Friday, April 29, 2011

Bell's Palsy / Watching Over Our Parents

About two weeks ago, I was home and my mom complained to me that her face was a little distorted and that she was having trouble swallowing food and spitting things out of mouth.   Upon taking a look at her, my mom's face was indeed a little "distorted".  But beyond those symptoms, she seemed to be fine.  She was walking, talking and otherwise moving around without any problems.   Alas, she had told me relatively late in the day so it was too late to call the doctor to schedule an appointment.   My mom didn't think it was serious so she initially wanted to just rest and let things heal on it's own.

On other hand, while she seemed OK, I insisted she call and schedule an appointment with her doctor the next day.  During the evening, I did some research online and discovered something called Bell's Palsy.  Bell's Palsy is inflammation of some facial nerves which cause partial paralysis on one side of the face.  That is why my mom's face looked a little distorted because the facial muscles were locked into place.  There is no direct correlation with Bell's Palsy and getting a stroke.   The good news is that the majority of the paralysis eventually goes away over time though some medication is involved.  

At the doctor's office the next day, it was confirmed that my mom had gotten Bell's Palsy (which could occur for many reasons) and not a stroke.  In thinking about things, it was silly to not have my mom checked up earlier though.  

Unfortunately, as all our parents age, we have to keep an eye on them for sometimes they don't know what is going on.  While my mom seems OK now, I am keeping a close eye on her just in case.  It's good that I am unemployed and have time to be at home.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Appreciate Every Moment, For It Will Never Come Again......

Last night, in my Monday Night Open Division spring basketball league, my team (Red) defeated our opponents (White) 64-48 to advance to the league championship game next week.    My team led the game from beginning to end and there was not a lot of drama.   It was a stark contrast to the Fall season, when my team (who was also Red) had to rally from a 10 point deficit to win and make it to the championship game.

Having made it to the championship and winning it last season, I didn't put any particular importance to my team's win last night.  However, one of my teammates and I were talking afterward and he pointed out that he would now be playing in his fourth consecutive championship game in the league.   I thought that was interesting and it got me to remember that I myself would be playing in my THIRD consecutive championship game in the league as well (all on the same team as the guy I was talking to).  That made me appreciate our win last night a lot more!

The other interesting thing I did yesterday was to hang out with my friend.  We didn't do anything super noteworthy.  We had lunch, talked and collected points that got us some rewards.  I should mention I used those rewards to buy something today!  While my friend and I didn't do anything crazy, it was definitely a unique experience that I appreciated a lot.

The point in all of this?  Even in moments of life that you don't necessarily think is important, they are all unique and should be appreciated.   For someone who didn't win my first championship in this particular league until last fall, it surprises me that I am now playing in my third consecutive championship game.

If I were to somehow were to repeat playing in three consecutive basketball league championship games again in the future, it would be under different circumstances and an entirely new experience.

Remember to appreciate every moment (good or bad) in life for once it passes, you'll never get a chance to experience it exactly the same again!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I Love Vegetables!!

It's a bit of an odd topic tonight but I can be pretty random sometimes!   In thinking of my diet these days, I can't imagine NOT eating vegetables.  I eat bok choy, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, peas, corn and just about any vegetable out there.  There is one minor exception.  I've never been a fan of eggplant.

In thinking about my life, I don't if I always had vegetables.  In my younger days, my mom usually cooked vegetables at home but I didn't make a point to eat vegetables outside of home.  In fact, when I was grammar and middle school, I eat a LOT of McDonald's fast food for lunch.

When I got to high school, I started to learn a little more about a healthy diet.  Because I ran cross country (and was a fencer), our coach encouraged us to get more carbohydrates.  That's when I started eating a ton of pasta.  In fact, since my layoff, my default lunch at home is usually a bowl of pasta.

In recent years, as I got older,  I realized eating healthy was important.  I'll still get some occasional fast food but for the most part, I try to get vegetables in my diet as much as possible.   If I brought in lunch to work, I'd make sure there would be some vegetables (left overs or frozen).  If I went out to buy lunch, I'd usually pick meals with some sort of vegetable present even if it was fast food.

When eating dinner at home, my mom still makes a ton of vegetables which I gladly consume.  The funny thing is that I am not really a salad person.  I'll eat one every now and then (Fresh Choice is good) but I don't out of my way to eat a salad.

While American culture is typically a meat and potatoes one (and I let meat and potatoes), vegetables are also an important part.  If you don't eat vegetables frequently, you should try.  They are quite good for you!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

2.99 GPA And Some Old College Memories.........

It's been a couple of weeks since my layoff and all is good in my world.  There's been a few job leads but I am not overly concerned about how they turn out.  I've taken my time to finish up my final paperwork to complete my departure from my company, clean up the house a bit and just relax a bit.

One other thing I've been doing is researching information on graduate school.  There's one program that I had looked at during my last layoff back in April 2009.  However, when I got rehired at my old job in September of 2009, I didn't look at the graduate school program again.  With the layoff hitting me again though, I am seriously looking at graduate school again.

In doing my research yesterday, I found out that the graduate program I was considering requires a 3.0 GPA.  That was a bit of a downer as I knew my overall GPA from college was around 2.86.  In digging a little further, I found out that the graduate program was just looking at my last 60 semester units.  That made feel a little better as I had done better in the last couple of years before I graduate than my earlier years.

I had pull up my old transcripts from college and upon doing the math, my overall GPA from my last 62 units was.........2.99!  That was pretty frustrating and got me to think "What if I had done better in this one class or another class?"  Alas, those thoughts didn't stick around long as there's nothing I can do about it now.

However, in reviewing my old college transcript, it did bring up an old memory I hadn't thought about in a while (and it could have made a difference in my last 62 unit GPA).   There was a class that I had received a grade of C in that I should have gotten at least a B instead.

What had happened was the lecturer graded the class on a curve.  Usually, when a class is graded on a curve, it's to help the students on the lower end of the grading scale to pass.   I think most of my fellow classmates thought the same.  However, when the final grades were distributed after our final, I was given a C grade despite scoring 85% (or somewhere around there) in the class.  Basically, our lecturer had went on a curve and RAISED the standards since the class was not terribly difficult.

I wasn't the only one who got stuck with a C in the 85% range.  A bunch of classmates tried to complain but it didn't get us anywhere as the lecturer had warned us upfront he was grading on a curve.  Who would have though that class could have implications over 13 years later?

All complaining aside though, with a 2.99 GPA, it looks like I will have to take a class, get an A, and get my GPA about 3.0 to apply for the graduate program I was looking at.   While this is a little frustrating, it is also a benefit.  I haven't been in school in a while so taking a class to boost my GPA will also get me back into school mode.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Opening Up To Different Perspectives.......

From my youth through my high school days, I didn't really have a lot of close friends.  I had some buddies I hung out with but not being with the popular crowd, I didn't really have someone I talked to consistently about "life issues".

Toward the end of my high school years, I finally found one really good friend and we remained close for many years. I talked to this particular friend about most (if not all) of my life issues for the duration of our friendship.   Alas, as this friend lived in the East Coast, distance and life in general spelled the end of this particular friendship.

Unlike my younger days, I had met some other friends throughout my college years and many of them remain my friends today.  These friends are usually the first ones I go to and discuss my life issues with.   As I have grown up and matured, I realized I don't need to talk to my friends about "every thing" that happens in my life.  

However, as I have matured, I have realized that I don't have to just rely on my "close friends" for perspective on things.  I am fortunate to have a HUGE circle of people to draw from.   I can draw on my fellow basketball players or officials for perspective on things.  In fact, tonight I officiated some basketball games with a fellow official who had been laid off in January.   That was definitely a topic of discussion because of my recent layoff.

Last night, I spent a good amount of time talking to the girlfriend of one of the guys I play basketball with.  She's quite a few years younger than me but awfully mature and we had some nice discussions over a few different topics.

My friends like to make fun of me in the fact that I "talk a lot".  There is some element of truth to this as I do like talking to my friends on the phone.  What some of my friends haven't seen is that I just don't talk to "shoot the breeze".  I have realized I have a natural curiosity over many things and I can discuss almost any topic under the sun.

So while my close friends will remain my close friends, I am 100% open to talking to others about anything they want to talk about or if something catches my fancy.  It's actually quite refreshing!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Different Level Of Basketball......

Today concluded a super busy weekend for me.  I formed a team to play in a Easter basketball tournament and we played two games Saturday and two games Sunday.  In addition, I met up some friends for dinner after the tournament Saturday and I attended an NBA game after the tournament on Sunday.

Overall, I felt the tournament was a success.  My team consisted of two separate groups of people who I played with previously and we meshed together pretty well.  We won two games and lost two games to finish in 3rd place.

My team was really a middle of the road team in this tourney and it was reflected in the games we won, the games we lost and how we finished.   My team had plenty of guys who have played league basketball before but not at a super high level.  We also had a couple of guys who didn't play much organized basketball before but we were able to make up for it.

In first game we won Saturday, we beat an older but somewhat inexperienced team.   This team was pretty tough inside but struggled with their shots and our team played solidly enough to pull off the win.  In the second game we won today, we played a young and inexperienced team.   My team didn't play particularly well but had enough in the tank to knock off the young kids.

However, the two losses reflected many of my team's weaknesses.  In our first loss on Saturday, we played some early to mid 20's guys who just ran circles around my team offensively and defensively.   Their youth and athleticism was just too much of our team to overcome.

In our second loss this afternoon, we played a mixed team with vets (over 35), guys in their prime (25 to 30) and young kids.  The story of this game?  Defense.  The mixed team came out in their man to man defense and suffocated my team.  We were just not used to the level of defense that was being played.   The older guys used their experience to clog all our passing lanes and contested all of our shots.   The younger guys took advantage of our tired legs on offense.   This was a tough game and showed why defense is so important in basketball.

In both cases, if my team had played more together and got more time to gel, we might have a better chance against the more organized teams.  Alas, my team was just playing on the fly and that was why we struggled against the better teams.    As it turned out, the two teams we lost to this weekend ended up playing the championship with the mixed team beating the young kids in overtime.

My days of competitive basketball are winding down but it was fun play in the tournament with my team.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Quote Of The Day

"If you're on the path you're meant to be on, everything falls into place; the Universe is telling you that. If you are not on the right path, you will experience roadblocks all along the way, and this is also the Universe telling you to stop, look, and ask if this is where you are supposed to be."

— James Van Praagh

This quote was something I shared with a friend a while back.   With my layoff, I was thinking about this a bit.  The layoff is obviously a rather large roadblock.  So while I am poking around for job leads related to what I've been doing, I am taking some time to think about the distant future and see if the "Universe" / "God" / "Whatever suits you" has plans for me. 

I'll let you know when I figure out what my plans are! 

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Layoff Aftermath

It's a late Wednesday evening / Thursday morning as I write this.  It will be a week since I unexpectedly got laid off from my job.   While the title of this posting makes it sound like something bad or bad happened after my layoff, in reality NOTHING earth shattering happened.

I didn't jump off a cliff, bang my head against a wall or curse out my luck, bosses or anything else for that matter.    I talked about things with a few people last Thursday.  I wasn't too emotional and was pretty rational trying to figure out what exactly happened.

The next day was my birthday and I spent my day relaxing.  I had lunch with my parents and went shopping at the local mall for a while before going home to rest for a bit.  I then headed out to dinner / dessert with friends and had a good time.  While my layoff was discussed, I didn't express my bitterness and actually was my normal jovial self.

Saturday, I spent the day officiating basketball before going to dinner with another group of friends for another birthday celebration.  This time, the celebration was for two other folks plus me.  Once again the layoff was discussed but not too long.

Monday, I replied back to a ton of emails from my former co-workers who expressed disbelief at my layoff and gave me some best wishes.  I also took care of submitting my unemployment papers as well.   Though I was not intending to job hunt, I ran across some job postings so I reviewed them as well.

Tuesday, I spent time reviewing my severance papers and understanding what I was signing.  I have to return the papers in the next couple of days to complete from departure from my company.

Wednesday, I actually started the job hunt by talking to a recruiter.  The recruiter actually had two leads for jobs and I got another email later with another lead.  Whether they will come to fruition is another story but it's good to see I have some options.

As Thursday dawns, everything is all positive on my end.   I left my job last week in a state of disbelief.   In the week sense, I've gotten over it and moved on.  Sometimes when these roadblocks occur, it is life telling you that you should going another direction.  What that direction is I don't know 100% yet.

However, I am in the process of figuring it out and will take everyone once I decide which way I am going.  :)

Monday, April 04, 2011

In Sales, It's All About The "Numbers"

In just about any job, you generally have a set of general company goals and employee specific goals that you are evaluated against.  These evaluations will determine many things such as raises or even if you KEEP your job (for those that do their jobs poorly).

Salespeople likely have these same things but there is ONE overriding factor above all else:  The dreaded QUOTA.  What is a quota?  The amount of revenue (aka "dollars") that is required to be brought in by a salesperson over a given time period (monthly, quarterly, etc).

If you've ever wondered why salespeople are so pushy when it comes to homes, cars or other things they sell, the quota is the reason why.  If salespeople don't meet their quota consistently, they don't have a job.  Sales is a tough job and I've asked various salespeople why they work in the industry.  The respond that they like the challenge of selling and the excitement of closing a large deal.

The flip side of this is that even if the salesperson does everything 100% correctly, their jobs and livelihood could depend on the consumer signing the contract.   Imagine if all your jobs were dependent on others??  The only other job I can think of that could even be close if Project Managers.  Project Manager have to depend on other people to get their jobs without being their direct manager.  That poses challenges in of itself.

Prior to my time as a Sales Engineer, I didn't really understand the sales process and what salespeople went through.   As I've been supporting a sales team for the past few years, I've gotten a great understanding of what the salespeople go through on a daily basis and they have earned my respect.