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5 Items to Snap You Out of Your Daily Commuting Routine

This content is brought to you by the new Hyundai Elantra which helps you "Snap Out" of your routine to live your best life.  Click here to learn more about the new 2011 Elantra. What's this? It's Monday morning. Another work week has begun. You've finished your manly morning ritual without breaking a sweat. "Maybe this week won't be so bad after all?" you think. You hop in the car or head towards the subway or bus stop. Your high hopes quickly turn into despair as you encounter traffic jams, rude subway passengers, and the monotony of sitting in a car, train, or bus for an hour or more just so you can get to work. Commuting is no fun. It's a routine that millions of men must battle each day. We want to help you make this annoying, yet necessary routine a bit more bearable. So here are five things that can help you snap out of your daily commuting routine.

Stanley Thermos

Instead of stopping at the coffee shop on your way to work for a $5 cup of joe, brew the perfect cup of coffee at home and take it with you in this Stanley thermos. You'll save money and time with this handsome looking thermos. Stanley thermoses are solidly constructed, so they can take years of beating and abuse on your daily commute or on a weekend camping trip with the boys and still keep your coffee piping hot. Stanley thermoses are guaranteed for life! Price: $25

Saddleback Briefcase

A man needs a bag to carry his stuff from home to work. But not just any bag. A man needs a bag that puts a little pep in his step simply from looking at it. A bag that makes him feel like he's headed out on an adventure each day. A rugged, manly, handsome bag that provides the smell of leather as he drives to work. The Saddleback Leather Company Briefcase fits this bill. Made of 100% full grain boot leather, the Saddleback bag will protect your delicate electronic gizmos from the nastiest of elements. The outside of the bag comes with plenty of D-rings to attach umbrellas, water bottles, or the buffalo skull you happened to find on the way to work. It has plenty of pockets so you can transport important work documents. You'll be the envy of all your co-workers as you pass their cubicles with this bad boy on your shoulder. And all Saddleback products are guaranteed for 100 years, so you can pass your briefcase on to your grandson when he begins his new career. Price: $550

Great Courses Audio Lectures

If you're like most people who commute, you probably just listen to the crappy morning local radio show or whatever is on your iPod. Nothing really uplifting or edifying about any of those options. They basically just provide background noise to help pass the time. Instead of listening to the morning DJ make fart noises, grow your mind, intellect, and understanding of the world by listening to lectures from some of the best university professors in the United States. The Great Courses Company offers hundreds of college level courses from a variety of disciplines that you can listen to during your commute to work. Courses are made up of several lectures and each lecture is about 30 minutes long, or the average commute time. If you listen to just two lectures a day--one on the commute to work and one on the way home--you can finish the longest course in just a few weeks. Check out the Great Courses website to see their course offerings. You'll be blown away. One week you can learn about quantum mechanics and the next week you can delve into the history of Greece. My favorite courses are from my old Classics professor, J. Rufus Fears. His Famous Romans and Famous Greeks courses are a must-listen. You'll learn about great men like Alexander the Great and Socrates. Right now, I'm listening to his Life Lessons from the Great Books and am feeling inspired after each lecture. Price: $200-$85 depending on the course and whether you download the MP3 or buy the CDs.

Standing Valet

A stress-free commute to work begins before you get in the car. If you don't time your departure just right, you can end up inching towards downtown in traffic that's backed up for miles.  To ensure you walk out the door on time (and don't have to come back to retrieve something you forgot!), consider incorporating a standing valet into your daily routine. A standing valet is like having your own personal "silent butler." It has a hanger for your suit coat, a pant bar, a tie and coat hanger, as well as compartments so you can store your wallet, keys, phone, and other manly accouterments. The night before, you can lay out everything you'll need the next morning in this easy to access space. Instead of rushing around in the morning looking for a tie that matches your suit  along with your lost car keys, the standing valet will help you get out the door on time so you miss the morning rush hour traffic. Like a boss! Price: $100

Dragnet Radio Show Collection

I'm all for taking advantage of our commute time to expand our minds, but sometimes after a long day's work, you just want to listen to something relaxing and enjoyable. How about passing the time with Sergeant Joe Friday while he solves crimes on the mean streets of L.A.? Before Dragnet was an awesomely manly cop TV show, it was an awesomely manly cop radio show. And thanks to the wonders of technology, you can enjoy this groundbreaking 1940s radio show while sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. You can find many old Dragnet radio episodes online for free, but they're scattered all over the place and the quality is often crappy. If you want the entire series remastered for the best listening experience, pick up the CD collection. I've listened to a bunch of different old time radio shows, and Dragnet is definitely my favorite. Price: $6

Win a Stanley Thermos

Hyundai will be giving away a Stanley Thermos to one lucky AoM reader, so he can start snapping himself out of his daily commuting routine. Here’s how to enter the sweepstakes: Leave a comment sharing what sort of tools or methods you use to snap yourself out of your daily commuting routine. Deadline to enter is March 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm CST.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE 50 UNITED STATES (D.C.) 18 YEARS AND OLDER.  ENDS 3/27/11.  TO ENTER AND FOR OFFICIAL RULES, INCLUDING ODDS AND PRIZE DESCRIPTIONS, VISIT HERE.  VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

5 Items to Snap You Out of Your Digital Writing Routine

This content is brought to you by the new Hyundai Elantra which helps you "Snap Out" of your routine to live your best life.  Click here to learn more about the new 2011 Elantra. What's this? Tis the age of clickety clack. Well, more like just clickety. When modern man writes these days, chances are he's hammering away at his computer's keyboard or working his thumbs over his phone's keypad. The use of pen and paper has fallen by the wayside. But while technology has made communication easy and convenient, traditional methods of writing should not be totally forgotten. Not for nostalgia's sake, but because writing by hand offers a man several benefits that cannot be duplicated by tickling the keys. By scanning the brain, researchers have found that writing by hand improves memory, cognitive activity, and the expression of ideas. Because writing by hand involves making multiple strokes to form letters as opposed to simply pressing a key, it activates and lights up different parts of the brain. That's why if you're like me, you'll often find that if you run into a writing block while staring at your computer screen, when you grab a notepad and start jotting down ideas, the floodgates can really open up. Writing by hand also tends to be slower and more thoughtful, and it provides a greater connection between you and your words. So writing with pen (or pencil) and paper can really keep your mind sharp and your ideas fresh. But with our computers and phones so handy, it's hard to snap out of the digital writing routine. So here are 5 things that can help inspire you to step away from the keyboard and take some time each day to write by hand.

Col. Littleton Leather Journal

Every man should keep a journal. A journal is a place to work out the big issues in your life. Use it to hone your life's purpose or simply as a place  to empty your mind and soul of the emotional or mental burdens that you're experiencing at a particular time. And when you finally kick the bucket, your journal will ensure that your legacy as a man lives on with your children and grandchildren. Maybe you're among the millions of people who have tried to start a journal, but never got into the habit. If you’ve had trouble making journal writing part of your daily routine, perhaps what you need is a journal so handsome and inviting it’s hard not to write in it. Enter the Col. Littleton No. 9 Journal. Wrapped up in rugged steer hide, this baby will have you putting pen to paper in no time. It's the perfect place to record your legacy of manliness. Price: $142

Fountain Pen

We sign documents every day. Most of it's mundane stuff, but every now and then we put our signature on pieces of a paper that carry a lot of significance. A marriage license, a mortgage, your child's birth certificate. For these sorts of occasions, a rinky dinky ballpoint pen won't do. A man needs a writing instrument with a bit of panache. Enter the fountain pen.  Used by distinguished gentleman since the mid-19th century, fountain pens turn everyday writing into an art. The nib on a fountain pen allows for calligraphic flourishes. When you sign that check to pay off your debt, it will look like you signed the Declaration of Independence. And when people receive your notes, they'll think they were delivered via a time machine. Price: $50-$1500

Correspondence Cards

If you're like most men living in this modern age of ours, your personal communication probably takes place through the digital ether of email, Facebook, and Twitter. While these forms of communication are fast and ubiquitous, they lack the human touch. It's time to snap out of your Web-based correspondence routine and embrace the art of the handwritten letter. But a proper letter can't be just scribbled on a piece of torn out notebook paper. If you're going to take the time to write a letter, you need to use quality stationery. Of course we can't think of a better or manlier set of stationery than our very own Art of Manliness inspired men's correspondence cards. Choose from over 25 manly motifs that are letterpressed into the card and printed with brown ink. They're perfect for jotting a quick note to Grandpa or sending your thanks to your Aunt Gertrude for your birthday savings bond. Price: $15

Rite in the Rain Field Flex Pocket Memobook

Hopefully by now you've gotten into the habit of carrying a pocket notebook; we've certainly mentioned the importance of this tool numerous times. You never know when you'll get an idea that will change your life. If you don't have something to write it down in, you could lose it forever. But what happens when that idea comes to you while you're standing in a torrential rainstorm? Most pocket notebooks won't allow you to write in such conditions. Not so with the Rite in the Rain Field Pocket Memobook. Popular among farmers and contractors, the Rite in the Rain notebooks are made with all-weather paper that sheds water and enables you to write in all weather conditions. Never let Mother Nature get in the way of inspiration again. Price: $4.25

All Black Embassy Pen

So you have your fancy fountain pen for putting your John Hancock on important documents. But what sort of writing tool should a man use in his everyday life? You could go with a cheap ballpoint pen. The problem is they're not very durable, and they have a tendency to let you down when you need them the most. Plus they're so one deminsional. The only thing you can do with a Bic pen is write with it. A man needs an everyday writing tool that's both durable and multidimensional. A tactical pen fits the bill. A tactical pen is a writing implement that can be used both for signing checks and as a last ditch self-defense weapon. Machined from solid metal, tactical pens typically have a tapered barrel, a screw-on lid, and a nice knurled grip. If you had to, you could use the end of the pen to forcefully disarm a would-be attacker, Joe Pesci-in-Casino style. The Embassy All Black Pen from County Comm is the tactical pen of choice of the U.S. Government. The pen is machined from alumnium and has deep knurled grip on the body that will ensure this bad boy never slips from your hand. The Embassy Pen uses Fisher "space pen" cartridges that will keep you writing in temperatures from -30°F to 250°F. Pair this up with a Rite in the Rain notebook, and come rain or shine, you'll be an unstoppable writing machine. Price: $44.50

Win a Col. Littleton No. 9 Journal

Hyundai will be giving away a Col. Littleton No. 9 Journal to one lucky AoM reader, so he can start snapping himself out of his digital writing routine. Here’s how to enter the sweepstakes: Leave a comment sharing what sort of tools or methods you use to snap yourself out of your digital writing routine and get yourself writing by hand. Deadline to enter is March 17, 2011 at 12:00 pm CST.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE 50 UNITED STATES (D.C.) 18 YEARS AND OLDER.  ENDS 3/27/11.  TO ENTER AND FOR OFFICIAL RULES, INCLUDING ODDS AND PRIZE DESCRIPTIONS, VISIT HERE.  VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

5 Items to Snap You Out of Your Daily Work Out Routine

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This post is brought to you by Hyundai. Click here to learn more about the new 2011 Elantra. What's this? Every man should strive to be fit. It's not a matter of aesthetics or getting six pack abs. It's about functional strength and the way a healthy body can affect every aspect of your life. Keeping yourself in shape boosts your happiness, brain power, confidence, and success, allows you to play with your kids now and live long enough to see them grow up, and prepares you to save your own life or the lives of others. Of course keeping yourself in top physical condition is easier said than done. Boredom and a lack of motivation can kill our desire to go for a run or get to the gym. Doing the same work out routine day-in-and-day-out gets old fast. And repeating the same work out may actually cause a plateau in your progress. So to stick with it and get results, a man needs to periodically break out of his tired old workout routine and mix things up from time to time. Adding in a few different tools can make your fitness routine feel fresh again. To snap out of your usual, tired and boring workout routine, we suggest giving these five items a try.

Iron Gym Pull-Up Bar

There's a reason why most branches of the military uses the pull-up as one of their fitness benchmarks. In this simple exercise, your body calls upon multiple muscle groups, including your lats, shoulders, back, forearms, biceps, and core. But many men skip the pull-up and instead do multiple exercises to work these same muscles.  Snap out of your typical workout routine with the Iron Gym Pull-up Bar. The Iron Gym is a pull-up bar that attaches to your doorway with pressure alone--no screws or bolts. Here's a typical workout routine I personally do with the Iron Gym. I based it off Pavel's "Grease the Groove" exercise philosophy. Just put it between a door frame that you frequently pass through and leave it there. Whenever you walk in or out of the room, crank out two or three pull-ups. Never go to failure. After a few weeks of consistently doing this, you'll be surprised by the results. You'll be significantly stronger and have honed that manly V-shaped torso that women find so attractive.

Vibram Five Fingers

Human beings are designed to run. Back in our tribal days, we used to run for hours on end in pursuit of our dinner. But we weren't designed to run in big clunky shoes filled with foam, air pockets, and "shocks." And therein lies the problem with the old running shoe routine: there aren't any studies that show that shoes with a bunch of whiz-bang features help you run better or ward off injuries. In fact, some researchers theorize that conventional running shoes may actually cause injuries by preventing you from running the way your body was designed to. Of course our feet, having been pampered and protected since we were newborn babes, are too tender to suddenly be ground into the gravel. What they need is a covering that offers protection from glass and rocks while not inhibiting the natural barefoot running form. This is where Vibram Five Fingers come in. Vibrams are like gloves for your feet.  There's no padding, and there's a slot for each one of your toes. When you wear Vibrams, you feel like you're barefoot. People who have made the switch to Vibrams have reported improved posture, elimination of lower back pain, and decreased running injuries. They also report funny looks from people at the gym, but they get used to that.

Heart Rate Monitor with GPS

Any kind of exercise is great; just getting outside and moving your body around for awhile has it's benefits. But using a tool to track just how hard you're working can take your fitness up to the next level. That's why heart rate monitors are an effective tool in a man's exercise arsenal. They let you know if you're slacking off and if you're really training at a high enough intensity. Men like competition and perhaps the best competition is with yourself, seeing just how hard you can push your body, willing it to beat last week's marks. And knowing how many calories you've burned can be really motivating, not just because you can put a tangible number with your workout, but also because you realize how hard it is to burn even 600 calories and how easily you can put them back by stuffing a donut in your piehole when you get home. Having a heart rate monitor with a built-in GPS is even more handy. It can track your speed and distance during biking or running workouts, so you don't have to guesstimate how far you've gone. You can also create laps for yourself and compare your last 16 workouts. All of this data can be easily uploaded to your computer for creating reports on your progress, so you can see if you're improving week to week.

Kettlebells

Barbells and dumbbells are a fantastic way to increase strength and muscle mass. But chances are you've been using them for years, doing the same old exercises over and over again. You need something to snap you out of your tired routine. Enter the kettlebell, one of the best training tools out there. What's a kettlebell you ask? Imagine a cannonball with a handle. Awesome and awesomely manly. Created by Russian weightlifters, kettlebells have been used for many decades by athletes and strongmen to perform high intensity workouts that provide strength, cardiovascular, and flexibility training. A short 30 minute workout with one of these babies builds muscle, burns  fat, and gets you in the best physical condition of your life. Become strong like bull. Start using kettlebells.

Medicine Ball

Weights. Treadmill. Crunches. Does that sound like your workout routine? How would you like to do a workout used by Ancient Greeks and famous pugilists like John L. Sullivan? Then it's time to get your manly paws on the old medicine ball. Medicine balls are one of history's oldest pieces of exercise equipment. Ancient Persians would fill animal bladders with sand to create their medicine balls. Fast forward to the 19th century, and you'll find physical culture enthusiasts and boxers throwing around medicine balls to invigorate and strengthen their muscles. Today the medicine ball is experiencing a revival with fitness enthusiasts across the world. They're one of the best pieces of exercise equipment to help build functional strength, and they can be used to do exercises that are both fun and effective.

Win a Polar RS300X G1 Heart Rate Monitor Watch with G1 GPS Sensor

Hyundai will be giving away a Polar RS300x G1 Heart Rate Monitor Watch to one lucky AoM reader, so he can start snapping himself out of his workout routine. Here’s how to enter the sweepstakes: Leave a comment sharing a fitness tip that you use to snap out of your workout routine and mix things up. Deadline to enter is March 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm CST.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE 50 UNITED STATES (D.C.) 18 YEARS AND OLDER.  ENDS 3/27/11.  TO ENTER AND FOR OFFICIAL RULES, INCLUDING ODDS AND PRIZE DESCRIPTIONS, VISIT HERE.  VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

5 Items That Snap You Out of Your Morning Routine [Win an Amazon Kindle]

This post is brought to you by Hyundai. Click here to learn more about the new 2011 Elantra. What's this? Over the next couple of months, we'll be running a series about things you can use to snap yourself out of your usual routines. And with each post, the kind folks at Hyundai will be giving away one of the items to a reader. I'm excited--this should be fun. A solid morning routine can help a man start the day off right. But many men don't really put much thought into what goes into their routine and instead rush around the house like a chicken with its head cut off, doing everything they can to make it to work on time. For a morning routine to be beneficial, you need to, as Old Blue Eyes sang, "take it nice and easy." Give yourself time to completely wake up, contemplate your day, and enjoy your family in the morning. The morning is your chance to get charged up and ready to meet whatever challenges and opportunities you'll encounter before you're back in bed once more. When you establish a morning routine that helps you feel energetic, relaxed, and confident, the whole rest of the day will go smoother and more successfully. To help you snap out of your usual, rushed and humdrum morning routine, we suggest giving these five items a try. And we're giving one of them--an Amazon Kindle--away, so check below for details!

Dovo Straight Razor

For many men, their morning routine starts off with a unique daily ritual practiced by men for millenia. Shaving. Hopefully by now you've made the switch from shaving with the Mach 32 (or whatever number of blades they're on) to shaving with a classic safety razor. You've probably been enjoying the better shaves and affordability that safety razor shaving provides. But if you're ready to really level up your shaving routine, it's time to add in the classic straight razor shave. You'll get the closest shave you've ever had, and you'll reduce your costs substantially over the long haul because you'll never have to buy another razor again. But the biggest way straight razor shaving snaps you out of your morning routine is that it’s a craft that requires you to slow down and really focus on what you’re doing. Instead of running around in the morning on auto-pilot, straight razor shaving can help you feel more present as a man. Putting razor sharp steel next to your throat every morning reminds you that you're alive.

French Press Coffee Maker

Ahhhh..... There's nothing like the smell of fresh brewed coffee in the morning to enliven the senses and wake a man up. But for many men, the typical coffee routine consists of either a) dumping scoops of stale, mass produced, coffee grounds into their coffeemaker or b) driving by a coffee shop and dropping five bones for a frapa-doodle-hold-the-I-don't-even-know-how-to-order-coffee-anymore-it's-so-complicated. Might we suggest you snap out of your morning routine by brewing your own cup of perfect joe with the assistance of the humble French press? The French press is normally a glass cylinder with a “plunger” like device that fits tightly into the circumference of the cylinder.  The plunger features a handle with some sort of wire or nylon mesh that pushes the coffee grounds to the bottom, trapping them there after a few minutes of brewing.
There are two big benefits to brewing coffee with the French press as opposed to your fancy Hal-90000 auto coffeemaker. First, the coffee grounds are fully steeped and saturated at the beginning of brewing, and second, this method of brewing retains the natural oils of the coffee that are normally absorbed by the paper filter. And like many of the items on this list, the French press forces you to slow down and really enjoy your mornings instead of running out the front door like Dagwood Bumstead.

Philips goLITE BLU Light Therapy Device

You wake up at 6AM, stumble to the bathroom, and flip the switch to the bright compact fluorescent lights in the bathroom. You move from the bathroom and into the kitchen, and turn on the yellow glowing incandescent lights. A few hours later you're sitting at your office desk underneath more fluorescent lights and in front of a bright computer screen for eight hours. Modern man spends most of his time basking in artificial light and soaking in fluorescent rays instead of the real light of the sun, and that does a doozy on our minds and bodies. Insomnia, lack of energy, and depression are just a few of the symptoms of inadequate sunlight.  The best remedy for these issues would be spending 30 minutes a day sunbathing. But for some men, that's not possible because a) they live in the Northeast where the sun hibernates for much of the year or b) the sun is already going down by the time they emerge from the coal mines. If you're one of the millions of men suffering from inadequate sunlight, it's time to snap out of your routine with the Philips goLITE BLU Light Therapy Device. Set this little device up next to your laptop and turn it on while you check your email. The goLITE emits a low intensity blue light that simulates the kind of blue light given off by the sun. That blue light helps regulate the hormones in your body that affect mood, energy, and even how you sleep at night. Clinical studies at the Mayo Clinic back up the benefits of blue light therapy. Incorporate it into your morning routine for more energy during the day and better sleep at night.

Cast Iron Skillet

A man can't start the day off on an empty stomach. He needs bellytimber to fuel his daily adventures and corporate conquests. But many men miss out on the benefits of a hearty breakfast simply because they don't think they have time. And no, four jelly filled donuts do not constitute a hearty meal. It's time to snap out of your daily donut routine and embrace the pleasures of a hot breakfast with a little help from the humble cast iron skillet. Cast iron skillets are, hands down, the best thing to cook breakfast, or most anything, in. A well seasoned cast iron skillet is almost as non-stick as those fancy teflon non-stick pans, without any of the chemicals that can kill your pet bird. Moreover, cast iron skillets distribute heat better and consequently cook your food more evenly than other types of skillets. They're also built to last; a cast iron skillet can easily provide 40 years of fantastic cooking. Amazon Kindle

After brewing coffee and cooking breakfast, a man has to have something to read to shake off the brain rust that developed overnight. For over a century, men across America would typically read the good old morning paper. But subscriptions to newspapers have been steadily declining for the past twenty years as more people consume their news digitally or even opt out from keeping up with current events altogether.

You're a busy man. You've got places to go and bears to wrestle and you're probably running out the front door without even kissing your wife goodbye just so you can make it to work on time. Snap out of this routine by bringing back the leisurely morning newspaper read with the assistance of the Amazon Kindle. You can subscribe to your favorite newspapers and even The Art of Manliness on your Kindle. Read it while you sip your hot coffee and eat your delicious skillet fried eggs. If you don't finish your article before you need to head out the door for work, take your Kindle with you to read in the carpool or on the subway. As a new dad I speak from experience when I say they're also indispensable for reading while feeding/holding a baby. The Kindle  has a one month battery life and thanks to the magic of e-ink, it's almost like reading a paper newspaper. It's like holding the future in your hand. Now if they could only invent a machine that showers you like on the Jetsons...

Win an Amazon Kindle from Hyundai

Hyundai will be giving away a wifi enabled Amazon Kindle to one lucky AoM reader, so he can start snapping himself out of his morning routine. Here's how to enter the sweepstakes: Leave a comment telling us something you use or do to change up your morning routine. Deadline to enter is February 17, 2011 at 12:00 pm CST.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  Legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.) 18 years and older.  Ends 3/27/11.  To enter and for Official Rules, including odds and prize descriptions, visit here.  Void where prohibited.

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