Arun is Bringing You...Your Daily Remedy

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hectic Holiday Travel

My annual winter trip from California to Alaska was supposed to be a 13 hour journey. 3 hour flight from San Diego to Seattle, 6 hour layover in the Seattle airport, and another 4 hours to Anchorage Alaska. Pretty long, but I’m not picky.

“Pretty Long” looks amazing right about now.

Right now I’m sitting in a plane on the Seattle runway and I should've been well into my Holiday eating about 17 hours ago. Apparently, they lost the nozzle for the de-icing hose for my plane, so I'm hanging out in the amazing comfort of coach class on a full flight. I’m tired, hungry, and have a soar throat. And that’s not the least of it.

So yesterday, I was relatively unaware that the weather was so bad in the Pacific Northwest. My ticket agent mentioned that some flights to Seattle were getting cancelled, but knowing that I was continuing on to Anchorage, I figured she’d mention it if flights out of Seattle were delayed.

Apparently I don’t figure too well.

As soon as I arrived in Seattle, I approached an agent to find out where my next gate is.

Agent: “Next Gate? Good luck finding it!"
Me: “Whadoya mean?”
Agent: “We’re canceling all flights for the remainder of the day. BUT, there is a flight taking off from gate D4 across the airport. If you hurry you might be able to get on standby.”

I didn’t have time to panic or be pissed, so instead I just hauled ass to the gate located conveniently across the airport in another terminal, dodging the hundreds and hundreds of confused travelers along the way. When I finally arrived, I was greeted with a throng of people all in line at the ticket counter.


I had nowhere else to go, so I just waited in line for an hour. When I finally got to the front I was welcomed with this great news:

Agent: ”Looks like you’re about 42nd on the standby list and the flight is oversold.”

I hate you Alaska Airlines.

I made my way to the customer service desk to figure out my options, but it was closed with a lady directing everybody OUT of security to get re-ticketed.

This can’t be good.

When I finally arrive to get in line at the ticket counter, I am directed by the agent to look for the purple sign for the end of the line. You know the line has got to be bad when you’re directed to look for a sign indicating the end of the line.

After waiting in line for an hour I see multiple people getting into the end of line burst into tears. As the line snakes around and gets closer, I hear what's causing people, both Women AND MEN, to spontaneously start crying:

Airport Employee Holding Sign: "This is a NINE HOUR line, so if you live in Seattle, go home!"

Yep. I wanted to cry. The picture above is a portion of the EXACT line that I waited in.

I'm now writing this in the comfort of my home, now a week later. Continuing the story:

I had NO options. I could leave the line, but then do what? It was only getting longer, so coming back in a few hours and hoping for a shorter line was wishful thinking at best.

I had been hearing that people weren't getting flights out until Christmas Day - FOUR DAYS AWAY!

Not an option. I was willing to buy another ticket. I had my parents call a bunch of airlines and find me a ticket while I continued my expert line waiting. Luckily, my Dad found a Seattle to Anchorage ticket for the next day.

Ok, I can handle a night in the Seattle snow storm.

When I finally reach the front of the line 8 hours later, I get my "backup ticket" for Dec 25th. By this time, most of the nearby hotels were booked, but i managed to get a room at the "SeaTac Crest Motor Inn."

I could tell by the name this was obviously a 5-star joint.

As I made my way to my room, I almost slipped right off the balcony. The snow covered floors were like ice. My lovely room had exactly two working plug-in outlets, an artistically ripped comforter, and a heater that didn't work.

Ahh the life of luxury.

It was so damn cold that I decided to take a hot shower. The only problem was the water wasn't getting warm. After about ten minutes though, it heated up. Things are looking up!

Or so I thought. Five minutes into my shower, someone next door must've flushed a toilet or something because the water became SCALDING!

Obviously this a glowing review of the SeaTac Crest Motor Inn.

So the next day I make my way to Continental Airlines five hours early to check in for my flight. Six hours later, I was still in line and the big bored said our flight was cancelled.

I'm pissed.

Luckily, as we got closer to the front, the agent said that was just a mistake...a "joke".

Ha Ha.

As bad as I felt, my new friend in line, Skye, had been through pretty much the same stuff as I have, with another day added. In fact, she was stuck in Portland which was even WORSE off than Seatle, rented a car to drive to SeaTac, only to have more flights cancelled.


Two hours later, they found an airplane for us and we finally boarded.


Then came the news about the dad-gum de-icing hose nozzle. Skye looked like she was ready to cry. Obviously, I decided to be the emotional rock conveniently nearby :) Luckily, another hour later, we were in the sky!

Suffice to say, I finally made it. A day late, and $400 lighter, but at least I made it.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Men, Women, and Our Shopping Differences

The act of going shopping is quite an enigma. For me, it's usually a chore that, while not really being a nuisance, isn't particularly enjoyable either. I think it's the same for most guys. Usually, my workday evening schedule is so packed with things to do or activities, that I want to get in and out as quickly as possible.

Don't worry, I'm not going to talk about janky shopping carts and cart-driving etiquette. I already covered that here.

Women however, treat shopping very differently.

***Disclaimer: I'm going to be making gross over generalizations about genders! Read, chuckle, and feel to chime in...but no complaining :) ****

Some things are pretty similar. When we go to the grocery store, neither gender is particularly adept at melon selection. Tap this, rub here, press that. And what are they actually listening for when people hold melons up to there ear?

When we make our way up to the front though, the genders begin to separate. We all do the incredibly quick mental calculation of which line to get into. You look at the amount of people in line, factor in the amount of crap in their basket, whether or not there's a bagger to speed up the process at that line, etc.

This has to be an extremely speedy decision though. If you hesitate, someone will beat you to the line! Then, in a continuing streak of bad luck, you'll get stuck behind the person who discovers a broken egg in their carton. Now the checker has to call someone to go all the way back to the eggs (conveniently located in the very back of the store) to go get a new one.


Then, just when you think the next person in front of you is speedy with not too much stuff, they pipe up with the dreaded, "Can I get a pack of Marlborough's?"

Damn Damn.

Now the checker has to walk over to the special case, get the special key, and unlock the cigarette storage. And just to push you over the edge, the customer will bust out the checkbook.

Damn Damn Damn.

Seriously. Who writes checks at the grocery store anymore!?!

Men, to make line selection slightly more simple, have a trump card. If the checker is cute, we will choose her line even if it's a little longer. If you don't believe me, ask around. Obviously if her line is crazy, we won't go, but men are willing to make the five minute sacrifice if it means getting to say two words to a hot chick.

Sad, but true.

In fact, at my work, we have a lot of Government contracts, so everything is pretty secure and you have to scan a badge to enter buildings. A month ago, the good ol' Government came by unannounced to sort of test our security. Apparently, they hired a young hot girl to see if she could just "follow" people into buildings.

Guess what. She was able to get into nearly every building despite not having a badge because guys would hold the door for her.

We are weak.

Back to shopping, guys are usually much more efficient as well. Go in, get what you need, and get out. There's minimal "perusing." Women on the other hand enjoy the task of shopping almost as much as the products they buy. We men are generally very helter skelter at the store. We go and get things as we remember them regardless of where we are in the store. Women on the other hand are much more organized and go down isle by isle pickying up things as they pass.

But, there's nothing more painful than getting stuck in a department store with women. They can seriously spend HOURS and buy NOTHING! I've had the misfortune of having had this happen on a few occasions. Sometimes, I bring a girl along if I'm going to buy myself clothing since they have usually have good fashion sense.

When only one girl comes along, its controllable. She won't get carried away "shopping" if it's just the two of you. BUT, if she brings a friend, you are in code red territory! They will forget about you and embark on the shopping journey!

Go to Nordstrom around the Holidays, and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. Near the escalators, there's a little nook with like a couple of chairs and a couch.

This is where the unfortunate male victims of getting stuck with women at Nordstrom congregate. I've set up shop there many-a-time. Here we just sit in silence and stare into oblivion, praying that the end is near. Occasionally, a wife, mom, or girlfriend will come over with an update. "I'm almost done, I'm just gonna check out the stuff over there. Do you want to come or just wait here?"

We wait because because the only thing worse is being the "Dressing Room Exit Evaluator."

Ladies will go in with what looks like five outfits, but somehow it's more like twenty-five. Meanwhile we wait outside as each wardrobe change takes ten agonizingly boring minutes. You see, once changed, girls make damn sure they look halfway decent in those fitting room mirrors before coming out. Men on the other hand just throw the pants (or whatever) on and our only concern is dodging the renegade safety pins on the ground threatening our shoeless feet as we come out.

Then when they finally come out, despite what we say, we realize our opinion actually means nothing.

Women value other women's opinions on apparel, but a man's opinion means virtually nothing. If any girl around pipes up, whether or not they know each other, our opinion on whatever she's wearing goes straight out the window. Two hours and twenty-five outfits later, they buy nothing.

Kill me now.

"This place doesn't have anything cute I like!"

And speaking of wardrobe apparel evaluations, PLEASE find another adjective besides "cute!" Seriously, everything is "cute, not-cute, really-cute, sort of cute, or kind of-cute." There's nothing else!

OK, I feel better.

Women - please spare the kind men in your life by letting them stay home if there is the potential for "shopping." As much as we like the nook by the elevators at Nordstrom, we'd rather stay home, barbecue, drink beer, and watch football ;)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Show Humility, But Don't Be Humble

My recent open mic event got me thinking: "How did I manage to do so well, when, in my practice sessions, I was only so-so?"

In fact, this has been sort of a running theme for me.

When I used to "actively" play cello, I hated practicing. I used to practice for like 15 minutes before my lesson just so I wouldn't get in trouble. The best though was when, after playing a few exercises or a song I was supposed to be working on, she would exclaim, "Wow, Arun! I can really tell you've been practicing!"

I'm a con artist, I know.

Then, when it came time for me to play in front of an audience, despite being totally nervous, I usually had one of my best performances!

So back to my original thought of "How did I manage to perform well?" I think I've figured in out.

Supreme Confidence.

Quite honestly though, most people wouldn't know it.

I know what you're thinking. "Common Arun! You're the biggest ego-maniac I know!"

True, but other than on my blog, or when I trash talking around my friends, I generally try to act VERY humble. When people ask me if I play music, I usually just tell them that I "dabble here and there." If they ask me if I'm good at sports, I usually just say "I can hold my own."

All the while though, on the inside I feel like I can beat anyone. When people complemented me on my open mic, I was very gracious, so much so that I think people thought I was surprised that I played well.

In reality, I expected to play well and would have been disappointed by anything less.

Having such a supremely confident attitude is important. I don't think you can't be a lifelong winner without truly believing you are going to succeed in everything you do. But, if you act like the expert on every issue, people will loathe you.

Example: I suck at bowling. But, if I somehow ended up in a "bowling dual to the death," I know I would step it up and win. I have no doubt. And if I happen to be with friends, obviously I'll let loose a flurry of verbal barbs.

That's not to say that I WOULD win, but I'd put my money on me :)

I think most people would describe me as confident, and my good friends would say I'm cocky. As soon as you start being described as arrogant though, that's when people start disliking you. That's why it's so important to SHOW HUMILITY! That way you can be successful AND people will like you.

Be gracious when people praise you, don't act like the supreme expert on anything (even if you are!), and let your actions speak for themselves. They will as long as YOU KNOW that you're the best.

Watch an interview with Tiger Woods or Pete Sampras. They're always pretty humble. Confident? Yes. Arrogant? No. You'd never know that they were the best to ever play the sport by talking to them. They're successful AND most of us like them.

BUT, do you think they ever even contemplate losing or being worse than someone else? Never.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Practice What You Preach

We all know I like to give advice. I try to practice living life awesome everyday, so when I discover something cool, and learn how to articulate it, I write a little ditty, throw in a smidgen of brilliance and just a dash of vanity, and post it on here.

Afterall, it's not called Your Daily REMEDY for nothing (although I suppose the use of "Daily" may be a stretch, but this blog would be seriously watered down if I posted every day! It's all about the Quality!

The other bonus of me posting about cool things I learn, is that it forces me to be accountable for what I write. I can't write a post about diet and health then turn around and eat candy bars and ice cream for lunch! It would be totally hypocrytical, plus my devilish good looks would be dulled by the excess chub.

One of my favorite conceptual posts that I wrote was about learning to leave your comfort zone as often as possible. Since I wrote about it, everytime an opportunity comes up that I'm iffy or uncomfortable about participating in, I think about that post and how I HAVE to push forward!

This weekend was a great example.

On Friday, I played my first EVER open mic! For two weeks leading up to it, I was nervous as hell. Everytime I got an email reminder about it, my heart would start beating double time. At work, people were posting flyers.

Honestly, I wasn't convinced I was adequately prepaired and I KNEW my performance would be a little shaky from the nerves. But, I decided to stay signed up.

Was I comfortable? Not at all. I like being in front of people, and Lord knows I like attention (surprising, I know), but I've never played guitar in front of a large crowd, and when you throw singing into the mix as well, that makes for a nervous Arun.

To add to the nerves, it wasn't a true "open mic" atmosphere. Usually, open mics are at coffee shops with people chatting and socializing, with the musical performance being somewhat secondary. This however was in a little auditorium and I was on stage.

The one thing I had going for me is that I always manage to do pretty well under pressure. When I was younger, I used to do Cello and vocal performances and auditions. Generally, the actual performance always went so much better than my practice did. In my practice leading up to the open mic, I had been making a lot of mistakes on guitar and occassionally forgetting lyrics. When I went up there though, everything just flowed and overall, ended up pretty well! I may have a video to post soon!

The audience definitely approved, so now I'm thinking about playing more in public. In fact, a friend invited me to play at a coffee house this Thursday!

But that was not the end of the weekend "Escape From Comfort Zone!"

I have been planning to run The San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon next summer. I don't enjoy running all THAT much, and am usually over it at about the six mile mark, but running a marathon seems like something I just need to experience.

It's sort of one of those things on my "Bucket List."

Comfortable? Hell no! Running 26.2 miles in the San Diego summer is going to be grueling and painful!

Next summer is slowly creeping up, and it's about time I start the serious training I've been putting off.

On Saturday night, I was out until 3:30am with my friends. This is an example of my great knack for planning and responsibility as I had committed to going on a TWO HOUR trail run at 8am the next morning with my friend and his running group. This means I'd have to wake up at 6:30 on less than 3 hours of sleep.

Brilliant planning Arun.

I actually could have just cancelled very easily. BUT, that's not what I do! I was going to run damnit!

Now come about 10am the next morning I was incredibly pooped and sore, but was so glad I did it. I left my comfort zone, and as a result, my marathon training will benefit. I also ate a guilt-free pizza later that day :)

Sometimes, we need to get over our insecurities and fears, and just step it the eff up and DO IT! And for someone like me who makes a lot of my life public, I've got added pressure to live up to what I preach.

This concludes todays sermon.

Can I get an AMEN!?!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Racing to Thanksgiving Dinner

Honestly, I'm not sure who gets stuffed more on Thanksgiving: The Turkey or Arun?

As is my tradition for Holidays that have the potential for copious amounts of food intake, I went through the day following my patented Perfect Thanksgiving Plan: a highly scientific and precisely calculated plan of attack.

This year however, I made two amendments to the Thanksgiving Day Chapter of "Arun's Guide to Lifetime Awesomeness."

First is the addition of pre-meal booze. BUT NOT ANY BOOZE! Do not under any circumstances drink beer! We don't need those carbs filling up valuable stomach room before the onslaught of food it's about to be hit with.

Wine is the answer. It's sophisticated, tastes good, and gets a nice buzz going without robbing you of valuable food storage space.

Second is the addition of the Thanksgiving Day "Run for the Hungry." It's a charity run on the morning of Thanksgiving. This seemed like a brilliant way to A) Help people, and B) Offset the damage of "Arun's Dinner of Mayhem 2008.'

So I ran the 10K in a pretty decent time! I haven't run a race since a 5K in college, and considering I'm running a marathon next summer, I suppose I should start training, right? I finished 197/1207. Check out the results here!

So when it came time for dinner, I was ravenous. Suffice to say, I did a number on that bird. Three plate-fulls later...I was stuffed, immobile, exhausted...and ready for dessert.

If you look up the word "Over-eat" in the dictionary, you'll see a picture of me waving at you with one hand while chowing down on a drumstick in the other.

There were three different types of pie.

I ate all three.

A la mode.

The morning race may have actually been WORSE for my overall health. Everytime I was content, I kept thinking:

"Ah! Well I DID run a race this morning so I may as well have more mashed potatoes!"

"I ran awful hard this morning, so another piece of pie won't hurt!"

I burned probably 700 Calories during the race, but when you consume 7000 in the meal, I don't think they quite equal out.

Din was topped off with an after dinner wine and everybody rummaging through the Black Friday advertisements.

I had Thanksgiving dinner this year with my buddy Danny and his family. I always wondered who the hell goes to these stores and waits in line at ungoddly hours just for a sale.

Danny's three Aunties, that's who.

They had plans of staying up until 3am then hitting the Sears as soon as it opened. Insanity.

The evening was topped off quite perfectly. We went over to my buddy Brent's house where I learned how to play, and DOMINATED EVERYONE in Yatzee! This was followed by me learning and semi-dominating (and by "semi-dominating" I mean the next level above suckage and below mediocre) Rockband.

Yes. Another perfectly executed Thanksgiving Plan!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fights, Fires...and Vegas

So I've actually been meaning to write a post about this for a while, but one of my Vegas compadres, Danny, has been TERRIBLE about getting me pictures. I finally got fed up and am deciding that my visual story telling as well as a stolen pic will have to suffice for you.

In September, a bunch of friends and I went for yet another little visit to Sin City. This year, the occasion was for my, and my friend Vanessa's, birthday. As is generally the case with me, vacations, especially Vegas Vacations, have a particular penchant for adventure.

This year was no different.

So on night one, we all loaded up on dinner and headed out to "VooDoo," the club on top of the Rio. Honestly, this is probably one of my favorite clubs I've been to in Vegas. It wasn't that it was particularly huge or spectacular, but it had a few things that, for me in particular, I love.

1. The whole club isn't noise blastingly, yelling-at-your-friends-to-have-normal-conversation loud. There were sections where I could actually talk without screaming. Rejoice!

2. There was a huge outdoor area with the best view of the strip I've seen. I've been on top of Mandalay Bay at the end of the strip, but this view is better. Plus, I think rooftop bars are awesome and make for great photo ops, especially for couture models such as myself ;) (which I would post if a certain someone would send me pics!).

3. There was a dancefloor. Important since, as we know, I've been known to bust move or two.

4. The hot girls in the club seemed to love me. I guess devilish good-looks and charm works in other places than San Diego :) In fact, a few of us got in without having to pay the $30 cover charge because of some nice girls in front of us in line.

I knew my Schmoozing would pay off :)

I'll leave out some of the in-club escapades that night, but I'll just say they included: two girls fighting over me (ok, ok...maybe "fighting" is a bit of a stretch, and by "stretch" I mean long shot, but they both wanted me :) a, how shall I say, wildly provocative bachelorette, and a girl Craig and I nicknamed "Grabby McGrabberson."

The highlight though, was the elevator back down to the hotel after the club closed at like 4am.

In the elevator is me, Aaron, Vanessa, and another friend of Vanessa's whose name I don't remember. Along with us are two jolly Irish guys, and a big football player guy with his girlfriend.

I'm nestled in the back of the crowded elevator.

As we are descending, the Irish guys break into some sort of Jolly old Drinking song. Yea! Aaron and I join in on about the third verse. I turn and notice Big Football Player Guy (BFPG) was not particularly enjoying the Irish singing.

It was hard to tell, but from the way her fingers were plugging her ears, I don't think his girlfriend was either.

When we finally reached the bottom, BFPG and Girlfriend try to exit first. I think he must've said something rude while leaving, because one of the Irish blokes gave him a little shove in the back on the way out.

BFPG: "Don't F**kin push ME!" **shoves Irish guys back***

Next thing I know fists are flying the elevator...with me in the back!

Aaron and I, being the geniuses that we are try to break it up. Big mistake.

There's three people fighting, so at any one time, we can each only hold one guy back while the third guy is free to rain down blows! Next thing I know, I see Aaron on his back in the elevator.

Again, displaying my raw knack for genius solution, I jump in the middle of the three yelling, "IT'S OVER! COMMON GUYS IT'S OVER!" It became clear to me that they cared neither for my word, nor my safety when the fists continued to fly with me in the middle.

"Huh...well now I'm a pickle"

I look down again and see Aaron being dragged on his back out of the elevator. The next thing I know, I am airborn. Yes, AIRBORN. I don't know what happened, other than I somehow got LAUNCHED out of the elevator and landed some 7 or 8 feet from the elevator door.

Suffice to say, we got the hell out of there. Allow me to settle your nerves by assuring you that my face was neither harmed nor blemished! (my vanity shall live on!).

And that was only night one.

Night two involved another snafu. We went to Club Jet in the Mirage, and decided to splurge for VIP bottle service. The club was so loud that talking to new people was pretty much out of the question. I was forced to use raw sexual magnetism to dance with women ;)

Anyways, Danny was holding down the fort at our table while the rest of us were out dancing. Apparently, the waitress had a disagreement with him earlier because she thought he had stiffed her on a tip (not the case as there was some mix up). To add to the disagreement, someone on the dancefloor apparently touched her ass whom she mistook for Danny. Again, not the case. (I wasn't there but a few of my friends were).

Danny's got two strikes (albeit, unearned).

Part of the "show" at the club involves bubbles periodically coming down from the ceiling. Since all of our drinks were on the table, Danny decided to cover up our drinks with napkins.

Seemingly a good idea....except when there's an exposed candle at the table.

So you can imagine my surprise when Brent finds me and tells me Danny has been kicked out. "What for!?!"

Brent: "Well, apparently there was a fire at our table."

Me: "A FIRE at our table!?!"

Strike three.

Incoming text message from Danny: "I'm out. They're accusing me of being a sexual predator and a pyro!"

We managed to convince the bouncers that it wasn't his fault and to let him back in, but I still had to slip one some money.

Definitely an entertaining, fun, and I guess a bit dangerous trip this year ;)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Investing in a Worthwhile Cause

So I've written a couple of posts HERE and HERE about my participation in the San Diego Downtown Relay for Life.

Basically, Relay for Life is the largest fundraising event in the world and is sponsored by the American Cancer Society. I won't bother explaining the whole thing again because it's in the other two posts which I'm sure all of you have read multiple times!

So the first year, I kind of just participated for fun, hanging out with friends during the day, and donating a few bucks to the fight against cancer. I stayed most of the day, but didn't spend the night. This last year, I participated again as a team member, but made it through the whole thing (and the crazy after party!).

Somehow though, I missed the logical progression of participation in the event. Next probably would've been captaining a team this year, then joining a subcommittee for the event, then maybe a direct committee position.

Instead, I'm now the Team Recruitment Chair for the 2009 San Diego event! Basically, I've been thrust into the second most involved/important committee position after the Event Chair.

What have I gotten myself into...

Actually, if you were to ask me years ago what sort of charity I would be involved in, I never would have guessed it would be one that fights cancer. I've always had a particular affinity for kids and babies so I always assumed I would join something along the lines of helping them.

Yep, I'm the guy always waving to babies in the grocery store or playing games with kids at parties. I know it's hard to believe, but beyond my incredible maturity, age-old wisdom, and experienced sophistication, I can manage to dig deep and relate well to kids :)

Go Figure.

This last weekend, I had to go up to L.A. for the State Relay for Life Summit. Basically, it was a bunch of presentations and workshops over two days, designed to help you organize, fundraise, recruit teams, and put on an awesome event. Free food and board at the Marriott was also a nice little incentive to go :)

So last year, the second year of the Downtown San Diego Relay for Life, we raised 18,000 bucks...not too shabby, eh? Well it's actually shabb-tastic when you compare our numbers to the 20 year old Relay for Life - Bakersfield who raise 1.7 million dollars. ONE POINT FREAKING SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS!!!

Hmmm...maybe I should do an additional event in Bakersfield called "Relay for Arun." You guys could all come and talk about how awesome I am while the (apparently generous) people of Bakersfield throw money at me so I can live an awesome life and write about it!

Sometimes I shock even myself with such brilliant ideas :)

As "Team Recruitment Wizard," it's my job to increase the number of Downtown San Diego teams from 18 (last year) to something more, although 356 teams(Bakersfield) seems just a smidgen too ambitious.

The one thing though that struck me as a little ironic about the people at the conference, is that probably 80% of the people over 35 were REALLY out of shape! Fighting against cancer is a noble cause and all, but obesity is a major contributor to cancer!

It's akin to a chubby dietitian preaching about the healthiness of a diet high in veggies and protein. Sure the information he says is true, but how the hell can anyone take him seriously when he eats jelly doughnuts for breakfast?

Furthermore, the bottom line reason that people fight cancer is because it kills people right? If it wasn't fatal, it would concern us about as much as chicken pox do. But what else is one of the leading causes of death in this country? That's right, OBESITY!

It's like pleading for gun control because you're scared for your safety, while sticking a knife in your chest.

I guess they've at least picked a noble cause to fight for and shouldn't be criticized for their contribution, but I just think it's funny.

I actually haven't been directly affected by cancer. Nobody really close to me has ever gotten it. So why am I so involved? Because I KNOW that someone I care for, including myself, WILL be affected by it at some point. The statistics are 1 in every 5 people.

It's kind of like car insurance. There's no immediate need for it, and in the mean time you're paying a monthly premium. In this case, instead of money, it's my time. BUT, there's a darn good chance that somewhere down the road, that insurance will save me a lot of heartache.

In this case, my efforts, however small they are in the big picture, could save my life, someones I care about, or yours.

BTW, if you live in San Diego, email me and I'll let you know how you can join Relay for Life this year! Our website isn't up yet, but it's coming soon. It's super fun AND it's for a great cause.

And if you're not in San Diego, chances are, there's a Relay for Life close to you (there's some 5,000 nationwide + others internationally). Hop on board the "Feel-Good" train and do something worthwhile (other than being a dedicated reader of this blog of course :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Live the Stress Free Lifestyle

Stress is absolutely terrible for you.

It causes a myriad of health problems ranging from high blood pressure to decreased immune response and increased likelihood of the onset of a fatal disease like cancer to, worst of all, hair loss!

No one likes feeling stressed, so why do we do it to ourselves?

I know what you're thinking. "Go suck an egg Arun! I don't CHOOSE to be stressed! There's just so much going on around me that I have no choice!"

Allow me explain before condemning me to the dreaded punishment of egg sucking please.

I pretty much NEVER stress. Sure I have a lot of concerns, problems, and tasks I need to complete, but in any case, I generally never let this abundance of "stuff" stress me. If I do start to feel a little stressed, I immediately come up with multiple reasons for why I shouldn't be worrying. In fact, sometimes I'm probably TOO cavalier about certain things, but that's a much better fault to have than to be over stressed.

On the other end of the spectrum are people who almost ALWAYS feel stressed. A lot of them have the same profile: commonly not physically fit, they don't sleep well, often irritable, always in a rush, and always complaining about how much stuff they have to do.

The first thing I've noticed is that people who are very stressed are generally not good time managers. To them it seems like they are since their plate always seems full, but they're really not. I've found two keys to great time management.

Key 1: Have a routine. When you have a routine, everything that MUST get done everyday gets done automatically. Why don't we stress about the time it takes to brush our teeth and take a shower? Because it's something that, regardless of everything else, MUST GET ACCOMPLISHED everyday! Since it's built into our schedule, we don't even think about it.

Start building certain tasks into your routine, and do them at the same time everyday. Make them automatic and you'll be surprised how much you get done and how much less you worry about it.

Key 2: Eliminate dead time. This is the wasted time that always ends up being unproductive, between activities. If you have to go grocery shopping, don't come home after work! Do it all while you're out and you'll save the dead time you would have wasted puttering around.

When you block together all of your tasks for the day, all the "dead time" gets banked up and you have a lot more free time at the end of the day.

For example, I have to get gas and go shopping at Costco exactly once a week. So, every Monday after work, I go to Costco on the way home and accomplish both tasks in one go. Even if don't NEED to go that day (like if I have enough groceries for a few more days and a half tank of gas), I go anyways because I know I won't have to worry about gassing up or shopping for the rest of the week.

Instead of going out or just hanging out in the cafeteria when I take lunch during the day, I go do my cardio workout, then eat as I work afterwards. After work, I go straight to the gym to lift weights.

I block all of these tasks together and consequently have way more time at the end of the day for my own fun activities.

I would STRONGLY suggest including daily exercise in your "block" of activities. Exercise is not only great for you physically, but mentally it's a great stress reliever. Furthermore, there are great physiological benefits to exercise such as increased levels of dopamine and norepinephrine which contribute to positive emotional state.

Another key to managing stress is to use lists. I make a list of things I want to accomplish EVERYDAY. I make a big, ambitious list in the morning, and split my tasks up into smaller items so I have more lines to cross off. Psychologically, it feels better getting to frequently cross off "to do" items.

I find it really relieves your mind of the burden of having to remember all the things you have to do when you write them down. Now, I just focus on the task at hand and don't worry about having to remember anything since it's all jotted down anyways.

"But Arun, what about the times when there really is just too much to do!"

In that case, you need to prioritize (maybe even make a list of your priorities!) and acknowledge the fact that not everything will get done and there's nothing you can do. If it's beyond your control, why worry about it? All you can do is put forth 100% of your effort, and anything that remains incomplete, is what it is.

You should also EMBRACE deadlines. The beauty of deadlines, is it provides a mental "finish line" where you know that after that point, everything will be over, regardless of the completeness.

Lastly, remember the good ol' cliche: "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff!"

If, during the course of the day, someone an asshole to you, brush it off. They're actions are obviously not worth valuing and should thus not affect your emotional state. If anything, THEY should be the ones who are more stressed as they are expending needless negative energy in being an asshole.

If someone forgets his tickets and glasses to a certain football game, and you have to go all the way home to get them for him since he's out mountain biking somewhere (can you tell this happened to me this weekend? :), oh well. It was an accident, and at the end of the day, the only difference is you might have a little less gas.

No Biggie.

Hop on board the stress free train, and ride Life the way it was meant to be experienced!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Dr. McDreamy and Halloweeny

Ahh yes...Halloween. The one weekend every year that's a major hassle to prepare for, but is always fun to go out, partially because in San Diego, everywhere is a party, and yes, because this is the one weekend where girls can dress as skanky, slutty, and downright hoochie-mama as they want to and get away with it.

Seriously, while perusing costumes with my friend Vanessa, EVERY premade woman's costume was a "Naughty" this, and "Sexy" that. She was appalled...I obviously had no issues with the costumes. In fact my friend Diana bought some sort of Venetian outfit, but did some personal tailoring so that she wouldn't stand out what with all the extra clothing. As she put it, "Arun! I'm a 'Venetian Whore.' That's not what the costume was called, but I just slutted up the name."


This year, as I do every other year, I waited until the last minute to find something. Everybody always says I look like Antonio Banderas (or rather he looks almost as marvelous as ME :) so I thought Zorro would be a fitting costume. The problem is, the effort level, combined with the cash expenditure was far above what I do for Halloween.

I entertained not dressing up and going around as a "Supermodel," but for some reason all of my friends laughed at the suggestion.

So I came up with something simple yet clever. As long as girls are dressing up, or rather NOT dressing up, sexily, I might as well take full advantage and do something minorly offensive on any normal day, but cunningly (or should I say "cunnilingly") funny on Halloween.

I dressed up as a Doctor. Obviously nothing wrong so far, but the magic was in the name tag I made.

"Dr. Seymour Box - OBGYN"

For you international readers, this may not make sense to you as the slang doesn't translate. Around here though, "Box" is a another term for a woman's "special place".

So I'm walking around everywhere with a plastic stethoscope and Doctor's reflector (what are those things for anyways?) all night with random girls volunteering to be patients.

Jeez, and I thought only the costumes were risque'!

Of course by the end of the night, my reflector was broken and the strap was missing, and all I had left of my plastic stethoscope was half of an earpiece. During last year's Halloween Extravaganza when I was Michael Jackson, I managed to lose my microphone prop on Friday, bought another for Saturday night, and promptly lost that one as well.

And speaking of Halloween last year, that post contains a VERY racy picture of my friends Ibis and Jane posing with their costumes as "flashers." Interestingly, they have now become internet you ask?

When you type the word "flashers" in google image search, the picture of them from my website is the FIRST result! When they found out, they were first. Then when the realization set in that this may not be the best way to become famous on the internet, especially since Ibis is now a grade school teacher, I felt a little wrath. Luckily, "Ibis" is only her nick name, and, for my own sake of well-being, I will not post her real name for fear that she will come after me. (and that's not even a joke. She would hurt me!)

So, on Halloween Saturday this year, I went to a few party's, but one stood out in particular. It was a Duplex converted into a house. But when I say "party" I really mean "mob of costumed people getting absolutely insane under a shelter that probably doesn't resemble any type of livable structure anymore."

There must have been like 250 people there when we arrived.

In one half of the duplex, people were getting down to the Hip-Hop DJ they hired. In the other, they had a "House/Techno Beat" DJ. In the garage in the middle, was a 36 person game of flip cup.

I don't know how anyone in there right mind could have a party like this unless you have absolutely NO regard for your personal belongings.

At one point, I was behind a guy at the beer keg who was filling up a BLENDER.

Guy: "Welp...I couldn't find a cup, and this was the best thing I could locate."

I don't know about you, but I would be pissed if Joe Random was chugging beer from my nice blender.

Then, as I was going through the kitchen, I smelled something funny.

Girl: "Oh my Gosh, it's on!!!"

I turn and see a glowing red stove with a jug of animal crackers getting toasted to smitherines.

I reminded me of one of those 90's sitcomes where the parents would go away, and kids would throw a giant party while they were gone only to see everything get completely destroyed and out of hand. It was like that, except for instead of the "kids" who lived there starting to freak out, they were getting tossed playing flip cup.

I only managed to handle about 20 minutes of chaos before leaving...although not before snagging two cookies, a handful of candy-corns, and a candy bracelet for the road :)

You know you're either too old (or too young) when amongst everything: the crazy parties, the near-naked women, the free pass to be a little offensive, and the copious available booze, you're favorite part of Halloween is the abundance of CANDY! :)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Season!

Ah yes....the first Tuesday of November, fresh off of Halloween fever and excessive levels of sugar slowly leaving my Greek-god-like-other-than-my-well-fed-abs body....

Election Season!

I, like many others, am pretty excited to see what's going to happen in tomorrow's election. I LOVE debating, and feel like if I'm moderately knowledgeable on a subject, I'll always win, but I generally avoid hardcore backing of any specific politician. I don't consider myself particularly knowledgeable in the specifics of candidate's policies nor could I recite any political nuances of presidents' passed, so I avoid participating in heated presidential debates.

I do however think I know more about politics than probably 60% of Americans, who generally seem to be disappointingly uninformed.

I'm definitely a more liberal minded individual, so it's probably no surprise that I'm enthusiastically voting for Obama/Biden. I've watched all of the debates, and watched various coverage of both candidates, and definitely think Barack has a specific plan of attack to make this country better.

But, whenever people find out I grew up in Alaska, they reflexively think I must love Sarah Palin.

Ding Dong! Your Wrong!

She annoys the living hell out of me. Not only can I not stand her colloquial mid-western vernacular, but her policies suck, she comes off as insincere and uninformed for someone in her position, and very phony.

McCain used to be ok, but when he won the Republican nomination, his policies became much more conservative. Not to mention, his selection of Palin as his running mate is a MAJOR knock on his judgement, he's too old which puts her dangerously close to the hot seat, and his brother is a complete idiot.

People: "Oh you're from Alaska? What do you think of Palin?"

I actually haven't lived in Alaska for eight years, which by my incredibly rough calculations was about the time Palin was probably in the running for the "Miss Wasilla, Alaska Pageant."

Though I guess since the majority of Alaskan population is conservative, it's a fair assumption that I could be so as well.

The one policy of Obama's that comes to mind though, that thoroughly annoys me, is his proposition to make the United States' official languages English AND Spanish.


Listen, I'm all for legal immigration and such, but if you immigrate to a country for a better life, I don't think it's too much to ask for you to ASSIMILATE and learn the dad-gum language rather than us having to spend money to make two Damn signs for every instruction.

Quick Segue. How annoying is it when you call customer service, go to a Chinese or Indian restaurant, or go to WALMART, and the customer service rep/waiter/whoever, speaks completely broken English at BEST! You can't hire people whose JOB it is to communicate with people, who can't speak the local language. Look, I studied French for four years, but you would be a complete IDIOT to hire me to handle returns (which, in themselves somehow always seem complicated, and a line of say, four people takes forty minutes to get through)at the Walmart equivalent in Paris.

Back to your scheduled programming:

The language issue, in the grand scheme of things is pretty small though, plus I have Congress and the Senate to hopefully shoot down such a silly proposition.

And speaking of Propositions, there's a few interesting California ones, but none so polarly divided as "Proposition 8." Without looking up the exact wording, the gist of Prop 8 is a proposition to make gay marriage in California ILLEGAL thereby overriding the recently passed measure legalizing it.

With this issue in particular, I can wipe the floor with anybody debating the validity of a "yes" vote. Allow me to shoot down some key points of "yes" proponents:

1. Marriage between people of the same sex is not "natural."

Not natural to whom? Your definition of natural stems from conservative religious beliefs. "The Bible says Marriage is between a MAN and a WOMAN" Luckily, our constitution is bound by a "separation of church and state." Any mention of the big G.O.D. or religion is invalid. I this case, the word marriage is referencing the LEGAL aspect as opposed to the biblical. As is such, it should be redefined legally for our gay friends.

2. Gay marriage makes a mockery out of the sacred union of a man and woman.

Well if marriage was so damn sacred, then why are why 50% marriages ending in divorce? In Utopia, sure, marriage would be sacred and we'd all find our soul mates and live happily ever after, but who in there right mind can claim that a Vegas quicky between a man and woman in a chapel two blocks away from a whore-house with an Elvis preacher is any more sacred than the "mockery" of same-sex marriage?

3. Kids will learn about Gay Marriage in school!

Guess what. Kids learn about a lot of things in school. Murder, rape, what to do if you see a creeper playing the roll of "Touchy McToucherson." Kids SHOULD be informed about the different behaviors of society in general. Just because we learn that things like serial killers exist in the world, doesn't mean we'll become one.

That in itself is an unfair comparison, because there's nothing wrong with homosexuality anyways (as opposed to murder, rape, etc.) But, kids SHOULD learn about the world they live in: the good, bad, common, and rare.

4. What's next? Allowing marriage to animals?

My God what a terrible argument. I mean, look at what happened when we allowed Blacks and Women to vote! Animals are logically the next in line, right?

I think I've made my point. What burns me up though, is when I see kids holding up signs in support of Prop 8. They don't know any better, but their parents are hammering home their personal creed and perpetuating the same cycle of bigotry that plagued people of color not too long ago.

It is nice living in California, where a lot of people are open minded and share my views. Luckily a proposition like this will likely fail, and the civil rights movement will continue in the right direction.

Happy Voting!

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Matter of Perspective

We like to wallow in self-pitty.

Ok, so maybe we don't actually "like" feeling sorry for ourselves, but we allow ourselves to because it gives us an excuse and explanation for why everything is not perfect. We wish we could be other people, who might have more money, fame, or supposed happiness. For some reason, it seems like a lot of people have it better than you, right?

WRONG! (BTW, make sure you watch this video after reading this post! Sean Stephenson embodies EXACTLY what I'm talking about and he's an AWESOME speaker)

With the economy tanking in U.S. and a lot of people losing jobs as well as money in the stock market, there's certainly a lot of self-pity going around right now. "Why me?" they ask. A lot of them probably fantasize about how amazing life would be to be Warren Buffet, with Billions of dollars and no worries!

We need to fix our perspective.

Do ever think that maybe Warren Buffet sometimes wishes he DIDN'T have all this money and that a simple investment decision wouldn't have an effect on an entire COUNTRY'S economy? Remember, this is a guy who lives in a modest 5 bedroom house in Omaha, Nebraska and drives an Oldsmobile. I'll even bet a lot of rich celebrities think the general population is so lucky to not get harangued everytime they go out to buy some milk.

When we are in any sort of despair we always compare ourselves to people who seemingly have it better.

"I wish I had a job. People who have jobs are soooo lucky!"

"I hate my job. People who have jobs they love are so lucky!"

"I like my job, but everyone else makes so much more money!"

"I wish I could got buy some Milk without photographers getting in my face and everyone asking for autographs!"

But, if we change our perspective, we can realize just how fortunate we are. Having a job would certainly be ideal, but, if you're in the U.S. for example, you're lucky enough to be in a country with (relatively) excellent programs for sustaining you until you find a source of income. If you were in Africa, India, or any number of places, government assistance would be nonexistent.

If you hate your job, count your lucky stars that you are fortunate enough to HAVE a job! Take a look at unemployment rates, and consider yourself among the lucky ones.

Your jobs fun but you don't like the money? I'd be willing to bet a LOT of people would take a healthy pay cut to do something they enjoy doing.

Wish you could go out without being recognized? Well, be grateful that your fame opens up doors others can only dream of.

The bottom line is, I think it's fine to not be "content." That's what drives ambition. But discontent shouldn't manifest itself in any form of unhappiness.

I'm pretty much always happy and never in a bad mood. When bad things happen, or things don't go right for me and I'm tempted to start feeling sorry for myself, I always think, "At least I have _____" or "At least I'm not ____." I think about the millions of people that, in spite of whatever problem I have, would love to be in my shoes.

I was pissed because I got a traffic ticket a few months ago. $170 down the drain plus eight hours of traffic school! But then I thought, "what about the people get in major accidents through no fault of there own, or make an error in judgement and get a DUI? They'd LOVE to be in my situation instead."

I know there are some situations where this approach is an oversimplification, but quite honestly, I think most people feel sorry for themselves far too often and waste a lot of energy fretting about things that are going wrong in their life rather than counting the innumerable blessings that most of us have.

I could sit here and make a laundry list of stuff I don't have or things that haven't gone perfectly. I bet, if I really thought about it, I could write a blog about the sucky things that happen every week, and have a little pity party!

But I realize how great my life is! A lot of people say to me, "gee, Arun you are so LUCKY!" I AM lucky. But the truth is, most people are and they just don't realize it. People see me as being lucky because they see how happy I am and because I talk mostly about awesome things happening in my life.

It's all a matter of perspective.

Sure I'm extremely lucky. But so are you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quirky Communication

It's funny how our means of communication have changed over the years. I think the last time I sent a personally hand written letter, was 1999. It's too bad. I actually like getting letters. Even emails are great.

The problem with email is that it's gotten so common and quick, that the whole "charm" of letter writing, where each person writes a bunch of paragraphs before sending the letter off, has become lost! Instead, each email is like three sentences and a question, to which I'll respond to the question, say something witty, and ask something back. Emails are basically a long, drawn out phone conversations now.

And speaking of long and drawn out, have you noticed how long it takes to leave someone a voicemail these days? I was just calling someone yesterday, and I seriously could've had our entire conversation in the time that it took for me to eventually hear the "beep" and leave my message.

First, there's the greeting: "Hi this is Arun, I'm busy blogging right now about how idiocally long it takes to leave a phone message, but leave me a message and I'll get back to you."

Then we have the lovely young robot lady who won't shutup: "At the the tone, please record your message. When you are finished recording, you may hang up or press '1' for more options. To leave a callback number press 2, otherwise stay on the line and record your message."

Seriously, this recording drives me crazy. I don't need to hear EVERY option EVERY time I want to leave a message! It's like having 10 pop-up windows come up everytime you want to send an email, telling you about all of the wonderful options you have about email signatures, priority, receiver receipts etc, and then instructions on how to hit the "send" button. I just want to leave a Dad-Gum message!

I do find it amusing though, when people feel the need to leave instructions on their voicemail about HOW to leave a message. "Leave a message AFTER THE BEEP and I'll call you back!" This made sense about 18 years ago when answering machines first came out, but I'm fairly certain everyone knows the procedure for WHEN to start talking into the phone and leave a message.

I think my family first got an answering machine when I was about seven or eight. It consisted of two cassettes, one for the greeting, and the other for recording the message. To listen to the messages, you'd have to hit the rewind button and guess where to stop and play the tape.

Rewind. Play. Not far enough.
Rewind. Play. Oops, went too far! Fast Forward, Play.

And when answering machines first came out, people would get confused. "Hello? Helloooooo? Arun? What's going on?...(confusedly hanging up the phone)"

Busy signals are also a thing of the past. I don't think I've heard a busy signal in like 10 years.

The one thing I do find annoying is when I leave a phone message, and I get a text message reply in return. Ok. There is a reason I CALLED you! Now, instead of a nice quick, personal conversation, I'm now forced into hours of texting a conversation that would have otherwise been short and sweet. And these new phones with built in keyboards aren't helping matters either.

Texting DOES however even the playing field for those of us who are slightly less witty. I pride myself on being quick witted, but with texting, you can be "slow-witted" but still sound pretty charming. You have tons of time to now come up with clever one-liners! If you can't be funny with texts, you might be a lost cause...

Texting CAN be very useful. It's especially awesome for those people you meet, with whom you haven't yet bonded quite on the "phone call level" but a little text is quite harmless.

Texting is a happy medium between a nice phone conversation and never talking to someone again.

In fact, I've ramped up relationships that started as emails, then moved up the ladder to texts, and finally made the leap up to phone calls!

Major Progress, I know.

Overall there's absolutely no moral and nothing remotely intelligent really gained from reading today's post. It's more or less a good ol' fashioned rant. I suppose you probably like ME more for my keen sense of observation and social acumen! (and if you don't, you're welcome to keep to yourself :)

One final note. Yesterday, I was chatting with the barista at a coffee shop in Pacific Beach. It turns out they post the daily horoscopes from the Tribune in front of the counter, so we were reading ours and seeing how accurate they were. She was a Leo, and the horoscope prescribed integrating more "love" into her life or something.

Lucky for her she was chatting with the "Love Doctor."

I'm a Virgo. Mine said something like, "You NEED to lift your confidence. Love Yourself. Look in the mirror and like what you see!"

Seriously? I don't know who writes these things, but obviously they don't know me :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


The human body is a complex system that, despite our best efforts, we still don't completely understand. One of the most amazing characteristics of the human body, is its ability to aclimate to your surroundings in a relatively short amount of time.

For example, growing up in Alaska, I used to WALK 3 blocks to the indoor tennis club in the MIDDLE of winter with snow everywhere and vapor crystalizing as it left my nostrils...while wearing only shorts, a t-shirt and a light jacket.


Now, when I go back home to visit, I drive the quarter mile to the club, then sprint to the front door, although this isn't necessarily a winning solution either. Last winter, during one of my olympic dashes through the parking lot, I managed to forget that tennis shoes don't exactly offer superior ice traction.

Suffice to say, as I was rounding the final leg passed the handicap spots (forshadowing), approaching the front door finish line, my twinkle toes went one way, my dome the other, and my arms flailed madly as I went barreling to the ground, nestling in a nice patch of rock-hard compacted snow.


Come to think of it, running in foul weather is always a bit of a predicament. When it's freezing, sure running gets you where you're going a lot faster, but the air also becomes like 50 times colder as the added wind chill bites into you. Not to mention, there's a slight of slipping. When it's raining, you have the same decision.

"Hmm. If I walk, I'm gonna be getting wet for longer, but if I run, I'm gonna get pelted with more water PLUS ground splash is now a factor." You're screwed either way.

I wonder if people in the rainy Pacific Northwest have "aclimated" to this by secreting extra skin oil to become water resistent? Yikes, that's an icky thought.

In India, the level of weather aclimation that citizens possess is downright ridiculous. Everywhere we went, we always paid the extra bucks and hired a driver with an air-conditioned car. When the air is 125 degrees, driving with the windows down doesn't quite suffice for cooling. Not to mention, the air is so smoggy that breathing in the fresh roadway breeze is like sticking your head into a barbecue.

The thing is, NOBODY in India uses AC! Even the drivers, who we'd hire for the day, would just sit there sleeping in their car, parked in the scorching sun and humidity, for HOURS waiting for us. To top it, they don't even perspire that much. I walk 20 feet from the car, and my shirt is already drenched in sweat.

Can we guess who the tourist is?

Back here in Southern California, I've certainly aclimated to our weather. I seriously get a little pissed and start whining when it rains because it ruins all of my outdoor activities.

To think that I have to deal with rain SIX times a year!

This morning, I was shivering, and bundled up before leaving the house. Damn this freezing fall weather!

53 degrees Farenheit.

God what's happened to me? I've become a weather WIMP!

Oh well. I guess I'll just have to go on a global travel tour, exposing myself to the weather of countries everywhere, effectively transforming my self into a weather aclimation GOD!

Unfortunately, that still won't save me from eating a face full of snow in slippery Alaska parking lots.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


One day, you're cruising around on your computer, checking emails, writing blogs...maybe working a little, and overall just happy as a clam! Then, with the click of a mouse button it all comes crumbling down as colors begin flashing on your monitor, red signs begin blinking at you, and your computer does everything short of blow up.

I take pride in knowing that I could never fall for downloading one of those silly viruses. As a Computer Enginerd-ing major, I am too familiar with the tricky shaninigans that maliscious computer wizards try to pull on the innocent! My combination of practical common sense and superior technological knowledge makes me uncrackable! HA!

You can imagine my suprise when my computer monitor started flashing bright colors and everything went haywire.

I had downloaded what I thought was an innocent little application to clean my computer's registry for FREE. Well, it certainly did SOMETHING for free, and it sure as hell wasn't cleaning.

I had a feeling something was wrong when the screen went red and the lower left corner was blinking "VIRUS WARNING!"

Apparently though, this was just a "trick virus." Not an actual virus, but rather malware to make me think I have a virus. Little do they exactly who they're dealing with!

When I saw a window popup that looked like my McAfee security software already on my computer, I was relieved. "Virus Alert! Download and install 2008 Antivirus protection "here." I'll show those hackers! HA!

I enthusiastically clicked the button while audible yelling "HA!" much to the confusion of everyone else in my office.

I got the feeling that this was a bad move when clicking the button caused my already discombobulated system to lose all control and fifty bazillion popups started taking over my screen!

In a panic, I did what any technologically savvy, windows user would do. I did a "hard shutdown," and turned off my compy. Maybe my computer just needs a little rest? I turned it back on praying for some semblance of normalcy. Obviously, I'm a computer expert thinking that turning my computer off, letting it rest, and turning it back on will somehow defeat the virus. My intelligence is unmatched!!!

Or not. More blinky red things and virus alerts.

As a last ditch, I called the IT department hoping my computer wasn't totally hosed.

IT Guy: "IT Dept, what's up?"
Me: "I think I have a Virus thing (the technical term)"
IT: "Well, what's going on?"
Me: "Uh, there's lots of blinky red things, and a popup, and my backgroud..."
IT: "Does your background say "Click here to install 2008 antivirus protection?"
Me: "Yea!"
IT: "Did you do it?"
Me: "I'm one step ahead of you man, I already did it!"
IT: "You're hosed"
Me: "Oops"
IT: "I just helped someone with this yesterday, and it even got ME last week"
Me: "Wow! Really?"
IT: "Yup...You got screwed."

Actually, I was lucky that he had already seen this because he guided me through the steps to fix everything, and now my computer is back and healthier than EVER! I don't feel so bad either since even the IT guy got tricked.

Of course when people around me found out that I had gotten a virus, everybody started chiming in with the token, "Ooooh...I guess we know what kind of websites ARUN is visiting! Hehehe!"

So what did I learn? I learned that computer hacker-wizards have gotten so tricky that even I can be swindled! Be careful! If I'm vulnerable, then no one is safe! Although, if this does actually happen to you, I know how to fix it.

If you call me for expert advice, I can give you step by step details on how to "hard shutdown" your computer and how to NOT click the 2008 Antivirus button :)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Jack of All Trades

I'm definitely a curious person. My friend Frederico calls me the most curious person he's ever met.

I'm just the type of person who takes interest in a lot of different things. I have an aptitude for picking things up pretty fast, and usually, I'm dedicated enough to study them, work on the skills, and get pretty good at most of my endeavors. I like to think I'm a Rennaissance Man.

The only problem is, I'm pretty good at a lot of things, but a master at none of them.

A Jack of all trades.

Although...I suppose one could argue that I'm a master of CHARM, but that one would have to be someone other that me :)

Lets take sports for example. During my very first tennis lesson, I got kicked out of the beginners class (where we were hitting balloons up in the air) and put in the intermediate group (where we ACTUALLY got to hit tennis balls!). I became pretty good at tennis, winning a few tournaments and the highschool state finals, but I was never great. Had I played in college (where a lot of Division 1 players dedicated there life to tennis as Juniors) I would've been mediocre (did I actually use the word "mediocre" to describe something about me!?! I must be sick or something)

In basketball, I'm usually one of the better players on the court, but I'm never dominant and can't just take over games.

I'm decent at golf (If you can call a best ever score of 94, "decent"). I beat most people at racketball. I can throw a spiral. I was a two time little league all-star third basemen.

I dominated lunch-time ping pong tournaments in highschool, at one point going on a 57 match win-streak...although I never played any Asians.

Now? I'm not a master of any of these things. You pit me against most people, and I'll probably win, but against a master, I'm Toasty McToasterson.

I know what you're thinking. "Ok, Ok Arun, I get it! You happen to be "athletic!" That just means that sports wasn't your thing and you're probably a master at something else. And stop telling us how awesome you are!"

Uh...hello? Have you read this blog before? I would NEVER inflate my own ego!

My "Jack-ness" extends far beyond sports. In music, I sing, and play the Cello, Guitar, and Piano. My skills range in each of these, and I'm decent at them all, but not "accomplished" at any. I spent a good year learning how to produce music, and produced fairly decent quality recordings of six different songs I wrote. (you can here one by clicking on my myspace profile link on the left <--) But, I grew tired of all the effort it took.

Every month or so, I get the urge to produce music again, but when I sit down to do it, and realize all the work it's going to take, I find something else to do.

As a kid, I used to draw a lot, and was a pretty good sketcher. The last awesome sketch I drew was in 1993.

I won a state award for poetry in third grade. Aside from music, that was the last actual poem I wrote.

I learned how to juggle, but stopped after I could do four balls.

In college, I received an A in every General education class I took, but when it came to hunkering down on one subject and becoming proficient (Engineering), I sucked.

I have a couple of competitive, internationally certified yo yo's with ball bearing axels and all. I used to know a bunch of tricks and even considered entering a competition...never happend. In fact, I recently attempted to show off my unpolished yo yo skills to my friend thinking my lack of practice would be outweighed by my dexterity. "It's like riding a bike!" I said.

I threw the yo yo down hard getting it to "sleep," like a pro.

Yea! I am awesome!

I started twirling it around hard, getting ready to do the beginning of a "Brain Twister." The yo yo came flying around and I managed to catch it perfectly on the thin string.

HA! I haven't lost it!

For the finale of the Brain Twister, I began twirling the yo yo ultra fast with two hands, at which point the yo yo is supposed to spin free and return to my hand...apparently the yo yo wanted to make a "side trip" on the way back.

It slipped off of one of my fingers, and instead of returning smoothly to my open palm, it went barreling with reckless abandon into my "jewels of manhood."

Game over.

Although my friend seemed to find this more entertaining than the trick itself.

I've always been fascinated by magic as well, and learned a few really awesome magic tricks. Seriously, the stuff I learned is pretty cool, and no one can duplicate it on the spot because they all require a ton of practice and slight of hand...but I never did much with this skill! Only my good friends know about my magic stuff, but on occasion, I'll do a trick in public with something readily available like rubber bands, playing cards, or money.

Writing is probably my new "thing" although I think this has some staying power. I wrote an ebook and am currently revising and getting ready for marketing and publication. Writing is awesome, especially when the only guidelines I have are my own! I also like the fact that other people read my output, which keeps me motivated. I think that's part of the reason I didn't hard-core pursue music. The chances of the masses even hearing my work, were slim to none.

Hmmm...maybe I should just become a one man show! I could play tennis with one hand while writing poetry with the other. I'll play the keyboard with my left foot, and string a yo yo to my right big toe, all while balancing a broom on my head and singing the national anthem. And at the end I'll make your money disappear!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Traffic School...and How to Get Out of A Ticket

I was leaving a parking lot on the UC Irvine Campus after catching up with an old friend and enjoying Boba Tea: possibly the weirdest beverage ever concocted. It's basically flavored iced tea with giant tapioca balls in the bottom that you suck up through a straw as big as your mouth. You either love it or hate it. I happen to be a fan.

Thoroughly satisfied with my venture into beverage bizzaro-world, I got in my car to head back to San Diego. When I got to the parking lot exit, the intersection was wide open. No light. Just a simple right or left turn. Right takes me into campus - as much as I enjoy hanging out on dead college campuses, I decided to pass. Left takes me to the freeway...BINGO!

As I start going, I notice a little wrench in my genius plan to turn left. A "no left-turn" sign.

I had already started moving into the intersection, so backing up would've been silly. I suppose I could have veered and made a right turn, but then I would've ended up deep in the UCI campus...who knows what kind of violent gangsters hang out there.

Screw it. I'm GOING! The road was completely clear.

As I pull up to the light, I notice a cop pull up behind me. At this point I'm thinking "Ooh, better be careful now!"

As the light turns green, I slowly and deliberately accelerate into the intersection abiding utmost safety...

BOOM! Lights on, siren whaling....damn.

Lousy, Stupid, Unforgiving Cop: "Do you know why I pulled you over?"
Me: "No sir"
Lousy, Stupid, Unforgiving Cop: "No left turn sign"
Me: "Sorry, I didn't see it. This is my first time on UCI campus and...."
Lousy, Stupid, Unforgiving Cop: "License and Registration"

He didn't even let me try and work the sympathy. I was going to test my acting and see if I could squeeze out a couple of tears. If that didn't work, I was gonna take a water bottle, pour it in my crotch, and tell him I really had "to go" bad and that's why I made the turn. The embarrassment of a grown man giving his pants his own personal hose-down should be enough to avoid the ticket, right?

Instead he returned with a scribbly written up ticket.

Me: "Is there any way I can be let off with a warning today?"
Lousy, Stupid, Unforgiving Cop: "Sorry man, I already wrote it."

Sorry? SORRY!?! Oh Paaalease, you're not sorry. If you're so damn sorry you would've given me a chance to see if my rebutal was worthy of a warning!

So I got a ticket. Big deal. All I have to do is pay the fine and do the joke that is known as online traffic school to keep my insurance status quo, right?

Welp, conveniently, Orange County is like the ONLY freaking county in California that doesn't allow online traffic school. Instead, I have to do eight hours...yes EIGHT HOURS of classroom traffic school! And to add insult to injury, I have to PAY EXTRA just to go to the damn class.

I hate no left turn signs.

So the last two nights, I attended traffic school. It's amazing how many people don't think they deserve to be there. Pretty much how everyone in prison insists on their innocence. Honestly, sure my ticket was ticky-tack, but I am technically guilty, so I couldn't really claim to not deserve to be there.

Well, that's the price to pay for being a dangerous rebel with no regard for the law, like me!

As people were sharing their "alleged violations", I started feeling like a cream puff. There were people who had multiple violations with WEEKS! I was surrounded by red light runners, repeat offenders, and people caught going 50 mph over the speed limit, and here I am with a measly left turn at a no left-turn sign.

It's like being in a prison surrounded by murders, kidnappers, and rapists when all you did was shoplift. I couldn't let them think I'm soft or else I could be a target! I had to come up with something fast! I had to be a hardened traffic violator that they wouldn't mess with!

Somehow, nobody believed my story of being in a high speed pursuit down the California Coast in my Toyota Corolla.

Traffic School was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be though. If you happen to be unfortunate enough to have to attend an actual class, I'd recommend doing it through My Improv Comedy Traffic School.

Basically, my class was taught by a stand-up comedian. His name is Tony Scaduto and he used to work in Vegas and has actually done a couple of mediocre movies no one's ever heard of back in the 70's. He was pretty darn funny, and made the class go by a lot faster. He also shared a couple of VERY interesting facts.

Fact 1: If you want to avoid a ticket, drive in the number 3 lane on the freeway. 60% of tickets are issued to drivers in the number 1 lane ("fast" lane - big surprise, I know). 30% in the number 2 lane. 6% in the number 4 lane and a whopping 4% in the number 3 lane. Play the odds and you should increase your chances of being ticket-free.

Fact 2: Never admit guilt when the officer asks you if you know why he pulled you over. They take notes, so in case you decide to fight the ticket, he won't have anything to use against you, such as an admission of guilt.

Fact 3: Statistically, bright cars (red, yellow, etc) are ticketed way more often than neutral ones purely because they standout more. So if a pack of cars is speeding, the brighter car is usually the one that's caught and ticketed.

Fact 4: This is a BIG one. Wanna know how to get out of a ticket? This one works for surface roads. When you go to court, during the hearing, ask the officer if he has a copy of the city code speed regulations for the street where you were ticketed. This is information anyone can obtain from City Hall.

Why is this important? Because streets many times have codes that allow different speed limits at different times of the day. The posted speed limit is always the lowest speed limit of them all. Theoretically speaking, you could have been going within the speed limit if the regulation for that time of day allows for it.

The beauty of this is, if the officer does NOT have a copy of the official speed regulations for that street in court with him, he can't prove you were breaking the law. Even if you WERE breaking the speed regulation for that time of day, if he doesn't have a copy of the code, he can't prove you guilty, and since we're in the good ol' USA, you're INNOCENT until PROVEN guilty. It doesn't seem likely that he would have a copy with him (although I've never been to traffic court).

Of course, this is all moot if you're going over 60mph on a surface road.

So I actually ended up learning something new (and here I was thinking I knew it ALL :)

This probably won't benefit me though since I'm not really a speeder. I used to, but I decided to make an effort to SLOW DOWN with things in general and not be in such a rush all the time. It's great. Now I just cruise around, stress free, not having to worry about changing lanes too often, getting great gas mileage, and never having to worry about the Po-Po.

I still think going on a "hot-pursuit" would be super fun, but I guess I'll wait until I get a Lamborghini before doing that :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Quarter Century Mark

I am old.

Early Twenties? Long Gone.

Late Early-Twenties? Years ago.

Early Mid-twenties? Buh-bye

Welcome, Arun, to the wonderful world of old people. The Quarter-Century club.

I vividly remember what a big deal my sister thought it was when I hit "double digits" - the big 1-0. Then, I remember the feeling of finally turning an actual teenager! I used to think, "gee, in the year 2000, I'm gonna be 16!" That seemed so old. I never contemplated what I'd be in the year 2008.

So 24 came and went. Knowing me, you're probably all guessing that I did something wild and crazy for my birthday! A new adventure! Shenanigans and chaos!

You'd be wrong.

I never like making a big deal out of my birthday. As much as you all know I like attention, I like to EARN it by being "Smooth Arun." Not because I happened to be born on a certain day. So what did I do on my birthday?

Well, I went to work, did a grueling workout (wasn't going to let the birthday excuse let me out of it!), and came home. But...I had a treat in store later. I had no time to really eat after working out, so for my "birthday dinner" I ate tofu dipped in soy sauce, and a mango. My friends offered to take me out, but I deferred to the weekend since I had already planned...

A MASSAGE! Sweet God Almighty, this is one of the top five inventions EVER! I decided on a "deep tissue" massage since I figured there's on awful lot of steel-like muscle the therapist would have to work through :) A deep tissue massage is an interesting feeling though. Half the time, I'm so relaxed I want to fall asleep. The other half I'm grimacing in pain, trying not to scream!

It's a "good" pain though. Kind of like the great burn you get when you eat wasabi. All the while I'm thinking "ok...breathe...she's getting the toxins out of your muscles...breathe!..BREATHE!"

When she had me face up, my concentration doubled. As devilishly handsome as I may be, the facial contortions I was making while face down, were not exactly "GQ" cover material.

Afterwards though, I felt amazing. I went to the coffee shop across the street, all set to continue reading my current book, "Anna Karenina," but I met a girl in line who instead convinced me (she didn't have to try very hard) to share a piece of chocolate chip cheesecake with her.

Cheesecake is probably in the top 25 for great inventions.

There goes my healthy dinner.

The rest of the night, I finished replying to all the birthday messages I received. One thing I find irritating, is when people send a mass message out to everyone they know, thanking them for the birthday wishes. I've explained why I dislike this in one of my first blog posts ever.

I feel like if someone is nice enough to remember/notice that it's my birthday, and calls, sends a message, or whatever, they deserve a personal response. Now next, year when I'm insanely famous, and the 1,934,866 members of the "Arun is Awesome" fan club send me birthday wishes, obviously that will be different, but for the time being, everyone gets my personal attention.

But, not to worry! My birthday is not going to pass without some kind of excessive celebration! This weekend, we are making a little hop over to Sin City. Maybe I'll get a little birthday luck on tables!

Welp, onward to 26. So far the Quarter Century Club has welcomed me with open arms. I just think they're happy to have someone with youthful vibrancy, age-old wisdom, and...yes, of course I'm going to say it....the aesthetics of a man in his prime, in the club! But, I won't be running for president anytime soon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

YTB: To Join or Not To Join?

Recently (the last couple of years) I've noticed a surge in people I know getting involved with YTB. In fact, in my last post, I got two comments requesting that I do a little ditty on YTB.

For those of you who are clueless as to what I'm talking about, YTB stands for "Your Travel Business." Basically the way it works is that you pay $500 plus $50 a month afterward, and you get an already designed webpage that acts like Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz, or any other online travel agent. That's right, you basically become a travel agent. Also, when you sign up, you basically do so "under" whomever you heard about YTB from, by going to their travel page, signing up, and paying up.

I'm going to give you an unbiased yet personal view of YTB (and similar companies like Traverus, or World Ventures etc). They all operate pretty much the same with slight differences in sign up fees, compensation plans etc.

So for the last year, a friend of mine has been telling me all about how great YTB is. He's signed up and has been trying to convince me to. I've resisted because I'm a natural skeptic of a plan that is "too good to be true." Also, he's not quite making beaucoup bucks yet, so I had no tangible proof that it's legit.

Then, to satisfy him, I spoke with his "mentor," (the guy he signed up under) a ridiculously rich and successful guy named Maurice Maio and he was pretty convincing...but he also came off as "sales-ey" and since we only spoke briefly, I dismissed the idea of going to a seminar.

Recently though, my friend Heather decided to join YTB full boar, and invited me over to her place for a going away/YTB presentation party (very clever to combine the two) where her "mentor," another ridiculously successful person named Sabrina Dagostino did a full presentation on YTB. Obviously, I was skeptical.

After leaving Heather's house though, I was seriously ready to sign up.

Sabrina is an extremely compelling speaker and it's obvious why she's done well. In the presentation she outlined all of the great benefits in joining YTB:

- As a travel agent, you get free upgrades on travel and hotel.
- Owning your own business means you can write off tons of things for taxes (gas, eating out, etc)
- When people book travel through your site (which is marketed to be as cheap or cheaper than expedia), you make a commission
- When people sign up under you, you make a commission
- Any money that the people under you (and the people under them) make, you get a cut of.

Sounds amazing doesn't it!?! Again it was a very compelling presentation, and my knee-jerk, in-the-moment reaction was, "Where do I sign up!?!"

Luckily, I'm a rational, think-stuff-through-and-research type of person.

First of all, let's think about the presentation. Why is she doing a FREE presentation? Well, it's because anyone who signs up under Heather, is money in the bank for both of them!


And if you're thinking this is a pyramid scheme, you'd be essentially right. In her presentation, Sabrina mentioned multiple times that Pyramid schemes are illegal (she's an attorney which added to her credibility), and that YTB is not a pyramid.

Well, if I made a Peach Pie with Nectarines instead, sure it wouldn't be a peach pie, but it sure would taste, smell, and do everything pretty close to what a normal peach pie would do. It may not be "technically" a pyramid scheme, but it damn sure acts like one.

In the presentation, it sounds like you'll be making EASY money for the rest of your life! Well if it was so easy, then why is it that something like 94% of YTB agents make less than $90 per year? (By the way, some of my numbers might be slightly off since I didn't write any of my research down, but they are pretty close).

Another interesting statistic is that only about 14% or YTB's total revenue comes from booking travel. Pretty astounding for a travel business, eh? So where does the rest of the revenue come from? Well 72% of it comes from sign up fees and monthly dues! Hmmm....smells like a peach pie to me.

So in order to make any serious money (or even semi-serious money) you can't really rely on booking travel, unless you book a TON of it. People aren't going to find your webpage on google since there's about 200,000 other YTB travel pages (unless you get tons of people to shamelessly link to you). You might be able to convince your family or friends to book through you, but if you're like me, you like to check a few different websites to get the best deal. I usually check a few (including a friends YTB page), and although they're competitive, I can usually find cheaper rates elsewhere.

That means if I want to make the dough, I need to get people to sign up. This is the biggest problem for me.

I hate salespeople. Actually, I don't hate salespeople, but I really dislike people who try and sell something to you, be it a car, a religion, or a travel business, as if they are just looking out for your well being. Nope. I'm personally a super social person and get along well with everybody, but I would hate to start telling my friends about my travel business to get them to sign up.

Hell, even if it's people I don't know, I find it totally disingenuous to talk about something where their participation nets you a commission.

I suppose it wouldn't be so bad if it was MY company or product (ie the ebook I'm releasing pretty soon), but peddling someone else's product just to make yourself money isn't my cup-o-tea not what I think of as a positive social interaction.

Hell, even with my book, I might mention it in conversation, but I wouldn't try to sell it to anyone I'm socializing with. I'm going to sell it via online marketing. You might see an ad, click on it to get information, and if you like it, you can buy it.

BUT, I wouldn't call YTB a scam by any means. You know EXACTLY what you're financial risk is when you get involved, and in all fairness, it's not that much. What is a little misleading, is how easy they make it seem to get rich. It's not. To make money, you need to really sell the product to people. But as far as I can tell, nothing they claim about the compensation you are awarded is false.

At the end of Sabrina's presentation, I remember she said something like, "you have an option now to change your life. In one year, you can be in the same place you are now, or you can make a change that will affect the rest of your life." Convincing indeed. But you have to keep in mind that 94% of us are not going to be any different except maybe a few hundred bucks in the hole, but we WILL be contributing to her retirement fund! That's not a knock on her, but she's not doing this presentation to change YOUR life...she's doing it to enhance hers.

If I were to sign up, I'd probably give a similar presentation. In fact, she, like other mentors, WANT you to succeed. It behooves them financially if you do well, so they offer all types of free coaching. But, as I mentioned before, it takes a very particular personality type to succeed.

If I were to sign up, I might reap some tax benefits, and travel benefits, but it wouldn't offset the amount of money invested. (Although, once you get six people signed up under you, the $50/month fee is waived. But, again, you have to SELL six people your business plan)

Sabrina Dagostino has enough people signed up under her, where now, she can travel doing presentations, getting people to sign up under her understudies, and add to her riches. She's good at what she does.

It's certainly not impossible to make a lot of money through YTB, but it's very tough. You need to have a charismatic personality and be willing to talk about your travel company all the time. I actually think I could make pretty good money by joining YTB. I'm social, love giving presentations, and have been told I'm charismatic, but I'd be selling myself out.

When I worked at Tennis Warehouse, we used to get incentives if our order averages were high (dollars spent per order). They never encouraged us to try and "sell" stuff to people, but rather to inform them of the special deals that are available with they're order (essentially a "win-win" since the customer gets a special deal available only with that particular order, and Tennis Warehouse makes a slightly higher sale).

However, many times I was tempted by people calling wanting to get the "latest and greatest" racket technology to start playing tennis. Now I could have sold them a $300 racket, and they would've been happy to get the newest and best! Plus, my order average would've gone way up. But, I couldn't do it. I usually convinced them to get an older yet comparable model for like $60 because, in all honesty, as a beginner they wouldn't feel the difference. Sure my order average tanked, but the customer always appreciated my honesty, and I felt a lot better about being so.

Similarly, this blog is popular enough where I could start writing sponsored posts on different products for money on here, but if you saw my monthly earnings in my adsense account, you'd realize I don't write this for money. I'm not willing to dilute my amazingly insightful content :) with review drivel, just for money.

I'm also not willing to sacrifice my genuineness and social freedom, to make a buck.

I suppose I could join YTB, write a post on how awesome it is and why you should join, then put a link up to my YTB page so you can sign up under me and make me rich!

I am curious though to here about people who have signed up and had a lot of success, like Maurice Maio or Sabrina Dagostino. I suspect you're few and far between. If you'd like to convince me to sign up, give me six understudies (since I don't want to "sell" the business myself, nor do I want to pay the monthly fee), and I'll see how it goes, and write an honest first hand review. In fact, if I knew six people who really, legitimately wanted to get involved in this type of plan, knowing how difficult it is and all of the sales aspects, I'd probably sign up and have them under me. But I'm not going to "sell" it to people.

In the meantime though, I have no interest in joining. Hopefully you can make an informed decision as well. And if you think I'm wrong, feel free to let me know about it! (although, I EVER wrong? :)