5 Gift Ideas for Guys Who Wear Button Up Shirts

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.

  1. Fantastic Face Wash – $28  
  2. 4-in-1 Essential Face Tonic – $26
  3. Fortifying Face Balm – $36

I’m interested in trying some of their other line, but for now I get away with the basics and they are great. If the guy you are buying for cares for his skin on a regular basis this would be something I’m sure he will thank you for.

#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.


2017 – Some title about resolutions and a better me

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.

That about does it for my new year. If I can do a quarter of these things I’ll have plenty to write about this year, especially if I throw on a few PAX events, E3, Gencon, and other various work and gaming related topics. Let’s see if 2017 can be the year I return to blogging.



Why Didn’t My Father Want Me?


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.

“I will never be safe, I will never be sane, I will always be weird in side, I will always be lame. Now I’m a grown man, with a child of my own, and I swear I’m not gonna let him know all the pain that I’ve known.” ~Everclear “Father of Mine” 

Before I can really unpack my deepest darkest pain for all of you complete strangers, and small group of friends who decide to read this, I need to go back to where this question was born. You have to meet Young Thadeous, an odd young, ugly duckling of about 9 years old. Sitting in the car with his mother pulled over to the side of a busy street in downtown Salem Oregon. Tears streaming down his mother’s cheeks as she tells him the truth about his absent father. He’s never heard his mother speak with so much pain and vitriol. He’s never seen so much hurt on her face. Every truth she tells him cut two ways, opening old deep wounds his father had left on her, and cutting just as deep into her young child, who was being forced into a new reality, one he could never have been ready for.

I shouldn’t have started there. I should have gone father back into my past. My father left before I could form real memories. He left before I could even know what it was like to have a father figure in my life. I never knew what it was like to have a dad to go to for advice. No one taught me how to shave. I had never used a real razor until I was 20 in college when the electric razor my mother bought me as a teen finally died. I cut the shit out of myself for weeks until another student gave me some pointers. But that was pretty much how everything I should have learned from my dad went. No football on Sundays, father son camping trips, no talks about girls, man was that awkward with my mom; she had a book with diagrams, and charts.

I can’t fathom the sacrifices the absence of my father caused my mother to make. She worked hard to make sure that my sister and I were taken care of. My sister’s father had also left; but he would take her away on weekends. My mother often worked two jobs, as a result we spent many nights at a friend’s house while she worked her night job. I still remember how smoke stained everything at their house smelled, and the creepy tree that sat right outside their bedroom window, knocking on the window as I tried to sleep, waiting for my mom to pick me up. We always had what we needed, and more. She tried everything she could to make our lives normal, and fill the holes our fathers had left. I remember during the holidays there would always be gifts under the tree from my father. They would always be big, always something I really wanted. It’s hard to not choke on the bitterness of the joy I remember when I would get them. My father loved me, he just couldn’t be there right now. I knew that someday he would come home. Some day he would come home and give me hugs, and take me places. I can’t imagine how much that had to hurt my mom to watch. Why didn’t my father want me?

Back in that car, where young Thadeous was learning the truth about his father, about how his mother had bought all the gifts from him. That she had given him everything that he thought had come from his father. A man who had never once tried to see him, or contact her since he left. A man who had had lied, taken everything from her, and left them destitute. A man who had felt little, if anything for him. You know what, forget back in the car with young Thadeous. Too hard to write about.

As I grew up, there were men who came into and out of my life on a pretty consistent basis. Men who wanted my mom, but didn’t really want the baggage of children. The men who would promise to take me camping, or to ball games. They would make promise they never intended to keep, and never did. I never did go to a ball game; my mom took us camping every year though. There was one man, we will call him Brad, his name is brad, I’m not changing that fucker’s name, he was always on the border line of abusive. He yelled, forced to me sit for hours staring at cold food when I wouldn’t eat, and was just a jerk to me. He yelled at me when I acted up, or when I talked too much. I got in trouble for any toe I ever put out of line. I loved him. I wanted to make him happy. I desperately wanted his approval. We moved in with him, and for the first time I ever I had a man to look up to, and I didn’t want to make him go away like my dad. Then he tried to convince my mom to give me up for adoption, not my sister, just me. She left him shortly after this.

In my post college years I worked hard to find my independence. I moved to South Africa to build orphanages for children whose families had been lost to the AIDS pandemic. I became the youngest manager in Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse history, and a pretty kick ass Sommelier, and started my own consulting company. I was driven to succeed at everything I did, often working nights, and weekends to make up for my lack of experience and training. I was driven to stand out in whatever I did. I masked my actions in arrogance, making people think I wanted success because I thought so highly of myself. The real reason behind my drive was simple, I wanted to be wanted. I needed to know that I was important and valuable to the people I worked for. I clamored for the recognition of the male figures in my life, often my bosses or clients. Their praise was a drug for me. It satiated the pain, and temporarily filled the hole that my father had left. I write in past tense as if I don’t do the same today. My life is filled with lofty goals I set for myself just to get another taste of that praise and recognition. To hear a man of authority tell me I’ve done well, that I’m valued, that I’m wanted. It’s fleeting, but it’s something.

There has always a longing in me to finally “get there.” Be a man, a man that any father would be proud of. A man that no one could denigrate. I had a secret plan, one that I desperately wanted to put into play, but was always too terrified to even take the first step. The plan was to get answers to all my questions. I wanted to track down my father. I wanted to confront him, show him what he had left behind, tell him how much I hated him for what he did to my mother, and to my family. I wanted to tell him how much he missed out on, and most of all I wanted to know why. Why didn’t my father want me?

At one point in my young adulthood I found out that my father had settled down, and had a family. He married, had a son who was in the military, and lived a normal life. I learned that I have a half-brother brother out there somewhere, living an ordinary life. He had a family. Was it normal for him? Were they loving? Did his father take him to ball games? Did they go camping together? Did he get bet time stories with voices? Did he raise him to go on to be a good father to his own kids? And most of all, why him? What was so special about him? Why did he get to be normal, why did he get to be loved? What the hell was so fucking wrong with me?

A few years ago I received a package from my mother. It had a bunch of my old grade school report cards, some medical records, and other things from my childhood she thought I might want. Nestled in it was a letter. On the letter was some pretty basic information, I think it was a medical record of mine from my child hood. The important part though, was a note written in my mother’s hand writing in the upper corner of the paper. It said “Died, age 56 of heart condition, CA 2010.” It didn’t take me but a few seconds to come to the conclusion that the note was about my father. I put the paper back in the box, and discussed it with my partner. I played it off, he never wanted me, and I never needed him. Why would I feel anything about the death of someone who meant less than nothing to me? On my way to work that day I called my mother to confirm. She told me it was true, and that she was sorry for not telling me, she’s always hated confrontation, and hated hurting me even more. I went into work and immediately broke into uncontrollable sobs. I had lost my chance to ever know why.

When my father died, when he died to me on the day I found that letter, I lost the focus of so much of my anger. I had always been so absolute about the fact that I am not him. I’ve never cheated in a relationship. I’ve never abandoned people who need me. I’ve always tried to be the man I knew he wasn’t. But deep down inside I always felt the need to find him, to compare, to prove that he was the devil, and that I had none of him in me. I had a motto that I had picked up in Latin class, though I’m sure I never quite conjugated it correctly “Et Non Estis Vestri Pater.” If my C- in Latin means anything my motto translates to “you are not your father.” Something I would utter to myself in the mirror constantly. After my morning shower, when I washed my hands in a public restroom, anywhere I had to look myself in the eye. But I’d never be able to solidify it, I’d never be able to know for sure that I was nothing like the man I had hated.

I’ve been told that my life has turned out great. I’ve told myself that I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t have this as part of my life. The pain has made me who I am, and I shouldn’t want to be different or I’d might have turned out unrecognizable and thus lose everything great about my life. I’m not sure if any of that is true. I’m not sure that the pain my family endured, the brokenness I’ve felt my entire life, the feelings of always being out of place, and all of the shit that came along with my father leaving was worth it. I don’t think it’s true.

This doesn’t have an end. I didn’t get better one day, I still carry all of this with me. I didn’t write this as a triumph story about how I overcame what I went through. I wrote this because I needed to put words to my pain. To put it in a frame, so there could be order. I want to publish it so I can talk more openly about what I deal with. Once it’s out in the world I can’t hide it behind a wall of toxic masculinity. Once the world knows no amount of bravado can hide it. I still carry my scars, I’m still weird, I’m still afraid, I still have no clue why I wasn’t loved, and why my father never wanted me. I never will.

There are thousands on thousands of children whose fathers have left them. Every one of them will deal with the loss in their own way. Some will grow up and continue the cycle, and others will vow to be better. I don’t know if I’ll ever have kids. Part of me fears that I have nothing to teach them. That I’ll finally come to the realization that I am my father’s son. That I’ll end up finding fatherhood to be too much, and run. I have one request for anyone who reads this. Please, please for the love of everything good in this world, please don’t ever abandon your child. Please do whatever it takes to be there, in whatever way you can. It might be a sacrifice for you, it may cost you time, money, or opportunity. But please, I beg you, never ever abandon your child. You can’t possibly know how it will destroy him or her, even if you’ve felt the sting of absence, every child inherits a personal hell when a parent leaves, and no one is like the other.

“But that’s enough for now, he should have never left you broken, he should have held you. Things your father never could do.” ~ The Fray “That’s Enough For Now”

Triumphant return to blogging title goes here.

Thadeous hard at work.

I’ve been busy, doing work, and making things.

I’m back! Now imagine that I just wrote a whole paragraph about how awesome it is to be blogging again and how much I’ve missed it. Try to add to the imaginary scenario that it was a tour de force and that you were moved to some kind of emotion. You are either exuberant and over joyed that I am back, angry that I would abandon what is, obviously, my true calling, or mournful that so many years have gone by with little to no correspondence from me pertaining to the world at large. What matters is that you feel something.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way it’s time to talk, or write, or read, or whatever. We’ve got much to cover an only 30-40 years in which to cover it. Unless the upcoming election goes poorly, then we may have exponentially less time, but also less to cover as that time goes on. Look at me being topical and in the moment. I’ve missed this, but that was all covered in the previous paragraph. One that is sure to win me some sort of internet writing award, no doubt.

Thadeous with a beard!

It’s me, but now with more hair, in the face area.

As it stands I now have a 2 hour commute each day. I’ll be dedicating an hour of each day to getting a couple blog updates a week. I’m done trying to turn my blog into a business, so no off the wall reviews, unboxings or anything else like that unless it’s something I’m really excited about. I might throw up something about a game I’m playing, a cool new gadget I got, or whatever. For right now the experiment is for me to sit down and just put the digital pen to the electronic page and see what comes out in the wash of mixed metaphors.

Look at me writing a blog about me writing blogs, could I be any more cliché or meta? I doubt it, but then again, I’ve only just begun to start kicking this off. Stick with me for a bit and see where this goes why don’t you? Also watch Dare Devil on Nextflix, not because it has anything to do with my blog but because it’s so fucking kick ass.

Trying to figure out his closing line