San Diego Seven

Sitting on the five-hour plane ride from Charlotte to San Diego with a screaming baby adjacent to my destroyed eardrums all I could think was, “Is this worth it?”

Yes. Yes, it was.

My week in San Diego, California was incredible. Even in January the weather remained perfect. For most of my visit the temperature stayed around 65 – 70 degrees F and sunny. It was even sweeter when juxtaposed against the snow storms that hit the East coast.

Sights

The first destination on my adventure was Balboa Park. This is a huge park dotted with a variety museums and the San Diego Zoo! To see everything Balboa Park has to offer requires multiple days so I spent most of my time in the zoo. Animal lovers this is the place for you! On the zoo bus tour I saw animals like flamingos, giraffes, zebras, and even polar bears! Yes, polar bears!

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Day two I spent immersed in the beautiful cliffs and beaches at La Jolla. Be prepared to walk a bunch if you visit this area. There is so much to see and the undulating waves gracefully hypnotize ocean watchers. I even luck enough to saw seals napping on the beach! Shout out to the Lyft driver who suggested I stay until sunset. Words cannot do it justice.

On the third day, I made a trip across the Mexican border only to realize I forgot my US passport back at the hotel. Yeah not good. After having a mini stroke, I immediately to crossed back into US where I was crossed examined thoroughly by border patrol security. They seemed hesitant, but they eventually allowed me back in. You never realize how much you love a place until there’s a slight chance you may not be allowed back in. Moral of the story: ALWAYS double check for your passport before leaving the country.

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Travel across the Coronado Bridge you can see the San Diego skyline from Centennial Park. Another popular spot in the city is the historic Hotel Del Coronado. This massive resort is a preserved hotel located right on the beach. I suggest walking through the city of Coronado too just to get a glimpse of the beautiful luxury homes in the neighborhood.

My final trip landed me at Pacific Beach (PB) for a morning stroll near the shore. In the evening visitors can check out the amusement rides in Belmont Park. Admittedly, the foggy weather discouraged from walking much that day.

Things to know

  • The trip is expensive. To get around this I limited myself to one major activity per day.
  • The amount of homeless people wandering the streets took me off guard. They are literally everywhere.
  • Food is good. Sooooo good! Especially in Little Italy.
  • Using Uber and Lyft to get around is inexpensive and a great opportunity to ask locals questions.
  • The people are super friendly.

If you want to see pictures from my trip check out my Instagram: bluebarry42 – Barry

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Define

Define what you want to be this year. The 2018 canvas is blank so grab a brush. Now is the time to divorce yourself from your past. We can all create the person we want to be. Among other things, personal development lends us the tools to develop our selves. Starting can be the most overwhelming part of any journey. Below I’ve listed the self-improvement resources for those unsure of where to begin.

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Self-Improvement Books

  • The Slight Edge – Jeff Olson
  • The 5 Second Rule – Mel Robbins
  • The Art of War – Sun Tzu
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
  • How to Stop Worrying and Start Living – Dale Carnegie
  • The Power of Positivity – Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
  • The Richest Man in Babylon – George S. Clason
  • Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
  • The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
  • The Science of Getting Rich – Wallace Wattles
  • The Art of Extrme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time – Cheryl Richardson

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Podcasts

  • The Minimalists
  • Secret to Success with CJ & Eric Thomas
  • Quote of the Day Show
  • Happier with Gretchen Rubin
  • Tony Robbins Podcast
  • Sean Croxton Sessions
  • School of Greatness with Lewis Howes
  • Art of Charm
  • Daily Boost
  • The Tim Ferriss Show
  • The GaryVee Audio Experience

Personal Development Leaders/Authors

  • Earl Nightingale
  • Napoleon Hill
  • Jim Rohn
  • Zig Ziglar
  • John Maxwell
  • Stephen Covey
  • Lewis Howes
  • Eric Thomas (ET the hiphop preacher)
  • Les Brown
  • Inky Johnson
  • Darren Hardy
  • Bob Proctor
  • Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Lisa Nichols
  • Mel Robbins
  • Gretchen Rubin
  • Jack Canfield
  • Marianne Williamson
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Simon Sinek

YouTube Channels

  • Fearless Motivation
  • TED
  • etthehiphoppreacher
  • Big Think
  • Be Inspired

Hope this list is useful! Leave a comment below if you have more suggestions! – Barry

Are You from Tennessee?

Today I returned from a four-day spontaneous road trip from Memphis, Tennessee. Driving all the way from my neck of Pennsylvania takes roughly 18 – 19 hours one way. I don’t take long trips often, my longest drive before this was a six-hour weekend visit to Rhode Island.

So the big question: Why Memphis? Many years ago when I was a teeny wittle Barry I remember seeing a image of a blue pyramid on Food Network. My young impressionable mind clung to that image immediately. The thing is kinda bizarre. I never understood why someone randomly builds a pyramid in a major city that isn’t Egypt.

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Wow! A pyramid! And it’s blue!

Throughout the years that image stayed nestled somewhere in my subconscious. I always wanted to visit someday. I imagined how tall the building was, guessed what the interior looked like, but never made the trip. Then last week my SUV needed to be towed away from repairs. Without transportation readily available I found myself thinking, “This sucks. Now I REALLY can’t go to Memphis even if I wanted to.”  It was frustrating to think that I may have missed my opportunity to go. Continue reading

Adventures in Learning: Lecture Hall Larry

General education classes. No student wants to take them, but everyone is required to. This is how a Business Major finds himself sitting in Chemistry and the Citizen.

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Tick……..Tock. Tick………Tock.

Time must be having a lazy day too. I sat in the front row of Kuster Auditorium with my eyes singularly focused on the hands of the clock. I writhed side to side a bit trying to relax. Clearly these cramped lecture hall seats were not made with comfort in mind. My eyes darted back to the wall clock.

12:59pm? GREAT. Class is already taking long it didn’t even start yet!

About a second later my fellow class mate came shuffling down the aisle. I never learned his name but I always called him Lecture Hall Larry in my head. Mostly because he always ended up in my Gen Ed classes, which always happened to be in Lecture Halls. Spoiler alert: this guy is kinda weird.

Larry greeted me before sitting down, “Oh! Hey man! How are you? Good?! Yeah good man?”

Um I didn’t get a chance to answer.

Larry finally plopped down and unfurled his notes from inside his blue Jansport bookbag. His fashion sense irked me slightly. It was the middle of April yet he always sported a thick denim jacket with matching color jeans. Some please notify the Fashion Police.

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Denim on denim crime

Dr. Crayola stood up from behind her desk to make an announcement, “Okay class! I finally graded the exam from last Tuesday! Overall not too shabby, but we do need to review a few things.”

Oh yeah that test was easy!

It was subtle, but I began to feel small vibration. I slipped my hand in my pocket quick to look for an alert. Nope. I stole a quick glance right and discovered Larry fidgeting maniacally. Cleary he was anxious.

A salmon read paper with a huge 89 circled in red pen landed on my desk. Of course I nailed the exam as usual.

“Hey man, how did you do on the exam?” Larry must have noticed the stupid grin on my face.

Amazing, as always.

“Oh me?” I poorly faked a less than satisfied look, “Yeah I guess I did OKAY. What about you?”

Clutched with the pain of uncertainty Larry looked at me a second before responding, “….. Well you know how these things go man? Like I THINK I did good, but I mean jeez this was a hard one. Maybe I could have studied more ya know? I’ll find out soon though.”

“Oh yeah I feel you”

“Like I know I could have studied more. Next time I’ll definitely study more. I can’t regret slacking now, just need to do better next time.”

“Yeah I totally get that. I thought some parts were hard too. Don’t worry too much! I’m sure you did good!”

Lair.

Dr. Crayola smacks a salmon colored exam onto Larry’s desk facedown. I notice him hesitate a second before flipping it over. From my seat I saw a big fat 63 circled in red ink on the top right corner his exam.

Well I take that back.

Disappointment stains every facet of Larry’s movement. I begin to sense the shock in his unnatural paralysis. It was as if he was recovering from a freshly opened wound.

This is awkward now……

I tuck my exam away in a folder and pretend not to have seen Larry’s paper. “So how did you do??”

He shifts to the left to face me deadpan, “I’ll do better next time.”

Good luck Larry – Barry

Ask

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Photo by Alessio Lin on Unsplash

Ask before you accuse. Reality is not a cohesively shared experience. Our past experiences, traumas, fears, wins and gains tailor our perceptions. When we assume, we project our way of thinking onto another person. We stain their actions with meaning to fit into our puzzle.

The best way to get an answer is to ask a question.

So, ask before you accuse. Let go of what you know. Or more accurately what you think you know. Guessing, hypothesizing, ruminating all lead to the same place: nowhere. Certainty comes from knowing and you can’t know unless you ask.

People lie. I get that.

You know what? Ask before you accuse. No lie can be discovered without asking questions first. Questions hold power. Silence keeps the door locked. We lie to avoid truth. To avoid inflicting pain. To avoid been discovered for who we really are. Lying is a warm shelter with a rocky foundation. Eventually it will crumble.

Mel Robbins said it best:

 “The shortest distance between any two people is the truth. Silence creates distance.” – Mel Robbins, The 5 Second Rule

Ask. – Barry

Budget Cuts

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Returning to Luzerne Hall to begin another year of college. Junior year to be precise. I dreaded this moment all summer long and now I was living it. Uncertainty stoked the flames of my worry engine. How could I handle working with new staff members, taking 18 credits, being in a new student government leadership position and graduate on time? Preparing for student move-in week with my staff distracted me from thoughts. I spent my rare moments of solitude in the lobby. Sitting behind the large granite desk in the lobby felt familiar and completely alien. I think it was the nostalgia of the previous year clashing with the current year.

Fifteen minutes pasted and my GHD (supervisor) along with a few other staff members clustered around the front desk. I’m not sure how, but suddenly I noticed our tall desk trash can was missing.

“Hey Max, do you know where the desk trash can is?”

Max scrunched his thick eyebrows together in deep consideration, “Hmmm…. I didn’t know we had a desk trash can? Maybe it was removed for some reason?”

Of course. It always comes down to money. I unconsciously looked down to former spot of the missing waste basket, took a shallow breath, and muttered “budget cuts.” There was a tangible change in atmosphere when my gaze returned upward. Everyone was now staring at me in disgust.

Shit, did I just accidentally violate a social norm again? What? I just wanted to know where the trash can was!? STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT!

Max eventually broke the silence, “Barry………..what did you just say?”

“Um, I said ‘do you know where the desk trash can is?’”

Frustration seeped on the corners of Max’s face, “No. I mean after that.”

This is very strange, why am I suddenly on trial?!

“I said ‘budget cuts’, since they probably removed the trash can to save money.”

The tension in the lobby began to deflate. Max’s facial expressions slowly eased up too, “Oh. Good. That’s not what we thought you said haha…”

That’s absurd! What bad thing could “budget cuts” possible be misinterpreted for?!

“… It sounded like you said bunch of c*nts.”

Oh. That would be bad. – Barry

The Best Advice of 2017

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Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

During the summer, I took a deep dive into the world of self-help/personal development. I read a ton of biographies, listened to hours of podcasts, and watched a bunch of Ted Talks. After immersing myself in the wisdom of the most talented and successful people on the planet I gained ONE major take away. I know, Just one? Yes, just one piece of crucial advice. Here it is:

Start small, be consistent.

At first glance, this advice seems… underwhelming. And yeah, it may not be as sexy as “follow your dreams” or “never give up.” That’s exactly why it is the best advice of 2017. Let me explain. Back in May I just finished reading How to Win Friends and Influence People. While searching for a new book a buddy recommended The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. The whole premise of the book is mastering consistency. My favorite line in the book is, “Learn how to do the small things well and eventually you will be trusted to do the big things.”  The Slight Edge helped me realize you cannot achieve success with mastering consistency first. Small wins help us build momentum that propel us to go even further.

Don’t sweat the small stuff, master it – Barry

The Donut Heist

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Tim and I strolled into the Multipurpose room and scooched our way through the audience into the back row seats. Tonight a Guest Speaker from the Center of Leadership and Engagement (CLE) was here to talk about….Public Speaking? Leadership? Honestly, I have no clue. The key words highlighted on the event flyer were “Free Food.” Oh, and I needed to do this to win a bet against Tim.

“Yo! What’s with these seats? Why are so far away?” Tim complained loudly.

“This was YOUR idea. You said, ‘we should sit in the back’. Look, the front row is completely empty if you want to move.”

Tim’s face grew red at the suggestion, “Nahh chill man! I’m not sitting where everyone can see me!”

Ugh. What a child.

The small assemble room lights dimmed as Mrs. Presenter Lady began presenting the workshop. Still no sign of free snacks yet. Mrs. Presenter Lady began with a question, “What is leadership? How can students become role models and leaders on this campus?” Mrs. Presenter Lady communicated with a powerful lyrical cadence in her voice. Before I long I found myself invested in the presentation.

“Pssst! Yo!” Tim whispered loudly.

Just ignore him. Pay attention.

Since we were sitting right next to each it was hard to fully ignore him. I could hear Tim fidgeting around in his chair. Finally, I turned to him, “Would you relax? It’s almost over.” From the outside, we must have looked like an old married couple. Mrs. Lady wrapped up her PowerPoint with the lights flicking back on soon afterwards.

“Told you it was almost over.”

He let out a salvo of yawns before finally standing up. “Hey man, wait!” The excitement in his eyes pointed to the discovery of the snack table. As students slowly filtered out of the Multipurpose room we closed in on the snack table. After devouring 6 cookies chocolate chip cookies each Tim notices something incredible.

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“Look! A whole 8 pack of donuts! And they aren’t open!”

“Oh yeah, too bad no one opened it yet”

Just then Tim flashed me a sinister grin, whispering “We should just take them!”

Alarm bells immediately sounded off on my ethical conscience, “What! Are you crazy?! How would we even do that?”

Tim turned his back and reverted to a oddly calm demeanor. “Oh? Sorry, I didn’t realize this you were a coward.”

The blood in my veins thickened with anger. Damnit! This is oldest trick in the book, yet somehow it was working! Ego can lead a person to do stupid things. A stupid decision is guaranteed if that Ego mixes with male testosterone. I turned around to do a quick sweep of the room. Including us, only a few people still lingered around.

My eyes narrowed back at him, “Take the damn donuts! I’ll cover you.”

Without missing a beat Tim quickly began stuffing the rectangular box of donuts into the inner left pocket of his jacket. The donuts box stuck out comically underneath his jacket. I stood to the left of Tim in an attempt to avoid any suspicion. My heart pulsed quickly, with my emotions becoming a cocktail of excitement and anxiety. I feel like I landed in a real-life scene of Ocean’s Eleven.

Okay, steady now. Just stay cooool.

We reached the double doors to exit the room when I made the mistake of turning around one last time. In that instant, I locked eyes with Mrs. Presenter Lady who was beaming a chilly glare in our direction.

It was almost as if she witnessed two dumbass kids awkwardley stealing a box of donuts. – Barry

Hollywood and The Great Sequel Setup

What do Hollywood, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and your friendly neighborhood tin-foil hat wearer have in common? Answer: An obsession with Universes. In the case the Hollywood and Tin-foil hat Dave, we really wish they would let it go.

Back in 2012 Marvel burst open a giant money piñata when they released The Avengers, a movie that brought together a bunch of popular superheroes that existed under one cinematic universe. Since then the Marvel Cinematic Universe has oozed out cash none stop. Hollywood executives saw a chance to pillage the “Cinematic Universe” gold mine and began copying Marvel’s formula…..badly. Very badly.

The DC Extended Universe, The Transformers Universe, The Dark Universe, The X-Men Universe, The Conjuring Universe, The Star Wars Universe. Why? Why, Why, Why? Every franchise in the world does NOT need a universe. Universes are big complicated endeavors that require heavy planning and meticulous attention to detail. You can’t just stick on an end credit scene and shout “Universe!” That’s ridiculous! Movies that spend too much setting up a sequel typically fall prey to sloppy storytelling. As a frequent movie goer, I prefer stories that stand on their own. Not half-baked unfulfilling cinematic appetizers that promise “the next one will be better” (ex. Suicide Squad, X-Men Apocalypse, Justice League).

Alright this isn’t a movie blog, consider this rant is officially over…. Or is it?

Until next time – Barry

Random Encounters – Tijuana Tales

Over Thanksgiving Break I found myself in the Stroud Mall. Strange creatures masquerading as humans love to roam freely in the Stroud Mall. I do my best to avoid them. Always. Who knows what attracts these extraterrestrial fedora-wearing teenage beings into that tiny shopping complex?

Probably Auntie Anne’s pretzels.

Susanna followed me all the way into the Men’s department of Sears. She stood in the aisle waiting as I drowned in a sea of jeans. Slim fit jeans, Boot-cut jeans, stretch fit jeans, Extra-blue jeans, black jeans, ripped-jeans, gene jeans- the variety can be dizzying. Vertigo outright smacked me when I saw the price!

$70!!! For jeans!! They better shave off a few pounds for that price!

Sadly, the tag did not indicate weight loss features for the jeans. Maybe I’m just cheap.

“So what are your plans for after Grad School?” Susanna asked

“Umm? Move to San Diego is my only plan right now,” I replied hastily. “Why are jeans so expensive?”

Susanna ignored my second question completely, “San Diego? That’s cool and you could even visit Mexico too.”

“MEXICO?”

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Cue spontaneous Mariachi  band

Susanna and I looked at exchanged confused looks. The mentioning of Mexico brought in an uninvited participant to the conversation.

“Me and my buddies went to Mexico a few years ago, beautiful country…”

Um who are you?

The stranger in question was a short middle age man in a dirt splattered black sweatshirt and grease stained jeans. His appearance resembled that of a homeless person, not someone who could afford to go to Mexico. Giving him the benefit of the doubt I continued to listen. Susanna did the same.

“Yeah my buddies decided to take me to a cathouse in Tijuana. They said ‘listen here man, we’re going to get you laid’…”

“Oh? That’s umm….” Leaving the sentence, I unfinished I tried to think of a means of escape. A cloud of unease rested around me. I did not expect a story about prostitution while jean shopping. I’m officially uncomfortable.

“… and everything is so much cheaper down there. I bought a Sombrero for $3 USA, hell I could have bought a house! I had $15,000 in cash!”

I threw glances and every nonverbal signal in the book at Susanna to get us out of there. She caught none of them. In fact, she seemed to be enjoying this stranger’s tale. Why does this always happen to me?! With no way out I let him drone on for 10 more minutes.

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Still didn’t get the hint

“And also the Tequila there is no joke! None of that watered down American bullshit! I drank a shit ton of Tequila and blacked out. To this day I refuse to drink Tequila…. And another thing”

Finally, Susanna intervened, “Well I think we need to get going now!” In the parking lot I could help but to be annoyed by the fact that we left the mall with no jeans and oddly personal anecdotes about a strange man’s adventures in a foreign country.

Maybe I should buy jeans from Mexico – Barry

2017’s Greatest Hits

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Photo by Mark Solarski on Unsplash

November creeps to an end as December looms over the wintry horizon. In a little over a month, 2017 while be another year in the history books. Now is the perfect time to look back before moving forward. Below is a list of positive things I experienced this year. Listing only positive things was difficult because bad memories stick more. Luckily, life is not a series of unfortunate events. Search hard enough you can find something to be glad for. While making this list I surprised myself with the number of great things that happened this year I forgot about!

Graduated College

Started Grad School

New Tattoo

Road Trip to Rhode Island

Road Trip to Long Island

Service Key Award

Made Raspberry Pi Console

New Car

New Name

New Blog Name

Read 26 Books

Went to March for Science

Relay for Life

Meet the new University President

Hired as a Grad Assistant

Baby sister was born

Moved into a new apartment

Adopted Minimalism

Wrote a post a day for an entire month straight

New blog logos

Donated most of my clothes to charity

Interviewed for a podcast

Started recording audio

Shared great stories

Coffee and Code meetup

Listened to new podcasts

Reconnected with old friends

Made new friends

Learned new skills

Connected with other bloggers

Started exercising regularly

Voluntarily watched a horror movie

Joined BayArt

If you decide to make a 2017’s Great Hits list please link it to this post! I would love to read what others have to be grateful for this year! – Barry

It Could Happen to You

November in Pennsylvania. I could begin this story by conjuring sensations of the penetrating effects of cold. How it cracks the skins seeps straight down into the marrow of your bones. Bundling  Maybe describe the howling winds that banish away warmth on impact. Maybe. I could fill your mind with images frost scarred students strutting around in thick wool beanies, heavy black Timberland boots, and puffy insulated Patagonia coats. I could do all these things, but I won’t.

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Also not going to include a picture

Somehow, I found myself walking outside in the cold. A lapse in memory made me forget why I left my apartment in the first place. I strolled along for a few blocks until the cold forced me to retreat back  towards home. Logic says I went outside to go somewhere, but where? Think. Think. Think. My fingers shivered in my jean pockets. Only another block before I was back inside.

“HEY! BARRY!” a loud voiced echoed from a distance. My neck immediately swung around to answer. Scanning up, down, and all the round. Still don’t see anybody. My frenzied head movments earned me a dirty look from a scrawny old lady leaning on a parking meter. Someone called out my name! I’m not crazy!

Maybe I was just hearing things?

Later that evening I lounged on my sofa ruminating. I wonder who shouted out my name? Maybe they actually said “Harry” not Barry? It’s a simple mistake to make. No I feel like it was directed toward me. No one else was outside on the sidewalk beside that strange old lady. Maybe her name is Barry too? What if that old woman shouted out my name just so she could pretend not hear anything and give me a dirty look!? That scoundrel! Is this step one is kind of convoluted conspiracy? How far up does this thing go?!

Investigating this incident produced more questions than answers. Evidence has dried up and I’m fresh out of leads. The trail has gone cold. I will go my entire life not knowing who shouted out my name.

Let this be a warning: it could happen to you – Barry