Crazy Ideas

Posted: June 23, 2017 in Uncategorized

I Don’t Know Why He Even Bothered To Ask

My bad procrastination habit meant the answer was always ‘it’s due tomorrow’… except for this time. ‘It’s due in two days’, I told my father, referring to the Huck Finn project I’d been assigned for my 11th grade English class. I had chosen to make a model of the raft Huck used to float down the Mississippi, except instead of building a miniature replica, I wanted to make a full-size raft and float it down the Papio Creek. Most parents would have told their children that wasn’t feasible and that they needed to assemble a reproduction from Elmer’s glue and Popsicle sticks, but not my father. He helped me design and build a four foot floating pontoon made from concrete form tubes, plywood, plastic sheeting, and 2’x4’s. We then took that raft over to the local pond and captured video of me paddling away to freedom. We stayed up all night editing together a video that garnered an A+, despite the fact that I never read the book!

He Always Supports My Crazy Ideas

My love of engineering is most certainly a result of my father. In the 6th grade, he taught our class about rockets, explaining the basics of aerodynamics, Newtonian physics, and why golf balls have dimples.

In middle school he helped our Destination Imagination team build a crane with a 20 foot boom and electromagnet on the end, and then the following year a robot with a moving arm and  ‘claw’. I learned so much about gears, motors, pulleys, and electricity from those builds.

The projects got really crazy in high school. How about the time my father had to convince the cops that my spud gun was really for an Algebra project? Or when he scoured the web to find a design for a solar death ray for my Calculus project?

SPUD GUN

SOLAR DEATH RAY

My father’s support has continued into adulthood. He Drove with me to Arizona for an Ironman triathlon and then returned three months later to crew for my ultramarathon. I was in rough shape after 60 miles and don’t think I would have finished without his encouragement.

IMAX

 

They Say A Parent’s Job Is To Support Their Children’s Dreams and Ambitions

No matter how outlandish or extreme, ridiculous or ill-conceived. I remember three years ago, walking in to work to tell my boss that I was quitting to try to start my own business. It was a decision I was extremely nervous about, quitting a great job to pursue something I had no idea would work out. On that walk into work, I got a text message from you, Dad, that read ‘Follow Your Dreams’. Those words meant a lot to me, knowing that if this new venture didn’t work out, I would still have your love and support to fall back on. That’s why I wanted to write this post, to express my gratitude for the decades of caring and encouragement you’ve provided.

Love,
John

 

I Meant To Send A Card

Posted: May 14, 2017 in Uncategorized

I Never Know What Gift To Buy My Mom

With my Dad it’s easy. He sends me a list of Amazon links in priority order. Two clicks and everyone is happy.

I think my Mom considers this thoughtless (mostly because it is) and forces me to come up with ideas of my own. That’s a fruitless effort, so instead I let my sister find a gift and we split the cost. Steph said she was game for that plan again this Mother’s Day, but insisted that I should also send a card. That’s a great idea and all, but…

I Hate Looking At Greeting Cards

I don’t have the patience for it. I have very happy memories of time spent with my mother, but nightmares of being dragged along to look at greeting cards. Thirty minutes in the Hallmark Store is what it must feel like to spend an eternity in purgatory.

To skip the monotony, I’ve developed a game called ‘Greeting Card Roulette’. Here’s how it works. Close your eyes and purchase the first card you lay hands on. Hopefully, you’ll at least land in the correct genre. Worst case, it’s not too difficult to spin a bereavement card into a birthday card.

I ended up with this gem, and began filling it out only to realize my handwriting has become illegible and my thoughts too sporadic to not be properly edited with a word processor.

MOTHERS DAY CARD

Here’s What I Would Have Written In That Greeting Card

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

I wanted to let you know how fortunate I am to have a mother as caring and loving as you!

A mother who coached our Destination Imagination team, wrangling a group of seven teenage boys and developing ‘instant challenges’ every week. Who knew you could build so many structures with marshmallows and toothpicks?

A mother who was always willing to proofread (i.e. rewrite) my English essays and didn’t get upset when I got caught forging her signature to go on the Physics field trip to Worlds of Fun.

A mother who is kind to everyone and whose sense of humor I believe I’ve inherited. Alexis calls my puns ‘Sheila Wrobel Jokes’ which I take as the highest form of compliment.

A mother who’s wiling to brave the frigid waters of Lake Michigan for the Big Shoulders swim and thinks a Turkey Trot is the best way to spend a Thanksgiving morning

Mom and John Swimming

A mother who picked me up at the bus stop when I tried living without a car and who let me move back home at the age of 26 (rent free!)

A mother who thinks Jello is the perfect dessert for any holiday and believes her children are never to old for Easter baskets and Christmas stockings.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized how lucky I am to have a mother like you. This blog post does not do justice to the gratitude I feel.

Mom and John Wedding

I hope you have a fantastic day enjoy whatever gift Steph picked out (it’s from both of us!).

Love,
John

It Started With A Text Message

Through endurance sports you meet some interesting folks, like my friend Matt Brand, who one time paid someone to shove a tube up his butt and flush all the poop out of his colon. Seriously.

Matt recommended a podcast by this vegan-hippie-ultrarunner Rich Roll (not to be confused with his arch nemesis Rick). In this episode, Rich interviewed former Navy SEAL David Goggins. The story is nucking futs. You should really check it out, but if not…

Here’s The Cliff Notes Version

Goggins is bullied growing up, a black kid in an all white school. Post high school, he joins the Air Force and a couple years later applies to join Navy SEALs, but weighs too much. Goggins drops 100 pounds in 2 months and is admitted to the SEAL’s BUD/S training. Due to injury and illness, he has to repeat ‘Hell Week’ three times but eventually passes BUD/S and becomes a Navy SEAL.

A couple years later, Goggins learns of a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in which six of his fellow SEALs are killed. Goggins decides he’s going to raise money for the families of the fallen soldiers by completing the 10 toughest endurance events on the planet. First on the list is the Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135 mile foot race starting in Death Valley and ending at Mt. Whitney. Goggins calls up the race director, who says Goggins must complete a 100 mile ultramarathon to even sign up for Badwater.

Four days later, with zero training, Goggins is at the start line of a 24 hour ultramarathon. 70 miles in, he’s in bad shape. He’s broken all the small bones in his feet and is pissing blood from kidney failure. He guts out the last 30 miles to finish the race. Goggins goes on to complete the Badwater 135 along with numerous other ultra endurance events including the Hurt 100, Ultraman, Western States 100, and Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc. He also set the world record for most pull-ups in 24 hours.

I Was Blown Away By This Story

The mindset and attitude Goggins possesses is incredible. He decides to do something and then does whatever it takes to accomplish it. No excuses, no quitting. That insane grit and mental toughness are attributes I’d like to develop for myself

I Did Something Stupid

Three years ago, I completed a GORUCK challenge with my friend Matt Brand (the one flushing his poop out from earlier in this blog post). The event was 12 hours long, but my muscles burned from all the lunges and pushups for the next two weeks. I swore I’d never do an event like that again, until I listened to that David Goggins Podcast.

I signed up for GORUCK Selection, a 48 hour endurance test covering 80+ miles with endless amounts of PT. They tout it as the hardest endurance event in the world with an abysmal finish rate of less than 5%.

It starts with a PT Test with a minimum standard of 55 pushups in less than 2 minutes, 65 situps in less than 2 minutes, a 5 Mile Run in less than 40 minutes, and a 12 Mile Ruck (with your 45 pound backpack) in less than 3.5 hours. Fail any of those and you’re immediately dropped. And that’s just the beginning. Selection is meant to simulate ‘hell week’ and is run by former special operations guys who are trying to get you to quit. Ultimately it’s not a fitness contest. It’s mental. Very few people are pulled from the event for performance. A majority decide to quit.

So Why Would You Do It?

I’ve been growing soft and complacent, lacking discipline and consistency. I hope that by training for an event like this, which is far outside of my current capabilities, I will develop those traits.

 

 

Registered For Ironman Wisconsin

Posted: January 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

A couple months back, I signed up for Ironman Wisconsin which will be held on September 10th, 2017. Now that we live in Milwaukee, this race is way too convenient to pass up.

I’ve got one goal for this race which is to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. In order to do that, I’ll have to place top 3 in my age group, which will require a time in the neighborhood of 9 hours 30 minutes. That time is significantly faster than my two previous Ironman finishes of 10:52 (2013 Ironman Arizona) and 14:10 (2016 Ironman Brazil). Wisconsin is also a hillier, and therefore slower, course.

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Goal Times

I’ve broken that goal time down for each specific event:

Swim: 0:55 (1:18 / 100 yards)
T1: 0:05
Bike: 5:10 (21.7 MPH)
T2: 0:05
Run: 3:15 (7:26 min / mile)
Total: 9:30

Miles Make Champions

That level of  performance will require a significant commitment as it is far above my current abilities. The plan is to run, bike, and swim on the order of 20 to 25 hours a week, swimming 20,000 yards, biking 200 miles, and running 40 miles.

Bike: I registered for trainer road which has very structured power based workout that are done on the trainer. This is especially beneficial during these winter months when it’s  bitterly cold outside

Running: Follow the Jack Daniels training plans. No seriously, the guy’s name is Jack Daniels. I don’t think they know each other.

Swimming: Swim everyday focusing on technique and also utilize underwater video to spot deficiencies in my stroke. I’ve also joined a triathlon based swim group that meets twice a week.

As of today, registration is still open for anyone who would like to participate in Ironman Wisconsin! I’ve also signed up for the LA Marathon March 19th and the Half Ironman in Madison on June 19th.

 

28 Before I Turn 28

Posted: July 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

This list represents my fourth time writing a set of goals (25 Before 25, 26 Before 26, 27 Before 27). For this year, I’ve changed up how I do things. Instead of 28 random accomplishments, there are six large goals/categories with more specific sub goals for each. On to the list!

DIET

Eating a healthy, nutritious diet is something I’ve continually struggled with. If not for the metabolism of a [insert skinny animal here], I’d surely fall in the obese category.

  1. Eat Four Servings Vegetables for 200 Days
  2. Drink 12 Cups of Water for 200 Days
  3. Eat Four Servings Fruit for 200 Days
  4. Cook / Eat at home for 500 meals

TRIATHLON

I’ve been competing in triathlons since 2012 and have had lackluster results the last two years. I’d like to change that this year with the big goal of qualifying for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, which requires placing at the top of your age-group in another Ironman race.

  1. Bike 5,000 Miles
  2. Run 1,000 Miles
  3. Swim 500,000 Yards
  4. Weight Training 50 times

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YOUTUBE – LETHAL ENGINEERING

Engineer is my job title. Unfortunately, I don’t create anything that interesting for work. I’d like Lethal Engineering to be my outlet for the crazy contraptions I dream up. The design and construction process is very gratifying and is something I’d like to do more often. The major goal would be to generate $10,000 from YouTube, a fifty-fold increase from last year.

  1. Create Patreon Account
  2. Solar Death Ray Video
  3. Halloween Video
  4. Three Thermite Videos
  5. Call to Action at end of Videos
  6. Build Workshop

LETHAL TRI

This blog is a public diary. My little space on the internet. I gain insight reading others’ blogs and hope to contribute a little with my own.

  1. Track Goals Daily
  2. 20 Blog Posts
  3. Reread 10 favorite books and summarize
  4. Two Courses MIT Open CourseWare

PERSONAL/MISCELLANEOUS

I feel like I became a family man all of sudden. I now have a wife, a mortgage, and a (fur)baby. Exciting times around here!

  1. Train Dog Sit, Down, Stay, Come, Heel, Fetch, Potty Train
  2. Be More Positive / Smile More
  3. Help Alexis
  4. Net Worth (Alexis Debt Excluded) $100,000

ALEXIS AND ZUCC

STOP DOING

So what prevents me from accomplishing all these goals? I work from home, so my time is very flexible. However, I tend to waste time on things that contribute little to my personal satisfaction. The plan is to eliminate those distractions this year.

  1. Facebook
  2. Watching YouTube Videos
  3. Junk food / Soda
  4. Distraction When Working
  5. SECRET
  6. Complaining / Getting Angry

WHAT WILL BE DIFFERENT THIS YEAR?

Making the goals is the fun part, obtaining them is more laborious. Going a year without sugar seemed like a great idea when I made the goal, but it’s not so much fun when you can’t eat the free samples at the Jelly Belly Factory. This year, to increase my goal completion rate, I will institute a punishment for not completing certain goals. Leave a comment if you have any ideas.

27 Before 27 – Results

Posted: July 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

27 Years Old! This was my third year of making these lists, let’s get to the results!

I Only Completed Three of My Goals

Proposed to Alexis

Four years ago, I didn’t think I would ever talk to Alexis again. She was dating another guy and wanted nothing to do with me. A combination of a chance encounter and dogged persistence on my part led to this moment.

Proposal Picture

100,000 Views Lethal Engineering

I only created one video this year, but my rocket launcher video really took off! My channel accumulated 415,000 views, a significant increase from the 34,000 views last year.  All those views netted me $200 in revenue.

LETHAL ENGINEERING REVENUE

LETHAL ENGINEERING VIES

Read 30 Books

I read (or listened to) 32 books this year. My favorites included Sam Walton: Made In America, Thinking Fast and Slow, The Entrepreneur Mind, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and the Elon Musk biography.

30 Books

Partial Completion

Exercise Goals

Run: 589.57 / 2000 Miles (Last year: 654.60 miles)

Bike: 1935.53 / 10,000 Miles (Last year:: 2042.82)

Swim: 69,311 / 1,000,000 Yards (Last Year: 154,868 yards)

A Year Without Fast Food

My fast food habit was bad. I would eat Taco Bell, Burger King, and McDonald’s 10 to 12 times per week. I went almost the entire year boycotting any restaurant  with a drive thru and then gave in with one month to go. I came to the realization that I was finding other unhealthy foods to eat. The first time I went back to Taco Bell, the lady working the drive-thru said, “I was wondering where you’d gone. Thought you might have moved”.

A Year Without Sugar

The first two weeks were awful. I was surprised at how addicted my body was to sugar. I never completely eliminated sugar, but for the first 6 months I’d say I removed 95% of it from my diet.No soda, no candy, no ketchup. Sugar is added to almost all processed foods making it difficult to completely eliminate. My willpower held strong even with visits to the Jelly Belly and Ghirardelli factories (100% Cacao Chocolate is disgusting, FYI) . My downfall came when I had a stressful time with work in December and gave up, consuming a soda. I can see why people stress eat.

Jelly Belly Cropped

And Then We Had The Big Month

Alexis Graduated Medical School

What an accomplishment! I thought getting a bachelor’s degree was tough, but it pales in comparison to the effort required to become an M.D.

Graduation

We Got Married

What a fantastic day! I told Alexis “You know, this turned out even better than I thought it would”, to which she responded, “Well, that’s because you didn’t plan any of it”. Fair enough

Wedding

We Completed An Ironman…On Our Honeymoon

Alexis says our next vacation will be of the all-inclusive, do nothing but lay on the beach variety.

Ironman

We Moved To Milwaukee and Bought A House

Buying a house was on my 25 Before 25 list. We visited Milwaukee after Alexis matched for residency and looked at 17 houses in one day, putting in an offer on the same day, and having the home inspection the following day. Big thanks to Mike Wrobel and Mark Bowder for helping us move!

House

We Got A Puppy

I told Alexis if she matched in a city where we could buy a house, and if she came up with the money herself, then she could get a puppy. It’s amazing how much cash someone can make selling stuff on Craigslist when they are motivated. Little Zucc (short for Zucchini) is a Vizsla and we picked him up in Iowa on our way to Milwaukee.

ZUCC

You Only Completed Three Goals. Why Do You Keep Doing This?

It would be easy to call this year a failure. 3 for 27 is a pitiful 11% success rate. The goals I set are ambitious and I fail a majority of the time. I started making these lists because I was unhappy with the track my life was on, and three years later I’m pretty psyched where I’ve ended up. Next year, I’m going to change up how I do my goals. Instead of 28 somewhat difficult goals,  I’d like to have four or five major goals with specific sub-goals for each of them.That will mean giving up on some of the crowd favorite goals (see below). 28 Before 28 List next week!

Van

Why?

This was Alexis’ idea. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. She wanted to attempt an Ironman after graduating medical school and before starting residency. She also wanted to get married in that time frame while attending three friend’s weddings.

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Hence, we ended up in Brazil for our Ironmoon (haha, get it? Ironman/Honeymoon!). My training leading up to this race was pretty sparse, with a total 95 hours in the past six months which comes out to 3.6 hours per week. That’s more like the training volume for a marathon instead of a 140.6 mile triathlon. I would pay for it during the race…

The Swim – 2.4 Miles

The race format was a wave start instead of the 3,000 man washing machine that Ironman races are known for My group started five minutes before Alexis’. She and I had almost identical times, and I waited for her in transition so we could bike together.

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The Bike – 112 Miles

What a beautiful course! Cycling is a great way to explore a country. We rode along the coast and got fantastic views of the countryside, some pirate ships, and the Hercilio Luz Bridge

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The conditions started out difficult as it poured rain for the first hour. You know what also poured? My bladder. Not sure what was wrong, but I peed 10 times on the bike. I pissed on myself so frequently that the guards at Abu Ghraib would say ‘Easy man, that’s too much’ (Too soon? It was a toss up between that and an R. Kelly reference). These weren’t little tinkles either. It was like Niagara Falls running down my leg. Don’t worry though, I washed it off with my water bottle (see below). A little too much detail? You should have learned from my previous race reports.

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The Run – 26.2 Miles

Since I stayed with Alexis on the bike, she thought it was only fair to stay with me on the run. However, I wasn’t running an acceptable pace so she went on without me. You know that part of the vows, “til mile 8 do us part”.

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Sidenote: In Portuguese, ending a word with an ‘e’ creates an ‘ee’ sound. At the aid stations they didn’t have ‘Gatorade’ but instead ‘Gate-o-raid-eee’.

We Finished!

You’ll have to give a big congrats to Alexis. Training for this race while juggling all the other life events is a major accomplishment. There were lots of tears, lots of “I can’t do this”, but she finished.

ALEXIS FINISH

What’s really impressive though was that this was Alexis’ first triathlon EVER, which is just nuckin’ futs. You know what’s also crazy? After we finished she said, “I didn’t think it was that tough”.

End Note

Yeah, Alexis beat me. I don’t want to talk about it.

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