Reflections and Expectations: Short Turn

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What an interesting last few months it has been. Join me in a look back at these last three months in the latest Reflections and Expectations.

April, May and June 2017

Birthday, April 4 – I turned 28 that day. That was pretty much about it.

Relay for Life of Mission Viejo, June 3 to June 4 – For the second year in a row, I participated in this local American Cancer Society-sponsored event to support the Canedy family — friends I’ve known for almost seven years.

Each year, the event raises money for cancer research in a variety of fun ways put on by the dozens of teams that participate. I was part of the Green for Bean team that the Canedy family has had going for more than a decade — taking turns walking laps around the track at Saddleback College, raising money for our own team and supporting others as well. I’ve financially supported the team since 2011 before finally being able to join them in the annual event last year. It’s always a great feeling and a great time being there.

MTI convocation ceremony, June 17 – This year, I attended the graduation ceremony for graduates of the Master of Science in Transportation Management degree program, administered by the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University. I was in attendance to cheer on my former classmates graduating after me, as I officially graduated last December. I already had my turn at last year’s ceremony, even though I had to return in the fall semester to finish out one more course. Still hasn’t hit me that I’m an alum of this program. I’d give it some more time.

VTA coach operator training, May 3 to June 13 – For a six-week period, I was among the class of initially 30 students who were training to become coach operators (bus drivers) for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). This intensive nine-week program is conducted a few times each year, preparing students to become part of the next generation of bus drivers to fill vacancies created for any number of reasons (retirements, deaths, terminations, promotions among the common reasons).

During week six of this nine-week program, I was dismissed. That brought the number down to 27 students who remained standing as of that day I was cut (two students before me left on their own volition weeks before this).

This opportunity was months in the making. The recruitment process opened up for applications in late January, initial written exams took place in early February and interviews in early March. I spent the remainder of March and April obtaining a Class B driver’s permit, getting fingerprinted, submitting to a physical exam among other administrative matters before officially being on-boarded in early May.

I always knew this would be a challenging endeavor, perhaps the most challenging of my lifetime. But it was one I very much anticipated and looked forward to taking on once that day came. In my interview and throughout the training program itself, I often talked openly about how my lifelong experience and appreciation for taking transit would be an asset in this capacity once — and if — my roles reversed from passenger to operator. I went into this program with a genuine interest for the work at stake, even though I possessed no previous professional experience as a commercial vehicle driver.

When it was all said and done, I progressed as far as I did but not enough to the point where I could have become a full-fledged coach operator. I truly did give it my best shot in this expectedly challenging program. I learned a lot from this experience, some of which could be applicable in other areas of my life and career as well. 

I am heartbroken and disappointed that I wasn’t able to make it all the way through and possibly beyond. Nevertheless, it truly was an experience of a lifetime. I’m grateful to VTA, its training personnel and my former classmates for making this experience one that I will never forget. Hopefully not before long, I’ll get to see some of my former classmates welcoming me onto their buses one of these days. I’ll look forward to that.

July, August and September

Job search – That last item made this the third time in the last year and a half where I lost a job. Where will I go next? God only knows.

It’s summertime – No big plans yet. It’ll probably be a series of small things to keep me going. I’ll go find some more books to check out at the library. Yes, I started doing that again recently. First time in years, really.

Let me hear your stories. How have you been in these last few months? Any fun summer plans ahead? Share your thoughts below in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

Reflections and Expectations: Take It Easy

Hiking at the Almaden Quicksilver Park and Jackson Browne in Downtown San Jose

On the hunt again, staying in shape in all sorts of ways and not quite running on empty with Jackson Browne.

Let’s look back at the month that was in the latest Reflections and Expectations. Join me, won’t you?

August

VSCE – Earlier this month, my stint with this Oakland consulting firm ended after a six-week run. I was grateful for the opportunity to slowly return to my community relations in transportation roots with the firm during my short time there. I’m still focused on finding out where I will be going next.

Getting active – To find some low- to no-cost ways of filling time while I continue to look for work, I embarked on three new activities in addition to my existing weekly yoga practice to get out of the house more and keep myself active — Krav Maga, hiking and going to the gym.

  • Krav Maga – On Aug. 6, I visited the Tactica Krav Maga Institute in Santa Clara for a trial course on this Israeli self-defense system. I decided to give it a try after a July incident in San Jose where I was nearly assaulted by a belligerent homeless man at a bus stop. That, combined with some already lingering interest in this form of martial arts, led me to take this up. In sum, it was as intense as one would expect for an activity like this but I absolutely enjoyed it. Even after only one session, I already have a better understanding of how to defend myself when the situation warrants it. I’m interested in continuing with these sessions in the future although such plans will be on hold for now.
  • Hiking – For the first two Sundays of the month, I went on a hike to the Almaden Quicksilver Park here in Santa Clara County. This was my first solo hiking venture, spending a couple of hours at each turn walking along some of the many trails within the park. Over time, I hope to make more visits to this park to cover as many of the trails as possible. I also hope to visit some of the other hiking trails throughout the county, the Bay Area and beyond.
  • Going to the gym – After being constantly prodded by their SiriusXM radio ads, I took up a membership at Retro Fitness in San Jose. In the middle part of the month, I began making near daily visits to get more cardiovascular exercises going. I hope this is something I can keep up on a regular basis for as long as possible. The low-cost monthly membership and the overall great atmosphere of the gym makes it all the more attractive.

Jackson Browne – On Aug. 16, I went to see this legendary singer-songwriter perform at the City National Civic in San Jose. I’ve been a fan of Jackson Browne since 2010 — my junior / senior years at Cal State Fullerton — along with his activism on environmental and social causes.

Bearing in mind how much of a fan I still am of Ellie Goulding, I expected as much that Jackson’s concert would be of a different atmosphere with its demographics and energy levels compared to Ellie’s concert at nearby SAP Center in April. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed listening to Jackson perform and, even through his music, he still advocates for a better country and a better world through the messages in his songs.

Seeing two of my absolutely favorite musicians performing this year in venues so close to home? I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

September

  • RailPAC Steel Wheels Conference in Sacramento – This will be my second one after the 2014 conference in the same city. RailPAC is a passenger rail advocacy organization in California and Arizona, for which I’ve been a member since 2014. It’s part of my efforts to gradually move away from PRSA in favor of more locally transportation-focused organizations.

How’s your summer coming along? What are you looking forward to as the fall season nears? Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from you.

Reflections and Expectations: Goodness Gracious

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Ellie Goulding rocks the Bay Area and discussions about the future transportation workforce at the Commonwealth Club.

This month marks another anniversary for this monthly series on Anything Goes.

That’s right, Reflections and Expectations has been running for three years now. I’m glad I’ve been able to document virtually all of my major life developments on a monthly basis since and I hope to share many more in the years to come.

That said, let’s look back at the month that was in the latest Reflections and Expectations.

April

Birthday – Much like birthdays in recent years, it was uneventful. I spent that April 4 working on my capstone research project for graduate school at San Jose State University. Just like any other day.

Ellie Goulding – The real highlight of my birthday week came on April 6 — two days after my birthday — when I went to see Ellie Goulding perform at SAP Center in San Jose, all as part of her Delirium world tour.

It’s the first real concert I’ve ever attended and it certainly was “one hell of a something”! I’ve been a big fan of Ellie’s music since last summer (I primarily use Spotify just to listen to music from her last three albums). This experience was all kinds of amazing that came at the best possible time and the best possible location that was so close to home. I should bring someone along to these things next time. Anything could happen. (Also a favorite song of mine from her.)

Driving test – After 2.5 tries (long story on the “.5” part), I passed my driving test on April 15 at a DMV field office in San Jose.

At 27, this marks the first time in my life I have been licensed to drive as prior efforts to obtain a license repeatedly stalled since 2010. Despite this seemingly major milestone, I have no interest in purchasing my own car anytime soon. I plan on sticking with transit and Uber / Lyft for my commuting needs, both of which combined are far cheaper than maintaining my own vehicle. Still, a Zipcar every now and then doesn’t sound so bad.

Transportation Summit at Commonwealth Club – On April 29, I attended an all-day summit on the future of the transportation workforce. This event was hosted by Mineta Transportation Institute — which administers my current graduate degree program — and the Commonwealth Club.

The event consisted of transportation leaders and industry experts participating in panel discussions about preparing a new generation of professionals to take on various roles in this business as baby boomers prepare to exit for good. It’s pretty wonky to describe everything that went on for a general audience in this space although I found it informative and insightful.

May

  • Capstone research project – I’m now on the home stretch toward completing what I consider to be the most ambitious academic paper I’ve ever worked on. Is it June 3 yet?

I’ll close this edition with one of my favorite songs from a certain aforementioned artist.

On This Sunday: Ellie Goulding


Ellie Goulding performed at the SAP Center in San Jose on Wednesday night as part of her Delirium world tour. She’s become an absolute favorite singer of mine, as of late. Here are some highlights from that night.

And finally, this special moment…

A close-up video of that special moment from fellow concertgoer Melody Del Rio.

Reflections and Expectations: Life of Pie

Winning by losing, taking it all in stride and hearing myself being quizzed on satellite radio. Let’s look back at the month that was in the latest Reflections and Expectations.

March

Leaving Mark Thomas & Company – On March 9, I was dismissed from my marketing post at this San Jose civil engineering firm after nearly a year with the company. As I previously remarked, I’m grateful for the opportunity but also felt their decision was best for everyone involved. I’m already looking ahead to the future with hopes to find that next new opportunity soon.

Grad school – Still keeping at it with my penultimate semester in the Master of Science in Transportation Management degree program at San Jose State University. For what I hope will be the short time I’m out of work, I do have the advantage of dedicating more time toward my all-important capstone research project. I admit I have been lagging behind a bit but I am now back on track.

American Voices with Senator Bill Bradley – Taped on Feb. 23, I participated in the trivia segment via phone for this weekly human interest show hosted by former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ). The segment finally aired on March 20 on SiriusXM POTUS channel 124.

It was definitely a lot of fun and a great honor to play along for this segment, answering questions based on sound bites that were played of famous figures over the last half-century.

If you are a SiriusXM internet subscriber, you can still listen to this episode on demand by finding American Voices under the SiriusXM POTUS channel’s list of programs. If you have trouble finding it, leave a comment below and I will walk you through it.

April

  • Birthday! – It’s that time of year again…Grumpy Cat turns four on April 4! Oh, and I turn 27. But still, Grumpy Cat! Yay!
  • Ellie Goulding – Two days after Grumpy Cat’s birthday, I’m gonna go see Ellie Goulding perform at the SAP Center in San Jose. I’ve become a big fan of hers lately. The timing and the location is just perfect.

How did the month of March pan out for you? What are your expectations for the month ahead? Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from you.

On This Sunday: Apples to Apples

I teamed up with some of my colleagues at Mark Thomas & Company on Thursday night to volunteer at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties in San Jose.

I always love helping out food banks, a cause close to my heart for 10 years now. It’s especially more meaningful to donate my time — and money — during the holiday season when needs are the greatest.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, America!