Rabbit Rabbit

“This is a Thing People Say?”

Did you wake up this morning and say “Rabbit Rabbit” out loud? Because I did.

I don’t know why I did. Apparently it’s thing?

A quick Wikipedia search bounces back information that it brings good luck, or in some cases, a present at the end of the month.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained.

RABBIT RABBIT!

Rabbit Rabbit – 4 out of 5 Stars

Dyson Vaccum Cleaners

“Turns Vacuuming Into a Science Adventure”

When I saw the deal, I knew I had to get it. A cordless Dyson vacuum cleaner with multiple interchangeable attachments, at a 70% markdown? Yes, please.

I rarely impulse buy, but this was one of them. I’m also atrocious at keeping secrets from Kate, so I was able to hold out for seven hours before I exclaimed: “I got you a present!”

After telling her what it was, she was elated but also suspicious of the spin I had put on the present. As if this was what she dreamed of, and not a new toy for me.

When I told coworkers about my purchase, every single one got a gleefully glazed look in their eyes. One told me “It makes vacuuming my favorite thing to do” while another told me about how she dreamt about owning a Dyson hair dryer one day.

Now that’s a fantastic brand promise.

In your teens, the stuff you want is about freedom and expression – clothes that define you, items that let you be on your own.

In your twenties, the stuff you want is about individuality and experiences – a trip somewhere to party with friends, a costume to make the night epic.

In your thirties, the stuff you want is practical and world building – which is why I’ve written over 200 words about my new vacuum cleaner.

Our Dyson is now home, and I have to say, it has fulfilled all my vacuum dreams. I’ll do a quick pass in the house mere minutes before we leave for an event because it’s that fun and easy. I get a jolt of cleaning adrenaline everytime I hoist it from behind the washing machine.

What a great present for Kate.

Dyson Vacuum Cleaner – 4 out of 5 Stars

Stetson Hats

“Brims For the Best”

I had a wedding back in my college hometown, San Antonio, last weekend. It had been two years since I had visited old San Antone, and I was really excited to return to a land where the tortillas are flour, “queso” is more than just the Spanish word for cheese, and where Lone Star is the standard beer order.

When I mentioned my Texas trip to a coworker, his first question was, “Are you going to wear a bolo?”

San Antonio is Texas, but it’s not Friday Night Lights Texas. But after talking it over with my coworker, I decided to make acquiring a bolo tie in San Antonio a main priority over the weekend.

The day of the wedding, after gorging ourselves on breakfast tacos (5 tacos, two coffees, and a Topo Chico for $18, TAKE THAT HOMESTATE), Kate and I embarked on a bolo adventure.

Our first stop was a hipster flea market, and while there lots of cute things for Kate, there were no bolos to buy. We were told to check out Paris Hatters, an old-school western store just a mile and a half down the road.

Birds have now made it out to San Antonio, so obviously we scootered to Paris Hatters. Established in 1917, upon walking into this century-old store, you’re immediately visually assaulted with two things: Cowboy Hats and mounted heads of various hunted animals. We were in the right place for a bolo tie.

We quickly located three bolo ties for purchase. Two with turquoise in them, and one for my coworker. But, as one does in a hat store, we started trying on hats.

I’m not a confident hat wearer. Some people can just throw one on, and it looks like an extension of their head. This doesn’t happen to me often. We tried on several different versions, but I knew that I was looking for one that I could wear in the sun, and wasn’t too hot.

Our knowledgeable sales person (and daughter of the owner) squinted at me and suggested I try an “Open Range” Stetson.

“It’s the one that LBJ used to wear.”

Well if it’s good enough for LBJ, it’s good enough for me.

A negotiation later, I’m now the proud owner of a 20xx Silverbelly Open Range Stetson.

I wore it and the bolo to the wedding and was met with strong encouragement. All in all, I’m happy with my purchase. If you’re going to buy a cowboy hat, might as well be for a wedding in Texas.

Stetson Hats – 4 out of 5 Stars 

Rapid Fire Reviews

“Because Snackable Content Sticks”

To stop living in a festering pool of guilt and internal tension, I’m going to reset the clock. Here are 18 rapid fire reviews.

Travel Edition Part 3: Amsterdam

Trains to Work – The only time the world can hit “snooze” on your perfectly timed morning is with a late train. Still, it beats driving.  – 3 out of 5 Stars

Zoos – Whenever I have a moment while traveling, I’ll visit a zoo in a weird place. Animal rights tabled for the moment, the zoo in Amsterdam is my favorite cuddly jail, it had wide awake animals all over the place. Talk about instant gratification! – 4 out of 5 Stars

Envy – A fancy restaurant Kate and I went to in Amsterdam. We sat at the Chef’s Table and had an 11-course meal, four of which were mostly foam based. Do I want to eat most food in foam form? No. Was it cool though? I dunno, is eating bubbles cool? Absolutely. – 4 out of 5 Stars

Misc

Our Current Political Climate – 0 out of 5 Stars

Jicama Sticks – They lack the crunch of carrots, and yet have the weird texture of watermelon. – 2 out of 5 Stars

Bohnanaza – A card game where you’re a bean farmer and have to trade with other farmers to reap the best bean harvests. You know it’s a good game when you’re standing up and shouting across the table “HOW MANY STINK BEANS DO YOU WANT FOR ONE CHILI BEAN GODDAMMIT” – 4 out of 5 stars

Twitter – I’ve gotten back into the word whirlwind that is Twitter. Avoid all Kanye tweets. – 2 out of 5 Stars

Chia Pods – We were mistakenly given a bagful of these in our last Instacart order. They’re like if you mixed bad pudding with the gelatin portion of pomegranate seeds. – 1 out of 5 Stars 

The Good Place – What a brilliant show, and what trust in the writing staff. – 4 out of 5 Stars

Cheers – Speaking of Ted Danson, this show is uncomfortably misogynist. However, that seems like a great bar to hang at. – 2 out of 5 Stars

A Career in the Postal Service – I’ve often dreamed about is being a mailman in a nice walkable neighborhood. You get to exercise every day, you could listen to podcasts at work (learn French!) and most of the time you’re delivering something important to people’s lives. – 3 out of 5 Stars

Jazz Flute – When Kate and I were in Spain, the only music we had at the house were a stack of CD’s her family had left. Most of them were classical, except one was an album that had crazy good jazz flute renditions of Brazillian music. An Absolute Banger. – 4 out of 5 Stars

Silent Discos on the Beach – If time permits, I try to run after work before the sun goes down on the beach. Recently I’ve been coming across a group of Burner types who all wear headphones and gyrate wildly in silence on the beach as the sun goes down. Whatever works I guess. – 3 out of 5 Stars

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes – A recipe taken from Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings, put this in your weekly rotation now. It’s the deliciousness of mashed potatoes, sans the Irish guilt. – 5 out of 5 Stars 

Bad Blood – I just finished this book about Theranos, the Silicon Valley startup that tricked investors out of a billion dollars, and then immediately made Kate read it. I’m usually not one for nonfiction, but this is a fascinating and fast read. – 4 out of 5 Stars

Wearing My Suit to a Wedding – Got to finally break that bad boy out for a trip to DC a few weeks back. While people weren’t throwing money or their bras at me, I did feel like a million bucks (at a 40% discount, thanks Atta!) – 4 out of 5 Stars

Pumpkins for Decoration – It’s October again, which means I start stressing about my Halloween costume, and Kate goes overboard on decorating. Our house now contains a pumpkin that we will never eat. It will just slowly rot until I throw it in the garbage. – 1 out of 5 Stars

Crossing Things off a List – Every Monday morning I sit down and make a list of thing I need to get done for the week. Some of them are ongoing projects, but some of them are gimmes. I literally write “make a list” and then when I’m done, cross it off. I encourage endorphin manipulation at all opportunities. – 3 out of 5 Stars 

The Comeback

“That Was Easy”

Well, there you have it. 18 reviews done and dusted, and just like that, I’m back on track. Now I don’t count this as six newsletters worth of content – I’m not letting myself off the hook that easy.

But, I have to say, I do feel that jolt of accomplishment that I love so much on Thursday mornings. No matter what the rest of the day throws at me, I’ll be buoyed by my sense of personal achievement.

And a lack of guilt. Holy shit it feels good to take the weight of those reviews off my shoulders.

Long story long, talk to y’all next week.

The Comeback – 4 out of 5 Stars

Pan Catalan

This is the second of three-part series that documents the two-week journey that Kate and I are embarking on. We’re going to a beach town in Spain for a week, then heading to Amsterdam for work.

PART TWO: SPAIN

“I Don’t Think It’s Ketchup”

Upon our arrival in the small Spanish beach town of Moraira, I was stressed.

After almost 24 hours of travel, which at one point included Kate and I literally running through the Schiphol airport (Our first flight was delayed, meaning we landed at 1:10, and our connecting flight to Alicante began boarding at 1:22), we were officially on vacation (vactiones).

Getting into “vacation” mode is harder than it sounds. And before you click the spam button on this email and throw your hands up in disgust as a straight white male talks about the difficulty of relaxing – well, I don’t have a serious point that I’m making. But shifting one’s mind from the stress of travel, projects left ongoing, emails unanswered, it’s tough.

In an attempt to cleanse our minds of the lives that we had consciously taken a break from for seven days, Kate suggested that we take a walk from our house in the hills down to the glimmering waters of the Mediterranean. The sun sets very late here, so even though it was almost 8:30, we enjoyed a pleasant (if steep) descent, and I was soon digging my toes into the wet sand with the Mediterranean lapping my ankles in a mellow roll.

Above the beach was a bar that served light food and drinks, so we timidly claimed a table and begin to practice our Spanish with our waiter, David. Our months of DuoLingo study paid off (not to mention my 5 years of Spanish) and within un minuto, I had a frosty mug of cerveza in front of me, and Kate had a dark and delicious glass of red wine begging to be sipped.

Libations imbibed, I began to feel my brain loosen a bit. Then we decided to order some tapas. Fried squid (chiparones) were a must-have, and Kate suggested we order pan catalan.

Returning with plates, the chiparones were salty and hot, the perfect pairing to the cold beer, but it was the basic delight of bread, Spanish ham, and a thin pastiche of tomatoes that have come to symbolize this vacation for me.

I’m not a huge fan of nightshades, and I rarely make an effort to order tomatoes. However, there’s a magical taste that is occurring in Moraira, the effortless combination of a mashed up tomato in some olive oil and salt and pepper spread over fresh bread that is a pure delicacy.

In an effort to not be one of those Americans who spends some time abroad and becomes insufferable (when I came back from Italy in my 20’s, I was one of them), I won’t waste words on why I think the food here is just better, but trust me it is.

Now I’m on vacation, and I’m assuming you, dear reader, are not. But I want to give your tastebuds a treat, and hopefully take your mind to the meditative Mediterranean, even if just for a few bites. Just go to the grocery store, buy a fresh baguette and a tomato. Go home, dice half the tomato up, put it in a mortar and pestle and add a healthy dose of olive oil (not enough to overwhelm the tomato though), a few wrist flicks of freshly cracked salt and pepper, and then get to pestling.

Take the mixture and spread it across a few halves of fresh bread, and then take a bite.

Fresh, simple, and savory – that’s the true taste of vacation.

Pan Catalan – 4 out of 5 Stars

Going Commando

This is the second of three-part series that documents the two-week journey that Kate and I are embarking on. We’re going to a beach town in Spain for a week, then heading to Amsterdam for work.

PART TWO: SPAIN

“Is This What Freedom Feels Like?”

When we told Kate’s uncle we were going to visit the family house in Moraira, he gave lots of amazing advice. From where to get the best empanadas to his favorite wine bodega, there is nothing of more value while traveling than local knowledge. However, there was one piece of counsel that stuck out above the rest, and it’s a piece of wisdom that I’ve carried with me this entire trip.

“Listen, once you get to Moraira, all you need is shorts and sandals. Maybe a shirt, but that’s it. Nothing else – do you know what I mean? Nothing else.”

Underwear is a garment for the worker. It protects and provides support in places where it’s critical both of those duties are filled. To live a life without underwear is to throw caution (and body parts) to the wind, and to embrace a life that is more…free.

At first I was hesitant. I’m a cautious person by nature. Unless I have direct plans to be in the water, it’s very rare that I’m traveling unaccompanied by accompaniment, if you will. But once I settled into the thought process of a man who was going to live free, at least for the next several days, the lifestyle became second nature.

The weather here is incredibly hot, and there’s no better way to cool down than to truly embrace the full nature of the sea breeze.

That’s not to say there hasn’t been an element of danger to the whole endeavor, but since we’re in a secluded compound, I feel like the stakes have been relatively low, while the rewards high. Not to mention that the whole European sense of body image is in full force here – large old men in speedos are a common sight, and they wear their flesh with a proud and quiet dignity.

We’re set to end our Spanish vacation mañana, and will be spending the next week and a half in Amsterdam, where I will be once again donning the vestments of a working man – underwear. But for this last day, I’ll make sure to enjoy the true feel of freedom, and that feeling is a gentle gust of wind.

Going Commando – 4 out of 5 Stars