Real Life On Hold - these are the adventures of California native Travis Emmel, as he takes time off from the rat race to travel and see the world.

Journal Entries

The End of the Line

Sunday, April 27, 2008

It's official: The adventure is over.  Tonight marks the eve of my return to the real world.  The last 14 months have been nothing short of incredible -- so many amazing adventures and experiences it's hard to believe it was only that long.


I feel like I'm returning an improved person.  This last year has provided me with a lot of insight and perspective and I can truly say I've grown during that time.  Backpacking across Europe taught me the value of minimizing and distilling down what is really needed to be happy.  Living away from Southern California reiterated the value of friends and family and how it's easy to take the time spent with those who are close and are readily accessible, for granted.  Not being able to play with the ice hockey team or see the guys for the weekly poker game helped me to appreciate all of the social activities that filled my time and the camaraderie created within.  And, finally, not being able to find a decent carne asada burrito in what some argue to be the world's greatest city, somehow leads me to believe that I belong in the World's Finest City.


So, I'm back.  Del Mar is where I'm calling home until my place opens up again in July and then I'll be moving back in there.  The new job starts tomorrow so I'm dealing with the seemingly foreign concept of a routine -- something that I never thought I'd say I'm looking forward to.  While the fast, erratic pace of the last year was exciting, stability sounds very welcoming, at the moment.


Would I do it all again?  Without a moment's hesitation.  I think 2020's looking good for the next go-round...

It's Bathing Suit Season

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I've had a few people ask me about working out and fitness lately (summer must be just around the corner), so I thought I'd share the workout plan I've been using for the past couple of months as it's been extremely effective and requires very little time investment. The regimen is based around a little known study that was conducted at Colorado State University during the 70's. Tim Ferris, author of Four Hour Work Week, distilled the experiment down and provided a simple, easy to apply routine.

The first, and best, part of this workout is that it only requires two 30 minute visits to the gym each week. Each visit is comprised of a full body workout, as it is important to incorporate as many of the large muscle groups as possible (especially the legs) in order to illicit a maximum hormonal response, which helps to build muscle and burn fat. To further boost the number of muscles used, only compound exercises are performed. Another key to this plan is to use a very low cadence when lifting – 5 seconds in each direction. This will help to increase the amount of negative resistance placed on the muscles which is where a lot of the growth response comes from. It should be noted that if you are already working out and start doing this plan, you will probably need to drop the amount of weight you're used to lifting; don't worry, the strength gains will come very quickly. For mass gains, wait about 3 minutes between exercises; for toning and fat loss, rest about 30 seconds between exercises. Finally, only do one set of each exercise, to failure (should shoot for ~10 reps).

Here is a typical workout (after warming up for 5-10 minutes):

* Squats (if you're not comfortable doing squats, leg presses would be an acceptable substitute, although not as complete)

* Chest (e.g. incline, regular or decline bench. flyes, etc)

* Outer Back (e.g. lat pulldowns, wide-grip rows, etc.)

* Shoulders (shoulder press or raises)

* Inner Back (seated rows, bent over rows)

* If you've still got energy at this point (I rarely do), you could do one more chest/tri (flyes, dips)

To further speed fat loss, a couple light-medium cardio sessions a week could be added. Eating is always plays a role in fat loss/muscle gain. I had very good results following the guidelines in the Abs Diet; a slow carb would probably be effective, as well.

In the 2-3 months I've been doing the plan I've seen substantial gains (and my eating has been far from perfect). I've lost at least 3-4% body fat and added well over an inch to my chest and legs (a lot of my dress shirts are too tight across the chest, now). To successfully monitor progress, I would recommend keeping a journal of each workout (amount of weight, reps, etc).

Real Life Back On Hold!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A funny thing happened at the poker table last night.  I was

playing over at the Red Rock casino where they happen to have a

really big bad beat jackpot (some casinos run a promotion that

if a player has a very, very strong hand beaten by a stronger hand,

like four-of-a-kind beaten by a straight flush, they pay everyone present

from the bad beat fund, which happened to be $167,540 yesterday).

Of that money, $45k goes to the losing hand, $35k goes to the winning

one and the rest gets split amongst everyone playing at the time.

Last time I was playing, a table hit the bad beat and we all got a $200

share of the bad beat fund.


Back to last night…I'm playing at a fairly average Texas Hold 'em table

and not getting too many good hands, until this one came up:  I had

a pair of 8's in my hand and I made a full house on the flop (community

cards) which was K-K-8.  I knew my hand was best, so I was surprised

when an old lady at the table raised me; she had been making a lot of

weird plays all night, so it didn't concern me since the only hands

that beat me were two kings or a king and an 8 which would have made

a larger full house and she didn't play preflop like she had the kings.


The next two community cards were a 6 and another 8.  I about wet

myself when the last 8 came off as it gave me four-of-a-kind, a nearly

unbeatable hand!  Unfortunately, by then, the old lady and I were

the only ones left in the hand, but we kept raising and reraising until

she ran out of chips – I think we each made about 8 bets.  I triumphantly

turned over my cards and proclaimed my four-of-a-kind.  Imagine my

surprise when she showed her pair of kings for a better four-of-a-kind!

At first, my heart sank deep into my chest when I realized I had lost the

hand.  Within seconds, however, the whole world started to fade away

as the realization that I'd just won $45,000 came to be. 

F-O-R-T-Y-F-I-V-E-T-H-O-U-S-A-N-D-D-O-L-L-A-R-S!  Holy Shit!

Even as I type this now, it doesn't seem like a reality.  Within that one

hand of poker, my immediate life had changed - I could put life on hold

for another year!


The rest of the night is a blur; the whole room was abuzz with activity

after it happened and everyone wanted to come over and hear the story

of the hand.   I vaguely remember being taken to a back room in the

casino to fill out tax forms and collect my check.  I'm shirking reality

again and I couldn't be happier!

Copyright 2007, Travis Emmel