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iExperience – iFail – iGrow

one. step. at. a. time.

Month

January 2016

Living in Ohio, I get to enjoy the glorious changes of the seasons!  Even though that may seem like I’m being sarcastic, I’m not.  I really do like the change of season.  Don’t get me wrong, living in a nice warm climate all the time would be nice, but in my opinion, it could be boring too.  I always tell people that living in Ohio makes me appreciate those other places so much more.  If I had the warmth all the time, I wouldn’t know what I was missing.  Aside from that, being surrounded by boring, flat land, it makes me appreciate the gorgeous mountain ranges out west when I get to visit them.  See, there’s an upside!

 

During my early years as a child growing up in Ohio, I suffered a lot from migraine headaches.  I never did find the root cause and mysteriously enough, as I reached my late teens, they seemed to just vanish.  So not real sure if living in Ohio is connected to them or not.  However, with the resolution of one problem, something else inevitably needs to take its place.  This is where my body decided to now bless me with sinus issues.  Now, having suffered through many migraine headaches as an adolescent, I felt like moving to sinus issues was an upgrade of sorts.  With migraines, I typically wanted a dark room, minimal sounds, a pillow, and a bed.  Sleeping them off was the best way I knew how to cope.  The down side to this is that it prevented me from going places and I was usually confined to my bedroom until the migraine wore off.  With sinus issues, although I might feel miserable, I could still function and go places.

As a kid, I never really had any interest in figuring out what caused my migraine’s.  As an adult, I’ve had more interest in knowing what causes my sinus issues.  I did the allergy tests, taken my fair share of z-packs, and came to a determination with my doctor that my sinus issues are related to barometric pressure changes in the atmosphere.  Initially, when the doctor came to this conclusion and there didn’t seem to really be any solution, I threw my hands up and figured I’d just have to live with it.  Over the years as I have read more and more articles, I’m starting to think I might be able to find a balance between my sinus cavities and mother nature.

One thing I’m starting to realize is that my sinuses may not be the only issue.  Over the last six months or so I’ve come across something known as silent reflux.  It’s basically acid reflux without the heartburn but the one characteristic that has me interested is the chronic cough symptom.  I always assumed it was post nasal drip from my sinuses but now I think both could be at play here.  The problem is figuring out if they’re in play at the same time or not.

The quest to figure this out has introduced me to some new food items or concoctions.  For instance, I had never heard of apple cider vinegar before but as I read more and more about silent reflux I kept coming across this item.  It seems to work all kind of wonders and seems to be a magic food, but where it relates to silent reflux is balancing pH levels.  Odd that vinegar, which is an acid, would balance pH levels.  The best way I can explain it is similar to ingesting a lemon.  Again, being a citrus fruit, acid is present, but when it metabolizes with the body, it becomes alkaline.  You might also think that oranges would be good too.  This is not the case.  Because oranges contain more sugar, the sugar causes a different reaction causing it not to have the same alkaline properties. This knowledge led me on the quest to find more alkaline foods and how could I start introducing them into my diet.

 

Having listened to a podcast by Lewis Howes, called The School of Greatness,  I referred back to episode #250.  Lewis interviewed the ladies who started simplegreensmoothies.com and I was curious about whether or not their smoothie recipes tasted as good as they claimed.  I also figured this would be a good way to introduce alkaline foods more easily.  Looking at their recipes, I narrowed the list by filtering the results by ones kids would like using their “KID-FRIENDLY” option so my kids could try them as well.  Having a reduced list, I started with one titled “Strawberry, Banana, Blueberry, Spinach Smoothie“.  strawberry-banana-blueberry-4The recipe is very simple and my wife, kids, and I have been drinking one every morning for roughly the last two weeks.  Depending on the ripeness of the fruit, the kids really like the mixture on some days versus others.  We also substituted real oranges with orange juice.

Aside from the orange juice it has some very good alkaline foods in it.  Strawberries, blueberries, and banana’s all seem to be on most alkaline lists.  But the super alkaline food in this recipe smoothie is the spinach.  It seems that most green foods have a decent alkaline content.  The extra bonus here is that even though I like spinach in its raw form, my kids don’t.  The beauty of the smoothie is that they can’t even taste the spinach and they know it’s in there!  They help me make the smoothie!

Having success with the first smoothie, I decided it was time to venture on to the next one.  I went back to the site, selected the “KID-FRIENDLY” filter, and choose the “Berry Protein Bash“.  This one involved the use of unsweetened almond milk, as well as real almonds.  In theory, this one sounded great to me but my wife had her doubts.  I should have listened to her.  I hyped the kids up by asking them, “who wants a smoothie?”  Typically, from the success of the first smoothie recipe, this gets a great reaction!  Anticipating another great tasting treat, I blending the ingredients, poured it into cups, plopped in some straws and waited for the results.  Unfortunately for me, the feedback came quicker than I anticipated.  Everyone’s face showed an expression of disgust!  It wasn’t that it tasted bad but most people don’t expect to chew anything in their drink!  Maybe it’s that our blender can’t shred almonds like the one the ladies from simplegreensmoothies.com have, but I know now, not to make that one again!

Navigating through all the various recipes, I came across one that I thought had potential to help both my sinuses and silent reflux.  So this next recipe I felt might provide comfort for both problems.  They call it the “Lemon, Ginger and Honey : All-natural Remedy“.

lemon-ginger-and-honey-all-natural-remedy-15
Their’s
IMG_2102
Mine

Although it’s not a smoothie, I’ve only been trying this recipe for the last few days and I’m not sure my mixture is right.  The recipe indicates that after putting it into the refrigerator, it should begin to form a jelly like texture.  Mine is not.  I’m not giving up yet!  With fresh lemons, I hope it will balance my pH levels, with the honey, it satisfies my sugar craving, and the ginger is good for the digestive track, which by improving digestion, I’m hoping it improves my sinuses and my overall health.

I plan to continue introducing more natural and fresh options to my diet like these.  Although it’s to early to tell if any of these options have a positive effect, I feel like my body is probably benefiting from them regardless.  More and more, I feel like you are your own best doctor.  I’m not saying to disregard doctors all together, but when the doctor tells you there isn’t anything you can really do to combat something, then why not explore yourself.  Watch for the patterns, listen to your body, and watch how your body reacts to what you try.

So although I may be still on my quest to combat the barometric seasonal sinus problem and the silent reflux that could be hiding in my belly, I do believe what’s in my gut could change things.  I’m learning new healthy options to introduce into my diet that are not only benefiting me, their benefiting my family!  Raise your (smoothie) glasses to that!

Have you been on a quest to change your diet to resolve some ailments?  If so, let me know, I’d love to hear about them and what you’ve found!

 

 

 

Speaking at CodeMash 2016

10 Year Anniversary

For those of you that do not know what CodeMash is, it is a tech conference put on at the Kalahari water park in Sandusky, OH.  The conference just celebrated its 10th year anniversary!  It is by far THE best tech conference in the great state of Ohio!  I haven’t attended all 10 years, but pretty close, probably 7 or 8 of them.  I remember attending the very first one when there was only a little over 200 people that attended.  I don’t know what the final tally was for the 2016 event, but I’m guessing it was somewhere around 2,000+ attendees.

My First Time Speaking At A Tech Conference

I’m no stranger to speaking in public.  It began as early as elementary school when I had some parts in school plays where I recited some lines and even some dance steps.  Then in my teens, I became a disc jockey where I used my speaking abilities to encourage people to come out to the dance floor.  Later in my professional career I came across Toastmasters, a communication and leadership program, where I joined a local chapter.

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Up to this point, I had never prepared a speech for any sort of conference.  It wasn’t that I was afraid to speak, but it was more about the topic or content I was providing people.  My concern was more around making sure people would get something useful from my talk.  My goal would be for them to walk away from my talk being intrigued to learn more on their own or hopefully build upon the knowledge they already have.

I didn’t let any of that worrying stop me.  When the CodeMash conference staff opened the doors for speaker submissions, I got started on writing my abstract.  With the help from some of my colleagues, they reviewed my draft write-ups and gave me valuable feedback.  I made the suggested edits to the abstract and two days before the deadline, I submitted my talk.

Over 1,100 talks were submitted to the CodeMash conference staff this year, so I had to wait a full month before knowing whether or not my talk would get selected.  On September 30, 2015, I received an email that happily stated my talk on “A/B Testing Mobile Apps and Tools That Help!” had been accepted!  It was truly a great feeling but this only meant that the hard work was just beginning!

Before I go on any further, let me explain what A/B testing is in general for those that may not know.  A/B testing is a practice where companies or individuals writing software applications, whether it be a web or mobile application, can test various visual components of a deployed application while the user interacts with it.  Basically, in the case of a mobile application, two screens are being compared against each other, unbeknownst to the users.  One version is considered a baseline or control and the other a variation.  The baseline and variation are distributed evenly meaning, 50% of the time the baseline is shown and the variation is shown the other 50% (the distribution can be adjusted).  The way the users interact with each version provides feedback and then offers suggestions to which screen yields better results.  From there, a software team will decide what updates to make to the app and make those available to users as an update.

In order to build my presentation, the presentation needed to revolve around an iOS mobile application that I had already built, well, sort of.  What I mean is, I had been working on the app for an internal project at work that introduced me to A/B testing.  The first version of the app was clunky and not at a point to where I felt it was ready for presenting.  So I decided to rewrite the application and apply the fixes it needed.  In addition, I felt that I could also get a taste of Apple’s new programming language called Swift.  The Swift programming language seemed to make things a bit more simple but I ran into one complication that made the app unpresentable.  So I went back to the Objective-C programming language and rewrote the app for the third time.  Like the first two versions, I managed the code with a GIT code repository but the only difference this time, I managed it by marking it at different checkpoints.  This gave me the assurance that if something didn’t go right, I had a good fallback to work from.  Needless to say, I got the app to a point that I liked and I could add it to the presentation.

The Day of the Presentation

Like I mentioned before, I wasn’t nervous and all my worrying about people liking and finding the content useful, well, it was as good as it was going to get at this point!  I arrived at the room I was to speak in a bit early and I was glad I did.  It’s something I’ve always known, arrive early to test the equipment and make sure you have everything you need.  I hooked up my laptop, connected the projector cable, and everything looked good.  The one thing I didn’t expect was no power from the outlet I plugged into.  Luckily, CodeMash provides each speaker with a room proctor.  Their job is to make sure you have everything you need and my room proctor did just that!  In no time, I had a live outlet!  All systems go!

I watched the clock as it approached 3:30p, the start time for my session.  As the time rolled into view, I kicked things off!  I gave my intro, gave the background on A/B testing, provided an example of a case where a company could have benefited from A/B testing, began my introduction to an A/B testing tool called Taplytics, and finished with some demos.  After 45 minutes of presenting I was done!  The audience offered up a few questions and provided one person with some additional visuals to further answer his question.  Overall I got some good feedback but I would have preferred a little larger turnout.  I joked with a few developer friends by saying, “well, it is a developer conference, no one likes testing!”

Looking Forward

Learning something new, like A/B testing, rewriting a demo app three times, preparing slides, and rehearsing, was it worth it?  You bet it was!  It was a great experience and I’m looking forward to submitting this talk to other conferences, as well as finding my next topic for CodeMash 2017!  Let the speaking portion of my career begin!

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