Jackmauh Tries It

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A Companion for Life

Whether you know it or not, you are a writer. Every living, seeing, hearing, feeling, breathing person is a writer. YOUR brain is capable of an incredible alchemy. It can distill insane volumes of raw sensory input into singular events called “experience.” It can instantaneously code that experience into written or spoken symbols called “language” and transmit it to other receiving minds! It works like magic. I write “I ate chicken cacciatore at Donna’s last night” and you suddenly see chicken cacciatore in your head. You see the tablecloth. You smell the marinara. You hear the din and clink of restaurant patrons around you. I was there, now you are there. I put it in your head. Did I manage this through some trick or spell? Some hypnosis? No, I used something more powerful: the written word. I put words on the page, which project entire worlds behind your eyes. It is this unique ability to transcribe our rich, swirling sensory experience into words that elevates our species. Everyone has this ability. You might think your words and experiences are insignificant but you would be mistaken. Everyone has something interesting to share. The most mundane experience is novel to new eyes. Your words become part of the reader’s live experience, which he will share using his own words, and so on down the line. It is easily taken for granted, but it is an incredible power. All you have to do is put pencil to paper.

Bull & Stash notebooks

Such a sacred, primal craft demands tools deserving of the act — tools equally as elemental, as enduring. Enter this quintessential Craft & Caro item. A single slice of plush, naked leather, folded over a small stack of pure white paper. A little untouched landscape awaiting the creator’s hand. The notebook is a sensory experience in itself — gorgeous leather, soft to the touch, richly tanned, with that pure, earthy scent. The pliable material happily conforms to your grip, your pocket, your bag or briefcase. No hard edges, no stiff spine, no cardboard or pleather veneer to tear or crease. In fact the notebook improves as it journeys with you. The leather distresses gracefully, absorbing the same moments and impacts that you do, so you weather together. The lines on your weary brow, the dust under your fingernails, the myriad scuffs on your notebook beside you all become fine layers of detail in the experience you share in the pages. Take notes. Make lists. Sketch the birds, sketch the mountain face. Draw maps. Chronicle your hike, your traverse of the high pass, your ride on the commuter rail. Write a poem for the pretty girl in the seat across from you. This is her stop. Do you fold it up and give it to her? Keep a journal. Capture the suspense, the romance, the heartbreak.

And there is no end. You keep on living. So does the notebook, because its pages are replaceable. Instead of binding, a pair of aluminum screws function like rivets to hold the pages in place. More to say? A few quick turns and you can pop in a brand new pad. Mail the full one, laden with your dreams and your grocery lists, home in an envelope marked “CONFIDENTIAL.” Swiftly now — the boat to New Delhi is boarding. There is more ahead.MSCT Bullet Pencils openOf course you’ll need something just as suited to adventure to write it all down. Craft & Caro furnished this field reporter with a clever little piece of nostalgia for the purpose: the bullet pencil. Apparently, late-nineteenth century British soldiers in Africa started jamming used pencil nubs into spent rifle cartridges to write. (What a deliciously practical repurposing of two used up commodities!) It caught on. Get-rich-quick scavengers collected shells from the battlefields and shipped them back to England as souvenirs. They were replicated, then re-designed a little, so the pencil could be flipped around and stored inside the shell for safe travel. Princess Mary included these second-generation bullet pencils in care packages for her soldiers in the trenches during World War I. From here the trick made it back to the States and bam! The bullet pencil flourished in a post-war wonderland of commercial mass production. Mid-century car dealerships and industrial fertilizer companies gave them out as promotional keepsakes. They fell out of style eventually, as petro-plastics became ever more popular and the cheap disposable pen replaced the pencil. Hope you’re taking notes.MSCT Bullet Pencils sectioned

The timeless utility of this bullet pencil is inherent. A pencil nub is jammed into a metal cap resembling the actual bullet that’s at the tip of a round. The cap is threaded on both sides, so it can be screwed onto the cartridge facing either way — with the pencil encased inside the protective metal jacket or facing out, ready to scribble. Closed, it’s simply a bullet a few inches in length, easily pocketable, mess-free and non-threatening to other important equipment in the area. Pull it out, flip it around and now you have a pleasingly weighty, solid, full-sized writing utensil. Perfect for adventure. It will take the beating alongside your notebook and live to tell about it.


MSCT Bullet Pencils all


The question is not are you going to write, or even what are you going to write, but when are you going to start? Your world is filled with juicy details. Your head is percolating with ideas. You pulled out of the station a long time ago. Don’t let another mile slip by. Even as you’re reading this, you probably have something to say…


Bull & Stash and Bullet Pencil

Zippo Hand Warmer in hands

I used to beg my mom for a Zippo lighter every time we went to the mall. There was a store right next to the food court that had a rotating display case full of gleaming examples. I wanted the solid brass one. “What are you going to do with a lighter??” my mother would ask. Rightfully so, I suppose. I never had a good answer for her. Because what good reason could a thirteen year old boy have for wanting a lighter? But I was no aspiring arsonist. I just wanted one because they looked so…cool! There was something solid and classic, something authentic about the renowned Zippo. It was a manly artifact of technology. Of design. Of modernity. It made me think of Indiana Jones and Dick Tracy. Whether either of those guys had actually ever used a one was irrelevant to me.

In time, I purchased three different Zippos that I cherished. I learned a couple of tricks to snap open the lid and light it in one slick sleight-of-hand motion. I still have them somewhere, hidden from the world in a remote drawer or box, because I never use them. Because I still don’t really have a need to light much on fire. Not enough to warrant the lost pocket space on a daily basis anyhow.

Zippo Hand Warmers Open

Naturally then, I was pretty psyched to learn about this hand warmer from Zippo! The design is unmistakable. Sleek, shiny and solid — the joy of pure metal in your hand. The warmer cuts a silhouette similar to the classic lighter, albeit a bit larger, with those same signature bored vent holes around the ignition element. It’s very slender, with rounded edges, making it a low-profile pocket companion. In fact I described it to a curious friend as a “pocket furnace.” And that’s essentially what it is! Finally, a Zippo with a practical reason for being in my jeans.

This nifty little unit has a unique heating element fully concealed in the middle of the body, rather than an open wick underneath a lid like the lighters. The heating element is genius — it uses a platinum-catalyzed fiberglass burning unit that draws fumes up from the cotton-filled fuel tank beneath to smoulder continuously like a coal, instead of producing a flame. As a result it produces no smoke and very little scent. Once you ignite the burner, it smoulders all day, up to twelve continuous hours. The entire unit comes up to heat and stays warm, protected and somewhat regulated by the super-soft microfiber bag that comes with it. I put it in my coat pocket before exploring the beach after a snowstorm a few days ago. It was pretty windy and I kept taking my glove off to snap pictures of the surf. It was great to have the warmer in my pocket to hold in between shots, and so cold out I wished I had fifty of them sewn into the lining of my coat!

Zippo Hand Warmer outdoors

Fifty is probably a bit much, but I do recommend getting two of these little guys, one for each pocket. Their utility isn’t relegated to your pocket, either, it turns out. You can pop them in your gloves or boots for twenty minutes before heading outside. Or slip them under your pillow before you hit the hay. I even put one under my neck when I was reading in bed last night — awesome treat for sore muscles. And of course, needless to say, snowboarding…

For outdoorsmen and urbanites alike, these make a great gift — something novel, certainly unexpected, and of high quality, without breaking the bank. Easy to tote safely in a pocket, handbag, backpack or glove box. What’s better than the gift of heat? Thanks Zippo. I knew eventually we would find a way to be in each other’s lives 😉


View on Craft & Caro: bit.ly/WarmDigits

Filed Under: Jackmauh Tries It, Travel
Paul + Simone soft beard

All things considered, I am new to the facial hair scene. My face has been smooth as a baby’s bottom most of my life. But a couple of years ago, while camping in the mountains in northern California, I discovered I could grow a mustache. Oh, the possibilities, I thought! I could grow this out, change my name to Buck or Anders, build a cabin right here out of hand-milled redwood, and spend my days bow hunting caribou and trading furs on the festival scene… Unfortunately our rented Miata was due back in San Francisco later that week, where I maxed out my budget on burritos, Negra Modelos, Uber rides and a few vintage shirts. So I returned to Boston in need of some work and resumed the clean-shaven life for a while.

That winter, New England was hammered by an infamous series of blizzards. Society came to a near halt. We were trapped indoors by walls of snow and ice for weeks. I wistfully recalled my time in the warm, dusty mountains and waited for the thaw. When we emerged from our various hideouts in the spring, I had a sapling beard on my face. Nature had taken it’s course. But I was still a novice with no clue how to care for a newborn beard.

Beyer's Oil beard oil all sides

I got lucky with Beyer’s. It’s made in Bavaria from a handful of rich natural oils like jojoba and lavender, and nothing else. Love it. Natural and simple. It smells like fresh orange zest in my palm — a scent that’s rivaled only by my fresh-ground coffee — which is reason enough to crack the bottle open each morning. I didn’t realize what a big difference it would make! My whiskers are soft and silky to the touch now instead of coarse and wiry. There is a natural order and calm to previously frizzy patches. My skin is more comfortable, smooth and moisturized. I’m especially loving it this time of year, when the winter air is distressingly dry. The rich, lightweight botanical oils seem to have a nice warming effect. I rub it on my neck and cheeks to soothe itchy skin and stubble before going out in the cold. I’ve even been using a little in my hair to add some moisture and shine!


Paul + Simone Beyer's OIl


The best endorsement Beyer’s Oil got wasn’t from me but from my lovely girlfriend, Simone. She nuzzled my face one morning and noticed right away how soft it had become, seemingly overnight. She lit up and couldn’t get enough! I have happily endured many more nuzzles, cuddles and kisses since then. Definitely an unexpected benefit — I feel like a human teddy bear. In a good way. I should have known. It says it right on the bottle — “Rub in your beard and be happy!”


Beyer's Beard Oil

Filed Under: Groom, Jackmauh Tries It
Jackmauh brushing with Scuba

For my first review we decided to start with something fundamental to daily life: brushing one’s teeth. And the essential pair of items to do it — in this case, The Scuba toothbrush and Theodent toothpaste, featuring a curious patented formula derived from chocolate! For a week I brushed each day (twice or maybe even three times, if my dentist asks) with the new brush and the toothpaste. Here’s what I found out.

First the brush. Finally! A toothbrush to be excited about. The Scuba feels more like a tool in your hand than a toothbrush. It’s craftily manufactured from soft, flexible rubber with a plump ergonomic handle and an angled brush head for precision scrubbing. Better yet the Scuba comes in right-handed and left-handed versions — quite a gratifying breath of fresh air for this world weary lefty. My hand just wants to reach out and hold it. The idea here is control, and you’re going to want it for the oversized brush head. That’s right – we did it to the golf club, we did it to the tennis racket, now Radius has done it to the toothbrush.

Radius Scuba toothbrush in hand


Like with some other innovations in history, I was a little perplexed, maybe even intimidated, when I first picked it up. After a few times around the block I got the feel for it, adjusted my brush stroke and quickly understood why the Scuba is a superior oral care tool. The bristles, made from natural vegetable-based nylon, are pleasantly soft, much softer than your average toothbrush. Couple this with the oversized head, which naturally scrubs your gums and palate as much as your teeth, and you have an advanced implement that cleans and massages simultaneously.

No fear for those with sensitive gums prone to bleeding or sores either — this brush is gentle. Cleaning is more efficient too. It’s possible to cover large areas of your mouth in a few minimal motions. On top of that I felt like an eco-champion, since this brush is 100% petroleum free and made in Radius’ own Pennsylvania factory, which produces two thirds of it’s own electricity from solar panels. And thanks to the Scuba’s dynamic design and quality composition, it’s likely to last three to four times longer than your average toothbrush. That means less plastic in my trash.

Scuba toothbrushes


Now let’s spread some of the good stuff on that beast! Enter Theodent. My appreciation for this novel toothpaste began at first sight, with the elegant filigreed box and matching tube, both a rich dark chocolate color that’s easy on groggy eyes. I was surprised when the product itself came out a nice clean white. I was expecting some lighter shade of brown, since this toothpaste is made from chocolate. That’s right, chocolate. Sort of… Here we have a truly innovative dental cleanser.

Theodent Classic


Theodent uses theobromine, an extract from the cocoa bean, as the main ingredient in its proprietary fluoride alternative (called Rennou). This makes it entirely non-toxic, while still a powerful formula for protecting and strengthening your teeth’s enamel.  According to Theodent’s research, theobromine has actually proven to increase the size of the mineral crystals that compose your enamel by fourfold. That means more protection for your dazzling smile, and considering that it was the mellowest-tasting toothpaste I’ve ever used – more like an after dinner mint than, well, toothpaste – I was quite impressed that it could be so anti-cavity. And I thought chocolate couldn’t get any better! I guess it’s just another instance where science and nature work in graceful synergy to create an effective natural alternative to a synthetic product.

Delicate Theodent and Supple Scuba – the match made in dental heaven.

Theodent toothpaste Scuba toothbrush

Filed Under: Groom, Jackmauh Tries It