Thailand (Part II)

If there is anything new in Thailand, it is well hidden. Everything from the streets to the buildings, even the people and plants are weathered and worn. Everything seems to have a story of its own to tell, everything seems to possess an ancient knowledge which, if you if you don’t search hard enough for, you wouldn’t know existed. In the United States, everything has an expiration date and we value anything new, upgraded, modernized, cutting-edge, or youthful. In Thailand, what is most sacred is what is ancient, totemic, wise, and enduring. There is pride and dignity in being worn from labor and wizened, and in what has been allowed to mature and take root. There is a patience inherent in Thai culture which may well be the envy of many an American who scarcely has a moment to stop and smell the flowers, let alone cultivate and watch them grow. The most beautiful places are those which would probably have long since been bulldozed, remodeled, recycled, or otherwise abandoned and forgotten in many other “modern” societies. Continue reading

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People Juice

I recently read a book titled Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. It was a fantastic and insightful read and one which I highly recommend. One of the most interesting points the authors make when describing the nature of change is this: What seems like a people problem is often a situation problem. The authors go on to describe dozens of examples in which individuals have been stymied in their attempts to affect change when they sought to change individuals rather than their situation. One study cited involved a group of people who were told they were part of a movie screening. In truth, the study was related to eating habits and sought to answer the simple question: Will people given larger portions eat more than people given smaller portions? Every member of the audience was given their own bucket of popcorn, either a large one, or an extra large one (in fact, both bucket sizes purposely contained more popcorn than could be consumed by a single person). The results showed that people, in fact, do eat more when given a larger inexhaustible supply than they do when given a smaller inexhaustible supply. They ate more because there was more, not because they were hungrier, less concerned with their health, or any other personal reason. If you want to eat less, put your food on a smaller plate. See also:

It’s interesting to think about the power of our environment and its affect on us and I agree with the Heath brothers that managers, teachers, leaders, and, well, anyone would do well to recognize when that should be the focus of our efforts, but that’s actually not what this post is about.  Continue reading

Thailand (Part I)

ImageSaturday, June 2, 2012 at 7:00am found my brother Kevin and me waiting in the terminal of Sky Harbor Airport. It was the start of what would be one of the most unique and incredible experiences of our 23- and 24-year old lives. Neither of us quite knew what to expect, and though we had been saving up for this trip for months and our desire to travel internationally had been conceived years ago, our anticipation mingled with trepidation. It had been mere weeks since we’d agreed on Thailand as our destination and mere days since we’d finalized out itinerary. But it was adventure we said we wanted, and it was adventure we were sure we’d get.

Our international travel experience (or lack thereof) was made plain by the yet-unmarked pages of our passport books which we brandished with pride, perhaps secretly hoping to let everyone who saw us know that we were worldly folk. We had made no attempt to ease our way into this new existence; Bangkok is about as near to the opposite side of the globe of Phoenix, Arizona as one can hope to get (that spot actually lies somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean), and the flight there is one of the longest anyone can take. We were diving in head-first and we weren’t wearing life jackets.

Hiking shoes, sunscreen, and mosquito spray–plenty of mosquito spray–were tucked away in our luggage and would, we hoped, be enough to protect us from whatever awaited us in the Thai jungle. Yes, we were really doing this. There was no turning back now. So as the airport gate agent called our boarding group, we did what everyone else there did–business men going on business trips, families going on vacation, students going home for the summer–and what we’d done dozens of times before; we boarded our plane. Those first steps were the start of an adventure we will never forget. We were on our way… Continue reading

What’s good?

Let’s face it, just about all of us have no shortage of things to complain about. If it’s not something personal, it’s political; if it’s not our problem, it’s someone else’s. It’s even become a competition: “Yeah, your day was pretty bad, but wait ’til you hear what happened to me…” Sound familiar? As if having a worse lot ought to earn us a shred of pity or, maybe it people feel bad enough for us, they’ll cut us a little slack. “I’m the martyr and here’s why I should get more.”

Well, I’m a pretty competitive guy, but I’ve decided that “Misery Poker” is one game I’m ok with losing. So, here’s what I’m thinking: What’s good? What am I truly happy about? What is going positively right? And that’s where I’m going to put my energy and my thoughts. Easier said than done? Youbetcha! Continue reading

Spicing Things Up

Have you ever discovered that when something is new to you, it begins popping up all over the place? Maybe you bought a new car and suddenly it seems like every third car you see is the same type or color. Or have you ever learned some obscure new fact and suddenly it seems like everyone’s talking about it? Some people call it the Red Car Syndrome (see aforementioned example) but as it so happens, this is a real psychological phenomenon known as confirmation bias, or more colloquially, diegogarcity.

Well, ever since I started this vegan-raw-foodist thing, I’ve been hearing things about it left and right. Even Dr. Oz is talking about it! It’s all got me thinking so I’ve been doing some research to try and find out if other people have tried this experiment. I’ve discovered some pretty neat things. For instance: Continue reading

…and so it begins

So far I’d say I’m off to a pretty good start… The biggest problem I’ve had so far is that I just don’t have a whole lot of fresh fruit and veggies at home. To help solve this problem, I visited a farmers market in Tempe. The place was really cool, but it was also a bit overwhelming; I wasn’t even sure where to begin. I ended up grabbing some organic produce and a few other things that I can use to “cook” like ground flax seed and agave nectar. Yummy!

On my first day I had one slip-up. I had a meeting after school and needed something to tie me over, so I stopped into a Target to see if they had anything I could eat. I found some trail mix that was dried fruit and nuts and got it. About half way through the bag I realized it had chocolate in it (well, to be fair, I knew it had chocolate when I purchased it, but it didn’t occur to me that chocolate is made with milk). Oops! I ate the trail mix anyhow… I was starving! Hey, it’s a learning process. Continue reading

Starting From Scratch

The expression “starting from scratch” comes from the British who used it in reference to the game of cricket in the 1800‘s; the scratch was the boundary line for the batsmen. Since then, it has come to mean a few things: starting from the beginning, or, gastronomically-speaking, made from the most basic ingredients. Tomorrow, for me, it means both of those things. You see, tomorrow I am starting a raw vegan diet.

“Why would I do such a thing?!” you are probably asking yourself. Well, there are a plethora of reasons, but it boils down to one basic idea: IT’S REALLY FREAKING GOOD FOR YOU!!! (according to these people, anyhow).

Basically, I have been on a diet in conjunction with P90X for just about two months and it’s been miserable. I have been hungry, tired, cranky, and I haven’t been able to shed the last bit of tummy fat that I want to get rid of. My brother, Kevin, recently went vegan and the fat just fell off of him. Literally. After talking with him and doing some research of my own, I’ve decided to give it a shot… Continue reading