Arun is Bringing You...Your Daily Remedy

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Habits: The Funny and The Annoying

I am a fan of observing daily life. When you look, really look around, its interesting to notice the funny habits we have that for some reason propagate among the general population. They're not confined to just one individual, but rather, it seems like most people have some of these peculiar behaviors. For those behaviors that came to mind today, I decided to classify them into two categories for you: yes you guessed it, "The Funny" and "The Annoying."

The Funny:

The Multiple Button Press - Why push a button once when you can push it fifty times for the same effect? Next time you're crossing a street on foot, take a gander at the person pressing the walk signal (or if you're footing solo, pay attention to yourself). Almost nobody EVER pushes the walk signal just once! Somehow, we feel that the more we push the button, the faster the traffic signal will decided to change for us to cross the street.

Even better is when you push the button, wait for a couple minutes, then go back and push it a few more times as if the traffic signal didn't hear us the first time.

The "Door Close" button in elevators is another popular target for "button wearout."

Topping Off - Do you stop filling when the automatic gas cut-off engages, or do you try to squeeze in as much gas as you can in the tank? Well, I'd guess AT LEAST 50% of us are routine "Topper Offers."

So lets look at those of us who top off. How many of us are actually driving until the tank is so bone-dry where that the extra 0.3 gallons of gas is going to save us from stalling out somewhere? In all the years I've driven, or been driving with someone, I have never once run out of gas. Conveniently, cars have a brilliant invention known as the "Gas Gauge" which actually senses how much gas is in the tank so you know when to fill up before running out!


But, for those of you whose gauge is off by exactly 0.3 gallons, I suppose it makes sense to top off.

Electronic Bangers - Somewhere along our natural progression of learning, we somehow deduced that banging things will make them operate better. "Maybe if I break it MORE it'll work again!" Ironically, this habit actually used to make sense despite how idiotic it seems.

I remember having an old TV growing up that would sometimes intermittently display everything in a shade of blue. But, if I gave it a couple of good Ninja Turtle Judo Chops to the side and maybe bent the left bunny ear a touch, the normal display colors would return!

So for those of us over, say, 20 years old, I suppose electronic banging is an ingrained habit that used to work but is hard to break. I have a feeling Judo Kicking the LCD TV in my living room won't result in anything more than my roommate yelling at me for harming his baby.

Moving Walkway Abusers - Ok, I can understand the purpose of escalators because for some people, climbing stairs is indeed a lot of effort. But moving walkways are totally abused!

Generally, you only find moving walkways in airports along long stretches of terminal. Functionally, they make sense for people who have short connections. Rather than having them run wildly through the airport toting a roley and lugging a backpack, the airport has kindly provided a means by which the hustlers can speed walk down towards their gate at super-human walking speeds!

It sounds good in theory, but the plethora of lazy airport commuters ruin the invention.

Why in the world do people feel the need to STAND on moving walkways!?! Are we so lazy that we can't even WALK? I understand if it's an elderly person or something, but it's absolutely ludicrous that people forgo the oh-so energy consuming task of walking.

Further adding to the annoyance is that the "standers" make it difficult for the walkway walkers to get anywhere fast because they have to bob and weave between the people standing on the walkway.

I make it a point NEVER to stand or even walk (unless I'm in a rush) on those things unless absolutely necessary.

Shopping Cart Ditchers: One day in the history of the world, God invented shopping cart bays so paying customers would not have to walk all the way back to the store to return their carts. But, underestimating our laziness, he neglected to make a bay in between EVERY SINGLE CAR.

How hard is it to walk a few steps and deposit your shopping cart into the common shopping cart deposit area? Instead, people put it in between spots or nestled up against the median, sticking out just far enough so that you have to navigate around it while pulling it, and gingerly open your door to avoid chipping the paint job on the nice new cart.

"Watch My Stuff" - This just happened to me yesterday. I was at the coffee shop studying, and this girl was kind of looking over. I think she liked me, but I was not attracted. Anyways, after a couple of minutes, she came over:

Her: "Hi, are you going to be here for a little while?"
Me: "Sure"
Her: "I'll be back, would you mind watching my stuff?"
Me: "Yea, no problem"

I really didn't understand why she wanted me to watch her stuff in the first place. All that was there was a couple of tattered MCAT study books, a water bottle, and a pencil. I would like to meet the thief that could actually find some use in stealing this stuff. Last I heard, there's not a huge demand for Medical School study books on the black market.

Anyways, I went about my studying, glancing over on occasion to make sure her table was undisturbed. An hour later, I'm about done, and this girl STILL isn't back! are you going to ask a stranger to watch your stuff for a "little while" and then take off for an hour!?! The "Watch my stuff" commitment expires after 10, maybe 15 minutes, but after that, the watcher's obligation is released. So now I was in a pickle. I am ready to go, but I have no idea when/IF she's coming back. Luckily, I was fairly confident that the "Med-School Menace" was not going to strike tonight, so I just took off.

Maybe she was stuck across the street because she only pushed the button once.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Becoming a Famous Tennis Player

Ok, I'll admit...the title may be a smidgen misleading, but it'll all make sense once I explain.

You know the ol' saying - "It's not what you know, but who you know."

A few weeks ago this was certainly the case when I decided watch some live tennis at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells California. Basically this tournament is one notch down from the Grand Slams in terms of importance, but all of the top players show up which was especially true this year since I showed up ;)

I've mentioned before that I like finagling my way into VIP experiences but I never expected the good fortune that my friends would bestow upon me.

In college, I worked for a company called Tennis Warehouse which happens to be the largest distributor of Tennis Products (among other things) in the world. They also happen to be a huge fixture at this tennis tournament.

So when I decided I wanted to go, I put in a phone call to my old buddy and former roommate who happens to run the gigantic tennis warehouse area at the tournament, to see if I could get tickets (the event was already sold out for the days we were planning on going).

Not only did he come through with Tickets, but he came through with FREE tickets. Honestly, is there any better four letter word than "free?" Actually, I suppose I can think of starts with an 'A' and ends with an "R-U-N" ;) (You knew it was coming, don't act surprised ;).

The Freebees were just beginning though. When we arrived, we received a FREE parking pass (normally runs $10 per day) to park in the VIP parking lot. This lot is awesome because rather than twiddling your thumbs and singing along to "She-Bop" on the radio behind a mile of cars in the normal lots, you get to effortlessly shimmy on in, park on a spacious field, and a guy in a golf cart picks you up and drops you off right at the entrance.

At the entrance there was the "normal person" line and the VIP line. The normal line was of course MUCH busier, but since we (my buddy Nick and I) were wearing our "Tennis Warehouse" credentials, we got to stroll right in without waiting.

I don't even think security had to check my credentials because the goofy I'm-not-used-to-being-a-super-VIP-and-I-can't-get-rid-of-my-"Haha you have to wait in line"-grin I couldn't get rid of gave it away.

When I received the tics, I was ecstatic to find out that Tennis Warehouse had box-seats about 12 rows up from stadium court! So for most of the day, Nick and I walked around, watched tennis, and hung out in our awesome seats.

But things got better.

Tennis Warehouse also happens to run all public autograph signings at the tournament as well as conducts interviews with a number of players. (As an aside, the interviews and such only began a couple of years ago, and one of the things that burns me up is knowing that, had I stayed at TW, I would have been the guy doing a lot of these interviews!)

So that afternoon I got to hang out with Caroline Wozniaki (Number 9 female tennis player in the world, and certainly not hard on the eyes) and briefly met the Bryan Brothers (Number 1 doubles team in the world). But the icing on the cake was getting to be Ana Ivanovic's (Former number 1, Grand Slam winner, and HOT) personal security during her autograph signing. My job was to keep the autograph getters moving, make sure everything around her was generally ok, and to chat her up (ok, fine, the part wasn't required, but I wanted her to feel EXTRA comfortable :)

She was SUPER nice and we got on great. In fact, Don, the PR President of Tennis Warehouse commented to me afterwards, "Arun, I think she likes you!"

My YEAR was made! I've begun wedding planning.

I don't know if Ana has a blog, but if she does, I'm sure she's also written a post about how smitten she was with this charming (not to mention devilishly handsome) Arun guy she met at the tournament :)

That evening though, we didn't get to use the box seats. Why would we not use the box seats? Because Fila invited us up to their personal SUITE on Stadium Court.

So there we are, hanging out in the Fila Suite, eating free food and drinking free booze, mingling with people who generally don't have goofy grins when walking through VIP lines.

Day 2 was even better. Tennis Magazine gave us tickets to there suite for the entire day, so again we watched in the lap of luxury. I also met Svetlana Kuznetsova, Sorana Chirstea, and got to hang out with and do security for James Blake.

James was also real nice.

"Great story Arun, but why the heck did you title this 'Becoming a Famous Tennis Player!"

Well, later in the day, Nick and I spotted an empty practice court. Now usually these are reserved for all of the pro's to practice on their days off or in between matches and crowds come by to watch them practice up close. Nick and I happen to hit well enough where people wouldn't be able to tell right away that we're a tier or three down from the pros.

So we grabbed a couple of rackets and jumped on the court! Low and behold, after 10 minutes we had a small group of people watching us hit, including a mini-entourage of high school girls holding those jumbo tennis balls, waiting to get autographs.

As tempted as I was, I didn't want to be a TOTAL fraud (I can handle being a partial fraud), so I just told them I wasn't doing autographs that day.

Although I suppose I should have signed something for them. Afterall, I DO have a moderately popular blog and am the future Mr. Ana Ivanovic ;)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Change Your Reality

For most people, being unhappy is a choice.

Ok, ok - before you start yelling at me, let me explain.

Of course no one enjoys being unhappy. So why would anybody choose to be miserable? Well, it’s not that they choose to be that way, it’s that they choose to wallow in a state of despair rather than change the reality of everything around them. It's easy to feel sorry for yourself.

Obviously there are severe instances, such as great tragedies or mental conditions that may affect one’s ability to make themselves happy, however most of us have the power to be happy 99 percent of the time.

I’m almost always in some state of general happiness. Sure I get pissed off and annoyed from time to time, but that’s only a fleeting emotion and doesn’t affect my general state of well being. I was never really sure how to describe the way that I make myself feel positive all the time until my friend Frederico started expounding on Quantum Physics lessons he’d recently been reading about.

He mentioned that one of the ways that he battled out of his Post-Raul-Disaster Depression, was by changing the reality of things around him – or more accurately, changing his perceived reality.

Now I really don’t know much about quantum physics, so my explanation of changing your reality is probably not the same as the “accepted definition” in quantum physics, but it works nonetheless.

If we simplify things a bit, everything around you is a figment of your perception. The leaves on the tree outside are green because you see them that way. If you were color blind and those leaves appeared blue, then for all intensive purposes, they would be blue because in your reality, that’s what they are.

Similarly, if you see an absolutely slammin hot chick walking towards you, and you elbow your buddy to take a look to which he replies, “Meh, she’s alright,” that doesn’t change the way she looks. Maybe she’s not his type, and in his reality, she’s not attractive. But in your world, this girl looks the same regardless of anybody else’s perception. Every guy in the world will have a slightly different perception of her.

So what does this have to do with happiness?

A lot of people let trivial problems get in the way of happiness. But, when you reframe the problem into a learning experience, a blessing, or a non-issue, it becomes exactly what it is: trivial.

Right now I’m sitting in the airport in Maui, waiting for my Mom to arrive. I had expected to get here after she did, so I saved my appetite thinking we’d be off to get a nice dinner as soon as I landed. Turns out, she’s not only getting here after me, but her flight is delayed. When all is said and done, I’ll end up being here probably three hours waiting. To boot, the airport isn’t exactly a bustle of activity. On the outside of security, the only food is at a Starbucks, there are no TV’s, so I’m missing March Madness College Basketball, and there’s nothing within walking distance. There’s not even the token airport bookstore.

I finished the book I brought on the plane so I have no reading material (brilliant planning Arun), and there is no wireless internet connection available. I have a reason to be a little bummed out don’t I?

Of course not!

A lot of people would let this compounding of annoyances affect their mood, but I’ve instead thought about how lucky I am. I GET to go to Hawaii. My posting has been sparse, and had I not had this break in the airport, there probably would have been no post this week. In fact, just writing this blog right now makes me feel overwhelming happiness for everything happening!

Let’s pretend I didn’t have my laptop though. Then what would I do?!? Welp, I’d probably listen to my ipod and walk laps around the parking lot for exercise.

Yesterday, it looked like my Mom wouldn’t be able to make it to Hawaii for a couple of days because there’s a volcano erupting in Alaska that’s canceling a lot of flights. She was so nervous that I’d be upset about having to figure out the rental car and condo situation that she had booked plus having to hang out by myself for a few days.

She was relieved and somewhat surprised when I was unreactive. Sure it wouldn’t have been ideal, but I would make the situation fun. There are far too many things to enjoy and be grateful for, for me to waste my time stressing out or being unhappy.

When you have a job that stresses you out, you can either waste time being unhappy, or you can take this as a building opportunity. A lot of us let our job take over our LIVES. You come home and spend the evening being unhappy about the day and stressed out about having to go back the next. This is your chance to learn what you really want to do. Maybe you can take this opportunity to learn a new skill, trade, or research a new investment.

Working 40 hours a week for the rest of my life, and having to “bank” up vacation just to travel is certainly not my ideal future. Something like this could tempt me to unhappiness. So now I’m taking every opportunity to do something about it. I’m creating other sources of income, and studying to delve into something else.

If I got laid off, I would take it as an opportunity to learn something new or travel with the new found time.

My reality is what I make it and my reaction to my environment is totally up to me.

Once you realize that 90% of your happiness is up to you, you’ll be happy 99% of the time!