Friday, July 31, 2009

I Endorse: Garmin Forerunner 305

For the past three or four years I have been a runner. I don't compete or do the "fun runs" that so many runners do. The one time I did a 10K it ended up being a 7.2 miler due to a mis-measure by the organizers, and while I placed seventh among the men, it was completely miserable. When my competitive juices start to flow, it makes me run much harder than I should and takes the fun out of the competition. But, I digress.

I am a 3-4 day a week runner, usually doing 5 to 8 miles per clip depending on my mood and whether it is a substitute for my hour long lunch break. And since running is not all that fun for me (as some claim that it is) I look for any way I can to motivate myself. So, about two months ago I bought a Garmin Forerunner 305. I love it.

The Forerunner 305 is a GPS wristwatch and heart monitor that basically tells you everything you would want to know about your run. Incidentally, it is also capable of being used for cycling and swimming for the triathlete, but for me I only use it for running outside and monitoring my heart rate on machines I use in the gym on off days or when it is too inclement to hit the pavement. Again, I love it.

The 305 links to your PC and gives you info about your run, including graphic scales for speed/pace, heart rate and elevation change. It also displays a crude map that shows your route, although to me the graphs are far more useful. Among the items I don't use are cycling cadence, and a feature where you can race yourself from a prior run/bike. Nonetheless, the few features I use are fantastic.

On the face of the watch display (which, by the way, is huge on my wrist) I can see clockwise from top left: current heart rate, distance, total time, and current pace. You can manipulate the display to show whatever you want, but this is most useful for me. I especially like that I know my pace and heart rate. Wind conditions and how my body feels on any given day come into play, and I like to know when my speed is lower that my heart rate is still on target (or vice versa). Best of all, the Garmin allows me to aggregate all the stats over time and see how much work I've done for a given day, week, month, etc. I also love that I can challenge myself for a personal best. For example, on Tuesday I ran my standard 5.1 mile run from my office around the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol and back and averaged a 7:20 mile. Heart rate averaged 144 bpm. While it is heavily dependent on how many times I have to stop at a crosswalk, I felt great about this run.

Bottom line: if you are anal like me and like to see tangible results (other than those you see in the mirror) the 305 is a fun toy for a couple of C notes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

J. Press: Socioeconomic Profiling?

For my recent 32nd B-day Christina got me a gift certificate at J. Press. Christina explained to me that when she went to pick up the gift card at the DC store the staff was polite, attentive and her experience was positive. She came straight from work and was wearing a dress.

A little relevant perspective: I spend a lot of money at Brooks Brothers. I have a handful of Brooks suits, dozens of ties, and a few odd trousers, blazers, shirts, pocket squares, shoes, an umbrella, etc. Every time I walk into the store the customer service is garbage. Even when I express an interest in an item, the sales folks act like I am a burden. Bottom line is that for my price point, I love the product, but I hate the store.

Since J. Press offers a similar product at a similar price point, I was happy to try them out, especially since Christina's initial experience was good. We went back together this past Saturday after picking up a new BlackBerry at Verizon across the street. I was wearing a pair of cargo shorts, a polo and flip flops. We walked in, and . . . . crickets. Not so much as an hello. I actually had to approach a salesman and ask whether the trousers were sorted by size. He said that they were, but was generally not interested in helping me find anything. I moved to the sport coats and put on a nice grey piece with an orange windowpane. Tagged $650. I asked whether they were all sacks (the cut) and how much the waist could be suppressed. I figured a few industry terms would make him realize that I knew my stuff and may be interested in buying. Still, no enthusiasm. I ended up having a pair of trousers I liked that weren't available in my size ordered from the New Haven store. I had them hold a couple more pairs of twill trousers until the third pair came in and said I would come back and have all three fitted at the same time. We left and I bitched about the crappy customer service.

Fast forward to today -- J. Press called me and said they had the pair in from New Haven. When I called back, the manager (Brian) made a point of telling me that they would only hold them until Saturday. This is probably standard, but I heard "since you probably weren't serious about buying, we aren't going to hold these trousers past Saturday."

I came in after work wearing a Brooks suit, and some suede Allen Edmonds shoes. As soon as I walked in I was greeted and asked whether I needed help. The experience, like Christina's first, was quite positive. They didn't even question my instructions for a 2" cuff and no break on the trousers. We chatted with the salesman, who happens to live in our neighborhood, about local restaurants. It was quite enjoyable.

I suppose we all judge people by their outward appearance, but it really aggravates me when salespeople are snotty or inattentive because I don't look (dress) like I am going to buy. I mean, really, almost anyone can charge a $1000.00 suit (or dress, handbag, pair of shoes, etc.). Doesn't this make every person who walks into your store a potential sale? And a guy like me, who does spend a lot on clothes, could be a future customer for years, even decades.

If I had more pride, I would swear off these places that don't offer proper customer service. I am just afraid that if I did, I wouldn't have anywhere to buy clothes.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

They're Back!

Yes. I speak of the dog days of DC summer. We all thought we would get a pass this year. It's late July and up until now the weather hasn't been that bad. It's been humid at times, but then the humidity would vanish and we'd have a lovely sunny, breezy few days...

Well friends, those days are gone. DC summer as we all know it is back, and it looks like it's here to stay. Right now at 9:35am we are at 80 degrees and 82% humidity. It's not really the temperature that bothers me, it's feeling like I've walked into a sauna the minute I step outside that really pisses me off.

I walk to work everyday from 14th and P Street to 21st and L Street. It's about a 25 minute walk and by the time I arrive at the office, I am completely drenched. Oh well, I guess I chose to live in this swamp, so I have to deal.

At least I can do a little bargain hunting in this blistering heat this weekend at the 10th Annual Mid City Dog Days Sidewalk Sale! You should check it out!

Learn more here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Asian Invasion

It makes me happy to see more Asians on TV lately. We are smart, good looking, funny people. So why is it that until very recently there weren't that many famous Asians recognized in the United States?
Don't get me wrong, I love me some Margaret Cho, but for anyone who has seen her E! True Hollywood Story, you know that becoming a famous actor and comedian was not easy for her. She dealt with racial discrimination, weight discrimination, and a slew of other shitty barriers...
Anyway, I just started thinking about the many Asian actors, comedians, chefs, and TV show hosts I've been seeing recently and I think it's a great thing. Asians are not just good for getting into MIT, playing the violin, or frying rice...hell no! We're actually awesome.

But seriously, these are just a few of my favorite Asian peeps in Hollywood...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Go Shopping!

Ahh, shopping. One of my favorite activities. Here is a list of a few of my favorite stores in DC (or the DC area). Check-em out!

1831 14th Street, NW
Great place that always smells like cucumber melon when you walk in. Go there for great fashion from designers like 3.1 Philip Lim, Theory, Diane von Furstenberg, and Vivienne Westwood. Muleh also has amazing furniture for sale. The store is really inviting and the layout of modern furniture and clothes make for an enjoyable shopping trip.

1734 14th Street, NW
This small boutique has a cool hipster vibe going on. The owner is super friendly and she's a dachshund owner, so she loves when we bring Bella into the store. Go there for a great jean selection and funky designers like Gentle Fawn, and Religion.

1438 Park Road, NW
This boutique sells great shoes from designers like Bettye Muller, Missoni, Butter, and Tibi. Located across the street from the Target shopping center in Columbia Heights, this store is a can't miss! You can also sign up for their emails and get in on all the amazing sales.

103 South Saint Asaph Street
Old Town Alexandria
The idea of a sample sale boutique is brilliant! Treat offers amazing designer clothing at reduced prices. Check it out for high end fashion by Chaiken, Madison Marcus, Milly, Rachel Pally, Tracy Reese, and Vince, only to name a few. They also carry amazing bags by Kooba, Gustto, and Foley and Corinna. I'm obsessed!

M Street Georgetown
Love, love, love everything about this store. I know that there are Anthropologie's all over the U.S., but I couldn't not include it on this list. It's my fave.

1133 Connecticut Avenue NW
The store located on Connecticut Avenue is the best one around. If you go at the right times you can find killer deals on designer digs for both men and women.

Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Lady In Black

For those of you who live in DC around Dupont or Logan Circle, you may have noticed a woman dressed in all black that is ALWAYS on the steps of the Cathedral of St. Matthew. When I first saw her, I thought she was homeless because she sat on the steps all day long and had set up a tent for herself in front of the church entrance. However, throughout the many months that I've now lived here and seen her, I've changed my mind about her being homeless.

I have seen her on those steps in the Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall months. Through snow and blistering heat. Always in a black top and a long black skirt. She is actually quite lovely facially. She must be in her 60's and she has pretty long silver hair that she usually wears in a low bun.

I have seen her speak to priests and to parishioners, and even to tourists. She seems very friendly. I often wonder if she chooses to hang out on the steps of the church because it brings her some kind of solace, or if she is protesting the Catholic Church in her own way.

Who is this woman in black? I longed to know...

Then it happened. Mike was in Brooks Brothers having yet another blazer tailored, and I was sitting in the car on the side of the Cathedral waiting. I saw the woman in black approaching the car. I thought she was going to tell me to move, or just walk right past, but instead she looked in the window and smiled and motioned to me as if saying "nice ride lady." Awestruck, I smiled back and nodded in appreciation.

We had our moment, and if that's all I get I'm fine with that. I'm now also fine with not knowing who she is or why she sits on those steps everyday, because when I see her there it brings me comfort. Knowing someone will always be where you expect them to be is sometimes nice. She is obviously happy and that makes me happy, and I will say hello to her the next time I walk by.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Ever wonder why photos of residents of Washington D.C. are never featured on The Sartorialist? Well for one thing, there is definitely a lack of stylish people here, but I really think it's because too many people in DC dress exactly the same. They follow the trends - - all of them. Good, bad, and really bad. Don't get me wrong, there are people here that have great style, but there aren't enough people that have perspective when it comes to their personal style. So what happens? You get the trendy clone effect.

For example, take the Gladiator Sandal trend that's pretty hot right now. I see women wearing them all over the place. These fugly, overly strapped, sometimes spiked or studded, monstrosities that look like they should be sported by Kirk Douglas in Spartacus, are EVERYWHERE!

I saw a gaggle of college girls, who all attend Georgetown no doubt, wearing the g-sandals, and dressed exactly the same. All cookie cutter images of each other. Doesn't anyone here have a sense of style of their own? Must everyone look alike because the Olsen twins or Lauren Conrad endorsed something by wearing it?

Well, lemme tell ya that you won't see me rockin the g-sandals mostly because their ugly as sin, but also because they'll be "so last season" in the blink of an eye. Plus, I have perspective.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mike's Bar-B-Q Ribs

We picked up a rack of baby back ribs last week and fired up the Weber on the roof deck tonight. I confess that I am no pro at grilling and have never made great ribs . . . . until tonight.

Here is the magic recipe:

(1) Slice the rib rack into two-rib sections.

(2) Coat with extra virgin olive oil.

(3) Rub with store bought pork rub (I used McCormick's) and let sit for a couple of hours. If you are adventurous or a do-it-yourselfer, I think a mix of paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and brown sugar would work great.

(4) Mix together juice from one lemon, a cup or so of chicken stock, a cup or so of cider vinegar, a minced shallot (or red onion) and salt and pepper.

(5) Bake the ribs in an oven at 250 degrees and baste with the lemon/stock/vinegar solution every 20 minutes for 2 1/2 hours.

(6) Fire up a charcoal grill, throw in some hickory chips for smoke, and grill the ribs until they are nice and charred on the outside -- maybe another 30 minutes. Turn them a time or two so the grilling is even.

(7) Pour a glass of wine, spoon up some slaw and enjoy!

Our friends Matt, Josh and Joanna joined us and brought some summer salads, kebabs and sausage and yummy cupcakes. We're loving the summer grilling season.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rooting For The Underdog

Most of you know that I am an avid golf fan. When I was a DA in Queens I used to play a few times a week at Forest Park, but since the move to DC I have pretty much shelved golf as my work/life schedule does not allow me to get out and play more than a couple times a year. Nonetheless, I always watch major championships. This week is the Open Championship (aka the British Open) at Turnberry in Scotland.

After the first round Tom Watson is one shot off the lead at five strokes under par. Watson, holder of five claret jugs, is fifty nine years old. Watson is exactly twenty two days younger than my Dad. And while Watson will not win this week, I can't help but root for him to at least finish in the top page of the leaderboard come Sunday.

Anyone who knows golf history knows of Watson's second Open win in 1977. The "Dual in the Sun" as it is now known was played when I was only a few days old, also at Turnberry. Watson played the final 36 holes with Jack Nicklaus who was at that time the Tiger Woods of the golf world. Both competitors played exceptional golf for those two days, but as the final pair came to the 72nd green, the Scottish crowd roared for Watson who had a short putt for the win. Nicklaus rose his hands to hush the crowd for his younger foe. Watson sunk the three footer for the win and gave a modest double fist pump. The two men shook hands and as they walked together to the scorer's tent Nicklaus threw his arm around Watson's neck in a show of sportsmanship and pride that we just don't see in modern sports.

Reminds me of a poster my folks gave me when I was a kid that showed a losing football team walking off the field. The caption read:

How a man wins shows some of his character; how he loses, shows all of it.

Go Tom.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Silly Republicans

I think Forrest Gump said it best: "I am not a smart man."

I too must have a room temperature IQ, because I just don't understand the Republican way. For example, I don't get how there is something positive to say about Sarah Palin quitting her elected office and still maintaining that her future interest may be in shooting for the white house. Hello folks -- aren't we at all concerned that when the going get tough (or boring) the tough quit?

Next we have the objections to universal health care. Am I correctly understanding that the right's perspective is that basic health care should not be a right of all citizens of the wealthiest country in the world? Should Americans suffer or die from an easily treatable ailment simply because they are poor?

And what's the deal with Dick Cheney discouraging disclosure to Congress about the details of CIA counterterrorism activity. If I have learned anything in my job it is there is nothing that makes someone look more guilty than telling others, "Shhhhhh, don't tell anyone about this."

And worst of all, is there really any reason to rake Judge Sotomayor over the coals about a comment she made about a latina woman vs. a white man. Was it a dumb thing to say? Sure. Should it be the defining point of an otherwise stellar legal career? Of course not. And why am I (and fellow libs) the only one who sees a need to diversify the Supreme Court? Shouldn't the Court look to mimic the greater US population? And for pete's sake can I get a real African American instead of Clarence Thomas?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Take Action!

I just finished reading an article about dogfighting rings and how horrifically cruel the people running the rings are to these innocent animals. As you all know, Mike and I are animal lovers. We treat our little Bella as if she were our daughter, and we don't know what we would do without her in our lives.

The 450 dogs that were rescued from these terrible dogfighting rings need a place to call home. We need to encourage the governors of the seven states that were raided to keep cracking down on these criminals who are murdering animals, and we need to encourage them to continue to try to rescue these dogs and place them in safe, loving homes.

You can take action here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

We're Going Home!

Tomorrow Mike and I are heading home to NYC to see my parents and some friends. My parents have just returned from a two week trip to South Africa and Botswana where they saw every animal imaginable and then some. Needless to say, we are very jealous that we weren't there with them, but can't wait to hear all of their stories.

I am super excited to see them, of course, and just to be home. Mike and I are most looking forward to the food. We eat a lot when we're in NYC. You just can't get some of the foods here in DC that we used to take for granted when we lived in NYC. Specifically, bagels, pizza, good Italian food, good affordable sushi, and amazing Chinese food.

Many people living here in DC may argue with me and say that there are good pizza places here. I beg to differ. Actually, I downright disagree. Manny and Olga's? Not good. Alberto's? I think not. Jumbo Slice? Not even close.

Anyway, my point is that DC is great for many things, just not all foods. And that's okay. At least I can go back to NYC and enjoy those delicious goodies there.

Stay tuned for reviews of some of our favorite restuarants in Queens, NYC!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Gripe of the Day: If Your Gym Clothes Smell Like Cheese Wash Them!

If you are a gym member, at any gym you have experienced the random cheese's that whif of stanky cheese coming from another person working out nearby. Now I can understand if someone has been working out hard on the treadmill, or elliptical and is sweaty and a bit stinky, but the stench I'm talking about here is another story all together.

This is the stench that comes from someone who hasn't washed their gym clothes after wearing them several times. I have to be honest and say that normally this cheese-y smell emanates from a man. Usually one that is a bit overweight and that looks like he would smell if exerting a little bit of energy.

Well my friends, today was a different story. I was enjoying my workout on the elliptical at my local gym of choice, Vida Fitness, which hosts a majority of members who are good looking, buff gay males, when a nice looking gay male, who was very fit mounts the elliptical next to mine. It took only seconds for me to catch the whif...that nasty whif of cheese. The smell that could only come from stanky, moldy, gym shorts that had been festering in a hot locker for one too many days.

So there it was. The smell. And I had to get off my elliptical because I couldn't take it. And that's not fair. Why should I have to move off of my elliptical because you smell and don't wash your gym clothes regularly? You, King of Cheese, should have to leave the gym, and sign an agreement to wash your shorts!

Yuck. A bit of advice for those of you who think you can go between visits to the gym without washing your clothes: Don't Do It! Or the next stinky post could be about you...

Video of the Week: Benny Lava, An Oldie but Goodie

When I first saw Benny Lava I was at work in my office that I share with my friend Rana. Another office mate told us to watch this video and little did we know that we would soon be laughing out loud so hard that people walking by were staring at us like we had gone mad.

I was crying tears of joy at the end of this video and that's why I hold it near and dear to my heart. Anything that can make me laugh that hard, is something that I want to share with everyone. My apologies to those who have already seen it, but let's be real, you can never watch this too many times!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sunday Brunch

Today Mike and I met my cousin Camille at Bistrot du Coin, one of our favorite French bistros in DC. Located on Connecticut Avenue in DC's famous Dupont Circle neighborhood, Bistrot du Coin is a great place to dine with family and friends.

It is loud and boisterous inside, which I think adds to the allure, but I wouldn't recommend it for a first date unless you don't care about hearing what your date is saying (sometimes the case).

The menu is vast with everything from white bean cassoulet, to monkfish medallions, to the ever popular steak maison served with bearnaise sauce and french fries. There is definitely something on Bistrot du Coin's menu guaranteed to please even the pickiest person's palette.

When you visit, expect crowds, and sometimes rushed servers, but overall delicious french bistro fare, great people watching and affordable prices.

My favorite is
La Traditionelle Mouclade des Charentes, or steamed mussels in a light cream sauce with light curry. Order your mussels with some frites and you're good to go!

Bon Appetit!

For more information or to make a reservation visit their website.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Art-O-Mania at Artomatic

Every year an event called artomatic to town where artists can dipsplay their work for all of DC to see. This year I visited artomatic with my good friend Rana. We had a great time, saw some really awesome installations, and had a lot belly laughs at what some people call art...but to each his own.

Here are some of my favorites.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I Endorse: Leather Soul

Since I fancy myself knowledgeable in all things style related, I want to share with you the first of my sartorial endorsements.

Christina will learn via this post that, not surprisingly, I found an outlet for my excessive per diem here in the Aloha state. Located on the uber retail strip Kalakaua Avenue here in Honolulu is Leather Soul, a high end mens shoe shop. Upstairs from the likes of Hermes, Fendi and Cartier, Leather Soul is on the third floor of an open air mall. I had sent owner Tom an email letting him know I would stop by, and Tom and the manager Matthew were friendly and knowledgeable and chatted at length about this, that and the other, despite the fact that I immediately mentioned that I had no intentions to buy. And looking around for a few I can state with certainty that Tom's selection of shoes is truly magnificent. John Lobb, Edward Green, Gaziano & Girling, Alden -- quite an impressive lot to look at.

Then the sale rack beckoned me.

I ended up picking the black shell cordovan Alden boots pictured above. Matthew threw in a tin of Alden paste wax (gratis) and told me to call him in 4-5 years when they would be ready for a recraft. I picked up a couple of recommendations for dinner and left a few quid lighter than I walked in. But very satisfied with the experience.

Thanks to Tom and Matthew at Leather Soul. Check them out online for some splendid kicks.