Saturday, March 07, 2009

Tools

Just a word to the wise. This applies to any head of household, no matter what your gender. It beats trying to hammer a nail with your shoe!

From the art of manliness blog:

12 Tools Every Man Should Have in His Toolbox

Posted: 17 Feb 2009 09:49 PM PST

toolbox 12 Tools Every Man Should Have in His Toolbox

Your girlfriend needs help putting some furniture together. Your wife asks you to install a ceiling fan. Your kid needs her bike fixed. Of course you have the tools to take on these jobs, right? For many younger men these days, owning a well equipped toolbox is something that only their dads do. Often when these men have a project, they have to go to someone else to take care of their handyman needs. But a man should be self-reliant. He should have the tools and know-how to tackle basic projects around the house.

If you’re one of those younger gents who just never got around to stocking a toolbox, below we’ve included a list 12 basic tools that we think every toolbox should have.

Before You Buy

A few things to remember before you head over to the hardware store and go on a shopping spree:

Fork over the money for quality tools. You can easily go to Wal-Mart and buy an entire 102 piece, Made in China, piece of crap tool set for $30. Fight the temptation. These chintzy tools will probably last you a few uses before they snap or break on you. Invest your money in quality, durable tools that will last a lifetime. If you have no clue about which brand to go for, Craftsman tools are a pretty safe bet. They’re durable and tough, and their hand tools come with a lifetime warranty.

One at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are great tool boxes. You don’t need to buy your complete set of tools all at once (unless of course you have the scratch to do so). Spread your acquisitions out so you don’t break the bank. Another good way to build your toolbox arsenal is to ask for specific tools for presents on different occasions. If you’re a young man just graduating high school, ask for some tools instead of money. That’s when I started my tool collection. I also know of a couple of (lucky) guys whose friends threw them a “Man Shower” before they got hitched. All of their buddies brought a tool or piece of camping gear to bestow upon the groom-to-be. Also, Christmas, your birthday, and Father’s Day are all great times to acquire tools.

Claw Hammer

hammer1 12 Tools Every Man Should Have in His ToolboxImage from 1exile08

A good, solid hammer can be used for driving nails into wood as well as small demolition jobs. My old man would use his hammer for damn near everything, much to the chagrin of my mother. Go for the classic 16 ounce hammer. It’s heavy enough for most basic home repair needs, but light enough for you to carry around without it being a nuisance. While your grandpa probably used a hammer with a wooden handle, you shouldn’t. Wood handles break easily. Go with something that has a long-lasting synthetic handle. Also, when picking out a hammer, you want one that has a good balance in your hand and isn’t head heavy. It’s a lot like picking out a golf club or a baseball bat. So go to the hardware store and try a few out before making your selection.

Flathead Screwdriver

flatheadscrewdriver 12 Tools Every Man Should Have in His Toolbox

Image by CBJason

A flathead screwdriver has a single blade that fits into the single slot of a flathead screw. Flathead screws have been around for a l o n g time, so it’s likely your great-great grandpa had a few flathead screwdrivers in his tool chest. While the Phillips screw has quickly taken the place of flathead screws in most projects, it’s still a good idea to have a few flathead drivers in your tool arsenal. In addition to driving in screws, flatheads can also be improvised for different uses like light prying, scrapping, and nudging. Quick tip: make sure the electricity is turned off BEFORE you start sticking a screwdriver in a light socket to pry out a broken bulb. Trust me.

Phillips Screwdriver

phillipsscrewdriver 12 Tools Every Man Should Have in His ToolboxImage by milliped

Invented by Henry F. Phillips in 1936, the Phillips head screw has quickly replaced the flathead screw in most projects. A Phillips head screwdriver has a four star point at the end that fits into the corresponding screw’s shallow, cross-shaped depression. This design allows a user to apply more torque than is possible with a flathead screwdriver. The depression forces the blades of the Phillips screwdriver to slip out before any damaging over-torquing can occur. As mentioned above, Phillips screws have pretty much replaced flathead screws, so make sure you have a good set of Phillips screwdrivers in varying sizes.

Tape Measure

tapemeasure 12 Tools Every Man Should Have in His Toolbox

Image by redjar

Whether you’re building a gun cabinet or measuring to see if that flat screen TV will fit in your den, a dependable 25′ retractable metal measuring tape is a must. Plus, they’re fun for your kids. I remember my brother and I would take my dad’s measuring tape and extend the tape all the way out, lock it, and then watch it retract. It was double fun when the end would accidently pinch my brother’s finger, and he would start crying.

Crescent Wrench

crescent-wrench 12 Tools Every Man Should Have in His ToolboxImage by treedork

Of all your tools, this baby will probably see the most action. It’s like having 50 wrenches in one. The crescent wrench is an adjustable wrench with a sliding jaw that changes the width of the wrench. So you can use the same tool on different size nuts and bolts. Remember, when you’re using a crescent wrench, the movable jaw is located on the side towards which the rotation is to be performed. This reduces the chance of backlash.

Socket Wrench (aka the ratchet)

socketwrench 12 Tools Every Man Should Have in His Toolbox

Image by john4kc

When you have a large project that requires you to tighten and loosen a bunch of nuts and bolts, it’s time to put aside the crescent wrench and reach for its more efficient brother. The socket wrench’s ratcheting mechanism allows you to tighten a nut without having to remove and refit the wrench after each and every turn. This can make your life a whole lot easier when you’re taking on larger projects. A 3/8-inch socket wrench with a couple of extenders and a set of sockets should do the trick.

Vise Grip (locking) Pliers

visegrip 12 Tools Every Man Should Have in His Toolbox

Image by jon m ryan

Vise grip pliers come in handy when you need an extra hand but only have your own two mitts to work with. Vise grip pliers are pliers that can lock in place. Some locking pliers use a mechanism that allows one- handed release of the locking mechanism; others require two hands to disengage. They are versatile tools that can be used as pliers, a pipe wrench, an adjustable wrench, wire cutters, a ratchet, or a clamp. Standard 5-10WR pliers are good for most stuff around the house and garage.

Needle Nose Pliers

needlenose 12 Tools Every Man Should Have in His Toolbox

Image by Oh my gil

An essential electrician’s tool, needle nose pliers are good for any household project which requires you to cut, bend, grip, or strip wire. Because of their long and skinny shape, they’re particularly useful for getting into small cavities. You can also use them to pinch your younger brother with.

Cordless Drill and Bits

electric-drill 12 Tools Every Man Should Have in His Toolbox

Image by puuikibeach

A good cordless drill is an essential tool to have in your toolbox. It can be used for drilling holes into sheetrock or driving screws into a 2×4. When choosing a cordless drill, you want one with lots of power, which is measured by the amount of voltage in its battery. You can get drills that have batteries that go up to 18v. But when you increase voltage, you increase weight. That 18 volt bad boy weighs 10 pounds. 12 volts is a good size. It’s enough power to do most stuff around the house but isn’t too heavy. Also, make sure the drill you get has multiple speeds and is reversible. The reversible feature will come in handy if you need to take some screws out when your treehouse goes awry.

Crosscut Saw

saw 12 Tools Every Man Should Have in His Toolbox

Image by wick

The image of a fine handsaw has long been the emblem of a craftsman at work. A good general purpose handsaw is useful for trimming branches off your tree or cutting lumber for a project around the house. Crosscut saws are used to cut against the grain on a piece of wood. That’s exactly what you do when you trim a branch or shorten a 2×4. If you think you’ll be doing work that requires you to cut along the wood’s grain, get a rip saw as well.

Level

level 12 Tools Every Man Should Have in His Toolbox

Image by jkdigitalservices

Whether you’re hanging up pictures or putting a mantle over your fireplace, a straight line is absolutely crucial. You don’t want to put a bunch of nails in the wall, only to step back and see that’s it’s crooked. To get the job done right the first time, you need to use a level. There are some sophisticated laser levels available these days, but you can’t beat the satisfaction of finally nudging that bubble into place. Of course if you have the iphone level app, you’re all set.

Utility Knife

utility-knife 12 Tools Every Man Should Have in His ToolboxImage by eab aod

While it may not be the most exciting of the tools, your utility knife will never be found gathering dust at the bottom of your toolbox. Every project always provides plenty of things to cut and scrape, hundreds of tasks that cry out for the utility knife’s super sharp blade.

Alright. Now it’s your turn. Did we leave any tools off the list that you think should be in every man’s toolbox? Disagree with the ones that made it on the list? Drop a line in the comment box and offer your suggestions.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Save even more $$ in March

Another great list of money saving ideas from the DLM Blog:

How To Use the Bad Economy To Get In Shape

Posted: 19 Feb 2009 07:52 AM PST

Let's face it: the economy stinks right now. We're all a little tight on money and the last thing on most of our minds is fitness. However, if you look at this economic downturn as an opportunity rather than a hopeless disaster, you may just be able to use your lack of spending money as the motivation behind some healthy lifestyle changes.

While our finances are headed down the drain, working on improving other areas of our lives can be a positive alternative to counting how much of our savings we have lost. Here's a few tips to help both your budget and waistline.
  • Order Water With a Meal
    By ordering a water with your meal at a restaurant instead of a soft drink or beer, you are not only saving at least $2 to $3, but you are also cutting several hundred calories from your diet. If you made this choice everyday, for example, you could save yourself almost $100 and 3,000 calories in a month's time.

  • Eat Smaller Portions
    Do you really need to "Supersize-It"? No, of course you don't. When getting a quick bite at a fast food restaurant, resist the urge to upscale your order. The difference between a small order of fries and a large one is about 250 calories and sometimes as much as a $1 or $2.

  • Eat Fewer Snacks
    I often imagine the inventor of modern day vending machines in the form of a villainous cartoon character. We buy his high calorie snacks at ridiculous markups while he twirls his waxed mustache and emits a maniacal laugh.

    At my office, a 12oz can of cola is 150 calories and $0.75, while the water fountain next to it is 0 calories and free. Skip the afternoon snacks and have a glass of water instead. Another healthy alternative would be to bring some fruits or veggies from home. These are always going to be cheaper than the prepackaged items bought on a whim.

  • Eat More Meals at Home
    Regardless of how healthy and cheap you try to be when eating out, you are almost guaranteed a cheaper and lower calorie meal by fixing it yourself in your own home. When you control what goes into your meal, you can sum up the exact amount of calories you are eating without paying the restaurant markups. Most people drastically underestimate the amount of calories contained in average restaurant meals.

  • Bring Your Lunch to Work
    Similar to the point above, if you can manage a little forethought, bringing your lunch with you is a great way to cut both unnecessary calories and expenditures. By packing a healthy lunch at home you are totally removing the temptation to buy overpriced and over sized portions of food from restaurants or fast food establishments.

  • Walk or Bike Instead of Using a Car
    If at all possible, walking or biking to places you usually would drive is an excellent way to add more exercise into your day and save on the cost of your commute. Any time you make a choice to be more active, you are literally doing your body a favor. Plus, using less gasoline is better for your wallet and the environment.

  • Create a Food Log
    A food log is just a detailed list of everything that you eat throughout the day. Be meticulous. Write out exactly what you had for each meal and any snacks you had in between. The purpose of this is to keep track of all you actually eat in a day and to help you monitor your total intake of calories. However, if you also applied this same method to the monetary price of food as well, you will have a detailed summary of exactly how much you spend on your meals and snacks. Once you see exactly how much your diet is costing you, you may be a little alarmed. Personally, I had no idea I was blowing through so much money a week simply on lunch until I started doing this. This is a great format for you to budget for the total cost of your diet, both in calories and dollars.

  • Look For Cheap Activities Outside As Weekend Entertainment
    Instead of going to a fancy dinner and an expensive movie on the weekends, look for cheap or free alternatives that are based on physical activity. Go to a public park or take a hike in the local woods. These types of activities are usually free, incorporate some exercise into a usually sedentary time of the week, and provide a great opportunity to spend time with the people that are important to you. For bonus points, try cutting your cable or selling your TV. Anything that tethers you to the couch when you could be elsewhere is an activity that deserves to be reevaluated.
Written on 12/19/2008 by Brandon Morgado. Brandon is a self-professed fitness geek and blogs regularly at FitHacks.com when he isn't running, playing Ultimate Frisbee or wasting his life away on Twitter.Photo Credit: Bludgeoner86

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Video Time: Will it Blend?

If you haven't seen the Will It Blend series, check this out:

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Some people swear by it, some people swear at it, some people just like to swear! Click here to go there.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Video Time: The Real Slumdog Millionaire

We live in such a world wide economy. Outsourcing tech jobs and phone support to places like India became so commonplace that we got used to hearing an Indian accent on the other end of the phone.

However, India now teaches people to speak English without an Indian accent.

Last year a friend contracted to have a website built with a man in England who outsourced the actual work to a woman in India.

Then last month the movie Slumdog Millionaire won big at the Oscars which has re-ignited interest in what is going on in India.

CBS recently did a story that made it to youtube:

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Discovered this last year. Click here to go there.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Video Time: Andy & Dave

Classic clip...

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I also follow this on Twitter. Click here to go there.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Dressing Appropriately


I was checking my email this morning and this story from the Art of Manliness was in my inbox.

But first, my own experiences.

A few years ago, I was at an awards ceremony and was under dressed. Ever since then, I've asked if I was not sure what the dress code was and then usually step it up a notch. At last night's Addy Awards, I could have dressed down, but went the opposite direction. I enjoy wearing jeans and going tieless like a lot of the folks there, but.... The black suit, black shirt and tie combo created a better first impression.

And as you read the following article, think about the first impression you are going to make on someone and what that could mean down the road.

How far down the road?

Considering last fall I attended my 30 year high school class reunion, and over the past couple of years have met up with and done business with some of my old friends and classmates, a first impression should be a lasting impression, not a last impression.

Some of my fellow board members on the Advertising Federation have mentioned that a lot of the college graduates that are apply for jobs are not making good first impressions, so we are going to assemble a workshop to prepare them for the real world.

It makes a difference.

Dressing for Life’s Big Events: How a Man Should Dress for Weddings, First Dates, Religious Ceremonies and More

Posted: 26 Feb 2009 09:19 PM PST

ballantine54 Dressing for Life’s Big Events: How a Man Should Dress for Weddings, First Dates, Religious Ceremonies and More

A man’s life is full of moments that will require him to dress a certain way. From his high school graduation to walking his daughter down the aisle, a man needs to understand the basics of formal, semi-formal, and casual dressing so that he knows when to wear what and how. Because a gentleman understands his clothing is not just about him; his personal presentation is a reflection of the respect he shows to those around him.

By default, I am conservative in this article. My advice is the same that you would receive from your grandfather. But that’s its strength - this timeless wisdom is battle tested and proven. By following it you can rest assured you’ll be well dressed at any event anywhere.

Deciphering the Invitation

The first rule in dressing for an event is to read and understand the invitation. Many times the choice of what to wear has been made for you, and your options are limited to the colors and styles within the confines of a set garment type. But what exactly is “Black Tie,” and how should you dress for a business casual event?

(Note these terms are only for North America, as the English and Europeans have their own terminology and the same word does not always have the same meaning.)

blacktie Dressing for Life’s Big Events: How a Man Should Dress for Weddings, First Dates, Religious Ceremonies and More

Black Tie - sometimes referred to as evening dress, means that a tuxedo is expected. Weddings, operas, receptions at embassies, balls, and charity dinners are just a few places you’ll see this dress code.

blacktieoptional Dressing for Life’s Big Events: How a Man Should Dress for Weddings, First Dates, Religious Ceremonies and More

Black Tie Optional - a tuxedo or dark suit are both equally acceptable. This dress code evolved as dress standards relaxed and more men found themselves without a tuxedo. Instead of excluding them from events, black tie optional was created to include all. If you have both a tuxedo and solid dark suit, wear the garment that fits and compliments you best. Do not rent a tuxedo if you own a perfectly fine suit, but instead consider purchasing a quality tuxedo if you expect to attend more than one of these events every couple years.

semiformal Dressing for Life’s Big Events: How a Man Should Dress for Weddings, First Dates, Religious Ceremonies and More

Semi-formal - a dark suit, crisp dress shirt with non-obtrusive pattern, and a conservative tie. No tuxedos are expected, and none should be worn.

businesscasual Dressing for Life’s Big Events: How a Man Should Dress for Weddings, First Dates, Religious Ceremonies and More

Business Casual - a tie is optional, but a dress shirt & nice trousers are required. A sports jacket or blazer should also be worn (this last one is my opinion, but alas is actually optional).

casual Dressing for Life’s Big Events: How a Man Should Dress for Weddings, First Dates, Religious Ceremonies and More

Casual - Jeans, cotton trousers, & shorts are acceptable; they should fit well and be free of holes and wrinkles. A simple collared polo shirt that fits will suffice in warm weather, but in cooler weather the smart dresser will choose a button down shirt with a casual style, color, and/or pattern.

Not sure? Then ask.
If what you should wear is not spelled-out on the invitation, or if the invitation was simply relayed over the telephone or email, another method of determining what to wear is to ask your host directly. The only danger here is that the dress may change. Often the dress code at a less than organized event changes as the event draws nearer; make sure to double-check at least a couple of days before the event if you feel this may be the case.

If you can’t reach the host, try to talk with someone participating in the event. When a groomsman tells you he’s wearing a suit with tennis shoes, it’s safe to assume you’ll be perfectly fine in a dark sports jacket and trousers with dress shoes.

Be Prepared to Adapt
Not sure what to expect and have to be there in the next hour? Consider wearing clothing that can be dressed up or dressed down. If you show up over-dressed in your suit and tie, you can always excuse yourself for a minute and slip off your jacket, slide off your tie, and unbutton your top button before rejoining the celebration.

Dressing for Life’s Events

Weddings

A male wedding guest should seek to contribute to the happiness and love being celebrated. His attire should be smart and within the requested boundaries of the host, and if he chooses to be fashionable, it should be limited to his accessories. Remember that you are not there to attract attention to yourself but rather to help frame an important event in the history of two families.

As to what to wear, most wedding invitations clearly state what the dress code will be. Expect it to fall between black tie and business casual, although 95% of the time if you show up in a dark suit, white shirt, and muted tie with proper dress shoes you’ll be perfectly dressed. If the invitation does not cover what guests should wear, there are a number of clues you can pay attention to that will help you figure out the expected attire:

  • First, take into account the location; an outdoor wedding in rural Wisconsin is going to be by its very nature less formal than a wedding at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
  • Second, the time of day; day weddings are often less formal than evening ceremonies. In fact, the wearing of a tuxedo before 5PM is considered a faux pas by many traditionalists, although in the US this rule is often ignored.
  • Third, examine the invitation itself. If it looks like they’ve spent a fortune on the invites, you might want to spend a little time dressing the part of a considerate guest.

A low key wedding in which the couple specifically asks for guests to dress casual should be heeded, but with caution. One person’s definition of casual is not another’s, and the prepared man carries in his car or travel kit an upscale casual outfit in case he arrives underdressed.

Graduations

graduation Dressing for Life’s Big Events: How a Man Should Dress for Weddings, First Dates, Religious Ceremonies and More

Many graduates think the event surrounding the culmination of their education is about them. I know I did. It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I realize a graduation is really a family celebration, a time to reflect on the sacrifices made by others so that one can achieve a common goal. With this in mind, you should dress smartly not for yourself but in respect to those who went without so you wouldn’t have to.

Even when wearing a ceremonial robe, you’ll want to dress smartly as your shoes, socks, and trouser legs will be seen. Consider timeless oxfords as footwear, but any dress shoe that is made from quality leather and properly shined will do. For most, a simple suit & tie or sports jacket, dark trousers, and tie is perfect. Leave the jacket off when robed, but have it handy to wear to the reception and multiple picture taking sessions.

If a guest of the graduate, take the ceremony’s location into consideration. A ceremony at Columbia University in New York can be attended in a suit; a graduation at Oceanside High School in California will more likely call for a sports jacket and light-wool trousers.

First Date

There are a lot of things you can’t control on the first date; whether or not she’ll like the restaurant, what she’ll think of your opinions, and if she laughs at any of your jokes. But one thing you can control is your appearance, and it’s to your advantage to make the most out of what you have.

On a first date, always try to stack the cards in your favor. You want to look your best, and unless you have the body of Adonis “your best look” is a comfortable well fitting suit or sports jacket. If built right, it will accentuate your shoulders, trim your waist, and give you the appearance of added height. To match the jacket, wear a pair of dark wool trousers. Roomier than jeans, they’ll also hide small stains better whether you spill food or forget to shake. And always pay close attention to your shoes’ shine and style; you can bet your date will. Lastly, make sure to subtly let her know what you’ll be wearing well before the appointed time. She may be under the impression the date is a more casual situation, and may be uncomfortable if her outfit doesn’t match your clothing’s level of formality.

First Week on the Job

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and during your first week at a new job you’ll be making a lot of first impressions. So it’s important that you pay very close attention to the unstated dress code and carefully adapt your clothing to it. Now don’t give up your individuality, but be sensitive to what others are wearing and the reactions your clothing will draw. Because even though the interview is over, the game of office politics and perception has just begun.

My advice is start off slightly over-dressed your first week. This may not be possible at a law firm where everyone is wearing a suit and tie, but in a business casual environment you may want to opt for a sports jacket, shirt, and tie vs. a shirt and tie only. When shaking hands for the first time you want to project a professional image, as most of our sensory input is visual, and numerous communication studies have demonstrated appearances far outweigh what we actually say in a first encounter. With people making a decision about you in the first few seconds, it’s easier to start at the top than to start low and try to work yourself up.

Receptions and Parties

party Dressing for Life’s Big Events: How a Man Should Dress for Weddings, First Dates, Religious Ceremonies and More

There are get-togethers, there are cocktail parties, and then there are receptions. In that order do we generally see these congregations increase in their level of formality; however, it’s not uncommon to attend a casual reception or a more formal get-together. Again, like most things, its situation dependent.

Get-togethers are typically more relaxed and comfortable social events, often loosely planned where most of the attendants know each other already or share a common bond. The dress code here ranges from casual to business casual. Cocktail parties on the other hand are planned events where many of the guests do not know each other; hence we have a higher level of formality as people feel each other out. Judgments are passed, business deals started, and business cards are liberally distributed here. Expect the dress code to be business casual to black tie optional. Finally, we have receptions. Although they can be very informal events, many times they are not, as the event’s purpose is to “receive” a new couple, a new company president, or a new child. For this, we show respect by elevating our appearance. Expect semiformal to black tie optional.

Religious Services

church1 Dressing for Life’s Big Events: How a Man Should Dress for Weddings, First Dates, Religious Ceremonies and More

Whether you are attending as a believer or as a guest, a man who visits a place of worship or religious importance should always show respect, if not for himself, then for others and their beliefs. He does this by following the unstated dress code and never dressing below it. Because no church is the same, and no temple has the exact requirements as another, this varies not only from religion to religion but also from country to country. A safe guide is to always wear clothing that covers the body, is respectful in nature, and that is culturally acceptable. Think business casual to semi-formal wear.

Funerals

A man’s purpose when attending a funeral is to comfort the bereaved; by attending and dressing appropriately he shows his support and pays his respects to the deceased and their family. Funeral invitations are rare, but the prescribed outfit is universal across the English speaking world; a dark suit, a simple shirt, a somber tie, and polished shoes.

Your suit does not have to be black; a navy pinstripe will work if that’s what you have. As for the dress shirt, white is the most formal color, but other non-attention drawing shades are fine. When putting together what to wear remember your appearance should allow you to arrive without show, to grieve without drawing attention, and say your final goodbye with respect.

Conclusion

We’ve all heard it’s better to be over-dressed than under-dressed; my advice though is to simply dress perfectly for the occasion. It’s not that hard if you pay attention, do your homework, and prepare accordingly.

Written by
Antonio Centeno
President, www.ATailoredSuit.com
Quality Custom Clothing & Sound Style Advice
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