Expanding My Social Horizons

June 26, 2009

In college I had few responsibilities. As far as my actual degree goes, my only real responsibilities were to learn and get passing grades. Socially, I pretty much just played basketball and went out with my friends. And partying in our dorms was all fine and good… until we turned 21. And then we went out to explore the bars and clubs, and we spent boatloads of moolah on drinks and covers and the like. Please, stop me if this sounds familiar. Fiscally speaking, I like to think that it was an expensive hobby of experience collecting to check out the various alcoholic establishments in my fair city (and bolster my friendships).

Now, years have passed since I was but a budding twenty-something youth and my interests have changed a bit. The Girlfriend and I have picked up a new hobby: swing dancing. We both enjoy dancing, and not just that grinding club style, although that has it’s place too. ;) A great side effect of this dancing stuff though, is just having a cheap, social hobby in which we can meet people or just go to have some drinks and have some fun.

Let me give you an example. The Girlfriend and I recently went to Seattle. I have a friend who lives up there and she took us out to dinner one night. Lo and behold, the restaurant (The Tin Table, in the Capitol Hill district, was located in an old Oddfellows building that housed various other businesses. One of those businesses was in the Century Ballroom that was used as a nightly dance floor that had different music depending on the day. I’m talking older styles of dance, like east coast swing, lindy hop, salsa, tango, etc. So of course, we had to check this place out. On Sunday night, we stepped into the ballroom for the all swing dance (east/west/lindy hop, basically) night. At $7 a head, this was neither the cheapest, nor most expensive cover I’ve ever paid. But the dance floor was alive and kickin’ from 9pm until… whenever they felt like closing it seemed.

I think many post-grad twenty-somethings hit a point where they feel like their lives have become stagnant. As a friend of mine so elegantly put it (paraphrased) with regards to having a routine of working and having a few outside hobbies that you do all the time, “You’re ok with having a day-to-day routine. The week-to-week is acceptable. Month-to-month you’re sort of iffy on, but you’ll live. Year-to-year scares the hell out of you!” The only thing I can say about this is that a) It seems to be true for many twenty-somethings. and b) You have the power to change this.

Try expanding your horizons and looking into some activities you’ve never done before but find kind of interesting. Maybe you’ll even save a buck or two when you find a new hobby and stop bar hopping every weekend. And maybe you won’t. Big deal. As another friend of mine said, “money is for having experiences anyway.”

Just for fun, here’s a clip of some sweet Lindy Hoppers:

Time to go to grad school?

May 21, 2009

Click to enlarge.


RTS Party Plan: Support a starving musician

May 19, 2009


Writer at Bar Pink. Photo from excellent events blog sddialedin.

Writer at Bar Pink. Photo from excellent events blog sddialedin.

Muse uses a video screen the size of a big rig. The Killers use pyrotechnics. Weezer has the letter “W” adorned with thousands of lights. Why? Because you’re sitting 100 yards away and they need to do everything they can to capture your attention.

But that band playing at the bar? Only about an arms length away. Special effects? Maybe a fog machine they picked up from Spencer’s, if that. More likely it’ll be nothing.

Rock concerts at festivals and arenas are great. Hearing thousands of people singing “Say It Ain’t So” is an experience. But seeing a band you’ve barely heard (aside from a few songs on MySpace), oftentimes for free, and a cheap drink in hand is a great experience. Seeing the guitarist step on the petals and change frets. Feeling the vibration from the drums rather than a subwoofer. Even the (romanticised) notion that they’re playing the music not for money (because they aren’t getting much, if any) but because they want to to get their music out there. Go out and see Young Love at your campus bar. Or catch Finding Fiction at the bar with the $2.50 beers. With some minor research (like the excellent sddialedin for San Diego) it’s never hard to find a free show and a good band on any day of the week.

I stink at rock climbing, or, spending money wisely

May 12, 2009

I have horrible balance. I recently recovered from a broken foot – my second broken foot in the past two years – and decided that I needed to pick up an activity to improve my balance. Enter rock climbing.

My friends Richard and Rose introduced me to the sport not too long ago, and with their encouragement, I became a member at an indoor climbing gym. The problem? Climbing equipment is expensive. Very expensive. To the point where I considered jerry-rigging the equipment myself (before common sense took hold).

I ended up buying my equipment at REI. The cost? 40% more than prices I found on the internet. But being financially saavy doesn’t mean that you should always go for the cheaper price. Service matters. Quality matters. And in this case, a great return policy really matters.

Climbers require shoes that cause their toes to curl. The idea behind this is that unfilled portions of the shoe won’t give them the ability to support themselves. Thus, smaller shoes are better. A climber I spoke to yesterday wore shoes 2 full sizes down from his regular fit.

So I bought a pair at REI at the 40% higher price. But after climbing in them one day, I decided that the shoes were too small for me. I placed the shoes back in the box – still covered in chalk – and headed back to return them.

“Why are you returning the shoes?” the attractive saleswoman asked.

“They seemed too small. Can I have a half-size bigger?” I said.

“Sure”, she answered.

And that was it. I went climbing later on and was completely satisfied. A 40% increase gets you great customer service, an excellent return policy, and guaranteed satisfaction. In a parallel universe where I purchased the shoes online, at worst I would’ve ended up keeping them due to a terrible return policy, and at best would ship the shoes back and wait a week before I could climb again. Too many companies (and people) put too much emphasis on cost. But if you evaluate purchases based on value, you might walk away even happier.

This is not me. Taken from Wikipedia.org

This is not me. Taken from Wikipedia.org

This was written in the 90s?

May 7, 2009

calvin and hobbes

Click to enlarge.

Life Is At a Standstill… Run a Marathon!

May 6, 2009

I am a serial hobbyist. I’ll admit it. Growing up, my parents had at some point enrolled me in violin lessons, piano lessons, flute lessons, art classes, karate,orchestra, and choir. Some of these things were short lived, others I’d done for almost 10 years. Aside from those extra curriculars, I picked up other hobbies of my own such as building my own websites, playing with Photoshop, and burying myself in the internet. Yes, I started young. :) Most of the wonderful lessons and classes I took were abandoned as soon as I entered college, but that doesn’t mean the hobbies stopped there. My love for art, technology, and music later prompted me to buy a guitar, buy a DSLR to start taking pictures, buy a tablet for my computer so I can further dabble in digital art… and contemplate buying a video camera so I can mess around in video editing. Yes, I am a serial hobbyist… perusing online hot deals did not help the cause as most of those purchases were the results of spotting a hot deal somewhere.

However, with all those on my plate there are still times where I feel like life is at a standstill. Even when work is going well, my personal relationships are great, I am happy… but life has stopped moving forward. Probably because I have not picked up a new hobby, made a new big purchase, reached a goal, or achieved something brilliant in a while. A couple months ago, I found myself in that state. I was stuck in a rut. I yearned for something new, but I knew I could not pick up a whole new hobby… and I was not in the mood to nurture an existing one. Or so I thought.

It was nice one day, so I asked a friend to go jogging.. and then almost instantly regretted it because a couple months prior to that, I had attempted a 5k and while I finished in an okay time, I had trouble just completing that without walking. I work out regularly so I thought I’d be in better shape to complete the race, but it was just an off day for me. Well, this day was different. I absolutely hate backing out of things, so running I went. To my surprise, I completed just over 5 miles and felt able to keep running. That day, I decided to sign up for a half marathon and start training.

Fast forward two months, I have just completed the La Jolla Half Marathon, which has a reputation for being extremely tough due several hills in the 13.1 mile course. I know I might have found a niche because even in pain, even during rough hilly runs, I keep wanting to do more. I never once felt discouraged in my 2 months of training and am seriously considering on doing a full marathon next. It isn’t a new hobby, but rather an extension of something I’ve always incorporated in my life (fitness). And for that reason, I realized that it was perhaps the perfect new thing for me to pick up. While before, working out was just something I did, I now do it with a rewarding goal in mind. I’ve turned something that was just routine into something that I can constantly work towards, and if I continue to train for races then each race is a new milestone I’ve reached. I’m excited for what’s to come, and I encourage all of you who may be feeling a little less motivated to find something within your life and see if you can bring it back to life. It’s great =)

La Jolla Half Marathon Elevation Map

La Jolla Half Marathon Elevation Map


RTS Party Plan: A Night At the Museum

May 3, 2009

I have a hangover. The culprit? Four bottles of wine. But I won’t pretend I have any degree of sophistication during its consumption or knowledge of its intricacies. Case in point: the vintners which I most frequently purchase end with Shaw and Rossi. One inadvertent benefit in these harsh economic times is that restaurants – in their struggle to maintain clientele – have resorted to promotions which reek of desperation. Last night’s $12 a bottle wine special is a good example.

Times are hard. But the sacrifices we make for our bank accounts should not mean sacrifices for our hedonistic lifestyles. Clubbing with Jamie, Jake, Sam, Forest, and Ron may be no longer financially viable, but there are other locales where you can drink with your friends besides a nightclub.

Like a museum. Intrigued? It seems to be an emerging trend in many major cities. Like San Francisco. San Diego. New York. Chicago. Last weekend a few friends of mine went to the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Arts and amidst the art installations, artists were…performing yoga. What? I didn’t really understand it. You could also get your fortune read by a tarot card reader and watch a local band perform. While drinking $3 Stone Levitation bottles and $4 Seagrams mixed drinks.

As a result, we at Roaring twentySomethings have drafted a Stimulus Plan. The purpose: bail out museums, many of which are not immune to these economic times. The means: you and your friends visiting a museum for one of these events. It’s also a good habit to break the monotony – albeit fun monotony – of going to a bar, ordering your precession of drinks, and dancing like a fool. Even the most harsh art critic or clueless purveyor (i.e. me) will find perusing art with friends an entertaining activity, especially in the presence of fellow RTSs.

Event at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego