So when I was a wee lad, I remember getting a PC, and how exciting that was for me. It was a 286/12, and I was probably 5 when we got it. One of the games that we got was a program called Chessmaster 2100. I played my father and the computer quite a bit in chess. I lost pretty much every time to both of them, but I still fancied myself as quite the chess player. I guess when you are young you don’t let empirical results get in the way of your opinions. My dad got a great chess set one day on a business trip to Mexico (I believe) and we would play on that fairly frequently. However, as I got older (maybe 8 years old) we stopped playing, and I stopped playing against the computer. After all, we had Nintendo, ESPN, and other more exciting computer games.
In middle and high school I became a huge technophile, checking sites like slashdot and zdnet every day. So my interest in chess was briefly rekindled when Kasparov played Deep Blue in 1996 and 1997 while I was in middle school. I still fancied myself quite the chess player despite not playing at all for the six years before that. However, this was short lived as the real world again proved to be more interesting and dynamic than the chess board.
Finally, when I was a sophomore in college (2003) Kasparov was playing Deep Junior, and these matches were televised on ESPN! This is what finally made me actually want to learn to play chess. Shortly after this match I decided to go to chess club to prove how much of a prodigy I was, despite not playing chess for the last 13 years. It turns out I sucked when presented with real competition.
(Sidebar: A few months after I started to attend chess club I was trying to get my roommate to play me in chess, and he kept saying no. Eventually I told him that I would pay him $15 if he won, since I knew that he couldn’t. Suffice it to say, he won. Oops.)
(Sidebar #2: A couple years ago I started taking Judo. This made me feel like a badass, so I would challenge my friends to (grappling) fights all the time. Somehow this ended with me fighting a friend (with no fighting experience) in a room with like 10 of my closest friends watching. I was choked totally unconscious. Oops again.)
(Final Sidebar: Moments like this are key for me. I am a naturally… ‘confident’ (to use a gentle word) person when it comes to any competition, or really anything that you can score. I need this stuff to get me back to earth sometimes. Anyway, I think that the embarrassing moments in your life are some of the best learning experiences you have. I have been blessed with many learning experiences.)
Anyway, back to Chess Club. I went to every meeting for the final two and a half years of college, and ended up becoming President. I got to go to the Kasparov – X3D Fritz Match in New York in Fall of 2003 (an all around fantastic weekend I spent with an old friend where I got to meet (and drink with!) tons of the best chess players in the world). I played chess full time after I graduated for a month, going to at least a tournament or two a week. I took off three days during my second week of full-time work (that was a fun conversation to have with your boss) to go to the World Open (the biggest chess tournament in the world) where I came in third in my section, netting me a nice profit.
After that I again pretty much quit the game, as ‘real life’ took over. I stopped following along with the sites that I used to frequent so often.
Life went on for a few years, and eventually I decided to quit my job (I decided on November 15, 2006 that I wanted to get an MBA, took the GMAT’s on December 1st, and had my first application in December 13th) and go back to school to a school that offered an MBA you could get simultaneously with a masters in Information Management (which is what I did). I got here to ASU, and then realized that I was over my 20 year love affair with computers. I didn’t want to work with setting up computer systems and programs forever. I dropped the MSIM degree and picked up a Specialization in Real Estate shortly after arriving. I had no reason to choose Real Estate over anything else, but just chose it because it seemed to be a little entrepreneurial and very different from Information Systems (maybe I could even be outdoors some!).
The Real Estate program here is definitely the most time consuming (and probably most stressful) in the entire MBA program here at ASU. This meant that I was spending a lot of time killing myself over project deadlines. This meant I spent a lot of time in front of my computer as opposed to going out with everyone else. This meant I was surfing the web as a way to procrastinate. This made me begin to peruse a couple of my old chess sites because they were preferable to doing real work. One of these was chessmind.powerblogs.com, written by a guy named Dennis who used to post online chess lessons that I used to watch.
One day I was looking through his archives and I found this post. It is a really tragic post about a friend that he knew that was killed while riding his bike when he was struck by a car in Arizona. He linked up a website called crazyguyonabike.com to celebrate some of his friend’s writings.
I began poking around here and loved it almost immediately, if for no other reason than because it was so very different from slaving away indoors on a project to get it done before a deadline. I didn’t even know that it was possible to go so far on a bike. The plan to ride my bike around the world after graduation was quickly hatched in March/April of 2008. This was later altered to make it just the country (for a large variety of reasons – lack of money being the main one – but I still dream of doing the world).
So that is my story on how I decided to ride my bike around the country.
Life is a random thing.