Advice?

Change Is In The Air

Sometimes, you just get tired of doing things the way you have always done them.

Sometimes, you realize nothing will change if you don’t have the guts to risk something hard.

Sometimes, you’re just tired.

Change is in the air. Not something as simple as moving the furniture around the living room, going to bed earlier to get more rest, or working out more to lose some weight. No, this change is intended to put my (our) family and future in a better place.

Sure there will be people who say it isn’t smart, or wise. There will probably even be people who say I’m (or we’re) stupid for even trying. But, what about those people in history who didn’t listen to the people around them, even the ones they respected and looked up to the most? What if those people never made a decision to step out and risk something in order to get to something greater? Where would we be without them? How different would our lives be then?

So, for now some encouragement to take hard, positive steps and make harder long-term decisions. In the end, the road may be long but anything worth having is worth working for, right? At least that’s what our parents told us when we were kids and wanted something right NOW. Time to put those words into action and see if mom and dad were right…oh, and they were. I am not where I am today without listening to them once in a while. However, we need reminders of these things once in a while and now is as good as any.

There is more to come…

PS: If you needed some encouragement today to do something hard, then you can take some from me. You’re welcome!

Dollar Shave Club: Review

The old adage holds true: “You get what you pay for.”

Let’s face it, we all probably spend a lot of money each year on shaving supplies, from handles and razor blades to shaving cream and aftershave. There are all sorts of different choices out there and sometimes trying to decide can be rather difficult. Do I just go cheap and get the basic stuff or do I spend a little extra and hope it doesn’t tear my face to hell like the cheap stuff?

Not only do these things get used on our faces, but our wives often have similar needs to us. Only, they use the products on their legs and other parts…so they like to have their own tools too. If your wife is like mine, she probably goes through blades like crazy and it gets rather expensive when you are spending $20 (maybe more) a month on titanium blades (or some other advertised rendition).

So, we have seen the advertisements from and about DollarShaveClub.com. They were entertaining, somewhat irreverent, and a bit tongue-n-cheek catchy. We started to talk about a possible solution to our monthly hair removal expense. This seemed like a good idea so we went to their website. We looked at the different models and decided that we should not go for the cheapest one, but opt for the middle option because we didn’t want it to be TOO cheap.

As you can see, there are three options: “The Humble Twin,” “The 4X,” and “The Executive.” The $6 a month looks like it is fairly affordable. With an additional handle, another $4 at the start, we thought we were set to go. We were thinking for less than $80 a year we wouldn’t need to do anything else when it came to shaving equipment. Plus, it is delivered so no shopping needed!

So far that plan hasn’t worked yet. We have been subscribed to this service for less than a year and already we have spent more per month, on average, than anticipated. While it still might be less than we would be spending on more pricey razors, the product lives up to its cheap billing. Durability is an issue even with “The 4X” handle AND the razor heads too.

The Best Laid Plans

Once we received the initial shipment my wife was excited to try out the new razors right away. She had been waiting a few days for it to arrive. On the second use of the razor head the thing started to fall apart. It appears to be a problem with construction and materials. It’s plastic, so I guess that is to be somewhat expected. However, the piece that broke should be designed to be more durable than it is.

Within the first week after getting the newly delivered razor heads, two were broken. Both broken in the same manner and in the same place. This doesn’t seem to be a coincidence, rather poor construction and design. The razor handle is inserted and attached at this point. It slides in and “grips” the piece that is hanging out in the picture below. A weak piece of plastic at the point where the two main parts of shaving components come together. If this part is going to break on a regular basis, then there is a problem in design for sure. (Or is there? Maybe that is all part of their evil plan in this “disposable world.”)

A very thin, piece of plastic that takes a lot of pressure.

A very thin, plastic piece which breaks easily.

Needless to say, this was a rather disappointing start. The actual blades themselves seem to be fine but they don’t last through more than about 4 uses. The blades do clean out fairly well and don’t clog up much so that is nice. There are a few redeeming factors of the cheap(ish), middle group razors but that’s about it.

Unfortunately, the handle for this particular set of razor heads hasn’t fared much better and again falls victim to poor design and cheap material. In the case of the razor handle, on the surface it appears to be pretty “beefy.” It is made of solid metal and has a rubber coating/handle on it to make it feel substantial. But, the feel and appearance fall apart, quite literally, where the handle and the razor connect. The plastic that is supposed to contain the pivot point also happens to be its weakest point.

LEFT: broken   -   RIGHT: not broken

LEFT: broken – RIGHT: not broken

Because this tiny little plastic piece is the only piece that keeps the razor head from over rotating, it has to take a lot of pressure from the razor as it slides across the surface of the skin. Seeing as how it is thin plastic and that it is just barely attached to the black plastic “belly” of the razor handle, there is no way that it can withstand long-term usage. As such, we have now had to purchase four of these handles and the third purchase has already suffered this similar fate as the first two. That doesn’t give us much hope for the fourth handle.

I am not involved in the production and assembly of these things but it seems like a fairly easy fix. The bottom part of the razor handle (as seen in the photo above) should be made of metal. This point in the functionality of the razor is vitally important because the pressure from the razor head is constantly on it. The little plastic piece is not the best way to keep the razor head from over-pivoting. Once it is broken out, the razor has to be used in a very awkward position to make it still functional. Obviously, this is not ideal and makes it very difficult to get an acceptable shave.

Final Analysis

The Dollar Shave Club, on the surface, offers an affordable and convenient approach to buying shaving equipment and accessories. The affordability is hard to pass up when you are constantly having to buy this stuff at even big box store prices. Not having to think about making a trip to the store on a regular basis to buy this stuff is rather convenient because you sign up for an automatic shipment each month and it comes straight to your mailbox.

While the product may still be more cost-effective in the long run (that still remains to be seen), the functionality and durability of the product can’t be overlooked. Both pieces that get used on a regular basis, the razor head and handle, have some rather obviously glaring weaknesses making the product only marginally worthwhile. Until these weak points are addressed and fixed to make the products more durable, the Dollar Shave Club can only be deemed moderately affordable. Unfortunately, affordability is what they are selling and it doesn’t hold up under real world usage.

FINAL GRADE:  C+

Writer’s Block

By Alejandro Escamilla

Every day that goes by, I watch more and more posts being published by the blogs that I follow or that come across the feed on “Freshly Pressed.” Every day I wish I was putting something new out there too. It isn’t that I don’t have any ideas, that’s not the kind of writer’s block I am talking about. I am talking about the writer’s block that keeps me from actually being able to sit down and WRITE. You know, things like a job (in my case two), kids and family, house and yard, sleep, commute time, time to unwind from all those other things…the list seems endless.

One of the difficulties I have found about blogging is that the things I like to write about and the way I like to write take time. I like to talk about “real things” and not just put stuff out there because it will generate a few clicks here and there. I want stuff of substance! But, what I am finding is that in order to do that I like to have blocks of time to be able to focus on it. I like to include research or references to support what I am saying (is that the teacher in me or just good practice?). I like to write with the flow at the moment, not just in bits and pieces since the cohesiveness in thought tends to be lost somewhere along the way. I keep ideas in my “queue”, if you will, but then when I go back to them I am not sure what my thoughts were at the time or feel like I have lost the intention of the idea.

Am I taking this blogging thing too seriously? Do I care too much about what I write and how I write it?

How do other’s handle this sort of writer’s block and still feel like they are producing something worth reading? How have YOU addressed this issue?