Evolve Your Dad Skills with Pokémon Go

“Man, this Pokémon adventure is sick!” With that exclamation, my son then stops, turns, leans in for a big hug, and affectionately says, “Love you, Dad.”

These are the real moments. The moments that all dads (and moms) strive for. As parents we simply go from one magical moment to another. The other moments are fluff and filler. At least that’s how I feel about life in general. Raising my kids is no different than the rest of my adventures. Today’s post will address stepping outside the box to give your kids (and hopefully you) an epic time together that will be remembered forever!

I decided to break this article into two parts so I wouldn’t bore the pants off the few parents who simply will not try Pokémon Go. If you’re not going to be coaxed into giving it a go (no pun intended) than you can just read part one and leave it at that. For those parents who are, or would like to, play Pokémon Go with their kids, you can read the whole article and learn some tips on being a good Pokémon pal with your children.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a Pokémon master. Heck, I’m not even a junior master. I’m just a dad who loves doing things with his kids. So, if you came here as a semi-pro looking for hot tips, you’re at the wrong place. There are tons of YouTubers who can help you out. That said, if you are a semi-pro I would love for you to read this and comment and let me know what you think of the article! Carry on.

Part One: Think Outside the Box with Your Kids

If you don’t know what Pokémon Go is, you can simply open your eyes and look around you. Probably 75% of the people you see walking and staring at devices are playing. Essentially it’s the latest craze and it is a very good opportunity for you to earn Dad or Mom Cred. However, it isn’t the only way…

Let’s start by saying: It does not have to be Pokémon Go. It just has to be something that your kids dig. As parents we often get caught in the paradigm of assuming our children will love doing the things we loved or did as we grew up. I mean, who doesn’t love camping? Or, watching re-runs of M*A*S*H? The simple answer is that your kids will (and should) do things with you (camping, a certain show, board games, and so on). That’s fine. But, if you really wanna melt their little hearts you gotta step outside your comfort zone. I’m talking way outside. You need to find a thing (or three) that they really enjoy.

In this article I call out Pokémon Go, because it is extremely popular right now. That said, your kids might not like it… Well, you gotta figure out what their passion is. That part is easy, but it does take a secret. Are you ready for the secret? …drum-roll please… Listen. Yes… It is that easy. Simply listen to your children and pay attention to them and you will find a world of things that excite them.

Once you know what the thing is, you need to make an effort. Since we’re talking about Pokémon Go, let’s use it as an example. An effort includes learning some about the game. Chatting with your kid(s) about it. After learning and talking, you actually download it (*GASP*) yes… I said download it. You didn’t think you were gonna get away with just talking for a few minutes and then moving on… Did you?

Truth-be-told: If you really wanna win your child’s heart, you gotta actually get in the trenches with them. So, download the app and learn to play it. Luckily for you, I give a few pointers in part two (below) that will help you get on your feet.

The good news about Pokémon Go is that it includes plenty of parent-child discussion time. It also offers you a great time to advise and even give lifesaving tips. For instance: When you go to cross the street and see your child has his or her nose in the device and steps out onto the asphalt without a glance for traffic, you can calmly (yes, calmly) stop them and explain their error. You can be stern and serious and still remain calm and understanding. Tell them what could have happened if you weren’t there (squished like a bug). Talk to them about school. Talk to them about life. You’ll have plenty of time, because a single Pokémon walking session can be from thirty to ninety or more minutes (depending on how much time you’re willing to give).

Now let’s get you up to speed on the game and ready to do some battling with your kid!

Part Two: How to Hang with Your Kids in Pokémon Go

Step one: download the game and create an account.

Step two: play alongside your kid.

That’s it!

Okay, there is way more to the game than that… But, that is really all it will take to make your kid think you are way cooler. After you’ve played a little (when you get to level five) you will face your first challenge… Choosing you team. There are three teams to choose from. I recommend simply choosing the team that your son or daughter is already a member of. If you’re on the same team, you get to battle together against other teams. This is tons of fun!

By the way… You will obviously have questions along the way about the game-play. Instead of sneaking off to search Google, try asking your kid. They will probably know the answer, and it will boost their morale (and confidence) knowing they are helping you with something instead of vice-versa. Watch them light-up and chatter with reckless abandon when you query them.

Here’s a few tips and terms that will help you along your path to becoming a level thirty-three master!

Tips

  • Don’t just evolve your Pokémon the second you get enough candy (see the Lingo section below). Instead save them for an “evolve session” where you’ll use a magic egg at the same time and double your XP. (you better check the lingo section again… hehe)
  • Make sure you “appraise” your higher CP Pokémon before transferring them. (ask your child how to appraise your Pokémon, or look it up together)
  • When you guys do your walk session, go to a local park that is big enough to walk around. Parks are where you find PokéStops and get goodies.
  • If/when you’re at a park, drop a lure and dance with glee as the Pokémon come rolling in.
  • When you use incense, make sure you’re walking around and not sitting still. When you’re moving, the Pokémon come much more often (up to five times as often) as when you sit on the couch.
  • When you hatch an egg, let your kid press the screen to launch the hatch and tell them you think they have a lucky touch. Then, when a cool Pokémon appears say, “See! You are lucky!!”
  • Pay attention to the level of your child and when they’re approaching a level-up. Leveling up (especially at higher levels) is one of the most exciting parts of the game. You should be there for a few and make sure you show enthusiasm as you high-five and congratulate them.
  • Ask your kid for tips, advice, and help while you’re learning the ropes. This is important!
  • Honestly appreciate the stuff your child says about the game. Listen.
  • Hold your finger on the ball patiently and wait for the aiming circle to shrink to a real small dot before throwing and your chances are increased for catching a Pokémon.
  • Learn to throw a curve ball (spin it before releasing it) and impress your kid!
  •  

    Know the Lingo

  • Pokémon: Creatures that you capture in the game.
  • PokéStop: These are located at parks and other places of interest, and they are places that attract Pokémon. You also get to spin the sign every five minutes and get goodies.
  • PokéGym: This is where the battles happen. And, it’s one of the most exciting parts of the game. You also pick your team at gyms when you reach fifth level.
  • PokéDex: An index of all the Pokémon characters. As you find Pokémon in the game, they will show up here. Check your “Dex” against your kid’s one. It’s fun to talk about wishing you could catch some elusive Pokémon (they show up as numbers or silhouettes if you haven’t caught them yet).
  • Power Up: Using candy and stardust you can power your Pokémon up to their maximum level, making them more battle ready.
  • Evolve: Many Pokémon can evolve into a more powerful character. You need lots of candy for this move.
  • XP: Experience Points. You collect XP and eventually gain enough to level up. Each level requires more XP.
  • CP: Combat Power shows the combined power and abilities of your Pokémon (over 2,000 is a great target to attain). It’s how everyone compares their Pokémon against each other.
  • Balls: Poké Balls come in three types: normal, great, and ultra. Each level of ball is better at capturing Pokémon than the lower ones. Use the more powerful ones to capture rare Pokémon, or ones that you really need/want.
  • Candy: You get candy each time you catch a Pokémon and when you transfer one. You’ll need candy to evolve or power-up.
  • Stardust: You get Stardust when you catch a Pokémon, takeover a gym, or do a few other things. You’ll need stardust to power-up your Pokémon.
  • Potion: Potions are used to heal hit points (HP) after a gym battle.
  • Lucky Egg: These double your experience (XP) collected. They last for thirty minutes, so time their usage around times that you anticipate gathering lots of XP (like when you evolve or find new Pokémon).
  • Incense: Incense attracts Pokémon to you and lasts for thirty minutes. Use it when you’re walking around and you’ll find much more than sitting in one spot.
  • Razz Berry: This is delicious food that makes Pokémon like you and become easier to catch.
  • Eggs and Incubators: You can collect and incubate up to nine eggs at a time. Incubation takes either 2, 5, or 10 kilometers of walking. Each level of egg has better Pokémon. You can find some of the best and rarest Pokémon in the game with a 10km egg! (make sure you’re hanging out with your kid when some of the 10km eggs hatch, it’s a blast!)
  • Lure: Use a lure at a PokéStop and it will attract lots of Pokémon.
  •  

    If you end-up needing more information, I recommend using YouTube. You will find LOTS of people who know a ton about the game. However, when watching with your kids, you need to watch out for a few rude guys who spit out the eff word (among other colorful words). Just move past them, because there are lots of folks on there who don’t cuss.

    Happy Pokémoning! Thanks for reading, and please chime in, because I love hearing your opinion and thoughts!

    -Vaughn

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    World Hemophilia Day 2016

    Today is Sunday, April 17, 2016. A day like any other… Or, is it? Today is actually a day for remembrance. A day for advocacy. And, a day to raise awareness. Actually, today is a day like no other… Today is World Hemophilia Day.

    World Hemophilia Day is an international observance held annually on April 17th by the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH); which is headquartered in Montreal, Canada. The WFH was established back in 1963 by Frank Schnabel. World Hemophilia Day was started in 1989, and April 17th was chosen in honor of Frank Schnabel’s birthday. WFH has member organizations in 113 countries and also has official recognition from the World Health Organization.

    Perhaps I’m putting the cart before the horse… For those of you who don’t know what hemophilia is… Hemophilia, Von Willebrand disease, and other bleeding disorders are inherited or mutated problems that affect our ability to coagulate. In other words, if we (I keep saying ‘we’ because I am a hemophiliac) get an internal injury (bruise, muscle injury, joint damage, or other form of trauma), it is impossible (or nearly so) to stop the bleeding. Essentially there is a missing protein in our blood that prevents it from clotting.

    Prior to 1967, when plasma replacement products were introduced, we bled until we died or suffered irreparable injuries. Therefore our life expectancy was incredibly low. Once blood products were available to stop the bleeding we were living longer lives. But… Along with this miraculous cure came blood-borne pathogens and viruses like Hepatitis and HIV. These cursed side-effects nearly killed off all hemophiliacs during the 80s and 90s. However, we overcame this plague era and thrived to carry on for future generations.

    It is estimated that 1 in every 10,000 people born in the United States have hemophilia. That said, it is also estimated that 1 in 1,000 people in the world have some form of bleeding disorder.

    There are two primary types of hemophilia:

  • Hemophilia A is more common and refers to low levels of clotting factor VIII (eight).
  • Hemophilia B is more rare and refers to low levels of clotting factor IX (nine).
  •  

    There are other clotting factor proteins and other issues that can cause excessive bleeding, but Type A and B make up the disorder we call hemophilia. In addition to the types, scientists and doctors have further broken each type into levels of severity (mild, moderate, and severe).

    Along with injuries, many people with bleeding disorders can experience spontaneous bleeding. Spontaneous bleeds occur as the name implies, without a known reason and randomly.

    The most popular treatment for hemophilia involves injecting the missing clotting factor into the bloodstream via needle and syringe. Hemophiliacs and others living with bleeding disorders in the United States have access to powerful medicines that often eliminate the majority of issues that have long plagued bleeders. Unfortunately, there are many countries in the world that have poor (or no) treatment. Many people around the world are left untreated and suffer horrible bleeding episodes.

    The goal of World Hemophilia Day is to raise awareness, increase the availability of treatments, and eventually (hopefully) lead to a cure. On this day, I ask that you remember people with bleeding disorders. This is a special day designated to raise awareness and help people around the world who suffer from bleeding disorders.

    Along with many of my blood brothers and sisters, I work hard to raise awareness by sharing information and links via social media. All day long I will use the HASHTAG “#WorldHemoDay” as I spread awareness. Please join me and help people suffering with bleeding disorders!!! If you do decide to participate in our social media inundation, please include these awesome organizations: @WFHemophilia, @HemophiliaFed, and @NHF_Hemophilia; which are all national and world organizations help advocate for everyone who lives with a bleeding disorder.

    Here is a sample tweet that you can adjust accordingly:

    Today is #WorldHemoDay PLS remember all easy bleeders and visit these orgs: @wfhemophilia @hemophiliafed @NHF_Hemophilia PLS RT

     

    No matter what you do to spread awareness, consider taking a few peaceful minutes to remember our fallen brothers and sisters. They died so that the rest of us can have better service and treatment. They died so that we have better and safer blood products and medicine available. They died for US.

    Thank you for your love and support!

    Your easy bleeding brother,
    Vaughn

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    Survive a Snow Blizzard and Help Others

    If you own a four-wheel drive vehicle that is capable of getting out when weather conditions are bad, you might consider driving nurses and doctors to and from the hospital. Also, it is a great feeling to simply be a good Samaritan and drive around rescuing folks who are stuck in the snow. If you do decide to help, this article might have some tips and ideas you have not thought of yet… Also, if you know additional tips or ideas, please share in the comments below!

    Note: If you do not have four-wheel drive, or are not comfortable in slippery weather, than please stay warm and cozy at home. With today’s equipment, we clear stuff up pretty dang fast… Sit back and enjoy the fire and a movie.

    Note two: If you’re going out to get groceries, supplies, and fuel before a storm, consider going early morning or late evening, when the lines will be non-existent.

    WARNING: Snow (especially deep snow) and related winter activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend using your head and carefully planning out any winter excursions. Remember that carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can easily occur if you sit in an idling car where the exhaust is partially blocked (think snow pile, deep water, closed garage, and so on). Never sit in a running vehicle who’s exhaust system is blocked or hampered in any way. Also, frostbite and exposure are very easy to get during cold times of the year. Dress appropriately (in layers) and bring extra layers just in case.

    First… Let’s talk about the equipment that you should have in/on your vehicle for rescue expeditions:

  • Mobile phone and charging cord;
  • GPS and/or appropriate maps (I carry a compass, because a GPS can fail in a blizzard);
  • First Aid kit;
  • Recovery gear (recovery strap, 5/16″ (or thicker) grade 70 chain, D shackles, and so on);
  • Essential tools;
  • Jumper cables;
  • Shovel and/or entrenching tool;
  • Flashlights;
  • Extra jackets;
  • Rain gear (poncho is great);
  • Gloves, gloves, and more gloves;
  • Food;
  • Water;
  • Sleeping bags and/or blankets;
  • Jack, lug nut wrench, and full-sized spare tire.
  •  

    You might also consider carrying a fire extinguisher, extra fuel, toilet paper, air compressor, tire repair kit, and multi-tool (knife). I do.

    Before you head out, make sure that you have a good understanding of your four-wheel drive system and how to properly use it. I literally helped a guy one time who had his Mitsubishi stuck and didn’t realize it wasn’t in four-wheel drive… He thought it was an automatic system. Knowledge will help, big time!

    Also, make sure you let friends and family know where you plan to drive. Check in with them from time-to-time to let them know the conditions, and that you are okay.

    When I rescue, help, or otherwise offer assistance to folks, I do not accept payment. There are a few occasions when folks try to insist on giving you money… So, about 15 years ago, I printed 500 of these business cards that I hand out now:
    Pay It Forward
    Now it is my life-goal to hand all of them out.

    Depending on the depth of snow and road conditions, you might consider lowering your tire pressure. Only do this, if you know what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. Never drive deflated tires on clear roads at normal speeds. Also, never go below 15 psi unless you have beadlocking rims. Remember that your ground clearance will come down a hair with every 10 psi, so consider only deflating 10 (or so) psi to increase your tread footprint and make the tire more malleable. Deflating all the way to 15 psi will nearly double your tread area, but comes with a price. Not only will your rig sit much lower, you also risk overheating your tires at road speeds. Having a larger tread on the ground will give you more traction (for driving and stopping)… But, you must weigh the depth of snow, conditions, and your experience before deciding to deflate. When in doubt, skip this tip.

    Before using recovery gear, make sure that you are well-versed in your equipment and how to safely use it. ALWAYS be patient and use your head. This is dangerous and can result in injury or death. Do not perform a recovery until you know more about it. I have done dozens of winch rescues and countless snatch strap recoveries and still run into new issues and conundrums each time.

    We average 17 inches of snowfall every year in my part of Maryland. So, it gives me plenty of time to practice my winter skills. I highly recommend going out every snow day and building your skills with practice. My father taught me this, and I am teaching my children the same thing. Never practice out on the road with traffic. Instead, find an empty parking lot and do some practice there. Remember that many parking lots have concrete curbs, light poles, and other obstacles, so carefully drive it (slowly) at first and feel your way around. Once comfortable, you can practice things like recovering from a slide (I think this is most important). Also make sure you practice braking, and how to avoid sliding while stopping. Get used to the way your rig, tires, and setup responds in snow conditions. The more comfortable you are in a parking lot, the better equipped you will be out on the real road.

    Most of all, watch out for others. There are many people out there (especially since the SUV-boom) who really shouldn’t be. Share the road and be courteous, but also keep your eye on them. I’ve seen my share of guys going way to fast in bad conditions, and I have seen more than my share of accidents that resulted from this (and ones that should have/could have been completely avoided). Don’t pass snowplows. Not only do you risk wrecking with the increased speeds, your paint will also take a beating from the ejecting salt and sand. Besides, those guys have the right-of-way. Their job is more important than yours in this scenario. Give ’em room to work!

    Remember that a lot of people walk during these storms. So watch carefully for pedestrians. Often they even walk in the plowed street, because the sidewalk isn’t clear yet. While I consider this insane, I still watch for and am patient with folks. We’re all in this game of life together. Save a life by simply paying attention!

    Let’s finish up with a timeline of some of the more major storms I’ve experienced, and hopefully you will share your stories in the comments below… We’ve had our share of Nor’easter storms, snow storms, and nasty weather that have left Maryland blanketed in snow. These are the ones that stick out the most in my memory (sorry if I got any dates wrong):

    February 1978 (Maryland got three feet of snow) – I was ten. My Dad and I went out in our brand new 1977 GMC Jimmy (K5 full-sized). Back then, very few had four-wheel drive. We drove nurses, doctors, and rescued stuck people (not to mention having a TON of fun). That was the start of my love of helping folks in need during emergencies.

    December 1992 (Maryland got more than three feet of snow) – Between four-wheel drive vehicles, I had gotten rid of my CJ5 and Jimmy. Unfortunately, I blew my transmission in my station wagon while trying to rescue people anyway… Lesson learned.

    March 1993 (Maryland got about 18 inches of snow) – I had a 1963 Willys CJ3B that had more rust holes in it than a sunk ship… That Jeep was incredible and it shined in deep snow. However, the doctor I drove to the hospital hung on for his life, and looked terrified that the military Jeep would fall apart with each bump. Ha!

    January 1996 (Maryland got more than two feet of snow) – My 1994 Toyota 4-Runner was a beast in the wet fluff. Notably, I helped many more stuck vehicles than ever before, as the SUV fad was full tilt and folks took out their vehicles with summer tires on them… Also, this was the first time the hospitals didn’t need my help, because they had tons of 4×4 people offering assistance. My fondest memory was helping a family drive home with their newborn baby. That was a treat and made it all worthwhile!

    February 2003 (Maryland got more than three feet of snow) – Our 2001 Dodge Durango proved it’s worth as I again went out on rescue missions. More-and-more folks were out there with street tires on a moderate SUV… It was mayhem, and I stayed busy yanking them out of ditches.

    February 2006 (Maryland got near two feet of snow) – Our 2004 Chevy Tahoe was aggressive and responsive. This larger vehicle was ridiculously handy for driving half a dozen people around, but I could clearly see the downside of a huge and heavy truck in the deep snow.

    February 2010 (Maryland got a combined four feet over two storms) – Our 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser was a fantastic truck to handle this “snowmageddon.” Too date, this was by far the best truck for the nasty weather.

    Now I’m excited to see if the hype is real for the January 2016 Blizzard… If it is, my 2016 Willys is here and prepared. I have a feeling it will reign champion as the best snow vehicle I’ve ever owned. Bring it!
    2016 Willys

    Thanks for listening (reading), and please focus on safety if you go out,
    Vaughn

    p.s. Give me a ring if you get stuck or stranded and I will try to get out there and rescue you!

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    Be a Fitbit Boss

    I only recently got on the Fitbit bandwagon… Actually a week ago. But, I’m not new to wearable fitness technology. I’ve been a huge Garmin GPS watch fan since my first one, the Forerunner 405; which I bought back in circa 2007. Actually, if you count heart rate monitor straps, I’ve been on-board for twenty(ish) years. Our treadmill and my VersaClimber both came with wireless monitors back in the 90s.

    Honestly, I had no idea what I was missing. My company that I work for, Mythics, gave me and my coworkers a Fitbit as a Christmas present. Upon receiving it I instantly saw the potential. Not only is this watch considerably smaller and lighter than any of my Garmin watches, it is also sharp enough looking to wear every day of the week. Needless to say, I still absolutely LOVE my Garmin 920XT triathlete watch and I will continue using it for my training and events. However, the Fitbit has become my daily health device, and my new way to challenge and strengthen myself.

    Dear Fitbit, If you are listening (reading as it were), I do have two requests:
    1. Make the battery last longer;
    2. Make it waterproof enough to swim with, and shower with.

     

    Now… Before we dabble into being a Fitbit Boss, let’s get the painful disclaimer out of the way…
    WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

    My initial stab at making the Fitbit work for you is a straight forward approach. Wear it. Always! Not only does it do a great job of tracking your physical activity, but it also monitors your sleep and gives you some great feedback, so you should always wear it (except for swimming, showers, or baths). That may sound over simplified, but it really is the key to utilizing this robust fitness monitoring tool. If you always have it on, it’s a constant reminder to get moving. And, it is leverage to push yourself just a little harder to accomplish set goals.

    The second thing I would recommend is make sure you familiarize yourself with the software and then connect with lots of your friends. Along the lines of wearing it, having friends chime in on your successes really helps boost your confidence and motivates you to try harder.

    The third and final thing to push you down the path to using the Fitbit like a boss is to create and accept challenges with friends. Caveat: if you are new to fitness, or online workout challenges, you might want to wait a few days or weeks to really familiarize yourself with the watch and application. Make sure you are comfortable and confident keeping up with your fitness and hitting your daily goals. Once you get into challenges you will find friends who will literally climb out of bed in the middle of the night just to walk around their bedroom for ten minutes to get past your daily score… I’m one of those people. hehe.

    Instead of going into further detail, I thought I would let you guys and gals hear from two of my friends who are dusting the competition. These two have a combined mileage of more than 14,000 Fitbit miles! And, they each average over 21,000 steps EVERY DAY! They are both inspirational in many aspects, and they’re also Fitbit Bosses!

    I asked Josh and Christine the same questions, and also to give all of you words of encouragement and additional advice. This is what they said:

    JOSH

    weighed 329 pounds in November of 2013. It was his wake-up call… Ten months after working to lose weight, Josh had lost more than 130 pounds, and weighed 198 pounds. At the start of 2014, he was not happy with his life. Health issues included high blood pressure, cholesterol, risk of diabetes/stroke/heart attack, and many other things. After a heart attack scare (turned out to just be gas) in January 2014 Josh decided it was time to make a change.

    After changing his diet and adding activity to his daily life, he began losing the fat and started feeling better. In the words of Josh, “Everything bad went down and everything good went up!” Josh was officially was hooked on 5/10/15K’s, Krav Maga, and the simple joy of going for an active walk/run. Bad foods were replaced with good ones! Life was anew!

    Josh plateaued around Halloween of 2014 and now works daily on maintaining the weight and enjoying the new life that he worked his butt off for!

    Josh before and after

    CHRISTINE

    has a son who is a bleeder. He is one of the reasons that their family started using the Fitbit. They knew that it would help make sure he is as active as possible to keep his joints healthy! Christine’s husband lost almost 30 pounds with his Fitbit. And although she is a runner, and thought she was in great shape, she realized with Fitbit that she was barely moving outside of her workouts!

    Christine

    Now that we’ve been introduced to these Fitbit stars, let’s do some Q&A…

    Josh’s Answers

    Do you think that the Fitbit contributes to your current level and state of healthy lifestyle?
    Josh: Absolutely! Using my Flex has made me more aware of my activity and also helps me be more accountable to myself when it comes to meeting those daily and weekly goals.

    How do you leverage the Fitbit to give you extra motivation and keep you going down a healthy lifestyle path?
    Josh: I use my Flex in conjunction with a fitness app (RunKeeper). I use the Flex as a way to track my passive movements throughout the day and RunKeeper as a way to track my active activities (running, Krav Maga, etc.). The daily Flex goal is to hit those 5 lights with my morning run before I head to work so I can build upon that and see how more active I was after the initial active activity.

    Would you recommend the Fitbit to someone who struggles with their fitness?
    Josh: I already have! I have a friend who wants to get started on doing what I did in terms of weight loss and improving my lifestyle (for the record, in 2014 I lost 131 pounds and have maintained it ever since). They started out with small goals and are currently building up on them and adding more steps/miles every other week to keep themselves motivated and active.

    What piece of advice would you give budding Fitbit enthusiasts on how to maximize the benefits?
    Josh: Start off small, do not go for the ‘gusto’ initially or you will just burn yourself out. Start off with a 10K step goal and slowly add more to it as you find you have more energy as you build yourself and your endurance up.

    Throw out your own ideas, thoughts, inspiring tidbits to help our readers get spun up and motivated!
    Josh: Being active is very easy it turns out. A simple 1 mile walk starts you off on a journey where you amaze yourself by going further and further every single day. There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from wanting to improve yourself and when you start seeing the results, you just want to go further and further!

    The one thing about being a FitBit user is that your mindset changes over time. You want to hit those daily goals and sometimes you find yourself doing silly things to meet them. For example, I once roamed the isles of a supermarket just to add to my daily steps so I can go over my previous day’s total. Just be careful not to go too OCD on it – that is when you have nightmares your FitBit might sprout blades and impale you if you don’t hit those goals (it doesn’t – I’ve tried).

    Do you have any final words of encouragement or thoughts to share?
    Josh: When you attach your Fitbit to your wrist, you are making a pact with yourself. That pact is to improve on yourself and only you can do that. If you need motivation from others you’ll find that you want to rebel against them (like a teenager with their parents). When you do it for yourself, by yourself, and only for yourself, that motivation becomes your sole driving force and coach.

    I don’t see myself as a inspirational figure but I know if I can do this (and maintain it) – anyone can!


    Well… Josh may not see himself as inspirational, but I for one certainly think he is!

    Christine’s Answers

    Do you think that the Fitbit contributes to your current level and state of healthy lifestyle?
    Christine: YES. Fitbit holds me accountable. Maybe to an extreme degree, because I am terrible about taking needed rest days! My overall health is MUCH better with it. I can honestly assess my movement. As a runner, I can run 10 miles in the morning and think I am so active, but not be in the greatest shape. With Fitbit, I might still get 10,000 steps in addition to my workout, and that has helped me stay fit and healthy outside of the gym.

    My husband had to lose about 30 pounds a few years ago. He thought his four mile run in the morning was the ticket to weight loss. Using Fitbit he had a huge epiphany about his lack of movement throughout the day. He also got into the app, tracking his sleep and logging his food in the My Fitness Pal (which cooperates with Fitbit).

    How do you leverage the Fitbit to give you extra motivation and keep you going down a healthy lifestyle path?
    Christine: The key with Fitbit is making the goal HARD. I know so many people who whine that they are not losing weight even though they get 10,000 steps a day. The key is to push yourself so that you can get frequent success and still be challenged.

    Would you recommend the Fitbit to someone who struggles with their fitness?
    Christine: YES. I would recommend it. But the challenge is many people I know who need to get healthy hate seeing that they are a failure. So it is a good idea not to friend people for a few months, or they get discouraged and stop trying, if they constantly see others ahead of them. I also like to get the Aria scale for people who really need this to work. Most people get really accountable when they see the numbers every day.

    What piece of advice would you give budding Fitbit enthusiasts on how to maximize the benefits?
    Christine: Sometimes, the number of ACTIVE minutes per day is more crucial than steps. So I might not run and do a 2 hour spin workout, and my Fitbit steps look crappy. But my active minutes rock. Learning to adjust expectations and make a commitment to ACTIVE minute is important. I think 10,000 steps a day is doable for anyone. Active minutes is more crucial for weight loss.

    Throw out your own ideas, thoughts, inspiring tidbits to help our readers get spun up and motivated!
    Christine: My husband, sons, and I all wear fir bits. We compete often, creating challenges and contests. We walk to the park and play outside so much more when we know we will get credit! Ultimately, we live in a sedentary society and the Fitbit will get you off the chair. To get the Fitbit to work, honesty is the trigger. Being honest about food, water, sleep and workouts is huge. My husband still cannot believe that eating a handful of gummy bears means he needs to run 6 miles.

    Do you have any final words of encouragement or thoughts to share?
    Christine: Ultimately, the Fitbit got us all honest. I was a marathoner with pounds to lose. Now I am in the best shape of my life. I stopped hiding behind the thought that I was incredible. Fitbit got me real!


    There you have it… You heard it from the mouths of Fitbit pros! I hope this was informational and inspirational! Thanks for reading, and please chime in with comments. We would all love to hear about your Fitbit experience and leveraging ideas!

    Feel free to track me down and friend request me, if you want a competitive training partner! www.fitbit.com/user/3WKFRM
    Posted with love from your virtual fitness and life coach,
    -Vaughn

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    Energy and Vitamin Packed Smoothie

    Many friends and family members ask me about the green smoothie that I make. I decided to post an article to explain the recipe and why I use each ingredient.

    First-things-first… You need a blender or mixer to make this bad boy. I personally have the Vitamix 5200… It rocks!

    I suppose I should get the dang disclaimer out of the way… You know that you can choke drinking a thick shake… Right? hehe… Seriously though:
    WARNING: Mixing random foods, supplements, and other concoctions can be dangerous. Allergies and other issues can easily crop up when you don’t know what you’re doing. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend doing your own research and evaluations, including knowing thyself! Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, immune system disorders, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to follow a specific diet or nutritional plan, you do so at your own risk. In addition, high-quality recipes and homeopathic panaceas requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good products. Never drink or eat something that you know nothing about! Most important: listen to your stomach and body…

    Let’s start by listing the ingredients, tell you what I do, and then list a few of the benefits of each potent item that I add. Also, remember to tailor this recipe to your taste and needs… Everyone has different wants and you should adjust and play with this smoothie until you find your perfect one. Most of all, enjoy the entire process… No shake or smoothie should taste like shit and be hard to put down. If you don’t dig what you make you will not stick with it. So, carefully craft your brew to not only give you maximum benefits, but also taste splendid!

    INGREDIENTS

    2 cups Spinach (kale is also great, but doesn’t taste as good to me)
    2+ cups Water (or coconut water, almond milk, etc.)
    1 Tbsp. Hemp Seed Oil
    2 cups Fruit (fresh or frozen)
    2 Tbsp. Ground Flaxseed
    1 Tbsp. Cinnamon (Ceylon)
    2 Tbsp. Hemp Seeds (shelled)
    1 Tsp. Fiber
    1 Tsp. Premium Matcha Tea
    1 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
    3 Stevia Leaves (or drops of liquid)
    1 Tbsp. Raw Honey
    2(ish) cups Ice (1 cup should be enough if you used frozen fruit)

    One of my tricks to having a true smooth smoothie is to blend it in stages. Many folks I know just pile in the ingredients (I’ve been known to do this), but I think it is best broken down like this:

    1. Blend the spinach and liquids;
    2. Add fruit and blend some more;
    3. Add the remaining things and blend one last time.

    Here is some information on the ingredients and why I choose to include them…

    Spinach

    Vitamin C. Lots of it. Spinach is my favorite form of vitamin C! Popeye introduced me to spinach, and I truly believe it’s the miracle food. Along with vitamin C, spinach is also a great natural resource of vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, fiber, vitamin B1, phosphorus, zinc, protein, choline, omega-3 fats, vitamin B3, selenium, and pantothenic acid. And, it has been proven to prevent some forms of cancer! Also, it provides glycoglycerolipids, which are known to protect your digestive tract. Like I said… It’s the miracle food!

    Water

    Your smoothie won’t be drinkable unless you add a liquid. I use water for the simplicity, but you can add any number of nutritious liquids. Try different things out, and find one that tastes great and works for you.

    Hemp Seed Oil

    Hemp seed oil (not to be confused with hemp oil) is an aliment obtained by pressing the raw seeds of the hemp plant, scientifically called Cannabis Sativa (yes, pot). Hemp seeds contain protein, polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega 6, omega 3, and insoluble fiber. They are also a great source of vitamin E antioxidants (tocopherols), potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, strontium, thorium, arsenic, and chromium. The flavor isn’t grand, but in small amounts it can go unnoticed. The benefits far outweigh the taste. Also, hemp seeds are proven to aid with your immunity and counteract aging. Not to mention helping to balance hormones! Good stuff!

    Also, Omega 3 and 6 are hard to find as a vegetarian or vegan… This is a great way to get ’em!

    I believe that hemp seeds are nutritionally superior to most other sources of protein and essential fatty acids.

    Hemophiliac sidebar: Hemp oil is an anticoagulant, and it can have an anti-clotting effect on the blood. Nothing is perfect… Just saying.

     

    Fruit

    Not only does fruit contain lots of goodies for your body and health, but they also sweeten the whole shake! Even though I see clear benefits from using fresh, raw, and ripe fruit, I prefer frozen fruit. It really helps to chill the smoothie, and it is easier to keep for longer. Here is a little somethin’ somethin’ about fruit. If you use fruit with big seeds, make sure you remove them.

    Flaxseed

    There are several forms of Omega 3 & 6… Flaxseed is one. Checkout this article for another type. Along with Omegas, flaxseed also gives you a good source of fiber and can reduce hypertension. Remember to grind up your flaxseed before pouring it into the blender. If you buy it pre-ground, you can/should store it in the fridge or freezer to keep the healthy benefits for longer.

    Cinnamon

    There are two primary types of cinnamon and each offers different benefits. I only use ceylon, not canela molida. This is mostly because of my bleeding disorder, but my research has also revealed the benefits of ceylon to be better (in my humble opinion). Read more about cinnamon here.

    Hemp Seeds

    We already added hemp seed oil, but I like to double up on a good thing.

    Fiber

    Fiber is good and you need it. Remember that not everyone can take psyllium. Some fiber alternatives include: flaxseed, glucomannan, methylcellulose, and inulin. This is an article that talks more about fiber.

    Premium Matcha Tea

    Matcha tea gives you energy in a mystical meditative way. It has been called a state of relaxed alertness. It increases thermogenesis and boosts metabolism; which burns calories. It detoxifies and relaxes the body, calms the mind, enhances concentration. Matcha is filled with fiber, chlorophyll, and vitamins, improves your mood, and prevents disease. Matcha is one of the only sources of the amino acid L-Theanine (suntheanine); which may reduce stress and prevent some types of cancer. It also provides vitamin C, zinc, selenium, chromium, and magnesium. On top of that, it lowers cholesterol and blood sugar. All that aside, I think one of the best parts of matcha is that it is packed with a mega dose of antioxidants including the powerful EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate). If there ever was a super tea, I believe it’s matcha.

    Coconut Oil

    Many benefits come from the coconut. Did you know that societies that have coconut in their daily diet are among the healthiest in the world? Also, it balances out your energy usage and helps with metabolism and burning fat! Coconut oil is also scientifically proven to lessen your chances of heart disease. All around good!

    Secret Tip: Coconut oil liquifies above 75 degrees. So, use hot water to clean your tablespoon and the blender. Also, using a hot spoon makes it easy to carve out of the container.

    Stevia

    Stevia rebaudiana is a plant that has been used for more than 1,500 years in South America by the Guaraní. They called it ka’a he’ê; which translates to sweet herb. Your smoothie will most likely be pretty hard to swallow without some form of sweetening… Try this on for size!

    Raw Honey

    Raw honey, unlike pasteurized honey, promotes digestive health and is a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the immune system with anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. It is believed to eliminate some allergies. Honey is also an excellent remedy for skin wounds and all types of infections. Need I say more?

    Ice

    There isn’t much to explain about this… Suffice it to say that a cold smoothie is more refreshing. If you add too much ice, it will turn out overly thick… If that happens, simply add water to dilute it.

    Optionally, I often add protein. There are many forms and that is another whole article. However, if I’m being pure and true, I think that protein derived from hemp is the best bet. Make sure you try adding your own magical ingredients, and please share what you find in my comments below!

    I should mention that I really dig the benefits of garlic, and eat a clove each day. That said, I NEVER add garlic to my smoothie, because it will wreck it! My preferred method of injestion, is to simply eat it. This is not always easy, and it’s certainly an acquired taste. Do what you like.

    Note: If you call yourself vegan, than the honey should go. Veganism is a way of living which excludes all forms of exploitation and cruelty to the animal kingdom. Unfortunately (or, fortunately depending on how you think of it)… This includes honeybees. Also, some things on my list may not be gluten free. You need to figure that part out on your own.

    Along the nutritional needs line, you might really enjoy this article: Nutrition in a Nutshell.

    Most important (I can’t say it enough), live your life and experience things the way you like… This is merely a guideline… You must find your own path and walk it.

    Cheers,
    Vaughn

    Please comment and let me know what you drink in your smoothie. Also, let me know if this kind of article is helpful and so on.

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    Bleeding Painful

    My buddy and blood brother, Jeff, recently recommended that I… Well, let me share his words:

    "If you don't mind, Vaughn, I know that a few members would appreciate hearing a little more about your hip bleed, treatment, recovery, etc. A few of our younger bleeder siblings are going through them right now so insight into recovery and management would be welcome."

    It just so happens that I healed and recovered from a pretty major hip bleed in the same way I have recovered from maybe one hundred bleeds over the last forty-eight years. However, I’ve perfected my technique over the last twenty or so years… This blog article will discuss what I did. Before starting, let me tell you what I mean by bleed… As most of you already know, I’m a type A mild hemophiliac. That means that my body does not produce an adequate amount of the clotting protein, factor eight (written factor VIII). Because of this I get bleeds that normally manifest themselves in my joints after an accident during one of my adventures.

    One other thing…

    WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

    Let’s dive into my latest hemophilia experience and how I dealt with it. On June 14th I had an accident on my skateboard while performing a stunt of sorts on a vert wall (think half-pipe). Before you say it… Yes… I know that hemophiliacs shouldn’t ride skateboards. Today’s post isn’t to figure out what’s wrong or right for a crazy hemophiliac to do. Rather, how I handle the agony of defeat.

    During the wreck, I felt each and every one of my forty-eight years… Suffice it to say that it hurt… Bad. I got up, brushed myself off (after laying there for a few minutes), and promptly read my body. It told me that I was having a bleed. You read that write… I read my body. You see, all of us have an innate ability to communicate directly with our bodies. As a hemophiliac this comes in very handy as I can always determine a bleed before going in to the hospital. This is the first part of today’s lesson. As an easy bleeder (person living with a bleeding disorder), you must learn to listen properly to your body.

    This may sound a little crazy, but I also self medicate with deep solitude and meditation. I spend time controlling my breathing and drawing into myself. I use the power of my brain to help with the healing. Crazy as it sounds, I believe it works.

    Step two was RICEFFU; which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate, and Factor the Eff Up! In other words, I got home, laid on my sofa with ice on my hip and gave myself an intravenous injection of factor VIII. I continued this step for eight days, because this was a major bleed. For lesser bleeds I will only dose four days. Experience has taught me that the bad bleeds will slowly leak if I stop after four days… So, I did eight days of RICEFFU.

    The first two steps (recognition and medication) are the most important and must not be skipped if you really want to utilize the full extent of your recovery and produce the best outcome in the shortest amount of time. After decades of doing this part wrong, I now know how to shut a bleed down quickly and with the least amount of problems.

    Step three is an evaluation and extended rest period. At this point, I stop the factor, and stop the RICE. I take about one week and simply rest… No workouts. During this time I also carefully listen to my body and the joint in question. I assess and determine if I’m ready to move to step four; which is where the active recovery begins.

    By the way, it is imperative that you don’t workout or stretch during the initial healing period. PERIOD.

    With my medicine done, and my bleed completely stopped I move on to step four. This step is gently, but physical. I start gently stretching and getting motion into the joint. After about two days of this, and ensuring that the bleed is absolutely done, I throw in hot Epsom baths. That’s right, each day I fill a tub with hot (pretty dang hot) water and pour in Epsom Salts. Remember to never get into a hot bath if you think you are still having any bleeding, as this will only bring your injury back. Along with the hot bath and gentle stretches I do some soft pinpointed massaging.

    Each week I increase the depth and pressure of the stretches and massage. I also keep up the baths. This continues until I feel my range of motion is returning and the pain from the bleed is going away. Sometimes this step can take two weeks, other times it can last two+ months! This last time was in the two+ months category because of how damaging it was.

    Next comes body weight exercises, continued stretching, and baths. I also add my tai chi workout; which really helps on a mental level too.

    After all of these steps, I am ready to begin my real workouts (weight lifting, swimming, bike riding, and running) again. It is important to start out slowly and allow ample rest time. This will also help eliminate some of the pain that you will surely endure after having so much time off from training. Ramp the level of intensity up over a few weeks. Before you know it, you will be back stronger than ever. And, ready for the next bleed! …just kidding-sort of…

    To prove what I’m talking about, I’m going to race 156 miles in the annual Hemophilia Federation of America’s Gears for Good race; which I’ve done every year since its inception. Checkout my page and consider donating to help my worth cause of helping those with hemophilia: The-Talented-Mr-Ripley-2015

    Cheers,
    Rip (no pun intended)

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    01001101 01111001 00100000 01001100 01101001 01100110 01100101

    You might be asking yourself, What the heck does that blog title mean? It is binary and translates to “My Life” (without the quotes). This post is about computers and how they have affected my life (and yours). I thought it was apropos (if not a bit geeky) to make the title in binary. BTW – If you recognized the three disks in my article graphic then you’ve been in computers for a while too.

    In my lifetime (I was born on April 12, 1967) we have seen the computer appear and grow exponentially beyond man’s wildest dreams… I know that the computer was technically invented way before that. Most consider the ENIAC, unveiled in 1946, as the first computer. However, controversy (and a lawsuit) has uncovered that the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC) was created in 1942. Even before that (circa 1941) the Z3 was invented in Germany but destroyed shortly after during a bombing raid. All of this is moot though… Because if you look further back, all the way to 1801, you will find that binary was actually used via punch-cards on the Jacquard loom. And, technically, that even used technology based on earlier inventions by the Frenchmen Basile Bouchon (circa 1725). Ready to have your mind blown? Blaise Pascal invented a simple calculating machine back in circa 1642. And, finally, the Sumerian abacus (a math calculating machine) first appeared sometime between 2700 and 2300 BC!

    If you wanna continue being amazed, checkout my article on communications.

    Suffice it to say the computer has been around a LONG time! That said, we really are living in the information technology age and the computer as we know it today was invented in our parent’s lifetime. It took nearly 4,000 years and the invention discovery of electricity to get us where we are… Thousands of inventors have been involved and millions of people have been part of advancing the computer. I’m one of those millions, and this is my story:

    I was first introduced to the computer by my father, Julien Kim Ripley, circa 1977. He would bring me into his office, Rodgers and Associates, which was a land surveying company. They had a PR1ME 300 mainframe computer, and it was incredible to me. Instantly, I saw my future and destiny. Dad and his company used the “beast” for CoGo (Coordinate Geometry), and I used it for PRIMOS, FORTRAN IV, and even some assembler. On top of very rudimentary programming, I also used it for two text based games that were loaded on it. One was Star Trek and the other was Adventure (Colossal Cave). Adventure changed my life. Some of you might recall this:

    YOU ARE STANDING AT THE END OF A ROAD BEFORE A SMALL BRICK BUILDING.
    AROUND YOU IS A FOREST. A SMALL STREAM FLOWS OUT OF THE BUILDING AND
    DOWN A GULLY.

    The epiphany for me was beyond anything I had ever experienced. I mean, sure I had been playing Pong at home for about two years, but this was different. I was on a machine… With a keyboard… Typing commands… Controlling it… I was the master, it was the slave. It did my bidding. And, I quickly learned that it would do anything I wanted.

    Then, in 1979, my grandmother bought our family an Apple II+ home computer. Since then, I have owned an Amiga, TRS-80 Color Computer, Commodore 64, Atari, Apples, IBMs, and every brand of IBM PC clone.

    After Fortran and assembly language, I taught myself BASIC. Then GraForth. Then machine language. Then Pascal (Turbo Pascal). Then C (again Turbo). Then COBOL and CICS. Then C+, C++, VisualBASIC, Java, C#… I think you get the point. I immersed myself. Along with programming languages, I studied every operating system I could get my hands on.

    In 1983, my high school created its first computer class. The teacher was actually a history teacher and really did not know much about computers. I quickly became the teacher’s aide and before I knew it, I was teaching the class.

    My Dad brought home a 300 baud modem (baud is similar to bits per second), we quickly upgraded to a 1200 baud joker. To put this into perspective, you are probably reading this article over a 10mbps (or faster) internet connection. That equates to over 10,000,000 baud. Ain’t technology grand?

    Then the movie, War Games, came out… This changed my life again. Inspired to get even more involved with technology and communication. I started hacking (white hat only – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). I started using several BBSs (bulletin board systems) to share and gain information.

    Next, I found databases. I started programming and database administration with FoxPro back in 1991 (before Microsoft bought them). From FoxPro, I worked with Access, DBase, and then Oracle. I was hooked on yet another way to utilize the power of the computer. During this time I climbed the technology ladder and over three decades rose from data entry clerk to chief information officer.

    My first experience with Unix was in 1992 with Sun. In 1993 I installed a little known operating system called Linux. Starting with Slackware, moving to S.u.S.E. and then later Red Hat, CentOS, Fedora, Debian, and lately Ubuntu. By far, Linux and Unix (I have worked on and tried more than two dozen varieties) is my favorite environment and operating system (even twenty-three years later).

    Before I knew it, the internet and email was here. Each of these things continued to motivate me to enhance my computer knowledge. I taught myself HTML and SGML (later Java, JavaScript, Rails, Ruby, Faces, Grails, and a few others).

    These days, the only programming I do is SQL for databases, and C script for system administration work. I also dabble in mobile apps on my smartphone.

    Writing this blog article was actually eye opening for me. It was fun to dig into the depths of my memory and come up with a timeline of computers in my life. When I started with computers I was using punch-cards (and then tape cassettes) to save my programs. My first program was only a few lines of code. Today, most of my programs are stored on a solid state drive (drive made of random access memory) or even on the cloud.

    I think about the fact that computers came mid-childhood for me, and my seven year old son knows more about computers, smartphones, and tablets than I can imagine. I hadn’t even heard of the computer when I was seven! Xander is already learning to program via some very cool apps and tools for young children. What is the future (and his generation) going to hold for us? I bet it will be exciting!!! At the very least, I believe that computer will do some amazing things in the medical field and help us cure many things that are killing us early. They will also continue to powerfully impact our transportation and we will soon see flying cars as a regular occurrence. Mostly though, for better or for worse, I think that games will get better and better and more realistic.

    What was your computer introduction like, and do you remember your early experiences? Got any predictions for the future?

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    Self Publishing Isn’t Real Publishing

    Hopefully you don’t agree with the title of this article… I actually threw it out there to inspire folks to read and chime in. So… Did my troll work?

    “Not real” is something that I’ve heard repeatedly since self publishing my memoir. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told folks that I self published and then hear back, “Oh. So you haven’t really been published.” Even the other name for self publishing, vanity press, has an unctuous feel to it.

    In the past, When people told me that I haven’t really been published, I hung my head low and agreed with people who made this statement.

    Times have changed. These days I keep my head held high, raise an eyebrow, and say, “Um… My book is in print, it’s available at all major retailers, I’ve sold more than 2,500 copies, and I get quarterly royalty checks. How exactly do you define really published?”

    In today’s technology filled world, I believe it’s perfectly valid to self publish your manuscript.

    On top of that… Think about the numbers associated with this undertaking. Using my book as an example:

    • I spent more than a year writing the 100,000 words in my book;
    • While we’re on that topic; my manuscript was 100,000 words;
    • It took two months to work through my rough draft and glean a finished product;
    • Months-and-months of my time was spent researching the world of publishing;
    • I wrote more than fifty agencies and publishing houses;
    • The self publisher I used assigned me an editor and we re-edited my manuscript;
    • Last but not least, the entire publishing process (after everything else) took more than six months!

    After nearly three years of hard work, my book was bound and published in soft and hard cover formats.

    What do you think?

    If you’d like to see my self publishing adventure, checkout my article, How I Self Published. Also, if you dig, checkout my Inkslinger category for more writing-based blog posts.

    I hope you enjoyed my brief tirade,
    Vaughn (a published author)

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    How to Give a Killer Speech or Presentation

    So much advice exists out there, and here I am just piling on more… However, I do have some experience in this field. I am an inspirational speaker and extreme encourager who has given hundreds of speeches and presentations. Over the years I’ve learned some really important key factors and also built some of my own opinions on things that do or don’t work. So, I thought I would share some of my findings… Just remember that like most things found on the web, this is my personal opinion and you should obviously create your own based on your findings.

    Probably the number one question I get asked is, “How do you speak to an audience without fear and nervous tension?” The short answer is, I don’t. HA! How do you like them apples?? Honestly, I’m not sure I will ever be completely rid of the butterflies. I mean come on, this is simply a human reaction (stemming from flight, fright, or freeze) that we cannot control. That said, there are several things you can do (or not do) to alleviate your pain. Some of these will sound ridiculously obvious to many, but hopefully I can share enough of my own ideas to help anyone.

    Before I list my thoughts on soothing speech jitters, let’s dispel a few ideas I think aren’t as good as some people say they are:

    1. Imagine your audience is in their underwear. Really? Um… I dunno about you, but this just doesn’t work for me. I mean come on… Do I really wanna be thinking about that?? I have enough trouble concentrating on my task at hand, without throwing in: the old guy with the walker and wondering if he’s wearing a diaper… Or, getting stuck on that hot lady in red…

    2. Never look people in their eyes. Stare at foreheads or something else. This might work for some, but I’m sincerely trying to connect with my audience. My speeches and presentations are from the heart and it just doesn’t feel right trying to locate a mole on someone’s head, or worse getting caught (accidentally) staring at the lady in red’s breasts.

    3. Use lots of bullet points so you can remember where you are and what you’re talking about. Ahhhh… No. Bullet points are boring as shit. See my section below about preparation and practice, know your talk like the back of your hand, and skip the twenty lines of code on each slide. I don’t have a cute line about the lady in red for this one, but for some reason I can’t get her out of my head…

    Now let’s talk about real world things we can (and probably should) do to eliminate or at least lessen stage fright… First and foremost, if you want to skip the upset stomach, sweaty palms, and nervous stuttering, do this one thing:

    • Make sure your speech doesn’t suck!!!

    That may sound silly, but it’s true. If you’re already nervous about your content then you will automatically be nervous while presenting it! The easiest way to do this is to prepare. And then, prepare. Finally, after all that, make sure you prepare. You need to carefully and meticulously research your speaking points and ensure that the material is actually going to be important to your intended audience! Skipping this stage is sure to keep you up late at night and make you horribly nervous at speech time.

    • Along with the three prepares, you must also do three (or more) practices. There is no simple algorithm that tells you precisely how much time to spend practicing, but I can tell you that the better you know your material, the better you will feel when you walk onto that stage. Think about this, would you be more nervous going on stage and trying to simply say, “A, B, C” or reciting a page of Shakespeare’s King Lear from memory? I dunno about you, but I’ll take “A, B, C” any day!!! The reason is simple. My odds are infinitely higher that I will screw up chanting ancient tomes. That said, by practicing and knowing your material you will calm yourself.
    • Use photos or graphics instead of words… If at all possible, don’t put words in your presentation slides. If I have any words, they are short one-liners that give an overall look at this section of my talk. Instead I find inspirational (and cool) photos that relate to the subject. The audience doesn’t want to read through boring line after line… They wanna see a beautiful sunset or picturesque ocean wave. Just make sure that whatever you put there will keep you focused on the part you’re discussing. For instance, when I get to a part where I’m telling a scary story from one of my mountaineering expeditions, I have a photo of a crevasse, or mountain peak, or guy freezing his arse off. This way you won’t distract yourself, or (more importantly) the audience.

    Side note: If you aren’t relying on bullet points or run-on sentences in your slide deck, then you will be much better prepared when the laptop, projector, or something else fails. Part of the “be prepared” and practice session is that if a wrench gets thrown into your talk (it happens to the best of us), you will be ready to roll despite the hurdles. In turn, this makes you even more comfortable when speech time comes!

    • Be properly fueled up and hydrated. I can’t express this one enough… You must have a balanced level of nutrients and water in your body. If you aren’t hydrated you will feel it on stage. Along these lines, don’t go out partying late the night before a speech… Getting drunk, hung over, and tired before a speech is a big no-no. If you enjoy libations, feel free to do that AFTER your speech! This can be an exhilarating way to celebrate with some of your audience.
    • Fitness goes hand-in-hand with nutrition. I find that doing some physical activity before a speech (make sure you have time for a shower and clean-up… Don’t just run right on stage after a five mile run, ding-dong!) really ramps me up and energizes me. Don’t over do it, but get some exercise in and empower yourself!
    • Take a potty break a short while before your sprint onto stage. Regardless of how often you pee, you will feel like you need to go to the bathroom leading up to your speech. Make sure you get a bathroom trip in before going on stage. Feel comfortable knowing that the sensation is all in your mind, and move past it.
    • Remember the rule of tens… Actually, I’m not sure if there is a rule of tens… hehe… But, I call it that. People tend to get bored after about ten minutes. So, prepare your speech so that you are switching slides at least once every ten minutes. Change your subject or storyline at least once every ten minutes. If one of my stories or subjects goes over the ten minute line, I like to throw in something scary right at the ten-minute mark and emphasize it with extreme arm flailing and loud vocals. Whatever you do, keep the crowd engrossed by giving them a change of pace.
    • If you’re funny, then start with a joke… If you aren’t, then skip it. This is another of the obvious ones, but must be discussed. I’m a goofball, and love laughing at myself. It’s actually a bit of a tension breaker for me (not just the audience) to get up and start with a chuckle. Often I will pick on myself or one of my silly faults. That said, if you aren’t a naturally funny person, you might want to forgo the awkward joke. There is no written rule about using or omitting a joke as an introduction… But I can tell you that your nerves will only get worse if you tell a dry joke and no one laughs. food for thought!
    • Lastly, and perhaps most important… Believe in yourself, believe in your message, and believe in your audience. Remember, these guys and gals signed up to hear what you have to say. You owe it to them, to relay your message with a positive impact and inspirational spin. Now get out there, and nail it!

    BTW – did you notice I used bullet points to point out my ideas?? Remember: BPs are okay in an article, not okay in a speech.

    Disclaimer: The lady in red is a fictitious character and is simply a product of the author’s lewd imagination. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely in my dreams…

    What do you do to spice up your talks and ease your worries?

    I hope this post was not only helpful, but also inspirational in some form or fashion.

    Cheers,
    Vaughn

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    World AIDS Day 2014

    Today is World AIDS Day. Look for folks wearing a red ribbon! Speaking of which… Do you know where the red ribbon for AIDS awareness comes from? Way back in good ole 1991, a creative group (made up of photographers, painters, film makers, and costume designers) of twelve people gathered to discuss a new project; a New York arts organization that raises awareness for HIV. After a short brainstorming session, they came up with an idea that later became one of the most recognized symbols of the time – the red ribbon. It is worn to signify awareness and support for people living with HIV and AIDS.

    Since the red ribbon was popularized for AIDS awareness, literally dozens of other colors have appeared, including: pink for breast cancer, yellow for deployed U.S. military forces, white for lung cancer, and so on and so forth. Technically, the yellow ribbon came out more than a century ago and has appeared in several songs and poems. But, the official ribbon stipulation started with the red AIDS ribbon.

    Please take 90 (or more) seconds out of your day today to reflect and remember the millions and millions of people affected and infected by this horrible virus, disease, and/or syndrome.

    As usual, I like to put things into perspective… So, let’s tackle some numbers first. Did you know?

  • It’s estimated that around 40 million people are currently living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Almost 40 million people have died of AIDS worldwide.
  • Each year, around 2 million people die due to HIV/AIDS, and another 2.5+ million are newly infected.
  • Although HIV/AIDS affects all regions of the world, almost 97% of those living with it reside in low to middle-income countries (mostly in sub-Saharan Africa).
  • There are more than 16 million orphans due to losing their parents from AIDS!
  • Last, but not least, around 10,000 of those who lost their lives in this horrendous battle were hemophiliacs.
  •  

    I have been living with HIV for around 30 years. Over the years I have asked myself countless times, Why did I survive and others like me didn’t? I believe that I was spared because I am a strong and comfortable speaker. Seriously! I truly believe that I am still here to be an advocate and activist. It is my duty to stand tall and let the world know what is going on. And, potentially to help inspire those living with and dealing with HIV/AIDS. My message is a simple one… “This is not a death sentence, and you can thrive despite having it!”

    You guys might remember a post from last year called, Dum Spiro Somnium. That is my life motto and it essentially means, While I breathe, I dream. In other words, as long as I breathe I will continue to believe in my dream of a world without AIDS. Join my dream, and together we can defeat AIDS!

    My Dream is a World Without AIDS

    If you want to read my story and the journey that I have struggled through, pick up my book Survivor.

    It is our duty to NEVER FORGET and strive to beat this horrific disease!

    As part of my advocacy and message spreading, I started blogging around six years ago. Back on February 13, 2009, I created HIV Longevity, and tried to send inspirational and thought provoking messages, posts, and articles. Since then, I have posted more than 200 articles. Many of these blog articles have been based around HIV, AIDS, and dealing with the horrible problems associated with them. More recently I hibernated the HIV Longevity blog and switched to the Healthy Wealthy Tribe. Primarily I did this because I wanted to reach a broader audience and talk about things outside of HIV and AIDS.

    Since 1 in 100 people are HIV+, almost all of us are affected by this terrible virus. How are you affected by HIV/AIDS?

    This message of hope was sent with love, from my still beating heart (despite the odds).

    Signed,
    the survivor, the advocate, and the inspirational dreamer.

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    Independence Day 2014

    HaPpY BiRtHDaY to the United States of America!

    Independence Day, also known as “National Day,” is a designated date on which celebrations mark the nationhood of the United States of America. During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from the oppressing Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776. On that day the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence. After voting for independence, Congress worked on the Declaration of Independence. Congress debated and revised the wording of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration, approving it on July 4, 1776.

    The second sentence of the Declaration of Independence might just be the most famous sentence in the English language:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    This is America’s moral standard. It is our clear understanding of how we try to lead our lives. “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” sums it up for me. This is what the United States of America stands for in my eyes. And I try to convey that to my friends and family. Daily, I strive to pass this message on to my children in the hopes that they too shall carry that message to their children.

    Now that my history lesson is over, let’s talk about why I really called you all here today. Not sure why, but it seems like lately (more than ever before) our country and it’s citizens have been beating each other up. To me (and some of this could be me just getting older), there is more-and-more separation between political parties and the way people think of their rights. We bash each other constantly pointing out and picking on our beliefs and feelings. That seems to be an acid in the belly of our great nation.

    Sometimes I wonder if we aren’t too self-centered and caught up in making sure we get ours. These days it feels like many of US need to make sure that folks are listening to US, that folks are respecting US, and that folks are giving US what we deserve.

    That is horseshit!

    What happened to JFK’s statement: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” We use to cheer when we heard that statement. We use to stand up and chant agreement. These days I see people with their hands out. Saying, “What about me?” I see a bunch of sheep and bums wanting to line up and get what they think they deserve.

    There was a time (not too long ago) when you actually had to work for what you got. When a day’s labor equaled a day’s wages. Many of US have forgotten what it was like to work our fingers to the bone just to put food on the table.

    I purposefully capitalized US throughout that last section. Because when I think of us, I think of the U.S. US is the United States of America – aka US. We need to stand united. We must stand together and fight for our country. Not separate bitching about what we aren’t getting.

    Stop sitting on your ass and whining about how bad the country is getting. Instead stand up and do something to make it better. In my opinion, you do not deserve to whine about the state of the nation, unless you are willing to participate in making it better.

    *climbs down off his soap box*

    Sorry for the rant, but I’m tired of hearing the complaints. I love my nation. I love my neighbors. I love life.

    Unless you want an earful, don’t cry to me about how bad America is.

    Today is a special day. It encapsulates everything America is and will be. It marks the birth of our great nation. We may not have utopia here, but I believe this is the greatest nation on Earth. Now, ever, and forever!

    Join me in being grateful for a free country where we can post articles like this without fear of having our doors kicked in.

    Please comment and let me know your true feelings.

    This article was posted with sincere and caring beliefs.

    -Vaughn “the patriot” Ripley

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    Flag Day 2014

    Today is Flag Day for the United States America. Flag Day officially occurs each year on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on that day in 1777. June 14th is also the birthday of the United States Army. Happy birthday! Hoo-ah!

    Proper care of a U.S. flag is of utmost importance. For those of you who fly a flag you might not be aware that there is actually a formal way to properly retire and dispose of an old and worn flag. I will discuss what the Ripley family does for this procedure. There are several options, including bringing your old flag to a local American Legion or VFW office. However, we choose to burn the flag in our back yard. Any of these ways are valid.

    We start by buying a high quality flag which will last for a year before it really starts to show signs of being worn and ready for disposal. On Flag Day (June 14th) we dispose of last year’s flag. I picked this date, because it’s a great time to explain the importance of the flag to the children, and we can do so while going through our family ceremony.

    Here’s our personal retirement ceremony in a nutshell:

    1. While the flag is still hanging, call the group to attention, salute, place your hand over your heart, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

    The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States (originally composed by Francis Bellamy in 1892)

    I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

     

    2. The leader says, “This flag has served its nation and our family well. It is worn to a condition which is not fit to be used to represent the United States of America. We are grateful for its symbolizing our great nation and we pay honor to this flag for the service it has rendered. We will now fold and dispose of this flag.”

    3. Take the flag down and then properly fold it.

    4. Move to the prepared fire and everyone salutes the flag one last time. The group holds their salute until the leader places it on the fire and then they all finish the salute with the leader’s final salute. The group remains standing reverently until the flag is completely consumed.

    May you have a wonderful Flag Day!

    -Vaughn “the patriot” Ripley

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    Spiritual Enlightenment on a Hill

    Do you want to find yourself? I mean really find yourself… Find what you’re made of… Find what you have in you… And, find your deepest unreachable areas that only come out when you really push yourself and enter a zone of dopamine and endorphine release that can only be found when you go past your comfort zone. WAY PAST your comfort zone… Let’s dabble in this sacred arena… But first:

    WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

    Back to finding our inner being…

    There are many ways to look inside yourself. Most involve some form of calm, soothing, meditation and deep philosophical thought. You might find you get this in the shower, just before going to sleep at night, or even in the car during your long drive to work. However, I have discovered another place. One that might help you get deeper than you ever thought possible. Do you dig? Essentially this one seems contradictory to all of the other “calm” ways of finding you. This one revolves around getting your heart rate near or above 90% of your maximum predicted heart rate (MPHR). If you aren’t familiar with your MPHR, or would like more heart rate information, please checkout my previous post, Heartrate Zones.

    There is a caveat… Because we must keep this heart rate for a prolonged period of time (think fifteen or more minutes), you must not hit your lactic threshold (somewhere around 91.5% of your max heart rate). The reason is that when you hit this threshold, you absolutely cannot maintain your current stress level without utter failure within a few seconds. So, let’s shoot for a heart rate between 87% and 91% of our max. I chose 87% for a reason… This is the number when I get into a euphoric zone and my mind drifts into realms that normal sane people don’t wander in to. You can tell when you are around 87% because that is close to when you start hearing your heart beat in your ears. I’m not talking about dull thumps… I’m talking about turn your head and look to see who’s pounding a drum next to your face!

    Ok… Let’s assume that you can find that heart rate zone… I call this zone the Third Eye Zone. Because it literally opens a gateway to your soul (alright, that sounds a bit hinky, but you get the gist!) Once there, we must remain there for a while. I prefer twenty or so minutes. This allows us to clear out the daily humdrum. It give you time to stop worrying about the bills, children, marriage, bills, work, bills… you get the point.

    So now we’re in the Third Eye Zone (TEZ from this point forward). You will know you’re there because the road will be breathing. Trees and other objects around you will appear to bend and flux with each of your labored breaths. I find the easiest way to get into (and stay in) TEZ is by riding my bicycle up a steep (and long) hill. I need a hill that is steep enough that I’ll easily get into TEZ, and long enough that I can stay there for twenty plus minutes. For me, this means at least an 8% grade for two or more miles. These aren’t easily findable in all areas. I’m fortunate enough to live in an area that offers half a dozen or more of these bad-boys. If you can’t find a TEZ hill then you might want to try and get this euphoric state via biking hard or running hard without killer hills. I find this MUCH harder to sustain and dangerous to get into TEZ because of the high rate of speed it takes to accomplish this. Please use your best judgement if you don’t have a local TEZ hill.

    I do not recommend EVER trying to hit TEZ while swimming. That is just sick! But, a stair machine might safely get you there.

    Once you find the TEZ hill and get into your desired heart rate spend a few minutes smoothing out your thoughts. This is not hard because true TEZ makes it very hard to concentrate on life’s problems. Calm (or at least steady) your breathing and delve deep into yourself. Focus inward and start thinking those strange thoughts that you don’t like to admit you think. You will find the hills are actually easier to climb when in this state, because you sort of forget your on a hill, let alone riding…

    Here is a sample of how my TEZ session goes:

    Andrew and I are out on a long training ride (think 60+ miles at a good pace with a few TEZ hills in the middle). As I approach my TEZ hill I already start to calm and free my mind. Andrew and I usually talk throughout the entire ride, but talking stops when you hit a big hill. Instead of a conversation, if you’re near each other, talking on a big hill is more limited to things like, “holy shit,” “I can’t believe you talked me into this,” “I might walk up this one,” “ug,” “Did you say something?” and similar broken sentences. If you are truly in TEZ then you will not hold solid, coherent discussions.

    Usually at the beginning of TEZ my riding glasses fog up. Sometimes (for some odd, unknown reason) only one lens fogs up. This happens because your hot head is changing the temperature of the lenses and you simply aren’t going fast enough (unless you’re Lance) to provide cooling wind to clear them. This is my first sign of entering TEZ.

    Next, my thoughts wonder. I start thinking weird ideas. And, I find myself asking (internally), What did I just think? This is a good sign!

    Finally, the flood of blood pulsing in my ears tells me, “Here we go!”

    For me, TEZ begins right around 160BPM. And, my lactic threshold is ~166BPM. But, I don’t need to check my heart rate monitor, because I’m a pro at this stuff. Do it for a while and you’ll see what I mean.

    Once the thoughts drift away, a new form of thoughts come in… These are deeper thoughts. More philosophical thoughts. I start working with the thoughts and turn them into discoveries. I find joy and excitement as I uncover mysteries. I unlock secrets and mystical tales. Most of all, I find the inner me. With fifteen to twenty minutes of this, I can really dig in and find some hidden gems.

    The cool thing about TEZ is that even though you are suffering with immeasurable pain at climbing this Godforsaken hill, you don’t even notice it. As a matter of fact, if you hit TEZ just right, you will suddenly be at the top of the climb and not realize how it happened so quickly.

    Try it! And, please let me know if it works for you.

    Cheers,
    Rip

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    HeartRate Zones

    You’ve probably (hopefully) heard about heart rate training zones. And, if you’re into fitness you already know a bit about it. Today’s article will cover this (a little bit) for those of us who are a bit confused or wanting a little more information.

    WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

    Ahhh… Got that disclaimer out of the way, now we can talk about blowing your heart up! hehe.

    For simplicity, many people use the Haskell and Fox Formula for determining their maximum predicted heart rate (MPHR). This method is commonly believed to be the most accurate. There is also the Karvonen Method; which includes the resting heart rate in the formula.

    The Haskell and Fox Formula is simply: MPHR=220-your_age

    That said, I don’t like to use any formula. Everybody has a different sized heart. And, different sized hearts pump blood at different rates. Everybody is at different levels of fitness. And, everyone is.. um.. different! For this reason, in my humble opinion, there is no “real” standard formula to know your true maximum heart rate (hence throwing “predicted” into the title. According to Haskell and Fox my MPHR is 173 beats per minute (BPM). But I know for a fact that my MPHR is at least 182 BPM, because I’ve hit that several times! If you must know your maximum heart rate, check with a cardiologist doctor who specializes in VO2Max (maximal oxygen uptake/intake) stress testing, or a fitness professional who has the proper equipment to measure this for you. Never try to do it on your own, because you could (and probably will) kill yourself!

    Sidenote: One of my pet peeves is when people think that you can push yourself extra hard and momentarily boost your heart rate over your maximum BPM. Let’s dispel that shit right now… It is called maximum because it is the maximum. There is no going over (even for a second) the maximum rate your heart can pump. Otherwise it would be called close to maximum or something along those lines. If you go over your max heart rate, you have now discovered that your previous number was too low and you can replace it with the new value. PERIOD

    Another note: Your MPHR will go down by approximately one beat per year (similar to Haskell and Fox’s guess). So, if you are 184 BPM this year, you will probably be 183 next year… And so on, and so forth.

    Let’s discuss the “zones” for a minute. This is a common heart rate training zone list:
    Zone 1 – 50-60% – Recovery (aerobic)
    Zone 2 – 60-70% – Endurance (aerobic)
    Zone 3 – 70-80% – Stamina (aerobic)
    Zone 4 – 80-90% – Economy (anaerobic)
    Zone 5 – 90-100% – Speed (anaerobic)

    It is scientifically proven that training in certain zones is more beneficial depending on what you’re trying to achieve. I’m not going into deep detail here, because there are tons of books that contain way more information than I could hope to include in a blog article. This is merely an introduction to get your interest piqued.

    Now let’s draw a quick chart that shows a sample of how those zones are associated with heart rates. Since I know my estimated max, we’ll use my values to create our chart:

    HR Zone
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    % of Max
    50-60%
    60-70%
    70-80%
    80-90%
    90-100%
    Heart Rate (BPM)
    91-109
    110-127
    128-146
    146-164
    165-182

    Now that we have laid this handy-dandy chart out, we need to factor one more important piece in to the equations… Everybody has a muscular failure point in exercise commonly called lactic acid threshold or lactate threshold. Essentially this means that your muscles (and ATP) cannot clear the lactic acid that is building up in your muscles. When this threshold is hit, you have a very short amount of time (sometimes seconds) left before you can no longer continue your activity. I’m sure we’ve all felt this threshold at some point in our life. I feel it at least a few times each week! Suffice it to say (without getting to obfuscated) if you go over this limit, you will not be able to continue working at that level for more than a few seconds.

    This threshold appears to be somewhere right around 91.5% of your MPHR. Mine is at 166 BPM. During cardio, you do not want to go over this threshold (unless you are doing advanced high intensity interval training), because you won’t be able to maintain your state of exercise for more than a few seconds before you fall over and lay panting until your heart rate gets down and your muscles clear themselves of the painful acid. However, we often try to get to this point while doing weight lifting and other forms of anaerobic exercise (as opposed to aerobic exercise).

    For more information on heart rate zones you can look for books by Sally Edwards and Joe Friel (among literally hundreds of other great authorities). My absolute favorite is found in The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joe Friel. He breaks it down in much more detail and even breaks the fifth zone into three sections (5a, 5b, and 5c).

    I know this was only a cursory glance at this material, but I sincerely hope you found the article informative!

    Now, figure out your zones, design a plan that includes being in one or more of them, and get out there and hit that zone!!!

    -Rip

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    Memorial Day 2014

    More than 1,280,000 Americans have died in war since the American Revolutionary War. Memorial Day is a time to remember not only these soldiers, sailors, pilots, and marines, but also ALL American military personnel who have died while in service of their country.

    Let’s start by clearly defining what Memorial Day is. I’ve heard many versions of what it is… I’ve even heard it confused with Veteran’s Day. Memorial Day is an American holiday used to remember the men and women who died while serving, while Veteran’s Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, living or dead. Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday during the month of May. Originating after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers (both sides!) who died during the Civil War, it was originally called Decoration Day. Traditionally folks put flowers and other decorations on soldiers’ graves. This was the start of Decoration Day.

    Over time, the name changed from Decoration to Memorial. Then in 1967 it was officially changed to Memorial Day and also extended to recognize and honor all military men and women who died while serving (instead of just the Civil War). The holiday was celebrated on May 30th, but in 1968 Congress passed the “Uniform Monday Holiday Act,” and Memorial Day was one of the holidays moved from its traditional date to a specified Monday. This was done to make convenient three-day weekends.

    Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. That said, the absolute definition seems to include anyone who dies during military service.

    Because Memorial Day is the beginning of Summer, and most of the flag related holidays come after it, my family replaces our flag on the night before Memorial Day. Each year, we pull down and properly retire/dispose of our old flag and replace it with a brand new one. This way we will have a pretty flag for Memorial Day, Flag Day, Fourth of July, and Veteran’s Day…

    Proper care of a U.S. flag is of utmost importance. For those of you who fly a flag, maybe you already know this part… Some of you may not be aware that there is actually a formal way to properly retire and dispose of an old and worn flag. I will discuss what the Ripley family does for this procedure. There are several options, including bringing your old flag to a local Boy Scout Troop, American Legion, or VFW office. However, we choose to burn the flag in our back yard. Any of these ways are valid. The one thing you MUST NEVER do is simply throw an old flag in the garbage!

    We start by buying a high quality flag which will last for a year before it really starts to show signs of being worn and ready for disposal. On the evening before Memorial Day we dispose of last year’s flag. I picked this date, because it’s a great time to explain the importance of the flag to the children, and we can do so while going through our family ceremony.

    Here’s our personal retirement ceremony in a nutshell:

    1. While the flag is still hanging, call the group to attention, salute, place your hand over your heart, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

    The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States (originally composed by Francis Bellamy in 1892)

    I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

     

    2. The leader says, “This flag has served its nation and our family well. It is worn to a condition which is not fit to be used to represent the United States of America. We are grateful for its symbolizing our great nation and we pay honor to this flag for the service it has rendered. We will now fold and dispose of this flag.”

    3. Take the flag down and then properly fold it.

    4. Move to the prepared fire and everyone salutes the flag one last time. The group holds their salute until the leader places it on the fire and then they all finish the salute with the leader’s final salute. The group remains standing reverently until the flag is completely consumed.

    The last thought is… Remember that today is a special day and we should honor our fallen brothers and sisters. Spend at least a minute today to reflect quietly and feel sincere gratitude for all that our military has done in our name. Thank you for reading this, and thank you for listening to this patriot rant. I love you all.

    -Vaughn “the patriot” Ripley

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    Mother’s Day 2014

    This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day. And, it is a time to be grateful for all that your mother has done for you. Make sure that you not only let her know how much you appreciate everything she’s done for you, but also show it by showering her with love.

    Trinity, Xander, and I are going to bring my soul mate and their mother a special breakfast in bed. The kids are soooo excited, and already planning all kinds of fun stuff. This is a great opportunity for daddy to bond and have fun with the kids as well.

    Today I wanted to take a different approach and hit on a special group of moms. I’d like to dedicate this post to hemophiliac moms. All mothers have a very tough job and they determine the outcome of a child’s beliefs and character. I consider this job one of the most important in the world (and toughest!) That said, there is another breed of moms that take it to a whole new level. Mothers who have children with disabilities are on on a whole new plane. These moms not only have everyday normal things to deal with, but they also do regular trips to the doctors, specialists, hospitals, counselors, and treatment centers (among other places). They do everything that all mothers do, plus have a plate of troubling times that most of us would run screaming from.

    These moms are a special breed. And, today’s special breed is close to my heart, because my mom is one of them. And, my wife is one of them. I can never properly convey the amount of gratitude and appreciation that I have for these AMAZING women! If you are the mother of a child (or children) with a bleeding disorder than I salute you. You, my friend, are a rare individual who is doing more for the planet and human race than I can fathom.

    Thirty years ago, the hemophilia population started dying off… I’m talking about 90% or more getting HIV from tainted blood products… Nearly 100% getting hepatitis C… This was beyond devastating to the community as a whole. Think about it for a moment… Almost the entire hemophilia population died over the twenty years that happened immediately after this disastrous event. As a matter-of-fact, all of my hemophiliac friends that I knew died. ALL OF THEM!

    If you consider this for a moment, you will realize the depth of this tragedy. You might also realize the moms out there who lost their babies… Lost them by the thousands!!! I am crying simply typing this… Imagine (for a moment) their pain. These women have been through more than anyone deserves to endure. They have done so, and continue to do so. They are heroes. The real-deal hero!

    Another point that comes to mind when I think about moms and what is known as the Hemocaust… Many of the community-run organizations were mostly managed and maintained by adult hemophiliac men. Almost all of these men died. Think on that. Literally, in a short period, we not only lost our brothers and sisters… We also almost lost the entire community, because no one was there to run the organizations. This is nearly unimaginable to me, yet it was happening around the country.

    I often think of euphemisms for this occurrence. The one that really comes to mind is passing the torch. Well, I was talking about this with my buddy, Jack, the other day and it hit me… This was not simply passing the torch. It happened too fast and too devastatingly to let anyone pass anything. In an instant people started dropping like flies. No… What really happened was this. Thousands of men died. Thousands of men literally DROPPED their torches without the time or energy to pass them on. During that time, the community and future generations needed someone to act. Someone did act. The moms acted. The moms stepped up, despite their pain and anguish. Selflessly, they wiped away their tears and they picked up the torches from the ground. In some case the torches had gone completely out and needed to be re-lit. Regardless, a generation of moms… A generation of women stronger than most can imagine… A generation of loving and kind souls… Came together and rebuilt a community that nearly died.

    I can tell you that I fell away from the community more than a quarter of a century ago. Heck, I assumed I was dying. But, to my amazement, when I came back four years ago, I found a thriving community… A community of strong people who were dedicated and focused. A community that had fixed itself with band-aids and duct tape through the nineties and into 2000. A community that was not only still standing, but standing tall, strong, and proud.

    Damn! I mean… Damn! I am in awe of what transpired. And, I am eternally grateful to all of the people who came together to save us. Most of all, I am grateful to the moms.

    I believe I speak for everyone, when I say:

    Have a very special Mother’s Day, moms!!!

    With love,
    Vaughn

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    World Hemophilia Day 2014

    Today is April 17, 2014. Today is a day for remembrance. Today is a day of gratitude and thanks. Today is a day like no other… Today is World Hemophilia Day.

    For those of you who don’t know… Hemophilia, Von Willebrands, and other bleeding disorders are inherited or mutated problems that affect our ability to clot. In other words, if we get an internal injury (bruise, muscle injury, joint damage, or other form), it is impossible (or nearly so) to stop the bleeding. Prior to the 1960s we bled until we died or suffered irreparable injuries. Once blood products were available to stop the bleeding we were living longer lives. But… Along with this miraculous cure came blood-borne pathogens and viruses like Hepatitis and HIV. These cursed side-effects nearly killed off all hemophiliacs during the 80s and 90s. However, we overcame this plague era and thrived to carry on for future generations.

    World Hemophilia Day was set aside to think about and remember people with bleeding disorders. This day is a special day designated to raise awareness and care for people who suffer from bleeding disorders.

    Along with many of the bleeding disorder community, I am going to work hard to raise awareness by tweeting throughout the day. I will use the HASHTAG “#WorldHemoDay” and, along with many others, attempt to make this HASHTAG a “trend.” In order to get a HASHTAG to trend, you need thousands of related tweets within the same hour… So, I plan to HASHTAG it all day long, with an emphasis on banging out bunches of tweets during the one hour window of 11 a.m. until 12 p.m. EST. Please join me and help raise awareness!!!

    If you do decide to participate in our tweet-fest, please make sure you include the HASHTAG “#WorldHemoDay” at the very least, and consider including these awesome organizations: @WFHemophilia @HemophiliaFed @NHF_Hemophilia

    Here is a sample tweet that you can adjust accordingly:

    Today is #WorldHemoDay PLS remember all easy bleeders and visit these orgs: @wfhemophilia @hemophiliafed @NHF_Hemophilia PLS RT

     

    Also, @hemophiliafed, @NHF_Hemophilia, and @wfhemophilia are having a discussion on Twitter at 1 p.m. EST. Search for the HASHTAG #HemoChat and chime in!!!

    In addition, please help me with my bid to put a hemophiliac on the cover of Men’s Health magazine for the first time ever. We can make a statement that hemophiliacs and other people with bleeding disorders are capable of being healthy and fit too. And, we can raise a huge amount of awareness with this cover. You can vote here: www.mhguysearch.com/entry/37

    No matter what you do to spread awareness, also remember to take a few peaceful minutes to remember our fallen brothers and sisters. They died so that the rest of us can have better service and treatment. They died so that we have better and safer blood products and medicine available. They died for US.

    God bless the easy bleeders!

    Thank you for your love and support,
    Vaughn “the Easy Bleeder” Ripley

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