Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Birthday wishes

Today I turn thirty-three. It’s crazy to think how much can happen in a year, how many conversations, how many smiles, and how many glasses of wine can happenwithin the blur of 365 days.

Sure, sure, I know there was a lot of work and that this part of the blur sucks, I get that... I also know that along the way, we lost some amazing people, but look beyond that. Look at all the good things that have happened. Look at those times, those special moments, and realize how fortunate each of us are.

In this last year, I published Only Human... my first book.

Just reading that sentence above is worth the price of admission for me. Add to that that I’ve managed to outsell Van Gogh by 32, and well, I’m ecstatic. Add to that that I’ve begun work on the sequel, am working on a young adult novel about a boy who wishes he could fly, am well into finishing a compilation and have connected to almost 800 people on twitter... and well, it could very well fill me with all the pride in the world...

But that’s just one aspect of my life. Above, I said I’ve connected to almost 800 people on Twitter... that’s fun and nice and it’s fascinating to meet people throughout the world, from Russia, to Pakistan, India, Palestine, Australia, the UK, Canada, all over the US, South Africa, Japan, Romania and beyond... it’s amazing that in the palm of our hands, we can connect with people from so many places... but if you know me, you know that although I love that... I also love connecting with people I know.

If you’d ask most anyone about me, they’d say I should run for office because I tend to say hello to so many people. That’s because some time ago, I decided I wanted to connect and positively impact as many people as possible. Does that mean I don’t have off days? Anyone who knows me, knows that’s not true either. But no matter how bad I may feel, I always try to make someone crack a smile and connect. If you can read this message, that also means you’re on my friend list... and odds are pretty high I’ve sent you a direct message. That’s because I love to connect.

But that’s also just one aspect of my life. The ocean is another. One of the few places I feel the most at peace is when I’m bodyboarding and in the past year, I’ve been able to score some of the best waves I’ve ever had in my life and ride pretty much to the best of my ability during certain sessions when the stars aligned in the sky and I aligned with waves in the water.

Each session was a special moment, which at times I was able to share with friends and other times on my own. That’s because although I love people, I love alone time and often lose myself in papers and thoughts during lunch, playing videogames or some other scenario. 

But that’s also, just another aspect -another layer- of my life and who I am as I busy myself with living it. That’s because I’m a son, I’m a brother and I’m a friend. Although I’m not always in touch, I try that every time I interact with anyone, that I make it count. True, I may fall off the radar, but I try to be a message or a phone call away.

I have a grand extended family of people I would have gone to war with... but instead, I’d like to enjoy the peace of mind that comes from friendship and kinship. I have friends I’ve shared concerts and the deepest conversations with, brothers who have helped shaped who I am and a mother that swells my heart with pride.

But that’s also, just another aspect of me. That’s because I’m a husband and I’ve chanced on someone who inspires me to no end, who gets me, who nurtures me and knows that beyond the big smile, squinty eyes and bravado, there’s a guy who can’t help but write her into most of his works and love every fiber of her being.

And that, even though it is huge in my life, is also just another aspect of my life... because those elements I wrote about are all connected, we are all connected and I thank you for being in my life regardless of rank.

So if you want to get me a birthday present, a wall message is good, a private message is better, a referral of my book would be divine (you can even give it as a gift on Amazon to anyone who has the free kindle app), if you read the book, a review would blow my mind, a cold beer would be awesome and a raincheck for a hug would be perfect. Then again, just reading this and connecting with me is epic.

So in short,

Cheers to us all

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Space travel responds to our disappointment in our world

There’s a reason why some people fantasized about living in Pandora. Although I’m really not at all a fan of James Cameron’s Avatar, I can see why people would find it appealing: threats are clear and present, the planet (actually a moon) is pristine and habitable and you don’t get shot at if you’re a young person walking through a neighborhood.

Although it’s fairly clear we’re just getting started with the Trayvon Martin case (even if it has finished for now), the facts remain: a man, with a gun, for some reason, shot and killed a 17 year old and was found innocent of all charges brought forth to him.

You see, you can tell me all you want that it was self defense, or that he felt threatened, or that there’s some justification… that’s all fine and dandy and bless you for trying to defend a lost cause, but a kid is dead… not a man, not a big black man who looks threatening, but a kid on the cusp of becoming a man, was shot and killed by some guy with a gun… In the last year we’ve been exposed to tragedies in so many states that I’m not going to bother listing them off by name, I’m just going to say that in recent memory, if you went to see the Dark Knight Rises, if you were a six year old child going to class or if you were walking to get a snack, you could have died because of a gun.

I am not a fan of guns… I really hate guns… even more than I hate hard drugs (no, POT is not a hard drug). They only serve to kill or mimic the act of killing. Sure, they may protect and serve, they may be tools of peace, but it is always at the prospect and potential for causing and inflicting death.

I may not be black, but I am a minority and the fact that if I go surfing, get a tan, leave my beard on and look Arab means someone might shoot me because they might feel threatened by me definitely means that I’d rather live in Pandora than the state of Florida.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream of equality, of peace, of taking down color barriers… that’s one hell of a dream. I’m much simpler, I dream of a world without guns as a start. When we manage that miracle, maybe we’ll see if we can finally come to the 21st century and at least find a man guilty of manslaughter for responding to fear with a gun. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I wrote a book and it's called Only Human

"Nathaniel Runnels isn’t a fan of life. He isn’t a fan of the news, which is a bust because he’s a reporter. He’s lost faith in journalism, in the truth, in civilization and in himself. So it’s quite the surprise when he gets swept up in a quest to save the world. Perception and reality collide as one man faces one question, would you sacrifice your humanity to save mankind?"

That's the description of my first book. A book I worked on for years. I did the research, wrote it all by hand, transcribed it, edited it, jotted down ideas and truly allowed myself to write what I wanted to write. After attempting to get the attention of some publishers, I quickly realized that I love writing... not selling what I write, so I self published my book digitally on Amazon Kindle and soon to be available on Barnes and Noble.

In a small blur of a moment, I went from working on my book to having it out there. And sure I expect skepticism because who is anyone to judge their own work as worthy of publishing. It’s digital so there won’t be a book signing... for now. But it’s mine... it’s alive, it’s out there and it’s called Only Human.

I'm actually very excited because it's the first time I share something that anyone with a computer can enjoy. Just in case, I have another blog called For writing out loud although I will continue to write here, since this is my first own blog and I've been able to actually interact with some very interesting people. So to anyone reading this, thanks for checking out this blog and if you want to read something that has angels, vampires, werewolves and characters with substance, by all means, give my book a shot. 


Check it out on Amazon clicking this link: 


Saturday, January 26, 2013

In search of inspiration

Inspiration can be a fickle bitch, it can also be the best companion that you’ve ever known… that’s because inspiration breathes and lives. It has emotions, it has feelings, emotions, hang-ups and frustrations.

Throughout my relationship with inspiration, it’s been a hell of a ride and she’s always kept me company. I don’t force her to do what she doesn’t want for too long and often take her for walks to show her the world and feed her with information, sights, ideas and experiences.

Every day we get along better and we’ve even been able to get a bit more disciplined in what we do in life. That’s because with us, there are no rules… no conventions, no boundaries, no limitations. There are only challenges we’ve decided to take on together.

It’s funny because although we’re perfectionists and we get pissed off when we see a typo or a plot hole… we don’t blame each other. We simply accept that sometimes we get swept up in the moment and have little hiccups.

I’m writing this so she knows how much I appreciate her because thanks to the philosophy we both share, we enjoy life and pay attention to the details and the big picture. We grow together, we play often and work hard at bringing out the best in each other.

Although we haven’t been together all my life, I look forward to spending the rest of my days in contact with her, because I think we both have a lot to give.

So here’s to you dear friend… may you shine your kaleidoscope bright in our journey together.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Enero en la mañana, Diciembre en la noche

A menudo los comienzos del año es una sinfonía de tropiezos, accidentes, errores e idioteces. Lo peor de todo es que tratamos el año como si estuviéramos en una cita y pensamos que si hacemos una mala impresión, nos irá más mal que mal.

La realidad es que mucha gente llega al punto del año en donde se rinden, en donde olvidan sus resoluciones y en donde dejan de dar la milla extra porque saben que no lograrán sus metas al 100%. No importa que puedan llegar a 70% u 80%... es que si no es 100%, no es nada. El año y la vida en general ambos son más tolerantes que eso y simplemente quieren que sigas echando adelante, ya sea a pasos agigantados o a paso de caracol.

Cada año hago una lista increíblemente larga sobre cosas que quiero lograr durante el año. La lista es larga… bien larga. El detalle o lo importante no es en lo largo, sino en que me ha ayudado a enfocarme para ser más productivo. A menudo no logro las metas que me propongo al 100%. Eso no le quita que sigo tratando hasta el fin del año. Insisto, me pongo terco, analizo como mejor hacer las cosas, me pongo al día en ciertas metas y otras caen por la borda… así mismo es la vida.

La vida no son las tabletas ineditables de los diez mandamientos que no se pueden cambiar para nada… es una experiencia viva, orgánica, viviente y constantemente evolucionando. Cada día es una aventura en sí, un capítulo en una serie de libros cuyo autor, editor, propagandista y contable eres tú. Está en ti lo que hagas con cada día y mirar más allá de las metas tangibles, de ver la disciplina que lograste, de ver qué metas si llegaste al 100% u obtuviste un excelente resultado.

Está en ti mirar cada mañana como un primero de enero y cada noche un 31 de diciembre. Un comienzo alentador, de esperanzas, retos, deseos y sueños y un fin de día en donde rindes cuentas sobre lo que hiciste con las 16-18 horas que estuviste despierto.

Cada mañana es una oportunidad para tener esperanza y cada noche es tu foro para celebrar… te invito a que le saques mayor provecho a esa fiesta que llamamos vida.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

No judges required: Juan Manuel Márquez Vs. Manny Pacquiao IV

For thirty-six rounds, two boxers had fought to a virtual standstill. One had won more rounds, the other had more knockdowns, both thought they had won each of the three fights and in the end, the judges had their say. Last night though, there was no need for judges and no need for even a ten count. 

It’s not every day an album, a movie, a book or a boxing fight live up to the hype. You can see countless fights from Floyd Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins, Miguel Cotto and Oscar De La Hoya to know what it feels like to pay for a fight that wasn’t worth its price. Last night, everyone not only got their money’s worth; they saw history made in one of the greatest boxing rivalries of all time.

Gatti Vs. Ward, Ali Vs. Frazier, Barrera Vs. Morales, Leonard Vs. Durán... if you hadn’t done so already, add Pacquiao Vs. Márquez to that list. After three epic fights, the grudge match took an incredible turn on the delivery of a looping right hand that dropped Manny Pacquiao in the third round, the first legitimate knockdown I had ever seen. Like the true champion that he is, Manny got up, fought back, survived the round, dropped Márquez in the fifth and was on his way to put the matter to rest in this rivalry when in the last second of the 42nd round between these two guys, Juan Manuel Márquez landed a counter right hand that floored Manny Pacquiao not for 10 seconds, but for almost two minutes.

This was a back and forth affair that ended explosively and though Manny got KOd, this fight could have gone either way. From the opening bell, it was clear this wouldn’t be last year’s chess match; this would be a fight between speed and skill, power vs. power, orthodox vs. southpaw, Philippines vs. Mexico. First two rounds were Manny’s, 3rd round Márquez knocked Pacquiao down with a right, so it was all even. Round 4 was for Márquez, Round 5 Manny got a knockdown and won the round and round 6 was back and forth high intensity firepower from both sides and Manny was getting the best out of the exchanges until Márquez landed the aforementioned right hand.

It was electrifying, it was incredible, it was the best fight of the year, it was what boxing needed. This was no strategic chess match... this was boxing at its finest. Two world-class elite boxers put everything on the line and were not in the mood to leave anything up to the judges.

It was eight years ago when I saw a fight between a young Philippino guy who seemed as if he had Popeye’s biceps for calves, facing off against a Mexican boxer puncher I’d never seen before. First round, the Philippino won me over for his power, his speed and for knocking down the Mexican three times. With a broken nose, the fighter on the receiving end of this onslaught got up, lost the second round and then pulled off the comeback of a lifetime, getting a draw and winning me over as a fan for life. It’s been eight years, four fights and 42 rounds. It’s been as even as you can imagine. They know each other as only fighters with this type of rivalry can know each other. Pacquiao has five knockdowns and two victories, but Márquez has the KO and the biggest win between them both.

Leading up to this fight, people were asking if we needed to see a fourth fight between these guys. After last night, the answer was a resounding yes. No fouls. No badmouthing. No empty hype. Determination, skill and passion got into the ring last night and everyone who watched won. May lesser fighters and lesser men watch and learn... this is why we love boxing.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Stealth Arica Chilean Challenge Recap – Event #3 in the IBA Grand Slam Series

Unlike the pretty stale WCT Tour, the IBA has had 3 classic events in what’s been happening during the 2012 campaign. First off was the best surf Pipe saw in the winter, second was the Box with a mixed bag of waves though intense action and third was the Stealth Arica Chilean Challenge, which finished this past Sunday. If you missed the event, no worries, heats on demand on the ibaworldtour youtube channel guarantee that you’ll see every bit of action, and boy was there action.

First off, a big congrats to all the riders in the IBA world tour. They put on a great show, local Chilean riders showed they are to be taken VERY seriously and few if any riders failed to put on a good showing. Injuries? You bet there were injuries, and still Ben Player, Amaury Lavernhe and Danton Correa put on a great show. These are serious pros who REALLY want to win and put it all on the line.

The webcast started super deep into the trials so we were treated to a deep look into what goes into one of the most prized events in bodyboarding. A pool of 100 international riders put on a great show and who won the trials? A guy from Morocco called Brahim Iddouch who flipped himself silly for the win. So a big thanks to the IBA for letting fans see an event in its entirety.

Then came the main event. Conditions varied intensely throughout the week with waves from 3-12 feet and conditions that varied as well. Often ridden with overcast skies, El Gringo is a wave that goes left and right and has high consequences either way, though the left is even sketchier. The scoring criteria adjusted superbly and the judges really deserve a shoutout for making the right call 99% of the time.

If I could use three words to describe the air one could grasp through the webcast they would be focus, determination and joy. Bodyboarders are a friendly bunch of guys most of the time, but the blast they seemed to have in Chile just permeated throughout the whole event. Then again, that’s what happens when you have thousands of people lining up to see the world’s best face off against one of the best waves on the planet. Some standout things I saw were:

1.     The Lan ladies - Promoters from Lan Airlines that kept what few males were there smiling from ear to ear. Having a representative of Lan Airlines was also awesome since it pretty much shows that bodyboarding is a serious and popular sport in Latin America.
2.     A mummy replica they brought to the booth. Super weird moment and I don’t know how Manny could eat on that table after they brought that thing out.
3.     The mayor of Arica giving an interview.
4.     All the riders doing commentating. Everyone put in their time in the event and highlights in the booth are too many to name, though my vote goes for Mark McCarthy since his enthusiasm was infectious.

Then there was the riding. Although I have my 5 favorite waves from the event, please make sure to see the entire event. This was quality riding from the highest quality of riders. Then again, there are always waves that standout and here are my top five:

Top Five waves of the Stealth Arica Chilean Challenge:

5. Jeff Hubbard’s ARS to barrel in round 4: Jeff pulls into a big right hander that looks a little fat. Then he hits a massive ARS and lands in the barrel, which he pulls out from into a roll.

4. Ben Player’s round 6 reverse to barrel to flip: One of the most technical waves ridden in the event, Ben Player pulls into a big right, thinks it’s not going to pitch so does a reverse to stall for time. As he finishes the reverse, the wave throws, he gets a sick barrel and comes out with a flip.

3. Guilherme Tamega Barrel for the win in Semi Final #1. PLC had Guilherme on the ropes at the end, but the Brazilian behemoth was not going to be denied a Final berth. He pulls insanely deep on a right hander and I’m pretty sure he yelled at the wave to stay open. I really didn’t think he was going to make it, and he did.

2. Dave Hubbard’s MASSIVE Boost in round 3. In this round, people were looking for Nick Gornall to boost big. After he hit a section a little late, Dave Hubbard grabs a quick left and proceeds to go higher than his brother did the entire event with the biggest air in Chile. What’s crazier is how smooth he landed it and that he even had the presence of mind to launch another roll afterwards.

1. Mike Stewart’s spinner, to barrel to HUGE invert in Quarterfinal #4. Vintage Mike, that’s what you’re going to hear for a long time. Stewart smoked Ben Player in the quarters starting out with a beautiful looking left hander. He proceeds to do a textbook smooth spinner into the barrel, grabs a long drawn out tube and even while he’s shacked, you see him eyeing the section coming. It was a 2-3 ft section and he boosted like 6 feet in the air, completely inverted and landed on barely covered rocks… rightfully so, this was the highest scoring wave of the event.

It was a hell of a contest, and like I said… everyone was riding so well it was a sight to see. Now there were some riders that looked more in form than the rest, and here’s my list:

Brahim Iddouch – Took down the trials and though he didn’t progress very far in the event, he showed he charges and that he’s a welcome addition to any event.

Damian King – Runner up in the trials, Kingy looked downright deadly in his riding and just came up short in the heat he lost. Still, his riding was tight and focused and it’s awesome to see him charging.

Sacha Specker – Riding tight and quick, flipping, tubing and still with enough energy to click some land and water shots. The man is on fire and I wouldn’t be surprised if an in form Sacha makes the Semis or Finals of an event this year.

Nick Gornall – The scariest launch of the event has to go to Nick Gornall, who threw an invert off a section that would have people pooping their pants.

Andrew Lester – Lester made it to the Quarters until he met up with the eventual event winner. His riding was focused and technical and he showed he’s someone to take serious in any heat you’re in.

Dave Hubbard – Biggest air of the event, Dave missed the quarters by .06 pts… it’s a harsh loss because he was ripping and you can probably make a case that he deserved the win… then again you can also make a case for Lester deserving the win. It’s one of those heats you’d hate to have to judge. That aside, Dave looked sharp, fast and motivated to go big. He did a crazy flip on the rocks to stay in the event and was always looking to go deep and big.

Jake Stone – His lowest scoring heat was 13 something… he was looking sharp and deadly and can always take you out when you least expect it with a huge flip when you think a wave won’t get the score. Just ask Stewart and Mark McCarthy.

Jeff Hubbard – Hubb has looked great in two events. One of the few air reverses in the event, he’s known for busting for a reason or twenty. When he was on, he was way on and he bowed out to a scarily determined Guilherme Tamega.

Dallas Singer – Dallas looked as good as I think I’ve ever seen him in a contest and it was a shame he got nipped in the end of his heat against PLC. Consistently spinning out of the barrel, the smoothest air reverse of the event was his. I hope he uses this loss to keep the momentum up because he was riding awesome.

Amaury Lavernhe – That’s twice Amaury has been caught up in the Tamega storm at Arica… and to be honest, it was more the ocean than his skills or will. He just didn’t get the rides he needed when he needed them. That aside, I don’t know if he needs to be injured more often because I hadn’t seen him riding that precise in a while. His heat wins were borderline inspirational and if GT gets him in another heat, he should know he’s going to have to go even bigger.

Mitch Rawlins – Mitch brought the momentum from the Box and launched some crazy big rolls and deep tubes. PLC shut the door on him, so look for Mitch to look for redemption.

Ben Player – What corked thigh? For a second I thought BP wasn’t going to ride the event, then I remembered that these guys aren’t about to fly thousands of miles to complain about an injury. With a strong promotion for Coke, he used cut off patches from 2 liter Coke bottles to protect his thigh and he was riding excellent even when he was steamrolled by a wizard.

Pierre Louis Costes – Riding tight, going big and flipping like crazy… though I have to admit, it’s getting to the point where I want him to launch something other than a backflip… and he did. He did a wonky air forward, a textbook perfect reverse off the lip and some big rolls that made me enjoy his flips more when he mixed it up.

Guilherme Tamega – Tamega’s focus was downright scary. Really, I’m glad heats aren’t full contact because he’d put you in a jiu-jitsu hold in the first 30 seconds, for sure. Up to the final he was winning on pure will and determination. Look at the Semi Final against PLC for pure evidence of this where you can almost hear the wave weeping as he whips it into submission. I’ll say this for Winey, thank God he left the big score for the end because with more time, GT might have done something to top his 2011 antics for a win.

Mike Stewart – At 49, Mike is riding just like or better than he did ten or more years ago. No one in the event was putting up better combos than Mike in my view, even going as far as doing an ARS on the rocks on a wave he’d done a spin, done a roll and gotten a barrel on. It was a treat to see him charging so hard and it’s just a shame he didn’t make it into the final, then again, unlike other occasions, more than any, it was all on the ocean since every good wave he got, he completely shredded and he’s gone back to being one of the last guys you want in your heat.

Dave Winchester – Wave magnet… that’s Winey for you in two words. Flipping, barreling, inverting and rolling his way to victory, Dave Winchester wrestled the Arica title from GT’s hands in the last minute of competition. It’s a hell of a victory for Australia and Winey is the in-form rider of the year, placing 3rd twice and now winning an event in the first three events of the year. Two more good results should do it, and I’m super stoked for him. Great guy and another asset to the sport.

So there you have it, 3 events down, 5 to go… Expectations are high and Brazil is coming up… I’ll write my predictions throughout the week.

Viva La Bodyboarding!