Semi-Charmed Life


Tired Dogs are Happy Dogs

I've finally gotten back into running and lifting again after an extended hiatus. The very last times I ran and lifted were in December of last year. I stopped because of injuries and didn't get back into it immediately for a number of reasons, although I was still training jiu jitsu which kept me in relatively good shape. It feels great to be doing all of it again but it's been taking a toll on my body. The soreness that follows from lifting after taking a long break is terrible.

What hurts more than the lifting is the running. Running in Vibram's really gives your legs a hell of a workout. After not running for such a long period, it would have been a good idea to ease into it. My first two runs were a little over 3 miles, but yesterday I had a training session with the Tough Mudder crew and ran 6. The distance wasn't a problem for my cardio, but my legs took a pounding and I'm totally paying the price this morning.

I'm hoping for a quick recovery so I can attack my next workout.

Out of everything I do, I find that running is the most therapeutic activity. Brazilian jiu-jitsu and lifting both have their benefits, as do every other recreational activity, but personally I've found running to be most helpful in reducing stress. When I strap in my shoes and hit the pavement, it feels like it's just me and the road. I run to run-specific music, which is just music set to a certain constant rhythm that helps to keep my cadence on track. My brain pretty much zones out and gets set to autopilot. I always get into this zen-like state when I run, like I am at peace with the world and the only thing that matters in that particular moment is me staying on track and finishing the run. I'm telling you, runner's high is REAL.

I had a talk with a friend once about working out, and I was very surprised to find out that he hated working out. He didn't enjoy it in the least, and only maintained his gym routine because he didn't want to look like a slob. I guess it was strange to me because I have the opposite mentality. I would not say that I run or lift or train bjj for any specific health reasons. Sure, it's great to be in good shape, but the main reason I do these things is because it makes me feel good. I get satisfaction from these activities, and whatever other health benefits I may derive are ancillary to the pleasure I get from doing these things.

Anyway, there's a long week ahead of us. Let's all try to enjoy the entire week and not just think to ourselves when the hell is the weekend going to get here? These days it seems like time just flies and you're left wondering to yourself holy cow, where did it all go? Reminds me of that Adam Sandler movie where he has a remote control that skips to all the "good" parts in his life but realizes in the end that the moral of the story is that your entire life IS the good part. Don't miss out on any of it.

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Mohr Stories: Episode 12 Review

For the past week or so I have been ranting and raving about how awesome Jay Mohr's new podcast is. I've been telling everyone I could to give it a listen, which I'm sure none of them did yet, and in less than week I've caught up to all 12 episodes. It's a pretty huge feat considering each episode runs anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours.

I'll talk more about the overall show in a future post because today I want to say how disappointed I am in the most recent episode. For starters, it's not Jay's fault. The guest this week was Kevin Nealon, which I'm sure many people will recognize:

Getting this guy to talk was like pulling teeth. He has absolutely no memory of ANYTHING! Jay was trying so hard to get him to say something, anything, worthwhile, from his days from SNL and all he had for us was "uh I can't remember." Then when Jay picks up the slack in the conversation and pulls up all these awesome stories, Nealon responds in an almost insulting manner. "Wow, you are a really huge SNL nerd."

This episode was not worth listening to unless you want to listen to uneasiness and tension from Jay trying his best to tease bits and pieces of conversation from Kevin Nealon. The best story Jay told was the wrestling story with Chris Farley, and even that was cut a little short because Nealon just sounded utterly disinterested in everything Jay had to say.

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It’s Not You, It’s Me

Thanks to jigg for sharing this:

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The Win Win

I was capping off a nice training session last night on the mats at my jiu jitsu gym, and towards the end of my sparring session with my training partner I asked him a question. He had pulled a pretty interesting move on me and I wanted to know what he did, to which he responded "don't worry about it. It's a secret move."

Now, I don't expect people who don't train to know how I feel, and I don't even expect people who do train to necessarily have the same mentality towards training, but to me, at the gym we are all there to improve ourselves and also to improve each other. Helping to make our peers stronger can only help us, because we then in turn have stronger partners to train with.

So when that guy refused to tell me what he did, it got me really angry. Or rather, it was anger mixed in with some disappointment. Here I was, asking for his help, and all he could do was grin like a villain and say "sorry pal, it's a secret!" I am far from the best guy at my gym, but when I notice something that somebody is doing wrong or just feel like I can pass off a valuable tip, I do. If I am consistently catching my training partners with a certain thing, I tell them why I'm catching them with it and what they can do to stop it. I'm not there to beat up on my training partners. I mean, I know the goal is to improve and to ultimately "win" via positional dominance or submission, but in the gym, we're supposed to be training to help each other win, not just ourselves.

I'm contemplating never pairing up with that guy ever again, because why should I be a good training partner for this guy when he's clearly not trying to be a good training partner for me?

But then that's being petty I suppose.

This concept of mutual support extends beyond the mats.

Recently I have been thinking about how I can accomplish my goals more effectively. Unfortunately for me, I am not always intrinsically driven to accomplish certain goals. These might be goals that I want to accomplish, but I just lack the internal willpower or whatever you want to call it to accomplish them.

Then I started thinking of AA (alcoholics anonymous) groups. I have a pretty limited understanding of how AA groups work, considering my entire existing body of knowledge about them is derived from television shows and movies. But here you have a group of people coming together, with a specific goal that they want to accomplish. They're there because they obviously can't do it on their own (excluding those who are there on court-mandated terms). Within that group structure is a pairing system, where you have someone act as a "sponsor"  who helps you stay on track and not waver from your goal.

Some strong, intrinsically-driven people out there might poo-poo on the idea of having this extrinsic support group to help accomplish something. I think it's honorable that people can recognize a problem, acknowledge that they might not be able to accomplish it on their own, and look to others for guidance and support in order.

So I was thinking about this whole AA group concept, and I thought it would be cool if this could be implemented in other areas of life. We may not all be struggling addicts, but we're all struggling with something in our lives at one point or another. What if we had some help in those areas we were struggling in?

I proposed this idea to a group of friends. The idea is that I have a goal I want to accomplish and you have a goal we want to accomplish. We then come to an agreement to be responsible for the success of each other's goals. It probably sounds a little hokey, which is why I don't think many of my friends were enthusiastic.

I did have two takers though, and coincidentally both their names are Ray. I came to agreement with one of the Ray's: my goal is to play at least 2 hours of guitar a week, and his goal is to work out at least 5x a week leading up to our race (Tough Mudder).

I think he agreed to it to indulge me, as he is not a person that needs extrinsic motivation to accomplish something. Whatever the case, I'm interested to see how this experiment works out.

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A BBQ Wedding and Post-Hangover Reflections

Another wedding down, with one more to go this upcoming weekend. This past weekend, Ray and Karen had their one year wedding anniversary celebration. They have been officially married since last year, having gone through the official paperwork down at city hall. The celebration this weekend was more of a ceremonial celebration for friends and family, but being that it was a bbq wedding, it was much different than the more traditional Chinese or American weddings I've been to.

The atmosphere they wanted was a very relaxed and casual atmosphere. They wanted the guests to enjoy themselves, and who doesn't enjoy themselves at a nice summer bbq?

It was pretty relaxed for the groomsmen as well. The most difficult part of being groomsmen was deciding what we should wear. Aside from figuring that out, I would say the most difficult thing was the best man speech. Ray had chosen the unconventional path of not declaring a best man. With that said, we did not know whether we should give one single collective speech, delivered by one of us, or if we should all deliver separate individual speeches. We asked Ray and he told us the decision was ours.

Two weeks before the wedding we agreed to each of us coming up with something and taking it from there. A week had past and NONE of us came up with anything. Aderly was the first to submit his speech. When I read it, I was blown away. It had met Ray's stipulations of the speech being no longer than 45 seconds and his requirement for humor (he hates long, boring best man speeches), but more importantly, it was just really good!

The rest of us all agreed it was fantastic, and in the back of my mind I was thinking there was absolutely no way I could deliver something on par. We had also consulted with the bridesmaids, to see whether they were going to each deliver a speech or if they were also going to go with one speech, and to our relief (well, minus Aderly) they were doing just one as well.

Game day arrives, and slowly we learn that each of the girls have in fact prepared their own speeches and were eager to present them. This left us with some serious crunch time decisions. First, we were faced with the uneasy logistics of having to present 7 different speeches. That's a lot of speeches! Second, this was counter to our expectations.

Luckily, most of us did have something prepared because we knew something like this could happen. Ridge had a humorous speech as well, but it was not as good as Aderly's (sorry Ridge). I had an idea of what I was going to say, but it was mostly pleasantries which were not particularly clever or unique. Steve, early on, professed that he was a terrible writer and that he could not come up with anything for the life of him. His escape route was to go last and say something to the effect of "I was going to say all these great things about Ray, but it's all been said by these guys right here."

So we gathered, from not-so-subtle hints, that the bridesmaids had in fact wanted to deliver their speeches. But did Karen?

The four of us gathered together and pulled Karen aside. We asked her what she wanted. She was demure about her response at first, but then she said it. "Yes. I want to hear what each of you have to say." Oh boy, the look on our faces. "This is my wedding too!"

So for the next hour or so, I was pacing around running through what I wanted to say in my head. I had 3 beers and 2 cups of wine at this point, so it wasn't easy. I think somewhere along the line, we made a decision that we were going to stick with just Aderly speaking. He had a very strong speech, and it would remain a strong one if it was not diluted with speeches from the rest of us.

However, right up until the moment, I was unsure if I was going to be speak unexpectedly. Here's a rough idea of what I was going to say:

Hi everybody. My name is Alvin and I want to thank you all for being here. I'm actually a little unsure how I have the honor of standing here before all you guys right now. I didn't grow up with Ray and know him for nearly my entire life like Steve over here, and I didn't even go to school or live with Ray like Aderly and Ridge have. I feel like I've always been the little brother that Ray has always had to deal with because of his constant "I told you so" looks or the way he just always seems to have all the answers and I never do.

I do look up to him as an older brother though, and one thing I am always impressed by is his committment. Anyone that knows Ray knows that his word is his bond. He does not just say things "casually." Years ago, before he met Karen he had already entertained the idea of a BBQ wedding, and now it's a reality. This past January, he said he would make sure our first snowboarding trip out west would happen, and now he's already finished planning it at the same time he was working on this wedding with Karen.

His commitment to his words are unparalleled, which is why I know that the vows he has spoken will be honored, and that when he professes his love to Karen it is and always will be the truest words any man has ever spoken.

Okay, so I probably would not have delivered all that with as much poise as my prose reflects but that reflects the structure of the speech I had in mind.

The girls ended up only giving one speech, probably to mirror the guys. I thought both speeches were excellent and that it all worked out well, but I know Karen also had her heart set on hearing something from each of us. Karen, if you're reading this I hope you were not disappointed by the outcome!

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