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

Pumpkin Carving

“Gourd Gore”

It’s been heavily documented that I hate Halloween. I’m a fan of seasonal activities, but Halloween just doesn’t do it for me.

Luckily, I’m in a loving relationship with someone who is obsessed with all seasonal holidays. Hooray.

That’s why Kate and I were at a Vons at 10 PM last week loading six large pumpkins into the back seat of my Hyundai Elantra. Because obviously, we were hosting a pumpkin carving party the next night.

I work in a creative field, but my artistic design talents are not a strong skill set. Especially when it comes to imagining a unique vision to carve on such a unique canvas like the face of a pumpkin. So carving pumpkins isn’t really my idea of “fun” on a Friday night.

I do like pumpkin seeds though, so there’s a minor victory in the major defeat.

We made martinis, we talked about Benihana, and two of the six pumpkins were brutally lobotomized, innards scraped, and then marvelously mutilated. One was a standard Jack-O-Lantern, and the other became a spooky skull.

Emerging from the experience relatively unscathed, I felt at peace with our Pumpkin Carving. We had done it, Kate had gotten her fix, and now we could live another 365 days without thinking about what type of smiles to stab into innocent gourds.

I set them outside in our back patio, safe from errant pumpkin smashers, and then left them alone.

You can see the writing on the wall, can’t you? I came home from work yesterday to see both pumpkins deflated, rotting already, and when I got closer, a huge cloud of flies buzzed around me.

After dry heaving a few times, I grabbed a trash bag, shielded my eyes, and shoved the rotting ruin into the bags, tied it shut, and threw it away.

So, does anyone want a pumpkin or four to carve?

Pumpkin Carving – 2 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 

Ignoring Alarms

“Snooze is the Button Of the Proletariate”

There are three types of people in the world. Those who can count, and those who can’t.

Bumper sticker jokes finished, there are two ways of approaching life. Waking up when your alarm goes off or snoozing through the next hour.

Unless it’s a special occasion, I’m almost always in the camp of the snoozers. Those spurts of 9 minutes between blindly slapping for my cell phone are what I live for.

Those minutes of stolen sleep seem so much more fulfilling. Which is why (to the annoyance of Kate) I’m a person who will set an alarm an hour before I need to rise out of bed, so I can have a chaotic (but emotionally) fruitful 54 minutes.

But when it comes to other alarms, I’m alert and aware. When I hear a chirp or a beep, I become a human prairie dog, scanning the horizon for trouble.

At the airport last Friday, while waiting for our flight to San Antonio, an ear screeching whoop began going off at our gate. Eyes wide, ears perked, I popped up, examining the scene. A door appeared to be ajar on our skyway.

The nauseating noise continued, and to my growing terror, no one reacted. Not the gate agent, not the people walking by, not even the other passengers sitting next to us. People continued talking on the phone, reading the paper, whatever.

As the alarm went on for almost five minutes, I wandering frantically around the boarding area. Finally, I walked over to a man wearing a USMC hat, and asked: “You’re hearing this too, right?”

He smiled and nodded. Okay, I’m not crazy.

After nearly ten minutes of the alarm going off, someone came and…closed the door.

In the battle of alarm reactions, we’re now at a draw. I’ll end with a final moment that happened just last night. Kate came home, and I had a candle burning on our main table. Late night snacks were on Kate’s mind, so she sat down next to me, inadvertently covering the candle with two sheets of Bounty Paper Towels.

It’s hard to tear away my gaze from Kate’s olive eyes, but your living room suddenly taking an “on fire” look will do it. I yelped, grabbed the burning Bounties and tossed them in the sink, heroically averting disaster, and most importantly, another alarm.

Ignoring Alarms – 3 out of 5 Stars

Death

“A Cold Emotion”

I’ve been told I bottle up emotions and don’t deal with them as they occur. I don’t disagree, but I also think the world would be a wild place if everyone acted on every emotional impulse that took them, that second.

Death results in an instant ice over of feelings. Death, to me, is a cold and frozen emotion. Unlike it’s elder and much more malevolent siblings: grief, anger, and regret, Death exists in a vacuum.

Once again, I find myself examining my emotions from an outsider’s perspective.

Sorrow and guilt roil in the depths of a lake of emotion, but on the surface, everything is calm and tranquil. It’s a binary experience. 0’s and 1’s – there’s no room for emotion in math.

Death – 1 out of 5 Stars 

Writing Slump

“Like a Pitching Slump, but With Fewer Balls”

I haven’t been able to write the J.R.S. for about, oh I dunno, six weeks? For those of you who noticed and mentioned it to me, thank you. I appreciate your words.

Basically, it all comes down to pressure.

Almost everything in my life is driven by an internal pressure in my head. Pressure to do well in my career. Pressure to write the most wonderful words. Pressure to be the best person I can be.

To be honest, the JRS was originally created as a personal pressure release valve. It was a place to write just for me, without any pressure on performance or writing quality.

Then I had to go and share with friends and family, and I immediately developed a new pressure point in my life. I have to deliver a finished product to people I love Thursday morning, come hell or high water.

This is not a dig at you, dear reader. In fact, knowing that I have readers keeps me honest, keeps me accountable. Except when we were traveling in Amsterdam I got distracted.

I’ve done this time and time again in my writing. I’ll start something and go full steam 68% of the way, and then somewhere I’ll spring a leak and the momentum will bleed off without me noticing.

So I missed a week of writing. Then a second week. The first week was excusable – I was in Amsterdam for work. The second one, less so, but hey, I was jetlagged!

The third Thursday I woke up with a dread and guilt. I wasn’t uninspired, in fact, I’ve known what my reviews from Amsterdam were going to be all three weeks. It was the pressure (and guilt) that was trapping me. Not only was I letting the readers down, but now I was another six reviews behind.

Fast forward to today, and the last time I graced your inboxes was August 23rd. That’s 6 weeks ago. I’m now 18 reviews behind.

My goal when I started this was to write one newsletter a week, for a year straight. I’ve missed a week or two here or there, but nothing like this.

Looks like I have some reviews to write.

And some pressure to release.

Writing Slump – 1 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