Arun is Bringing You...Your Daily Remedy

Friday, June 26, 2009

One Man's Influence Over a Population, and a Person

You never really realize the significance of someone until they're gone. It seems like everyone, including myself, is realizing today what Michael Jackson meant to the world, and to themselves.

From a grand perspective, it's impossible to ignore Michael Jackson's contribution to pop culture. He's the biggest selling solo artist of all time, owns the number one selling album in history, embarked on the most profitable tour ever, and is responsible for the two best selling musical home videos to date.

Not too shabby.

Michael Jackson broke barriers down not only for people of color, but for a musical style that everyone embraced. MTV wouldn't play black artists before Michael Jackson and he ushered in a new era of music video mini-movies.

I think it's safe to say that MJ is a musical and performance icon.

But what's often overlooked is the NON-music side of MJ; the sensitive, caring, and incredibly giving person that he was. Most people aren't aware that Michael Jackson made EXTENSIVE charitable contributions to charities world-wide. He co-wrote "We Are The World" with Lionel Richie which raised tens of millions of dollars to combat the hunger problem in Africa. He funded an entire hospital operation for burn victims with the settlement he received from Pepsi after his own experience with burning. (Please check out the video below).

He profoundly affected millions of people around the world....including me.

Michael Jackson was my first idol. He is THE reason I learned how to dance. My best moves are all modeled after MJ. As a musician, he's shaped precisely who I am when I perform. Seeing that I spend most of my youth belting out Michael Jackson tunes, I guess this is no surprise ;)

I love Michael Jackson, and I've never made this a secret. MJ has been unfairly brutalized my the media more than any celebrity in history. Is he eccentric? Certainly. But isn't that his prerogative? Look at where he came from:

He worked harder than most people do in their entire lives, at the age of four. Rest wasn't an option, and mistakes were punished with the force of a switch, belt, electrical cord, or any other convenient device. Most of us have family to fall back on when we are teased. His father and brothers teased him mercilessly about his "huge" nose and his acne.

Most of us battle incredible insecurity when a pimple pops up prominently on our face, but when you can't count on the closest people you know to comfort you, where do you go? To add to that, he had a skin condition called Vitiligo which completely destroys the pigmentation of the skin and mostly affects black people.

I can't imagine the feeling of identity loss and the psychological toll that would accompany such an involuntary transformation.

Most people don't know these things, and/or refuse to believe them because he was frequently portrayed as a freak by the media in order to boost ratings. As a kid, I learned a great deal about independence and confidence when I stepped up to defend the guy I idolized.

It's not easy defending someone who everyone makes fun of when you're in middle / high school. But I never once relented. I was frequently alone against the masses, but when it came to Michael Jackson, I ALWAYS had his back.

I never believed any of the ludicrous allegations against him.

I used to watch every interview and every music video. I read his autobiography at least twice. To this day, if I could meet anyone in the world, it would be Michael Jackson.

His passing yesterday was certainly a shock. I was excited for a forthcoming album and was ready to jump on the comeback train. For all the years his music and example supported me, I owed him my support.

I don't know how different I would be today had MJ never existed, but I'm sure I'm a better person because of him. His example of hard work, perfectionism, and generosity is one that everyone should embrace.

Michael Jackson didn't know me, but I certainly knew him.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why You Should Be Late to the Technology Party

I'm never the first one with the new toy...but I end up with it eventually.

I'm generally a pretty smart shopper, and in general, am always looking for the biggest bang for the least buck: but I'm also a sucker for sweet deals. When it comes to tech purchases, I almost never buy things as soon as they come out despite all the buzz.

First, they always cost entirely too much money. Take the I-phone for example. When it first came out, it was around 500 bucks. Now, you can get one for about $200, and guess what? It's still one of the most (if not the most) state of the art phones out there!

Secondly, the initial release of new technology ALWAYS has design and/or software issues. So, not only are you paying an ice-cream-loving motherload for the new toy, but your new toy is breaking an awful lot. Your buck is not doing a whole lot of banging.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a new computer. But before I did, I wanted to figure out the best way to get my buck to bang like Casanova on Spring Break. First: what do I need? Well, I really like having a laptop, but I've been disappointed by the difficulty in upgrading components as well as the generally short lifespan they have. Plus 75% of the time, I'm not really taking my laptop anywhere.

So, I resolved to buy a desktop as well as a new hard drive for my struggling laptop which should remedy it's current crappy performance. Now, I have a laptop to take with me to do anything I would need a computer to do, along with a kick-ass powerhouse computer at home for me to gawk at while I check email on my unnecessarily huge 23 inch screen.

Now, where do I buy it? I checked prices online for the configurations I liked. Then, I checked arguably the best store ever in the world and did some comparisons.

Costco never fails me.

The HP's loaded with the features I wanted were at least a couple hundred bucks less than anywhere else! To boot, Costco has an excellent return policy. To double boot, as an executive member, I get cash back on the purchase. To double boot, plus one sequined white glove, I get cash back on my American Express card too! To double boot, plus one sequined white glove plus a smooth looking fedora, by paying on my American express, they double the initial warranty on the product!

Of course, being an admitted sucker for deals, I went ahead and paid another $150 to get a bigger monitor and a whole slew of upgrades which I really don't need. But my bucks are the star of the party!

Now that I had the computer though, I felt like one other thing needed an upgrade. I had been talking about upgrading my old-school flip phone to a fancy schmancy Smart phone. As I mentioned above, the prices these days are pretty bangin.

So, I did my research, and as a Verizon Wireless Customer, narrowed my choices down to the Blackberry Storm, Samsung Omnia, and LG Envy touch. I was all set to purchase the Samsung until I went into the store to do one last personal inspection.

I had heard mixed reviews about the BB Storm, but apparently these issues have since been mitigated by the latest Blackberry software updates. The LG Envy Touch had a smallish touch screen plus a qwerty k-pad which to me is useless when you have a touch screen. The Omnia was sleek, but the ergonomics of the interface were difficult and you needed to use this rinky-dink stylus hung on the side of the phone to dial and text on the crammed keypad.

But I still wasn't ready to purchase. Today I watched a few video's online evaluating the Storm and comparing it to the I-phone (arguably the most popular phone on the market) and it's pretty much neck and neck. Apparently some of the luke-warm reviews I have been reading were posted before the recent software upgrades.

Blackberry it is!

So today I'm gonna roll in and get my new Blackberry state-of-the-art phone for only 100 buckaroos!

Sure, I might be late to the party, but aren't those the guys who get the most "bang" anyways? ;)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Social Charmer

Well it FINALLY happened. After months of delay and a lot of work, I've finally launched my first ebook! That's right: the anxiously awaited (by me), long anticipated (by me), ebook of the millenium (according to me) is finally here!

The Social Charmer

This idea started a long time ago after I wrote the post The Power of Being Social. Even now, over two years later, that is still one of the most popular posts on here. In fact, it's usually found by Googlers who search terms like, "being social," "how to be more social," etc.

Coincidentally, around the same time, I had begun to use ebooks as a source of reading and information including a couple of purchases. Soon a little bell in my head went off. Hey, if there's one thing I'm really good at and could actually teach a large amount of people about, it's being more sociable to open up life opportunities.

Generally, I'm pretty entrepreneurial minded, so I decided to write an ebook. I probably finished the first draft like eight months ago. Revision took a little while, but the most time consuming and unfulfilling part was building the web-page. I'm not super web savvy, so building the site took some time along with writing the ad-copy (which, coincidentally, I hate doing...I've never liked sales), and getting the right pictures for the product.

Soooo, after over a year of work on and off, the site, the BOOK is finally launched! Check it out! (oh, and feel free to order a copy too ;)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Marathon Man

Check another one off the bucket list.

It is now Wednesday and I am STILL hobbling around from Sunday's "San Diego Rock N' Roll Marathon." To say I'm sore would be a gross understatement. To say my legs ache so much that I wish I could go back in time and sucker punch the inventor of the stair, would be slightly more accurate.

BUT, it was all worth it. My goal for my first marathon was to beat 4 hours (a very respectable time...especially for a first-time marathoner). In order to provide you with the full marathon experience, I will breakdown the the day of the marathon and the marathon itself mile by mile for your entertainment:

4:30am - Alarm goes off. I'm utterly confused as to why my alarm is going off, blaring "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers as it's pitch black and drizzling outside...oh yea...I have a marathon today.

4:31am: - Phone alarm goes off playing an annoying midi version of "When the Saints Go Marching In." I learned my two-alarm setting lesson from watching Seinfeld!

5:00am: Arrive downtown with a belly half full of Gatorade, a Cliff bar, and banana. I don't like exercising on a full stomach.

5:15am: Nerves are killing me and I have to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes.

5:45am: Walk 1 mile over to the starting line in Balboa Park. The line at each of the like 30 portapotties is ludicrous so we head over to the canyon with all of the other smart guys and hydrate the vegetation.

6:25am: National Anthem ~ meh...pretty good but I can do better after all of my shower practice.

6:30am: Starting Gun! I start in Corral 2 of like 30 thus avoiding having to bob and weave around people since I'm in the front.

Mile 1: Feeling good, looking good....and the Kenyans are nearly out of sight already.

Mile 2: Heading into Hillcrest...Is that pancakes I smell?

Mile 3: It was Definitely pancakes...mmmm pancakes. I like pancakes.

Mile 4: First encounter with friends on the course. They're cheering, I'm waving and yelling..yea! Feeling good! Marathon Shmarathon!

Mile 5: Heading back into downtown passed the trolley station. Is that urine I smell? Yep definitely urine.

Mile 6: Friend group #2. They don't see me in the crowd but I call out, jump up and down and wave to get their attention. Look how much energy I have!

Mile 7: Passing the Ballpark. I should go to a game this year...oooh, on two for one hotdog night!

Mile 8: Rocking out to a band playing "Old Time Rock N Roll" by Bob Segar...great song!

Mile 9: Heading onto HW 163. Awesome! Never thought I'd have to chance to actually run in the middle of the freeway!

Mile 10: Two attractive girls in front of me are running a pretty good pace. Might as well follow! :)

Mile 11: The novelty of running up the freeway has worn off and I'm now ready for bigger crowds. BUT, I'm still feeling great!

Mile 12: Heading through Mission Valley. Crowds going nuts and I'm feeling great! Still drafting behind two cute girls.

Mile 13: Hit the halfway point at 1 hour, 51 minutes and feeling great! I start having visions of shattering my four hour goal and finishing in the 3:30's.

Mile 14: Cute girls be damned...I'm passing them! I rule!

Mile 15: One of the many Elvis guys on the course is passing me and yet still has the time to stop, pose for pictures, then pass me again. AND he dressed in the full get up! How is he doing this?

Mile 16: Mission Bay is awesome. Beautiful views of the water! My legs are feeling a slight tingle of fatigue but nothing major.

Mile 17: Approaching Pacific Beach. My buddy Chris jumps in to run with me for the last nine miles. Fatigue beginning to set in.

Mile 18: Still feeling a little fatigue but not too bad. People always talk about hitting "the wall" around mile 18 to which I say aloud "Wall Shmall!"

Mile 19: Hi five some more friends who came out to watch. I got this! Only 7 miles to go!

Mile 20: Starting to slow down a bit to which Chris says to me, "Common Arun! Only 6 miles to go!" Then a girl in front of us turns around and says, "Hate to break it to you guys, but it's actually Eight point TWO miles left!" ass.

Mile 21: it was a bit too soon to yell "Wall Shmall." My legs are dying now and each mile seems a lot longer.

Mile 22: I see Lauren cheering me on, but there is no more jumping or yelling. I only have the energy for a little smile.

Mile 23: My left leg is cramping everytime I push off. I grab a salt packet and down it as this is supposed to help cramping. Brilliantly, there is no aid station with water for another 3/4 mile so I'm stuck with this disgusting taste in my mouth!

Mile 24: So close! I feel like I'm hardly moving. My dreams of 3:30 are gone but my goal of under 4 is easily reachable!

Mile 25: Still cramping but pushing through! I can taste the finish!

Mile 26: I enter the military base where the race finishes and start sprinting...the only problem is, the finish line is further than I thought so I have to dial it back again.

Finish: 3:51:22! I beat 4 hours! I'm COMPLETELY whiped out and have nothing left. I go to the medical tent and get ice on my quads while refueling with a banana and chocolate milk.

Later, I get hooked up to the electrical stimulus machine which sends weird pulses through your legs and makes em' jiggle like crazy. Supposedly this facilitates toxin release.

Physically, this is probably the hardest thing I've ever done. Mentally, you truly have to overcome the pain barrier and push yourself to new limits! Not only does this make you physically more fit, but mentally, you become stronger as well.

Will I run another marathon? Not sure, but I would say probably. The feeling with the HUGE crowds cheering you on is amazing!

The feeling now of having to use my shopping cart as a "walker" when I go out because my legs are too sore to walk normally, is not quite as amazing. But it is well worth the accomplishment.