ONEredpaperclip. ONE.

So since Kyle from one red paperclip was sent to me by several different sources and made ABC’s Good Morning America this morning, I figured I’d make a few observations. Part of why this interests me is that one of my “sidejobs” happens to be real estate investing. Kyle’s ultimate goal is to “trade-up” from a paperclip to a house.

  1. Kyle is brilliant.
  2. Kyle will succeed. I’m pretty sure he’s gonna wind up with a house purely through his trades.
  3. Kyle was the first. It’s One red paperclip. He will prove the usefulness of bartering through this activity, but won’t get nearly the attention, and probably won’t succeed (yes, I know this is very similar to Seth Godin’s article on the million dollar website). Go out and barter, yes. Just remember that Kyle beat you to the blogification of the idea.

Jabra Bluetooth Headset

OK, I feel bad giving this thing any criticism since I haven’t actually used it, but I would like to know how you’re supposed to read the display with the set jammed in your ear.


Am I expected to take it in and out? How about a voice that reads the phone book entry name or phone number instead to help with my decision to take the call? Ooh, or maybe a HUD that emblazens a picture of the caller on my retina! Thoughts?

Wachovia’s Brilliant Customer Disservice

I’ve a new Evil Empire for the list: Wachovia. I know that they’ve always been evil, but I wasn’t a customer of theirs until a few weeks ago when they finally completed their acquisition of Southtrust Bank.

The first shameful act of Wachovia is that they purchased and squished one of the best financial institutions I’ve ever done business with. Southtrust employees were courteous, their service was excellent, their product offering was wonderful, and my experience with them was just wonderful as a whole.

The second shameful act of Wachovia requires a bit of backstory…

To prevent little cash flow hiccups, my wife and I set up a line of credit on our Southtrust checking account and paid a small enrollment fee to eliminate a per-transfer charge for automatic transfers from our line of credit. This service was wonderful because we have a number of auto-draft bills that get paid all at once during the month rather than being evenly split between paychecks. Sometimes we’d drop to the red the day before payday and this would prevent NSFs (for free) and we’d pay the debt back in a day or two.

Wachovia doesn’t care. It has been my understanding that when you buy a business, you buy their liabilities as well. Southtrust offered this service to us on a per-year basis. We’ve paid for our year, which doesn’t end for several more months. Wachovia doesn’t care. I talked to a “Wachovia Representative” on the phone who was able to give my $5 back and then reiterate (in her own words) the aforementioned mantra of this fine bank (read: Evil Empire): “Wachovia doesn’t care.”

In the end, what they do is what they do. The minute I heard that my wonderfully customer service oriented bank was being bought by this giant, I started my search for a new financial institution for my day-to-day banking. This transition is nearly complete, so I need not worry about my $5 a pop transfer fee again.

So, to Wachovia: You had your chance and you blew it. Now, Bryan doesn’t care.

“Shaving the Old Way” – the Review

A few weeks ago I wrote about taking up a new the old way of shaving. I promised myself (and a few others) that I’d sit down and consider how this was working out after I’d gotten the hang of it.

Vulfix Super Badger Brush – This is a basic shaving brush made with real badger hair. I’m still not real clear on the “super” in the moniker but I do know that the bigger the brush the more water it holds and the better it lifts the hair and that badger hair is supposed to be the best (especially if you have sensitive skin). I can’t do a comparison to another brush because this is the first brush I’ve ever used. However, after having used this brush I can testify that using any brush is definitely superior to the alternative.

Proraso Shaving Cream – This is an Italian gem. It’s quite cheap ($9.99 for a tube that looks like it’s going to last me a year) and is wonderfully refreshing when slathered on my face at 6 am. The glycerin and eucalyptus tingle probably makes the Vulfix brush seem even more effective. Very little of the soap is required to work up a good lather and it spreads easily over the skin, leaving the face smoothly at the stroke of the razor.

Merkur Futur Razor – This is the reason I’m glad I waited to write up the review. Impression #1: This is a high quality crafted implement. Impression #2: This is a highly qualified deadly weapon (that I plan to bring in contact with my face at 6 am). It really did take three weeks and three new razors to get the hang of this thing. Now (I think) I’ve passed oddly uneven shaves, large facial wounds and even the questions of whether I’ve made a terrible investment (of course I haven’t). I’ve read, bled, and said this before: this isn’t the kind of tool you drag across your face half asleep. I use setting six on the razor which takes the blade the furthest away from the “safety” and seems to work best for my face (I tried the full gamut of settings in my learning period). My shaves are quite close and, if necessary (though it usually isn’t), I can shave daily without irritation. This razor is light years ahead of my old Mach 3 (though the concept and technology are older) and I’d recommend it to anyone who understands that a little work and adjustment up front yield great rewards in the end.

[EDIT] I should probably also go ahead and plug again – I’ve been quite impressed with their service.

Shaving… the Old Way

Even if infrequently, the occasion arises where technology has actually caused quality in a particular facet of life to deteriorate. This is indeed the case with shaving. After enduring years of irritation, razor bumps, burning skin and dryness, not to mention the inability to shave daily as a result of these problems, I researched and have found a solution: shave like my great grandfather did. I did some reading, some research, and headed to for some supplies. I purchased a Merkur Futur razor, a Vulfix super-badger Brush and some Proraso Italian shaving soap then waited for it to come (please exhibit some pride towards me for being patient).

Yesterday was reward day. My parcel came (simple joy arrives in small packages for me), I set up the new environment and I gave it a shot. Absolutely incredible. Besides being a much better shave for my face, it’s a wonderfully relaxing experience – almost spa-like. I definitely recommend the “bargain” Proraso shaving soap (it came highly recommended to me, and I can see why – the Eucalyptus oil and Menthol provide awesome tactile and aromatic sensations). The act of shaving is, in fact, completely different with a safety razor because rather than jamming a cartridge razor (I’m a Mach 3 convert) against my face and dragging, the razor is weighted and meant to glide (much on its own) over the skin, taking your beard with it. I had no irritation, bumps, burning, or dryness and much fewer nicks than even I had imagined.

Give it a try if you haven’t already.