Clean Up Your Mess & Re-Learn Something New

It’s worth organizing and filing old documents, especially items from college. Papers you wrote. Worksheets you completed. Projects you submitted. Course readers. Class notes. To reduce the clutter in my life, I am scanning all of my college documents as digital copies and recycling the leftovers. Through the process, you skim almost everything. Inadvertently, you remember (and re-learn) old things that you learned long ago and have since forgotten. Little lessons here, little takeaways there. Organizing your life in this way is a magical experience. I suggest you try it.

Dangerous City, Lost Angels

In what kind of place does a man wake to sirens and screams, gaze upon his neighbors’ house engulfed in flames, close the glass slider to cut the sound, and return to bed having done nothing? Within minutes of waking, I fell back to sleep in spite of the bright flicker on my wall and common urban murmur outside. A mere annoyance, nothing more.

The morning after, I reflected on my apathy. It made me sick to think of all the similar experiences I have had in Los Angeles. I realized how cold I had become.

I have resided here for five years and seen things I hope you never see. A car on fire riddled with bullet holes in South Central; a woman mugged across the street in Venice Beach; a bank evacuated on bomb threat by USC; a motorcyclist flipped and crushed at 65 mph on the 5 Interstate; the corpse of a homeless woman lifted from a gutter downtown; a tanker truck explosion on the 105-110 overpass; prostitutes fighting over a fare in Hollywood; a SWAT-grade drug bust in Koreatown; and far too much more. My heart froze over long ago to endure such things. I am not proud of the man this city numbed me to be.

It takes a thick skin to survive in Los Angeles.

Life in Hollywood

I walked three blocks from my office to my apartment today. Here’s a list of the things I saw:

  • Two hovering helicopters
  • Two police cars pulling a man over during rush hour
  • Silver Lamborghini
  • A handful of Priuses
  • The Goodyear Blimp
  • A Tattooed Mohawk Man walking four Pomeranians
  • An elder Serbian neighbor walking her granddaughter on a leash
  • An overweight crossdresser in an orange wig riding a bicycle
  • A family of Japanese tourists in Hawaiian shirts
  • Group of high schoolers smoking pot
  • Food truck serving waffle sandwiches

In three blocks, I’ve experienced a lifetime of interesting.

Deliver the Message

Have you ever been asked by someone to say “hello” to another person you planned to meet later that day? How many times have you actually delivered that message? I am asked to do this almost every single day – and yet, I seldom pass on the word.

There’s no excuse. A “hello” is simple and easy to deliver. While seemingly insignificant, the results can be profound: you could trigger the reunion of two people. “Wow, I haven’t spoken to him/her in a while! I should give him/her a call!” I know of two marriages that spun from reunions that started this way.

If you feel the need to carry a more relevant message, why not ask the sender if there’s anything else he or she wants to say other than “hello?” It may even provide more conversation fodder for the meeting ahead.

Put It On Paper

Having difficulty making a decision? Map out the options on paper.

Want to make a commitment? Put it on paper.

Spread an idea? Share it on paper.

Trouble sleeping at night? Empty your thoughts on paper.

Upset at someone? Express your feelings on paper.

Worried you will forget something? Remind yourself on paper.

Overwhelmed? Sort everything out on paper.

Plan to grow a business? Strategize on paper.

Want to change the world? Start on paper.

You need to separate yourself from your thoughts to organize, prioritize, and realize them. Paper is the oldest trick in the book. No pun intended.

Cheating Long Disneyland Rides (Part 2)

Yesterday’s post outlined the values of Disneyland single rider lines. Below is a semi-detailed guide to each ride on which I have exploited the single rider pass.

Note: most single rider passes entail entering through the attraction exit and walking all the way to the front of the line. If you have any questions or additional tips, please share them!

Disneyland Rides:

Splash Mountain
An overrated ride in my opinion, Splash Mountain is hardly worth the average hour-long wait. The first part of the ride is a little boring and the single drop is no Tower of Terror. That said, single riding this baby is a great way to mix up your afternoon and cool off. At best, you’ll ride with one other member of your party in the canoe – but it should not really matter to you unless you need a quality family portrait of the drop. For those who do not want to get soaked, the single rider line always feeds you to the back of a canoe where very little water splashes on your plunge. Quicker, dryer, and a pleasant casual walk-on experience.

Indiana Jones
One of the more popular rides, the wait times can be terrible. With this single rider pass, odds are very high that you will get to stick with your group. Even better, you will probably end up in back where the ride is more bumpy and exciting anyway! The only annoying aspects to single riding here are the safety speeches the staff must deliver to you every time and the ungodly slow handicap elevators that land you onto the loading platform. Well worth these petty hassles though.

California Adventure rides:

Grizzly River Run
One of my favorites and perfect for a hot day. With single rider, it’s really easy to walk on and on again. You rarely ever get to ride with other members of your party (even if there’s room enough on a raft for two or three more, staff is pretty strict here with singles), but it’s always fun to meet the other people aboard. Make sure to dress accordingly (soaked jeans and socked shoes make for an unpleasant afternoon). Added bonus if you are staying in the Grand Californian Resort – the line starts just beyond the hotel’s park entrance. Put on your swimming suit, walk onto the ride, and enjoy four or five round trips within the hour! Certainly beats the kiddie pool slide.

Soarin’ Over California
I almost felt dirty single-riding this bad boy. They send you directly inside, straight to the front, and past absolutely everyone else standing in line. Without question, you will be in the same auditorium as other members of your party (there are 87 seats to fill). You most likely will be in the same side of the theatre, and you may even be seated in the same pod. Do not count on sitting next to each other, but this is not the kind of movie you want to make out in anyway. Enjoy your flight (you dirty cheater)!

California Screamin’
My favorite ride in the park, California Screamin’ is a simple and relatively efficient single-riding experience. You probably will not be on the same ride as your party and you will definitely be seated next to a stranger, but I think you will be more concerned with the twists than your neighbor. There is usually a greater number of single riders here, and it is annoying to take the elevator over and down to queue each time, but it’s totally worth it. You can easily ride this bad boy three times in one hour.

Cheating Long Disneyland Lines (Part 1)

The most-obvious and least-exploited trick to bypassing many of the terrible Disneyland waits are single rider lines. While not all rides are organized to support this feature, the ones that do are happy to fill the seats and move more people through. The idea is simple: most people want to ride with their family and friends, but some parties have odd numbers that leave a few seats empty. So why not let loners (or those willing to ride without their party) a pass through the line to help fill those seats?

As a single rider, you literally walk to the front of the line. You cannot beat that. But it gets better: more often than not, single riders get to ride together if the Disney staff calls for parties of two or three to fill seats and cannot find groups of that size nearby in the line. Depending on the attraction, odds are great that you will ride with the rest of your group. When three of us went to Disneyland today, we saved at least five hours total standby line time by “single riding” and never once road apart.

Of course, there is no guarantee that you will get to ride together. That’s the risk you’re taking by cutting to the front of the line. Behave, do what you’re told by the staff, be willing to ride alone if you have to, and do not abuse the system more than you already are.

For a detailed guide of each ride where we took advantage of the single rider, click here.

Cold > Hot

Up for debate, I suppose, but cold beats hot any day. Why? You can always add more layers to get warm, but you cannot always shed layers or blast air conditioning to get cool. Carrying a pile of clothes through winter may be a nuisance, but sweating is far more unfortunate in my opinion.

Trust me, I’d be happy to run around naked to keep cool if I could (those who have celebrated with me know I’m not a big fan of wearing pants). Even without clothes, hot summer days can be unbearable and impossible to escape. No thank you. I’ll take a blizzard & parka over a heat wave & tube sock any day.

Happy Birthday, Brother!

22 years ago today, my little brother Kyle was born. We are 18 months apart and could not be better friends. We’ve made great memories, nearly killed each other several times, and had a blast over the years. Thank you, Kyle, for teaching me that random is healthy. Thank you for reminding me to have fun. And thank you for supporting me through it all. You raise me up on a pedestal, but you deserve far more praise than I. You go where your heart takes you, love everyone, and are not afraid to be yourself. I have so much more to learn.

Take care of yourself in South Korea, brother. If you decide to have Asian babies, please do not name one of them Tuvok.