Thursday, May 2, 2013


Two years ago I decided I was a healthy person. Since I was a healthy person, I started eating like one and lost 30 pounds in 6 weeks.

Shortly after that, I decided I was an athlete. Since I was an athlete I started working out with professional MMA fighters and now I compete in Jiu Jitsu tournaments.

Back in college, I decided I was a good student. Since I was a good student, I got straight A’s and a full ride scholarship, rather than the B’s and C’s I got in high school. (Then I decided I was a rock star and dropped out of college to tour with my band for 7 years).

More recently, I decided I’m good at Math and now I’m a Computer Science major (after avoiding Math classes for 13 years).

I think a lot of people say things like "I want to be healthier," "I wish I were an athlete," or "I would like to be a good student." I say decide what you are and be it.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

7 things that I think will change my life in 2013

HTML/CSS – I’m very excited about the skills I’ve acquired with HTML and CSS. It’s something that I’ve dabbled with for quite some time but never fully understood. I took a great class on it this semester and learned a lot. I feel like I’ve gained a new super power. Now instead of going to someone else to build me a website, I can jump on my computer and code the whole thing myself. Learning to code is a lot like learning to write music. The first couple songs you write will probably suck, but with practice, you get better. I plan on building several websites over the next year to develop my skills. I’m really looking forward to this.
Team Training – I’ve been pretty good at staying in shape over the last 2 years and my gym has played a big part in that. This year, I’ll be taking that to the next level. As I seem to have stumbled into being a Jiu Jitsu instructor, I really need to enhance my own skills and fitness. One of my original goals when I joined the gym was to be invited to the Team Doyle practices. Team Doyle is a competition Muay Thai team that holds more national championships than any other team in the US. You have to be invited to join and it’s intense. Practice occurs 3 days a week at 5:30 am (it moved to 5 days a week starting in April). If you miss or are late to too many practices, you’re out. Needless to say, I got invited and have been working out with the team for a couple months now. It's rough, but great, and my Jiu Jitsu game has taken a huge leap forward already. I think Team Training is finally going to get me where I want to be athletically.
DIY – Do it yourself goes beyond simple repairs to your house or car that you do on your own. DIY is a way to be creative and hopefully make something on your own for cheaper than you can buy it. I had my first real taste of DIY last year when I built a smoker. It cost about $30 and I got several great smoked pork roasts from it (and will again next summer). Since then, I’ve managed a few other DIY projects and it’s a really fulfilling experience. Rather than taking my laptop to the Apple store to upgrade the RAM, I did it myself (very easy, I know, but intimidating if you’ve never done it). Now I’ve replaced the RAM in 2 other computers, and rehabbed an old computer of my dad’s to run Ubuntu and learn Linux. I also just finished an upholstered headboard for our bed as a Christmas present for Mindy. The pictures show the process.

Obviously, I’ve got to keep my DIY projects to a minimum because I’ve got a lot on my plate as it is, but the occasional project here and there for enjoyment and enlightenment is a great way to unwind.

Office – Ever since we moved to our new house I’ve been using the bar top table in the basement as my office. I liked it because it was in my man cave and it was nice and quiet when I was trying to concentrate. On the other hand, I don’t like it because it’s about 50 degrees down there in the winter and I’ve constantly got a space heater going at my feet. The bar height chairs get uncomfortable after a while, I don’t have much room for my books, it's dark, and every time we have friends over, I have to clear all my study stuff off the table so it can be used for food. A while back I moved Mindy’s office to our main floor and she has a huge corner desk, most of which she doesn’t use. This weekend I moved all my study stuff to the upstairs office and so far it’s great. The office has 3 big windows that let in tons of light, it’s warmer upstairs, and the chair is far more comfortable. It makes the long hours I spend sitting on my butt in front of the computer a little more tolerable.
School – School is what helped me learn my HTML /CSS skills mentioned above and I’m just starting my second quarter back. That means I’ve got 2 more quarters to go in 2013. I’m taking a Java programming class this quarter as well as an Algebra class. College Math has always intimidated me. I was never “good” at math in high school, but that’s because I never tried to be good at math. Then, when I went to college, I never took any more math classes because I didn’t have to. It's been 12 years since I've done any Algebra. Not only that, but to continue on my current path I’ll need to take Trig and Calculus, both of which I have never studied. It’s going to feel good to finally take down one of those things that’s been intimidating me for years and years. I imagine it will feel like stepping into the ring with Mike Tyson and knocking him out.
Focus – Focus has always been an issue for me. There’s just so much out there that I want to explore that I’m terrible at sticking with anything, but I feel this has changed. I’m not sure what it is, maybe getting older, being unsatisfied with work, or something else, but my focus has really strengthened as of late. I’ve decided that there will be 2 primary things I focus on in 2013. School is one and Jiu Jitsu is the other. Beyond faith, family, and work, these 2 things will be what I spend my time and energy on. I’m excited because I can already taste how focusing on these things will change my life.
Scheduling – 13 years ago I heard the President of my college talk about time management. I still remember to this day that he scheduled his days in 15 minute increments. I thought to myself, that will NEVER be me. Well, now I am that guy. Fortunately or unfortunately, with as much as I’m trying to accomplish this year, I’m forced to make a schedule. Surprisingly, the schedule has reduced my stress by quite a bit. Knowing that I’m going to shut off my computer at 6:30 on Friday for a cheat meal and date night with Mindy gives me something to look forward to, and scheduling when I’m going to do laundry and make my lunch for the next day relieves the stress of trying to do it at the last minute. We’ll see if it sticks.

Friday, January 25, 2013

7 things that changed my life in 2012

Blue belt – This probably created the biggest change in my life. Basically I got married to Jiu Jitsu on July 1st when Bob Bass gave me my blue belt. Now I have all these responsibilities I didn’t have when I was just a white belt. For starters, I’m instructing a kids class once a week. This is actually a lot of fun, but keeping track of 20+ kids and making sure they don’t choke each other out and/or break each others' limbs can have its moments. If kids weren’t enough, I’m often “in charge” of the adult class as well. Thankfully there are some other, more experienced guys that share these responsibilities with me. Lastly, I’m expected to stay in shape now that I’m a blue belt. Getting fat and out of shape when you’re a blue belt is a bit like not financially providing for my real life wife.

Using the Left Shift Key - This is still a work in progress. I’m a pretty quick typist, but for some reason, I have only ever used the right shift key when typing. That means when I need to capitalize a “P” or use “()” I hold the shift key with my right hand pinky and stretch to reach the buttons with my right hand index finger. It’s suited me well thus far, but when I started learning how to code, using the left shift key became a necessity. Now it’s pretty easy to use the left shift key when I’m coding, but when I’m straight up typing something like this blog, I have to work hard not to fall back into bad habits.

Speed Reading – I read an interview where they asked Warren Buffett what he would go back and do differently with his life. Buffett stated that since he reads so much for his job that he would have learned to read faster. I actually learned how to speed read several years ago but only used it occasionally. Now that I’m taking 4 college classes, this has become an amazing tool for me. Reading that would take a normal student 3 hours, takes me about an hour. Most people smirk when I tell them I can speed read, thinking it’s some type of party trick or that I’m just skimming, but this is not the case. I actually comprehend better when speed reading because I have to concentrate so much on what I’m reading. The downside is that it’s not a really a relaxing way to read, which is why I don’t use it when I’m reading for enjoyment.

Becoming a Landlord – We moved out of our old house on New Year’s Eve of 2011. It took several months, but in June, after all the construction was done, we got tenants into our rental property. So far it’s been awesome. They paid 6 months up front and now pay their rent on time. Most days I forget I even have a rental property, but when they drop off their rent, I remember, and it feels pretty good.

Vitamins in the Cupboard – This one I didn’t implement until late 2012, but it’s been pretty useful. With all the training I’ve been doing, I need to take certain supplements to help with my recovery and for general fitness. The problem is that it’s hard to remember to take your vitamins. On a whim I made one simple adjustment and now I hardly ever forget. I just moved my vitamins from the kitchen counter to the bathroom cupboard. I always start and end the day in the bathroom and so it’s real easy to remember to take them when they’re right there next to my toothbrush and deodorant.

Harnessing Time – Going back to school has helped me realize how much time I was wasting, and how my concept of time was a bit skewed. I remember sitting at a dinner with some friends several years back and talking about going back to school. I remember thinking in my head how much time it would take to finish school and mostly giving up on the idea. Now it’s several years later and I still haven’t finished. If I would have started then and stuck it out, I’d be done right now. Time keeps marching on and we have to fill it up with something. What else am I going to do with my time that’s more productive? Probably not much. Beyond this broad paradigm shift, I’ve also found the value of smaller blocks of time. In times past, if I had 15 minutes free, I’d surf the internet and watch silly videos. Now that I have to make use of my time, 15 minutes can get me several pages read, and several of these 15 minutes blocks can be the difference between getting an assignment done on time or not. I still think it’s important to take some time to do nothing, but utilizing my time more effectively has really made a difference in my life.

Growing a beard – I’ve wanted a beard for a long time but never thought mine was full enough to grow out. I tried growing it out once a couple years ago and it just itched and bothered me. This year I made a resolution to grow it for a month and see how it went. Now I’ve had it for quite some time and don’t really like the way I look without it. It’s still not as full and glorious as I would like it to be, but it gets the job done. Right now it seems like I’ll have a beard for the rest of my life, but we’ll see.

Stay tuned for my next post, 7 things I think will change my life in 2013.