Day 1: Exploration

Landed in Dubai around midnight last night, and it took us a good two hours to get out of the airport (our passport check line took over an hour because, we presume, the guy taking care of us was in training). British Airways also sent our tripod on the next flight; it took us a while to figure that one out. Sadly Justin, one of the three Americans on the trip and my good friend from USC, didn’t make it out of LA (his flight was cancelled). Hopefully not a bad omen for logistics to come.

We finally made it to our hotel rooms by 2am where I showered and promptly passed out. 24 hours of travel and little to no sleep on planes does wonders for passing out. I knocked out an 11 hour jet lag with one punch.
image

We met our hosts around noon the next day and enjoyed Indian food together. I’m not yet used to eating with my hands. Following that stop, we were left to explore the Dubai Mall. It’s huge.

wpid-IMG_20130118_162140.jpg

Dubai is not without familiar American comforts: Red Lobster, Chili’s, PF Changs, Burger King and pretty much any American chain you can name. Without Arabic everywhere, you could mistake this place for a Las Vegas competitor without the casinos, booze or sin. I have a feeling Dubai serves as a pilot city for consumer franchises looking to expand internationally. Another important thing to point out is how unbelievably international this city is. Everyone from everywhere all in one place. Truly the crossroads of the world. Los Angeles, New York and Montreal (all of which I consider very diverse) can’t hold a candle to Dubai.

wpid-IMG_20130118_162903.jpg

I’m not a huge mall fan, so we spent most of our day outside admiring the architecture. Right next door is the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Impressive.

wpid-IMG_20130118_163244.jpg

2013-01-18 17.15.34

2013-01-18 16.54.22

I also rather enjoyed the Address hotel and the rest of the skyline.

2013-01-18 16.55.45

2013-01-18 17.08.33

wpid-IMG_20130118_164824.jpg

There was a water show on the water. Overhyped, in our opinion. No Bellagio or Disneyland.

2013-01-18 18.00.18

We took the metro back to our hotel, a pretty smooth system. The stations look like spaceships:

image

Ended the night with Thai food and a beer at the pub to watch UAE (locals here) beat Iraq in a soccer championship on TV. You must have a permit issued by police to buy alcohol from what few liquor stores there are (I have seen none) and only hotels can sell booze.

Restaurants make do with mocktails and some of the best tea or coffee I’ve ever had.

Nice day exploring. Time to get to work first thing in the morning!

Life Digitized

image

Goodbye, college! Welcome to the cloud 🙂

A year ago I committed to going paperless and moving into the cloud. Now over twelve months later, I finished scanning and organizing everything that remained from high school and college:papers, tests, handouts, course readers and anything I might like to access again at some point. I also scanned all personal administrative, financial and legal documents that sat around collecting dust. I will recycle all of this paper and breathe a deep sigh of relief that I no longer have to cart  all that dead weight around.

The first thing you might be thinking is, “Craig, why would you go to all this trouble for documents you may never read again?” To anyone who knows me and my obsession with cataloging my life, this should not surprise you. To everyone else, my answer is not straightforward. The honest truth is, “just in case.” I might want to reference these documents again. Yes, clinical psychologists today have a term for that behavior: “hoarder.” Better and a totally different paradigm, I think, to hoard information that takes up zero physical space than piles of crap everywhere. Fancy me a “digital packrat.”

Some documents I refer to on a regular basis. Others I enjoyed rediscovering as I scanned them. The rest I will likely never see again. But at least now they’re organized, searchable (Google recognizes optical characters in PDFs and extracts information as searchable text) and accessible from anywhere. No more piles of paper to dig through or carry around. There are over 2,500 documents in my school folder alone, many of them tens or even hundreds of pages long. That’s a metric shit ton of dead trees!

Life in the cloud is certainly cleaner, lighter and easier. All of my files are mirrored across Google Drive, Dropbox and external hard drives (with the exception of over 14TB of video that I have not found room for in the cloud yet). I can access them all from my phone on the go and from any computer I can sign into. Google’s omni search bar finds not only web search results, but results from within email, contacts and all of these documents. Sometimes I search for a term and find the answer to my query in a class handout from years ago. Pretty wild. I suspect access to my personal information ecosystem will only get better from here.

So while it might not be as useful to me now, there’s no telling what fruits this project might yield in the future as the technology gods evolve.

My Ten Favorite Films of 2012

It’s that time of year again. Without further adieu, my top ten list for 2012:

1. Lincoln

2. Argo

3. Killing Them Softly

4. Moonrise Kingdom

5. Skyfall

6. Zero Dark Thirty

7. Les Misérables

8. Samsara

9. Looper

10. Ruby Sparks

Five Honorable Mentions:

Five Worst Movies:

Here are the 36 movies I’ve seen to date with 2012 release dates:

Back in Business

Many have asked why I stopped blogging. Thank you dearly for enjoying and supporting my writing. While there were many excuses, the biggest one was simple: I needed to invest the 5-10 hours per week spent blogging into another personal project. Fulltime work for Sympoz demanded 60-80 hours, and I found myself battling for spare minutes.

Right before the holidays, I resigned from Sympoz (a decision I may explore in a later post) and will start a new adventure next week. I cannot promise you that I will blog about it, but I will certainly try (a lot depends on access to wifi and how easy it is to write with the WordPress mobile app).

Stay tuned!

The Most Dangerous People Care The Most

By dangerous, I do not always mean “destructive” – I prefer “disruptive.” MLK disrupted the national perspective on civil rights because he cared a lot about his brothers and sisters. Dangerous can certainly mean destructive, though. Suicide bombers must care a lot about their beliefs if they’re willing to throw their lives away. Destructive or disruptive, caring is the common denominator. No one impacts the future of mankind by accident or through apathy. Your ability to change the world is directly proportional to how much you care – about your mission, beliefs or other people in your life. The more you care, the more dangerous you are. And caring should be your priority. You do not change the world by trying to change the world; you change the world by caring about others and believing in something greater than yourself.

Start Small

To build momentum on the path to accomplishing great things, first take baby steps. Small wins inspire and motivate you to chase after bigger wins. Even the smallest accomplishment will help validate your path and give you the boost you need to keep going. Small wins are much easier to chase than big wins, so why not start there? Do not bite off more than you can chew at first. Start small, win small. Grow big, win big.

Apologizing For Other People’s Mistakes

Great leaders publicly take responsibility for failures within their organization. They should, after all – a mistake slipped through the cracks of a structure that they were responsible for building, sealing and fortifying. While an architect or carpenter actually built the castle, it came from an idea or plan the king or queen envisioned. Many failures in construction stem from failures in design. Brick and mortar analogy aside, leaders may not directly cause mistakes – but they are accountable. Even with a perfect plan or structure in place, failure within remains a failure within. Something could have been done by someone to prevent it. Most people cannot handle or admit to their own mistakes. But someone needs to. Someone needs to flag a mistake and help everyone learn from it. Not by blame or pointing fingers, but by throwing themselves under a bus to show everyone that humility can solve problems and teach lessons. Those of us who know we actually made the mistake will walk out the door with a shred of guilt and a valuable learning experience.