Sunday, January 23, 2011

2011 Duck Hunting Trip

Two weekends ago, before ice and snow brought Atlanta to a grinding halt, I headed to South Carolina for what will likely be my only hunting trip of the 2010/2011 season. A classmate of ours from graduate school invited us down to his family's plantation for the weekend, which was obviously an offer that we couldn't refuse. Here are some pictures from that trip.

Before we headed down to the Lowcountry, my friend Ralph and I were able to go hunting on Friday morning on some land that another of our friend's has up near Greenville.

Ralph (of the soon-to-be blog, A Ralph Down South: an online tour of the places Ralph has thrown up in the southeast), on the lookout for ducks.

Ralph's Browning A5 Stalker and the wood duck that he got.

The lake we were hunting on, as the sun came up.

Unfortunately, I came up empty-handed that morning.

After we wrapped up, we headed down to our friend's plantation, which is down near Edisto, in the ACE Basin. They've got about 600 acres of impoundment and are right next to the Combahee River. For those in the know, this means a TON of ducks.

In order to get ready for the hunt the next morning, we decided to stay up around the fire until about 12:30 AM drinking some of America's finest macrobrews (Natty Light and Busch Light, of course), and two pints of Mr. Boston Rock & Rye (which is delicious, by the way).

The next morning, my friend William and I were set up in our blind and ready for the ducks.

A view from our blind at dawn.

William and his dog, Joe, after downing a drake shoveler.

After the hunt.

William and I had an outstanding morning. We both managed to limit out in just under and hour. We were covered up with ducks, though they were mostly spoon-bills. In fact, between the two of us, we shot 10 drake shovelers, one hen shoveler, and one teal. No complaints, though. We had an awesome hunt.

The plantation was beautiful and amazing. Here are a couple of photos, though they don't do the place justice.

That night, after an afternoon dove hunt, we celebrated in the only fashion appropriate for the ACE Basin. We headed over to bustling metropolis of Yemassee for a steak dinner at Harold's Country Club.

Harold's is a local institution and was definitely the place to be on a Saturday night, though we didn't stick around long enough to have enough to drink to actually participate in karaoke. Next time...

All in all it was an awesome trip. On Sunday, before the snow hit, we even got to go quail hunting at our friend Kyle's parents' farm. Not a bad way to spend a weekend.

A special thanks to Rusty, James, and Kyle for their generosity.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Engine-Turned Belt Buckle and Belt Strap from

For Christmas, my brother was generous enough to give me an engine-turned belt buckle with my monogram on it. I had previously given him one, and he returned the favor this year. It's a 1-3/16" Trafalgar buckle, in 22K gold plate over brass (neither he nor I had sterling silver in our budgets).

Although I was excited about the buckle, I was confronted with the challenge of getting a belt strap for it. Straps from Dann Online start at $60 for the glove leather models, and only go up from there (to $375 for genuine alligator). Leather straps from Brooks Brothers are normally $88, though they're currently on sale for $66. Still, I was in search of a less expensive option.

I had heard about belts from, and in looking at their selection of Dress Leather Belt Straps, I was impressed not only with their variety, but also their prices (many start at just $16.95). However, I noticed that all of the straps came with holes in them, and due to the way that engine-turned buckles are made, the holes are unnecessary.

So I contacted the folks at asking if their dress belts were available without holes. I received an email back from Jason at who informed me that no, their dress belts could not be ordered without holes, but suggested that I look at their "Make Your Own Width or Size" belt straps. These are plain leather belts, but the length, width, and color can be chosen by the customer, and Jason suggested that I simply note on the ordering page that I wanted it made without holes. For just $20, I figured it was worth a shot.

The belt came today and you can see it in the picture above. It did indeed come as I requested it, without holes, and the 1-1/8" width worked perfectly for my 1-3/16" wide buckle. It seems to be well-made, and the leather seems to be pretty good. It is, however, fairly thick (it measures between 4 and 5 mm in thickness), and could be considered a bit unrefined for pairing with this style of belt buckle. These things won't keep me from wearing it, but I will be looking to upgrade at some point in the future.

If you have a similar belt buckle, I would recommend the Make Your Own Width or Size option from if you're looking for a less-dressy strap to wear with your belt. However, I really wish that they would consider offering their dress belts without holes, as I would pick up their alligator grain and smooth leather straps in a heartbeat. I'd even be willing to pay a $4 or $5 premium for the option. I'm not really sure how their manufacturing process works, but it seems like it wouldn't be that hard to keep some holeless belts in stock, and I'm sure there are some engine-turned buckle owners out there who would love to have some less expensive choices. Oh well, maybe one day...

Prints for Sale by A Restless Transplant

If you read my blog with any regularity, I hope that you have taken the time to visit Foster Huntington's blog A Restless Transplant. Foster is a recent graduate of Colby College in Maine and is now living in New York City. He's a guy with an amazing eye for detail, and has the photography skills to match.

He recently announced on his blog that he is now offering any of his photos as prints, in either 8X10 or 11X14. If you've seen any of his photography, you know that this is awesome, as most of his stuff would look fantastic in a frame on the wall. The real problem, however, is deciding what to pick. With 287 album in his Flickr account, simply choosing an album is enough of a challenge, not to mention deciding which individual image (or images) to pick. A very small sample of some of my favorites can be seen below.

The image above is really one of my very favorites. It's currently my desktop background on both my home and work computers.

8X10 prints are $40 and 11X14 prints are $80. Contact Foster if you're interested. Also, be sure to check out his other website, Foster & Edge.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Meeting Lisa Birnbach and a few thoughts on "True Prep"

So this isn't exactly timely since it happened back in September, but speaking of Lisa Birnbach (see my previous post), I actually got to meet her when she was doing her book tour for True Prep back in the fall. I suspect that for me, meeting her was akin to kids in the early 90s getting to meet Michael Jordan.

On the last day of September, I headed down to the Brooks Brothers at Lenox with a friend of mine who was brave enough to tag along, and with my copies of The Official Preppy Handbook and True Prep in hand. After waiting in line for a few minutes (behind a girl who made a poster for Lisa and had about 10 copies of True Prep to sign), I finally got to chitchat a bit with Lisa, and with Chip Kidd who was also there. She was pleasant enough and signed both of my books, and posed with me for a picture. As you can see in the picture, she was obviously quite thrilled to be having her picture taken with me.

While I had initially thought of doing a more in-depth review of True Prep, my laziness got the better of me, so instead, here are a few of my thoughts.

-The book certainly isn't bad. It's not great either, and isn't what many of us were hoping for. I've said it jokingly before, but do you really think that Leonardo da Vinci could have painted the Mona Lisa twice? Seriously though, it is difficult for things in life to live up to our expectations, particularly after 30 years.
-The book sometimes reads like a giant ad for Vineyard Vines and other companies. While the original book certainly name-dropped brands, it never felt as blatant or heavy-handed as it does in here.
-There are two page devoted to the the types of loafers a man should wear. Only two pairs (the Stubbs & Wooten and Brooks Brothers ones, not surprisingly) are wearable; the rest are, in fact, horrible. Gucci? Prada? Tanino Crisci? What is this, a list of loafers or the cast of The Godfather?
-The "True Prep Pantheon" section towards the beginning of the book is almost 20 pages long, and is, indeed, about 16 pages too long.
-Birnbach's Democratic bias shows through far too often.
-This isn't to say that it's all bad. Most of the good parts are only charming little bites, though, rather than entire sections. I like the "hair evolution" from freshman year to senior year on pages 78 and 79, and I enjoy the mental interactions of the couple on the couch (which is supposed to be set in Atlanta, natch) in the "Till There Was You" snippet on pages 188 and 189. In my opinion, the book is best when it is straight-up imitating the original.

So, is this book worth buying? If you're a fan of The Original Preppy Handbook, I'd say yes. Don't expect to be blown away, but it will provide at least several sessions' worth of entertainment while on the "Throne."

This book is kind of like the Zip-Front Bean Boot that is currently sold at LL Bean.

Sure, it is a Bean Boot, and it has the chain-tread bottom, and it's made in Maine. It's obviously a modern take on the classic, but no true fan would ever think that this is as good as the Maine Hunting Shoe or the Bean Rubber Moc. It'll work in a pinch, but it'd be better to stick with the original.

Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T

In spite of what Ms. Birnbach wrote in her latest book, I'm not sure how much of a staple polar fleece is in a classic wardrobe. However, if one must own a fleece, there is only one acceptable choice: the Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T. I know that Paul over at Dreams of Perfection will agree with me. Additionally, the primary color choice is dark green with the purple lining.

I'm not sure what there isn't to love here. It's warm. It's a classic. It has a collar. It has a front pocket (frocket?), which snaps, nonetheless. The purple and garish blue lining on the inside are just ugly enough to make it not cool, but not ugly enough to make it unwearable. It even looks good with a tie.

Sure, you can buy one new, but they don't call it "Patagucci" for nothing, as a new one will set you back around $100. Instead, head over to Ebay. I'm pretty sure they've been making these things since the 80s, and they can be picked up pretty cheaply (and in the dark green, which, for some stupid reason, is no longer being made).