Thank you Hachi

By Ganteng Boy

Dear Hachi,

I remember the day that I came into your life

it was a cold, dark and lonely night

I found you when you were just a pup

as the name suggested, I knew that you would bring me luck.

You we’re scared, and so I made the exception for you to sleep on my bed

big mistake, you peed all over my bed.

 

You caused mischief from the very start

chewing everything in sight, from iPhone cables to shoes.

I still remember your favorite toy,

it was a ball, stuffed inside my right sock,

and how your little head rested on my arm

everyone wanted to be around you.

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With my job demanding every ounce of my energy

I entrusted my ex-girlfriend to watch after you.

She loved you, cared for you, and watched after you

You brought joy and happiness into her life.

But regardless of all that took place,

you loved me all the same.

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As days went by, you grew wiser and obedient

I was surprised that we could even walk side by side

without a leash!

A year ago, I was in a rough spot in my life

and something about your eyes inspired me to write

And so I wrote

anything from the mundane to the most fascinating topic

You are my compass of curiosity

and a fountain to rejuvenate my creativity.

Even though are no longer a puppy,

you are still my little Hachi.

 

My Take on Twisted X Brewery

By Ganteng Boy

 

This weekend called for a scenic drive into the bucolic Texas hill country setting.  We stopped by this unique brewery by the name of Twisted X.

Here is a photo journal of what we drank that day…

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Twisted X has a perfect way for you to sample their top selling beers – their 6 flight taster.

My favorite was Cow Creek. It’s an Amber Lager brewed with Pilsner, Vienna and select specialty malts.

My least favorite was Hye-Biscus. It’s an American style ale dosed with hibiscus flowers.

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The ambiance was laid back, dog friendly, and inviting. This is a brewery to put on the list.

The drive to the brewery was about 30-45 minutes from Austin, depending on which side of town you are driving out of.

Check their website out: http://twistedxbrewing.com/beer/

They are open Thursday-Saturday 11AM-9PM and Sundays 12PM-8PM.

This is the address that you need to plug into your GPS:

23455 W. RR 150

Dripping Springs, TX 78620

My Debut as a Pageant Judge

By Ganteng Boy

This was by far the most challenging task I had to do. All of the contestants were talented and beautiful in their own way, it was difficult to pick just one winner. What made this beauty pageant special was that the proceeds went towards the Jade Ribbon Campaign. Its mission is to eradicate HBV worldwide and to reduce the incidence and mortality associated with liver cancer. I had alot of fun and can’t wait for next year’s pageant!

Thoughtful Thursday: Three Dumplings Traveling in the City of Triads

By Ganteng Boy

I remember it like it was yesterday,”I would say, and then start pondering on more lighthearted moments of days past.

~ Sometime in March of 2016 ~

It was exactly one week after the day that I got laid off, that I began to gain consciousness of what had just happened.

I was laid off.

My heart sank.

I didn’t understand how to cope with sheer embarrassment, confusion and betrayal all at the same time.

And so I decided to run from it all.

“Mom, Dad, I have to go to my high school best friend’s wedding in Thailand,” I would say.

From a male reader’s point of view, he’s excited that one of his bros is getting married. Ironically, my best friend in high school is a girl. It’s not the girl that got away, or anything remotely like the girl next door. She was someone who I can easily get along with, and not take each other too seriously.

You see that girl to the far right, yeah, that’s her – Onanong S, my high school best friend.

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We were part of the same high school orchestra. We both taught at Kumon. And we both have the same group of friends.

This was her on the big day. I’m glad that I was there. That is the face of pure joy!

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But the wedding was towards the end of my Asia trip. I’ll talk more about that some other time.

Let’s rewind back to when I just got laid off, and am about to board my first flight – Houston to Seoul, then to Hong Kong.

When I got on that plane, there were all sorts of emotions that flooded through my body. Here is a recap of what just happened:

  1. I am laid off
  2. My best friend is getting married
  3. I have a chance to hang out with two new friends on my next layover

And so, there I was, at my next layover – Hong Kong.

If you have never been, you ought to. She is fast-paced, outgoing and has a sense of style.

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Here we are, out and about in the foggy city. It was a cool March day, and a blanket of fog has wrapped itself around the entire city (photo below).

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Here we are on top of Victoria Peak. The view was breathtaking (photo below).

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And though we spent 4 days together, it seemed too short (photo below).

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Too short of a time for me to say that I thought you were cute (photo below).

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Too short of a time to say that I really enjoyed your company (photo below).

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Time was simply too short (photo below).

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Till next time, HK.

 

My First Glimpse at Schutzhund

By Ganteng Boy

What is Schutzhund?

It is a German word for ‘protection dog’. The sport focuses on the development of specific traits in dogs that make them more useful companions for their owners. This rigourous training course, for both the human trainer and the dog, can span anywhere from a few months to a few years. Some would equate this level of dog sport training to marathon training.

Naturally, this captivated my attention for two things: I have a dog and I like to run, marathons.

Hachi is the name of my dog.

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Mr. February in Doge Calendar for 2017

Yes, he was named after the famous Hachiko, the Akita who was remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner, that continued after his owner’s death. And no, my Hachi is not yet as loyal as the famous Hachiko.

In a nutshell, Hachi is distracted by everything – a slight beep, sudden movement, new smells, etc. If I left Hachi leashless for a minute, he could easily get distracted and wander off. This was something that I wanted to address, immediately.

Enter Jordan Coulson. The myth, the man, the legend behind Define Canine (link here).

IMO, he could pass as Jason Statham’s stunt double.

 

This past weekend was Jordan and Viva’s first go around at Shutzhund IPO Titles. In the world of Shutzhund, there are three levels of IPO tests. But before you can even qualify for an IPO title, one must complete the BH, or companion dog title as a pre-requisite.

The photo below is Jordan standing proudly next to Viva. She’s 4 years old – one year older than Hachi, but ten times more obedient. Watching Viva in this past Shutzhund trial was a real treat. She brought a tremendous amount of energy to the field.

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Congratulations Viva on acing the IPO 1 test! 

Here are a few photos from this past weekend’s event…

Retrieving a weighted dumbell over a hurdle and a scaling wall


Escape and Courage Test

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Notice Jordan’s cool, calm and collected demenour in the face of adversity and high tension. Remarkable. I can’t say that I would have been able to do the same.

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As for Hachi, well, he is still a long way from being as obedient as Viva. But with the help of Jordan and his dog training expertise, Hachi is one step closer to emulating the Hachiko of legendary folklore.

A Photo Journal of The 5 Phases of Running a Marathon

 

By Ganteng Boy

1. The ‘I can’t believe that I had to wake up at 5AM to finally run at 7AM, and why are there so many runners’ phase. You woke up, far earlier than you usually do. You got your breakfast in – most likely oatmeal. And now, you have to go run this marathon. It’s too early for smiles.

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2. The ‘I got this, let’s see how many people I can pass up’ phase. This is somewhere around mile 3 to mile 8, where you are starting to hit your stride. Your favorite song comes on the playlist, and your legs are still fresh. Your getting a bit cocky, and pass up a few slower runners.

 

3. The ‘I’m going to find a nice girl or group of girls to run next to because I’m in need of some motivation’ phase. This is happens when you are about to hit your first wall. So, you seek that source of motivation (friends and family in the crowd, someone that you find attractive in the race, etc).

 

4. The ‘oh gawd, lordy lawd, what have I done.. why did I ever sign up for this thing.. I haven’t learned my lesson in the last 5 marathons??’ phase. This is clearly past your first wall, and now you crave that source of motivation. You notice that people do crazy things to get through the race – sing out loud, make funny facial expressions, cry a little at the agonizing pang that is shooting through your legs, maybe all three and then some?

 

5. The ‘G-O-A-T (aka: greatest of all time).. I am the greyhound.. crushing miles all day, everday’ phase. This is at the last mile or 1.2 miles of the marathon. You are giving it your all and dashing to that finish line. This moment is most definitely captured in all of those darn marathon photos, and so you think to yourself: pain is temporary, pride is forever!

 

Whenever you feel like giving up, no matter the distance, 5 hour energy is there to get you there.

 

My 6th Marathon

By Ganteng Boy

Dear Future Tommy,

You never thought that you could have beaten your fastest marathon time – 4 hours and 30 minutes, but you did. You just set a new PR. 

Your Snapchat story made it to the Houston Marathon snap story – 12,000 views and counting..


You never thought that you were a big deal, but other people did. It could have been because you had that red backpack the whole time (I mean, who carries a backpack to a marathon?), or it could have been your guns (you were a bit jacked for a marathon runner)… maybe both?

You really gave it a good effort, and for that, I’m proud of ya dude. 


Most people gave up past mile 24. They decided that it’s a good time to walk and get some more Gatorade. You were different. You gave it a 110%. Yes, you passed up a lot of people. And for every person that walked ahead of you, you didn’t hesitate to encourage them to go on – to keep running. 


This wasn’t the hilliest marathon you’ve ever ran. It was quiet the opposite. And though the course was littered with tiny hills, your attitude never changed. Those hills were a test of your indomitable spirit. You owned those hills.


4:19 is a new PR for you. Here’s to finishing your 6th marathon! 

You couldn’t have gotten there on your own. And here are a few folks to thank:

Dad, Mom, Greg & Agnes – words of encouragement

Kevin I. – for showing you the hill training spots in Austin and words of encouragement

Nick W. – words of encouragement 

Justin J. – words of encouragement

Beth C. – Bath salts that saved your legs and words of encouragement

Kevin M. – words of encouragement

Florida D. – words of encouragement

Jose U. – words of encouragement

Christian C. – drive back home after the marathon and pizza lunch

Tim S. – words of encouragement

Cindy K. – words of encouragement

Buntara L. – words of encouragement 

Dahn T. – words of encouragement and post run phone call 

Vu L. – words of encouragement

Jeff P. – words of encouragement

Adriana H. – words of encouragement

Deborah H. – words of encouragement

Kevin H. – words of encouragement

Vicky D. – words of encouragement

Alessandra M. – words of encouragement

Lauren R. – words of encouragement

Megan L. – words of encouragement

Johnny L. – words of encouragement

Mae S. – words of encouragement

Vincent N., RK R., Kevin T., Michael D., Tim T., Richard D., Sagan R., Gabriel G., Vicky Y., Daniel M., Paul N., Phu., Tommy N., Jeff T., John S., Christine L., Amanda L., Diane C., Nicole T., Garrett T., Jesse I., Phi D., Terry H., Eddie Y., Tony L., Jackline J., Jonathan N., Jessica M., Jerry L., Daniel C., Immalynn C., Aurash I., Emily L., Quysi H., Michael T., Bandrijo H., Kathi S., Tommy S., Hieu N., Faisal AK., Jessie J., Eugenia N., Christine S., Zach F., Bonaventura N., Jeffrey B., Aron E., Vu L., Toni C., JEssica L., Patrick H., Michelle B., Keri B., Anthony V., Andy L., Jonathan V., Nathan S., Connie W., Jamie N., Ai T., Beth C., Megan L., Mae S., Cindy K., Alessandra M., Tim S., Vicky D., Adriana H., Jeff P., – support through Facebook likes

My Proud Moment as a Mentor

By Ganteng Boy

I am proud to be a mentor to a close friend of mine, Danh Tran. He recently received an offer letter for a full time sales representative role at one of the world’s largest oilfield service company. I once interned and worked full-time at the same company.

This was a token of all the fun memories that I had there.

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The one and a half month all expenses paid “sales” training in Dubai rocked – literally.

CONGRATULATIONS DANH! BIG BLUE IS LUCKY TO HAVE YOU.

Danh ‘The Man’ Tran and I had several things in common – we both studied Geology, were both part of the Program for Excellence in Selling at the University of Houston and we both enjoyed working out. However, Danh is a bit a more hardcore than I am. Geophysics was Danh’s major concentration; I only minored in general Geosciences. Also, Danh dead lifts like no other, in fact there was a point in college where he competed in a few dead lifting competitions; I merely lift weights to maintain my physique and mostly run. Side by side, it would look like Danh ate my lunch.

And though I know Danh well, I thought that the following questions might give you a better idea about Danh:

What made you want to study Geophysics?

Danh: Initially, I was looking for a major where I could transfer most of my credits that I accumulated during my mechanical engineering studies. Switching to geophysics made the most sense – 95% of my credits transferred. At the time, oil was still trading at over $100 per barrel, and so I wanted to seek an industry where jobs were abundant and the earning potential was high. I wanted to make a lot of money.

Tell me a funny story that happened during a geophysics class.

Danh: There was that one time where we traveled to Big Bend National Park during Spring Break, in one of our field mapping courses. You look like the type that likes to shower, so this trip might not be for you. Just kidding. But seriously, we would camp out in tents for a week without a shower. Anyways, we bonded with other classmates and got to know the TA’s and the professors quiet well. I can’t believe it, but one of the professors got so drunk that he literally deep throated an unopened bottle of Jameson while trying to drink it. To this day, the students on the trip still mess with him and would gladly tell the Big Bend story.

What piqued your interest about the sales program at UH?

Danh: Honestly, sales, as a career choice, was something that I always loved but I didn’t realize that it could be a respected. That changed when I came across some successful salespeople. I always wanted to make a lot of money, and I loved the customer relationship element. So I connected with a few sharp folks, and one thing led to another. It seemed like a program that would allow me to build connections to jobs that I could potentially make the most money.

What was your biggest takeaway from the sales program?

Danh: three things…

  1. People buy from people that they know, like and trust
  2. Always be resilient
  3. You are going to have to go through a bunch of bullsh*t sometimes for a sale

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How many students applied for the Schlumberger internship? How many got selected?

Danh: About 20 students applied to the internship program, and that was a mix of engineering, business, geology, etc. Only 8 got an offer letter. Out of 8, only 7 took the offer.

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What did you like the most about the Schlumberger internship?

Danh: My most favorite part about the internship would have to be meeting people that were very open to making sure that you succeeded and gaining new mentors to help you along the road.

What was the most valuable piece of advice that you received from your mentors?

Danh: Never give up when times are rough and to always have a plan A, B, C, D …. Z.

What advice would you give to STEM majors who have a possible interest in sales?

Danh: The problem-solving skills that you developed in your major will help you go far in sales. People buy based on emotions, and then they justify with facts. Be ready to appeal to people’s emotions. Find yourself a mentor that knows sales like the back of their hand. They will help you develop the soft skills that are crucial in sales.

 

60 Things that I learned in 2016

By Ganteng Boy

2016 has been a phenomenal learning experience. I have traveled to far away countries (Indonesia, Hong Kong, Maccau, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, The Bahamas), lost a job, found a new job, moved to a new city, accepted national board presidency of my fraternity, grieved at a death of a family member, and officiated a wedding.

Here are a few things that I learned along the way:

1. Good luck with trying to find Perrier in Thailand.
2. If you don’t know where you are going, don’t just stand there – do something.
3. Always save the address in English and in the local language, and get a screenshot of 3 different map views of the location.
4. There is a reason why women wear too much makeup. Try not to look too surprised when the secret is out.
5. I can always help others with one small act of kindness; no need for grand, audacious acts of charity.
6. Don’t let one bad emotion blow over other people’s moment to enjoy life. There is a time and place for everything.
7. Thai food doesn’t necessarily have to be very spicy, it just has to taste good
8. Alcohol can be enjoyed two ways: chugged all at once or sipped slowly throughout the day; the latter has a lower probability of embarrasment the next day.
9. When in Hong Kong, get yourself a tailored suit.
10. Pack a half empty suitcase. The rest of your clothes can be found wherever it is that you’re going. Refer to point 9.
11. A Thai massage is more like an intense yoga workout than a relaxing massage.
12. Muay Thai fighters are not jacked. But what they lack in muscle culture, they make up in kicking ass.
13. She might be the most beautiful girl you’ve seen in Thailand, but then again, she might have completed her post-op and just took her hormones this morning.
14. The world is fraught with communication barriers – from spoken language to cultural norms.
15. No matter how egregiously drunk a person might be, the gentleman must not succumb to the their taunts or negative emotions.
16. There are seven times more Chinese people traveling overseas than Americans.
17. There is always a way to deal with rude people.
18. Time is a relative concept, in Southeast Asia, that stretches to suit the circumstance
19. Fresh fruits can always appear to taste sweeter, that’s because they were dunked and soaked in sugar
20. Aloe Vera is your friend, after a day out and about in the sun
21. Snorkeling is always more fun when you know how to swim well
22. 5HTP and Melatonin are handy companions in your mission against jet lag
23. Don’t eat the ice, they say. Blatant disregard. The sooner you have diarrhea, the sooner you can enjoy all the foods that that country has to offer. Why hold back?
24. Don’t pack workout clothes, unless you are committed to exercise for the full week.
25. You can never thank someone enough
26. It’s okay to act weird overseas. What are the odds that you’ll see them again? Just don’t go overboard and be obnoxious.
27. Youth and whiteness (pale skin) is prized more in Asia than in the US.
28. There is a reason why I’m commonly mistaken as Thai. I got over it. Even the native Thai people think I’m Thai.
29. Traveling is always more fun with people that have the same tolerances – alcohol included.
30. When in Thailand, bargain with a smile
31. When in Hong Kong, bargain with a friend. First, complement your friend on how good they look in something, and then walk away. The desperate vendor will always drop their price twice before you can move 5 paces.
32. Lust and passion is cheap; true and honest love is expensive
33. Traveling is more fun in groups than by yourself
34. White Vans (the shoes, not the vehicle) can be cleaned with a toothbrush and whitening tooth paste
35. When presented with a choice between Chang beer or a European imported beer, always choose Chang. Your body will thank you for averting a nagging hangover.
36. Be prepared to either dump your camera photos into Flickr, or bring extra memory cards.
37. Americans are the new elusive tourists. Let’s keep it that way. Refer to point 16.
38. Don’t be the American that looks down on local foods. For the love of God, that burger or pizza can wait. Eat local!
39. Massages are cheaper overseas; electronics are more expensive. Having a good time is always priceless. Use the Chase Sapphire Preferred card whenever and wherever your next priceless memory may take you.
40. Everyone cringes at a broken nail.
41. No Tommy, the monkey will not get along with Hachi
42. People in Hong Kong dress rather stylish
43. Korean Airlines flight attendants are hella tall
44. Crashing at your friends’ place is always more fun than staying at a hotel
45. One day, I will pursue a mobile lifestyle where I pick which stocks to buy and sell, which beach to lay out on, and which friend I should go visit next
46. Getting laid off from your job is not the end of the world
47. Have a 30-60-90 day plan handy, and bring it with you to your next job interview
48. That one hobby that your ex-girlfriend never thought you would like, may end up becoming your passion. My newfound passion is now photography/cinematography.
49. Get drone insurance if possible
50. You never really know how much someone has impacted your life until they are no longer there in person
51. If it’s your first time officiating a wedding, it’s okay to let the crowd know that it’s your first time. Execution and delivery is key
52. Just because you think something is easy, it might be difficult for someone else to grasp. Always be patient when teaching someone something new
53. Trust your gut when you feel like you have already received 3 warning signs
54. There is always inefficiences in large corporations. Live above the line
55. Do not ride with Fasten on Halloween
56. There is a way to politely let someone know that: “I am flattered that you find me attractive, but I am not interested at this time”
57. Everyone deserves a second chance
58. You will be surprised by the friends and family that help you, in times of dire need
59. Lean forward and aim in front of the target when one goes skeet shooting
60. Happiness is in the journey of learning something new and mastering this skill

Thoughts on My First Music Video Collab

By Ganteng Boy

7,800 views on Vimeo

2,000 views on Facebook

12,000 views on YouTube

First music video stats over a 3-day timeframe.

The total timeframe was 6 days – from idea to publication.

Dec 18th: my super talented friend Su shared a video of her acoustic remix of Charlie Brown Christmas. 10 seconds into the song and I had this idea…


Dec 19th: What if we made a music video for Su? And then, have it ready just in time for Christmas? I couldn’t have asked for better timing. Since almost everyone is going to be back home with their family or stuck at an airport, there will be more people glued to their phones.

Dec 20th: Day 1 filming. I was late, Su was early, and we were both surprised that the Trail of Lights charged an entrance fee. When I went to the Trail of Lights years ago, I remembered that there were no entrance fees. The park seemed more crowded today than it did in the past. Everything that could go wrong, happened.

Dec 21st: Day 2 filming. Disappointed but not defeated, Su wanted to give it another shot. We met up in downtown Austin and started filming – 20 minutes to each set. There was a big time crunch, and it felt exhilarating to literally run from one set to another. We filmed in record time – under 5 hours. I uploaded the footage to Dropbox, and the race was on.

Mission Impossible: have the video go-live by Friday, December 23rd – just in time for Christmas.

Dec 22nd: Thankfully, I have a ninja of a creative director. He is no stranger to pressure. Montgomery rolled up his sleeves and immediately started reviewing the footage.

Dec 23rd: Published the Vimeo video, but there was a part at the end that Su didn’t feel comfortable with. A few quick edits and the rest was history.

Vimeo – 7,000 views

Youtube – 12,000 views

We didn’t get a perfect product, and everything was put together with little time. This was definitely a learning lesson for the books.

  1. Communication: the biggest takeaway is for everyone to communicate and get on the same page by using the same channel (text, facebook messenger, WhatsApp, etc.). I know how Montgomery works and Montgomery knows how I work. We have a common respect for each other’s craft. It’s when we collaborate with someone new and now throw in a time component into the mix – that’s when things can get out of hand really quickly. Which brings me to my second point.
  2. Transparency: No matter how big of a time crunch or how difficult it may be to get a hold of someone from the team, withholding information is a theft to creativity. Everyone’s input is valuable, and this was something that we could have done better. If I had the chance to go back in time, I would get the team to agree on the same goal.