Friday, January 27, 2012

On Head Shaving

A lot of people have asked me a short, specific list of things about shaving my head. These are, by definition, FAQs.

Isn't it cold?
No. Well... not really. I'm far more susceptible to cold breezes, but fortunately hats exist.

What do you shave with, and how often do you need to?
I originally carved all my hair off with an electric trimmer and then used my Gillette Fusion to do the actual shaving. I've loved this razor for years for shaving my face, but I was a little concerned about it being awkward on my head. Fortunately, it was just as awesome for this purpose. I was able to get away with shaving every third day.

Using the Fusion takes me about 15 minutes, plus occasional 5-second trips back to get tiny spots I missed. A few people expressed concerns about cutting themselves with this method, but I was not even remotely careful for the last few weeks of doing it this way and never once cut myself.

A couple months ago, however, I bought an electric razor from ConAir designed specifically for head shaving. I think it's called the Clean Head. It takes about half the time and shaves just as closely. The downside is that I have to shave every day because the razor does not work well on anything but the wimpiest stubble. The upside is that it motivates me to shave every day, and I do like that baby smooth feeling.

There exists a little chassis that holds standard razor blades but is shaped to fit in your hand while you shave your head instead of with a handle like for facial shaving. I have absolutely no interest in this product, as I like the speed of the electric razor and the control of the handle, but from what I read on forums lots of people do like it.

Can I feel?
Go for it. Unless we're close, though, please ask first. I'll say yes, but it's just good manners, y'know?

Is there anything you didn't expect about it?
So many things. 24 hours after shaving, my head is like velcro. My knit hat peels off. 48 hours afterwards, my head sticks to the pillow - it's as uncomfortable as it sounds.

Showering feels incredibly weird. Water hitting scalp feels very different from water hitting hair. However, showering is much shorter. My shampoo bottle stares listlessly up at me from the side of the tub. Sorry, bro.

I have more moles on my head than I realized. This is going to make my dermatologist's job way easier, though.

I'd like to try it, but what if I have a funny-shaped head?
Yeah. You might. I was worried I might look like a serial killer. It seems worth trying though, if only to see your scalp. I thought it was pretty cool that I got to, literally speaking, see a part of me I had never seen before.

And, while not the most frequently asked question, but perhaps the most important, and the one I'm most excited to talk (rant?) about...

Why did you do it?
First of all, I hate this question. Not many hairstyles (is bald a hairstyle? is atheism a religious belief? is white a color?) provoke such a response. I guess it's not so much the semantics of the question as it is the tone. People ask it in the same way as if they had just discovered I consciously decided to set my garage on fire.

If you're thinking about shaving your head, let me give you a piece of advice: don't do it right after a breakup. People will assume that this is why and will worry about you. That is not why I did it, but where applicable, thank you for your concern and I'm sorry for scaring anyone. I will say that it was a fairly cathartic experience and I can now see why someone might react as such, though.

Alas, the reason I did it was far more mundane: I didn't like being balding.

For the past year or so I've been trying to take more control of my personal fashion. It's been frustrating that I am severely limited in hairstyle options because I'm halfway to being Jean-Luc Picard. It feels nice to still have an option that isn't marred by the fact that it's a bit thin on top.

But if anyone asks, I usually just say because genetics was too much of a pussy to finish the job.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

On Male Sexuality

This post isn't necessarily much in the way of original thought by me, but instead a juxtaposition of two highly unlikely links.

A couple years ago, this link was shared with me: Of Never Feeling Hot: The Missing Narrative of Desire in the Lives of Straight Men

This was something I had never thought about prior to reading the article, but it has been in my mind ever since. You should really go read it start to finish, but for the TL;DR crowd the gist is this: Average men are rarely made to feel as if their bodies can be objects of sexual desire and, while such feelings can be harmful in the wrong context, it is overall a great shame that this is the case.

The second link is a music video. While there is nothing technically obscene in it, I still wouldn't watch it at work.

That this exists within mainstream pop culture, and has succeeded, is fantastic. You don't need to look like Brad Pitt to be sexy.

p.s. The greatest moment of the video occurs at exactly 2:33.

Monday, April 18, 2011

On Men, Toilets, and Collateral Damage

Or "Water, Water, Everywhere, But Not a Drop to Drink"

Tonight I'll finally justify adding that "adult content" warning to my blog. And this post is for the ladies. It's about peeing. I'm going to say words like "penis" and "orgasm" and at the end there will be a picture of a stick figure taking a leak.

On more than one occasion I've heard a girl say, after seeing a toilet wet with urine, "how hard could it be to aim? it's not like the toilet is that small." That seems like a fair question, at least from someone who has never used a penis to go number one. Having had over two decades of experience doing just that, I feel qualified to tell you it's not that simple.

On occasion, a small part of end of the urethra may stick together, causing the stream of urine to split, much like if you put your finger across the tip of a garden hose. This occurs more frequently following orgasm or when very aroused. In some cases, birth defects or some genital piercings can cause this to happen regularly.

To conclude, the next time you see the toilet all wet, your reaction shouldn't be "how the hell does this happen?", but "why the hell didn't the bastard wipe it up?"

Finally, a comic for my illiterate readers:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On Surnames and Marriage

Or, "Call You Mr. WHAT?"

One day I'm probably going to marry someone. What is going to become of our last names? There are a lot of options, and none of them are without flaws.

One takes the others' surname.
This is what is usually thought of as the default. The problem here is that it's unequal. Besides, how do you decide whose name to take?

Here we run into a slippery slope. Erik Thompson-Whiting doesn't sound so bad. But what happens when your daughter Lisa Franklin-Morrison marries my son? Even at the second generation we have Freddie Thompson-Whiting-Franklin-Morrison and I think we can agree that sounds ridiculous.

Combine your names in a silly way
Look, I didn't say these were all going to be good options. I'm talking Erik Thompson and Lisa Franklin becomes Erik and Lisa Thomplin. Here again we run into a problem in the next generation or two when you'll eventually be cutting syllables that were the only remainder of previous names, which defeats the purpose of maintaining both partners' last names.

Keep your own last names
While good up until the point at which you have kids, the problem arises once you have children: whose name do the kids take?

Make up a new last name
This seems to be the most "fair" while still unifying the family under one name and preventing any slippery slope situations a few generations down. The problem here is that it ends the family lineage. Part of what makes last names neat is that some of your ancestors shared them many years ago.

Are there other options I have overlooked?

Monday, April 11, 2011

On Grinding in Games and in Real Life

Or, "How Minecraft Got Me to Clean My Apartment"

I have long turned to video games for the fulfillment of a variety of emotions. This is not a bad thing, and is often a viable method. They expose me to stories, allow bonding with friends from any distance, and allow me to exercise my competitive nature at a moment's notice. Recently, I found myself turning to video games for a sense of accomplishment [yes it sounds silly when I write it out].

Many games are designed to provide this feeling. Achievements, quest rewards, scoreboards, and level-up systems all are built to provide the player with positive feedback when they succeed. This feels good. It's this cycle that forms the foundation for much of World of Warcraft and other MMORPGs.

I decided to hop on Minecraft and to work on creating something awesome, which would provide me a temporary diversion until my girlfriend would be available to hang out later in the day. I was feeling pretty excited because when I was done I could show my friends what a sweet thing I had built. I remembered some of the really awesome and epic things my friends have constructed and how I was impressed with their creativity and dedication. I started gathering up resources and planning out what I would make.

But my feeling of restlessness that led to a desire for productivity was not quenched.

It was at this point that I realized that much of what I needed to do to create something cool to impress people with was purely grinding: boring, repetitive work. I was digging up a metric buttload of sand to smelt into glass to make something neat and I realized I wasn't really having fun. Then it hit me.

If I was in a mood to do something that wasn't innately fun, but would produce an impressive and satisfying result, I should go do some chores. I decided to clean up my apartment. While my apartment wasn't dirty, it was certainly rather cluttered, and I immediately set to it. I could feel the rush as I began to work, knowing that soon I could stand back in front of a nice, tidy room and smile over a job well done. I thought about how my girlfriend would feel when she came over and saw that things were in much less disarray than before.

And when I finished, I was happy.

I'm starting to take stock of what kind of gaming I enjoy these days. I think I've started to lose my taste for "persistent" games; games where you constantly work on improving a thing (character, world, house, etc). As much as I still struggle to motivate myself to begin such activities, I find that I feel happier grinding out housework and exercise or pursuing creative endeavors than grinding out levels and gear.

Addendum and disclaimer:

By no means do I wish to malign Minecraft or MMOs or any other sort of grindy game. All (or at least most) have many other factors that I find tremendously enjoyable. I hate when people use this word to describe games, so fuck me for saying so, but I think Minecraft is one of the most important games of the past few years.

Nor do I wish to imply that I think less of anyone who enjoys the satisfaction of making something cool in a game, even if it takes a long time and a lot of work. Sometimes it's purely the scope of the effort required that makes something impressive. This is purely a story of how I came to find what grindy activity gives me the greatest satisfaction in the end. If you made an awesome Minecraft castle, please do show me. To see anything that someone has really dedicated a lot of time to is beautiful in its own right.