I had such a hard time coming up with a name for this gift list. It's not really a lifestyle gift guide and it's not really for "cultured" guys. I could have said "metrosexual" but I don't think people use that word anymore. Anyway, guys who tend to wear lots of button shirts might like these 5 holiday gift ideas. Guys who wear other kinds of shirts might also enjoy some or all of these; everyone likes their own thing and broad generalizations are tough to make these days. As a disclaimer - I am not affiliated with any of these companies, and all of these products are things I have actually tried. I didn't go search the internet for good ideas to regurgitate on my blog. This guide could really be used as a gift list for me but I figured there might be some guys like me out there who enjoy these these. If you click these links I will not get a portion of the sales, you won't be supporting this blog monetarily, but you will be supporting some pretty cool companies that make some pretty kick ass products. #1. Steven Smith Teamaker Teas: After founding Tazo Tea and going on to co-found Stash Tea Steven Smith would go on to found a small batch tea company that, to this day, bares his name - Steven Smith Teamaker. Some of the worlds finest small batch teas can be found in the tasting rooms of this Portland based company. Any tea from Smith Teamaker is sure to be a hit with any guy who enjoys sitting down with a nice cup of fresh brewed tea. The sampler packs are always a safe bet ranging from $6.99 up to $150 for their "Full Monty" sampler. For the more adventurous tea drinker their whiskey themed special edition teas are always exciting and fun to drink; yes I just said a tea is fun to drink. I'm drinking it right now and it's fun! Their special edition teas are usually limited in their runs so best order some when they are available. #2. Ursa Major Skin Care Products: Very few places on earth could be more perfect for testing the effectivness of skincare products like Vermont. Okay I don't actually have empirical data to back that up but I can imagine that the cold dry winters and sun soaked summers are the perfect test bed for pretty decent skin care lines. In an attempt to create healthier offerings Ursa Major has come up with a skin care line based on natural ingredients. They espouse the need to limit the amount of synthetic chemicals and toxins. I'm not sure about all of that, I've never been all that good at clean living, but I can tell you that their products work. I currently use three of them and have been very pleased with the results. #3. Barnes & Noble Collectible Edition Books - $5 - $50 Okay this is where the broad categories don't always work out. I'm sure some of you are saying "Hey! I know a guy who wears button up shirts and he doesn't read!" Well I'm sure that's a thing. I'm certain that many guys out there who dress like me don't enjoy reading the way I do. But for those who do, the Barnes and Noble collectible edition books are a safe bet for a holiday gift. This ever changing selection of books feature classic as well as more modern fare, and finding something to suit anyone shouldn't be a problem. I'm eyeballing the Han Solo Trilogy for my bookshelf this year. Not only are these enjoyable to read, but they also dress up any bookshelf. For any man, or woman, who has gotten rid of their basic white IKEA bookshelves and upgraded to something a little more fitting for an adult of discerning taste, these will help dress that shelf right up. The price tag on the Barnes and Noble Collectible Editions along with the less personal nature of the gift puts them prime in the secret Santa and office gift exchange range. I'd be happy to get a couple of these for the holidays I'd say lots of other guys would too. #4. Exuvius Multi-tool Collar Stays - $45 We've already covered that the guy you are shopping for wears button up shirts, that means this gift is a sure thing. For any guy who likes gadgets or that James Bond feeling you get when you pull the perfect tool for the job out of the most unexpected of places, these are a pretty awesome gift. Featuring a bottle opener, thread cutter, screw driver and made from 100% titanium. These might not be the flashiest gift you can buy a guy, but they are pretty damn cool and thoughtful. These can be purchased in sets of two which means one set can be in a man's active rotation and the second set can be kept, via the useful key-ring holes, with your keys for those occasional days when you forget to put your collar stays in. I have these, I use the tools more than I ever thought I would, and I absolutely adore these. #5. Jack Black Shaving Product - $11 - $52 It might be redundant to have two gifts based on men's facial care, but shaving and general facial care are very different things for me. Shaving for me is a practice in self-care, and having the right shaving products makes the experience so much more enjoyable. If the guy you are shopping for is the kind of guy who cares about how he looks and wears button up shirts (sticking to the theme I've trapped myself in here) then razor burn and a bad shave are things he hates dealing with. I've been using Jack Black (not the actor so far as I am aware) for a year now and, not to mince words here, it's fucking amazing! I've dealt with razor burn my entire adult life, even opting for an electric shaver at times to avoid the inescapable eventuality that is the burn you get from a fresh burn and a collared shirt. Jack Black products have helped me attain the smoothest and least painful post shave I have ever had. Gah! Just thinking of all the bad shaves I've endured makes my neck burn. If your guy shaves on the regular you should get him to try this, he might enjoy it as much as I do! Thanks for reading my holiday gift guide for guys who wear button up shirts. As I finish writing it I have to admit to myself that the title is pretty lame. But I kept the theme all the way through and I don't want to go back and change it for fear that I will have to go back through and edit a bunch of stuff. Who needs that kind of self imposed work, am I right? Happy holidays and thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this blog feel free to support me by donating any amount of money to your local food bank, Meals on Wheels, Planned Parenthood, or youth drop in center. Yeah that doesn't directly support me but I'm doing fine and I would love to know that my writing has helped at least one person on this planet. T.
It’s a new year, so that means I’m supposed to come up with a bunch of resolutions to change my life for the better. I’m a contrarian though, I’ve always thought it made me look more intelligent to not buy into these kinds of rituals. Anyone can follow a crowd right? So naturally every year when the new year rolls around I start my usual rants about how “You shouldn’t strive to change yourself once a year, it should be an ongoing process, blah blah blah.” It totally makes me sound smart. Here is the thing, if I’m really as contrarian as I believe myself to be I should actually be joining the crowd at some point. Why follow all the other contrarians right? Why do the same thing every year, why talk the same talk over and over I can be the hipster of the overthinking world. So I’ve decided to do some fun new things this year as a way to invest in myself and possibly end 2017 better than I started. Here is the short list of things I’d like to do, or have already begun.
- Writing – I used to write all the time. Blogs, reviews (that never went anywhere), short stories, etc. I have so much free time with my insane commute, I should be utilizing some of it to reconnect with something that, while I may not be all that adept at it, brings me joy and fulfillment. The great thing about all of the things I’m going to try to do with my year is that I should have plenty about which to write!
- Boxing – I wrestled a lot in high school and beyond. I wasn’t half bad at it either. There was something about a competition that was not reliant on a team, where in I couldn’t hide my deficiencies behind someone else’s talent. I’ve always loved boxing for the same reason, and it’s a killer work out. I’ve already signed up for a membership at a local boxing gym. I’m going two nights a week on those rare weeks when I’m not traveling for one reason or another.
- Fencing – Fencing has always been something I’ve wanted to try. I had friends back in high school who were on a fencing team, and they seemed to have such a blast with it. Getting to fight each other with swords for fun! Yeah, it’s not what you are going to see in Lord of the Rings, or a Samurai flick, but it’s still something I feel is worth learning. I’ve signed up for 6 initial lessons for the start of the year, and we will see if I enjoy it enough for it to stick!
- Piano Lessons – I took lessons back in college, thought I never got all that good at it. I was never one to practice much, there was always something way more fun to do in the dorms, or out of the dorms for that matter. I received a new keyboard from my family for Christmas this year, and I’m looking forward to signing up for some lessons. Let’s hope I have learned the value of practicing at some point in the last 20 years.
- Work Life Balance – I’ve never been good at this one, and living in the Bay Area doesn’t help. The culture here is often one of unlimited access by your employer and sacrificial weekends. I often work way more than I should, and this often leads to me being irritable, depressed, and just plain no fun. This year I am working on doing less work. I know that means I might not be as successful at what I do, since it means I’m not getting those extra 20 hours of work done every week. But my hope is that the quality of my work will improve as my enjoyment of life improves, and this will offset the lack of extra hours. I’m going to work hard to make sure my personal time stays personal, and my work time is used for work.
- Videos – I’ve decided to create a couple video projects for 2017. I am always coming up with new concepts for something fun to create for Youtube, or where ever it would live. This year, since I’m going to being trying to not be working in my off hours, is the right year to attempt my first video project. I’m finally going to get that internet fame I’ve craved my entire life.
- Personal Projects – The world is full of things I want to try, and now I’m going to. Starting with Home automation. I’m fascinated by the idea of technology integrating into the most personal space we humans inhabit, the home. Home integration of technology such as Amazon Echo, and Google Home, offer so many fun innovations, and bring us one step closer to living in the star ship Enterprise. We can enter our houses without a key, and issue voice commands to turn on lights, turn up the heat, and order a new 2-gallon jug of milk. But these awesome advances in technology and convenience come at a yet undisclosed price. No, I don’t mean the $150 price tag for the Google Home, or the crazy $65 you will pay for new wireless light switches, but the price that we pay in the way of what we will be giving up to the major corporations that we will be inviting to share our homes with us. We will be giving large companies a place so near us in our homes, that this level of personal life integration with something that could be used for evangelizing products and thought that has not been seen since the introduction of television into the masses. I decided to pick up both a Google Home, and Amazon Echo enabled device to weigh the value of integration vs the cost. It should be fun to write about for a while.
There is a question that pops into my mind from time to time, which means once a week or so. It’s been bouncing around my head for about 30 years. This question has shaped who I am, the path I’ve walked, and how I view my place in the world. Throughout my adult life I spent a lot of time lying to myself, filling my own head with platitudes and half truths about how this one question no longer affected me, and how much better I am because of the strength it’s helped me build. Sometimes I’d tell myself that I knew the answer, and others I would convince myself that it plain didn’t matter. I’m sure the question isn’t really a surprise, it’s the effing title of this post. “Why didn’t my father want me?” I tear up when I write it. It hurts, a lot, just to say it. I’m not really much of a writer, I lack the words to describe the pain, and emptiness those words make me feel. Here I sit, 36 years old, on a train from San Francisco to San Jose, tears welling, breath stuttering on the inhale as I write the simple question “why didn’t my father want me?” I’m a freaken mess.