Monday, February 15, 2016

Unrequited Love for the Gillette Slim

UPDATE: Since the publication of this article, I have reconciled with my Slim. You can read that article here.  

Now I know how the girlfriend of a psychopath feels. I keep trying to love the Gillette Slim Adjustable razor, but it just won't love me back. I keep thinking it's me; but it's not.

My 1963 Slim Adjustable
Two days ago, with the Slim set to four (of nine, where nine is maximally aggressive and one is maximally mild) and a tenth-shave SuperMax Titanium blade, I got a good shave. Encourged by this, I went to the well again the next day.

Common denominator between
Vincent Price and my Slim?
Yesterday I set the Slim to three using the same blade -- this time its eleventh shave -- and, strangely, the shave was more irritating with too many annoying weepers.

So thinking it was the blade, I put in a new Dorco ST-301, set the Slim to two, and went at it again this morning.

Like in a bad Vincent Price knock-off movie (are there any good ones?) -- horrors! -- weepers and irritation galore! This shave today was so irritating, that two-thirds through, I took the blade out of the Slim and put it into my Merkur 15C open-comb razor and finished the shave.

No wonder my dad switched from the Slim to the Gillette's Trac II. The Gillette Slim Adjustable just doesn't consistently work for me, and I'm guessing was far from optimal for him as well.

I can get an okay standard shave (one pass with the grain), but when I go for a good shave.... forget about it.

Well, some matches just aren't made in heaven. And keeping with the Vincent Price theme, some are made in hell. So the Slim has gone back into cold storage like on a slab at the morgue. I'm done. It's dead to me.

The Merkur 15C open-comb classic has become my go-to razor,
when I'm looking for a trouble-free shave with a new blade.

Happy shaving!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Gillette Slim Redux

Months ago, I wrote off my vintage 1963 Gillette Slim Adjustable razor as not well suited to my face. However, almost as a warm up for the Easter season, it has been raised from the dead (as I saw it, anyway) and given new life.

This morning, with a tenth-use SuperMax Titanium blade installed and the Slim set to four (out of nine), I had a very good shave. It was enough to cause me to re-think my entire opinion of the Slim, and, for the time being at least, keep the razor on hand for more shaves.

What was different enough to resurrect the Slim, which had previously been dead to me?

Better technique, of course!

Specifically there are three factors that have rendered the Slim a useful member of my razor menagerie:

  1. Most importantly, I have conquered my tendency to press the razor against my skin later in the shave. This has been a long-standing problem for me. As I progressed safely through a shave and strove for a close finish, I would tend to unconsciously add pressure to my strokes. But no longer. I have finally cultivated the habit of maintaining that feather-light touch, and this has made a great deal of difference.
  2. I continue to abandon the multiple-pass approach, and instead use the region-oriented uni-pass method. In this process, there is only one major lathering step, followed by multiple re-wetting and re-lathering sub steps as one shaves each region of the beard to finished smoothness before moving on to the next region. The relathering is simply the process of swiping lather from the underside of the razor with a finger of the free hand, and re-applying it to the region of the face still being shaved.
  3. The re-wetting process is also key. I simply PAT (not rub) more water into the desired area. This patting method allows the most lathered soap to remain on the area being re-wetted. As you might suppose, water is a crucial element in the wet-shaving process -- much more important than the soap or cream. If you don't believe this, notice that you can comfortably shave an area in which the lather has been removed by previous shaving strokes; all you have to do is add more water, and the micro-film of residual soap on the skin becomes slippery and functional by virtue of the adequate wetting.

So going forward with my re-acquaintance with the Gillette Slim Adjustable, tomorrow I'll be repeating today's shave: same setting, same blade. After that, I'll probably use a fresh blade and dial the Slim's setting back to three.

Happy shaving!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Political Thursday: Random Thoughts Engendered by the Presidential Race

For the good of the country (and perhaps the world), I would suggest NOT electing as president an abrasive, narrow-minded, undiplomatic, jingoistic, xenophobic billionaire to partner with the bought-and-paid-for-by-monied-interests senators and representatives in Congress. (For example, look into the activities of the Koch brothers.) Well... I guess electing Mr. Nasty with Bad Hair is a good idea if you have a net worth of $10,000,000 or more -- much more. But if you're one of the masses -- that is, middle class or lower --duck! and hope that the majority of Americans switch on some smarts and actually elect someone qualified and appropriate -- not someone they are manipulated into supporting by slick PR and emotionally-satisfying-but-foolish posturing.

After all, the last unqualified, ill-conceived candidate with a populist appeal -- known to some as "the decider" and to others as "W" -- based on questionable "intelligence" marched us into a not-well-planned war with no exit strategy and therefore no end -- a war that has successfully destabilized the middle east and opened the door to an ever-expanding war on terror, ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, et al, and loss of some domestic privacy (can you spell "Patriot Act"?) and possibly other related civil liberties -- all in the name of fighting the omnipresent, ever threatening but largely unseen terrorists.

Think about this: in order to keep producing and selling highly profitable products for war, the customer (that is, the US military) must constantly be at war, and best to be at war with an enemy that is not easily identifiable, is easily replenished as combatants are lost, and are not easy to be declared vanquished.

Yet interesting that virtually every aggressive action that we take in the middle east to attack and kill "terrorists" without due process almost unavoidably also attacks and kills innocents. Thereby we (the US government, not me) brilliantly (sarcasm) create three to ten or more new terrorists for every one we eliminate. But maybe this is part of the endless-war plan. Hmmm.....

And for those who are still denying climate change.... SNAP OUT OF IT! Climate and sustainability (that is, the ability for us to exist for the long term on the planet and not drown in our own waste like yeast in wine): these are the issues of the future. Stop driving large vehicles; stop wasting resources; stop throwing stuff away (recycle, dummie!). Tread lightly on the planet and leave hardly a trace of your travels. WAKE UP! THINK!

Um.... oh yeah, and happy shaving!