2009 Year in Review

So the decade is coming to an end, it’s been a great year.

Quick post that’s a review of the year in terms of personal experience.

Joined Facebook

It took me a while and it was purely out of stubborness. I just didn’t want to go through an entire profile creating, finding friends, etc etc, as I’d done it twice already, when i was on Friendster (remember friendster?) then on Myspace (remember Myspace?).   It is a valuble resource for sure for linking up with friends and for setting up or finding events.   However, it is a great time waster too and it can present an illusion fo real social interaction.   It is a balancing act, I suppose it’s in the spirit you use it.  I’ve discovered a lot about people, for example a former high school friend is a hip-hop star in his country.  However, also, it is a place of ego validation, for better or worse  like having thousands of pictures of yourself, or having bloated friends lists of people that are not really your friends.

Facebook friends more important than actual real friends?

But yes, in 2009 I finally created an account.  I’m going to reevaluate how I use it though 🙂

Lost 20 pounds

Starting from the beginning of the year to the middle of February I’d lost 20 pounds.  All I did was reduce sugar drinks to one a day,  reduce my intake of carbohydrates, and try and reduced processed stuff. No charts, no lists, no calorie counting.   I even allowed one cheat day, which is to say on Saturday, I eat whatever I want in whatever quantity. Tha’ts ALL I did.  I actually started it out as an experiment.  I kind of faded a little bit in the middle of the year with the wedding and the trip, but this is something I’ll revist next year, and there’s more to it than looking good or being in shape, it’s about treating your body like the temple that it is.  I’ll talk about it in my 2010 post.

My lesson from this experience was how small things can have big effects.  Malcom Gladwell talks about that in Tipping Point.

Obama’s Inauguration

One hour to get out of the metro on Inauguration Day

The year begun with me being a part of History.  Together with a few friends we braved arctic weather conditions to watch Obama get sworn in Washington, D.C. as the first African-American US president.  It is the sort of event that you gather you will gather your grand children around the fireplace and talk to them about in 50 years.

I just do not understand those that missed it because it was “too cold”, sometimes as people we’re guilty of failing to look beyond see-level, too often we’re content to lose the forest for a few trees.  Anyway, the frozen fingers, being part of the mobs in streets, walking in downtown DC without vehicles, etc. all added to the experience.

Pre-Wedding Event & Wedding

The other big event of the year was the fairytale wedding in Italy,  if you’re my facebook friend there’s many pictures from friends that were part of the experience.  I’ve also written about it here:   https://superseiyan.wordpress.com/2009/08/22/fairytale-wedding-la-citta-eterna/   For the better half of the year, this was the main focus but all went well and I became a husband.

What I learnt:

1. Dreams come true. But I have to dream it first, and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

2. I cannot achieve anything grand by myself.

3. Pick your battles.  Most people don’t do that.  They think they do but they don’t.  Lots of stuff in planning the wedding I deferred to others and let them get their way on the details.

4. Keep the process joyful. For me I viewed the late nights and the planning as an adventure.  Not as a huge burden that I sulked about.

 

Got to Fly in First Class

I flew in first class.  Was just an unexpected bonus, it’s something I had expected I’d do one day in my life, but I’m determined that that will not be the last time.  My thinking is that if a CEO of JoeCompany is good enough to fly in first class so are you and me.  It’s a matter of us becoming the type of person that would command a first class seat.

in Lots of private space, personal attention and special first class goodies. Called "L'Espace Premier"

Roma, La Citta Bella

This it’s own experience, being in Italy, it just happened to be on the same trip with which I wedded.  Being in the Beatiful City stoked my passion for travel.  I wish I could capture the feelings of the trip into a bottle.  Being there with friends was double blessing. I spoke about this as well in a previous blog post which you can read here: https://superseiyan.wordpress.com/2009/08/30/italy-trip-cont-plus-a-new-understanding-on-the-importance-of-travel/

What I took from this was just how much of a world there is out there ready for all of us to experience.

Decided to go back to School

I have decided to go back to school next year.   I’d like to go further in a career in the field of International Affairs.   Ultimately, I feel it’s a great vehicle to impact some people in the world (cliche I know), travel, achieve intellectual stimulation and develop a great circle of friends.  This is in process and I’m still in the application process, so it’s not done, but late this year was when I decided to finally put action towards this goal.

 

Other miscellenous comments on 2009:

Read some great books

I like to read a lot, in terms of books I slowed down a little this year.  Didn’t read as much as the previous year, but I’d like to mention two books that were top notch:

Personal Development for Smart People by Steve Pavlina

I like this book because it gives a practical and holistic approach to self-development.  It’s not wish-washy, and annoyingly generic.  Too many self-development books essentially say “be happy, be positive, don’t forget to smile” and they leave it at that.  This book covers everything from finances to relationships,

Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris

I like this book because his approach to a succesful life once again is holistic.  Also it’s realistic. And lastly, he is against compromise.  I do not like the concept of ‘delayed gratification’ as too often it becomes permanently delayed gratification.  In this book, basically Ferris talks about how to have live your life without endlessly postponing everything you want to do.

Too be continued in the next blog, 2010 and beyond.  I’ll talk about habits, and achievements I’d like for next year.

Exit Question:  What were your experiences in the year?  What defined the ending decade, the 00s for you?

L’Inverno (e buon Natale a tutti)

Winter
(For my post about Fall, you can click here)
I started drafting this on the eve of what is supposed to be the largest winter storm in December since 1982.  One of the unique things about Washington DC is the extreme range of weather we get.  Ok, so it does not get as sweltering as Texas, or as frigid as Chicago, but we still get the worst of both worlds with the summer humidty and sub-zero temperatures – often without the fluffy stuff.    I do like that we get the full cycles though.
Now technically, December 22 is the actual beginning of winter blah blah blah, but for me I just go by month. So to make things easier December is Winter.
So the bitter cold requires a change of wardrobe, and the coats and boots are dorned.   Ladies as always have more room to play with in this area, this season the high horse riding boots seem to be the fashion.   Actually for guys if we are adventerous enough, we can dress pretty outlandishly with the coats as well.  Joe Namath used to be pimp in that regard.  One thing about dressing in winter is that coats and boots are more expensive than summer clothing though you need less quantity I suppose.
What am I missing? Ah yes, fireplaces, warm blankets, egg nog, hot chocolate, – enjoyable past times that Old’ Man Winter brings with him.
The best thing about the winter for me is the snow of course.  That’s my inner Peter Pan speaking, but I am always overjoyed inside with the prospect of snow, it rolls back the years to the times of snowfights, and when as a high school student I’d stay up all night waiting for it to start snowing so schools could be cancelled!   I still feel like that even though I am currently not in school.
The ice can be spectacular as well, there was once an ice storm in the Washington DC area, which froze the whole landscape such that in the morning, shimmering like crystals.   Everything was coated in clear glassy ice.
Oh, then there is also Christmas , which comes early in the season which makes the rest of the winter a let down for a lot of people.  In fact there’s many broke people in January, December is known as an “expensive” month!   Christmas again is something which I view innocently.  I like the festive mood, strangers being polite and SMILING, the gift wrapping, the wonder that sparkles in the eyes of children.  Would be nice for it to be like that all year no?
Needless to say, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.   I trust you have been good this year and that Santa Claus will get you something nice under the tree 🙂

The World Cup 2010 Draw

Getting right into it, two things strike me. For the most part, the major teams will make it through comfortably. Secondly, it’s not a very kind draw for the African teams. Read on:

Public Enemy No. 1 in South Africa?

Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France

France were bailed out by avoiding a major power. This French team is hard to like with stoic characters like Anelka, players that whine when their friends are not selected, and a bizzare (albeit entertaining) manager. And then their pathetic capitulation in Euro 2008 when Thuram BEGGED to be dropped because he wasn’t up to it. And of course Henry. As it was I already suspected that France would not be crowd favorites and that they’d be booed. Will be interesting to see what their reception is, the atmosphere in this game should be great especially if it’s a close game.

Still in the end, the French will probably end up going through.

South Africa will make it, they’re not that good, but the euphoria of home-field will carry them through. Probably they’ll get bounced in the 2nd round though. They’ll have to hope they get Nigeria (who I don’t think will make it) or South Korea in the 2nd round to go further.

Prediction: France, South Africa

Group B: Argentina, Greece, Nigeria, North Korea

 

Greece are experts at 0-0 or winning 1-0. They park the ball in front of their defense. For a team to beat them, they’ll need 1. stamina and 2. the type of player(s) that can create a moment of magic. Argentina have such players. Nigeria and South Korea don’t.

I’m not happy to predict the Greeks going through, I find them boring and bland – not because they’re defensive, I have nothing against defensive teams, it’s just that

Prediction: Argentina, Greece

Best player in the World according to me and, well, Zidane.

Group C: England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia

Oh my, the US media will soapoperize the USA-England matchup to nauseating levels. The hype in the US media will be great. England of course is my favorite national team, and the one I follow. They’ll both go through.
Slovenia are unremarkable, I wish Ireland would’ve been here in their place. Now THAT would’ve made for a good group no?

Ireland vs. USA in New York anyone?

Anyway Algeria are not that good. Would’ve prefered to see the Pharoahs make it through instead.

Prediction: England, USA

Group D: Germany, Serbia, Australia, Ghana.

*OUCH*

This is one of two group of deaths, but this is probably the tougher one as it’s got all four good teams instead of three.

Germany will go through, let’s get that one out of the way.

Serbia are good, they qualified out of Frances group and won it by miles. Ghana are freaks physically, and in my opinion the 2nd strongest of the African teams. I have a soft spot for the Aussies, I like the atmosphere of their fans, and I like the gutso with which they play. I don’t know if it was just that they were being coached by Hiddink (probably) but they were great last World Cup.

I’m picking Australia as the 2nd team as physically, they’re probably tougher than a “typical” European team not called England or Germany.

I’d love to be able to predict Ghana going through, but I don’t see it. By the way, the coach of Ghana is from Serbia.

Prediction: Germany, Australia

Group E: Denmark, Holland, Japan, Cameroon

Holland and Denmark.

That was easy.

Cameroon are overrated and a one-man team. Japan, not good enough at this level.

Prediction: Holland, Denmark

Gli Azzuri, i campioni del mondo, duemillesei.

Group F: Slovakia, Italy, NZ, Paraguay

I’m upset to see Slovakia in here, I’d have preferred the Russians to have made it. Gli Azzuri got an easy group, though they’ll probably find a way to finish 2nd in this group. I expect a very close finish, but in the end Paraguay and Italy will make it.

I’d like to see the Kiwis go through, and it’s good to see them in the World Cup after a while, but they barely got past BAHRAIN to make it into the field. Not good enough.

Italy by the way is my 2nd team. By “2nd” team I mean, I’ll support them often, I have a soft spot for the country.

Paraguay to win the group.

Prediction: Paraguay, Gli Azzuri

Pain in the ass to watch. Pain in the ass to defend.

Group G: Brazil, Portugal, North Korea, Ivory Coast

*ouch*

First things first, Brazil will go in. This is a sick starting lineup:

Fabiano

Kaka

Robinho Elano

Silva?

Maicon Luiaso Lucio Alves

Cesar

Pretty intimidating. So long as they don’t draw France, Germany, Italy or other methodical tactical European teams, they’ll be fine. Even against the mentioned teams they’d be favorites but the score might be close.

Ok, Brazil. Vs. Portugal colonial powers, how about that? I’d hoped for France vs. Algeria before the draw (imagine France winning that game in the latter minutes in a controversial manner? Wouldn’t want to be a policeman in Marseille), but I’ll take this.

Then Cote D’Voire. The strongest African team. I say that as they have a blend of experience, leadership, and stereotypical African “strength” (though not as much as Ghana). I think in the end, they have what it takes to beat the Portuguese, and I think they’ll go through. Cote D’Voire can go deep into the tournament IF they avoid Spain in the 2nd round.

One of Brazil or Cote D’Voire plays Spain in a massive 2nd round game.

Drogba vs. Kaka vs. Ronaldo.

Prediction: Brazil, Cote D’voire

Group H: Spain, Honduras, Chile, Switzerland

Spain is the best team in the world right now. Doesn’t mean they’ll definitely win it, but going into it they’re just the best.

This smokes even Brazil:

Torres* Villa*

Silva Iniesta*

Xavi* Alonso*

Capdevilla Puyol Pique Ramos*

Casillas*

Sickness. Players with a * are players who are possibly best in the world at their position. And on the bench they have the likes of Fabregas – the best player in the World Cup not starting, Mata, Negredo. Hell they could field a 2nd team that’d probably win most of the groups.

Also, I have a gay crush on Fernando Torres, I’m enamored with him.

Spain vs. Honduras will be interesting to watch in the US. I’m not Spanish speaking, but no doubt Telemundo will do for this game what the regular English channels will for USA vs. England. I’ll probably look to catch this game at a Hispanic restaurant, wearing my Fernando Torres jersey of course.

There’s a danger here that Spain will be untested for Drogba or Kaka in the next round, they literally should walk this group, unless their former colonies put up a credibly strong fight.

As for the 2nd qualifier…eh, they’ll lose emphatically in the 2nd round to Brazil/Portugal/Cote Dvoire so really it’s a formality. I’m rooting for Honduras to make the 2nd round though, the more boring, characterless teams (like Switzerland) we get rid of the earlier, the better.

Prediction: Spain, Honduras

Now that we have summarized the groups, my top 5 matches, the games that I’ll definitely skip work to watch live:

England vs. USA

Brazil vs. Cote D’Voire

Brazil vs. Portugal

South Africa vs. France

Spain vs. Honduras

So that’s it for now. During the World Cup probably I’ll make weekly posts on the the World Cup itself, but that’s yet a few months away.

What are your thoughts on the draw?