This is the second installment of bro-nouns.
Brome: a diminutive fellow who is mostly concerned with beer pong, gym sets and brotein.
Brotein: consumed by bromes and other bros. This stuff is like creatine, but with crack inside.
Broken: 1) Just broken, bro. 2) Similar to a token used in old arcade game machines, but the broken unlocks any gym in the world.
Streambroat Springs: Excellent skiing with brah-twursts and high speed skiing. Apparently, women aren’t allowed, which makes this the dumbest ski area ever.
Broyoda: A car brand invented to sound like Toyota. All of the cars come without an engine.
Bro Montana: This guy can sling footballs like no other.
Brogoda: A place to worship Bro Montana.
And now for a bonus word
Browing (actually a verb, or bro-verb): Browing is akin to rowing, however in browing, the watercraft is pulled over a lake filled with an asinine combination of Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Light and PBR.
I had short hair my whole life… until I was 25. Then I grew it out, and over the last few years I realized there are some compelling reasons every man should grow long hair at least once.
1) You’ll Understand Women Better
Not really. But, you’ll at least understand some of the problems the majority of women have endured their entire life: 1) bad hair days where it’s really obvious, and 2) fewer solutions to solve this bad-hair-day problem. With short hair, things are easier to hide. And these days, as a guy, it’s more common to wear a hat — which is the solution to any bad hair day.
2) You Can Fetch Compliments
No guarantees here, but you’ll have an opportunity to be admired for your HAIR. The number of times you get compliments on your hair when it’s short? 0. But when it’s long? The potential is infinite!
3) The Wind and You Are in a Relationship Muy Complicado
Roll down the car windows, drop the top on the convertible, your hair is blowing in the wind and you feel 100% DOPE. You and the wind are tight homies — you go way back to kindergarten. And then, the following day, you get your hair game together cause you’re hitting the town. It’s still a little wet, and you and your buddies get in the car. Buddy in the front seat rolls the window down and the wind (read: HURRICANE) hits your hair and makes a rat nest atop your dome piece. Now you just want to put a hat on, but you’ve only got baseball hats, and you’re wearing a button down. Nope nope nope. You hate the wind now.
4) You Might be Referred to as “Miss”
Sitting down at a restaurant and the waiter can only see the back of your (referring to any man) head, and he starts: “Good evening, ladies. Drinks to start?” And then you turn at him and he looks really embarrassed… And you feel really embarrassed because you are on a date.
5) You’ll Begin to Appreciate Conditioner
When I had short hair, I used 2-in-1 Shampoo/Conditioner like Pert Plus. Then I stopped when I had enough hair to realize that Pert Plus is a big green assassin of hair.
6) You’ll Be Unique
Go to a bar and look around. Count the number of dudes with long hair. If you grow your hair out, you’ll be special. That’s good for your bar game. Of course, this totally depends on the bar you’re in, because in the case of a ski town, things change, which leads me to…
7) You’ll Fit Right In at a Ski Town
If you’ve been trying to be a ski bum your whole life but have kept putting it off, well, growing your hair out and visiting some ski towns will get you one step closer to your goal. With long hair, you can shred gnar and be super chill with the rest of the long-haired bros at [name-any-ski-town-here].
8) You’ll Know You Have Some Decent Amount of Patience
Long hair must be grown from short hair (yeah, shocking). But growing things takes time, and in this case, getting sweet long hair is going to take just a little longer than sending a text message to your boo. And you have to go through the awkward-length phase, which could also be named the hats-only-every-damn-day phase. If you can endure being the caretaker of this sad excuse for a hair-do for a few months while your teenaged hair grows into an adult, then you can give yourself a pat on the back (or the head) and recognize your ability to navigate times filled with turbulent waters.
9) You’re Trying Something New
Novelty is so sexy. AND YOU LOVE SEXY!
10) You’ll Have More Options for Great Halloween Costumes
11) You Get to Cut It
If you grow it out, you get to cut it off, too. And in this case, I highly recommend doing it yourself even if the last head of hair you cut belonged to that girl on the playground from the first grade. (You did it because you thought it’d be funny.) In both cases it resulted in everyone crying, but forget about that because you’ll be crying with joy!
I’ve never let a potential trip wait so long to be blogged as I have this trip to Japan.
Relevant for that leading sentence:
I remind myself that one reason I write about my trips is so I can look back in later years and remind myself of some good times. So here goes nothing.
First off: Jared and flew from NYC-> Hong Kong -> Sapporo (New Chitose Airport). The route from NYC-> Hong Kong only took 16 hours, took 16 hours, 16 hours, 16. That’s long enough for two sleeps. I took about 1, on account of the Advil PM; I also finished a book (without pictures).
My ass went numb at one point, too.
Hey, stop thinking about my butt.
By the time we got to New Chitose Airport (close to Sapporo), we realized we were in Japan, which meant our brains were still working! That’s when we first encountered Onigiri.
And also, we discovered Japanese attention to detail/organization:
At that moment, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what time it was, even if I had a watch. We stopped at New Chitose because it is in Hokkaido, and Hokkaido was our final destination, since this was a ski trip after all. But before skiing, we had other business to take care of. Neither of us were “going to fly 32+ hours and not visit Tokyo.” So we went to bed, because the next morning, we were on our way to Tokyo.
I think we did a lot of the stuff in Tokyo that folks often do. In the interest of clarity, I’m going to break down our trip to Tokyo in categories.
We stayed in an AirBnb in Shibuya on Dogenzaka street. It was clearly an investment property — the owner never lived there and only rented it out. It was spacious.
There were sweet-ass arcades, apparently owned by SEGA?
We also ate at Freshness Burger.
Checked out some views
Chilled with a doge
Yoyogi Park and Meiji Jingu Shrine
And we found the bathrooms.
Then we discovered the entrance to the Meiji Shrine, and some decorative sake barrels.
And made it to the main shrine
Shinjuku Golden Gai
Drinking in the Golden Gai area was one of the most memorable and cool things we did in Tokyo. Quite a few of the bars won’t even allow tourists in, which is judged by one’s ability to speak Japanese. No Japanese? No entry.
Tsukiji Fish Market
It’s the fish market you’ve all heard of. It’s massive, and they apparently auction off massive tunas in the early morning (5 a.m. or something). We couldn’t be bothered to wake up for that. But we took photos later anyway!
Tokyo Skytree and the Hyatt Hotel (“Lost in Translation” bar)
Harajuku & Takeshita Street
I imagine this is something like New York City’s St. Marks street.
The food, the food, the food. Best Ramen I had was at this place that has 3.5 stars on Google Reviews: Samurai Noodle. Oh well. A 3.5 ramen to the Japanese is 35.5 to me.
Art and Decorations
Those are the highlights. Tokyo was one of the most exciting cities I’ve been to in my life. I want to go back and stay for a few months, although I’m not sure when I’d carve the time out for that wishful endeavor. But, when we departed Tokyo, we weren’t really sad, and that’s because we were on our way back to Sapporo — our starting point for our ski exploration trip on the northern main island of Hokkaido. Read about the skiing in Japan Part II: Heaven is Actually Called Hokkaido.
Arigatou gozaimasu, Tokyo. Konnichiwa, Sapporo.
Niseko has four resorts on the one mountain, and plenty of interesting skiing. Some results from day one:
When I graduated college, I had a degree in Philosophy and a desire to work as a writer — specifically as a journalist.
“So much liberal, so much arts.”
This eventually became, “so much for liberal arts!”
And for a while, writing was precisely the work that I did. I moved to NYC and started my career as a creative (copywriter and strategist) at a digital ad agency. I was given a cheap laptop and a seat without much leg room and was put right to work — thank God the work didn’t involve me moving because my legs were asleep from the lack of space (not true, unless I was in outer space, or something).
But before I started that job as a copywriter, I had this crazy tech company idea: Newspanion — “it’s like Pandora, but for news.” Back in 2010/2011, there weren’t a lot of Pandoras for news, so it was a novel idea, which is no longer the case. My business partner, Andrew, was a guy I met some many months earlier in line for a bar (apparently my early-20s self thought it was acceptable to wait in lines to access alcohol).
Together, he and I wanted to start a tech company…
and we had pretty much zero tech skills.
What does that mean? Well, we weren’t going to be technologically engineering anything, unless you count engineering e-mails to try to find a technical cofounder.
So here I was, a copywriter/strategist moonlighting as a tech entrepreneur — writing copy by day and business plans by night. Collectively, Andrew and did a lot of research, wrote a lot of business stuff, sent a lot of business e-mails, and tried our damned-est to find a technical cofounder.
But it never worked out; something always went wrong.
It was around my 5th or 6th month at the agency when I decided that I would try to build a prototype for our startup so we could pitch investors. I didn’t know where to start.
I hadn’t written any HTML since Geocities in 1997.
Hell, I didn’t even know if HTML would do it. I did some research, and everyone was always talking about this Ruby on Rails thing. That sounded like it would do the trick because it sounded fancy enough. But some people said I should learn Ruby before Rails (and I was like, “Where’s the train platform again? Is that near the jewel excavation site?”).
I took their advice and bought a book on Ruby. And the next thing I noticed was that everyone using Rails seemed to be using Macs. In fact, lots of software engineers were on Macs, and I had a rickety-ass, 7-year-old Toshiba that looked a lot like something you could use as an ad-hoc baseball plate (if you were actually caught in a base-less-baseball-game pinch). This laptop looked like a stove, or an ironing board, or a model UFO. Actually, not a model UFO, that would look cool; this thing was so uncool.
Coming to terms with these facts, I bought a 13-inch Macbook pro, which I’ve been using as a reliable (and expensive) paperweight recently. When I unpackaged that puppy though, it was like coding Christmas. Ruby was already installed! Things were going to be so great!
… And pretty much every day for a few months, I went to work, wrote some ads and copy.
Then I went home and wrote some really, really bad code.
I really had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t have a good framework for understanding the material. I found my studies in philosophy to help me during these Boeing-747-turbulent times by helping me ask good questions (I also had plenty of others… caution: article contains bad words!):
- “What is the problem I am trying to solve here?”
- “What is this doing? I want to understand this.”
- “If this works and that works, what happens when I remove this? Does it still work?
Good ol’ deductive reasoning. I never thought I’d be deducing bug origins (of type software or creepy-crawly) when I was sitting reading Nichomachean Ethics, but gosh was I wrong.
I just kept plugging away, until one day,
I had a really shitty-spaghetti prototype (Bon Appetite!)
of our web application.
But hey, it worked, and now we could at least show people our idea. Long story short: we showed and showed, but just never could get the traction we were looking for, and the startup died.
It was about this time that I was feeling pretty awesome about my new skillz. I mean, I could actually pay the billz now!
Fast forward a little bit to 2012. I quit my job as a copywriter and joined AppNexus, that global ad tech company you may have heard of. I started at AppNexus as a technical account manager (TAM), since there was no way I could really be hired as a software engineer (well, maybe, if I only did front-end). But still, at tech companies, there are lots of people more technical than you when you are a self-taught web developer. And so I was a TAM, TAMing away at the beat of my drum. TAMing was great because it taught me that I had enormous gaps in my computin’ knowledge. I didn’t know how to use CURL or write SQL statements when I started at AppNexus. But most important of all, I learned that I didn’t really know how to figure things out on my own yet — I mean the type of figuring out that doesn’t include Stack Overflow, but instead, includes RTFMing.
As a TAM, I found myself doing all sorts of repeated tasks in Excel, which I didn’t like much, so I took up scripting and Python.
I’ll tell you what, my first Python scripts were so bad
that someone probably should have written a script…
to rewrite all of mine.
Sometimes I wondered if I should have stuck to writing movie scripts.
With time, though, I got faster and better, and was on to the next challenge: Data Analysis with Python. I moved into a new role as an analyst. Being a data analyst is cool because you get to decide on which tools you want to use to conduct your analysis, and then you also get to decide how you want to display the data. I chose Python for everything I did, just to get better. And better I got. (I also would often do things the hard way just to get the most learning out of the task.)
In August of 2015 I moved into a Software Engineering role,
approximately 1540 days after my initial efforts
to learn how to build software back in May, 2011.
Granted, I took plenty of breaks in between and probably could have accelerated the process by years by going for an internship, or more school (… ew). But I didn’t go that route, because it’s about the journey, not how you get there! Wait a minute. It’s how you got there, not the journey. Uh, scrap the platitudes… Did someone say journey?
What I meant to say is: Don’t stop believing.
The coin flipped through the air — heads meant I would go in for the surgery, tails meant I would not. The coin landed on heads.
“Damn,” I thought. Maybe, I’ll do best two out of three. I flipped it again. Heads. “Damnit.” I thought maybe I should flip it one more time, just to be sure. The quarter made that high-pitched zipping sound after it left my hand, cutting its way through the air. It hit its apex and then descended into my palm. Heads. “DAMNIT!”
I brushed my teeth, put my shorts on, and headed to the hospital. I had just flipped a coin to help me decide if I would have surgery on my meniscus. It’s hard to say if that was a good choice, since I’m still recovering, but I’ll know in a few weeks. I mean, I’m not dead, so there’s at least that.
My knees aren’t in the best shape. This is my good one:
And the good news about my good knee is that it belongs to my good (dominant: right) leg. The bad news about my bad knee is that it belongs to my bad left leg. Right now, this is my bad knee on my bad leg:
Over the last 15 years, my left leg has been through some shit. It all started in 2000 when I dropped into a half-pipe and traveled up the wall for the first hit: 3-2-1 lift-off. I dropped my shoulder and head to start the rotation — the trick to be performed was a backflip-180. As I made my way around, I was expecting my skis to meet with the hard snow of the half-pipe’s wall within the second, but the sound and feeling didn’t come. What?
And finally, I crashed hard on the tails of my skis in the bottom of the pipe. The impact from the crash was so powerful that I broke my left leg’s tibia and fibula clean through.
BAM! POW! WHAM!
The surgery for that was, well, gnarly. The results left me with a titanium rod extending knee-to-ankle, and three screw (two in ankle, one in knee area) implants. This is the nicest video I could find of the procedure, which still gives me the chills, even though it’s just drawings/cartoons:
And if you’re really looking for some bloody stuff, you can watch this one:
A year after that surgery, I was playing soccer for my high school team. The season had just started, and we were in our second or third game. I was blazing down the right wing with the ball and a defender came in cleats up from a frontal/side angle. He smashed right into my shin guard and missed the ball, from what I recall. But for what he missed in ball, he made up for by fracturing my shin.
One might say that that kind of damage/trauma to a leg leaves a lasting impression. Physically, I had a shin that protruded near the site of the break, and it would change colors (get black and blue-ish) when I ran around for a long time. Naturally, I kept skiing and playing soccer, because it takes more than broken legs to stop this guy!
Fast forward about 10 years to February of 2015. I skied about 15 days, and everything was just dandy for my knees — at least I thought so. Then, in March, I was playing an indoor soccer game (super important playoff game, obviously) on a hard court.
It was late in the second half and I was backpedaling to get in a good offensive position, when, all of a sudden, my left leg just kinda gave out.
It felt weak and uncontrollable, like someone kicked all the mojo out of it. There were only two minutes left in the game, so I kept playing with my newly acquired hobble-run.
We lost the game, and afterward, I remember thinking that my leg felt weird, maybe a little shocked; I was also limping around like a feeble old man. When I got home, I got a good look at my knee; it was completely swollen. “Shit,” I thought. “Did I tear something? Shit! Shit! Shit!” I started icing it, took Alleve, grabbed a shower and went to bed.
The next day, I tried to get out of bed and couldn’t put weight on it; I wanted to cry.
I probably did. I had been in this position twice in my life already, with the same leg — “always this goddamned left leg,” I said, likely in a more impressive combination of four-letter words. But I tried to stay hopeful. I had my brother get me a pair of crutches from Craigslist and I set up a doctor appointment.
After getting a MRI, it was clear: my meniscus was torn.
The physician recommended that I do physical therapy for 4-6 weeks before thinking about surgery, because for a meniscus, it’s usually not something that is “repaired.” More often, he told me, the torn/frayed part of the meniscus is scooped out, which is analogous to removing a hangnail that bothers you. (One little difference between a hangnail and a frayed meniscus is that fixing one requires some clippers, and fixing the other one requires anesthesia, and, uh, knives and shit.)
I stopped playing soccer for a couple months and switched to running. Eventually, the pain I felt while traveling up and down stairs subsided and I could run a few miles pain free. A couple more months and I was playing soccer again, mostly without pain. Then one day, I kicked the ball in a weird way and it hurt so much I had to stop playing. Again, I stopped soccer and turned only to running. In June, I decided to schedule my surgery for September so I could enjoy some sweat-like-you’re-gonna-water-California’s-plants summer runs and the great outdoors.
Well, as it turns out, time turns (with the hands on the clock, duh), and it was September, and my surgery was in five days. To be certain about the decision for surgery, I went out to play soccer and gave it a good romping. To my dismay, I could elicit no pain. This is when I started to freak out and think, “Maybe I don’t need the surgery? Maybe I can just keep using it like this? This is fine. I like using it like this. Nothing to see here, folks.” This couldn’t be true — where had the pain gone?
To add to my predicament, I knew I would be skiing this winter, and had no idea how my knee would react to skiing and more specifically, skiing moguls (my favorite). To guarantee that I would be skiing pain-free this season, I had to decide if I would:
- A) use the lack of pain I felt while playing soccer as a predictor for what I would feel while skiing and not get surgery (but risk making the tear worse), OR,
- B) just get the surgery and settle with the fact that I’d have less meniscus to help protect my knee from arthritis in the future, but probably prevent future tearing, and probably be pain-free.
By the way, these options suck.
I slept on it, and the next day (Wednesday), I played soccer again. I hammered on it with lateral movement, twists and turns, but I couldn’t get much pain out of it. And that made my decision even more difficult. I was hoping that two days of soccer would bring some real pain to it. But instead, I felt like the 14-year-old boy I once was.
Surgery was scheduled for Friday, and I had all of Thursday to decide.
I called my doctor and my old physical therapist — one said to do it, and the other said not to. Perfect.
So, I slept on it again. And when I woke up on Friday, I was really hoping to have a definitive answer, but I didn’t have one. I was standing in the kitchen when I decided I’d flip a coin. I walked into my room to grab a quarter. And then…
…The coin flipped through the air and landed on heads.
I woke up in the post-operation room and I looked down at my leg; it was all bandaged up. Time had passed, and events had occurred while my consciousness was away. Now that it had returned, I took stock of the situation and was relieved that it was over. A nurse came by and I stated: “thirsty,” for which I was awarded a small styrofoam cup of ice chips.
It was time to go home.
- I don’t recommend flipping coins to determine whether you are going to do a surgery or not. You should be certain about your decision. In the end, if I really did’t want to get the surgery, I wouldn’t have shown up at the hospital. I think my brain calculated the odds and determined I was more likely to be pain-free this ski season if I went with the surgery. But, it really felt like a bet. And I hate betting.
- A meniscectomy (the procedure) is a quick recovery compared to other things, like tearing/repairing your labrum (https://sweet-as-tandy.com/2014/07/30/what-its-like-to-have-surgery-on-your-labrum/). If the procedure involves scooping, and not stitching, you shouldn’t need crutches, and you’ll walk out of the hospital the same day of your surgery. Your knee will be swollen though (GET SWOLL, YO).
- Your throat can hurt post-operation. Oh, you didn’t know? That’s usually because they stick a endotracheal tube (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_anaesthesia) down that guy.