Arun is Bringing You...Your Daily Remedy

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Be Nice, But Not the Nice Guy


“Nice guys finish last”

We’ve all heard this age-old aphorism and more often than not, we find that it’s commonly true. It seems so unfair. Why should “Nice Guys” be punished for being good members of society?

Welp, I hate to break it to you, but the statement IS true. Nice Guys do indeed finish last.

But why?

Well lets see…what is a “nice guy” anyways? Well aside from being friendly, I think we can safely assign some other characteristics that are pretty common among nice guys. Nice guys:

  • Usually look out for the interest of others first
  • Don’t step on others toes
  • Avoid Conflict
  • Shy away from causing unrest

That’s just the beginning of myriad of characteristics we could name, but let’s just go with these to make it simple.

So why do these characteristics lead to a lack of success? Basically, all of these qualities lead to a lack of initiative. In order to take initiative, you need to be unafraid of a little conflict. That’s not to say you should start conflict, but you need to be unafraid of a little social discomfort.

But let’s look at some real world examples. Usually we always think about Nice Guys never getting the girl. All girls say they want to end up with a nice guy, but that’s actually untrue.

Girls see nice guys as boring and uninteresting. Sorry to break it to you, but it’s true. What they really want is a guy who is respectful and honest, but is not afraid to test and challenge them. While a nice guy may put a girl on a pedestal, a “non-nice guy” treats her as a partner in crime.

I am NOT a “nice guy.”

I am extremely friendly and get along with everyone but I have a mischievous streak. I’m obviously good-natured and people seem to appreciate my teasing. I love talking about anything and everything including topics which most people would be afraid to touch.

Women respond to emotional arousal. A nice guy doesn’t generate this. He’s simply too nice. A Bad-ass does, but usually girls tire of “bad-assness” after a while. You stimulate emotional arousal by being interesting, conversationally free, confident, and challenging. These are qualities that nice-guys generally lack because they are too concerned with preserving status-quo comfort levels.

The opposite of Love is not Hate. It’s indifference. And indifference is a common feeling surrounding nice-guy interactions.

The only way to BUILD comfort though is by actively exhibiting the aforementioned qualities. With girls, this is the difference between being just another friend, or someone they are romantically interested in. With other guys, this is the difference between being a just another friend, or someone that we actively want to hang out with and invite out. Where a nice guy doesn’t really change the group dynamic,

The misconception is that the only way to move up in the world is to be a douche-bag and not care about anyone else.

Not true at all.

You can still be nice, respectful, and caring, but in order to move up, you need to be unafraid of situations in which emotional reactions may result. That includes challenging others, and standing up for your ideas. By not being overly agreeable, you earn respect, especially when you defend your thoughts with poise, humor, and good-naturedness.

Coincidentally, this is also a major factor in being Charming. My Specialty ;)

It’s true, nice people can finish first…just don’t be the nice guy.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Dreaded Line


Lines (queues) are an interesting beast. I say “beast” because they are pretty much universally hated.

Think about it…have you ever actually enjoyed waiting in line?

“Oh look! There’s six people with loaded carts ahead of me in line! YES!”

“Hey! This line only has one person, so we should probably switch to the one over there with three.”

“I’ve got a great idea! Why don’t I wait in this line and you in the one over there, and whoever gets to the front first and switch to the line of whomever is still waiting!”

I think you get the point….we don’t like lines.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Six Flags Magic Mountain Theme Park. When we got in line, the security guy told us the wait was three hours. THREE FLIPPING HOURS! To boot, the guy in front of us was smoking like a chimney.

Oh Joy. A three hour wait in line is all I need to have the lungs of a 10 year smoker and clothes that smell like a chimney.

After some discussion, we ejected and decided to buy the “Fast Pass” Upgrades. $100 later, I was waiting only 20 minutes for each ride, and getting to ride everything TWICE in a row! (literally, the roller coaster would come back to the station, the restraints would come up, and we’d pull em’ right back down as the twelve year olds next in line gave us murderous looks for being able to stay on).

Grocery store lines are another animal though. There’s an ultra fast calculation that most of us do when picking a line. This calculation factors in such things as: amount of people, amount of groceries (taking into account produce takes longer to ring up than normal store items), age of shoppers (are they young and spry or old and slow?), likelihood of tobacco purchase (since they have to go to that special case to get the tobacco) etc.

Things get really thrown off though when someone decides to pull out the ol’ checkbook. You’re paying with a CHECK!?! Really? REALLY? Pulling out a checkbook at the grocery store line is like rear ending someone on the freeway and causing traffic to back up.

Not only does Checky McCheckerson have to fill out the stupid check, but he has to record the expense in that log in the back of the checkbook (which I don’t understand since you have on-hand a carbon copy of every check you write). Then, the clerk has to run the check through that weird receipt machine. THEN, they have to open the drawer, take the entire change holder out, and stick the check underneath.

Good. Lord.

Checks should be eradicated. They’re incredibly primitive and cumbersome to use. God invented credit/debit cards for a reason people! The only time I use a check these days is to pay rent. Even this could be avoided if the landlord had a paypal account.

Most of the time, I go for the self-checkout. But even this can cause problems. Most people are incredibly slow with the self-checkout. They get confused with produce. Then they panic and need the clerk to walk them through. Meanwhile the guy at the next checkout needs the clerk to approve his alcohol purchase, but since she’s too busy helping grandma ring up her club soda, the whole damn thing gets backed up.

But even this is a cake walk compared to return lines. I rarely ever return anything because the process of returning is so painful. Somehow, the process is at least twice as long as purchasing. And the longer someone takes at the front, the more you start to hate them.

Last year, I had to go to Costco to return something. At the front of this line, their was a lady returning Bananas.

Who returns Bananas? When you buy produce, especially something like bananas, you should be aware that they have a shelf life. And it’s not like bananas are some big mystery as to the state of their ripeness. There’s no pressing of the skin, smelling, thumping it with your fist.

If it’s green, it’s not ripe. If it’s brown it’s too ripe. And If it’s yellow….surprise of the century, I know….it’s ripe!

It baffles me how people spend hours in line on Black Friday (for you internationals, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving on which every store has crazy sales and discounts). Last year, driving home after Thanksgiving dinner, I saw a huge line outside of Best Buy. People even had tents!

It's interesting how little people value their time and will waste it for meager discounts.

Last year, Baskin Robbins had this 25 cent scoop day. I was going to stop by, but when I got there, the line was around the block.

Really? People are waiting 30 or 40 minutes just to pay 75 cents for 3 scoops of ice cream thats normally $4. Yes, that's a whopping $3.25 in savings.

Sometimes, it’s just easier just shopping online ;)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Self Awareness

Self Awareness is an essential characteristic one must have to be a successful long-term leader

My Leadership professor emphasized this phrase, and when I first heard it, I didn’t really consider it as all too important.

“Yea Ok Professor…I am self aware that I am AWESOME!”

Ok I didn’t actually say that, but the thought did cross my mind.

Actually we discussed this topic more, and the further we delved, the more I realized that self-awareness is not only requisite to be a great leader, but also to simply live life awesomely.

Self awareness is basically being able to objectively and accurately identify your strengths and weaknesses. It’s also being able to accept character traits that maybe other people have identified that have gone undetected on your personal radar.

Take me for example:

I know I LOVE food. I also know that when it’s immediately available, I have little self-control. I’ve identified this “weakness” and in order to compensate for it, I NEVER buy unhealthy groceries. Seriously, if I buy a half gallon of ice cream, it’s gone in two days. In fact, I can never understand how people buy things like ice cream or potato chips and let them sit around for weeks. As soon as I buy ice cream, it begins to call for me and I have no will to resist it’s beckoning.

Suffice it to say, the only food that I allow to call for me by having in my kitchen, is healthy stuff.

I also know that I have a tendency to take on a lot of different activities and projects. BUT, as a result, I rarely master any one thing completely. As much as I’d like to be a renaissance man, I’m probably more of a Jack-of-all-trades.

Having identified this though, I’ve also realized that I derive a lot of pleasure from the variety of my involvement. I also like being good at a lot of things and, for me, am happier being good at many things than a master at one. This probably stems from my extreme competitiveness.

In fact, competitiveness is another self-trait I’ve identified. It seriously kills me to lose. I hate it. That being said, I am aware that I have this trait and can thus control myself when I’m losing (yes, I’ll admit it…I’ve actually lost at stuff before). I’ve actually won a couple of sportsmanship awards before (the award they give ONLY to losers when they lose gracefully).

Believe you me, I’d much rather win, but it does feel good knowing that despite a sub par performance, I can be amiable, easy-going, and well-liked.

Being honest with yourself, and identifying your strengths and ESPECIALLY your derailers is essential in becoming successful. Don’t allow yourself to make excuses, and if you do, at least be able to identify that you’re making an excuse so that you are fully aware of what you are doing.

Sure I buy junk food sometimes. But I’m well aware of what I’m doing and willingly accept the consequences (then workout twice as hard the next day).

Make an honest list, and start thinking about it! Good Luck ;)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Embracing Irregularity

In the last year, my life has taken a lot of turns.


I spent the first 3 months rapping up my nearly 4 year tenure at the old 9-5 engineering job I used to have. (Thank God that's over)

Then, I threw myself a little more seriously into internet marketing where I was spending a good chunk of my day at various San Diego coffee shops and beaches, working away.

Then, I ventured around the world for a couple of months where I essentially had no schedule, worked when I could, and adventured everywhere in between.

Now, I work and study in my pockets of time between classes, and adventure and socialize during the rest of the time.

Basically, there is no semblance of regularity or routine in my day-to-day life. I have classes here and there, I have weird days off, there's ALWAYS events going on at school, and my friends (including the my 60 new classmates) are always down to hang out.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

There's something totally refreshing about living a dynamic life. I once wrote a post about the importance of establishing some sort of routine. I STILL think this is incredibly important.

I know what you're thinking..."Ha Arun! I'm totally calling you out! You're contradicting yourself and making absolutely NO sense for the first time in your life. Get with it!"

Settle down and allow me to explain. I am still incredibly routine about certain things. I exercise everyday without fail. I usually spend some time playing music. I study almost everyday.

Basically, there exists certain activities that I do EVERY DAY. They may happen at different times, but they are there, and ingrained in my daily schedule. The key to keeping these things around is to create a semblance of a plan every morning. If I know I have a busy evening ahead, I sneak over to the gym in the afternoon and bang out a workout. If I have an adventurous Saturday in the works, I'll plan a 3 or 4 our block on Sunday to get all my studying taken care of.

I usually have a mental map of my schedule for about the next five days. This allows me to fit everything in while wasting very little time.

It's all about eliminating "down" time.

In fact, last night I was out with a bunch of my friends from school, and one of my friends was sarcastically lamenting to the group about how much he "hates" me.

"I HATE Arun! He always tells me about how incredible his weekends were and all these adventures that I missed out on! He always has some hot date lined up for the week, plays 50 different instruments, reads 1000 page novels, AND somehow manages to get all his homework done and do better on the tests than me...WHAT an asshole!!!"

Obviously he was exaggerating a bit, but I DO like being active andthe only way I can get away with it, is by being an excellent time manager and planner.

I used to think it would be hard to get back into the student lifestyle, but on the contrary, it's been anything but. I love school, I love studying (yes...I'm a nerd-baller), and I love having the off Wednesday afternoon to just ditch everything and go to the beach.

Irregularity opens up your days to so many more possibilities and makes life more interesting. So much so that I don't think I can EVER go back to being "regular."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I'm Baaaaaaack!


I know what you're thinking...


"Arun! I thought I'd lost you forever! Where have you been???"

Good question, and I'm glad you're concerned.

Welp, to put it simply, after returning from my "Round the World Trip-O-Awesomeness," things got busy...very busy. So busy in fact that writing took a back seat.

The week after I returned, I moved to a new place closer to Downtown San Diego. I'm FINALLY able to walk to some really awesome restaurants (and for those of you who know my affinity for food in general, you know how dangerous this is for me!).

Then, I started school.

That's right. I am know a member of the UCSD Rady School of Management, class of 2012. Let me tell you, MBA school is no joke. There's a TON of work, group projects, presentations, etc. In addition to school, I'm still doing my internet marketing stuff, and a few other tasks.

Bottom line is, things are crazy busy, but that's just the way I like it! Unfortunately, the blog updates won't be as they once were, BUT, I promise to be more regular and not take another 3 month break (at least no time soon).

Also, I may change the format a bit in the interest of posting more frequency. Posts might be a little shorter, but hopefully more frequent. I've got a lot of things to write about though including adventures, advice, and (my personal favorites), RANTS!

By the way, the picture at the top really has nothing to do with anything. A friend invited me for some "Backstage Pass" at the San Diego Zoo where you get to be up close and personal with some of the animals.

Stay tuned. Your Daily Remedy is BACK!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Abseiling Adventures in Australia


Ok, yes, I know this is post is a little delayed. I have indeed returned to the good ol' U.S of A, but things have been hectic since I've been back to say the least. I've had to catch up on some work stuff (since I neglected a few things between my adventuring) and I also moved...again.

Anyways, Australia.

Totally amazing, and I WILL go back. I traveled around the South East coast including Sydney and Melbourne but wasn't able to make it to Queensland and New Zealand, which means I'll either need to move there for awhile or take another multiple month trip.

Hmmm.

The highlight of the trip though, occurred on the second to last day. It was simultaneously the most amazing and TERRIFYING thing I've done in my life. I was in Sydney and saw an ad for abseiling in the outback. Apparently "abseiling" is the British equivalent of rappelling. Sounds awesome, so I coerced my friend Kelly to sign up with me.

The next day, we wake up 4:45am and catch a 2 hour train out to Katoomba (how's that for an awesome town name?) for this little excursion. We get to the place and find out we are the only two people signed up for the day since, being winter time in Australia, it's the offseason.

Even better - more attention from our guide.

Slight problem though. When you aren't travelling with a lot of luggage, generally you aren't really prepared for things like abseiling in the jungle in the middle of winter.

We show up, in shorts and sweatshirts...not exactly ideal apparel, so we have to run over to K-mart and gear up. After we return, Corky, our guide for the day (I should've known better at this point...nothing good can ever come out of having an adventure guide named "Corky"), gives us a quick breakdown of our plans for the day, before we jump into the four-wheeler and start trekking into the rain forest/jungle/whatever.

After a short hike, we get to the first cliff. The "easy" one. It's about 30 feet which, before signing up, I imagined would be the longest rappel.

Not Quite.

I make it through without any issues.

"I am awesome! I DOMINATE abseiling!"

Little did I know that Corky was just warming us up. Our morning descents included rappels of 30, 100, and 200 feet. By lunchtime, I was feeling confident and smooth. Sure, hanging off of a cliff by a thin little rope with 200 feet of trees, rock, and cliff below is a smidgen unsettling, but after six or seven abseils, I was feeling good.

Then Corky took us to "The Fold".

We drove out to another location, hiked a little ways, until Corky halted us.

"Don't Move Mates! If I don't set this safety line, you're cooked!"

I took a peak at what he was looking at around the bend, and instantly became nauseous. He was traversing a cliff wall with ledge that only about four or five inches of his foot could fit on....1100 feet below were the tops of 50 foot trees to "catch" us in case of any snafus.

Comforting.

"Come on guys!"

Although we had a safety line to hook on to, there were multiple reasons for my nerves:

  1. The safety line is very loose, so in the event of a fall, you would still drop a good 10 feet before slamming into the cliff wall. At that point, I'm not even sure how you would get back up.
  2. As the safety line is loose, you don't really feel like there's a line connected to you. Basically, the whole traverse feels like you're free climbing.
  3. We were personally in charge of detaching and re-attaching our own safety line to the traverse line Corky was setting on the cliff wall at each point where it is connected to the wall. I was surprised that he trusted us so soon to be in charge of our own safety. I wasn't so trusting of me.
When we got to the meat of the fold, I realized I was in a major pinch. The fold is basically a spot where two cliffs come together. The first obstacle is climbing through. It's pretty narrow, and, just in case I wasn't already peeing my pants, as you continue through, your are essentially straddling the crevasse which, if you were to fall through, would be a 120o foot drop.

Oh Corky, how I love thee.

At this point, there's really no option of turning back either. We've rappelled some other cliffs to get to this point, so the only way I'm getting out of here, is by going forward.

To further complicate things, the start of this rappel is straight down through the crevasse, then over another cliff. Corky also had me go first to set up a safety line below.


And if things weren't complicated enough, it was "the second windiest day I've ever seen in The Fold!" and Corky didn't want to through the end of my rope down to the bottom for fear of it getting tangled. His solution? He tied a back pack to my waist, hanging between my legs which the end of my rope would feed out of. The whole time I was going down, I kept thinking, "what if he accidentally put the wrong length of rope in the bag and I end up being short?" Well, to answer my own question, I would be touching down with a not-so-cushy landing 1200 feet below.

Only slightly unsettling.

And just in case I wasn't already terrified, as I was going down, the rope got knotted and caught in the backpack while I was going down.

Good Grief. So here I am, hanging by a rope with death looming below, undoing a knot in my lifeline. Like I said, not an adventure for the feint of heart.

I will say this. The views that we had during these insane rappels were among the BEST I've ever seen. Completely breath-taking.


Somehow, Kelly and I made it out alive, and with an AMAZING adventure under our belts. Truthfully, if I had known how terrifying this would've been, I may not have signed up, but I am SOOOOO glad I did, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Another day, another adventure!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Adventures in New South Whales, Australia


Ahhh…I never thought the sound of English would be so amazing – especially when it has an Aussie accent attached to it.

Spending a month in non-English speaking countries definitely wears on you for awhile, and it’s surprisingly refreshing to be able to communicate fluently with everyone. I’m also FINALLY the “guy with the accent”.

I’ve always wanted to be the “guy with a cute American accent” ;)

Interestingly, I was hanging out with some Aussies who not only said I have an accent, but "You've got a pretty major accent there mate!" How is it they don't realize that THEY'RE the ones with the cool accents?! ;) Regardless, I'm loving the fact that English is everywhere again.

Now don’t get me wrong. I would LOVE to live in a foreign country for a year or two and learn the language, culture, and tradition. But nevertheless, I still love me some good ol’ fashioned, finger-lickin good, English.

So right now I’m sitting on the train at Central Station in Sydney waiting to leave up to Gosford – a small coastal town about an hour North of Sydney. This is where Frederico lives…well, until Monday that is.

Conveniently, my stay in Australia just so happens to coincide with Frederico having to move up to New Castle…not so fun for me, but especially convenient for Freddy who now has a freakishly strong friend around to help him move.

So far though, my stay has been filled with touristy activities and nightlife.

AND, by an amazing stroke of good-fortune, my friend Kelly happens to be in Sydney with a couple of her friends. So today, I left Freddy up in Gosford to pack while I waltzed around Sydney with Kelly and my new friends.

There’s nothing like a little waltzing around new turf.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ok, I generally write posts in one go, but when I start getting sleepy, my usual wit and charm starts to dwindle and typos abound. So now, I'm continuing the post some three days later. I'm now sitting in a Mall up in Gosford. Frederico, my friend who lives here, is at home cleaning for his final inspection before we head up to New Castle.

Tomorrow, I'm flying down to Melbourne for a week. I'm hoping there's a spot down there where I can go and hold a Koala (not quite as cute as baby Panda's, but they will suffice ;)

When I get back to Sydney, I'm actually looking into maybe hang gliding (it's a tandem glide with with an instructor...don't worry Mom) and canyoning!

The adventures continue mates!

BTW, my Australian accent that's oh so convincing in American is not quite as much so here. Go figure.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Shanghai Shananigans


Shanghai, China...

The business capital of the country. A huge metropolis of skyscrapers, lights, and fancy restaurants...yet pretty much NO ONE speaks English.

Luckily, my fluent yet slim knowledge of Mandarin consists of four words...Nee-hau (Basically - "hello"), Shi-Shea (thank you), La-wai (foreigner) and Yo-gwai (right turn).

As you can imagine, doing things can be a little challenging, but at least I can get places provided I figure out a route consisting of only right turns ;)

It is a MAJOR bonus having my friend Gina living here though. For starters, her company has her living in the Marriott Executive Apartments in Union Square. Upon my arrival, she has been staying with her boyfriend downstairs, so I have a whole, huge suite overlooking downtown Shanghai, all to myself. This is easily the nicest place I've ever stayed at.

Not exactly "backpacking" around China, but I'll take it ;)

Then there's the added bonus that, since Gina and Aaron have lived here for almost two years, they pretty much know all the best places to eat, shop, etc.

I also conveniently met a girl on the plane over to Shanghai that showed me around for a couple of days. It's amazing to get the history and Chinese perspective on different things from a local!

For the most part, you can get things for dirt cheap around here. Now, things aren't necessarily of the same quality, and you have to haggle quite a bit to get a fair "Chinese Price", but still, when you can have a seven course dinner for 10 bucks and get a personally tailored shirt for $12, you're doing pretty well.

And speaking of food, I've had a lot of it. I know what you're thinking..."Gee Arun, BIG surprise that you're eating a lot, but I want to know if you've had anything CRAZY!??"

Good Question. So far, my friends have made me try Duck Brain, Chicken Heart, Chicken Cartilage, Octopus, Jellyfish, and Beef Stomach.

I wouldn't necessarily order any of it on my own, but they were actually NOT repulsive.

And what are these "Shananigans" that I speak of? I'm glad you asked.

- Yesterday we went to the Shanghai Wild Animal Park. But this is no ordinary zoo. If you pay 20 Kuai, you can ride this bus through the tiger, lion, cheetah, and bear reserves...but there's a catch.

The bus doesn't have walls, but rather a cage. When you go through, the animals basically start climbing up on the sides of the cage/bus/deathtrap. Why are they climbing onto it? Because on the sides are these little shoots that people drop live chickens through.

Basically, passengers buy a chicken from the driver, dangle and tease the lions/tigers/whatever with it, then drop it down the shoot for them the tear apart and devour.

Awesome to see in real life, but also a little scary, being nose to nose with and smelling tiger breath. Ironically, HE was the one roaming free, and WE were in the cage.

Oh, and in typical Chinese form, while we were bussing around, someone left one of the gates open one of the cheetahs almost escaped into the deer/camel/wildabeast habitat. Can you imagine the carnage that would've taken place? After a long delay in which the cheetah was salivating across the last ditch safety barrier, he was shoe'd back across and the gate closed.

Oh and we got to see 10 baby Pandas too. Seriously, is there ANYTHING cuter than baby pandas???

- Massages are really cheap in China...but sometimes you have to work to find a "decent" place.

And by "decent" I don't mean "good", I mean a place that won't try a sex you up.

I walked into one the other day to check it out. Some very attractive women opened it. I took a look at the "massage menu" with the different types of massages and the prices. The receptionist pointed to one and said "this best!" I read the English description:

"We take you to deepest realms of pleasure with three therapists working on you. One dressed as nurse, one dressed as student, one prepared for body to body ecstasies..."

I can't remember the rest, but for some reason, I had a feeling that this place wasn't on the up-and-up. Suffice it to say, I left and found a place that didn't describe what the therapists are wearing on the the menu ;)

- The Fourth of July was interesting. You see, although "technically" illegal, you can still buy fireworks in the city, and $300 goes a LOT further in China than it does in the United States.

So, on Independence day, we found a nice little courtyard in an upscale apartment complex, and let em rip. The stuff we bought was basically enough pyrotechnics for a professional fireworks show.

Apparently, the apartment residents weren't so stoked on our amazingly bright and noisy fireworks display exploding feet away from there windows ;)


We were kicked out by security afterwords, but it was WELL worth it.

So today, I'm leaving for Australia. I'm going to make sure to get to the airport EXTRA early, because we all know what happened in Beijing ;)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Bumbling Beijing Adventure


I had no idea a stop in Beijing, China was on my itinerary...But, apparently my trip was going a little too well, and an adventure needed to happen.

Although my flight itinerary was technically a straight shot from Paris to Shanghai, there was a little asterisk that noted a "technical stop" in Beijing. Ok. No big deal. We stop in Beijing. I'll chill on the plane. Maybe hop off and grab a quick snack, and jump back on.

That would've been too easy.

When I de-boarded the airplane in Beijing, there was a Chinese lady asking passengers in a thick Chinese accent "transfer Shanghai?"

Me: "Ah, that's me!"
Agent: "Ok, go up through immigration and come back. Hurry!"
Me: "Ok, but should I go through domestic or intern-"
Agent: (now yelling at me and shoeing me away) "CHA-CHI-BY-BOW!!"

I have no idea what that translates to, but I assume it meant "You need to move your ass you amazingly good-looking man!"

She then put some special transfer sticker on my shirt. I thought this sticker would assist me in moving through the airport quicker and facilitate everything (silly Arun), so I hustled my tushy up the stairs. This is where I started getting confused. I had to go through either the International transfer area, or the domestic transfer area. I asked around, and I'm not sure if they understood me, but I was pointed towards the domestic transfer.

Makes sense since Beijing to Shanghai is a domestic flight, but then again, should I really be transferring anywhere since I'm supposed to be on the same flight?

I proceeded as told, went through immigration and asked somebody else where to go. They pointed me towards the tram. Hmmm...this didn't seem right, but if that's what they say...

I took the tram, and when I get off, I realize that I'm now in the baggage claim area. Wait...why am I at the baggage claim?

I go to the information desk and tell them I'm supposed to get back on my flight...and FAST. She had no idea what I was talking about and pointed me to another employee all the way across the baggage claim area.

And the dominoes begin to pick up speed.

At this point, I'm starting to get a little nervous because between immigration, the tram, and now not knowing where to go, this is all taking awhile, and the gate agent yelling at me in Mandarin to hurry is still reverberating in my mind.

This person tells me that I need to wait for my bag, then re-enter the gate through customs. I thought my little bag was checked through to Shanghai, but she insisted I have to wait.

So I waited...and waited...all the while praying that my plane doesn't leave without me. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. 20 minutes. No bag.

I jog over to the Air China baggage claim office and ask them what I'm supposed to do because my plane is about to take off. I show them my ticket stub and confusion breaks out. Three people are looking at each other talking in VERY animated Mandarin.

Great.

The guy goes back to check on something and comes out exclaiming, "What are you doing here!? Your bag is going Shanghai!"

Frustration.

They are confused and say I need to go through customs right now and get to my plane. Now I'm booking it across the terminal over to customs. Good thing I'm wearing running shoes.

I get to customs, hook slide under the line rope, plead with everyone to let me get to the front of the line, and try to explain the situation to see where to go. Of course, the customs official speaks little English and needs to get help. All the while I'm pleading with people and pointing at my transfer sticker to explain an apparently confusing situation.

The transfer identification sticker the gate agent gave me is doing NOTHING.

Finally, a lady comes to try and help me (I found that during this whole ordeal, the female Air China employees were much more helpful and sympathetic to me. I'm sure it helped that I was putting my hands together and desperately pleading with people to help me.

She ran with me out and up to the Air China ticket counter took me to the front of the line (much to other customers chagrin) and dropped me off. I made her stay because she seemed to be sympathetic to my cause.

This ticket agent, after about ten minutes of me pleading and my new customs official friend yelling at him to hurry up, told me my plane is about to take off.

Discovery of the century Sherlock.

Then he said I have to go back to the baggage claim and get my bag, then come back to the counter to get a ticket.

"YOU SON OF A !@&^%$ MOTHER #&%*@!! NO GOOD %$#&^!." Ok, well I didn't say those words exactly, but I was thinking it.

I sprint downstairs, but the problem now is, you have to be on the other side of security to be in the baggage claim area. I plead with the security official randomly pointing to my ticket stub and transfer sticker (now barely holding on to my sweaty shirt due to all the running) and he lets me through.

I never knew someone could actually go backwards through security!

Still no bag.

I run back to the baggage claim office, sure that I've missed my plane, and the guy looks at me like I'm the biggest idiot in the world, running around the airport for 40 minutes, ending up back here.

"What you doing here?!?"

He sees my expression, and realizes and should stop asking me questions. He grabs my ticket stub, types on the computer, writes down a gate number and tells me "J Terminal! 51C! RUN NOW!

Here we go again.

I confusedly run around, looking for the terminal, FINALLY find it, and book it over to security. When I finally get to security, I have to go through another passport checkpoint. They won't let me through though because I only have a ticket stub and not an actual boarding pass (which they ripped off when I initially boarded the plane in Paris).

What else can go wrong here?

After more pleading, and people calling managers, somebody finally escorts me through. Now I'm at security, and unloading all of my crap onto the x-ray belt. Of COURSE, every time I go through the security screener, I set it off. Once. Twice. Third time. (this NEVER happens!) Now I have to stand on the damn pedestal and get radar wanded. Once that's through (and because I have SO MUCH time to spare) they also decide to search my backpack.

I've lost all patience at this point.

Then, this very important looking lady shows up (an angel) and tells me she is escorting me to my plane. Thank GOD.

We hop on this cart-thing, and cruise though the airport, siren and lights on, bobbing and weaving through traffic. We get to an elevator, and I INSIST that she comes with me. I finally found someone who seems to know I have a plane to catch and LATCH ON!

I finally get to the secondary gate where she leaves me with a guy who I made promise to get me on the plane before she could leave. He looks at me and asks me for my transfer ticket. I tell him all they gave me is this sticker. He looks at the other agent, says something in Chinese, and they both erupt in laughter, looking at my sticker.

I am not amused.

They escort me on to another tram which drops me off on the actual runway area where I climb the stairs into the plane. Luckily the plane was delayed due to mechanical issues, which is the ONLY reason I was able to make the flight.

Good Lord, no one should ever have to go through that. All in all, I think no fewer than 20 different airport employees were involved, and I spent about an hour and a half running around Beijing International.

I would love to see the airport security cameras of me running all over place, pleading with everyone, jumping up and down, frantically pointing at my dumb useless transfer sticker (damn that first gate agent!).

But, in the end, I made it to Shanghai, and it all worked out.

Just another adventure ;)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tripping Within Trips

Bon Voyage Paris.

Now before you go getting carried away with the title of this post, NO I did not do acid or any other hallucinogenic drug while in France. I did however tour the entire Northwest region on a vacation within my vacation.

I think I made it pretty clear last week that I love Paris. Who wouldn’t? Beautiful art, beautiful architecture, beautiful people (which obviously went up during my stay ;) I mean, what’s not to love?

Welp…along with all of that, Paris is a big bustling city that is, as is any big city, highly commercialized. That’s why it was amazing to get out of Paris for a week to tour the Northwest Coast and Countryside.

Now, getting out of Paris was no easy feet. For the amount of traveling we were doing, we had to rent a car, and driving in Paris is absolutely insane. I mean, it’s not quite “India Insane”, but it’s close. Once we got out of the city (which, to drive like 4 miles, took an hour), the driving was relatively smooth sailing (especially for me in the passenger seat ;) Some interesting things we noticed about driving in France though.

Apparently, the French don’t believe in traffic patrol. In all of our travels, we saw not one single highway patrol or traffic police ANYWHERE.

Instead, they apparently have radars on the highways the somehow catch you if you speed. Despite the signs and warnings, we didn’t see one camera or radar. Maybe they’re hidden? Maybe they’re bluffing? Who knows?

They also don’t believe in using many traffic lights. Instead they have roundabouts. Lots and LOTS of roundabouts. I went through literally 20 times more roundabouts in the week of traveling, than I have in my entire life.

If you plan on driving in Paris, GET A GPS. There are so many side roads and little alleys that you would just as well miss that you actually have to drive through to get places.

Apparently, on these one lane roads, it’s ok to stop, throw on the hazards, and take your sweet time loading crap into your truck while traffic accumulates behind you. This happened numerous times. This had me audibly cursing the French.

When I first turned on the radio, I was happy to hear a mix of French and English hits. Joke’s on me! They don’t believe in variety in France. I heard the same 10 U.S. hits, and the same 5 crappy French songs every damn minute. I had seven stations I was shuffling between and they ALL played the SAME DAMN SONGS. One can only take so much Lady Antebellum.

But aside from the driving weirdness, the trip was amazing. Our stops included: Giverny - to see Claude Monet’s house, garden, and museum, Rouen – saw the sight where Joan of Arc was burned and indulged in the best chocolate of Normandie, Honfleur – to enjoy the amazing harbor, Mont. St. Michel, Dinan, Cancale, Aboise, and Vouvrey.

This all covered three provinces: Normandy (where we saw the D-Day beaches, specifically: Gold, Utah, and Omaha), Britagne (amazing crepes!), and Loir Valley (where we toured castles and drank lots of wine).

My French also improved mightily on the trip as English speakers aren’t quite as abundant in the country as they are in Paris. During our wine tour in Loir, none of the wine people really spoke English. We met Aurori, Laetitia, and Bresson. We spent an hour chatting with Bresson, the owner of a winery we visited who didn’t speak a word of English.

Outside of Dinan, we stayed at possibly the most amazing hotel I’ve ever stayed at. It was basically a huge converted barn out in the countryside, in the middle of nowhere. It was owned by an amazing French couple, Patrick and Ann-France, who ran it more like a bed and breakfast. They cooked homemade French Dinners and Breakfast for us, and showed us around there amazing property.

So in a nutshell (well, I suppose it’s too late to really nutshell this post, but oh well) the Northwest countryside of France was AMAZING!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Je t'aime Paris


I love Paris.


No, it's not because the cute hostess at the Italian Restaurant said in French that I "parlez beau fran├žais" (speak beautiful French) and winked at me. (She also rubbed the same eye later, but I'm pretty sure she winked.)

It's not because the architecture here is AMAZING.

It's not because the food is pretty Damn good.

It's not because the Seine river romantically flows gracefully through the city.

And it's not because the artwork and museums are world class.

But it might be because my cute tour guide was giving me seductive glances and winks throughout our cruise on the Seine River. (Ok, Ok....it might be because the sun was hitting her right in the eyes, but I'm pretty sure we visually connected ;)

I definitely want to move to Paris for a little while and perfect my French. I studied for 4 years in school (and some time after school as well) and it's amazing how fast it comes back. I speak enough to "get by" and have a pretty darn good conversation with a 3 year old, but I will be toddler level speaking by the time I leave. The advantage I have though is that my accent is in fact very good and perfectly understandable. I just need to refresh my verb conjugation and beef up my vocab.

As for what we've done/seen in Paris, the list is exhaustive. We did all of the standard tourist stuff (Tour d'Eiffel, Arc de Triomphe, Cathedral Notre Dame, Le Louvre, Palaise de Versailles) as well as some non-typical stuff (Musee' d'Orsee', Musee' Rodin, Montmartre, Seine Cruise, etc).

I've walked all over the city, and just for good measure, ridden the metro, bus, train, RER, and taxi. I've had croisant and cafe' au lait everyday for breakfast, and enjoyed Berthillion ice cream for after dinner dessert. I've had traditional French fair and French-Thai food (a little different than U.S...no Pad Thai on the menu!).


I've had Frech wine and French Crepes. I'm telling you, I've done it all...and I still have a week left. Tomorrow, we leave for Normandy - our first stop in touring the West coast/countryside of France.

There are some peculiarities I've noticed thus far though:

  • Things are REALLY expensive. A "Coke Light" ranges from 2-4 Euros (2.50 - 6.00 dollars). A scoop of ice cream? 5 bucks. A coffee? Anywhere from 4-7 dollars. Ridiculous.
  • Tip is included in restaurant prices (which are exorbitant as well). I guess that's good.
  • When you pay the bill by credit card, they bring the machine over to your table and ring you up there and take the receipt. There's no taking the credit card to a hidden station, running it, and leaving it at your table to sign at leisure.
  • Soda refills are NOT free (I learned the hard way by paying 4 euros [6 bucks] for a refill in the restaurant at the Louvre). In fact, most places don't even have a fountain machine. (Speaking of which, have you ever notice that NO Thai restaurants in the U.S. have soda machines and always serve soda by the can?)
  • People eat late (so did we).
  • The French LOVE to party. We are staying on the Ile Saint Louis near the Seine and it seems like every night, there is a party going on on the streets.
  • The French get a bad rap for being rude. I've encountered pretty much no rudeness (or at least, no more than in the states). My speaking decent French may help, but my Mom usually asks questions in English and people have been pretty helpful.
  • The French deserve the rap they get from their lack of deodorant usage. Paris is infested with Smelly McSmellersons.
  • Every website on my computer is showing up in French and I'm too tired to figure out how to fix this. My Google automatically goes to "Google French". My spell check is highlighting every word in this post because it's checking for "Francaise". So, forgive me if this post is sloppy (as opposed to my normal perfection ;)
So, admittedly, I haven't posted as frequently as I intended. We've been out and about pretty much all the time so I haven't had a lot of down time. I also haven't uploaded my pictures to my compy yet (except for the "Cave of Wines" I took with my phone at the grocery store. Seriously, every grocery should have one of these. In the U.S., it'd be the "Cave du Bieres")

Tomorrow, we're headed for Normandy. Then the rest of the Western coast/countryside. It'll be interesting to REALLY experience France, away from the Urbanized setting.

More updates to come!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Around the World in 45 days: Prologue


Welp, the trip has officially begun. I'm sitting here in the tiny commuter terminal at San Diego International waiting to board the first flight of my "Round the World Trip O' Awesomeness!" and it is a DOOZY.....a whole 49 minutes up to L.A.


OK, so maybe that was a little anticlimactic, but commuter planes are the worst. To start, you begin in the Commuter Terminal which is by far the worst place to me in the airport. Once you pass security, there is a little snack stand with sodas on sale at 2 for $8! There is also a single male/female bathroom with ONE repository.

Once you board the plane, you have "valet" anything that won't fit under the seat in front of you...for these planes that almost everything since there's barely enough leg room to fit your own legs. In fact, calling it leg "room" is a little ridiculous.

Once in the air, there's a whole new barrel of inconveniences. Obviously, there's no in flight entertainment on these flights - understandable. But good luck trying to listen to music. The engines on these flying tin cans are so loud that even at max volume you can only hear when Celine Dion hits the high notes (not that I'm listening to her).

Ok, so music is out. Maybe I'll read a good book! Yea!

Uhh No.

The problem with these little planes is that they're also quite turbulent. Trying to read is just ASKING to get to use the lovely lunch sacks they leave in the seat pocket in front of you.

So this will be the first leg of my trip. Ok, so I'll admit I've exaggerated the badness of these short flights, but they're not fun....luckily they're also short.

In L.A. I have a 10.5 hour flight waiting to take me to Paris. My biggest issue with this flight??? I'M MISSING GAME 7 OF THE NBA FINALS!!! AHHHH!! I'm so pissed about this because I'm a huge Laker fan. I'm PRAYING that my airplane has satellite TV (unlikely but possible). I'm even considering upgrading my seat if that's what it's going to take.

International flights are usually pretty decent though. Good food, lots of entertainment, etc. Ironically though, this 10.5 hour flight is actually my SHORTEST flight after the San Diego to LA one. By the time this trip is over, I'll be an airplane flying expert!

But getting ready for a big trip is an interesting feeling. I had a big dinner with a bunch of friends as a send off. It'll be really weird getting out of my normal routine for so long. Not exercising regularly, eating sporadically, etc...but it'll be good for me. Routine can sometimes make you stagnant.

It's also interesting packing for two months. If you saw what I have, you'd probably think I'm packing for a week or two. I didn't bring a lot. One duffel and one backpack, neither all that full. I suppose I'll have to buy some stuff to bring back!

So here we go. Goodbye San Diego, Bonjour Paris!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Always Be a Hustler


The term "Hustler" many times has a negative connotation. Most people attribute "hustling" to basically finding illegitimate ways of making money. In reality, it just means you're outworking everyone else (out-"hustling" if you will) and finding non-conventional ways to make a buck.


In Hip-Hop culture, we usually associate that with selling drugs. (Do they work hard? Check. Is it an unconventional way to make a buck? Check.)

It also doesn't help that Larry Flynt publishes an "unconventional" magazine entitled Hustler as well.

I am a Hustler.

No, I don't peddle "special" brownies in the Ghettos of La Jolla, California nor do I publish or pose for any pornographic publications (although, when you have a body of a Greek God that looks forged by the hands of Zeus himself, could you blame me? ;) but I DO hustle.

For most of us, once we find a primary source of income, we don't hustle. We become content and ride out a "career" until retirement. But when you're a hustler, you give yourself options, you protect yourself from layoffs, you earn career flexibility, and you learn a lot.

When I was an Engineer, I started getting bored with having a "normal career." So, I started hustling. First, it was delving into something I like to do: writing. I had visions of making a fortune writing a blog and making a fortune on advertisements. Once I realized that the things I like to write about here are not conducive to effective ad placement, I changed my approach.

I began submitting articles and such to magazines and other websites. BOOM! Real money started coming in. Then, I decided to write the ebook. BAM! More money. Next, my Poker playing friend needed a consultant to establish trends on opponents. Having an aptitude for math, and I jumped on the opportunity. Again, more dollars.

Then, I saw an opportunity for an internet marketing position. Now, my internet marketing experience consisted only of what I did for The Social Charmer. But, I happen to be a pretty good writer (a bonus), and a very good interviewer. I won them over with my cover letter and my interviews.

By Hustling, I gave myself an opportunity to:
  1. Leave an incredibly boring corporate job.
  2. Work from the comfort of wherever I want that has an internet connection.
  3. Travel the World while still having some income.
  4. Work 10-20 hours per week.
To be fair, if I weren't entering graduate school in the fall, I would probably be hustling harder right now because I don't make enough to fully support everything I want to do in the long term. BUT, I still Hustle. I do periodic modeling gigs here and there. When I see a payed opportunity for writing or internet marketing, I apply. etc.

When I applied for graduate school, the only reason I was admitted to so many schools was because of my hustle. Without it, my resume would show a nice little career as a Logistics Engineer and a degree from Cal Poly. In other words, it would look like everyone else's. Instead, I was able to sight experience publishing a book, a newsletter, running a "company", a high position in a Nationally recognized charitable organization, and internet marketing...all while Engineering. All of a sudden I become interesting.

Without fail, the number one question I received in interviews was, "What can you tell me about this book you wrote??? I'm so curious!"

Additionally, by delving into writing four years ago, I have become a MUCH better writer which again translated into unique, funny college essays.

In the fall, my Hustle will take a new direction. I'll be hustling for opportunities at UCSD that will push me in the ultimate direction of Professorship and Entrepreneurship. This means I'll be emailing around for research opportunities, volunteering for any entrepreneurial experiences, and basically outworking other people for opportunities outside of the classroom.

Don't get stuck in the routine of what everyone else is doing. Outwork them. Be Creative. Take risks. If you want to get ahead. If you want to WIN. If you want to do what you WANT, you have to Always Be a Hustler.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

How to Travel Around the World


So in a couple of weeks, "Your Daily Remedy" shall be changing focus for a little while. Before you get suicidal and start thinking that I'm leaving or changing the way I'm writing or anything...don't worry. I'm not leaving you and will continue with my usual clever wit, and narcissistic style ;)


In case you couldn't tell from the post title, Your Daily Remedy will become a Travel Blog for a good portion of the summer.

And in case you also couldn't tell from the post title, I will literally be travelling AROUND THE WORLD! That's right. Leaving San Diego, traveling east, circumnavigating the globe.

I know what you're thinking..."Arun! That's awesome! YOU are awesome! But what makes you think you're even ROMOTELY qualified to write a post about How to Travel Around the World when you haven't even done so??!!?"

Thanks for the compliment and point well taken.

There are two aspects to a trip like this...positioning yourself to do an around the world trip, and learning from experience during/after the trip. Today, I'm writing about the former.

Most of us are NOT in a position to take this much time to take a trip. We have career commitments, monetary shortages, school, children, etc.

I worked for a company for nearly 4 years and never ONCE did I consider an around the world trip. Why? Because in order to do so, I would have had to not take a single vacation for the entire four years to accumulate enough time to do it! Obviously this is impractical.

So, I will explain how I positioned myself for this opportunity:

1. Either take a leave of absence, accumulate copious vacation, quit working for a company, or work for yourself

I did two of these things. I left my company because I disliked engineering and the corporate culture from the bottom looking up. I also started my own ventures to have some cash flow. As a result I have the flexibility to not have to be in any particular location to get some of my work done (although I will be working much less while on the trip).

2. Identify your destinations. Since I don't necessarily have an indefinite amount of time, I can't just spend a year going everywhere. I'm taking a couple of months and going to select destinations.

So, I have two options - either use my time to visit as many places as possible, or visit fewer destinations but stay and immerse myself in the culture. I chose the later. I want to get more than just a preview. I want to KNOW each country I visit. So I'm only going to three countries.

France -> China -> Australia.

I'm going to spend enough time in each area to really know it, have a girlfriend there (maybe two), and continue on.

3. Buy the ticket. This was obviously the most painful part because a "round the world" ticket costs a little more than your weekly allowance. I recommend using airtreks.com. They offer the best rates and the travel agent optimizes everything for you.

They offer travel insurance, which I decided to buy but I would recommend NOT insuring the entire amount of the ticket. The likelihood of my entire trip falling through due to some unforeseen incident is slim, and the insurance isn't all that cheap. I insured for roughly 1/3rd of the cost of the ticket.

4. Get a Capital One Visa Card. It's the only credit card available that doesn't charge you for foreign transactions.

5. Identify travel needs. I've had to buy a bunch of new stuff to prepare for the trip including: all-in-one power converters, outlet multipliers (to charge multiple things at once), travel chargers, an ipod touch (yea!), a new backpack for frequent use etc.

The goal is to travel light (I won't be checking anything on the planes) yet comfortable. I'm going to be gone for awhile so I want to make things as homely as possible!

6. Choose destinations where you know people. I like people too much to ever do a trip like this on my own. Sooo, the only portions of this trip that I'm doing solo are the actual flights. I strategically chose destinations that A) Not only I wanted to go, but B) I had friends living there so I could have someone to hang out with.

I'm touring France with my Mom.

My friend Gina is putting me up in an AMAZING looking hotel that her work provides her: The Shanghai Union Square Marriot.

And my friend Frederico lives near Sydney, Australia. (As a side note, I'm particularly excited about Australia because I will FINALLY be the "charming American" guy with the accent! Ausi women watch out!)

This is a great way to save money AND hang out with friends (and Mom's).

So stay tuned! "Arun's 'Round The World Adventures of Awesomeness" will be coming soon!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Non-work Work Day

It's a wonder I actually got anything done when I worked an 8-5 job. Now, even more than before, I always feel like there's not enough hours in the day.


Most of my friends assume that I putter around all day doing this and that to pass the time. The truth is, I never get everything done that I have on my daily agenda. For example, I've been meaning to write a post for the past week-an- a-half, but simply haven't gotten around to it. My days are actually busier than they were when I had a corporate job!

When I worked as an Engineer, I spent a lot of hours at my desk, "working." Truth is, I completed a lot of work ahead of schedule which left me some time to complete other various odds and ends that needed taking care of. Now however, my time is ENTIRELY my own. I don't have to "be" anywhere simply for the sake of being there. I don't spend nearly as much time surfing youtube, reading blogs, etc. I try to keep my efficiency as high as possible and waste minimal amount of time.

I don't watch TV during the day (except ESPN while eating lunch when I'm at home).

I set my alarm at 7:22am every morning (why 7:22 you ask? because that is when that is when the radio morning show dishes out celebrity gossip...totally ridiculous, I know, but it's an entertaining way to start the day).

And what do I do during my 99% efficiency days?

7:22 - Wake up

7:45 - Out the door to gym for cardio workout

9:30 - Coffee Shop near the beach where I work on my laptop

1:30 - Weight Training

2:30 - Lunch

3:15 - More work / play music / general errands

6:00 - Evening activities

So that's a standard sort of day. The thing is, now that I don't work though, everyone always knows I'm available to hang out. So, for example, today I'm meeting Silvia for lunch. Yesterday I played tennis with Jenna in the morning.

Also, I'm much more willing to go out and do stuff in the evenings knowing that I don't have to trudge through an 8 hour day at work. Sure I'll still be tired the next morning (I still wake up at 7:22 even if I'm up late), but the day is WAY more manageable when I'm doing things I enjoy.

It's interesting to notice too, how many people really hate going to work. I almost PREFER weekdays now because I feel so much more productive than on the weekends and have fewer commitments to attend to. But log-on to facebook at anytime, and you'll see a myriad of status updates from people complaining about work.

Quitting Engineering is one of the best moves I've ever made. You spend 0ne-third of your life working, and you only live something like 25,000 days. That's a lot of days spent in misery if you're doing something you don't enjoy.

Now, I ENJOY working because I have a much higher sense of personal investment. Also, I am COMPLETELY in charge of when and where I work. It certainly takes a certain amount of discipline not to waste time puttering around and doing useless things.

STILL though, even though I don't work eight hours a day, there's things I don't have time for:

I've been meaning to brush up on my French - Je ne parles pas bien.

I want to start doing music production again - Haven't even touched the software

I need to start sending newsletters out regularly - only doing them once every two weeks

I just don't know how any of you people work....there's just not enough time in the day ;)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Gladiator Ventures and Urban Adventures


As much as I'd like to say that last Saturday was another typical Saturday, it was anything but...


It all started with the City Solve Urban Race. In case you don't know, I discovered the magic of Urban Racing last year. It's awesome. So when I found out about the City Solve Urban Race I knew I had to participate.

For this race though, I decided to switch partners out. I ran the "Great Urban Race" with my friend Darren...he's solid, steady, and you know what you're gonna get from him. For this race though, I teamed up with Jeff. For you regular (and awesome) readers, you know all about this Jeff character...he frequently stars in many of the more bumbling and blundering adventures that I write about. Jeff is a bit of a wild card...I knew by partnering up with him, we'd either DOMINATE the race, or end up in Mexico riding circus ponies.

So when the race started, I had mentioned to my friend Cassandra that in the last Urban Race, I'd worked together with other friends in deciphering the clues. She was under the understanding that we'd be doing the same thing on this day. As soon as the first clue was revealed however, I went running out the door.

Oops.


Suffice it to say, when we saw Cassandra and Ashley at the end of the race, they weren't too pleased at my selfish abandonment. Oh well...

One of the caveats with Urban Racing is that the only allowable transportation is via foot or public transit (bus, trolley, tram). No bikes, taxis, cars, etc. Being the extremely hardcore individuals that we are, Jeff and I decided to foot nearly the ENTIRE RACE. That equaled about 10 miles of running all over the city.

The strategy paid off as Jeff and I came in with the second fastest time (although we unfortunately were assessed penalty time for messing up one of the clues).

Basically, we DOMINATED (and managed to avoid Mexico and circus ponies all together).

After the race, we were all hungry so Jeff, Ashley, Cass and I decided to go have lunch. BUT, on the way to lunch, we came across a commandeered parking lot downtown with all types of crazy apparatus and cameras everywhere. I looked up and saw the sign:

"Welcome to the Cuervo Games"

We went in to check it out, and someone came up to us:

"Hey do you guys want to sign up? You will be the last team to sign up today and you have about 30 more seconds before we shut down registration"


OBVIOUSLY, we signed up. Basically, the Cuervo Games are four crazy events where we compete against other teams in games similar to the ones on MXC. Once signed up, we were assigned team uniforms and a team manager, who took us to get fitted for knee pads, elbow pads, helmets, and mouth guards.

Good lord I've never done anything that REQUIRED a mouth guard.

Then we had to sign papers saying that if we died, they wouldn't be responsible.

Reassuring.


The first event was the "Tahona Tumber." Basically, the four of us each stand on these small platforms as a padded bar goes round-and-round which we have to jump over while remaining balanced on the platform.

Being the superior athlete that I am, I was sure that I would be able to handle the 30 seconds of time we were required to stay up to gain team points. As the tumbler started, I skied high and easily cleared the first jump. When the other side came around, I bent my knees ready to fly over the next hurdle, however in mid air I realized this side of the tumbler was a DOUBLE hurdle - twice as wide. I flailed wildly in mid air to keep afloat.

Apparently wild flailing does nothing to keep one in afloat.

As I peeled myself off the mat to see the status of the rest of my team, I saw three other empty platforms. I turned to my right and saw a big round yellow pad...hey look its still moving! Closer?

Suddenly, my helmet is on sideways and my head is rattling, and laughter from the bystanders watching has ensued....yes, to add insult to injury, the tumbler came around and nailed me in the noggin.

I'm off to a great start.

The next event was the "Barrel Roll." Think "American Gladiators." Basically, there's a giant blowup pyramid that each player has to run up, grab a flag, jump back down, and tag your partner to get the next one. The catch is, "Gladiators" at the top of the pyramid are throwing rubber barrels at you as you try and make your way up.

We're competing against another team as well as the clock. I volunteer to go first and serve as inspiration to my team. I figure once they see me bob and weave my way up the pyramid and fly back down, they'll be inspired to dominate this event!


The horn sounds, and I'm off! The first barrel is hurled at me and I do a spin move and dodge out of the way, all while moving up the pyramid.

I am awesome!

As I revel in my awesomeness and make way for the second step, I realize there's a problem...I can't see the top of the pyramid anymore. Then I realize why. Yes, I am on the receiving end of a face full of barrel.

Tasty.

I eventually make it up and down.


The third event was definitely the scariest: The "Agave Airwalk." Only two team members are allowed to do this one, and you can't be scared of heights. I volunteered, but honestly, I was moderately terrified (and by "moderately terrified" I mean I had to take my mental focus to unrealized plains just to prevent wetting my shorts).

For this event, each partner had to scale across these planks suspended some 50 feet in the air while grabbing rubber agave fruits. Easier said than done. Ashley went first, grabbed a bunch of fruit, made it across, and tagged me...the only problem is I only had about 45 seconds to make it across.

As I made my way across, I knew I had no time to grab fruit! I made it to the last plank as the announcer was counting down at 5. I was swinging wildly out of control. The only way I was going to make it across in time would be to jump!

"3....2...."

Nope. Even though we're harnessed in, it's totally unnatural to take a leap of faith while hanging onto an unstable plank 50 ft in the air. I wasn't about to test the safety features of the harness assembly either.


The fourth and final event was the "Waterfall Climb." For this, the four of us have to scale a rock climbing wall, while water is being fired at us from the top at 8 gallons per second. This posed a particular challenge for me as I have never in my life rock climbed...but after not taking the leap of faith in the last event, I knew I had to perform.

The horn sounded and I was off! The challenge proved ridiculously difficult though. As you look up to find hand-holds, you get a face full of water! I was getting soaked and blindly trying to make my way up the wall. The countdown began. "5....4....3..."

Not again! I need to ring that damn bell at the top!

Leap of faith.

I jumped and managed to grab and ring the bell as the final horn blew. BOO YAH!!! Waterfall Climb done and dominated!

We didn't actually win the Cuervo games, but for a team that didn't even expect to participate, we did pretty darn well!

Just another Saturday...