What’s your “Blessed Score”?

Calculate your current blessed rating out of a 100 point scale.

 

Point Values:

You’re reading this: 98.5 points 

(This factors in the fact that you are alive and have the means to access the internet and the wealth of information it provides.  We can further deduce that you have the means to feed yourself, access to clean drinking water, and have your other essentials covered.)

You are in love: 10 points

You have children: 10 points 

You have grandchildren: 10 points

You have great grand children: 10 points

You make a living doing what you love: 5 points

You’re debt free: 5 points

You purchased Apple stock before 2000 and still own it: 5 points

 

Now total your score:

98.5 – 100: Blessed

100 – 109.5: Really Blessed

110 – 119.5: Crazy Blessed

120 and over: Mega Blessed

I’m Really Blessed on my way to Mega Blessed and chances are you are too.

Give thanks for today and wish yourself and others well.

 

1st Hackathon — Great Success

This was an absolutely crazy weekend.  Not only did I participate in my first Spartan Race, but I also participated in my first hackathon – sponsored by The Iron Yard Academy and SolTech.

Now if you don’t know what a hackathon is, don’t worry, I’m only about a week ahead of you, for I didn’t know what it was either until it was announced.  Basically, the Atlanta based tech company, SolTech, had some of their movers and shakers come in and pitch 3 different application ideas to our cohort.  We split up the Iron Yard students into 6 different groups, 2 per project idea.  My group had the privilege of creating a sports management app for managing recreational sports leagues – we called it Genius Sports.

gs-logo

 

Genius Sports, the smartest way to manage your recreational sports team, was a blast to produce.  Our group, consisting of 2 front end developers, 3 back end developers, and 2 iOS developers were able to create a nice looking, basic functioning prototype in 36 hours.  We had great communication throughout the project and our back end server guys were particularly solid.  They had our endpoints and documentation produced in no time and were forging on, creating functionalities that we knew we weren’t going to be able to get to in the short time given, a nice problem to have.  It was a great project to be a part of and I made some great strides working with Angular.js.

Presentation Day:

In real world fashion, each of the projects were presented as if we were asking for funding from investors.  It felt like our very own Shark Tank.  This is where I really shine, giving presentations is in my DNA.  My mother is a 5th grade teacher, my father is a musician and long-time church choir member, and I’ve taught 2 years of CrossFit classes and attended 4 years of business school at Georgia Tech – giving a great presentation is my ace of spades and comes very naturally, plus I enjoy it.  So I volunteered to give our product presentation and am very glad I did.  We ended up winning the best presentation accolade and got noticed by some employers in the industry, pretty cool.  Even though we were a fictional company, I wanted to give the impression that we were the real thing and make it feel like we wanted the audience’s business.  That meant not getting too technical, not showing any code, and focusing on the consumer benefits and the why’s.  It was a fun exercise and a memorable experience overall.  All of the groups did an excellent job creating functional products in under 36 hours and major props to the Iron Yard faculty who organized it for us.

 

 

The Tale of the Piggy Back Spartan Race

Before the Race

Three ordinary people set out toward the Georgia International Horse Park on Saturday March 7, 2015 around 7:00am.  Our bellies were full of steel cut oats and maple syrup – fuel for the day’s main event – the Atlanta Sprint Spartan Race.  The crew: Dani Pasierb, Carden Wyckoff, and Spencer Wyckoff were listening to Barbell Shrugged’s episode #147, where they showcase Tony The Fridge – an ordinary man doing extraordinary things.

quick aside:  Tony the Fridge raises money for curing cancer through running ultra marathons with a large 42kg fridge on his back.  There are so many pearls of wisdom in this particular podcast with Tony, however my favorite part is when he speaks about the two other voices inside his head.  1 voice says he’s done enough, it’s ok to stop, go ahead and pat yourself on the back.  The other voice says no, keep going, don’t stop ever, do more do more do more.  During the races, Tony tells his interviewers “I take both of these (subconscious) voices, and I tell them to shut the $&%# up.”  From what I can tell, Tony is a master of getting into a mindset that solely focuses on things that matter in the present – focus on breathing, focus on each step – over and over again – he paints this picture of laser like focus when doing his races.

tony-the-fridge

Back to the Tale of the Piggy Back Spartan Race… So we arrive around 8:00am, an hour before our start time (or so we thought).  The venue resembled a large music festival type event, with lots of people, vendor booths, dj booth, course obstacles, and mud… yes LOTS of MUD.  We each became instantly excited and a bit nervous about what we were getting ourselves into.  

We pull into handicapped parking, and found a spot in front of a dumpster that honestly probably wasn’t even a spot until we made it one.  We step outside, take a deep breath of fresh air, and realize – it’s chilly outside, low 40’s chilly… this is going to get interesting.  “Ok, we ready to do this?” I ask Dani and Carden.  We agree, and then I assume the position that I will be assuming for the bulk of this day – I squat down in front of Carden, she gracefully falls over on top me, and we take the form of a brother/sister piggy back.  Just like Tony racing with his fridge for cancer, we raced to take a stand against Muscular Dystrophy – FSH MD in particular.  If you’re interested in supporting Carden’s cause – check this out.

pre-spartan-race
Look how cold Dani looks – haha

So we go to check in – and find out our race start time is at 10:30am as opposed to 9:30am which we originally thought.  So, nearly 2 hours early, we had to painfully wait for our turn to race – the tension started to build.  We purchased some shirts and watched some of the elites finish their races with jumping over a big bonfire and splashing into the final mud pit.  We were getting anxious, and cold, so we went back to the car to warm up and mentally prepare.  After some time, conversation, and failed attempts at streaming pump up music over crappy cellular service, we made our way to the start line for the 10:30am heat.  In fact, to get to the starting line, you have to first scale a 6 foot high wall… our first obstacle.  Knowing that we were going to encounter a bunch of these, we found this was the perfect way to start our journey.  Dani hopped over the wall first, then I lifted Carden over it and placed her in Dani’s arms.  From there I jump over the wall myself, and Dani hands Carden back to me.  Boom – first obstacle overcome.

Mile 0-1:

The time has come.  We’re in a heat of a couple hundred able bodied people who were chomping at the bit to start this adventure, and we were just 3 ordinary people out of that group.  There was a very fast talking hype man who greeted our group, led us through a few AROOS!, and blazed through the risks and liabilities at lightning, Twista-like pace.  Spartans Ready?!?! GOOO!!!  Our pack begins to move, 99% of them running and jogging ahead, leaving us in the back of the pack.  We weren’t racing for personal records today, our purpose was extraordinary though – help Carden complete a Spartan Race in the face of her muscular dystrophy.  Since she is not too sturdy on her feet, the only way to accomplish this was through a piggy back ride.  So there we were, at the back of the pack, taking our first steps forward as a team on a mission.

The first mile we encountered a good bit of obstacles – the first was 3 or 4 giant mud / water pits.  Carefully, we stepped through the sludge and came out ok.  There was a moment where I almost completely lost my footing and fell over with Carden – that would have been a really bad sign only 1/4 mile into a 3-5 mile race… but we kept the balance and kept forging on – mud entirely in the shoes.  Next obstacles were high, uneven logs to climb over.  We were able to lift Carden over each of these obstacles and make it happen – no burpess for us yet… Then we reach our first BIG obstacle – the high wall triplet.  The high wall triplet is a series of three walls increasing in height.  The first wall was probably 7 feet, next 8.5ft, finally 10ft.  We managed to get Carden over the first 7 footer, yet the 8.5 and 10ft were asking a little too much.  Dani and I knocked out Carden’s 30 burpee penalty for each of the two walls she couldn’t scale.  Yes, there is a 30 burpee penalty for each obstacle a racer does not complete, no exceptions, so that was par for the course.  The first mile finished with some cross country trails through the woods.

Mile 1-2

The second mile started to encounter more hills and obstacles.  Most of the elements Carden could not complete on her own, so Dani and I were doing burpees – a good bit of them.  We started getting some notice from our fellow racers – a bunch of “Can I have a piggy back too?” remarks started flying around more often, usually just in passing.  Some of the elements we faced were a 3 sided rock climbing wall, a large monkey bar set, and some 2-3 story high obstacles to climb up, over, and down from.  My body was starting to feel the weight of Carden, however I was in a pretty good place mentally, focusing carefully on each step, and taking each obstacle as it came without being overwhelmed by the magnitude of it.  One “obstacle” they had during this phase of the race was a memory section.  You had to stare at a giant board of codes and memorize the 7 digit number sequence and passcode that corresponded to your race # – you were going to have to remember this towards the end.  When I saw the 2 mile marker – there was a moment I thought, thank you God, there is only ~1 mile left to go.  This is after all a 5k right…?

Mile 2-3

Mile 3 started off with some GIANT mud hills and ice cold water pits – 5 or 6 of them in total.  Unfortunately, we knew we were’t going to be able to scale these with Carden, so after getting through it, covering ourselves in mud, and knocking out the 3 burpees – we smeared mud all over Carden so she could wear that muddy feel of the race.  It was during this obstacle too, that we made our first friends – The Latino Ninja Guardian Angel Twins.  These guys didn’t speak a bunch of English, but they did wear Sub-Zero like Mortal Combat masks, and they took notice of what we were doing and began to knock out some of Carden’s burpees with us.  They always seemed to be in our peripheral for the remainder of the course, hence the term guardian angels.  Mile 3 was particularly rough – we encountered a bunch of hills, a grueling obstacle with a large bucket of rocks, and several others.  For me, it was getting through the hills that was the toughest part – we’ve made such great progress thus far – just keep moving forward.

Mile 3-4

Thank the Lord – we just saw the 3rd mile marker.  That means we’re in the home stretch right? A 5k is 3.1 miles – so we should be nearing the finish line!  Well this is technically a Spartan Sprint – which is loosely described as 3-5 miles after some more research… eh just another minor obstacle we took in stride.  At the time, we didn’t know it, but we were actually coming closer to our greatest obstacle yet.  We started scaling down a very steep hill.  We were getting very worried that we might not be able to continue, but some fellow Spartans began volunteering their help and guided us down to the bottom of it.  Ok, can it get much tougher than that???  Well yes, it can.  After traversing the bottom of the hill, we began to approach another, steeper version of that same hill we just climbed down – however this time everyone was climbing up it…  It get’s nearly vertical towards the top…

spartan-race-woodsI’m scared.  Carden’s scared.  Dani’s scared.  We’re all scared.  We’re looking for a way out, there is none – only at the top of this hill or go back – and we weren’t going back.  So we made the decision to scale this 3 story mud mountain using just cargo nets, ropes, and the help of other Spartans.  It started at a gentle incline, but soon got to be incredibly steep.  If I lose my footing now, Carden and I will fall nearly 3 stories, taking out other people behind us in the process.  There was no option for failure.  Step by step, we make our way up the mountain, and once I scaled over the top to safety let out this primal, celebratory roar.  People were amazed at what they just witnessed.  A few people even called me their hero and kept racing – it was an inspiring moment, a moment where I felt all my personal mental and physical barriers shattered.  I haven’t been the same since.  But no time to pop champagne yet… we still had plenty of race to run.  At this time, we had two local guys, Chase and Brandon, join our team and they helped us for the remainder of the race – thank God for those guys.

Mile 4-5

Here we are, the home stretch – the final mile.  Back is sore, feet are tired, we are all completely covered in mud and grime, yet we can hear the music playing and can feel the energy of the finish line.  Some of the obstacles we took on included climbing over tall gymnastics-like bars, carrying atlas stones, and throwing spears at hay targets – quick glory moment, I went 2 for 2 on the spear throw so Carden didn’t have burpees to do for that one, no big deal 🙂

All of this was leading up to the final 250 yards of the race, which was 250 yards of all obstacles.  One of the standouts was a 60 yard, barbed wire space that you had to crawl under in the ice cold mud.  Carden was determined to get this one done, despite her immobility and lack of upper and lower body strength.  Without assistance, she made it 45 of the 60 yards herself before fatigue finally set in.  We pulled her through the remaining 15 yards, and she triumphed.  Unfortunately, this triumph came at a cost… The ice cold mud had put her into a pre-hypothermic state.  She was frozen to the bone and shivering uncontrollably.  We got her off the course and called for medical assistance.  A medical team came over and wrapped her in solar blankets and correctly suggested that she go to the medical tent to heat up.  But if anyone knows Carden, they know that she wasn’t up for this option – not until the race was finished.  So I got her on piggy back one last time and walked through the remainder of the course, dodging the final few obstacles and going ahead without our teammates.  Time was of the essence here and Carden was potentially heading towards hypothermia.  Upon finishing, there were no flashing lights, no post-race interviews, or photo finishes.  Simply the knowledge that we conquered an incredible challenge and took a stand against muscular dystrophy and FSH together and that with a great team you can achieve a seemingly impossible goal – that’s what Spartans do.  AROO!

spartan-carden-finish
Just so everyone knows, Carden was able to recover after the race and warm up. Here she is with her completion medal and a big smile.

If you’re interested in supporting Carden’s cause and fundraiser for a cure… navigate to our Go Fund Me page.  I believe this won’t be the last time we set out for an incredible challenge like this.

 

Spartan Up This Weekend!

So freaking pumped for this weekend’s Spartan Race in Atlanta.  Best part is, I get to do it with my sister Carden and officially, as of about 10 min ago, my girlfriend Dani – way to go girl!  Truth is, I never really intended to do one of these races – and then I got inspired one day.  In August 2014, I was listening to Barbell Shrugged’s episode #147, I was deeply inspired by listening to a 52 year old man known as Tony – The Fridge.  This man straps a 93 pound fridge on his back and runs ultra marathons raising awareness and money for cancer, which has deeply impacted his life and his family.  When asked, “why do you strap a fridge on your back – isn’t that inconvenient?” he answers something like “of course it’s inconvenient! do you think cancer is convenient???”  That resonated with me, and I’ll tell you why below – quick poll:  would you rather watch 1hr of really inspiring stuff or 1 hr of Vampire Diaries – if your answer is Vampire Diaries, leave immediately.  If it’s inspiring stuff, I strongly suggest you watch this…

One of the biggest takeaways I got from Tony The Fridge, is that he claims to be a normal guy – he just has super human resilience.  I believe we can all manifest this power through practice and enough healthy stubbornness.  So that’s what I’m going to do with my sister Carden this Saturday.  We’re going to complete a Spartan Race together.  Quick history lesson – Carden has FSHD, a rare type of muscular dystrophy that sabotages her muscles and limits her mobility, and it neither has a cure nor any real treatment at the moment.  The thing about Carden is, she doesn’t let any of it stop her – she is the most resilient person I know for this and possibly the bravest person I know too.  So this Saturday we’re teaming up to run the Spartan Race together to flip a giant bird in the face of FSHD.  She will do the parts she can, and I will help her through the bulk of it.  Will it be convenient?  Of course not, but neither is her living with FSHD and it won’t stop us from completing our task at hand.

Time to Spartan Up!

 

Bumper Balls, Mechanical Bull Rides, and Clear Tequila

Just another party at my gym.  This past Friday was hysterical.  The Buck Valentine’s Day Party event was a make-up event for the giant fail that was supposed to be a Christmas party back in December.  Luckily, like most CFNA failures, out of the ashes rises a phoenix of epic proportions in this, most likely to be, perennial showcase of good ole fashioned cockdiesel debauchery (which is honestly just a supportive community of like-minded, work-hard play-hard, couples, families, singles, and students getting together to have a fun time just before Valentine’s Day, it’s not like we’re Sons of Anarchy over here).

sons_anarchy_party

Here’s what CrossFit North Atlanta served up this past Friday:

  1. Rex-aritas
  2. Kill Cliff sponsored Battle Balls (beware, you will see people go splat below)
  3. A Mechanical Bull named “Buck”

REX-aritas:

The Rex-arita is a consistent journey towards simplicity, balance, and not taking life too seriously.  It can be crafted with 4 ingredients and must follow this procedure:

  • 2-4 parts, El Jimador Blanco (hoity-toity tequilas can take 2 BIG steps back)
  • 1-2 parts, preferably Nellie & Joe’s Famous Key Lime Juice, but simple lime juice will suffice
  • An ample, single squirt of agave syrup – do NOT spend the next 10 seconds visualizing this
  • Stir these ingredients together, your cup should be about 1/3 full.
  • Once stirred, add club soda or carbonated water to the top
  • Finally, add ice

This drink was the gasoline for the fire that sparked next…

Kill Cliff Sponsored Battle Balls:

Everyone was talking about the mechanical bull, but nobody saw the sleeper coming that was the Battle Balls… I need not explain… Just watch the video below.

This is not a high quality image - yet it should inspire you to watch the video.
This is not a high quality image – yet it should inspire you to watch the video.

A Mechanical Bull Named Buck:

Did you know you can rent a mechanical bull for your next party?  If you have the space – do it.  In the true fashion of our community, we busted out the whiteboard and started keeping track of best times and everyone started trying to one up each other, which just led to riskier and more ostentatious rides. It was great.  Again, video is the best explanation for how this went down.

The Epic Video

021315 Buck Party Highlights from CrossFit North Atlanta on Vimeo.

Everything is a Box. I Repeat. Everything is a Box!

Tonight was a first for me in my learn to code journey – which began a mere 2 months ago when I registered for my first HTML/CSS course on Codecademy.  Since then, I’ve completed their HTML/CSS, Javascript, and jQuery courses to completion.  Then, first week of January I enrolled into the Iron Yard Academy’s 12 week Front End Engineering bootcamp.  The knowledge gained has been incredible thus far.  So much so that I had another first tonight…

Tonight, my classmate Alex and I taught our 1st Iron Yard Kids class for HTML/CSS – 1 of 6 classes that this amazing course offers FOR FREE.  Our class is made up of twelve 13-18 year olds, and some of these kids are already WAY ahead of the curve – having already completed more Codecademy courses than I have… :/

I may be slightly biased, however I think the first class went incredibly smoothly and I think the kids are going to get a lot out of this course in a short period of time.  Here is how today’s lesson plan went:

  1. Alex and I introduced ourselves, gave a brief history of who we are, why we’re here, and what our hobbies were.  Yes Alex claimed with great pride that he enjoys smoking meats in his spare time – lol.
  2. Next, we laid 3 ground rules for the course: 1) Have Fun   2) Learn A Lot   3) Ask Tons of Questions
  3. Next, we went around the room, and every student had to state their name, grade, and their favorite website.  An interesting takeaway – 3/4 of the room said MineCraft and YouTube were their favorite sites.
  4. Then we had an unexpectedly short download party – everyone already had Chrome installed and the planned Sublime Text install came to an abrupt halt once we realized half the machines were Chromebooks and couldn’t install it – so we worked with Codepen instead.
  5. Then I took the stage and we entered into a general discussion about how building a house is ALOT like building a website.  I polled the room and they said in order to build a house you need a Plan, Foundation, Walls, Floors, Wiring, Paint, Furniture, etc.  This prompted my GRAND metaphor for how HTML is the Foundation, Walls, and Floors of a webpage and the Paint, Wallpaper, and Trim is the CSS.  I hope they got this metaphor – I certainly was proud of it.
  6. Next came the “BOX” mantra that certainly got in grained into every child and parent in the room.  Everything that lives on a page is a box.  The page is a box, and the images are boxes within that box, and all the text you see are also boxes inside that main page box, box, box, box, box this, box that, box salad, box and potatoes, box stew…. uh that’s about it, Forrest.

    box & potatoes, box soup, box gumbo, box & grits…
  7. We then started playing in Codepen and gave them a visual demonstration about how to setup basic header tags and how when you open a tag you ALSO have to close that tag.  And once we had some basic text on the page, we made that text different colors and changed the Left, Center, Right positioning on the page.
  8. Then we shifted gears, and showed them Chrome’s Inspect Element and how their favorite websites were just a TON of HTML boxes and CSS styles.  I witnessed some light bulbs turn on when this happened.
  9. Then one of the students recommended we check out Cookie Clicker and that was a bad idea because I lost control of the class for about 5 minutes and heard ~10,000 clicks in that period.  No more Cookie Clicker became Ground Rule #4.
  10. We wrapped up the class by giving a homework assignment of complete the first 2 modules in Codecademy’s HTML/CSS module AND to create a Codepen that included 5 of their favorite youTube video embeds (another thing we went over earlier in the class).

Overall I think the 1st class was a big success and every student walked away with learning at least one thing — that EVERYTHING IS A BOX!

but you already knew that by now…

{quick aside} – some of the students pulled us aside after class and asked for MORE work – so we told them to challenge themselves in Codepen and make a really awesome page that represents their 3 favorite hobbies.  I greatly look forward to what they come up with by next week’s class.

My First JS Game: Five Die

Started with some HW now we Here:

Our assignment this past weekend was to build a game using the libraries, frameworks, and languages we’ve learned up to this point… 5 weeks into the Iron Yard program.  There wasn’t much scope given for the project – just build something using object constructors and methods and have fun with it.  So I made the choice to create a simple, yet surprisingly addictive, dice game that I’ve played at parties over the years.

Introducing: Five Die

Five Die is simple, fun, and kind of addictive.  It can be played with, honestly, over a billion players (but it would probably be more effective in groups of < 10).

The Rules:

  1. The Goal is to get the lowest possible score.
  2. You MUST keep at least 1 die per roll.  (yes, you can keep >1 die if you like)
  3. The die values match the roll, 1=1, 2=2, 4=4, etc…. however, 3’s = 0.

So the best possible score is 0, it’s just unlikely.  Because there are 5 die, the maximum amount of rolls you can take is 5 (because you MUST select at least 1 die to keep per roll).

Just so you know it's possible...
Just so you know it’s possible…

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 1.42.39 PM

WANT TO PLAY FIVE DIE? CLICK HERE

 

Post a photo of your best score and let me know if you like the game?  Some goals I have for it are to make it responsive for mobile and change some of the design aspects.