savon de Marseille


I have a few silly product posts coming up, going to start with soap.  I honestly can't tell you why soap to start, but one day just wanted to get the *one* soap, one scent and just stick with that for the rest of my life and not think about it anymore.  Maybe I watched another rerun of Fight Club or too many Old Spice commercials.

I guess I was using Dove and Ivory bar soap and then at some point switched to a Kiehl's body scrub soap for men which was nice.  I started experimenting with Caswell & Massey soap and I liked their Jockey Club, Oatmeal, Verbena, and Number Six soaps.

Now, I'm sticking with a soap that's been around for ages, savon de Marseille.  Basically a soap made in Marseille mostly out of olive oil and they've been doing it for over 500 years.  It lathers really well so I use it instead of shampoo and there's not much of a scent and it doesn't dry my skin either.  It comes in a big block so I have to cut it to size and that's about all there is to it.  One less thing to think about.

If there's a place I'd love to visit again, it would be Marseille.  It sounds silly but Marseille is a little bit like Oakland, a port city, diverse, edgy, hip hop, and great weather.  Our food story is getting better in Oakland too.

(There is an Oakland soap, Cal Ben Pure Soap, but haven't gotten the urge to try it yet, supposed to be good though)


Garmin Edge 500

Recommendation: Definite Buy

This is the Garmin Edge 500 and I'm super attached to this thing mostly because it works.  I bought this in December last year and it's reasonably priced.  DC Rainmaker has this crazy long review.

I use this computer for cycling and running though it's optimized for cycling.  I have a heart rate monitor for my heart rate and it comes with a cadence monitor to monitor rotations per minute (RPMs) or my legs around the bike crank.  It's a Garmin so there's a GPS so it measures distance and elevation.  It's also an ANT+ product and so it works with other ANT+ products like power meters and such.

The computer also comes with Garmin training center software so I can download all the information from the Edge 500 onto my computer (Mac OS X but works on Windows too).  From there, I upload the data to which records all my workouts.

From a technology standpoint, it's pretty freaking cool — a total home run product.  It works, it's minimalist by default, configurable to your needs, easy to get data in and out.  Even the battery power is pretty good, lasted me a whole Ironman race (well the bike and the run part…and I took a long time).

It's a piece of technology that will actually tell you about yourself, what you did, and could actually make you faster, stronger, better because you have data to measure against.

Apple products


Some personal yes/no/maybe recommendations on Apple Products:

  • Apple iPhone 4 – Yes (our first iPhone purchase and will be buying for wifey to replace an old Treo…my phone is a Nexus One)
  • Apple MacBook Pro 13"*, other MacBooks – Yes
  • MacBook Air – No
  • Mac Mini* – Yes
  • Apple TV – No
  • iMac – No, better off with a mini or an iPad
  • iPad – Not yet, waiting for the next version w/ Retina display and front facing camera, printing support, and general tweaks, and generally an actual need for one given that I own a MacBook Pro already…
  • iPod – Nano, Yes; Shuffle/Classic */Touch, No;
  • Peripherals – Keyboard*, maybe; Magic mouse, no; Cinema display*, maybe; Airport Express*/Time Capsule, No; Airport Extreme*, maybe
  • Software – iLife*, Yes; iWork*, if you have to; Aperture, No; MobileMe*, No

*products I own

I think a pretty good Mac setup would be a Mac Mini for "home" stuff/home server type of deal.  A MacBook Pro for work, iPads as the "secondary" computer.  iPods for on the go, exercising, and for the car.

From a PC side, probably harder to cobble up a similar setup.

Belorussian Translation provided by PC.

bed linens, etc

At some point got caught up with finding nice bed linens.  Eventually settled on the following:

  • Thomas Lee sheet and pillow set — a flat sheet, fitted sheet, and two pillow cases.  They're 500 thread count cotton sheets which seems fine to me, neither arbitrarily too high or too low.  In any case, sheets are comfortable and reasonably priced.
  • Libeco Belgian linens — have a couple pillow cases and I like their linen sheets
  • Rough Linen — haven't gotten anything from here but local company and I like the simplicity of their products
  • Pacific Coast pillows and comforters — very comfortable, got the firm and 'luxury' down pillow

If you're going to spend 6 – 8 hours a night on your bed, might as well make it comfortable.  We're still sleeping on a $200 Serta mattress from 1999, it's still very comfortable — so it's not all about getting the most expensive, just what's comfortable.

Dell XPS m1330

I like this computer. c|Net gave it a good review, a 7.9. Here it is on Dell's web site. I'm currently running a white MacBook. I also have an IBM X31 ThinkPad. I may get one of these XPS m1330 laptops but I'd like to get another MacBook (to replace my current one) probably in October this year or January next year. I want to wait until Leopard is pre-installed and then get Parallels for it too. I have a feeling the MacBook will get a good upgrade pretty soon.

Anway, one of the nice things about being in software is that it's easy to justify computer purchases. :-) Oh, and it's too bad these Dell laptops have to have Windows Vista installed. They really need to start putting in the option of a Linux OS installation as well. I'd pay for Ubuntu and Windows Vista installed.

Nuvi 650

I got a Nuvi 650 GPS device. It's pretty cool. It works pretty much out of the box. The screen is nice 4" x 3", it's color and fairly big. The voice is fine but I don't have any place to stick the device unless I mount it on the windshield (luckily I have a little compartment that I can use for it where the GPS device for the car was supposed to be).

I recommend it overall and definitely over the other 600 series — it has the wide color screen with the least features so the least expensive of the bunch. I'm sure the devices will get even bigger but this one is large enough and the voice is loud. I haven't explored the other features, there might be too many. This device gets the basics right — map, directions, places of interest — so that's all I really need.

I would wait until it gets down to like $250 – $300 though if it ever gets there.

good pots – Bourgeat

There's nothing like good pots. We're doing a slow kitchen upgrade, kitchen 1.5 if you will. Kitchen 1.0 consisted of cheap Emerilware non-stick pots and pans built by All Clad. They've done well the past 5 – 6 years and it was a good starter set. All Clad's marketing is pretty good but I can't really say the same for their low-end pots and pans — their low end pots are just ok, a bit overpriced, and slightly overrated.

So over to Matfer Bourgeat products. We got a 7 1/2 quart "sauce" pot (we use it as a stock pot) and I like it a lot. We got it from Culinary Cookware but I think there are probably cheaper places to buy these pots.

I christened the pot with this killer mussels with saffron and mustard recipe. The next day cooked some pasta in it and none of the pasta stuck to the bottom, sign of a good pot.

MACプロ用ナイフ or MAC Knives

When you first start off buying house stuff, it's probably for college and you end up with a knife from the dollar store. Maybe you get lucky (or you're rich) and you get to buy nice stuff off the bat.

The next phase of accumulating stuff is when you get married or single but grown up a little bit more. Usually you're still not sure what to buy and get whatever is marketed to you, e.g. All Clad cookware, whatever.

That's a long way of stating I'm looking to upgrade our knife set, after a couple tries, and hopefully getting a set of MAC knives — a chef's knife, slicer, and paring knife from the pro series. I'd like to get a yanagiba knife too eventually, probably in lieu of a slicer.

MAC knives are made in Japan and are highly regarded by chefs like Thomas Keller of The French Laundry/Per Se and Charlie Trotter out of Chicago. They're also not that expensive in comparison to some other knives 0n the market.

A couple more things:

  • It's funny that the brand is MAC. Owning a MacBook and other Apple products and then have MAC knives seems a little too Mac-ish.
  • Buying a MAC knife is interesting because I can buy it off of Amazon but I see that it's cheaper to buy them here at Chef Knives to Go. How do I verify this business? Well, the store is hosted on Yahoo! Shopping. They have a number to call. So I may give them a call and probably will do business with them. Do I care if their checkout process is encrypted? Yes. Do I care where they got their cert? No. Am I using a credit card that covers me against online fraud and online purchases? Yes. I could also buy these MAC knives from a more local store in Sacramento — they own the domain but the knives are also more expensive there.
  • Knives are cool.

I have a few more "domestic" and food things to write about that I want to get out of my system. I do like writing about products, partly because some really great/good products get buried by marketing machines who tout inferior or just ok products e.g. BOSE speakers. The other fun part is seeing my product "reviews" actually getting up there in various search engine's results. A side goal is to maybe get some free stuff. I could do with a free year's supply of Yakult. :)

crocs footwear


This is my second or third post on footwear. I only own a few pairs of shoes, that's why I guess I talk about the one's I do have. Anyway, I talked about Keen sandals the last time, and they're great, I wear them just about every day.

It was at Ironman Canada though where we ran into the Men's winner, Chris Lieto at the airport that I saw these sandals. He was wearing these Crocs (picture in the photo isn't me) in a bright yellow. They looked really funky, and I thought they were like some special Ironman secret.

Anyhow, I saw these sandals at a store and I think I'm going to grab a pair. They're very chic looking and I saw another person wearing them today during lunch. They're not going to be for everyday wear. Just for wearing after working out and for going to the beach.