Bamboozled: PACT Organic

9 months ago I started this blog because I wanted an excuse to buy stupid shit on the internet. I didn’t really have a goal in mind, I just wanted to buy a cool belt and I wanted a new thing to write about, so here we are.

It’s become something more. I have, literally, tens of readers chomping at the bit for me to buy random stuff, and then drone on about something unrelated for a few paragraphs until I finally describe the thing I bought. My only real rule is that I stick to the theme: I buy things that are advertised on social media. I expect these companies to be mostly Online Only, and mostly standalone sites: I don’t really review things I buy on Amazon, for instance. And I’m generally not clicking on a Macy’s ad, because that’s not interesting to me, or you.

So when I come across a company I’ve never heard of, and they’re selling T-shirts, which I always want to find the best of, I generally pull the trigger. I want to tell you that I’ve found the perfect shirt. I need to get that information to the fans.


I found PACT Organic on a Facebook ad. Their shtick is that all the cotton used in their clothing is from Fair Trade, Organic farmers. Neither of those things are super important to me, but it’s hard to be against any of that. I searched around their site, and I found the one T-shirt they sell, a crew neck. I ordered quickly: It was only $15.99! That’s not even on sale! This is the cheapest item I’ve ever purchased for this site. My bank account thanks you, PACT.

On order, it asked if I’d like to donate a dollar to the Organic farmer movement (the charity had a name, I don’t remember what it is). Since this shirt was so cheap, I went for it. If organic farms mean I get T-shirts for half what I normally spend, then organic farms it is.

I ordered this one:


I realize now that this color is Heather Grey. When I bought it, I thought I was buying a light blue shirt. Looking back at the website, it even says Heather Grey, which means I’m just an idiot who can’t read and doesn’t know colors.

The shirt arrived incredibly fast: I ordered Saturday, and it was at my front door Monday. Completely unexpected: I didn’t even buy faster shipping. Opening the box threw me off a bit, though. Not just the color, but the packaging. It was in a box that was made for retail: UPC code, Hang tabs, everything. I’m not used to this. I’m used to getting a bag with a shirt folded up in it, and maybe a letter from the CEO thanking me for the purchase. Instead I got a PACT bumper sticker and a flyer for a way to get free socks. Why doesn’t this add up? What is this company?

The shirt itself was very soft, but fit oddly. The neck was far too high for my taste, the shoulders didn’t fit right, and it hung weird. It’s more of an undershirt, and not a particularly comfortable one. I don’t want to bash the shirt for everyone: my body shape just didn’t match what this shirt was throwing down. I’m sorry to say that this is the first time (on this blog, at least) that I returned an item that I bought. It was cheap, but cheap isn’t free, and this shirt was no good.

They gave me a refund, but did not return my dollar donation. I think the shirt is just a way to trick people into donating a dollar to organic farmers. That’s fine: keep fighting the good fight.

I was at Whole Foods the next day (yes I shop at Whole Foods, it is very convenient for me), and happened to walk through the weirdo section with Bath Bombs and Homeopathy water or whatever. I saw a familiar item: THE SHIRT I JUST RETURNED. I could have just picked one of these shirts up on my next quinoa trip. I was thrown for a loop. Bamboozled. I don’t believe I fell for this ad. I thought this was a cool new internet startup ready to turn the world on its head. I’m a fraud.

Turns out you can also pick up the Mushroom Coffee at Whole Foods if you want. What am I even doing here? I’m no better than the weird older cashier with the braided beard. He probably has better insights.


The Man in the Mirror: BeardBrand


Remember that scene in the matrix where Neo notices he doesn’t have a socket in the back of his head when he’s plugged into the Matrix? I’ve thought about that scene a lot in the past 18 years. I don’t obsess over the movie*, but it’s a really interesting idea. In the Matrix, you are what your brain projects you to be. Whatever your brain thinks you look like, that’s what you see, and feel about yourself. It’s a really crazy premise to wrap your mind around; especially because it turns out it’s true in real life as well.

I’ve read some studies that say that the person you see in the mirror each morning isn’t you: It’s your brains projection of yourself. I mean obviously not entirely, as you’ll see zits even if you didn’t know about them before. But the overall self image (am I fat, skinny, attractive, hideous, etc.) is all about what your brain thinks about itself, and it will hide or change certain imperfections in order to maintain it’s world view. It’s one reason why you tend to look different in pictures than what you think you look like, and one reason you hate listening to your own voice on that Podcast recording you’re practicing for.

This is getting vaguely intellectual. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t picture myself as a guy with a beard.

I haven’t used a razor on my face in a few years. I still subscribe to Dollar Shave Club, but that’s mostly for other toiletries and my fiance’s legs. I either use a beard trimmer or nothing. However, in my head, I’m still baby-faced. The beard is just a phase**. It’s not that I don’t see it in the mirror, obviously I do, but it took me a while to realize that when people see me for the first time, they categorize me as “bearded guy”. It still kinda weird to wrap my head around, as to me, I’m a guy just trying out growing a beard to see how it feels (for the last few years).

While coming to grips with my new self-image, I was watch Binging With Babish on YouTube. If you haven’t seen this channel yet, I highly recommend it. It’s a cooking channel where he makes recipes from TV, Movies, and even Video Games. Anyway, on a behind the scenes episode he answers the question of how he has such a full, illustrious beard, and he mentioned that he uses an assortment of beard shampoos, softeners, and oils. Realizing that my beard could also use some filling out and extra style, I decided to pursue some products of my own. So that’s how we got here.

I had heard of BeardBrand on Reddit a while back, and I know from there that they had an appearance on Shark Tank, which is that one show with the investors. I don’t watch a ton of TV, but as a consumer of entrepreneurial products, it is an interesting concept to me. The owners of BeardBrand are fairly active on Reddit, and even have their own subreddit, /r/beardbrand. Am I going to post this there? You’re god damned right I am.

First hurdle was what to order. I’m no beard expert. You don’t need to be a mechanic to drive a car. I decided that I’d like my beard to be softer, and so beard softener seemed correct. And that is supposed to be used along side beard shampoo, so I got that too. A cleaner beard can’t hurt.

Second hurdle: what scent? Should I match scents? Does Lumber Yard match with Tree Ranger? I have no idea what any of these things smell like. The internet needs scratch and sniff technology. I decided to go with the same scent, Tree Ranger, for both products, because that seemed to be the best way to not screw this up.

The products are a bit pricey. I paid 11 dollars for each 2-ounce bottle of this stuff, plus shipping. That’s about the same price per ounce as Johnny Walker Blue.

Basically Beard Shampoo

Granted, you don’t use much of it per wash, and the 11 dollars should last you quite a bit longer than a bottle of whiskey lasts in front of your alcoholic uncle Carl.

I received the products a few days later, and started using them the next day. The biggest thing I can say is these things are POTENT. When I got out of the shower my fiancé could smell me from the next room. It’s a good scent, I very much like the smell of whatever a Tree Ranger is, but it will knock you back if you’re not ready.

After a couple weeks of use, the fiancé says that my beard feels softer. It’s hard for me to tell. I can say that I’ve felt more comfortable letting it grow out, and so it is definitely fuller. I think I made a mistake in not also ordering beard oil and balm, which are used to moisturize and style the beard. I was under the impression that it would grow in and look great, and while it’s okay looking, it’s a bit puffy. I feel like I should style it like I style my hair now.

Fuller, but frizzy

I got a chance to meet up with the BeardBrand founders here in Austin, TX. They sent out an email, presumably to all their customers that live in or around Austin, that they were going to be in town, at a bar, and that we should come meet up. So we said “why not?”, and went out to Weather Up, which is a bar on the east side. They have good drinks, it’s nice. Go.

I didn’t actually talk to them, though. I did notice the bearded guys sitting in the corner booth, but it was an awkward place to walk up and introduce yourself. They all would have been at crotch height: I didn’t feel comfortable. I’m awkward. So we hung out at the bar for a bit, gave my card out to a guy we ended up conversating with, and then left.

All in all, if you’re looking for beard products, I would recommend the BeardBrand line. I don’t have a ton of beard products to compare them to, but these seem like good ones. I’ll probably try out the beard balm and oil next.



Four Sigmatic Follow Up

I just want to do a quick follow up on my Four Sigmatic review. I originally bought a 30 pack of the Mushroom Coffee with Lion’s Mane and Chaga. I feel like I was a little harsh in my original review (I called it Dirt Coffee a few times, if I recall), so I figured I’d let you know the rest of my experience.


It’s been a few weeks now, and I’ve drank this at least once a day, to the point where I’m just about out of it. I did this because I wanted to not waste 39 dollars, but also that it felt a bit different, and I wanted to see if it was a placebo that would eventually wear off. Obviously, the stuff still has coffee in it, so there is a mild caffeine hit, but I do get a more calm, cool-headed feeling than I get from energy drinks. This could be due to the fact that I cut my caffeine consumption down to 1/5th of what it was. There’s not a huge drop off in energy levels, either.

The stuff has eventually grown on me. I haven’t had an energy drink since I started drinking it every morning. This is a big deal, as I’ve basically lived off the things for years. This stuff really works. I won’t lie, I do tend to grab a cold-brew coffee in the afternoon, still, but that’s mostly out of convenience: I’d drink a second cup if I didn’t have to boil water, and then wait for it to cool down enough for my sensitive lips.

I liked it so much that I just ordered more: 40 servings of the Lion’s Mane, and then another 40 servings of the Cordyceps type, which is supposed to have more energetic properties.

Use that discount code until maybe they’ll give me my own! (They won’t)

It still doesn’t taste great, to me. Honestly instant black coffee isn’t great either. But it’s effects are worth it, in my opinion. I’d really recommend giving it a shot.


On Motivation: Four Sigmatic

If I had to guess what the most popular blog post topic was, I’d guess it was motivation. It’s probably the most popular book topic as well. People who buy self-help books are always looking into how to keep moving forward towards their goals. It can’t just be hard work, there’s got to be a secret to it. And anyone successful has got something to say on the subject. “You’ve just got to push through the wall”, they say, laughing maniacally. “Use my proven system to keep ‘Getting Things Done'”, or “you have to learn ‘The Power Of Habit'”, or even “you need to automate your life to have the Four Hour Workweek you’re dreaming of”. I’ve read (or, at least, listened to on Audible), a bunch of these books in the past 8 months. I’ve learned quite a bit about different systems and methods for staying on my game. And I can say conclusively that I know how the rich and successful stay as motivated and high performing as they do.

It’s drugs, guys. It’s always been drugs.

That’s not to say that these systems don’t have merit. Training yourself not to waste time surfing the internet, or to just do things that take less than two minutes right now, are definitely good tidbits and will help you manage your time better. But no one’s doing all this without stimulants of some sort. Everyone’s got their favorite. For Wall Street Bankers and Instagram Models, it’s cocaine. Mine’s the tried and true caffeine.

And when I say favorite, I’m not lying. I drink an extraordinarily unhealthy amount of caffeine per day to get myself through my day job. I generally drink two of these per day:

Sweet nectar

Each of these Rockstar Energy Drinks has 240mg of caffeine in them, and so if you do the math, and add in the other shots I get in from other sources, I’m taking in over half a gram a day. And the worst part is, I get home and I’m still tired. Probably from my heart racing for 8 hours. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor. But I went to one and he said that’s almost certainly the reason.

So I was listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast, because he talks a lot about what successful people do in their lives, and I want to hear them spill the beans that they have some cool new Limitless drug. They never bring up the drugs, I think it might be a faux pas. But he does advertise some drugs, specifically Mushroom Coffee from Four Sigmatic. The ad basically says that he drinks it, it’s changed his morning routine, it’s got less caffeine, and keeps him going all day. That sounds promising.

So, I threw down the 39.99 plus shipping to get a month’s supply of Mushroom Coffee. That’s the smallest amount you can get, and I was a little uneasy about that. I kinda wanted to just buy like…one? It’s probably better that I got 30, and I’ll get to why a little later, and shipping 1 packet of instant coffee is probably not economical. I get it. But fear set in after I did this.

I hate mushrooms. They’re disgusting. What am I doing for this blog? Like is this even entertaining? Tim says it still tastes like coffee. I don’t even drink coffee.

So shipping said it was going to take a week, but it actually showed up 2 days earlier. Happy Birthday to me. So I got home from work, heated up some water, and gave this thing a try. Lets get MOTIVATED.

The orange cup is full of water for when I want to throw up because I ingested mushrooms

So, first thing, when you open the packet, it smells vaguely of dirt. Like, not an overpowering stench, not unbearable, but it’s definitely there. Instant coffee doesn’t always smell the best either, so I moved forward.

The first taste…basically dirt again. Like, I don’t eat dirt, but putting this stuff in my mouth is basically what I imagine having a mouthful of dirt tastes like. It’s oddly easy to ignore the taste, though. It’s not good, but it’s like 7 ounces of water and some dirt, and you can get through it.

So, the effects are decent. It acts basically the same as caffeine, though I don’t get jittery and I feel more comfortable sitting down for longer. This might be (read: probably is) a placebo effect. I’m okay with that, lets ride this crazy train out. I sometimes have a problem where I can’t sit still, probably due to the mountain of caffeine in my system at any given time, and this doesn’t make me feel like that. It only has ~50mg of caffeine in it, rather than my normal 240mg.

I’ve continued drinking the dirt coffee every morning for the past week. It keeps me going ~4-6 hours, basically wearing off around lunchtime. I grab a High Brew or something for the rest of the workday. I’ve effectively reduced my caffeine intake from 500+mg per day to less than 200mg, and I don’t really feel any worse for wear. I don’t necessarily get the rush of energy that I’m used to from the Rockstar, but a consistent awake and energized feeling for several hours is pretty nice. I haven’t noticed any real changes at work, though I have felt more inclined to get up and do things at home.

So what’s the active ingredient in this stuff? Well, after reading the package, I can tell you it’s made from Chaga and Lion’s Mane, two mushrooms harvested from Finland forests, and…Arabica coffee. I could probably get the same effect from just drinking instant coffee. Maybe I’ll try that as a control.

So, would I recommend this? I mean…I’m still drinking it every morning. It doesn’t taste good, at all, but I might buy more. We’ll see how long I can ride out its effects. I’d say give it a shot.