Forget bullets—an exclamation point should cost $5000.
The first time I shaved, I used a cheap disposable razor that I happened to find in the bathroom. I was 15.
|These were dreadful, by the way.|
I didn’t know any better at the time, and I didn’t learn any better for a while. It was easy to just keep using progressively bladier multi-blade cartridge models. Two blades to start, then four after a couple of years. I stuck with four long after the world had moved ahead, but I soon caught up with the whole five blade deal.
Clearly my razor wasn’t the only tool in the bathroom.
I’d hear mumblings from other men about better ways to shave, but the thought of my mother scolding me because I cut my throat open because I was using a dangerous razor still loomed large in my otherwise-independent adult brain. I was in my mid-20s by that point, but I’ll never outgrow that sort of thing because she’ll never outgrow not letting me hear the end of it if something goes wrong.
It’s a good thing I didn’t listen to hypothetical-her (sorry, mom) because if I had, I wouldn’t have picked up my first double-edge razor a couple of years ago.
Double-edge razors are also known as “safety razors” because they were a heck of a lot safer than those big, scary straight razors that were common before them.
It may seem ironic today, because it’s definitely easier to cut yourself with a double-edge than with a cartridge razor, but you know what else is easier to cut with a double-edge? The hair on your face. Which is what matters.
Shaving with one of these sharp thingies requires you to take it slow, but that’s alright.
Seriously though, they’re actually good
I use a double-edge razor because1 I find them to be more effective, lead to less skin irritation and fewer ingrown hairs, and over the long run, actually be cheaper. It’s also nice that shaving this way leads to a lot less waste to be thrown away.
It was only after I began shaving with one for the reasons above, that I realized another benefit: I’m shaving with an open system of interchangeable parts.
Since safety razors have been around since the very early 1900s, any patents on the system have long-since expired. That means that anyone can create handles or blades that are compatible with everything else available for the system, which leads to a wealth of choice for both handles and blades… which of course means low prices.
What excites me much more than the potential for saving money (sorry again, mom) is the potential for customization that such an open system allows. Basically, I can pair any razor designed for this standard—fat handles, skinny handles, short handles, shiny ones, douchebag ones, ones from the future, uh, this one—with any blade that I want. This means I can separate the style from the substance; I can pair my favorite handle with my favorite blade and have what is, to me, the ultimate shaving machine.
Ever heard someone complain about how expensive it is to shave, or more specifically, to buy refills for a cartridge razor? I probably don’t need to explain the razor and blades business model that cartridge razors follow. (If you like paying a lot of money for the rest of forever, you’ll love it.)
If you perused those Amazon links above, you’re probably wondering what’s wrong with my idea of “cheap.” Well, the double-edge razor turns the razor and blades model on its head; in this world, the handle is the more expensive item, with $30 US not being unusual for the more common brands. However, this buys a quality metal instrument that will likely outlive you… and you definitely make up for it with the blades — 10¢ or 20¢ blades are common!
The double-edge shaving system isn’t going anywhere.
While it’s obviously less popular now than it was in its heyday (but so were fedoras, and cool guys still wear those), we know how the Internet changes things; retailers can use it to sell obscure products to weirdos everywhere, the kind of things mass-market brick-and-mortar locations would never bother stocking on their shelves. I don’t mind buying online and waiting a few days, so I can have any blade I want delivered to my door.
Cheaper, better and ultimately, more interchangeable. That’s why I shave like this.
I have lots of things in my life. Some of these objects are for fun, some a spend most of their time just taking up space, some are actually useful, some are a burden but must be kept around anyway.
Many of the better objects in my life share a few common traits. These objects tend to be:
- less mainstream1
- more effective
- more difficult to use
- definitely more customizable
Most importantly these items all:
- feature interchangeable parts
I’ve recently noticed that I’ve been accepting more objects like these — ones that are a part of an open system — into my life. Why? This wasn’t a concerted effort but an unconscious desire for better experiences… I guess. On a micro-level, each time I chose one of these items, I obviously believed that it would improve a facet of my life that I care about, and do its job better than its more mainstream, more available, and (possibly) more convenient counterpart. I also understand why not everyone uses these objects, even though I know their benefits and find them more effective at their jobs.
So in the coming days (weeks, months, whatever) I’m going to be highlighting these objects and what they mean to me, how they earned their place in my life, and why I ultimately put up with them.
So stay tuned, or whatever you do on the Internet.
This is not a post about Steve Jobs. I read enough of them in the days and weeks after his death. I read in these a lot of what I already knew and learned some new stuff for sure, but one Steve quote stood out to me in Wired’s obituary:
I’m a big believer in boredom,” he told me. Boredom allows one to indulge in curiosity, he explained, and “out of curiosity comes everything.”
I’m not sure if I’d head this quote from him before, but it put into words something that has been troubling me for some time: I haven’t been bored in years.
The first time I noticed this was in the mid-2000s, and I only realized part of it, and I saw it through the lens of my Internet usage, particularly RSS. Even today, as the cool kids have moved on to following Twitter feeds (really, talk about a step backwards) of websites and blogs they find interesting, I’m still a huge fan of the no-bullshit, user-in-control, decentralized power of RSS.1
What occurred to me back then was that having posts pushed to me daily gave me more reading material than I needed. And since I could never get all the way through the unread glut of posts from blogs I’d subscribed to, my need to ever go foraging for interesting things to read basically disappeared. RSS gave me tons of serendipity (thank you, linkblogs!)… and at the same time, practically none at all. I miss the old days — some would say the bad old days — when I’d get my online entertainment and random bits of enlightenment by browsing aimlessly from link to link, being personally pointed to interesting things by friends on AIM, following latest links posted to proto-blogs like Pixelsurgeon, and… I don’t know, however else we found cool shit back then.
The second time I felt this effect of this was at some point over the last few years, but this time in a more general sense. This time it was bigger than RSS; this time it was about everything in my life.
I realized I have far too many options for entertainment. There are two reasons for this: massive digital storage devices and the fact that, being employed gives me an actual entertainment budget for purchasing paid media and fancy devices on which to experience it. Between a pile of unread books and bunch of e-books; more unwatched movies, seasons of old TV shows and anime series than I can name; and games galore that I’ll never finish (thank you Nintendo Wii and DS, Android phone and a still-kickin’ Atari 2600), I’m pretty much set for… forever.2 Even if I don’t seek out anything new, it’ll be years and years before I get through all of this. And it’s not like I can just ignore new releases and stuff I become aware of in the meantime!
I might be able to enjoy this world o’ plenty, if I could forget about what life was like when I was growing up, before we had the computing power, storage and network capacity to experience all the digital riches of more entertainment than we’ll ever need. I spent so much time being bored growing up, aimlessly thinking and daydreaming and such. This was before my first computer; I had tons of books and had probably read almost all of them, made good use of the public library, played with toys, action figures and stuff a whole lot and still found time to be bored and daydream because it seemed like I had run out of things to do.
If you live a similarly full, media-rich and employed first-world life, and can still ever find yourself so luxuriously bored, how do you manage? And can you teach me?
I went to a restaurant recently, one that could be placed comfortably in the same genre as Cheesecake Factory. Nice atmosphere, food’s great. But what stood out most to me was the way they marketed desserts.
What would you think the top reason is that people don’t order dessert? I’d guess that the first or second (the other being health/weight concerns) is that their entrée leaves them too full to eat more. How do you sell a dessert to someone who’s too stuffed to eat one? Get them to order it before they’re stuffed.
Our server initially mentioned, then reminded us on almost every appearance she made at our table, that all of their desserts are delicious, made-to-order and take up to 30 minutes to prepare, so my dining companion and I should get our dessert order in early if we don’t want to wait.
This might not give a non-critical thinker pause, but — you know — I tend to notice when someone’s reaching for my wallet. I also understand that restaurants tend to run at pretty slim profit margins, and how important attach rates of desserts, drinks and appetizers are to their business.
They really want you to have that slice of cheesecake, even if they’re probably going to be boxing it up to-go. Clever, huh?
A choice quote from an all-around interesting interview:
The point is that tools are always going to be used for certain things we don’t find personally pleasing. And it’s ultimately the wisdom of people, not the tools themselves, that is going to determine whether or not these things are used in positive, productive ways.