Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Children's Story

Motorbike Dreams

I know nothing about motorcycles. But I don’t know anything about cars either. As the weather warms and the days get longer I feel more and more like I’d rather be on two wheels than four. I’ve been casually working in the idea of getting a motorcycle. My step-son is 11 going on 12 and I’ve stated to him that when he turns 16 I’ll get one and we’ll learn how to ride and maintain it together. Whether his mother exercises a last second veto is another story, but what kind of bike to get is something I can dream about now.

The kid, of course, would be pleased to get a dirt bike. And though it would put a cramp in my idea of commuting to work on it and the two of us taking turns jetting between baseball practices and trips to the drug store, it’s starting to grow on me: If only as an influencing concept.

For a prospective motorcycle guy, I’m not that big a fan of most motorcycles. I hate sport bikes and I’m not really a fan of touring bikes. Ducatis and Harleys don’t interest me in the slightest. So where does that leave me? As I mentioned, I know nothing about motorcycles, so I don’t even know the classification. I believe it's just called Standard or Naked. But these late sixties Triumphs, BSAs, Hondas seem like they would suit me just fine. Not that they would have to be vintage pieces per-say. Something reasonably similar in size and shape would do.

Monday, March 30, 2009

One Step Forward...

This past weekend was an interesting crossroads in my gentlemanly journey.

Saturday was an opportunity to participate in a prime gentlemanly activity: Helping a friend move.

Most people would employ any and every excuse to avoid this activity. But I look forward to it. It’s an exercise that includes nearly every aspect of gentlemanly living. For one thing, it’s an opportunity to wear ragged jeans, flannel and boots in an appropriate context. There is also a hefty dose of male bonding, modern courtesy / gallantry, and exercise.

I suppose men whose daily work is in the realm of tools, trucks and labor might not get the same thrill from these activities on a Saturday, but when you spend half your waking life in a desk, the prospect can be a little exciting. It can become a confirmation of your manliness. The dirty handed problem solving can appeal to the cave man inside of you.

Sunday, on the other hand, provided a reminder of how far I may have to go to become the grown man I aspire to be. It was the day of my fantasy baseball draft. Though it provided an equally strong dose of male bonding, it was remarkably less manly. By my current standards, it seemed almost juvenile. Hopefully a last major bastion of a suspended post-adolescence.

I think I can still rationalize most of it, as it essentially is a form of sports gambling. And my approach has at least evolved a bit. At this year’s draft I traded a baseball cap and sneakers for a cardigan and Sperrys. I swapped out an elaborately labeled spread sheet for a simple moleskin notebook. And I passed on cans of Coors Light, in favor of Crown Royal on the rocks.

Finally, perhaps feeling as though I had short changed my family on quality time over the weekend, I returned from the fantasy baseball draft with a brand new Wii Fit. It is a very fun way to get some exercise and strengthen your core muscles. And a supremely fun family activity. Though it certainly isn’t how our grandfathers would have rolled. The combination of yoga, step aerobics and bubbly video games could make for the most unmanly cocktail yet.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bald Lemonade

When life hands you lemons, you’re left with two options: bitch and whine about the sour taste, or make lemonade with them. So when life hands you baldness, what’s the lemonade?

I suppose it depends on whether you like lemonade or not. Or more importantly if you’re thirsty. Being thirsty is something you don’t really have control over. It’s a natural instinct. So are sexual attraction and initial human perceptions.

An anthropological study* found that “Pattern baldness may signal social maturity, a non-threatening form of dominance associated with wisdom and nurturance.” Meaning women’s baser instincts around choosing a mate rely on baldness to indicate a good potential husband and father. Furthermore, facial hair also indicated sexual potency and dominance. (Supposedly, the Connery on the right is more attractive)

In fact that leads me to believe that men who attempt to hide their baldness are in fact aptly demonstrating to the opposite sex that they do not actually posses the traits that their baldness would subconsciously indicate. Much in the same way women incorrectly assume that men automatically desire thin women, Delilah doesn’t want her Samson out ripping apart lions, destroying temples and slaying Philistines.

I guess it all comes down to embracing the characteristics that come with age as opposed to clinging to your youth. I wouldn’t suggest that men who are losing their hair are lucky. But when life hands you baldness lemons, you have to embrace the thirst quenching possibilities instead of fostering the want of a snack.

*The Evolutionary Significance and Social Perception of Male Pattern Baldness

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Good Plum

Let’s face it, some fruits are a bit of a crap shoot. You seldom go wrong with apples, bananas and oranges. And I can’t say I’ve ever met a watermelon I didn’t like. But in my opinion, the best fruit varieties are the ones that offer the prospect of a little gamble. Some people can’t stand grapefruit. Perhaps that’s because they stumbled upon a few less than stellar ones to start. With a little persistence you’ll discover that one out of a dozen grapefruits is a magnificent treat. Peaches are hit or miss. Same goes for pears and pineapples to some extent. But by and large, even spotty fruits tend to have a fairly wide margin of error.

But plums offer the greatest thrill. A plum can be a bitter miserable experience. It can be a soaking wet, bland affair. It can even be an awkwardly stiff sensation coupled with a flavor that could be described as unflavored pickle. But every so often, you take a plum in hand, pierce the rubbery skin and hit the jackpot. I would go so far as to say there is no such thing as a good plum. There are only disappointing plums and great plums. When you’re lucky enough to catch one, it can brighten your entire day. A mix of great flavor and beautiful color and the cleanest, smallest most adorable remnant of trash the fruit world has to offer. It almost makes the sticker seem cumbersome.

I just had a good one. It was like finding and unopened Christmas present with my name on it. And it’s put a mildly sticky veneer of contentment on a previously crummy feeling day. It makes me want to send off a salutation of: “... goodbye for now. May your next plum be a good one.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Endorsements | B M


Irish whiskey has a lot in common with Scotch. It's just smoother and milder. There aren't nearly as many varieties. In fact there's only 3 distilleries on the whole island to Scotland's 90. One makes Jameson, one a handful of small brands and way up north they make Bushmills. This was my grandmother's brand. I'll have to start calling it grandmother's milk.

Bangers and Mash

The phrase meat and potatoes usually requires a few caveats: Filet and au gratin for instance. But a couple boiled sausage links suspended in a heap of mashed potatoes is a meat and potatoes' meat and potatoes.

Booker T & the MGs

When a rhythm section is this good, who needs a singer. He'd only get in the way. One more B.M.: Brotherhood, man.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

5X5 Weight Training

For several months I’ve been using a weight training program designed for endurance athletes. I used it to suplement my weight loss. It was basically a combination of circuit training and strenght training. I did one set of 12 reps for every muscle group and between every 5 sets I’d do 15 minutes of cardio. I chose it because it seemed like a natural extension of the old school fitness trail I did through the summer. That included a combination of running and calisthenics. The weight program included variations of bench and military presses, lat pull downs, bicep curls, tricep extensions, rows, squats, leg curls and extensions, calf raises and sit ups.

Having reached my primary weight loss goal, I’ve decided to concentrate on building some muscle mass and gaining some strength. My previous weight lifting stints had always been built on an old weight training book my dad bought me when I was a teenager. It outlined programs for different sports and included exercises in 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps.

I’ve just started a new program. It’s a modified version of a power lifting routine. It’s called a 5x5. I took out some of the dead lifting and other dangerous elements and tailored it to something I can do at home and at the gym.

I'm doing:
5 sets of 5 reps of bench press
5 sets of 5 reps of squats
3 sets of 5 reps of military press
3 sets of 5 bent over rows
3 sets of 5 pull ups / chin ups
push ups to fail
V sit ups to fail

What I like about this routine is that it’s not a new method. In fact it’s about as old school as it gets. The height of it’s popularity was in the 1940s, which seems to fit nicely with my jogging, swimming, jump roping, pushup -pullup, medicine ball, all around old school fascinations. It also seems like an ideal change of pace from my last routine. Loading up on exercises that hit lots of muscle groups instead of isolating them. I'll probably end up going back and forth to keep things stimulating and prevent boredom.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bowling Together

I have a group of friends that have been close since high school. As we’ve all settled down, gotten married and had kids, we’ve had fewer opportunities to get together. We used to spend an inordinate amount of time together, many of us taking turns as roommates through and after college. We went through phases when we went bowling once a week, that evolved into a weekly poker game and gradually faded away. I had them over to my house for my son’s birthday party. It seems to be that weddings, funerals and children’s birthday parties are the only times we hang out. At the party we set up a poker game for this past Friday. We saw it through and I’m so glad we did. It was a blast.

I’ve given up Myspace for Lent and I have yet to create a Facebook account. I have no intention of doing so anytime soon. I even quit the bar band that I’ve been playing in for the past year and a half. I’ve discovered in the flux of this that a fundamental need for a gentleman is a social capital. Back in the day, when you could conceivably call someone that wasn’t home and not establish contact with them, men needed social organization. They needed regular meetings of their social clubs, poker or bowling games, and various leagues, committees and unions.

Sunday afternoon, I marched with my division of the A.O.H. in the Allentown St. Patrick’s Day Parade. A.O.H. stands for the Ancient Order of Hibernians. An Irish Catholic organization created in 1836 to aid new Irish Immigrants in the United States with integration. It’s a lot like the Lyons, Elks, Knights of Columbus, etc. Most of these groups are populated by older gentleman. Retired guys in need of social interaction, a charitable outlet and a touchstone of cultural pride. I typically avoid the meetings due to all the bickering and arguing. But the events and functions are a lot of fun. Old Irish guys getting drunk, telling fantastic stories and sharing social capitol. Above all, they are true gentleman. They don’t swear or swindle. They give of themselves and they adhere to the old school ways as though they’re called to it by duty.

Perhaps social networking web sites are the modern replacement of these organizations. I for one think that they’re missing a few essential elements. Their a fine way to communicate with people. A more than fair trade off for phones without caller ID or voicemail. But you really should be with people. More than that, you should belong to something. Robert Putnam wrote a book called Bowling Alone that covers the changing social landscape of America. I have not read it yet, but it’s on my radar. He’s also written a book in hopes of starting a movement to rekindle this part of us called Better Together.

Even if you have to start one yourself, join a group or organization. Make a point of regular attendance or events. And garner a little honest, American, hand to hand social capitol. These times are calling for it. Break away from the “Me” generation that has created things like blogging and twittering about yourself. The real way to look and act like our grandfathers is to build a society like the one they belonged to. With bowling and softball leagues, regular poker games, beef & beer dinners and the local social hall, family picnics, hunting & fishing trips, guys with nicknames, and vegetable gardens that create enough green peppers for all the guys in the club.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bacon sense

“Fashion is only the attempt to realize art in living forms and social intercourse.”
“If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world.”
-- Francis Bacon

“Sizzle, crackle, pop!”
-- Bacon

I feel as though, fashion and possessions are becoming too big a part of this. So I’m going to dedicate at least 10 posts in a row to matters of etiquette, entertainment and eadibles.

Here’s three pieces of advice:
1. Resolve yourself to have no unqualified opinions. If you haven’t seen a particular film, read a particular book, or listened to the complete contents of a particular album. You can’t have an opinion on it. And don’t be too confident in your opinion until you’ve studied and cultivated it. Even then, don’t offer it unsolicited. “I enjoyed it.” is a fact. “It’s sucked.” is an opinion.

2. When at a diner party or social event, make a point of sitting next to someone you don’t know very well if at all. Initiate a conversation with them. Ask a lot of questions and do a lot of listening.

3. Eat bacon with your breakfast. And if you have time, fry up some potatoes in the leftover grease. But don’t eat either after 11:00 am.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Horseback Riding

Pictured above is a trophy I won when I was 12 years old. It was my first year at Camp Cadet. Between doing pushups, vigorously cleaning our bunks and marching all over the place, we were exposed to all kinds of military and law enforcement activities. We fired guns, conquered group obstacles, and saw numerous demonstrations from a Bomb Squad, S.W.A.T. team, Search and Rescue, the Secret Service, etc. One such activity was horseback riding. We each got a chance to ride a horse around a track and some were given a chance to take it through a few obstacles.

Being a city kid, I don't think I'd ever seen a horse let alone ridden one. I paid careful attention to the instructors advice and at the end of the week he saw fit to bestow upon me my cherished sixth place trophy. It may not be very impressive, but it was my first trophy that wasn't simply for my participation in a team sport.

I don't believe I've had many if any occasion to ride a horse again, and to be honest, it's not on the top of my to do list. But I did gain an appreciation for working horses and a little of what it takes to control them. You're more likely to see cops on bicycles than on horses these days, unless you're at a parade or a scottish soccer match. It almost seems like a throwback to a different time when you do see one. The men atop a working horse become faceless. They almost become and accessory to the elegant nature of the animal. Being on horseback and on official business is a very transformative thing. John Wayne once said that he had two acting styles: On a horse and standing. I actually think that makes a lot of sense. A mounted man is almost an instant gentleman. Even a grizzled filthy cowboy has an air of regality when he's on a horse.

Probably the only thing I learned from my award winning horseback stint was that being on a horse requires one to mind his posture and put his focus on the beast beneath him. If you want to be effective and in control, you have to be gentle but firm. You have to take charge but do it with civility and grace. And that is how a gentleman should do just about everything, on horseback or standing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bicycle Commuting

When gas was over $4 and I was over 260 pounds, I took up biking to work. I loved it. I did it through most of last summer and fall. I was able to gain some weight loss momentum and useful experience. Then I ran into a trifecta of obstacles as well as a slick patch of grating. It was getting more and more challenging to get the kids ready and dropped off and still be able to leave with enough time to get to work. Plus it was getting colder. Then I had a nasty fall and suddenly daylight savings time kicked in and the bike was hung up in the basement for the winter.

Today I got back on the bike. I was waiting for good rainfall to wash out some of the salt and cinders. What I got was enough rain to make the roads wet. I was a bit tentative, but I got to work in less than 22 minutes. My best time last year was over 17. But I got there safe and sound and a little more emboldened. And I was able to get the baby to the sitter, grab a shower at the office and got in my desk right on time.

The way home is much harder, but I’m not too worried. I feel great right now. Riding to work has a lot of benefits, provided you don’t live 40 miles away. Remarkably when you factor in parking and everything it only takes me 3-5 more minutes to bike than to drive. And when I get here I feel awake and invigorated. Biking is very stimulating both physically and mentally. You’re forced to be more alert and the trip becomes more like an adventure than a chore. Driving is very passive, especially when it’s a repetitive commute. Not to mention the gas money, wear and tear on your car and calorie trade you’re saving.

This is what I'm riding: a KHS Flite250 with some clip on TT bars and flat pedals.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Corned Beef & Cabbage

They say Irish cuisine is an oxymoron. And I'd hardly disagree. One thing I think they do get right is corned beef and cabbage. Here's an easy enough recipie. My mom makes it every year for St. Patrick's Day and it's one of my favorites.

It's actually not really and Irish dish. It's an Irish-American tradition. Most original Irish immigrants were very poor and corned beef is a cheaper substitute for traditional irish bacon. The meat itself was borrowed from their Jewish neighbors in New York. But the technique for this meal is very Anglo. They boiled it together with cabbage, turnips and potatoes. It may not sound all that delicious and it may be something of an acquired taste. My Polish-Italian wife can't stand it for example. But I'd eat it three times a week if I could. I like to top it off with a little apple cider vinegar.

I like it very hot and awfully wet.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Reversible Bow Ties

I was tooling around Etsy helping a friend find a pair of cufflinks when I stumbled upon the seller Pinch & Pull Neckwear. All of the offerings were great and reasonably priced. But what really caught my eye were a pair of reversible ones. They were even at a discount. They came in the mail the other day and they're fantastic.

I did discover that you have to flip it under your collar and start with one of each side facing out to get them to sync up. But it's not too tricky. They were also much taller than my other bow ties. At first that made me a little nervous. But surprisingly a more substantial bow tie is just what the doctor ordered. Initially it made me feel like an old fashioned bar tender or poker dealer. But before long it was a more natural size than the Brooks Brothers bow I picked up a few weeks ago.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dressing The Man

It turned out that what I didn’t know about dressing myself could fill a book. Luckily, that book was “Dressing the Man” by Alan Flusser, and it was at my local library. This book is the bible of men’s clothes. Or at least the Old Testament of men’s clothes.

As a graphic design student I was told repeatedly that you had to know what the rules where before you could break them successfully. I ended up renewing it from the library. As I got deeper in, I wanted to go back and cross reference the photos and the chapters subjects. It would make an excellent text book for a class in personal and timeless style. I seriously took notes out of it. If I had bought it, I might have broken out the hi-liter and color tab stickers.

For the sake of criticism, it left a little to be desired in the casual department. Not that dressing down should be the goal, but I’m sure there is a method for success in that spectrum as well. Regardless of your typical formality requirements. It’s a must for any man who cares enough to pick out his own clothing. And would like to avoid future utterances of “Honey, does this go?”

If you’ve got a nephew or godson in need of a graduation present, this is the ticket. I only wish I had read this book before I ever went on a job interview or got married. I want to go to The Men’s Warehouse with a megaphone and preach from it to people going in the store.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I was trying to figure out exactly what Mickey Rourke was coming back to. So I rented Diner.

Barry Levinson's screenplay for Diner was nominated for an Academy Award. The story is set in 1959. The movie came out in 1982. And for what it's worth, is a remarkable likeness for the lifestyle of me and my friends in the late 90s - Early 2000s. Levinson does a fantastic job of capturing the spirit of that phase of life between school and the rest of your life. As I watched it the other day I could easily substitute myself and each of my close buddies for the various characters in the film.

Given my reccent sartorial fascinations, I was caught up in the wardrobe. Great stuff. The music is out of site as well. If someone made this movie and set it in 1999 it would be a sorry sight. They'd have to trade out the suit and ties for carpenter jeans and sweatshirts and replace the Carl Perkins and Bobby Darin with Sugar Ray and Jay-Z.

On a related note, I gave my son the nickname Boogie. It was for reasons completely unrelated to this film. And although I wouldn't be very pleased if it led him to become like Mickey Rourke's character in this move, I wouldn't be completely disappointed either.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Outfitter | Casual Friday

I feel like an ass posting a picture of myself. But I like to see what other dudes are wearing so I also feel like a hypocrite. As a gesture of encouragement to other similarly style minded gentlemen to do the same, here's exhibit A in the states case against my overgrown self image.

And the most important lesson I've learned. No outfit is complete without shoes.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Permanent Playoff Beard

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
-- Teddy Roosevelt

In high school I was required to shave every day, under penalty of hepatitus. (If you came to school muzzled, you were given a demerit and sent to the washroom in Father Burkhart’s office to shave with a dull community bic and a bar of soap. Catholic education at its best).

I spent my college career in a goatee. Now that I’m a husband and parent, it’s a full beard. Though I should qualify full as meaning it connects across my face. Its fullness as relating to thickness is a half step above scraggly. (In my beard’s defense, it did get me a modeling gig for hats.com). I feel that it suits me. At least right now. Before it’s all said and done, I’m sure I’ll go through a solo mustache phase and a Grizzly Adams period. Probably ending full circle as a clean shaven grandpa. That’s what my dad has done.

The current facial fancy can best be described as a permanent playoff beard. Not really styled, but somewhat defined. It’s about 4-6 weeks of growth, trimmed biweekly and uniformly. The main battle is with the borders on the upper cheek and neck. But it’s essence is a statement of beardly distinction. It says, I’m not a pretty boy with George Michael stubble or a trendy hair sculpture, nor am I a bushy bearded lumberjack. I have control over this thing, but I allow it to be itself. Like a dog on a retractable collar, free... to an extent.

Traditional thinking claims that a man with a beard is hiding something. These days, I think a clean shaven man without occupational restrictions is hiding the fact that he can’t grow a beard. Just like a man with a shaved head isn’t fooling anyone. I’m inclined to embrace my folliclular distinction. Sure I’m losing my hair, sure my beard is a little patchy, wanna make something of it. I’ve got plenty of hair on my chest. Do you, Suzy?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Channeling | part one

Intro: My son is about to turn one. He’s learning to walk and talk. And he’s inspiring me to be a better person and to be a full-fledged grown man. He inspires me to be in shape. He inspires me to read more. He inspires me to inspire him. In an effort to glean a little coolness and knowledge on the subject, I’m cruising various blogs and internets. You can see them on the right. But in case you don’t care to, here are highlights.”

Quoting: The Trad

“I was reminded that Fast Food restaurants in North Carolina share a similarity with Full Service gas stations in New Jersey in that neither are accurate descriptions.”

“Martinis have a well deserved reputation as being dangerous. Just like women’s breasts...one’s not enough and three’s too many.”

“I deep six’ed the Canada Dry Club Soda and now use Perrier or San Pelligrino. Look, there’s not a lot of booze in this so you may as well do it right and enjoy it. Kind’a like sex after you’re 40.”

Picturing: Beard Revue

Capturing: A Time To Get

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Regardless of your religious inclinations, Jesus is a fine example for a gentleman. But let's face it, there's a somewhat limited syllabus. He never had kids or a job. And He never went on a date. Even if you're swept up in Davinci Code theories, there's no demonstration of how he dealt with it.

So if you're in a challenging situation at work or you're at a loss dealing with your child, think to yourself, what would Andy Griffith do?

Andy lives in a world where everyone around him is making a mess of things and he's the cool head that's there to help them out. He's the very essence of a gentleman. Not only that, but he's got impeccable patience, kindness, common sense and wisdom. He's the strait man surrounded by goofs. And in my estimation, that's a gentleman in a nutshell. Wit and wisdom play best when you've got the high ground in personality. Be smooth, do good, exercise patience and be like a small town sherif. Be in charge of the situation but be mindful of kind justice. And like both Jesus and Andy, be an example to Opie and the rest of Mayberry as well.

You should go to church every Sunday. But you should probably tune into TV Land once a week to watch an episode of the Andy Griffith Show too. It's only a half hour.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Regimental NATO Watchband

As I mentioned before. I recently upgraded (incrementally) from a crappy digital watch from Wal-Mart to a serviceable analog watch from Target. See here. I have no complaints about the watch itself. It’s served me well in the pool and I haven’t gotten sick of the styling yet. But the strap is another story. For one thing it gave me a rash. I got in the bad habit of wearing it to bed and in the shower. The bigger problem is that my wrist seems to be sized halfway between two notches. It’s either uncomfortably tight or it’s dancing all over the place when I run.

I fully intended to experiment with watch bands when I bought it. Mostly for style considerations, but also because I liked the nylon strap on my digital model. Though not the velcro and empty space left by the fold back. Six months into being a watch wearer, I feel confident that it’s worth more investment.

I think I’m going to try a NATO strap. At first I was just going to order a solid black one, then I stumbled upon the James Bond design and then on to various collegiate and UK military regimental stylings. smartturnout.com has a good selection. Almost too good. I want to order four or five of them and start a liberal rotation. I’m a little wary of breaking rules about not being a member of the specific regiments and school alumni, but I think I can rationalize and repurpose their color scheme for schools and and institutions I am affiliated with. I’m not sure where to start though. The 007 is sweet.

Changing and setting up the somewhat novel strap should be a fun thing to learn and I’m looking forward to having a subtle conversation piece of flair on my person.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dueling Pistols

Some gentlemanly possessions are near essential. Others border on extraneous. It really depends on your interests and tendencies. Some might consider a tennis racquet or a fishing rod to be absolute staples. Some might live their whole life without holding either and still be suitable gentlemen.

Still, a gentleman should be prepared for anything. He might only use a pair of needle nose pliers once in his lifetime, but it’s still a good idea to keep them in his tool box.

Nowadays it’s unlikely that a gentleman would need to challenge someone to a duel. One way or another we’ve phased that aspect out of civilized life. But you never know. Perhaps someday it will come back into fashion. Maybe it will combine aspects of paint ball and American Gladiators. Two chaps reach and impasse in an argument and decide to settle it by donning protective eye wear, walking ten paces, turning and shooting tennis-ball-sized paint pellets at each other. Just hard enough to leave a nasty welt and ruin a suit.

Until we get to that point you can probably get away with filling the space on your shelf reserved for dueling pistols with a croquet set, falconry equipment or a work-in-progress ship in a bottle. It really depends on what tickles your fancy. You have to admit, though, that it would be pretty clutch if an associate of your’s challenges another to a duel and proceeds to ask “Does anyone have a set of matched pistols?”. and you come out with “As a matter of fact....”

In the meantime, I’m gonna go add Barry Lyndon to my Netflix que.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Argyll & Sutherland

... is an infantry regiment of the British Army within the Scottish Division. Their regimental color tie is, in my opinion, the perfect tie. I've seen them here and there, most recently around the neck of my company's CFO. That day, I spent my lunch break at the thrift shop and found one. It was a little beat up and not of the best quality to start with. But it was worth a buck to try it out.

Now I'm searching for a good deal on a nice one. Something on par with but not necessarily Ben Silver or Brooks Brothers. Speaking of BB, they have a gorgeous A&S bow tie that I'm fighting very hard not to order from their web site as I write this.

The style's not going anywhere, and sooner or later somebody is gonna be going out of business or just need to clear out some inventory. I'll just have to keep my eyes open.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Happy 50th Mr. Glass

The radio in my car is tuned exclusively to Public Radio. I bounce back and forth between WHYY and XPN. On the weekends, I try to time my errands with the This American Life. It's a total driveway show. Meaning if I get home before it's over, I end up sitting in the driveway throught the end of the segment. I have my iTunes set to automatically download the show. If I'm making a long trip, like down to the shore, I listend to an episode or two that I missed.

Ira Glass is the host of the show. He introduces the segments and conducts a brief interview at the beginning to set up the theme. His radio voice is kind of the Anti-Limbaugh. Meek, gentle, unassuming and the essence of geek-chic.

He seems like an old friend. I briefly subscribed to Showtime in what seemed like a personal favor. He's high on the list of famous persons I'd like to invite to my home for diner. And he almost makes me wish my vision would start to go so I could start wearing a pair of glasses like his. In a nutshell, Ira is smart people cool. And as a gentleman, he's beyond exemplary. He borders on cliche. To me, a slim, bookish, hipster gentleman is better defined as an Ira Glass type.

He turns 50 today. On the surface, I find it hard to believe. For some reason I can't really imagine that he's a day over 30. But it goes to show you that there's hope out there for people getting old gracefully that aren't classicaly handsome movie stars. At the very least you should be an literati radio star.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Irish oatmeal (not oatmeal with Jameson in it) is actually a hard kernelly version of traditional oatmeal. It has more fiber and protein that traditional rolled oats. It's sometimes referred to as Scotch oats or steel cut oats. You can find it in the organic or health food section of the grocery store, though I prefer to get it at the farmer's market.

If you try to cook it like regular oatmeal it takes forever. Which can be prohibitive on a normal workday. What the Irish do with it is make porridge. My brother did a semester abroad in Ireland. And much to the chagrin of his football coaches, lost a ton of weight eating it and walking hills every day.

To turn steel cut oats into porridge, combine 4 cups of milk to 1 cup of oats with a little salt, mix and put it in the fridge overnight. (You can add more or less milk or even parts water depending on how thick or runny you like it). In the morning, bring to a boil and stir regularly for 5 minutes. I like to throw in some sliced bananas or raisins. It's a better move than granulated sugar and is just as effective in sweetening it up. Sometimes I'll sprinkle a little granola on top as well.

This is a hardcore filling breakfast. It's good for people getting over an illness and a great breakfast for the day of a long distance running race.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mid-Day Trot

I suppose it’s official, I’m a runner. It dawned on me when I was having a conversation about running with another runner in the locker room at work. I’m not ashamed of it. It’s just that I had sort of seen myself as a person trying to lose weight and the activities related to that didn’t really take on their own properties. But what can I do, I’m addicted to it. I ran Friday over my lunch break in the rain for goodness sake.

I don’t know about a runner’s high. But there is something going on. Once I’m about 20 or 30 minutes into it, I feel more compelled to keep going than to stop. In fact, reaching the destination or running out of time is kind of a bummer. But after that brief withdraw there is a fantastic sensation. I feel like a million bucks. I guess that qualifies as a runner’s high. Some endorphin related thing.

I especially like doing it in the middle of the day. There’s a nice, restart quality to it. If you’ve ever seen Burn After Reading, George Clooney’s character has a similar compulsion. There’s a lot to dislike about that character, but he is oddly endearing. I feel a kinship with his beardedness too.

Anyway, I went through a phase of interval running. (Changing pace on a rhythm) and a alternating between intense and moderate days using a heart monitor. Without a race to train for, I’m kind of just enjoying running at a nice pace. I’d call it a trot. Like the rate a horse would clip-clop along. Faster than a jog, not quite all out running. I’d rate paces something like...


There are a lot of useful things you can buy as a runner. You can get by without the heart rate monitor. If you don't plan on getting addicted or live in a warm climate, you might be able to get by without a good hat and gloves. You won't regret lined running shorts, but they're not necessary. The one thing you should definitely invest in is good shoes. For starters, get professionally fitted. If you can find a good runner's store, they will watch you run, make assessments and put you in shoes that will make a big difference.

I'm by no means an expert at this point, but I feel I can offer advice to the aspiring novice. Remember to stretch, stay hydrated and above all be patient. Don't expect to be able to cover 10 miles on the first day. Even if you have some running experience. Your heart and lungs, as well as all the muscles, tendons and ligaments in your body need to be eased into it. Start by going back and forth between walking and jogging. Work at a pace that you can do for 30 minutes to an hour. It's no good to hit the ground at full speed and pack it in after 5-8 minutes.