Arun is Bringing You...Your Daily Remedy

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Buffer Zone

We humans are interesting creatures. On one hand, we enjoy conveying affection, especially in a physical sense, to those we care about. On the other, nearly all of us have, and observe, the unspoken rule of "observing the buffer zone."

It's interesting how often the zone is observed...everyday really. Going to the movies? Don't even think about sitting next to someone you don't know unless the theater is full! Hell, even when you DO sit next to your friend, people might make assumptions (if the movie is "Bad Education").Even then, some schmuck might have a chair reserved for his coat's comfortable viewing pleasure during the movie, in which case when you ask there's about a 50/50 chance that he's either saving the seat for someone, or just attempting to preserve the buffer zone.

I've noticed it at the gym too. People have a tendency to try and keep one treadmill in between him and the next person. In-between treadmills are only filled in after all "buffer-safe" treadmills are in use.

But what happens when someone is on an adjacent machine, and, during the workout, a buffer-safe machine opens up? Well, the normal person simply completes his workout and doesn't worry about it. I don't care at all if someone is on the machine next to me. In fact, most people don't, but it's a generally observed, unspoken rule that you grant the buffer zone, if available, just as a courtesy.

The other day, there were three of us on the stationary bikes, all next to each other. I was on the end. After I finished, the guy next to me (in the middle), asked me if I was finished and actually moved over to my bike to create a buffer zone! Maybe the other guy was stinkin up the joint? I don't know, but I think interrupting your workout for buffer zoning is a little excessive.

Other times, it's quite appropriate. On one flight I had, I was sitting in the window seat, and later, a guy came and sat in his assigned middle seat, right next to me. Fine. I don't care. BUT, after we take off, it's blatantly obvious that the isle seat is empty. Now I'm not sitting first class, so we're not exactly swimming in space. It's the middle man's responsibility to give both of us a little extra room and scooch his ass over to the isle seat!

I wasn't about to ask him to move. As the window man, I'm powerless to do anything! So there we are, Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum scrunched up next to each other on the entire three hour flight, while the isle seat is being utterly useless!

The Men's bathroom however is the most interesting buffer zone observance. When entering the bathroom, a man must first take note of the urinal setup. For a one or two urinal set, it doesn't matter where you go, it's not a buffer-safe bathroom. In a three setup, always go for the end, thus allowing the middle urinal to serve as the buffer. The middle urinal is only used if both ends are occupied!

In a four-set, there's more flexibility, and the first guy can have his pick (although an end-urinal is optimal so that if another person comes in, the "super-buffer" of two urinals can be observed with the second person on the opposite end).

In a five-set, there's nothing more frustrating than someone who takes either the second or fourth urinal. Why is this bad? Sure it allows a buffer-zone for one additional person, but if two come in (for a total of three people) then two people are forced to use adjacent urinals! Not ideal. This situation could've easily been avoided had the initial urinator chosen the number one, five (optimal choices), or three urinal.

The exception is if there is an unflushed urinal. I honestly don't get why people do this. FLUSH the damn toilet when you're finished! If the water is tainted, I'm going to avoid it, to hell with the buffer zone. If I'm forced to use it, I will, but then the internal battle wages!

Do I flush first? I've heard that tiny microscopic particles are whipped into the air during flushing. The last thing I want is to be inhaling little particles of foreign piss while I'm going.

If I then forgo the flush, there's the slight risk of a splash driblet escaping the urinal confines and attacking me! I have yet to settle on a consistent strategy in this situation.

Slightly less annoying is getting stuck at one of those lower, little-kid urinals. Again, not ideal. The splash risk rises dramatically. The falls are now travelling twice as far, picking up velocity, and crashing ferociously into the marble basin resulting in a high probability of renegade driblets.

Obviously this means an unflushed, toddler urinal is basically unusable.

So overall, when available, it's a good idea to observe the buffer zone. It's an unspoken rule among guys in the restroom, and in general, for most people in society. When there's no buffer, no big deal...just remember to flush!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Rowdy Ropin' Rodeo

It was a sunny July afternoon. Bryan and I were in the midst of another Sunday Funday. Bryan's birthday was fast approaching and he had mentioned he wanted to do something really fun, but we hadn't yet devoted time to thinking of anything. It was time for a serious discussion:

Me: "B-rye, we gotta think of something fun to do for your birthday!"
Bryan: "Well...I kind of wanted to do something East County"

For those of you unfamiliar with San Diego, East County = as close to Midwest and southern culture as it gets in Southern California.

It just so happened that the Lakeside Rodeo coincided with the weekend of Bryan's birthday. Perfect! I had never really been to a real rodeo before either!

So we rounded up the usual suspects, and caravanned out to the rodeo. But, we weren't about to just stroll into the rodeo as normal audience members. Oh no. We were there to EXPERIENCE the rodeo!

Theorem 5012, Section 3, paragraph 4 in "Arun's Guide to Lifetime Awesomeness" (I had to dig deep to find this one): "Rodeo Experience" = All rodeo-going participants must wear at the minimum, a cowboy hat, button up shirt, and an optional lasso.

So, when we showed up, we blended right in! friends blended right in. The Rodeo grounds weren't exactly crawling with Indian-Cowboys. In order to prepare for the festivities, we partook in such events as the "Budweiser shot-gunning challenge" and that ol' classic, "people roping."

Interestingly, when the rodeo was going on, we all were having so much fun amongst ourselves that we ended up not even watching most of the rodeo. I came to the event donning an Australian Cowboy hat that Frederico lent me. Naturally, I spent a good portion of the afternoon talking in my mischievous Australian accent.

At one point I was talking to four ladies, laying on the Australian real thick. Three of them loved me, but one was unconvinced. She went over to Brent to question my authenticity:

Her: "Is your friend really Australian?"
Brent: " know I really couldn't tell you for sure"
Her: (now coming back to the conversation between me and her three friends) "You know what!?! I don't think you're really Australian!!! YOU'RE BRITISH!!!"

Other Girls: "Oh you leave him alone!!!"

Now addressing me: "Don't worry about her! We know you're Australian!"

At this point I couldn't say anything because all of my energy was being devoted to suppressing my laughter at the hilarity of the first chick thinking she had brilliantly discovered my true British identity! Couple that with her friends' vehement defense of my Australian origin, and you have Arun fighting to keep the explosion of laughter inside.

I'm going straight to hell :)

The rest of the night was equally entertaining. We went on an East County Pub crawl during which, at one stop, Jeff and I somehow managed to make it onto the stage singing "Sweet Home Alabama" with the live band.

The antics of the rodeo though, managed to linger weeks later...

One night, Jeff and I returned home late. For the passed two weeks, we had wondered if we had a new neighbor. We had never seen anyone move in, nor enter or exit, but one day all of a sudden, we noticed furniture and decorations through the window. The furniture was too perfect though. Everything seemed perfectly in place, and there was even a basket of fake fruit as the dinning table center piece.

Logically, we figured that they had turned our neighboring apartment into a "model apartment" to show prospective tenants.

On this particular night, we decided to find out.

The neighboring balcony was close enough where you could hop from ours over to the neighbors without too much trouble. Jeff was setting up to jump across and check out the model apartment.

The only problem was, we lived on the third story and I didn't like the idea of him jumping across without ample safety. I thought, and looked around at what I could use, then I spotted it...a lasso happened to be sitting in the corner. YES! I quickly lassoed Jeff and wound the rope into an elaborate makeshift anchor-pulley system that may or may not have made any sense.

So there we were, Jeff on the ledge ready to take off, and me, tangled in a mess of rope as the "safety" man. We are brilliant! Suddenly, Jeff's bedroom door opens, and out comes his half asleep ex-girlfriend giving us "the look."

"What the HELL are you guys doing!?!"


If you look up the phrase "Deer in Headlights" in the dictionary, you'll likely see a picture of Jeff and I.

Suffice to say, she didn't let us pull off our little caper. This turned out to be extremely fortunate, because the next day, we bumped into our new neighbor who had lived there all along!

Huh...turns out it wasn't just a "model apartment" afterall.

Close call. I can't imagine what her shock would've been awaking to a Jeff-wrapped-up-in-lasso, on her balcony!

Once again, Arun and friends engage in debauchery but avert disaster!!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Waste of Being Angry

Anger, for the most part, is a totally wasteful emotion. It resolves nearly nothing, yet causes a huge amount of strife.

Pretty bold statement eh?

Over the years, I've cultivated within myself a habit of pretty much NEVER being angry. Do I get frustrated? You bet. Pissed off? Read any one of my rants and you'll know this is true. But, I honestly can't remember the last time I was truly angry.

Now I will admit, "never being angry" is a bit of an oversimplification. I feel anger when I read stories of innocent children being brutalized or other similar atrocities, but feeling anger is different than BEING angry.

People get angry way too often.

Anger is a totally unproductive emotion. In fact, it's counterproductive. When we get angry, we lose focus, become irritable, our temper flares, and normally minor annoyances can set us off. How can anyone be even close to 100% productive in such a volatile state?

When I use to play tennis competitively, I would frequently encounter players with totally volatile tempers. I knew all I had to do was win the first set, then their anger and frustration would be enough to completely derail them and give me the match. These same players were equally fragile in doubles.

Doubles partners who yelled at each other, or even expressed minor frustrations towards one another, were rarely successful. How you play well when you're worried about getting yelled at by YOUR teammate? This formula equals one angry player, one scared/unconfident player, and a very happy doubles team on the other side of the net.

One of the reasons I think I was so successful in my doubles career was not so much that I was a great tennis player, but more because my team always had great chemistry. I have never expressed frustration at a partner for not playing well. Obviously they're not doing it on purpose, and me getting angry will only make them play worse!

I've always gone the route of positive reinforcement. In fact, I recently read about an experiment that studied the effects of free throw shooting in basketball. In one trial, the free throw shooter was given extensive negative reinforcement and criticism while shooting. In the other, he was applauded and pumped up, even when he missed. The results (predictably) showed that positive reinforcement produced better results.

But it's not only bad results that come from anger, but terrible feelings as well. Getting angry makes EVERYONE feel bad. Obviously, it makes the person it's directed at feel terrible, but it also puts the person being angry in a useless state.

I'll take two examples from this weekend.

On Friday, a bunch of us went to dinner for a friend’s birthday. The restaurant doesn't take reservations, but over the phone they mentioned it would take around 40 minutes to seat a party of our size. No big deal.

I can't say I wasn't frustrated that we ended up waiting almost TWO HOURS! That's totally unacceptable. Sure it was tempting to get mad, but that would have solved NOTHING. Is yelling at the hostess going to free up a table faster? Nope. Am I going to feel better? Nope. Would she feel terrible being yelled at? Yep. Will she be more inclined to help me? Definitely not.

When I used to work as a supervisor at Tennis Warehouse, customer service reps, as well as myself, were much less willing to be flexible when the customer was getting angry. On the other hand, I really bent over backwards for customers who patiently expressed their disappointment and resisted the temptation to lash out.

In fact, the biggest way of getting free stuff from companies who have screwed up is NOT GETTING ANGRY. I wrote all about how to complain and get what you want in this article

So anyways, instead of getting angry, I (as well as my friend Aaron) made sure they understood how long we've been waiting and how hungry we were, thus eliciting sympathy rather than hostility. When we were finally seated, it was easy to have a great time since none of us had gotten angry!

Example two: On Saturday, I was playing a competitive game of pickup basketball. At one point, I was sprinting down the court, and a pass was lobbed down to me. The defender, in an attempt to bat the ball away, was totally careless and instead of contacting the ball, got a nice fist full of my face. In effect, I was accidentally punched.

Let the good times roll.

The inside of my cheek was nicely cut, causing me to spit some blood, the outside throbbed from the punch, and his finger nail also have me a nice little cut near my nose. Most guys on the court would have been PISSED, especially if they had a face as awe-inspiring as mine (Common, you knew I had to squeeze SOME vanity in this post :). But, the guy apologized, and it was an accident, so I let it go. No need to be upset. Accidents happen....even painful ones.

This morning, I encountered some unexpected traffic. Sure it's frustrating, but I changed my frame from "frustration," to "well, at least I have some time to relax, listen to music, and just think, without having to worry about getting anywhere since this is beyond my control."

I think having this type of attitude towards minimizing/eliminating anger has made me totally happy. I never get in fights with anyone and I'm always in a good mood. My long-time friend Darren was just remarking the other day, that I'm the one person he's never seen angry. Even though it was unintentional, that was a great complement!

So overall, being angry gets nothing good accomplished, makes you feel bad, makes others feel bad, and is a complete waste of physical and mental energy! So why bother?

But beware...just because I don't get angry, doesn't mean I can't kick a little ass when needed!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Accidental Model

The more I think about it, the more I realize the amazing similarities between me and Michael Jordan. We're both fiercely competitive, like to play sports, and have done a little modeling. (ok, ok...I know this is a bit of a stretch so far, but stay with me on this one).

Michael was on top of the world of basketball when he decided to retire (for the second time). He had just one his second three-peat for a total of six NBA championships, was the Most Valuable Player in the league, and was the lone man standing at the pinnacle of his trade.

Last summer, I had just completed a background modeling gig for the premier restaurant coupon magazine in San Diego (if you can call a coupon magazine "premier"), and then topped that off by soundly defeating the cover model of the coupon shoot, "Count" Jeff Manchester, in The Great San Diego Walkoff. I was on top of the world of modeling and, like Jordan, was going to go out on top! Since then, I had unofficially retired from modeling.

Or so I thought!

This last weekend, I discovered that my modeling career is apparently alive and kicking...all without my knowledge!

So last Christmas, I attended my friends Christmas party as her date, along with two other friends. There was a professional photographing company there snapping pictures, so the four of us took the opportunity to have our picture taken. No big deal, right?

Apparently, we ARE a big deal!

So this weekend, I'm chatting with my friend Brooke (who was in the picture).

Brooke: "Hey, remember that great picture the four of us took at the Christmas party last year?"
Me: "Uh...oh yea...what about it?"
Brooke: "Well my friend was going to contract that same company to do some photo's, and when they gave him their portfolio, WE WERE ON THE COVER!"
Me: "What!?!?"
Brooke: "Apparently, they liked us so much, they decided to put our picture on the cover of their advertising portfolio!"

If I could remember the name of the company, I'd tell you all to go take pictures with them and make them insanely rich...maybe then they'd have an inkling to give their cover models a little something :)

Mark this one down as my second free modeling gig...Oh but I'm not finished! Apparently I'm in a little commercial advertisement as well!

So last weekend, I bumped into a guy I used to work with. After some initial chat, he all of a sudden got this wide eyed look, like he just had an epiphany!

Me: "What?! What is that look for?"
James: "Dude, Arun! Did you do some kind of advertisement for the UTC Mall?"
Me: "Ummm...I don't know what you're talking about."
James: "We have these TV's in my office building near the mall, and they keep playing this commercial for the UTC mall remodel, and I swear you're in the commercial!"
Me: "Are you sure?"
James: "YES! There's only like three people in the commercial!"

Then it all came flooding back. Last summer, coincidentally on the same day we got the free smoothies for being "models", there was this big exhibit with diagrams and illustrations of the "New UTC." There was also a camera.

As Jeff and I are touring, the rep asks me if I can answer a few questions on this monitor in front of the camera. At first, I'm hesitant as I am "retired" and trying to stay out of the public eye :) But then, she presented me with an offer no model, retired or not, could resist...

A really cool FREE T-Shirt! Score!

So I answered a few questions on camera but really had no idea what the whole thing was all about. I couldn't find the commercials online, but the individual recording spots are online, sorted by rating, at this website. The only video worth watching is the one that says "Tell us about your household," in which I inform everyone of our awesome modeling status! :)

Apparently they picked their favorites, and made a commercial. So here I am yet again, ANOTHER pro-bono appearance (although I suppose I did get the T-shirt).

So just as Jordan did with the Washington Wizards in returning to basketball, I have returned to the world of modeling. Unlike Jordan however, I trust that I am not too old for my trade.

For all of you modeling agencies out there, I need to warn you. In light of recent events my price has gone up. For my talents, I now require at least TWO free t-shirts! (or similar value).

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Two Exercises No One Likes But Everyone Should Do

I hate overly verbose titles, but I nothing clever came to mind (surprising, I know) so I went with the "overly long and descriptive title" angle.

For those of you who are curious, here are the exercises no man should ever do. And for those of you who have no interest in gym advice (shame on you!), and just want a story, scroll down towards the end.

As an avid gym-goer, I see and talk to tons of people who work out regularly and are very routine about going to the gym. Most people seem to think they're an expert, yet only a few know what they're actually doing.

This music video has nothing to do with this article, but it takes place in a gym, and I think it's funny.

I wouldn't call myself an "expert," but I definitely know what I'm doing. I've read tons of literature, gotten tips from Powerlifters, Bodybuilders, and personal trainers, and most importantly, have a lot of experience! One might think that I would have the body of a Greek God after that testament. I however, am a firm believer that my abdominals need a thin layer of blubbery shielding to protect them from potential harm :)

So what are these TWO exercises that everyone must do?

1. Squats. Ok, so for people who are gym regulars, this is no surprise. Squats are the single best exercise for you! First of all, they work virtually EVERY lower body muscle. Plus, your entire core and your upper back! The resulting fatigue is waaaay more than you feel doing ANY other strength training exercise. After doing one set, I'm generally sucking air like I just ran a sprint. In fact, doing squats (and training legs in general) makes your whole body grow!

How? Well, since squats involve so many huge muscle groups, your body releases increased amounts of testosterone as a result of the stimuli. This means more (or in the case of women, more toned) muscle!

Almost EVERYONE has an excuse for not doing squats. "It's bad for my back," "the bar hurts," "I don't need big legs" blah blah blah! The real reason people avoid them is that they are difficult to do and make you really tired! This is EXACTLY why they're so good for you!

As a disclaimer, proper squat form is essential. I'd say fifty percent of people do them incorrectly and risk injury. Dig around youtube and you can probably find a couple of good examples.

2. Deadlift. Again, I've been going to my current gym for almost two years and I can count on one hand the number of people I see do deadlifts. They're extremely tiring, but extremely good for you for the same reason as squats. Your back, arms, and legs all get trained while doing this movement.

Again, form is essential here. With both exercises, you can risk serious injury if not performed with PERFECT form (again, search youtube for some video). Sometimes, I'll catch myself getting too eager to do more weight and sacrificing my form, so I scale back and really focus on doing it right! Don't be one of those douchebags who loads up an obscene amount of weight on the squat bar and then "squats" down a whole two inches! As the old gym saying goes, "leave your ego at the door."

If you do these two exercises, along with the bench press (pretty much everyone's FAVORITE exercise) you'll hit every major muscle. Isn't interesting that the two most important exercises are the two least performed?

Ok, so I know you all want a story or a rant, so here it is:

Last week I was at the gym training legs. I had just finished doing Squats! Now I was doing leg presses. Generally, I train with a high amount of repetitions for leg press since A) I usually lift heavy doing squats and like to change it up and B) I don't eat enough to gain muscle size, thus doing too much heavy lifting would be over-training. Keeping that in mind, I still bust my ass on the leg press and do each set until I can't do another rep.

I go to the gym around the same time everyday so I see the same regulars, and either smile or say 'hi' when I see them. For the most part, I like them all.

For the most part.

On this particular day, this lady, who happens to be a regular, decided to chime in on my workout. This chick is in good shape, late 30's, and has caked on makeup. She's one of the regulars I smile at, but never really engage in conversation. (In general, I don't like to get into extended conversations at the gym since it interrupts my workout. Yes, believe it or not, I can shut-up on occasion :)

So here I am, busting my booty on the leg press, when she comes over:

Stupid Chick: "Hey, you know, I used to do ten plates on this machine! TEN PLATES!"
Me (looking at the machine on which I have six plates): "Wow, that's good."
Stupid Chick: "Yea, I mean, I had to come over because you're doing ALMOST as much as I did!"
Me: "Ah, you're making me feel bad!"
Stupid Chick: "Haha! No, you're doing well...just keep training and you'll be there."

Ok...seriously...she has the nerve to come and tell me that I'm doing well because I'm doing half as much as she did? This annoys me for several reasons.

1. There is no point in going up to someone you don't know, and announcing you can do something better than them.

2. What kind of motivation is it, hearing some chick can do TWICE as much weight? Motivation obviously wasn't her intention.

3. I CAN do ten plates very easily...but not for 30 reps as I was doing that day. I didn't want to say it to her because honestly, I don't care to advertise my strength, nor am I in a competition with her.

4. A couple of months ago, this same chick felt it necessary to critique my squat form...WHO IS SHE??? Unsolicited advice from someone who knows less about something is super annoying. I'm not one to call people out on this stuff, so I graciously accepted her advice...and disregarded it.

Basically, in case you couldn't tell, I find this person a walking annoyance. Part of me wants to teach her to be less annoying, but that in itself would be an annoying task. With all this in mind, here's a video of some chick deadlifting 200 more pounds than I can! Yikes!

Now I'm worried that, since I was so accepting of her terrible advice, and conversational during her brag session, she's going to continue to bother me.

Oh well. I guess I should get used to random people wanting to talk to be....the price you pay for being famous :)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Boxing Battle of Badness

I've often thought it would be awesomely badass to be good a martial arts. In fact, I was once a master student of the ancient Japanese art of Shudokan (and by "master student," I mean I was enrolled for six weeks when I was nine, and made it to the uber respected ranking of white belt).

Despite such mastery of martial arts, the video below is not one I would study for technique. This was about three years ago during a college visit to San Diego. Neither Aaron nor I have any idea what we're doing, but as is evident, my cat like reflexes and big-time punches propelled me to a knockout victory!

And speaking of combat, during my last year of college, I happened to have a lot of free time, so I enrolled in a "combatives" class. The curriculum included moves from Olympic wrestling, Judo, Karate and Jiujitsu. The class was particularly interesting because there were like five guys and twenty-five girls. The first day of class, the instructor said, "You'd better get comfortable with touching people and sweating on each other...and don't get used to only matching up with your gender!" Lets just say that rolling around on the wrestling mats with sweaty girls was a...unique...experience :)

Part of the class involved everyone learning a technique or move, and teaching the class. I happened to choose some basic Jiujitsu ground positions known as the "mount" and the "guard". So when my day came, I expertly taught the class how and when to perform these maneuvers.

Somehow though, the instructor got it in his mind that I was a "student of Jiujitsu" and a "submissions expert" (his words exactly). I remember the first day we were going over various choke holds, he was demoing and turned to me in front of the class and said, "Arun, how's my form? Do you hold your elbow up this high when you do the hold?"

Me thinking: "How the hell should I know? I learned like three punches and kicks when I was NINE!"

Me talking: "Yea your form looks okay. Maybe pull your arm down a bit (luckily I've watched some UFC... I have a tendency to "stir the pot" :)

Then he had me walk around, and help out the class. When I got home, I realized that we were going to be doing a lot of Jiujitsu holds coming up, so I went online and studied the techniques just so I wouldn't disappoint my newfound, yet undeserved praise! For the rest of the quarter, he continued to seek my assistance, and I just didn't have the heart to tell him his faith in me is unfounded. Now, in my defense, I did spend ample time researching these moves at home because I didn't want my "expert teaching" to be inaccurate. This way, I wasn't a complete fraud.

On the last day of class, during the instructor's parting words, he dished out some Thank you's.

"Where's Arun, my submission holds expert? Let's give him a round of applause!"
Me: "Actually, you know, I don't really know much."

He pretended not to hear, wrapped up his oration, and dismissed the class. As I was leaving he called to me, "Arun, hold on!"

Uh oh.

"You were my submissions guy, weren't you?"
Me: "Well...yeah I guess"
Him: "Well don't be sooo modest and let me publically give you the praise you desserve! You were awesome!"

Me thinking: Well...I suppose I AM pretty awesome.
Me talking: "Thanks!"

So despite the awesomely bad display boxing in the video above, EVILDOERS BEWARE! I am a "Jiujitsu submission holds" EXPERT!!!

Hey, maybe now that I have "Jiujitsu submission holds instructor" on my resume, I'll open a Dojo!