Sunday, April 3, 2016

My favorite albums of 2015

Honorable Mention: jj - death

10. Chungking - Defender

9. Lana Del Rey - Honeymoon

8. Florence + The Machine - How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

7. Of Monsters And Men - Beneath The Skin

6. HEALTH - Death Magic

5. Halsey - Badlands

4. CHVRCHES - Every Open Eye

3. Beach House - Thank Your Lucky Stars

2. Beach House - Depression Cherry

1. Purity Ring - Another Eternity

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Toilet paper: An update

Back in October 2013 I wrote a blog post about Charmin toilet paper and its significant decline in quality and also quantity per roll (a reduction in both the width and number of sheets per roll).

For over a year now I've meant to make a follow-up post since some of the information in that post is out of date, but I've never gotten around to it. This morning I just approved a new comment on that post, so I guess people are still stumbling across it when they realize how awful Charmin is now. So, here is an update.

In my original post I recommended Wal-Mart's Great Value Ultra Strong toilet paper as a good alternative to Charmin, similar in quality and value to the old, pre-shrink ray formulation. I think I managed to get 2 12-packs of Great Value Ultra Strong toilet paper in October and November of 2013 before I made a trip to Wal-Mart only to find they were completely out of stock of Great Value toilet paper. Several weeks later I went back and it was back in stock. But now instead of 10.8cm wide, each roll was now only 10.1cm wide. Also, the number of sheets per family roll had been reduced from 200 to 192. I never bought the new version, so I don't know if the texture was changed for the worse like Charmin.

Within a month or two, I think almost every single brand of toilet paper that's locally available went from 10.8cm wide to 9.9cm to 10.1cm wide. I did find two exceptions, however. The first is Cottonelle, which was 10.6cm wide both before and after other other companies changed. Cottonelle has a unique stripe texture, due to which I don't think I've ever tried the brand. The second is Target's Up & Up brand, which didn't change their toilet paper at all during this time period, keeping the same 10.8cm wide and 165 sheets per double roll, with a very good texture. Unlike Charmin which offers separate Strong and Soft formulations, Up & Up had only Premium Soft And Strong, which offered the upside of each (Strong so it doesn't fall apart in your hand, Soft so it's not too rough).

So for a year or so, Up & Up Premium Bath Tissue: Soft And Strong was easily the best combination of quality and value for toilet paper.

Unfortunately, a few months ago Target discontinued the Up & Up Premium Bath Tissue: Soft And Strong and replaced it with Up & Up Ultra Soft Bath Tissue. The new version is significantly thinner than the old version. The difference is immediately noticeable when comparing the two versions, with the old version being superior. When actually using the two different versions, though, the difference isn't as obvious. While the old version was better, the new version is still good. Fortunately, they didn't change the quantity per roll at all, as it's the exact same 165 sheets and 10.8cm wide. Considering the reduced quality and pathetically narrow rolls of most every other brand,
I recommend Target's Up & Up Ultra Soft Bath Tissue.

Also, it's worth noting that you might still be able to find the old, superior version at Target for a limited time while they exhaust old stock. For the last couple months my local Target still has had 12-packs of double rolls of the old Up & Up Premium Soft And Strong version in stock. While the 12-packs of double rolls of the Up & Up Premium Soft And Strong bath tissue have a higher per roll price than the 24-packs, in my opinion the higher quality makes them worth purchasing if you can find them.

For reference, here are pictures of the packaging of the old and new versions.

The old version that's great and highly recommended if you can find it:

The new, not as good version, that's probably still better than anything else currently available:

I think that's everything I have to add. If anyone has found a good alternative that I've missed, please leave a message in the comments.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My favorite albums of 2014

Honorable Mention: Thievery Corporation - Saudade

10. Asha Ali - Loud And Out Of Place

9. St. Vincent - St. Vincent

8. Nina Persson - Animal Heart

7. Lily & Madeleine - Fumes

6. Röyksopp - The Inevitable End

5. Stars - No One Is Lost

4. Wye Oak - Shriek

3. Lykke Li - I Never Learn

2. JJ - V

1. Tove Lo - Queen Of The Clouds

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Worst Company in America 2014

Today The Consumerist launched their annual Worst Company in America tournament.

This year they made a big improvement over previous years' tournaments, as the first round is no longer mostly companies in the same field facing off against each other. For example, last year in the first round they had Bank of America vs. Capital One, and Chase vs. Wells Fargo, with the winners then facing off against each other in the 2nd round, so 3 were of them were guaranteed out before the 3rd round started. But those 4 companies were all deserving of #1 seeds, and would have made an excellent final four.

The new system is still not perfect, as they haven't adopted a complete seeding system, and there's some bad early match-ups with strong vs. strong and weak vs. weak (e.g., Sallie Mae could have easily made the final four, but was gifted with a first round match-up against Koch Industries). It's definitely a step in the right direction, though, and a good sign that things will continue to improve in the future.

Anyway, here are my brackets:

Follow all of the action at The Consumerist:
Worst Company In America 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Brooklyn Nine-Nine GIFs

2 GIFs from "Operation: Broken Feather," the Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode that aired after the Super Bowl.

Peralta Guarantee Achieved


Saturday, January 4, 2014

My favorite albums of 2013

Honorable Mention: The Lonely Island - The Wack Album

10. Juno Reactor - The Golden Sun Of The Great East

9. Glasser - Interiors

8. Gary Numan - Splinter

7. Lily & Madeleine - S/T

6. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

5. M.I.A. - Matangi

4. Sky Ferreira - Night Time, My Time

3. Lorde - Pure Heroine

2. CHVRCHES - The Bones Of What You Believe

1. Lily & Madeleine - The Weight Of The Globe EP

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Warning: Charmin toilet paper is now a completely different product, and it's terrible.

The grocery shrink ray is something we've all encountered and is nothing new.

For years now, cans of coffee, cartons of ice cream, and boxes of cereal, just to name a few things, have regularly been made smaller and smaller while the price stays the same. Cereal boxes in particular have become so pathetically thin that before long you'll be able to run down the cereal aisle and the boxes will all go flying in your wake. That will be a fun viral video craze! Well, except for the people who have to clean up the mess.

But what is it called when a company completely changes a product without any outer indication that it's changed at all?

I've worn Levi's 569 loose fit jeans for over a decade. They fit me perfectly. Then a few years ago they completely changed how they fit. This new (and current) version is significantly tighter in the thighs, much bigger in the waist and butt, and made out of noticeably thinner material. Yet they are still called called by the same name, with no indication that anything has changed. If you hadn't heard about it, you'd never notice until you tried a new pair on found that they don't fit.

Similarly, I've been buying Charmin toilet paper for many years now. I used to use Charmin Ultra Soft toilet paper, then a few years ago I switched to Charmin Ultra Strong toilet paper. It worked well, was soft without falling apart, and could usually be found for about fifty cents for each double roll. But after my most recent purchase of it, I will never buy Charmin toilet paper again.

I first noticed something was wrong when I put a new roll on the holder and there was even more empty room than usual. I checked and sure enough, the old rolls were 10.8cm wide, while the new rolls are only 9.9cm wide. The new roll covers only 73% of the length of the holder, leaving over 25% empty space.

This isn't the first time they've made the rolls narrower. A few years ago they trimmed 1cm or so off the rolls as well.

While the narrower roll is the most obvious change, Charmin made two other negative changes to their toilet paper.

The first is they reduced the number of sheets on the rolls. The number of sheets for double rolls was reduced from 176 to 165 sheets per roll, and for mega rolls it went from 352 to 330 sheets per roll.

The third and biggest change, though, the one that ruined the product, is that they completely changed the texture. Before, both the Ultra Strong and Ultra Soft versions were very soft. Now, it's like sandpaper. I don't buy Kleenex, and instead just put rolls of toilet paper around for when I need to blow my nose. After just a couple day of using the new rolls, both my nose and butthole are sore from the rough new tissue.

Many other people noticed these changes as well, and the comments page on the Charmin Facebook page is overrun with complaints.

The Charmin PR person who has been given the unenviable task of responding to the flood of complaints about the now ruined product actually claims that the new texture is actually a feature. Here are a couple sample responses to complaints about the new version:

Charmin: Hi Memi, so sorry! We didn’t intend for anyone feel this way. Along with the slightly shorter roll, we made some product upgrades such as the comfort cushions on the Ultra Soft rolls for enhanced softness. We know price is important and our goal is to offer the highest quality toilet paper at a great value. I’m sharing your expectations with our team and appreciate you reaching out to us.
September 30 at 2:59pm

Charmin: Hi Sheila, Sorry to hear of your disappointment when you opened up the new Charmin! In addition to the rolls being slightly shorter, the new pattern of comfort cushions were added to enhance softness. We wouldn’t expect it to be less soft so I’m definitely sharing your comments. We also added some fibers back into the sheet for a more concentrated tissue that still covers the width of an average hand, to get the job done. I understand you liked the original just fine but hope you’ll give this newer version a try and check back with us later. We appreciate your feedback.
September 30 at 3:00pm

So now changing it from very soft to very rough is "enhanced softness." If Bush 43 were still president whoever came up with this Orwellian gem would probably be a frontrunner for the Medal of Freedom or something.

While I know I'll never buy Charmin toilet paper again, I still have a bunch of these new horrible rolls. While they're obviously not fit for contact with skin, I don't want them to go to waste. So I think I'll use them in place of paper towels until they run out. I try to use paper towels as little as possible, often tearing off just a few inches at a time. While this toilet paper is surely not as absorbent as regular paper towels, they should be more convenient when I only want a small piece.

Then there's the issue of what toilet paper I'll buy going forward. After looking around, the current best option looks to be Walmart's Great Value Ultra Strong toilet paper. The "big" rolls (comparable to the double roll size for Charmin) have a generous 200 sheets per roll, and are 10.8cm wide. They're also very soft, and about the same per roll price as the Charmin Ultra Strong.

Hopefully they and other toilet paper manufacturers don't follow Charmin's lead in ruining their product and maintain their current quality. If they do, they stand to gain a lot of new customers as I expect many people to be looking for a new brand after they discover just how awful the new Charmin is.

UPDATE (January 6, 2015): After I wrote this in October 2013, Wal-Mart discontinued the version of Great Value toilet paper that I recommended above, reducing the width of the roll from 10.8cm to 10.1cm, and also reducing the number of sheets per roll. Because of this I no longer recommend Great Value toilet paper. This morning I wrote a new post with current information and a new recommendation, which can be found here: Toilet paper: An update.