Jack3d: First Impressions

I picked up a tub of Jack3d from GNC the other day for 29.99.  It was on sale, and I wanted to give a pre-workout drink a shot.  I chose the Grape Bubblegum flavor, for no particular reason, but it sounded pretty good.  I decided to give it a try last night before my workout. No sugar, creatine, caffeine, and a few other stims make for a good mix with minimal calories = good.

The scoop is extremely school, because as USPLabs says the formula is ultra-concentrated.  I waited roughly 30 minutes before I started to get the tingling feeling to let me know it was time to go workout.  I got in the gym and immediately ran a mile, which is pretty good for me, since I usually do not do much cardio work.  I was still fairly sore, so I skipped squats, which is usually the basis of my workout and went straight to the bench.  I felt pretty strong, focused and motivated.

You can definitely tell this is a stimulant, and there is a decent amount of caffeine, but I felt good in the gym, and there was a bit of a crash after the shower, but not too bad.  I was not up any later than normal, and my workout started at 8:15, so I was surprised with that.

I will finish off the tub, and make another post before reupping with Jack3d or switching to another preworkout supplement.

End of the Year

I had a great 2011, looking forward to 2012.  I picked up several good habits over the course of the year, most important being working out and eating well.  I also made a big change in my life, moving to a new state and starting a new job.  With 2012 looming and me heading to NYC for New Year's Eve (this post coming via Megabus' free wifi), I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the best posts of the blog and address topics I want to cover going forward.

My most popular post is this one on the Barbour Bedale jacket, tons of great images and an excellent jacket.

My review of Chris Herren: Unguarded has been popular as well, I still recommend tracking down a copy of this documentary, if you haven't seen it yet!

Old LL Bean catalogs are always popular on the interwebz

With the Celtics season starting off quite poorly, lets take a moment to remember the best Celtic of all time, Bill Russell

My favorite book of 2012 was Chris MacDougall: Born to Run

Although Christmas has passed, check out the trad shopping list and staples posts along those lines check out Heavy Tweed Jacket while it is still around!

As far as my focus for the future, I am going to continue bringing news about my favorite sports teams, and sports in general, working out/paleo updates, clothing, craft beer, and anything else I find interesting.  Thanks for following my blog, and feel free to contact me with any further suggestions.  Aaronpkirsch at Gmail dot com


Basketball is upon us

ATerrificLife readers all know that the NBA is by far my favorite professional sports league, and that I love basketball!

I had my first Fantasy Basketball draft with my Fantasy Football league and a few other buddies on Monday.  I had second pick, and took Lebron James, and then proceeded to grab a number of bigs, my team is fairly risky, since there are a number of injury risks, but I have plenty of backups, so it should be fine.  I do not have any 3 pointers, but I hope to counter that by dominating FG%, Points, Rebounds and Assists and hoping that Tony Allen and some of my other guys can come up with steals and FT% get myself into the championship.  Looking for Ty Lawson to have a breakout year as well!

As far as real basketball, my Celtics are in pretty tough shape this year.  They failed to acquire Chris Paul and recently lost Jeff Green for the season (hope you are alright man!) which means our 5th best player is Brandon Bass, who will be coming off the bench.  I think the C's are going to struggle regular season, and sneak into the playoffs, where they will probably do some damage for the last time.  The lack of depth and athelticism of our star players, and New York, Miami and Chicago all young and bound to improve on already impressive seasons last year, and the surging Indiana Pacers and Philly 76ers are going to present a number of challenges.  In the West, it is going to be exciting to see the Clippers and Thunder who are being touted as favorites to win the Conference.  Scrappy Memphis, quiet Portland, aging San Antonio and the angry Lakers are all going to be in the mix as well.

I can't wait for Christmas day!


Heavy Tweed Jacket - Available for limited time

Heavy Tweed Jacket is a one man blog who employs a unique strategy of posting fairly regularly for a month or two, then going dark for 6 months, leaving no trace of the traddy menswear blog.  His archive of trad catelogs (and Grateful Dead mixtapes) is quite impressive, and I am sure he will send the Vintage Brooks Brothers ebay market up more than a couple basis points!


Book Review: The Rule of Four

The Rule of Four is a puzzle novel, in the same vein of the Da Vinci Code or the National Treasure movies.  The book is set in the final semester of Princeton senior' Tom Sullivan.  The plot of the book centers around a real text from the late 15th century called the Hypnerotomachia PoliphiliTom's father spent his academic career studying the book and looking for a deeper message.  In fact, he spent so much time in the book that he alienated himself from his family, until his death several years before.  Paul Harris is Tom's roomate, who has spent the past four years studying the Hypernotomachia, and has discovered a series of clues and riddles hidden within the text.

The book's strengths are the intriguing puzzle hidden within an age old text and the plausible answers based on Rennaisance-era knowledge that reveals a number of clues the author attempted to hide from contemporaries.  There is also the intrigue of murder and theft all caused by the book.  The scenes that display life at Princeton are also very interesting.  Unfortunately it devolves in to a treasure hunt at the tail end, and the tired relationship between Tom and Katie (a paralell of Tom's mother and father) and his struggle to extricate himself from the Hypernotomachia's pull is a bit of a snoozer.  The ending of the book is quite eventful and leaves open the possibility of a sequel, although the mystery is mostly solved, thus creating less interesting story lines for the future.

My overall verdict is a solid B.  This was definitely a page turner and the excellent portrayal if Princeton as well as the main puzzle were very redeeming.


Recent Beers

Port Brewing: High Tide "Fresh Hop" IPA - This beer is extremely hoppy, even though it was brewed early October.  It's been over a month, but the fresh hops are still extremely noticeable.  The color is quite light and hazy, with an aggressive head.  First whiff of the beer is pure piney hops.  The beer is bitter, as it is an IPA and the alcohol is noticeable although it is only 6.5% ABV.  A delicious beer for sure.

Sixpoint: Diesel -  This is a seasonal offering from Brooklyn based Sixpoint.  It comes in 16oz bomber 4 packs, and I paid $8.99.  Although they consider this beer a stout it is 62 IBU's and uses fresh hops.   This beer is nearly a Black IPA it is so hoppy, but there is a solid stout backbone to it as well.  The beer looks great, extremely dark with a foamy head.  The smell is roasted coffee and piney hops.  Very drinkable.

Trader Joes: 2011 Vintage Ale - This delicious Belgian Strong Dark Ale is brewed for Trader Joe's by Unibroue in Quebec, Canada, the famous makers of Belgian style ales.  This corked and caged 750ml bottle is a bargain at $4.99 while supplies last at TJ's locations.  Although the beer clocks in at 9% ABV it is approachable.  The beer is very dark and has lots of spices and dark fruits like other BSDAs.  Not the most amazing or complex beer, but a bargain at this price point.
Harpoon: Munich Type Dark - An excellent Munich Dunkel Lager from local brewer Harpoon.  This came in the Winter mixed 12 pack and was my favorite beer.  Don't have tasting notes, but I enjoyed it!


Fantasy Basketball Preview

I am extremely excited for the NBA season. I am a huge NBA fan, and my Celtics are my favorite team in the league. The Rondo trade rumors are a bit hyped this week, and I hope that he stays. I think Rondo is great for the other guys and he truly can be a difference maker in many games. He is also fun to watch, I simply wish that he could shoot better. His FG and FT percentages are extremely poor, which brings me to fantasy basketball. I am doing fairly well in my Fantasy Football league, and have a crucial matchup this weekend to determine playoffs (more on that later.) I play with a similar pool of friends for NBA and I am pretty hyped for this year, beginning on Christmas.

I am going to go avoid injury prone guys this year, since we are going to have a shortened season, and people will be playing more often. With a higher frequency of games, the edge will definitely be on the well conditioned guys who will play more minutes. I am going to avoid Derek Rose, Arame, CP3 and others. I am targeting Carmelo Anthony fairly early, and hope to get him, since I think under D'Antoni he might score 10,000 points this season! Drafts for this and hopefully one or two other leagues will be held fairly soon, so I will be prepping even more.

My draft strategy is to read a ton of fantasy analysts predictions and projections, since I respect these guys who do this for a living. I like to indentify players who have a lot of upside, think Jimmy Graham and L. Blounte in the NFL. I also like to identify non-sexy players like Matt Forte in the NFL who can really make a difference, although fairly quietly. I make power rankings for the first 4 rounds, then decide on a few guys that I am interested in during later rounds. I do consider team needs, but not until later rounds, since trades are always a way to pick up some positional pieces later on with a trade offer.

Another interesting aspect for this year is that we are going to be instituting a "keeper" option. We are each going to hold onto 3 players for next year, which means the players we are picking early on are going to be extremely important. For this reason, I am going to try hard to get Kevin Love, since he is a young, tough player who puts up a ton of stats. This rule means 30 players will be held out of the draft next season, which will make things extremely interesting. It will also have a big effect on trades, since they must be considered in the long term as well as the short term. I think there should be a penalty for holding onto certain players, but I do not have a great system.

I will add more thoughts over the next few weeks leading up to the season, but I can't give out too much, because other league members could definitely be ghosting my site!


Bobby Valentine = Boston Red Sox New Manager

I am pretty horrified with how the Red Sox performed this past year.  Francona had gotten even softer, and nobody took him seriously.  I think that with Valentine, the Red Sox will be much improved.  I don't even care if we keep Big Papi, fuck that guy. Fuck Papelbon too.  We have a ton of talent and I am extremely excited for 2012 baseball season.

god damn, this "Rappin Duke" video is hilarious too


More New Boston Microbreweries!

Blatant Brewing:

Blatant Brewing is a brewery founded by Matthew Steinberg, who has been working with Offshore Ale Company, of Martha's Vineyard, and more recently Mayflower Brewing. Now he has started his own brewery, producing beers at Just Beer in Westport, MA in a contract brewing arrangement, which I mentioned has become the trend in new Boston breweries, and Pretty Things has had great success brewing in Westport!

Their two beers are an IPA, that is BLATANTLY hopped, and I think the aggressive name bolds well for my favorite style of beer. Blatant is also brewing a session ale, which I am also a fan of, under 4% ABV is always welcome by me, especially for day time drinking. I will be looking to try this beer on tap at the next location that I find it.

Night Shift:

Night Shift is following the trend of building a production brewery in the industrial cities just north of Boston.  Night Shift will be based out of Everett, and the three founders seem to be Tufts graduates living in Somerville. I really appreciate the graphics and design of Night Shift's website, and their glasses are really awesome looking. At this time, there is no information on the actual beers, but there are a number of great images. I will be monitoring these guys, as they hope to open in early 2012.

Critical Mass:

Critical Mass is literally just an idea at this moment. They announced their existence on the 18th of November in a thread on Beeradvocate. I do enjoy the clever incorporation of Massachusetts into their name, and I truly hope that we are not at critical mass for breweries in the state and region! Keep these guys on your radar, as beer will be flowing summer of 2012.


New England Brewing: Ghandi-Bot Beer Review

Since moving to Connecticut, a few months back, this is the single beer that I have been hoping to try.  Brewed in New Haven County, CT, 45 minutes south, it is a bit hard to find, as it is such a desired commodity.  I was finally able to secure a 4 pack at Table and Vine in West Springfield, MA, for a fair price at $11.99, I also made sure to grab a sixer of New England Brewing's Sea Hag IPA at $7.99 too.

First off, I want to say that I love that this DIPA comes in a can.  The Alchemist's Heady Topper is the only other excellent DIPA that can say the same, as far as I know. All of New England Brewing's offerings come in cans, except for the Imperial Stout Trooper that comes in ~$20 750ml bottles.  The bright orange and interesting artwork make for an interesting looking can.  The name Ghandi-Bot is a great one too!

The beer pours a large, foamy head.  The color is a hazy orange, an excellent looking beer.  The smell is noticeable as soon as it is poured out.  The glorious American hops are just bursting out of the glass.  The hops are definitely American, with grapefruit, orange and pineapple smells all noticeable.

The first sip is that of sweet sweet hops, but with a strong malty background.  Although the beer is 8.80% ABV, which is fairly high, you can not tell from tasting it.  This is not a "balanced" IPA in any sense of the word balanced.  (check out local Berkshire Brewing's Lost Sailor, if that's what you are looking for!)

Amazing beer, best East Coast IPA/DIPA I have ever had.  Not as good as Pliny!


Book Review: The Quants

As an employee in a moderate sized financial services firm whose pruimary clients are hedge funds, Scott Paterson's "The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It" is an extremely entertaining read on the topic.  The industry has gotten progessively more complicated as brilliant math students graduated from top-class colleges and began gathering capital for their strategies.  The book vaguely discusses the different quantitative investment funds including AQR, Rennaissance Technologies, Citadel Group, Deutsche Banks' SABA and Morgan Stanley's PDT fund, and all of its key personel. 

It opens with a discussion of Ed Thorp, whose interest in investment was sparked by his passion for arbitrage opportunities in gambling, but went on to create the first convertible bond arbitrage fund.  This strategy focuses on pricing inefficiencies between common stock and derivatives, warrants in Thorp's case.  The strategy encourages shorting the overvalued of the pair, while simultaneously going long on the undervalued of the pair.  As the inefficiency is detected by other market participants it will converge and Thorp would make money as equilibrium returned.  Losses would be hedged because both securities would likely move in tandem.

The most important thing for Thorp's strategy was risk management.  He understood that many of his wagers had only a 55% chance of success, which seems small, but over the long term can be infinitely profitable.  However, the % of capital invested in each position has a direct impact on the risk of ruin due to short term bad luck.  He discovered the Kelly criterion, which he used in his blackjack strategy was an appropriate tool for determining "bet sizes."  Many believe the crash was a result of firm making wagers of a size far higher than Kelly would suggest, by used leverage.  The profitability of these strategies has fallen as more particpants understand and enter the market, but even if all positions had a 60% chance of success, a short term down swing from equilibrium can easily cause a devastating loss if the bet size is too large.

My only critiques of the book were that it was not techincal enough for my tastes as an insider, but I believe the level of sophistication and detail was appropriate for an outsider.  Also many of the story lines felt a little overly fantastic, although not neccessarily exagerated by the author.  I felt a lot of the parallel story lines were recycled and I believe the layout of content had room for improvement.

I really enjoyed mention of the poker influence on the industry including mention of famed degenerate TJ Cloutier and Jen Harmon.  Tales of high living such as "models and bottles" are always nice as well!


Paleo Vending Machine

Most vending machines are the antithesis of paleo, filled with carby snacks such as candy and chips.  A new type of vending machine in Alabama offering MEAT will be popular with the paleo set.



NBA Season/Chris Herren Unguarded

This NBA lockout is one of the most infuriating things I have experienced as a sports fan.  The NFL lockout was childs play, those guys were just trying to divvy up the boatloads of money they are making.  The NBA is not as profitable, I understand that, so they need to make a change.  Players need to understand that agents are telling them one thing, but for the overall health and viability of the league, as well as their fans that they are going to have to take a miniscule paycut.  Small market owners can't afford the huge contracts you people are demanding!  I am not going to rant about this anymore until the season has commenced, but you all know I am a huge NBA/Celtics fan and coming off an amazing post-season the NBA has dropped the ball big time. 

ESPN ran a documentary recently called Unguarded.  It is based on Fall River, MA native Chris Herren, who was a sensation in high school, played at BC in college, and eventually made it to the pros.  However, he was heavily addicted to painkillers, heroin, and other drugs, he was a complete addict.  I remember this guy when he was on the court for that terrible Celtics team, but then he was cut and I never heard from him again.  Bill Simmons spoke with Chris on the BS Report, and it really is a good listen.  Just because someone is rich, doesn't mean they can't fall prey to opiate addiction, I know a lot of people in my life who have been affected by this, and I can totally relate to Chris.  Worth checking out.


11/6/2011 Giants v Patriots

Yesterday was a pretty intense day of football, Miami stunned the red hot Chiefs and halted their 4 game win streak.  Tim Tebow once again made miracles and defeated the Raiders.  The reigning Super Bowl Champ Packers hold off the Chargers who nearly were able to recover from two pick-6s in the first half.  The Sunday Night game came down to the last play, with Flacco connecting to Torrey Smith for a last second TD and a win for the slumping Ravens. 

2008 Super Bowl catch by Tyree

This brings me to my big game of the week, my New England Patriots against the New York Giants.  In a repeat of the traumatic 2008 Super Bowl, the Patriots were nearly double digit point favorites against NY's hometown team.  Injuries to the Giants top RB and WR, Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks respectively, made for a pretty fortunate matchup against the Patriots who had not lost at home in years and were coming of a heartbreaking loss in Pittsburgh.  I did not think the Pats would cover, but I would have wagered at 4:1 that the Patriots would get a W. 

Unfortunately, that was not to be for my Patriots.  The first half was scoreless, ending with Gostowski missing a makeable field goal.  I can understand missing a 40+ footer, but come on bro!  Both defenses were playing pretty well, but everyone knew there would be some scoring in the second half.  The Pats looked good, until the last drive of the game, where Eli connected with a receiver for an insane pass for a big game keeping their hopes alive.  The Pats were up 3 with a 3rd and goal on the 2 yard line and just needed a stop, but a play action pass for the Giants resulted in a short TD and the ultimate win.  Very dissapointing, although a ton of fun and drama for spectators to enjoy!



The entire northeast region was crushed with an early snowstorm.  The fact that tons of leaves are still on branches and heavy winds and wet snow caused TONS of power outages and damages. I do not have home electricity, but work has a generator so there will be a few days until I am back to any kind of a regular schedule.


Justice "Audio, Video, Disco" Album Review \ Streaming

Justice has finally released their sophomore album.  Their first release, "Cross" is one of my favorite albums, and I have seen Justice live in NYC, and they really rock.  I love the grungy synths and guitar riffs mixed and the catchy beats.  "Audio Video Disco" is a change in their style for certain.  There is no poppy, catchy track like "D.A.N.C.E." although "Civilization" (which I heard months ago) and "Audio Video Disco" are on that level.  The whole album does not have the same vibe as "Cross," but in my opinion thats not a bad thing.  This is a lot more mellow and could be considered soft, but thats not my interpretation.  "Canon," "Parade," and "Newlands" are my favorite tracks, but I also liked "Helix" & "Ohio" a good bit.  "On'n'On" and "Brianvision" are my two least favorite tracks, but I do not hate them at all.   I am legitimately excited to see them live, and will certainly be buying tickets to their tour when it comes through NYC or Boston.  Stream below.

Got big plans for my birthday this week, I will do my best to take photos!


Link Dump #4

Another week, another link dump.  Please feel free to check them out if they interest you, they represent my varied interests!

SartoriallyInclined's L.A.S. gives us the skinny on all things in the fashion world, and is more tuned in than I ever will be.  However, we are both fans of UNIS, especially their Gio chinos.  Based on his post, it looks like there will now be a "slim" version of the Gio this season.  Pretty appetizing for the skinny set, but I am not quite lean enough for that yet.
Mark at MDA is one of my daily reads as he is the master of the primal/paleo movement in my humble opinion.  The recipe is a little more in-depth than I typically like to go for cooking, but the seasonal ingredients and great photography really make me want to cook this up.
Food Renegade comments on Fried Chicken Skins as well as a recipe.  Sounds like a tasty snack, but not an everyday thing.
I work in finance, for my day job, and I really forsee Europe being the cause of the next economic downturn, which will be within 18 months.  Via Zero Hedge.
DrinkCraftBeer is a Boston based blogger, who celebrated Octoberfest on Saturday with 1 liter steins of American craft beer, right on.  He also posted a review of Backlash Brewing's Convergence Saison.  I touched on these guys in my New Boston Microbreweries post.
Giuseppe hosted his 4th semi-annual Affordable Flea at Somerville's Davis Square VFW.  Looks like it was a successful event, but man do I miss Boston.  Also check out his new Volvo! (I do not support leaving the Brown sticker on FYI)


New Boston Craft Microbreweries

Boston is the capital of New England, a region with an extremely high concentration of craft beer drinkers, but always lagged behind as far as high quality breweries. Cities like Burlington, VT and Portland, ME have many more excellent craft breweries. There are a number of reasons for this, including the prohibitively high cost of real estate in Suffolk county and the surrounding area as well as local giants Sam Adams and Harpoon Brewery. However, since the summer, a number of new breweries have emerged and there are even more on the horizon.

Backlash Brewing is a new contract brewed company, which seems like the new business model for MA brewers, due to high real estate cost as well as the success of Clown Shoes and Pretty Things.  These guys are apparently brewing at Paper City Brewery in Holyoke, out in Western Mass, but distributing mainly in the 617 area for now, due to limited supply. Their first beer was Groundswell, a Belgian Pale Ale, and their second was Convergence, a saison.  I am hoping these guys do well, but I do not love their aesthetics, like the brass knuckles and the Russian Riveresque "Convergence" name.  I am a sucker for wax sealed bottles and the price points seem reasonable based on the quality.

Mystic Brewing is a production brewery located in an up and coming area of Boston that is still a bit industrial, Chelsea.  These guys seem to be the most ambitious of the new breweries, offering a Founder's Club, aiming to compete with places like The Bruery in LA.  They are currently brewing and distributing their Saison, which already has 25 reviews on BeerAdvocate (B+ rating) and several other beers are in the near future.  I am excited to try Entropy, which is a high ABV brew that should be complex and exciting.

Idle Hands Brewery is another brewery a little bit northeast of Boston, located in Everett, another industrial area.  They had a bit of an issue in getting their license, including the big issue with farmer/brewer licenses, which could have drastically affected the scene for small craft breweries in the Bay State, but ultimately was resolved favorably.  They call themselves a "nanobrewery" and like both Mystic and Backlash they seem to be focusing on Belgian styles.  Their two beers that I have seen offered so far are Pandora and Patriarch.  These guys are currently only doing growler fills ($10 + $5 for the glass) at odd hours.  Be sure to follow them on Twitter for more info.  I expect 22oz bombers in the near future.

SlumBrew is based out of the Somerville suburb that is the most rapidly gentrifying neighborhood near Boston.  Based on the colloquial nickname "Slummerville," hence SlumBrew.  These guys are about to have their first tasting on Friday Oct 28 at Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont, MA.  I really like the website, which obviously does not affect the quality of the beer, but it certainly suggests that they are thorough, which bodes well for the brand.  I heard that they are contract-brewing at Mercury in Ipswich and I am sure they would be happy to be as successful as Clown Shoes has been with a similar model, as well as receive the additional Somerville boost.

Trillium Brewing has not officially opened, but it is on the horizon.  The brewer wants to brew and open a brewery in Fort Point, and Boston is home to lots of yuppies, granola eating hippies, young professionals, and academia.  This is the perfect hotbed for an innovative microbrewery.  I will add more info as it emerges, but based on Trillium blog entries, this new brewery will focus on Belgian styled beers and ales, like many of the other new breweries.