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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Smelissa (a deodorant recipe)

Update on my ongoing hippyfication (see also my continuing experiment with no poo):

Here's a life development I can't quite believe is happening to me because mentally I still think I'm 19: people get smellier as they get older. I've been noticing this trend for a few years now, and after my success with no poo last year, I decided to examine this body odor business. As a result, I have a bee in my bonnet (pun intended - see below) about chemicals in commercial deodorant that cause your body to produce increasingly viler smells, perpetuating the need for more and more deodorant in a lovely vicious spiral.

I don't believe in not using deodorant. I don't particularly like the bacteriashit that produces the natural smell of human (which is why I am not a fan of the uber-human smells that have ambushed me in my fourth decade). But maybe there was something I could do that would work more effectively than rubbing my armpits with aluminum chlorohydrate. I tried a "natural" deodorant by Arm and Hammer, and it did not work for me at all. I smelled like an ape by lunchtime. I tried cornstarch and baking soda, but they didn't seem very long lasting either, left powder all over my clothes, and required messy reapplication.

One day, I saw this product - Cureceuticals Fresh Me Up Deodorant Manuka Honey Daily Hygiene Spray - on Amazon, and bought it on a whim without much in the way of expectations. Mostly I think I got it because it was all about honey, and "Melissa" means honeybee in Greek. Yes, this is the strange superstitious way I shop. Imagine my surprise when the damn thing worked. Either that, or it made me completely unable to smell my own body odor. Then again, Matt hasn't complained, so I'll assume it's the former.

[Aside] I kind of love the directions on the bottle: "SHAKE WELL. Apply CureCeuticals Fresh Me Up over entire body (underarms, legs, feet, and between the toes) daily, as often as needed. Spread evenly with clean hands (safe for broken skin). Use a cotton ball, soft pad or fingers when applying to face." Is it just me, or does "entire body" and "between the toes" sound like a euphemism for crotch? Maybe they should have used ellipses, as in "between the ... toes." This is also suggested to me by the list of relevant body parts at the base of the label: "UNDERARMS • LEGS • FEET • TOES • BODY • WOMEN • MEN" Surely the last three words actually mean crotch.

So, great, it works. Ten bucks for a bottle seems a little steep, however, so I got even more hippy, and decided to make my own. Thus! a recipe!

Smelissa's Manuka Honey Deodorant Spray

1. 1 cup of water
2. A teaspoon of 16+ manuka honey
3. A teaspoon of Dead Sea salt
4. A teaspoon of baking soda
5. A teaspoon of Epsom salt
6. 1/2 oz of isopropyl alcohol

Mix dead sea salt, honey and baking soda well in a bottle. The mixture will fizz. Let stand for 24 hours with the cap on only loosely to allow air to escape. You should end up with a clear golden liquid and a bunch of sediment. Decant the liquid into a spray bottle and throw out the sediment (or add it to bathwater, or whatever you like). Add Epsom salt and shake until dissolved. Add alcohol.

This has been working for me for a couple of weeks now, and since I bought most of the ingredients in bulk, I pretty much have enough for the rest of my life, so let's hope it keeps working. I guess you could leave out the alcohol -- it's in there as a preservative which I added after my first batch started smelling verrrry faintly funky after a week -- but the concentration of it is so low that it doesn't bother me. You could potentially add fragrance to the mix as well, but I really like the smell of honey, bzzzzzzbzzbzz.

Hopefully this helps someone. I couldn't find any other manuka honey deodorant recipes on the web.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Free: The Future of a Radical Price

A couple of weeks ago while idly browsing the interwebs, I stumbled over this article about diamonds, written just in time for Valentine's Day. Being a huge fan of confirmation bias, I read it to once again gleefully affirm my distaste for the jewelry industry and my decade-old conviction that anyone who buys rare gems is a sucker and a half. To summarize: once upon a time, diamonds were very rare. Upon the discovery of huge mines in Africa and elsewhere in the late nineteenth century, diamonds were suddenly not so rare, but since mining companies (in particular, De Beers *shudder*) were able to control the supply (and, though brilliant marketing, the demand), they artificially inflated prices in an astoundingly evil way. (Seriously, I can't believe people fall for it.)

Last week I had to read Chris Anderson's Free for my "Digital Battlegrounds" class (see below). I waited a couple of days to start talking about it here because I admit I found myself getting noticeably happy-excited while turning the pages, and after putting it down, I wondered if I had just gulped down some Kool-Aid without looking.

But no, having allowed it to digest without incident, I really do think that anyone who is involved in the creative arts needs to read this book. It didn't tell me a whole lot that I didn't already know, at least instinctively, but I think it helped to strip away the clingy tattered remnants of sentimentality for the idea of selling digital works and to shed the last of my fears about giving stuff away (where stuff = mp3's, for example, which stream for free on my Bandcamp site).

As I see it, in many ways, the media commodities that were so heavily monetized in the twentieth century are going the way of diamonds, but instead of the supply flood originating in a few mines in remote locations, it's streaming out of every computer, everywhere. Entities like the RIAA and MPAA desperately want to be De Beers. But how can they be against such a tide? If they had been a little smarter, like De Beers, they would have jumped on the situation before it became a problem and won the culture war, but as I've ranted before, they were all too busy swimming in their Scrooge McDuck money pools and eating crayons.

There is no point in trying to monetize something that is no longer a commodity. It a futile exercise in idiocy to try to dig one's claws into a clearly outdated model of industry. What we need to realize (those of us who want to survive when the levees break) is that we need to figure out ways of monetizing properties that haven't been rendered worthless by digital technology - by using the amazing cheap/free resources of digital technology that are available to us as both consumers and artists.

It sounds terrifying, even to someone like me who is practically a copyright extremist next to colleagues in my field. Anyway, reading this book helped with that.

I am full of optimism! And hopefully not Kool-Aid.