It's our FIFTH anniversary!! New Year's Day was always a favorite holiday but the past few years it's taken on even more significance. Five years ago, on January 1, 2015, this experiment in getting guys to do a Rule began. A much smaller group of us huddled up, got our gear shined up, did test lathers for the week ahead of time and generally got set to get serious about shaving. The thread actually opened up early on Christmas Day back then, just to give everyone a chance to get going. Our legendary founder, the one, the only @Bama Samurai , had recruited the group and wanted to make sure we all got on the same page. By the time the 1st had rolled around and we had our “official” start we had put up 178 posts. #179 was the first one actually on New Year’s Day. There had been several members who started up with a December 31st shave. If you want to read through that month HERE IS THE LINK! It is a closed thread now but still available to read and add any “likes” you might want to. Don’t fear, busier people, I’ll be referring back to some memorable posts throughout this anniversary month to recall some really good times. For the numbers guys, we finished that first month with 1090 posts, though it grew a bit afterwards as we didn’t close the thread until this year. So there are a few more at the end that were mostly responses and replies to much earlier events. Imagine a month with 1090 posts. A whole MONTH! Shoot, we can put up that many in just a couple of days now. As the thread continued we saw numbers of members go up and down, as well as post counts. Chris and I figured around May we were done. Apparently, we were both delusional. Things kept going and going and going and, every now and then a big jump in newbies, the older members would teach, then the next generation would teach and so it went. And still goes. It’s not the same 30DC thread it was in the beginning. It’s become something else entirely, though its roots and basic purpose remains the same. We still teach shaving. We still answer every question anyone has to ask. We still promote our favorite hobby. The sense of community that has grown, in spite of conventional wisdom that says you can’t have a group like this now. I've seen people share their grief, their comfort, their joys, their frustrations and much of their lives with each other. We have regular weekly pics of kids growing up. Of food we cook and devour. (BBQ to the top of the list). Homes we build and buy. We share stories of loved ones fighting disease and we celebrate anniversaries, birthday, graduations and all that life offers. And the humor we throw around? You'd think we were brothers at times the way we go at it. Of course, any group that can have its own major uprising and rebellion over imaginary cookies (no, they're real, I'm just saying) is a group that I want to be a part of for a long time. Ah, yes, the great Cookie Rebellion of 2018. Is it gone for good? Perhaps, but something will take its place. As we have grown over the five years we also added something new. The STL Meet-Up has been held for two years. I had no idea if that would even work the first year but….it did. In 2019 it worked again with a slightly different mix of people. Cartel HQ has been honored to host the event and meet some very fine people in the process. Five years ago – who would have imagined those events? In our first month we had 41 members participate. I have tried to count members several times in the past few months and gave up. It’s a fluid bunch so I don’t know if we have more, less, or just a roving bunch of gangsters checking in. Some charter members are still around, lots of new guys, some who have been with us for 4 years, 2 years, who knows. But you’re all important. To all of the charter members still here, THANK YOU for your dedication to this group. To those who have wandered in and haven't left – THANK YOU for adding yourselves to this group. To the brand new members who still aren't sure what the heck is going on (you mean they really shave with popsicle sticks...and that's the safest stunt?!?!?!) THANK YOU for your fresh perspective and for allowing us all to share. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the man who really started the concept. @GDCarrington was a very active member and leader who invented the Rule. He also outlined the Focus at the beginning of February 2015 after a number of us had kept bending the Rule into something it wasn’t. Even then we were a bunch of cats in need of a herder. G.D. has left TSD but his teachings continue. Technique Trumps Tools. You’ve heard me say it over and over. You’ve read it, maybe said it yourself. It’s his concept. We just took it and made it a successful process. From Cartel HQ West on the banks of the mighty Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, a huge THANK YOU to you all and here's to our sixth year of keeping it all going and growing. Well, that’s my introduction for the month. So, let’s get down to the usual business. Wondering what the heck a 30 Day Rule or Focus is? Well, let’s let the one, the only, the legendary and mystical @Bama Samurai remind us. Please rise and remove your hats and hold your favorite razor aloft in tribute. We’ll pause for a moment of revered silence. The 30 Day Rule (designed to build solid technique or learn new technique) 1 brush, 1 soap, 1 brand of blades, 1 razor, 30 Days. The rule is really that simple. It seems boring, but this is probably the most straightforward way to learn for a brand new shaver. This is the exercise that really allowed me to clearly see the interplay between the four elements. It is highly recommended for newly converted shavers and more experienced shavers who have a problem that defies resolution. This exercise eliminates variables and will likely solve any problem you may have, with a strict scientific approach.Any thing that strays from these simple guidelines is not a rule, but rather a focus (not that there's anything wrong with that!) The 30 Day Focus (more flexible, for exploring and comparing) This is a less rigorous exercise, designed for exploration and comparison of gear and technique. This is the most common exercise on the thread. Generally the elements are rotated one by one to allow clear observation. Examples of focus areas include brush types, blades, soaps, razor variants, or technique foci as a standalone. These are the suggested guidelines, and serve as a starting point for the discussion each month. I know we normally have a theme - and if you need a suggestion - how about Shavettes? It's a good time to pull those out if you have them or give one a try! Don't want to do that? Perfectly fine. It's your shave so make it a great one! We believe that if you've ever sought a great shave, you have something to offer. And if you're searching for great shaves, we will definitely try to help. If you are new to TSD, I believe you've landed in a great place. Everyone here participating would love to answer your questions and help you get the most from your shaving. We are very glad you're here! So, if you're new, stop in for a cookie and meet the crew. If this is old hat, welcome back, and let's rock another month out! Rules are the same people. 1. New Members always welcome. Start anytime. 2. Old Members always welcome. What makes you and old member? You just know. 3. Respect everyone 4. Follow the rules of the forum 5. All razor types and styles welcome 6. Remember – the Cartel is always watching. But I wouldn’t worry too much about that. We still drink too much vodka to notice everything. Let's have some great shaves people! Welcome to the FIFTH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION!!!!!!! Group hug people!