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5 Things I’ve Learned from Being Alive

I often find myself lying awake at night, staring out my bedroom window at the moon as if I am some sort of lost wolf. As I gaze at the magnificent glow of the moon I start to day dream, or I guess night dream, of what I would be doing right now if I had unlimited funds. I like to think that I would be traveling the world and learning as much as I could, I would be throwing island yacht parties with my closest friends, and my family would be living their best lives. I would love to meet that version of myself to see the differences in my personality. All of these things are essentially materialistic goods and would not give me sustained happiness, only temporary happiness. One of my favorite quotes, one that I always try and keep in mind is this quote by Jim Carrey.

“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” — Jim Carrey

  1. Appreciate the simple things in life and they will open the doors you are looking for – When you learn to appreciate and be grateful for the little things that you have, like the roof above your head or the food on your table, it will show you what is truly important in this life.
  • Experiences
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Self-improvement
  • Traveling

2. Be authentic, be true to who you are instead of being politically correct – In a world where people are scared to say their own beliefs and viewpoints, it is important to have a core set of basic beliefs that you adhere to without fail. Expressing your beliefs and giving factual evidence for your reasoning behind these beliefs, shows an increased level of intelligence and understanding. There is no point in worrying about hurting somebody’s feelings in the present when you know it will be beneficial to them in the future.

3. Live life with no regrets – A daily vlogger from YouTube named Life of Tom has a motto that he lives by everyday, “Life’s too short, make the most of it”. At a Ted Talk in San Fransisco, Mel Robbins mentioned that scientists approximate our chances of being born a human is about one in 400 trillion. With odds that low you should do what you want to do with your life. If you want to travel then travel, if you want to go skydiving then go skydiving! Why? Because LIFE’S TOO SHORT, MAKE THE MOST OUT OF IT. If you truly want something then give it everything you have everyday and you will eventually have it. Life is all about who is more persistent, who has the drive to get off their ass and chase their dreams.

4. Fear is almost always a misconception – Being afraid is healthy, it shows you understand your surroundings and the dangers that come with them. It shows that you can think past the present and attempt to predict the things that are about to happen. The issue with this is when you think of the worst possible thing that could happen happening, this is what causes people to panic and freeze in intense situations. Do not panic, and just keep in mind that reality is a lot more dull and tedious than your imagination wants you to believe. Everything always works out, it will be okay as long as you think rationally. (Let me know if you want me to write a post about coping with stress).

5. Make gaining new experiences a priority – I can not stress enough how important it is to gain new experiences, meet new people, and experience the world. Materialistic things are all well and good, but they gather dust, and can be replaced. Memories and experiences are priceless, so save up for those vacations with your friends, don’t just talk about them, do them! And remember LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST.

Paris, France

Our TGV ride took us through the beautiful countrysides of France at blistering speed, and much greater comfort than a plane. The seats were comfortable, I was able to get a fair amount of sleep, and the chefs in the rear train car were very entertaining, and patient with my returning, meager French. The three or four miniature bottles of wine also eased the ride. Can you tell so love the drinking age in Europe?

“Passenger” by Hippo Campus just began as we pulled onto the platform of Gare de Lyon, and we hailed an Uber to take us to our hotel. We arrived at the Hotel de Cannettes around nine, exhausted and ready for a hot meal. We flung apart our suitcases, changed, and hit the streets of downtown Paris, just outside our hotel, and immediately saw countless options. Cafes, restaurants, bars, and clubs were jammed together all around our street, and the city stretched on like this for quite some time. All the food was gourmet and farm fresh (we could see the product of the livestock and farms of the countryside) and competition was at its peak in such close quarters. We ate more than three meals most days, and with a quick pace between sights to see, we burned all of it off – and then some.

Day two we were well rested, and prepared to walk around and explore. The Notre Dame, which had been badly damaged by a fire only a few weeks before, and Pantheon were our main targets, but we deviated constantly, dropping in on shops and cafes for a glass of wine or snack. On the way back from the Pantheon, we came across the most delicious deli I’ve ever experienced. A beautiful French lady with excellent English caught our attention from the road with a few samples of meat and cheese, and after a couple bites she had us hooked.

She led us inside, gradually handing us samples from varying platters of meat, cheese, and bread, all homemade and complementary to each other. Every bite was better than the last. She pulled aside a small tray of meats of all sorts, each with gorgeous marbling. Overhead hung the larger cuts from which she made the more manageable packages. The aromas of the shop were heavenly, and after she sealed the deal on a few hunks of cheese and a number of spiced meats, she gave us each a bit of wine to wash it down, which of course warranted purchasing a bottle. We finished it back at Cannettes, and crashed for day three.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Reveal

Its been two days since the next Call of Duty was announced and I decided to take those days to let the initial firestorm die down before I provided my own take. To those confused (or possibly just out of the loop) the next Call of Duty is in fact titled “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” and is being referred to by the term “soft reboot,” something I have heard what seems like hundreds of times since the trailer released on Thursday. Soft reboot simply means that they will keep many of the characters and aspects of the classic Modern Warfare series, however the world will exist in 2019 without shared events such as nuclear detonations and the invasion of the U.S. by Russian forces in MW2. Captain John Price and John “Soap” MacTavish are two characters already confirmed to be returning from the original Modern Warfare series providing much excitement to fans.

From the campaign reveal trailer and statements from developers, this Call of Duty is set to be the most realistic to date, and that’s not just lip service. To start, the trailer looks beautiful and when coupled with the tag “Actual In Game Footage” at the beginning, shows something very promising to fans in the name of a 5 year secret engine project that even now remains semi shrouded in mystery. While its not confirmed to be an entirely new engine, whatever it is the difference is apparent and graphics are anticipated to be phenomenal and night and day in comparison to previous games. The Infinity Ward developers have taken a great deal of time to make the realism very apparent and in both the missions shown to guest viewers the lines of combat are blurred as decisions and actions that are taken most certainly could be classified as “controversial” which I think is a good call coming from a company that less than two years ago received backlash for refusing to include Nazi symbols in a World War II video game. Infinity Ward stated that they want Modern Warfare to feel “ripped from the headlines” and will include terrorism as a main focus of the campaign.  

I have been a major CoD fan for about as long as I have played video games. Along with Halo, CoD4 was one of the first fps games I picked up and I’ve been playing them ever since. Anyone paying even a little bit of attention to the franchise over the last few years will have realized the lackluster sales performance and fanfare of the games. Following Black Ops II (one of the most positively rated Call of Duties of all time) we have received Ghosts, Advanced Warfare, Black Ops III, Infinite Warfare, WWII, and Black Ops IV, all of which have received harsh criticism for their own reasons. In recent years I have grown hesitant to place excitement in a Call of Duty months before its release and am tired of the disappointment and lackluster performance. Something about this game just feels different however and while I will still be taking in the prerelease news with a grain of salt, I am very hopeful about what this October could bring and the direction the franchise is taking. Stay tuned for more down the road.

Switzerland

After passing through beautiful Austrian mountains on the train, the first clear sign of Switzerland was the stadium-sized IKEA. The entire area of Baar seemed like a sprawling, conservative neighborhood, besides of course the cannabis-infused tea in vending machine, directly above condoms (advertised on the machine). The Swiss Alps were visible from nearly every part of the town, and especially visible from the bar and restaurant we visited on night one. After a(n excellent) continental breakfast on the first floor, Gus and I bussed out to the Rosengart museum, featuring many works of Picasso. Also in Lucerne were a few famous bridges, an amazing Lion sculpted into a cliff side, and a museum of local glacier gorges. Not far from this museum, a massive wooden tower poked out above the skyline and offered a perfect view of the mountain range.

We linked up with mom after an amazing meal at Negishi, a local sushi joint in Lucerne. We took a train out to Lindenpark, which was nestled against the Rigi mountain. It’s a popular place for commercial HQs and many apartment complexes across the platform. A quick hustle to collect our mom and shuffle our bags between the correct trains got us on the TGV (train grand vites, or

very fast train) and en route to Paris. It was a short day and a half, but by FAR, the cars were the best sight here.I saw several Ferraris, innumerable varieties of Porsche, and higher classes of Benz, BMWs, Audis that had been all over Germany. Motorcycles and bikes were a more common form of transport than cars. I got high from drinking vending machine tea. There were 5 dealerships situated around a tiny, rich, well-dressed town with a gorgeous view of the sea. This was the closest outward manifestation of my personality so far, and I’d never leave (if I were making the 6+ figures required to survive there).

Why I decided to learn guitar

My freshman year of college I found myself with a lot of free time. I would get done with classes around 1pm and would have really nothing to do for the remainder of the day. Obviously I could do my homework and get a head start on my classes but why would I want to do meaningless problems for Business Statistics when I could do something more interesting?

My friends are in a pretty successful band that has achieved twenty-one thousand monthly listeners on Spotify, and my roommate just so happened to play guitar as well. I played piano for around seven years growing up, so I already had the basic knowledge needed to learn any instrument. I decided instead of using Netflix to pass the tedious hours of the week, I would better myself by learning something new.

I started my guitar playing journey by learning the eight most used chords: C, A, G, E, D, Am, Em, Dm. After a couple weeks of practicing these chords I began to get the hang of it so I decided to start learning songs. The first song that I learned on the guitar was “A Horse with No Name” by America. I chose to learn this song because it is very easy to play and it is a classic, it deserved to be number one. After learning a few more easy songs I decided I would try and make my own song. I decided that the best way to write a song is to just start playing, so that’s exactly what I did. After a couple weeks went by I stopped writing my song and decided to further my guitar mechanics. I have yet to finish the song because I feel like some stories don’t necessarily need an ending.

I chose to learn guitar because it gave me something to do, it gave me something to learn, it gave me a new hobby and I encourage all of you to pick up an instrument and just give it a try. I am still by no means Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton but I can say that I play guitar, and that’s pretty cool too.

Germany Continued: Dachau and Munich

 

We got up this morning very early to get a jump on our full day concentration camp tour. Not very cheery, I know.

Short train rides brought us to the Dachau camp memorial, where we discussed rules of the tour with our guide, and prepared for an eight hour, very somber excursion. Marcin was unbelievably informative, and seemed well invested in all the information he provided. We saw a replication of the barracks in Stages One, Two, and Three of the Holocaust. Guard towers were around the courtyard, where countless thousands were almost instantly executed, or beaten within inches of death. Work was done outside the camp, and that remained within the fences during the day were skilled workers, who performed their craft in better conditions. A less fortunate prisoner would work in the quarry, expending up to five thousand calories a day, eating only 1100.

We walked through the entrance office, where prisoners would first be admitted, recorded, and stripped of all humanity. All clothes, belongings, even hair were removed. By force, at the hands of brutal guards with worn razors. Then they endured a speech from the S.S. Captain, which only paraphrase.

“There is no laughing here. Only Satan laughs here. I’m Satan.”

Beyond the rows of barracks are now erected memorials from various religious groups, and further beyond the fences were the crematoriums and gas chambers. Our guide explained many details of these areas as well, but refused to enter the gas chambers with us. That was the conclusion of the tour. Walking the same terrified trudge of millions. The shower heads above (although stolen by neo-Nazis: a very frequent menace of the site) had no function. Crystallized Zyklon B was dropped in the room, or external heating chambers, where it was sublimated into toxic gas. The last words our guide, Marcin, told us were that the guards heating the crystals could not be replaced at the rate that they were demented by screams.

A fellow tourer seemed to be near my age, possibly younger. Her mouth was hung open for the last hour or so, horrified with sunken eyes. The entire group was visibly worn, hearing such evil for hours. The return to Marienplatz with our guide was much more lighthearted, and we shuffled around to find a very authentic pizza joint in the streets, next to a tattoo parlor specializing in anime. We ordered far too much pizza, beer, and Jager, but had a good laugh and eat before heading up to Olympiapark. The park area is centered around a space needle sort structure, which features an elevator and restaurant at its base. Pictures are attached from the view atop, including shots of the BMW factory adjacent.

The next day we were supposed to see a Third Reich History tour of the city at 8AM, but I fell asleep around 7AM, so that was quickly crossed off. Our other interests of the day were the Residenz of Munich and the Munich beer tour. Pictures are attached of art within the residence, it was amazing. And the beer tour was fantastic… sorta.

All tourers met at a newer, energetic bar downtown for headcount, rules, orientation, and wristbands to mark you as a legal drinker. Germany’s 21 is 16, I was free and clear. After a beer at that bar, we hit the road immediately, and were given another round to pound on the streets (also legal) as we head to a beergarten. Here we got another round, liters this time, and ordered the meal of my life. Hanging around and drunkenly rambling, our guide Lauren taught us proper technique for cheers, and herded us along to our next destination. Most of us.

My mom and brother believed that I was still in the bathroom of the beergarten, and waited for me there as the group moved on. I was with the group, and was in Lauren’s headcount, but communication failure is easy with no cellular service. I arrived at the next location, and texted its name to my mom so she could catch up with my brother. I let them into the building, and returned to my seat. Gus decided it’d be funny to swat the back of my head. A little altercation followed, he found the sense to walk back to the hotel. I made some new friends without him, Canadians, Ohioans, colorado-ians?? And continued merrily to get shitfaced. Shoutout Daniel, who was there the entire way, and by sheer luck was a mutual friend of Mitch – the sexiest keyboard of Cousin Simple.

I sauntered to the final bar with the rest of my drunk tour comrades, and fumbled around a shit vending machine for a pack of cigarettes with my last beer. Marlboro Mix cant be bought stateside. 👀 I enjoyed both with Daniel and mom, then we Ubered back to the hotel and passed out. Off to Switzerland bright and early tomorrow.

 

Germany, May 2019

The flight was turbulent, more because of my choice of appetizer than the atmosphere, but definitely an enjoyable fourteen hours at high altitude. The architecture was a beautiful slap in the face. Frankfurt airport was a concrete and glass jungle, but more striking were the automobiles. Emergency and utility vehicles were nearly all Benz, which are usually a status symbol in the States. Many taxis are also quality German engineering, and high-dollar BMWs, Audis, and Mercedes are a common sight. Our train to Munich was fairly quick, but the seats were far from painless. It was, however, much quieter than the plane. Munich is arranged like a massive village, ancient and condensed to accommodate so many people. Paved bikeways are alongside brick walkways, designed to separate low and high speed pedestrians. I appreciate this very much, as bikers are not nearly as well liked in the states. Cyclists here also keep very good pace, even if they only are commuting on a mountain bike, they are able to maintain speeds I reach on a carbon road bike.

We walked along the small apartments and quaint yards, scattered with bicycles, motorbikes and scooters to our first restaurant. After getting a few beers (LEGALLY!) I tried to pronounce my order in native tongue, apparently with a bit of success. Our waiter knew a decent bit of English, and appreciated my attempt at the accent. The dish, which I’ll not even attempt to spell, was unbelievable. Another beer at the hotel lobby and we’re straight to bed, exhausted and ready for an early morning. Pictures are to come!