Thursday, March 18, 2010

Some Simple Things

Dear Gentlemen,

I've taken so long to finally update this thing, my apologies. Internet connection in my university is absolutely horrible and blogspot is even blocked in mainland China. I purchased a personal VPN from Witopia which helps me access youtube, facebook, and this blog. If you're ever in China or any other country that blocks any sites, Witopia is pretty reliable in helping you surpass the "Great Firewall of China" In the last post, I mentioned how horrible the manners here were of the Chinese people. It's not their fault however, they simply aren't acquainted with many Western ideals and etiquette. What is acceptable in the States, may not be acceptable here and vice versa. There are definitely some things that need to be rid of, really disgusting and unacceptable things and I thought I'd just go over some things that may seem like common sense to many in the West, but unknown to tons of people here.

1.) Spitting

This was the first thing I noticed. When I got off my plane from Incheon, Korea and arrived in Hangzhou, China I waited at the terminal for my dad's friend to pick me up. While I was waiting there a middle aged woman (probably in her 40's) was walking by and spit a giant glob just a few feet from me. Disgusting. I don't think I've ever seen a female spit like that EVER in the U.S. This wasn't the only instance either. If you walk around China, you'll notice people literally spitting everywhere no matter what sex or age you are. Another woman who was riding a bike past me "hawked" up a big one and spat it at my feet and then pedaled away...amazing. If you absolutely need to spit something out, do it in private somewhere like a bathroom or somewhere you won't absolutely disgust the people around you. It's not a good look at all and will most likely turn off everyone who witnesses you doing it. I couldn't help but think of this scene:

2.) Kleenex and Tissues

Its rained here everyday for 3 weeks and just recently has been getting a bit sunnier. Tons of people are sick and blowing their nose into tissues. No problem with that but what I noticed, both natives and foreigners, is that after they blow their nose into the tissue they open it up and look it at and then throw it away....? I've actually seen quite a few people in the states do this as well and it is a really nasty habit. There is absolutely no need to see what is left in the tissue, once its used just throw it away..please.

3.) Family Style Restaurants

Have any of you ever eaten with a bunch of people at a Chinese rotating table? Something like this:

Well here in China, when my friends and I go out to eat some Chinese food we are almost always seated at something like this. This is a family style dinner, where everyone shares each dish that comes out. We ordered maybe 2 meat dishes, 2 fish dishes, some vegetables, and tons of rice. I was with with around 8 people, 3 other Americans and the others were from the UK, Kenya, Congo, Austria, and Italy. I was really annoyed at the fact that 2 of the 3 Americans completely devoured the meat dishes before even giving a chance to the other's. It seemed like it was a race to see who could eat all the meat as fast as they could. I kind of made eye contact with the other foreigners who were equally appalled at the fact that the first dish only made it to 2 people on the table. I was embarrassed and wanted to say something to them but was told not to by one of my Italian friends. Point: When you're eating at a restaurant, especially a family style restaurant, offer or serve other's a portion of the dish before devouring 90% of it on your own. This happened again and again and many of us just go to eat in smaller groups now...bah!

4.) Soups - Eat them with a spoon please

Every time I go to eat, I hear loud slurping...everywhere. People slurping food from their dish, soups from bowls, people even slurping their drinks. It's not very nice to hear every 3 seconds. Now I know probably nobody in China may read this blog however this is just a reminder for those of you that do follow this site. Please do not slurp while you eat. If you order a soup like dish at a restaurant, you can finish the soup easily with a spoon without making a racket. There should never be a reason for you to hold the soup up to your face (the natives hold everything, even their food plates to their mouth and just inhale everything on it) and slurp up what's left in it.

I'm sure there are some other things that crossed my mind that I wanted to write about but that seems to be all for now. It's almost been a month already since I've been here, I'm still being culture shocked everyday but I have really grown to love this place and I know for sure that China will become even more of an amazing country in time. Here are some photo's of some places I've been to so far, just to share with you guys.

Night Market in Hangzhou
031.jpg picture by jelee920
032.jpg picture by jelee920
030.jpg picture by jelee920
024.jpg picture by jelee920

Shanghai Circus
shanghai071.jpg picture by jelee920
shanghai083.jpg picture by jelee920
shanghai096.jpg picture by jelee920
shanghai073.jpg picture by jelee920

shanghai139.jpg picture by jelee920
shanghai141.jpg picture by jelee920

Closing Words: There are so many pictures I've taken since I've been here. The ones posted were only a few of them. China is a really amazing place, if you get an opportunity to ever visit this country, do not hesitate! Travelling is honestly one thing I want to keep on doing for the rest of my life, exploring other parts of the world really opens up your eyes and expands your mind to so many things. I hope all of you keep the simple things in mind when you are out eating with your friends or with other people. I believe we should always be aware of others and as often as possible try and put them before ourselves. I've said this time and time again but the more you give, the more you will receive. More pictures/videos to come!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Greetings from Hangzhou, China

Dear Gentlemen,

Ni hao! I have landed safely in Hangzhou, China and already I've been experiencing so many life changing things. Not being able to speak the language is a huge detriment and I am forced to constantly travel with a companion who can translate for me. I've registered at Zhejiang University and just received internet connection a few days ago(took over a week). Unfortunately the Chinese government blocks sites like Facebook, Youtube, and yes even Blogspot, which is why I couldn't update for such a long period of time. After meeting tons of people from over 12 countries, one of my friends allowed me to use her "internet proxy" which is now allowing me to write in this blog and what will continue to allow me to keep it running through the next year.

The manners of the natives here in China are absolutely horrid haha. The country itself isn't very acquainted with western etiquettes that we view as common sense. I feel there is a need to cover the basics in manners and will do so in the next post. I'm very excited to be given an opportunity to live in such a different and interesting environment and am greatly looking forward to what I will be learning and in turn sharing with all of you. As mentioned before, I plan on using more personal photos and video footage with future updates. Many sites are limited and quite a hassle to go through with the proxy service but I will update as often as I can. This will be all for now, the next posting will come very shortly so until then keep safe, warm, and check back often for more postings. Cheers!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Quick Updates Before My Move

Dear Gentlemen,

How has everyone been doing? The snow is coming down very hard right now and there's something very peaceful and pleasing watching how steadily everything turns to a nice shade of white. I hope all of you guys had a lovely Valentine's Day either with your lady friend or a night out with the guys. I spent quite a nice evening out in the city with my girlfriend. We visited "The Garage" an antiques and vintage item open market that I've read quite a bit about, and then checked out the Barney's warehouse mega-sale right afterwards. Neither of us found anything great, just saw a bunch of crazy shoppers (especially at Barney's). Men were trying on pants out in the open and women were trying on tops with their breasts exposed; they didn't seem to care! Sad to say, I will be leaving the States and moving to China exactly a week from today. The day is finally coming and a plethora of emotions are running in and out of my mind. Feelings of sadness, excitement, and nervousness have been eating me alive but deep down I know this move will be a great experience and truly a memorable chapter in my life which I am ready to begin.

This is going to be my last update from my small desk in northern New Jersey and the next one will be from another small desk but in Hangzhou, China! (Any readers have experience here or in Shanghai?). I've been getting quite a few emails about my APC's and how they've progressed since my "Raw Denim" post so I thought I'd share a few snaps of how they look right now.

Day 1 6 Months

12 Months - First Soak

14 Months

15 Months - Just washed these again a few days ago

006.jpg picture by kidkoreapix

As you can see, they've gotten considerably lighter in the past month. I'm pretty pleased with how their are turning out. Again if you have any questions of sizing, washing, or anything else feel free to comment or email me.

I recently wrote about Scott's leather goods and wanted to give a small update on that post as well. I took some better pictures(the last ones weren't too clear in my opinion) of my leather belt and how it has been aging, again I'll do a quick picture summary of their progression:

Bought New
DSC01188.jpg 1.75 picture by unlucky62

Now over a year old
001-1.jpg picture by kidkoreapix
002.jpg picture by kidkoreapix

Again, very pleased with how this belt is turning out. Quality is really great on these...Scott read my posting and being the nice guy he is offered to make me some great bracelets for FREE! What a nice guy...

003.jpg picture by kidkoreapix

The one of the left was his own design and the one on the right is a replica of the 3Sixteen Dual strapped leather bracelet. He even treated it with some nice aging oil, stay tuned for updates on how that begins to age during my stay in China.

I also purchased a Vado HD pocket camcorder recently to document my experiences overseas. I'm planning on utilizing more media, both videos and photo's, and maybe share some more personal experiences with you guys in the future.

Closing Words: I know there wasn't any good content in this post to read. It also seems like my writing in this post seems a bit all over the place and incoherent. Sorry for that but even when I was updating with this post just so many things were running through my mind at the same time. I'll be gone for a year to a country where I don't know anyone, don't speak more than a couple words of the language, and be placed in an environment completely different than the east coast of the United States. (I heard they block Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook in mainland Anyways it's been great starting this blog here, but I think my move will be influence how I write and also the content of the blog so that should be a really great change that I am looking forward to. Until next time, stay warm, healthy, and safe and charge all of life's challenges head on! I'm really going to try and make the most of the absolute most of my life in China, cheers to all!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Gentlemen: A 24/7 Job

Dear Gentlemen,

It was nice to see some more comments in the last post, I even got a few emails about my belt and my APC's. For anyone that was curious, the leather belt was not treated with any oils or anything. It's probably a good idea to oil it to keep the leather healthy but it isn't quite necessary for it to start aging well. Anyways, I read a ton of blogs and websites on the daily and came across more than one mentioning of the word "gentleman". It seems as if there is slow resurgence of the mid 20th century "gentleman" persona these days. People are wearing suits and ties more than ever, males are noticeably paying more attention to their grooming habits, and men seem to be striving to be the most well learned, well dressed, and politely mannered Renaissance man they can be. It's pretty exciting that all of this is happening now, maybe our generation still has a shot at redeeming ourselves from the "never gone through any hardship been spoon-fed all the luxuries in life" era to establishing ourselves as a period in time where we looked great and behaved like true gentlemen: well mannered, educated, and clean cut. It's nice to hear this word thrown around more often other than this blog and I wanted to point some things out that all of us can start doing/working on to really "Improve ourselves on the inside and out".

Mannerisms and Etiquette

The Dinner Table - Your table manners can speak volumes, yes volumes about what type of person you are and how you were raised. If you don't think people notice, trust me, they DO.

1.) How To Use a Fork and Knife - I kind of get turned off a bit when I see someone who really has no idea how to handle their utensils at the dinner table, especially at a formal event or a nice restaurant. Chances are you're going to be using a knife and fork to cut that tasty piece of meat, so here's how to hold it correctly. (This is for right handed readers, if you're left handed just switch!) The fork goes in your left and the knife goes in your right. Your right hand is dominant, so it should do all the cutting and all the left hand has to do is hold whatever you are cutting in place. Your index fingers should be pointed out and aligned with the utensils like this:

It should never seem like you are holding a dagger of some sort ready to stab your steak or start hacking away it. If you haven't been holding your utensils like the picture above, well now you know. Work on this the next few times you eat out and it'll become habit within no time.

2.) Bread, Bite Size, Butter - I was at a top-notch Italian restaurant over the holidays with my graduating college class. We all gathered to see each other for the first time in a while so we decided to go somewhere pretty nice and enjoy a nice meal together. Everyone was hungry and as soon as the bread came out everyone began to dig in. Now I couldn't help but notice how a couple of my friends ate their bread. No I wasn't intentionally trying to check to see how people ate or anything but it was just that obvious how unappealing it was!
Case #1: Each slice of bread was pretty big as in it would take the average person about 10 bites to finish it. One particular friend of mine buttered the entire piece at once and began eating it like it was a slice of New York style Pizza....!!! (Yea the very large ones). If some of you are thinking "it's just bread, isn't that how you're supposed to eat it?" you are horribly mistaken my friend. Instead, grab the slice just like everyone else does and place it on your plate. Then with your hands (yes you can use your hands) you simply rip off a bite size piece, butter it, and place it in your mouth and chew away. That's how you do it.
Case #2: This particular friend got the bite size part down, but failed at the buttering part. How? Here's how: The butter came in 3 different dishes for the entire table to share. She had her bite size piece in hand but decided to slam DUNK it in the butter dish, leaving tons of crumbs behind in the butter...!!! Instead, you should use your knife and take a small but sufficient amount from the dish and place it on your plate for you to use. That's how you do it.

< --- Not a good look at all...

3.) Wear Your Napkin - Yep, either tuck it into your shirt (yes it's acceptable) or simply place it on your lap (what I like to do). This will prevent you from getting any annoying stains on your outfit (white especially) and save you some embarrassment if you're on a date or an important gathering. Now I prefer to keep the napkin on my lap because once the napkin does have some stains on it from your food, you don't want to constantly expose them to the people around you. If you want to wipe your mouth, do it, but return it to your lap so it's not out there in the open during the entire meal!

4.) Pull Out - I'm talking about her chair guys..when you're on a date little things like pulling out her chair may seem a bit on the cheesy side but it isn't at all. It'll actually score you some points showing her how much of a gentlemen you can be. It's little things like this that'll make her take notice and will definitely do more good than harm.

Other Things to Keep In Mind

1.) Grooming - Being well groomed should definitely be a top priority for any gentleman. Nobody likes to see a dirty looking man or even be anywhere near a smelly one. Why wouldn't you want to look and smell your best at all times is my question.

Shower - Take a quick shower before getting ready for a night out. You can take a 5 minute shower and it can really rid of any body odors that may be lingering around from the entire day.

Brushing Teeth - I try and brush my teeth after every meal, keyword: try. Again investing only a few minutes to do so will surely prevent you from ever scaring away somebody with your breath. Carry a pack of gum or mints around as well, they could come in handy.
Shaving - I use an electric shaver right before heading out to run some errands or to meet a buddy of mine for a quick beer or two but this won't suffice for long nights out. Shaving with a razor will give you a MUCH closer and cleaner look, and again people will notice. If you like to keep a mustache or a beard of some sort, definitely keep that trimmed and clean looking as well like this:

Image taken from The Sartorialist

2.) Strive to Learn - People get surprised and say "Oh I actually learned something today" as if that's a rare occurrence. You should be learning many things each and everyday of your lives. It doesn't have to be things of utmost significance but you should be expanding your knowledge and mind with as much information as you can. Stay current with the news, know what's going on around you and around the world. Know what the weather is going to be like for the day or for the week. (You can prepare outfits accordingly, I hate getting stuck in rainstorms with any of my suede shoes). Read a book, a blog, a newspaper, or a magazine. There's tons of things out there to learn and why not indulge yourself in as much as you can. Knowledge is POWER.

3.) Obey the Golden Rule - If you don't know it, here it is: Do unto other's as you would like them to do unto you. I'm trying to base my life around this simple rule. You don't have to be religious or anything to apply this idea to your personal life. You don't have to necessarily go out of your way to help people all the time but if it's something as little as holding the door for someone or even blessing them after a sneeze then why not? This might at least get a "thank you" or even a smile out of them. If things go really well then maybe you can spark up a nice conversation and who knows what that can lead to? Try following the golden rule and you'll begin to notice that the people you encounter will reciprocate your behavior to the people around them. Love and kindness is contagious.

4.) Your Attire - Never go under-dressed to any event. If anything, it's ok to be slightly over-dressed. You don't want to be the only guy wearing a basic tee, a pair of jeans, and some running shoes amidst a sea of dress shirts and ties. On the other hand, it wouldn't be bad at all to be the most dressed up person in the room, you'll look sharper than the rest of the guys and that should grab you some positive attention. Another thing, don't wear anything wrinkled or stained in the slightest. Even a clean Hanes t-shirt will look better than a wrinkled up Ralph Lauren dress shirt.

5.) Accessorize - If your feeling a bit on the lazy side before heading out, no need to do your hair or wear a shirt and tie. Go out in a t-shirt and a pair of khaki's but pay more attention to the details. Those newspaper boy hats, fedora's, and top hats are very in right now and can transform a basic look into a pretty stylish one. You can also try some leather or beaded bracelets or necklaces, anything that will up your fit from a basic tee/jean look to something more. Try something new, take some risks. There aren't any rules for what you decide to wear.

Newspaper Boy Cap Straw Woven Fedora

Closing Words: There's a lot more one can work on than just what I mentioned but those were just some things I personally wanted to improve. I really think every male out there should strive to be the best they can be in terms of looks, attitude, and just a true gentlemen that people will love just being around. Here's a short little clip of Fonzworth Bentley, one of the dudes in media who really evoked gentlemen-like styles into the mainstream, talking about a few things that I found pretty interesting and somewhat educational.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Leather Goods: Better With Age

Dear Gentlemen,

I've been pretty busy getting ready for my move to China so sorry for the lack of updates. Spending time with my close ones is really all I want to do with my remaining time in the States, but that doesn't simply mean I can just ignore this blog! Just this morning, I was admiring how much my A.P.C. New Standards had faded even more since my post on Raw Denim. (I'll make another denim evolution post on them in the future). Seeing how they completely change its look and become more aesthetically pleasing over time depending on your lifestyle is something I find pretty cool. As I was about to fold them up and place them in my drawer, I removed my leather belt that has been with the A.P.C.'s since the beginning and noticed how well the leather on it aged over the past two or so years. I actually purchased this thick leather belt in somewhat of a "raw" state as well; it was freshly made of horsehide and stiff as a rock when I first received it. I remember I couldn't even get the buckle to fasten to the middle hole without using a little extra strength to do it. What began as a very inflexible and light brown piece of horsehide slowly evolved into a much softer, and a beautiful golden-brown colored belt that has been through just as much beating as any pair of jeans I own.

I was looking for a relatively thick and sturdy leather belt to use for at least a year or so and had heard of an individual by the forum name "Unlucky" who produced leather pieces by hand. I came upon a thread on (A forum I frequent) titled "Horshide Wallets and Belt's" and clicked it and that's when I first saw some pictures of what amazing leather products this guy was making. I messaged him asking if he could make me a belt that was over 2 inches in width out of the thickest leather he owned. He replied the same day with several options of thickness, a cowhide or horsehide option, as well as four unique buckles that I was allowed to choose from. I told him what I wanted and within a week the belt was ready! He sent pictures of the final product to me before accepting payment and by the following week this is what I received:

DSC01190.jpg thick cowhide picture by unlucky62
DSC01188.jpg 1.75 picture by unlucky62

First Thoughts: WOW. The sturdiness and quality of the product was exactly what I had hoped for. I was a little intimidated with how stiff and ungiving it was at first but after a few weeks of wear it became very manageable. I was considering dropping almost $145 on a similar belt by Sugar Cane but thank God I didn't because this belt cost me only $40! I've been using it for so long and it's characteristics have only gotten more interesting since. Here are some detailed shots:

001-1.jpg picture by kidkorea10
002-1.jpg picture by kidkorea10
Excuse the dust.

The edges are are beginning to rough up a bit to give it a bit of character. It kind of reminds me of how some RRL leather goods look except my belt aged like this over time naturally rather than having these characteristics when you first buy it like some RRL goodies. I don't know what it is about me aging my own denim or leather belt that I enjoy so much, I guess it's the fact that nobody else in the world has exactly the same pair or same belt as I do. It's probably just that feeling of exclusivity that I like so much. Here are some other examples of his work:

1.) Amazing Small Messenger - Black Oil Tan w/ Brand 2.) Leather Wallet w/ Leather Braid
004-3.jpg Black oil tan w/brand picture by unlucky62 016.jpg picture by unlucky62

1.) Awesome leather Belt 2.) Leather Messenger (Not oiled)
001-3.jpg picture by unlucky62 001-8.jpg picture by unlucky62

Closing Words: I just really like having things of great quality (Particularly leather, denim, and suede products). Leather goods will surely last you for a while, I'm already on almost my 3rd year with my belt and I still feel like I can use it for another 3 years without a problem. It's also just nice to support an individually owned business very much like buying from your local athletic's store instead of a Modell's, or you're favorite pizzeria instead of the Dominoes, etc. In many cases it also turns out that the equipment or food is actually better than the big chain stores and I really believe that's the case with Unlucky's(His name is Scott by the way) products. If you're interested to see some of his customers reviews/testimonies you can check them out in the original thread I mentioned above here. If you have any questions you can also contact him at: He's gotten pretty popular and very busy since then so if he doesn't answer you right away, give him some time. Or you can email me with any questions and I can Private Message him directly!