Many Thanks to Menlo Park TechShop

Tech Shop

TechShop’s motto is ‘Build your dreams here’.

Although our standing policy is not to read or follow instructions and to be generally distrustful of mottos, TechShop really is a place to do just that.  Man Crates might not exist, or at least we wouldn’t be where we are today, without the incredible service that TechShop provides to builders, makers, dreamers, and aspiring entrepreneurs across the country. Here’s the freshly installed laser bay at Man Crates headquarters, just completed this week:

Laser Bay at Man Crates
You mean you don’t get to slice stuff up with a laser beam at your job?

Each of these lasers can run up to $30,000.  We won’t bore you with too many company financials, but suffice it to say that’s more than the combined Blue Book value of most of our cars.

Man Crates beaters
The men of Man Crates roll in style. Form a line, gold diggers.

If you’re a brand new company (read: two guys working out of a garage) that can be an impossible amount of cash to front for one piece of machinery. There is no way we could have offered our legendarily awesome, Personalized Laser-Etched Barware  Man Crate, or our distinguished Whiskey Lover’s Sets without the help of TechShop.

Because if you’re just one or two guys with an idea, TechShop provides the lasers. And the table-saws, plastic benders, 3D printers, emotional support and training to help you get up and running, no matter what your idea is. Instead of dropping an ungodly sum to own your own expensive, hard to operate hardware, you can pay a monthly membership fee, schedule time to use the shared equipment, and get all the help you need from TechShop.

TechShop is also and incredible community hub. It was through TechShop that we came to know Insanely Great Products (IGP)- world-class laser specialists and a flagship partner to Man Crates. During the early days when we needed expert help tuning laser settings to get the absolute best possible etch, for months of production support, and especially during all the crazy holiday spikes IGP has had our backs and made our success their mission. Without TechShop, we might never have met Richard Ford and the IGP team.

So, like a baby raptor finally leaving the nest, we’ve finally officially moved our lasers out of TechShop. It seemed like the perfect time to say a huge thank you to everyone at the Menlo Park TechShop– thank you for your hours of help, thanks for your patience and your expertise.  Thanks for helping us build our dreams.

-Team Man Crates

The Nastiest Player in Tecmo Super Bowl

The Deadliest Wayne

Wayne Haddix

You’ll never hear his name mentioned as one of the old greats on Monday Night Football, but his name is a shibboleth of the Tecmo Super Bowl (TSB) ardent- a passphrase to identify the most die-hard fans of the greatest 8-bit sports simulation ever created. Utter his name around anyone who grew up playing TSB and a mix of fear, reverence, and envy washes over their face.

In the real world, Wayne played only a few seasons of professional football and had precious few post-season appearances.  In the TSB world, Wayne Haddix is a god- an Olympian immortalized in a low-resolution,  frozen snapshot of terrifying physical prowess.

  • 44 Hitting Power
  • 69 Quickness
  • 75 Maximum Speed (Tied for highest)
  • 75 Interceptions (Highest)

Here’s a single game highlight video showing Wayne picking off Steve Walsh eight, yes eight (8!) times.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqs-H9lhVQo[/youtube]

Where’s Wayne?

How is the best defensive back in the best Nintendo game ever created totally unknown in real life?

Check out Wayne’s Wikipedia page.  It’s like a stub, there’s nothing there.  Scroll over to the history section however, and you can see the ongoing edit controversy. It’s a waging war between those of us that understand Tecmo Super Bowl’s importance in the history of humankind and the tight-pantsed dorks that refuse to acknowledge the value of Wayne’s impressive virtual accomplishments.

From what we can tell, Wayne had exactly one stellar season playing for Tampa Bay in 1990.  

  • He started every game
  • He had 7 interceptions
  • He returned them for 231 yards and 3 touchdowns

If Michael Lewis (The BlindsideMoneyball) was available he might do some digging into Tecmo Super Bowl’s programming and release history.  Could we back out the Japanese number-crunching formula that turned 1990 football stats into Tecmo Super Bowl player stats?

In fairness, there was no way to know at the time that Wayne’s stellar season was a fluke and not indicative of his future career. Michael Lewis would dig into the human story around Wayne’s 1990 season, culminating in a trip to the Pro Bowl.  When he was flying back from Hawaii, tanned, laughing and on top of the world, where was he in his contract with the Buccs? Did he have a Jerry McGuire-esque agent go to bat for him? Maybe he secured a lucrative 5 year, $40 million contract that the Bengals, his next team, had to negotiate him out of after his completely lackluster follow-on season?

The story is out there, but unfortunately we’re not professional journalists with that kind of time, so with the rest of the Tecmo Super Bowl world we’re left asking:

“Where’s Wayne?”

Awesome Gifts, Not Easy Gifts

Pry and Pry Again

We’ve seen a few shake-ups among gift giving services this year. Facebook dropped all the physical products from the catalog of gifts that they conveniently recommend I buy for each of my friends birthdays. Plastic Jungle pivoted away from their gift card exchange service. The gift selection service Wantful suspended operations after a strategic partnership with Nordstroms fell through.

Some people are putting these points in a line and asking if gifts are still relevant. Is buying goods for other people a dated, economically inefficient transaction that’s outlived it’s purpose? Are physical gifts the snail-mail of social pleasantries?

It’s Not About Easy

Maybe the focus has been on the wrong aspects of gift giving. Maybe people don’t want another safe option, another trusted recommendation for a store where your friend is likely to use a gift certificate. Sure, I might never snub a free Starbucks gift card, but getting a digital notification that someone’s put $10 towards my coffee-filled future doesn’t really deepen my relationship with whoever put that money there. The exchange of digital currencies and gift cards on our birthdays may never go away, but let’s never confuse those lazy social observances with giving great gifts.

Gifts aren’t about reminders, cash or convenience. Not if you’re doing it right.

People that understand gifts, that really love gifts, delight in finding and sending something unexpected, something that’s fun and memorable. Gift giving isn’t an obligation that we’re trying to fulfill as painlessly as possible, gift giving is an opportunity to share an experience with our friends and loved ones and ultimately be closer for it.

 

Exceeding Anticipations

Gift giving is, almost by definition, an emotional, sometimes challenging search for the right gift, and when you’ve taken the time to find and choose something you think that your friend will like, you’re taking a risk and putting yourself out there- will they actually like it? What if they don’t like it?

Taking a risk builds up your expectations. You picture them opening the gift and you imagine their response. You’re impatient for the gift to arrive and excited to see them open it, because when you’ve found the right gift that risk pays off. Great gifts create and then exceed anticipations.

Anyone can put money toward your Starbucks tab.

Only people that know you can find something that you love but maybe never knew you wanted.

 

Our Never Ending Mission

We are Man Crates, and we’re dedicated to delivering awesome gifts, not easy gifts. In fact our flagship product is a wooden crate chock-full of awesome gear and grub, fiendishly sealed shut and delivered with a crowbar.  It might be one of the most inconvenient gifts on the market, but since our launch in 2012 we’ve helped tens of thousands of customers send fun, unexpected gifts that bring people together. We’ve grown from a three man garage start-up into a profitable, 5,000 square foot operation- largely through the word of mouth recommendations from happy customers, one gift at a time.

So if you ask us if giving gifts is dead or dying, we say no.

We say awesome gifts now, and awesome gifts forever. Awesome gifts will never die.

If you’re as passionate about bringing people together through fun as we are and you’re looking for a job, we have lots of openings. Check them out at www.mancrates.com/jobs. And if you’re looking for an awesome gift for a guy, we’re always here to help- www.mancrates.com

Happy St. Palentine’s Day!

We all know about Valentine’s Day–the holiday when couples gather together to celebrate their love while everyone else debates how much the pizza guy will judge them for ordering two large calzones. What you may not know about this traditionally feminine holiday is that it actually has its roots in a much more pure and underrepresented holiday celebration–St. Palentine’s Day.

St. Palentus stained glass window
St. Palentine with his famous stick used to defend the weak and throw down with Roman bandits

St. Palentine was originally a Christian priest who preached illegally to Roman civilians. Palentinus (his Latin name) practiced Christianity because he dug Jesus’ instructions which he basically stated as, “be excellent to one another.” Of the many citizens he converted was a man named Valentinus, who quickly became his most ardent follower. It was with Valentinus that Palentinus gained sainthood, after performing three miracles:

  1. Driving his chariot fifty miles out of Rome to pick up Valentinus from that sketchy party out in the burbs
  2. Helping Valentinus somehow install a Brazilian Teak deck out back in his Domus, elevating his legendary grill master status
  3. Saving Valentinus’ life.

The last miracle Palentinus performed was to push Valentinus out of the way of a runaway horse cart, allowing himself to get run over. When Valentinus knelt next to his dying friend and master, he asked what he should do with his life. Palentinus responded, “just be a good dude.” Valentius bowed his head to pray, and upon opening his eyes, Palentius had disappeared.

Entitled “The Rescue of St. Valentine,” this mosaic portrays that one time Paletinus saved Valentinus from that super skeezy party in Tivoli.

For many years, men from all around Rome would gather on the spot of that last miracle, crack an ice cold beer, and talk about how good of a dude Palentinus really was. It was from these discussions that the term “being a Pal” arose.

Eventually, Valentinus became St. Valentine, dedicating his life to performing weddings for Roman soldiers. St. Valentine helped many of Rome’s brave soldiers finally seal the deal with the comely ladies of antiquity.

Vibia Sabina. Quite the catch.

But none of this, including the much more famous St. Valentines Day, would have been possible without our man St. Palentine. So before we soon forget, let us celebrate the life and sacrifice of a real ‘pal’ with an ice cold beer by the barbecue pit that Ted helped you build. Oh and don’t forget, Mark loaned you his truck so you could pick up grilling gear. Maybe you should just firet that thing up and invite all your buddies. Why not? It’s St. Palentine’s Day!

May First: The Underrated Holiday

During my sleepless nights, I usually find myself perusing Wikipedia’s “On This Day” section. Late last night,  I was ‘mouth-open shocked’ to discover how big of a deal the first of MAY is.

I know May 1st marks the holiday “May Day,” but when I think about it, all that happens is an image similar to the one below pops into my head. And then I am confused because I have no idea what May Day is actually celebrating, and I have this picture of kids dancing around a pole, and by this point I have started thinking about my next meal.

I am not going to explain May Day as you can look on wikipedia. And the Maypole, well I still don’t understand that. What I do know is that in Germany, an edgy type of maypole tradition exists where if a strapping lad has a lucky lady in his life, he might erect a small maypole by her bedroom window. Still not sure if Freud ever shared his thoughts on this tradition but I wouldn’t be surprised. 

The Maypole. Wait, what is a maypole?
The Maypole. Wait, what is a maypole?

MAY FIRST in itself is a big day without any of the May Day gaeity. Here I have highlighted some of the more notable events that occurred on May 1st.

Maybe the last?
Maybe the last?

Cricket hasn’t captured the hearts of most Americans, but it…. actually no that’s it. I don’t know a single person who partakes in this classy sport, let alone understands the rules of the game. (√ New Years for resolutions 2014)

What can I say? I'm a sucker for secret societies
What can I say? I’m a sucker for secret societies

The Illuminati became mainstream after being featured in hollywood hits (tip of the hat to you Mr. Dan Brown), but did you know that the society was initially founded to oppose superstition, prejudice, religious influence in public life, abuses of state power, and to support women’s education and gender equality. Back in 1776, that kind of ideology was counter-culture and they were outlawed (hence the secret-society angle.) Fast Forward to modern day, their reputation falls somewhere between conspiracy theory and uncertainty and “I want in”.

8 hour work day? Where?  Cheers to Moses Fleetwood Walker for being a game changer / having an awesome name.
8 hour work day? Where?
Cheers to Moses Fleetwood Walker for being a game changer / having an awesome name.

Moses Fleetwood Walker- you have an unbelievably awesome name and it seems like you were also an awesome person. You paved the way for race equality for one of the greatest sports. If he were alive today, I have a three pronged plan on what I would do.

Plan A) try to meet him

Plan B (in the event plan A doesn’t work) stalk him

If both A and B have failed or resulted in a restraining order– Plan C) create a Man Crate for him and his career with the Toledo Blue Stockings.

 

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 1.42.39 PM

Enough said. I love that airlines have food. And I love airline food.  

 

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 1.42.03 PMToo soon. Just never forget.

 

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 1.41.44 PMAs a child born in the post-polio epidemic, thank you Jonas Salk. As for Guam, keep predicting the US Presidential Election results with your straw vote because 100% of the time, you guys have been right every time.

 

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 1.41.00 PM

Mush Mush! Naomi “ridin solo” Uemura, your trip was not easy.  As records say, during the 4th day of his trek, a polar bear entered his camp, demolished all his food, and pressed his nose against Uemura. Understandably pissed, Uemura was ready for the bear who came back the following day (which would be his last day) as Uemura shot him dead.

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 3.54.09 PM And to round out this crazy day, we have Pope John Paul II beatified (blessed). Fun Fact: PJPII beatified more people during his papacy than any other pope in history. Bin Laden was killed. Huge deal. Not going to explain further or project my personal political views.

And to cap it off, I saved the most notable for last.

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 6.50.06 PM

It’s true. Most people drink water. But I am not most people. I ate water. Happy May Day Folks. Celebrate accordingly.

Preparing for a North Korean Something or Other…

Everyone knows that Man Crates cares about preparedness. Whether you’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse or just an all-night LAN party, we want you to be ready.

So as North Korea readies its impressive nuclear arsenal, it’s time to start thinking about getting those bomb shelters and food stores ready. It’s the Cold War Part II and everyone knows that sequels are always better.

Preparing your bomb shelter

Have a house? Four walls? A roof? Dang…sounds like you got yourself a pretty sweet North Korean Nuclear Bomb Shelter. Congratulations!

Food storage

You spent the afternoon watching mushroom clouds (or real clouds, who can tell the difference?) rise on the horizon and you’re worried. Not to fret–just use our patented North Korean Nuclear Attack Food Storage Plan.

Step one: go grocery shopping on a weekly basis.

Getting ready for invasion

Everyone is aware of just how impressive and technologically superior North Korea’s nuclear program is, but you may not be familiar with their dominating military. Thus, you need to be ready for a ground attack. As you can see in the picture below, a picket fence (or anything above knee-height) will probably keep those pesky North Koreans out of your yard.

From left to right: American troop, North Korean troop, South Korean troop

People say the best weapon is one you never have to use. In that case, ALL of North Korea’s weapons are just fantastic. Their military prowess has the western world shaking in their collective capitalist boots. And just like in the first Cold War, everyone is so scared they’re making memes and jokes about the whole thing just to cope.

Choose your NCAA Bracket Manager Wisely

It’s too late now; your $5 or $20 (or if you’re single, $150) is tied up with your NCAA bracket manager. He’s an old friend or some random guy you know by association. And either way, he is not to be trusted.

I admit, I’m not really trusting when it comes to bracket managers. But I have a good reason. When I was in high school, two of my enterprising classmates took it upon themselves to run a massive school-wide bracket. It sounded like a great idea at the time–a pot over $1,000 divided appropriately between different tiers of winners. So I bought two brackets, filled them out, and was on my way.

It was only a few days later, when I was at McDonald’s with the rest of the football team (undertaking our weekly challenge of trying to eat enough Big Macs that the restaurant ran out of middle buns) that I got a jarring call. Apparently one of our more intelligent classmates had added up the tiers and found that they didn’t equal the total amount of coin we had put in.

It was mutiny.

Within minutes, hundreds of students had swooped down on the two unsuspecting march madness bracket managers in the lunchroom where the two tried to explain that “we were just taking a cut to pay for our hard work!”

Needless to say, there were countless wedgies and swirlies. It was like Jesus and the money counters all over again. And I stopped trusting NCAA bracket managers forever. So the next time you fork over a check (seriously, like one of three checks you actually write every year) for $20 to Ron in accounting, remember my tale. And make sure to add up the winnings.  Because everyone knows Ron is a weasel.

The Irish Car Bomb: a Cautionary Tale

St. Patty’s Day is not a holiday; St. Patty’s Day is an excuse to drink. And a damn good one. Green beer, Irish Car Bombs and Jameson shots the size of leprechauns.

However, my first experience with the Irish Car Bomb was not in a cheery Irish college bar on a bet, while a dozen girls around me screamed “woo.” No, it was in a dive-y Irish bar in Spain during what turned out to be the longest night of my life.

I had been living in Spain for a few months studying Spanish (read: drinking an obscene amount of liquor with a fistful of expats). My parents decided that they were tired of my unproductive trip and that they were coming to pick me up and turn the whole event into a family vacation. Unfortunately, the day they arrived also happened to be the day Spain was scheduled to play in the Euro Cup final. The “vacation” got off to a rough start.

A Timeline of Madness

3 p.m. – family arrives in Oviedo, Spain
4 p.m. – family passes out from jet lag. I indulge in their hotel minibar
4:15 p.m. – minibar empty. I leave to find more booze.
4:35 p.m. – stop at local bar to buy a beer and a grip of sandwiches. Engage in heated soccer argument with bartender.
4:36 p.m. – conversation ends when we both agree Italy is the worst.
4:37 p.m. – we toast with two bottles of sidra.
5:30 p.m. – bored and buzzed, I return to the hotel room to wake the grumpy beasts.
6:30 p.m. – family is fed, awake, and ready to go watch the Euro Cup Final.
7:30 p.m. – after we split a bottle of sidra at dinner, my brother George loudly declares he could out-drink me.
8:15 p.m. – we move to my favorite bar.
8:30 p.m. – the bartender (John) reveals he is being given the bar and needs to clear out his stock.
8:31 p.m. – John insists every member of my family indulge in an Irish Car Bomb, known in Spain as a “coche bomba.”

My mother is clearly worried

8:55 p.m. – after an hour of the game, the bar has gotten rowdy. My parents are tired from the flight/booze and decide to leave. Settling their bill, they leave John with a generous tip. Used to a country where tipping 5% is too much, John takes this as an open bill for George and I.

8:56 p.m. – George and I realize this small fact.
9:01 p.m. – we both step outside for a celebratory cigarette. Neither of us are smokers.
9:04 p.m. – vomiting.
9:15 p.m. – coche bombas
9:16 p.m. – sidra
9:20 p.m. – John informs we finished our bill.
9:25 p.m. – George and I decide to get John drunk so he will give us free drinks.
9:26 p.m. – coche bombas. Every person in the bar.
9:35 p.m. – Spain wins! Bar celebrates briefly.
9:36 p.m. – coche bombas

Coche bombas give you wiiiiiiiiings!!

Blackout Monsters

At this point in the evening, things become fuzzy. What happened next I pieced together from stories and pictures over the next few days.

11 p.m. – George and I find a fountain full of drunken revelers. Clothing optional.
11:01 p.m. – we take the option.
12 a.m. – we engage a tree in a fight. George helps by throwing me into the tree.
12:30 a.m. – finding a street vendor selling trinkets outside of a bar, we stop to share a bottle of sidra.
1:17 a.m. – I send a single text to an ex-girlfriend overseas: “reality becom fluid” [sic]
2:30 a.m. – arrive at hotel room. George decides if he drinks water, he will not have a hangover. The first water he finds in the freshly-stocked minibar is sparkling.
2:32 a.m. – bottlegate. George removes all spring water from fridge. Reaches into back to get the coldest standing water.
2:33 a.m. – George struggles with the pry off lid.
2:34 a.m. – bottlegate concludes as George breaks neck of bottle, passes out on floor.

Coche Bombas are Never the Answer

As far as the many gaps in our night, we may never know. What I do know is that George spent the next day alternating between vomiting and crying. I spent the day explaining to my ex why I had contacted her.

So if you decide, this fine St. Patty’s Day, that you want to “spice things up” with an Irish Car Bomb, go ahead. But remember this: You will forget things. You will need to apologize to people in the morning.

And you will fight a tree.

I did not win.

Guns n’ Broses Rocks Your Landline

That girl is... Poison?
That girl is… Poison?

This year, for one day only, in our continuing effort to reach the pinnacle of epic customer service, we serenaded lucky Man Crate recipients affected by the blizzard. Lest they think that their loved ones vacated them faster than bad Chinese food, the Man Crates team stepped up, donned our best 80’s hair band wigs and rocked some power V-Day ballads to the dudes who answered the phone and awkwardly listened to us sing. You know… anything for the customer.

Not surprisingly the catalog of manly love songs is a short list, with few winners and many, many losers – including this 80’s after-school-special of a song.  But if you were a lucky recipient of a Man Crates Radio call today, you got to hear one of these classics:

Top 5 Valentine’s Day Love Songs for Men

5.  The Power of Love – Huey Lewis and the News Sure, we haven’t heard from Huey in a while, but with the album Sports recently turning 30, the News might just be back on our radar.
4.  Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield We bet Jessie’s girl got him a Man Crate. Where can you find a woman like that?

3.  What I Got – Sublime Spoiler: It’s not just lovin’, it’s also awesomeness.
2.  Who Do You Love – George Thorogood and the Destroyers Lonesome George. End of story.

And the winner is no surprise:

  1. I Would do Anything for Love – Meatloaf (But if your Valentine really likes meat, you outta have sent him this.)

So order your Man Crates and if you time it just right, you too might get the chance to experience the life-altering vocal stylings of Man Crates’ own Guns n’ Broses.

Single’s Awareness Day PSA

"I have nobody to share this tasty apple juice with."
“I have nobody to share this tasty apple juice with.”

Sound familiar? If it is, you or someone you know may be suffering from Post-breakup Stress or Acute Singleness Disorder.

Acute Singleness Disorder can strike at almost any time, sometimes without warning or even symptoms. That’s why Man Crates is starting the Single Guy Relief Project.  Acute Singleness Disorder affects over one billion men in the world with a wide array of debilitating symptoms including but not limited to:

  • Facial hair growth
  • Increased sleep
  • Increased profanity on Xbox Live
  • Increased consumption of vodka, pork rinds and Häagen-Dazs

For just two dollars a day, you can send a single guy of your choice an awesome Man-Crate. Our crates are not a cure for Acute Singleness Disorder, but they do provide a multitude of helpful side-effects that can combat its debilitating symptoms.

Do you know someone that is single? Are they moping about, possibly with a drink in hand, complaining about how February is a season for pink capitalism and chalky heart-shaped lies? Is your friend living on your couch, mourning the (good or bad) days he’s lost with his recently distanced significant other? Remember, Acute Singleness Disorder can affect not only the victim, but those around them as well. Sponsor today, and make someone feel appreciated.