The final getaway, 2012 edition.

Ten days is what it is, and the brief holiday is coming to a close. A little getaway at Bangkok for the next couple of days, and it’s back to full-blown reality after that. I think the availability of internet access in the hotel room is going to kill the holiday spirit somewhat.

J has always been a great host on my trips here, ever the consummate foodie adviser and tour guide. He has been nothing short of spectacular today, driving us from the airport to a great dinner spot and back to the hotel after a grueling 280 km road trip earlier in the day.

Have you ever had a holiday that feels slightly unreal and dreamlike at times? Like a dream, yet it’s effing obvious this isn’t one because unlike a dream, shit happens in real life. Dream or not, I’m glad to be able to take time out like this for a few more days.

Borrowed time, I call it.

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Core competencies?

Over the years, Winston and I have always been able to get productive conversations going. He likes to bounce ideas off me, and I like the way his questions and train of thought lead me off to muse over angles I would not usually think about.

He’s the realistic, ROI-oriented kind of guy, and he was trying to get me to think harder about what my strengths were. I jokingly kidded about being a man of too many talents, while he chuckled and called bullshit.

Honestly though, figuring out something that merges my (self-perceived) strengths is a little tough. I think of myself as a writer who emphasizes economy over word spew, a conversationalist who pushes the discussion directly towards points of importance, a nitpicky proofreader, a responsible manager that understands constraints, a good troubleshooter with enough intuition to work without a checklist, and a fairly competent sounding board on technology.

Elaboration on sounding board: I’m definitely not the sharpest knife on the block, but I know a bit of most things to be useful. SEO, web development, programming, UX, networking, server, CMS, database, virtualisation – I have a good idea on what most things are, and give decent enough advice to people who need it. The million dollar question is: what do I do with some vague-sounding “skill” like this? Probably a project management role I reckon, one that requires the manager to know enough to manage his guys, but not one that requires wading too deep into the techie end.

Or the even better question: how do I merge all of my skills into a one liner summary that describes me?

Mission impossible at the moment.

Rewalking memories.

Walking around the neighbourhood is something of an annual routine these days. Every little street has its own cache of remembered times from days gone by, and traversing the same old path gets me thinking about those memories – most of them fun, and especially nostalgic at thirty-one years of age, when secondary school becomes a distant era dating back to more than fifteen years ago.

Scary, really.

They say time flies, but is it really? Countless little steps, immeasurable little changes have happened since. It’s fun to look back and say I wish I could get back to the days of yesteryear, but I guess I feel satisfied merely by recalling those past days, and knowing that I have gone beyond what I was, and continue to progress with every day that passes.

About conversation, giving and receiving.

An intimate conversation is one of the things that I enjoy a lot. An engaging conversation requires active participation, a willingness to share and trust in each other.

(Incidentally, isn’t that how marriage is supposed to be?)

My friend brought a story up the other day, something I think is very true.

All too often, we exist as independent and prideful individuals. We eschew help, are proud in our ability to fend for ourselves, and end up being less than willing to receive help.

No man is ever an island however, and what makes human life so rich and meaningful lies in our relationships with each other. Part of that includes reaching out – being able to give help, and receive help in return. These are all little ties that strengthen our bonds with each other, and makes us all believe in the strength of human relationships.

So stay humble and willing to receive help. Stay appreciative of the help from others, and above all – thankful that we have friends and family around us.

The swollen ankle.

So, I think I tweaked my ankle. As in, I sprained it. Lightly. Made a smashing block on this fellow’s layup attempt, landed on his foot and felt my ankle roll, then recover.

First instinct: keep walking, walk the pain off.

I was limping for the rest of the afternoon, and right now my left ankle is a swollen travesty of what it once was. Ointment applied twice already, and it’s time to get professional help first thing tomorrow.

Moral of the story? Never block shots when you’re rocking Hyperfuses, because guards aren’t meant to get up there and block the shit out of people.

A rich and varied plate.

If you’d told me a year ago I would be juggling so many little things simultaneously, I would have found it a little hard to believe.

The decision to head into SAHD-hood has obviously turned my life on its head and spun it in circles, so here’s a look at the various things that matter now.

Topping the list: the mundane concern of moolah – the cessation of regular income, seeing as I was no longer employed full-time. A tough decision, one that I have not regretted. I won’t deny the fact that it is hard (if not impossible) to eliminate expenditure altogether, but stemming the flow helps oodles. That being said, I’m still feeling the pinch.

Up next: the game changer itself of course! Being a full-time parent has taught me a lot of things, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn and have a small taste of how my mum must have felt like when she was raising us.

Having more time at home has allowed me to focus on writing, the one passion that I’m determined to work on from this year on. Writings is a fairly large platter by itself. There’s the usual rambling on various topics (technology, life, personal) that I do, plus the NBA-related content I do on US Sports Down Under and my little site, Celtics Down Under. Writing can be likened to running – the more you go at it, the better you get. There’s a flow and rhythm to things that makes writing so enjoyable sometimes. When the juices are flowing and the fingers are tapping, a really good piece comes out from time to time. I love getting feedback, and am very thankful at the positive comments that come from people who understand and appreciate my writing.

If you had told me a year ago that I would have an opportunity to actually meet members of the Celtics team in person, I would have laughed. Really hard. And then ignored you. I however, have often believed that things happen for a reason. One surprising trickle-down from writing has given me an opportunity to participate as a member of the media for a Celtics game next year. Seriously, how awesome is that? It’s probably every NBA fan’s dream to meet the players up close, and to get a stab at accomplishing this once-in-a-lifetime item on the bucket list is just nothing short of amazing.

Running Celtics Down Under is another fun process in itself. Growing a community from scratch and getting people to engage is just nothing short of magical at times. A key ingredient in life lies in communication, and to be able to facilitate discussion among like-minded people is just, satisfying. I’m hoping to get the community bigger, but I also understand patience is the key to everything, and it’s never about the numbers (quantity), it’s more about the quality of the community.

Surprisingly, part-time work has come about in the most gratifying way possible: through word of mouth. I got a very positive recommendation from a work contact, which resulted in a new project that I will likely be working on for the rest of the year. I’m a straightforward kind of person, and to know that my work ethic is recognised by a peer in the industry is very humbling and at the same time, an affirmation that I am doing the right thing. Hopefully this is the start of something good, with prospects for the long term.

My experiments with WordPress has surprisingly garnered two little projects as well, so never underestimate the power of yakking about random topics. It could well prove to be the beginning of another sideline, but for now I read it at face value, and treat it what it is: opportunities to help people who want nothing more to focus on their businesses and have a little spot to showcase their wares.

People do not want to waste their time learning random skills for a once-off project, they would much rather focus on doing their business.

This is a simple little fact, but it’s stupefying how long I took to get it. By focusing my efforts on helping people to save time and get on with doing what they really want to do, it’s honestly a win-win situation no matter how you look at it. They will be pleased if I do a good job, I get the feel-good buzz of having done a good deed and earn myself a few more bucks to stay afloat.

Not to mention the possibilities of more referrals – aye, the power of word of mouth marketing is unparalleled at times, but this is just another sword that cuts both ways. Good things are talked about, bad things are bitched about at the speed of light. If I do a crap job, expect the reputation to go rapidly downhill.

So many wonderful and exciting things to work on, so little time. But I’m thankful for this phase in my life, and keen to see what else is down the track of this long and winding road.

Balling in the heat.

Allow me to elaborate. SWEATING. BUCKETS.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t as tired as I was last year during basketball. Winded, certainly. But I was still able to get back on defense for every possession, good sign by anyone’s standards.

Interesting fact: sprained left ring finger, and shot better thereafter. Life is strange.

The heat wasn’t enjoyable, but it’s really fun playing with new people, and learning to adapt on the fly with totally new people, and learn new offensive tendencies for new opponents.

Let’s hope tomorrow morning’s ball session will be as good!