Over the past six months, I’ve gotten more and more interested in shaving. Not the “electric razor for 10 minutes” kind, or the Gillette Mach 72 kind. The old school, cup, lather, brush, and double-edged razor blades kind. And I think I’ve finally figured it out.

It may seem counterintuitive for someone who loves technology as much as I do, but I really enjoy shaving this way. It’s a surprisingly refreshing process that makes me feel clean, relaxed, confident and… well, masculine. It’s not just another part of the routine anymore: it’s something that I look forward to, and take pride in.

The equipment is pretty simple. Most of it is stuff I have researched via ShaveBlog and LeisureGuy’s fantastic guide to wet-shaving. Right now, I use:

  • musk-scented glycerin-based shaving soap (obtained from my local barber’s shop)
  • a badgerhair brush with a stainless steel handle (obtained from Target)
  • my great-grandfather’s silver and nickel-plated Gillete Travel Safety Razor
  • Wilkinson Sword Classic razor blades (these are leftovers that came with the razor. I’m going to run out soon, which means experimentation time!)
  • Loreal For Men alcohol-free facial lotion
  • A styptic pencil (it’s a chemical coagulant for stopping a bleeding nick or cut; beats the hell out of toilet paper)

I also use a Norelco Bodygroom for trimming my goatee and mustache.

You can get really expensive equipment, and I experiment with various parts of the equation as I run out of the consumables, but right now, this is working pretty well for me.

The procedure (for me) is as follows:

  1. Shower.  Get a good hot steam going, get your face nice and wet, and shampoo your beard. The steam opens up the pores, and the shampoo helps to soften up your facial hair and get it nice and wet. I also use conditioner on my goatee and mustache, and I find that using a little conditioner on your face helps to lubricate the beard.
  2. Dry off, but leave your face wet. Get your brush nice and wet with the hottest water you can get out of the tap (steam should be rising).
  3. Gently shake water out of the brush until it’s dripping every few seconds. Swirl the brush around in your lather cup until the brush is saturated with a thick, soapy lather.
  4. Rewet your face with a couple of handfuls of water from the sink, and then start applying lather in a circular motion. The idea here is to get lather all around the hair on your face so that it stands off of the face, and using an up-and-down “paintbrush” stroke won’t do that. Once your face is covered in lather, set the brush down (either in the cup or so that it stands bristles up) and let the lather stand on your face for about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Fill the sink to about a quarter- or third-full with the hottest water you can get from the tap (again, steam should be rising from the sink). While the sink is filling, assemble your razor and put in a good, sharp blade. I shave every other day, but I have a thick beard, so a blade usually lasts 2-3 weeks for me. As with anything, your mileage may vary. Once your razor is assembled, dunk the head in the water for about 3 or 4 seconds.
  6. Apply the razor to your face so that it stands perpendicular to your face, and then turn it slightly toward your face. The head of your razor should be curved slightly so that it sits this way naturally. Using short strokes and no more pressure than it takes to hold the razor upright, pull the razor across your face. The key here is no pressure. The blade is really, really sharp, and the idea with the angle and the whole deal is to allow it to do the work. If you press down on the blade, you’re going to irritate the hell out of your face and end up with the nastiest razor burn of your life (trust me, I learned this one the hard way). This is the coolest part for me; if the room is really quiet, you can hear the blade cutting through the hair on your face.
  7. Depending on how thick your beard is and how sharp the blade is, you’re going to repeat step 6 about 2-4 times. Each time is going to be a different direction, and you relather your face each time; pass 1 goes with the grain (nap) of your beard, pass 2 goes against. Feel your face before passes 3 and 4, so that you cover anything you missed. I usually go with the nap on pass 3, and go against on pass 4, but with the line of my jaw.
  8. Once your face feels smooth and clean, pull the drain stop and rinse out your brush. Use hot water until all of the soap is out of the brush, then switch to cold. Shake as much water as you can get out of the brush, and then leave it sit bristle-side down to dry.
  9. Rinse off your face with cold water. You’ve just opened up your pores to make cutting the hair out of them easy, so you now want to close them up to prevent infection and to clear away any dead skin. Towel off with a nice soft towel, and let your face dry for at least 10 minutes.
  10. If you need it, apply some aftershave lotion. I use an alcohol-free lotion because it’s not going to irritate my skin and (more importantly) dry it out. I use one with an SPF 15 sunscreen built-in, but you may have a different preference.

It takes a while to get used to, but once you’ve done it for a while, you’ll never want to go back to anything else. Your face will feel clean, you’ll feel good, and you’ll actually look forward to shaving!

Holy pop culture reference, Batman

hi. welcome to my new site. it’s still under construction, but i just wanted to post quickly to give you an idea of what i’m up to.

i’m on a boat, in a marina just off of puget sound. i have a belly full of sushi. i have steady work as a developer, and the peace corps called me with a potential duty assignment. today, i saw no shortage of attractive women in seattle. tomorrow, i’ll sit in a coffee shop and work, no doubt surrounded by some of those very same attractive women. on saturday, we leave for vancouver.

i am so damn lucky it’s insane.


today is a rare day.

it is a rare day because i’ve never wanted to destroy someone’s career before today.

but it’s probably because i’ve never met someone so grossly incompetent and arrogant that they don’t even bother to do any research or ask any questions before starting something in which they have absolutely no experience.

what a fucking idiot.

lives of worth and service

noun:  1.h.  An act of assistance or benefit.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

 “St. Olaf College…stimulates students’ critical thinking and heightens their moral sensitivity; it encourages them to be seekers of truth, leading lives of unselfish
service to others; and it challenges them to be responsible and knowledgeable
citizens of the world.”

excerpted from the St. Olaf College Mission Statement

i’m not going to lie. my job has stressed me out over the past few months, and a lot of days i don’t really get a great sense of personal worth and fulfillment from helping people put together websites to sell trinkets and t-shirts.

once a week, for the last four weeks, i’ve helped an 80 year old woman figure out how to use her computer. i take my cup of coffee and spend an hour or so answering her questions. occasionally, i’ll change a setting or install a program for her, but for the most part i just sit next to her and answer her questions while she sits in front of her computer. it might not seem like much, but when i leave her apartment, i feel like i’ve accomplished something.

the same is true for the last website i launched. i really enjoyed working with the northfield youth choirs to help them use their website effectively. i helped them set up a calendar, sign up for a Flickr account, and publish their newsletter in blog form. when the site went live, i felt very proud to have worked with an organization that encourages children to sing.

now, granted, both things were paid jobs. the 80 year old woman and the northfield youth choirs both wrote checks to my employer for the time i spent with them. but it wasn’t just work for me. i helped to serve people in a way that makes other people’s lives easier and more complete. because of me, the northfield youth choirs will be able to use their website as an effective tool for communicating with members and the community at large. because of my time, an 80 year old woman can now communicate with her friends and family more easily. i did something that made me feel good, and that gave my skills with technology a positive outlet.

i’ve always felt most confident and sure of myself when i’m helping others. whether it be helping a college radio station set up a streaming feed on the internet, or spending six weeks in the summer working with kids to help them learn technology and show them that being a nerd and a geek is ok, i find that i feel best employed in the service of other people.

that’s why i’ve decided that, in addition to graduate schools, i’m going to apply to volunteer for the peace corps and several americorps programs, like AmeriCorps*NCCC and AmeriCorps*National. god knows that there are people who can use help with technology, and perhaps this will give me a way use my powers for awesome.

anyway, enough of this deep shit. i’m going to go clean some more.


i don’t want to go to bed
but i should
for that matter, i don’t want to go to work tomorrow
but i should
in fact, all i really want to do is lay somewhere warm and sunny and alternate between
swimming and lazing about
or sit in front of a fireplace and read books and drink warm broth
but instead i must answer email and write code
there are so many things that
i should do