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!