Fashion Friday – Pick Your Poison

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Hey Gents!

TGIF!

I am in Vegas and writing this to you from the time machine we found out in the desert.  Here are several links to some really great blogs or articles dealing with grooming and/or fashion check them out!

For any of you who still insist on using Axe Body Spray check out this link for a guide to cologne.

We have covered this in the past but here is another guide on how to wear a sport coat with jeans.

Speaking of jeans, our friends at the Trunk Club have some advice on how to find the perfect pair of jeans.  Get the info here.

For a video of how to master the art of the straight razor shave click here.  Personally I don’t trust myself and am afraid I would someone slit my own throat.

My former barber, John Rivera, shows you how to get the classic pencil mustache in this video.  Solid work John.  You can follow him on Instagram @TheNYBarber

 

 

Nine Ways to Entertain Your Toddler Without Using Your Smart Phone

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This information is borrowed from The Everything Toddler Activities Book.

Okay gents today I am off to Las Vegas for a belated 40th Birthday trip.  I certainly won’t be spending any time blogging while there but hopefully will have some wonderful tales to tell (or not tell) when I return.  I hope you enjoy the rest of your week!

Before you decide that reading this post isn’t for you because you don’t have kids I would warn you that is not a good idea.  Have you ever been in a long checkout line at a store or waiting in line for some event and there is a small child in front of you or behind you acting up?  If you are like me you probably rolled your eyes and cursed under your breath about your lot in life.  However, if you had the tools to keep said child busy or distracted you may be surprised by how many women around you would have found that attractive. Even though you may not want kids, showing kindness towards then certainly sets off a sensor in women looking for a good man and you might just get lucky simply by entertaining a small child.  So pay attention!

Of course I hope this is also helpful to you dad’s out there who need some ideas for keeping their kids entertained in a public setting without using modern technology.

You’re in a public place — say a restaurant or a doctor’s waiting room — and it’s taking longer to get your food or have your name called than you expected. Your toddler is starting to get restless. And cranky. Real cranky. She’s whining and teetering on the edge of a crying fit, and the other folks around you are glancing over with irritated, disapproving looks.

You don’t have any toys or books on you, making it extremely tempting to just shove your smartphone into your tyke’s pudgy little hands to instantly shut off the waterworks.

But, the idea that you should turn to your phone whenever you feel unhappy or bored is not exactly the kind of lesson you want to teach her; you want her to grow up to be able to entertain herself, absent a technological device. So you think about busting out some pen and paper games like hangman or tic-tac-toe, but she’s preliterate and only understands strategy in terms of figuring out how to poop so no one sees her.

What to do?

Well, with a few completely accoutrement-free games in your metaphorical back pocket, you can easily improvise some games that’ll keep your little one happy and engaged before her chicken nuggets finally arrive. Here are 9 fun, brain-boosting ideas to keep on deck; some work better depending on age and ability, many can be modified to meet your toddler’s level of cognition (which is right around that of a golden retriever), and some will be equally enjoyed by the preschooler set on up. Experiment and see what captures your kiddos’ attention.

1. Name That Tune

Hum a familiar song (“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” “Old McDonald,” etc.), and see if your child can identity and name it.

2. What’s Missing?

This is a great one to do at the table at a restaurant. Take a few objects — a fork, spoon, and sugar packet, for example — and tell your kid to take a careful look at the collection. Then cover the items with a napkin, and remove one of the items without them being able to see which one (lift the end of the napkin nearest you for cover as you withdraw the item). Now remove the napkin altogether, and ask your child to name which item is missing.

3. Who Am I?

Pick an animal, and then let your kid ask questions to try to get at your identity. E.g., “Do you roar?” “Do you live somewhere cold or hot?” “Are you furry?”

4. Touch Something That Is….

Ask your child if she can touch something that is X color. “Can you touch something that is red?” “Can you touch something blue?” She can touch anything within her reach — the table, her clothes, your clothes, etc. If it’s someplace where she can walk around without bothering other people, you can make the game mobile.

5. Shape Hunt

Ask your children if they can see anything in their environment with a certain shape. “What do you see that’s a circle?” “What do you see that’s a triangle?”

6. I Spy

Classic entertainment that’s good for the slightly older kid who’s able to process the idea behind this guessing game. Pick an object both you and your kid can see, and then say, “I spy something, and it’s ____.” If your child has a basic understanding of the alphabet and a modest vocabulary, fill in the blank with a letter. “I spy something, and it begins with the letter C.” It can help to sound it out: “Ca-Ca-Ca.” For the preliterate set who knows only their colors or shapes, substitute those categories instead. You can also describe the objects’ properties: “I spy something, and it’s rough and scaly/smooth and shiny.”

7. What Is Different?

You do need a pencil and paper for this, but that shouldn’t be a problem since like all great men in history, you’ve adopted the habit of carrying a pocket notebook with you. Divide a piece of paper into a quadrant. In three squares, draw the same shapes/pictures/pattern. In the fourth square, draw something different. So for example, you could draw dogs in three of the squares and a cat in the fourth, or a triangle in three of the squares, and a square in another. Have your kid point to the panel that differs from the rest. The more advanced your child, the harder you can make it; try doing 5 circles in three of the squares, and 6 in the fourth, or different patterns like XXOOXX in three squares, and XXOXX in the fourth.

8. Simple Riddles

Come up with easy riddles for your child to solve. For example: “I have four legs and am covered in fluffy white wool. What I am?” or “I’m shaped like a circle, I have two hands, and numbers all around me. What am I?”

9. Hidden in the Hand

Let your kid see your open, empty hands. Then put an object like a coin in one of your hands and close both of them. Put you hands behind your back and switch the object back and forth between them. Bring your closed hands back in front of you, and ask your child to guess in which one the object is.

Tell us if you agree or not!

Devotional Tuesday – Fight! Free! Preach!

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The harvest is plentiful, the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.  Matthew 9:37

The “flight briefing” called by the Master Instructor went exactly like this. He called His twelve disciples to Him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.  He told them, As you go, preach this message: “The kingdom of heaven is near.” Heal the sick, raise the dead and heal those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.  Now that’s what I call a green light! The full endorsement of the Supreme Commander was given.

God’s men were given a sanction to fight (“gave them authority”), a message to forward (“preach this”), targets to find (sick, dead, lepers, demon possessed), power to free (“freely you have received, freely give:”), a metaphor to familiarize (“sending you out like sheep among wolves”) two commands to fulfill (“be shrewd” and “innocent”). Imagine you were there, which of these would send your neurons into high gear?

Every instruction up until then had to feel good to the disciples before that announcement. This condition for hostility would not change for these men until they were martyred. Jesus didn’t present the false hope or the codependent comfort.  He gave it to them straight — this was the campaign to rid the world of Satan’s grip through kingdom advance. And he didn’t say “you’ll be sheep among wolves for just a while.” He meant it for life.

Father, this is tough stuff, but you promised me. I accept your promise.

Fashion Friday – Five Ways a Beard Makes Winter Better

Happy Friday Gents!

It is a busy time of year for us at Be a Better Man. Tomorrow my family moves into a new place (thank you Jesus!) and next week I am headed to Las Vegas to celebrate my 40th Birthday with lots of golf and adult beverages.  Should be a good time.

Today’s blog is courtesy of The Art of Manliness.  Check them out sometime when you get the chance.  Another solid website for men.

Having a beard is always manly. Having a beard in the winter is not only virile, but dang practical too. It provides a number of benefits (that legal has told me I cannot guarantee) that our clean-shaven brethren sadly miss out on.  

1. If you fall in the ice, a beard can literally save your life.

man fallen in ice beard save life illustration

While it may seem like an urban legend, if you fall through the ice into a lake or stream, your beard may in fact save your life. If you aren’t able to get yourself out of the water within 5-10 minutes, you need to extend the window of time for rescuers to get to you. While drowning will kill you in just minutes, hypothermia takes much longer. Try to get your arms — and even your beard — to freeze to the ice so that if you go unconscious, you’ll remain above water.

2. Protection from wind burn.

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Wind burns are not actually from wind. They are in fact simply sunburns that we get in cold weather. It’s most common on the face, since that’s often the only exposed piece of skin during the coldest months. And guess what bearded men have covering, and therefore protecting, their face? One study found that facial hair blocks 90-95% of UV rays, rendering you supreme over the powers of the sun. Not only that, but it’ll guard against skin cancer, too. Grow a beard, prevent cancer.

3. You’ll stay warmer.

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A walk in the winter is not often a pleasant affair. You can cover up your extremities pretty well, but to cover the face requires the use of a bulky scarf blocking your mouth and breathing apparatus (nose). In biting temperatures, this fact alone can keep you at home rather than attending a party at a friend’s house, or having a night out on the town.

If you have a beard, that annoyance is no more. The soft mane covering your face is nature’s scarf. In fact, some evolutionary theorists argue that men grow beards while women do not because men were out hunting, and needed to keep warmer than their shelter-dwelling mates and children. Suffer red, winterized cheeks no more and instead grow a cozy, face-cuddling beard.

4. Preserve winter drinks in that luscious mane.

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One of the worst parts of having a beard is getting food stuck in it. One of the best parts of having a beard is the ability to preserve your cocktails inside of it. When you drink out of a glass, unless you’re being extra dainty about it, some of the liquid will invariably escape the rim and jump right onto your upper lip. While your mouth may miss those errant droplets in the moment, it’ll be glad to have them preserved for later. For once his drink is gone, the beard-clad fellow need not lament; a smidge of Winter Jack has been left behind. His glass may be empty, but at the time of his choosing, he may extract the spirit from his mustache and once more enjoy the delicious taste of whiskey mixed with apple cider liqueur.

5. Learn the manly art of grooming.

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The cold, dark winter months can leave you stuck inside and be a little boring and humdrum. So use the season to learn a new skill — like how to trim and groom your facial hair. While beards and ruggedness go hand in hand, that doesn’t mean your face-coat should be allowed to run wild. By maintaining your mane, you can show up to holiday parties looking like a burly yet refined lumberjack. Use scissors to trim its overall growth, while keeping your neck beard in check and creating clean lines on your upper cheeks with a manly safety razor; they even make ones that are smaller and designed just for detailing. With regular grooming, you can look sharp this winter while still getting all the glorious benefits of the beard.

Illustrations by Ted Slampyak

Tell us if you agree or not!

Take Care of Yourself – 6 Cancers and Ways to Prevent It

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Cancer.

Easily one of the worst, if not THE worst, thing on this planet.  It seems that rather than finding a cure for it, Cancer is instead finding more and more creative ways to kill us.  This is especially true among the male population.  A recent study suggested a 24% increase in Cancer diagnoses in Men over the next 8 years.  The one we always hear about is Prostate Cancer and it certainly should be taken seriously.  Yet there are other forms of the disease which are killing us way too early.  Below are six of them along with ways to fight and hopefully prevent it from happening to you.  Nothing is shown to totally prevent cancer but taking the steps to develop a healthy lifestyle is a good start.

Pancreatic Cancer

Potential warning signs: recently diagnosed diabetes, unintended weight loss, jaundice and/or back/abdominal pain.

These kind of cancer cells devour glucose and use it to spread rapidly in the body.  Thus, the huge increase of people diagnosed with diabetes has increased the numbers of people who end up with this kind of cancer.  Due to the location of the pancreas in the body it is almost impossible to remove the tumors.

How to prevent it:  according to a recent study conducted by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, people who performed 50 minutes of high-intensity resistance training for seven weeks reduced their fasting glucose levels by about 13mg/dl after just 10 minutes of recovery post-workout.  Your muscles will burn up the blood sugar in order for them to grow thus robbing any potential cancer from using it.

Liver Cancer

Potential warning signs: weight loss (without trying), loss of appetite, swelling in your abdominal cavity, nausea, vomiting and yellowing skin or eyes.

For many, many years this was generally only associated with alcoholism.  However, in the last 20 years doctors have seen a rise (especially in men) with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD.) Approximately 20% of U.S. males currently suffer from this disease. The fatty deposits around the liver can eventually lead to cirrhosis and in turn liver cancer.

How to prevent it:  stay away from Fructose.  It took me a long time to cut out those sugary beverages from my life so trust me I know it is hard to do but the benefits of cutting them out far outweigh the happiness of drinking a Coke.  Sixty-one percent of men who drink soda and similar sugary concoctions are more likely to develop NAFLD than those who don’t.  Some studies have suggested to drink coffee instead (again stay away from the sugar) because results have shown coffee helps to prevent fatty deposits around the liver.

Testicular Cancer

Potential warning signs: we talked about this particular one a few times a year.  Check out our blog about it here.  If your balls have changed size/shape, are swollen, have lumps and/or you have pain in your scrotum or lower abdominal you should see a doctor.

Doctor’s are still perplexed by the steady rise of this kind of cancer and haven’t necessarily been able to pin point causes.  Obviously, any exposure to carcinogens will put you at risk but it is almost impossible to keep track of everything that may contain that kind of material.  Unfortunately, if this kind of disease runs in your family you are ten times more likely to get it yourself.

How to prevent it:  early detection is still your best friend as there are plenty of treatment options available.  Survival rates for all 5 stages still sits in the 90% range.  So be sure at least once a month, while you are in the shower, give your boys a check up.  If you feel anything like a lump or swelling you should call your doctor immediately.  Unsure if it is lump?  You should still see your doctor immediately.

Melanoma

Potential warning signs: scan your body for moles.  If any of them are larger than 1/4 inch with irregular borders, have an odd shape, change color/size or are not asymmetrical, you should see your dermatologist right away.

87% of Melanoma is caused by exposure to sunlight.  As a group we are doing poorly.  Only 20% of men even bother to apply sunscreen. Most of us (including myself) head out the door with a baseball hat and maybe some sunscreen and think it is enough.  The hat doesn’t even cover your entire face and you also miss the neck and ears. Your best bet is to get a wide brimmed fedora.

How to prevent it:  this one isn’t tough.  Put on some damn sun screen!  Nothing less than SPF +35 will do.  You should also be putting it on in the winter (regardless of where you live.)  You should also make it part of your yearly physical to see a dermatologist to get checked for irregular moles.

Kidney Cancer

Potential warning signs: low back pain, a lasting fever not caused by an infection, low back pain or a bump on your side or lower back.

Your kidney has several functions and one of them is to control your blood pressure.  When we gain excess weight it causes an increase in our blood pressure which takes a toll on our kidney.  This of course wreaks havoc on your metabolism which in turn can lead to inflammation in your kidney.  It is the inflammation that can help to facilitate the growth of cancer cells in your kidney.

How to prevent it: the best way is to maintain an active lifestyle. This is not always easy (as I know) when you have a desk job that requires you to sit for hours on end in front of a computer. However, just walking or running for 3 hours a week will help reduce your chances of getting this kind of cancer by 61%.

Thyroid Cancer

Potential warning signs: a lump or swelling in the neck, hoarse voice, trouble swallowing or a persistent cough you can’t get rid of.

This is another one the doctor’s have a hard time figuring out. However, they point to several likely culprits.  Since the 1970s furniture companies have been spraying their products with flame retardant material.  Fumes from this spray can attack your thyroid and disrupt your thyroid function.  In addition, radiation can be a huge cause of this cancer.  Experts estimate we are exposed to twice as much radiation today as we were 25 years ago.

If you are like me and suffer from a Thyroid condition you also need to be more careful regarding this particular kind of cancer.

How to prevent it: like many of the ones above, getting a routine screening is important.  Having been checked several times I can tell you it is an easy procedure.  The most common way is via an ultrasound.  If that is inconclusive you may need to get an MRI.  As an additional step you may want to invest in a HEPA-filtered vacuum and be sure you wipe down your furniture with a wet rag to remove dangerous particles.

Tell us if you agree or not!