Easy Peasy Rosemary Potatoes

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Today I am testing my ability to write a piece just with voice on my Galaxy Nexus using the WordPress app for Android. This is so much fun not having to type! It even does punctuation. [Post-transposition: It struggled with some words, but overall was above 90% accurate. I converted paragraphs to list format in full WordPress.]

I love Italian seasoned and rosemary potatoes and wanted to recreate them at home. Through trial and error (over the last 3-4 years) I’ve come up with this quick and simple recipe that works every time.

  1. Start out with 1 medium potato and slice it into chunks approximately the size you see in the picture.
  2. Put potatoes in a small container and rinse in cold water twice to get rid of the starch.
  3. Spray on some olive oil spray and toss.
  4. Place in microwave for 4 minutes.
  5. Get out a frying pan and coat with olive oil spray.
  6. Turn burner on 2 medium high heat and place pan on it.
  7. Add the following seasonings to taste: italian seasoning sea salt rosemary and pepper (optional).
  8. When microwave goes off, toss potatoes in frying pan, shaking well to coat with seasoning.
  9. Fry potatoes to desired brownness.
  10. Enjoy!

The Time I Almost Joined the Military

If you’ve seen the the movie Captain America, you can probably visualize the opening scene where a scrawny Steve Rogers walks into a recruiting office and tries to enlist. That would have been me at 18, only a few inches shorter.

By early Spring of 2003 I had grown 6 inches, added 60 pounds, and shed the asthma on my own super soldier formula of Somatropin and Delatestryl (obtained legally via the Mayo Clinic). I had been designing websites for over 5 years. I was burned out – my personal muse was no longer easily accessible. I felt trapped because I wanted to put design behind me before I hated it, but I didn’t see another professional avenue open to me.

I spent the bulk of my evenings and weekends working on projects in the community and for the Minnesota Junior Chamber as their Public Relations Coordinator. I lived to make a difference in the world and I worked to pay my bills. I wanted a career that would allow me to do both.

One of my co-workers had returned from his service in the Air Force where he had been working on top secret projects he couldn’t tell us about, but he did talk about some of the benefit packages he received and the pay scale. It seemed pretty attractive, but I had never considered it in the past because I knew I would be a 4F with asthma.

That March, my parents had flown us (me, 2 of my brothers, and their wives) down to Mexico for a family vacation. It was during the time that the resolution on Iraq was supposed to come up for a vote at the UN and our troops were massed, waiting for insertion. I spent a good deal of time at the beach, partying on a boat (followed by singing loudly from the back of an open air taxi), and parasailing, but every morning and every evening, I was glued to CNN as tensions escalated. I watched leaders on both sides talking about whether the inspectors were doing a good job and right wing pundits insisting that we needed to go in there to stop the WMDs before they hit Israel.

Our family meals were on occasion animated as my father insisted that the Bush administration had completely valid intel on the WMDs and I insisted that the data was suspect, that we should be letting the inspectors do their job, and that President Bush should man up and send the resolution to the floor for a vote as he had emphatically said he would (but didn’t in the end).

At 21 in South Pacific

As we marched closer to war, Senator Kerry and the rest of the Democrats CNN was trotting out for interviews started to back the president as they knew what was about to come and agreed that what was best for the men and women in uniform was a unified front at home. I was inspired by his speech and considered my own grandfather’s sacrifices during WWII. The idea of joining the  US Navy as an officer started to run around in my head.

At about a week or 2 into Operation Iraqi Freedom, the patriotism and thought of being able to get paid to feel like I was making a difference kicked in and I walked into the recruiting office after a number of walk bys. I sat down and the recruiter got me a water and started to discuss my options. I told him that I wanted to be a naval officer (my co-worker had mentioned the pay gap between enlisted and officers and I didn’t want to sign on for a pay cut).

We talked about options and he seemed to think I would be a solid candidate so he started the paperwork. When he came to date of birth, it all fell apart. While I looked like I was in my early 20s, I was in my early 30s and was past the cut off point for officer candidates. We had a brief discussion wherein I let him know that I thought ageism had no place in government service and that I should be judged on character, intellect, and physicality, but he wouldn’t budge. He told me I could enlist, but by that point my temper was up and I walked out of the office with the bottled water in hand. It sat in my car for a number of years as a reminder of roads not traveled.

In our more enlightened age where we have eliminated “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, I would encourage the military to also consider a set of metrics for officer candidates that doesn’t discriminate based on age.

Photo: Collin Harvey via Compfight

What’s in Your Summer Bucket List?

Summer SunI was listening to the radio about a month ago and they were talking about what they planned to do for their summer bucket list. It got me thinking – what could I do this year to get outside of my comfort zone?

The obvious one was something I had been mulling over for a number of years but had always never prioritized or chickened out on at the last moment. Learn to ride a motorcycle. I’ve known two people who have died on motorcycles and have 2 brothers who injured themselves pretty seriously when they were learning to ride so it’s always been a scary prospect for me, but something I’ve wanted to confront.

So I downloaded the study manual and was all of an hour away from signing up for the motorcycle driver’s ed course when I spotted a section of the manual talking about the need to monitor around you and not rely on your mirrors. I realized that with my glasses, I would be twisting and turning my head all of the time because of my lack of peripheral vision (contacts tend to have a high frequency of irritating my eyes so I can’t rely upon them day in and day out).

That was it, I knew what I needed to prioritize – something even scarier. Motorcycles will have to wait until 2013; I’m getting Lasik this year.

I’ve always been a visual person. Music is great, but for me it’s about putting me in an emotional mood, it’s not something I can’t live without like movies and the next bleeding edge video game. I was a designer for a number of years and in my current job I spend a lot of time making things look visually stunning to capture attention. Losing my eyesight would be devastating to who I am.

In about an hour and a half though, I’m confronting that fear. I’m not a gambler – I’ve never driven drunk, I didn’t gamble in Vegas, and I don’t even participate in office pools. But I’m putting one of the things that I value most on the line for the chance to not be beholden to glasses or contacts.

Time to get ready to cross this off my bucket list. I’m not nervous yet but I suspect that it’s not that far off. *fingers crossed*

Special Note of Thanks: Thank you to my wonderful co-workers, Michele and Shannon, for pushing me to set up the pre-screening appointment and convincing me that I will be fine.

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Geek History and the Defense of Marriage

Geek TattoosI came across an article this week that sheds new light on the battle within our culture on marriage equality. For years, religious organizations have insisted that they originated the practice of marriage and so they should be able to veto changes, as if they’ve licensed it to the government like Microsoft Windows.

The problem is that religious institutions did not invent the monogamous human relationship – geeks did. According to researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, alpha males once ruled (think bighorn sheep butting heads for mating rights) and set the tone with multiple partners. Beta males (read: proto-geeks) had to invent a new paradigm if they wanted to get nookie and found inspiration in the “mate for life” species (science FTW!). A 2009 British survey bears out that geeks are still tops in the single partner game.

Because of our efforts, childhood survival rates increased and the modern family evolved. So if we’re entering an era of marriage 1.1, move over religious institutions and let geeks decide. If religious institutions insist they have truly shepherded the institution all these years, they’ve done a crap job of it – it’s failure rate is probably worse than the virus infection rate of a bit torrent site. On the other hand, I think you will find that most geeks aren’t threatened by two people of any gender combination wanting to express their love for one another in a state-sanctioned ceremony. We also probably wouldn’t let government hand out so many marriage certificates to adolenscents who may not have reached the abstract reasoning phase of their development or even people who might be too intoxicated or filled with passion to make an informed decision.

To be honest,  religion handed off the word “marriage” to government long ago. I firmly believe that via the freedom of religion, churches have every right to determine who is married in the eyes of their congregation. Coupling that with freedom of association, they can also decide whether or not to hang out with them. The mandate that is missing which they cling to blindly is the determination of who is married in the eyes of the government. The government must determine whether a separate and unequal system is constitutional. Another step towards rendering it unconstitutional was taken in Boston this week.

Let me note before people try to discount me as a blathering iconoclast that I don’t have a problem with religious institutions or their adherents – I have a problem with some of the actions they take. I was incensed in high school physics when I heard what the Catholic church did to Galileo. That disgust for the wrong-minded actions of people lacking objectivity grew more entrenched when I learned the history of Martin Luther at Luther College.  To me, the epitome of Christian values are forgiveness and doing unto others as we would have done unto us. Were I inclined to pledge my love to someone of the same sex, I would want the same rights as any other person under the law, so by the golden rule I cannot stand in the way of someone’s happiness who feels that way and wants those rights.

Close-minded zealots have long denied what are now logical human rights in the past and have had to apologize later. Slavery was allowed in The Bible. Interracial marriages were somehow against God. I truly believe that we’re going to see the same thing happening in the future with this decision.

Still disagree with me? Then use the rights the Constitution did grant you and pick a new word. The government has been given irrevocable authority over the word “marriage” – let it go. Re-create your version of marriage under a new banner (coadunation actually fits a heterogeneous union) and use the freedom of religion and association clauses to maintain its sacredness. Think of it as akin to the dichotomy of graduation and baccalaureate – one is an affair of the state and the other is of the church.

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Comparing Heroes with Lord Raglan’s Scale

The AccoladeSince my post about heroism, I’ve known I would have to post on Lord Raglan’s scale for comparing heroes of legend. I learned about it while working on my English degree and was fascinated by the commonalities it revealed between various heroes.

Lord Raglan in his work, The Hero (1936), analyzed the legendary heroes of western culture and came up with a list of narrative features. Of all, Oedipus and Krishna scored the closest to perfect with 21 out of 22. [Note: Different experts interpret story vs. line item differently so you will see fluctuations on various sites regarding the actual numbers. Also, it doesn’t tend to apply as neatly to heroines, but I haven’t seen a scale built for them.]

  1. The hero’s mother is a royal virgin;
  2. His father is a king, and
  3. Often a near relative of his mother, but
  4. The circumstances of his conception are unusual, and
  5. He is also reputed to be the son of a god.
  6. At birth an attempt is made, usually by his father or his maternal grandfather, to kill him, but
  7. He is spirited away, and
  8. Reared by foster parents in a far country.
  9. We are told nothing of his childhood, but
  10. On reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future kingdom.
  11. After a victory over the king, and/or a giant, dragon, or wild beast,
  12. He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor, and
  13. Becomes king.
  14. For a time he reigns uneventfully, and
  15. Prescribes laws, but
  16. Later loses favor with the gods and/or his subjects, and
  17. Is driven from the throne and city, after which
  18. He meets a mysterious death,
  19. Often at the top of a hill.
  20. His children, if any, do not succeed him.
  21. His body is not buried, but nevertheless
  22. He has one or more holy sepulchers

The scale was used to further the “myth-ritual” origin of religion and to demonstrate the commonalities across western culture. While many of its highest recipients are Greek, we also see English (Arthur, Robin Hood, and Guinevere at 19, 13, and 11 respectively), Judeo-Christian (Moses and Jesus at 20 and 19), and even heroes of current literature. People have rated Anakin Skywalker between 16 and 18, Superman @15, Optimus Prime at 14, Aragorn and Captain Kirk at 13, and Harry Potter at 8.

Some have used the scale as a sort of Occam’s razor for the veracity of historical truth with scores above a 6 being considered of suspicious historical accuracy. Personally, I just think it’s fun to think about what these commonalities say about our shared values.

My Worst Day

Down in a holeIn my last post I discussed my most embarrassing moment, so for this post, I’m delving deeper into the worst day of my life. [Don’t worry, I will swing back to my usual cheerful self in the next post, this one is just time sensitive.]

The season was spring of 1994 and I was finishing up my pre-student teaching coursework. The big event of the season was Kurt Cobain’s suicide which had many of my peers up in arms about “the tragic loss of an icon.” Personally, I was more into Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. I looked at it this way – here was a guy who to me had pretty much everything: wife, kid, and success in a field he was passionate about. How screwed up do you have to be to throw that away?

I was no stranger to dark thoughts, or needles for that matter, having been a medical guinea pig. There were no “it gets better” videos for boys who struggled with asthma and hypopituitarism. I had always been less physically mature than my peers, having just entered puberty at the age of 25, and my social maturity was also skewed – a modern day Peter Pan.  I had never truly fit in, aside from gamers, English majors with similar genre interests, techies, and the student newspaper staff (given my fascination with superheroes, you had to expect I did the mild-mannered reporter stint, right?). I had looked into that void numerous times, often under the influence of Hamlet and vodka, but I always found some semblance of hope.

So when I got together late that month for our combined birthday week with my former A&E editor, Mike Champlin, I was ready to let loose and celebrate. While we waited for our third amigo to join us, we started buying each other drinks. I had my obligatory fruity drink followed by a long island and I was comfortably numb through the first set of the local band Blue Velveeta, before they went “plugged” for their second set in deference to the MTV phenomenon.

Our third amigo never showed up but I didn’t seem to care for the rest of the night. My attempt at moshing devolved into slam dancing to amped versions of Tori Amos and folk songs. I got home after bar close and insisted that one of my roommates make me hashbrowns while I proceeded to unburden myself with pretty much everything I had consumed in the last 6 hours.

I assume I made it back to my bed or was carried, but I got up the next morning feeling like the grave. I had luckily developed some semblance of responsibility after hitting puberty as I made the long walk up the hill to the university as the previous month I had been elected to the presidency of our campus gamers society.

I don’t remember much of that day. The next thing that I can solidly remember is sitting in an alcove in the kitchen either that night or the next being told by Mike that the reason Tom had been unable to make it was he had an aneurysm that night and had been rushed to the hospital. He was in Rochester and was in bad condition, but there was hope. I was in disbelief. He had been so full of life, always witty and smiling. I thought back to the night we spent drinking at Mike’s place talking about all things geeky and literary. We took turns filling a mutual friend’s answering machine with fake telemarketers whose inquiries eventually turned to “animal husbandry” as it was a phrase that raised that friend’s hackles.

After the phone call I watched Vampire Hunter D. It was the last thing that Tom had given me. Tom had accumulated the most extensive collection of horror films in southern Minnesota. Vampire Hunter D had been my favorite of the bunch and had turned me onto anime as an art form. (Full movie – beware, it’s early 80s anime)

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see him or not, but as I didn’t have a car, it was going to be a bus ride up to Minneapolis and back down to Rochester and a night’s stay which I really couldn’t afford. I was also unsure of whether I wanted to see him like that – if it would forever cloud my memory. We had some hope for a recovery and I believed that it would happen.

While I vacillated, the unthinkable happened. I got another call from Mike a week later informing me that Tom had passed away. I was shocked. I had never had anyone so close to me die. A few years earlier a guy who I had hung out with a couple of times in the literary circle had been killed in a motorcycle accident, but this was my inner circle. On Halloween 1990 after putting the newspaper to bed, Tom and I had pulled a Dead Poets’ stunt and snuck into a graveyard to tell ghost stories and recite poetry by candle light (in thematic fashion, it was a black candle I had purchased while on assignment at Renaissance Festival).

Tom’s parents respected what Tom’s wish would have been and held the funeral on Friday the 13 of May. They celebrated his life by bringing in memorabilia from his collection including a large model of the NCC-1701-D. I recognized a number of former Reporter staff there and numerous Free Press staff members at the funeral and we chatted briefly afterwards. We wound up getting together afterwards at the Reporter office to reminisce about Tom and common memories. I had thought of potentially going to the late matinee of The Crow which I knew Tom would have enjoyed, but it felt better to be with his peers.

I then headed home to change out of the black shirt and tie in preparation for a gathering at Mike’s. Shortly after I arrived home, I got the call from my parents. My grandmother (the grandparent I had always been closest too) had a stroke and was in a hospital in Rochester. I wound up crying, it was far too much in too short of a time frame.

I was late to the party, but I showed up and my friends helped console me. I didn’t stay very late as I wanted to get home to be by the phone in case there was another call. As crushed as I already was, I wasn’t optimistic and I was worried that I wouldn’t get a chance to say goodbye like with Tom.

Luckily, my grandmother pulled through with partial paralysis on the right side of her body which meant she wound up listening more than contributing during chats with my aunts about grammar. She was with us for a few more years, and the tears would come back at her funeral during the grandchildren’s eulogies (I spoke about how she inspired me and recited Sonnet 29 from memory as she had turned me on to Shakespeare).

I’ve had a lot of bad days in my life that I haven’t written about, but none have matched May 13, 1994 in terms of initial and enduring emotional impact. I’d never known death that intimately before.

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Shakespeare’s Sonnet #29

This timeless classic helped me to keep my eye off the abyss in times like those. In true Shakespearean style, it builds through the first and second quatrains, exposing the narrator’s darkest thoughts – feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, and self-loathing. Then in the third quatrain it turns as the narrator considers his loved one and the clouds metaphorically part. The ending couplet completes the swing from depression to joy.

My Most Embarrassing Moment

Headlight Morning GlowThere are times in our lives that we all wish we could do over. That one embarrassing moment that pops into my head at the most inopportune times took place in the wee hours of the morning on a long trip home from Texas.

It was March 30th, 1998. You might think I would remember the date with accuracy because of my paternal grandfather’s funeral that weekend. There are pictures in my head of that day that will stick with me: the Texas countryside in its purple and green splendor instead of the dry husk as I normally saw in the late summer, the creepy guys in robes at the service who were probably free masons or their ilk, my grandfather’s assistant waiting behind the church because he lived in an area where some traditions had not yet entered the modern era, and taking a photo with my cousins, suddenly aware that with the passing of both grandparents, we were now the second generation.

It was a sobering experience and a lot to process. I would never again be asked to “come over here and pull my finger” just as there were no more lazy mornings out on the lake in his fishing boat. Long gone were the days when we would try to pull out our baby teeth in Texas because the Texas Tooth Fairy paid double.

The true reason I remember the date is because a tornado had just cut a swath through the heart of south central Minnesota the afternoon prior, doing over $235 million in property damage. I had no idea if my home, office, co-workers, students, or friends were still in one piece. We had seen reports on CNN before we started back, but we did not have wireless Internet like we have today so I was completely in the dark on what was going on.

Somehow in the midst of all this chaos, I was able to sleep as my brother Andy drove the first leg of the trip home. We’d packed all 4 sons and both parents into Mom’s minivan and Dad’s car. The halfway point was in Missouri on an off ramp in a commercial/industrial park, so no convenience stores for about 20 miles either way. Andy got out to stretch his legs and woke me up. I was a bit groggy. It sounded like he said was getting in the van to sleep so I slid over into the driver’s seat and waited for the minivan to take off.

Embarrassing MomentI followed them back over the highway and down the on ramp. They swerved suddenly and then gunned it. I wondered what the commotion was about when my headlights illuminated my brother in the middle of the road with a crazed look on his face. I slammed on the brakes and let him in. As we drove to catch up with my parents he let me in on his harrowing dash down the embankment, over a fence, across 2 lanes of highway and the median, just in time to avoid getting hit by my parents and catch up with me.

My mind started going through all of the possible scenarios given the distance to civilization, the fact that we were in the middle of Missouri in March. I felt so small and so stupid. I didn’t have to worry about keeping myself awake for a couple hours. From the point where we stopped for munchies and gas and explained it to my parents and brothers to somewhere just south of Minnesota, I don’t remember anything – it was just moment after moment of beating myself up mentally while maintaining distance from the minivan’s rear bumper.

The story comes up in conversation now and again. Some times as a joke, but some times I think he remembers the panic and then it’s not so funny. If there is any saving grace to the incident, it’s that the embarrassment eclipses what I felt when I accidentally flashed the girls in my 1st grade class, which up until that point had been my most embarrassing moment.

Photo Credit: Sean McGrath via Compfight

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Exploring My Personal “Why?” and Heroism

Phong Nha Cave, VietnamDo you ever spend time considering the why you do what you do? Do you look for the kernel from which the bulk of your actions spring?

On Saturday April 7th, I attended Minnebar, a techie conference held at the Best Buy campus. My goal had been to learn more about the latest best practices which I could take back to my workplace for implementation. My biggest takeaway though was an epiphany about myself

The first session, I attended what was effectively a round table on mobile app best practices with the best and brightest jumping in to provide insights into all aspects of the mobile app pipeline. I’ll admit, I got bored early on and based on the overcrowding, a bit uncomfortable. I decided to scrap my second class in that track and instead go to the branding option in the theater where there would likely be more open space and very comfortable seating.

The discussion focused on self-branding and how to line up your personal goals with your business goals. It was the standard exercise of looking at what you wanted to do as a kid and how you can do that as an adult, but this time you had to discuss it with those around you.

I once had a boss ask me about my personal brand and I blithely answered “Green Lantern.” I then proceeded to note that I was inspired/fueled by heroism, had a lot of raw willpower to overcome obstacles, was creative, and valued being able to be a utility player/renaissance man. That pitch didn’t go over so well and I thought about it when I considered announcing to complete strangers that as a kid I wanted to grow up to be a superhero. I decided to drop the “super” from my pitch. I then analyzed that against what I had already thought about with regards to careers and the like, and it suddenly all fit. I felt bad for my associates as I tuned them out after the initial start up conversation because I wanted to test my new hypothesis further. I started plugging in choices I made in the past and trying to decide whether they fit the new model.

Romantic HeroismFor example, when I was in my teens I wanted to be an attorney or a politician because I thought of those jobs as heroic. As they began to lose their shine in college, I considered English teacher (“Oh, Captain, my Captain!” anyone?). When I did my student teaching, the teachers turned to me for all of their technology questions and so I signed up for a Master’s program in Educational Technology. When I didn’t find a teaching job, right away after finishing the bulk of my curriculum, I switched out to web designer as it had been an outlet for my creativity. I then spent a weekend a month and 6 weeks each summer working with Upward Bound. The rest of my free time I spent trying to make the world a better place with the Junior Chamber or exploring heroism in computer games.

As I began to accumulate outliers that didn’t fit the overall scheme, I realized I needed to adjust the model to be more inclusive. I began to see that a large part of my life wasn’t just wrapped around accomplishing heroic ideals, as a man I had certain romantic goals for myself. I found myself equally inspired by Batman and Lloyd Dobler, so I altered it to “romantic hero” and the vast majority of my choices fit. But that’s really the subject of a whole new post as it gets a bit deep and personal.

In retrospect, a lot of what I write about in this blog comes from that root motivation – whether it’s exploring my literary heroes or getting in touch with my courage and confidence through ValleyScare or a ropes course. I’ve decided for the next year, I’m going to re-tune this blog  to delve deeper into heroism and my opinions on it. I’ve got an idea on a monthly feature with interviews of real life heroes from the non-profit sphere, but we’ll have to see how the first one fleshes out.

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Gotta Cut Loose: Footloose and Neckties

Kevin Bacon promoting "The Woodsman" in Hollywood, CA.  October 14, 2004. © Armando Gallo / Retna Ltd.I’ve talked about my fondness for a number of literary heroes, but I’ve left out one – Ren McCormack, the protagonist of Footloose. He’s had an extended influence on my style, something I will now refer to as “The Footloose Tie.”

Background:

The movie came out in 1984 and I loved it. I remember leaving the Viking Theater in Decorah, Iowa and my feet couldn’t stop moving. It was energizing and it spoke to that part of me that feels the need to stand up to oppression. I think it was that summer that I bought my first necktie – it was a skinny tie covered in a tinsel-like metallic fabric that reflected a rainbow of hues. Most people nowadays would be loathe to wear a disco ball-themed tie on their neck, but I started wearing shirts with collars simply so I had an excuse to show it off. Like Ren, I wore the tie loosely, symbolizing my rebellious nature (or when I was feeling wild, on my head).

Eventually Miami Vice hit and the theft of professional attire worn ironically moved towards jackets. I rarely attended any formal occasions other than my brothers’ weddings where a tie was required and then I couldn’t wait until after the ceremony so I could rid myself of what I perceived as a noose.

Then I started working for Upward Bound and every summer there was a formal ceremony. My mentor turned me on to a cheat to get around ties – the Nehru collar. In the 90s I accumulated about 7 Nehru-collared shirts.

It wasn’t until I became a web designer that I started wearing ties again. As time progressed I started liking ties, the splash of color they can add to an outfit. As I became more acclimatized to the world of design I started foraying deeper into the less conservative patterns and embracing wild ties.

Then I moved to the world of web development – a land of t-shirts and jeans. I missed the ties, but I accepted the new uniform. I kept a sport coat in my cube for those days when I needed to go talk to the account managers and have them take me seriously with an Aquaman t-shirt on. One of my co-workers would wear a tie on occasion and I’ll admit, I got a little jealous that he could pull it off without losing his standing as one of the guys. One day I snuck a smirking “preppy” comment in and he caught my allusion to “Saved by the Bell.”

Ren McCormack 2011As management started noticing my effort and vision, I started pulling out the ties to stay on their radar and be ready for meetings. I wore them Ren McCormick-style to maintain my street cred in the department. I began noticing cool ties and they suddenly took on a shopping imperative that I did not intend, akin to shoe-shopping for some women. I would go in for a new pair of jeans and wander by the clearance rack for ties and try to rescue one or two, or if I didn’t find one I liked, I would wander into the full price racks and then find a shirt to go with my new acquisition.

The Fashion Statement

My point in all this is to build fashion awareness and acceptance of “The Footloose Tie” style of wearing a tie. I love wearing my necktie bling this way and in my mind, it says “I’m professional, but I’m not stuffy.” Some people see the necktie as a barrier between people, but I think it can add color and tie an outfit together as long as you don’t wear them so seriously. I’m not a fan of single color dress shirts worn without a tie or a coat – they look plain to me.

My problem is, not everyone agrees with “The Footloose Tie” as a fashion statement. Some see it as messy.

I’m looking for feedback and some perceptions on boundaries for the style. My perception is that if it’s worn straight and loose with the knot at or above the second button, it evokes a sense that the person cares about style/fashion but is open and approachable, similar to the statement of a sport coat and t-shirt.

What do you think?

Life Ain’t Easy…

Johnny CashNo post yesterday, but I did my 3 positive-minded exercises. Of course my 10 minutes of exercise was moving around tables and chairs for the Needy/Nerdy Mixer for the Overnight Website Challenge. It was a fun event, meeting all of the non-profits and seeing the passion in their eyes for their respective causes.

For today’s post I’m going to try and find that same passion by taking the time to reflect on three things I’m thankful for:

  1. I’m thankful that I was born in Minnesota in the current era. I truly enjoy interacting with most of the people in this state and I’m still alive and have solid quality of life thanks to the ready access to modern medicine (specifically the world renowned Mayo Clinic).
  2. I am thankful that  I have a job in a recovering economy. There are a lot of people out there struggling to get by and I’m hoping that this is the year that we see unemployment drop back down.
  3. I am thankful for Johnny Cash’s sense of humor. This morning I was a little grumpy that my triceps were still sore from the torture I inflicted on them at the gym on Wednesday, but 20 minutes in a car listening to “Boy Named Sue”, “Delia”, and “One Piece at a Time” cured me of the blues. The radio had only offered me over-played Adele and some boring talking heads, but Johnny delivered like he always does.

I challenge you to play the video below and not “come away with a different point of view.”