Reviews

Like, just, what…:Birddogs

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I consider Eminem a contemporary of mine. I don’t know him or anything, but just looking at the way our lives have progressed, we’re definitely following a similar timeline. “Oh ho!”, you scoff, “What could you and Marshall Mathers possibly have in common?”. Well, first, who says “Oh ho!”? What is this, Victorian England? Are you going to rattle on about the new-fangled steam engines next? That’s weird. You’re weird.

Second, we’ve got a lot in common. We’re both working hard every day to improve the rap game. He may have a bit of a leg up at the moment, but I’m dropping flows everyday in my bathroom mirror, just trying to make it work. It’s basically 8 Mile set in a middle class apartment in Austin, TX. But probably the biggest thing we have in common is neither of us have been Cleaning Out Our Closets since the early 2000’s.

Closet cleaning is a ton of tiny, agonizing decisions. “Am I going to wear this shirt again?” is a hard question to answer. Sometimes you have to be hard on yourself: you know that swirly spotted button down never looked good on you, and was never in fashion. But you bought it and therefore telling yourself to get rid of it is ultimately an affront to your character. Saying “those pants don’t fit anymore” is either giving up on your fitness goals or taking a risk that you won’t give up later. “Yeah it’s ripped and faded but I still wear it”…now you’re just being cheap.

And then once you’re done, you realize how little you actually had. I thought I was good on gym shorts (as, until recently, I didn’t actually go to the gym), but once I got rid of the ones that don’t fit and were horribly torn, I was down to one pair. Rewearing the same gym shorts every day might be illegal in some countries. So, it was to the internet to find some new ones.

I was originally going to get shorts from Mack Weldon, who I have reviewed before. Their products are high quality, but in the name of new experiences (and new blog posts), I decided to hit Facebook and look for an ad. The first site I came across was Birddogs. I didn’t know what I was getting into.

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This is the front page I was greeted with. I was in: finally a pair of gym shorts with a sense of humor.

Browsing through the “shorts” section, The shorts are all pretty much the same style, in different color combinations. Many are in short supply, with ship dates in the future or limited sizing available. These are clearly labeled, which is awesome, and much better than finding out after you order, ahem. One of the best parts about these shorts is you can order them in 3 different lengths. As a tall guy, the tendency towards shorter shorts in today’s styles has left me in some weird spots. Those shorts that end at your mid-thigh are covering my legs just past the ass. It’s embarrassing.

I chose the longest length in the “Chester Copperpotts” (The names are all ridiculous. The whole site is ridiculous). This ran me around $55 plus tax. This is about mid-range for gym shorts, I’ve found. The cheapest gym shorts at Dick’s is about $25, Lu Lu Lemon shorts are $70-80. The shorts arrived later that week. And that’s where things get a bit weirder. As I opened the box, I see this:

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And that is fucking hilarious. And then I kept opening the box.

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The inside has these ridiculous reviews. My favorite was on the right in this picture: “Hey guys I’m still waiting on shorts I ordered in Summer 2016. Each time I call they say they are literally shipping out next week”. I didn’t post all of them, just in case you want to be surprised by these reviews when you order yours.

The shorts themselves are pretty great. They have a liner, which I wasn’t quite expecting but is nice on the jibblies while running. The draw string is pre-crossed (I’m not sure how to describe this), so tightening the shorts doesn’t bunch up the waistband, though it’s a little weird tying them if you’re not used to it (you don’t need to do the first cross and pull of a bow knot: it’s done for you). The normal pockets are a good size for a large phone, and there’s also 2 zipper pockets for keeping your wallet or a small set of keys safe. These are perfect. Your wallet won’t be bouncing around when you are: it’s kept secure and tight close to your hip.

Overall: if you’re looking for shorts, I recommend these ones. I’ll probably pick up another pair sometime soon.

One more thing: The blog on birddogs.com follows along with the rest of the advertising: it’s absurd and doesn’t really follow along with trying to sell gym shorts. Give it a read, you might enjoy it.

Reviews

Coming Soon: More Stuff

I’ve been busy the past few weeks (months?) doing absolutely nothing for this blog. That’s about to change. I’m going to do things for this blog soon, and more consistently.

Get ready for me to buy more stupid crap and write about it. I think my next post is on some gym shorts. That should be riveting. You’ll pay for the whole seat but you’ll only need the edge.

Anyway, I appreciate all of you reading this. Especially you, web crawlers and malware surfers. The hits from India and The Ukraine make me feel like I truly have an international audience.

Reviews

Waking Up Is Hard To Do — Brooklyn Bedding

It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been trying to save some money recently, and as such I haven’t bought anything of note. The whole theme of this blog is around me buying stuff and reviewing it, and so…well you see the conundrum. I guess I could review my groceries each week. That’s a steady stream of content, at least. Why am I saving money? Well, I’m getting married, and it turns out weddings are expensive. Who Knew?

Everyone. Everyone knew.

I miss the writing, though. I know these all end up being me just rambling for a bit, and then talking about some fashion or home accessory I bought, but it is quite fun to write. I make myself laugh. I mean..it’s more like a stupid face and some extra air coming out of my nose. When you’re alone in your office staring at a computer screen, that’s what laughing is.

So I realized the last article I said I’d review my mattress. I bought it a little over a year ago, which you’d think was too long ago to remember. But a mattress is a big purchase, and I remember it like it was yesterday. I’ve also had over a year to sleep on the thing and tell you how it’s held up to scrutiny. This is prime writing material. I can get like..8, maybe 10 sentences out of that.

This story starts with back problems, as so many do. I’d wake up every morning in pain, to the point where I was pretty sure my fiance’ was beating me in my sleep. I’d understand once, but every night seemed a little overboard. We needed counselling.

Then I’d realized that it had been 10 years since I bought my last mattress, and I got that from Sam’s Club. That mattress was comfortable, but Sam’s is not a “buy it for life” sort of store, and this mattress was on its last legs. I cancelled the counselling, finding that our money would be better spent on a new mattress.

The one thing I wanted to avoid in this new mattress journey is haggling. If you’re young and have never purchased a new mattress, buying one from a mattress store (e.g. Mattress Firm, Mattress Farm, Mattress Barn, Basically any store with the word Mattress in it) works sort of like buying a car: the “sticker” prices are set very high and you’re expected to negotiate down. Obviously you can just pay sticker if you don’t want to, but mattresses tend to be marked up 3-400%. You’re getting ripped off if you don’t.

Buying a mattress isn’t nearly as fun as buying a car, either. Test driving the mattresses is an awkward experience. I wanted to get around all this. I was going to order online.

I had heard of Casper mattresses before starting, and wanted to give them a shot.  They tend to have a setup at SXSW, and so we went over to check them out. However, the line was like an hour long, so we just took our free swag pillow cases and moved on.

So, while researching the Casper at home, I came across tons of other Bed-in-a-box type online mattress brands. It’s really hard to wade through all the different brands and offerings. They pretty much all offer the same sort of bed (different mixes of foam mattresses), and they all give warranties and money back guarantees of varying timelines. Sleepopolis was a lifesaver here. He has video reviews of all of these mattresses, that go over in detail everything you might want to know. After spending probably 3-4 weeks reading and watching, we decided on Brooklyn Bedding. Buying was straight forward, and I ended up paying ~700 dollars for the mattress. I also bought the sheets and pillows for some extra money. This is, I think, about average. You’re buying these things once every 10 years, 70 dollars a year seems reasonable.

Delivery was quick, but there was a snafu: The mattress was delivered to the wrong apartment. And not next door, it was literally across my entire complex. This is where I learned that Foam Mattresses are heavy. I’m still pretty upset with whatever UPS driver did that. The apartment number was on there correctly. I think it was a vindictive move.

Anyway, after the drag over to my apartment, I open the box, unwrap the plastic, and let the thing expand. It was a dream to sleep on the first night. I never believed I would feel so good getting out of bed. They give you 100 days to try the mattress out, and they do recommend you give it a few weeks, as your body needs time to get used to the new feel. I was hooked on day 1.

The only hitch about buying a mattress online is the removal of your old mattress. The brick and mortar stores usually offer to remove your old mattress free on delivery of the new one. Not so with mattresses online, and getting a mattress removed is kinda pricey, in the 100-150 dollar range. If I owned a truck and had a friend I probably could have done it myself, but alas, those things escape me. Such is life.

It’s been a year, and I’m still happy with my choice. Buying a mattress online is the way to go. Just do your research, and it’ll be a good purchase. Also, don’t remove your old mattress right away. You have 100 days to decide whether you like the old one, however, if you end up wanting something different, they will remove it, and you’ll be stuck with nothing to sleep on. Fair warning.

Reviews

Fitting It All In — Brooklinen

I have a hard time fitting everything into one day, sometimes. Eight hours at my day job, plus taking care of a horde of pets, cooking, and cleaning are the bulk of my day, just like everyone else’s. I work on a host of side projects, which you can check out at Thwiv.io if you’re interested. Oh, and I have this wedding to plan, and a fiancee that I have to make sure still likes me every day.

I read Getting Things Done and started implementing the strategies in Todoist, which I’ve mentioned before. That’s helped, but in order to keep up, I generally have to check off 8-9 tasks a day, and sometimes I just don’t have the energy. Sometimes I get bogged down, and I just want to read Reddit. Sometimes I just want to sleep.

And my bed is frickin’ comfortable. I think there’s 2 sides to a comfortable bed: how you feel when you get in, and how you feel when you get up. Getting up is all based on the mattress. In a later blog post, I’ll do a review of the mattress I bought last year, that may have been the best thing I’ve ever bought online. I digress. Getting into bed, that comfort is all about the sheets.

I try to get a new set of sheets about once a year, to replace my older set. I like to have 2 sets of sheets, so that I always have a clean set and I’m never waiting on the dryer to go to bed. That’s the worst of all worlds, right there. So, for this year’s set, I decided to go with Brooklinen, who advertise themselves as the Best. Sheets. Ever. I’ve heard this claim before from other sheet denizens, but I liked the way they looked, so I decided to try them out.

Their site initially pushes their “Bundles”, which includes a duvet cover and extra pillow cases. I don’t have a duvet, so I had to search ever so slightly for just a sheet set. The bundle seems like a pretty good deal though. I went with the “Luxe” sheet set, in “Reverse Smoke Stripe”, because I’m fancy. This came to $149.00 plus shipping for a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and 2 pillow cases. Not the cheapest sheets I’ve ever purchased, but not the most expensive, either. You spend 8 hours a day in these things, its worth spending a little for luxury. I received them a day before I left on vacation, and so I waited patiently to put them on my bed after I got back.

Come to think of it, I don’t really know why I did it that way. Was I afraid I’d be longing for their comfort the whole time?I was doing way too much drinking to think about sheets.

They came in a little tote, which is really nice, but I’m not sure what I’m going to use it for. Here’s all I received:

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After washing the sheets, which Brooklinen recommends, I threw them on the bed and passed out. I’ve found it always takes a few nights to get used to new bedding: your body doesn’t like change in sleep patterns. I found them kinda hot on the first night, but after a few days, I will say that they are luxurious. I’m really enjoying going to bed now.

That’s a double-edged sword. I have work to get done. Chores to do. LIVES TO SAVE. Or at least purchases to make.

Reviews

Lying To Yourself For Fun and Profit — VistaPrint

My focus on getting things done has taken me down some weird turns in the past few months. Any idea of something I want to do goes into my Todoist list, and when I’m sitting around, I just jump in to something.

I’ve made several batches of homemade pickles this way.

I also decided that I wanted to try to get some legwork done on my programming side projects. Part of doing that was to list them all out and decide what needed to be done. And then once I had that list, I thought “it’d be cool if I had a website that listed all these out”, and so that went on the list. And that’s what happened to create Thwiv.io. Kind of an online business card of sorts, listing out all my side projects.

And now that that exists, it allows me to point people to it when they ask “What do you do?”. That happens a lot during South By Southwest, which is coming up next week. So then I decided that I was going to get business cards.

I don’t know how to describe the feeling I have about business cards, especially cards with my own domain name on them, with my name, that are completely for me. I decided this not as a part of a company who decided to give them out at a trade show, but as a normal, everyday person who decided “yeah, I need 500 pieces of paper with my contact information on them”. It feels like I’m lying to myself. But it was on my list, so I did it.

I used VistaPrint to create the cards. They have to be the most well known printing company out there, and for good reason. Their ads are EVERYWHERE. I’m not even sure where I found the first one.

So, the buying process at VistaPrint is like nothing else. They are the kings of the upsell. You start out with the pitch “starting at $16”, or “50% your first order”…really it doesn’t quite matter what it says. There’s no way you’re landing at that low of a number.

I started with the “Signature” series at $24.00. This offered a higher quality stock, to which I thought “Yes, the Patrick Bateman in me is pleased”. The design process is easy enough: you can comb through thousands of patterns, and customize any piece of text, its font, and it’s location within reason (the very edges are off limits, as their printers have a hard time printing there). The online design process is very simple and they let you save a variety of styles to compare against and order at any time.

And then once you’re done that, you think “I’ll purchase these”, but you’re nowhere near done. You’ll be offered pages of upsells, from glossy ink, metallic lettering, card holders of all different types, and even a set up for an email campaign. It’s really quite a thing to behold, from a sales perspective. As a client, it’s pretty annoying. But I did end up ordering the glossy ink and 500 instead of 100. So I guess it worked.Everything all together cost me less than 50 dollars though, so I don’t feel too ripped off.

I received my cards in just a few days. They have a very quick turnaround which will make me come back in a few years when I finally burn through 500 business cards. Quite possibly by actually burning them. Here’s some pictures of the product.

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The cards themselves I am very happy with. They’re very pretty, though I’m thinking that I may have wanted the metallic lettering over the glossy. I’ll be proud to hand out these cards over South By Southwest. And maybe at least one person will actually hold onto it, stumble across this blog, and then this whole thing comes full circle.

I’d recommend VistaPrint, because I wouldn’t know where else to get business cards. Their product is very good. Lets hope this whole thing works out.

Reviews

Expenses

This hobby is time consuming and expensive.

I try to find products that I can review well. I don’t just buy anything. I want to be an actual consumer here: I want to buy things that I actually have a chance at liking. That requires a good amount of research before I even make a purchase. And then, once the purchase is made, I have to wait for shipping, use the product for some good amount of time, and then sit down and write. All this is a good time: everyone loves getting new things, and I’m enjoying the writing. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it takes a lot of time between blog posts, and I wish I could update more often.

I could purchase more than one thing at a time, obviously. That is an option I’ve mulled. But again, at the end of the day, I’m a consumer. You don’t go on shopping sprees constantly, and neither do I. While I’d love to have some wealthy backer, the truth is it’s just me, some dude, buying stuff online and meandering around some point until I eventually get to a review on some socks or underwear. I don’t have unlimited money.

So, in order for you all to not forget I exist, I’m going to write about some other stuff as well. I’ll probably continue aiming at consumer-ish ideas.It’ll be fun. Come along for the ride.

Reviews

Habits – Mack Weldon

I haven’t been to the gym this week.

It used to be that I could truthfully say that every week, but ever since the new year rang in I’ve been trying to make it a habit to be more active and watch my diet. I think I’ve mentioned this before. This means that, on my Todoist every Monday Wednesday and Friday, it says “30 Minutes Cardio”, and as another New Year New Me goal, I try to empty out my Todoist, by either doing or rescheduling, every single day. I also use MyFitnessPal to track calories, and that works fairly well, until this past Monday.

They say it takes 6 weeks to make a habit stick. I don’t know who “they” are, but I made it to week 6, and I don’t feel any more habitual. On Monday I went to fill in my food for breakfast (a hearty 0 Calorie Energy Drink, if I recall that day), I found that I had apparently already filled it out the day before. I immediately realized that I had been working on Tomorrow’s food the day before, and now it was a big hassle. Filling out food for tomorrow probably shouldn’t be an easy thing to do, MyFitnessPal Developers, but my subconscious found no trouble at all.

So Monday, instead of fixing my mistake or using my 0 calorie previous day to fill in today’s calories, I decided “No, you’re not hassling me, yesterday’s mistake. I’m not filling this out”. And so it was done. Habit gone. I’m trying to force myself to fill this thing out as we speak, and I’m having a hard time remembering what I just ate. This failed habit, which was working well (18 lbs down), is going to take a mountain of effort to get back. And it pulled the gym with it. I haven’t been on an elliptical in like 10 days because of MyFitnessPal and also shear laziness.

Last week, however, I did go to the gym. I did it mostly to listen to my books on Audible, and try out a new pair of underwear from Mack Weldon.

As a whole, I prefer wearing boxers to any other sort of undergarment. I don’t want to be bound. I was born free, I want to live free. Murica. Boxers.

However, as I’ve found over the past 6 weeks, this creates a sort of, ahem, problem that I’ve never dealt with before when jostling about for 30-60 minutes. There is such a thing as too much freedom. Lawlessness is not an optimal situation. Regulations are needed in order to preserve the mobility of all society, if you get my metaphor.

If you don’t, I’m saying that my jibblies start bouncing and rubbing the wrong way and it hurts. Not just hurts. Chafes.

So after realizing this problem wasn’t going away with more freedom (I know, America was wrong all along), I coasted over to Mack Weldon, who had an interesting advertisement, telling me that their underwear had silver embedded in them. That’s intriguing, mostly because it sounds like something the super-rich would do to one up each other, but there’s actual science behind it. Turns out, silver is naturally antibacterial, and bacteria are what cause your nether-regions to stink. So these underwear do their best to regulate your BO. Not bad at all.

Mack Weldon’s check out process was really straight forward. They have lots of different products to look for, and so I bought a pair of boxer briefs and a normal set of boxers. These were pricey, I think I paid over 50 dollars for the pair. Another interesting thing is their deal set up: They don’t do coupon codes. Their process is simple: the prices are on the site, if you order over a certain amount all at once, you get 10, 15, 20% off. No sales, no gimmicks. I respect this business set up, even though I still habitually look for codes and offers before buying. There are none.

The shipping was great, they came USPS ground in a few days. And the packaging!

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They really want you to know that you’re buying premium stuff here.

So…here’s the thing. I’m not going to show you pictures of my underwear. You know what underwear look like, in the very vaguest sense. I don’t need to show you what underroos I’m wearing. I can tell you that these underwear are really comfortable, and they definitely helped with the chafe at the gym. I think the silver thing works too, though I’m not putting my sweaty boxer briefs up to my face to tell you definitively. I didn’t notice a smell after I was done. They seemed good. And look!

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Says it right there, you can wear these every day. Definitely recommending Mack Weldon.