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Valentine's Day Do's & Don'ts

2/12/2015 3:25 PM

Valentine’s Day. It’s here. While this day is a non-religious ‘holiday’ about love, it is really the litmus test for a guy’s personality. She’s watching. For some reason, Valentine’s Day is a highly emotional day, either in fits of rage or deeply in love. Most of it is about managing expectations. Don’t go over the top, but don’t take a mulligan. Here are some dos and don’ts for a successful Valentine’s Day:


  1. Embrace that it’s Valentine’s Day. Sure – there is the theory that it’s a ‘Hallmark Holiday’, but if you are lucky enough to have a hot date, then you need to understand that there are some extra implied connotations. Be the guy that holds her hand through the night. Don’t be cheesy, but don’t be cynical.

  2. Plan your night in advance. Any good restaurant will book up pretty quickly, and unless you want to share a $5 foot long from Subway, get on it. If all the restaurants are full, then plan on cooking her dinner at your place. She’ll notice the effort as much as she’ll recognize your amazing culinary skills.

  3. Either way – dress the part. This is a night for you to look your best. Iron your shirt. Put on a tie. Polish your shoes. Shave. Trust that she will notice the extra effort. This day is about her, so go above and beyond.

  4. Call your mother. She loved you before any other women in your life, and she deserves the gratitude.

  5. (For the single folks): Guys night out. You’ll have no problem finding a table at the sports bar. Eat wings, drink beer, and enjoy time with the guys. This time next year, you could all be practicing 1-4 above. You never know.


  1. When sending flowers, don’t send a computer printed stock message. There is nothing less personal than a ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ printed on a stock card with a bunch of roses. Flowers are great, but the message will have a much more lasting effect. Two options – write the note yourself (if you are using a local florist), or write something catchy if you are using ProFlowers.com.

  2. Don’t do guy stuff. This is not the night to bring her to an NBA game or to Supercross. Don’t go to dinner at a sports bar. You have a DVR, so record the game and watch it later. This is her night, so treat it as such.

  3. Don’t get drunk. There is not much good that can come from her having to walk you home. Limit yourself to a couple drinks.

  4. Don’t go on a first date. The pressure and mismanaged expectations would make this a very awkward and uncomfortable date. Even if you just met someone great – resist the urge. It’s not worth it. Wait until next weekend.

  5. (For the single folks): Don’t call your ex. It’s not worth it. It screams desperation and there is NOTHING good that can come from it. You are better off.

Posted By Onward Reserve

History of Valentine's Day

2/10/2015 9:57 AM

Today, when we think of Valentine’s Day, we think of a rather commercialized “Hallmark” holiday of “love”. A day to emphasize celebrating your significant other through dinners, gifts, chocolate, and flowers. Depending on your relationship status (or lack thereof), it can also be seen as a day of cynicism. Either way, it is a highly marketed day – to the tune of Christmas or Thanksgiving (even though it isn’t a federal holiday). Americans are expected to spend $17.3 billion dollars for Valentine’s Day this year.


Valentine’s Day is observed on February 14th every year. It is named after Saint Valentine, who was a third century Roman saint that is associated with courtly love and died on February 14th. He is known as a priest of Rome who was imprisoned for giving assistance to persecuted Christians. He was buried in the Church of Praxedes in Rome, where a pink-blossomed almond tree was planted near his grave. To this day, the almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship. Saint Valentine was also known for marrying Christian soldiers that were forbidden to marry (the belief was that married men did not make good soldiers). He was said to give these solders hearts cut out of parchment, and is said to have worn a purple amethyst ring with an engraved image of Cupid.

Since then, the customs of Valentine’s Day have become associated with romantic love. It has been a subject of poetry, starting in the medieval period and the English Renaissance. In 1797, a reduction in postal rates and some stock British love poetry made it easier for the romantic to send cards featuring sentimental verses to their loved ones (sometimes anonymously). By the 19th century, these cards were so popular in England that they were produced in factories. Valentines cards were first produced in the United States in 1847 out of Worchester, Massachusetts. This began the transition from hand-written Valentine’s notes to mass-produced greeting cards.

Gifts superseded cards in the second half of the 20th century, which primarily consisted of roses and chocolates. In the 80’s, the jewelry industry jumped on board, claiming that Valentine’s Day was a day for giving jewelry. That claim has stuck. The US Greeting Card Association estimates that about 190 million Valentine cards are sent each year. School activities boost that number to almost a billion, with teachers being those people receiving the most Valentines.

With the Internet, sending Valentines greetings is unlimited. Millions use quite a few means to deliver Valentine’s Day messages through email, e-cards, etc.

The customs of Valentine’s Day spread worldwide in the 19th and 20th centuries. Some traditions:

   • In Finland, Valentine’s Day translates to “Friend’s Day”, which is more about remembering your friends rather than loved ones.

  • In France, they celebrate love (as if they needed a special day).

  • In Japan, it is customary for women to give chocolates to the man they love, and in turn, the man is to give the woman a gift that is two or three times more valuable than the gift received.

  • In Puerto Rico, it is common to see people perform “Acts of Appreciation” for their friends.

  • In Sweden, Valentine’s Day is known as “All Hearts Day”, which is largely a result of influences from American culture. Cosmetic and flower sales on this day are only exceeded by those given on Mother’s Day.

  • Singapore residents spend the most money on Valentine’s Day.

  • In South Korea, women give chocolates to men on February 14th, and men give non-chocolate candy to women on March 14th. On April 14th (also known as “Black Day”), those that didn’t receive anything go to a Korean restaurant and eat black noodles.

Gifts are the thing on Valentine’s Day. Here are some outrageously expensive Valentine’s Day gifts from a few names you may know:

  • George Clooney spent $40K for one night at the Hugh Hefner Sky Village’s suite in Las Vegas.

  • Katy Perry gave (at the time boyfriend) Russell Brand a purple Bentley valued at $341,000.

  • Howard Stern gave his to-be fiancé a 5.2-carat engagement ring valued at over $250,000 for Valentine’s Day.

Posted By Onward Reserve

American Sniper Movie Review

1/21/2015 10:13 AM

By now most of us are well aware of Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL and sniper credited for 166 confirmed kills over four tours of duty. He is a widely celebrated American hero.

Clint Eastwood took the subject and directed a masterpiece of a movie. Chris Kyle, played by Bradley Cooper, comes across as a humble, conflicted big brother who is driven by his sense of duty to his country and to his fellow soldiers. He is equally driven by his love for his wife and children. Cooper put on 40 pounds of muscle for the role, and Sienna Miller does an excellent job portraying Taya Kyle, the now widow of Chris, and what she had to endure as a military wife.

The film isn’t about the war in Iraq. The film is about the internal struggle that Kyle and other soldiers fight while balancing the limits of right and wrong. There is a scene in the movie where Kyle must decide whether or not to kill an armed child. He must make a split decision, and ultimately decides to take the shot, which is his first kill. It is a very dramatic scene, but the scenes that follow are heartbreaking, as he deals with the ramifications of the choice he made. Again: stretching the balance of right and wrong, along with the sense of duty.

There is another scene towards the end of the movie where Kyle is faced with the same decision: to kill an armed child. The scene is captivating – it shows the impact that multiple years and tours have ultimately matured Kyle. It is a very humanistic scene.

Another major theme of the movie is Kyle’s struggle with the personal impacts of war. He can’t seem to be right with the world while he is at home; as he feels his mission isn’t complete. There is a scene where Kyle reaches his ultimate breaking point, and calls his wife from a satellite phone in the middle of a battle, telling her “I’m ready to come home”.

Once home, Kyle serves in a rehab capacity, helping, and protecting soldiers once again. He still deals with the death and the impact of war stateside, and it is clearly a form of rehab for Chris Kyle as well.

The very end of the movie is extremely impactful, and will stick with you for quite some time. Once you see the movie, you will know.

While the movie is absolutely outstanding, I would recommend reading the book of the same name before seeing the movie. Eastwood does an excellent job of staying true to the story, but the book does provide depth into the movie and it’s themes, as well as providing some context into why Kyle was the way he was.

Have you seen “American Sniper”? What did you think?

Posted By Onward Reserve

Winter Golf Planner

1/20/2015 10:26 AM

While the deep freeze hasn’t taken over the South just yet, be assured that it is coming. From the golf perspective, unless traveling to a winter golf destination, we are relegated to watching the PGA Tour events on TV out in Hawaii, California, and Arizona. Fear not; the warm weather will be here soon enough. In the meantime, let’s talk about the pre-season golf regiment. If lowering your handicap is a goal this year, then here are a few off-season golf routines that are sure to help:

     1. Fitness: The worst enemy of a well-coordinated golf swing is muscle tension. Beyond any strength training or cardio training, it is imperative that stretching is a focus for off-season golf preparation. Most stretching exercises should focus on your shoulders and torso, as these muscles control the tempo of your swing. Here are a couple good ones: shoulder stretching – often called the ‘pitcher’s stretch’, bring your right arm straight across your body and hook it with your left arm, stretching out the back of your shoulder muscles. Do this a few times with each arm. Side stretching – raise your right hand straight in the air and tilt your body to the left. You’ll feel your left side stretch from your armpit through your ribs, down to your hip. Neck stretches – start with your right ear on your right shoulder, and slowly roll your head forward to a position of having your left ear on your left shoulder. Do each of these exercises a few times a day or before and after your normal workout routine for the best results.

     2. Club Maintenance: Your golf clubs are the tools of the trade, and they need annual care. This is the time of year to bring them in for a tune up. Most good golf shops can do just about anything to your set to bring them back to life. New grips will show the most return for your money. It is recommended that you update your grips every two or three years depending on how much you play. Dings and rock marks can be ground out of your irons and wedges without impacting the integrity of the clubs. Having your irons and wedges bent to the correct loft is a good idea for yardage control. Extra credit: clean out your golf bag. It’s amazing how much accumulation happens over a season.

     3. Get Fitted: Planning on replacing a wood or your irons? The worst mistake you can make is buying them off the shelf. Research and proper club fitting is key when making this sort of investment. Your height, weight, posture, tempo, and swing speed are unique to only you, and finding the right clubs to match these variables will yield the best results. Most good golf shops have very high tech equipment to find the right loft, shaft flexibility, shaft length, and grip for any club you need. Brand loyalty is fine here, as each major brand has numerous combinations to meet any golfer’s requirements. Remember – you are making a big investment in your game, so make sure you are getting the best value (and yardage) out of your purchase.

     4. Update the Wardrobe: Ahh…this is the fun part. After a closet purge of your old, stained, and uncomfortable golf attire, replace it with the new, best of class shirts, pants, and shorts out there. Peter Millar has made huge strides in the past couple of years. Their golf clothes are a perfect combination of the ‘classic’ golf look, but with updated fits and technology. Add some fun to the golf attire with a needlepoint belt from Smathers & Branson. They offer designs for almost any interest – from your alma mater to hunting and fishing to golf.

     5. Plan a Golf Trip: Sure, this can be an elaborate trip to Pinehurst or Kiawah, or it can just as easily be one round at a very nice club out of town. Plan it a few months out and put it on your calendar. Believe it or not, this will serve as a reminder to keep your golf game in check throughout the pre-season, spring, and summer. If you know you have invested in an important round of golf coming up, you’ll take a little extra time at the range so you can bomb that new driver.

Posted By Onward Reserve

Remember back when they announced a change to the BCS Championship? No longer would they rely on rankings for the single championship game, electing to move to a four-team playoff. The general sentiment was very negative, with most pointing to the move to the ‘Super Conference’ preference, and elbowing out the smaller conference teams like Boise State.


What happened during the 2014 season confirmed that the move to a four-team playoff was a good decision – actually a GREAT decision – for college football. It made this season very fun to watch, as it opened up the chances for more than a couple teams to play for the (seriously ugly) BCS Championship trophy. Now four teams will play in a single-elimination tournament to crown the 2014 Champion.


It also gave a nod to the traditional New Year’s Day bowl game history, making tomorrow the second most important day in the college football season. Tomorrow, the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl will determine who plays for the National Championship game on January 12th in Dallas.


The Previews:


The Rose Bowl (5:00PM ET on ESPN)

#2 Oregon Ducks vs. #3 Florida State Seminoles

Here are the facts about Florida State: Jameis Winston is undefeated at FSU. They have won 29 straight games. Their defense has holes, and their offense seems anemic at times. With all that said, they have found a way to win. Oregon has the Heisman winning QB Marcus Mariota and the typical speedy Oregon offense that is only comparable to an Olympic track meet.


FSU will play better against Oregon that it has all year. Jimbo has had a long stretch to ensure the Seminoles focus solely on Oregon. At this point, the only thing that will keep the ‘Noles from beating the Ducks is if Winston somehow ends up in jail tonight. Stranger things have happened.


Onward Reserve Pick: FSU 41 Oregon 35


The Sugar Bowl (8:30PM ET on ESPN)

#1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #4 Ohio State Buckeyes


Alabama is the best team in the best conference, and proved so in dominating fashion. The 2014 Crimson Tide offense may be their best in five years, led by senior QB Blake Sims. They are loaded on both sides of the ball, and quite frankly, have a game changer in the future NFL 1st round pick Amari Cooper.


The Buckeyes squeaked in ahead of TCU and Baylor on decision day, and have been acting like they belong among the elite. They will have a quick reality check, similar to Notre Dame in the 2012 National Championship game tomorrow night. Alabama rolls in New Orleans, but they won’t have such an easy time vs. FSU in the Championship game…more on that next week.


Onward Reserve Pick: Alabama 41 Ohio State 13

Posted By Onward Reserve
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