End of a Decade

Death is one of the only certain things in life. I think eventually we might find a way to slow down time or even travel through it, that would be kind of cool… scary, but cool. Maybe it is having lost a couple of people recently, maybe it is the knowledge that I have just started to have to deal with death close to me and it overall just sucks, but is a reality.

Time is flying by it seems and I am not ready to lose those close to me. The thought scares me and even though I do seem to be able to function after it, I know the in the coming years I will have no grandparents left (I know a lot of people have already begun to lose parents or never even met their grandparents.) Still the whole death thing start to hit closer and closer.

I am not affraid of my own death. Maybe it is the whole dare devil, adrenaline junkie thing… maybe it is that I don’t fear the afterlife… not sure.

Death does bring clarity about life. The closer it gets, the more I realize that we need to really enjoy our life to the fullest. The more I read, the more I realize that those around us are the ones that truly shape our world view. My life continues to get better and better the more I surround myself with people that are not just happy, but willing to enjoy life.

This decade I lost my Grandfather, more recently I lost a very close Great Aunt. I also lost 3 friends and 3 other close friends lost parents. It is interesting to me that this is what comes to mind when I think of this decade. I guess this decade started to really educate me about loss.

I have never been a super fan of holidays and the whole present thing, and now that I know that people have lost loved ones around this time I even start to think of it differently. I think of the people that have to spend their holidays in a hospital taking care of a sick loved one, more than getting presents for people. I care more about the thought of loneliness that some people feel in their later years as I see elderly neighbors get visited very seldom.

This decade has also cemented my view that relationships is what life is about. The good, the bad, it really colors the paiting that it is your life. Laughter and crying being the soundtrack of love lost and found.

I do consider myself a very sucessful person, and once again all due to those around me. This year had a lot of tough situations, but having the people I do around me made it possible to stay sane. I also learned that picking up the phone to call for help should not be just a last resort, but standard practice because perspective is what helps control the inner demons.

This decade I met some wonderful people and my quest for amazing friendships got richer and richer! I will someday win the lotto and get you all in one room at the same time. That would be an awesome dream come true.

My Mom’s advice through the difficult times has been very simple. Don’t ask for money or happiness, ask for health and peace. If you are healthy you can earn, if you have peace you will obtain happiness. She is soooo very right. I don’t end this year with overwhelming happiness and expectations like I have in the past, but rather with a (to borrow from a couple of people :) ) self satisfied smirk. Years are making me wiser, my support system every growing and fantastic and the journey still in its beginings.

So to those not with us anymore, I hope you are waiting for me to join you someday hopefully not any time soon. To those still with me, lets try to see each other more in the coming years! (YeY Travel).

Too many projects, not enough time

Right now I have several things going on that I want to work on, but not much time to do it.

I have several posts that I have started but cannot quite get around to finishing.

I really want to do a podcast with Deguia again and discuss the book “The Road.”

I want to finish 3 books that I have started, and stopped either because I started during travel and forgot when I came back or I happen start another one.

There are movies coming out that I actually want to go see in the theaters.

I am looking forward to Turkey day and the holidays, but not the inches I am going to get from it.

I want to find a pool close to home so I can go do laps every morning… I miss swimming a lot.

I guess don’t mind me, just putting down some mental notes here… and this not even begin to include the work related stuff.

So what is going on with your brains?

Blizzcon 2010

Before I even begin to talk about this great weekend I want to say that without the people that I got to meet, hang out and just share this wonderful experience this would have simply been a good time; instead this will be one of those memories that stays with you for the rest of your life.

For those of you that don’t know what Blizzcon is you first have to learn what Blizzard is. I have been playing video games since the time you had to put quarters in to make that little dude move on the TV. I have been a fan of Blizzard for years because of games like Warcraft; Starcraft (RTS) and Diablo (Action). It wasn’t until almost 3 years ago that I started playing World of Warcraft (MMORPG) and realized that Blizzard is above and beyond any other game company when it comes to putting out a superior product.

This company puts a convention together every single year to showcase their new products, kind of pat themselves on the back for their accomplishments but foremost to provide a place for their customers to interact with each other. This was the best part of the whole experience. It is one thing to play a game with people and other to actually share a meal, a drink and some laughter. Like any time that you are going to meet people, at first you have no clue what to expect; but it was amazing how easy we all clicked right away and just had an amazing weekend that will hopefully become a tradition for us.

I could go off on a tangent here but I will concentrate on talking about Blizzcon itself during this post. This two day festival has tons to offer; so lets start with the stuff I did not like at all.
Even though Blizzard does do an excellent job to get people what they need quickly, there are lines… tons of them. While there is a lot of stuff to do and see while there, you at one point or another will be stuck in line somewhere. The only way to avoid them is to know the schedule extremely well, but honestly I did not see any of the cool stuff (or where they gave free stuff) without a line after the opening cermonies were over. The problem with the lines behind the obvious waiting and waiting is that some or our fellow geeks have not found it important to break the stereotype and some of them still don’t know what deodorant is. It was not horrible but I am not a fan of smelling people. Who knows maybe there is a niche market there to make some quick soap/deodorant combo that can help some of this people out. Thankfully there were plenty of hand sanitizing locations all over the convention center that at least made me feel better about touching keyboards and just overall other surfaces.

Everyone that we did had to interact to in lines and just standing around was extremely friendly and it was very easy to strike up a conversation. We had a big group of people, but others would approach us and ask us questions about our guild or what classes we played. It was very cool to have people just be so friendly and willing to just have a good laugh with you.

The only other negative thing was that their announcements were not earthshattering. I was really looking forward to them announcing something big like what their next MMO is going to be about, but they kept everything very current and concentrated on the release of Cataclysm and SCII related announcements. While they did unveil that Diablo III is going to have a PvP component to it and it looked amazing, revealing what the last playable class “Demon Hunter” was going to be was about it. WoW related they announced that you will be able to simply download Cataclysm and you don’t have to go to store to buy it. You should be able to start playing at midinight December 7th which should be pretty cool.

Being able to play their upcoming games was probably the most organized and what you could do in less than an hour. Everthing else that was related to a line felt like a ride at an amusement park, minutes upon minutes of waiting for just a 45 second thrill.

Now lets talk about the awesome. 95% of the people that dressed up really put months worth of effort into it. It was amazing to see the dedication some people put into their costumes. I thought this was going to be just a handful of people that knew what they were doing and lots of bad rushed jobs, but no; there were some serious costume makers there doing actual leather work and complicated things that were just jaw dropping. I think 3 of them were actually provided by blizzard and they were simply amazing, but the fan made ones really showcased dedication and sometimes humor. I would say that surprisingly the costumes were my favorite part of the convention.
Diablo Witch Doctors
Jay Mohr has been the host of Blizzcon and appearently last year he was a little under the influence of alcohol which he made fun of saying that he was just simply nervous and not drunk. The first night was the costume/dance contest. You do get to see most of the costumes up close from just walking around and they love to have their picture taken, but if you want to really see them all you must attend this event where they all get to walk on stage. The problem is that some of the get ups are quite elaborate and get heavy and toward the end of the night you could see some of the people having a real hard time moving on them. Nobody from the costume contest actually tripped on stage which was amazing to me.

After that part of the show finished the dance contest started and it was a riot. Basically every in game race/sex combination has their own dance emote in World of Warcraft. You type /dance and they characters go to town. Well now the humans behind the strings get to show their ability to move themselves with some comical consequences. I could seriously not stop laughing during some of the dances and some of the performances were just genious. The whole night was without incident until a kid who was getting really into his dance (and getting some amazing hang time to his jumps) actually ruptured a ligament. I am happy to report that he is “all good” and was at the convention the next day.

The next thing on my favorite list was the PvP tournaments. To see some of those people battle it out in front of an audience is amazing. Their level of skill at the game is just unreal. I was glad to see one of the North American teams make it so high in the later, but Asia simply dominates when it comes to competitive gaming. I would say that it is one of the things you should not miss!

To top off the weekend one of my friends from California is an actual police officer and I had the priviledge to go on a ride-along. I will have to make another post about it because the experience was amazing and I really want to write about it. There was so much to see and so much to do during this weekend, but again I want to say it again, without the amazing people I got to hang out with this was just a cool experience… the people made it Legendary.

The Reason I am Happy

For a while I used to wonder why some people seem so bothered by my being someone who likes to be happy and smile. One of my past romantic relationships was actually plagued by this problem. There was a constant need to poke holes at my positive attitude with the pretense of “nobody is that happy,” or “nobody likes everyone.” The first part is true, I am this happy 95% of the time; the second is actually more complex because I do try to find things in common with almost anyone but I definitely not like everybody. Until I read this article over at Zen Habits, I did not have a good explanation as to how I why it was so easy for me to switch that happy switch.

The reason I am so happy is that I don’t measure myself with someone else’s ruler. The article closes with a very simple but powerful couple of sentences.

“So forget about “success”, and just find joy, passion, love, awesome-ness right now, in this moment. *That* is a success you can achieve, without any self-help course, without any method. Just go out and do it.”

I have never chased success, especially not someone else’s idea of it. It stings a little when sometimes members of my family said that I could have been a lawyer or a doctor and that would have given me more “status.”  However, I don’t think either of those could have made me happier. What I do to make money is not what makes me in my eyes successful at all. Maybe it is because of it I learned that I could not measure my success by someone else’s ideas, and in a way their passing that judgment helped me go down the road of understanding this idea lots quicker.

The article centers around the idea of chasing success in the commonly understood sense of the word being a bad thing. I have to agree wholeheartedly. One of the hardest friendships to lose was because of this same idea. To that person getting ahead in life was more important than personal relationships. I could simply not agree with that idea. If that is what it took to get ahead in business, I really did not want to do it.

During my career, I’ve had opportunities to screw other people over to get ahead but I always chose not to. I will never forget the day when the VP of a company told me that my problem was simply that I did not “kiss enough @ss.” When I like a person it is sincere, not because I think I can get something out of them or the relationship. That is not to say that I don’t understand how most people work, but when I compliment someone it is sincere, not to inflate their ego.

I have been writing here for years now, and I love my blog because, like the Zen Habits writer, I do it for me. It does not matter if have 1 reader or 1000. If this is a vehicle for me to express my feelings and better my writing, I have succeeded. The fact that people like what I write or have found good ideas to expand upon is icing on the cake.

I define success simply by the people you have around you and the relationship you have with them. It is not the number of people, but rather what they bring into your life. Not all the relationships in my life are perfect and many of them could be leap and bounds better, but most of them bring amazing joy to my life. Be it laughter, passion, playing a video game together or just the simple joy of spending an afternoon doing nothing; I am the luckiest man alive by having so many wonderful relationships in my life, starting with my wife.

Sure, I do have goals in my life and some of those are attached to attaining objects or money; but my happiness is not attached to any of those things. Tonight I am having dinner with a friend that is visiting from KC and his wife. Their friendship has meant the world to me because they were there during some rough moments but mostly because it was important for them to spend time with us while they were here in town for a couple of days. Tomorrow, my wife and her online friend of 10 years are going to get to meet face to face for the first time. Maybe it is because I will be spending time with my best friend tomorrow or because I will get to hang out with a bunch of wonderful people at Blizzcon; but I am super happy, super excited and just feel I won the lottery by being able to share my life with so many cool people. So yes I am happy!

Two Day Trip

When I booked the plan tickets I had many options for traveling from Chicago to Miami… but there is only one American Airlines flight to Cali a day. It leaves Miami at 4:40 almost on the dot every time, but I always forget that they start boarding almost an hour earlier.

I figured 2 hours between flights would be plenty even if there was a delay or congestion in Ohare, but in relaity I should have chosen an earlier flight. When we arrived at the gate in Chicago the plane was already there which is a good sign of leaving on time, until the gate agent announced that they had to perform some “maintenance” on the plane.

The waiting game started and almost an hour later the words equipment change made us start wondering if we would be able to catch our connection. I was hopeful until we arrived at the gate and the plane was still there… the close to the tunnel was not closed yet, however the plane door was… there was no way we were getting on that plane.

I wondered why with the computer systems they have now they cannot arrange for the plane to wait for passengers for an international connecting flight (there was four of us). When I started thinking of the logistics though, we could have boarded the plane on time but what about the bags. In reality switching from one plane to another takes time, so in the future when the flexibility allows for it I will sacrifice sleep for arriving in the day I plan.

It is frustrating to have to cut your vacation a day short, but better that going down on a broken plane. We did end up with paid meals and on first class on our last leg of travel… I had travelled in first class before, but American Airlines first class is pretty awesome.

We are safe, sound and rested in Palmira, Colombia.