Life Finds Meaning Witnessing Its End

by Chris Sanchez


We all die. That's not a very inspiring quote but it's true. It's also a realization in the past year that finally struck home for me. You hear it over and over but it didn't actually sink in each time previous, the way it did this past year of my life. We all lose the "game of life." No one comes out a winner because there's a finite time we get to spend on this planet. I know this sounds like a total bummer but it's fundamentally changed how I approach everything in life now.

If you take a step back and truly evaluate what it all means, you'll certainly come to your own conclusions. For me the conclusion is, "everything is made up and nothing matters in the end." Now stay with me, I promise my outlook isn't as depressing and dire as that statement may seem. This notion actually freed me from anxiety and stress regarding the existential question of life. So many people dedicate their lives worrying and trying to figure out why we are here. For me that's not a concern in the slightest. There is no meaning or reason and thus I can just relax. Truly kick back, take a breath, and relax.

Now before I go on I will point out several things that give me this freedom. I realize I'm very fortunate to have been born a caucasian male in the United States and in the late twentieth century. The chances of that happening are astronomical. I could have just as easily been born into vastly different circumstance. A different gender, a different race, in a different country, at a different time and even a different socioeconomic class. I have the luxury of being able to not worry about where my next meal is going to come from, whether I'll be deported for just going outside or if I'll survive another cold night on the streets. I'm fully aware that having the ability to not stress about life is very much predicated in these facts of who I am and how my situation has allowed that to occur. I wish everyone had the ability to grow up in such a privileged world as I have gotten to experience.

With that said, I'll move on to how I came to this realization. Through all the change that's happened recently, I've been able to find a profound sense of calm. A little over the past year I've lost two grandfathers, went through a break up, changed jobs, visited five countries, and attended four weddings. It's certainly not the quantity of things that happened to me but rather the quality of them. Regardless of being for better or worse, the deeper the meaning each event had, the greater each affected me.

I've written previously about the self introspection that I've done over the years. It's played a tremendous role of who I've become and continue to grown into. Part of that process was growing through experiences, advice from those close to me as well as wisdom from podcasts, books and elsewhere. I love hearing other people's stories of how they got to where they are, why they think what they do, and why they believe in what they do. Hearing about other people's journeys and points of view allows me to see a different perspective which I try to incorporate daily as much as I can. It helps me to get out of my own head in order to try and experience the world with other people in mind. I'm here to do what I can to ultimately be a good person. I want to exude joy and happiness so that others can absorb it themselves and pass it on. I want to believe in humanity and the goodness in people, even when the times seem so dire as they do in today's political climate. I mention this because it took me understanding other people and less significant life realities before I could absorb my own "meaning of life."

Trying to comprehend the size and scope of the universe is nearly impossible. The same holds true with taking a step back and looking at life as a whole. It's equally as difficult to take in. We're the only living beings aware of our own consciousness and mortality. That can be too overwhelming for many people and rightfully so as it's a scary concept to accept. Knowing this however has allowed me to stop trying to stress about what I can't control. I can't control my own mortality. No one can. So I've decided to laugh at it and move on. Not in a "why even exist then" kind of mindset but rather a "relax, enjoy the journey" kind of way.

It's really difficult for me to accurately portray the feeling of that freedom. I wish we could share feelings by actually absorbing them instead of me telling you about it. Why feel anything less than important when you have full control over how you feel? Why stress about something little when you're not even going to remember it a month later, let alone a year or 10 years later? Everyone around you is in the same bucket. If you're able to actually step into their head, you'd find out they are just as unsure as you. They weren't conscious before they were born either. They, like everyone else, knows just as little as you do.

Breath. Smile. Be confident. We all die anyways :)


Changing of Life Chapters

by Chris Sanchez


There are times in your life where you know, while in the moment, it’s going to be life altering and you should try and savor it as much as possible. This for me was the past three years.

I joined the small Bluekai family and we were quickly acquired by Oracle. Our ODC family has grown from about 75 people to now over 800. I know how special a team we have and it's been quite a joyous time in my life. The professional relationships and personal friendships that I’ve built are very near and dear to me. I’m truly grateful for the memories, support, and love I’ve received. I truly hope I’ve reciprocated to others, as much as they have given me.

Not everything lasts forever though and it’s time to start a new chapter in my career. These past three years have provided me with some of the largest personal growth I’ve seen in my life. If that trend continues then I can’t even predict where I’ll be in another three years. For now though, I’ll enjoy this final week with my ODC family and worry about the future as it becomes the present.

The next professional chapter in my book of life will be titled: “Google."


Find Yourself In The Sea Of Life

by Chris Sanchez


You can read tons of articles or hear countless stories of heartbreak but until you go through it yourself, you never truly know what it feels like. It's one of the most paralyzing and defeating things to go through in life. I truly know and understand this now. The reason that so many songs are written about heartbreak is that it affects one so deeply that you can't help but feel the need to try and understand it anyway you can. 

The overwhelming flood of numbness, sadness and emotion that hit you in the beginning seems unbearable at times. Just the pure mention of a name, place or memory that reminds you of that person so dearly, can wreak havoc on your current state. Talking through that pain with the ones closest to you is imperative. They can help you get through that initial storm of uncertain waters. It might seem unclear where you're headed but the people you look to for help guide you through as though they are a compass to clarity.

I promise that time will heal you but it's certainly tough to see in those first few weeks or months even. I listened to advice from friends, loved ones and podcasts. They were hugely beneficial in helping me discover peace within as well as true happiness. I can now go outside, look up at the sky, take a deep breath and be completely at peace. It's odd how a cloudless, sunny day can reinforce the calmness and acceptance in my life so easily now. I can be myself, happy and free, without the hesitation of not being sure what I should say or do. The littlest things could trigger me to be frustrated and get upset for hardly a reason at all. I am now able to truly let it go because I've fully realized that I don't need to stress about what's not all that important. 

This journey as of late has shown me a couple things that I didn't actively realize beforehand. I have an amazing support network of friends and family that I can go to for anything and be supported throughout. I don't need to stress about the little things that I can't control and that don't matter in the big picture. Try and stay present in every moment you can. It's as easy as taking a deep breath a couple times a day and looking around you. Feel your environment and what it has to offer right now. It's imperative that you learn this key skill, as it can help in so many facets of life. It's the sole reason that meditation is so popular. Being able to stay present and just "be" is the ultimate goal of so many who try and fail continuously. 

As Neil deGrasse Tyson said on his most recent episode of the Nerdist podcast; “While you’re invited to reflect on the past and imagine a future. Do not lose sight of the fact that we are prisoners in the present, forever transitioning from our past to our future.”

Enjoy Your Burrito!


Hobby #2 : Car Maintenance

by Chris Sanchez


Basic Car Maintenance for Everyone!

Working on cars is certainly not for everyone. This may be a pretty basic article for car enthusiasts who already do most of their own maintenance but for beginners or those looking to learn a little more, I hope it can be insightful.

I have a strong drive to work with my hands and one of those outlets is to work on my own car when I can. My dad taught me from a young age how to take care of a car. From simple things like changing the windshield wipers and checking the fluids to tougher things like changing the oil and replacing the brake pads.

Taking care of your car doesn’t have to be complicated and even this simplest of things, like routine oil changes, can lengthen the life of your car for many miles. If you’re not comfortable doing tasks yourself then make sure you’re able to find a trustworthy mechanic. That’s certainly easier said than done but still important none-the-less. Trying to research for the best reviews online that will help you determine who to go to. For the basic or routine tasks however you can find freedom and ownership in being able to take care of something that seems to be a mystery for many people. This article will help outline the basics and a subsequent article or two will go into the more complicated car maintenance jobs.

 

Tires (Your car only touches about the size of your hand)

The first and easiest thing is checking your tire pressure. Everyone should buy a tire pressure gauge to keep in your armrest or glove box. You should try and check your tire pressure at least once a month or every other month to ensure they are not losing tire pressure. Driving on flat tires is not only dangerous but reduces gas mileage as well. With an under inflated tire it has a wider than necessary footprint on the road which causes excess drag. It can also lead to abnormal wear, which will cause you to replace your tires earlier than their expected life. Be sure not to overinflate your tires either. There should be a PSI range printed on the outside wall of the tire itself or on the edge of the driver’s door. Over inflation can be dangerous, your tire heats up as it is making contact with the road and if it’s over inflated then it might cause a blowout. Keeping tabs on your tire pressure takes 2 minutes every so often and it can save you money or even from getting into a car accident. If you don’t take away anything else from this article please at least do this, as it’s too important to ignore.

Along with checking tire pressure it's important to check the tread left on your tires. I see all too often people driving around with bald tires which is dangerous. It's expensive owning a vehicle, and tires are no exception, but it's important to make sure that minimal square inches of contact with the ground that thousands of pounds are resting upon is gripping the road appropriately. The easiest quick test is to grab a penny, put Ole' Abe's head upside-down and stick him into the tread. If your tire covers part of his head your good. If you can see all of his head to the very top (which is at the bottom with the penny upside-down) then it's time to get new tires. Here is a visualization of what I mean.

 

Windshield Wipers (Can't miss what you can't see)

Next on the easier side of the spectrum is replacing your car’s windshield wipers. It seems like something so simple yet if you forget and it rains for the first time in a while, it’s a major hazard. I’ve even had unexpected times, when it wasn't raining, where my windshield got dirty and without proper wipers on the car it would’ve been very difficult to see. Costco always has a great price on top of the line windshield wipers but if you don’t have a membership then you can usually count on Amazon as well. Make sure to replace your wipers once every 6 months. Putting a reminder on your calendar helps or you can always pick two major holidays to remind yourself as well. New Year’s and the 4th of July are great ones to choose but if you have two dates more memorable make sure to keep them top of mind.

 

Fluids (Eww, gross...)

Another somewhat basic task to perform but requires slightly more work is checking your car’s fluids. This requires popping the hood of your car and looking for the measurement sticks for their respective fluid. Easily overlooked but cannot be forgotten is to only measure the fluids when you’re parked on a flat or near flat surface.

 

Oil (The blood of your engine)

Oil is the most important one on the list. Without proper levels of oil in the engine your cylinders can seize, causing major engine damage and thousands of dollars in repairs. The oil dipstick will usually be a bright yellow or orange handle or loop. It’s normally located near the front center of your main engine block. Have a paper towel or dirty rag handy, as you’ll want to wipe off the dipstick when you initially pull it out to ensure a clean measurement. Oil splashes all around when you drive and can lead to more oil being on the dipstick than what the true level is at. So pull out the dipstick, wipe it off and look at the measurement markings near the end of the metal. It’s good to know what to look for before you do the measurement. There are typically two lines, the upper limit and the lower limit on the stick and you’ll clearly want to see the oil mark between these two lines. Once you can recognize where it should be at then re-insert the dipstick all the way down till it stops against the handle, pull it back out and make sure to stop any oil from dripping off without touching the bottom of the stick. If the oil doesn’t reach the bottom line or is right at it then time to add some oil. If it falls between then you should be all set. You should never see the oil above the top line. If that’s the case then you should remove oil as this can lead to other issues, which can cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to repair as well. This will be rare as long as you or your mechanic is following proper fill instructions when doing oil changes.

To add oil, near the dipstick there should be an oil cap. On that cap it’s important to see what type of oil is needed for your car. 10W - 30 or 10W - 20 are common types but make sure to see what kind your specific car needs. Again, Costco has great deals on oil but they sell it in 6 – 1 quart packs, so it’s a good deal if your changing your own oil but if you just need an extra quart go to the nearest auto parts store to buy it. There are many different types of oil and it can be confusing to know what brand or type to buy. Typically I recommend “Fully Synthetic” as this is intended for longer miles between changes and older cars, but it’s best to stick to the kind already in your car if you happen to know. Only pour half a quart to start and see if that is enough to get the oil level between the lines. If the line doesn’t move then pour the rest of the quart in. Make sure to give it time to drain into the oil pan before checking. If it needs more than one quart, it’s either time for an oil change (Once every three months or 5,000 miles depending on the type of oil) or your car is burning oil or has a leak, which you should have a mechanic look at. This will happen with older cars due to bad seals or gaskets.

 

Washer Fluid (Clean those peepers)

Windshield washer fluid is important as unexpected dirt or debris can cover your windshield at any time. If you don’t have any windshield washer fluid locked and loaded then it’ll be very difficult to properly clean your windshield at a moment’s notice. The washer fluid should be $2-$3 dollars per gallon at most and last you quite a while. This usually has a clear container under the hood that allows you to visibly see the fill level but there may be a measuring stick as well. Keep this topped off as often as you can. A tip for those who live in colder environments in the winter or travel to the mountains in the winter months; Since windshield washer fluid is mostly water it will freeze which prevents you from cleaning your windshield and can possibly cause damage to the storage housing. In order to prevent freezing, pour a slight mixture of anti-freeze in with your washer fluid but make sure to keep the ratio fairly low. About 25% is probably the most you’ll want to add as anti-freeze isn’t meant to clean windshields but it’ll keep the liquid useful through the coldest of months.

 

Anti-freeze (Not just for cold!)

Since we’re already talking about anti-freeze let’s cover that one next. Anti-freeze doesn’t just prevent your engine from freezing in the winter but from over heating in the summer. This should not fluctuate nearly as much as your windshield washer fluid nor oil, so if you seem to be filling it up often there may be a leak. Unfortunately there is no standard from auto maker to auto maker so you might need to look for the cap’s location in your owner's manual. Make sure to also look closely at the anti-freeze you buy at the store. Some are "pre-mixed" and some are concentrated that you'll need to dilute before adding to your engine. Following your owner's manual is important here.

 

Transmission Fluid (Can't move if you can't flow)

Next is with regards to your transmission fluid. This only applies if you drive an automatic car but that seems to be a large majority of people so it’s certainly likely you’ll need to check this as well. Just like with the engine oil, without proper levels of transmission fluid in your transmission it can cause it to seize up. Replacing a transmission will always be a very time consuming and costly repair so keep this fluid properly filled as well. You shouldn't have to be filling this us very often either. It is sold by the quart and if you need to ever buy more than one you may have a leak that needs a mechanic's trained eye.

 

Brake Fluid (Helps stop your car, duh)

Last but not least is the brake fluid. Your car has hydraulic brakes which take fluid to pump through the brake lines in order to make pressing the brake much less work. Without hydraulic brakes, stopping your car would take tremendous effort and you may feel like Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble trying to stomp on your brake pedal without much effect.  Once again, this should not need to be changed or topped off very often so if that’s the case there may be a leak and it’s very important to have someone check it out immediately.

With all these warnings I may start to sound like the language in the owner's manual but it’s true. Unless you know specifically what is causing fluid loss in your engine it important to not ignore it and have it looked at.

 

There you have it! The "Basic Car Maintenance for Everyone Guide" (Part 1). There will be more complicated tasks in future posts but I'm sure this is more than enough to try and digest for now. Good Luck and Happy Maintenance!


Hobby #1 : Traveling

by Chris Sanchez


It's been a month since I promised to start posting on a more regular basis. So here is "hobby" number one.

I'm very lucky that I get to travel as a part of my job. This helps itch the need of my travel desires while saving lots of money in the process. When you travel quite a bit you pick up on lots of tips and tricks that make the process easier for yourself and others. I'm here to try and impart some of my knowledge in the hope it'll not only help you while traveling, but selfishly, to help others (like me) as well. 

 

Apps

Let's talk Apps first and foremost. We all have smartphones running our lives these days (I'm actually typing this on my iPhone while enjoying breakfast in Dublin, Ireland) and they are certainly useful traveling tools. Never has navigating a foreign land, be it country city or town, been so easy. 

The very first app you should have is Citymapper. This app is amazing in so many ways. I just wish it was available in all cities but it does cover the major cities quite well so odds are it'll be available where you're going. There are many write ups on this app but just know it'll calculate time and cost wherever you'd like to go whether by taxi, public transit or Uber. 

The next app you should have is by whichever airline you're flying. These can be super useful in allowing you to check in, change reservations, update information or book travel. Once you get status with an airline you can even change seats or request upgrades on the fly. 

The same pretty much goes for the hotel you're staying at as well. Download the app and see what advantages they give you. Hilton allows you the ability to check in and choose your room. SPG you can check in and use your phone as your room key. They are each making improvements and helping to streamline the hotel experience. 

The next couple apps are users' choice. Tripit and Tripcase essentially do the same thing in slightly different user experiences. They will aggregate all your travel into a nice itinerary and remind you when to check in to you flight or hotel. Some of the time this can be repetitive if you also have the apps mentioned above but it is nice to see all of your travel in one place. These pull in your information from emails received and you can also update manually if something isn't there or is incorrect. 

For business travelers who need to track expenses the best is Expensify but it's only useful of your company pays for their services. If your company, like mine, uses something else then you should download Genius Scan. You can take pictures or import your receipts, clean them up, make notes and track them while you travel. This will make your receipts easy to sort through once you complete your trip and need to submit them. 

Needless to say the well known apps that people love and most likely have already but are still handy include Yelp, Google Maps, Uber and Lyft

 

Rewards

What good is all that traveling if you can't get something in return for it? Well there are people who've made their career about this very thing (ThePointsGuy for instance) but I won't go into as much detail since you can spend days reading up on your options. 

I will say, at the very least, sign up for any and every membership that is offered when it comes to hotels, airlines and car rentals. They are free to join and right away you can start acquiring points and even in some cases free wifi, bottled water and other perks. There are multipliers for points once you reach certain levels of membership but you can't get there if you don't sign up. Also, if you're trying to earn points on a particular airline and you fly a partner airline of theirs, make sure to enter your airline membership number in which you want to accumulate points at the time of booking and not for the airline you're actually flying. 

Why care about points? Points get you free flights, free hotel rooms, and free car rentals. (YAY we all love free stuff! Don't we?) This can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars while going on vacation. 

There's certainly more we can delve into around travel but I'll let you digest what's here and cover more at a later time.

 

Happy Travels!