Iffy Stiffies And Williams

I moved the challenging Personna Platinum Chrome from BD177 to Ruby and confirmed that the Parker TTO is just all around better for me, with an easy BBS. But today the BD191 called me back, for a shave that left the skin essentially untouched. Something about the contrast of these three razors is especially instructive, teasing apart three distinct angles of pitch without overly limiting exposure. I don't know that I'll ever decide on one, though, since my skin is far from constant.

Today, coming off a pretty rough week, I was motivated to preserve skin, and focused on limiting the blade's traction: by gradual direction changes, by tightening the blade down on second pass, and by only taking two passes. I was rewarded with a perfectly even, velvety smooth shave. That is, stroking upward anywhere on my face would catch stubble, but stroking downward anywhere would feel smooth. More importantly, my skin's healing continued, barely interrupted by some improvised Lilac Vegetal balm.

Will I be able to live with the stubble, later tonight? Well, if not, I will certainly be free to shave again. But I'd like to start building some epithelial thickness for the cold season ahead. To that end, I used Humphreys as preshave, which gave me a clue as to the etiology of a possible Williams Collapse Syndrome, or better, "emulsion dissatisfaction." Putting a splash of Humphreys directly on the puck, you will recall, makes Williams lather spectacularly rich. Today, putting it in my skin seemed to do the opposite, by reversing the mass transfer of liquid via the Marangoni effect. I had also used baby oil as a cleanse, so there is another suspect. My lather was already struggling in my palm, and failed on my face.

Once again, the cure was readily accessible: reload and face lather. Making lather isn't like making jelly, thankfully. I tried making wild grape for the first time this weekend. Nothing clear about that jelly -- BLACK. But yummy. I made a small mistake, and the first batch didn't try to set right up in the pan, like my crabapple does, which gave me a scare -- it took me all weekend to pick enough for two batches, using the last of my own pectin, from a special crabapple tree I have in my yard. But a little less than a gallon bucket full of blueberry-sized grapes yielded more than a gallon of tart jelly, in the end.

The annual tradition always reminds me of soap making, because it's about the same level of craftsmanship. I traded two jars of crabapple jelly for my first puck of artisan soap -- Petal Pushers Fancies. One for one would have been a fairer trade... and I'd ask two pucks for a pint nowadays, because I notice everyone's using "stearic acid" as an ingredient. That's worse than using store-bought pectin to make jelly. At least the pectin reacts with sugar to make a gel; stearic acid is only a salt molecule away from being soap itself. Someone else actually made soap, then distilled it to produce this "ingredient."

That is, there is no such thing as "saponified stearic acid," an attempt at deception seen in some of the lists. Saponification is the separation of an ester into alcohol and fatty acid, and stearic acid is the latter type of product.

I don't know any equivalent kind of cooking, that is analogous to saying "I made soap... using soap as an ingredient." I guess Shake-N-Bake... since we don't actually "make" chickens. It does taste great.

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