30-year-old senior minister of Storrs Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, next to the campus of UConn.
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10 Best Bets for $75 or Less – Shawl Collar Sweaters, Cashmere Hats, & More

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Seventy Five bucks. That’s a lot of money. It’ll get you a couple pairs of Levi’s, a decent casual dinner out, or a couple months at your local gym. Ten picks follow, all for $75 or under, with some of them much, much less. Expect these round-ups on a monthly basis. Got a tip on something for under $75? Send those in to joe@dappered.com.

 

GAP Quilted Jacket – $56 ($79.95)

GAP Quilted Jacket

They bill it as a “shirt jacket” but it has a moto collar and looks relatively substantial? I mean, I’m sure it’s lightweight, but it doesn’t look overly flimsy? Deep navy color, quilted exterior, and a couple of chest high flap pockets as well as waist level hand pockets. Can drop lower when it’s a flat 40% off, but, if you’re a cardmember, you can save an extra 20% with the code DOUBLE at checkout, and that puts it down to $44.80.

 

UNIQLO 100% Cashmere Knit Beanie – $29.90

UNIQLO 100% Cashmere Knit Beanie

The difference between cashmere and merino is, for the vast majority of us, not worth the up-charge for the softer stuff. But when it comes to stuff that’s touching your head or your neck, consider splurging. And this ain’t much of a splurge.

 

Timex Fairfield Sub Seconds – $89

Timex Fairfield Sub Seconds

North of the $75 threshold for now, but it’s a new arrival. And that means it’s only a matter of time before it drops either by way of a coupon code, or, by its entry into the Amazon market. So stay tuned. Big fan of that recessed, seconds dial at 6 o’clock. Classy as hell.

 

The Vietnam War – By Ken Burns & Lynn Novick

To see how divisive this period of global history was and continues to be, one needs to look no further than these two reactions from the New York Post and The New Republic. Two different sides, shouting into echo chambers, while Ken Burns and Lynn Novick just do their damndest to tell the story. Yet those who produce little other than the vapor trails from the rocks they throw, keep on throwing them rocks. It’s no wonder we’re slow to move forward. We’re a shitty species sometimes. Lots of times. Perhaps most of the time. And this new PBS documentary is absolutely worth a watch. The sound editing alone is incredible.

 

Banana Republic Don’t-Sweat-It Polo – $49.50

Banana Republic Don't-Sweat-It Polo

Haven’t seen these in person yet, but reader David P. seems to think they have serious potential: “This polo is amazing. Fit and fabric/material is spot on. Similar to Uniqlo’s performance/dry-fit polos but nicer. I’m in love with these things.” Well then… Noted. Thanks David. Drops to under $30 when 40% off.

 

B.R. Rapid Movement Chinos – $58.80 when 40% off ($98)

B.R. Rapid Movement Chinos

Definitely has more stretch than your average stretch chino. Maybe not as stretchy as the rapid movement denim, but, more flexible. 90% cotton, 8% poly, 2% spandex. Clean hook and bar closure front. Tons of colors and fits. Size shown above is a 33×30 in the Emerson straight fit. The current offer requires some bulk buying (40% off $200+ no BR exclusions) but these have been escaping the exclusion net more often than not as of late. So you should be able to pick up a single pair, if you so choose, in the not too distant future for under $75.

 

Aston Grey Leather Chukka – $79.99 w/ SEPTEMBER2017

Aston Grey Leather Chukka

Just a bit higher than the $75 limit for this feature, but, it ships and returns for free so we’ll forgive that extra few bucks. Plus, they’re really quite nice for the price. A perfect leather chukka for fall’s transition back into jeans and sweaters. Full review here.

 

GAP 100% Merino Henley – $49 ($69.95)

GAP 100% Merino Henley

Huge applause to GAP for taking the time and materials to make a henley in merino. You think they would have stuck with the cheaper (and frankly, icky feeling if you run warm) spongy cotton variety. Not so! Three colors to pick from. On sale often. Does drop to $42 when it’s a straight 40% off, but if you’re a cardmember, you can get it for $39.20 by using the code DOUBLE at checkout.

 

J.C.F. Textured Cotton Seedstich Cardigan – $40ish

J.C.F. Textured Cotton Seedstich Cardigan

Tons of texture. Good weight. Easy to wear now that it’s cooling off. Available in the “Shetland Brown” shown above as well as a deep “vintage indigo.” Can go for as little as $30 if you play your cards right.

 

Deschutes Hopzeit Autumn IPA

Deschutes Hopzeit Autumn IPA

Deschutes does fall real well. Traditional Oktoberfest beers are great, until they start to feel and taste like dirty dishwater. This one balances that drinkability of a Marzen with the crispness of an IPA. Prices and availability depend on location.

For other Best Bets under $75 from previous months, click here.

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emerymat
2 days ago
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Storrs, CT
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Best Bluetooth Headset I’ve Owned

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I’ve tried a number of Bluetooth earpieces and headphones and finally found one that I’d buy again after using it for two years. The earpiece is the Plantronics Voyager Legend. One of the big things I was looking for in an ear piece was the ability to mute it from the device itself. If I’m on a call, and there is some sort of background noise I don’t want to share, I don’t want to have to find the mute button on the phone or on my computer. This is especially important because I make a lot of calls while we are traveling and it is easy to get into a situation where I need to say something quickly in my local environment that would be a distraction on the call. The Legend has a physical mute button, so it takes care of this nicely.

The other big thing I ran into with some of the other headsets was limited battery life. I have never run out of power while using it. When the battery has gone dead it is because I left it on overnight. It says it can last up to 7 hours of use. When I turn mine on from a full charge it says it should last for 6 hours and while I haven’t stress tested it to find out, I haven’t ever run out of power while using it.

The Legend is supposed to be able to connect to multiple devices and switch between them automatically. I liked the idea of being able to be connected to my computer for Hangouts, Skype, and video conferencing while being connected to my cell phone for calls. It does connect two two my Google Pixel phone and my Apple Macbook Air at the same time and seems to switch between them ok, but there is a weird static problem when I connect it like this. I’ve talked to support, gotten a replacement device, tried different phones, etc. but I can’t get rid of the static. I have friends who use it with two phones and said they don’t have any problems, but I couldn’t get it to work for me. Ultimately I found it wasn’t too inconvenient to just disconnect it from the device I wasn’t using. They sell a USB Bluetooth connector that might have solved the problem but my current solution works well enough that I didn’t ever feel the need to pursue that.

The noise cancellation seems to work adequately. It uses 3 mics to help figure out what sound is coming from your voice and what is coming from your environment. I don’t typically use it to talk in noisy environments and when I do it seems that I have more trouble hearing than the person I’m calling.

In addition to the mute button mentioned above there is a switch for power and one to turn the volume up and down. These both feel the same and I can’t ever remember which one is on the top and which one is on the bottom so I’ve turned the ear piece off a few times when trying to turn it down. My current approach is to first try to turn it up and if that works then turn it down. That way if I happen to be on the power switch I don’t turn it off in the middle of a conversation. There is also a button that will trigger an assistant on your phone. So basically the equivalent of saying OK Google on Android. It also usually seems to work fine just saying Ok Google, but I’m not clear if it is just the phone responding or if it is hearing it through bluetooth. This button can also be used to start and stop calls and redial. The mute button also allows you to put it into a mode to recognize some voice commands that let it tell you how much battery is left and redial the last number. When a call comes in you can also choose to answer or not using voice commands.

Beyond just making calls, the other significant way I use it is to listen to podcasts using PocketCasts. It works well for this and I can listen to podcasts while still being able to hear what is going on around me. Sometimes I feel like I can’t get the volume loud enough to hear it well if I’m in a noisy environment.

The ear piece uses a proprietary connector. You can’t just charge it by plugging in a standard usb charger and if you lose the little pigtail adapter you can’t charge the Legend. This hasn’t been much of an issue for me because I got the carrying case that does let you hook it up to a standard phone charger. The case includes a battery that charges the earpiece back up and helps keep it clean. It also has a place to hold the USB Bluetooth dongle mentioned previously.

The Voyager Legend has been around for quite a few years and there is a newer version available called the Plantronics Voyager 5200. This version looks like it has fixed a few problems. For one the earpiece uses a standard micro USB charger rather than the proprietary connector. Also, the button placement is different and it looks like it would fix the issue where I keep turning the device off when trying to turn down the volume.


A few weeks ago I lost my Voyager Legend and was almost ready to order a replacement. I was trying to decide between the $113 Voyager 5200 and the $62 Voyager Legend (prices at the time I was looking). After looking at the reviews I was about to go ahead and get another Legend because it didn’t sound like it was worth the extra cost. Fortunately, I found the earpiece before ordering a replacement so I’m back to using the one that has served me well for the past two years.

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emerymat
17 days ago
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8 Things That Happened When I Tried Intermittent Fasting

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TL;DR. Holy shit, this really works! And it's way easier than you think.

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emerymat
17 days ago
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UCC pastor sends love, prayers and postcards to Nashville Statement signers

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Countless people across the United Church of Christ and other progressive denominations were troubled and angered when the Nashville Statement was released Tuesday by a coalition of conservative Christians, but a UCC pastor in Michigan took matters into her own hands, for the love of her neighbors.

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emerymat
21 days ago
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UCC leaders respond with a message of love, inclusiveness to ‘Nashville Statement'

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The leadership of the United Church of Christ is denouncing the "Nashville Statement" by reasserting the inclusive positions adopted by the General Synod that celebrate the diversity of humanity.

 

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emerymat
23 days ago
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Donald Trump's Telling Change to the Oval Office

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Here’s a little quiz. Take a look at the picture of the photo above, which shows the newly redecorated Oval Office that is occupied by Donald Trump. What’s unusual in this scene?

As a helpful hint, here’s a close-up of the area you should be looking at:

Carolyn Kester / AP

Is it the Remington bronze statue known as “The Bronco Buster” on the right, which many presidents have displayed? No. The portrait of Andrew Jackson just above the statue, which has survived the departure of Jackson-fan Steve Bannon? No. The bust of Lincoln, on the left? Beneath the portrait of Jefferson? No, and no—although it would be instructive to know the thoughts of the third and the 16th presidents as they gaze on the 45th.

Might it be additional gold in the decor? No, not even that.

Here are a few additional compare-and-contrast clues, based on photos of the same office in different eras.

Let’s start with an extreme case, the Oval Office of FDR:

Library of Congress

Maybe too many points of contrast here—black and white versus color, the ship on the desk (for a former Assistant Secretary of the Navy), the very different aesthetics of patrician spareness and Trumpian glitz.

Let’s skip ahead to Dwight Eisenhower, whose office looked this way (via a recreation at his museum):

Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library

And how about JFK:

Bob Shutz / AP

And Lyndon Johnson with his advisers, getting news in 1968 about the assassination of Martin Luther King:

LBJ Presidential Library

I won’t go through the whole list but will move to a a sharper compare-and-contrast series from some recent presidents. On the left in each view, previous Oval Offices. On the right, the new one for Trump.

Reagan and Trump:

White House Historical Association / Carolyn Kester / AP

Bill Clinton and Trump:

White House Historical Association / Carolyn Kester / AP

George W. Bush and Trump:

White House Historical Association / Carolyn Kester / AP

And finally, Obama and Trump:

White House Historical Association / Carolyn Kester / AP

Can you spot the difference? Of course there are lots of them. But I’m thinking of the flags.

* * *

Most previous presidents contented themselves with two large flags behind their desk. One, naturally, is the stars-and-stripes American flag. The other is the blue flag bearing the presidential seal. Trump has at least tripled that: In the photos of the new Oval Office, we see three U.S. flags and three presidential ones.

But that’s not all. As commander-in-chief of all United States armed forces, the president is frequently in places where the battle flags of the five branches of service are displayed. (For the record: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Air Force.) Those flags are adorned with “battle streamers” for the campaigns in which the services have seen action. There are a lot of these streamers. The Army’s flag has nearly 200, which hang so densely that it’s hard to see the flag itself.

Presidents are used to the battle flags. The flags are in some meeting rooms where the president spends time, and sometimes behind him on stage. Dwight Eisenhower—West Point graduate, former five-star Army general—had the Army flag sentimentally at one end of the Oval Office.

But with rare exceptions, presidents keep the battle flags out of the Oval Office. Their decisions even follow a Chickenhawk-style pattern: The more closely a president has been involved with the military, the less likely he is to make a military-flag display.

FDR and Eisenhower, who in different ways commanded the forces that beat Hitler and Tojo, did not need the battle flags. Nor did JFK, wounded Navy veteran of that war—nor the first George Bush, shot down as a naval aviator over the Pacific, nor Gerald Ford, who also served in the Pacific with the Navy, nor Jimmy Carter, who was an Annapolis midshipman in the early 1940s and then became a submarine officer. Nor Ronald Reagan, who for all the complexities of his “war record” (mainly in movies) radiated a confident toughness. Of the Boomer-era presidents (Clinton, George W. Bush, technically Obama), only Bush was in the military, via the National Guard, but until now all did without the battle flags.

The exceptions? Some photos of Richard Nixon in the Oval Office show him with battle flags, and a few of Lyndon Johnson as well. These exceptions underscore, rather than undermine, the larger chickenhawk principle: that the stronger a leader actually is, the less he needs the stage-prop symbols of strength. (Both Johnson and Nixon were in uniform during World War II but in circumstances less dramatic than Kennedy’s or Bush’s. In different ways each was preoccupied with, and ultimately badly damaged by, avoiding the appearance of weakness or compromise. They were also the two modern presidents to leave office early without being voted out--or dying: Johnson by declining to run in 1968, Nixon by resigning just ahead of impeachment in 1974.)

And now we have Trump. The mainly white flag nearest his desk is the Army’s; the red one is the Marine Corps’s. (I can’t tell from this photo whether the other three service banners are there as well.) Make what you will of this change, but what I make of it is this: The man with the least demonstrated policy-knowledge of any modern president frequently boasts about how smart and well-educated he is. Similarly, the man exempted from the draft because of a bone spur—either in his right foot, or his left, he’s not sure now—surrounds himself with triple the symbols of national power as his predecessors needed, and with emblems of the military that the previous strongest commanders-in-chief kept out of the seat of ultimate civilian control.

Does any of this “matter”? No. But it’s one more step away from normal and thus worth noting. Whoever comes next to the Oval Office should feel confident enough to put those battle flags back where they belong.  

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emerymat
26 days ago
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