Friday, December 31, 2010

The Obligatory 2010 Wrap-Up & New Year Resolutions

Annual Summary

Wrote about visiting an orphanage in Cambodia, and night navigation training in Marin County.
Turned 29.  Despaired.
Moved to Los Angeles and had my first taste of mountaineering in Tahoe.
Not much.
Failed to talk to the girl in the coffee shop and went to the Living Desert with my Parents
Visited Santa Cruz for a close friend's birthday.  Chaos ensued. Started a fiction series that sucked.  And sucked.  And sucked again.
Multi-Day Backpacking trip with a band of ninjas and samurai.
I stabbed myself with a Masai Spear, and then summited Mt. San Gorgonio with Les Champ.
My cousins from NY visited.  I learned what it would have been like if Bryan had been a sister.
My friend Alison visited from the UK.  We made and ate dessert every single day.  We visited Santa Cruz and San Francisco, where Alison almost had a fistfight with "The Fury of Me."  I made soap.  I then got 2nd place in a travel writing contest.
I wrote a 3-part How-To guide for Amateur Boxing competition at the Art of Manliness.  Spent Thanksgiving with my Parents and family in Palm Desert.  Visited Hong Kong to discuss a new job opportunity.
Accepted new career offer, watched my Brother in his first MMA fight in Watsonville, visited Joshua Tree, spent Christmas with my family, and rang in the new year with my beautiful girlfriend.

2011 Resolutions
  • I will write in my journal everyday
  • I will finish paying off all of my debt
  • I will achieve conversational level of Spanish
  • I will live off 50% of post-tax income
  • I will drink 1 gallon of water a day
  • I will sleep outside as often as possible
Thanks to everyone who followed along and commented over the course of the year.  A special thanks to the following constant readers:

Hanley at The Fury of Me
Barnes at Gaijin Ass
Alison at some Muay Thai gym across the Atlantic
Allison at Webster's Law
Katrina Kay at Gimme Fantastic
Juliana at Night Writings
Cheryl at Starbucks Break
KC at Word
Annabelle at I'll Tell You Anyway
Bryan, Mom and Dad

Happy New Years to everyone.  I hope that 2011 is a year of adventure, experience, humor and joy.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 - A Year in Pictures

Along Bishop Pass

From the top of Pyramid Peak

Sunset over Joshua Tree

Touch me

View from the trail of Mt. Ryan

Storm clouds over Joshua Tree

With close friends in San Francisco

Top of San Gorgonio with Les Champ

Sunset over Dusy Basin

Reflections over the lake


Just below Bishop Pass

Fuck you, I'm a Marmot!


View from our campsite

Snow-capped mountains

Lakes below Bishop Pass

Taking a breather

Con Caracter!

BBQ at Jenny's in the summer

Ted and Clara at the op of Pyramid Peak after an exhausting several hours

More rocks

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Joshua Tree - December 2010

I wanted to get outside one last time before 2010 ends, and settled on Joshua Tree for it's proximity to my parent's house, lack of snow, and absolutely stunning scenery.  My best plans were nearly compromised when Southern California got dumped on with several weeks of pouring rain.  What was originally going to be 3 days in the high desert was downgraded to a single day.  My brother joined me overnight, and our folks came out during the day and early evening for a hike up Ryan Mountain and beers around the campfire.


Bryan and I got to camp early and found a nice spot that was backed by a massive boulder pile, ensuring that were there an earthquake, we would be completely squashed under the weight of a million tons of stone.  We did a little bouldering and scrambling around the rock piles, which consisted of Bryan smoothly scaling sheer stone faces while I kept falling off. 


When our parents got there, we headed to the Ryan Mountain trail-head for a sunset hike.  The temperature dropped quickly on the shaded side of the mountain, but the scenery was more than worth it.  The Ryan Mountain trail is a pretty easy 1.5 miles, going from around 4K feet elevation to around 5.5K.  As you crest over the spine, you have views in every direction.  I love high desert.  It looks like you are on some foreign planet, completely devoid of life.




After getting back to camp, we shared a few beers, and then Mom and Dad headed home.  Bryan and I stayed up, discussing plans and New Year's Resolutions (or their lack), the benefits of the Falcon Punch * and appropriate recipients of it, and we drank more beer.  Or I did, rather.  Bryan was drinking like a pansy.  This is why his Falcon Punch will always suck.

Eventually we stumbled off to bed.  I don't think it froze that night, but it was cold enough, surely in the mid 30's, but three layers of clothing proved sufficient for comfort.  Upon waking the next morning, a fire was surely in order, followed by coffee/hot chocolate, and some more boulder hopping.  It was Christmas Eve day, and we headed back to Palm Desert early.  A brief but very enjoyable trip.

* Falcon Punch, N.
 The act of jumping off from your f-zero vehicle, charging and engulfing your arm with flames so that punching an unexpecting person to his/her mortal doom would cause the breaking of a hole in the space-time continuum and creating a beam of light so great the goddamn galaxy doesnt have the balls to show anyone....


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Amateur Boxing - A How-To Guide, Part 3

I am doing a 3-part instructional on the preparation and planning needed for competing in amateur boxing over at The Art of Manliness. Part 1 looked at selecting a gym and coach, and some of the positive and negative aspects of the different gym types. Part 2 looks at the training environment, sparring etiquette and the like.  Part 3 discusses getting your physical, dealing with pre-fight jitters, and looks at exactly at what to expect when you step into the ring for your first fight.

The schedule tells you what corner you will be in (red or blue) and what number on the schedule you will be fighting. I always pray to not be first, but not to be too far down the list either. As I mentioned, nothing is worse than the long wait. Another small joy of amateur boxing is the close proximity to your opponent. From the moment you get there, everyone is eye-balling each other, mentally sizing the guys up, especially anyone who looks around their weight. Once the matchups are announced, you know which guy you will be fighting. You will most likely be getting dressed and warmed up in the same room as him. I had a fight last year where the room was so cramped that we were literally shadow boxing right next to each other as our bout neared. This is stressful.

Read the rest here

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2010 Reading List

My goal for 2010 was to read 40 books.  I'm at 36 right now, so got to get cracking these last few weeks.  Here's the current list and I will update if I finish anything else.  Interests seem to have changed a bit since 2009.



"Hamlet's Blackberry," by William Powers
"What I Talk About When I Talk About Running," by Haurki Murukami
"The Cult of the Amateur," by Andrew Keen
"A Place of My Own," by Michael Pollan
"The Circle of Simplicity," by Cecile Andrews
"Vagabonding," by Rolf Potts
"Shop Class as Soul Craft," by Mathew Crawford

Political and Societal
"3 Cups of Tea," by Greg Mortensen
"Nickeled and Dimed (On Not Getting By in America)," by Barbara Ehrenreich

"The Lost City of Z,"by David Grann
"Soul, Sweat and Survival on the Pacific Crest Trail," by Bob Holtel
"God's Middle Finger," by Richard Grant

"Spartina," by John Casey
"Island of the Blue Dolphins," by Scott O'Dell
"Beat the Reaper," by Josh Bazell
"GoWith Me," by Castle Freeman
"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time," by Mark Haddon
"The Power of One," by Bryce Courtney
"Shardik," by Richard Adams
"Watership Down," by Richard Adams
"The Catcher in the Rye," J.D. Salinger
"Factotum," by Charles Bukowski
"The Bonfire of the Vanities," by Tom Woolfe
"Rain on the River," by Jim Dodge
"Shantaram," by David Gregory Roberts
"Stone Junction," by Jim Dodge
"Fup," by Jim Dodge

"The Cheapskates Next Door," by William Yeats

"The Thoreau You Don't Know," Robert Sullivan
"The Life and Crimes of Dong King," by Jack Newfield
"I Hope they Serve Beer in Hell," Tucker Max
"Atlas - From the Streets to the Ring," by Teddy Atlas
"Sweet William - The Life of Billy Conn," by Andrew O'Toole

Non-Bio Combat Sports
"The Boxing Scene," by Thomas Hauser
"Four Kings - Hagler, Leonard, Hearns, Duran," by George Kimball
"Sorcery at Ceasars," by Steve Marantz
"The Fighters Mind - Inside the Mental Game," by Sam Sheridan

"Making it all Work," by David Allen

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Amateur Boxing - A How-To Guide Pt.2

I am doing a 3-part instructional on the preparation and planning needed for competing in amateur boxing over at  The Art of Manliness.  Part 1 looked at selecting a gym and coach, and some of the positive and negative aspects of the different gym types.  Part 2 looks at the training environment, sparring etiquette and the like.

As you progress, sparring becomes more and more intense.  Mismatches are often amended with a handicap, where a bigger fighter will take a bit off of his punches, or a more experienced fighter will let his opponent dictate the pace.  More even match-ups, with both guys of similar weight and experience, will resemble a full-contact fight.  There are some notable differences of course, such as the larger gloves.  Also, if a guy gets noticeably rocked by a hard shot or barrage of punches, etiquette usually demands avoiding going in for the kill, unlike in an actual fight.

Read the rest...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Inner Circle Fight Team - MMA in Watsonville

My brother made his amateur MMA debut last Saturday night in Watsonville, Ca.  This Rugged Life was on the scene to cover the action.

Amateur Mixed Martial Arts action came to the Monterey Bay last Saturday night for the C.A.M.O.-organized "Coastal Collision" in Watsonville, Ca.  Bryan Schatz entered the cage as the third event of the night, squaring off against Eduardo Carrillo out of San Jose, Ca.  The two met at an agreed-upon catch-weight of 145 pounds, with Schatz possessing a slight reach and height advantage over the shorter Carrillo.

The bell rang for round 1 and the two touched gloves before squaring off.  After a brief feeling-out period that saw both fighters land hard shots, Schatz took the action to the ground, closing the distance and shooting for a double leg take-down that turned into a vicious slam that brought the crowd to their feet.  After the scramble, Schatz ended up in Carrillo's guard, and both traded several blows to the head and body.  While competitive, the first round went to Schatz.


The second round started as a mirror image of the first, with both fighters showcasing their extensive experience in the stand-up arts of boxing and Muay Thai.  Trouble came shortly into the round when Carrillo landed a beautiful left hook, right hand combo that caught Schatz on the way in.  The right hand wobbled Schatz, but his instincts took him into a clinch to buy time.  Carrillo went on the attack for most of the rest of the round, leading with hard right leads and scoring with knees to the head at the end of his combinations.  The barrage left a large welt under Schatz's left eye.  The bell rang, and the 2nd round was a wide one for Carrillo.

Schatz's corner worked on the eye between rounds, applying liberal amounts of vaseline, and their fighter bounced off the stool to start the 3rd round.  He then looked over at the crowd and grinned.  Carrillo came out hard and aggressive for the last round, looking to finish off his opponent.  Schatz had recuperated well between rounds, and fired back with straight punches down the middle.  Halfway through, Schatz landed another hard slam to his opponent, changing the course of the round, and perhaps the fight.  The two combatants grappled for the balance of the round, both looking to finish the other with a submission but lacking the time to put one in place.

In what had clearly been the most exciting bout of the evening, the three judges scored a split decision victory for Carrillo.  Where most fights have a clear winner and loser, with the victor being elevated and the defeated knocked down a peg, this was the type of fight that saw both participants elevated just for their participation in it.  It was a very solid, back and forth type of fight that saw both men in danger at numerous times, and both men fight back with tremendous heart and courage.


On a personal note, I am very proud of my brother for accomplishing what has been a long-time goal of his, fighting bravely against a very skilled opponent, and being a gentleman both before and after the bout.


Monday, December 6, 2010

One Moment

I am signed up for Reverb's "Reflect and Manifest" project for December.  They provide a writing prompt every day during the month for bloggers to write about.

December 1 - Moment
Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

The last sliver of golden sun hung over the mountains, and we watched it disappear.  The transition from light to dark seemed more sudden here than in the ordered routine of our normal lives, and it was almost as dramatic as someone turning out the lights.

We were sprawled on a slab of solid granite, assembled on loose boulders for chairs and our legs were stretched out in front of us.  I passed out Dominican cigarillos that I had bought at the Duty Free store of some forgotten airport, and we lit them with matches.  The flask went around a few times.  Lies were told, stories were embellished and perfected, and we soaked in the dirt and the fatigue and the peace and the calm. 

The stars began appearing, more and more by the minute, a thousand thousand jewels sparkling and shining, so clear and perfect.  It was painfully and perfectly beautiful.  I felt calm and alert and completely comfortable.  High in the eastern Sierras, surrounded by close friends and family, I felt alive.




Sunday, December 5, 2010

One Word

Due to a strong case of writer's block, I am signed up for Reverb's "Reflect and Manifest" project for December.  They provide a writing prompt every day during the month for bloggers to write about.  I am starting this 5 days late.

December 1 - One Word.
Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?


This may be laughable to those who know me well, but 2010 was a year of Maturity for me.  For the first time in my life I made conscious decisions with the future in mind, AND followed up with the appropriate actions.  For a long time I have been somewhat split between the idea of succeeding within society and the contrary view of completely leaving that society.  I would often bounce between the ideas of moving my career forward and just selling all my shit and walking across China (or something similar).

I think a significant contributing factor to my decision to make financially-sound choices is witnessing friends and family who are struggling later on in life, and seeing just how limiting the lack of money can be.  Fear not, I am not developing a "Greed is Good" Wall Street mentality.  I still have inexpensive tastes and consider myself anti-materialistic.  As money never really mattered much to me, it was easy for me to spend it.  Buying rounds of drinks for friends, eating out whenever I was too lazy to cook, and other wasteful purchases kept me merely breaking even, even as my income went up.  This year I began contributing to my retirement savings again, saved up a solid emergency fund, and started an account for a down payment on a home.  If things continue as they are, I will be completely debt-free at the end of the 1st quarter 2011.

This has made a huge difference in my stress levels.  If something needs to be repaired on my car, I can just go do it instead of hoping things dont get worse while I save up the money.  Better yet, I can get it fixed properly rather doing whatever is cheapest (and most likely to cause more problems).

I believe I have matured in my personal relationships as well.  I have always been a selfish person in past relationships. My interests, goals and plans were priority #1, and it was usually time and attention to friends/ family/significant other that would suffer for it.  Really thinking about what I want out of life has helped me focus more on the people in my life, and my relationships are stronger for that.  It has allowed me to start a relationship with an incredible woman who challenges me and helps me grow, and I am not shooting myself in the foot by ignoring her for boxing practice or personal reading or whatever else.  My interests and fitness are all major priorities for me, but it is good to have a proper perspective about it.

2011 promises to be a pivotal year.  I have started my own company, a sales and marketing consultation business for overseas manufacturers, and it will require a tremendous amount of time and energy.  It would be very easy to become a workaholic and neglect the people and personal interests in my life.  Because of this, I hope that my word for 2011 is Balance.  There were a lot of times in 2010 when I felt that I did not have enough going on.  That is no longer the case, and I want to give myself wholly to my family, my friends, my girlfriend, my business, my health.  Maybe 2012 will be the year of Sleep.