right. But as absurd as it sounds, the last two are what some religions teach God will do concerning this earth.

Yes, concerning the 2nd choice, evicting everyone & burning it all down, some religions teach God intends to destroy the earth & everything on it at Armageddon. Never mind the time and investment God put into this planet. Never mind that God looked down and saw that everything he made was good. Never mind that even to this day scientists cannot find another planet like it. They want to believe God will destroy this gem of a planet. Yet at Isa.45:18 we read that God did not form earth for nothing and Ps.37:29 says it will be inhabited forever by mankind.

What about the 3rd option, moving the good tenants elsewhere & leaving the bad tenant behind? One version of the rapture teaches just that. All good people will go to heaven but the bad ones will be left on earth, implying that earth is a punishment. They don't bother to think that if God wanted everyone in heaven, he would just have put them there in the first place--just like he did with the angels. It just doesn't make sense and is completely opposite of the clear and simple declaration at Proverbs 2:21-22, which reads: "For the upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it.  As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it."

So the wicked are the ones leaving the earth, not the righteous. But the wicked aren't going to heaven. They are being cut-off, put to death, "That's all folks," ding, ding, game over; the wicked just got k.o.'d. Yes, just as our first option indicated, the wicked are evicted not just to remove the wicked influence but because God wants to bless those who are loyal to him. Again, notice Proverbs 2:21.

But what does it take to be considered an upright one? While Jesus was still walking the earth, he was approached by what appeared to be a sincerely honest young man. He indicated he was following the spirit of the Mosaic Law and asked what more he should do. When Jesus recommended that he demonstrate his full and complete reliance on God by divesting himself of his material wealth, the young man went away dejected because he didn't have that strong a faith. Similarly, when one of the congregations that Jesus counseled in Revelation had become complacent, lukewarm in their service, Jesus said he would vomit them out of his mouth. Truly, indecisiveness and halfhearted devotion are unacceptable.

So let’s review. We know the earth we live on is not the target of God's anger, nor is all human life threatened with extinction, just the incorrigibly wicked that refuse to humbly submit to God's rule. Also, we learned that the destruction at Armageddon is not the end but only a means to an end--that of returning the earth to God's original purpose. Armageddon is not an act of hate by an angry God, but an act of love in behalf of his loyal ones--to bless them with a peaceful life. (Revelation 11:18)

Do you want to be a tenant in God's paradise earth? Then seek righteousness, seek meekness, probably you will be concealed in the day of Jehovah's anger.


(Psalm 37:29) The righteous themselves will possess the earth, And they will reside forever upon it.
(Psalm 37:34) Hope in Jehovah and keep his way, And he will exalt you to take possession of the earth. When the wicked ones are cut off, you will see [it].
(Proverbs 2:21-22) For the upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. 22 As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.
 (Isaiah 45:18)For this is what Jehovah has said, the Creator of the heavens, He the [true] God, the Former of the earth and the Maker of it, He the One who firmly established it, who did not create it simply for nothing, who formed it even to be inhabited: “I am Jehovah, and there is no one else.
(Revelation 11:18) But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time for the dead to be judged, and to give [their] reward to your slaves the prophets and to the holy ones and to those fearing your name, the small and the great, and to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”