December 28, 2009

Favorite Quotes

My favorite quotes this week
“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” ~ Buddha
“ Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.” David Allen, author of Getting Things Done
“ The things that matter most should never be at the mercy of the things that matter least.”
" Imagine this instead: you get up early, jumping out of bed, excited to go to work."
Leo Babauta,
It's only too late if you don't start now."
Read it somewhere in a book but forgot the author's name

December 08, 2009

Progress Log

What we want:
* a beautiful living environment with nice and positive roommates that share our values decorated very nice and looking thrift store stylish
* want to be mentally strong and skilled and always and constantly improving
* to be confident in our ability to get things done. To have created a valid, consistently approach.
What we Have:
* We have a lot more repeat activities for our Google calendar and tons of invites on Facebook for activities
> didn't know what to do on any given night
* We have a very cute, centrally located apartment with electricity, water, wifi, and two roommates fronting the bill, it's decorated pretty cute and always improving and we're looking to move into an even nicer living situation!
>living in a cold cold van
*We have a nice working steady approach with film and books and our wko program, slow but steady. Yes, we are making progress even on days when our feet is dragging.
*Our body feels moderately strong; playing ball like mad and running quite often.
* We have yet to go into a deep deep depression recovery period is not that bad!
> would get into funks for weeks at a time, we are slow as a motherfucker now but at least we are steadier.
*We have gotten skilled at minigoaling and option/qualities
* Learning better to not exert too much physically. Pace.
* Have rap beats and U2 to help us push through the pain
* We have nice stylish clothes that make us feel attractive, a cool hat, a nice jacket, and some cute shorts
What we want:
* To spend as 3/4 of our time doing things that move us into an emotional state while staying productive toward the things that are important to us.
What we Have:
* I have that list of songs I can sing and play
I can make a list of film projects I'd like to do
I've watched and read and seen lots and lots of art
We are able to put music to video
We are able to connect with others through writing
* Continuing to create more and more video work
* An abundant collection of books, audio, and film that will help us get through action.

Who we Want:
Inner (6)
Luong, Harold, Thay Pham, Anise
Middle (18)
Mother, Harold, Phillip, Tuan, Thuan, Cameron, Johanna, Ahmed, Anna Duyen, Bee, Shin, Katie J, Tommy, Anise, , Hailey, Kennedy, Wayne Wylie, Krzystof
Outer (54)
An Thu, Aubrey, Babe, Britney
Who We Have:

Inner (6) Shin, Scottie
Middle (18) Chris, Harold, Scottie, Anise, Thay Pham, Hailey, Kennedy, Wayne Wylie, Krzystof
Outer (54)
An Thu, Aubrey, Babe, Britney

we have many experiences with loving women
we have our friendship with Scott
We have beautiful memories made with so many people
* Did good to make ammends with tommy and salvaged a friendship
> would just avoid and let it drift away
Father understands we do not trust him
* We have more experiences of what we do not want in our relationships
* We have the experience of taking time to talk to tommy dang
* We have our sachse saigons facebook
What we want:
What we Have:
We've cut our expenses down to 500/mnth
* used to be $800/mnth
* Got our massage responses back up again with daily advertisements
I don't worry so much about spending money
I can watch action films and listen to grooves music and dance, sway and work 2 days a week
We have the potential to earn income with one of our many talents
We have a natural ability to run our own business, comes naturally and we are very blessed

Progress Log
motivation, progress, reflections

December 06, 2009

Adventures in Public Transportation

When I'm longing for personal proximity, one thing I do is hop on the city bus around rush hour and it's nice just to have a bunch of warm bodies near. Here are some of my observations from the past week:

11/10 12:54 PM
A sweet immigrant family from Burma or perhaps Nepal with an adorable bay girl sits next to me in the back of the bus, the best set in the house, in my opinion, with ample leg room and easy to enter/exit seats. The parents were both wearing super stylish Ghetto Nike Air shoes, the kind you might find the hip hop high school crowd sporting. The baby girl and her father are making faces at each other and enjoying themselves. The men from this area of the world age particularly well and, although he is most probably in his thirties, he looks not even nineteen. Both the baby girl and her father smile at me.
I love the innocence of it. They are fashion oblivious. I find that charming and can relate. It's nice they don't know yet that public transportation is a mecca for misfits and madmen and continue to smile and communicate non-verbally to me

6:49 PM
A possibly homeless older gentleman gets on and sits next to me. He has a case of Red Bull energy drinks for sale. 2 for $1. Any normal person would hesitate to ask where he got this case from. After saying "no thank you" I change my mind and purchase two; one for me and one for a random guy who I've seen on the bus earlier in the week who happened to be traveling and, for some reason, came upon $100 worth of international notes that he needed to trade in.
There are some very interesting characters on this bus. Everyone has a back story. Everyone is trying to go somewhere. This bus is packed full like a can of sardines. Please, by the grace of God, no one cut a fart. Still, today, I prefer this and find it more enjoyable than riding alone.

6:53 PM
When you're wealthy and act abnormal, people compliment, "Ah, he's so eccentric." When you ride the city bus and talk to yourself, you're just plain crazy. The homeless have homeless lingo. No where else would you overhear a conversation along the lines of, "Where are you staying tonight?" "What did you score for dinner?" I find it endearing that the homeless form instant bonds through their common everyday struggles.

11/11 6:24 PM At McDonald's
So cute. A whole family of 6 immigrant girls with their aunt or possibly their mother. They range in age from 3 all the way to 10. The youngest braves a game of peek-a-boo with me. Cute little hands and adoring spanish eyes that remind me of the U2 song, "In a little while". My guess is that they're not used to seeing Asian people.They remind me of fond snowy days in Dallas when my parents would save up all month and take the whole family out to Mickey D's. My mother (bless her heart) made all of our meals at home, so it was a huge ordeal to go out for a Big Mac. We would get dressed in our Sunday best and were the image of success. Back in Viet Nam, a meal at McDonald's is indication that you have "made it" in America.

November 03, 2009

weekly highlights

B. Highlights from My Week
* I sped through a red light even though I saw a patrol car perched on the other side of the road. I don't know what it is about skirting my life and the law that attracts me. Could I be a criminal in the making?
* I'm by myself and the band is playing and I really want to dance. "C'mon, Dao, just go. You can do it." "I don't know, it's kind of weird, a guy dancing by himself". "And I suppose it would be easier if you were a girl?" "okay, now." "okay, now." Go!
* I detest grocery shopping. Really, it's not one of my favorite activities. Shopping in general, I would say. That's why when I go to the store it's dim sum shopping for me. Like how at dim sum restaurants they cart out all these great looking goodies, I go around and peak at what other people are buying and go "'s looks interesting...oh! I've got to have that box of cheez-its"
* I was just thinking how much I love leftovers. You go through your fridge thinking, man, what is there to eat? Oh yea! that pizza from last week!
A. People I've met
* there's a tattooed hard-looking dude who organizes the basketball games where I play pick-up. His name is Julian and he looks like he's not unfamiliar with the texas penal system. I can't quite figure him out. He has a perpetual scowl like a lot of the guys that play pick up ball but he also always says hello when I come by. I think inside everyone is a softie.
* I've been hanging out with a friend named shin. He's a miniature japanese guy with a bruce lee cut who smokes cigars. I don't know what it is but I've always enjoyed spending time with people from different countries. It's kind of like traveling or hanging out at a youth hostel. There's a feeling of adventure about it all.
C. Lessons I've learned
* life is like bicycling a series of hills and valleys. You make the most of the momentum when it's easy riding/coasting and use that time to prepare for the inevitable climbs/hills. So, for example, if you're motivated to go on a diet, don't go gung-ho and run a marathon, use that motivation to set up an environment that is conducive to success. Go enlist in a gym membership, stack your fridge with healthy foods, call up a buddy and enlist him/her to go on the diet with you. You will find that time setting up the environment when you're motivated (coasting downhill) will create less work or reluctance when you're not (climbing uphill).
* patience cannot be an excuse for complacency
* it's not winning that matters but the motivation to continue improving
D. Random Thoughts
* I think half of the excitement in life is the build up, we should build up everything we do. Like how they hype boxing matches or football games. We can do that everynight before we go to bed, looking forward to our day tomorrow, really make a big deal of it and sure enough I think we wake up feeling more energized.

October 01, 2009

Keep the Window Cracked

1. People I've met:
* a woman plops on the seat in front of me and the first thing she does is complains why the bus is 10 minutes late. I don't care for complainers so I put on my headphones, avoid eye contact, and focus my eyes on a book. A few minutes pass and she asks me if she can use my cell phone. I pretend that I don't hear her and continue reading my book. She tenacious however and pokes her hand in my face to get my attention. I look up reluctantly.
" Do you have a phone?"
Me: "Yea."
" May I use it to make a phone call?"
Despite not having a good impression of her I figure it wouldn't hurt. She then proceeds to jabber for a good fifteen minutes and I give up reading my book. I can't wait to get off this bus. Then magic happens. She strikes up a conversation with a blind girl next to her, complimenting her on her pretty hair. At the next stop she helps a handicapped guy get off the buss and I think to myself, that's nice of her, she's probably a friendly person after all. I am reminded of the truism: there's always good in everyone, you just have to keep your eyes open.
* one of my favorite things to do in public is eavesdrop on people's conversations. I'm nosy.
* I ask my friend Scotty a hypothetical question: could he love someone who cheats on him and he replies, "if you really really love them, then you have no choice. it's unconditional." I guess he has a point.
2. Highlights from past week:
* I had a dream a little boy was so proud that he had such a great big brother and I wanted to be that big brother.
* a sign at an elementary school has a big red apple and a smiling green worm and says "bite into life"
* I received a call from a number I didn't recognize. I answered and a lady on the line said " Jonathan is in the nurse's office not feeling good."
I replied, "I'm sorry to hear that Jonathan is not feeling well but you have the wrong number." It reminded me of the time I got a busted lip on my first day of middle school courtesy of an accidental headbutt.
* I took a bike ride all the way to south austin past ben white and it felt like I was in a completely different city. There's always something magical about the air around you when you find yourself in a new environment. Even the trees looked different to me.
* I treated myself to a massage. Hadn't had one in over two years. It's just what I needed and I highly recommend it.
* Spent Wednesday at the Farmer's Market. I'm suppose to feel like an outsider since I'm the only guy without a family or even a girlfriend but that doesn't stop me. To see happy families and chubby little kids makes me pretty happy. A baby boy even crawled up close to take a look at my notebook. I'd like to have a family of my own someday but for now it will have to be a vicarious affair.
* I've been watching romance movies lately. It's funny because even as a teenager I would have a stack of romance novels in my drawer. My dad even found one once and I was not embarrassed. So what? Why can't a boy be into raunchy literature? My favorite romance movies are made by Cameron Crowe: Jerry Maguire and Vanilla Sky.
3. Antihighlights
* For some reason a guy cleaning his car caught my attention as I was riding my bike. It turned out to be a mistake as he was bending over to vacuum and I caught an eyefull of buttcrack. Please, kind sir, pull up your pants. Then I thought to myself, no one asked me to look. The bright side was that I didn't run into a curb or the stop sign.
4. Random thoughts
* what in the world is antipasta? is it a) a dish that does not have pasta b) an adjective describing one who is against holding on to the past. If it's a) then I think that's pretty stupid. How about some antifriedchicken.
* is it an oxymoron when the first thing that fighters do after they win a fight is to thank jesus?
Quotes I've enjoyed:
* you can be poor by yourself you don't need any help
* tough times don't last, tough people do

September 03, 2009

What We Have in Common

I will attempt a new 21 day challenge. my room mate is trying to quit smoking and I'm going to try and quit lazy (being, that is). So much like a working out, I will try to sit down and do some things that I generally do not care for (cooking, cleaning, etc) first thing when I wake (okay, after my morning coffee which is usually a book and/or something yummy to eat, b/c getting up in the morning is hard as it is)

After reading a self growth book called the Flip Side by a guy named Flip Flippen (I unsure if that's his birth name) it speaks about 8 things that hold people back, all of those I have and one that sticks out like a sore thumb: lack of drive. On top of that, Flip says that by the time a person turns thirty, it's downhill from there, that our patterns become ingrained, unlikely to change. That gives me approximately half a year. I better get going.

when I was 14 my dad made me shovel dirt for our family garden. Now, when you're 14, you don't like being told what to do, especially if it does not promise fun. It would be a week before I could dig all that needed to be dug. I was discouraged. Digging up dirt was not my idea of a good time. Interestingly, on the second day, I began to like it and even take pride in the work. I began to focus less on how hot and dirty the job was, and focus on the thought that my dad had asked me of all my siblings. I felt strong and proud. The next day, I could care less about pride and being strong. This sucks, I thought. Somehow I was able to complete the project and I sometimes look back on that experience fondly; a reference in what can be when we control what we focus on.

When I was itty bitty in Vietnam I would skip school and go to the pond by my house to catch frogs. One day I found my dad skipping work and going fishing himself, both not ready, i guess, to face up to the "real world". I prefer to see it as father and son both enjoying the jubilation of not doing what is expected of us. I don't remember if I was reprimanded nor do I remember if I understood the concept of blackmail or hypocrisy.

A barefoot man ran down a busy intersection of Lamar screaming "Holly! Holly!" My first guestimation of the situation was that his disgruntled lover had ran off from an argument. He had such a look of absolute devotion and desperation at the same time. It turns out Holly is his dog who took off after a bird or who knows what.

My life today is far from what I imagined it to be as a senior in high school; far from ideal but the process of living, learning, and growing (despite it's moments of discomfort and despair) is something that I am, if not happy with, at least open to.

Quotes I've enjoyed this week:
love, joy, happiness are often not found but created.
When I see an adult on a bicycle I do not despair for the the future of the human race - H.G. Wells

Random thoughts I've had:
* Caucasians have bread. Latinos, tortillas. Asians have rice paper. All edible. all delicious.
* When you come from poverty it is more of a challenge to learn to give.
* Here in Austin, the school for the deaf is a lot better kept than the school for the blind. I wonder if that is because of politics/funding or the fact that the blind students could care less what the grounds look like.
*There's a roll of scotch tape that i've been using sparingly for the last 2 years. It's almost out and I feel a pang of heartache. I'm gonna miss you, scotch tape. You've been good to me.

August 23, 2009

A Special Request


is a poem
written by a teenager with cancer.

She wants to
see how many
people get her poem.

It is quite the poem
Please pass it


poem was written by a terminally ill young girl in a
New York Hospital ..
It was sent

a medical doctor -
Make sure to read what is in the closing statement


Have you ever
On a merry-go-round?

Or listened to

Slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a

butterfly's erratic flight?

Or gazed at the sun into the

You better slow down.

dance so

Time is short.

The music

Do you run through each day


When you ask How are you?

Do you hear

When the day is done

Do you lie
in your

With the next hundred chores

Running through
your head?

You'd better
slow down

Don't dance so

Time is

The music won't

Ever told your

We'll do it

And in your

Not see


Ever lost

Let a good
friendship die

Cause you
never had time

To call
and say,'Hi'

better slow down.

Don't dance
so fast.

is short.

The music won't

When you run
so fast to get somewhere

miss half the fun of getting

When you worry and hurry
through your

It is like an unopened


Life is not a

Do take it

Hear the

Before the song is



Dear All:
PLEASE pass this mail on to everyone you know -
even to those you don't
know! It is the request20of a special girl who will soon
leave this world
due to cancer.

This young girl has 6 months left
to live,
and as her dying wish, she wanted to send a letter telling everyone to

live their life to the fullest, since she never will.

never make it to prom, graduate from high school,
or get married and have a
family of her own.

By you sending
this to as many people as
possible, you can give her and her family a
little hope, because with every name
that this is sent to, The American
Cancer Society will donate 3 cents per name
to her treatment and recovery
plan. One guy sent this to 500 people! So I know
that we can at least send
it to 5 or 6. It's
not even your money, just


Dennis Shields, Professor
Department of Developmental and

Morris Park

Bronx , New York

August 16, 2009

Love at First Sound

the following is based on true events. Some of the events and characters are composites or totally fictionalized for reading pleasure

The exterior of the department of public safety building near my apartment is designed like a huge concrete grid. I wonder what the authorities there would think of me climbing it, so I tried it out today being that they are closed and in near the top I find a little fairy. The fairy grants me three wishes. I'm ecstatic. My lucky day.

I read today that happiness is only real when shared.

A little boy lost his mother at the store today and crying his heart out. It was adorable seeing him pine for his mother. I can't remember pining for my mother like that in years. It makes me wonder what it's like being a mother knowing that your brood will one day "outgrow" your love. I think I'll call my mother tomorrow and say hello to her.

A lady gives me change at the checkout and i go to count it. i don't trust her? Then I realize she gave me TOO much money. Do I give it back? Do I keep it? I figure corporate America won't be missing a few dollars and decide instead to walk next door to the Chinese restaurant where, in the back, some Hispanic cooks are taking a smoke break.
"This is for you". I off the overage i received at the store to him. He looks at me quizzically, cautious at first, weighs his options and decides to accept the gift from the crazy Asian with the pink backpack and bicycle basket. I smile and say "Feliz Navidad." The fact that it's August is not lost on me.

how do we trust the the oncoming traffic won't come head on to us? Went on a nice morning ride and had these thoughts floating through my mind. I guess we just do. Otherwise we would never get anywhere would we?

the one good thing about some friendships is it's seamlessness, if you can't get your needs once place you can find it in another friend. Although I appreciate this quality, I also yearn for relationships that require a higher standard.

At the bus stop today as I was waiting for a ride, I happened upon a visually impaired couple. Normally it's an older couple but today a pair in their early twenties made their way across Lamar and 51st, one of the busier street intersections in Austin. My heart always melts when I see couples with physical challenges of any kind. I'm sure they have their own quirks and engage in their fare share of disagreements, but it's the earnestness that gets me. There's something especially sweet about two people who love each other who have no idea what the other looks like. There's something noble about that. I too will aspire to love at first sound.

quotes I've enjoyed this week:
"love like you've never lost before"
"i posses a troublesome superabundance of that sort of time which is not money"

August 05, 2009

Connecting with Others

I sometimes find it challenging to connect with others. I think it's likely that I can use some work on my listening skills. With this in mind, I have found it easier to pay attention to someone with my eyes closed. I put on my shades and close my eyes. it's a little weird, I know, but the person doesn't know I have my eyes closed. It's fun to really listen to another person and "hear" what they are saying.

I don't know why today when the at the farmer's market I was approached to do a survey or fill out a questionnaire or be asked to donate a kidney; I'm not sure, because before I heard her pitch I was avoiding eye contact and said "no thank you" before she even did her spill. Then I asked myself, well, that was not necessary of me. I could have just given her a few seconds of my time and then either choose to continue listening or say no thank you. I didn't even give her a chance and I did not feel good about that. I think I'll try to stay open to things before making a judgment. I'm sure she was just doing her job and perhaps even had something worthwhile to share.

I sometimes feel conflicted. The things that I enjoy the most, don't have much inherent meaning or are nonproductive (books, film, sports). I'm on a quest to create ways to use the things I enjoy as tools to contribute to the people I care about. What do you love? :)

August 02, 2009

Secret Places

i 'm not one who normally is able to find pleasure sunbathing but it's nice to dry off in the heat after a dip in the pool. I used to hate the Texas heat. Now it's not so bad.

I realize how AWESOME it is to eat with real silverware after having used plastic cutlery for weeks. My new roommate brought his silverware and now I appreciate eating cereal with a big fat silver spoon.

"friends may move away so far that you may never meet again. But they are a part of you forever"

3am. woke up from some unsettling sleep. realize i used to write more candidly. it's a good quality and i let it slip away out of fear of being judged. But on the other side of fear is growth.

I found a secret place in austin off of dessau and braker bicycling there when I was a freshman in college; behind some corn fields. It resembled a crop circle. They've done some development and I don't think it's there anymore. I also have fond memories while solo traveling and having found cliffs to climb in Pike National Forest in colorado springs. places we go to be with our thoughts. I fell in love with the idea of secret places when I first read Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson as a child. do you have a magic place?

July 22, 2009

Tunnel Vision

I realize i have some poor relationship skills that i could do better to improve them. I think I'm sometimes afraid to self examine. It's much easier (not to mention more comfortable) to live in self delusion but i think to be true to oneself is important work.

i had a dream about a truck (a blue green ford ranger to be exact) that had flattened tires and i went to fix it. The truck belonged to a man that didn't really need it and let it fall to pieces. I put gas in the truck and had a mechanic inspect it. Turns out all it needs is a set of new tires! Just when I thought this perfect truck (not too big, not too small) was mine to keep, the owner returned and said otherwise. I was disappointed but in spite I claimed that I didn't need it anyway (which was a lie).

The man's wife invited me up for dinner along with their kids (as a concession I suppose) but I declined stating that I would rather lay down by the lake and take a nap instead (again, out of spite). I woke up feeling shameful of how i behaved in my dream. Am I so defensive in real life? I asked myself. How can I learn to trust better.

woke up from another dream where i was jogging at a really fast clip and feeling really good and woke up wanting to go running. how nice it would be to wake up everyday feeling this inspired.

I wonder if i can recapture my inquisitive nature, a quality i had as a younger person.

i went to climb a tree today and so when i'm bored i like to do it sightless. Using just "feel" i climbed my way on up. when i finally did open my eyes i was amazed at just how far and high I had come. It's interesting how far you can go when you don't focus on falling (my eyes were closed I wasn't thinking about how far i would fall) and just focus on where you want to go.

July 08, 2009

The Passion Test

reading a great book called the passion test by Janet Attwood. the basic premise is if you feel lethargic about your life, there's hope. Everyone has a passion, our job is to discover it. Some wonderful quotes from this read so far:

" There are two great days in a person's life -
the day we are born
and the day we discover why."

"We are at our very best, and we are happiest,
when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy,
on the journey toward the goal we've established for ourselves.
It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep,
It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile."

June 14, 2009

Good Apples

Just clipped my nails a few days ago and they've already grown back. Is it? me or do nails grow faster in the summer? Is this also true of hair?

On Thursday I had one of those moments in the week where I felt absolutely fine - like everything in my life is exactly how it should be. This feeling very seldom but when it does come I really appreciate it. A large portion of my twenties has been a battle with a negative emotional pattern. I discovered a film that speaks of this challenge

Questions to ponder...
Would you rather each an organically grown apple but picked by a booger picking farmer or an conventional one?

May 31, 2009

Airport Writing

i'm at the airport. i biked there. there's not too many people who bicycle to the airport. I guess that's b/c normally when you go to the airport you have luggage to carry. Well today I'm traveling light. Not traveling to Hawaii per say, I'm here to people watch and get inspired to write and travel. So i'm armchair traveling. watching people as they come and go. it's something i try to do every now and then.

I still have my bicycle gloves and helmet on and to brainstorm writing pieces I'll talk into a voice recorder. So you can imagine the quizzicle look the homeland security guard has as he's making his rounds. they do this over and over i guess to make terrorists uneasy. as if a terrorists hasn't already prepared himself with all that needs to be done way before he arrives at the airport. He's looking for suspicious behavior. should i act normal and try to fit into this sunday morning crowd?

i don't really enjoy cooking. what i really enjoy is eating. the thing is i don't really like the process of cooking. i like eating more. i'll make a heap full of beans and rice for the whole week. but it's bland and gets boring. i don't like repeated processes. if i can avoid it, i will. i'll go out to eat so i'll have some variety, but it gets expensive. have any ideas? i'm more interesting to to cook for others. so maybe i'll invite friends over for a potluck.

i've been blessed in the past with women who could cook: my mother, partners, girlfriends. After we break up, however, can we cook for each other still? dang! i miss that.

crab is about the most inefficient kind of food you can eat. for a self proclaimed lazy person, i will stay away from crustacazoids?

May 11, 2009

Web Article: Global Rich List

Everyone wants to live a joyful life. But how can we achieve it? How can we live a joyful life despite the not-so-good things that occasionally happen in our life?

An important key, I believe, is being a grateful person. If you are grateful, you will see the world differently. You will see that there are always good things behind everything that happen. You will realize that your life is wonderful, and you will be joyful.

To help you be a grateful person, here are 10 simple tips you can do:

  1. Realize how rich you are
    Often we think that we need more and more money. This, probably, is one of the main reasons that makes us difficult to be grateful. But do you realize how rich you are now? Just go to Global Rich List, enter your annual income, and see the result. Chance is, you are richer than billions of other people. In fact, you most likely sit in the top tier of the world’s richness ranking.
  2. Realize what a healthy and prosperous life you havestreaming
    Life expectancy in most of the human history is only 20-35 years. And most of those years were spent in diseases, poverty, and misery. Only in the last century had human life expectancy increased significantly to the current average of 67 years.
    Not only that, your standard of living today is much, much higher than almost all people in the history of the world. For example, even kings in the past could not match your convenience in traveling today!
    It is estimated that there are 106 billions people who have ever been born on earth, with 6 billions are living today. Combined with your answer in point 1, I would say that you are healthier and more prosperous than 99% other people in the human history! You are in the top 1% of the healthiest and most prosperous people ever born.
  3. Realize what a blessing it is to live in peace
    No matter how rich and healthy you are, life will be full of fear and misery in the time of war. Can you imagine being in the midst of a city bombarded with bombs? Can you imagine being on the spot in Rwandan holocaust? It’s a nightmare. Living in peace is a great blessing which by itself deserves your sincerest gratitude.
  4. Open your eyes to see the good things in your life
    We tend to see the bad things that happen in our life but overlook the good things. What a pity. Open your eyes and be observant of those good things. Even small things matter. If someone calls you a friend, that’s something you should be grateful for. If a child smiles to you, that should remind you that hope is always here in this world.
  5. Maintain a “good things” journal
    Take one step further and write the good things that happen in your life in a journal, especially those which impress you. When life looks dark and it’s difficult for you to be grateful, open and read your journal. You will soon realize the wonderful life you have and you will get new strength to overcome your problems.
  6. Understand that there are positive things behind all the bad things that happen
    This might be difficult for some people, but I firmly believe it. At the very least, bad things give you valuable lessons you should be grateful for. When you have this mindset, it’s not difficult to see the good things you could get out of something bad. This way you will always have reasons to be grateful.
  7. Have a special session of gratitude
    Understanding that you should be grateful won’t help much if you don’t put it into practice. Allocate special time for your “session of gratitude” even if it’s only 5-10 minutes a day. Think about the good things that happen in your days and express your gratitude.
  8. Meet positive peoplestreaming
    You will be like the people you gather with. It’s hard for you to be grateful if the people you meet all the days are negative people. Surround yourself with positive people who themselves are grateful people, and it will be much easier and natural for you to be a grateful person.
  9. Focus on giving
    You will be grateful if your mind focuses on what you have rather than what you don’t have. By giving, your mind will focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have (you can’t give something you don’t have, can you?). Most people focus on receiving which makes their mind focus on what they don’t have. No wonder it’s difficult for them to be grateful.
  10. Decide to be a grateful person
    The above nine tips can help you become a grateful person, but eventually it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to be one. If you decide to be a grateful person, then be it. The same thing happens otherwise. No matter what happens to you, it is still you who decide how you will respond. So make the decision to be a grateful person.

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February 08, 2009

Running Errands

Runner Trains for Marathon by Running Errands

by Trevor Reichman on 02. 8.09


Dao Nguyen, who lives in Houston, is training for a marathon. But instead of running around in circles in Memorial Park, Houstons’s most popular running circuit, he has decided to run all of his errands running. This way, he is maximizing his time and caloric expenditure at the same time... to the tune of only 100 calories per mile, compared to the roughly 3000 calories a car needs to 'run' errands. Cars typically use about 30 times more energy to transport a person compared to that person traveling that same mile with their own feet, highly inefficient in comparison.

Read further for an interview with Dao Nguyen...

I met Dao from a rideshare ad that I placed on Craigslist. He is a repeat passenger, as we have both had to make the same trek between Austin and Houston a few times recently. Dao doesn’t own a car, a rarity in Houston, TX. He does have a bicycle for more involved errands.

He also limits his possessions to 50 at a time, but that is another story.

Here is my interview with Dao:

TH: What inspired you to train for a marathon?

DAO: I have had lots and lots of projects that I have started and have not completed. I decided that this was due to a lack of discipline. I figured that if I trained and ran a full marathon, that I could train my mind to "keep pressing keep pressing forward" despite pain and that this would translate to other goals I have for myself that are not physical/health goals...say for instance, to start a photography business. Yes, it first takes a dream, but to make that dream happen it's not all fun and games, so again, my belief was that if I could run a marathon, that would give me a reference point, an accomplishment to find confidence.

TH: What gave you the idea to combine running with doing your errands?

DAO: Purpose combined with fun gives me meaning in life.

TH: Are you able to find enough errands to do to reach your training goals?

DAO: As of right now I would say I run between 5-7 miles everyday with a pack. I'd like to think that this translates to about 10-12 regular weightless miles I have yet to work out errand distances to coincide with training.

TH: Do you find that your training is hindered by obstacles such as traffic, insufficient pedestrian infrastructure, etc?

DAO: No it's even MORE fun. I love bumpy sidewalks, narrow sidewalks, sidewalks under construction, taped off work areas (I leap over them), curbs, red lights, children (often smiling), etc. It all adds to the pleasure of running.

TH: How do you carry your items (groceries, etc) while you are running?

DAO: For lighter items, a running pack, like one of those polyester ones they pass out free at banks or college recruitments. It's the lightest pack i can find. For full grocery runs, I am presently using a travel backpack made by swiss gear, it feels very snug. But it's a bit heavy so I am on the lookout for another pack with an equally snug fit but lighter. In running errands, yes, it's all about weight.

TH: Do you ever feel indecent being in sweaty running shorts while at the grocery store, bank, etc?

DAO: Yes, I went to get my hair cut and the barber commented, "You ran here?!" My entire forehead was dripping. Well, i gave him a big tip. He was cool. I'd like to think that it's inspiring and that when people see a lunatic with an orange or pink running pack down Westheimer more than once, they will ask the question, "What is up with this guy? Why is he always running? And always with a bright colored pack?" I just smile. In moments like these I like being me and in this space I feel very happy and in tune with the adventure of being alive.

TH: Did you make this decision for environmental reasons, or for practical reasons, being that you don't own a car? That being asked, is your decision to be car-free an environmental decision, or a practical one or both?

DAO: It's funny you ask. because my brother has a car I can borrow, but I like the exercise and honestly running errands is my coffee. I don't like how coffee makes me feel. I like a natural heart rate boost, so running is the only thing I know to increase my heart rate. And again, it's productive, so I like it. It fits me.