adrian is rad



Filed under: — adrian @ 12:06 pm

I went to American Field, an American-made goods festival, yesterday and it was pretty cool. There were a lot of nice products there. But a lot of the products were also quite expensive, which makes sense because these are new companies battling start-up and capital costs (or are making every product by hand, with no operational efficiency).

Those are great if you’re willing to pay the premium, but it also reminded me of some older American companies that make more reasonably priced products, especially given the quality they’re producing.

  • Narragansett Leathers: I now have three of their belts and I love them. They get more supple and nicer as they wear. After wearing their belts for most of the last three years, I recently gave one to each of my groomsmen.
  • American Optical: I’ve talked about these before as my “astronaut sunglasses.” They were one of two companies that had the original Navy aviator sunglass contract and as such were the sunglasses of some astronauts. You can pick them up from Amazon.
  • Darn Tough: They make great, tough, non-itchy wool socks and especially if you find them on sale, they’re very reasonable. For most of the winter, I wear them as soon as they come out of the laundry.
  • Shuron: The same company that made the glasses you picture when you picture NASA engineers and Malcolm X still make those same glasses in South Carolina. I recently got another pair. (I had a pair of Shuron glasses in college but I haven’t had those for years.)
  • Lodge: People say that vintage cast iron is much better and there are major design flaws with most cast iron, and that may be true, but I still love my Lodge skillets and they’re cheap.
  • Goodwear: I actually only picked up one of their sweatshirts yesterday, but I like it so far.

Any other American companies making good products at reasonable prices?


five things I’ve been liking recently

Filed under: — adrian @ 8:05 pm

Five things I’ve been liking recently:

  • Stormy Kromer Cord HatIt’s comfortable and warm and looks pretty awesome. (And it’s US-made and has a lifetime guarantee.) I’m a fan.
  • Swimming – After not swimming much since August, I’ve been swimming again, at least a few times, and I’ve been really liking being back in the water.
  • Brooks Brothers’ costumer serviceThey were very courteous and helpful when I was in the store but really impressed me was that a few days later I received a hand-written card from the associate that was helping me thanking me for my suit purchase. That’s very classy.
  • Foam back roller – After my back felt tight for almost a month straight, someone suggested I get a foam roller to help stretch out my back. It’s really seemed to have helped.
  • Super Bowl fairness – Of course I didn’t like the results of the game, but after years straight where it seemed like small officiating decisions and even smaller penalties changed the course of the championship, it was good to see a pretty fair game.


products I use: wiha screwdrivers

Filed under: — adrian @ 9:59 pm

I was just using these and I was thinking, these have to be the best screwdrivers on the planet. They’re a Wiha precision screwdriver set. They feel nice, they work really well, and they’re robust.

I first used them at work, but I got a set of my own as a present a couple years ago. I appreciate them every time I use them. Yes, I’m this excited about screwdrivers.


birthday giving

Filed under: — adrian @ 11:03 pm

Somehow I started a tradition a couple years ago of donating some money to charities around my birthday. Here’s how it worked out this year:

Criteria: I like Africa and South Africa in particular. I like efficient organizations. (I only donate to four star charities.) I think international charities can help more people per dollar than American charities. My primary concern is saving lives now and in the future. At the same time, I think one should strive to help out locally and nationally as well.

Okay, that’s it, I think. I’m a little reluctant to post about this as always.


crazy cheap: Phil Spector Back to Mono box set

Filed under: — adrian @ 12:25 am

I had to wait till after Christmas to post this (it was present-related), but the Phil Sector Back to Mono 4 CD box set is only $16.99 at amazon, brand new.

I have it (and paid a lot more it than that, used) and it’s fantastic. 3 great CDs with songs like “Be My Baby”, “He’s a Rebel”, “Da Doo Ron Ron”, “Then He Kissed Me”, “Spanish Harlem” and “Unchained Melody.” The fourth CD is the Spector Christmas CD, which is enjoyable during that season.

In any case, this is a great price for a great and worthwhile box set.


in case there is any doubt

Filed under: — adrian @ 12:59 pm

I will let you know: Bam Stain and Drain Cleaner works. I don’t know if my respiratory system will ever be the same but it works.


see Little Miss Sunshine

Filed under: — adrian @ 11:31 am

I saw Little Miss Sunshine last night at the Aquarius.

Let’s see, it’s a movie about a disfunctional family with parents that argue, a profanity-loving grandpa, a son that has taken a vow of silence, a suicide-attempting uncle and most importantly a beauty-pagent entering but somewhat plain daughter who all have to pile in a van together so that the daughter can enter the Little Miss Sunshine contest. It’s a roadtrip movie; it’s a family movie.

It’s also one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. I laughed out loud so much and so loud. It also manages to have it’s heartfelt and touching moments. The writing, directing and acting are all very good.

(And any movie that accompanies a road trip in a van with a Sufjan song about a road trip in a van gets my vote.)

I highly recommend this movie.

[Update:: I had a few more thoughts on this movie. It’s pretty amazing in its realness. Let me state this right: this movie has a contrived plot and is a farce, but within that the emotions and even many of the choices the characters make are real and true to those characters. Believablity within a farcicle shell.]


block party

Filed under: — adrian @ 12:56 am

I saw Dave Chapelle”s Block Party last night with the roomies, Raag and Jesse. Good times!

Quick summary: Dave Chapelle gets signed to a $50 million contract, decides to blow some of it. He throws a block party in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn and invites a bunch of people from his current hometown in south west Ohio. (NOTE ANDY: he grew up in Silver Spring for part of his time!) He also found some decent hip-hop acts to come and preform (the Roots, Kanye, Mos Def, the Fugees, etc)

And also! he invited a marching band, once again proving that marching bands are cool.

It happens that Michel Gondry directs, but that doesn’t have much bearing on the situation. Dave Chapelle’s funny as it turns out. The music is pretty fantastic. I loved a lot of the performances. I’m not the most familiar with either mainstream or underground hip hop and I imagine most of you are more familiar so you might enjoy the music even more than I do.

I loved the scene of Kanye watching the marching band play his “Jesus Walks” with a huge smile on his face.

There are also little stories of people through out. The old woman from Ohio. The two kids from Ohio that are out of their mind that they get to go. The very very strange couple that lives in the most-abandoned house right where the block party is going to be held. The marching band director and members. The neighborhood pre-school director.

In the end I sort of wish I could have seen more of all of it: the humor, the music and the people stories.

It’s good and surprisingly uplifting. I vote yes.


products I use reviews: Pac Designs Street Scene Shoulder Bag

Filed under: — adrian @ 6:38 pm

I’ve been thinking that reviews of products that people have used for a while are better than ones where people just got the product and aren’t that familiar with it. This may be the first in a series of “products I use” reviews.

Some of you have probably seen me wearing my shoulder bag around. It’s a Street Scene “Small” bag by Pac Designs.

Background and overview: They’re a Canadian company started by a former Toronto bike messenger. I got the Street Scene Small last August (August 2004) and have been using it extensively since. The most use comes biking 2 miles each way too and from work. Other common uses are as a carry-on bag while traveling and walking to work. My usually load is a Powerbook 12″ laptop (with an InCase Sleeve, though now, I see, they have laptop inserts), a camera, a paperback book or two, two to five CDs in jewel cases, my lunch for the day and various miscellaneous items. I have the left swing blue bag with grey inset diamond and the radio holder option.

I heard about Pac bags from Indy, who has (and can maybe comment on) the Deluxe with a Custom Xiohazard flap.


  • Rock solid. I’ve had mine for over a year and I don’t see a single thread out of place. It looks basically brand new. I’ve taken this things all around the world (Mexico, London, South Africa, Tanzania, Boston, Pittsburgh) and it really seems like it has just been shipped to me. I have had two clips come off and got a prompt replacement on one; the other one I didn’t use much so I didn’t try to get a replacement.
  • Waterproof. A wave hit my bag on a beach while I had two cameras in there. No sign of moisture inside the bag. I’ve walked home in the rain. Similarly, no problems. I haven’t put my bag in the bathtub or anything, but it’s pretty good in my experience.
  • Good weight distrubution while cycling. Even with a fairly full load, I hardly feel it while I’m biking to work. This is what these bags were made for (these are messenger bags first and foremost), so it’s good they do this well. It sits nicely on the small of the back/ pelvis.
  • Anti-sway strap. I think a lot of shoulder bags have this now, but anti-sway straps are absolutely key if you want to bike with a bag.
  • Good for third world traveling. Backpacks are very easily to get pick-pocketed. This bag has two clips and some heavy velcro to open the flap, so it’s too noisy/ difficult to open for pick pockets. I felt a hand on my bag in Tanzania but they didn’t get past the clips even.
  • IPod fits in radio holder. I don’t use this as much as I thought I would, but my iPod fits nicely in the radio holder when the holder is fully tightened down. I can even get to the buttons to change volume or skip a track when I’m on the move.


  • Less than ideal weight distribution while walking. If I have a heavy bag and I’m walking around for hours (like sometimes is the case if I’m sight-seeing), it hurts. One thing I would like to note is that I find I walk with better posture than my normal slouch when I’m walking around wearing the bag.
  • X strap and suspension strapping not options for Street Scene. Pac has some neat features for better weight distribution but they are not options for their lower-cost street scene bags.

Overall, I’ve very happy with it. It was about $150 with all the options and whatnot. It’s well worth the price; it’ll last me a lifetime. The price/ use ratio is something to consider if you’re not going to use it for a while or if you aren’t going to use it very often.



Filed under: — adrian @ 4:54 pm

Over the last two nights I watched part of The Gods Must be Crazy and The Gods Must be Crazy II. Man, what a set of fantastic movies!

The basic plots are Xixo, a bushman from the Kalahari, interacting with “heavy people,” e.g. South Africans and westerners. Both movies have a bumbling South African and a woman who interact in a love story.

There is something very charming about these movies. Movies just aren’t made like this any more! Slapstick humor, slightly spead up film for effect, a goofy “narrator” part that makes it seem like an anthropology movie. The first movie even has this problem with the audio where it’s out of sync with the mouths moving on the screen.

I remember in 1989 or so, we’d just moved to Pittsburgh and the whole family went to see 2 at the Galleria (in the right most theater, if you’re counting). It was just at the time when my brother and I didn’t want to sit with our parents at the movies so we sat up near the front (probably the 3rd row—we’d often sit in the 3rd row) and my parents sat near the back. During the entire movie I could hear my dad’s laughter over everyone else’s.


mmm sugar.

Filed under: — adrian @ 4:44 pm

Yesterday, while out running errands, Andyl and I were at BevMo just across from El Mercadito Latino in Redwood City. I decided to go in to see if they stock Coke in glass bottles made with sugar (instead of corn syrup). They do. I bought 6 @$1.19. I now have 3 left.

It’s so good. I like the glass bottle. I like the way it feels in my hand— the cold glass with condensation. I like the way it feels on my lips. I like the way it tastes; it’s crisper and less syrupy. I like how it reminds me of cokes I had in bottles in South Africa (and, to a lesser extent, Germany and Tanzania among other places).

An article about Mexican Coke vs. American Coke.

Other things that I like in glass bottles or with sugar instead of corn syrup:

yes, to answer your questions, I am apparently a total hippie.



Filed under: — adrian @ 1:27 pm

I saw a Afri Cola bottle while shopping at Bev Mo the other day:

[picture taken with the crappy camera on my sidekick]

and it reminded me of my time in Stuttgart. They had afri cola at the commisary at my company which was open daily from 8:30-10am and 10:30-11am. I’d quite often get a bottle for the afternoon.

I bought the bottle at Bev Mo and drank it. It’s actually not incredible soda, but I don’t care.

I was always struck by the incredible graphic design they had. The white palm tree and “afri cola” on black. So simple, but so catchy. I have a shirt that has that design on it. And that bottle!

I was also reminded about this sweet commercial they had of a bunch of people in a line in a train station or something dancing away the time. I was please to find that afri cola has a bunch of their commericials online, including the the one I remember. It’s still fun to watch.

For the non-german speakers Kein Vergnuegen ohne Gefahr (on the bottle) roughly means “no pleasure without danger” and und alles wird afri roughly means “and everything becomes afri.”

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