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Life in your 30s

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Posted by Tony Huynh.

I saw this topic on reddit written by reddit user Ass_Munch_Reborn and it reminded me of how good I’ve got it now that I’m in my 30s.

Damn it, this is the BEST time around.

It’s the best of all worlds. I still have the energy to hang with the 20 year olds, but I don’t have to eat top-ramen, worry about some stupid class, deal with stupid roommates or immature girls. I got money, an established career, and can really afford any creature comfort or any vacation I want. Basically – everything those young people are striving for.

I can also hang with the older crowd. I have all the things they have in terms of material goods, but shit, I still appreciates my new found semi-wealth. I can play with my friends babies when I need a baby fix. Go wine tasting with them. Whatever.

I am not beaten down by the world yet, but I have already gone through the Socially Awkward Penguin stage. I can discuss stock market trends and how to invest my 401(K) with some people, yet still kick it on reddit and enjoy stupid memes that would confuse 40 year olds. Let’s face it, I can watch DuckTales on an nostalgic, and ironic level. How awesome is that?

I play basketball at noon three times a week – but at work on a perfectly manicured campus. I have a fiancee who is cute and fun, but also mature enough to not have to worry about useless drama. I’m not scrambling around, trying to scare a career, but I still am learning quite a bit.

The worst is behind, and the best is yet to come.

Well, I admit, I did paint a rosy picture of myself that comes off as a little self-aggrandizing. But I guess it’s Saturday night, and I am feeling a bit philosophical. So, I will impart some words of wisdom that will most likely be savagely torn apart by obscure anecdotal evidence and bitter people, or hidden deep in this post.

So I will say this. When you are in your lates teens or early 20s, everyone is kind of the same. Poor, young, eager. You are a product of your parents and your genes.

When you hit 34, you are a product of your actions.

And I have a dichotomy of friends, those that succeeded, and those that failed. I guess I can say I succeeded. Anyway, I can see that patterns that emerged from “failures” and “successes”. I want to describe what makes a person a failure and a success (and these are the things that I wish someone told me earlier).

Characteristics of Failures at age 34:

  • Believe the world is rigged against them. The stock market is rigged against them – so they’ll never bother investing. Their genes make them fat – so why bother running. This country doesn’t do shit for the working class, so they’re doomed to fail. Being “poor” in your 20s is natural. Being “poor” in your 30s is a state of mind.
  • Do the minimum to get buy and don’t understand that much of the world’s success comes from doing what is right. They won’t stay after work to do an extra assignment to help someone. They never read a book that could be helpful in their career in their free time. They won’t volunteer their time or money to help a friend. They don’t realize that when you have good intentions ingrained into you, people notice, people pay you back, and you get ahead.
  • Believe they “deserve” everything. I’ve seen many a rel
  • ationship ruined by a demanding guy or girl who felt they deserved a Prince Charming or Super women who could didn’t exist, and then blame the opposite gender for being weird. Or, they deserve a promotion and they are underpaid, so they put in hardly any work because they feel slighted.

  • Stubborn and hardheaded. No one knows everything. We all have pre-conceived notions. The ones that stay in a rut always stick by their guns, even if they are wrong. The ironic thing is that most people claim they are “informed” and stick by their guns, in fact, purposely choose ignorance
  • These are the people who work shit jobs or are unemployed. Single or divorced. Poor or in debt. The worst part is, their actions only make their situation worse, because it also reinforces their own retarded hardheaded beliefs of a world against them denying them what they deserve.

    Charactics of Successes at age 34:

  • Natural curiosity and eagerness to learn. Why do I invest in the Stock Market? Because, fuck, I learned from the guy that created the “Binomial Option Pricing Model” to learn about derivatives. I realized that simply knowing the Security Market Line makes me more confident. When I am at work, and I see some new technology – fuck – I have to learn how to do it. I will spend my Saturday night learning web design (that is what I’m doing right now). That’s not even in my job description anymore. And all my friends who succeeded at work and in life? They do the same stuff. We are perpetual students.
  • Doing what is right is routine. This applies to your whole life. You make the bed in the morning, it means that you value your house, you value organization, you realize that a little bit of work goes a long way to bring order. All my loser friends have unkempt beds, all my successful friends have made beds. Exercise is routine. When you work out constantly, and you don’t exercise, you have feel just wrong. It’s that ingrained. Eating right becomes natural. If you treat friends’ right without any expectations in return, you will suddenly find that your friends will stick by you no matter what. You automatically save money each month, it just becomes routine, and there’s no sacrifice involved.
  • Believe they control their own destiny. They realize that while luck has a small part to play some of the time, it evens out over a lifetime. You work your ass off, it will pay off. You eat right and exercise; you will be slim, fit, and running circles around your fat 35 year olds. You tackle whatever faults you have, you will magically not have those at faults. Fuck, I’m doing that right now. I’m 34, and I’m heading to toastmasters because public speaking scares the shit out of me.
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    A Real Guitar Hero – Sungha Jung 12 Year Old Prodigy Fingerstyle Guitarist

    Sunday, February 8th, 2009



    Sungha Jung is a 12-year-old fingerstyle guitarist from South Korea. This kid makes me think I wasted my youth playing video games. As I watched his videos over the last few years, it is like watching Sungha Jung grow up. The thought of how YouTube has chronicled people’s lives is a little weird. It just makes you realize how much YouTube has changed our lives. In video game development YouTube is the greatest referencing tool there is. As a fellow game developer asked the question, “how did we ever copy stuff before YouTube?”

    Here are some of my favorite videos of his.

    No Woman No Cry – Sungha Jung

    All Along the Watchtower – Sungha Jung

    Blackbird – Sungha Jung

    Tango – Sungha Jung

    Moon River – Sungha Jung

    When the Children Cry – Sungha Jung

    For further information on Jung Sungha check these sites out.
    http://www.myspace.com/jungsungha
    http://www.youtube.com/jwcfree

    If you want to see a great movie about a child chess prodigy I would highly recommend the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer.

    See my other related articles:
    My Student Films 2: EverQuest Documentary and Guilty Gear Isuka Trailer
    Best MMA Fights & Genki Sudo: Real Life Video Game Character
    Become a Video Game Designer: Everything You Need to Know Part 1
    10 Greatest Video Game Designers Part 1
    Roger Ebert is Right: Games are Not High Art…Yet


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    What Video Games Taught Me About Life

    Saturday, January 3rd, 2009



    It seems like a week does not go by without the media putting out a report or hearing somebody say that video games are a waste of time and that there is very little value in spending time playing them. Despite what others think, I can personally say that video games have been hugely beneficial to both my social and professional life. I have learned first-hand many of life’s lessons from video games and I constantly draw upon my experience as a gamer to be successful in any goal or challenge that I face. Here are some of the life lessons that I have learned from playing video games.

    Playing video games has taught me…

    1: …to set goals and overcome challenges.
    On the surface, the goals in most video games are clearly defined and easy to understand. When I first started playing video games, as I met the challenges of overcoming a level or a boss in a game my self-confidence grew. By setting goals to achieve and persevering to meet my goals I was learning the foundation of what it is to be successful in life. Just like in life, as your video game playing matures, the goals in games become more self-appointed, like climbing a competitive ladder or beating a game at its highest difficulty mode. With video games, I was given a safe place in which learn and grow and take on self-appointed challenges. I began to learn about self-reliance and being able to see the growth in my abilities and learning to trust in myself to accomplish my goals. The self-reliance and confidence in my abilities does not leave me when I turn off the game. It carries through as I set and meet goals in life as well.

    2. …to fail your way to success.
    Video games are unique in that they provide a safe environment in which to learn by making mistakes and failing. Thomas Watson once said, “The way to succeed is to double your error rate.” It is natural for people to learn by failing. In fact, people learn more from failing than being successful. In life you cannot be afraid of failing or making mistakes, otherwise you will never have the will to achieve anything.

    Video games taught me that each time I failed, if I analyzed what the cause was and attacked the problem from a new angle, eventually I would succeed. Nearly every video game reinforces this valuable life lesson. Ninja Gaiden is a good example of this effect. Ninja Gaiden has relentlessly hard bosses and each time I failed and reloaded I tried something new and before long I started recognizing the weaknesses of the boss. What was happening was that I was learning by attempting over and over and formulating a strategy and executing it. I asked myself the question of “is my strategy or execution flawed?” If it is the strategy then I will have to change it, if it is the execution I will have to practice it until I can perform it sufficiently. In life when you fail it is possible that there are severe consequences, but in a game you can fail and the only thing that you have lost is a bit of time. The lesson is that if I have a goal, in this case defeating a boss and continue to learn from my mistakes and adjust my strategy accordingly I will eventually succeed. Life is no different, there will be setbacks and obstacles in any goal worth attaining, but if you learn from your mistakes and renew your efforts you will be able to accomplish your goal.

    3: …to make quick and accurate decisions.
    By playing a lot of games I am able to assess situations and make faster and more accurate decisions. This includes strategic and long-term decisions whose purpose becomes apparent multiple steps in the future. Video games challenge players to take into account the weaknesses and strengths of the tools that they have on hand and apply the correct tools to the varying problems. In the competitive team game of World of Warcraft arena, when multiple opponents simultaneously attack me (focus fire), I have to assess my surroundings and break their line of sight to prevent further damage, while staying close enough to my team’s healer to regain lost health. This positioning and awareness of my surroundings has to be coupled with choosing which defensive moves (cool downs) to use that will allow me to survive without going too far and putting my team in such a hole that we cannot later turn the tempo back against the opponent. The consequences for not making the correct decisions in a timely manner are dying and more than likely losing the match for my team. With the consequence of failing your teammates when not making the correct decisions, I quickly learned to improve my situational awareness and to make better decisions for each situation. In the workplace and in life, the fast data processing and quick and accurate decision-making abilities gained from video games are invaluable.

    4: …that in life there are winners and losers.
    Competitive games have taught me that not everybody wins and not everybody is entitled to winning, as most of the other coddled Gen Yers would have you believe. Winning in competitive games require hard work and practice. How badly you want to win and what hardships you are willing to put yourself through to win is a huge part of whether you win or lose. You have to persevere and put in the time and effort to continually self-improve to win any competition. As I previously mentioned, often you learn a great deal more by losing than winning.

    Do not be a good loser. Be a bad loser. By this I do not mean be a poor sport when you lose, but when you lose it should hurt because it is the failure to achieve a goal. When this happens, do not just accept it. Take action by looking at what went wrong and analyze what could have been done differently to change the outcome and then figure out ways to get better from a strategy or execution standpoint, which leads me to my next point.

    5: …that talent is overrated.
    Talent can be overcome by hard work and deliberate practice.

    Geoff Colvin details something he calls deliberate practice. This is different from regular practice in that it emphasizes relentlessly practicing what you are bad at instead what you are good at. I had unknowingly stumbled on this concept many years before reading Colvin’s article “Why Talent is Overrated” in the game Street Fighter II – The World Warrior. In my youth, I played Street Fighter II endlessly with a group of friends. Some of my friends picked up on the intricacies of the game much faster than I did. I was tired of being beaten at the hands of my friends and set about getting better at it. I practiced the game on my own time and refined my skills. I targeted the areas of my game that were the weakest. In Street Fighter II players would either start on the left side of the screen if they were the first player or the right side if they were the second player. The player on the left entered commands into the controller in the opposite direction as the player on the right. As I generally played the game as the first player, I could execute the moves very reliably when my character was on the left side of the screen. The problem was that on occasion the players would switch sides if your opponent jumped over you or threw you to the opposite side. When this happened I was a much less effective player as I could not reliably execute the reversed commands. I began only playing as the second player to practice the reversed commands over and over. By the next gaming session I was equally competent on either side of the screen and started to take advantage of my friends’ weakness in this area by purposely throwing or jumping over them to place them on the side they were less comfortable with. Through hard work and correctly applied practice I learned that I was able to overcome my group of friends’ greater natural talent at the game and that talent is indeed overrated.

    6: …teamwork, communication and friendship.
    For myself, gaming has always been a social activity to be enjoyed with friends. Cooperative and team objective based games cater to this almost exclusively. Competitive team based games, like first-person shooters and massively multiplayer online role-playing games place an emphasis on working with team members to accomplish team-oriented objectives. These games reward player teamwork, communication and cohesion and punish teams without these qualities. As a result, teams constantly work to refine not only their individual skills, but also team based strategies and communication. The lessons I have learned from playing team based games have translated directly into my team-oriented professional workplace. The ability to work in teams and producing at a high level in groups is something that holds true whether in a game or in life.

    Even for single-player games, stories are shared between friends on how a specific scenario was tackled and defeated or recounting moments in a particular game that had left a lasting impression. Gaming as an experience begs to be shared. This is why every moderately successful game has a community of gamers who participate in message boards related to the game. In fact, the quality of the community surrounding a game greatly affects the players’ enjoyment of the game. One of the main reasons behind the success of World of Warcraft is the size and how enthusiastic the community for the game is.

    I have had many strong friendships developed through gaming. All those hours of playing video games with my friends have solidified our friendships and we still retell stories about some of our greatest shared video game moments and continue to create new ones together.

    Conclusion
    I am not here to tell you that there are no differences in life and video games. I will be the first to admit that when taken too far, games can be a serious distraction from real world responsibilities. While I may be biased because I turned my favorite hobby into a career and I owe so much to games, I am relating my personal experience that there are some valuable life lessons that can be taken away from playing video games. The most important thing is to set the right goals. How do you know your goal is a worthwhile goal? Ask yourself the question of “why you want to achieve this goal.” If your answer is strong enough, then you know that you have a worthy goal.

    Life is much more abstract than a game. There is no experience bar guiding and charting your success. Life is much less predictable and a definitive approach to success is not defined like in the game rules that are set down by a game designer. Setbacks in life and the consequences are much harsher, but games teach you to pick yourself up again and to strive for and to ultimately reach your goals by trying new strategies and having better execution. It provides you with a safe environment to experiment in which to fail and make mistakes. It allows you the ability to continually self-improve and to work together to accomplish what you could not do alone. These are lessons from games that translate into real life.

    Digg!

    See my other related articles:
    8 Ways to Make Your Goal a Certainty
    Become a Video Game Designer: Everything You Need to Know Part 1
    Low Skill Cap and Luck (RNG) in World of Warcraft PVP
    Best Games of All Time by Genre Part 1
    10 Greatest Video Game Designers Part 1
    Roger Ebert is Right: Games are Not High Art…Yet
    What’s Bad About Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Multiplayer Mode?
    Call of Duty: World at War Through the Eyes of a Game Designer
    Gears of War 2 Through the Eyes of a Game Designer
    Dead Space Through the Eyes of a Game Designer
    Top 5 Greatest Moments in Competitive Gaming (eSports)
    8 of the Most Underrated or Overlooked Video Games of All Time
    Best MMA Fights & Genki Sudo: Real Life Video Game Character

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    Tony Huynh Recommends

    Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

    If you are still looking for some gifts or something for yourself, here are my recommendations for games and books that I have enjoyed. I’ll be updating this list from time to time as I think of more stuff to include.

    Video Games
    Xbox 360 Pro Console
    Xbox 360 Live 13 month Gold subscription
    Bioshock X360 l PS3 l PC
    Gears of War 2 l Read my review
    Dead Space X360 l PS3 l PC l Read my review
    Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare X360 l PS3 l PC
    Call of Duty: World at War X360 l PS3 l PC l Read my review
    Guilty Gear XX Accent Core PS2 l Wii
    Bioshock X360 l PS3
    The Orange Box X360 l PS3 l PC
    SoulCalibur 4 X360 l PS3
    World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
    Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn
    Oblivion X360 l PS3 l PC
    Psychonauts Xbox l PS2
    God of War
    God of War 2
    Resident Evil 4 PS2 l Wii
    Civilization 4
    Chrono Trigger DS
    Diablo 2
    Starcraft

    Fiction Books
    Heroes Die by Matthew Woodring Stover
    Dune by Frank Herbert
    Legend by David Gemmell
    Stardust by Neil Gaiman l Read my review

    Graphic Novels
    Blankets by Craig Thompson l Read my review
    Sin City by Frank Miller
    Thieves and Kings by Mark Oakley
    Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore

    Books on Life
    Tao of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee l Read my review
    How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
    The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

    Investing & Business Books
    The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
    One Up on Wall Street by Peter Lynch
    Unlimited Wealth: The Theory and Practice of Economic Alchemy by Paul Zane Pilzer
    Art of War by Sun Tzu
    The World is Flat by Thomas L Friedman
    Good to Great by Jim Collins
    Built to Last by Jim Collins

    Tony Huynh Amazon Search


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    Why and How I Broke My Addiction to Caffeine

    Friday, December 12th, 2008



    I, like many people, crawled out of bed every morning and sleepwalked straight to the coffee maker. I would not be functional until I had my cup of coffee.

    For me the addiction to caffeine started in high school. I was one of those students that took class work lightly and would waste time goofing off until the last possible minute. I would then pull all-nighters to finish homework and study for exams the night before. To help me get through my all-nighters I would boil a full pot of coffee and down cup after cup through the night and into the morning.

    I found the benefits of caffeine to be short-lived. My body became dependant on caffeine. I began to need several doses a day; otherwise I would generally feel irritable and get headaches. Caffeine also disrupted my sleeping habits. I did not sleep as restfully and would wake up several times through the course of an evening. Worse still, I found was that I was beginning to get insomnia. This was something I had never experienced before. My insomnia became so bad that at times I would not be able to sleep for several nights in a row. When I did manage to get sleep I had trouble getting out of bed and felt miserable in the morning. As my body grew accustomed to caffeine, I needed steadily higher dosages to achieve the same levels of alertness and to fight off headaches. I combated all of these negative effects with yet more caffeine. I continued these habits all through college. By the end of college I was drinking six or more cups of coffee, four cups of tea and four cans of coke everyday.

    When I took account of what I was doing, I realized that I had a physical and mental dependence on a drug. Any substance that could affect me like this was making me weak. I resolved to quit caffeine immediately. The next week for me was hell. I had agonizing body and headaches and was in a general bad mood. Slowly, day after day the effects lessened and after a week they disappeared.

    I have not had any caffeine in nearly eight years now and I can tell you that I do not miss it at all. The benefits have been drastic and far-reaching in my life.

    1. My headaches are gone.
    I rarely, if ever get headaches any more. This is in contrast to when headaches used to be a nearly daily occurrence for me.

    2. I sleep more soundly.
    I wake up with more energy and while I still get insomnia on occasion, it occurs much less frequently, and the duration is shorter.

    3. I have higher and more even energy levels.
    I no longer have the caffeine driven ups and downs. Since I work in the video game industry, I am expected to work in “crunch” mode just prior to a product shipping. During crunch, developers are hard at work for 70 to 100 hours a week, six to seven days a week for periods of up to and beyond 6 months. I do not know how I could have met the challenges of intense and sustained “crunches” without the even and generally higher energy level I now enjoy.

    If you have never been caffeine free, I would highly recommend that you give it a try and stick to it for at least a month and compare how you feel.

    Here are some methods and tips on how you can break your own addiction to caffeine.
    1. Quit cold-turkey
    If you consuming large amounts of caffeine, you will get withdrawal symptoms. Block out a good week where you can have the least amount of impact on work, family or friends to deal with the effects.

    The first few days are the worst. After that the withdrawal effects lessen day after day.

    2. Gradually lessen your caffeine dosage
    If you can’t quit immediately, try dialing back the amount of coffee you have each day. Try switching to caffeine free tea for your middle of the day beverage and slowly lower the amount of caffeine you are drinking.

    3. Reward yourself
    Breaking an addiction is not easy; do not forget to reward yourself when you reach a milestone. This can give you the motivation to continue.

    If you are still having problems reaching the goal of breaking the caffeine addiction see my other article.

    8 Ways to Make Your Goal a Certainty

    Good luck!

    See these articles also:
    San Diego Versus Chicago
    Money: What Steps I Have Taken to Save It
    The iPhone 3G & AT&T Service Review
    Environmental Heresies – Wired Magazines Contrarian take
    Bet on the US, I am


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