COLLEGE ADVICE FROM A REFORMED SLACKER

IMG_3648The summer is winding down and many young adults will be going away to college very, very soon. I don’t think there are too many college grads who don’t wish, somewhere along the line, they had made more of the certain aspects of their time in college. Although I wish I had written this earlier so there’d be more time to digest it, there is no time like the present.
So, in light of that, I give you:

COLLEGE ADVICE FROM A REFORMED SLACKER:

A: LEARN YOUR LEARNING STYLE
The most important thing to learn in college is not the content of your classes. That sounds counterintuitive because it seems that is the reason you are going to college.

The most important thing to learn, the most valuable thing to know is how YOU learn: what is your unique learning style? How do YOU process information? How is YOUR mind wired?

It’s hard to be objective when evaluating aspects of ourselves, but you know this better than anyone. Your parents might view you as one style because they like the idea of it, your teachers may have viewed you as another style because they based their observations on what they knew and experienced. Your friends may have another metric. But the only way you will learn your unique learning style is to pay attention to what you do when presented with different mental challenges. Pay attention to the world around you and how you relate and react. At the end of the day, nobody will know this better than you because you are at the center of your nervous system.

If you go to class without some idea about how your mind processes information and retains it, you will be at a disadvantage, and will not get the most of what a class has to offer.

B: BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF ABOUT YOUR SLEEP CYCLE AND HOW YOU PROCESS TIME
You might like the IDEA of being a morning person. You might like the IDEA of having your classes done early so you can study or practice later. But if you have tendency to go to bed late, oversleep, or if you wake up slow and groggy in the morning, do not sign up for 8 AM classes.

It is also likely you will be late to your first class. It goes without saying that is incredibly disrespectful to the professor, the other students in the class, those who are funding your education (be it your parents, or the scholarship or anything else) but also disrespectful to you. You have missed salient information depending on how late you were, you didn’t give yourself time to to mentally prepare for the class, and now you will be starting in the middle: going from zero to sixty. That is not conducive to success. IF you do that, you are screwing yourself over.

Conversely, if you are a morning person, and nod off at a certain time of day, don’t schedule your classes during that time. A nap may be more productive and worth your time. Sleeping through a class is also disrespectful to both your professor and you: It conveys the message you don’t give a damn about the content of the class, and you are missing out on valuable information. Again, you are screwing yourself over.

This is not high school, you have some control over the time of your classes, and as an adult, paying attention to your body will pay off handsomely throughout your life.

C: DO NOT HOLD YOUR TIME HOSTAGE TO THE FROG:
There is a saying in the business world, and that is “Eat the frog first”. That translates out into “get the most onerous, unpleasant task out of the way first”
This holds merit if you don’t put off unpleasant tasks, or let the unpleasant task sap your energy that you could use for simpler tasks. If you love literature, but find physics grueling, it is not a good idea to hold your literature assignment hostage to your physics assignment.

To wit: the “Eating the frog” technique only works if you do it early. If you inflexibly cling to that technique, procrastinate on it, by the time you get to your simpler tasks, you will be discouraged, lacking in energy and more likely to half ass a project you could have done a stellar job on.

This is another aspect of your own style you are going to have to pay close attention to.

D: WHILE WE ARE ON THE “ANIMALS ANALOGIES” DO NOT BE AN OSTRICH.
My dad was a professor at a community college. He noticed a unique phenomenon. When there was an exam, or an assignment was due, he noticed the ratio of empty seats. These were of students who, feeling unprepared for the test/failed to complete the assignment, decided to not show up for class.

My dad called it “the ostrich syndrome”: akin to sticking your head in the sand when there was danger as though the danger would disappear if you did not perceive it.

It doesn’t work that way and you know it. Many an ostrich has been eaten by a tiger with that technique. Many a defendant is a civil court case has found themselves owing a lot of money because they didn’t show up to court when they were being sued, thinking it would go away and instead losing by default. And many a university student has blown off class on an exam day/assignment day and has failed that class/assignment by default.

Grow up, man up (or woman up), go to class. If you do not have the assignment or are unprepared for the test, apologize to the professor for investing their valuable time on you, but most of all apologize to yourself for screwing yourself over.
Learn from it, do better next time, manage your time better, be more organized.

But don’t be an ostrich. Hiding from your classes or profs is unproductive and cowardly.

D: YOUR MOTHER DOES NOT MAKE YOUR LUNCH ANYMORE.
There is a tremendous amount of truth to the “Freshman 15”. That is the fifteen pounds a lot of students gain within their first semester of college. It has less to do with deliberate gluttony or reckless beer swilling as it does with lack of understanding how your body processes nutrition.

Your mother or father had a vested interest in your diet. They wanted their little boy or girl to be healthy and strong. Now you’re on your own, bud.
You will have access to lots of bad quality and overly caloric foods. You will be controlling the portions. And unless you pay close attention to the nutritional value of the food you put in your body, you run the risk of getting fat and unhealthy.

This is not how you want to be in college. You need to be on your game, in good health so you can be in good mind. There is no getting around this.
Read nutrition labels. Eat your vegetables. Be honest about about your portion size. Take the time to research the food you eat and how it benefits or adversely affects your body. The more you learn about it and adhere to as healthy a diet as you can, the better you will feel and the better you will do.
The longer you wait to do this, the harder it will be. You owe yourself this much.

Mommy and daddy don’t control your diet, so it is on you, now.
PS: This is from someone who entered college at 165 pounds and graduated at 240. It wasn’t easy to lose 75 pounds as a 26 year old adult with adult responsibilities.

E: EVEN IF YOU HAVE NEVER EXERCISED BEFORE, START NOW:
Even if you feel you are in a time crunch, stick to the exercise regimen you have established. Some cardio of your choice, some strength a few times a week, monitor it and find time to do it.
It will pay off in focus for your classes, better overall feeling, and early establishment of healthy habits.

Many colleges have great fitness and athletic facilities, and as a student you should take full advantage (a gym membership in the outside world can cost $150 a month). Even if you don’t have access to those facilities, you can still run, jump rope, ride your bike or anything like that. While it is nice to have a workout facility, a friend once said, “In a pinch, the only exercise equipment you need is the ground and your feet.”

F: PAY ATTENTION TO HOW YOU PRESENT YOURSELF.
That’s a hard sell in the days of “I will express myself how I damn well please”, self centered memes and social media posts, Tshirts with obnoxious, antisocial an inappropriate slogans, and a president who tweets everything that pops into his mind.

But how you present not only establishes someone’s impression of you, it also contributes to the tone of an environment. This is why corporate places have dress codes.
This runs the gamut to walking around in a confederate flag TShirt to showing up to class looking like you rolled out of bed.

I’m not saying you have to wear a shirt and tie to class, but perhaps you should avoid graphic Tshirts or looking poorly groomed. Wear clean clothes, show up to class bathed, shaved or your beard/moustache neatly trimmed. Wear clothes that respect the decorum of academia.

Stand up straight. Don’t slouch. Don’t mumble. Avoid regional slang. Shake hands properly, avoiding fist bumps and high fives except in the most casual of settings. Don’t scowl, don’t sneer. Walk in straight lines and answer questions in complete sentences. Say please and thank you. Hold doors, regardless of gender. Offer assistance if you can.

This not only shows respect for yourself, but also your classmates, your professors, your education and what hopefully will be your alma mater, which is a tremendous part of your legacy.

In the days of practically indelible records, thanks to social media, this is especially important.

G: IN LINE WITH F, RESPECT YOUR PROFESSORS and TAs.
Unless requested otherwise, “Dr. {name}, or “Professor {name}” is the only appropriate form of address towards a professor.
Nicknames, “Doc”, other monikers are inappropriate unless specifically requested or preferred by that professor.

In a culture of almost contrived casualness it may feel odd. You may feel a little awkward. You may worry you may be perceived as brown nosing. It isn’t.
Brown nosing is insincere flattery to get an undeserved result or favor.
A respectful form of address is to show you respect your professors commitment to academia and their educational credentials. It also shows that you take your education seriously and are committed to it.

To that end, you should also avoid overly casual greeting “Hey!”, “YO”, “What’s up.”
Your TAs often work harder than anyone at the university. Not only do they have a graduate courseload, they are also tasked with teaching aspects of certain classes. Be respectful of their time and show them the respect you would show a professor.

H: IT IS EXTREMELY BAD FORM TO ATTEMPT TO NEGOTIATE A GRADE AFTER IT HAS BEEN EARNED.
Don’t do it. If you haven’t presented your best work, and your grade will reflect that, do not try to bargain to improve your grade.
You are not buying a used car and it is hugely disrespectful to attempt to reduce a professor to haggling over a grade.

You read the course syllabus, you knew what the expectations were. You, as an adult, are responsible for your education, and the outcome of what you put into it. By the time you are in phase where that is being graded, the die has been cast.

Additionally, while an empathetic professor is a good professor, s/he is not your therapist. S/he has many students to teach, and lessons to plan and research to do. Do not unload your personal problems on him/her. Worse, do not use your personal problems as an excuse for poor performance in a class or as a bargaining chip to negotiate a grade improvement. That is incredibly manipulative, and it makes you look pathetic.

It should also go without saying, but under no circumstances should your parents try to do this on your behalf. You are an adult. Act like it.

I: DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP:
An easy trap to fall into is feeling that if you ask for help, especially in a competitive and demanding program, you will give the impression you are not up to the game or that you “don’t belong in the program”.  Do not be afraid to ask questions.  Those in class who huff, puff, sigh and roll their eyes if you ask a question they view as “stupid” are immature assholes.  Don’t let the actions of an immature asshole dictate your perception of your potential or fitness to be there.

If you find you are having difficulty in a course, do not be in denial about it. Denial is a huge voice in the human psyche, and don’t succumb to it.
Recognize the difficulty and need for help early on. If you feel uncomfortable asking your professor, check the tutoring services. Get a tutor. It’s usually a free service. Ask a more experienced classmate, if they can or wish to hep you.

If the tutor’s style is out of whack with how you process information, then get a new tutor. You need to grow a set.
Don’t be passive and let the difficulties of the class throw you into the weeds. The further into the class you get, the harder it will be to catch up. The learning by osmosis ship has sailed.

And if, at the end of the course, despite all your efforts, you didn’t do as well as you had hoped, you will look a hell of a lot better than someone who hid from class and ended up writing it off as a lost cause.
Sloth and arrogance (you didn’t study/you didn’t listen) are very easy things to blame a lack of success on, but if you gave no other impression, what choice does anyone have?

J: KNOW WHEN TO HOLD THEM AND WHEN TO FOLD THEM:
Story TIme: One of the few classes outside the music school I had to take was a history class. I chose Modern American History because it was something I was interested in. The class was taught by a professor with a thick Chinese accent.

During the lectures I found that by the time I had deciphered what he had said, I had forgotten it. Therefore, there were huge holes in my notes.
The deadline came to drop the class. I thought it would get better, so I missed the deadline.

Then the deadline came to withdraw from the class. I thought I could salvage my grade. I was dead wrong. (perhaps denial being the loud voice it is)
I ultimately failed the class. Spectacularly.

Had I “folded them” at the right time, I could have saved my transcript from a failing grade, and I would have had the time I spent sitting in class and failing it to focus on the other classes I had.
So let me be the cautionary tale in this item.

K: RESPECT WHO IS FUNDING YOUR EDUCATION:
If your parents are funding your education, you are very lucky. If you go to a state university, the taxpayers of that state are, at least in part, funding your education. If you have a scholarship, whether it is based on need or merit: whoever funded that scholarship is funding your education. If your university waived tuition for you, they made an investment in you, and they funded your education. If you, yourself paid for your your own education, you know what it is worth and you owe it to yourself to respect that.

There is no such thing as a free education. Somebody paid for it, be it your parents, the taxpayers, the benefactors of the scholarship, your university or you.

Every time you blow off class, fail to study or practice, fail to pay attention or fail to take opportunities to improve onesself while at college, it is the ultimate disrespect to whatever entity funded it. It is a slap in the face. It is akin to taking money out of their pocket and pissing it away.

People all over the world would kill and die for the educational opportunity you have, and you owe it to yourself and them to make it a good investment.

L: DON’T DRINK ON DAYS PRECEDING CLASS OR IMPORTANT OBLIGATIONS.
If you are going into univerity as a traditional student, the law on the books says you shouldn’t be drinking at all. However I am realistic and I know there will be a lot of opportunities to drink alcohol. Back when I went to college, you could get drunk on $5 and still can get drunk on $5. I also know that if you are a traditional student (18-20), this will likely be the first time you have had this much access to alcohol.

You’ll come across pressure to drink among your peers, and it is likely you will. That being said, restrict it to Friday or Saturday nights, and only when there is not an obligation the next day.

You cannot be at your peak when you are hung over. That is a fact. You want to spend your Saturday or Sunday morning hung over, that’s on you. If you have classes on a Wednesday, and get soused on Tuesday night, you are letting alcohol mess up your “not free” education and that’s not cool.

And while we’re on the subject, you might find yourself encouraged to drink recklessly or dangerously, or do reckless or dangerous things if you have been drinking. Do not ever feel obligated to do that, no good friendship should hinge on that.

You are doing nobody any good at the morgue from alcohol poisoning.

You are responsible for your actions and you do no one any favors, least of all yourself from sitting in jail because you did something illegal while under the influence.

An important thing you will likely learn while in college is how your body processes alcohol. However, if you choose not to drink, that choice is commendable and yours alone to make, and nobody has the right to challenge it.

M: DON’T HAVE SEX IF YOU HAVE BEEN DRINKING. DON’T HAVE SEX WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN DRINKING.
I cannot stress how important this is, especially if you are male.

If you have sex with a woman who is drunk, EVEN IF YOU ARE DRUNK YOURSELF, you are guilty of a felony, one that merits seriously hard prison time.
You will have messed up your education and your future. You will disgrace your family. You will disgrace your alma mater. You will go to prison. For a very long time.

But most importantly:

You will have messed up somebody elses life. You will have caused a woman irreparable harm. You will have destroyed someone else’s college education. That’s unforgivable.

You will have gone from a university student worthy of respect and admiration to a sexual predator worthy of society’s contempt and scorn.

You are well aware of the need for consent before you enter into a sexual relationship. Alcohol invalidates that consent.

If YOU have been drinking, you may find it hard to gauge another person’s sobriety. That is not an excuse. So it is better to avoid that problem entirely and only do it when you are sober. Good rule of thumb: If would not be comfortable with her driving you home, then you shouldn’t have sex. It’s that simple.

As you learn how your body processes alcohol, you will learn your limits and your perceptions. You must understand you are responsible for your actions, always, even if you have been drinking.

And again, if you choose not to drink at all, that is a good and healthy decision.

N: GET A JOB
Even if you are the rare breed of college student who is not financially strapped, a job will be good for you. Generating a few bucks yourself will keep you in touch with the fact there is a world outside of academia.

Even if it is just a few hours a week shelving books in the library or working in the dining hall, it is still going to be good for you. You will learn your work style, you will learn to be proud of your work ethic. You will be able to demonstrate your work ethic.

It will keep you humble and down to earth. It will allow you to work with people who are not necessarily in academia. Even if it is just a small amount of work you do and a small amount of pay, it will give you satisfaction every time you get paid.

If you do well, you will almost certainly earn a character reference, and may even earn a work reference, and in this day and age, that is a valuable commodity.

O: LEARN HOW TO DEBATE AND LEARN HOW TO DISAGREE GRACEFULLY.
Going to university, you will find many ideas different than the ideas around your dinner table at home, or in your hometown. They may challenge your comfort level, even rattle your identity.

You have two choices: You can remove yourself from any chance of hearing any idea you don’t agree wholeheartedly with, view a disagreement as a personal attack, lock yourself in your room, cover your ears and chant “La la la, I can’t hear you!”.

Or you can listen and present your case as well. I understand certain issues are emotionally charged, especially if they are held dear or close to home.

Learn how to step up your game in debate. The minute it devolves into a screaming match it stops being a debate and becomes an argument. Stop engaging at that point

Pay attention to your logic, your philosophy and be kind and empathetic. Put a human face on it. The ad-hominem attack is one of the cheapest techniques you can use in debate, so avoid it.

All that being said, there are those whose case is not a case, rather an excuse for unkindness and hateful behavior. For instance, were the KKK to show up in white sheets on the campus of Howard University, this is not a debate that needs to happen; they need to be shown the door without the benefit of their soapbox because they had no interest in debate, only intimidation.

Anyone who doing unkind and hateful behavior, encouraging it, enabling it, condoning it, or failing to stop it is not worthy of debate, and you should feel under no obligation to hash through it with them, because they are not in the true spirit of understanding and resolution.

P: INSIST THAT OTHERS RESPECT YOUR BOUNDARIES, AND RESPECT THOSE OF OTHERS.
In a college situation, you might find yourself with a roommate, living a building with people who you just met. When you lived at home, your parents owned that house, and you, as an occupant of that house had certain privileges associated with it.

In college, the space you share belongs to the person you are sharing it with as much as it belongs to you.
You might find that in that situation, you might have to be less high maintenance. But you might also find you have to be more assertive to ensure you are not taken advantage of.

You have to feel around what is reasonable and what is not. It is reasonable to expect your roommate not make a racket at 1 AM on a Tuesday. It is not reasonable to expect reverential silence every day after 3PM.

If you let your roommate use your hair dryer, you have a legitimate gripe if you find her using your toothbrush.

If your roommate gives you a ride, you shouldn’t ask to drive their car around.

Jokes you may find funny, and given in the spirit of friendly amusement may come across as hurtful to others.

You may find an off-the cuff remark made by someone very hurtful.

IT’s a new and delicate social landscape to navigate and you should approach it thoughtfully. Be considerate, but that does not mean you should tolerate the inconsideration of others.

Don’t be a high maintenance brat, but don’t be a doormat either.

And you’ll learn all that with practice.

Q: MISTAKES AND SETBACKS ARE NOT THE END OF THE WORLD:
Everybody fucks up sometimes, and in all likelihood, you will fuck up in college at some point.

You’ll blow a relationship, you’ll alienate your roommate, you’ll not do well in a class, you’ll piss off a professor. You’ll do something stupid when you’re drunk. You might lose somebody you love. You might get sick. You might need to take a semester off. You might find yourself short on money. You might get fired from your job. You might even get kicked out of your program or school.

All is not lost, unless you are willing to write it off as a lost cause.

You reflect on it. If it is your fault, you make amends and reparations. Then you build a strategy to move forward based on what you have learned. You resolve to do better, you resolve to give yourself the tools to make that happen.

If it is not your fault, e.g. illness, death in the family, you take care of yourself, and the best way to do that is to preserve your ability to excel.

It’s difficult, it can be overwhelming, but you’ll be able to do it because you are smart. You wouldn’t be going to college if you weren’t smart.

The trajectory of the future is, in part, dependent on the trajectory of you.
You owe this much to the future and yourself.

Thats all I have, for now.

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How to Wear a Tuxedo (or How not to Look Goofy in your Prom Photo)

Because prom season is right around the corner, I am going to give a little primer on how to wear a tuxedo

Unfortunately, many of us when we look at our prom photos, we look somewhat dated and goofy because, tuxedo rental places will often go with current trends, rather than the traditional look that is the tuxedo. The style of the traditional tuxedo has not changed in over one hundred twenty years, and there is a reason for that.

To put it simply: A tuxedo was for all the men to have a uniform look so as not detract from the attire our dates and other women wore. It is a simple elegant look, with little room for interpretation. Flamboyancy in men’s formal wear equates to upstaging the woman you are with: an almost unforgivably gauche, base faux pas. In essence: A tuxedo is a uniform, not a costume.

If you are of prom age, there is no reason you cannot look sharp in a tuxedo. There is also no reason that twenty or thirty years down the line for your prom photo to make you cringe.

So here goes:

A: Try to buy, if you can, rather than rent. Rental grade tuxedos are not as good quality as “owner grade”. Rental grade are designed to be repeatedly altered to fit different body types. Moreover, they often follow current trends which will result in a dated look years down the line.
At the end of the day, it is not that much more expensive to buy, and could even be less. Make sure you know your measurements and you can even get one on eBay, that was perhaps worn once. When you get it, take it to a reputable place that does alterations and adjustments so it fits your body like a glove. Do some research for a good quality tux. If you go on eBay, you’ll find a ton of high quality tuxes made by companies such as Armani, Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren, for a very good price. Most of them have only been worn once or a few times. Some might even be new without tags. You’ll get a deal comparable to renting.
You may not be done growing after your prom, and if you are absolutely positive you will never wear that tux again, you can put it back on eBay (but don’t expect too much for it: remember tuxes are cheap on eBay, even good ones). You can hand it down to your younger brother for HIS prom. You can give it to a younger friend with similar measurements. Since a traditional tux is so timeless, theoretically you could give it to your son for HIS prom!

B: Your tux should be 100% wool. This sounds counterintuitive, especialy during the warmer months that proms are often held. However, tropical weight wool breathes.
Synthetic fabrics do not. A tux that is 100% tropical weight wool will always be cooler than one that is polyester.

C: Almost without exception, your tuxedo should be black. Sometimes a trend will come in where people will wear novelty colors, fruity colored lapels, or variations on the tuxedo colors. Not appropriate.
Remember: A tux is not a costume. Solid black is the only appropriate color for a tuxedo with one notable exception:
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day it is permissible to wear a white or cream tuxedo jacket if the event is outside.
A prom is close enough to Memorial Day that a white or cream jacket could slide by, if the prom is outside. However, you always run the risk of looking goofy. Your prom might be the first time you have ever worn a tux, and this is not a look you want to do without practice. In addition, a white or cream jacket is extremely limited for its future use. Do so at your peril.
I recommend sticking to solid black.

D: There are only four appropriate styles for a tuxedo jacket:
1: Single breasted notch lapel jacket
2: Single breasted peak lapel jacket
3: Single breasted shawl lapel jacket
4: Double breasted peak lapel jacket.

A tailcoat is not a tuxedo and is not proper attire for a prom.

Your safest and most versatile option of the four is a single breasted notch lapel tuxedo.

Ideally, your tux jacket should be unvented. However, the double vent is reluctantly acceptable. The single vent jacket is more akin to a blazer or sport jacket, and is inappropriately informal for a tuxedo.

Rental places might try to sell you weird cuts of tuxedo jackets, capes, crazy coats etc. You might see a celebrity stretching the limit of the tuxedo. Avoid the influence. Stick to the four types of tux jacket.

Remember: A tux is not a costume.

E: Your tuxedo pants should match the jacket perfectly (100% wool, black). Rental places might try to do mix & match with the pants. A tux is a matching set.

The tux pants can be pleated or flat front (flat front provides a cleaner line). They should have a 1 inch black satin stripe down the side of each leg. They should not be cuffed, but be tailored with a 3/4 break.

You never, ever wear a belt with tuxedo pants. Indeed, tuxedo pants should not even have belt loops. Suspenders are an option if they are attached with buttons, not clips. Suspenders should only be black or white.

F: The tuxedo shirt is always white. It will have a bib front (an inverted horseshoe shaped panel) with pleats or piques ( a little uniform texture). It is always 100% cotton, so make sure you get it ironed well, perhaps even starched. The collar is either a traditional lay down collar or a “wing tip” collar.
Instead of buttons, the front is closed with studs and the cuff are closed with cufflinks. This is called a French Cuff.

You can even get away with wearing a traditional white shirt as long as it has French cuffs, as long as it is white and 100% cotton.

G: You have a choice of either a waistcoat (vest) or a cummerbund. Both should be black and 100% silk. The vest can be white, however it is more traditionally black. I prefer the vest in that it gives more freedom of movement, and looks better should you chose to remove your jacket at some point. Make sure your vest is a formal vest. It can either be an open back or a closed back. I prefer the closed back, in that it is an actual vest and looks better if you decide to remove your jacket.
Rental places might try to sell you a vest/cummerbund that matches your tie. This is tacky, unless the entire ensemble is black.

H: While the “pre-tied” bow tie seems to be prevalent these days, you should go for a self-tie bowtie: that is one you tie yourself. It’s the one thing that is going to make you look really sharp, as opposed to a kid at a prom. It takes a little practice; there a number of youtube videos of how to do it online, as well as other online resources. But the result will look great.

While a black bowtie always looks great, there is a tradition to choose a tie that either matches or compliments your date’s attire. Both are acceptable as long as you avoid loud colors or novelty patterns.

While the only correct tie to be worn with a tuxedo is the bow tie, there is a very prevalent trend of wearing a standard straight tie with a tuxedo, even among more traditional sets. It is reluctantly acceptable, as long as the knot is a well executed full Windsor.

I: Your shoes should be plain black lace up dress shoes with very understated soles. 100% leather. Either cap-toe balmorals or plain toe balmorals. Top siders are out of the question, as are loafers. They should be well polished. You can also choose patent leather shoes (aka skirt-lookers), but they have no use outside formal wear, and run dangerously close to looking like a costume.

J: Minimal Jewelry. If you must wear a watch, it should be plain and understated. The reasoning is that for such an event you should not be worrying about the time. To wit: leave your Apple Watch home. You might think a big, heavy Rolex will look cool, but not with a tux!

K: Don’t wear white socks.

L: Avoid novelty items such as top hats, canes, monocles or anything else that turns your tux into a costume. Click this link to see some cringeworthy things to be avoided .

M: Don’t be cute and wear jeans, Chuck Taylors, Timberlands, or any other off the wall fashion statement. I mean you can, if you want; it’s your prom, but you’ll probably look at your prom photo ten years later and think,”What was I thinking?”

Just remember what the purpose of a tux is: to make your date look good. Remember it is a uniform, not a costume. If you wear a tux correctly, you can’t go wrong. You’ll see guys at the prom inappropriately dressed, or wearing a tux incorrectly. That’s their problem. Twenty years up the road, you won’t cringe at your prom photo, but they might at theirs!

Here is another link that backs up what I just said. There are a couple of minor variances, but the gist is the same, just in case you don’t take my word for it!

HOW TO DRINK ABSINTHE

Pour a teeny teeny amount in a glass or snifter.

Drip very cold water over a spoon. Let it louche (cloud). If it doesn’t louche, you haven’t added enough water.

Sip slowly.

DO NOT HAVE SECONDS FOR AT LEAST TWENTY MINUTES.

Seriously. Absinthe has enough of an ABV it can fuck you up very fast with very little.

After twenty minutes, you may have very cautious seconds. And lasts.

How Not to Be an Asshole in the Gym

FROM THE ANNALS OF GYM ETIQUETTE 101:

A: Have your card ready to scan before you approach the desk. Don’t hold everybody behind you up by fumbling for it at the desk. Do your fumbling before you get there and have your card out and ready.

B: Don’t spit on the floor. This should be obvious to anyone whose mother raised them right, but empirical evidence suggests otherwise.

C: Don’t yell across the room. if you want to hold a conversation with your friend, work out next to them.

D: Wipe the machine after you are done with it. This is what a towel is for.

E: Do not leave your nasty, sweaty towel in the water bottle holder of the cardio machine for the next person to find.

Please feel free to add to…..

Bad Moon Rising

If you are in a bar, and “Bad Moon Rising” by CCR comes on the jukebox, you need to stand to the left of the restroom door.

Because when they get the chorus:

🎶Don’t go round tonight.
It’s bound to take your life……….🎶

you gesture in the direction of the restroom and sing,

🎶There the bathroom on the right!🎶

How To Vaguebook and Do It Right

There is a thing people do on Facebook, and have been doing since it’s inception called “vaguebooking”. If you don’t know what it is, it is the self-centered technique of posting something that draws attention to you, without giving any details, to evoke other people’s sympathy or concern. it is usually of a melodramatic nature. It is always manipulative. Some good examples might be:

“my heart is broken”

“well, that’s the last time I trust anybody”

“after all I’ve done, this is how I get repaid”

“oh, woe is me!”

Now, vaguebooking does have some potential. If I ever decide to vaguebook (I wont, but hypothetically) my vaguebook posts might look like this:

“Be afraid. Be very afraid”

“Chop chop chop. Problem gone”

“Revenge is being served cold today. Ice cold!”

“concrete can hide a multitude of sins. Like your former enemy”

“Rat poison + cake mix = Happy birthday, asshole!”

“A few cinderblocks and a sack. Living by the river does have its advantages!”

I get the feeling that might evoke a reaction, too. Which is why I would never do it!

But if you are going to vaguebook, at least make it interesting!

You Have Not Really Lived In New York Until…

It occurred to me that I have been living here in Manhattan since 2003. I’ve seen friends come and go, and then come back. Made me start thinking what you need to complete your residency in New York City. In other words, you haven’t really lived here until you have to your credit:

1: A Shitty Apartment Story:
Preferably a place you, personally, lived, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be a friend’s apartment, too, as long as you spent a significant amount of time there.
It has to be perfectly wretched, considered a barely habitable slum anywhere else in the US.
Some good elements might include:
A: A rodent problem. Even better they are large and you can hear them in the walls. Better yet if they are smart and aggressive.
B: An insect problem. Bonus points if extermination is a Sisyphean task.
C: Plumbing problems, especially ones that require you to be creative in your day to day ablutions.
E: Electrical Problems, even better if it results in a shock or electric fire.
F: Illegal activity in the common areas or neighboring apartment.
G: Roommates from hell.
H: Your creative solution to a physical problem. Stories of MacGyvery.
I: A psychotic landlord/manager
J: A shifty or useless super
K: A colorful description of how utterly filthy, gritty, grimy, dark, grim, redolent and horrid it was.
L: Nostalgia about how much you loved the place.

2: A Gross Grocery Store Story:
This story CANNOT include a national chain, not that NYC has many of those. To wit: No Shop Rite, No Stop & Shop, No Food Emporium, No Trader Joes (how could you find fault with TJs anyway?), and absolutely, positively NO WHOLE FOODS!
The one exception to this rule is C-Town, because they’re they’re inherently crappy in or out of NYC.
Associated, Dagostino, or Gristedes reluctantly tolerated.
Of course you can use the bodega on the corner!
Some good elements might include:
A: Grossly marked up prices on substandard products.
B: Grimy, grubby, pestillential and filthy conditions.
C: Long expired food. Bonus points if it is meat or dairy.
D: Rusty, rickety, poorly aligned, mismatched shopping carts “borrowed” from other grocery stores. Bonus points if it has a big, orange Home Depot Cart (especially if the nearest Home Depot is seven miles away and across a bridge)
E: A paranoid owner/manager.
F: A mangy mascot (dog, cat, or goat) wandering around the store.
G: An intoxicated bum who wanders around the store and constantly shakes customers down for handouts.
H: A robbery.
I: How you complained bitterly about the store, yet continued to shop there.

3: A Bum/Pervert Story:
This story cannot be about someone who is simply homeless/down on their luck. It cannot be simply about panhandling. It has to evoke disgust, not pity.
This has to be about someone who is doing something so socially unacceptable or disgusting it warrants a story.
Some good elements might include:
A: Perverted behavior: Flashing, groping, indecent exposure. Can run the gamut from amusingly gross to downright creepy.
B: Creating unsanitary conditions with no regard to modesty or decorum.
C: Inappropriate conversations either with you, someone else, or an imaginary being.
D: Either drunk or sober.

4: A Job From Hell Story:
This can’t simply be a story about a job you would rather not be doing in favor of a job you wish you had. The world is full of those. This job has to be about a job so bizarrely awful that “Dear Lord, what have I gotten Myself Into?” is your mantra every day at work.
Good elements may include:
A: An insane, abusive or sociopathic boss.
B: Obnoxious, insufferable, creepy, obtuse or just plain weird co-workers. Bonus points for crackpot conspiracy theorists, brown-nosers, or lunch thieves. Extra bonus points for stories of embezzlement, or revenge.
C: Your bafflingly horrible tasks and duties or your disgusting work environment.
D: A colorful description of your last day. Bonus points if you got fired, or told them to take the job and shove it.

5: A NYC Disaster Story:
NYC is pretty well prepared for a lot of things, but every now and then the city gets blindsided. Recently we’ve had Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene, and a few pretty intense blizzards. We had the transit strike of 2006. We had the Blackout of 2003. Good rule of thumb is if it has a name or title: e.g. “Hurricane Sandy” or the “2003 Blackout”, it is good fodder for a story.
Good elements may include:
A: What you were doing when it went down.
B: How it affected you. Did you lose power? Were you stranded? How long? Where were you inte city?
D: How you coped. Did you have to light candles? Sternos? Get creative with food? Hunt rats?
E: How you spent your affected days? Did you get drunk? Hole up and play games? Have sex? Socialize?
G: Were you able to help someone else? How you helped them?
H: Did you make a friend? Start a relationship? Conceive a child?

6: Some bonus things may be:
A: A date from hell story
B: Wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but a getting mugged story.
C: A stranded story: How you were stuck at point A, needed to get to point B and couldn’t.
D: A story about how you met your love.
E: A story about how you got your drunk friend home, or how a friend got drunken you home.
F: A story so bizarre and off-the-wall everybody thinks you made it up.

Defeating the Robot

HOW TO SPEAK TO A HUMAN BEING WHEN YOU CALL AN AUTOMATED SERVICE THAT HAS VOICE RECOGNITION:

A) Do not press 0. They’re onto that.
B) Do not say “Speak to Agent” They’re onto that, too.
C: Do not say “Speak to Human.” They’re onto that as well.
D) Say, “Fuck You”.
E) It will try to redirect your response or correct you.
F) Ignore it and say,”Fuck You”.
G) Anytime it tries to direct your response or play dumb, just repeat,”Fuck You”
H) Eventually, you will be directed to an agent.

You’re welcome.

Weight Loss and the Commensurate Volume Loss

Here is a little weight-loss motivation for you:

The volume of human body fat, and the volume of water or comparable liquid, ounce by ounce are roughly the same. Actually human fat is less dense than water, this is why people with more body fat can float.

Stay with me, here:
One pound of human fat is 3,500 calories. That is about the volume of a 16 oz beverage. Think a 16 oz bottle of of Snapple. A pint of beer. One of those beer cans slightly larger than a standard twelve ounce can (they’re usually in a 4 pack).

If you lose a pound, that’s how much mass your body has lost. Not too shabby, eh? You’re one Snapple bottle smaller. Think about the size of a Snapple bottle.

Now, let’s say, between diet and exercise you maintained a deficit of 600-800 calories per day. That means every two days, you would lose over 6 ounces of fat.
That’s about the size of a V8 can. Every two days, you get smaller by a V8 can.

Every 4 days you get smaller by a beer can (12 oz)

And every week you get smaller by one of those 20 oz coke bottles.

Every month, you get smaller by a milk carton.

And every 2 months you get smaller by a 1 gallon milk jug.

A milk jug is pretty damn big!

2 months to lose a milk jug off your mass is pretty damn good!

Clear Objective thinking through Weight Loss

RANDOM THOUGHT ON WEIGHT LOSS

As I am once again on a weight loss journey to bring my weight down after it has crept up a bit, it has made me thoughtful about the process, and the traps that are easy to fall into. Because I have been successful in the past (thirteen years ago I weighed a whopping 240 pounds, and while my weight has sometimes crept up, it has never come close to that number again), I thought I’d fire out a few random thoughts on the subject. I do not have all the answers, but I do have some insight on what worked for me, and what could work for others on a similar journey. Everybody’s psyche is different. Here are my random thoughts:

1) YOU HAVE TO QUANTIFY:
If your body runs like most people, you have to know that weight loss needs to have a deficit of calories, in other words you have to burn more calories than you take in. An oversimplified version is “eat less, move more”.

But how much less? Eat less of what? And move what more? Eat less lettuce? Eat fewer Twinkies? Eat one less Chicken Mc. Nugget? Eat less kale? Walk around the block one time more?

And this is where you have to quantify. There are those who say “Oh, don’t count calories!” but you have to. A calorie is the unit by which nutrition and the energy it creates are measured, so you have to.

So the initial questions should be: How much do I want to lose? How long do I want it to take? And most importantly, are my numbers realistic? While in theory, I might be able to achieve those numbers in that time frame, will I do it in actuality?

So you need to know how much you actually ate, and how intensely you exercised (to wit: how many calories you took in vs how many calories you burned). There is no getting around this, otherwise you are working without and endgame and without a strategy to get there.

The other thing I learned from losing weight is that humans are lousy judges of subjective things such as intensity of workout and size/richness of portions as relates to calories. Denial and wishful thinking are huge forces in the human psyche, especially when we’re hungry or don’t feel like exercising!

You need to use your scale, even if it doesn’t show you the numbers you want to see. You need to read nutrition labels, even if it tells you something you don’t want to read. You need to use measuring cups, even if you feel the portion is not big enough. You need to pay attention to time, intensity and distance and quantity as you do your workout, perhaps with a clock.

And you need to add those figures up accurately and honestly, even if the end figure is not what you want to see!

2) EVERY FAD DIET THAT HAS EVER EXISTED IS BASED ON GETTING YOU TO BELIEVE YOU CAN SOMEHOW CIRCUMVENT THE CALORIES EATEN vs CALORIES BURNED EQUATION…..BUT YOU CAN’T!
You can’t beat the system. Either it is “repackaging” the calorie into another format (which, in itself is pretty harmless, but it can overcomplicate things and lead to denial), or at worst, it promises to “fool” your body chemistry into beating the system. And it doesn’t work. These fad diets capitalize on a person’s denial of the impending challenge significant weight loss entails. There are no “weird old tricks” that will escape the math. There is no magic pill. There is no “get out of jail free card.” You have to do the work and you have to do the math.

3) YOUR BODY DOESN’T GIVE TWO SHITS THAT YOU ARE TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT.
Just because YOU have been working out like a fiend and self-denying like a penitent does not mean your body will co-operate on your schedule. When you step on the scale, don’t think the reading will be in neat little increments, directly proportionate to what you ate and exercised the previous day (or what you thought you did). You may get on the scale, after a day of faithful adherence to your diet, and strenuous exercise to find your weigh-in one pound HEAVIER! And you’ll think “What the hell???” Or you’ll doubt the effectiveness of your diet. And that pattern might continue for two weeks, and then, the day you write it off as a lost cause, and eat yourself silly, you’ll get on the scale the next day and find that you have lost four pounds.
Your body is not on board with this project. Your body thinks it’s still a caveman when body fat = survival in leaner times. This is where hunger and your body’s desire for self-preservation are relevant.
Your body thinks it wants you to be fat because it thinks it’s a caveman. And it will do everything in its power to make and keep you fat.

4) DIET IS NOT A DIRTY WORD.
People often get scared off by the word “diet”, but all a diet means is what you eat. If all you eat is hot dogs and Doritos; that’s a diet. It’s not a good diet. It’s not a healthy diet, and it’s unlikely you’ll be a healthy weight as a result of that diet, but it’s still a diet!

It always pissed me off when health gurus say, ”Diets don’t work. You have to have a “lifestyle change”, or something bogus like that. A lifestyle change as relates to what?
Your diet.
So whether you like it or not, you are on a diet.

Good or bad, everybody is on a diet, and to lose weight, you have to adjust your diet into healthy portions of healthy things. So stop playing semantics. It’s a diet. Get over it.

5) THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS “CHEATING” ON A DIET.
“Cheating” implies doing something that gives an unfair advantage. It implies operating outside of good faith guidelines everybody else is following. It is a reflection of character.

It has always irked me when I’d hear people, especially women, say, ”I was bad. I ate [insert high calorie food here].” You are not bad. You are not lacking in moral character. And you have not cheated. All you have done is slowed down your weight loss schedule, and probably, by that lapse alone, not that much.

And you know what? It happens. Nobody adheres to their ideal diet 100% in their weight-loss timeframe. As long as you don’t negate all the hard work you’ve already done in a week, you’re fine. If it ultimately takes you a few extra days to reach your goal, no big deal. If you have to work out a little more intensely the next day, eat a little lighter, or exercise an extra time in the week, no big deal.

Just know what stimuli cause you to not adhere to your diet and avoid or temper it accordingly so you don’t set yourself up for failure.

Don’t equate speed of weight loss with character. It’s destructive and unhealthy. Your goal is health so…..

5: WHEN YOU HAVE A LIMITED NUMBER OF CALORIES TO WORK WITH YOU WILL LEARN TO BE THOUGHTFUL ABOUT WHAT YOU EAT, AND PLAN YOUR MEALS CAREFULLY.

Your diet will almost automatically get healthier as you learn what will satisfy your hunger and give you energy to function correctly. You will learn that a Krispy Kreme doughnut won’t be sufficient to sustain you if you want to stay within your nutritional parameters. You will eventually learn to choose an option that will give you more real energy because you have to.

6: YOUR WORST ENEMY IN THIS JOURNEY IS LACK OF CONFIDENCE IN YOUR SELF DISCIPLINE:
You do not doubt you are physically capable of achieving a healthy weight. Deep down inside, you know you can. What you doubt is that you have the self discipline to follow through with the project. You think you are lazy and undisciplined. You are afraid that the work you do will not be enough, and you’ll just end up being tired, hungry and disgusted with yourself. But you’re not lazy and undisciplined. And with every little bit of your journey, you’ll prove that to yourself. That proof is exponential. Getting started is the toughest part because you might not immediately see results. Or the results will be minimal, leading you to believe they are negligible. Or you’ll doubt the results.

But once you’ve proven that self-discipline to yourself, you’ll be able to reach your goals, and then take that self discipline you know you have and apply it to another project you thought you didn’t have the self discipline to do!

Losing weight is as psychological as it is physical.

7: EVEN IF YOU KNEW ZERO ABOUT NUTRITION BEFORE YOU DECIDED TO LOSE WEIGHT, YOU WILL LEARN MORE THAN YOU EVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE ABOUT NUTRITION AND YOUR BODY.

Just by doing it. Just by paying attention. By seeing the same foods, eating them and learning about them. By knowing how your body reacts to these foods. By knowing about hydration and how your body handles it. By knowing the limits and capabilities of your body with regard to physical exertion and exercise. And you’ll never unlearn that. You’ll always have it. At some point, you’ll inevitably have to do a “maintenance program” (as I am doing now) You’ll have all the tools you need to be successful.