I struggled for years to get a decent knife sharp enough to serve me in the kitchen. When I was finally able to read a few books and get online to research what exactly makes a good knife, I got into Japanese knives made of carbon steel, and sharpened on natural stones. It was a long journey. Even when I got a few decent knives, sharpening them properly was a struggle -- different steels liked different stones, synthetic stones behaved in strange ways ... it seemed there was no end to the variables. Then, with the help of knife forums, and a lot of scraping steel on stone, strops, newspaper, leather, and balsa, I got a Takashima Japanese natural stone. The way it performed corrected many of the mistakes I'd made along the way, dispelled many of the myths, and got rid of man of the bad habits I'd developed along the way. It just worked. I'm confident. I can put an edge on a knife. I even shaved with a neck knife made of white steel (wouldn't do it again, mind you, if I could help it). I then thought, why can't I use a real straight razor? I was actually afraid of them since I was a kid -- a rusty straight razor, a terrible cut, lots of blood. So, lo, there was a forum, SRP ... with links. So, a few details omitted, I am, as of today, the proud owner of my first straight razor. I've even got a few supporting accoutrements. So, thank you all for welcoming me here. Allow me to reveal my kit:

Mastro Livi Regrind, with Bois de Rose scales
Truffet & Hill Sandalwood Shaving Cream
Crowley & Tosh Silvertip Badger Brush, faux tortoiseshell.

The razor I got from Straight Razor Designs. The cream and brush I bought locally, at an outstanding price, from British Isles, of Houston, Texas. I've learned a lot to get here, learned so much about the properties of synthetic stones, natural stones, types of steels, and edges and angles. I can't wait to learn more.