Southern Man

Thursday, February 24, 2011

In Loving Memory...

...of Southern Man's great-aunt, who passed away yesterday at age ninety-four. Before her mind faded a few years ago she was the center of our extended family (a role that Southern Man's mother now fills) and many a time four generations sat at her table. She was loved by all who knew her and will be fondly remembered by many.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Happy Birthday... teen daughter, who turns eighteen today. When Southern Man got home after work she was just leaving and looking just beautiful in a new dress. Although she was with a male friend (one frequently seen at Casa Southern Man) both vehemently denied that this was anything even remotely resembling a "date." Right. The family celebration was earlier this week; Southern Man got her set up with her own phone service in her own name (something she's wanted for a long time), got her a new phone, and tucked a Benjamin in with it. Happy Birthday, daughter!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

VITA Weekend

Southern Man finally got in his first day as a VITA volunteer yesterday, with more of the same this morning. He was embarrassed to have forgotten to bring his certification certificate yesterday (you have to pass a certification test) but made a point to tuck it in his bag as soon as he got home and turned it in this morning. Yesterday we worked ten to two at United Way with only a few clients (and they didn't feed us) and today the ten-to-two shift at Goodwill was pretty busy but they ordered in lunch for the volunteers. Caesar Salad is even more delicious when you don't have to pay for it or make it yourself!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Family Dinner

Much of the family gathered this evening for a family dinner / birthday celebration for teen daughter, who turns eighteen in a few days. We had delicious Italian food, but Southern Man was disciplined and took it easy on the cheese bread (he's trying to stay low-carb, low-starch, low-sweets until he gets his weight down a bit) and brought half his entree home for tomorrow's dinner. Southern Man treasures these times with his family and always looks forward to such gatherings. The next may well be for Southern Man's birthday in a few weeks!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Day After

So Valentine's Day has come and gone and as previously posted Southern Man had good times without the company of the fairer sex. But this begs the question: what about next V-Day? Should Southern Man be shopping around for his next LTR?

This article by author Kay Hymowitz contributes a bit of truth about Single Young Men:
But this history suggests an uncomfortable fact about the new SYM: he’s immature because he can be. We can argue endlessly about whether “masculinity” is natural or constructed—whether men are innately promiscuous, restless, and slobby, or socialized to be that way—but there’s no denying the lesson of today’s media marketplace: give young men a choice between serious drama on the one hand, and Victoria’s Secret models, battling cyborgs, exploding toilets, and the NFL on the other, and it’s the models, cyborgs, toilets, and football by a mile. For whatever reason, adolescence appears to be the young man’s default state, proving what anthropologists have discovered in cultures everywhere: it is marriage and children that turn boys into men. Now that the SYM can put off family into the hazily distant future, he can—and will—try to stay a child-man. Yesterday’s paterfamilias or Levittown dad may have sought to escape the duties of manhood through fantasies of adventures at sea, pinups, or sublimated war on the football field, but there was considerable social pressure for him to be a mensch. Not only is no one asking that today’s twenty- or thirtysomething become a responsible husband and father—that is, grow up—but a freewheeling marketplace gives him everything that he needs to settle down in pig’s heaven indefinitely.
Hymowitz is correct: it is marriage and children that traditionally have transformed boys into men, which explains her whining at the end of the article that adults are made, not born. But what is it that men require in a marriage? Southern Man proposes the following, in order of importance:
Men crave unconditional respect from their woman
Men must be needed by their woman
Men should be loved by their woman
But in today's anti-male society women have forgotten the wisdom of the Apostle Paul and respect is off the table. I doubt that one woman in twenty really understands that a man's need for unconditional respect from her is every bit as important as her need for unconditional love from him. And needed? The Nanny State takes care of women from birth to death; a strong man is no longer necessary; a throwback, an anachronism, a curiosity, even something to avoid. And just love is not enough. Sex is hardly worthy of mention; all men know of the sex-drive-killing properties of wedding cake.

Dr. Helen responds to Hymowitz with this:
Nowadays, for many men, the negatives of marriage for men often outweigh the positives. Therefore, they engage in it less often. Not because they are bad, not because they are perpetual adolescents, but because they have weighed the pros and cons of marriage in a rational manner and found the institution to be lacking for them. It’s a sensible choice for some and the video games, magazines, and humor websites that Hymowitz disses are a way to fill one’s time with fun activities that don’t tell you that you suck, are an “unfinished person,” emotionally detached or on your way to jail for fake domestic violence charges. People used to treat men better than this.
Not to mention financial devastation and the loss of your children when she leaves you for no other reason than "I'm bored" or "I just don't love you anymore" - as has been the case of so many of Southern Man's acquaintances. Good men, all of them; hard workers and faithful husbands and loving fathers who worked their fingers to the bone to give their wives and children everything they wanted - only to be dumped on the side of the road in favor of whatever "bad boy" caught her wandering eye, betrayed by a court system fully oriented to her needs and fully accepting of her lies, with no money (and likely as not a mountain of her debt), no property, the oldest of the family cars, and the privilege of surrendering much of their remaining income to alimony and child support. But you'll get to see your progeny every other weekend, if you're lucky, while she lives a life of relative leisure on her income, plus a big chunk of yours, plus that of whatever sucker she weds next. There were many years when Southern Man was paying the equivalent of his ex's rent, utilities, and car expenses; he was working two and three jobs at a time and subsisting on beans and cornbread so that he could maintain a home worth visiting while she and the kids ate out every day.

Men are forged by their experiences, and Southern Man's marriages (yes, plural) are part of the fire that made him, for what it's worth, into the man he is today. And he wouldn't trade his three children for anything. Not anything at all. But he learned a lot of these lessons much too late in life.

Southern Man does occasionally dabble on the dating sites, just to see what' s out there. It's women who divorced perfectly good men, had a few flings, and are now lonely and desperate to remarry before all hope fades. Their profiles are filled with requirements: height, weight, income, personal habits. Southern Man amuses himself by asking them "what do you have to offer me?" Most of them have no idea. Most of them are so accustomed to their pedestals that they are offended that the question was even asked. Where are all the good men, they lament. Well, we've all been burned too many times and are no longer interested in yet another soul-sucking drama-filled relationship. And we finally understand that marriage is an institution that gives the woman much of what she wants, but takes away much of the life he desires. As MLK famously said (in another context): Thank God Almighty, free at last! Free to live our own lives, not theirs. Free to fully partake of the fruits of our labor. Free to return to the liberation and fun of our younger years. Free to be Peter Pan once again, and this time never grow up. For what does "grow up" mean, other than conforming to what some woman wants? I've done what women wanted for my entire adult life. It's time to do what I want for a change!

Southern Man will do his best to communicate to his son the hard truth: unless you really, really want children, do not marry. And if you do, start preparing for the inevitable wife-initiated divorce from the very beginning. What he will tell his daughters will be left for another post.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day 2011

This is Southern Man's first V-Day without a LTR since - wow, 1985. What is one to do when unattached on such a holiday for the first time in so many years?
(a) Stay at home and play computer games
(b) Go out and drink to excess
(c) Race go-carts
Southern Man is pleased to report that he ran in five ten- to twelve-cart heats and despite something of a weight disadvantage that cost him a bit of speed he quickly got the hang of drifting through the corners for inside passing and finished in third, first, second, first, and...first.

Expensive, yes, but Southern Man recalls a lot of V-days where he spent a lot more money and had a lot less fun.


Oh, yes, Monday again. But given all of the winter storms this may be the first "normal" workweek in the better part of a month. Today of course it's sunny and mild.

Teen daughter had a great visit to Chicago and is pretty set on attending college up there. She chattered about it all the way home and for most of the evening. The state of her college and career planning certainly exceeds what Southern Man's was at that stage in his life, so he's pretty pleased. Now we just have to figure out how to pay for it!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Snow Day 1

And it really is a snow day. The planned weekend with eleven-year-old daughter is a bust (hundreds of miles of interstate are closed between here and there) so Southern Man is flying teen daughter out later today (after a shaky start this morning air traffic appears to be moving relatively smoothly) to rendezvous with her mother.

Southern Man is not a happy camper. OK, that's not entirely true. Southern Man is angry. The ex has already (in spite of promises to the contrary) cut visitation to once a month instead of twice, in addition to other shenanigans that will not be repeated here. In the immortal words of The Judge in Pink Floyd's The Wall: This Will Not Do. Southern Man does not want to wait another month to see his princess.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Snow Day 0- Again

Once again snow is predicted and the schools have already announced that they will be closed tomorrow. But it will not be a stay-at-home day; snow or not, Southern Man is taking teen daughter three hours north to meet the ex and exchange her for eleven-year-old daughter for the weekend. Can't be rescheduled - teen daughter and her mother are flying to Chicago on Thursday to check out a college up there. As it usually goes, Southern Man is paying for the trip (well, teen daughter's, anyway) but he doesn't actually get to go. It'll be interesting to see what she thinks; right now she's leaning towards the big state school about an hour south. Southern Man is torn; the school in Chicago would be a terrific experience and would give her a chance to spread her wings and be more independent, but having her only an hour away would be nice as well.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Tech Support

One of Southern Man's monitors is slowly dying so he called campus tech support to arrange for a replacement. The nice young student worker called back today and says that they have no spare monitors (on a campus with thousands of more or less identical Dell systems) and since my PC is slated for replacement in May they can't get me a new monitor.

Southern Man isn't one to fuss and he knows that there is a system in an empty office down the hall that has sat unused for over a year. Can he swap monitors?

The answer was "no." And the reason was - because it would mess up our inventory.

Reminds me of a story Southern Father told about his stint in the Army. He was assigned to go to the supply sargeant to get a generator. The sargeant had one in stock, but wouldn't release it.

The reason? If I give you this generator, then I won't have one.

Our previous lord of bits and bytes held himself as absolute soverign over all matters IT and cared little for the reason that the university has a tech support department in the first place. Looks like his successor is walking down the same path.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Super Bowl Party!

At Southern Parent's folks with a fair chunk of the extended family (including a few cousins). As Mother was raised a Packer Backer we all cheered for Green Bay while eating and conversing and generally kicking back with family. Southern Man had the particular pleasure of his two-year-old second cousin crawling into his lap several times during the evening.

Tomorrow it is back to work after very nearly a week off. And another storm is predicted in a few days.

Afternoon Jazz

A friend's jazz combo was playing a local library today so Southern Man made sure to drop by. The three of them (bass, guitar, and vocals) put on an informal and breezy show with lots of Valentine-oriented jazz and big-band standards for an audience of sixty or so. A good way to spend an hour on a Sunday afternoon...

Saturday, February 05, 2011


Like many in the second half of their century Southern Man has long struggled with his weight and his generally poor level of fitness. And like many who have naively prescribed to the "eat less and exercise more" school of fitness and weight loss Southern Man has been continually frustrated by lack of results. And a week of relative inactivity during which he ate far more than he should have threw him into enough of a blue funk to dig out an old digital camera that he hasn't used in years, charge up the battery, set up the tripod, and take a couple of "before" pictures.

The results were profoundly depressing. But rather than wallow in self-pity Southern Man is determined to do something about it.

Southern Man has the luxury of being able to purchase pretty much any book that strikes his fancy (hat tip to Amazon Prime) but when they arrive he typically tosses them in a corner and forgets about them. Well, time to look through the book pile. He dug out Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat (both by Gary Taubes, purchased a few months ago) and read them cover to cover last night. They dispel a number of myths about diet and exercise that Southern Man has long held dear and make a compelling case for weight loss through a low-carb, low-sugar diet.

So Southern Man took a tour of la cocina and found carbs. Lots of carbs. Lots and lots and lots of wonderfully delicious carbs. And sweets. Too many sweets. Southern Man maintains a dark-chocolate cache that is second to none and he visits it far too frequently.

So Southern Man will embark upon a three-pronged program to lose weight and attain at least a modest level of fitness and upper-body strength.
  • To attain a higher level of fitness, aerobic exercise - probably some sort of running program. Southern Man was quite the long-distance runner back in the day and has a shelf of trophies to prove it but that was twenty-five years and a hundred pounds ago. It would be nice to get back to the point where he could participate in weekend runs again.

  • To attain a higher level of flexibility and strength: stretching, exercise and weight training. To say that Southern Man is "inflexible" would be an understatement but he still has the stretching charts from when he was in therapy for his back problems. There are some free weights in la casa as well and you don't need a gym to do squats and sit-ups and push-ups: just discipline. Which has been sorely lacking to this point.

  • To lose fatty weight: low-carb, low-sweets diet. Nothing too draconian here other than to increase awareness of carbs and replace them with meat and green veggies as possible; in fact he may just try to make sure that two of his three daily meals are carb- and sugar-free and eat what he likes for the third one. The sweets will not be eliminated but carefully rationed, possibly by putting the free weights in front of the sweets cache and requiring a certain number of extra reps for access.
And those dreadful digital-camera snaps are on his desktop as a constant reminder to stay the course.

Snow Day 5

Although the roads are in fair shape most parking lots are still heaped with snow so VITA was canceled again and since that was Southern Man's only scheduled activity this is a double bonus snow day. It's too cold to go to The Land and Southern Man is fearful he'd get stuck anyway - in the mud, not the snow - so the day will be spent tidying up the place (given that he's been home since Tuesday you'd think this would be done already but you would be wrong) and watching videos and playing games (both PC and iPad) and generally lazing about (and if you suspect that's about all that has happened over the last week you would be right!)

When this became known to Southern Man's ex she complained bitterly about her move to the north: apparently it doesn't matter how much snow they get because an army of snow-removal equipment has the streets cleared in no time and everything stays open so they didn't miss much school or work at all.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Snow Day 4

Southern Man was scheduled to go in to a local United Way office as a Volunteer Income Tax Assitance (VITA) volunteer so he got up and showered and dressed in his suit and tie and then decided to check his email only to find that VITA was cancelled today due to road conditions. So this is actually a bonus snow day. It's still cold (by Southern Man standards) but not windy so he and the big Titan pickup may get out and play a little today.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Snow Day 3

Another relaxing day...Southern Man did manage to get out, to take teen daughter to work and pick her up again. It's not windy but quite cold, at least by Southern Man standards.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Snow Day 2

Another relaxing day indoors. Daughter and her girlfriends are still holed up at Southern Parent's rural home so Casa Southern Man is quiet. And the schools are closed again tomorrow. Since Southern Man doesn't have classes on Friday, that means a six-day weekend! Now, if he can only get out and actually do something with it...snow geocaching, anyone?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Snow Day 1

A peaceful and relaxing day indoors...and tomorrow will be the same.

Southern Man's DVD library provided the following entertainment today:
Posting lists of movies? It is possible that Southern Man may have a mild case of cabin fever. We'll see how it goes tomorrow.