A Case to Suit Your Suit

Whether you are a newly graduated young man preparing for your first forays into the professional jungle, an experienced family man with a strong resume, a distinguished gentleman with a career that spans four decades or anything in between, one thing is certain: you have stuff you need to take to work.  Whether it’s a laptop, spare clothes for the gym or simply a lunch because you are watching your budget, you have stuff that needs to accompany you into work.

For a lot of guys, the decision of how to get that stuff from home to the cubicle or office is easy.  Grab a backpack one of the kids isn’t using.or the old gym bag held together with duct tape and you are good to go.  But if you are reading this blog, you obviously aren’t one of those guys.  You are aware that the case you choose is just as critical to your professional image as any other accessory, and therefore deserves at least a little thought and consideration.

The first thing I would suggest considering is the load it will carry.  If you typically carry very little, a thin case could be appropriate, while larger loads obviously demand a larger case. 

Another thing to consider is your office dress code.  If suit and tie is the norm, backpacks are likely out of place, but messenger bags might work.  Also consider that smoother lines give a more polished appearance than a lumpy, multipocket versapack.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, your personal taste and style become critical.  Do you see yourself as more rugged than refined?  Pebbled leather or a bag with a 19th century flair may be the perfect fit.  If the opposite is true,  smoother leathers and updated styling may better fit the bill.  Utilitarian and concerned about surviving the abuses of.the daily grind?  Hard sided aluminum cases come in all sizes. 

Whatever you choose, choose it because you feel that it works for you.  If you get something on a whim because you think you’ll become “that kind of person,” you’ll likely be unhappy with the purchase.  Trust me, I’ve made that mistake more times than I wish to count.

What other suggestions would you give to someone selecting a business case?   Share in the comments below.

Why I Like Taking the Train

Today I am writing this post while riding the train into work.  Granted, I only ride part of the way, I bike the rest, but the post is being composed entirely on the train.  And that, my friends, is.the first reason I like riding the train: Multitasking without danger! 

If I were to be formulating a post while driving my car, I would be a significant danger to myself and everyone else on the road.  But riding the train lets me work while leaving the driving to someone else. This applies to all types of tasks that I occasionally struggle to find time for, like writing, but also including reading (both professional and for pleasure), reflection, banking, memorization for my next show, reviewing music, online shopping and multiple other activities.

The second reason I like taking the train is what I like to call the compression chamber effect. While it can be nice to drive to and from work, depending on your vehicle, driving while preparing for or decompressing from work is not always desirable. The train thus becomes a kind of ramp up and cool down zone, giving me one more tool to keep me sharp for work and making sure I don’t bring the stress of work home.

That brings me to my final point for today: predictability. With the freeway, I am subject to slowdowns from accidents and heavy traffic. In fact the drive home is sometimes more stressful than the day at work. When I take the train however I know when I will be home, regardless of the weather or traffic volume. And in our world, predictability is a rare thing indeed.

Obviously there are other advantages to taking the train. Please feel free to share them in the comments section, and happy traveling!

The “Possibles” bag

When I was younger, I read a book about Jim Bridger, a mountain man of the 1800’s frontier of America.  Like many folk heroes of the time, he was colorful and his legend has grown with time.  One part of the book that caught my attention, much to the chagrin of my parents, was the possibles bag that Jim kept with him at all times.  It carried things that could “possibly” be useful by Bridger during his time away from civilization, and sometimes in it.

Inspired, I built my own possibles bag, and kept it with me throughout much of my growing up years.  I used it while camping and hiking, and I always felt more prepared and confident while carrying it.

Today, being a gentleman of style and substance, I believe that we should embrace the possibles bag.  And while the bag of today will differ from Mr. Bridger’s in content and construction, I have found my own to be invaluable.

My current possibles bag was purchased from Levenger, and it is a small nylon zip bag with two pouches.  In one pouch I carry equipment for managing my diabetes.  In the other, I carry items that I have found invaluable on several occasions.  I offer this list as a potential beginning point for items in your own bag.

Band aids – no need to go overbaord, 5 in the medium size range will do for small cuts, and that’s really all you would need them for.  Anything larger, and you need to handle it differently

Medication – two doses of ibuprofen, acetaminophen and some type of migraine medicine.

Duct tape – wrapped around a small round stick.  It works for so many situations, from fixing a hem to covering a cut (when you forget to restock the band aids)

Safety pins – a better way to handle that hem, and to hold seams together that want to let go at inconvenient times

Lighter – no, I’m not a smoker, but the lighter has come in handy for lighting small stoves during a cooking demonstration, to name a specific instance, and many others

Flashlight – losing power?  Maybe, or how about looking behind a desk to see where that paper was dropped.

Pen-Knife – preferably one attached to a multi tool of some kind.  I’m reminded of my honeymoon, when I didn’t have a bottle openeer. . . invention worked, but I would rather have had a Swiss army knife.

Pen – the longest memory is less effective than the smallest pencil (or pen).  Most times you have one, but for the times you don’t, it’s good to have a spare.

Handkerchief – a mark of style, and a gracious gesture to a young lady, to say nothing of having it on hand to clean up from impromptu repair work.

What other items do you think are necessary to be be prepared?  Share your thoughts below.

Taking A Vacation

I was recently reading some articles from Men’s magazines about vacations. Catchy titles like, “The Top Ten Bed and Breakfasts to See in New England,” were par for the course. And I must admit, as I scanned through them, I was a little irritated. All of them seemed to follow two rules. . . 1 – promote a vacation that will look good compared to other’s vacations on Facebook and 2 – Make sure that we can get some click through revenue from the locations being highlighted. I’m sure this is a gross oversimplification, but it certainly seemed to hit the mark.

In response to this, and in keeping to my self imposed mandate to speak to every day dads, I want to offer my top three suggestions for making any vacation with your family better.

1 – Have a (flexible) plan.

On our most recent vacation, a car-camping family reunion at a state park in Utah, we started with a plan that had three points in it. First, leave before noon on Thursday, so we could have dinner and play games. Second, swimming on Friday is a must, along with more games. Third, leave on Saturday after breakfast. Beyond that, nothing was planned. Oh, we talked about running, what types of games we might play, what to have for dinner, who would be sleeping where and the like, but nothing more was planned. That left us free to decide activities on the fly, adjust for contingencies (like weather and tiredness and children’s level of peevishness) and to take advantage of opportunities that just showed up. All in all, for me, this was hard. I’m a planner. I like to have a plan, to inform others of the plan, to require compliance with the plan. . . and that always made things difficult. This time, with the simple yet flexible plan, things went much smoother and more pleasantly.

2 – Declare an electronics moratorium

I’m not suggesting that kindles and phones and GPS devices of all nature be abandoned completely. I am suggesting that during a vacation, especially one where all members of the family are present, the role of the electronics might be up for discussion. In our case, reading was allowed only in books (not ebooks) and texting was limited to the check in at night with the older children who had to stay home because of work. We were available to them, We kept our phones handy, but allowed them to initiate communication, for the most part.

GPS units can be valuable assets for Geocaching and other back-country activities, and being able to stay in touch between several vehicles driving along the road is a cool idea, but allowing vacation time to be absorbed in mundane electronic updating defeats much of the intended rejuvenation value of a vacation.

Besides, it’s tough to have a really good water-fight if you are worried about your iPhone.

3 – Don’t disengage too much

I admit, I like having a little time alone. Vacations can be a time to rethink values, goals and directions, and that is solitary stuff. but if you are on vacation with the family, make sure the family stays the focus of the vacation. If you need some serious time for the weightier matters of life, take a personal day, and do that. But if you are trying to connect with your family, make sure you are immersed in the time with them. A little time for a solitary walk is okay, but allow the little ones or the wife to come along. Some time for a nap is great, but if all you do is sleep, the vacation is likely not going to be remembered as a “fun time was had by all,” event.

Do what you need to to truly rejuvenate on a vacation, long or short, but I humbly suggest you keep these three suggestions in mind!

Happy Vacationing!

Graduation day!

While sitting at my daughters graduation exercises, I find myself more than a little contemplative.  Amidst the congratulations extended to the class (and the parents) are sprinkled nuggets of insight and wisdom gained through patient study and years of experience. 

And I am sure that none of them will remember any of it.

I say that because I honestly can’t remember anything from my own commencement exercises, and I was the student speaker at the event.  Talk about embarrassing.

Or is it.

I will be giving my daughter a card with some words if encouragement and wisdom, that I fully expect her yo file away someplace until she moves to her first home after college.   And even then, I’m not sure that she will appreciate all the life that has gone into gaining that wisdom, such as it is.

And that’s okay. 

It occurs to me that these exercises are less about giving them their final lessons and more about reminding them that they will.always have loving and supportive friends and family who will assist them in times if difficulty and strife.  That they have accomplished something of consequence once, and thus have the ability to do difficult things in the future.

They walk away with a few trinkets and a critical diploma.  We walk away having been reminded that they have the ability to overcome challenges in their future, and that we must let them try their wings while always keeping the home available as a recovery and recharging zone.

I’m glad I’m here being reminded that my daughter is a capable young woman.  I’m also glad that I have been fortunate enough to be her dad.