The travels I have taken and the experiences that resulted.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Goodbye 2010.

I don't blog that much. But I thought 2010 was a good one to recap. It honestly may have been one of my favorite years.....So here it is in cliffnotes.

TRIPS
2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver: I'm not one to skipping school. I'm also not one to pass on a rare lifetime opportunity. When else will the olympics be close to me. More importantly when will they be close while I'm still young. That answer is a resounding no time soon. So I made the trip to Portland to rendevouz with Kevin where we drove up to ol Canada. Vancouver is such a beautiful city. Surrounded by water and mountains it provided quite the backdrop. We did the necessary touristy/photo taking tasks. We didn't get to catch an event there, but headed up to Whistler. We would end up having a ski in ski out condo on the mountain. I got to wear a flag and cheer on the skeleton race. The next day I got to do something more enjoyable. Ski. Whistler is a beast of a mountain and easily one that will be hard to pass in terms of terrain and beauty. While skiing we did get to cheer on some Men's Super G

Before the olympics I was able to get a big of gambling, BCS Championship watching, hanging out with friends and skiing in Lake Tahoe. I received a helmet just prior during Christmas. Lets just say after one of my falls I was fortunate to have that with me.

Made three trips to Idaho. That actually might be a record for me in a year

Chicago. Got to there on a long weekend date. Its a more enjoyable city doing that than the several times I've been single

2010 World Series. I ended up getting tickets at cost. It was the first weekend after I moved back to Dallas. The move was one for the record books. The movers showed up at 3AM like it was no big deal. Still fighting it. It was a very great atmosphere A lot of excitement in the air. Then Giants got on the scoreboard long before the Rangers. The excitment diminished considerably.

I got to truly learn the city of Austin via my girlfriend and a couple trips to hang out with my buddy David Guy. Its a city I fall more in love with after each visit.

Accomplishments
Now you may think the big accomplishment was graduating with my MBA (with honors no less). It wasn't. It was learning the sport of rugby. The MBA class formed a team. And while I was no way prepared, I learned enough of the basics to make it to the tournmanent in North Carolina. If you haven't seen me lately, I maybe tall (at over 6ft), but I wouldn't consider myself to be broad or big by any means. But I buckled down like the others made some tackles and took some hits as well. I gained a respect for a sport I didn't know much about and made some great friends in the process. I also passed my first and hopefully last kidney stone.

Career Accomplishments
Well heres the one dark image. I moved to Houston and worked for an energy company. Actually the largest one. Thats exactly what I set out to do with my MBA. Life couldn't be better? Its not what I wanted. Dallas had been my home. I was doing very much accounting. Glorified book keeping if you will. I was working for a major company and with it realized all the processes and politics that were about to be in play. I'm now for another mega company abliet a different industry. Unfortunately, I am disappointed with the position for a number of reasons. I'm sure some of it is a mindset and hopefully it'll get better. One bad bruise on the resume, is manageable. Two and I could see myself on the street. So safe to say I'm staying

Life
Well in 2010 another big life event happened. I started dating someone. That's not that big. Ive dated a number of others. I've also been in a relationship that lasted considerably longer than this one has. So who knows where we go from here. But it was worth a risk for me to come back to Dallas. I don't know if I can say I would do that for any of my past relationships.

Conclusion
2010 by far had more ups than downs and that's exciting. In looking in the year in reverse thats what you see. You dont see the stressful situations that happened at work, car problems (did experience a gas run out in the middle of the summer), or unexpected bills. 2011 has a lot to live up to, but with a couple trips already on the books it might just make it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A continuation....

This post will kind of expand on the last one. The passage of time. There's a reason for this. This past weekend I met up with old roommates and friends down at A&M to watch the Ags beat up (sloppily) Baylor. These friends would help shape me throughout college and today still have an impact on my life. I just can't imagine 10 years have passed from when my parents dropped me off and moved me in the dorm. Freshman year was filled with confusion, excitement, good times and bad, independence, and wanting to have support. It's probably the same for every freshman. There were memorable moments with road trips, meeting new friends, starting a college education. There were moments I would probably prefer to forget: roommate having sex in the bunk bed above me or the amount of time I spent in the library studying (I was truly a perfectionist). There are moments that I wish just didn't happen. I wasn't involved with the construction of Bonfire. That being said it truly made for a sombering moment on our campus. It's never a good thing when someone dies. There's just something a bit more heart wrenching when it involves a tradegy that affects the lives of the young.

They say college is the best time of your life. Well it's definitely not the worst. The best is debateable. I'll only know as the years tick by and the other experiences I gain. I'll have to say your 20's aint bad. Bringing home (or apartment) an income, becoming truly independent, and still having a sense of adventure is pretty hard to beat.

These college friends I visited over the weekend, and those that weren't there are truly important in my life. I've started to refind my faith over the past year. The one thing that the various books I've read has touched me, is just how important a sense of community is. It's important to be surrounded by others. It's better to be surrounded by those that really know what makes you, you.

We reminsiced over the weekend. Rehashed inside jokes, and new ones were definitely made. Here are a few of the highlights:
- One of us (not me) getting annoyed with the hotel receptionist at 3 in the morning
- Being unecessarily loud at Taco Cabana
- Drinking and then spilling Mexican martinis on one another
- Getting a waitress to sing to us (why she chose Beyonce's "Ego" is beyond me)

10 years before college I was 8. That's wild. 10 years from now I'll be 39. I can't even imagine what can transpire through those years.

Friday, November 20, 2009

So the other day I turned 29.

Definitely an adult, but some days I still don't feel that way. I'd have to say most days. I wear hoodies, I surf the web, I'm in school. Then again those hoodies are from JCrew, the web surfing is mainly news sites (Wall Street, Drudge Report) and school is my pursuit of an MBA.

There's that saying that as you get older time moves faster. I truly believe it. I don't know why it works out that way. Last I checked there are still 24 hours in a day and 365 days a year. Most days still mirror those of your growing up years. School is replaced with work. Evening time is filled with homework, catching up with friends, the gym, and now and then the occasional tv show. Free time is filled with vacations that are no longer road trips with the family but trips with friends.

I can say I've had a good 29 years, and hopefully many more to come. As a perfectionist though I feel that I could do better. I look at young entrepreneurs and the wealth they have created and am envious. I look at my free time and wonder why I can't just use that time to plug away at learning a new skill (cooking, guitar, foreign currency trading, something). I understand its good to let the body and mind take a break, but now and then I wish I was more effective with my free time.

A lot is going to happen in my 29th year. I should finish my MBA and as a result start a new career that appears as of now to require a move. I will become an uncle for the fourth time. While not set in stone, I should be setting my foot on a continent I've never been to. Exciting times for sure, but the core remains. I'm still a child in a more adult body (lets be honest I can still pull off looking 22). I think one of the great compliments ever directed at me was my summer spent in NYC. I was 21 and in love with a city. I was walking after work to a subway station with a late 20 year old female in the creative department. She's said something like "Dave, New Yorkers don't walk like you." Me, "What do you mean?" "You look up at the skyline and not down at the sidewalk. You take in the city for what it is."

When did those New Yorkers start to ignore the skycrapers and their beautiful and unique architecture? Watching my niece and nephews grow up, its amazing to see how a child takes everything in with clear eyes and a fresh mind. When people age, I think most of us lose our sense of wonder. Everyone should now and then just take a minute and think about what is before them (good example: www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOtEQB-9tvk ). That beside belongings, that people you meet all have stories to share and lessons to learn from. I will still have many growing/maturing experiences to come, but pretty confident part of my inner child will remain.

In undergrad, I loved discovering new musicians. I don't do that well of a job anymore, but I have a couple close friends that still help me out. Here's some songs I've had on repeat:

Citizen Cope "Sideways"
Damien Jurado "Johnny Go Riding"
Foreign Born "Union Hall"
Ghostland Observatory "The Band Marches On"
Iron and Wine "The Trapeze Swinger"
Johnny Cash "I Hung My Head"
Josh Ritter "Girl in the War"
Kid Cudi "Pursuit of Happiness"
The Knux "Cappuccino"
One Eskimo "Kandi"
Paulo Nutini "Candy"
Phoenix "1901"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

So I never write on this thing anymore. But class is about as exciting as, well...well this is really boring. So Ashley and Lulu wanted me to post something. Here it is.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Texas Revisited....

I made it back safely from Qatar. I immediately had Mexican food and some cold beers. Ahh America. After the internship wrapped up, I joined my friend and toured America. We made the drive up north to Idaho in a rental Focus. America's landscapes truly are remarkable. Without a doubt my favorite stretch is I90 West from Billings and on to Coeur D'Alene. The mountain passes make me yearn for those childhood years when that was my backyard and each ski and camping trip was an adventure. I am fortunate in that my family lives in northern Idaho. I don't get there back enough, but I enjoy it every time I make it.

School has started back up and once again I'm suffering from grass is greener on the other side. During my internship I looked forward to the day of being back with classmates learning some new material. While seeing old friends has been enjoyable, the classroom isn't as fun as a paycheck. I will really need to win that lottery to find the balance of pay and a social life. I've seemed to reach my second quarter life crisis. The first one was probably the time I moved to Detroit and wasn't enjoying life and didn't know what I wanted to do. The latest one crisis is determining whats next. I have an excellent job offer with a great company. However I can't seem to get excited for Houston. I'm not necessarily excited about Dallas either, but its grown on me in some ways. I have a few months to figure it out, and God willing, I know the plan is out there for me.


Josh Ritter - Idaho

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

QATAR FINAL THOUGHTS


Today I had to give a 20 minute presentation to the Controller leadership team in Doha. This presentation very well could help dictate if I will receive an offer. Presentations are generally not my favorite thing to do, and this wasn't an exception. That being said I feel I was able to convey the results of my summer effort and can leave knowing I tried my best. In the end, that's maybe the most anyone can ask for. Now my internship isn't completely over. I still need to go to the office tomorrow and I will have two weeks in Houston. Where alas I will have another major presentation in front of an even larger crowd. In the end I hope to receive an offer, and will know my fate in two weeks. Either way, I can say I had a remarkable summer.


So besides work, what are my final thoughts on my experiences in Qatar? I ate at Indian, Thai, Moroccan, Lebanese, Chinese, and American restaurants. I rode in vehicles as nice as Land Rovers and Jaguars to my lowly Nissan Craptima. I received a parking ticket and nearly caused an accident in one of the famous roundabouts. I became lost on the roads only able to find my way home. I partied at the US Embassy, jet skied in the Persian Gulf, and went dune bashing. I met people from all over the world, each with their unique story. I went to 4 different grocery stores and yet not one of them have all the groceries I'm accustomed to. I felt desert heat and frigid A/Cs. I saw Islamic art and modern day graffiti. I visited my Alma mater's Middle East campus and went to a violin and piano concert.


It's safe to say in that my seven weeks here I took as much advantage of my situation as possible. The city's latest developments are more modern than I expected, but yet they still didn't take the advantage of city planning. Stepping outside the city center one can very easily observe Qatar's roots. I have witnessed first hand modern day slavery. The work conditions of the Filipino/Indian construction workers are inhuman at best. Long days, blistering heat, cramped quarters, all done for a meager wage. It's impressive to me that the most popular store in the mall is the one that is able to transfer money to their respective countries. The dedication these men and women have to their families back home is something I wish all American would be exposed to.


I didn't have that many opportunities to visit with local Qataris. Due to all the construction and business taking place they only make up 20% of the population. That overall lack of them would only be one reason why. There is a pecking order of status here and by all means they are in the upper echelon. There is a sense of entitlement that is anything greater than I've ever seen (that includes the SMU undergrads). It makes me wonder what will happen when the oil and natural gas runs out. I will long be dead. At the current production rates, it is estimated their natural gas supplies should last for 200 years under current technology. To say it's a massive field, is an understatement. The current male receives land and roughly $5000 a month in royalties from the government when he turns 21. This rate will increase as gas prices increase and more of the LNG trains come online. It is no wonder why that there is lack of work ethic or an overall lack of work that a local plans to achieve. Qatar has put in a place 2030 vision. A vision that looks at building business, furthering education, reducing environmental impact, and improving social values. It's an admirable vision, but a culture so entrenched in customs it is one I find hard for them to achieve.


In the end, I could see myself living here (as long as I'm justifiably compensated to do so). For everything that I dislike about America (racism, high government spending, lack of culture in some regards), I generally leave America wanting to come back. It is a powerful country, but is only made powerful for the most part from its ambitious citizens. Even though racism or discrimination (honestly, probably in much less of a degree than most of the world) exists it truly is a land of opportunity. While I didn't vote for Obama, I definitely feel proud in my country for willing to depart from historically white roots. We are a country that was formed by men who believed in freedom and the greater good. I believe much of their original vision is still met today.


Life is truly a remarkable journey. In this past year alone I was able to eat spicy noodles in Taiwan and came to understand how miserable a dust storm in the Middle East can be. I have a lot of wants in my life and I doubt that will change. Even in those moments, I need to take pause. I need to remind myself just how fortunate my upbringing has been. My life so far has been nothing short of extraordinary.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Made it into another paper. I heard we are in Arabic ones too
http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=304304&version=1&template_id=36&parent_id=16

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I think my name has appeared in a city newspaper. The result could have been due to highschool tennis or participating in a community event. I don't know if my picture has graced the papers. Funny to think it took me going around half the world to make it happen. Now the picture and the word "citizen" in the title might not be the most fitting, but I'll take it.

http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/Display_news.asp?section=Local_News&month=July2009&file=Local_News2009071915238.xml

Friday, July 17, 2009

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Monday, July 13, 2009











QATAR COMMENTARY - WEEK 5

1. If you ever get the chance to go dune bashing I highly recommend it. It's amazing what an SUV can do in the hands of a capable driver. While it felt like we were going to continually topple over, it never did happen.
2. Camping in the desert was more fun than I thought it'd be. But by camping I mean airconditioned tents, food grilled for you, and a freezer with a constant supply of cold water. I don't think I ever drank so much without going to the bathroom. I must have had 10 bottles of water and only went once. The evenings actually dipped down in temp more than I thought. Not cold, but actually comfortable. I tried sand boarding (think snowboarding), but it's actually not nearly as fast as I thought itd be.

3. The constant road construction here is crazy. The last few days I have had to find a different way back to the apartment each time.

4. I learned jet skiing is a lot more fun when you have someone to go ride around with.

5. This website isn't the most conducive for adding photos. I post more on Facebook if you're curious to see what the area looks like.
So below is my old college roommate's blog post and his take on Doha. Thought it was worth sharing so you can have another American's perspective.....
Doha has felt like home. I've had my college roommate Dave to hang out with. I've had the luxury of staying in his 3 bedroom/5 bathroom/2 balcony palatial compound. I've eaten at Quizno's and Chili's (Editor's Note: I also took him to a Morocan, Iranian, and Thai place as well) and drank at the W. This isn't the Middle East. It's Dallas in the desert.
In the last few days, we've packed in a lot of excitement. After a great outdoor Moroccan dinner at the local souq Thursday night, we woke up Friday and headed out to the dunes with an experienced guide. The desolate desert landscape rolled by for about 45 minutes before our guide stopped the Land Cruiser and deflated the tires. Then the fun began. We blasted out into the sand and started climbing and sliding around the dunes at angles I didn't think were possible without flipping. It felt like an air-conditioned roller coaster and we giggled like schoolgirls the whole time.
At the end of the ride, we were dropped off at a beautiful campground on the edge of the Inland Sea. We were far from roughing it though. The tents were air-conditioned, the food freshly grilled, the water chilled on ice, and there was even a token camel to ride. We got in a little sandboarding before relaxing by the water's edge after sunset. And of course, no Arabian Night would be complete without smoking a little hookah before bed (don't worry Mom, it's legal even in the States).
Upon arriving back in the city, we grabbed some jet skies and headed out into the Persian Gulf. With the Doha skyline providing the backdrop, I wondered how I was lucky enough to be having this kind of adventure. We skimmed over waves and buzzed by parked tanker boats for an hour of gas-powered excitement before cleaning up and heading out for drinks. It's all here.
Today while Dave was at work, I toured the impressive Museum of Islamic Art. We then met up and headed out to Texas A&M's extension campus in Qatar to pick up some t-shirts and take some pictures. The Fight Song was written on the wall, Aggie flags were everywhere, and it was cool to see a guy in a throbe throwing a Gig 'Em.
Tomorrow I begin a 4 day whistlestop tour of Egypt before heading back to the States. I'll be in Luxor for 2 days before taking an overnight train up to Cairo for the last 2 days. The time has gone quick on this trip but when I look back, I can see I've already come a long way.