On October 18, 2014, I participated in the 51st Annual Longhorn Alumni Band Reunion at the Texas vs Iowa State. This was the first time I have participated in the last 10 years (I used to always do it from 1995-2002, but dropped out afterwards). This completes one item from my Ultimate Quest List for 2014-2015 (see The Road Ahead for more information on the Ultimate Quest).

For this event, I decided to do a couple of videos. Three of the videos are from me and two are from other people. I also have a photo gallery posted at Picasa (and available from the menu above).

Also note that the videos were not made with a GoPro. I used my simple camera which does film in HD mode. This camera was mounted to my tuba with a flexible camera mount. I was surprised at how stable it was. Either that, or I remembered how to keep my upper body stable.

The first video is what halftime looks like from my perspective. I was on the North 15 Yard Line leading a curl from the East sideline. Note for those of you who have never experienced marching band, the phasing issues you hear while I am marching is common and due to how sound echoes back in the stadium. At first, it seems disorienting, but you do get used to it.

What was funny is that I was not the only person to do this. A snare drummer also strapped a camera on and video taped halftime. I say this is funny because we were on the same line and I can see him and his camera from my video and he can see me and my camera from his. So here is his video for comparison:

The next video was the march from Music Building East to the Stadium including the Ramp Climb from hell.

The next video was my recording of the Longhorn Band Pre-Game show. Please excuse my “sucky” singing. Not used to people actually singing Deep in the Heart of Texas.

The final video is of the entire halftime show taken by someone in the crowd.

Will I do it again? Yes. I had fun. It was good exercise. I will try to get more people that I know to go too…

The Road Ahead (CNF Part 2)

Updated on 10/18/2014 to Mark Off Items From the List

Updated on 10/26/2014 for Amy’s Bootcamp, Going Shirtless, and an update on Softball/Wiffleball

In the first part of this series (Camp Nerd Fitness Post-Mortem), I described my experiences at camp. As I said in the article, this was one of my life transformational events. What is a life transformational event? These are important events that change the direction of my life henceforth. Examples of such events include starting college (gaining the first independence of my young life), starting my first full-time job, and when the last member of my immediate family passed away (transitioning to a life alone in the world). So what was the big deal that caused camp to be life transformational? It was the fact that I forced myself to barge right through the barriers of my life like an Angry Bull in Pampona. Could I have done this myself? Possibly. But what made the experience to be the best I could have forseen was the fact that the group of people I was with unknowingly supported me in this effort. If I did this in what I term the real world, I faced an uncertain result - maybe ridicule, maybe worse. Did I feel out of place? Unfortunately I still have to say Yes, but it is a qualified Yes. I’m an introvert. I’m an Aspie. I’m still uncomfortable around meal times and still don’t catch sarcasm and humor all of the time. There are many hurdles to tackle and I did the best that I can and I felt that I accomplished all of the goals that I wanted plus a whole lot more. I still have more hurdles to face. Will it be hard? Heck yes, but it is doable. I have more on these hurdles and how I hope to overcome them later on this post. I came to camp thinking that I was going to be a definite outlier because of my size. While I was the largest person at camp, I felt no stigma and I felt accepted.

When I left the airport following the trip, I actually spent most of the drive home crying. Crying for missing the people and the things we were doing. Crying for the success of breaking my barriers. Crying in realizing that I have thusfar wasted way too many experiences and that I need to make permanent changes. Thus I happily embrace the mantel of #CNF365 that has been passing around the CNF 2014 Alumni Facebook page. Living out the success and leaning on others for the inevitable failures. Seeing some people as my “Yodas” and being a Yoda to my “Padawan”. Support others as they endeavor to be the best version of themselves possible. But I realize I needed to make fundamental changes to various aspects of my life. In particular, I am tired of being the following:

  • Alone. I live my life in a self-imposed isolation ward and tend to push people away who try to get close. This is true in both my platonic friendships and in any romantic situation I find myself in. It’s hard to not be alone. I’ve lived in a relative “Alone” state since I graduated from college. I then was in a codependent relationship to the parent that I was acting as a caregiver for. This became my social life at the expense of normal friendships and relationships. Now that I face the world alone, I’m a neophyte in building relationships. It is easy to build a cordial relationship with me, but it is another thing entirely to build a deeper relationship. I need to fix this. I need to overcome this natural inhibition and whatever effect my ace tendencies causes in my life.

  • Fear and Anxiety. I live in a constant state of fear and anxiety. This drives many of the experiences of my life. I conquered some of this at camp, but it was only a tip of the surface.

  • Laziness. I’m lazy. I’m disorganized. I’m a slob. It manifests itself in many ways. I don’t push myself to be the best that I can be. I accept and embrace mediocracy. I don’t want to be this way. But I will generally take the easy way vs the right way.

  • Self Esteem. You can probably guess my self esteem is an issue just based on the last three items. I don’t feel a sense of worth in myself. I’m a giver. I’m Spock - “The Good of the Many Outweigh the Good of the One”. I need to be able to set some time aside for myself and do things that are important for me. This is not in my nature. But with a self esteem in the cellar, this is something that is vitally important.

That is a big list and there are many levels and layers involved. But I think it is possible to overcome these issues and convert me into the best that I can be. So what are my goals in moving forward?

  • Respect my body. Continue on my weight loss journey. Have the surgery I need. Build strength. Look good naked.

  • Build sincere and lasting relationships. Overcome my fear of people and interact socially. Go out of my comfort zone and find things to do. If I can’t find someone to do something with, meet someone new.

  • Get out of the frying pan. The constant worrying and stress is not helping me on my journey. I need to stop second guessing myself and forgive myself for things I have done in the past that contribute to the stress and worry. Speak out and express myself.

  • Get my rump out and do things. Stop hiding. Do things. Do “stuff” that scares you.

Seems simple? Yeah right. So my goal is to stop making my life comfortable. Live completely outside the comfort zone and remove the mask that I don to function in society and be my real self. This was the realization I made during my drive home from camp. Easier said than done? Right?

So what lies on my road ahead? I have came up with a list of things that I want to do in the next year or so. Everything is doable if I put my mind to it. Some of it will kick my butt. But I need my butt kicked and go all out in efforts. So what are these things?

  • Do Karaoke (to get over my fear, anxiety, and self esteem)
  • Do a one-legged bodyweight squat.
  • Do a pull-up. A real pull-up.
  • Run a 5K. Note the term “Run”. Not walk. I can do better than that.
  • Do a Tough Mudder or Spartan Race. I don’t care how long it takes me to finish - just the fact that I would do this.
  • Play Softball A good start in a team sport and will force me to work with others on a team. I tried. They cancelled my Softball league. Then they cancelled my Wiffleball league. Arrgghhh
  • Do Toastmasters. Push the comfort zone.
  • Go to a Party and not hide. Be a center of attention.
  • Climb Enchanted Rock.
  • Hike Mt. Rainier.
  • Travel someplace I haven’t been before.
  • Play more table top games (i.e., go to meetups).
  • Find friends.
  • Try Cosplay. Probably not something I would normally like to do, but something to push my limits.
  • Find a random person every day and just talk with them.
  • Actually do the whole Girlfriend thing. It has been years since I’ve been in a proper boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. But I am not getting any younger.
  • Play Ultimate.
  • Squat 250 pounds.
  • Bench Press 200 pounds.
  • Throw a Party.
  • Take my shirt off in public and not be embarrassed.

    Done. And furthermore, I’m making my shirtless “before” pictures live.

  • Play Dodgeball or Flag Football.
  • Run a 10K.
  • Survive all of Amy's Bootcamp.

    I survived. I actually did all of the bootcamp with only two major breaks which is freaking awesome for me.

  • Camping. Hiking. Running. Hiking was done in October 2014
  • Go To CNF 2015.
  • March Halftime at Alumni Band at the UT/Iowa State Game in two weeks.

    See this post for more information

  • Have my surgery that has triggered the more urgent need to lose weight. It will be painful and have a slow recovery, but I need this.

These are (some of the) things I would like to accomplish by this time next year. Some have already been planned - I want to climb Enchanted Rock this weekend. Others will be planned when I can actually do them. But it is possible right now to do all of theses things if I put my mind in the right place and pretend barriers are not for me and be the “best” me.

Ongoing things will include my standard workouts including bodyweight squats, rows, pushups and planks. Throw in some powerlifting and challenging walks/hikes/runs. So help me on this journey. If you see me slacking, kick my butt. If you see me doing less than the best, do likewise. Thanks for reading.

This is the first of two posts that I hope will chronicle my experiences at the most awesome event that I attended between September 18-21, 2014 at a camp nestled in the mountains of northern Georgia. This inaugural event was held by Steve Kamb and the crew at the website NerdFitness plus some awesome teachers who educated and motivated us to be the best person physically and mentally that we can be.

Part 2 - The Road Ahead is here.

What is Nerd Fitness? I think it is fairly summarized well by the Nerd Fitness Oath:

I am a Nerd Fitness Rebel, and today is the first day of the rest of my life. I shall make no excuses and hold no grudges.

I care not where I came from, only where I am going.

I don’t compare myself to others, only to myself from yesterday.

I shall not brag about successes nor complain about my struggles, but share my experiences and help my fellow Rebels. I know I impact those around me with my actions, and so I must move forward, every day.

I acknowledge fear, doubt, and despair, but I do not let them defeat me. I pledge my life and honor for the Rebellion, for this day and all the days to come.

Besides all of the awesome articles written by Steve, there is an active community of “Rebels” at The Rebellion. (In the forums, I am wxstormer). For a small fee, there is also another group known as the Nerd Fitness Academy for more intensive discussions and help along the journey.

So how did I like the weekend? Like most of the other participants, I think it was the best weekend of my life. I wonder why I struggled with the decision to actually attend. I wavered for a few months - should I go or should I stay? It took my last hospital stay to throw me into the “should I go” side. For those who don’t know, I need to lose a fairly substantial amount of weight to have a surgery that should hopefully fix the issue that has been causing me to spend so much time in the hospital for the past three years. Plus I hate the way that I look. Those were the motivating factors that caused me to commit to going on the trip and to join the Academy.

On my fitness journey, I have a goal to lose just about 150 pounds since my starting weight just under 400 pounds at the end of March 2014. I have lost almost 50 pounds in the subsequent months and still have about 100 more to lose. So my first fear to conquer was flying. I have not flown anywhere for about 6 years, so I was concerned about what my experience would be flying on the plane. So I’m happy to note that I was able to fly to and from Atlanta on Delta using the provided seat belt (no extender necessary). That was awesome. But then the hard part started. I’m an Aspie and I have trouble being in social situations. So once I landed in Atlanta, I found the group waiting to board the shuttle and kept circling it and thinking “should I” or “I shouldn’t”. This is a classic problem for me. Generally I answer “I shouldn’t” and go hide in a corner and try to blend into the background. However this trip was designed by me to force me past by barriers and to push me way beyond my comfort zone. I found that the article “Do stuff That Scares You” is the tactic that I used for the weekend (“Stuff” isn’t the word that is in the article, but this is a family friendly blog) as well as some Social Skills and Confidence articles from the Academy. So I picked and chose my place and entered the group. It was hard but worth the effort. I found that everyone was welcoming and friendly. Crisis-averted.

The First Shuttle Crowd:

First Shuttle

The camp was held at Camp Ramah Darom located to the northwest of Clayton, GA nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains

Camp Headquarters

What did I do?

  • Nutrition Lessons - Anthony Mychal taught a beginner Nutrition Class and June (Nerd Fitness Staff) taught a Paleo Meal Planning and a Basic Cooking Class. Staci (Nerd Fitness) did a class on how complicated our relationships can be with food and how to overcome our difficulties with food.

  • Pyschological Classes - Amy Clover presented a “Depression and Exercise” class in how to best overcome negative thoughts. She also presented a “Body Image and Self Esteem” class that has continued to the present day to a post on my Facebook page.

  • A Beginner Bodyweight class taught by Steve Kamp (and helped by Taylor Share) teaching the proper way to do BodyWeight Squats, PushUps, and Arm Rows (and a little bit of special training on Planks).

  • The Big 4 Lifts taught by Staci that taught us the basics of weight lifting including proper form for bench press, bar squats, and the deadlift.

  • Mobility classes taught by Kate and Anthony. Kate’s class was more catered to Yoga and Anthony’s was a reinforcement to Steve’s BodyWeight class.

  • Attempted the bootcamp on Saturday morning. Although I can only handle a few minutes of Amy’s HIIT bootcamp, it was awesome and makes me want to strive to be able to fully do it next year. I will be doing her bootcamp in Austin later this month, but I will probably only be a little more successful in it.

  • Lots of talking with my fellow campers over lunch.

  • Attended the costume party as a character from the Game of Thrones (as best as I could be).

  • Observed the Rubik’s Cube costume party, but didn’t participate.

  • Played Humans vs Zombies and joined the Zombie Horde on Friday evening. Also did some Frisbee.

  • Settlers of Katan on Thursday, and Cards Against Humanity on Friday/Saturday. (Note that it is not safe to play CAH with kids around or with people who don’t understand the premise of the game and take everything being played seriously)

What do I wish I could have done?

  • Next year I will do the Odyssey Ropes Course. I thought there was a weight limit on it. But that shouldn’t be an issue next year, I hope.

  • I wanted to take one of Jim’s classes, but I needed the nutrition and beginning instruction classes more. There is only so much one can do and overlapping classes were one of the few negatives. But I will so do the Grip Strength and the Body Weight/Gymnastics Class.

  • Though I will suck at it, I want to try the Parkour class. And the Slack line. And the combat training/kung fu. Pretty much all of the classes that I missed this year.

  • I even would like to do the Yoga and Meditation classes. Again, they mostly conflicted with other classes I want to do.

  • Ultimate. I will do it next year. And kick butt and take names.

  • I’d do baskbetball, but I can’t improve that much in the next year.

We had Paleo meals prepared for us three times a day with a snack in between. It was my first full time exposure to Paleo. I had to OD on fruits to keep my sugar levels at a safe level because there was no sugar seen. Plenty of tea, almond milk, and coconut milk was available. I was a bit worried about food, but for the most part this concern was unfounded. We were given a choice of various options for sleep at night - you could have a full cabin experience, a semi-private cabin room, or a hotel room. I opted for the semi-private, but I will probably do the full cabin experience next year.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

So what was awesome? Everything. As others have said, everyone seemed like family.. Other than my self-imposed isolation at meal times, I felt like I was around lifelong friends although we all had just me just days earlier. This is what I call a life transformational event (more on that in the second post). I miss camp and wish I could be back.

Will I go back again? Yes. It was already decided that there will be another event next year and I expect many of the attendees from this year to attend. In the meantime, I’m going to take part with some of the local events (again, see the second part of this post).

Should you go? If you can hang out with a group of geeks and nerds (and if you read this blog, it is probably applicable), then yes, you should go. You’ll leave learning something.

See this for links to public photo galleries.

For more information about Camp Nerd Fitness including future updates that will include a promo video produced at camp this year plus information about next years camp when announced.

I AM A HERO

I have a OneNote file setup available here that has the resources I learned from at Camp. I’ll migrate it eventually to the final setup we workout. If you are a camp participant, look at the Alumni Page on FB for a link that will let you edit it (or email me).

Trainer Links:

Other Perspectives:

Wall Street Journal Article

Fox Business Video with Steve

If you are an attendee and want a link, email me or message me on Facebook. If we aren’t friends already, feel free to add me…

All pictures with the watermark were taken by Will Byington Photography. The other photos were taken from my collection in my Camp Nerd Fitness Picasa Gallery.

This is a quick blog post for my pictures from Camp Nerd Fitness event in Clayton, GA. I expect to have a full posting of my thoughts and experiences this weekend (Sept 27-28).

CNF Photo Gallery

Official CNF Photo Gallery

Photos including me:

The Airport Shuttle Crew:

At the Airport - 3:30 Shuttle

My Costume for the Costume Party Night

In Costume

After Closing Ceremonies talking to Steve

With Steve

All pictures with the watermark were taken by Will Byington Photography. The other photos were taken from my collection in my Camp Nerd Fitness Picasa Gallery.

This post contains Music or Video files. To see the full content (including media), please click here.

This is the music from the Independence Day celebration in New Braunfels TX at the Bandstand in the Main Plaza. The music selection includes a plethora of marches and patriotic songs. As this was an outoor performance, you will hear ambient sounds from the parade while listening to the music. The music is a bit woodwind heavy due to the placement of the recorder in an out-of-the-way space...

The vocals were performed by CCB member Jacob Cantu.

If you would like to download the MP3 files for this concert, please click here.

This post contains Music or Video files. To see the full content (including media), please click here.

This is the music from the June 29, 2014 Concert held at Wesley Hall at the First United Methodist Church in New Braunfels. This was our pre-4th of July concert featuring patriotic music. This concert is given as a "thank-you" to church for allowing us to use their facilities after New Braunfels ISD shuts down for the holidays/summer. This concert is the last performance of this season with the full band. A smaller group will be playing for the 4th of July Parade in Downtown New Braunfels next Friday morning starting at 8:30 AM featuring many Sousa marches.

The singing group for the Star Spangled Banner, The Pledge of Allegiance, the Battle Hymn of the Republic, and the Armed Forces Salute was Suono D'Amore (FB), which was led by CCB member Jacob Cantu.

If you would like to download the MP3 files for this concert, please click here.

Network Blog Assimilated

I have made a few huge updates today to the website. Besides the tweaking of the overall look, I have assimilated my Network Blog postings onto the new Jekyll blog and will post about both on here. I brought most of the posts from the former site here - but I did do some “Spring Cleaning” by removing ones that were time-related (webchats and so forth) and kept the old URL if possible. There have been a few changes, however:

  • The URL “http://www.networkblog.net” will redirect to this site.
  • The feed URL for just the network blog is now “http://jeffreyrandow.org/netblog.xml”.
  • You can access just the network blog postings by browsing to “http://jeffreyrandow.org/netblog/”.

Why the change?

  • Jekyll is awesome and I can stop worrying about security issues with Wordpress (it wasn’t a problem, but I wanted to be a bit more secure).
  • The site is hosted on Github (Github Pages) and other content is served by a variety of CDNs (Content Delivery Networks). Thus I can post big files and use the Google CDN to serve the file in lieu of my old cable modem connection.
  • Permanence. Keeping the files here provides a sense of permanence.

What’s Coming?

Well, at work, I am currently in a middle of a big (huge for us) deployment of new laptops to all staff. I plan to post some of the MDT and WDS tidbits I’ve learned. (the deployment was on Windows 8.1 on the new boxen and Windows 7 on the old) I’m also looking into an awesome networking security product that is free (PacketFence). I’m also going to post my code for a MAPI utility that you can use to add a mailbox into someone’s Outlook Profile as a part of a logon script.

May 2014 Fitness Summary

This is my summary posting of my May 2014 fitness activities. Most of my workouts and tracking is available on the main page of this website under the Fitness Log tab. This contains my Walk/Jogging activities.

For the month of May, I tracked that I walked or jogged approximately 30 miles in monitored activities (i.e., I did a planned walking/jogging workout; this does not include the incidental walking that I do during the day). This 30 miles were a part of 19 separate workouts. The most I walked in 1 day was 2.38 miles on May 19. The least was the logged 0.65 miles from May 29 when I was walking around the downtown of Grapevine in the middle of the day. It was more a sightseeing log than an actual workout. The area around my hotel was rather dangerous so I didn’t get to do any other outings when I was in Dallas at the end of May. Note also that all of these walks/runs except for the 29th also includes my dog Rudy. So I am a bit slowed by him at time when he stops to pee on everything and to smell every fence post/mailbox/etc on the path.

During this time, I changed from Endomondo to MapMyRun and acquired a bluetooth 4 heart rate sensor that I use to check my exertion level. I also acquired running shoes because walking shoes don’t seem to cut it anymore.

Starting towards the end of May, I started working out again at the gym (LA Fitness in San Antonio) working on primarily upper arm strength. I also do a little bit of cardio depending on the availablity of machines (I did a 4 mile per hour run for 5 minutes on a treadmill or 6 floors of stairs on the Stairmaster). Gym is still a little intimidating and I don’t like when there are a lot of people in the locker room because I am very self conscious in my appearance. I need to learn the “DGAF” technique that peers have encouraged on Reddit or Nerd Fitness. This week I plan to do some of the water fitness activities - just walking laps in the pool will help build up more muscle because of the resistance.

On the gym front, I’m weighing the thought to join ResoluteFit when they open because some of their services could be beneficial to me. My problem is that I think I also need the gym in San Antonio so that I can workout after work. Once I get home, the only thing that I normally do is to walk. It is very hard to motivate me to go to somewhere like Planet Fitness to workout.

On the weight side, I will make a comparison to the end of March/beginning of April 2014 since I have accurate data only to that point. The first scale I bought is very off at times and will sometimes give me weights up to 5 pound different every time I use it. So out it went and I went back to my old scale which was consistent. Since March, I have gone from 398 down to 378 +/- a pound or two depending on what clothes I’m wearing.

I have not had my A1C recalculated yet, so no comparison there. I will have the test results back on June 11 when I have my next doctor appointment.

That’s it for now. Thanks for keeping up with me.