Month: June 2013

Hard Work Pays off




Did you watch game 7 of the Heat-Spurs NBA championship? For much of what I’ve said in previous post about saving time by not watching any sports events, I did watch the last five minutes of game 6 and the last 11 minutes of game 7. I just got home in both cases so I decided might as well watch what everyone was talking about.

If you didn’t watch, I’ll tell you what happened. Lebron James of the Miami Heat shot several shots that went in at the right time for them to win game 6. He did the same in Game 7 in the last two minutes or so. For those of you that know about pro basketball, he is considered the best player in the world today. They won the Championship mainly because of his ability to make the shot go in at the critical moment. So you say this shooting accuracy was because of his talent – something that most of us don’t have. Would you be surprised if I tell you that it took him 6 years to have that accuracy? That’s what the article I read said about him. When he couldn’t win championship years ago, he dedicated himself to doing a lot of practice shooting. 10,000 hours? No, more than that. In my previous posts, I mentioned that it takes 10,000 hours of practice in doing a certain task before you can be an expert on it. So over the years, he had one guy assist him in the shooting practice. This practice is in additional to the regular team practice that they do several times a week. Game 6 and 7 came – and when it mattered, the shots he made are more out of habit than “luck” as people would label it. So after this championship, he said he plans to improve more by working hard at improving his skills. The best player still wants to improve. What an inspiration!

Now, let’s go to the extreme side of this equation. People buy lottery tickets hoping they will have their chance in becoming rich. Even though statistics indicate that you have a better chance of being hit by lightning than winning a lottery ticket, people still do. Their motivation? Greed maybe? More like getting money without hard work. Same with people who frequent casinos – they are there hoping they don’t have to work hard and still get a lot of dough! A lot of people get fooled by Ponzi schemes. The scheme is usually run this way: a smooth talking person approaches potential investors and ask them to invest their retirement money in exchange for doubling their investment within 2 years or offering 50% return year after year. Then Mr. Smooth Talker disappears when it’s time to make a withdrawal from the investment. They easily get duped because once again – greed overcomes reason. Additionally, investing with a promise of a very high return eliminates doing hard work.

That is also the reason why people can’t wait to be retired. Some people view retirement as laying idle all day in a beach or next to a pool while sipping cold drinks. The main attraction is because there’s no hard work involved. In fact, no work is involved at all. But would that be an unfulfilled life, isn’t it? Why? Because it’s all about hedonism and nobody else profits from your activities. From a practical standpoint, how long would you endure laying on a beach day after day doing nothing? For me, maybe one week – after that I would like something else – like maybe laying poolside for one week? Just kidding!

As you can see by the example of Lebron James, hard work really pays.  I am using him as an example because a lot of people have heard of him – even those who don’t watch basketball. But I tell you – there are millions of people who work hard every day while earning a very tiny fraction of what Lebron James makes every game.

To have a fulfilling life, make hard work a part of your habit. Look at someone you know that works hard and use them as an inspiration at doing the best that you can in every endeavor you tackle. Hard work doesn’t mean very long hours at work. It means putting in your optimum effort at everything that you have committed to do.

And then once a year – reward yourself by laying by the beach doing nothing for a few days.



New York Vacation 2




This is part two of the previous post about my New York vacation. The lessons learned from this vacation which I hope to share in this post is: Success doesn’t happen by chance. It has a lot of factors, one of them being prepared. Most people in our group were first timers to New York City and don’t know what to do upon arrival at JFK International Airport. My sister-in-law prepared a comprehensive guide on how to get to the hotel using different modes of transportation. From that guide, it was so easy to pick the right transportation based on traffic conditions.

While in New York, I noticed that a lot of people don’t know the area also. I think I was surrounded by tourists and recent immigrants to the “City”.  This part two is designed to aid those who are planning to visit for the first time and want to know how to get around and enjoy the most. A small caveat: I based this on my experience. You may find a much better way but there are alternatives.

From JFK International Airport, I think the best bet during rush hour is the shuttle service. There is one that has a representative right there by baggage claim. You can expect a long waiting time also – more than an hour at least. The bus travel adds another hour also if your destination is Grand Central station. You may take the Airtrain to Jamaica station and then take the Subway from there. But I promise a highly packed and hundreds of rushing people from train to train. Hundreds line up in the taxi line. If you arrive past rush hour, it’s a different story. The wait (If any) and the ride will be much shorter. If you take a taxi, they always reiterate to use the yellow ones (instead of the black ones) because the city certified them.

One of the ways to be frugal is to buy your bottled water, soda or fruit juice from convenience stores or pharmacies sprinkled all over the city. Do not buy your water in a hotel because it will cost three to four times as much. For meals, if the serving is generous, it may be possible to split the meal between two people.

Hotel clerks are allowed to give you some extra benefits: room upgrade, free Wi-Fi, free coupons to the small hotel convenience store and free roll away bed. Just ask for it. The worse is they would say No or ask you to pay for the service. It always pays to be nice – by the way. They also have an option of “bumping” you to another hotel even if you have a reservation, especially if you have a bad attitude.

Grand Central station has a lot of small eateries that offer a variety of meals: from ethnic meals to healthy dishes. Their coffee is good too. Price is a bit cheaper than the standard restaurants and fast foods in the major streets.

If you want to have peace and quiet, then Central Park is the place to be. It’s green throughout which offers solace in a very dynamic city. It is possible to walk through the whole park because it is only 2.5 miles long and .5 miles wide. But it may take you the whole day to do that because there’s a lot of interesting stops along the way. I regret that I only went to the southern end and didn’t see much of it.

I personally prefer walking as the primary means of getting around. The reason is three-fold: By walking, you notice more things; gives you time to pause and take on the scenery or take photos; and walking gives you a workout. If the destination is over 3 miles away, the Subway is the way to go. It is inexpensive $2.50 per one way trip with free transfers. If you are in a hurry and it is not rush hour, a taxi will take you to places faster. Ask your hotel concierge which taxis they recommend – normally it’s the yellow colored taxicabs.

While I was there, I felt safe most of the time. It’s because police presence is obvious anywhere we went. Of course, the locals are too busy racing themselves in the sidewalk and the tourists are too busy gawking at tall buildings to think of doing any nefarious acts.

The Statue of Liberty is currently closed for visitors. The way to see it is to go on a ferry to Staten Island (sit on the right side of the ferry). It is still far from view but if you have a telescope or a zoom lens in your camera, you can see it much closer.

Before we went on this vacation, I wasn’t really looking forward to going to New York City. After all I’ve heard and read about the place, I felt anxious to go there – especially because my favorite vacation place is Hawaii or any place with a nice beach and laid back lifestyle. But once we were there, I gained an appreciation of the people in the city, especially the hard-working blue-collar people. They are friendly, too. New York City is a good place to visit. But I don’t plan to come back. I’d rather be in lounging in a tropical beach J





New York Vacation


Have you ever been to New York? If you have, do you find it exciting, or you can’t wait to leave the city?

We just came from a vacation in New York – it was sort of family reunion with each family represented by at least one representative. We had a total of 14 people at one point. Was it fun? Yes it was! Was it because we were in New York? Not really! It was because we were together. The place is not as relevant as the relationship.

So let me offer my observations of the place. This is not a judgment on New York – but since it is an opinion – it will sound very opinionated. So enjoy!

I noticed that there are a lot of people in New York that hasn’t heard any health tips that cigarettes are bad for you. Anywhere you walk in the “city” (see the definition of this later) – there seems to be someone is on a smoke break.

When people say “city” – they meant you are going to Manhattan. At least that’s what happened when we were waiting for a bus to shuttle us to Manhattan. Someone told us that this is the line if you are going to the “city”. Makes you feel that JFK airport is not really part of the city. It is in Queens, which is one of the five boroughs of New York City.

Food is expensive. Anywhere you go food seems to be overpriced. I liked eating at the eateries at the Grand Central Station. Even there, the prices are higher than even Los Angeles. And the hotdog stands are overrated. Hotdogs at Costco tastes way better and a lot cheaper.

People seem to be in a rush all the time. The exceptions of course are the tourists like us. The tourists are busy gawking at the tall buildings while the locals try to navigate around them like hares doing circles around turtles.

You gotta walk across the Brooklyn Bridge at least once. Going to New Jersey side is packed with people and there are quite a few cyclists also. People stop all the time all over the bridge to take photos of the scenery and themselves. On the other side, there’s a famous pizza place right next to the foot of the bridge. I won’t name it because they’re kind of snotty. But the taste of their pizza is amazingly delicious. They take cash only.

The best Italian food is in Italy of course. I’ve eaten meals in a few Italian cities, including a 20 course wedding dinner. But a very close second is in Little Italy. You gotta visit there and eat at least once. Maybe they’re even better that some Italian restaurants in Italy. At least the servings are bigger in Little Italy. The restaurant crews are also the friendliest I’ve seen. The smoking section is in the middle of the street in between the restaurants. Did I mention that the people there haven’t heard of the health dangers of smoking?

I loved the tall buildings. Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, 1 World Trade Center, Bank of America and others looks magnificent and are a joy to behold especially if you live in a city with very few building taller than 25 stories. The best view is on top of the Rockefeller Center. I didn’t go up the Empire State building because there’s a two-hour wait and the view is obscured by some kind of fencing that puts a mosquito net effect in the camera lenses.

Going around the city is great because no one in the family has to drive. We walked between 3 to 8 miles daily and it was an endurance builder. Going by subway is fast and relatively inexpensive ($2.50 per trip with transfers to other trains). Taxis are all over the place. We were told to ride only the Yellow taxicabs because they are certified by the city. There are black vehicles offering rides and there’s no guarantee of their reliability or honesty.

Did I mention everybody rushes in New York City? If you arrive at JFK on a Friday afternoon in the rain (which we did), you will have a trying experience on what a real “rush hour” means. In Los Angeles, rush hour means you sit in your car in a slow-moving traffic, while you listen to music or text or post something on Facebook (the last two activities are not recommended). In New York it means people are walking briskly, a few are even running (to get around tourists like me) trying to catch the train. Then you enter the train and you’re packed like sardines in a can, especially during rush hour.

This post is getting too long and I don’t want you to get bored. But what’s the moral of this post? Well, smoking is bad for you, New Yorkers and the rest of the smoking world! If you want to take a real vacation, this isn’t the place to go because it rushes you and it’s chaotic sometimes. And no 3, it’s easy to love the people in New York because they are a collection of almost everybody in the world. Almost all people you meet are from a different country or state or city.

How about I write a part Deux to this post?