Saturday, January 31, 2009

Recommended Blog: all plaidout

I came across this blog thanks to a link by Hollister Hovey. I don't really know too much about the man behind it, but he does seem to have a good taste. I particularly liked this image of Andrew Bird that he posted (though I will admit to being unfamiliar with his music).

I would describe the blog as being similar to A Continuous Lean, but with a slightly different flavor. Besides, any blog whose concept is based around plaid really can't be that bad (sorry that that rhymed).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

January '09 J. Crew catalog

I picked up a copy of the January '09 J. Crew catalog the other day, and two things stuck out to me.

1. On page 4 there is a caption that reads "THE CARDIGAN (A.K.A. THE THIRD PIECE)" and on the next page there is a quote from "Gayle, women's stylist" under the "Behind the Seams" heading that reads "What's the third piece? Think of it as the finishing touch to any outfit. Your fashion ace-in-the-hole. This season it's the cardigan--long or short." Reading this made me immediately think of the post that I did last September entitled "The third item." While I certainly couldn't claim to have invented the concept or the phrase, nor could I accuse J. Crew of stealing my idea, I did find it interesting. If anyone at J. Crew is actually reading this and would like to offer me a job at corporate, I'd certainly be interested in talking...

2. Towards the back of the catalog I saw that J. Crew is selling a Baracuta G9 jacket this season. These have always been classic jackets, but it is another example of J. Crew's (relatively) new strategy of selling classic items made by other manufacturers (Chuck Purcells, Levi's 501s, Red Wing boots, Hunter wellies, Mackintosh coats, etc.). They're only offering it in "Tomato" which looks pretty good; I'm not sure if it differs from the standard "Dark Red" that Baracuta usually offers. I will point out that while it does look good, it still doesn't hold a candle to the Kelly green G9 that was offered last year (and, sadly, appers to no longer be available). I was pleased to see that they are selling it for $275 which is only a $10 mark-up from the prices at O'Connell's in Buffalo, so I think that's fair. While I am kind of annoyed at J. Crew because of their current sizing, and the fact that they will now no longer allow me to directly save images off of their website, I do like the general direction that they're moving.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion

If you have been reading this blog for very long, you might know that I am currently in graduate school working towards a Masters degree in Real Estate Development. It is a two year program and I will be finishing up this May. If you have been reading any publication printed in the last six months, you will know that real estate is about the worst career field to be trying to find a job in right now. Since I get about 200 people visiting my blog on any given day, I figured I would try to see if it might be able to help me out.

I am trying to find a full-time job in real estate development, real estate investment, or asset management. I am currently looking to stay in the Southeast (not surprising based on the blog title, eh?), and more specifically, I am looking at Birmingham, Greenville (South Carolina), Charleston, Atlanta and D.C. If you happen to work in real estate in any of these cities, or know anyone I should get in touch with, I would love to hear from you. I realize that a lot of companies don't have any actual jobs opening at this point, but I would definitely be interested in just making some contacts. Of course, I have a resume that I can provide via email. Anyways, thanks for reading.

"Varsity" Disposable Fountain Pens

I don't wear a suit coat or jacket often enough to conveniently carry a pen on me at all times. If I did, I think I might like to invest in a quality fountain pen to carry with me. However, given my current circumstances, I simply try to have a pen at arm's length whether I am in my car, in class, or at home. My number one choice for such a pen is the "Varsity" disposable fountain pen made by Pilot. As far as I'm concerned, it's the best disposable pen. Ever.

I originally got hooked on these pens when working as a runner at a law firm in Birmingham. In case you haven't spent much time around lawyers, they are the most coddled group of professionals out there. They have to have everything done for them by their secretaries, paralegals, and runners. At least in my experience, they are incapable of brewing their own coffee, cleaning up after themselves in the kitchen, or making their own copies. When it comes to pens, they are so picky that our office supplies area had around fifty different types of pens just because all of the lawyers wanted different ones and would have been unable to function if there wasn't a box of their favorite always stocked. One of these boxes happened to be full of Varsity pens, and at the suggestion of the all-wise receptionist, I gave it a try. I had never used a fountain pen before, but after using it for a while, all other pens paled in comparison. When I left the firm, I think that I took at least three of those pens with me.

There is something very satisfying in writing with a fountain pen, and the Varsity represents a great introduction. That being said, as far as disposable pens go, they aren't exactly cheap. You can usually buy a 3-pack of them at your local office supply store for about $9-$10. You could probably get 50 Bics for that price, but the Varsity pens are worth every penny (except for the stupid purple pens that they keep putting in those 3-packs; just leave it at black and blue, please). Apparently you can pick them up for $1.88 a piece from the Sam's Club website, so maybe it's time to stock up...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The black "dress" shirt


Let's go ahead and get something out of the way. Under no circumstance is a black "dress" shirt an acceptable choice. Yes, I know you see them all over MTV and "Access Hollywood," but that doesn't mean that it actually looks good, especially if you are a pasty white guy.

Whether you are wearing it with jeans, with black pants, with a jacket, or with a black suit ("for that monochromatic look"), you do not look cool or cosmopolitan--you look like a moron.

Yes, your girlfriend may suggest that you wear it, and may tell you that it is "so in right now," but don't believe her, she doesn't have any idea what she is talking about. It has been scientifically proven that women know absolutely nothing about men's clothing, so if you're going to start ignoring her advice (like you should), this is as good a time as any.

Somewhere along the way someone came up with the "genius" idea to pair a black shirt a tuxedo. This was about the worst idea since the all-white "tuxedo."

Unfortunately, the suggestion that wearing black dress shirts (and black in general) has been going around the men's fashion circles for a while now. Just look at this suggestion from "Ronnie" from the show "Make Me A Supermodel" (whatever that show is):

"When going to an event and you don’t know the dress code -- simply dress business casual. For men black pants, black button down shirt, black belt, black socks and black shoes. For the women black pants and a solid color blouse or modest dress, nothing too loud. Its always better to play it safe than to stick out like a sore thumb."

No, if you want to look like a tool, follow this advice. Frankly, I'm not sure I'd be taking advice from a guy who dresses like this anyways.

Anyways, leave the black shirts for the rock stars and douchebags at the club (not to be confused with "The Club").

Thursday, January 15, 2009

If it ain't broke...

I think that most would agree that LL Bean isn't what it used to be. Over the years the company has gone from small Maine-based outfitter to a global company that has diversified itself into every possible outdoor niche and outsourced the production of most of its products to third world countries. In doing so, they have diluted the number of classic, good-looking, and quality-made products into near oblivion. Fortunately, a few standards still exist, most in a state close to their original greatness. I have outlined them below:

The Maine Hunting Shoe

About as close to the original as you can get, and still made in Maine. I have them in 10" and are great for being out in the field, or just for a rainy day.

Rubber Moc

Made famous by the Official Preppy Handbook, accept no substitute. Throw these on to go get the mail, or to head to the bar. They look best with no socks (although actually going sockless is not recommended; use a pair of "loafer socks" to create the illusion). Made in Maine.

Chamois Cloth Shirt

Although these aren't made in the US, they're still pretty good. Soft, comfortable, rugged and warm, wear it while raking leaves or in the duck blind. Can also be worn over an oxford cloth shirt a shirt-jacket.

Irish Fisherman's Sweater

Still made in Ireland, they cost a pretty penny at $119, but they are surely worth every penny, especially if you are on a fishing boat in the somewhere in the North Atlantic.

Original Field Coat

While I don't own one of these myself, they appear to be about as good as the original. If I didn't have a Barbour, I would most certainly pick one up. While the "Stone" color seems to be popular, I think that "Saddle" is a better choice.

Camp Moc/Blucher Moc

These are no longer made in Maine, and the leather is of questionable quality. However, they still seem to be decently constructed, fairly comfortable, and are amazingly versatile. If they're good enough for Vampire Weekend, they're good enough for me.

Casco Bay Boat Mocs

I suppose this choice is a little bit of a cheat since Bean hasn't really been offering these for very long. However, I got a pair about three years ago and they are an awesome boat shoe; they are far superior to the pair of Topsiders I own. I have them in Briar (which start to look better after a bit of wear and some applications of mink oil), but they are also available Chocolate, which look similar to the classic Sperry dark brown.

Conspicuously Absent

LL Bean Trail Model Vest

Photo courtesy of Heavy Tweed Jacket
Although Bean does, from time to time, offer a nylon down jacket, since they started using zippers instead of buttons, things really haven't been the same

LL Bean Norwegian Sweater

80% Wool, 20% Rayon, and made in Norway, these sweaters, like the Rubber Mocs, were immortalized in the Official Preppy Handbook. No self-respecting prep in the 80s would have been without one. In spite of bringing back a Chinese-made version a few years ago (with a lower wool content, natch), I suspect that this one is gone for good. Fortunately they can usually be found on Ebay.

I should note that fortunately Bean's customer service is still top-drawer. If you call them, the phones are answered by actual Americans (it is especially exciting when they have a Maine accent) and their return policy is fantastic. I can only hope that they keep around many of these products for years to come.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The List of Manly Maintenance

Buying quality products inevitably requires a bit of periodic maintenance to make sure that they will last for a long time and look or perform their best while doing it. I submit the following list as the manliest of these activities:

1. Cleaning guns
2. Waxing a Barbour jacket
3. Polishing shoes
4. Mowing the grass
5. Washing the car

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

On duck hunting

I have clearly gotten off to a poor start for blogging in 2009. I apologize and will do my best to make it up.

Over the Christmas break I was able to get in two duck hunts. I had never been duck hunting before, but it was something that I had wanted to try to get into and so I jumped at the chances.

The weekend following Christmas, a friend from my grad program invited a couple of our classmates and myself down to his family's farm go hunting. The "farm" is really a spectacular 900 acre parcel that the family uses for all kinds of hunting: dove, quail, deer, duck, turkey and even alligators. We went down on that Sunday and did some quail hunting that afternoon. The weather was unseasonably warm (upper 70s) and the dogs were having a hard time picking up the scent of the birds. We were able to scare up a few coveys, though, and I managed to bag my first two quail. I used my Yildiz 20 gauge and it was great. I really enjoyed it, and will try to make it a priority to do some more quail hunting next season.

The next morning, we got up and went to some flooded timberland on their property and did a little wood duck hunting. Again, thanks to the weather, the birds weren't flying too well, but I did manage to get a drake, pictured below (they made me also hold up the other duck that we got that morning). That it my friend's flat coated retriever, Brick, in the picture with me.

That afternoon we went out to a new pond that they had built which was essentially a flooded 40 acre corn field surrounded by pines. When we arrived out there around 12:30, we were able to scare up probably 600 ducks that were on the pond, which was quite a site to see. After finishing work on some blinds that they had started building, we settled down and waited for the ducks to return. While we did end up seeing probably about 400 ducks that afternoon that returned to the pond, my friends and I all happened to be on the part of the pond where they weren't landing, so in spite of our group taking 24 ducks that afternoon, we were only responsible for one of them.

My next duck trip to was up to Lake Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge up in North Carolina, near the Outer Banks (and by "near," I mean about an hour away). My friend won a quota hunt for this lake and invited me to go along with him. This lake has, apparently, had a fairly legendary status among waterfowl hunters thanks to the number of ducks, geese, and swan that land there. We had some great expectations and figured it would be worth the eight hour drive.

It turns out that it wasn't. While we did see plenty of ducks, the first morning out there, very few of them flew anywhere near us and the only duck we managed to get was a green winged teal that I shot. While this could have been in part due to our decoy spread or my buddy's skills at calling ducks (I am not judging as I have never used a duck call before so I certainly couldn't have done any better), I think that it was par for the course for everyone hunting that day. A guy staying in our "motel" (I use this word very loosely) said that when he left the refuge, 14 of the 16 blinds had checked out and only 12 ducks had been taken amongst all of them. We all had hopes for the next day thought.

Decoys on Lake Mattamuskeet on the first morning's hunt

Those hopes turned out to be completely unfounded. During the night a front came through that stirred up a pretty strong southwest wing. When my friend and I trudged out to the blind (blind #16, which seemed to be regarded by most of the other hunters as the best blind) at 5:00 that morning, we discovered that the wind had actually blown all of the water out from in front of our blind. Since the lake is on 2'-3' deep over its entirety, we found ourselves with nothing but mud in front of our blind. We threw out a few decoys, and set out some more when it looked like the water was coming back in (this was only a tease, we found out, as the water left just as quickly as it came), but we started packing up at 7:45 after it appeared that no ducks were going to come anywhere near us.

Decoys on the mud flat formerly known as Lake Mattamuskeet on the second morning

Overall it was a fairly disappointing trip, but we did have a good time and at least we weren't skunked. I killed two ducks in my first season (I am not sure that I'll be able to make it out again before the end of the season in January) so I guess things could have been worse. I am looking forward to getting into it more next year.

Friday, January 2, 2009

"For auld lang syne, my dear"

I really enjoy the lyrics to "Auld Lang Syne" and feel like they are generally under appreciated, but maybe that is just because I am a fan of Robert Burns in general. Although it may be a day late, please feel free to play the lovely version of "Auld Lang Syne" below while reading the rest of the post.

I apologize for not posting for a while. I have been out of town a lot, and was actually without internet access for the past five days. Over the next week or so I will be posting about the various adventures (OK, maybe "adventures" is a stretch) I have had during the past few weeks.

For New Years, I went down to Charleston to attend the Fourth Annual New Years Eve Charity Gala hosted by the Palmetto Society. A number of my friends went last year and had a really good time, so I figured I would check it out this year. It is a pretty large event, probably about 1,000 people, held out on Patriot's Point. There were two bands and open bar, and plenty of Charleston women running around. It was a pretty fun way to spend New Years. Below is a picture of me with some of the guys from my grad program.

As I said, I should have a number of posts coming over the next week. Until then, I hope that you have a great New Year.