Randomness for the week of 5/13-5/19

When I was a kid, a day seemed like a year. If someone told me that I had to wait a month for something to happen, I’d be in agony over how slowly that time passed. That’s all different now.
 
Now, I would love for time to slow down to an agonizingly slow pace.
 
    • On Tuesday, I received confirmation that my Project UNIFY grant application was accepted, and fully funded. This is a huge project with aspects that will reach into every aspect of our programs to change it for the better. If implemented correctly, we’re going to see a tremendous about of growth over the next few years. We’ll also see increased efficiency and sustainability in what we do. It changes our approach; it will affect every singe aspect of our organization. And believe me, I’m not exaggerating when I describe it this way. Click here for the SOSC web page on our School Partnership Programs and Project UNIFY. Admittedly, the page needs a complete overhaul, including much more information about what we’re doing, but keep checking it for updates if you’re interested. 
 
    • Within the past few months I’v gained a renewed sense of drive and loyalty to my career. It’s funny how quickly things can change. At the end of last year, I was ready to make a career change.
 
    • I’m getting increasingly annoyed with myself for not following through on things I tell myself that I should do. Best example is me constantly saying “I need to eat better. Smaller portions and more cooking at home.” Then using the excuse of “my busy schedule” or “I’m too tired” to back out of it.
 
    • Speaking about (not) eating better: one of the best things I’ve ever eaten was the pastrami chili cheese fries, from The Hat, I had for dinner last night. So good but, the chances of me ordering it again are pretty slim. That is, unless there are 10 other people I can share it with. So much food. I didn’t take a picture of mine, but my friend Elissa took a pic before her and her husband tackled it a few weeks ago. View it here
 
    • No “Things I didn’t tweet this week” post because I simply didn’t have a lot of time for Twitter (or any other social network). And, when I did have the time, I didn’t “filter” what I did post.
 
  • Family and friends are surprised when I tell them how much busier things are (as we’re all already very busy as it is). I think there’s an even greater need, and sense of urgency, to really focus on making time for them as we move forward. Especially important is that my wife and I make it a real point to turn off work and spend real time together.

The things I didn’t tweet this week (5/6-5/12)

And it’s a good thing I didn’t. Though, it’s not to say that the things that were published to my Twitter stream were actually worth posting. I mean, come on.
 
Consider this the equivalent of the Friday evening newscast. Really, nothing of importance.
    • Harley stopped next to me playing Taylor Swift on his radio. Lesson from this moment? Do what you want. F everyone else.

How I should “earn this”

Tom Hank’s character tells Private Ryan, in the movie Saving Private Ryan, to “earn this”. That scene is important, really driving home one of the main points of the story. Private Ryan, while reminiscing about that moment, expresses how much he tried to live his life in order to earn what that group of soldiers did for him.
 
Applied to my life, I use the “earn this” mantra more and more often. Are my actions worth it? Is what I do something that will “earn” a positive result? Am I working to ensure that what I do, in both work and personal life, worth what I achieve?
 
And, it’s also fun to use the “earn this” mantra to other things, like:
 
    • Remember the ginormous meal you just ate? “Earn it” by working out, cycling, hiking, etc.

 

    • Want something specific from your wife, friend, or family? “Earn it” by doing something for them as well.

 

  • That new camera/lens/other photography equipment you want to buy? How do you plan to “earn it”?

Sunday musing on Flickr and korean tacos

No “deep” thoughts for today’s musing. I’m anxious for a for a few things coming this week. Nothing bad, just want things to start moving. Patience is, and always will be, something I continually strive towards.
 
I did grill this evening (no pictures because I simply wanted to enjoy my evening). I made Korean-inspired tacos. I grilled some bulgogi (purchased pre-marinated from Fresh and Easy), grilled a bunch of corn tortillas, added some shredded cabbage and Sriracha for some delicious tacos. Next time I do this, I’m skipping the pre-marinated pack and doing my own because, 1) the marinade (flavor) wasn’t strong enough for me, and 2) the quality of the meat wasn’t all that great.
 
I’m slowly working through my Flickr photostream, reorganizing sets and collections, adding titles, descriptions, tags, and really trying to set it up so that it’s easy for me to keep things organized moving forward. I’m still a little unsure about “investing” more effort into Flickr; I just need to see some more innovation come from them. Right now, the features I want aren’t there. But, I feel a bit loyal to them (as I’ve been with them since Nov 2004).

The things I didn’t tweet this week (4/29-5/5)

And it’s a good thing I didn’t. Though, it’s not to say that the things that were published to my Twitter stream were actually worth posting. I mean, come on.
Consider this the equivalent of the Friday evening newscast. Really, nothing of importance.
    • Coffee was so good, this morning, I wanted to swim in it instead of drink it.

 

    • Zooey, I love ya but you’re just way to overexposed right now. Irritatingly so.

 

  • Same with you, Betty White.
These are tweets from my drafts folder, written during the week but not actually posted for some reason or another. 

Taking steps forward

There was a lot of work put into this project. The amount of meetings (to get various parties on board with what we are about to embark on), with the amount of research and planning required, took up my whole month of April. Writing the grant is just the first step. When* we get the grant award, I expect a whirlwind of activity over the course of the next year. And, like I’ve been telling everyone, if we do this (implementation) correctly, our Programs will not look the same when we look back a few years from now. All for the better.
 
In the meantime, knowing the insanely busy professional road I’m about to travel, it’s become even more important that I find creative and recreational outlets. I’m forcing myself to make more time for hiking, cycling, photography, and travel. I’m even working to allow myself more time for reading and writing.
 
The main focus (pun intended) is on my photography. I’m taking the hobby back to where I am most comfortable with it, as a hobby. I won’t be taking freelance jobs for a while, nor updating a professional website. I’ll be shooting for myself (and an occasional friend/family). That’s where I enjoy photography most and that’s exactly what I want to get back to.
 
Incidentally, I am enjoying the site A Lessor Photographer. Written by @Cj Chilvers, his manifesto has helped steer me towards a much more simple approach, allowing for a greater appreciation of photography as a whole.
 
* I say “when” because I’m positive that we will be awarded the funds. Positive thinking.

Sunday grill

Sunday grill by patricktphoto
Sunday grill, a photo by patricktphoto on Flickr.

With the warm weather becoming a constant, I’m getting back into the habit of grilling more often. Sundays seem to be perfect as they’re usually the only days when I don’t have work or other commitments.

This afternoon I opted to marinade some salmon fillets in Soy Vey Teriyaki sauce before tossing them onto the grill. I paired those with some grilled asparagus (tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt).

Oh, so good.

Over-complicating simplicity

I have a tendency to over-complicate things. It’s something that I’m constantly working to correct yet, due to my tendency to over-complicate things, sometimes my course towards correction is a bit, well… over-complicated. Where this really hurts me is in my photography. I keep switching directions only because I feel like I have to. I keep trying new things only because I feel like I have to. I keep exploring different paths and methods only because I feel like I have to. And, when I realize that I need a course-correction, the over-complication comes into play confusing me even more than it should.So I have stopped. I haven’t photographed on a regular basis for a little over a year. I could chalk it up to creative block, or something alo

Some mid-week randomness

It looks like I’ll have to postpone my #31Tacos project originally planned for May. Some recurring health issues can be blamed for forcing me to adjust some of my routines and overall diet for the next few months. It’s nothing serious, just a slight change in course in the interest of long-term health.

Speaking of health, I’m very inspired by so many of my friends who are taking their health more seriously lately. They’re working on all aspects, from weight loss to lifestyle changes. It’s nice, and especially motivating, when you work with a group that has similar goals. My main goal is lifestyle change in that I want to be more active. Hiking, cycling, walking, running (still undecided on this, but it intrigues me), and playing tennis again (I miss it).

The past 5 years were extremely difficult, yet eye-opening in that I will never, ever, take mobility for granted.I’ve retrained myself to (again) carry a camera with me everywhere I go. This means no more “kidding myself” by constantly justifying leaving the camera at home with “I can get by with the iPhone”.

Yes, I can get by with the camera phone, but that is not the photographer I am. I need the actual camera; a separate device specifically for photography. Thankfully, the Fuji x10 is perfect for my everyday camera needs. It’s not too big, heavy, nor cumbersome for daily use.

The kind of stress that nurtures maturity

I’m stressed out. But, it’s the good kind of stress. It’s the kind of stress that I actually feel “empty” without; the contestant feeling of having things to do, a purpose, a challenge in front of me that comes with a self-imposed sense of urgency. Others can judge it “unhealthy” but, knowing what I know about myself, I wouldn’t want to go through life without this feeling.

I think that’s why I became extremely bored during high school and college. I didn’t challenge myself in any way. I signed up for easy classes and settled for status quo (if that) and became more sentient as each week passed. Part of me knew that my negative attitude was my own self-doing yet, I never took any steps to correct it.Now, a totally different story. I’m traveling down a road that will lead me to reach a professional level that I never imagined I would achieve. I haven’t been this excited about my job since I was first hired (ten years ago). My enthusiasm has dramatically increased (colleagues have already started to comment on how excited I am when I talk about the project). It’s exciting in that this project reaches out to every single aspect of what our organization does and, if implemented correctly, will have tremendous impact on our overall program growth and sustainability.

This is what I thrive on – a challenge bigger than I give myself credit for. A challenge that my previous low levels of self-esteem and self-doubt would prevent me from even considering. A long-term project that I would have otherwise turned down because of my fear of commitment to any single entity. There’s no more “one foot out the door” looking at other job opportunities. This is an all-in, must see this project through drive that has developed from deep within. It comes with a sense of deep passion and commitment; it’s something I want to look back on my life upon and see it’s success as one of the biggest achievements of my life.

It’s different now. I’m different now.* This Sunday musing was written on Monday due to an extremely busy weekend.

The long road (air route) home

I’m home, and it feels good. Here’s the day of travel that got me back to Southern California:

Shuttle to Athens Airport: My driver, provided by the games GOC, arrived 15 minutes early. Goodbyes were said to my team members, now new friends, and I loaded the car with my bags. My driver (I can’t recall her name) was a nursing student, just graduated. She signed up to volunteer for the games as part of the Medical team, but was assigned to be a driver (in the Transportation Services) instead. Which is good, as she really knew the streets of Athens. To avoid traffic, we jetted through side streets and back alleys. At one point, she even knocked the mirror off of a parked car as we flew down a narrow street.

Flight 1: Athens to Toronto. This was about 10 hrs, 45 minutes of blah. I dozed off and on, watched most of the in flight movies (Date Night, Beastly, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules, The A-Team, Win-Win). It was a crowded plane, including all of SO Team Canada coaches and athletes. Thankfully, the flight was uneventful too. Just long. And the haze I was in for most of yesterday allowed me to ignore a lot of things.

My 2hr layover, in Toronto, was spent going through customs three different times. Apparently, they only booked my luggage to Toronto (not all the way through to LA as they should have). I didn’t find this out until after I was in line for US customs. I then had to clear Canadian customs, get my bag, check back into my flight, clear US customs, clear security, then board the plane. Got in a good workout and became very familiar with the terminal.

Flight 2: Toronto to Los Angeles: I was dead tired. It didn’t help that, when it became a tad turbulent, the flight attendant spilled a pitcher of water onto my lap. Understanding that it wasn’t his fault (it was very turbulent at that time), I still snapped at him. The head flight attendant came over to offer me a free drink (alcoholic), but I didn’t want anything from any of them. I was tired. Again, I dozed off an on, and before I knew it the plane had landed.

Michelle met me in baggage claim, and we promptly headed to In-N-Out for a long awaited burger (oh so good). Then to home, where I fully appreciated a long hot shower (in my own home), and a long, good night’s sleep (in my own bed).

Feels good to be home.

Athens, days 11, 12 & 13: What day is it?

Somewhere along the line I stopped keeping track of the date and time The only reason I still wear my watch is to cover up the insane watch tan on my wrist. Also, there’s no way I could ever cheat on my wife by hiding my wedding ring, as I think you can see my ring tan line from space. Not that I would even think to attempt something like that to begin with.

There’s not a lot of (new) things to report from the past few days. It’s still hot here. There’s still a lot of walking around the venues. The food is still very good (Reuben has a knack for choosing really good places to eat). My hotel room bed still has the consistency equivalent to a large marble slab.

Speaking of my bed: at 4:30 AM, yesterday, I made the mistake of rolling over to the middle of it. Now, know that my bed is actually two twin beds, on wheels, pushed together. I’ll let you imaginations complete the rest of the story, but as I told everyone, it was quite difficult to go back to sleep after that.

They like their starch over here. The bed sheets are like sandpaper. My laundry has been coming back with my t-shirts like cardboard. When I put them on, I feel like I’m wearing paper.

At this stage in the Games (Closing Ceremonies are on Monday), there aren’t a whole lot of issues left to troubleshoot. There has been a lot of standing around, floating from venue to venue, most times not even touching a GMS computer at all. There are a lot of other issues that we’ve faced, of which I don’t want to go into detail o this site. It’s been a challenge, and the seasoned team members are going crazy with all of the free time we’re left with (it’s not supposed to be this slow for us).

Yesterday (day 13), I played “bodyguard” for Apryl. It was her last day (she flys home this morning), and Reuben gave her the day off to go sightseeing, shopping, etc. To make sure she wasn’t floating through this (crazy) city alone, I went with her. After seeking out some people she wanted to catch up with, we headed into Jumbo. Jumbo is a cross between Toys R Us and Ikea, where the top floor is all toys and the bottom floor is all home goods (weird). After she loaded up on gifts for her 2-yr old daughter, we hopped onto the Metro to Plaka. Plaka is a neighborhood made up of narrow streets and a ton of shops selling a million different things. Very neat to wander through there.

I’m making a list of things that I want to do as soon as I get home. When I read through it, it’s definitely a sign that I am getting a little homesick. Mostly? I miss my bed, my own shower, and my wife. Let me rephrase: I miss my wife, my bed, and my own shower.

I’ve taken the lazy way out, so you’re stuck with my camera phone pics for this post. It’s hard to keep shooting pictures when I keep going to the same venues and don’t necessarily see anything new.

Athens, Days 9 & 10:

Last night, I reached a point of pure lazy. As soon as I sat down in the hotel lobby, after a long day at the OAKA venue, I simply did not want to move from the chair. Some of it was being tired physically, but I later realized that it was mostly mental exhaustion. While I’m having a really fun time here, I have been going non-stop for a few months. We completed our Southern Ca Summer Games right before I left. Before that there were many grant reports and projects that I was working (hard) to complete. Before that there was a lot of field support I needed to provide to our Regional staff. It’s just been busy, and it seemed to all catch up with me.

This morning, I felt much better. I, very surprisingly, got a good night’s sleep. The hotel bed is hard as a rock. When I first arrived, I tossed my backpack onto the bed. Usually, when I do that, I see the backpack bounce a little. On this bed, not so much. I can’t wait until I get into my own bed at home.

As I mentioned, I spent day 9 at OAKA, providing some standby support for powerlifting and basketball. There were only a few questions/troubleshooting scenarios that came up. Nothing major which, as we keep trying to remind ourselves, is actually a good thing. It means things are running pretty well. But, it also makes for a very boring time sitting around a venue and waiting to be sought out for help

I was able to catch up with a Southern Ca coworker, Bill, who is here as part of SO Team USA. We swapped “war stories” around the cheese sandwiches (remember from day 1?), athletes, GOC and more. It was good to see him. I also ran into Kelly K, who works for SO Wisconsin and was one of Michelle’s bridesmaids in our wedding. Very fun to catch up with her too. She is here working public relations for SO Team USA.

There is a girl, that works the powerlifting venue, who looks like Shakira (the singer). Her actual name is Alexandra, but we’ve (internally) named her Shakira. Yesterday, I got names mixed up, and called her Shakira to her face. Would you expect anything else? Luckily, she didn’t catch on. At least, I don’t think she did.

The protests and riots got really bad. A budget measure was passed, that set off the general public. There were fires in the streets and riot police everywhere. Thankfully, we’re safe. Our hotel is a few miles away from the main activity, and the riots seem to be moving away from where we are. There is a constant stream of sirens moving down out street (which was closed for a little bit last night). We’re expecting to see more of them throughout the week. Special Olympics World Games is beginning to be blamed for financial woes too, as the public seems to be very unhappy with the amount of government money behind this event. Needless to say, we’re being very careful.

Today, day 10, I made my way back out to Hellinikon to check in with the venues out there (football, cycling, softball, handball and rhythmic gymnastics. It was neat to see all of the other sports (I really liked the way cycling was setup). Most of the time was spent indoors, watching the rhythmic gymnastics. Yes, a little boring hearing the same songs, and seeing the same routines, over and over again, but still inspiring to see the athletes at work.

I met a photographer, hired by Specia Olympics, to cover the World Games. We swapped a few stories and I learned more about his day job (shooting for the European press while stationed in China). It was nice having a conversation with a photographer where equipment brands, the latest and greatest gear, and (equipment) pissing matches don’t come up. Just talking pure photography was refreshing.

The last two dinners were spent at Pizza Roma, just a little walk from our hotel. It’s pretty good pizza (not NYC good, but good enough to remind us of home). I like the place because it’s very low key, and I’m finding that at this point of the trip, I like my evenings to be as low key as possible.

That’s about it for the past two days. There are some riots again this evening, stranding two of our team members at a venue that is on lockdown, but for the most part everyone else related to SO is safe. Now, we’re all just hoping that they don’t choose to riot/protest on Tuesday, when all of our flights are supposed to take us home. That would suck.

But, we’ll cross that bridge in a few days. For now we will see these games through. Tomorrow looks like I’ll be back at powerlifting. I’ll try not to call Alexandra, “Shakira”, but I can’t make any promises.