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Friday, December 29, 2006 

Big Al's Top Ten of 2006 Part II

Here's the conclusion with #5-1 of the BigAlsHouse.com Top 10 events of 2006.

5. Going to Lester's Wedding (April 2006)
So 2006 was filled with many significant unification's, and I'm happy to be apart of them all like my high school QB Greg Reason, my old friend Michelle G., my co-worker Stevie G., and my college roommate H-Bomb. However, it's kinda' weird to be apart of a wedding where you see one of your oldest friends get hooked up. I was fortunate to not only attend, but be apart of Lester & Trish's wedding in April. I was asked to be a groomsman and with great excitement I accepted.
I've known Lester since the 4th grade in 1988. I remember a few things - he just hit puberty so he had a pretty loud voice , he was pretty good at math and he could play kickball pretty good. Over the last 18 years we've grown to be good friends. It seems like yesterday when we used to have our parents drop us off at the AMC Theater in Vallejo or take us to our basketball and baseball games. Time went by quick, before you knew it Lester was dating Trish and then wedding invites came out.
When they tied the knot that was one of my first experiences of being "grown up". Yeah, we went through the whole college thing, first job thing, pay my own rent thing, etc. But when I saw Lester get "married" I had a big reality check. I was 27 years old and I was no where close to being where Lester & Trish were at.
It was definitely a huge milestone in my life and I'll see it more and more as most of my friends get married. (I have Rey/Karen, Quincy/Jamie & Annora/Mike already lined up for 2007 and it looks like Eric & Ken are shortly thereafter). Part of me is scared as to what will happen to me, but part of me is excited because the unknown is part of the fun. Until then let the good times roll!

4. Leaving my first job that I took out of college (May 2006)
So 2006 was definitely the year of change. I graduated college in March 2001, took a week break in Las Vegas and then went into the daily grind of my first job in April 2001. From that time until May 2006 I took on the responsibilities of bringing home the bacon. It was great at first. The pay was good and I felt like somebody important for once. It was a start-up company that needed me. We worked long hours, but I met some of the greatest and smartest people that I can call friends even today.
However, in the months leading up to May 2006 I started to grow restless. I was curious to see what else was out there. I decided to call it quits at IntruVert/McAfee on May 15, 2006. I really was sad to leave. I was sad to leave the comforts of my home away from home. I took a job in San Francisco that maybe wasn't my best choice, but it was a very important decision nonetheless. (see me at the new company picnic on the right).
Given my pursuit of my dream, I may still need McAfee to lean back on until things get rolling. I'm happy that I had the opportunity to work there for those 5+ years and I'm glad that the door is still open.

3. Going to the Philippines (October 2006)
So I've never really been against going to the Philippines. I just had no huge interest. Even until today, I am more interested in seeing Moscow or Egypt or the Great Wall of China. However, something deep down convinced me to go there. My new career choice has allowed me to go into the Philippines to seek what the Motherland has to offer me. It was one of the greatest decisions of my life. I was finally able to meet the few cousins that I have never seen. I also was able to meet their children, (my only true nephews & niece). It was such a great feeling to go out there. The emotions were unexpected. Despite only meeting them during this trip it felt like I knew them my entire life. I actually cried when I left because it felt like I lost a big part of my family.

2. Starting my business (September 2006)
On September 8, 2006 I finished my final day as a corporate employee. Even though I'm not opposed to going back (which I may have to in order to keep my business running afloat until I make some profit), I finally was able to let go of the corporate trap that keeps you there. When you're so used to the routine of going to work everyday, getting paid twice a month and doing what you're told, your brain tends to shut down. I was so comfortable. When I was with McAfee I was really comfortable. I liked the stability and I knew my place. However when I went to Vontu I lost that comfort and was forced to earn my paycheck. I have no problem doing this, but I felt that the many hours that was giving to help build somebody else's dream I felt that it could be diverted to helping build my own dream.
I finally made the commitment to build my company - a transshiper of fish & corals from the Indo-Pacific area. Even though I have a huge headache everyday from it and for every up there are 2 downs I am very content with what I have chosen to do for the rest of my life.
I definitely could not have gotten here without the help of my family & friends. Just the emotional encouragement to never give up is priceless. If I had a dollar for every time I wanted to quit, I would be rich on that alone.
Now I have to pleasure to get up every morning knowing that I need to work hard because this is my baby and I need to give it my undivided attention in order to be successful.

1. Meeting Joleen (September 29, 2006)
It's crazy how things happen. You have to wonder how many missed opportunities occur. I go to Craigslist every once in awhile and I check out "Missed Connections". It's funny but sad at the same time. You wonder "what if". What if that guy went up to that girl to say "hi". Or what if some girl went up to a guy to ask for his number. I guess I can believe in fate because had it not been for nontraditional events (like quitting my job, trying to take advantage of my last bit of insurance and having the guts to speak with a girl) then meeting a cool chick like Joleen would never have happened.
Some of you have had the opportunity to meet Joleen (aka Jo). Yes, we're dating. However, when people asked where we met I tend to beat around the bush. Some days I'll say, "Match.com". Other days, I'll say "MySpace" or "Friendster" or "Craigslist" or some other thing to get people laughing (I'm not against these avenues to expand your social network - by all means do what you need to do). The truth is that I met her at the Fremont BART station on a typical work day after. I was headed up to SF for a doctor's appoint, trying to salvage my last few days of regular health insurance. I saw this really pretty girl on the platform and I was trying to find it inside of me to talk with her. I finally did ask her about the next SF-bound train. She mentioned the schedule and that was that. The train finally came and I sat on one side and she sat on the other side. A couple minutes later she came over and sat somewhat close to me (a couple of rows away). At this point, I was like "Whoa! Here's your chance. She made her move" (BTW: She'll deny it and tell you she was trying to get out of the sun.) Over the course of the next hour train ride we talked about how I quit my job to become a "fisherman" and how she was working on getting her CPA. I was definitely interested in at least talking with her more and even though my stop was the Montgomery Station I decided to get out at her stop at the Embarcadero Station to continue our conversation and make sure I get some kind of contact information. After the whole trip I managed to get the courage to get only her email address (yes, I was a pu$$y and didn't ask for her phone number).
From there, a crazy course of events happened. I had to somehow maintain contact with her while I was on my 3 week career recon mission in the Philippines & Indonesia. I luckily managed to do this. I don't know what it was - was it my blog that she visited quite often (stalker-like), was it my witty emails or did she have pity on my attempts. However, I did manage to set up a date when I got back. As crazy as this may sound, I didn't think it would work out after that either. We went out to Sushi and then she received a call and then unexpectedly cut short the date. At that point I thought I was screwed by one of her friends that "bailed" her out. In reality it was her mom that was sick (she's okay now). After that we continued to go out and the rest is history. I've been fortunate to do a bunch of cool things like meet the 49er alumni (Thanks Teri), cook my world famous lasagna together, visit Monterey Bay Aquarium, snowboarding at Heavenly and get my Gnome back from her. We'll be going to Disneyland for New Years.
At this point, I'm very happy to have met her and spend time with her. It's funny how things happen. I was at a stable job where I had a decent paycheck. Had I met Jo while I was at McAfee would I have left that to pursue my dream of starting a business? Probably not since going out is part of the fun when dating and in order to date you need to be cash flow positive. Did God play a role in having me meet Jo while I already decided to chase my dream? Fate had a lot to play in this.
A lot of questions come to mind whenever you're in this dating situation. Not only questions from myself, but from my peers. Is she your girlfriend? Am I in "love"? Is she the "one" - It's premature to be thinking this way in all respects. but everybody in this situation will always have these and other thoughts cross their minds. I'm not the type to give out titles nor do I know what "love" means so at this point my answer is a big fat "?". I guess we're going to have to wait and see what will happen to Big Al from here. It'll actually be funny to read the Top Ten of 2007 and compare it to what I said here.

At this point, I don't know what the future has in store, but I can say that after a whirlwind 2006, I'm pretty excited about 2007. God has blessed me with a lot of opportunities and I am very thankful. I often ask myself "would I be satisfied if I were to die today?". The answer would be "no". However, given what has happened in 2006 I am a lot closer to my dreams than I was at the end of 2005. I still have a lot of things to cross off my list (I'll update my life's to-do list on this site soon) and I'm determined to accomplish all of them before I die. I hope everybody has the opportunity to pursue their dreams and chase whatever makes them happy like I have. In conclusion, God bless you all and I hope you and your loved ones have a safe and happy New Years!

Honorable Metions for Big Al's Top Ten of 2006:
Joe's Birthday Party in SF
- Dear Hilton workers I am still sorry for throwing up all over my room. You can stay over at my place anytime.
Lester's Bachelor Party & pre-wedding golf match
- what happens in Vegas gets advertised on BigAlsHouse.com
Judd's Bachelor Party
- what happens in SF gets advertised on BigAlsHouse.com & 4nyay.com
Going to Paris
- partying with the locals
- making an emergency landing on the way back at Heathrow because we had fuel problems.
The 9th Annaul SCU Christmas White Elephant Party
- seeing all of my fellow SCU alums 5.5 years after we graduated.
Big Al getting his diving license
- PADI Advance Open Water Certified Beeyaattcch!
H-Bomb's Wedding in Hawaii (courtesy of 4nyay.com)
- Saw H-bomb & da' Lynnator tie the knot.
- Met H-bomb's hot 19 year old cousin.
- "Tried" surfing - never again.
- Did get to see Kylene & Tommy Wolfgruber
Going to Houston
- Going to fish trade show
- Seeing Minute Maid Park
- Crossing off another Fogo de Chao's off my list (4 of 7 US locations visited)
Going to Indonesia
- Scuba diving in a shipwreck
- Scuba diving at night - you can't much more clausterphobic than this