The 2020 Election

My ballot for the Democratic primary arrived by postal carrier last week. I sat the large envelope next to my computer as a reminder to vote and send it back in time to be counted among the few blue voters in Utah.

The 2016 election feels like a decade ago. Each election season the candidates tell us this year is the most important election in the country’s history. I guess that’s how it goes, but was the 2000 race between Bush and Gore more historically significant than the 1980 race between Reagan and Carter? Who knows.

What I do know is that the 2020 election feels important for a number of reasons. Gas prices are low, as is unemployment. Economic indicators look pretty good, especially if you can afford to invest. We might at war in the Middle East, but it doesn’t feel like we are at war, and that’s important. The biggest threat to the country might be the coronavirus.

I’m not a Trump fan which should come as no surprise. I used to follow the nonsense in Washington D.C. a lot more than I do today, but it became exhausting and depressing. Tuning into Maddow used to be part of my nightly routine. While I still admire her work, I refuse to add more Trump news into my life than already sneaks into conversation.

So I finally opened my ballot and ran my finger down the list of candidates. I didn’t recognize some of the names. I just barely started spelling Klobuchar correctly. All summer, I was learning toward Warren, and she remain the only candidate I’ve supported with my wallet. I read up on Pete and liked what I found. Biden has never connected with me. And neither had Sanders until recently. Bloomberg? The former REPUBLICAN mayor of NY? No.

One of my favorite shows on TV is The Weekly on FX. I watched the episode where the NYT interviewed all the Democrat candidates in preparation for their sought after endorsement. Based solely on those interviews, I came away most impressed with Klobuchar and Warren. The NYT happened to endorse both candidates. And while both have shined in the debates, neither has a clear path to the nomination and little momentum heading into Super Tuesday.

I stared at my ballot for a few minutes. With whom do I align with the most? Which candidate annoys me the least? Which seems the most presidential? Which one will tell Moscow Mitch to go to hell every day? But it really came down to one question: Which candidate do I believe can beat Trump in November?

I voted accordingly.

Defending Utah

I find myself defending Utah every now and then.

But the more I think about it, Utah doesn’t need a lot of defending.

We have a number of majestic national parks. We are an educated group. Most of our schools are a safe place to send your kids. Residents can drink the water without getting ill. We have lakes and streams and forests to both hunt and fish.

Have you skied the powder in our mountains? Have you driven through the red rocks of southern Utah? Or hiked Angel’s Landing at Zion? Have you dropped a ski at Pineview Reservoir?

The people I hear making fun of Utah probably haven’t visited many states outside of Wyoming or Idaho.

Yep, we have some strange liquor laws. Sometimes the dominant religion puts its thumb on the political scales. The air isn’t great around the Salt Lake area during the winter months, and you will drive behind a lot of minivans and big ass trucks.

But hey, have you been to other states?

Favorite Product of 2019

I didn’t purchase a lot of new technology in 2019. I replaced an aging HP printer with an HP OfficeJet 8035 printer my kids use to copy and scan and occasionally print. I wanted to update our AppleTV with a newer model but can’t justify the $150 price tag right now. My Windows 10 PC is starting to act sluggish when I have more than a couple of browser tabs open and try to launch Adobe Acrobat or Photoshop. But for the most part, between my PC and my MacBook Pro, I can perform the tasks I need to for work and play.

A few months ago, my daughter bought AirPods. She loved them immediately. My son followed with his own pair a month later and told me used them every day. So for my birthday, I bought myself some AirPods and figured I could return them if they didn’t impress me.

If you’ve owned wireless headphones or earbuds, you know that Bluetooth can be finicky. My Jaybird buds mostly worked once connected, but switching them between my iPhone and Mac wasn’t as easy as it should be. But they worked for the most part, and I enjoyed them for a couple of years. I never really got used to how they sealed off my ears from outside sounds.

My AirPods have become one of the best Apple products I’ve ever purchased. I use them every day, on my Mac and my iPhone. The only place I don’t use them is while at my PC because I have a Turtle Beach headset there that works well for making calls or joining conference calls.

Like most Apple products, AirPods just work. I open the case and they immediately connect to my device. The tiny case keeps them running for about 20 hours total, or about 5 hours per charge. The ubiquitous white buds fit my ears well and stay in place surprisingly well. They also sound great for earbuds. I highly recommend them.

The Gift to Not Believe

One of the things I’m most proud of as a parent is giving my children the gift to believe or not to believe.

It will be their choice either way. They won’t be forced to attend the same church I was raised in. I like this quote from Richard Dawkins:

It is a remarkable coincidence that almost everyone has the same religion as their parents and it always just happens to be the right religion.

Children naturally gravitate to the belief system of their parents. Whether your parents are Catholic, Buddist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Mormon or one of the nearly 4200 religions around the world, there is a good chance the religion you believe to be true will be the same one your parents believe to be true.

If our children want to try out different churches, they are welcome to do so. Even though I don’t believe in God, I will encourage them to learn as much as they can about the people, history, and doctrine of any religion they consider joining.

Man-Made

I didn’t drink coffee until I was into my mid 40s.

Same goes for beer or any type of alcoholic beverage.

I was told what color of shirt to wear to church. I was told what type of activities I could join in on Sunday. No swimming because Satan controls the waters!

R-rated movies were discouraged.

When I decided to have a vasectomy, I was supposed to consult with my local bishop.

For over 40 years I thought God made the rules and it was my responsibility to follow them. I felt incredible amounts of guilt when I failed.

Until I realized it was all man-made.

God doesn’t judge me if I have an Americano with cream. He doesn’t care how I spend my time on Sunday or what I wear.

If there is a God I bet he cares more about how I treat others than if I’m wearing the right underwear.

I had followed rules created by men.

When I allowed myself to act outside these artificial restrictions I began to think for myself again.

And as for God? Man made him too.

The Trump Crime Family

Something in American politics changed this week.

A CIA agent finally blew the whistle on the Trump Crime Family who has taken up residence in the White House.

watergate

The tapes brought down Nixon. No, Nixon’s own words on the tapes brought down his presidency. We might have a similar situation where Trump’s own words result in his demise.

But something changed.

A person in a position of authority spoke up. He or she saw corruption at the highest levels of our government and submitted a formal complaint that neither Trump nor his cronies can bribe to make it go away.

We are still in the early innings of this political saga. Grab some popcorn and take a seat. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Shaving Revisited

A while back, I described my early experience learning to wet shave. I got to the point where I was mostly happy with my shave. I could complete my shave without too much blood and my skin felt soft afterwards, but I still struggled to find an even shave across my upper lip and especially my neck.

So I’ve gone back and forth, testing a number of razors, creams, gels and blades over the past four years, and I realize that each method takes some practice. Some more than others, but each handle and blade has its own learning curve.

Talking to friends and a few readers who emailed me their favorite shaving products, I’ve come to realize there is no best method for everyone. What works for me, may not work for you. So with that said, I’ve narrowed down my list of favorite shaving products.

Gillette Mach3 – This is the best handle and blade for my money. The 3-blade systems is easier to navigate around my face than the more expensive 5-blade Gillette Fusion models. The Mach3 isn’t as easy to use out of the gate as the Fusion, but with some practice I get as close a shave with the Mach3 as I have with any blade I’ve tried. You might see a “Power” version of the Mach3 that vibrates, but skip it. It’s made of cheap plastic and won’t last as long as the simple metal handled version. ($7 with one blade)

Proraso Shaving Cream – It has a hint of menthol but not enough to overwhelm. It lathers up nicely and doesn’t require a shaving bowl like some fancy creams. I feel like I just stepped out of a barbershop after using Proraso. ($10)

Taylor of Old Bond Shaving Cream – If Proraso has the feel of an authentic barbershop, then Taylor of Old Bond makes me feel like I stepped out of a luxury bath. This is a more dense cream compared to Proraso, but it smells delicious and a little goes a long way. I rotate between these two creams. ($12-$17)

Parker Synthetic Shaving Brush – You can get away using your hands, but I prefer applying shaving cream with this brush because it’s less messy and allows me to apply it evenly all over my face and neck. My brush has lasted over four years, and I plan to replace it at the first of the year. ($22)

Osma Alum BlockĀ – After I finish shaving, I wash my face with cold water and then rub this block over my face to close any nicks. Even if I haven’t nicked myself it stings a little, which I don’t mind. ($12 for 2)

Aveda Aftershave Lotion – It’s expensive but lasts a long time, and nothing I’ve tried soothes my face like it does. ($35)

One thing I’ve learned over the years that is that using a cheap shaving foam or gel isn’t worth the hassle and abuse to my face. Whenever I use a foam or gel my face pays the price so I will skip a day shaving before I use one again.

What are a few of your favorite shaving products?