Should I Beard Or Not

I've never let my facial hair grow past 2 days. Unexpectedly hospitalized for appendicitis, it seemed moot. Now that I'm no longer sick, I'm leaving my decision on whether to shave or not to The Internet.

The Options

Let it grow

I keep the beard. Depending on how long I'm committed, I may need to do occasional trimming, but you're voting for Hairy Jason. 

It's got to go

I shave off the beard. I stay clean-shaven (except for that unavoidable 1 o'clock shadow...) Maybe you won't fix my fashion sense, but you can restore my grooming habits. 

Which one will make the cut?

The answer depends on you. Every dollar pledged is treated like a vote.

You make the call. Make a pledge for your preference...

How did we get here

I was hospitalized for appendicitis on December 12 after a few days of what I thought was just a stomach flu of some sort. It turns out it was a bigger deal than I thought. I avoided surgery, but I was hospitalized for over 2 weeks.

Fortunately, I’m covered by Japanese national health insurance, so the hospitalization and initial tests worked out to about $600 or so, plus some follow-up tests that’ll probably cost about $150. If I go broke, it won’t be from medical bills, unlike at home in the US.

Unfortunately, as a freelance software developer with a pretty small client base, I could neither meaningfully work or prospect for clients while in the hospital. Living off of about 500 calories a day in IV fluids for 2 weeks put a damper on my ability to concentrate, and I couldn’t exactly walk out of the hospital to meet with clients. That means I’ve basically got no pipeline of work for the next month or two, so I’m a bit nervous.

The shaving thing

I woke up feeling pretty ill on December 12 and didn’t bother to shave. By the time I was admitted to the hospital, I thought, Why Bother? I don’t need to impress anyone. But since I was a teenager I’ve never gone for more than a day without shaving.

In fact, my youngest child has never seen me this hairy. He was initially slightly terrified by my furry face, and he’s still a bit skeptical. He’s gotten a little more used to it by now, thankfully, or I don’t think I’d have come this far.

One sleepless night in the hospital, I thought, what if people could vote whether I keep the beard or not? I know not very many people are likely to take much interest in my grooming choices, but maybe on a whim some of my friends would throw me coffee money to try to sway me one way or the other.

What’s the deal

Pretty simple. People vote with their dollars. Whichever choice gets the most dollars, that’s what I do.

In principle, when it comes to running a democracy, I favor a one-person, one-vote approach, and consider pay-to-play lobbying abhorrent, but when it comes to allowing internet strangers to make decisions about my life, however trivial, my rule is “show me the money.” It should be your rule too.

If you vote, you can choose what’ll happen if your preference loses. I can refund your money, or not, or a couple of choices in between.

What’s in it for the voter?

  • If you contribute anything from $2.50 to $11.99, you get to be part of a fleeting internet moment and your vote counts. You’ll get to see pictures of my progress, uploaded right here.
  • Contribute at least $12, and I’ll send you a postcard. Your choice if you want it to be something with a personal photo or a the kind with a tourist photo of something well known in the Tokyo area.
  • Contribute at least $50, and I’ll buy you a cup of coffee next time you’re in Tokyo, Yokohama or Kawasaki and we can talk about whatever you’re in the mood to talk about for an hour or two.
  • Contribute at least $100 and I’ll buy you lunch in Tokyo, Yokohama or Kawasaki, up to 1500 yen. (With my mostly-vegetarian habit I’m a bit complicated, so I’ll probably ask to choose the specific venue but location is flexible. My taste in food is pretty good though so I’ll probably pick a pretty good spot).
  • Contribute $500-1000, and I’ll come talk shop with you at your office (or at a coworking space) in the greater Kanto area for a full day. Are you a tech company that wants someone to talk about Rails, Domain Driven Design, Docker, Vue.js, or technology management? I’d love to chat. Are you a non-tech company that wants some advice on how to move forward with technology solutions? Cool. Want me to talk about my favorite places to get a vegetarian meal in Tokyo? Awesome. Do you just want someone to talk about what it’s like to uproot your life in Seattle and move to Japan with an entire family without a traditional job lined up? I can do that. I can talk about my obsession with collecting Japanese pottery. Heck, I’ll even talk about my experiences with healthcare in the US and in Japan. (I’ll go outside of the Kanto area for this kind of fee but we’ll have to talk about travel expenses).
  • Contribute $5000 and I’ll work for you for a couple of weeks (you’ll need to be amenable to me sticking around Kawasaki/Tokyo/Yokohama unless you want to throw in travel expenses). That’s probably most valuable to you in the form of software development or consulting services, but hey, if you want me to cook or something, I’m a pretty good cook, let’s talk.
  • Contribute $10,000 and I’ll work for you for a month (see above)

If you have a suggestion on better premiums let me know via Twitter @jasntru or the Ochokochoi Facebook Page. This is still an experiment. Maybe I can send you some fancy snacks from Japan, for a price?

(“Contribution” refers to whatever the effective amount you’re sending my way, net of any refunds.)

How long will you stick with the outcome of the vote?

  • If I raise less than $100, I’ll follow the will of the crowd for at least a week after we close voting.
  • For each $100 above that until $3000, I’ll commit to the will of my internet friends for another day, up to one month total.
  • From $3000 to $30,000 (shooting for the stars, here; I know I don’t have that many friends), I’ll stick with the vote outcome one month for each $3000.
  • After the commitment to shave or not to shave is over, I’ll defer to whatever my wife wants me to do. I’ll post a picture of any changes.
  • In the unlikely event this silly idea raises more than $10,000, I’ll spend a month per $10,000 working full-time to expand this site so that it can work for other people who want strangers on the internet to make life choices for them in exchange for cash. (I reserve the option of capping my personal full-time commitment to this project a year, but I’ll hire other people to work on this project if it gets past $120,000. I have no reason to believe I’ll raise anything close to that amount, but if it keeps me busy for a year, that’d be pretty cool). Also, anyone who contributes any amount to my Big Beard Decision will get first crack at trying out the site.

What happens if you raise nothing?

Well, this is just a little experiment. I’d be thrilled even if building this site only results in a friend or two effectively buying me a cup of coffee.

What if there’s a tie?

Hiromi, my wife, is the ultimate tie-breaker.

When does the bidding/voting end?

I’ll keep voting open until about February 14, unless I have some sort of terrible site malfunction that makes me rethink things. Whatever happens, let’s call it a Valentine’s Day gift to my wife and to the world.

My “progress” so far

Once I was in the hospital, I started taking selfies, since the whole having more than 2 days hair on my face thing was new to me. Here’s what the progression looked like.

Sidebar with images showing how Jason's beard evolved

What's your vote?