Thursday, November 24, 2011

Great Under-appreciated Invention #2: The Styptic Pencil

I’ve never been all that good at shaving. This odd and somewhat barbaric cultural custom requires a substantial degree of patience and care, but when the time comes to remove the morning stubble, I am always in a hurry. Today’s high tech disposable razors are remarkably sharp, and I am not safe with one unless I’ve used it way past the usual disposal time and it is as dull as a butter knife. As a result, I often nick myself creating tiny bleeders that would be a great embarrassment out in the world.

Enter the messy, chalky, but completely essential styptic pencil. Yes, it stings a bit, but I don’t mind. The stinging tells me I’ve hit the right spot, and the astringent is doing its job. And it never fails. A quick dab with this wet rock immediately stanches the bleed. If I forget to wash my face off later, the pencil leaves unattractive white marks behind, but I find they come off in the shower without restarting the flow of blood. Amazing. I keep one at home and in my traveling toiletry bag.

I don’t know who first introduced me to the styptic pencil, but I would like to thank whomever it was in absentia. You did me a great service. In turn, I have carried on the tradition by giving my son his first styptic pencil when became a shaver.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Great Under-appreciated Invention #1: The Rubber Band

I am starting a new category of entry: Great Under-appreciated Inventions, and the honor of GUAI #1 goes to the rubber band (AKA elastic band), patented in 1845 by Stephen Perry, a British inventor and business man.

I have a deep love of office supplies in general, but I particularly love the rubber band. Elastics have limitless possibilities. The world is populated with so many loose things in need of binding, and the rubber band provides a daily hedge against entropy.

A simple yet elegant invention. I keep plenty of them around, both at home and in the office.

Thank you Stephen Perry.