Learning to Wet Shave

I purchased my first Braun electric razor in 1987 while I was living in Germany. Up until that time I shaved using cheap disposable razors. That’s what I watched my father use, and I figured I’d continue the tradition of blue Gillette razors and gooey aerosol shaving cream.

My father told me I’d eventually want to move to an electric razor because it would be easier to navigate the numerous chin scars with a blade behind an aluminum foil. I found his words to be true after plunking down about $200 for the nifty Braun gadget. Without prepping my face with any oils, lotions or creams, the Braun glided over my face removing the day’s stubble in less than three minutes. No mess. No cleanup. I couldn’t imagine ever going back to a razor of any kind.

And then last year I came across an article from Lex Friedman titled,  The Wet Shave.

I was curious, but it all seemed a bit overwhelming. There was a list of required items to purchase and learn to use. I had upgraded to a third generation Braun unit, but wasn’t happy with the closeness of the shave it delivered, even when I frequently swapped out a new blade and foil. So a couple of months ago, I decided to give wet shaving a try. I began to add an item here or there to my Amazon shopping cart until I had what I needed.

I’ve waited a couple of months to write up my thoughts on wet shaving because, frankly, it’s an ongoing learning process. It reminds me of skiing where the first few times totally suck because you fall down so often you’re constantly cold and wet. I would have given up wet shaving after the first few times had I not read from others that using a safety razor comes with a learning curve.

After the first week of wet shaving, I wondered if I could return everything to Amazon.

After the second week, I was bleeding a bit less after each shave.

But the third week, I was determined to master the art of wet shaving after Kim mentioned how smooth my face felt.

I’m still a long way from mastering the wet shave if that’s even possible. I haven’t yet packed up or sold my Braun, but I haven’t used it in over two months either.

Here is the process and products that are working well for me today. They may also work well for you, but don’t assume that’s the case. Experiment and figure out what works well for you. I shave right after I get out of the shower while my skin is still a bit damp and relaxed.

I rinse my face with warm water before I do anything. While my face is wet, I take a shaving brush and run it under the warm water. I give the brush two shakes and then swirl it around William Mug Shaving Soap in a shaving bowl.  You don’t need a lot of soap.  As for the shaving brush, I’ve tried a few, and prefer the ones with synthetic bristles. You can drop a lot of money here on badger, boar, or horse hair brushes, but the Parker synthetic is just about perfect.

I then swirl the brush with soap around my face until it’s evenly covered. The goal here is to lift the stubble making it easier for the blade to reach and cut. I do this to one side of my face so the soap doesn’t dry out.

You’re now ready for the razor. I really like the Merkur Long Handled Safety Razor because it feels sturdy and stable in my hands. Unlike plastic disposable razors, the Merkur doesn’t require much pressure at all. The weight of the Merkur provides just the right about of pressure against your face to remove the stubble. Press too hard, and you’ll be donating some skin to the sink. I shave one half of my face at a time, and I start with my sideburns before moving to my chin, neck and upper lip areas.

You will need to keep a number of blades on hand. The number of blade options is absurd, but I prefer the Personna Double Edge Razor blades after trying a few brands. I swap out a new blade after every five shaves, but your mileage may vary.

Only shave where you’ve lathered. The quickest way to cut yourself is to run the razor over a dry area of skin. If you miss an area, lather your face before going back to your razor. I use the Williams Mug Shaving soap on the first two passes. It lathers well and is cheap, but it’s unscented and far from indulgent. One reason to wet shave is to pamper your skin, so on the third and final pass, I use a more expensive shaving cream from Taylor of Old Bond Street. I love the grapefruit scent and the rich cream feels wonderful. Like the soap, you only need a small dab of cream to lather your entire face.

Once I’m finished with the razor, I rinse it off and place it back in this stand from Perfecto. It holds both my brush and razor.

While my face is still wet, I run this alum block over my face. It acts as an astringent and closes any razor nicks I inflicted upon my face. It stings a bit and acts as a reminder that running a blade over bare skin is not something to be taken lightly.

I let my face air dry before applying an aftershave lotion. I have never used lotions on my face because I can’t stand the feel of any oily substance on my face. But I’ve found two aftershave lotions I really like. The Neutrogena Post Shave Lotion doesn’t leave my face feeling oily and is affordable.

If you really want to pamper yourself, grab the Aveda aftershave. Kim bought me some of this for Christmas, and I have no idea how she expects me to go back to anything else.

I’m still learning how to best take care of my skin, but I love the close shave that only a real blade can provide. It takes some patience to learn how to maneuver the blade around my face without gouging my skin. I’m learning to ease up on the pressure of the razor as to not nick it up more than it already is around my chin area.

The biggest downside to wet shaving is that it takes now takes me about 10 to 12 minutes to shave compared to 2-3 minutes with my Braun. But I’ve found this is also one of the benefits of wet shaving that I enjoy the most. Shaving used to be as exciting as brushing my teeth. Now I look forward to the days I shave because it slows down my morning and gives me time to indulge my skin.

I find the whole process relaxing and a great way to begin my day.  It might be time to box up the Braun.

The Path of Least Resistance

I stood at the Qdoba register fumbling for my loyalty card when I realized I’d given up. Life has become a sea of suckage, and I’m tired of swimming in it.

Remember when, to pay for a meal, you handed cash or a credit card to your friendly cashier? The transaction took less than 20 seconds. You give me food in exchange for money. But loyalty cards add an extra layer of negotiation.  Am I paying more because I’m not as loyal? Are there some amazing benefits the card affords me? I don’t know. But I long for days of the simple transaction.

No, “Do you have a Qboda card?”

No fumbling for a card I wouldn’t recognize if it were front and center in my wallet.

No admitting I can’t find the card only to have the cashier hand me another one I will surely lose. I mean, if I can’t manage one card, do you think I’m ready for twins?

So I’m done with loyalty cards, along with a host of other activities and absurdities I no longer have the patience for.

See, I’m raising five children. Well, my spouse is raising five children, and I’m just along for the ride meaning 20 hours a week I act as their delivery driver. I drive them to school. I pick them up from parties, recitals, practice and a whole mess of other activities I only vaguely understand.

The only requirement is that the address exists on Google Maps. I will deliver my kids to a party in the middle of the Nevada desert as long as I can find it on Google Maps. But if I can’t find an address three blocks away, no dice, kid. You’re staying home with mom and dad and watching Shark Tank reruns.

A few months ago I announced that I’m done buying DVDs to which my kids collectively asked, “What are those?” If the movie isn’t available on Apple TV, it doesn’t exist to me. Even if the case of Disney DVDs is fifteen feet away from the couch, I can’t be bothered to get my butt off the cushion to retrieve it. If I see a movie or TV program I want on the Apple TV, I press a button on the remote and it’s magically delivered. No more searching the house for that Home Alone DVD I’ve bought four times.

I’ve been suckered into buying too many DVDs that end up being used as Frisbees around the house. Even if I do manage to locate one without a scratch that’s less than 2-inches deep, I can’t muster the patience to deal with the Xbox.

The Xbox is a blood sucking money demon that picks its owners up by the ankles and shakes them down for every last cent. When all I want to do is play a DVD, the Xbox tells me it needs to perform a system freaking update. Then I pray it recognizes the Wi-Fi adapter. Oh but wait, my Xbox Live Gold account has lapsed and it’s holding everything I own hostage until I cough up $59. Can’t remember your Xbox Live password? Go to hell without collecting $200.

Microsoft is like your annoying older brother that gives you wet willies at church just because he can.  I’m beginning to despise any product that requires a Microsoft account of any kind. Microsoft account, Windows account, Xbox account….I can’t keep them straight. You win, Microsoft.

I’m done with buying music CDs as well. If I can’t find it on Spotify, it doesn’t exist. Sorry, Taylor Swift, you died the day you pulled your music from Spotify. Yep, it’s miserable and magical.

I don’t know what I’d do without Amazon Prime.

This week I bought 18 boxes of Kleenex on my phone. Every month Amazon delivers two cases of toilet paper to my home. Yesterday I needed some saddle soap so whipped out my phone and bought it.  The more mundane the item, the more I appreciate being able to buy it at Amazon. Best find in a while? This Microfiber Extender Duster.

I used to maintain a shopping list. The Amazon app on my iPhone is now my shopping list. If I can’t find it at Amazon, I don’t need it.  I don’t care if I could find a lower price because they don’t have my credentials and I’m not about to retrieve my wallet from my 2-year son as he drags it around the house. Amazon knows my name, address and has my credit card on file. Imagine a future where I can walk around my house and say, “Amazon, send me a 48-pack of AAA batteries” and they show up two days later.

Wait, what? It already exists?

Amazon has made it too easy for me not to use them. It’s like Amazon has built an app and connected it to my brain and bank account. Simple and quick is where it’s at.  Any company or product that drains my energy or requires too much effort gets tossed to the wayside.

Maybe when my kids leave the house I’ll consider expanding my shopping options. But for now, I’m all about taking the path of least resistance.

Anyone want a couple Qdoba cards?

Haircuts

A friend from grade school shared with me that he had asked to be released from a time-consuming church calling to spend more time with his children.

Another friend lamented how his son had recently left for college, and he wished they had spent more time together.

My 6-year old son approached me after school, and asked if I’d play a computer game with him. What we do together matters little. He’ll throw a semi-flat football with me in the house until I tire out.

“Sure, I’ll play with you. Just give me a few minutes to finish my work.”

Just a few minutes turned in to a couple of hours. I got up from my desk and went looking for my son. I found him in his bed, fast asleep still wearing jeans and shoes.

It won’t be long till my son is throwing a football with friends. And then he’ll be off to college and I’ll be lucky to see him every few weeks, if sticks close to home. I could say the same thing about any of my five children.

Last weekend I needed a haircut and coaxed my two oldest sons to join me. Neither of them ever want to have their hair cut. “One more week,” they beg.

After each of us had a hair cut, we went next door to Subway, which is one of their favorite places to eat because they get to select each item that makes up their sandwich. My oldest son orders a simple turkey sandwich with lettuce. My 7-year old son orders a little of everything, including bacon and extra sauces that don’t sound like they would work together.

I tell myself that days like this make up for those where I postpone time together because I’m too busy.

Tactile Joy

From Scott Adams review of the iPhone 6

My heart was racing as I removed the phone from its strikingly well-designed packaging. Apple makes the process of opening a box feel as if you are winning a prize. Every color, shape, texture and probably smell has been studied and tweaked to perfection. Simply touching the product or its associated packaging is a tactile joy.

A textbook example of sweating the details.

No Second Chances

“Do you want to play pool? Just you and me.”

“Sure”, replied Luca, trying to play it cool.

Two of her siblings usually tag along when we play, but not today. I wanted to listen to Luca tell me about orchestra and history and student council without distractions.

Of course there’s no guarantee she’ll share any details with me because she’s 13 years-old, and I’m her father who wears a hoodie just to embarass her.

I’ve heard from parents who regret how they raised their first child. They focus on the mistakes, wishing for a second chance to make things right. But nobody gets a second chance, and sharing this sentiment only telegraphs to your child that you don’t like how your son or daughter turned out as an adult.

I’ve made mistakes with Luca, but it’s foolish for that to be my focus when I look across the table and into the eyes of a kind, bright, and joyful teenage girl. That I happened to find a pool hall that serves fry sauce doesn’t hurt either.

As we finished the first game, I think about how my thoughts on fatherhood have changed over the years. I no longer think of our five children as “mine” or “ours”. They are not my possessions to control. For a few short years of their lives, I’m their teacher and provider of basic needs, along with their mother.

More than anything I want them to feel loved and accepted for whom they are. I don’t expect them to follow my path. If I’ve done my job, my children will think critically, blaze their own paths, and live a life of few regrets.

Luca took advantage of my mistakes and won game two.

Which means I’m wearing my hoodie when taking her to school tomorrow.

May the Search Set You Free

Our garage door was acting up today. I know very little about them, but I know how to Google for answers. This lead me to a YouTube video of a man discussing a few popular problems, including how to recalibrate the door sensors. I followed his instructions, and had the door working within 10 minutes.

When I blew a main fuse on our Honda Odyssey, a Google search took me to forum where a Honda owner described the same problem I was having. A mechanic responded on the forum, and mentioned which two fuses to inspect. I had checked one fuse but neglected to check the other. Sure enough, the second fuse was dead. A $4 fuse later, the van was running.

This is the magic of the internet. I don’t have to be a mechanic or electrician to make basic repairs. Knowledge is power, especially when it’s a search away.

When I began researching the early history of the LDS church, I was stunned at the amount of information available to anyone with the curiosity to search and to learn from it. A lot of this information did not sync with what I had been taught by church leaders.

For example, I was aware that Brigham Young practiced polygamy. But I had no idea that the prophet Joseph Smith practiced polygamy and polyandry. Those are details I wish I had known earlier.

This information is available to anyone. It’s not hidden in a mountain cave or behind a firewall. You can choose to disgard it, but you can no longer say it’s impossible to know.

Just as I no longer have to immediately call a mechanic, I no longer have to take the word of ecclesiastical leaders when it comes to church history. Today, I get to determine when I’m ready for the truth rather than allow someone else to determine that for me.

Google is to the LDS church as the Gutenberg printing press and Martin Luther were to Catholicism.

May the truth set you free.

Everything Else Is Secondary

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

                                                                                          Steve Jobs