Running Out of Time

I am 36 years old this year, no shame about it. Pretty soon I will be crossing over from “young adult” to “middle aged” and what I wear must evolve accordingly.

I’m saddened, not because of growing old, but because I will inevitably be giving up some of the things I love, such as sneakers. I recently got hooked into collecting, but I am considering to give up the hobby soon. After all, a man in his 40’s wearing retro Nike Air Jordan V’s would not be age appropriate.

For now I have given myself a deadline: buy all the sneakers my wallet can bear until the end of 2013, which is friggin’ less than 90 days from now! Next year onwards, I would disallow myself from purchasing any pair of “kicks.” Alas, I would have to do with rotating the few that have now. A rubber shoe has a life expectancy of five to six years, after which its EVA midsole will naturally crumble with age and wear. My current collection will practically be unwearable by the time I’m in my early 40s, forcing myself out of “the game” (that’s how kids nowadays would call the sneakerhead addiction). Sounds like a plan right? I hope so; rehab is tough.

Below are photos of some key pairs in my humble collection. I grew up in the golden age of sneakers so as you can see I tend to collect only retros and try to stick to original colorways. I buy and wear them for sentimental reasons. Plus, retros are (obviously) more classically designed and more suitable for men who are far beyond their teens.

Top to Bottom:

1. Nike Air Max 1 – OG, the first sneaker with a visible air bladder in the midsole  originally released in 1987 in the same color and design
2. Nike Air Jordan Retro IV – Fire Red, exactly how Jordan wore it back in the days
3. Asics Gel Lyte III – Navy/Orange, a retro of an early 90’s design
 DSC05631

IMG_0967

asics gel lyte iii

P.S. If you think this blog entry sounds like a personal justification to burn a black hole in my pocket copping a crapload of rubber shoes for the next few months, you’re absolutely right! 😉

Another 10 Golden Rules for the Modern Man

10. Be conscious about coffee breath.

9. Smell good, but mildly so.
8. Do at least once a week: go to church, exercise, drive a manual tranny car.
7. Be loyal to quality, not brand.
Be loyal to quality, not brand.

Be loyal to quality, not brand.

6. Shed old clothes like a snake sheds old skin; be a Samaritan and donate what you don’t need.
5. Diversify: own several brands of shirts, jeans, shoes, watches, cars.
4. Unsure of what car to buy? Get anything better than your country’s taxi and you’re all set.
3. Embrace patina: leather wrinkles, watches scratch, tarnishes on your car’s paint job will buff out.
2. Make your boss look good, more so if it is yourself.
1. Do not scrimp on underwear.

10 Golden Rules for the Modern Gentleman

10. Do not use tire shine, it’s for pussies.

9. Never brag in social media.
8. Wear clothes that fit.
7. Have a decent watch that’s worth 3 months of your salary.
6. Get a hobby and own it, but don’t let it own you.
5. Eat lots fish and vegetables, avoid high fructose corn syrup.
4. Moisturize and wear sunscreen.
3. Never be caught with an empty phone battery.
2. Drive like a gentleman.
1. Avoid patronizing the mainstream; exclusivity is gold. 

How I Slimmed Down

In a period of roughly a year and a half I lost 18 pounds. Shaving one pound a month may not sound much, but I was also working out, which meant I have probably lost more weight in terms of fat, but in turn gained back some lean mass. The point is, I lost 4 inches in my waistline, I now wear shirts that are medium or small, from XL or large. I get non-stop greets from people: “you’ve slimmed down!”

The best part: I was able to do so without really trying. It’s amazing how the smallest changes in one’s lifestyle can make a noticeable difference in one’s appearance. I’d like to share with everyone 10 tips with a disclaimer: your mileage may vary.

1. You can still eat burgers! Sometimes we have no choice: there’s nothing else to eat but fast food. It’s ok, but hold the cheese and mayo. Most of all stay away from the french fries.

2. Go ahead, have a soda, but make it diet. What you should stay away from are the bottled teas, artificial juice and Gatorade which are loaded with sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). While you’re at it, make sure you sweeten your coffee with calorie free sweetener instead of sugar. And while we’re on beverages, I’m sorry to say but the Frappuccinos have to go.

3. Speaking of HFCS, avoid it like death. Take time to look at the ingredients of what you are about to eat. If it contains HFCS, pass on it.

4. Have some chocolate. Who doesn’t want one occasionally? But be mindful of rule #3. Tip: Hershey’s milk chocolate and Kisses are HFCS-free.

5. You can still eat rice. I cannot ignore the fact that asians (like me) love rice. So go ahead, but limit your intake to 1 cup a day maximum. Eat oatmeal, bread or cereal for breakfast, then have fish or salad for dinner. Then I leave you to enjoy a hearty rice topping lunch. One thing to note: I’m not much of a pasta or noodle eater, and I think avoiding these helps a lot.

6. Fried chicken is fine. Just peel of all the skin. And since we are on the topic of meat, I would recommend you eat more fish or chicken, less beef or pork. If you have to eat pork, take the time to scrape off all visible fat. It’s worth the effort.

7. I’m not against snacking. But go for healthier options. Instead of Doritos or Cheetos, nibble on unsalted peanuts or a trail mix. That way you get less carbs yet more protein. Also, avoid stuff that are obviously evil i.e. cake, ice cream and doughnuts.

8. Switch to soy milk. Sometimes we just have to use milk for cooking, breakfast cereal or creaming coffee, but stay away from cow’s milk.

9. Work out once a week. No need to be intense. However, this must be a very serious exercise (pun intended). I.e. you must be very focused and do well executed reps and sets.

10. Wear your size! In the past I was guilty of wearing a size larger to hide the fat and to make provisions so that I don’t have to buy new clothes in case I gain more weight. Very wrong way of thinking! As you start to slim down, you would want to wear clothes with the correct fit.

Now that wasn’t too hard was it? The key is to cut down, without extreme deprivation. I believe this is a happier journey towards a better you.

New Year’s Resolutions 2013

It’s that time of the year again, and without further rambling, here are mine:
1. 1080p AVCHD video – my aging Sony NEX-3 only captures only 720p mp4 and I’m beginning to see that the output is anything but satisfactory. It’s about time I made clearer home videos. Of course this requires professional editing software like Final Cut Pro and a new camera which can be anything from a Nikon D600, a Sony NEX-5R or a Sony RX100. Whatever I choose, I will most likely report in this blog.
The Sony NEX-5R is capable of 1080p AVCHD video.

The Sony NEX-5R is capable of 1080p AVCHD video.

2. Retina Display – I’m still using the 1st generation iPad. It’s now as slow as molasses and ready to die (although its battery life is surprisingly like new!). Maybe this year is the time for a new tablet. The iPad Mini is half-hearted. The New iPad is what I want.

3. 1080p movies – up until very recently, I download movies in 720p to save hard drive space. I thought that the difference of 720p and 1080p was negligible especially with the smallish 40-inch plasma screen in my bedroom. I was clearly mistaken. For 2013, it’s 1080p movies all the way…
4. Apple Lossless encoding – again, in an effort to save space, I traditionally ripped my CDs to 256kbps AAC. That meant maltreating my ears. This year, I’d rather have less high-res music on my iPhone than have more music with crappy quality.
5. A 36,000 vph watch – yes, watches have resolution too! Theoretically, movements that beat faster are more accurate. Most mechanical watches beat at 28,800vph (vibrations per hour). God willing, I may be able to cough up funds to own a 36,000vph Zenith El Primero, or Grand Seiko Hi-Beat.
Zenith Original 1969 38mm with an El Primero movement beating at 10Hz or 36,000 vibrations per hour (vph)

Zenith Original 1969 38mm with an El Primero movement beating at 10Hz or 36,000vph

6. Explore 96khz, 24 bit audio – I may be going well ahead of myself on this one. I will certainly not adopt this better-than-CD audio bit rate this year as it seems to be still at its infancy, but I will definitely start researching on it. Today, the music format exists and there’s a gizmo designed to decode and play them, but I’ll let this one bake in the oven a little longer. Maybe next year it’ll be piping hot and ready to be consumed…
Well there you have it, a true geek’s set of New Year’s “Resolutions”. I hope you get the pun by now, else I cannot consider you a true nerd. Postscript: if you were hoping to read about 4k video, that’s reserved for resolutions a few years down the road!
Happy New Year Geeks!  

A G-Shock for Every Man

Every guy should own a Casio G-Shock, that cheap, digital and plastic (generally speaking), sometimes colorful and always tough as nails line of watches. It’s like a two piece suit, a television, sneakers, or a pair of blue jeans: every man should have at least one (not to mention survive with only one). It has an all important place in a man’s wardrobe (or watch collection): for those weekends slacking-out or when you want to rough it up–two things us guys can’t get enough of.

If you don’t have a G-Shock, shame on you! But you’re reading this so you’re a step in the right direction. There are hundreds of G-Shock models out there, and Casio churns out about a dozen new models every month. So if you’re going to own one, which would it be? Allow me to suggest: the GW-5000-1JF. Currently, it’s the one and only G-Shock I own, and the only G-Shock I’ll ever need.

Casio G-Shock GW-5000

Casio G-Shock GW-5000

DLC coated screw in case back etched with "MADE IN JAPAN"

Deep gloss: DLC coated screw in case back etched with “MADE IN JAPAN”

Why this one? Here are the reasons:

1. A spartan, no-frills model with a utilitarian tool watch aura, based on the form and construction of the first G-Shock ever released in the market: the DW-5000C, launched April 1983. No other G-Shock taps as deeply into its history and heritage.

2. Correctly proportioned, in contrast to most other G-Shocks with gargantuan heads. Guaranteed to please even the most conservative.

3. It’s one of the few remaining models that’s Made in Japan. Quality abounds.

4. It has a resin strap that’s softer and of higher quality than “regular” G-Shocks (translation: more comfortable on the wrist).

5. This G-Shock is made of metal (with a steel case and a DLC coated screw in case back) giving it even more toughness and reassuring heft.

6. Rare. While not a numbered model, it’s produced in very limited quantities. For the longest time, its supply cannot meet demand. A plus for watch snobs.

7. It is more likely to survive a Zombie apocalypse more than you can. It is also the perfect wristwatch for Doomsday Preppers.

Another wrist shot.

Quick wrist check taken with an iPhone 4s. Notice the perfect size, even for a small 6.5″ wrist like mine.

Don’t trust me? You’d better. Do a web search and you’ll discover G-Shock loving Netizens raving over this grail model.

Convinced? Don’t hit the mall yet as this watch is quite elusive. Your best bet is to get it online. And while you’re waiting for the FedEx guy to drop your new GW-5000, feel free to enjoy more photos below. By the way, G-Shock is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary.

The watch is packaged with an outer cardboard box.

The watch is packaged with an outer cardboard box.

Tourist warranty card. I bought mine at Yodobashi Camera, Osaka Japan.

Tourist warranty card. I bought mine at Yodobashi Camera, Osaka Japan.

Rolled up manual and filled up warranty card.

Rolled up manual and filled up warranty card.

The pleather watch box with pleather inner lining and pleather pillow attempts to convey the watch is special. Something different compared to the tin can and foam of lesser G-Shocks. Notice the tatami mat of the Ryokan I was staying in--the watch in the country where it was born.

The pleather watch box with pleather inner lining and pleather pillow attempts to convey the watch is special. Something different compared to the tin can and foam of lesser G-Shocks. Notice the tatami mat in the background? The watch in its home country.

Photo while synching with the radio time signal. Signal level was quite strong (L3) at Universal Studios Osaka.

This is a Multiband 6 model. Photo taken while synching with the radio time signal. Signal level was very strong (L3) at Universal Studios Osaka.

Another wrist shot, on world time mode while I was on vacation in the East Coast

Another wrist shot, on world time mode while I was on vacation in the East Coast

Happy holidays!

The Future of Wristwatches

Today, wristwatches is a healthy multi-billion dollar industry, with the Swiss still dominating the luxury market and the Japanese owning the $1000 and below price bracket. In recent years, reports have shown a steady growth in watch sales and revenue. Yup, people still buy heap loads of them alright.

But what for?

Collectors appreciate the technology, craftsmanship and design that goes into watches, and this bunch often put their kids’ college or retirement funds at risk, to sustain their collecting addiction.

Others use them as jewelry and/or as status symbols. After all, aside from the German car in your garage, what else could better say you’ve arrived than a piece on your wrist that costs more than your buddy’s Toyota?

Pre-owned luxury watches for sale in Osaka, Japan.

Wait, so they’re not used to tell the time anymore? Hardly. You have your tablet, phone and office wall clock for that. From a practical perspective, watches today have become useless in everyday life. Sure those who wear them still use them for quick time checks, but as a human, we won’t “die” without a watch, as much as we would not survive without a mobile phone.

I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for timepieces. Will humans 25, 50, 100 years from now evolve and shed the desire to wear an instrument on their wrist that is the most antiquated and inaccurate* way to tell the time? My best hunch is that we will still wear watches several decades down the road. The desire will remain, but for emotional than utilitarian reasons. Watches will be worn as a statement of style and status. Or as an appreciation of things artisanal. Or as an heirloom and remembrance of a loved one. Therefore, it will be the mechanical, well crafted ones that will survive, as opposed to the electronic, disposable types that may face extinction.

*A luxury chronometer mechanical watch deviates a few seconds per day. A mobile phone that syncs its clock to the network is theoretically as accurate as an atomic clock.