Steven L. Taylor
Wednesday, December 28, 2022
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective.
He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog).
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I am currently growing a beard. It wasn’t planned. I am not committed to the process and I might reverse course basically any second. Thankfully, it seems to be past the “this itches a lot” phase.
My normal course is I trim my face once a week using a #1 trimmer guard. At that length it really isn’t beard per se but more like advanced stubble. Three times a week I use a razor and shave my neck and cheeks above the “natural” beard line so I don’t look scraggly and unkempt.
Two weeks ago I blew off the beard trim. A week ago I blew off the trim again. This Monday I did not again. Why? No clue. I just decided not to. A change-up.
The longest I have ever gone without trimming or shaving was probably 7 or 8 weeks decades ago.
The once a week knock back using a #.5 or #1 trimmer guard is a practice that goes back decades. Around 1995 I decided not to shave every weekday morning but only on Monday morning and Wednesday morning and see if my boss or co-workers said anything. No one said anything ever. Around 2003 I went for the perma-stubble, proto-beard trimmer thing and just kept to that look.
Since about 2008 I had not shaved my face with a razor to the skin except one time about a year and a half ago on a whim and my Lordy did I look so odd in the mirror when I did it.
Clean-shaven, I looked like like Willem Dafoe.
I keep my beard trimmed to a #5 (with a #3 just below my bottom lip). And, like you, shave my neck and cheeks to look like an intentional beard and not “I’m homeless, can you spare a razor”.
I’ll go 3-4 weeks between trims. I’ve tried growing it out and trimming it into what I refer to as a “Simonson” beard (named for the style drawn by comic-book artist Walt Simonson), but… Nope. It gets to a certain point that I just can’t tolerate it. It doesn’t help that the grey hairs grow faster than the dark ones (why??).
I used to vary according to season. Winters, full beard. Spring/autumn, shave the sides, but leave the entire chin from ear to ear (sort of an extended goatee). Summer, goatee. Gave all that up.
I have, since high school, seen my upper lip a total of twice. Once I shaved for costume & make-up class so I could get a full-head plaster casting done. The other time I slipped with the trimming scissors and had the option of a Hitler mustache or just shaving it off and letting it grow back in (the choice was obvious).
And… yeah. I look weird without my mustache. I have John Major’s upper lip.
Side note: When my dad was going through chemo, my mother laughed and commented that it was the first time in their 50 years of marriage (and whatever time dating before that) that she’d seen his upper lip. 😀
I’ve had a beard since ’87, the result of spending a week in the hospital after emergency surgery. The idea of being forever free of the razor was quite appealing. Still is for that matter. Somewhere along the line my mother gave me a beard trimmer that I use whenever it gets long and bushy enough to bother me. She has been dead since ’06, so it is older than that and still going strong. No razor, ever. I feel no need to “clean up” the beard line.
Carpenters aren’t judged by our looks, so I’ve always had that going for me.
Last time I shaved was ~1977 and only then because I had a lucrative summer job that required that I be clean shaven. The compromises one makes in college and grad school.
If you don’t mind telling, what did you do to yourself with the razor that required emergency surgery? Or am I misreading?
I have a routine with my head hair now, too. Every 3 to 6 weeks I just whack it all off with electric clippers with a #.5 guard when it annoys me.
If I get the feeling that I need to use actual shampoo that means my hair is too long and needs mowing.
I used to go to barbers / stylists when I was still working for professional reasons, but after it’s been strictly DIY. Even back then it was always really short.
I bought a fairly expensive head razor once and shaved to the scalp. Used that twice. Not a look I liked. I prefer discernible stubble.
I really, really prefer extremely low maintenance hair.
Well… I used to shave with a straight razor (had to stop because I could never get the hang of the strop). “Cut himself shaving” could have legitimately been listed as COD on my death certificate. 🙂
I just shave my head. Twice a week (Mon/Thu). Considering that my forehead now starts at the back of my head, it’s a pretty quick process. If I skip one of those days, it starts bothering me. Anything more than 3mm and I go crazy.
Actually, I had intended to ask this question of OzarkHillbilly , but I neglected to hit the reply button.
Your story’s good anyway.
I had emergency surgery for a collapsed lung, spent a week in the hospital after the surgery, grew the beginnings of a beard during my time there with a drainage tube shoved into my chest cavity and then found the idea of a razor free life quite appealing. Seeing as I had already gone thru the itchy stage it was an easy decision.
I am the same, tho it takes longer than 3-6 weeks to get long enough to annoy me, and tbh I have no idea how long it takes. Just that when it gets to where I can’t stand it any longer, I whack it all off. Or to be more accurate, I let my wife whack it all off. It seems to appeal to her Samson and Delilah delusions.
I also have to trim my eyebrows. If I let them, they would grow long enough to braid.
To those of you not in the know the clipper guard #.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 don’t really equate to any real world standard. It’s not millimeters.
There is the Wahl standard which I am used to and was referring to above. Per Wikipedia the Wahl guard conversions are in inches:
#.5 = 1/16″ (aka #0)
1 = 1/8
2 = 1/4
3 = 3/8
4 = 1/2
5 = 5/8
6 = 3/4
7 = 7/8
8 = 1 inch
Most clippers you can buy retail at Target, etc. come complete with the set of #.5 through #5 guards and use the Wahl standard.
The clippers will come with a little oil squeeze bottle. Use it per the instruction manual religiously! Trust me on this, follow instructions! (If you run out vegetable oil works too.)
This scale conversion is for electric hair clippers. Those meant for beards only are generally quite narrower and I not sure if their guards use that same standard. I don’t know – I’ve never owned one, myself.
I’ve been so tired, I haven’t much followed Southwest’s Winter Meltdown. It seems to be a combo of weather and an outdated crew scheduling system.
Southwest’s known for being slow on the software uptake. Like how long they took to implement international flights (and whether they had to acquire a smaller airline to do so), or to set up flights to Hawaii.
Preemptively cancelling flights during a busy travel season, though, has to be a first for an airline not on the brink of dissolution.
@de stijl: My beard trimmer came with 2 guards, no number on either. My hair trimmer has the full set. Both are Wahls.
@de stijl: I used to wear a beard in the colder months, and shave everything except my mustache the rest of the year. Either I’m getting lazy in my old age, or I just like the way my face looks with a full beard.
Try very hard to not cut your scalp inadvertently. You will bleed profusely, like the proverbial stuck pig, for hours.
For some reason the normal blood clotting process doesn’t kick in properly up there. You bleed a lot for a long time from a scalp cut.
I wasn’t permitted a beard during my military career so I didn’t really think to grow one until I did “no shave November” back in 2015. It turns out I look really good with a beard so I kept it. I trim it weekly with a #3 guard.
I don’t have a beard because of your observation about grey hairs growing faster. I last tried a beard in my late 20s, and even though my hair was still it’s normal (at that time) light brown the beard was salt and pepper. Now that I am in my mid -50’s and my hair is grey trending towards white I don’t have the courage to see what colour the beard is.
I’ve been shaving my head for so long that the skin has toughed up. I can scrape away and not worry about getting cut.
Meh. I’m bald and greying. Doesn’t bother me at all. I’d actually like it if my beard went more white, so it’s uniform. Though… I have these odd “stripes” coming down from my mustache that stay dark. It’s weird.
My shiny pate and fuzzy face.
I’m so tired from the various iterations of Hell Week, that I’m seriously considering a canned soup of some sort. Probably cream of corn, as that’s something I wouldn’t do from scratch. Plus I can add some white corn kernels and chickpeas. Now I’m also thinking of cooking some lentils in it.
For the rest, I’m going with minimal prep. Grilled turkey milanesas, sans breading, with browned onions, and pan roasted potato slices.
Our government is on the job, policing waste, fraud, and abuse in the disability-claims system.
He’s probably lucky that he qualifies for food stamps given that he’s subsidized by his parents. Surely they could take him into their home if they can afford to subsidize his rent and cheat someone else out of a subsidized apartment.
@Pete S: Even at 70 and having grown beards of various configurations since I was 19 or 2o, my beard is still a mix of white, gray and dark. Grey that turns white with exposure to the sun on my chin and darker on the cheeks. Age is slowly chasing way the darker hair on my cheeks but not quickly enough for me to go to a full beard again yet. It’s still multi toned for now.
@Kathy: My nephew who runs a major logistics software department, and who is currently in the middle of a 13 hour drive to New Orleans because his SW flight was cancelled, thinks it was because they ran out of flight codes. Bad weather cancellations required them to make temporary codes and they simply ran out. Once the automatic system crashed they lost the ability to track flight crews and then that was the end. It was just a few comments from him, and I can’t vouch for it or even tell you whether it was speculation or industry knowledge. Hard to believe from the outside, but from a software perspective it makes sense.
Another downside to shaving your head or buzzing it super tight is that you have be aware of and prevent summer sunburn.
High SPF lotion application or wearing a cap (or both) are highly recommended. I once got a nasty scalp sunburn and that was really unpleasant for a week. I used a lot of aloe vera cream.
Be careful! Easily preventable but easy to forget.
The specific failure in software is usually a small matter. I vaguely recall some major failure in the UK related to the early days of the trump pandemic, which was a matter of running out of rows on a spreadsheet.
I once had to ditch the payroll software, because it had insufficient variables for the newest way of determining the payroll taxes withholding mechanism. The new version had it built in.
It’s not looking good for my sister’s flight on sw today. It still shows as scheduled on flight trackers, but all previous flights were canceled. The other inter island airline is sold out till the end of the year. It’s my sister’s one vacation per year. We’ve gotten no communication from sw.
Tf were you doing trying to shave your lungs?
Or am I misreading?
I had a beard from about 1994 to 2018. It was a weird little goatee thing. I figured that as long as I had it no one would “know”. The only real cool thing about it was these two deep red streaks in it. I would shave it off when I needed to be myself and then I would spend a week freaking out that everyone KNEW. There are some great pictures of me right after my son was born where I had this crazy handlebar mustache. I was spiraling like mad then.
Now after 120ish hours and thousands of dollars I’ve electrocuted all that nonsense away. At first it was two sessions a week. Two hours each time with two techs going at it. I’d pop 4 ibuprofen and fall asleep. Now when I go for touch ups I start crying before she starts. When I first started the electrologist was so shocked by the amount of energy they could pump into me without me feeling it that she set a sponge on fire to check the machine.
@Just nutha ignint cracker: SNAFU.
@Beth: Better the sponge than you.
On a non-beard-related note: I spent about 4 hours on Monday carving a game board for “The Royal Game of Ur“. I saw a Tom Scott video about it, and I was getting antsy after 5 days off of work, so… down to the workshop.
It’s a piece of scrap oak, 4.5″ x 12″, with pine dowel for the pieces. It’s just a quckie/proof-of-concept, so not overly detailed. But… it’s fun. Unfortunately, I discovered that I don’t have any 4-sided dice anymore. 🙁 I’ll be ordering some from Amazon when I get home.
In the ’60s this was the look many guys in their 20s would emulate. I did the hair and the mustache but the beard would never fill in so I abandoned it after a few weeks. Cut my hair after a few years when it didn’t matter any more how long it was to achieve gainfull employment but I kept the cookie duster, neatly trimmed, for well over 30 years.
In 2004? I was driving a telephone company van when I was rear ended by a large tanker truck full of restaurant grease headed toward a rendering plant. Heavy load. The van rolled completly over so that it was straddled across the road ditch upright. However the ladder rack that was attached to the top of the van was under it after the crash. Knocked me out cold. When I came to the driver of the tanker said he thought he had killed me. After a ride in the meat wagon to the hospital the only apparent injury was that my scalp was lacerated. (I ALWAYS wear a seatbelt.) The ER doc stapled it back together which was about the most painful part of the whole affair. When I got home I looked in the mirror at the ‘stash and shaved it off. When folks who saw me on a regular basis would look at me and say: “You look different!” I would tell them how the tanker truck hit my van so hard that knocked my mustache off!
It didn’t get as many laughs as I thought it would.
4 sided dice? Like a pyramid with 4 triangular sides? Or a 6 sided dice, like a cube?
Some people have no sense of humor. I got a chuckle out of it.
4-sided (tetrahedrons). Each side is an equilateral triangle. They’re known as a D4 in RPG circles. 🙂
Have you tried a topical anesthetic?
EMLA worked well for me, even though it caused the electrologist to crank up the power to the point it hurt again. I once tried spray-on lidocaine, but that did nothing. EMLA is a pain and a half to get on, but it was worth it.
Fun fact, many local anesthetics are made with forms of cocaine (ergo the “caine” ending in many of them). Straight up cocaine, medical grade, is used in some facial plastic and reconstructive surgeries.
I tried a topical lidocaine but that really didn’t work too well. A quick google leads me to think it was similar to EMLA. I’m gonna need to try something else though. There isn’t much left, but the chin, neck and upper lip are the worst places for me all around.
As for cocaine, I was kinda shocked to read the surgery notes from my nose job that they had swabbed the inside of my nose with cotton balls soaked in cocaine at the outset. It’s apparently done to constrict the blood vessels so you don’t constantly bleed while they work. Schedule 1 is such a joke.
I’m glad you made it out of that ok and that is a fantastic joke. Bravo.
Lol, she was pumping that much energy into my face and I didn’t feel it at all. She thought the machine was broken so she assassinated that sponge. I laughed my ass off.
That was my first realization that I have a strange relationship with pain. A lot of pain that should feel bad feels good. I can also accept a whole lot of bad pain before I’m motivated to do anything about it. Lol, I’d probably be an interesting test subject.
EMLA is a cream. after applying it, it must be covered with plastic for some reason, and allowed to stay in place for one hour. That’s the pain and a half. I’m told liquid lidocaine also needs to be covered.
EMLA is removed with alcohol. The electrologist did it as she worked, to let the stuff “work” longer.
It does come in patches, which take care of the covering but only work in a small area. I never did that.
As many people have undoubtedly figured out these past few days, I am tracking my sister’s plane as it moves around. Her plane is halfway between Kona and Honolulu, where it will fly to Hilo next. As long as the crew remains flight ready, it’s looking like she will have no delays.
Super Glue for small cuts that bleed a lot. Really, I swear I am not making that up.
Superglue is a cyanoacrylate glue. Some variants of this are used medically instead of sutures, and also to staunch bleeding. I can attest the surgeon used something like this instead of sutures for the hernia surgery. One plus, there’s no need to have the stitches removed.
So, yes, it’s a valid use. Just make sure to properly clean the wound first.
BTW, I think you can buy the actual medical superglue. Look up Dermabond.
@de stijl: I’ve managed to avoid the sunburn issue most of my thin hair years, probably because I never became accustomed to wearing sunglasses. So, I almost never go outside without a hat on.
@Kathy: At some times when I had bad eczema, (as opposed to now when it’s only annoying) I used to wrap the affected areas in saran wrap after putting cortisone cream on. The doctor said it was to concentrate the effect by reducing the evaporation of the medication. I suspect that EMLA has the same issues.
@OzarkHillbilly: @Beth:..Thank you for the appreciation.
Now that I think about it there was a fair amount of pain when the staples were removed. They all came out easily and no pain except the last one. For some reason the Dr. had to yank and pull and twist the damn thing. We were both afraid that it would break off. Fortunately it did not and it was finally removed.
The insurance for the owner of the tanker truck kept wanting me to settle with them. I waited a whole year before I did as I wanted to be sure my noggin was in good shape. At one point they wanted me to pay a part of the ER bill. Since it was totally the other drivers fault and he got a ticket and I did not I told them where to file that offer. I think I ended up getting about $2000 out of them.
The staples were removed at a clinic in my home town. Not the Hospital in Bellville, IL where the ambulance took me. The ER doctor in Belleville who stapled my head was maybe in his mid late 2os from Vietnam. When I mentioned that my ex wife’s adopted daughter was born in a whorehouse in Saigon in 1970 and that her mother was a hooker and her daddy was a GI Joe and that she was evacuated from Saigon to Guam in 1975 when she was 5 years old he told me about how he escaped. I don’t remember the details other than he told me that all the Communist Government ever did was “fvck with him and everyone he knew” and he was glad to get out of there.
@Mu Yixiao: OK, just wanted to make sure. I can’t count the # of times folks have said “4 sided dice” never realizing that the the standard die has 6 sides.
Many many years ago I came face to face with this problem when I told a friend (for whom I had replaced a door as a favor) that she had to paint “all 6 sides”. She didn’t, and I replaced the door again. At her cost. She acknowledged that she had no idea a door had 6 sides. Seems simple, but if all one ever sees is 4 sides, it’s easy to forget the other 2.
Same here. Time and again I have to explain to med pros that I have only 3 levels of pain (f’ that 10 level shit):
1: Piece of cake, I hardly take notice.
2: Not too bad, I can deal with it.
3: Somebody… Please fuckin’ put a bullet thru my brain and end my misery!!!
Seriously, I can deal with a lot of pain (it doesn’t feel like a lot to me*) but go just one little bit more and… My wife can’t tell you how many times she has refused to do a Kevorkian on me.
* going back to when I collapsed my lung, I was in STL Regional Hospital (where all the poor uninsured folks went) and I remember laying on the gurney as they tried to insert a tube in me, and I looked across the ER and saw a cop watching my procedure. The look on his face said, “Gawd, I’d rather die.”
I remember thinking, “Am I over reacting?”
Shock does strange things to people’s minds.
Oh my eff’n gawd… Many times I have felt I was the only one because I never knew anyone else who had been thru the same. Dawg, how I hated it. I would get all greased up every night, then my arms and legs would get saran wrapped with bread bags over my hands and feet. 3 times a day I had to soak my feet in an oil bath with dawg only knows what tortures inflicted on my upper limbs. (Idr them quite as vividly)
And at the end of every school day I would walk to someplace where nobody could see me and peel off my socks taking half the skin off my feet with them. And. It. Felt. So. Good. The pain was such a relief from the itching.
I remember one day I stayed late after school, long after all the other students were gone, I stopped at the parking lot and removed my shoes, then my socks, and then I heard a gasp…
I looked up and Janice was standing over me. Janice, who was the cutest girl my 14 yr old self was way too insecure to ever approach outside of a group. I remember her saying, “You must be the bravest person I’ve ever known/met.” I didn’t feel brave. In fact, I was mortified. I grabbed my shit up and took off without ever saying a word (that I recall).
6 months later Janice was dead. Leukemia. I didn’t know. There were hints, one mutual friend had said that she wished Janice would just go ahead and die to get it over with. The idea was pretty foreign to me. At that point in my life, only old people died, not younger folks and certainly not fellow classmates.
There is a part of me that has always felt a little bit guilty. Not too much, I was a kid. But there is a much larger part of me that wishes I could have been there for Janice in whatever small ways that might have helped. She tried to express some support for what I was going thru and I was too wrapped up in my own problems to even take notice of hers.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
It rings a bell. I must have read up on the EMLA, but it was a while ago.
I used surplus grocery bags secured with tape. saran wrap on the face would have required tape also.
Most places have stopped using cocaine as an anesthetic. I think it has been 10 years since anyone in our system used it. Just not worth the risk and there are other agents you can use for vasoconstriction. I think plastics and peds are the people mostly using EMLA. Works pretty well but often does not give a total anesthetic effect.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
From what I remember working that side of SS claims, that’s what the law says. If there are ANY jobs available, nationally, you’re not entitled to benefits. 1 job with 300k disabled seeking it? Doesn’t matter. You can’t sit, stand, or lay down, but must be spun constantly at a steady rpm? Don’t matter, you can “do” the job handing darts to suckers at the carnival. System is designed to screw the disabled. Remember, the average wait for a hearing on appeal is over 30 months, and you’re ineligible to receive any benefits other than food stamps during that time. You get to sleep in doorways and on park benches, and if your state so orders, eat out of dumpsters, until your hearing. ‘Merika, what a country!
@Flat Earth Luddite:
No edit button for Luddite (what I get for taking the day off), but the only reason I qualified for SSDI was my diagnosis of Stage IV cancer with a 95% chance of being dead within 2 years.
Ah, yes, that chemo Yul Brenner look, I remember it well. I got two years into chemo, then they FINALLY found a combo that would make my hair fall out.* Everything, eyebrows, eyelashes, nostril hairs, beard/mustache, body hair – everything except for the hair coming out of my ears – I could have braided it and done a comb-over.
*The joke in the day spa (chemo clinic) was that Avistan and Folfox were both originally developed to treat stubborn ear hair, but when it didn’t work, they discovered the side effect was a successful treatment for many cancers.