Monday, February 27, 2012

The Man Sphere Magazine Format Officially Launched TODAY!

It's taken a lot of gruelling horrible work, but we finally launched The Man Sphere in its online magazine format!

Not to worry...stalwart readers of this blog will still get regular blog updates right here. This reformatting and rebranding effort is just a way to separate my personal quips from real content media, which has allowed me to do things like create categories specifically for advince on home maintenance, music and entertainment reviews, and interviews -- all the good stuff that dudes (and not-so-dudes) want to read but don't want to spend extra time poking around a blogger blog for.

If you haven't done so already, swing by The Man Sphere ( and check it out. This week (we'll run biweekly and see how that goes) we're featuring interviews with the amazing singer/songwriter Basia Lyjak and the somewhat less amazing but no less admirable Rugged Dude.

And pretty soon you'll be able to follow along right here with my own progress when we launch our Shape Up for Summer Contest 2012. Gonna be fun!

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter too, for lots more fun and lots more stuff guys want to know.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Funny, Romantic Valentine's Chats

Well, we can't let another February 14th roll by without a little nod to the cuddly cuteness of Valentine's Day. So, in honour of love and romance, I thought I'd share a funny little Valentine's chat and see where it takes you today.

Enjoy :)

He: Morning :)
He: Happy Valentine's Day <3
She: Mornin'...Happy valentine's day 
He: If I was there, I totally would have made you breakfast in bed :) 
She: That would have been sweet 
He: Then I would have nailed you. Just sayin. 
She: Haha cute 
He: Oh trust me...after a breakfast like that, you'd find me irresistable.
He: You'd be on me like Charlie Sheen on a Star cover.
She: What were you gonna do...drug me? 
He: That wasn't nice :(
He: Here I am gushing romantic sentiments about nailing you...romantically...and you go and throw me a burn.
She: Nailing me "romantically" lol 
He: What? I'd take my socks off. Jeez. 
She: Hahaha
She: Now that is soooo romantic
He: See? Anything for you babe.
Have a funny or cute chat you'd like to share? Post it in the comments below.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Getting Ready for Planting

One of these days I'll get some info up on that whole eating wild plants thing. It's kind of cool, the number of ordinary things that grow everywhere that we don't even think of as food. In the event of a disaster, most of us would just stand on our driveways and starve!

But for now, we'll have to settle for planting things we know we can eat. And with spring coming up fast, it's time to take a quick look at things that can go in the garden (or your square-foot garden) nice and early.

Broccoli: This stuff hates hot weather, so you either want to plant it early in the spring or later towards the fall. It actually tastes better as a fall plant, but a spring crop is a nice way to kick off the gardening season. For a spring crop, plant seeds indoors six weeks before last frost, and bed out hardened seedlings when they're four weeks old.

Spinach and Swiss Chard: Plant it when you're able to work the soil. You can start it earlier indoors as well, and put sprouted plants out after frost (spinach doesn't really mind the frost that much though). This stuff doesn't like a lot of heat, but it will grow all summer. The trouble with heat is that the plants will actually grow too fast and can get a little tough, so spring leafy greens are always the way to go.

Lettuce: Pretty much the same as spinach. Very easy to grow, and very tasty when harvested in slightly chilly conditions. You can eat spinach or lettuce as soon as leaves appear. If you're square-foot gardening, wait until you have enough for a salad!

TIP: You don't have to harvest lettuce and spinach right out of the soil. Cut the leaves about an inch above the soil, and they'll re-sprout for you. Do this until the leaves get bitter, and you can have a crop for several months.

Cabbage: Basically the same as for broccoli.

Peas: There's a tradition of planting peas on St. Patrick's Day, but in Canada this is pretty early in the season. Throw them in a month later and you'll have a ton of peas throughout the early summer.

These are plants you can get started with early in the season. Check a few online resources for tips on summer crops that you'll need to get ready next, because once these plants run their course, your next bunch will have to be almost set for harvest.

Peas and broccoli, by the way, are great for freezing, so you can do entire patches of these and set yourself up for next winter. They do need to be parboiled before freezing though, so make sure you set aside enough time to do this (or do it a bit at a time). You could freeze spinach as well, but the boiling won't leave it as salad greens.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The "Pushin' 40" Bucket List pains me to say it, but I'm pushing forty. And the one thing that I notice that's indicative of that age--aside from suddenly observing and commenting on the astronomical stupidity of the next generation--is the goofy things my peers seem to be doing all of a sudden to claim, or reclaim, some of their lost youth.

It's funny: growing up, you look at the mid-life crisis as something to be avoided. "No way man," you think in your teens, "I'm never gonna have to go through that, cuz I'm gonna rock HARD for f'n ever!!"

Yeah right.

Now, to be fair, forty is far from middle-age. Calling it a "mid-life crisis" is a misnomer (is it? it's halfway to eighty, after all). But realistically in the man's world there's a big dip in testosterone levels starting at about age 30. The physiological effects of this are obvious, but strangely enough the psychological effects seem even more potent. It suddenly becomes obvious that there's too much meat around the midsection. Hoisting your butt off the couch to get a snack is an effort. Hot college girls are still hot, but you know that to them you're just some old guy (who could hang out with their dad). And you know that you'd have to get your doctor's permission to chase them anyway, or run the risk of serious injury to your poor ticker.

Here's the thing guys: you know that's all bullshit, right? You know perfectly well that with a little added motivation, some books by well-known health and success gurus, and a good dose of "I'm finally old enough to do the shit I wanted to do when I was younger but everybody said was a waste of time," all of these things are easily rectifiable.

Here, just for fun, is a goofy bucket list of things to do before you reach forty (or if you're past forty, get your doctor's approval to try):

Get some muscles.
Or get them back. Either way, lose the gut and man back up a bit.

Jump out of a plane.
OK, I'm not a big adventurer, but I think it would be fun. Or at the very least...

...go zip lining
I did the kiddie version at all sorts of parks when I was a kid. Here they give you harnesses. This doesn't even look scary--but it sure as hell looks like fun!

Get a tattoo (preferably something symbolic of a mythology you never fully believed, or in a language you've never spoken once in your life).
This is an aesthetic choice I'll leave up to you. My thing has always been to put this off, largely because now it's nothing but a fashion accessory that will generally look like shit 20-30 years from now. The flip side is, your mom always said not to...but now that you're pushing forty, who makes the rules in your life, dude?

Get a black belt... something, just so you have one. And no, I don't mean in Lean Six Sigma...something where you break boards with your face.

Eat some edible plants that grow wild where you live.
You'll become a guru in no time, and nothing mans you up more than a return to tribal knowledge. Be sure you actually learn which plants are edible though, and stay the hell away from mushrooms!

Revive the Renaissance Man.
Get a diploma in a completely unrelated field. Nobody has ever had too much knowledge about the world around them.

Buy a motorcycle.
Never ride it. Sell it.

Buy a motorcycle.
Learn to ride it. Take off for a week with nothing but your wallet and a change of clothes (maybe solve mysteries and stuff). Chronicle the results. Sell the bike when you get home, along with a detailed outline of your adventures for the next guy to follow.

Completely change your eating habits.
It doesn't matter what "diet" you choose...just do something totally different. Adopt a zero-carb approach. Eat only local organic. Go vegan. Chronicle the results, and sell it as an e-book two years from now.

Create a business.
Fail at it. Repeat. Chronicle the results and sell it as an e-book.

Create a business.
...and actually be successful.

Attend a film premiere...
...with a 20-something fitness model. Even better if it's her film. Not great if it's a porn film.

You know what? Screw it...

Attend a porn film premiere as the lead actress' date.
That's still dude-awesome.

Release an album.
Please only do this if you actually have some musical talent...or run the risk of being THIS GUY.

Take a college chick out for an expensive dinner.
This will be the highlight of her college career I'm sure (as long as you're more interesting than the douchebags she usually hooks up with). Even better...don't sleep with her! That'll mess with her head!

Sell your favourite thing.
Then put the money in your kid's college fund or a savings bond. No kids? Do it might some day.

Get in the habit of giving random stuff away.
I love this one. Put a buck in the meter when you go to leave. Tell the cashier at the restaurant to use whatever is left on your gift card for the next person to pay (even if it's enough to buy their whole meal). Buy an extra coffee and hand it to the next person you see.

Start something over again.
But this time, start with a plan. I'm a big advocate of this, but like most people I tend to shy away from it. It doesn't have to be big (like, starting your career over again). It could be as simple as emptying your cupboards and buying new plates and glasses. Or something bigger, like wiping out your DVD or CD collection, or swapping out one entire room of furniture. However you want to approach it, this is your chance for a "life mulligan," where you can just take another shot at it with a clearer idea of what you want. It's surprisingly liberating.

Have lunch with one of these guys:

  • Mark Zuckerberg
  • Tim Ferriss
  • Eben Pagan
  • Vin Dicarlo
  • Vince Delmonte
  • Bob Parsons
  • Derek Sivers

...but don't ask them for business advice. Just shoot the shit like a couple guys grabbing a bite to eat. You'll learn WAY more that way, I promise.

Build something.
I don't mean assemble some Ikea furniture. I mean get some wood and put something together. It can be a book case, or it can be a gazebo for the back yard. Hell, make it a spice rack. It's almost cliche to think that men need to build something in order to feel manly, but there really is something awesome about people looking at your craftsmanship and saying, "I love this! Where did you get it?" Answering, "Oh that? I built that last summer," is by far the coolest feeling in the world (especially if you say it like there's nothing to it).

Take a vacation by yourself.
This one is odd, but when you're single you almost never think of taking a trip anywhere. Yet the idea of going off somewhere totally solo and just exploring at your whim is one of the foundational principles of a world lifestyle. Pick a spot and go.

Learn another language.
Even better: learn a non-European language, then take your solo vacation there. Do this with any location in the world you want, and make it an annual trek. Even if you do couple up, keep this habit and tradition. Some day your kids will become citizens of the world advantage and an experience they will always treasure.

Spend money on experiences instead of stuff.
This, I'm told, is one of the defining features of the happiest lives. They do things, rather than collect things. And when you're retelling your adventures to your grandchildren, they're not likely to care which tablet PC you owned in 2012, or what kind of car you drove, or what your stock portfolio looks like. Tell them about the time you swam with dolphins, or rode an elephant. Or jumped out of a plane with a 20-year-old fitness model / porn star on the way to her movie premiere in Kuala Lumpur.

I've got three years left to tick stuff off this list (well, the stuff I want to do anyway). Time to get geared up!

Any other thoughts? Please share!