Southern Man

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Little Mermaid

Twelve-year-old daughter spent her allowance on a mermaid swimsuit.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

In honor of those who gave all that this might ever be a banner of freedom.

Southern Man began this busy day assisting old friend RCJ in the conversion of his fiancé into his wife.

As is not unusual for Southern Man's peers, the ceremony was casual and attendance was limited to family and very close friends.

The wedding party. Southern Man did not get the memo about the "casual" part.


The happy couple will honeymoon for a week and return for a reception next Saturday.

Next on the agenda was lunch with family...

Clowning around at Joey's Pizza.

The occasion was to explore the old Paramount Building on the city's historic Film Row, which Southern Sister and her SO have leased to start a coffee shop.

This historic building still has the old film screening rooms.

Twelve-year-old daughter helps with remodeling. This space had been formerly leased by an art gallery.

Southern Brother, a computer consultant, investigates sites for cable runs.

While everyone else was working Teen Daughter, Eldest Nephew, and Southern Man explored the basement.

Mid-afternoon was devoted to a church group picnic at a local park.

Chef Paul mans the grill.

Southern Man led his volleyball team to victory not once, not twice, but three times! We are the champions!

Church Picnic!

Southern Man takes a turn at the grill so Paul can eat.

Eddie takes his horseshoes very seriously.

Of course there was geocaching.

Southern Man with a friend. Oh, and a girl, too.

All in all, a busy and fun Memorial Day. Southern Man hopes yours was equally...memorable.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Family Dinner

Twelve-Year-Old Daughter flew in yesterday mid-morning for the summer so the apartment will be filled with sound and music and laughter and squabbling daughters for the rest of the summer. It will be great!

A rare conjunction - all three Southern Children together in La Casa.

Southern Son is adept on both keyboards and guitar.

This evening was the usual gathering of whoever is available for family dinner (grilled steak and chicken, to help celebrate three family birthdays) and games (Hand-and-Foot Canasta).

Southern Son and Teen Daughter both engrossed in their smartphones. Yes, Teen Daughter did bleach her hair. It takes some getting used to.

Southern Mother and Twelve-Year-Old Daughter consider their options. The double-dye job of last weekend left her hair about the same color as her mothers.

It was boys against girls tonight. The boys won!

A little post-game music provided by two-thirds of the Southern Children.

Southern Brother put in a rare appearance as well, so Southern Man's entire immediate family - brother, sister, parents, and children - were all present. A good time was had by all. Lord, thank you for family. Amen.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Message To Google

Attention authors and maintainers of Google Chrome:
ALT-E-P is paste, not print.
That is all.


Today we celebrate Southern Father's birthday!

And now you know where Southern Man gets his dashing good looks. Happy Birthday, Dad!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dating Lists

Every now and then Southern Man surfs the Craiglist singles board just to see what's out there. He even emails a few from the southernmanblog address but rarely gets a response; perhaps one in ten. This isn't surprising as these sites are about 90% desperate beta male and Southern Man's own casual online-dating experiments with fake profiles demonstrate that pretty much any female profile will get dozens (if not hundreds) of responses. He's still got a couple of two-year-old ones out there built around very average-looking stock photos and mundane profiles that get several messages a week even now. Yes, many are cock shots. However on the plus side the number of "anonymous" commenters here at has been rising of late; perhaps his little dating-site email campaign is indeed attracting a few new readers.

Anyway, this last time he was amused to find an unusually large number of posts with fairly lengthy and explicit lists in what is required in a man. Here's one, copied verbatim from the ad:
Must be single!
Older gentleman (40-52)
White, Middle Eastern, or Asian
Emotionally stable
Responsible and respectful
Enjoys travelling, the outdoors, wine...
And this from a fairly average girl who even admits to being "curvaceous." We all know what that means. Other lists are similar: requirements in height, weight, appearance, age, race, income...but none ask for what is truly important, and that is character. Southern Man has fond memories of his first online romance; she had written a post asking for a man with good character. It really stood out from the others and we ended up dating for about a year and a half. So those of you who wandered here because you got an email from southernmanblog - consider that a man that provides everything on this list but has no character is no catch, and if you find a man with good character you won't care about the rest of your list.

Not to brag, but Southern Man is all that and a bag of chips. Great catch that he is, he also has a first-date list: 
Unfair? Too bad; our manly brains are hard-wired that way. Yes, it's tough to be slender in this incredible land of plenty but Southern Man has the discipline to eat properly and takes the time to drag his flabby ass to the gym three times a week and he expects the same from you. If he can lose as much weight as he did (ex-wife is an incredible country cook and put a hundred pounds on him the first year) so can you. Note that if you're slender, you're already well up the attractiveness scale in comparison to most of your peers. And the masculine seeks the feminine. 

Now, once the initial requirements are met for a first date, what about the potential for an actual relationship? While chatting you up over coffee or drinks or geocaching Southern Man will be qualifying you with yet another list to see if you are someone who can provide
Unconditional respect
Emotional comfort
Physical pleasure (which is more than just sex)
The first is basic: guys need unconditional respect in the same way that girls need unconditional love. The Apostle Paul nailed that one two thousand years ago, yet failure to understand this is the root cause of many a divorce. The rest is also simple: most guys seek in a girlfriend that which his male friends cannot provide. A lot of girls make sure they include their love of the outdoors and hiking and fishing and sports and all those things that they think guys care about. Sure, these things make a nice bonus, but that's second-tier stuff; your entertainment duties (yes, you are expected to entertain us) fall under somewhat different territory: we're looking for a girlfriend, not another outdoor adventure companion. Although if you become Southern Man's girlfriend you will share many adventures with him.

So, girls, those of you looking for love online, be more aware of what you're asking for. Sure, you can dream, but if you're realistic you won't shoot for attributes that are beyond what you yourself can match - in other words, if you want a prince you damn well better be a princess. Put some thought into what he wants and how you can provide it. And good luck! Every lonely soul that finds a companion makes the world a happier place.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Facebook and GM

A couple of years ago we saw the government-backed GM IPO; it was (at the time) the largest IPO ever for an American company. 

Last week we saw the somewhat larger Facebook IPO (apparently these days virtual farm equipment is more valuable than the real thing) and the subsequent slide in price and scandal and lawsuits

So Facebook opens at $38 and now trades at $32, a loss of about 20%, and the press is in an uproar. But GM opened at $33 and now trades at $22 - a 33% drop - and the press is silent. To be fair, twenty percent of Facebook might be worth valued at more than a third of GM. And that's just screwed up, right there - real machines ought to be worth more than virtual ones. Then again, Southern Man just paid $2 to download levels for a tower defense game on his iPad. If a few tens of thousands of other people did the same, some programmer was able to create the value of a new car with a few week's effort.

But as Mickey Kaus points out, it's evil when private companies rip off their private investors - thus the uproar - but when the United States Government takes us for a ride it's just fine.

Now, Southern Man was openly skeptical of the Facebook IPO from the beginning. Why would a social-networking site be worth that much money? But he scoffed at the Google IPO as well and we all know how that went; opened at $85, closed that day about 15% up, and slowly and steadily climbed into the neighborhood of $600 per share (which is actually down from a peak around $800 a year or so ago). Not bad for five years. What was the difference? Google was (and is) a scaleable revenue machine. Facebook is not.

The moral of this story is don't take investment advice from Southern Man, who simply plugs away at his stock-based retirement account (which gives him a 40% gain up front from employer matching) and hopes that the market hangs on for a few more years 'till he can pull it out without a big tax penalty and move into a potato economy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Teach A Man To Fish...

...and he'll sit out by the lake all day drinking beer.

Since RCJ was up on this side of town this morning Southern Man dragged him out to The Land to help wrestle some drywall into place. Southern Man hates working with drywall but with RCJ's help the remaining big pieces are up. And then of course there was fishing.

Love that shirt.

We're not sure how that particular fish got its mouth around the hook.

RCJ managed to snag a good lure on the bottom not far from the shoreline and Southern Man goaded him into going out into the (very cold) water to get it.

Those are the tops of the dock pilings Southern Man set up last fall when the lake was low.

That's what it looked like last October when the lake was about two feet lower than it is today. Southern Man thinks he'll go up two more blocks; that ought to keep the dock above water most of the time.

Well, that was fun. After RCJ went home Southern Man got a line on some free solid concrete blocks and picked up twenty of them - at eighty pounds each The Titan was again sitting low on his springs - ran them out to the Land, went back for more, and found that a guy with a trailer had taken the rest. Southern Man would have loved to have had more but twenty is a pretty good haul.

The current secret project (well, not so secret - at least you know it involves drywall) is way, way behind schedule and Twelve-Year-Old daughter arrives on Saturday. Hopefully it will get finished next week before Southern Man's summer classes begin.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Vacation Week One Recap

Blogging was light - OK, nonexistent - over the last week because Southern Man has been busy, busy, busy! With the rain out of the forecast much time was spent at The Land working on the current project (a secret!) and mowing and mowing and mowing and still more mowing - apparently April showers bring waist-high Johnson grass more than anything else. But the Brushhog Guy made a late-week appearance and the place is looking pretty good. There was a bit of jetting back and forth from work - final grades at the community college, various meetings, and so on - and various other appointments. There was, as always, plenty of geocaching. And there was planning for a weekend trip up north to visit twelve-year-old daughter!

What is a six-hour drive for most people takes Southern Man eight as he just isn't the road warrier he was in his youth so he makes frequent stops to stretch his legs and geocache and such. But he arrived pretty much right on time, picked up his daughter, and headed to the Super 8 that would be home for the next couple of nights.

The first evening was all about relaxing in the pool and making a Wal-Mart run for supplies and hair die (she would dye her hair not just once but twice this weekend so it will go from dark red to orange (which is what happens when you apply blonde dye to red hair) and to even darker red after the second dye job) and dinner at our favorite local restaurant.

One of many efforts to take a picture of the back of her head.

A future Bond Girl shows off her new bikini. We would spend a lot of time in that pool and hot tub over the weekend.

The next day we went out a couple of times to shop and geocache and generally fool around...

Walking a big log across a creek. Where was she for those pipewalks last week?

One of many geocaches we found over the weekend.

Our big outing was planned for Sunday: late morning and early afternoon at one of the big malls for a movie and lunch, then to a nearby gymnastics facility for her late-afternoon birthday party.

Blow out those candles!


And then it was time for the long drive home. However as he was driving in a more or less southwesterly direction Southern Man had a fine view of the beginning of the partial annular solar eclipse. Note: do not watch the solar eclipse using only sunglasses for eye protection. Also, do not watch the solar eclipse while driving at 80 MPH down the turnpike. Remember, Southern Man is a trained scientist, and you are not.

With some lengthy breaks for geocaching Southern Man arrived home at about three in the morning, tired and happy. Onward to another week! Twelve-year-old daughter (yes, still twelve; the actual birthday isn't for another month) will fly down next weekend for the summer!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Movie Review: The Avengers

All you really need to know is that a good deal of the action takes place on an invisible flying aircraft carrier.

Do you really need another reason to see it?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

A big Southern Man shout out to Southern Mother on this Mother's Day.

May there be many more!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Things You're Doing Wrong

Since it is still raining and Southern Man can't go outside and play he will now waste your time with a lengthy diatribe on all of the ways that you are messing up your life and how to fix them. We'll start with the bathroom.

Brushing Your Teeth

You're brushing your teeth the wrong way and at the wrong time. Yes, Mother and your dentist said to brush your teeth after every meal. However, food is acidic (which is partly why it is so delicious), which softens tooth enamel and attacking your temporarily vulnerable enamel with a harsh brush is (surprise!) not very good for them. You're also brushing your teeth but not your gums. You're also not flossing. Admit it.

The right way: brush your teeth twice a day, but not directly after meals. During your morning routine (more about routines later) and last thing before bed works well. Use a soft or medium brush and spend equal time brushing your teeth and massaging your gums. Do they bleed? That's because they're not healthy. They're not healthy because you don't clean them. Then floss, between every tooth. Flossing is important because it gets rid of the gunk and bacteria between your teeth. Then brush your teeth and massage your gums again. Finish with a swirl of the oral rinse of your choice. Then go kiss someone.

Bathing and Showering

If you're most people, you do this too often and use too many harsh chemicals which damage the outer layers of your skin so go sans douche every now and then. And when you do shower take it easy on the soap; warm water is more than enough, most days. Pro tip: if you're working out two or three times a week (and you should be) shower and wash your hair after your workouts. Otherwise, rinse as needed. Don't rub with the towel (your wet skin is vulnerable!) but pat yourself dry. Rehydrate your skin afterwards with the lotion of your choice. Or have someone else do it for you.


There's a harsh chemical that should never go anywhere near your body, right there. Toss all of those sticks; put a box of baking soda in the bathroom and use a dab of that in your pits instead. Deodorants work by blocking your pores with ACL or some other chemical and then masking the smell (which is caused by bacteria, not sweat) with fragrance. Baking soda absorbs the sweat and odor and is naturally antibacterial. Girls, when your guy kisses you under your arms he does not want a tongue full of aluminium chlorohydrate; he wants to immerse himself in your delicious armoa. Why, yes, we do find that rather sexy. Ditto for guys; clean perspiration is part of your scent and part of what makes you the virile man-beast that you are.


You thought you'd mastered that at about age two, right? Surprise! Our anatomy is designed to poop while squatting, not sitting, and our toilets are too tall and are getting taller (they call it "comfort fit") to do so in a comfortable and healthy manner. Best solution: squat, either right on the seat (lots of people from do this anyway, to the point where some bathrooms have signs that say "don't do that") or with the help of a Squatty Potty or something else on which you can prop your feet and lean forward. Afterwards you can lean back and continue to surf the net on your cell phone. Yes, we know you do.


Your abdominal muscles put in a lot of work to support your back while you stand and walk and sit on a bench or a stool but as soon as you sit in a standard chair your legs and back are at a right angle and those muscles can't help anymore and suddenly your poor aging spine is doing all of the work of supporting your gargantuan upper torso. This leads to all manner of problems, and let Southern Man tell you, back problems are no fun at all. Solution: don't sit much, and if you do avoid the "right-angle" posture; lying back at a 135-degree angle (measure carefully) is far better. Watch how your teens slouch and you'll get the right idea.

Well, so much for the bathroom. Now for a few more minor issues:


Southern Man's advice on diets is here. Follow it.


Take a deep breath. What happened? Did you raise your shoulders and puff out your chest? Wrong! Well, take comfort in knowing that most people are chest breathers. It obviously works (you're not dead, right?) but you're taking shallow breaths and not using nearly all of your lungs. Those shallow breaths may (or may not) lead to headaches, fatigue, low blood oxygen, panic attacks, and taking advice on breathing from a blogger who won't even tell you his real name. Put your diaphragm back to work and re-learn abdominal breathing: expand your tummy as you inhale, and contract your abdominal muscles as you exhale. Make it a point to practice this whenever you think of it and it'll become habit, to the point that you'll breath properly even in your sleep. And speaking of sleeping...


Who do you know that doesn't complain about their sleep, or lack thereof? We did not evolve to live our lives around the eight-hour-a-day forty-hour workweek with exactly eight hours of sleep per night regardless of where the sun might be. Do you often wake up at 3:00 AM wondering "why can't I sleep?" No, you don't have a sleep disorder and you can throw away those pills; that's your natural sleeping pattern. When free of clocks and alarms and appointments and the routine that run our lives the natural pattern is segmented sleep: three or four hours asleep, an hour or so awake (an ideal time to read or meditate or stretch or see if your partner is also awake or simply relax for a bit), and then another three or four hours of sleep. You may find that you do this naturally in the long nights of winter anyway, when people tend to go to bed earlier. So if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night but then waking to an alarm, go to bed an hour earlier and allow your natural sleep pattern to take hold. Pro tip - if you aren't waking naturally before your alarm goes off at least half the time, go to bed earlier.

And speaking of routines: you don't have enough routine, and you also have too much.

Southern Man is reserved and introverted and would happily hole up by himself in La Casa or out at The Land pretty much all of the time if left to himself so he made a promise to himself a while back: given a choice between staying in and going out, go out; given a choice between solitude and socialization, socialize; given a choice between the routine and the unusual, do the unusual. That's one reason Southern Man loves to geocache; it takes him out of routine every day. And that's why he pretty much automatically accepts any invitation from family or friends to do something. It saddens him that he has friends that get up and shower and have breakfast and go to work and go home to their SO and have dinner and watch TV every single day and tell him "I'd rather just stay home tonight." They have too much routine.

But you need routine and structure to live a healthy life, so develop a routine on which you can build the rest of your day. If you have young kids, they absolutely crave routine and structure, and it doesn't do the teens any harm either. Morning routines work well, and are a good way to make some of the advice above into habits; the one that Southern Man is still struggling to establish is get up, stretch, work out, shower / shave / brush teeth / etc, have breakfast, check the news, and then get on with the day. It really does something for your outlook to build your day on a morning routine. But don't allow that routine to become a prison - make it a foundation on which you can build your adventures, and have some adventure to go with your routine every day.

Hat tips: far too many to list but a few are this post at Smoke In My Eyes, this post at Roosh V, and this post at Cracked.Thanks guys!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Well, here it is, the front end of two weeks off before summer school starts, and it's raining. Yes, Southern Man knows we need the rain but still...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Final Frontier

Southern Man is a child of the Space Age. He vividly remembers watching Neil Armstrong put bootprints on another planet, live on television, and hardly slept during the dramatic return of Apollo 13. He sat wide-eyed in classrooms watching the Skylab astronauts and zero-g science experiments on closed-circuit television. He built countless models of rockets and spaceships both real and fanciful. He devoured Southern Father's old collection of science magazines which almost always packed with articles about our future in space and covers illustrating fanciful future cities and space stations and lunar colonies and our inevitable journey to the stars.

Southern Man was promised all of these things as a child. Promised!

And he (like every other professor and graduate student on that terrible day) cancelled class to rush home and watch in tears as President Reagan sadly announced the deaths of seven brave explorers. And a few decade later (we ran those shuttles for how long?) we lost another one...

Fourteen courageous souls...may they ever dwell among the stars. 

And today, over forty years after that giant leap, the USA can't even put a human into low Earth orbit. And Southern Man now teaches students whose parents never lived at a time when we ventured more than a few hundred miles from our homeworld.

Southern Man's view of the future that never happened will forever be colored by the vivid imaginations of the illustrators of that glorious era, whose work appeared in magazines like Life (which were read by everyone) and on all three (!) television broadcast channels. Like this one by Robert McCall: that moon base hasn't happened yet but he flat out nailed the iPad.

For every dollar that NASA spent on McCall's work they probably got a million in appropriations.

McCall also did artwork for Stanley Kubrick's film 2001.

Another space station under construction. Artist unknown.

This one reminds Southern Man of those wonderful Tom Corbett: Space Cadet books.

What could be better than rockets and a space babe? Bonus: she's a redhead! 

Southern Man mourns the future we never had and will always dwell at least a bit in the worlds dreamt of in the Golden Age of science fiction and the great space illustrators of the last half century. But, come to think of it, we do have a thing or two today that they never imagined. Which is better, the world that is, or the world that might have been? 

Hat tip to Instapundit for linking to this article at Ultra Swank Retro Adventures.

End Of The Semester!

Well, almost. Tonight was the very last final exam of Spring 2012 and Southern Man bid a fond farewell to the last of his students at the community college where he moonlights for extra budget-saving cash. There is still grading and paperwork to be done but Southern Man won't stand in front of a classroom again until June. In fact today was sufficiently busy that Southern Man had to save his daily caching expedition for the evening. He selected a handful in a park near a busy interstate interchange a few minutes from his evening job.

Why, yes, our parks do have functioning oil wells. Don't yours?

Any isolated clump of trees in a park is bound to house a geocache.

Why, yes, our parks also have electric power substations. And now you know why there are so many wires in the first photo. It's all about energy, baby!

Ammo cans are a geocaching favorite.

And if you don't have an ammo can handy, a jar in a tree serves just as well.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Cache Wednesday

Since this appears to have become the Week of Geocaching...

After the weekly appointment with the chiropractor Southern Man hit a couple of caches in that area. Again, it is surprising to find such wild areas tucked away into odd corners of the Big City.

This pastoral setting is a few feet from two busy business-lined four-lane roads.

What is it about geocachers and pipelines?

This one was even scarier than the pipewalk from Monday. At least that one was wider and had a nice soft river under it...

The Rocky Gulch of Death. The cache is actually visible (barely) in this picture.

The rest of the day was spent in the office preparing the last round of finals and grading and generally clearing the detritus of another semester. Tomorrow will be much the same. One of the great things about teaching is that you get a fresh start twice a year and anything you didn't get done (or graded!) during the semester just goes into the trash. Horray for teaching!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

More Caching, With Burgers and Beer

Since Southern Man is wearing boots and blue jeans to "work" this week he picked another appropriate group of caches. These were in a wooded area bound by the big river, a smaller channel, and a railroad.

Hard to believe that this is a stone's throw from the Interstate and downtown.

The first was in one of those little hidden parks that few people visit.

Geese and goslings in the water.

Geocachers just love to plant caches under bridges like this.

They also love trees that look like they belong in Fangorn Forest. Except for the refuse from the abandoned hobo camp.

There was a cache well up in that tree, but it was a much easier climb than yesterday.

And what better way to end the day than with burgers and beer and a movie with a friend?