I Tried That: Schick Hydro 5 Groomer

2014 July 24

Schick Hydro Groomer It seems that everyone wants a piece of my face these days. Go on Facebook and there’s ad after ad  for the “Dollar Shave Club” and “Harry’s,” both of which promise the cheapest shave around. Go to the mall, and there are razors and $25 cans of shaving cream at “The Art of Shaving.” I can’t even watch television at 3 in the morning without some Pawn Star trying to sell me his Old Man’s razor.

Then, of course, there’s Gillette who has faithfully been filling up airwaves and store shelves for years with their latest “innovations” (It has more blades! It buzzes! It is specifically designed for Manscaping! It has a ball that pivots!).

Also in the mix within this $13 billion a year industry is Schick. If Schick were a baseball team, they’d be the Tampa Bay Rays. You may have heard of the Rays. You might even know a few people that are fans. But, you’ve never personally watched the Rays because, you know, the Yankees.

Substitute “Schick” for Tampa Bay and “Gillette” for Yankees and you have an idea of the retail shaving landscape.

I managed to go about 34 years without trying a Schick razor. Because, you know “the Yankees.”

That all changed a few weeks ago when the folks at BZZAgent and Schick sent me a new Hydro 5 Razor to try. I was pleasantly surprised. The shave was on par with Gillette and for a few coins less. It was enough to leave me in an existential funk, wondering if I had I truly been “the best a man could get” all of these years.

Side View

It’s a razor! It’s a trimmer! It’s Blue!

I have since spent some quality time with their latest shaving gizmo The Hydro 5 Groomer – a razor that doubles, or quadruples, as a traditional razor, trimmer, edger and moisturizer (Courtesy, once again, of Schick and BZZAgent).

You can put this 4-function beast to the test in your own home for about $11.00 (after a $2 coupon) from Amazon.com.

The big question is, would you want to?

The answer to that question is a definite “yes.” And a definite “no.” Depending on who you are.

If you’re a minimalist, by virtue or necessity, the Hydro 5 Groomer is a good product. It uses the same specially lubricated blades as you’ll find on the traditional Hydro 5. That means you will get the exact smooth, comfortable shave that you would get with their stand alone product. The trimmer, powered by a AA battery, easily buzzes through light to moderate scruff. For folks that spend a lot of time on the road, or maybe those schlepping it down the hall to a common bath in their dorm, the Hydro 5 makes a lot of sense.

Like most razors, the Schick 5 Groomer will remove facial hair.

The Schick 5 Groomer will remove facial hair but is virtually defenseless against graying or thinning hair

If you’re like me, and you have an entire drawer in your bathroom to yourself, the Hydro 5 quickly begins to lose its appeal.

Size Comparison

Does size matter?

For starters, the handle is big. Chances are you won’t mind the girth, especially on the trimmer side. But trying to shave with this thing can come across as awkward. It’s the shaving equivalent of writing a book report using one of those ridiculously oversize giant pencils. It can definitely be done, but you probably wouldn’t want to do it everyday.

As you can see, the Groomer is longer and thicker than a traditional razor -with a footprint that is much closer to a traditional trimmer.

While the handle feels too big, the trimmer itself suffers from being too small. When compared to a traditional trimmer, the trimmer head on the Hydro is nearly half the size – and I have the picture to prove it. Half the size means you will take twice as long in your trimming routine, if my shaving math is right.

Essentially, the space you are saving in your drawer is probably costing you an extra minute or two on the trim side.

Trimmer Head Comp

Hydro 5 Groomer Size Comparison

As much as I like the Hydro line, the Hydro Groomer feels like a solution looking for a problem. It’s bulky size compromises the shaving experience while the undersized trimmer head fails to provide an adequate substitute to a regular trimmer. A 4-in-1 product is a great idea, but this incarnation will not have me shelving my separate razor and trimmer anytime soon.


  • Uses Hydro razor blades, which deliver a lubricated comfortable shave
  • All-in-one functionality useful for those who don’t have room for two separate grooming devices


  • Bulky handle makes the shaving experience awkward
  • Trimmer head is on the small-side which takes longer to do the job
  • Not endorsed by a Pawn Star


If you’re living in cramped quarters, or you do not own a proper trimmer, the Hydro 5 Groomer is an adequate multitasker that can perform all the steps in your shaving routine. Most, however, will be better off sticking to a nice Hydro razor and leaving the trimming to a professional (device).










I Tried That: Kroger Fully Cooked Mexican Entrees

2014 July 19

I think it was George Costanza who once said “I like things I don’t have to think about.” I’m with ya, George, especially when it comes to food.
Unfortunately, that means when I want a Mexican fix, I usually end up at a Bell of a fast-food joint, or the local El “Fill in the Blank.”

That’s why, out of all of Kroger’s Summer Taste of Mexico offerings , I was most excited to try the Fully Cooked Mexican Entrees.

While my wife does most of the cooking in our household, I do find myself in the kitchen on certain occasions when she gets stuck in the office. For me, the proposition of a fully cooked Mexican entree helped give peace of mind that A). I won’t give my 5-year old salmonella and B). she might actually be able to identify, and want to eat, the finished product. Double win!

At $5.99, the price is definitely wallet friendly when compared to a night at the Bell.

But how do they taste?


Taste > Photogenic Ability

We tried the Beef Barbacoa. These things are quite good. The beef itself had a nice smokey cumin flavor with a hint of lime. We paired ours on soft tortillas with some sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, fresh cilantro from our garden, and some of Kroger’s Private Selection “Spicy Tomato Roja Salsa (which is amazing, by the way).

The heat from the beef and salsa complimented the cool sour cream and cilantro well. You might say it was “on point,” if you were on television and getting paid to say ridiculous things about food.

Prep was easy – remove the cardboard exterior, pop in the microwave, and shred with a fork. Definitely “me” proof.

The quality seemed to fall nicely between what you would get at a Taco Bell and what you’d get at Chipotle. It definitely didn’t come off as a microwaved meal. Which is a good thing.

The serving size was a good value at $5.99 (although we had gotten this one free as part of a BZZ Campaign). When you first open the package it doesn’t look like there is much meat inside. But, by the time you shred the 5-6 large chunks, you have enough meat for 3-4 decent size Tacos.

Going forward, I wouldn’t mind adding some Beef Barbacoa into our taco night routine. We might even keep a box handy in the freezer for the nights when I man the kitchen.

You should meat this product. Get it? Meat?

You should meat this product. Get it? Meat?



I Tried That: Schick Hydro 5 Sensitive Razor

2014 July 3
by travisrmartin

IMG_3008I hate shaving. I really do. I hate the time it takes. I hate the cost of shaving products. I hate trying to figure out how to shave around a mole on the side of my face without slicing it in half and sending me into a three hour bleed-a-thon (speaking from experience here).

Shaving, for me, is a necessary evil. Like paying taxes and picking up dog crap out of the yard.

Nevertheless, I have been a shaver once or twice a week for the past 20 years.

In that time period, I have used exactly one brand of razor. I’ll give you a hint: it wasn’t a Schick.

Having spent a month of quality time with the new Hydro (a free promotional sample I should add), my initial impression is this: I can’t tell a major difference in closeness of shave. But, there are other areas where the Hydro proves its worth.

To me the Hydro shines in providing a smooth shave at a cheaper price. The moisturizing strip at the top does a great job of keeping your skin protected while you shave. If you have sensitive skin, the Hydro line is worth trying for that reason alone.

For me, the kicker is price. Even if the Hydro series was JUST AS GOOD as it’s major competitor (although, I would rate it a tick above) cartridges run about 25% cheaper with Schick.

If you’re thinking about switching up your current shave routine, the Hydro is definitely worth a look.

One thing I would note. The Hydro blade feels bigger than what I am used to. I’ve attached a side-by-side pic for comparison. It takes a shave or two to get used to, especially if you are like me and have used a different brand for a while.


Should you buy it?: The Schick Razor probably won’t change your life, but at a significant cost savings over Gillette it doesn’t have to. If you’re looking to slice some dimes off of your shaving routine, this razor is worth looking into. read more…


Project Based Economics: The Vanguard Black Swan Fund Advertisement (Phase 2 Rollout)

2012 January 18

If you’re following along, and I know you have been, our History of Globalization class is in the middle of the Vanguard Black Swan Fund project. In the first part of the project, students researched and delivered a presentation on historical Black Swan events.

In phase 2, they will be creating a hypothetical Black Swan event, and assembling a mutual fund that will protect investors should their event occur.

I put together a short “commercial” advertising the Vanguard funds the students are creating. I used this as an entry document to introduce the second phase of the project, and draw everyone’s attention back to the project.

As part of the setup for Phase 2, we also shared the instructions, the rubric, and a sample prospectus – all of which are linked below.

Black Swan Fund Prospectus Rubric
Sample Prospectus
Prospectus Instructions



Project Based Economics: The Vanguard Black Swan Fund (Part 4 – Group Check-Ins)

2012 January 11
Daily Agenda from Echo

Daily Agenda from echo

Phase 1 of the Black Swan Fund project is well underway. Last week we rolled out the project and had two workshops. The first workshop was a remediation workshop where we covered the concept of the Black Swan in a small group setting. In the second workshop, my co-teacher modeled a presentation covering the Black Plague.

This week, the groups are working on researching their Black Swan events and putting their presentations together.

In this stage of a project, it is important to make sure students are heading in the right direction and staying on task. One of the mechanisms for doing that is the group check-in. During group check-ins, we meet individually with each group to assess progress and provide support. These check-ins normally take about 5-10 minutes per group and they are used as part of a students’ Professionalism grade.

With presentations beginning tomorrow, I’ll provide the list of topics selected by the students as being “Black Swan” events. Should there be any exemplary presentations, I’ll post them as well.

  • BP Oil Spill
  • Bank runs preceding the Great Depression
  • 9/11 Terrorist Attacks
  • Y2K Glitch (Some Black Swans are events that people expect to happen, but don’t occur)
  • Invention of Cotton Gin
  • Invention/Growth of Internet
  • Emancipation Proclamation
  • Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech”
  • Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand
  • Invention of Automobile
  • Columbine School Shooting
  • Apollo 11 Launch
  • Stock Market Crash of 1929
  • Secession of South Carolina from Union
  • Declaration of Independence

Project Based Economics: The Vanguard Black Swan Fund (Part 3 – Workshops)

2012 January 6
Daily Agenda from Echo

Daily Agenda from Echo

Workshops are an integral part of the Project-Based Learning process. They can be used to teach concepts needed for the project, or to provide remediation to students who are struggling.

The first workshop we created for the Black Swan Fund project was a 20 minute small group workshop required for students who:

1). did not score an 80% or higher on the quiz from the previous day
2). students who did not attempt to take the quiz
3). students who were absent the day we rolled out the project

Since this class is team taught, we are able to have one instructor stay in the classroom while the other instructor leads workshops in a separate room. Students that needed this workshop, about 25 out of 75 students, were broken into three separate groups which were based on the three criteria mentioned above. We try to keep our workshop groups to 15 students or less, which allows for a lot of one-on-one attention and better discussions.

In today’s workshop, we:

  1. Re-read (or read for the first time) pages 1-2 of the Black Swan Prologue
  2. Looked at the Wikipedia entry for the Black Swan Theory, as a means of summarizing the reading
  3. Discussed how the Terrorist Attacks of 9/11 fit the Black Swan criteria
  4. Reviewed the Quiz from yesterday

While the workshops were taking place, my teach teacher Mrs. Deardorff was in the classroom helping students select a topic for their Black Swan presentation. We’ll list the results of that in a separate post.




Project Based Economics: Vanguard Black Swan Fund (Part II – Project Rollout)

2012 January 4

In the last post, I introduced a new project being rolled out in our History of Globalization class. This project requires students to study historical Black Swan events and build a mutual fund to protect investors against a hypothetical upcoming Black Swan that the students create.

Details of that post, including the entry documents for the project can be found HERE.

I will be posting updates on the project as the class works through it, in order to give everyone an idea of what project-based learning looks like in practice.

Sample of Student Need to Knows

Need to Knows

Today, the class went through the following project roll out activities:

  1. Read the entry document (This document provides the framework of the project for the students)
  2. Students selected groups of 2-5
  3. Rubric Review (Students are shown rubrics at start of project so they know what is expected of them)
  4. Students document Knows and Need to Knows. This allows students to assess their prior knowledge and express what they need to know to successfully complete the project. Need to Knows also tell the instructors what areas they need to provide instruction and support to the students.
  5. Students create group contract that specifies each group member’s role in completing the project


After the groups  completed the rollout activities (which generally take 45 minutes to 1 hour, combined) each student read the Prologue to the book “The Black Swan,” and completed a short five question quiz in Google Docs to demonstrate that they had read.

If you don’t have access to a copy of the Black Swan, NPR has a copy of the prologue on their website.

You can find the five question quiz over the prologue HERE.

Next, we’ll talk about workshops and how they will be used in the Black Swan project.



Project Based Economics: The Vanguard Black Swan Fund (Part I – Project Creation)

2011 December 29

One of the benefits of working in a New Tech High School, and using project-based learning (PBL) as a primary mode of instruction, is that people rarely tell you “that’s a stupid idea.” (Disclaimer: when I say people, I don’t mean students. Students will not hesitate to tell you if something is stupid, regardless of the format it is presented in).

So, last year when I suggested that the school take two classes that most students  hate, World History and Economics, and combine them into one course, the only question my Principal had was “what are you going to call it?”

Six months later, I’m halfway through the inaugural edition of “Historical Foundations of Globalization.” What the class lacks in textbooks and curriculum maps, it makes up for in important sounding titles. My co-teacher, History guru Connie Deardorff, and I have knocked out about six projects so far this year, and have another half-dozen on the horizon.

The next project, which will run through January, involves that old Economics staple the stock market. Simple enough, right? Just throw the stock market game at them, and call it a day. But, that’s not how it works in PBL land. In PBL land, we need a project that is authentic and ties in real world application to classroom content. And, as an added bonus, the project has to seamlessly combine World History with Economics. Thankfully, making a project that fits all these requirements is easier than it sounds.

A few years ago, Nassim Taleb published the bestselling book The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. A Black Swan is a positive or negative event that has massive consequences, yet is unpredictable prior to its occurrence. According to Taleb, “a small number of Black Swans explain almost everything in our world.”

Since Black Swans have such a large impact on our lives, it would be nice to be able to prepare for them financially. This thought leads us to the driving question of the project: How can we construct a mutual fund that will provide investors with portfolio protection/growth in the event of a global calamity?

Basically, the idea is that the students select assets for a diversified mutual fund that will provide financial protection in the event of a large-scale Black Swan (it could be a virus like the Black Plague, a nuclear holocaust, a world wide drought, etc.). We are using Vanguard as a backdrop for the project, which has three deliverables:

  1. Groups create and deliver an 8-12 minute presentation on a historical (already occurred) Black Swan event
  2. Students select the stocks for a mutual fund that protects investors against a Black Swan of their choosing. For the fund, they create an accompanying prospectus, which describes the stocks in the fund, tracks their performance, and explains the historical events that the fund is hedging against.
  3. Students create and deliver  a presentation to sell the fund to financial advisers. We are having some local bankers and investment reps come in and critique the presentations.

The entry document, which frames the project for the students, and the instructions for completion of deliverable #1 (along with the rubric) are attached below.

Vanguard Black Swan Project Entry Document

Vanguard Black Swan Project Deliverable 1

Vanguard Black Swan Fund Deliverable 1 Rubric

Note: I’m taking a few liberties with the Black Swan concept. Mr. Taleb would argue that Black Swans, by nature, are unpredictable. As such, he would probably laugh at the idea of a mutual fund that promised protection against any Black Swan.



One Round with the Double Down: A Review of KFC’s New Birdwich

2010 April 16

In the book of Genesis, God ordered Noah to build an Ark and fill it with two of every living creature.

The KFC Double Down in all of its uneaten glory

The KFC Double Down in all of its uneaten glory

Thousands of years later, Colonel Sanders would tell his KFC employees to grab a wrapper and fill it with two of every animal. The result, the Double Down Sandwich, was unleashed upon the multitudes this past week like a plague of artery-clogging, deep fried locusts.

The Double Down Sandwich isn’t a sandwich in the conventional sense of the word. It’s not even food in the conventional sense of the word. It’s two slices of bacon, two slices of cheese, and special sauce ensconced in two fried chicken breasts masquerading as buns.

If you are keeping count, that leaves the Double Down just one piece of fish shy of having every sea and land dwelling animal accounted for – and that’s assuming there are no traces of ground-up fish in the special sauce.

I sat down with my very own Double Down Sandwich yesterday. Here’s a bite-by-bite account of the experience.

4:57 P.M.
The ordering process for the Double Down Birdwich is pretty straightforward, and revolves around answering one simple question: would you like traditional fried or grilled? To me, that’s like asking someone who drinks whether they would like to have an alcoholic or a non-alcoholic beer.  If you’re going to commit death-by-chicken, you might as well do it right.

Unfortunately, I was informed by my friendly cashier that they would have to fry up a new batch of the “traditional” chicken, so I would have to wait about 7 minutes for my first bite.

4:58 P.M.
To pass the time, I ask the cashier about the Double Down. She tells me that they have been selling well, and that she just learned to make them today. I wonder (to myself) what kind of specialized training is needed to assemble a sandwich with no buns and 4 ingredients.

5:00 P.M.
Taking my seat, I look around the restaurant. There’s one older couple, a younger couple with a child, and an older gentlemen. None appeared to be eating a Double Down. I feel a vague sense of accomplishment for ordering the Double Down – kind of like a fast food Evel Knievel.

5:04 P.M.
My DD arrives. The KFC girl warns me the “sandwich might be hot,” which is a very appropriate warning. If you’ve ever had fast-food, you know that your food “might be hot,” but usually never is. The wrapper reiterates the warning with a “Caution: Hot” label. In looking at the fried beast, I assume that the surgeon general would have a few additional warnings he’d like to see on the wrapper.

There are many "Cautions" KFC could have put on the Double Down. They chose to stick with "Hot."

There are many "Cautions" KFC could have put on the Double Down. They chose to stick with "Hot."

5:05 P.M. (Bite #1)
The sandwich is indeed hot. And the chicken is indeed juicy. The combination has left me with what I am pretty sure are third degree burns on my fingers. I wonder if Stella eats at KFC.

Your insides won't be the only thing that burns.

Your insides won't be the only thing that burns.

5:06 P.M. (Bite #2)
The sandwich is also greasy. My fingers have yet to come into direct contact with the chicken, thanks to the handy paper wrapper, but I still feel like I’m covered in grease.

5:07 P.M. (Bites #3 – 7)
Have you ever had a sandwich where the bun overlapped the meat, and you have to eat through multiple bites of nothing but bun to get to the stuff in the middle? Not a very tasty task. But, replace the buns with chicken breasts, and suddenly going through 4 bites to get to something else doesn’t seem so bad. The Colonel may be on to something here.

5:09 P.M. (Bite #8)
I find the bacon deposit hiding deep in the loins of the fried chicken. It has that classic fast-food bacon taste, meaning that it has the consistency of rubber and a heavy fake-smoke flavor.

5:10 (Bite #9)
Unlike the 11 herbs and spices, which has been a closely guarded secret for decades, the Double Down’s special sauce is easy to decipher. It’s mayonnaise. With some other junk thrown in.

5:12 (Bite #10)
A KFC employee wiping down tables looks over at me. I’m sure she is judging me and my gluttonous order. Instead, she asks me how I’m enjoying the DD. I tell her I am “pleasantly surprised.” She smiles and nods as if to say, “the Colonel knew you would like it.”

5:14 (Bite #12)
The wrapper, which had up to this point been fighting a valiant battle against chicken grease, has given up. I have to tackle the last few bites bare-handed.

Wrappers are for sissies

Wrappers are for sissies

5:16 (Bite #15)
A piece of cheese has broken free from its chicken fried coffin. I attempt to reassemble what’s left of the sandwich, but find that’s easier said than done.

When symmetrical buns are involved, reassembly is easy – you just line up the bite marks. Lining up two half-eaten pieces of chicken breasts is damn near impossible. I wonder if my cashier learned how to re-assemble the sandwich as part of her DD training.

An unsuccessful attempt at reassembling the Double Down

An unsuccessful attempt at reassembling the Double Down

5:18 (Bite #18)
Ordering a Double Down makes you feel a little like Adam Richman from Man Vs. Food. But, as I approach the end of the sandwich, I find I am feeling less like a food-conquering hero and more like a buckethead that just spent $7.00 for a “value-meal” with two pieces of chicken. Is it possible to have buyer’s remorse with fast food? I’m sure in a few hours I will have eater’s remorse.

5:20 (Bite #21)
The sandwich is, unceremoniously, gone. No streamers fell from the ceiling. No bells and whistles went off. And, as far as I can tell, my heart did not implode. For all the fanfare this sandwich has received, the actual act of eating it was  quite mundane.

But, as much as I wanted to hate the DD, I really can’t. To summarize:


  • If you get it straight out of the fryer, the chicken on the DD is pretty tasty.
  • Buying Double Down Sandwiches paves the way for KFC parent Yum Brands to introduce other ridiculous menu items like the Pizza Hut Burrito Stuffed Crust Pizza.
  • Sandwich is Atkins Friendly with no filling buns to get in your way. 


  • $4.99 is too much for this sandwich.
  • Like most of the items at KFC, the chicken is the star. Everything else on the sandwich is subpar.
  • God help the person who tries to eat one if these after it has cooled off.

Teaching Resource: The Random Person Picker

2010 April 8

There’s a classic scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where Ben Stein, playing an Economics Teacher, has a one-way discussion with a class full of bored students.

If you’re a high school teacher, you probably know how he feels. Sometimes you get a class where the students just don’t want to volunteer any information. Or maybe you get one or two kids that answer all the questions while the rest of the class sits there in whatever world teenagers drift into when they tune out.

Screenshot of Random Person Generator

Screenshot of Random Person Generator

One thing that I like to do to get the entire class involved when reviewing material is to use a Random Person Picker. The “Picker” is just an excel spreadsheet with a list of student names and a formula that randomly selects a name from the students on the list. By using this random selection method, I can keep students on their toes, because they never know who may be picked. This also eliminates any tendency I may have to call on certain students (aka – the ones that know the answers) over-and-over.

The spreadsheet itself is fairly simple to operate. You enter the student names in one column, tweak a formula, and then hit “F9″ to generate a random selection. Most of the time I have the students pick a number between 1-5 and then click “F9″ the corresponding number of times. Using this method, they get to see their names flash along the screen and it builds a little suspense for the class.

The instructions on how to use the spreadsheet are spelled out specifically in the actual file, which I will link below.

Excel Workbook: Random Person Picker


Twitter links powered by Tweet This v1.8.3, a WordPress plugin for Twitter.