Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

How dare you pass me!

Ego is a heck of a thing.

Even as I mature into my thirties and give less and less care about what other people think; even though I drive a six-figure car that’s easily in the fastest top 1% of all the vehicles on the road - therefore no reason be self-conscious at all, certain moments can still momentarily awaken those base and rabid emotions.

Case in point this past weekend when I was doing my usual drive on the mountain roads in the GT3, going at a reasonable clip: not enough for jail time, but definitely faster than the posted speed limits. Suddenly I noticed in the back mirror two cars coming up rather quickly onto my tail, and soon I became a mobile roadblock to their desires to go faster. Had it been my younger years in a similar class of machinery (an impossibility, but indulge me), I would have eagerly taken the challenge and sped up into pseudo race against them. Me at 31, highly cognizant of my mortality, cannot be tempted such foolishness.

So I kept to my pace, and at the earliest passing opportunity (thank goodness these guys weren’t assholes who pass over a double-yellow line or in a blind corner) allowed them to by. The leading car was what looked to be highly-modified Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, while the follower is a current-generation Chevy Camaro. No harm no foul: if they want to go triple digits on these mountain roads, I’m not about to play citizen police. I’ve encountered those sorts of people too, and they are I would say equally as dangerous as those who overtake illegally.

I was ready to move on my merry way, but for some reason, feelings of embarrassment and anger started to well up from within. Those guys must be laughing their asses off thinking I’m some chump who can’t pilot a 911 GT3 to its best ability: “Look at this guy, all money and no skill!” (the no skill part is very true) In turn, I was seething over their audacity to pass me with their lowly cars that are not only slower on spec than the GT3, but when combined is still worth less than my German sports car.

Needless to say, my ego took over; I had brief thoughts of chasing these guy down, though thankfully those feelings were indeed fleeting, and I was able to detach from the situation and calm myself down. The fact of the matter is the two drivers wanted to go faster than me, and they passed me in an objectively very safe manner. There’s really nothing to fume about, but something about the ego’s inability to accept slights, especially those pertaining to manhood like who can go faster in a car.

I’d thought owning one of the best driver’s car ever produced would alleviate such juvenile tendencies; there’d be no need for comparisons and battles. It seems it may in fact exacerbate situations: last thing anyone wants is to look utterly stupid inside an expensive car. The ego probably wouldn’t have reared its head had I been driving a Honda Fit.

As always, a work in progress.

I’m just running in the 90s.

Don't dream it's over

This past weekend I enjoyed some lazy time doing nothing substantial by watching Initial D Fifth Stage. I’d realized that while I’ve seen the first four stages of the anime multiple times, I’ve yet to rewatch the fifth series since it first aired all the way back in 2014(!). As one of the three major seminal products in inspiring my passion for cars - the other two being Gran Turismo video game and Top Gear television program, I figured it was a good time as any for a revisit.

Every time I watch Initial D I am overwhelmed with a desire to just get in the car and drive. Good thing my current car is parked quite bit away from where I live, because to be under the influence of mountain road drift battles and effervescent Eurobeat music while piloting the Porsche would not be the best mixture for a good outcome. I’d begin to think myself as the master of the mountain roads and go way beyond the limits of safety; definitely don’t want to end up like this guy.

Anyways, as I was half way through the anime marathon, my mind couldn’t help itself and wandered to the future some hours later when I’d have finished watching the entirety of Fifth Stage. I then started feeling sad that this current happiness of rewatching a beloved anime will soon be over and I’d be back to the harsh reality of having to prepare for work the next day. Indeed, why am I upset about it being over when I’m still in the middle of it? If doing something relaxing and fun is going to make me feel bad afterwards, then what’s the point?

This experience isn’t new: I can remember being at concerts and feeling upset midway through that this moment of bliss will soon be over.

This tendency of mine to feel sad about happy things ending is definitely not healthy. I’d get detached from the present and unable to immerse fully in what is suppose to be joyous activities. Furthermore, I don’t think it’s productive to allow my base state of happiness or feeling to be affected by things I do, whether it be something leisurely like watching television, or something burdensome like the weekday work. The constant up and down would be disastrous for my mental well-being, when all I really want is peace.

Emotion is good and welcomed, but not when it comes at the expense of being in the moment, and feeling melancholic about something happy that will be over in a few hours. As I’ve said many times, things like this is a constant work in progress.

My brother’s in Oregon.

450 words per day

It’s been said that the Ernest Hemingway only wrote about the 450 words a day. I’m far too lazy to research whether he actually did do that or not (excellent journalism being done here), so I’m just going to take that at face value.

450 words a day isn’t all that much, isn’t it? My daily blog posts are about 400 words on average (shout-out to the built-in word counter in Microsoft Word), and they take about half an hour to write. Obviously I’m not penning a great American novel, only merely writing down what I’m currently musing on, so the amount of imagination and creativity required is significantly less than Mr. Hemingway.

Nevertheless, it’s still only about a page a day, and for the rest of the time Ernest gets to chill and hangout at his leisure. It’s no wonder he chose a tropical paradise like Cuba to live in. It’s hashtag goals, as the kids say these days: write for a few hours at most, then the rest of time drink coffee and smoke cigars to the heart’s content. What a super low-stress way to make a living; I bet he would’ve lived quite a bit longer, had Hemingway not committed suicide.  

My ideal locale wouldn’t be a third-world country near the equator, but rather a cottage nestled in the hills and forests, somewhere in our northwest region. As I grow older I’ve really come to appreciate ultimate peace and silence. To attain that, being away from the cities is a must. As long as that cottage has a solid Internet connection, I can make a living doing creative freelance, or like Hemingway, write 450 words a day to someday form a novel.

The lesson here is that life is about consistency and solid habits over a long period. It’s rare and difficult to be a sudden viral sensation or hit something big overnight: good things take time to create, and it’s contingent on the creator to keep at it and coming back to it day after day, month after month. For sure on some days the progress will be excruciatingly slow, but even tiny bits of forward momentum, if done consistently, can compound into something great.

The other lesson is that this thing of ours is indeed marathon, not a sprint; don’t overwork yourself: be sure to take some time to enjoy being alive.

A road to joy.

What if I hit the lottery?

I seldom play the lottery because rationality informs me the odds of winning are vanishingly minimal, and the money would otherwise be better served in an investment account. That’s precisely what I’ve been doing; volatility in the equities market these past few weeks notwithstanding. Investing in stocks is sort of like gambling: none of it is guaranteed, so in that way I don’t feel the need to buy lottery tickets or frequent Las Vegas casinos.

In the rare times when the lottery jackpot reaches stratospheric heights like last evening’s $1.6 billion in the Mega Millions, I'm inclined to buy in at the minimum. The odds haven’t changed of course, but the prize incentive is increased so dramatically that it’d feel rather stupid to not at least throw my hat into the proverbial ring. After all, the hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said, "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take". $40 million is life-changing indeed, but $1.6 billion is another life.

It’s always fun exercise to dream about exactly what you will do with that amount of money. I reckon the dopamine hit alone is worth squandering the two dollars required for one ticket. Plenty of people would probably quit their jobs, buy property somewhere to live, and follow their true passions. I’m certainly amongst that camp: if I hit the lottery I’d be a vagabonding photographer, with a focus on driving cars in spectacular locations, and write about it all on this website.

The question is, would I need to win a jackpot to do that?

Answer is a decided no. It doesn’t take an enormous sum to travel and write; get good enough I might even be decently paid for it. What the hypothetical lottery winning provides is absolute freedom: freedom from the obligations of a normal person. People aren’t keen to quit their jobs to chase a passion because they’ve got others dependent on their regular paychecks, be that a spouse, children, or a mortgage.

I currently have none of those obligations, and quite a bit saved up in the bank (again, last couple of weeks’ stock market notwithstanding). So what’s stopping me from going after my passion?

Just me.

I don’t suppose any of this is OSHA approved.

I don’t suppose any of this is OSHA approved.

Tom Cruise is still learning

I was watching one of my weekly Korean variety shows, and none other than Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, and Simon Peck showed up this week as guests. It seems nothing is more effective to promote a Hollywood film in Korea than special guesting on one of their popular television programs. Ryan Reynolds did it for Deadpool 2 to perfection, so I guess the Mission Impossible PR team thought it would be great to have Tom Cruise and company pop in on Running Man

Can’t speak for how it was received in Korea (probably well), but as an American viewer who speaks Korean, it’s always a bit weird when foreign stars and personalities show up on Korean shows. The language barrier between the hosts and guests almost always produce a few cringe-inducing moments for me. Because I can remember the awkward moments I had last year traveling to Korea and conversing with the local population in my then not so decent Korean.  

Before commencing with games the Running Man host conducted a brief interview, in which it was revealed that Tom Cruise spent a year and a half learning how to fully fly a helicopter for the new movie. Obviously he did all his own stunts as well. 

Cruise, in his mid 50s, with all the money and fame in the world, still found it prudent to dedicate tremendous amounts of hours to acquire a new craft. He could’ve easily pawn helicopter flying off to the stunt team but his dedication and passion wouldn’t allow it, and that I admire highly. I believe the challenge of life, aside from being gainfully employed to sustain ourselves and our family, is to be constantly learning new things. Tom Cruise gets that. 

I’m currently learning Korean - only reason I’m watching Korean television - and once I’m satisfied with my proficiency level (one is never truly "done" or finished with learning a language) I shall move on to attain another skill. A movement I hope to sustain, like Tom Cruise, well into my 50s and beyond.  

You know the Chinese always make good stuff. 

You know the Chinese always make good stuff. 

Momentum car as lesson for life

In car enthusiasts parlance we have what we call a “momentum car”. It’s a type car that hasn’t got enough power to pull itself out of corners, therefore to preserve good forward momentum the driver must scrub off as little speed as possible during braking and turning. Newton’s law of motion acted out: objects in motion tend to stay in motion, and friction is enemy to a car that lacks huge amounts of horsepower to hide it.  

The ND Miata I just sold is a momentum car: 155 horsepower is just enough be fun but if the roadster gets needlessly bogged down in the middle of a turn it takes considerable time to get back to proper speed. On a tight course the next string of corners are effectively compromised because they arrive before the car can fully recover.   

Momentum cars are excellent teachers of drivers. 

It’s also a good metaphor for life. Maintaining momentum is crucial in achieving success. Laziness or extra off-days may feel awesome in the present but the days proceeding will be heavily undermined. If I haven’t written on this website for awhile it’s extra difficult to pick it back up. Skip a scheduled exercise day because I didn’t feel like it? The stress of the one after that just got unnecessarily raised.

Consistency compounds into forward progress: when I finish a blog post the tiny dose of satisfaction I get turns into eagerness and I already start to think about what to write for the next one. Like a momentum car it’s about smooth continued progress and avoid needlessly slowing down. 

Don't skip a day; get after it. 

Sometimes you get lucky and mother nature frames things up nicely for you. 

Sometimes you get lucky and mother nature frames things up nicely for you.