Category Archives: B.Positive

Bucket List Activity – Fly a Helicopter (through Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall)

This is a guest post written by frequent contributor B.Positive.

“Learn to Fly a Helicopter” Experience from Cloud9Living.com (via Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall)

Happy October!

If you’re a Chase customer and are looking for ideas for adrenaline filled activities, the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall (accessed through my Chase Freedom card) has an Experiences section which you can browse through. I found the “Learn to Fly a Helicopter” in the aviation section of the rewards mall and decided to give it a go. Here’s how it went:

Background

I was bored at work and felt like my life was stuck in a rut so I decided to look for things to fill the big void in my life. Being a Chase Freedom credit card holder since early 2010 and have been accruing points – enough points to cause me to wander onto the Ultimate Rewards Mall to see what goods, services, and/or experiences I could consume to help me feel less miserable about my life. That’s when I stumbled across the “Experiences” section of the Ultimate Rewards website and found plenty of awesome activities to purchase using points, cash, or to bid on (for those experiences that are being auctioned off).

I’ve never flown a helicopter before and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so. An hour of flying a helicopter for 25,900 points or $259?  Considering how expensive maintaining, insuring, and renting a pilot to fly a helicopter with you, I considered this to be a fair price and took the bait. (Update – the 1 hour flight price has been increased to $305 on Cloud 9 living’s webite as of 10/18/2012).

An important note on purchasing Ultimate Rewards: The rewards mall doesn’t give you any kind of points leverage when purchasing goods or experience straight through the rewards mall. The points redemption rate of this experience was $0.01/point. You might as well save your points to transfer to airline miles for cheaper flights (refer to marZ’s articles on the value of leveraging points to purchase flights for cheap).

Once I signed up for the flight lesson via the ultimate rewards mall for a lesson at the Long Beach Airport (this location no longer seems available as of 10/18/2012), I received a confirmation email and a nice receipt enclosed in its own case from Cloud 9 Living. (I didn’t actually know what company I was paying for the experience until after the experience was booked – a good move on Chase’s part to avoid having consumers go straight to the retailer). The experience with Cloud 9 was pleasant overall and I’d recommend going straight to Cloud 9 Living to look for and book experiences unless you’re adamant about spending points at a terrible redemption rate. (To improve your redemption rate, try gift card churning or buying gift cards at 5 points per dollar on the Chase Ink card before buying this experience).

Getting to the Airport and Orientation

I arrived at the airport on the day of my lesson and actually had a very difficult time finding the person I was supposed to contact for my flight. At the airport, there was a giant hangar with no sign out front to tell me where to go. This experience really isn’t advertised (I later find out that these “experiences” are done as a promotional offer at cost to the flight company to help promote awareness of the company and to encourage customers who get serious about learning to fly to sign up for private lessons there).

After running around and panicking I finally find my instructor and get our 30 minute class portion started.

The instructional portion revolves around introducing me to the basic mechanics of how and why a helicopter is able to fly and to provide me with the layout of the controls and how they affect the helicopter’s ride. Bottom line is, a helicopter is an inherently unstable aircraft (let go of the controls and you will crash and burn) and requires constant attention to ensure that the helicopter is on course and not getting itself into a dangerous situation.

After a (very) brief introduction to the instruments and controls, we head out to the runway to meet our ride (a 2-seater Robinson 22). The cabin was very cozy – imagine sitting in a cramped Mazda Miata (if you have never been in one, imagine sitting in the middle seat between two sumo wrestlers). The instructor filled the fuel tank, did the systems check, and took off from the airport before handing the controls over.

Flying a helicopter. For Reals.

After flying  a safe distance from the airport, the instructor handed me the controls. This being the first time flying a helicopter, it’s safe to say I experienced a massive sensory and information overload. It feels like driving a car for the first time – you’re so worried about the road, your speed, and other cars that you forget that your blinkers are on, your emergency lights were accidentally pushed, and you’re worried that your sweat soaked palms are going to slip off of the steering wheel and cause you to veer  into a pole. It’s kind of like that except that you are 1000 feet in the air and have to also worry about wind speed, yaw (helicopter angle), elevation changes, and many more things that affect the aircraft’s behavior in the air.

Thankfully, with the help of the experienced instructor who seems to keep his cool no matter how terribly I’m directing the flying Miata.

View of PCH around Palos Verdes

The hour long helicopter ride afforded us the opportunity to head out of Long Beach with a sweeping loop around Redondo, Palos Verdes, and then back to the airport. The views were even more incredible provided the fact that I was seeing the California coast from a very unique perspective.

Back at the airport, I witnessed (tried not to pee my pants while seeing) an emergency landing maneuver that felt more like the drop of a roller coaster and was able to practice hovering a few feet off of the ground. Hovering may look easy, but I can assure you it is not. Again, because of the sensory overload, I struggled to get the Robinson from burying its rotors into the ground or keeping the helicopter level, straight, or even at the same height. (This is why helicopter training is so important. And expensive ~$19,000 to get licensed).

Final Thoughts

Overall, this was an amazing experienced referred to by Chase and provided by Cloud 9 Living. I’m incredibly glad I got this off of my bucket list and has only strengthened my desire to become  a pilot. The freedom, exhilaration  and the experience of flying is like no other. I found this experience to be totally worth the price (don’t pay in points) and would recommend this to ALL of our readers interested in flying.

Until next time,

B.Positive

P.S. The GoPro Hero3 is out. Not only has their cameras gotten better but so has their commercials. I want to go do everything they’re doing in this video!

Travel Blogging For a Living

This is a guest post written by frequent contributor B.Positive.

As many young adults growing up in California may attest to, my journey to find my identity, purpose, and place in this world has proven and continues to be a long, confusing, and difficult one. I am constantly searching for the career that will call my name to enable me to change the world (as infinitesimal of a change it may be) and leave my legacy. Over the years, I’ve looked for this opportunity down many paths and have yet to find a path to call my own. Foolishly, I’ve looked for get-rich-quick schemes as well thinking that if I were rich I’d have the time and resources to go find what I am supposed to do with my life. The results and consequences of this thinking are better left to another post.

What motivated me to write this post is an incredibly insightful, detailed, and informative articled by JetSetCitizen titled “Why Travel Blogging is a Lousy Way to Earn Money Online”.
http://www.jetsetcitizen.com/cheap-travel/travel-blog-earn-money-online/

Looking at my life, I am easily infatuated by new ideas that I think could be the answer to my problems (finding my calling, completing my dreams & bucket list activities, becoming rich beyond my wildest imaginations) and it is refreshing and appreciated when someone takes the effort to write a post on why things don’t work sometimes. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with the idea that travel blogging could someday pay the bills and allow me to travel the world and meet people while the ads I generate my from blog would enable me to live in luxury (or whatever luxury I could make of it).

JetSetCitizen seems to have a lot of insight, experience, and perspective on the world of travel blogging, earning income online, and on personal development and I’ve come across his article thanks to marZ’s diligence in keeping up with the travel blogging world. His article has much more information, tips, examples, and arguments that will show you how difficult travel blogging for a living really is to help those amateur travel bloggers who have recently caught the spark really consider the career from a more thought out and realistic perspective.

I’ve really come to appreciate his honesty and candor about living this life full time. His examples and calculations really helps me take off the rose-tinted glasses to see the sometimes harsh realities of travel blogging for a living. Sometimes, honesty really is the best policy. (that’s no excuse not to be polite or respectful. You can do both).

If you’re bored and/or miserable at work and daydream about being rich or living the easy life, read this article before you make any drastic decisions (quitting your job, selling your house, or other similarly ridiculous things) READ HIS POST.

Even if you were never interested in doing it full time, this article will provide you an interesting look into the life of a travel blogger and into the life of other professionals in the industry.

Short post, just thought I’d share to help out those who are suffering from momentary identity/career crisis like I am.

Until next time,

B.Positive

P.S. Personal Development Stuffs:

1. Mindfest is going on (for free) this week. Endorsed by Steve Pavlina, those of you interested in personal growth should check it out.
http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2012/09/effortless-success-mindfest-free/

2. Interesting TED talks I found this week:
http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html?utm_source=newsletter_weekly_2012-10-04&utm_campaign=newsletter_weekly&utm_medium=email

http://www.ted.com/talks/shimon_schocken_the_self_organizing_computer_course.html?utm_source=newsletter_weekly_2012-10-04&utm_campaign=newsletter_weekly&utm_medium=email

3.

Have you taken away opportunities to enrich your life because you were afraid of something? I challenge you to face (or at least think about) your fears.

Photo found from: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=468970206468093&set=a.425346217497159.98408.425310844167363&type=1&theater

Cut Steakhouse – Beverly Hills, CA.

This is a guest post written by frequent contributor B.Positive.

Cut Steakhouse, Beverly Hills, CA.

MarZ, a second friend, and I went to celebrate two of our belated birthdays in August and September. I, having had to cancel my skydiving + paintball birthday plans after crashing my bike on my 25th birthday a couple weeks ago, have been looking forward to this dinner. If you haven’t heard about Cut, read about it here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/cut-beverly-hills
A Wolfgang Puck business, Cut is located on 9500 Wilshire blvd inside of a 4 Seasons hotel (a stone’s throw away from Rodeo Drive). Needless to say, ultra luxury cars were everywhere and I’m glad we didn’t take my car there. Overall it was a great experience from the service, decor, and food quality. Knowing that this was a “$$$$” kind of place as rated on Yelp, I was expecting a lot from the place and felt that Cut still lived up to its expectations. If you’re going, remember to dress well, check your bank statements, and brush up on your steak vernacular. Allow me to take you through a brief recap of our incredible 3 hour culinary experience.

Appetizers:

Bread and Butter

There is a server that comes around with a tray full of various breads (sourdough, wheat, pretzels, onion bread?) which comes shortly after you take your seat and order drinks. All of the waiters and waitress are well dressed, well mannered, polite, and are attuned to what you need and make sure you’re taken care of before you need to speak up.

Cuts on display

Before ordering, our server (Danny) brought us a display of all of the cuts available that evening and gave us a description into the texture and the flavors that would be experienced with each.

Kobe Steak Sashimi with Radish

This is the first time I’ve tried this dish, so I’ll describe it from the perspective of a newbie. Texture – soft. Flavor – interesting, and did not taste of blood or uncooked meat in any sense. Although I had my reluctance to tried uncooked red meat, it was delicious and so far I haven’t come down with foodborne illness or worse (that I know of). I’ve been told that I need to put a little more faith in high end restaurants that serve edgy food as this place is known to do (it makes sense that they have more to lose than I do by serving unsafe food).

Entrees & Sides:

Wagyu beef from Japan.

MarZ’s entree. 100% Wagyu beef from Japan. Apparently Cut was on of the first restaurants to get beef imported from Japan after the import ban (is there a better term for this?) was lifted.

American Wagyu beef

My entree was the American Wagyu beef ordered medium well. It was flavorful, juicy, and delicious. One thing I’d change: I’d get the steak done medium next time.

Sides: Creamed Spinach with Organic Fried Egg (left), Wild Mushrooms (right), and buttered corn (center)

We ordered these side with our entrees. The sides I suppose are not the place to be adventurous. I liked the buttered corn the best and wouldn’t order the other  two sides again. I was interested in ordering the fries to see how good they could be, but was persuaded otherwise that night.

All in all, dinner at Cut was a pleasurable, delicious, and memorable experience. If you’re celebrating a special event and don’t mind spending a bit (much) more, Cut is a fine choice.

Until next time,

B. Positive

Las Vegas – Max Brenner and Wicked Spoon

This is a guest post written by frequent contributor B.Positive.

August 2012 Las Vegas Trip Report:

In the late summer of 2012, marZ took advantage of a free Mandalay Bay room offer and we had a chance to visit Vegas on the cheap (the key to free rooms? Get a player’s card and play like you don’t need money). MarZ will have more details and pictures on the room and the hotel stay.

Friday: We drove down on Friday night, got in and waited for Saturday (we like to live life on the edge in case you’re wondering..).

Saturday: We went to Max Brenner for lunch. If you’ve been here a while ago, there’s a good chance it’s changed significantly since you’ve been here. No longer is it primarily focused on desserts and sweets, but it now carries an excellent food menu as well. If you do happen to visit again, the following were excellent:

Hazelnut Cream Chocolate Milkshake: The best milkshake I’ve ever had (not kidding).

If you go to Max Brenner, you MUST try this milkshake. MUST! Don’t try the smoothies, sodas, or anything else. Just this! Maybe the tea as well.

Went back the next day for Sunday Brunch and had blueberry tea.

The most flavorful entree I tasted was the tomato mozarella panini. It’s seasoned with bits of basil (my favorite). The dish from bottom to top was made well and is something I’d get again.

Tomato Mozarella Panini from Max Brenner.

Aside from Max Brenner, the remainder of this post is picture-less.

Max Brenner overall gets my endorsement. Located right in the Forum Shops, the ambience, decor, service, and food made it a great experience. The restaurant has a candy shop inside and is decorated like the inside of a Willy Wonka Factory.

Saturday was also filled with the dinner buffet at Wicked Spoon (located in The Cosmopolitan) which had long lines, small servings, and slightly bland dishes and desserts (perhaps it taste better… not-sober). The Cosmopolitan itself seems to be contained within a relatively small footprint (everything is centered around a huge chandelier and lots of escalators) but I didn’t spend a lot of time there before we rushed off to see KA by Circque de Soleil at the MGM.

Personally, I enjoyed KA much more the second time around after having a friend explain to me what was going on (critical thinking isn’t my strongest character trait). KA and O, both by Cirque de Soleil, were very enjoyable. For those of you with an appreciation for raunchy theater, check out Zumanity ;).

Overall, Vegas was fun. I aimed to have a less touristy experience, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. I still very much enjoy the hotels, the restaurants, and the glamour, so  the authentic local Vegas experience will have to wait for another time.

Until next time.

– B.Positive.

Music video of the week.

P.S. I played at my first open mic in my life! I played this song (but probably didn’t sound as good):

Personal Growth: Review your life (TED talk)

This is a guest post written by frequent contributor B.Positive.

How often do you review your life, goals, values, priorities? How often do you pop your head up above the daily grind to look at where you’ve been (and what you’ve learned) and where you’re headed? I often like to watch TED videos and at least review what they’ve shared and try to implement it in at least a tiny way to improve my life. If we can do this once a week every week for  year, you’ll be amazed at how much the quality of your life can improve with such little effort.

My 25th birthday passed last week and it seemed no better a time than to evaluate my life as a whole and see where I want to go next. Although the near and short term goals are not clear, I know that I want to continue exploring, meeting people, and learning what makes people happy and helping others find it in themselves. How, when, and where I’ll do this – I’m not yet sure, but I know that this is something I’d truly enjoy doing and could spend a life doing.

Is it about time you looked at your life? There’s no better time to do this than now. There’s no better person to do this than you (yourself). There’s no bigger regret than a life wasted. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bronnie-ware/top-5-regrets-of-the-dyin_b_1220965.html)

Just a short post that is hopefully a welcome change to the all of the points speak.

-B.Positive

P.S. More interesting reading for you self-help fans:

1. Take control of your life – starting with the mornings.

http://www.businessinsider.com/12-things-killer-employees-do-before-noon-2012-8

2. 18 ways travel can change your life

http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/18-lessons-from-5-years-around-the-world/

3. Conflict can help you learn and grow – just make sure there are 3 or more people in the discussion to keep things civil.  http://blog.ted.com/2012/08/06/5-rules-for-productive-conflict/

Personal Growth: TED talks

This is a guest post written by frequent contributor B.Positive.

This week I’ve come across some amazing TED talks that have left a lasting impression on me that’d I’d like to share with all 3 of you readers (this joke won’t get old for a while).

First: 

Imagine the possibilities that are enabled by making the best education free and widely available! At least we won’t have an excuse on why we couldn’t learn something or try harder in school (or in this case, in personal learning and in life). Simply amazing. I’ll be sure to write reviews on any online courses I take.

Second: 

I thought this video was simply amazing. Whether you love or hate conflict, it shows us the importance of arguing productively and professionally to help you and those you engage with raise your level of awareness, thinking, and being. We all need conflict to help us challenge our beliefs and grow as people – sometimes, we lose perspective of that and try to take comfort in seeking out others who would easily agree and affirm our beliefs, values and our identity. Sometimes, stepping out of your comfort zone and seeking that which is completely different  will help you more than you can imagine.

Just a quick share of these videos today. I thought it was too important not to share with you readers.

B.Positive

P.S. Some amazing photographs are coming out of the London Olympics. The Olympics are an incredible way to take a glimpse at participants from all parts of the world and to share in the experience of admiring what mankind is capable of  together.  Here are a few of my favorites:
1.

The image captures the emotion and intensity of the moment so elegantly from such a unique perspective. Photo Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2012/08/2012-london-olympics-the-first-9-days/100347/#img40

2. http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2012/08/london_2012_olympics.html#photo27
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2012/08/london_2012_olympics.html#photo59

Great Britain’s Anna Watkins displays the gold medal she won in the women’s rowing double sculls in Eton Dorney, near Windsor, England, Aug. 3, 2012. (Chris Carlson/Associated Press
Photo Source:http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2012/08/london_2012_olympics_one_week.html#photo14

A part of one of the biggest photoblog articles I’ve seen covering the Olympic athletes and locations during the event. Amazing.

Just simply amazing. If you haven’t been watching the Olympics, live it through these photoblogs!

The Importance of Travel

This is a guest post written by frequent contributor B.Positive.

Studying abroad in Sussex, England, summer of 2009.

Sometimes you have to travel halfway around the world to find yourself.

I just watched a recent video of Gunther Holtrof’s amazing journey to drive with his wife and car, “Otto” to as many countries as possible. He’s traveled more than 500,000 miles and has finally received the opportunity to share is journey when he crossed paths with photographer David Lemke.

(in case the video didn’t publish properly, it is linked here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18910560)

Although the key to keeping costs reasonable was to forgo the two things this blog about (using points to fly around the world and stay in incredible hotels), we all can learn valuable lessons from his life and the places he’s been.

This is a good opportunity for me to share with you readers (all 1 one you!) how important travel is in adding perspective, culture, priceless experiences, and new friends in your life. Traveling to new places, be it on the other side of the world or on the other side of your state, is a good way to learn how others live and make meaning out of their lives. As Gunther says, you don’t realize how much you haven’t seen (and don’t know) until you’ve traveled.

For all of you out there who just graduated high school or are in college, regardless of which school you go to, what major you are, what you think you’ll do with your time in school, I STRONGLY encourage all of you to study abroad. College (or after high school) is the best time to go out and explore and experience a new culture on your own. By meeting people who are completely different from you and seeing how they make sense of the world, it’s helped me and can help you understand who you are and what you have to give to the world. It’s added perspective by helping me challenge my beliefs and assumptions about how the world works. It can help to develop your confidence and independence of living on your own. I’ve asked many friends and people I’ve met throughout my years post-college and I’ve noticed that the biggest regret among all college graduates (generally young 20-somethings) is that they didn’t study abroad. Regardless of all majors, situations, plans students have for spending their college years, studying abroad is one of the easiest and most incredible opportunities that students miss because of their lack of initiative. After my fourth year, I studied for the summer in Sussex, England for credits I didn’t need (as they didn’t offer courses I needed at my level), I still found it to be the most amazing experience that has come to shape my life for the better. It’s given me more opportunities to travel, see new places, and explore the world and myself as a person that I never would’ve had otherwise.

Colleges have great study abroad programs like EAP to help you find a country and school to enroll in a program. Studying abroad with a school helps you travel with other adventurous students and gives you a great opportunity to make new friends and explore the world together. If you don’t know what to do with your college years or don’t have a specific plan, I highly recommend studying abroad as early and often as possible. It’s a great way to open your eyes to what’s out there and to help you discover yourself.

This was just a brief post, but I hope it has some lasting impact on some young reader out there. I’d like to end with the following:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

B.Positive