Arun is Bringing You...Your Daily Remedy

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Linguistics, Language, and Learning

I love alliteration.

In high school I spent four years learning French exclusively through school and University classes. Homework, quizzes, tests...unfortunately, these were all a waste of time!

Fast forward to about a year ago, and on my own time I decided to relearn some French. I did so with Pilmsleur audio tapes as well as watching these movies of daily activities on the BBC website. I learned and retained FAR more useful French than I did during the four years of classes!

Sure I had a leg up since I knew the basic vocabulary and grammar, but the way I exposed myself to the language made a big difference.

They have it all wrong in schools. Classes place ENTIRELY too much emphasis on writing. The first and foremost thing teachers should focus on is SPEAKING! Learning by ear (just as babies learn) is infinitely more useful. This can easily transfer into reading proficiency since Latin based languages use the same alphabet, and we already know how to read (at least I hope so, otherwise the only reason you could be on my site is to look at that handsome devil in the corner with a pink t-shirt :).

Let's paint a little picture shall we? Let's say I go for a nice little trip to France. Well, the most important thing for me is to be able to speak and understand the language on SOME level to get around, right? Secondly I need to be able to read signs.

Somehow, I don't think I'm going to be writing a whole lot of letters or dissertations in French. Secondly, I'd like to be able to say a simple word like "bathroom" before I learn how to conjugate the six different tenses of the verb "to go."

Of all the friends I have, I really couldn't tell you (nor do I care) who sucks at spelling. Yet, in my French 1 class, I distinctly remember getting docked points for misspelling "chocolat" on a test (I put an 'e' on the end like the English spelling). Seriously, spelling is important for mastery of a language, but should not be a concern in the first few years of learning. Hell, our own former Vice President publically (and obviousloy INcorrectly) attempted to correct a third grader's spelling of "tomato" by spelling it "T.O.M.A.T.O.E" I rest my case.

Had I spent those four years focused purely on holding conversation, and being able to read, I'd be nearly fluent (or at least appear to be, conversationally)! Instead, I can only "get by," but at least I can spell the word "disco club" in French with all the right accent marks in the right places!!!

The school system is so determined to see "tangible and testable" results that they insist on these godawful written tests.

On a related note, I think I found an accurate measure of my French proficiency. The other day I was at the hot tub, and these two guys were conversing in French...I obviously could hardly understand what they were saying. Then, one of the guys young daughter comes over to chat...I understood her French completely!!! In fact, I had a nice little conversation with her (though she was still a little better than me)! So I figure, I'm about the equivalent of a 4 or 5 year old in French proficiency.

She might speak better than me, but I bet she can't conjugate AND spell the six different tenses of the verb, "to go!" :)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Running Man

When I went from Chubby to Studdly, I started getting into running. At first I couldn't even run ONE mile straight. Within a few months, I worked my way up to about six miles per day!

Thereafter, I ran semi-regularly in college, but that started to dwindle as I played sports more regularly and didn't like the constant pounding running put on my joints. These days, running for me is sporadic at best. I do a lot of cardiovascular exercise at the gym because the machines are joint-friendly which is nice since the sports I play are pretty high impact and taxing on the joints.

Geez, rereading what I just wrote makes me sound like a 70 year old man! Well, hopefully with all this exercise I do, 70 year old Arun will still look as dashing as 24 year old Arun :)

Anyways, the point is, I don't really do distance running much anymore...well...almost anymore.

So last Sunday, the day after the Crazy Barbecue, I woke up early feeling energized! I did some writing for another website while the stragglers who stayed over from the barbecue cracked open some beers to start off the day (Ridiculous...I know...after complaining about being hungover, they all cracked open beers at like 9 in the morning, then went to Carl's Junior for breakfast...that is the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of living life awesome! YIKES!)

The previous night, I had left the barbecue early to go to my friend Stacy's condo-warming party at his new pad in the thick of Downtown San Diego. In the midst of having fun, he was telling me about the marathon training he's doing, and how he ran like 20 miles that morning. This got me thinking...

So Sunday morning rolls around and, after the copious amounts of eating I did the previous day, and my feeling energized, I decided to go for a run! It was beautiful outside and the sun was shining. I laced up my shoes, strapped on my watch, fired up the Ipod, and took off!

Me, being the brilliant planner that I am, failed to notice that it was peak time for the sun and was a somewhat blazing 88 degrees outside...great weather for hanging out, but pretty uncomfortable for long distance running. Demonstrating my further brilliance, I failed to calculate the need for water while running in the heat.

Not my brightest moment, I know.

Anyways, about ten minutes into my run, I was feeling pretty good, so I made a decision: "I'm going to set a personal record! If Stacy can run 20 miles, I can at least do half of it!"

So I decided to run to the UC Campus. Once I arrived, I pretty much decided to get lost on the huge campus on purpose. I don't know my way around campus, so I just picked random roads and kept running. Well about 45 minutes into the run, I was feeling particularly parched. And by "parched" I mean my mouth was so dry my tongue was stuck to my cheek. Conveniently it was Sunday, so all of the buildings with drinking fountains were closed.


I spent the next 15 minutes running around campus looking for a drinking fountain. Finally I came upon an alley near campus services which had an outdoor drinking fountain that looked shoddy at best. I didn't care. If any driblets of water AT ALL came out of that thing, I was going to wrap my mouth around the spout and suck the life out of that thing! I needed water.

I hit the button, and my dreams became reality...a nice, solid stream of water shooting up like a fountain of life! AND, it was cold! This may have been the best water I've had in my life.

Eventually, after being sufficiently lost somewhere on campus, I decided I was I have to head back. By the time I found my way out of campus, I was pretty much gased and had almost no energy left. This was not ideal considering I was about 4 miles from home.

Did I mention I'm a great planner?

Being a person who likes to challenge himself, I refused to walk and decided to run through the pain! Yea! It just so happened with about 3 miles to go, my Ipod decided to stop working, so now I had nothing to distract me from my screaming calves and aching legs. It was 1 o'clock by this point and the sun was really blistering.

I pushed through, made it home and collapsed. I had literally NO energy whatsoever. It took about an hour to build up the energy to find something to eat! The longest I had ever run was probably about an hour - like 7 or 8 miles. On this day, under the heat of a blazing sun at the peak of the afternoon, I ran for 2 hours and 13 minutes. 13 miles! Close to, if not, a half marathon...for someone who doesn't really run.

I've been sore for days (big surprise).

So what am I doing now? Certainly not running this week! But, I am planning a LONGER run this Sunday. As painful as it was running back home, the feeling afterward of accomplishing something I had never done before was AWESOME! Plus, most of the run was pretty enjoyable.

Step up to the plate, do something you've never done before, and challenge yourself!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Big Time Barbecue Antics

Well, I've already chronicled the misfortune of the Worst Barbecue Ever. Today I thought it was time to tell you about "The Barbecue of Awesomeness!"...mostly because it just happened this weekend.

The weather was perfect: mid 80's and sunny with an ever-so-slight easterly breeze. Danny and I, being barbecue afficianados, decided not to mess around with silly things like hamburgers or hotdogs. No! Those are for mere amateurs and a truly awesome barbecue needs truly awesome food! Danny had marinated a huge bowl of bratweurst sausage for days, and I had picked up a nice big, juicy steak of tri-tip. On top of that, we had copious amounts of beer AND all the fixens for my personal favorite drink, mojitos. We even had authentic (and yes, illegal) cuban rum!

We don't mess around.

So we all mobbed downstairs, poolside, and took over the existing complex party that was going on, with our own party! All was going well. People were eating, drinking, eating, sunbathing, swimming, and oh, eating some more. Danny and I were reverred as heroes for hosting such an awesome barbecue. I was eccstatic. Later, Darren, Craig, Bruno and I all decided to go to the hot tub on the other side of the pool. From here we could also watch the barbecue-party action from afar.

It just so happened that at this time, people were getting a little "throw happy." What do I mean by "throw happy?" Well, I look over and see Derek sitting in a lawn chair that's being held up in the air by Danny and another guy. Fast forward two seconds and Derek, still seated in his chair, is airborn, flying into the pool, fully clothed, chair and all!

Hmmm. This looked like fun.

Conveniently, we were well across the pool, so no one could see the four of us planning our sneak attack. We targeted four girls, standing by the barbecue. We didn't know ANY of them which made this a risk...but I like risks. We each picked a target, and casually moseyed back over to the party area. I took position behind a girl wearing a yellow sundress.

Bruno: "THREE...TWO...ONE!"

They had no idea why he was counting backwards out loud.

Bruno: "Go! Go! Go!"

With that I yanked the beer Yellow Sundress Girl was holding in her hands (obviously I wouldn't risk the safety of an unfinished beer!), and picked her up.

Yellow Sundress Girl (Shrieking): "What's going on!!! ahhhhh! eeeeekk! Oh my God! Oh my God!"

Me: "Time for a swim!"

I cannonballed into the pool with her over my shoulder! Luckily, she was an awesome sport about it and thanked me! "Oh my god I soooo, needed that!" Just as I came up for air, I see Darren with his girl, teetering on the edge of the pool. The bastard was taunting her...I love it!

Darren: "Should I do it? Hmmm...ok maybe not..."

Then he proceeded to do a backwards swan dive of sorts...with her in tow. Owned. I left to go to a friends house soon thereafter, but apparently everyone who showed up to the barbecue was at some point thrown into the pool.

Food, beer, people, and massive amounts of antics...just the way a barbecue should be! In fact, the reprucussions were minimal: Two injuries (minor), one police threat (frivilous), one security visit (who was later bribed I heard), one broken engagement (have since reconciled), and a very happy group of people :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Being a Leader

I constantly think about self-improvement. I make this a habit because I don't ever want to feel complacent and get stuck in the day-to-day rut that a lot of people unconciously end up in.

A while ago, I started thinking about leadership. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that becoming an inherent leader is 100% necessary in moving towards lifetime awesomeness.

Let's think about this for a second (difficult, I know), shall we? Whom do we look up to? We look up to parents, teachers, presidents, and people with certain social and monetary power. But what do all of these people have in common?

I know this is a surprise...LEADERSHIP! :)

People love great leaders. Notice the key word "great." The mark of a great leader is one whose followers love him/her. Now I use the terms "leader" and "follower" very loosely. They could be anything from an army general and his battalion, to a coach and his players, to a friend who takes his friends to a party.

Some people are natural born leaders. They feel compelled to lead no matter the situation. This however can be a detriment when A) they are not an expert in the field in which they are trying to lead, and B) there is another "born leader" in the mix which innevitably results in conflict.

I am certainly not a natural born leader, nor am I a natural born follower. In retrospect, I'm really happy that I wasn't a natural leader because it has allowed me to grow into, I believe a BETTER leader, ie. I know when to defer leadership when my knowledge of an area is insufficient and have no problem handing the reigns off to someone better, nor do I have issues dealing with authority when I know they have superior knowledge in the area.

The old Arun never made a concerted effort to assume leadership in anything. Sometimes, it just sort of happened on it's own if I happened to know someone or something better than everyone else. As a high school kid, I was always interested in getting good grades, so in group projects, I was generally somewhat proactive in having others get their work done. I was pretty good at tennis and was the team captain my senior year. I was also a tennis instructor which was certainly a leadership role.

The thing is, I didn't really make a concerted effort at becoming any of these, and they just sort of fell into place. I was oblivious and letting come what may.

I remember taking these personality-test questionaires in school, and there was always a question that asked, "In a group setting, what is your ideal role?" I always answered, "The thinker/idea maker." Being the creative mind had an appeal to me.

Now, without question, I would choose the leader. He is the creative mind of creative minds! He chooses the best direction and steers the ship, takes responsibility for anything bad that happens, and diverts any praise to his team members.

Now, I make a concerted effort to ALWAYS be a leader whenever possible. Obviously I wouldn't try and coach the bowling team since I suck at bowling, but I definitely put forth a "take the reigns and delegate" sort of attitude in group situations.

What difference has it made? My life is much happier and in MY control! The only way to move forward, is to commit to taking the bull by the horns and taking it where you want to go! That attitude has cascaded down to other areas and inspired me to be proactive in adding to my life.

You just can't wait for things to happen! You can't just sit in a car and hope it starts moving. You need to take the wheel and drive that sucker to Disneyland!

There IS a fine line between being a leader, and just plain being bossy. I definitely try not to say things like, "hey guys, I'm going to lead and take charge." That's terrible. What I DO do is demonstrate leadership by helping get organized and and be proactive in discussing responsibilities.

For example, I play lunchtime basketball at work. Among the players, I'm probably the LEAST tenured guy on the court, and certainly the youngest. But, once we have ten players on the court, instead of just shooting around until someone decides to make teams, I step up and assign fair teams to each person and get the game going! Now, whenever we go out, people always say, "Hey Arun, we need you to make teams man!"

It's so easy to never assume responsibility for anything, and just go with the flow. That's what most people do. However, most SUCCESSFUL people are, or become leaders. To be the best, one needs to think like the best.

Trying to be, and becoming an inherent leader symbolically has meant a lot. It's made me feel like I have total control of where my life is going, and given me the confidence to know that I can change it at any time.

If you PRACTICE being a leader, then the quality will slowly become inherent. I practice everyday!

It's time to step up, and take charge!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Awesome Austin Adventures

Howdy Partners!!!

Yup, I attempted to use my "southern drawl" for approximately 57% of time on my recent little jaunt over to Austin, Texas to visit my ol' buddy Jeff. Fun accent to play with? Yes. Believable? Weyal I reckon dem' naytive Teyxans probly heeyer through ma suthern twang.

How many Indian Cowboys have you seen in your life?

In preparation for my trip, I even bought a cowboy hat and wore it around San Diego for the two weeks prior! In fact, the hat's so spiffy, that I might just have to make it a regular part of my wardrobe!

An Indian San THAT'S something you don't see everyday.

The actual Austin trip seems like a blur now of furious activity, fun....and copious eating (and by "copious," I mean stuffing myself to the gills...then having dessert). The very first night we arrived, Jeff took us to famous Rudy's Barbecue - "The worst BBQ in Texas" the sign outside says. Suffice to say, I was hungry after getting off the plane and went to town on the Brisket and barbecue sauce.

As good as that was though, we went to this place out in the middle of nowhere, in a town called Driftwood, that was insanely awesome. Picture this: you're driving down some country road, when in the distance you see smoke bellowing up off to the side. Is it a FIRE???!!! Nope...just the meat smoker hard at work.

You arrive and park in the back of a massively crowded gravel parking lot. Everyone you see is dragging coolers behind them? WHAT!?! Bringing coolers to a restaurant? What kind of place IS this!?

"Tarzaning" at UT

It's the "Salt Lick 360." And it advises it's customers to "bring y'alls own beer!" Amazing....only in Texas.

There's a country band rocking outside, and all of the tables are long picnic style with the classic red and white checkered tablecloth. After devouring the "meat plate" that we each ordered, it was time for dessert. How good could dessert be at a barbecue place?


The Pecan pie was seriously one of the...if not THE best piece of pie I've ever had. I'm getting goosebumps right now just thinking about it! need to bring me a pie when you come to SD! I mean it.

So what else did we do? We frequented the crazy nightlife spots that are 4th and 6th streets in Austin - the live music capital of the world (another story for another time :), checked out Count Jeff Manchester's future residence (which currently serves as the Capital Building), checked out my future residence on Lake Austin (see attached pic of us "house hunting), met a southern bell named Laura Hogg who chased me all over Austin(and happens to be Count Jeffrey's Girlfriend :), got yelled at by the Life Guard at Barton Springs (actually only Jeff got yelled at) for our "Rapid Fire" diving board antics, and saw Iron Man at the nicest movie theater I've ever been to which has a bar and allows you to drink Coronas while enjoying the movie!

Oh and did I mention we went to San Antonio too? The Riverwalk is amazing...I think I may need to open a branch of "Arun Ice Creams" there :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Hillcrest, Gay People, and Arun

There's an area of town in San Diego called Hillcrest. I suppose you could compare it to New York's Chelsea in that the city's gay population seems to congregate in this area.

It's no surprise then that the restaurants in Hillcrest are AMAZING! One of the great qualities that gay people (is that PC? Oh well, it's my blog and I don't care!) have is that they are all about quality. Gay guys dress better than anyone, have the latest and greatest hair styles, have nicely decorated houses,....and only eat at great restaurants.

In fact, I'm thinking about finding a kick-ass gay hairstylist. I once heard that female hairstylists make you look good-looking yet safe, but gay guys will make you look HOT! (Me? BETTER looking? This could be dangerous :)

One time in college, my roommate and I offered to help our neighbors (a gay couple) move a heavy-ass desk into their condo. The decor was amazing! The condo was mostly the same design as ours, but their set-up made ours look like a homeless shelter!

So we bring the gargantuan desk to the first floor. "Nope"

Haul it up the stairs to the second. "Not Yet!"

Muscle it up, exhausted, to the loft. Apparently this condo has an EXTRA floor which is like a loft within a loft that serves as their "office." Wonderful.

We finally get it up to the small office and I collapse on the desk to rest. As I open my eyes, I'm jolted up by a terror before me! A calendar....a picture on the calendar...lots of men...lots of men and penises!

Not exactly my type of calendar. I have gay friends, but I'm not gay...although about a year ago, one gay guy particularly irked me.

My old buddy Jeff and I decided to stop by a Thai restaurant in Hillcrest about a year ago to grab some dinner. We found a great parking spot, and all was good! But as we're walking to the restaurant, some guy passing us whistles at Jeff! Now at first this didn't bother me, but after thinking about it, I started to get pissed!

How does this guy know we're not together!?!? I mean, for all he knows, we could be a couple, and he has the nerve to whistle at him in front of ME!?! I should've had a good mind to beat him up!

I've since let it go since I've head that gay guys can tell immediately whether you're gay or not. The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. OBVIOUSLY I exude such heterosexual masculinity that women around the world flock to me :) Apparently Jeff doesn't give off that same manly essence...

Fast forward to last week when my Mom was in town. We were at an awesome Vietnamese restaurant in Hillcrest. They were doing some HIV/AIDS fundraiser that night and one of the raffle prizes was a photographing and portrait session with this professional photographer. So as my Mom and I are eating dinner, we are interrupted by a gay employee named Ian and the photographer (Amy) who apparently was also at the restaurant.

Ian (speaking with a flaming gay accent): "Oh my GOD! I'm totally gonna embarrass you right now! Amy and I were just looking at you across the restaurant and.....yes.....yes....those eyes...that hair....those cheekbones...she just HAS to take your picture!!!"

Me: "Oh, well thanks."

Amy: "Blah blah blah, here's my card, PLEASE call me! I would love to take your pictures!"

As much of an egomaniac as I am, I was a little taken aback! I still need to call and schedule this next "modeling session" with Amy. Of course I have experience in photoshoots, runway, walkoff's, AND video :)

Ah yes. Those good ol' gays...they definitely add flare to society!