Sunday, January 29, 2017

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win book review

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

If you like learning from awesome leaders and love stories of Navy SEALs, like I do, this book is the one you should buy next.

Jacko Willink and Leif Babin are the kind of leaders our country and business need.  Their principles are dead on target.  Each principle is described through real life or death scenarios from their missions in Afghanistan.  The stories are inspiring and scary as heck but show situations of leadership that are more intense than should you move to the cloud or not.  They actually have to deal with human lives.

They also give their business consulting experiences that parallel the missions,  so you can have real business scenarios to learn from for each experience.

The key principle is that leaders take full ownership in them self, their teams, their bosses and everyone they impact or influence.  Too many people want to point other directions for making true impact in their job or country.  If you are currently demotivated in your leadership, I definitely recommend reading this for a good all around motivating book.

Roger is G.O.A.T, for now.

Yes, I think Roger is the greatest of all time or at least as of today.  You can only judge the greatest as of a point in time.  If Rafa wins six more titles, is he then the greatest?  What about Joker?  I think both have a good shot of winning more than 4 more.  Rodger will likely not win another.  It was improbable for him to win this Ausie open.

More importantly, the awesomeness of today's match was truly a gift.  Over time, most great match-ups either never happen or they turn out to be bad.  Roger has lost most finals to Rafa and even cried after the Ausie open loss last time.  Roger is 5 years older and unlikely to win now, right?

This one was everything it needed to be.  Here are the reasons why:
1. It was special that the draw worked out with Rafa and Rodger on opposite sides.  They could have met in the semis and this would have never happened.
2. Joker and Murry both lost.
3.  Both players played 15 sets in their last three matches.  Can you image how hard that would be?
4.  Rodger takes an early lead and then, they trade back and forth.
5.  If you were a Roger fan, you get the early sadness of going down a break in the first game of 5th set.  NOOOOO  Can Roger actually get two breaks to win it, probably not?
6.  BUT, he fights back almost breaking two games in a row to finally break.
7.  Then, we are back even with an easy hold by Rodger.
8.  Roger goes up love 40 to have 3 break points and of course, Rafa says not so fast.
9.  After several great points, Roger does finally get another break.
10.  Then, if that is not enough, you get drama in Roger's hold game with reviews and close calls.

The only bad thing was the close final call review that did not give us the instant "He has done it" but Roger still cried.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Harmony Hub Integration Alexa and Smart Things

For smart home TV integration nothing beats Harmony Hub.  It is great from your phone, works in SmartThings and Alexa.

When adding Harmony Hub to SmartThings, make sure you HUB activities are descriptive to the room because you will see all your Hubs activities.  If the bedroom hub has Watch TV and the living room has Watch TV, you will not be able to tell them apart in ST.  When you add it to ST you can now create routines that change the AV systems and your lights.  Then tell Alexa turn on Movie Time.  The weird part is you have to tell her Turn On Routine Name.  Routines don't really feel like on or off because in ST they are not on or off.  They just execute the commands you setup like, Goodnight.  Good night could turn everything in the house off but the fans, or what ever.

One you have the routine setup, now you can turn some devices off and some on through Alexa with one command.  A ST routine called Movie Time can turn on your Blue Ray, Receiver and TV and turn off or dim the lights.  Then, Alexa, turn on Movie Time.  Now you really have control.

I think Alexa, Smart Things and Harmony Hub really make up the trifecta of home automation.  They each have weakness but all together they cover almost anything you want to do.

Day 3, end of week one

I am not sure if all cross fits do this or not but Thursday at our box is active recovery day.  Once I found this out, I changed my plan of coming on Fridays to Thursday.  With tennis on Saturday and my body already destroyed, it was a good move.

We did some smashes where you roll out parts of your body with the 45 pound bar.  It felt AWESOME.  We also did some band stretches, and I am going to buy me a band today.
Next we did Planks and GHD which is a back extension machine but engaging your glutes and hams development, more than back.  I could not get up as high as the coach wanted me too.  Something else to work on.

We also did a team event of jump rope and row machine.  It was supposed to be double unders but I don't know how to do those yet.

It was a good last day of the week.  Next week I need to pick up my intensity some but keep learning.

The best thing about doing Cross Fit is learning new things you are not good at.  We all know we can't do a 4 minute mile but I never knew I had elbow flexibility issues or did not have a strong enough back.

"Be humble. Be hungry. And always be the hardest worker in the room." - Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson:

Cross Fit Day 2

Day 1 was on Monday.  I was really sore on Tuesday and suffered through Tennis Tuesday night.  I even did ice baths Monday and Tuesday night.  I will comment more on those once I have more to say.
Today's class was good.  We worked on Split Jerk w/2 sec pause at dip and catch.  The coach worked with me with just using the bar and the guy next to me gave me some tips too.  I had never done those before and was curious how my knee would handle them.  I did add 20 lbs and it all felt pretty good.  I just need to remember to lock out my arms and get them inline with my body for heavier weights.

Our Metcon was an AMRAP - As many reps as possible.
10 Power Snatchs
12 Toes to Bar
8 Overhead lunges.

I was only using the bar today and the power snatches was pretty easy but it was weird to not have a natural stopping point because there was no weights to rest on the ground.

Toes to Bar was tough.  I broken them down into sets of 4 and my hands really hurt.

Lunges was not bad and even at the end the coach reviewed me and said my form was fine.

So far so good.  Two days in.  For full disclosure, I can barely get up and down.  My back and legs are good sore.

andrewnattypro flex2bfamous transformationn8ion motiv8ionteam compete competitor athlete fitness physique motivation motivacion bodybuilding naturalbodybuilding ufe ufenation idfa idfa2015 teamidfa iloveidfa gainz shredz shredded gymlife gymmotivation gymrat flexibledieting:

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Cross Fit Day 1

I have been intrigued with Cross Fit for a few years and I love the Cross Fit games.  Their athletes are truly amazing.  I need something new to push me to another level this year and decided I would sign up for local Cross Fit box.  I am going to try to not judge the gym but to focus on my exercise experience and results.

I am doing the 5:30 AM class because there is very little that will prevent me from showing up besides just being lazy.  I am only going to do 3 days a week for the first month.  This is because I want to do tennis and want a day of recovery between workouts, until I get to a better fitness level.

We started off with stretching.  I would like to be sweating a little bit before stretching.  I will jump on the bike for 5 minutes next time before the class starts.  Then, the fun began.  We did front squats at 2 reps every minute.  For the experienced, this would be a high weight exercise.   I had never done front squats and I only did 95 lbs.  It hurt my wrist due to holding the bar and not having it fully rested on my shoulders.  I discovered this is not due to my wrist but my right elbow is not as flexible as my left due to the injury I had back in October.  I can now visibly see the difference when comparing them.  I would not have noticed this without trying this today. I will add that to my list of things to work on.

Then, we did a work out of 9 dead lifts, 12 burpee box jumps and 9 power clings for 4 minutes as many as you can, with 2 minute recovery between intervals. We did this for 4 rounds.   I was comfortable with dead lifts but needed to arch my back more and look up.  Burpees are fun but instead of just jumping up an inch, you had to step up to a box and jump up.  My box was only about a foot half tall and honestly, that was enough for the first day.  The coach had to teach me clings because I have seen them but have never done them.   At 95 lbs, they were not too bad by them self.

A couple people warned me to not go crazy early because it will get harder.  It was good to get confirmation for my plan but also good that people were helpful.  The routine was pretty hard and exactly what I need.  I only did about 5 or 6 rounds but was not counting closely.  According to my Fitbit, my heart rate only got up to 150 bmp.   I probably could have gone harder and should next time.  I was definitely not trying to go too hard the first week.  I will be sore for sure and have a long way to go.  Looking forward to day 2 on Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Rise of the Sufferfest - Movie Review

Rise of the Sufferfest is a entertaining moving about the history and extremely fast rise of people paying to be put through extended amounts of pain, cold temperatures, dirty environments, electronic shock and scary heights.  Yes, I did say people pay for this.  It is almost a billion dollar market and it is legal.  I have to confess, I have also paid to be put through the agony.  Why would I do that?

That is the question the movie tries to answer.  Why would any one pay to do an obstacle course race (OCR) like  Spartan Race, Tough Mudder or a Tough Guy?  Even more amazing, most people that do it, do it again or even multiple times.

The movie is a must watch if you have ever done OCR.  I almost don't want to recommend you watch it, if you haven't done an OCR because you might never do one after watching.  The movie introduces you to the god father of OCR,  Mr. Mouse.  Has interviews with lots of fitness experts, psychologist, human behavioral and others to try to find reason to why someone would do this.

Here are some of the reasons:
1. Social media status
2. Be a kid again.
3. Experience a world without privileged
4. Get back to the primal desires we have has men (btw, 35% of the racers are women)
5.  People are crazy

My personal experience of doing a Spartan sprint and why I signed up for three more, is the experience of getting out of my safe, soft and easy daily life.   Trading a few hours for an experience of training, pushing my self, not caring that I am dirty, no internet, no electricity(unless it is a Tough Mudder or Tough Guy) and to be an example or inspiration for my family.  I think everyone should do one race.  My wife and girls are going to do one this year.  BTW, you don't have to be fit to do a short race but you do have to get off the couch, find some friends and sign up together.  You will love it.  If you want, you can do a race with us.  We are doing Spartan sprint at Cowboys Stadium in June and the Spartan Beast in October.  There is a Spartan Sprint in October too.  That is the one we did last year and it was awesome!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Fitness - Increasing Testosterone Article

I found this great article from the on  increasing testosterone and wanted to share it. Even if this does not significantly impact testosterone, I think it is a good model for men to follow.

Being disciplined eaters during the week
Exercising with weights - Doing large muscle movements. IE Cross Fit
Fats over carbs - Cholesterol is not bad
Fish Oil - I started taking fish oil at night and I notice I am less achy in the mornings.
Getting more sleep - I need to do this one
More Sex - Tell your wife it is required
Cold Baths - I have been doing contrast showers for a while and love them.  I may start taking a cold bath after a hard work out.  Maybe throw in some whine and soft music too.

SmartThings Automation

First, I added the Harmony Hub smart app lab from the market place.  It allows me to run activities for my living room or bedroom AV through SmartThings(ST)

I quickly jumped in and added a Watch A Movie On TV routine.  I set it to run my Watch TV activity and turn off my Kitchen lights.  I could have dimmed them but I like the lights all the way off when watching movies.

Then, I started configuring my Good Night routine.  I set it to turn everything off but the master bed room fan.  I could have done this at a certain time or many different options but manually is fine for now.  

I have to say, the abilities I was hoping to get from IRIS, are easily built into SmartThings.   More to come I am sure.

Fitness Past and Fitness 2017

I played some football growing up but found it boring.  I played a lot of basketball bit I did not have anyone to play against so I was an above average spot up shooter.  Then, I found tennis.  I did not make the team my freshman year and frankly, that pissed me off.  From that day on, I played tennis at least 4 times a week for about 9 years.  I made it to 3 regional tennis tournaments.  I made it state 2 times.  I played D3 college tennis with one conference championship.  Obviously, I started tennis late but I was driven because every time I got better, someone else was always better than me.  College tennis was a blast. We practiced every week day and at night my buddy and I would go back again.  Looking back on it, I have no idea why he did that because he beat me every time we played.

After college I started working out more and learning about low carb diets, that no one taught me in college.  I was in the best shape of my life.  It is no coincidence this is when I met my wife. I was really in tuned with my spiritual walk, in grad school and really good shape.   Since she still wears the same size clothes as when I met her and I don't (195 lbs), she wonders where that guy went.

About 6 years ago, I started having a pain in my calf.  No big deal, just push through.  This felt different than normal pain.  I went to the doctor and he said, you are fine.  A week later, I wake up one morning and my back was in pain.  Suck it up.  Mow, edge and clean up the yard.  That night, I could not even sleep due to the pain.  Next day, same thing.  Day three, I wake up and while getting ready for work, cough up some blood.  No big deal, it happens right?  (I had no idea but no, this does not happen and you should immediately go to the doctor.)  I go on to work and start to feel like I have the flue.  Tired, out of breath and not happy.  I call my wife and she said I should go to the doctor. She was out of town and quickly, flew back.   Doctor says, why are you back here.  Well, I don't feel good and coughed up some blood this morning.  He starts to frantically typing on his computer. I am thinking, that is not good.  I drove my self to a hospital to get an Xray.  Then, drove my self to another hospital for an MRI.  Then, they drove me, in a wheel chair,  to the emergency room.  What?

Long story short, I had significant blood clots in my lungs.  The doctors could not explain why so they put in a filter in above my lungs so clots could not go into my brain and cause a stroke.  Question, doc why does he look and feel normal despite having lungs full of clots.  Answer, If he was unfit, smoked, obese or had any medical conditions, he might be dead.  His body was able to over come and adapt to keep him going but definitely was telling him something is wrong.  Three days later,  I left with some blood thinners and still a filter in my lungs.  Then, I go to a specialist for gallons of blood work.  They discovered I have a few genetic factors that increase the chances of blood clots.   Why suddenly at 35, no one knows.  So the only recommendation is take blood thinners forever.  Blood thinners are not bad but you have to stay away from green vegetables, "yea!"  That means no salads or other healthy vegies.  Last year I changed to a new Blood Thinner that is not affected by greens and I can now eat anything I want.  This has really opened up more doors to healthier eating.   6 weeks after having the filter put in, they went in and took it out because the clots should be gone by then.

Now many years later my fitness has been up and down.  3 years ago I started doing P90x at home and with some friends at work. Sometimes twice a day.   I felt that motivation again.  I have to do more pull ups.  Why can't I do more push-ups?  35 diamond push ups, no problem.  I started eating better and drinking less.  I was around 215 and in pretty good shape.  I was on my way back.  Until, I went skiing.  I felt if I was ever going to try moguls, it is time.  Since I failed to ask a simple question, how do you do moguls.  I started down the hill and about 3 seconds in, of course, I wiped out.  While not in any significant pain, I did fell something pop in my knee.  I pulled myself together and slowly worked my way down.  I skied the next two days.  Long story short and an MRI later, yes, I torn my ACL.  The doctor asks what activities I do.  Of course I gave him the long list because I am an athlete, right!?  He said, if you want to keep doing that stuff, you need surgery.  CRAAAAAPPPP. The doctor was concerned about my history of clots and made me go get a test to make sure they are all gone.  Thankfully, I was completely in both legs.

The surgery was not bad.  They took out a part of my patella tendon and recreated a stronger ACL.  That does not sound that bad but it requires recovery from 2 procedures at once.  I will not bore you of the details but after resting,  I drove back to work 5 days after the procedure, without crunches or pain killers. Stupid. I was in so much pain, I thought I was going to pass out.  The next three days I spent every minute Icing, stretching, strengthening and resting, over and over.  By Monday, I was done with pain pills and able to get around without crunches.  Next I started PT.  It was not bad and the doc said I was doing well, probably because I was fit before the tear, worked out before the procedure and worked hard after.  I stopped the PT after about 6 weeks because my insurance changed but keep working on the recovery.

Almost 2 years later, I still have discomfort but see progression in my knee.  So it sounds like I should be in pretty good shape right?  Playing in tennis leagues, working out and recovery.  Not really.  I dodn't have easy access to a gym due to job changes.  It is hard when you are 40.  I just haven't had anything to push me like tennis because I am still usually better than those around me.  Working out has not been that interesting.  Nothing is pushing me past the point where my athletic background gets me by.

Turning 40 has been a real eye opener.  I know I am not in great shape and at times weigh more than I ever have.  How can this be?  I am probably more active than the average person.  Well, my diet is not good, I don't push my self enough and break the cycle of normal activities. I haven't really pushed my fitness since the P90x days.  After watching many episodes on TV, I decided to enter a Spartan Race.  I will write an article just with my thoughts on my first Spartan sprint but what I have come to believe is we have to push our selves and continually change our selves to truly get healthy.  Our minds and body adapt very quick to how we treat it.  The longer it adapts to the norm, the longer it takes to break it.  This is why I have committed to push my self, at age 40, beyond anywhere it has been.  I want to be very fit as my girls start to grow into young women.  I want to provide examples for them to be healthy and exercise through out their lives because it has to be such a major part of my life.  I also want to be fit to walk my girls down the isle, so the guy at the end of the isle knows I can still kick his butt if he wrongs my girls.

Here are some of my goals for 2017 and I plan to share my experiences and ideas through out the year.

1. Spartan Tri Fecta - a sprint, super and beast completion in the same year.  (if you want to join us in any of these let me know.)
2. Learn to hand stand walk - why, I don't know.  It is just hard and cross fitters do it.
3. Run a < 7 minute mile - This might be the hardest
4. Run a half marathon
5. Run a 25 minute 5 k
6. Maybe run a Tough Mudder
7. Get back into tennis shape and a 5.0 playing level.

Creating your own Alexa Skill is easy

I started searching on how to build Alexa skills.  I was pretty sure it was going to be some crazy Node or Java solution that used AWS super geeky services.  While this excited my ex hacker (meaning noob coder) desires but then, made me puke a little too.  Well, I was right.  You have to know Node.js or Java.  You have to use Lamda functions.  To do more advanced stuff you can get into APIs and dynomo db or what ever else you need in AWS.

Are you ready to give up yet?  DON'T.  The Alexa team is brilliant.  They are doing a great job of making the Alexa solution as easy as possible.  The development team is providing quick start guides that are very well done.

I followed the guide below and with in an hour I had it working on Alexa.  I have never used Node.js or Lamada but now I can add it to my LinkedIn skills.  Yea!!!

The hardest part was deciding the Intent name.  You have to decide, and can change it later, what you want to say.  Alex, do this or Alexa, what is or Alexa, how many....

I recommend deciding your Intent first and just to challenge your self, try to change the code and setup to match your Intent as you follow this guide.  It will force you to figure out how it works.  If you want to just follow it, that is cool too.

The next morning I had my girls saying "Alexa, Just do it" and some funny personalized phrases coming back.  Alexa did a great job of saying all of our names and even our dogs names.

I am trying to think of a really good use case to build a real skill for the market place.  Let me know if you have any ideas.

SmartThings and Alexa Integration

I removed IRIS from my Alexa account. Bye Bye IRIS, you were a good tool.  I also clicked forgot for each device.  I then added the SmartThings skill.  It was interesting because the skill enable-meant allowed me to decide which items to add from ST. IRIS just added all devices.   This was good because my Harmony Hub is already setup on Alexa.  I wanted it to stay this way so that I can change channels with favorites.  I did not select the Harmony Hub activities in my SmartThings list but only the routines from SmartThings.

My SmartThings GoodNight routine was not allowed because I had my garage door set to close.  After I removed the garage doors, I told Alexa to "discover devices".  Then, Alexa approved the command.  It is a little weird because you have to say "Alexa, turn on GoodNight".   I will play with this more when the family is awake and not trying to sleep. 

I just setup my "dream cool factor".  I setup a group in Alexa called "Be Awesome."  I say, "Alex, be awesome."    Alexa then  runs the Smart Things Watch a Movie on TV routine and turns off the all the lights.  This only works with the combination of ST and Harmony Hub routines because Alexa groups can only turn a device or multiple devices all on or all off.  You can't create a group that turns one devices off and another on. I am sure Alexa will improve this feature in the but it works for most use cases today. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

From IRIS to SmartThings

This is the play by play of me setting up SmartThings (ST) right beside my IRIS Hub.  I added a network hub to my NetGear Extender so they could both be plugged in at the same time.

Tried to download the app on IPad but there is not one.

Downloaded and signed up on my iPhone.

Put in the code and waiting for the setting up hub to complete.  It seemed to take more that 10 minutes.

When the app came up it said the HUB was off line.  I unplugged the IRIS hub from the network and then, the ST hub showed online in the app, after a few seconds.

Add a Thing, the auto find did not find any devices.  I had to manually add it but even then it would not find my GE Z-Wave Dimmer.  I am thinking, I have to remove it from IRIS first.

Confirmed, each Z-Wave device is paired with the IRIS hub.  I have to follow the instructions to disconnect them from the IRIS hub.

I had some weird issue where it added a second Z-Wave Wall Dimmer when I added my Kitchen Light Dimmer.  I have "Forcefully Removed" it and it is still coming up.  I will figure this out later.

Well that was funny.  I could not get my GE Fan Controller to pair so I Googled it and found great news.  The fan device shows up as a Z-Wave Wall Dimmer.  It was actually my fan switch that paired, almost without me realizing it.  I renamed it and gave it a fan icon.  The dimmer like control is a little weird but does change it from low, med and high.

Somewhere in this process I lost connection to my GE ZWave switch at the top of the stairs.  I have tried to switch it off and on and recycled the IRIS hub.  I had to go repair the device.  Then, force remove the original item and then, remove the new one that just paired.

After about 30 minutes, I now have everything moved over to SmartThings.  I did have to disconnect the ST hub to correctly remove them from IRIS.  I was nervous about my garage controllers but SmartThings found them easily.  They worked right away.

I did have an issue with the IRIS Smart Plug.  ST found it right away but showed a status of Please Wait.  The solution is to go into the ST IDE and correct the device type to Smart Power Outlet.
Thanks to Ben -

I set up my Honeywell Thermostats in about 10 seconds.  I even added my Ring door bell.

I am really interested in seeing how I can use Jeremy's iPhone status to automate somethings.

I am going to end this post here because it is getting long.  I will blog about the automation next.