Thursday, July 16, 2009

When belief changes

Social media is an amazing thing. On Facebook and Twitter I’ve run into people that if I lived at any point in history past I would have simply never seen or heard from again. So far I’ve reconnected with my third grade teacher, found out that Jason Chesnut married Ann Thames (who saw that coming?) and caught up with people living all over the world.

All this connectivity has an interesting effect on us though, especially for me. You see until now when a person moved half way across the map they were lost to you. If something about them changed dramatically your memory of them was unaffected. Meeting them now can be a little odd as you look into the face you knew  in elementary school connected to a 35 year old body. But imagine you run into the guy that baptized you advocating gay marriage. What if you stumble upon the preacher you listened to for 4 or 5 years and his photo albums contain images of him drinking a martini? Or what if you're the one that used to be the preacher and you open your inbox every day to friendly but persistent stream of emails requesting to know what changed.

I spent ten years as a Southern Baptist minister. Four of those years where in youth ministry, four in pastoring, and two years as a discipleship minister. In those ten years I managed to graduate college, finish about half a masters program, surpass every preaching mentor I could find, get married, have a son, and then divorce.

On April  28, 2003, my 28th birthday, I watched a black Nissan Xterra pull out of a parking lot and drive away with the only life I had ever known. Because of who and what I was there was no separating any part of my life, there was nothing to salvage. I had lived in a glass house for 10 years and when a glass house falls the failure is complete.

I don’t mean to suggest by this description that I have anyone to blame but myself. No divorce is only one person’s fault, however that statement misses the point. I lived by choice for 10 years hiding and manipulating my weaknesses instead of asking for help. It ate away at my soul and destroyed my marriage. It left me broken and alone to live with a calling I could no longer fulfill. There’s an episode of MASH where Hawkeye Pierce (an army doctor for those unfamiliar) stands over a patient on a gurney unable to heal…. unable to save the young man’s life because Pierce’s arms are missing. The scene in the show is a dream, but it happens in real life. It happened to me. But in my situation it was because of my own actions… And it wasn’t a dream.

I wandered home, back to the town I graduated high school from. I refused to preach. For a while I taught Sunday School but it felt dishonest. Not because I didn’t believe but because my beliefs were changing and to be direct most of the people in Sunday School classes are so lost when it comes to religious nuance that they never realized the differences.

The one thing I did have, that I don’t ever remember having before was freedom. I had the freedom to question, to dismantle, and to debate. I was no longer subject to the party line polemics of the church. I was no longer subject to the small handful of untrained theologically inept Christians that seem to inhabit every church with the desire to make intelligent discussion impossible.

There are a thousand stories to tell at this point in my life. Most involving alcohol and the active pursuit of my new freedom, personal not spiritual. There are things I’m not proud of. There are things I will not apologize for. But these things are not the point today. During this time I met a woman. God seems to like this type of plot line, because it shows up in most stories. To make a generally long story short she loved me in spite of myself. She is not traditional, nor containable, nor predictable. She is nothing short of exactly what I needed. She is the other side of my coin. We married and life began afresh.

So maybe you realize that I haven’t answered the question that everyone really asks….. What do you believe now? The answer to that question is only beginning to form . I can tell you that I believe in a god of love and forgiveness, of mercy and grace. I believe that our commandment is to love God and then others and that anything that takes away from that is abject failure. I believe that the Bible has been maligned and skewed to promote the prejudice and hate of a self righteous mob. And I believe that most of the things we believe about the Bible are absolutely false. I believe we’ve created a church so concerned with its own self preservation and glorification that it ignores the plight of people, the discipline of open study, and the narrative of history. As information becomes more and more accessible, the church is becoming more and more anti-intellectual. As the globe continues to shrink, Christians are becoming more and more self contained. What I believe is that the time is coming very soon for a new revolution within Christianity, one that ceases to dogmatically defend and prop up the outdated and useless icons of its dogma and searches to regain the spirit of God for its people. This movement will not be, I hope, a denomination, but a recognition of the need for change across the whole of Christianity and in fact the religions of the world. This is the passion that God is planting in my heart. This is what I believe.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Meditation #2

If a task doesn’t have a deadline, it isn’t a task. Its a wish.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Meditation #1

Not caring about your wife’s pets is sort of like saying her kids are ugly. Tags: ,,

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Microsoft Money leaves me no choice.

One of the lesser considered problems with living in a smaller town is that all the banks may still be locally or regionally owned. As a result the technological advancements of the internet as they pertain to banking are basically unknown to Pastoral Urbania. Most banks don’t reconcile with any desktop financial application in less than 15 steps. Those steps make sense to me as an amateur geek, but for the average Joe its a bit daunting. Local bank’s websites are either draconian or contracted out to some one size fits none third party provider.

All of these reasons and a few dozen more have long made me think about moving my accounts to some national provider that allows me to bank over the internet. The idea of my bank data and my financial records reconciling seamlessly is more than enough to get me to sign the dotted line.

One and only one thing has stopped me. I’ve used Microsoft Money for years. I don’t have to think to use it. I don’t remember ever having to think to use it. It isn’t ugly like Quicken. It doesn’t try to cute or upbeat. It just does it’s job. The clincher however is that its the only app I’ve ever found that produce a real cash flow chart over multiple accounts and forecast that cash flow for any amount of time I choose. (Knowing MS there is some arbitrary date in the future at which time stops but I haven’t found it.) So for that reason I’ve been comfortable enough where I was.

As of today, however, Microsoft Money is no longer available for purchase and support will be phased out over the next 18 months. So some bank and financial software needs to right a thank you note to Microsoft because that’s all the reason I needed.

I’m pretty sure who’s going to get my business but that’s another post. Get Rich Slowly has a great list of possibilities here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Good luck Mister Sheppard.

Most of the beneficial legislation in this world that fails to make it into law does so because of the good intentions of misinformed people. If the Matthew Sheppard Hate Crime bill fails to pass that will definitely be the reason. There's nothing quite like listening to conservative ministers, church goers, and politicians ramble on about the dangers of a bill that basically says that while its already wrong to shoot a man to steal his money, its worse to shoot a man because he slept with another guy last night.

Most of the misinformation about hate crime legislation is centered around the idea that it legitimizes homosexual behavior. Simply, if the government says its worse to shoot a guy because he's gay ,then the government is saying it is good that he is gay. The problem with this argument is that the bill covers any type of hate crime. It would be just as applicable if a rowdy crew of gay men killed me because I'm heterosexual. Conservatives who say that the bill is really only about homosexuality are actually the reason that the bill is seen as only about homosexuality. Secondly nobody every talks about the fact that there is already a Hate Crime bill on the books from 1969. This bill simple expands the definition and reach of government in protecting its citizenry.


Here’s a few of the problem areas…
Hate crime legislation is aimed at silencing people, especially ministers, who think that homosexuality is wrong. The problem with this statement is that the same bill specifically maintains free speech and if it didn't the bill would fail Constitutionally anyway. The idea that the legislation is attempting to control speech is a straw man argument. Conservatives can’t beat the bill on its merits, so they’ll just make all there congregations scared of it.

In my local paper one minister reported as saying "he has a problem with hate crimes in general, because one crime should not weigh more than another." Even if the speaker was to modify this obviously ridiculous statement, lest we all get the death penalty for our unpaid parking tickets... the statement is still false. American law and Old Testament law define the killing of another human in types and levels including manslaughter and murder. We all recognize levels for murder depending on the situation.

Pastors who speak against homosexuality could not be convicted if someone heard them and then committed a violent act. There is a massive difference between inciting violence and saying that an action is wrong. Americans have consistently allowed for racists, communist, flag burners, and all matter of fringe groups to speak there mind as long as their actions do not lead to violence even if Americans as a whole seem to disagree with their beliefs. There’s no reason to believe America, or more specifically the Justice system, would react any differently to a group that believes like roughly half of the country claims to believe.


All murder is a hate crime and there's already a law against that. This statement is untrue for two reasons. First of all most murder doesn’t have anything to do with hate. Most murder is about greed, envy, or simply the fear of being caught for other wrongdoings. Its more likely that a murderer will claim to have loved his victim than it is that he hated him.

Hate Crime Legislation is not Socialist. ( I know this seems basic, but not according the Catholic priest in Pastoral Urbania.)

Homosexuality is not a civil right, its a moral choice. This is probably my favorite fallacious statement about Hate Crime legislation. The basic premise of civil rights is that a person should be able to live unfettered in their personal beliefs and actions, so long as he doesn’t cause harm or undue problems on the society as whole. Therefore if someone kidnaps and murders me because of something I believe or do that is not illegal my civil rights are unavoidably being violated. The fact that sexual orientation is not explicitly protected is irrelevant.


But all of this is not what bothers me most about Conservatives and their campaign against anything that might make homosexuals feel less like second class citizenry. My God is a god of amazing grace and love. He has accepted me in all of my faults and failings, persistent as they are. He has made it my job to speak to the world on his behalf. Even if I thought that homosexuality was wrong, I would never turn to fellow human being and say that if someone kills you because you love another man I think that’s ok. Which is exactly what we tell them when bring these ludicrous arguments to the public forum.


And for the conservative’s that are still with me. Let me ask you this. Even if we assume you are correct. Even if we assume homosexuality is a choice. Even if we assume that homosexuals need to be saved from unrighteousness in their lives. How can you share the love of Christ with the homosexual, when the red neck asshole at local bar just killed him?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Why you should carry a purse.

Man bag, murse, messenger... whatever. Now that some of the hype is calming down and nobody is talking about Tom Brady's its time for you to embrace a truly utilitarian piece of daily luggage. Here's why.

1. Yes that is my scotch and no you can't have any. Some things make your life more comfortable. You like to be comfortable. These items should be with you as much as is possible. A magazine, a book, smokes, phone, web book, whatever. If having a bag of your favorite tea and a camera to take a picture of an art deco entry way you happen across add meaning to your life then you should enjoy them.

2. Life requires gear. Remember what boy scouts taught you. Be Prepared. A few simple items in a bag and you can take on the world. Afraid of the dark? Attracted to spaghetti sauce? Blackberry always dead? You're a mini mag light, shout wipes, and a short usb cable from world domination.

3. A growth isn't sexy. Is that a rabbit in your coat or are you just happy to see me? Pockets on clothing weren't designed to carry what we put in them. They weren't designed to contain and conceal an iPod, a cell phone, a wallet, and a sandwich for lunch. The stuff in you pockets makes you look misshapen. Bulges are only appropriate where you shouldn't have any pockets.

4. Its better than a string on your finger. When you can't seem to get some task done, an errand for example, its usually because you never have the information or document you need to complete it. If you keep all your open loops in the bag, then you're always prepared to close them.

5. 2 hours in line to vote... No Problem. More time each day than we'd like is spent waiting. It doesn't matter what for but more often than not its in a place that isn't ours. A waiting room, a restaurant, in line at the post office. Your bag is basically your personal mobile office. Skim a magazine/newspaper, work out some thoughts in a Moleskin, read the mail you hadn't gotten around to, listen to a podcast. Now all those options are yours because the stuff is with you.

So... you'll be more comfortable, be more prepared, look better, be more productive and less bored. And we haven't even talked about how great some of these bags look.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Christians and Alcohol

A few days ago a friend of mine attended a regular small group bible study.  During the discussion a woman made the claim that all or at least most of the references in the New Testament to wine use a Greek word reserved specifically for non-alcoholic wine or basically grape juice. First… that just isn’t true. There is no Koine Greek word that means non-alcoholic wine, at least not that used in the New Testament text. It simply isn’t present. More importantly, word meaning in translation is completely dependant on the context of the word. So if the the story makes the idea of non-alcoholic wine absurd then that would be more telling of the word’s meaning than any dictionary definition. Languages are fluid and alive and cannot be used without an understanding of context..For further discussion, consider the story of the water turned into wine. When Jesus turns water into wine at a wedding in Cana.

When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom,

and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.

The passage only makes sense with alcoholic wine. The headwaiter is clearly claiming that normally poorer wine is served to save money once revelers have consumed enough wine to not notice the difference. This is the most obvious text to use against tee totalers because it isn’t a simple reference to the presence of alcohol. It is a description of the son of God producing and distributing alcohol which in Pastoral Urbania would get him arrested for lacking a license.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fatherhood, Natural and Assumed

Regardless of whether it has gone out of fashion in today’s society, deep in the heart of every man is a desire to protect his loved ones. To make sure that they feel safe when you’re around, like the calming presence of a strong lion protecting the rest of the pride. Though I’m sure that this instinct is there with boys as well, the strong conviction I have to protect my daughter is greater than nearly anything I’ve felt in my life. It isn’t a feeling that has to be worked up, it’s just there, like cement, daring someone to move it.

I found this quote today and immediately knew the author's heart. He's correct that the instinct to protect is also present with boys, however it is different. The instinct to protect your son is usually tempered by a desire for him to learn and adapt. What I mean is that you want to keep your son safe enough. With daughters, fathers are much more willing to explain what could have happened in complete safety, rather than letting them actually fall and then rescue them.

What I find even more amazing though is that the instinct to protect a daughter is not at all biological. My daughters are not mine biologically. But I know of no possible way that my desire to protect them could be any more absolute. And as the quote says... There was no learning curve to ramp up... One day my oldest called me daddy and the desire to protect fell like a ton of bricks.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

10 Things I Love: Relaxation Edition

10.The way a hardback book feels in your hand.

9. Watching my wife and daughter get ready in our single 10 square foot bathroom. (Oddly it doesn't seem to relax them the same way.)

8. Schmoozing with George. George is the owner of my favorite restaurant, he's 30 years my senior, Italian, and amazing. English is, I believe, his 12th language. There's nothing quite like listening to an Italian yell in German at an American football game that's on a Japanese TV.

7. Earl Grey tea.

6. My pipe. Especially with Sherlock tobacco. An unfinished Savinelli that my wife gave me. Just holding it relaxes me. Much to my youngest daughter's amusement, I have a tendency to carry it wherever I go even though I rarely smoke away from home.

5. The weight of my dog's chin on my knee when she needs her ears scratched. We have 5 dogs... That makes me tired just typing it... But Bella is the queen. Full Blood Boxer goodness and the sweetest dog to ever live.

4. A snifter of after work scotch. Especially Glennfiddich. You remember the old Calgon commercials? That's what my 5:07pm cocktail does for me. I stand in the living room, still in my suit, wafting the bouquet of my ambrosia while 5 dogs explain in full synchronized expressive dance how they missed our family all day, my wife and daughter prepare for whatever their evening's mischief will be, and my wife tells me about her day... not in rapid succession but at the exact same time. A guy with ADD has to have chemical assistance or the scene would make me pass out from sheer number of stimuli.

3. Working in the garden.When you work with technology and people who don't know how to right click all day... Dirt is very calming.

2. Enjoying the dinner my wife prepared with friends. The equation is simple. The event can never be announced before 5:45pm on the same night of the event. I will be sent to the local market for any necessities while C cooks. At least two visitors will arrive. There will be much wine, more talk, and my wife perfecting the whole gala in her amazing grace.

1. The 10 minutes of whispering with my wife in bed before I fall asleep each night.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Awkward Family Photos

And I thought my flared corduroy pants were difficult to explain.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Of Note...

This month's British GQ brings us:
  • A humorous op-ed piece called The bonfire of the pieties by Dylan Jones.
  • For most of us, an introduction to indie rocker Natasha Khan.
  • Several solid fashion pictorials.
  • And a nice synopsis of James Gandolfini's lastest project.
Its worth mentioning that I did not find the piece on January Jones particularly mesmerizing but it accomplished its purpose.... which was to justify the cover photo. However I will point out that this is an excellent example of what makes the British edition of the magazine much more interesting to me. Their cover ... however sexually motivated is of a 31 year old actress who can actually act and is known more for her beauty and talent than her nightlife escapades. Last month they had an interview with Eva Green. The Americans have had Lindsay Lohan twice in as many years, Megan Fox and J. Aniston. And while the latter is older and a capable actress, her placement on the cover was completely based on tormenting her ex-husband. Note to the editors: Leave the faces of the moment to Maxim and show us the characters that are actually interesting.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A good example of why life should imitate art and not vice versa

This video reminds me of the first week of knowing the woman that would become my wife... And it reminds me that I still feel like this.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

4 Argument's You Can't Use Against Gay Marriage.

Marriage is defined as between a man and a woman.

Definitions are not rules. They aren't laws. A definition is a description of what a word means at the time the description is written. It is in and of itself amoral. It is the consensus of what speakers of the language mean when they use the word. Therefore unless we clarify what type of definition we're referring to (legal, scientific, etc.) the definition changes as quickly as our usage. So what the word is documented as meaning cannot be an argument against change. The fact that the definition would have to change is not persuasive in any way since they'll print a new edition of the dictionary next year if the definition of marriage evolves or not.

Secondly, we only disallow marriages based on gender. Any other infraction of the definition of marriage in society today does not lead to a politically required banning of or end to a marriage.

Adultery does not affect an immediate divorce in any state... the partner must file for it. If two people define their marriage as open (meaning they are free to be sexually active outside the marriage) then we still allow them to marry. Even though a monogamous homosexual relationship is probably much closer to the traditional definition of marriage.

If we say gay marriage is acceptable, then next we'll say that (enter awful sounding sexual act usually involving childern or animals) is ok.

This argument is wrong for two reasons. First its an argument based on the slippery slope fallacy. Simply, that one action without a doubt will lead to a secondary action which in turn will lead to another. In its purest form the fallacy is called the Armageddon argument, where whatever action someone is arguing against will without fail lead to the end of the world, whether literally or figuratively. For an argument to retain any validity it must make a direct causal connection between the primary action and the caused effect. The argument that gay marriage will lead to inter species marriage is my personal favorite. Heterosexual marriage has been around for some time, but a man marrying a female horse I'm fairly sure is still illegal. The point is this. The only place there is a similarity between gay marriage and these deplorable actions that opponents bring up is their own distaste for the actions themselves. There is no logical reason why gay marriage would lead to any other type of contract that doesn't specifically have to do with homosexuality.

Secondly, this argument sometimes finds an audience because of a general misunderstanding of homosexuality. There is no direct tie between homosexuality and actions that we would consider unacceptable or sexually deviant. Pedophilia is as horrifying to the homosexual as it is to the heterosexual. The basic core of homosexual or heterosexual marriage is love, commitment, and consent between two people.

The Bible says that its wrong.

If people don't believe in the Bible then this is just a stupid argument. You're presupposing that something gives you credibility that doesn't and it just makes you look dumb. Even if you can completely prove that the whole Bible undeniably condemns homosexuality (which is doubtful) then all you've proven is that your opponent disagrees with the Bible and thwarted your own ability to use that text as a source of wisdom or inspiration on any other subject. Think of it this way... If you think the Bible is a moral compass and I argue that something is wrong because the Koran says so, is that really helpful?

The Happy Argument

Version 1 Gay marriages aren't happy. I know of one that is... argument over.

Version 2 Most Gay marriages aren't happy. Most heterosexual marriages aren't happy... next?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Anthony Hare

This morning's internet monitoring turned up an interesting Canadian illustrator named Anthony Hare. His work is published all over and has a definite New Yorker quality to it. His flickr account is here. And below are a few of my favorites.

Quote of the Day

No doubt, if we Americans spent as much time reading, studying, and thoughtfully reflecting as the British, we would be every bit as intelligent, literary and articulate as them. But we have better things to do, such as getting more money, and calling in our votes for America's Sexiest Food-Obsessed Midgets, and keeping the world safe from democracy.
George Suanders excerpt from The Braindead Megaphone

Friday, May 1, 2009

Why you should drink espresso.

My trip to the coffee store this morning proved inspirational to the following list while I drove to work.

  1. It's cheaper than a venti non-fat mochachino with a shot of caramel... a double espresso is always less than three bucks. Save two dollars a morning times three mornings a week times one year and you could buy this.
  2. It's what you want... you drink coffee for the caffiene. Anything added is fluff.
  3. You get to be a purist. No greater way to start the day than a knowing smile from a barista, the third hardest group of people to impress (after IRS Agents and prospective mothers-in-law).
  4. It's more consistent. Every pour of espresso is certainly different but when you add the barista, three other ingredients, and the morning rush to your coffee who knows what your going to end up with in the cup. First thing in the morning is not the time for surprises.
  5. It's faster. During rush, baristas tend to have every espresso machine pouring at any given time its possible. If all they have to do is pour yours in a cup, you'll usually be in your car by the time the two guys before you get their coffee.
  6. It's cleaner. Ever drop a venti mocha valencia in your car? My five year old could carry the 2 to 4 ounces of liquid in that espresso container on a roller coaster and not spill it.
  7. It's healthier. Its the drink you get now, minus the sugar and fat.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Art of White.

Todd White is a painter that lives in southern California, but he's originally from Texas. His pieces concentrate on musicians, revelers, and women. I was first introduced to him by a print in a store that looked exactly like a good friend of mine... beautiful and feisty. The picture below is called Dibbs. Between the suit, the hair, and the tumbler it was easy to find myself in the painting.

Again... a bit of likeness.

For me White captures the scenes that I want to see exist... Parties where women sip wine in strapless evening gowns and men dress more like the characters of Ocean's 11 than Dodgeball.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Things my ex-girlfriends taught me.

1. All of your clothes are too big.
2. She's dirtier (read more sexually adventurous) than you are... no really.
3. Tell anyone about the previous statement and you will never benefit from its truthfulness again.
4. When life gets tough first... shut up... second... hold her. Repeat until the tears stop.
5. Similarities between she and her mother should be noticed but never discussed.
6. The fact that the rules change every day when she wakes up pisses her off just as much as it does you.
7. Always take a jacket to the movie theater... always.
8. At special events coordinate with what she's wearing... because basically... you're a purse.
9. Always compliment her shoes.
10. Winning the battle usually costs you the war.

Someday soon I'm going to follow up this post with a list of all the things my wife has taught me... Right now I'm on number 457.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Pastoral Urbanite

Rock and roll is ultimately a pose. And despite the fact that at some point in the history of what is called punk, "poseur" was about the worst thing anyone could call you, the whole point was posing until the pose took and your dreams became authentic. Today, in the world where the Bowery is where millionaires live, authenticity is what you make of it. I wear it, therefore I am.1 - Glenn O'Brien
I am the Pastoral Urbanite.

Its a pose I'm convinced. But with Mr. O'Brien's definition in mind, its a pose I'm willing hold until it takes.

I dwell in a small college town, but I've lived in a big city.
I've gazed from the vista and teetered on the building ledge.
I've trudged a dirt road and I've hailed a cab in the rain.
I've towered in the pulpit and wallowed on the curb.

What I've learned is that either place has things I love and things that I hate. So now I spend my days and nights with a woman I love looking for the balance of life. A life where success isn't defined by the size of my house or my ability to fit within the accepted norms of the people around me. A life with fresh basil from the garden, picked while still in the suit and tie from the workday. A life where Sinatra is just as likely as Kanye to turn up in the playlist. A life full of friends from every background and discussions from every position. A life with bicycle rides for groceries, pictures of my smiling children, and nights on the sofa figuring out if the world is actually going to hell in a hand basket.

The pose I choose is to take the best of the urbane, mix it with the fruits of the pastoral, and make a life worth living. Sometimes it will read like a poem, more often like a magazine, and sometimes like a farm report. But it will be as honest as I can be while holding the pose.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Thoughts on Esquire's Portable Style Manifesto (in 3 parts)

1. The suit's got to fit. Esquire is right. While a general slide toward casual is devastating the suit market, you walking around like you're wearing your dad's hand me downs isn't helping. However true the rule is please ignore Esquire's oft quoted hand in jacket trick for checking your size. Buy your suits from a reputable retailer who has a measuring tape within easy reach. Your body type and personal style have a lot more to do with how your suit fits than how big your hand is, but generally you're suits are probably too large and your slacks sitting too low.

2. Respect the tie. Tuck in the shirt. Button the jacket. Get it right, all the time, every day. Esquire, again, is right. There are times to loosen your tie, untuck your shirt, and unbutton your jacket but those times are exceptions. Those actions are sloppy and their power comes from judicious use. If you use them every day then you'll just come off unkept. Instead take 10 minutes every morning to make sure your tie knot is immaculate, your shirt is tucked nicely, and you coat is appropriately buttoned. You're trouble will be noticed even if no one knows exactly what they're appreciating. And the next time you loosen your tie at the office you'll make a statement instead of a whimper.

3. Something on you person should always make a statement, and that statement should preferably be "Go to hell." Yes, again but tread carefully. This is one of those rules that can be easily overdone. Make a statement... Don't make a soliloquy. A belt buckle, odd socks, your lucky dice cuff links and a paisley pocket square all on the same day makes a statement where you're the punch line. One statement of personal style at a time is good place to start and if you're really up tight starting with something generally hidden is fine.