Monday, December 15, 2008

Why I Am The Greatest

Think of the greatest athletes out there, Christiano Ronaldo, Lebron James, Tiger Woods, LT, and CC Sabathia. Now think of this, no matter how hard to try you can't be them. I take that back, you should never say the word can't. You will never be them. No matter how hard you try to be them, wear the clothes they wear, eat the food they eat, imitate them to the highest degree, yet you can never be them. This goes the same for entertainers, programmers, entrepreneurs, politicians, and the like... You will never be them. This may come off a bit harsh to some, but think about it... There will never be another Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Bill Gates, Donald Trump. There will never be a next one of them either. This also applies to the iPhone and any other revolutionary electronic out there on the market. There can only be one.

I was listening to T.I.'s Paper Trail CD, and many times he says that if you want to judge him you have to walk in his shoes. In essence to understand why he does what he does you have to be him. I believe this applies the same to the greats of everything. To fully understand one of them you have to be them, and that is not possible. We can only be ourselves. Even though we will never be them, we still can be great. We still can be the greatest to do whatever it is we do, or create the greatest gadget of all time. Greatness comes from within. Not from following in the footsteps of someone else. We can follow whoever we want, but if its not inside of you greatness will not emerge.

I am a big advocate of being an individual, of being yourself. "You can not be me, and that's what makes me better than you" is my mantra. This may sound a big self centered but its the honest truth. I have a friend who writes for a video game blog. No matter what I do, I will never be a better gamer than he. My gamer rating will never be higher than his. His passion for gaming far outshines mine. My best friend is constantly thinking about the future. He is always reading, thinking, networking, and working towards his future goals and business ideas. I envy him for this. So I tried to read the same books he does, constantly take notes like he does, and do what he does. I discovered that I can only read so many self-help books. I don't like thinking all the time, sometimes I feel like vegging out and being a waste of space. One more of my friends is very creative. He draws, writes poetry, and is very good at organizing himself, and his things. I constantly am stealing tips from him on how to be more creative with my life. Yet no matter how hard I try I can never match his creativity.

No matter how hard I try to imitate my friends I learn that I can only match them to a certain point. If you think its hard to match your friends, how do you think you can match someone who gets paid to perform at a world class level constantly? What I've learned though is to be able to take something from one of my friends and put my own spin on it. My gaming friend blogs about games, I blog about life. I try to read as much as my entrepreneur friend, but I read not only self-help and business books, but philosophy, mystery, and fiction. My creative friend draws, I take pictures, he organizes, and I minimize and simplify.

I have learned to take traits that I like in my friends and apply them in my own life. I have a better chance of growing this way and becoming my own person rather than to try and imitate their lives. The problem I have discovered is as much as I try to live their life, its their life. It is not my life to live. The experiences that they have, I do not. They journey they have traveled, I have not. I can only follow what I see from them, and that is only a small portion of their life. This makes it hard for me to imitate everything they do see and are. I have learned to use them as a guide to becoming a better person.

I have learned to stop trying to be the "next great" someone else, and start being the "only great" me. Because in the end, there can only be one me, and that's what makes me better than you.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My New Ride and a brief moment of clarity...


I finally got my own board to shred with.  I'm so super excited about it.  I've wanted one for a while now.  

Some Background
Ever since my freshman year in college when my friends took me to Mammoth Mountain for a week, and taught me how to snowboard.  Ever since then I've been a fan.  My friends in college always laughed at me during spring break because I went home while they went to warmer climates.  Yes, California is a warmer climate, but I didn't go to the beach.  I headed for the snow capped Sierra Nevadas.  Yes 3 of the 4 spring breaks I had while I was in college I went snowboarding.  I try to go every year since then, bringing more of my friends into the sport, and enhancing my skills.  I was able to get my two roommates into it (one actually skis instead), and the other broke his arm snowboarding last year in NY.  This past year I got to experience snowboarding on the East coast where I went to Wisp for a couple days with my boss and coworkers who all ski.  Still I had the most fun being the only one boarding and I held it down.  On that trip I almost bought a snowboard at the resort shop, but I told myself to hold out.  That was the only time I went that year.  I told myself this year I was going to go multiple times since I am pretty much permanent..

The Deal Breaker
Making my last rounds in the mall on the Saturday after Black Friday, I stopped by one of my favorite skate stores Zumiez to see what they had.  Walking around the store, I made my way to their selection of snowboards.  They had package deals for $299-$399, which I feel was a pretty good deal.  So I inquired, and was lucky enough to meet the store manager, Big Joe.  Big Joe reminded me of Big Z the character from Surf's Up.  He was full of energy and ready to school me on the basics of purchasing a snowboard from their store.  He took me through their selection of boards, bindings, and books, ephasising what I needed to look for in each and how their were important.  Big Joe gave me the best customer service experience in the history of shopping.  I told him I was coming back soon to get one.  That week at work, one of my coworkers recommended we go snowboarding, and it was on like Donkey Kong.  So the day before our trip I swung by Zumiez on my way home from work to make my selection.

I ended getting the Burton Blunt Wide.  I was told the board was slightly advanced and would last me a while.  The board has a bunch of features I don't really understand yet, but boy its it ride smooth.   Its 159 cm long, so its about as tall as a few of my smaller friends.  Paired with it I got the Burton Custom bindings.  I wanted the green bindings so I could stand out a little, but since the board I wanted wasn't in my size, I was slucky enough to get a matching board.   I got the Burton Poacher Boots to complete the deal.  Its a sweet setup and I hope to slay many mountains with it.  The Zumiez staff are some of the coolest, most down to earth people to ever sell me something.  They helped me set up the board, make sure I got something that worked best for me, and we all had a good learning experience putting it together.  Burton boards and bindings are no joke.  Big ups to Jenn and Matt at Zumiez!

Right off the back the board feels 1000x better than the rentals I was used to.  The boots and the bindings are snug and comfortable.  I still have much breaking in of the boots to do, but the binding held me down quite nice.  The board was very responsive, and even gave me a little extra pop when I went off a jump.  I did mostly freeriding, trying to gain a good feel for the board.  So far I love it.   

I plan on going back often, and even trying out some photography while up there.  The best way to learn is by doing, and I think I see a way for me to grow in two areas at the same time.  The more I think about it, the more I wonder if this was the correct purchase, or even if this was a good idea.  I enjoy snowboarding, but sadly life contains more that just large mountains and fresh powder.  Every day I am reminded of this.  Every day I also think about how much more fun it would be to take a month off and snowboard non-stop all over the world.  We all have responsibilities in life to take care of.  We all have priorities to handle.  The hard part is deciding which responsibilities/priorities are most important to us, and not what those around us would like us to pursue.  

A Brief Moment of Clarity

Snowboarding is like art, poetry in motion, and natural beauty all rolled into one.  When one is
going down the mountain it so easy to enter into a state of flow, focusing only on your turns and hearing nothing but the sound of the board sliding over the snow.  Snowboarding is like skateboarding, where people create poetry in motion in nature.  Its about freedom, expression, and style.  

Snowboarding is about being yourself, and is a lot like life:
  • We are all on a mountain together, but taking different paths to different places. 
  • Not only are we taking different paths how we traverse those paths is completely up to us.
  • Also our goals for the paths are different, some want to just get down, others try not to fall, and some want to do it fast.  
  • The more difficult the obstacle, the better we feel when we take it down.  
  • Everyone is afraid to try new things(jumps, more difficult runs, new experiences) at first, but you can't grow until you've tried them
  • Few mountains(challenges/skillsets) are similar, and all present different challenges than before.  The more mountains you visit and conquer the better ride you become...
  • Most importantly snowboarding, like life, is best when being experienced...
Snowboarding brings me a kind of freedom that I long for off the moutain.  Not only did I invest in a snowboard, I invested in myself, and in the belief that I can and will conquer my fears and challenge myself to find that freedom I long for...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Today, I got my Zune back... Sorta...

My Zune has been gone for almost a month now.  I've been using my mother's iTouch as my main source of mobile music for the time being, and I like it a lot.  Its not my Zune though.  Originally this should have been a fairly quick process; call Zune support, they send you a box, you send them your Zune, they magically repair it, they send it back, and everyone is happy.  Microsoft makes this a fairly plain, simple, and fast process.  If you do it the easy, unlike me, you might be impressed...  Instead, I choose the long around-the-way method and gave it off to someone else to drop off for me because I had a trip to go on.  That person didn't send it off for two weeks.  Then when it was ready, I had to drive to the FedEx facility 20 minutes away because I was never home when they tried to deliever it 3 times this week, in the middle of the afternoon, because I seem to be home that time. 

Its ok though, cause I have my Zune back.  I am happy again... Or am I??  
For starters, I am a little bothered, because I did not get my Zune back...  I got a Zune back.  The Zune that I shipped was brown the Zune that was shipped back is Black.  Are there any issues/defects with this Zune?  Not to my knowledge.  It seems actually to be a brand new Zune running the original 1.0 software.  

So you got a black Zune instead of a brown one, whats the big deal?  The big deal is that I paid for a brown one.  One of the main reasons I purchased that device was for its brown color.  I have theory that colors give things more character and personality.  They allow you to connect to your device more because it represents a part of you.  This is why I like getting things with bright colors, or with colors I know that are not going to be top sellers.   It stands out.  In a sea of green I want to be that orange flower.  I want to be able to tell my mp3 player apart from all the others with a quick glance.  I know I can add accessories and other things to help differentiate it, but the color of the device is part of the device.  Why couldn't the Zune support say to me "hey, in the case your zune needs to be replace and we are out of stock of your current model, what is an alternate color you would like?"  This would have helped prepare me at least for the instance that I did not get my original device back.  

To most people the color of the device does not matter.  What matters most is the device works.  I like brown, I bought a brown Zune, and I was happy with my brown Zune.  Is it too much to ask for an option of alternate colors in the case your device must be replace?  "I don't care" could be an option and its only one more line on the form...

You know the best part about getting my a Zune back...  It still doesn't work.  It probably was the cable the whole time, or worse my Zune days might be over, and it might be time to upgrade to an iTouch???

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My First and Not Last Trip to Japan pt1.

I just got back...

In case you didn't know I was in Japan for the past couple days. I didn't get a chance to see as many sites as I would have liked, but I was able to get a good dose of culture and experience many new things. I experience a lot in my few days there and will be spreading my recountings (probably a made up word... so
what) across a few posts. Mainly because I know its hard for people, especially myself, to read long wordy blog posts, essays, and any other form of written communication. Also this entails a lot of writing, editing, and uploading photos and my friends can't wait see it, read it, and leave comments. :-) With that said here goes part 1...

My trip started off from Dulles Airport in Washington D.C. Apparently there is only one flight per day that leaves from this area and goes to Tokyo, Japan non-stop. The flight was a little over 14 hours. During this time I was either sleeping(5 hours), watching movies(5 hours of Hancock and Speed Racer), or attempting to read something(2 hours). I think I actually made it through half of a magazine and two chapters in a book I was reading. Its not easy reading on a 14 hour flight. After we arrived we got our luggage, made it through customs, and encountered our first chance at the language barrier. We had to get from the airport to the hotel. Our hotel was just under 2 hours outside of the hotel so we had to take the train to get there. So we had to find the booth where they sold the train tickets to the Narita Express, buy our passes for that, and find our way to the train. This all turned out to be fairly easy.

This is a map of the Tokyo metro stops. This is not the subway map, this is just for the trains that do not go underground. Pretty crazy right? Luckily we only had to deal with the circle in the middle. Our the Narita Express went to Tokyo Central, where we were able to hop on the Yamamote Line(the lime green circle in the center) which after 28 minutes took us to Ikebukuro where our hotel was. After walking around the stop for a few minutes partially because we were shocked we made it that far in Tokyo, and partially because we were guessing where our hotel was, we were able to locate the hotel and get to our rooms.

We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Metropolitan. It was really nice, definitely a quality hotel. It had restaurants on the 25th floors with excellent views and 5 star Japanese and Chinese restaurants(with plates starting at $37 bucks a person), as well as banquet halls. They seemed to always be busy with weddings as well. From the moment we entered the hotel we were treated as if we were staying in first class and we were pseudo-important. Not that hotel wasn't nice, but the people went out of their way to accommodate us. They took our luggage soon as we walked into the lobby, escorted us to our rooms, holding elevator doors, and even carrying our luggage into our rooms. Get this... They did not even ask for a tip!!! The thing that got me was all of the "bus boys" were all female. While the people working a the front desk were both made and female. I wonder why this is.

The rooms inside the hotel were small and minimalist. The Japanese know how to take a small space and use it efficiently. Everything did seem a little smaller, but it was enough. Nothing overdone and over sized like the hotels here. For most people this may actually mean things were too small. The two things I thought were awesome in the room that I wanted in my room were a light switch near the b
ed that turned off all the lights in the room, and a heated mirror in the bathroom. You know when you take a shower and the mirror gets all fogged up? This mirror was heated in a small section right above the sink that didn't get fogged up... Genius!!! There was a small flat screen tv, a small tv, a small tea pot, and a small desk.

After freshening up I went to see the night lights of Ikebukuro and to get something to eat. I felt like I was in Las Vegas, with all the bright lights all around. To our surprise Ikebukuro is a pretty active area at night. There are places to place slots and pachinko, bars, karaoke bars, and small food places all around. Also near we stayed was the Arts Center and Convention Center, as well as one of the major stops on the Yamanote Line. As we walked around we marveled that the lights, the sounds, the people, and the smoke from people smoking. There were taxi's zipping around us, people on bikes dashing on and off the sidewalk, and people on the move. Most people either had earphones on listening to music on the phones or ipods and were going to and from. Only outside of the station did people seem to loiter.

We walked around for a bit looking for a place to eat. We did not know how to go about ordering food but noticed many of the places had food in the window. I guessed correctly that this was the menu for that restaurant. So we gathered our yen and our courage and stepped into the establishment. First all the doors are either automatic or have you touch a little pad to open it. Genius!!! Inside there was just one counter with people sitting down eating. To my right here was a machine with small pictures and numbers of foods that were on display outside. Kind of like a vending machine for food. So we put our money in and make a selection. I choose what looked like noodles to me(2nd to bottom row on the left), inserted my money, and out came a ticket. I looked puzzled for a second. I didn't know if I expected my food or something else to come out of the machine, but I wasn't expecting a ticket. Quickly I realized you take the ticket to the counter, where they take it and bring your your food. The noodles were cold, but I didn't care. I ordered my successfully my first meal in Japan... without speaking Japanese!!!

That pretty much sums up the first day. I will be covering the rest of the trip in posts coming later this week. Complete with pictures on flickr...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Rookie No More

Last summer I decided to play and make soccer my game of choice. I wanted a new challenge. Soccer is a game where you are constantly moving and running on an average of 4-6 miles a game. I hate running long distance, so soccer is a team sport that allows me to get my running in without running in circles. Most of all soccer is a game I can play long into my life, and is not entirely a male dominated sport. I can play with all of my friends, both male and female, no matter their level of experience.

I'm not entirely new to the game. I played when I was little for AYSO (America Youth Soccer Organization), I played in middle school, I played a little in college as a fun recreational sport, and I played an entire summer in Boston, where I was doing an internship. So I'm not entirely new to the game. I have an understanding of it and how it is to be played, or so I thought.

I've been playing in a league for a year now. I will be ending my 4th season (we play a Fall, Spring, and Summer season ) next week. This is my first time play competitive soccer since I was in middle school. I have learned a lot and my game has had many improvements. I am just now starting to put into practice the lessons I am learning, and briefly I will show flashes of brilliance. I will say soccer is much harder game to play than I remember both physically and mentally. It has taken its toll on me.

I wanted to play forward, the position with the task of scoring goals. As long as I can remember I have played defensive positions. In American football I played defensive back in high school, in middle school I played goalie for soccer, in baseball I played catcher. I was pretty good at these positions and subscribed to the "Defense wins Championships" mentality. Sometimes though I wanted to be in the spotlight, so I told myself this was my chance. I set out watching videos of the offensive greats, and learning their moves so that I perform them as my own. I wanted to become the dominant scorer in the league. My first game with my team I scored. I was the first goal they had scored that year. Although it was a "right place at the right time" goal, I thought I had a bright future. I ended up scoring one more goal in the last game. That season I played 5 games and scored 2 goals. Not bad for someone who hasn't played since middle school, playing with men who played in high school and college.

I was moved to midfield in the spring season. I am fast, so the move helped to close the gap between our forwards and our midfield. I am also young which means, I can take much of the running that is required of the position. Wrong! Playing midfield has shown me how out of shape I am. Even now, I struggle to make it through the half not winded. I hate running so it doesn't help that I don't run during the week to help build up my wind.

Playing in the midfield has helped to improve my confidence with the ball. I get many more touches and have more control over the flow of the game. My touch, trapping and overall ball handling skills have improved quite a bit, but I still have much to learn. I am moving better, and when I'm not winded I am able to make overlapping runs while playing touch-in-go.

Overall I am playing at a much higher level than I was a year ago. I still need to work on getting in shape though. I am hoping to get into an indoor league this winter so I can continue playing and improving. Playing is the only way to get better. I am also going to try to start the Nike's Bootcamp as well as using Nike+ to get running and stay running. I have one more game which I look forward to giving it all I can, but when next year comes I will be ready...