Sneckdowns: How Snowfall Reveals True Street Usage



After a significant snow storm, like the one in New York this week, a clear indication emerges of how much of the road is actually needed for automobile traffic. One easily notices how traffic truly flows by way of the paths carved out by cars. Something called sneckdowns also appear.

Neckdowns are curb extensions found at the corner of intersections intended to slow motor vehicles, giving pedestrians a shorter distance to cross. And Sneckdowns are neckdowns caused by snow, like the one in the picture above, like those all over Manhattan today. 

In this way, snow leaves a blueprint for smarter road use. (Or a whiteprint, I guess.) It’s a real-time rendering of how streets should be shared. It’s hard to argue that cars need more space when the snow shows just how much they are actually using. And this knowledge paves the way for more bike lanes and wider pedestrian areas, which in turn make the streets safer

Snow in the city can be a wonderfully peaceful event. Turns out it can even calm traffic, too. 

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Taxation Without Representation


Washington, D.C. has a population of nearly 600,000 American citizens, who pay taxes, and serve in the military. Yet, none of them get a vote in Congress. That’s over half a million Americans living at the seat of the federal government, yet none are afforded the right to take part in its legislative process.

The District is “represented” in Congress by a non-voting delegate. U.S. territories such as Guam and Puerto Rico have similar delegates in Congress. However, unlike Guam or Puerto Rico, the District is subject to all federal taxes. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the non-voting delegate of D.C., has taken this democratic oversight as her signature cause.

DC Vote has also been championing this cause since their inception in 1998, bringing attention to this worthy cause, fighting for legislation and even helping to introduce the iconic “Taxation Without Representation” slogan that appears on DC license plates.

The effort for DC Voting Rights enjoyed a moment in the national spotlight in August 2008 when Eleanor Holmes Norton spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Norton implored the convention to apply common sense to this unnecessary miscarriage of justice. “The revolutionaries,” she said, “did not create a nation to get the vote, only to turn around and deny the vote to the citizens of their own capital.”

Proponents of DC Voting Rights argue that DC citizens are being treated unjustly. For example, in 2007, DC residents and businesses paid over $20 billion in taxes, or more than the taxes collected from 19 states. And with nearly 600,000 residents, the District has more citizens than the entire state of Wyoming. Yet, Wyoming has a seat in the House of Representatives, as well as two senators.

However, opponents of the movement maintain that Wyoming and the other 49 states are just that: states. And therefore they enjoy the representational democracy afforded by the Constitution. While the District may exist in some sort of legal limbo, it is one that exists within the parameters of the Constitution.

A more sinister theory exists that opponents of the movement are doing so to maintain party balance. Put another way, giving a seat to the District would be almost an automatic seat to the Democratic party. A compromise was floated to offer an additional seat to the usually Republican-leaning state of Utah . But to date all efforts to pass this legislation in the House have stalled.

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The Ted Baker Vitric3 Penny Loafer: A Versatile Shoe for Spring


Originally appeared in Montecristo Social Club on May 22, 2013

Penny loafers should be a staple in any shoe collection. They are versatile and are a perennially stylish choice for footwear. Ted Baker’s Vitric3 line of loafers upholds these virtues, bringing the next evolution of the classic shoe into the modern era. These loafers occupy that unique space of being at once hip and stylish while at the same time vintage and refined.

The loafers work as easily with jeans as they do with a jacket and tie, or even shorts for that matter. The inner fabric lining assures they’ll be comfortable regardless of which outfit they accompany. Beyond the comfort level, these shoes look great as well. Be it the sleek leather, the textile lining or the raised sole, the quality of these loafers is visible all over the shoes. With its own distinct personality, as well as a slightly stacked heel, these shoes stand above the ranks of this year’s loafers.

Every working man needs a pair of shoes like these. The Vitric3 is versatile enough to be worn to both work and happy hour. These shoes are perfect for the spring. As if we needed another reason to look forward to warmer weather.

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Ruxbin: Bring Your Own Appetite



Originally appeared in Montecristo Social Club on April 26, 2013


Boasting just 32 seats and a steam-punk décor, Ruxbin is quickly establishing itself as one of Chicago’s premier eateries. And that’s saying a lot in a city known for its food.  After honing his trade in New York and Los Angeles, Chef Edward Kim has finally graced his hometown with this American bistro sitting near the border of the neighborhoods of West Town and Wicker Park. Kim, a Chicago native himself, drew from influences ranging from French technique to his own Korean background to create a truly unique restaurant. Unsurprisingly, there’s often a line found out front as the restaurant only takes reservations on Sundays. What you won’t find, however, are many unsatisfied patrons.

Another thing you won’t find is a wine list. Due to a zoning irregularity, Ruxbin is not allowed to sell alcohol to its customers. So to make do, the restaurant is BYOB; or, in other words, the wine list is just as good as you want it to be.  But, patrons should be sure to check the menu first as it is updated daily. Octopus salads, short ribs over ramen risotto, black cod and garlic fries, are the signature dishes of the restaurant, so plan your spirits accordingly. Guests of Ruxbin should also be advised to leave room for dessert. With items such as pineapple upside down cake and bacon cotton candy, there’s plenty of motivation to stick around through the encore.

Ruxbin treats the word restaurant, as its origins intend, to restore. Moderately priced, with entrees ranging from $22 to $30, the eatery is affordably delicious. And to that end, those who leave will feel well fed and refreshed. What’s more they’ll find it’s worth the wait.

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The 2014 Bentley Flying Spur: Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

Originally appeared in Montecristo Social Club on April 24, 2013



The stats on the 2014 Bentley Flying Spur are beyond impressive. The car, and, yes we have a hard time referring to it as just a car, boasts a six-liter, twin-turbocharged W12 engine. With over 600 horses under the hood, it goes from 0 to 60 in a mere 4.3 seconds and 0 to 100 in 9.5 seconds.  And for those true thrill seekers out there, it’s worth noting this beast of an automobile reaches top roads speeds of 200 miles per hour.  With capabilities like that, it’s probably worth taking her out to the track for an afternoon.

Inside the Flying Spur drivers will find an entirely new car. Bentley only brought over the sun visors, the grab handles, the armrests and some of the front console and controls from the previous models.  From there, they have added over 600 new parts, creating a whole new driving experience. Inside, passengers will find a central infotainment center controlled by an 8” touch-screen, complete with GPS, Bluetooth and 64GB of internal storage and Wi-Fi (the car is its own hot spot). And for the safety conscious, bear in mind, all of this can be voice activated, too. The Bentley Flying Spur will be released in the US this July, and will have a starting price of $200,500.

Bentley is a name that speaks for itself. Honestly, the Bentley Flying Spur is so fancy you’d expect to see a chauffeur behind the wheel. The only problem is who in their right mind would ever let anyone else drive this car?

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Cigar Etiquette 101

Originally appeared in Montecristo Social Club on March 20, 2013


The superior, hand-made quality of premium cigars demands etiquette that is crucial among adult aficionados. Here are some etiquette tips that will help you enjoy the premium smoking experience to the fullest.

Deciding where to enjoy a premium smoke is an important factor to keep in mind. Personal smoking rooms or outdoor locations are ideal, but to enjoy your smoke with kindred spirits, head over to a local cigar lounge. But no matter where you enjoy your cigar, be considerate of your surroundings.

Secondly, a cigar should always be lit correctly. A great cigar should never be started with a fluid lighter. Instead, opt for a butane lighter especially made for cigars. These lighters will produce super-hot torch flames that easily light the cigar. When lighting, the flame shouldn’t be set directly to the foot. The tobacco must first be lightly toasted above the flame before rotating the foot to ensure an even burn.

Cigar lovers also know to never bite off the tip of a cigar. There are tools for this. Invest in a great cutter that will serve you well and last quite some time. Cutters come in various types: guillotine, scissor, punch and more. Your smoke will be that much more enjoyable.

There seems to be two schools of thought about the band. In Europe, these are generally removed right away so as not to identify what kind of cigar is being smoked. In the U.S., this step is not regarded as stringently.

To that end, a cigar should never be stubbed out like a common cigarette when finished. Rather, a cigar should be given a more graceful ending. Simply placing the cigar in an ashtray is fine. The cigar will extinguish itself after some time.

A good cigar can last 30 to 120 minutes. But a reputation for considerate manners and good etiquette can last a lifetime.

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CSR Blogs: The Business of Doing Good




Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, is a somewhat new concept. For years, businesses and corporations were seen as having only one responsibility: profit. And, let’s be honest, that won’t ever go away. After all,  companies need to stay in business.   But things are transitioning. Maybe the environment is changing outlooks. Or maybe, the advent of social media and increased transparency is altering things. Regardless of how this came about,  corporate social responsibility is now part of the conversation. CSR, or “shared values”, is pervading into most corporate cultures. It promotes better communities and happier employees. Plus, it can’t hurt brand perception.  Not surprisingly, there are many great things being written on this subject. So with that in mind, let’s roll up our sleeves, lend a hand to those in need and take a brief tour through some of the best Corporate Social Responsibility blogs I’ve seen.

Realized Worth is a blog written by two CSR consultants. They spend their time, when not blogging, extolling the virtues and value of company-led volunteer work. And when they are blogging, they’re pointing out great examples of companies (and their employees) doing good.  If I were to pitch this blog, I’d look for stories surrounding volunteerism and other examples of businesses empowering their employees as agents of positive change. Check out the full review here.

Sustainability Conversations is written by a PR professional in China. The blog aims to affect social change through communication. It’s a smart tactic. If behaviors are to change, mindsets must first be altered. If I were to pitch this blog, I’d look for stories relating to the PR industry’s relationship to corporate social responsibility. These types of stories that originated in Asia might do particularly well. Check out the full review here.

The Green Economy Post is a comprehensive digest of green industry news. If there’s something to do with sustainability, the environment, alternative technology, or some place where they all meet, you can expect to read about it on here. If I were to pitch this blog, I’d look  for stories surrounding clean technology and alternative energy. Stories that sit at the intersection of business and the environment might also work. Check out the full review here.

Business Ethics Blog is not the start of a joke about oxymorons. Business and ethics actually can go hand in hand.  And in a lot of ways, they’d be smart to do so. Brand awareness and transparency are at all time highs.  Oh, and the environment could probably benefit, too. If I were to pitch this blog, I’d look for stories illustrating examples of businesses doing good work in their communities. Examples of companies empowering their employees might also work. Check out the full review here.

Earth & Industry don’t necessarily sound like two words that go together. However, these forces must work together if either are to survive. This blog outlines examples of sustainable businesses. In many ways, this blog is a look at what the future of business will look like. If I were to pitch this blog, I’d look for stories surrounding green technology, the solar industry and the impact business and the environment have on one another. Check out the full review here.

That’s all for now. In the meantime, if there’s a blog I should be reviewing, drop me a line or a note in the comments, and I’ll take a look. Until next time…

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