January 1st, 2013….

Let me first start off by saying that I am generally against so called “New Years Resolutions.”  I believe it creates a period of laziness for way too many people from the months of October-December.  How many times do you hear “Oh New Years is only two months away, let me wait until then to quit smoking, start working out, find a new job, or start a new project.”  If I’m going to set a goal, it’s probably not going to make it easier if I put it off a few days/weeks/months, unless it’s something like “kiss a random stranger at the stroke of midnight.”  Even with that I’d probably enjoy it more if I started right away.

With that said, I understand why some people do need to wait until New Years.  Sometimes it’s good to have a set a time period for your goals.  Sometimes it’s good to just have a break from whatever busy life a person may lead.  Sometimes people just aren’t motivated at the present.  Sometimes people just don’t have the time or energy currently to begin their next project, and planning for New Years is very convenient.  Sometimes habits are hard too break (smoking, drinking, etc…), and you just can’t break them right away.  Everyone has their own story, and while most of these are often just “good excuses” I can see why people would wait until 01/01.  I just want readers to be motivated to take action whenever they can, but also to reflect, realizing that time is precious, and you don’t know what will happen if you wait until January 1st.

With all of that said, this year I came up with a resolution I feel I have to share.  I didn’t plan weeks ahead, or months ahead, but actually right around New Years when I was reading all my friends Facebook statuses like “hittin the gym hard in ’13” or “i dont have a resolution” or “hopefully i win the lottery” or “last year my resolution to not drink alcohol only lasted 2 days, lets see how long it lasts this year hahalololomg #partyprobz #frathard.”  This was a task that I felt could make just about any moment of my life better if I did it.  My resolution was simply to take deeper breaths.  Now most of us don’t really think about our breathing status, but in random fleeting moments when I’m very bored, I’ll notice that my breathing is very shallow.  Just enough to keep me alive.

Why did I feel this was a goal worth accomplishing?  Besides the fact that I need oxygen to survive, it was because of the underlying meaning I created for myself.  Every time I remember this resolution, I do it.  I remember that I made it to appreciate the simpler things in life, and the fact that deep breaths are physiologically relaxing, unless of course you’re underwater.  This resolution is especially good when I’m feeling bogged down, and everything is acting on Murphys Law.  I just take my deep breathe, or 20, relax, and reflect on the bright side of things.  Sure, my problems don’t just go away in an instant, but it is a moment of needed relief in a moment that floods my body with energy.  On top of all that it is also a fun conversation piece that may often seem insightful:

“What was your New Years resolution?”

“Oh to take deeper breaths.”

“Hahaha what?”

Go ahead.  Try it now.  Take a nice slow deep breathe right now, and whenever you remember this post from now on.  See if it makes your day better.

A class I think all Universities should incorporate for all students.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview with a pharmaceutical company (Watson, now Actavis), and I have to say it was probably the most interesting one I’ve had.  I didn’t just get asked basic questions that you hear at every interview.  I was also asked questions like “Do you believe in aliens?” where I was able to discuss my interest in Michio Kaku, and another question which led to a short talk about evolution.  However, the one question that stumped me was “What classes do wish your University had taught you that they didn’t offer?”

I sat in silence for a good two minutes (which felt more like 30) as my interviewers watched me.  I was scared to come up with an answer because even though I had a bunch of ideas flowing through my head, I hit a nervous roadblock.  I really couldn’t think of one because my university not only offered a class for circus performing, but also in rest an relaxation.  What more could there be?  Surely I haven’t learned everything there is to learn from my University, but I didn’t want to just come up with something dumb like “underwear modeling 101.”

A month later I came up with an answer: An entry level stock analysis class.  The object of this class would be to help students get a better idea of what it is to actually invest, and research stocks (at least at a basic level).  So lets get into the details of the class.

This will be a class to fulfill writing requirements that all universities probably have such as “having to write 3000 words by the end of the semester.”  Each student is given “starting funds” of $100,000.  This doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but keep reading, there is more to this.

The students will all be thrown into the period of 1965-1975.  Why that time period? According to this chart – http://stockcharts.com/freecharts/historical/djia19601980.html I feel it gives students an opportunity to experience the stock market from a decade with many ups, and downs.  I picked 10 years very specifically simply because Warren Buffett said “Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.”  We are trying to teach the students long term investing, not speculation and day-trading.

Now there won’t be tests and quizzes in this class.  It will be mainly focused on writing.  I’ve done the math, and this should be one of those electives taken for 1 hour, 3 times a week, for ~14 weeks + the extra recitations.  Every class period should be an interval of about 3 months where students must write something about their current portfolios, or a new buy, or just a simply analysis of what was happening during that time that they think might impact them.  Example: If they start in January 1965, the next class will focus on April 1965, then July, and so on until whatever month they happen to land on in 1975.

The class must be small to allow for interaction, and a “lab” environment where students are given time to collaborate and discuss “industry news” of that time period.  Sure there will be short lectures in each class, with little quips about investing, maybe historical data, an in depth analysis of various stocks throughout time, and how students should go about researching them, diversification, and various investment vessels.

From class one, and $100,000 students are required to go through the process of picking out whatever stocks they wish.  Then they could use their own strategies to buy more or sell every three months based on industry news.  They could even choose to hold on to this money if they felt there were no strong buys, but they must give a valid explanation on their choice.

So in summary:

Grades will be determined based on writing.  How well you are able to express WHY you bought a stock, and how you analyzed it.  Success will not be based on how your stocks performed in the market.  Students should be told that they can “cheat” if they want to and just pick stocks that they know (due to obvious “foresight”) will succeed.  They should also be told that it would defeat the whole purpose, and the students who truly take the class seriously, really try to research news articles, and do their own in-depth analysis of each stock they pick starting in 1965, are likely the ones who may become future brokers of Goldman Sachs.

Students will get bonus points if they write intriguing statements like “I sold X stock because I feel their strength in the marketplace decreased since I bought them because of stronger competitors Y, and Z who came out with better products A and B.

I don’t think this class would be a good idea in the present, simply because there is not enough time in 14 weeks to promote good investing habits.  In 14 weeks any sort of investment is just mere speculation.  Although I do see potential discussions during class about “current” trends and why students think they should invest.

Would you take a shot in this class?

Walking Dead Compendiums

Click here to check this out on Amazon –> Walking Dead Compendiums

For fans of the Walking Dead, there is an opportunity for you to take a look at how “TWD” went off the television set.  You will be surprised at all the different twists and turns the characters take that you don’t get on the screen.  I am not saying that either one is better either.  The show is great at capturing the essence of the story with the directors and producers own little creativity thrown in.  While the graphic novels are great at being just that… A graphic novel.

Of the two compendiums, I have just bought the second and finished the first one in less than a week.  Compilations of all the novels into one thick book is a great way to have access to all the stories without buying each one individually.

Intriguing. Suspenseful. Creative.

Click here to see the details on Amazon -> Intriguing. Suspenseful. Creative.

If I had to describe “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern in three words, those would be it.  As I recently began my 52 books in 52 weeks challenge, I came across this book when scouring the web for an interesting, but modern read.  Having performed in a circus (just a few shows at an amateur University circus) before, this went to the top of my list.  At first I was quite hesitant, because I read there was “romance,” and thought this was going to be another Twilight or 50 Shades (nothing against those stories, but they are just not for me).  To my surprise the book had used romance very sparingly, and provided the insight into the lives of a multitude of characters.

From the moment you open the book, you are drawn into the world of the novel (as any good book should).  The author does a great job of “inviting” the reader into her fantasy.  Without going too in depth about the book, and potentially giving spoilers, I just want to say this book captures your attention from the beginning.  This book grabs your imagination, and leads you through a world filled with vivid landscapes, trickery, life, death, animals, acrobats, contortionists, and ethereal beings.  Morgenstern plays to her strengths very well through her use of imagery creating a world for the reader.

Another aspect of the book I really enjoyed was the multitude of characters I had the opportunity to meet.  Every character in the book will captivate you into wondering what will happen to them next, why they are there, and what secrets they may be carrying.  Each chapter often follows the Circus through the eyes of a different character (including yourself) and ends with a slight cliffhanger leaving you in bewildered amusement.  I often said to myself “Ahhhh!  Why can’t the author just tell me what’s going to happen next now instead of making me wait a chapter.”

Overall, in terms of plot, I will have to say I enjoyed the overall feel and character developments.  The story does not really take any “unexpected” turns due to good foreshadowing, so if you’re looking for a novel full of shocking plot twists this is not for you.  The main focus seems to have been to create a world for the reader to appreciate, and enjoy with an intriguing story which Morgenstern accomplishes magnificently.  Men, when reading descriptions of this story, do not fear the “romance” aspect of this book.  You know there is going to be a love story simply by reading the synopsis.  However I appreciate Morgenstern for not making it the focus which probably would have made me stop reading.  If you’re looking for something new, something to fuel your imagination, something that keeps you on your feet, this is a good one to pick up.  With all that said, I definitely see this being an absolutely incredible IMAX film in the future even just for the visual experience.

The ad for the new Chanel PREMIÈRE watch is a marketing masterpiece.

This is not an opinion about the watch itself; I prefer to let the consumer be the judge of that.  I am merely talking about how the video itself is a work of art, and how it is incredible marketing.  I will try not bore anyone by capturing every fleeting second of the video, but I do try to capture aspects that make this a great video.  Let us take a timeless journey into the world of the Première…

First, the video begins with a beautifully captured aerial view directly above La Place Vendôme in Paris (which I learned was one of the inspirations for the design of this watch but I won’t go too much into these details since this post is not about the watch itself), and its’ surrounding buildings.  As it zooms out of this black and white, timeless image, your attention is drawn by a dazzling sound so reminiscent of “time itself.”  The symbolism of the precious seconds in our lives are captured from the moment the video begins both in sound, and in imagery.

Suddenly, a switch to contemporary scenes full of vivid HD colors, present the watch itself in real time.  Perhaps an indication of technology, and how the world changes.  From this moment on, La Prèmiere begins to capture your attention on many wrists in fleeting motion worn by a variety of women.  This video does not create an over-dramatized slow-mo presentation of the watch itself, or a closeup of the interior craftsmanship.  It shows the watch as the ladies make their way around Paris (again representing how time does not stop for anyone).  Rarely in real life is a person going to stop long enough for anyone who passes by to take a good look at a watch, unless of course, they ask.  I feel capturing the watch in this fashion is brilliant.  Whether you’re waving down a taxi, calling over your waiter, painting on a canvas, or grocery shopping for your home, this watch looks “stylish” while you’re doing it.  What is important here, is that the watch is captured in everyday fashion, not some fantasy black and white world that snows glitter as a man with a deep voice whispers nonsense out of nowhere while an extremely beautiful woman walks down a mysterious dark alleyway.

Now I’m sure it would be pointless to discuss how all the outfits themselves are “modern, chic, and go well together” simply because that’s exactly what a few people probably got paid to do: put together outfits that are “modern, chic, and go well together.”  However, I want to continue with the fashion in which the watch is captured.  Whether rain, or shine, on a date, or on your way to the gym, you are given the opportunity to picture yourself with this wonderful piece of jewelry on.  In this video, as far as I know, all these women are beautiful, yet not a single face has been shown.  In terms of marketing “Chanel,” this is well planned because it shows that all women can be beautiful if they take the time to put themselves together with the right colors, makeup, haircut, and outfits.  What a great way to promote their products in the video.  Again I am not saying Chanel does or doesn’t do this better than any other designer out there, but this just so happens to be one of their videos, and the video design team deserves some credit.

Finally I want to talk about the music.  As I initially said, the video begins with a sound that immediately makes you feel a change in time.  Maybe even a sense of fading in and out of a dream-like state.  From then on the upbeat music creates a sense of urgency (as time is precious) yet still in pace with everyday life.  The rhythm and timing of the music just go so well with every movement, and scene change.   Listening carefully you’ll hear whistles, a woman hailing a taxi, indiscernible gossip, and light giggles representative of active women.  Again, like the elegant simplicity of the videos images, the music is light, yet meaningful.  The score finally ends with a light “ding” that we’re so used to hearing when something is ready (or finished), capturing the final moments of the video.

All of these characteristics work so well together to truly capture the audience that Chanel is catered to, and beyond.  This video gets straight to the point, and is not overly surreal, a contrast to what many fashion promoting commercials do.  There is no false fantasy realm that you enter while watching the video.  Beauty in simplicity.

Deactivating and staying off Facebook is fairly difficult…

My Facebook has been deactivated for less than 24 hours, and I have already accidentally signed in twice (reactivating it then deactivating it again), spoke to someone who asked me to follow someone on Facebook, had three statuses I wanted to share, and multiple people I’ve wanted to communicate with through the impossible to stay away from website.

I decided on a whim to deactivate my Facebook.  It wasn’t because I felt I was being unproductive (although countless numbers of hours of my life have been wasted), it wasn’t because I thought someone was going to see my Facebook, or even because I wanted to challenge myself.  It was simply for no reason other than to stop using it and see what happens.

Will I miss people that I never really talked to?  Will people even notice?  Will I be forgotten from the world wide web?  Who will I get to share funny stories with?  Can I feed my ego in other ways besides getting “likes” on one of my statuses?  Will I be more productive?  Will everything be deleted one day?  Can people still find me or does it just come up as deactivated?

I barely remember what my life was like before this world-changing website.  I do remember spending lots of time on the computer, using programs like AIM to communicate with people, but nothing could compare to instant Facebook messaging.  I could block out anyone I did not know, and choose who I wanted to share with.

I guess I will probably blog more now, but that means that I have to actually write more in depth posts.  I was never much for twitter since I don’t like posting things 5 times a day like “shopaholic status #problemz #status #news #cool #holic #lololololol #tweetmeback” that are meaningless.  I enjoyed facebook because I could post simple things that I thought might be of importance.

I then wonder, who really uses Facebook?  Surely no one really that important.  Barack Obama sure as heck probably wouldn’t add me, I don’t like politics anyways.  I would love to be Gisele Bundchens facebook friend, but let’s be real, there is someone getting paid to handle the facebook of anyone famous; let’s be real I probably won’t ever get within five feet of that Goddess.  It would be cool to be able to chat with Norman Reedus about his latest roles but come on, he’s probably too busy to be talking to random dudes.

Anyways we’ll see how long this lasts, and see if it affects me in anyway.  Anyone else ever deactivate their Facebook?