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It seems like throughout my life whenever I'd encounter an activity which interested me to any extent, I'd basically devote a large portion of my personal time trying to be as successful as I possibly can be with it (type A character trait, which is extremely weird as most of my friends would tell you I'm about 2 notches lower than a type B personality.....strange.....most likely has something to do with my admiration for the philosopher Nietzsche - I'll explain later in this section).  Anyway, listed below are some of my biggest passions and a few words about each.



As anyone who knows me in the slightest will tell you, learning and practicing martial arts is by far my biggest passion.  I discovered the martial arts during the summer of 1998 while I was in my Master's degree program at Penn State.  I joined a club run by Mister James Del Real and my life was forever changed.  The original style I learned was based on the premise of street-wise self-defense.  Basically this translates into a style which is very diverse and offers a little bit of everything (kicking, punching, throwing opponents, defense against knife attacks, defense against people grabbing and/or choking you, basics of ground fighting, etc.).  After several years of intense training (average of 4-5 days per week, about 3 hours per day), I was promoted to a first degree black belt level (one of 70 students promoted to this rank by Mister Del Real over a 30 year period).  A couple of years later I received my 2nd degree black belt (one of only 16 students in 30+ years to achieve this rank!!). 

For the past couple of years I've been focusing almost exclusively on the ground fighting component to martial arts - Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  While I still enjoy the stand-up fighting, my interests have definitely been shifted to Jiu-Jitsu.   While at TCNJ I've started my own martial arts club where I offer a combination of both stand-up and ground fighting.  We meet on Monday and Thursday from 6:00-8:00 pm in the wrestling room (downstairs in the REC center).  Come check us out if your interested in learning some practical self defense.



Before I discovered the Martial Arts I spent most of my time playing the bass.  I first learned how to play in the summer of 1993 and for the next 6+ years I probably averaged playing about 8-10 hours a week (this time commitment has been severely affected because of my martial arts training).  The average listener would probably say that I'm a pretty decent player (mainly because of the type of music I play as well as my instructor teaching how to play bass-oriented songs).  However, my own opinion is that I have no rhythm and no ability at all to create my own music (hard thing to admit for something that I enjoy so much).  Granted the bass is probably one of the more difficult instruments to create interesting music with, as it is mainly used to compliment the percussion in laying down a solid rhythm for a guitar to play over, but I'm not sure it would matter if I was playing the bass, guitar, or piano, I still can't compose my own music :-(. 



Such a fascinating game....maybe the greatest cerebral game ever invented.  I first learned how to play when I was 5 (my parents taught me).  I played maybe about 20 games between the ages of 6 and 23, then I discovered the chess rooms on the internet and now I can't go a day without playing at least one game.  I would estimate that I played an average of 3-4 games a day for the past 8 years which equals a heck of a lot of games.   Nice thing about playing on the internet though is that the games go fast, probably averaging about 10 minutes per game.  While I'm no grandmaster at the game, I'd like to think that I can hold my own against your typical player.  My unofficial chess rating is probably about 1600 +/-.  If anyone ever wants to play, just ask, I'm always up for a game.



Well I guess I have to admit that I've pretty much gotten swept up in the booming poker craze taking place in this country.  In my defense though, I've been playing for a lot longer than the past couple of years.  Home games, or games with friends were not that uncommon for me dating back to about 1991.  I play lots of poker online and enjoy the occasional trip to the casino's in Atlantic city.  My game of choice is no-limit texas hold-em, and the more I play it, the more difficult I find it to play anything else.  I probably split my time equally between cash games and tournaments.



I probably don't read as much as I should - most likely because I am either doing Jiu-Jitsu, or playing chess or poker - but when I do read it's typically a book from an existential author.  While I enjoy learning about all of the different philosophies in the world (particularly eastern philosophies like Buddhism and Hinduism), I am most drawn to existentialism.  Some of the authors whom I enjoy reading the most include: Camus, Beckett. Dostoyevsky, Chekov, and my all-time favorite...Nietzsche. 

Nietzsche is the one person who has probably had the greatest influence on my life, in terms of my outlook on life, my views on other peoples and cultures, and my attitude towards self-accomplishment and personal goals.  I simply love to read his books as well as biographies about him.  Sadly he is probably the most misunderstood philosopher in history, as his name is commonly associated with the likes of Hitler amongst others (kind of ironic considering his admiration for the Jews and their history!!).  Additionally, he is commonly viewed as being a pessimist, when in reality he was probably one of the most optimistic people throughout history.  A single quote from Nietzsche which probably defines his philosophy more so than any other follows:

 "The goal of humanity can not lie in the end, but only in its highest specimens" 

No other statement has had a bigger impact on my life than this one. 



I love traveling to different places.  My idea of a fun vacation is just getting in a car and driving to someplace that I've never been.  Particularly I enjoy going to remote areas dominated by the natural landscape (mountains in Colorado, deserts of Arizona, forests of Northern California), as opposed to big cities like New York or Chicago.  So far I've had the chance to travel cross-country 2 1/2 times.  First time was just a straight shot from Pennsylvania to California and back (trip lasted just under 2 weeks).  Second time was a long circular trip around the country, starting in Pennsylvania, going as far south as New Orleans, as far west as Las Vegas, and as far north as South Dakota, before eventually returning to Pa (entire trip lasted 31 days - what a blast).  Last trip started in Las Vegas went up through Utah and then back to Pennsylvania.  I also took a week to travel through Northern California (very beautiful landscape, I highly recommend it to anyone, especially the Redwoods and Tahoe area). 


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