Daily Post – Worst Case Scenario

Today’s daily post idea from The Daily Post is called Worst Case Scenario. Of all the awful possibilities, what’s the worst possible thing that could happen to you today? Now, what about the best?

Worst? It’s clearly obvious what the worst outcome of today could be and is ridiculous to even ask or even for me to put it down in words. As a family man, the most absolute worst scenario of today would result in the death of a loved one. Either immediate family or extended. It’s something I do not want to think about or go through. I’m just going to pass by this and move on to the best.

The best? One of my Powerball tickets hitting a worthwhile jackpot sum. Tonight marks the highest jackpot in US history and is already over 900 million dollars. I can think about how many lives I could change with that amount. My family would be set.

Worst Case Scenario

Happy Endings – Clearing out the Smoke

I’m a few days late with this “daily post” idea but I wanted to put this out there. It is important and was life changing for me. Since this is a great time for new year resolutions, I thought this could serve as inspiration to someone. My happy ending was when I attempted to quit smoking cigarettes again and did it for the last time.

I started smoking cigarettes years ago when I was 12. I wasn’t a regular smoker at that age but did it with friends. We would steal cigarettes from my friends’ parents and their friends. My first brands I tasted was Camel non filtered and Benson and Hedges. Once I got a little older and in high school, I started getting my own packs. I was a Marlboro Red and for awhile a Newport man…or I guess child.

When I was about 20, I decided that smoking was no longer providing a positive effect on my life. Positive being something I made up in my mind that I told myself. I started to rely on it morning, noon, and night. This I noticed was an issue. Actually, the biggest tipping point was when a pack of cigarettes was closing in and going over $2 a pack. Once my Marlboros got costly, I switched to the WaWa generic brand that was known as Jacks. However, those quickly raised in cost.

I quit cold turkey. Cold turkey rarely works but it was my only option. I had a lot of things in my life that were against me for quitting and had to stop it at its source. I could not allow the minutest loophole to offer me a puff. At the time I was bartending at two bars, waiting at a restaurant, and living with two roommates who chain smoked like a chimney.

I am happy to report that I stuck to my guns and won. I did fall off the wagon three months into my cold turkey run. I was at a party and drinking. This was one of the hardest times to refuse a smoke. I broke down. I bummed a smoke from a friend and could not even get half way through it. The taste and the feeling made me ill. After experiencing this ill effect, I knew that I made the right choice.

For years, including still to this day, I get a craving. Usually it comes at very stressful times in my life. When the craving hits, I think back to that time almost 20 years ago when I had my last smoke and it rejuvenates my strength against the shackle that I once wore on my lips.

Also, think of the money I saved over the years. Just think if I still did my almost pack a day habit at the late 1990’s cost of $2 a pack, I would of dumped over $14000 into the habit. (That is not counting the crazy inflation and tax cigarettes now carry.) If I factor that in, my savings are way over $20,ooo.

If you are trying to quit smoking this year, stay strong. You can do it.

Happy Endings

Stoke of Midnight 2015…2016?

Happy-New-Year-Clipart-2

Stroke of Midnight

For the past few New Year Eve’s, my family and I stayed home. Our main reason is to stay off the roads both for the safety from strangers and also so we can partake more in the celebratory ale. For the last four years, we started in a new tradition on New Year’s Eve with an all day family gaming event. It’s a day where we make a huge pile of board and card games to play throughout the day. We try to see how many games we can get through. I think this year ended up being slower than other years.

Our first year of this tradition was ruined by my work and an all day escalated issue. At the time I was an on-call management style person for a large data center. To make a long story short, my evening started off with me trying to place last minute storage units of computers on a commercial airline. The flight continued without the parts but I lost a good 8 hours of my holiday.

The next year we decided to step up our game and introduce Nerdy the Elf to the mix. (AKA Nerd Y. Elf) Basically, he is one of Santa’s little slave helpers who goes around hooking up nerd based families in their nerd type traditions on NYE. (See a pattern going on here?) Nerdy likes to leave games at our house for us to play. So far he (or she) brought us Munchkin and Qwirkle. This year was another great add to our night. Nerdy brought us Exploding Kittens. This was a fun Russian Roulette style card game. Easy to learn, easy to play. Nerdy also leaves us a letter. This year’s letter made reference to HoHo the Naughty Elf. That got a good chuckle from my oldest son who is familiar to the Comedy Bang Bang podcast I got him hooked on.

This year we started off playing a few hands of Gin Rummy with our new Princess Bride playing cards which came from our Lootcrate subscription. My wife and I saved up a few months of Lootcrate deliveries and came up with a great advent calendar of toys for them. We had a few items leftover for Christmas Day and this was one of them. I forget the rest of the order but we only ended up getting through Gin Rummy, Exploding Kittens, Munchkin Legends, The Office DVD Game, Ticket to Ride, Chopper Strike*, and Apples to Apples.

*Chopper Strike was actually the first game my sons and I played in the morning as a warm up. Chopper Strike is a 1976 strategy game that the kids got from a past school teacher.)

We usually get through more games but we broke a few times for food. I think we ate too much which slowed us down. We all had trouble keeping our eyes open for the last 30 minutes of 2015. Shortly after the countdown it was lights out.

We still have a pile of games to play this weekend in our traditional first few days of the new year playing all the games we didn’t get to in the past year.

Attempting 2016 Resolutions Again

Happy-New-Year-Clipart-2

I think I skipped last year with a resolution post for 2015. I think I failed my 2014 so miserably that I thought doing one for 2015 was a waste of time. Also, a reminder of what a year of failure I had. Well, even though I did not have a list, I would of failed at it. I think last year was very unmotivating to me. I tried to escape this year with minimal effort and I’m sure it showed from time to time.

I say it every year, but this year is going to be different. I hope. Every thing needs to be reviewed and looked upon in a new light. This is my last full year before I turn 40. I’m halfway through a life and have a lot of work ahead of me.

I started looking over older lists and realized I had either recurring items or just items I never accomplished so just carried it over from year to year. These recycled items are:

Continue reading

Ongoing Issues With My Fitness Apps and Devices

2015-07-19 08.06.42

With the boom of mobile devices and wearable tech, the fitness industry seems to be growing under this love the world has for technology. We love our phones and it shows by how close we keep them to our sides at all times. I would say 90% of my day (awake and asleep), I am no more than 25 feet from my phone. Of course, most of that time it sits on my office desk or on my nightstand charging at night. However, it is still an arm’s reach away. Even when I am at the gym at my local YMCA, I keep the phone on a window ledge. (It needs to be close enough so my bluetooth Motorola Buds can play my Spotify playlists.) Add a heavy dose of infatuation with our mobiles and stir in a double dash of social sharing issues and the need to unlock achievements and you end up with a recipe for showing the world that I am fitter than you and I have the stats and stickers to prove it.

There are hundreds of health and fitness apps currently on the Google Play store. Most of them are cheap knock offs or apps with training guides that are laced with microtransactions to unlock new workouts. However, there are a few great apps out there to help you track your progress and compare stats over the course of your journey to a healthier you. I’ve tried a few of these apps and love them to a point. I’ve run into a few issues between some apps and how they interact with each other that kind of spoiled my attempt to track everything. Things were going okay when I was just using my phone and a mobile app to track distance run/biked or my computer to log workouts. Then I decided to step it up a notch and bought a Garmin device. This is when things started to go downhill but I don’t think my Garmin is to blame.Under_Armour-logo-C7275A1BD7-seeklogo.com

Prior to this year, I was using Endomondo. However, my employer’s work and live healthy initiative did not include this fitness app as one of the allowed fitness trackers. I decided to go with MapMyFitness due to its partnership with Under Armour. (My sister designs for them so I place my loyalty in them at the moment.) Overall it is a great app and the UI is easy to use and it has lots of activities to choose from. I was also pairing it with MyFitnessPal another UA affiliation) to track my nutrition.  These apps worked great together. They both tracked my calories and showed my net calories based on my activity level. It also showed me how many calories I could eat each day if I wanted to lose x amount of weight per week. I was very diligent about tracking my nutrition for a couple of months in MyFitnessPal. I slowly stopped once I ran into two major issues in MapMyFitness.

Garmin-Forerunner-10-Black-&-Red-GPS-Running-Watch-img3Back in April, I bought a Garmin Forerunner 10. It is a GPS watch and even though it is thier base model, I love using it for walking, running, and riding. I was able to sync my watch with MapMyFitness and import my workout data and maps from Garmin to MapMyFitness. This is when I started noticing some issues. The first issue was my watch automatically tracks every activity as running. Once I sync my watch with my PC, I can modify the activity and other details of my workout. This is fine and the Garmin portal is excellent and very simplified for anyone to use. However, the modified data never updates on the fitness tracker and keeps everything as a run. (MapMyFitness pulls the data immediately after the watch syncs to my PC.) The second issue I was noticing with MapMyFitness was anything I imported from the Garmin watch or added on my phone app was shared with all my friends and sent them push notifications. The problem is I have all settings set as private. When I log events on the PC, they stay private. The mobile app, not so much. I’ve reset the settings and reinstalled the app. Nothing changes. I was annoying my friends with all the activities I was adding per day. I added everything because I needed so many hours per month for work and the more calories I tracked the more I knew I could eat. I did try adding multiple workouts on to one entry (which is allowed in MapMyFitness) but if I did that it would not take the calorie total and remove it from MyFitnessPal’s nutrition diary. I tried hitting up MapMyFitness support but they were little to no help. I could not find other users on the forums that had a similar issue.

Frustrated, I stopped tracking everything. I unlinked all apps from each other. I still use my Garmin watch throughout the week but I keep all the data in their own portal. I only log other activities in MapMyFitness at a bare minimum and only do it on the PC. I make sure I log enough hours for my work bonus and then stop. Luckily, I already hit my year bonus and can stop. It’s a shame, I would love to see the overall picture of things I do between running, biking, soccer, yoga, disc golf, gym, etc. I might go back into experimenting with Endomondo again and see if it plays nice with everything. I would also like to try other fitness devices from Garmin like a fenix 3) and others but do not have the funding to just sample the arsenal of devices that flooded the market over the last 2 years.

I will probably do some reviews of these apps and definitely my watch in the near future. They all work great on their own and deserve to be tried by all. Especially if you are highly interested and motivated in exercising. I love seeing all that data, looking at maps, and comparing the numbers. I do like to share some of my longer runs and rides on social media. I’m not that fast, so its not a full on gloating technique but it is very close to it. We should all be proud of our achievements no matter how big or small.

Maybe I am trying to track too much across to many apps. Maybe having the control and being very granular does not always work out. Maybe I just need to simplify things. Maybe I shouldn’t care about net calories based off my activity. I am curious to hear how others track their healthy lifestyle via technology. Do you have a single app that satisfies diet and exercise? Comment below.

Great Cycle Challenge Still Rides On

Last month, I was signed up to take part in the Great Cycle Challenge. It was a pledge to ride my bike for 100 miles in the month of June and raise donations for child cancer. It was a great idea and there was a lot of activity for the event. From everyone except me. I was a lazy sac when it came to my bike last month. Actually, I was pretty lazy overall that month. So far the event has generated $1.6M in donations and over 960,000 miles were logged.

Luckily, the event was extended and I can still reach my riding goal. It would be nice to hit or come close to my donation mark. There is still time for me to log my rides and generate money. The last day for donations is July 31. If that is also the last day for rides, then I have 84 miles to go in 2 weeks. Sounds doable with determination but next weekend is the 24-hour soccer event known as Sarah Parvin Memorial. (This is another child cancer sporting event.)

I am asking everyone to check out my progress and donate $1 from your Paypal account. I am going to hit a few local rails to trails and start adding up the miles. I’m going to ride to my parents house tomorrow to borrow the truck for a Home Depot run (new grill, smoker, and fire pit for the weekend). That means that I will eventually have to ride back home.

As of right now, I am ranked 192nd in Pennsylvania with donations. I may never hit #1 in the US with over $12k, but I can at least help make a difference.

If I do not hit 100 miles by the end of this month, then I will add another 100 miles to my goal and extend it through August. I will keep going until I hit my mark. So, if August is a bust then September will be 300 miles total. October 400…Don’t worry, August will be the finishing month if I fail this month.

Remember to donate under my page. Thank you!

Please Donate to my Great Cycle Challenge Participation

cover pic

I am taking part in the 2015 Great Cycle Challenge and my goal is to pedal 100 miles throughout June to fight kids’ cancer!

Why am I doing this? Because cancer is the largest killer of children from disease in the United States – 36 children die of cancer every week.

Kids should be living life, not fighting for it.

It will be tough, but nothing compared to what these brave kids face every day of their lives as they battle this terrible disease.

And so, I am taking on my own personal challenge to raise $500 to give these kids the brighter futures they deserve.

But to achieve my goal, I need your support.

Please support my challenge and join me in the fight against kids’ cancer by making a donation through my personal fundraising page!

Here’s the link to my page: https://greatcyclechallenge.com/Riders/3dd13

All funds raised will support Children’s Cancer Research Fund to continue their work to develop innovative treatments and find a cure for childhood cancer.

Thank you for your support.

cover pic