Articles about USA

Only Way is Dapper Ways

gingergrizzlyIt is not easy to look this great. It takes years to find the right diet, plastic surgeon, fitness program, but more importantly, the right hair dresser.  And I have been doing the latter wrong all these years of my adulthood.

My hair has been messed up with no clear direction and simply trying to get some styling done has proven to be a utter challenge.

Like so many trend setters before me, men have gone to high street hair salons, operated by wonderful women who had or has little understanding for a man’s desire to look awesome.  I need to look like a lumberjack, fresh from the mountains, and still rock an office doe that will make my male colleagues stare in amazement wondering who this awesome dude is.

The answer has been simple and right in front of me, but I haven’t dared to sit my feet in a barbers since I was 9 years old.

Back then, in the late 70’s, I went to the local barber in my home town.  The “barbers” had no training whatsoever and probably learned how to cut hair on Barbie dolls, sheep or blind folded.  They knew one cut, and if you asked for another, they frowned and gave you the standard cut.

Because I was 9 and had been running around all day, I was rather tired.  As a result, I started to doze of in the barber’s chair.  For the record … BIG MISTAKE!

haircut misfortune
obviously not me – just taken from Internet

I most have tilted my head slightly as the older (70+ year old) barber was cutting, and my fringe ended up with an increase of 2 inches from left to right.  It looked as if I had a half open curtain across my forehead, resembling characters from “Dumb Dumber”.

As a 9 year old boy, that is not cool.  I knew I would get a severe beating from other boys at school, or at least be humiliated in front of my 3rd grade crush. Utter devastation loomed.

I begged my mother to correct the mistakes, either by cutting the fringe straight or buying me a cool woollen hat, despite it being mid summer and 80+F degrees.

Years later, the trauma was still haunting me, when Felicia (3rd grade crush) laughed at my fringe that had been corrected by my mum, and was not 3 inches above my eye brows and none-existing.

Being happily married, and only other dad’s to impress at local school, I decided it was time to find a suitable barber.  You see them all over and I’ve sent my son there a few times with ok results.

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 17.37.16I found this cool place, Dapper Ways, and booked a time.  I had no idea what the different options were (gentleman’s cut, etc.) but that was part of the experience.  Dapper Ways has a cool interior and something seemed right.

Upon arriving, Nick greeted me.  He happens to be the owner and carries this amazing beard, and arms covered in tattoos.  I was greeted with a smile and took my place in the barber’s chair.  The next 40 mins was an experience I had not tried before.

This dude knows how to cut hair and beard.  He was using the buzzers, scissors and blade razor.  I had warm shaving foam on my face, hot towel and he even edged my sides to perfection.  Man, this was awesome.

I looked sharp.  I had a hair doe that made me feel like a million dollars, and Nick had been a true gentleman when doing his thing.  I can only say, you gotta try and visit Nick.

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 17.36.54This was absolutely the best hair dresser experience in decades, when I tried to impress a cute girl who was a hair dresser and learning Italian … another blog post entirely.

It was so good my wife smiled and winked at me, and pinched my left butt cheek.  My co-workers parted in front of me like Moses at the Red Sea, and the guys were asking what happened.  OK, slightly exaggerated, but it was bloody cool.

A few weeks later I took my son, and Nick did another splendid job.  Please note, my son has Down Syndrome, and sitting still is an Olympic challenge, but there was no moving around and just cool attitude towards getting his hair done.

3 thumbs up - Go visit Nick and Dapper Ways!

Winter is Coming with a Body Slam

signThe winter had been pretty mild.  We’ve had a fair share of freezing my butt of cold days and nights, and some days my eyes froze.  But, nothing severe like 2-3 feet of snow in 12 hours or a sudden avalanche from the nearby mountain.

Deep inside my rather shallow body, I had a suspecion that we would get absolutely creamed and dumped on.  We couldn’t just get a mild winter with a few inches of snow.  I needed to use my snow blower, and at least 100 lbs of road salt (from my 1000lbs stash), to proudly be able to say “winter is coming!“.

When they decided to consult with a rodent, the annual groundhog day, I was not surprised when the furry critter predicted another six weeks of winter.  He too knew winter was coming.  I must admit, asking a small furry dude to predict the weather is rather odd, but hey, stranger things happens.

It was rather pleasant when we had a 62F winter day, and I could drive with the windows down.  Little did I know that winter was indeed coming.  The weather guys did warn the population, but when you sit in a t-shirt, listening to Shakira, you can’t really take them seriously.  Surely winter is over!

Later that evening, snow did cover the night sky, and temperature dropped.  By 4.30am we received a call from the school, saying school would be closed – followed by a number of emails and text messages.  All stating “winter is coming!“.

dayaftertomorrowEarly morning and first light, showed how busy Mother Nature had been.  Everything was covered in a thick layer of snow, and it did not look like stopping.  It just kept coming and coming.  As if Mother Nature wanted to make a point “it ain’t over until I say so”.

Mid afternoon the snow finally stopped, although a rather brisk breeze kept blowing snow around.  Winds were howling and my eyeballs got frostbites when I peeked out the door.

I knew I had to deal with it.  I prefer not to engage in cardio exercises when it is this cold, but when you have a 200 feet driveway, and it is not electrical heated, someone has to clear it.  AND, that someone is obviously me.

All three kids had “sudden” symptoms of fever or coughing, and informed me they were unavailable for child labour.  My wife had to work (new job and trying to impress the boss) and my loyal brown Labrador was pretending to be paralysed.  All in all, a sorry bunch of heroes.

I dressed up for my arctic experience and started my 30″ snow blower.  This beast could take on anything; jaw crunching snow eaters and strong caterpillar track.  We were going to conquer this together.

clarkThe size of the task became apparent when I opened the garage door in best Clark Griswold style.  The snow was about a foot deep, and had completely erased my landscaped garden and driveway.  It was there somewhere.  I just had to find it. … mission accepted!

Snow was flying all over as my snow monster was eating through all the snow, trying to find the surface.  We were in this together.  The red paint was gradually being covered with snow and icicles, and so was my beard.

2 hours later and I had cleared the driveway.  Well, there was still a thin layer of snow on the tarmac, which at this point was starting to freeze.  A few times I almost lost my footing, but mostly recovered while letting out a few yelps.  It was manly yelps in case you wondered.

As I was preparing for one final turn, a small pivot with my snow blower, my legs literally disappeared underneath me.  It was like watching a movie in slow motion, and felt even slower.

I made a few graceful attempts to recover the inevitable, only to suddenly lift off the ground and body slam into the ground.  Not a hope of bracing the fall with my arms, as I for some reason decided to hold on to the bloody snow blower.

The wind was knocked out of my chest, and as I laid there looking at the tarmac, I melted the ice with my breath.  I couldn’t even call out in pain and was stuck for several seconds.  It was pretty clear that body slamming 200lbs of Scandinavian bacon does some impact, and the pain quickly shared that observation as I could feel a shooting pain in my chest.

I’m not a doctor or expert, but it was obvious that I had fractured or bruised a rib or two.  But, in true manly spirit, I got up, and continued my work … at least for a further 23 seconds.

At that point I did what all men does.  I walked to the porch, sat down and waiting for anybody in my family to notice me and give me some sympathy.  That failed, and after 12 minutes of self indulged suffering, I went back to spray salt on the fecking ice.  That’s how you deal with it.  You spray salt on that shit.

Now I’m praying and hoping that winter is truly over.  I’ve had enough of this white stuff.  Winter did come! Mother Nature kicked my arse, and big boys do cry.

wintercame

Thank you America!

thanksIt is the time of the year where millions of Americans travel across the country to celebrate Thanksgiving.  It is probably the only holiday they can agree to celebrate, no matter which religious belief you might have.  These mass migrations take place leading up to the last Thursday in November, and the entire road, rail and air systems are gridlocked.  They want to spend time with their families, and eat an innocent turkey.

It is a sense of belonging and greatfullness that started back in the day, when the firtst settlers sat down with the native indians to eat food.  And, just because of that gesture by the native indians, the settlers survvied and learned to integrate into the American ecosystem.

The actual meal in itself is ‘just’ another excuse to eat excessively.  There is a large selection of scrumptious pies, multitude of sides, sweet potato mash with marshmallows, and of course the main star of the dinner – the turkey.

The turkey itself is most times larger than the oven.  It is actual difficult finding a turkey less than 18lbs, and I often wonder what they feed these suckers since they are that large.  They are not obese, but nice and firm.

We moved here 5+ years ago, and the US has taken us in and made us feel very welcome.  99% of the people we’ve met are super friendly, and they never question why we are here.

One of the key things my wife and I have agreed upon, is that no-matter which country we live in, we have to integrate.  This integration starts with adoption and celebrating the holidays and key events.  You need to know these and show appreciation of the events.

We love thanksgiving.  We understand why it is celebrated and love the fact that this day is a very important family day.  It makes us feel part of the country and culture, especially when colleagues and friends invite us to their special days.

The other side which we we love is the food. OMG!

The food for thanksgiving is absolutely amazing.  No wonder I have gained 20lbs.  It’s another blog just to talk about food, but it is fantastic.  Many Europeans don’t really understand the excessive eating, but we have fully embraced it.

You will never integrate if you do not participate.  That’s what many foreigners don’t get.  It does not mean you have to give up your national identify and heritage, but merely that you respect the country you live in.  The country that has adopted you and given you opportunities to grow.  That is how you respect and thank it.

But why do we celebrate Thanksgiving in our family, since we weren’t here hundreds of years ago and have limited connection to the history of Thanksgiving?

We are proud to live here.  America has given us opportunities we didn’t have elsewhere.  We are thankful for being allowed to participate, and we are even more thankful for being included in their culture.  Our kids are flourishing.  We have met new friends.  We have a wonderful life.  We love life!

It is not easy to explain, but we feel at home here.  That is why we are thankful.  We thank the American people for welcoming us with open arms.

Thank you ‘Merica!

godblessus

The Carmine Code

carminesFor those not familiar with Carmine’s, it’s an amazing Italian family restaurant.  It opened its doors back in 1990, and pride itself to for making any meal feel like an Italian American wedding feast.

Many of my colleagues had spoken about Carmine’s, and I have heard reference to it on the radio and even in a few movies

… I think!

It was one of those places we simply had to visit, but we rarely went into the City.  If we did, it was mostly my wife and I, or perhaps just for a few business meetings.

A few days ago, the opportunity came knocking.  We had planned a visit to Broadway to see the “King and I” musical, as part of a fantastic offer with TDF who organises autism friendly performances.

After the amazing performance, it was late in the afternoon and we needed to refuel our bodies with some lovely food.  I unlocked my iPhone, opened the OpenTable app and made a reservation at Carmine’s.  It was like a new adventure was about to start.  Something mystical and mesmerising.

It was a journey to Shangri-La of food happy utopia, where we would sample wonderful dishes in a great atmosphere and among likeminded food loving people.

cloudyThe place itself wasn’t something amazing on the outside.  It was merely a small shop front, which led into a small bar area, full of people.  Then a dark magical staircase to the other side – to the promised land.

As we ascended the stairs, we were greeted by numerous scents and flavours.  It was in reality a smack to the face of gourmet food, and I was almost knocked off my feet by the sheer vapour bomb of food smells …. lovely food smell.

The waiter placed us at a family sized table, comfortable seating all five of us.  I glanced around the room and was pleasant surprised that this was in fact only large families.  People were happy, smiling, laughing and eating.  My kind of place!

We were Carmine virgins.  At least that’s what I told the very friendly waiter, and he was enthusiastic about explaining us the Carmine Code.  It was simple actually.

"This is a family restaurant
We serve family sized portions
The table share the food."

We ordered a salad, veal steak w/ mash and mixed plate of pasta.  According to the waiter, this should feed our hungry family.

Half way through the salad, which made Olive Garden’s salad tray look like a starter, I realized that we might have ordered a bit too much.

Then the two main courses arrived and I must’ve arrived in heaven.  In front of us were two large sized trays, filled with food.  Enough food to feed our family for a week.

I had to sample every piece, and it was fantastic.  Not Michelin star food, but real Italian style food, almost as mama would make it.  And, that was despite the amount of people who were eating with us, how many had been before us, and how many were coming after us.

I hit the food brickwall hard.  It was not unpleasant, but I was disappointed with my own performance.  We had barely made a dent in the past samples, and still half veal dish left.

heart-cloudsThankfully they have an excellent doggie bag attitude, and placed all the left-overs in tinfoil trays and a large shopping bag.

It was heaven.  We had just witnessed a food revelation and had in an instant become Carmine followers.  This was an amazing experience, and thank you food God for letting us experience utter stuffedness.

An All American Family Event

rocklandbouldersWe recently did something really traditionally American. We attended a minor league baseball games, supporting the local Rockland Boulders.

Our daughter had won tickets to a game, and was going to throw the first pitch.  It was part of a school challenge, and she won for having read most books.  Super cool and super proud.

As it turned out, it was actually a Guinness Book of Records attempt too, as they were going to have 126 kids throw the first pitch at the same time.  That meant that her and I were going to be on the actual pitch, in front of the crowd.  Very cool indeed 🙂

I’ve attended a few New York Yankees games, but it is so boring to sit through 9 innings, drinking expensive bottled beers ($10 per bottle) and attempt to keep the kids entertained.  Don’t get me wrong, Yankee Stadium is an amazing stadium and a worthwhile visit.

Rockland Boulders stadium is much better and more family friendly.  They still have the less healthy fast foods, but they also have more activities for the kids.  And the seats are much better.  In fact, the kids loved going there and we even enjoyed the game.

We will absolutely be going back to watch Rockland Boulders again.  Thanks for a great evening Rockland Boulders.