Touching the Bases

I’m sitting on a flight bored out of my mind right now and realized it’s a good opportunity to write an overdue update for this blog. I appreciate this particular varietal of boredom. It’s nice once in a while to be disconnected and have time to sit and think without the pressures or temptations to be doing anything else. Part of me loathes the day in-flight WiFi becomes totally standard.

I’m going to touch briefly on a few different topics on the radar of my life right now.

Weight Training

A low-stress and boring lifestyle in Playa del Carmen has enabled me to focus on fitness in a way I never have before. I can’t believe it took me so long to get serious about doing squats and deadlifts. I’ve gained more strength and muscle mass in the last six months than in the previous ten years of weight training combined.

I have to credit Nat Arem for this. He was my main inspiration to start putting heavy weights on my back and squatting repeatedly. It’s amazing how much people focus on things that don’t matter in the gym (we do this in all areas of life I think). People who do bicep curls and calf raises are wasting their time. As Nat accurately relayed to me, “squats make your whole body strong.” I have found this to be true. I am lifting more weight on accessory exercises like bicep curls than ever before in my life despite basically never focusing on them.

My weight-training revolves around four primary exercises: squats, deadlifts, bench press, and overhead shoulder press. When I moved to Playa, I was a squishy and soft 240 pounds. Eight months later, I weigh 190 and can feel some significant gains in muscle mass. It’s an awesome feeling that has me motivated to keep going down the rabbit hole. Fitness is one of those freebies in life that is almost never a bad investment of your time.

My goal is basically to get really freaking strong. Right now, my untested one-rep max on squat is 225. I plan to test that in a week or so and hopefully get it on video. When I first started squatting, 225 seemed like an impossible checkpoint and there’s definitely a sense of pride at finally reaching it. The cool thing is, to plenty of guys (like Nat), 225 is like a warm-up weight. I’m looking forward to reaching the point where I read this entry and laugh at getting excited about being able to lift 225 once.

By the end of March 2013, my goal is to have a one-rep squat max of 315 and a deadlift max of 405. Weight-training is teaching me that you can accomplish more than you might think with patience and discipline.

GMAT

I have been studying for the GMAT, the entrance exam used to evaluate business school candidates, for a couple of months now. I am by no means married to the idea of going to business school. I still have a lot of questions about it. But I am intrigued by the idea. For now, I’m just focusing on kicking the GMAT in the butt and will go from there.

Before I started studying, I had figured that scoring 650 on the exam would be a pretty good goal. But I scored that on a cold practice exam so now I’m setting my sights a little higher.

The GMAT consists of two sections (well, technically there are four, but really only two of them matter): verbal and quantitative (math). I slaughtered the verbal scoring in the 89th percentile on the cold practice exam but really felt outclassed by the math scoring in the 53rd percentile. So my strategy for studying is basically to focus solely on improving at the quantative section since that’s where I feel like I have the most room to improve and hoping that my verbal prowesses are sufficient enough already. I have to confess that I enjoy the whole GMAT process. I like games and to me the test is just another game where you’re trying to get as high of a score as possible.

My goal is to hit the 700+ range on the actual exam which I am planning on taking in August. You can retake the GMAT every 31 days, so if my practice exam performance suggests 700+ is attainable for me but I miss that mark on the actual exam, I might just keep taking it every month until I bink a score I can be really happy with. A score of 700+ would allow me to entertain the idea of getting into a really good school which is important because I’m not sure if $100k in debt and sidelining two years of income potential is worth it to go to a mediocre program.

Podcast

A like-minded friend and I recently started a podcast. I don’t even want to link to it yet because to be honest I’m pretty bashful about the product right now. We launched it really lean. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the importance of just doing something and when Sam suggested we transform our engaging IM convos into a podcast, I thought it was a fantastic idea and insisted that we start doing it right away and just figure it out as we go. Because I knew if we planned and strategized and tried to make everything perfect our first recording would have never happened.

So it’s really bare-bones right now. We still have a ton of work to do to improve the audio quality of the recordings, user web platform experience, not to mention quality of the content itself. But it’s been a fun little diversion so far and has me excited about the possibilities of where it can go.

We haven’t had a guest on yet mostly because I’ve been aiming really high in that department (example: want Tucker Max to come on and talk about his personal growth away from ‘fratire’ but he has yet to respond to my email). Basically I’d rather have no guests at all than someone not very interesting just for the sake of having a guest.

Work

Since unfortunately I don’t get paid to lift heavy things, study for the GMAT, or record philosophical ramblings with a friend, I do spend a lot of time singing for my supper. Lately, I’ve been focusing on some new work writing for a weight loss website and continuing to do some other work I’ve been doing for a few years now including writing for Poker Tips.

I feel pretty lucky to be able to make money working remotely from a tropical beach village doing stuff that is usually at least tolerable. I’ve been learning a lot about SEO lately which I think has added value to the other projects I’ve been working on.

Poker

Online poker has been mostly relegated to a Sunday activity for me. I still really enjoy playing, but I’m not sure I feel like there is as much potential for acquiring piles of money by doing it as there was a few years ago. I think the absolute top players can still expect to make six-figures annually playing online, but I’m not dedicated enough to the game to put in the work and hours required to be among that class.

That said, I feel really fantastic about my thinking at the tables lately. I’m playing with more of a zen disposition than I ever have in my life. I’ve always been prone to becoming emotionally rattled by poker, but lately this hasn’t been the case. I’ve been able to grind with a certain ambivalence towards the outcome. I feel completely comfortable in most situations I encounter in a multi-table tournament at this point. The game has slowed down for me a ton over the years and I think I rarely ever make what could be classified as a clear mistake. When I do, it’s probably a result of playing too many tables. That’s my biggest leak, I would say. There’s just so many good tournaments on Sundays that it’s really easy to register for a few more than I probably should.

I really don’t expect anything out of poker anymore. I’m not even sure if I’ll play in the WSOP this year. Next week, I’ll start getting serious about soliciting investors to back me in the Main Event. If it happens, it happens; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I am not nearly as desperate to play in it as I have been in years past. But if I do play it, I will of course be completely absorbed in focusing on it as it’s really the only realistic chance I have of becoming a millionaire sometime this year. Getting all of the chips would be damn fun, that’s for sure.

NBA Playoffs

I’ve been cutting back a lot on watching sports but one thing I can’t get enough of is the NBA Playoffs. The NBA is definitely my favorite pro sports league. Some people complain that their playoffs are too long, but I think that’s what makes them great. It’s one league where to me there is absolutely no uncertainty if the team that wins the championship was the team that deserved to win the championship. In this regard, I think the NBA outclasses the other three major pro U.S. leagues.

Boston has a chance to close out Miami in Game 6 tonight and reach the Finals. Seeing Paul Pierce pull up right in Lebron’s face and hit a 3 that ultimately cemented a road win for his team in Game 5 got me so fired up. Stuff like that is what makes sports so great. That has been an epic series regardless of how it ends.

You have to tip your cap to Oklahoma City too coming back from a 2-0 deficit against a Spurs team that was playing like one of the best teams in NBA history. I don’t think anyone thought OKC could possibly come back and win four straight, but they did just that. I know the league must be praying for an OKC-Miami Finals matchup which would obviously be so much better for ratings and hype than the San Antonio-Boston matchup that almost could have been.

New York

This flight will touch down at JFK in about an hour. I’m visiting my girlfriend for 11 nights. The timing of this trip worked out great because just this morning I checked out of the house I had been renting in Playa for five months, stored my stuff at a friend’s apartment I’ll be taking over when I get back, dropped my dog off at a boarding facility, and hopped on a bus to el aeropuerto.

Going back to the U.S. is pretty surreal after spending long stretches of time in a developing nation. It’s definitely changed the perception I have of my home country in a major way. I’d encourage everyone to spend a significant amount of time living outside of the U.S. if they have the means. It will change your life.

We don’t have a lot on the agenda for this New York visit. My roommate of five years from Houston is in town for a wedding. It will be nice to catch up with him tomorrow night. On Saturday, the plan is to watch I’ll Have Another’s bid to win the Triple Crown from my girlfriend’s parents’ house on Long Island (not far from Belmont Park where the race takes place). Like most people, I’m definitely rooting for that pony to run faster than all of the other ponies. I was trying to figure out why I care so much that he wins. After all, it shouldn’t really affect my life that he can run around a circle on three separate instances faster than all of the other horses running with him. But I decided that the reason it’s so intriguing is because of how rare it is. It’s been more than 30 years since a horse last won the Triple Crown. So I think the appeal is in the beauty of the rarity. I hope he wins by 20 lengths like a boss.

Otherwise the plan is to eat some good food, maybe do a couple yoga classes, and enjoy what should be some nice summer weather in New York. Thanks for reading.

Future Plans, Life, New York, Non-Poker, Online Poker

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