Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hour Of Code

This last week has been Computer Science Education week and a lot of kids have been doing some computer programming at school, and a lot of my friends have been asking me for resources.

I have been intermittently working on an Introduction to Computer Programming series of videos and have posted on my business website the first four of those videos as well as a list of some resources that I like and have been using.  Please share and if you have any feedback that would be welcome too. :)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Learn to Read App Ported to iPhone/iPad

A couple years ago I released my first app, a simple interactive early reader book. I released it on Android devices and it has had some success. The free, lite version has over 200,000 downloads and I have made some money from it. I wasn't sure if it was worth porting it to iOS, but at some point I did 75% of the work, but then switched gears to due the Open Face Chinese Poker app. But I had a potential customer email me the other day, telling me that a friend had recommended the app to her, but she only had Apple devices. That motivated me to finish the port and I released the Apple version a few weeks ago. So if anyone is looking for an early reader app for their iPad please take a look at it. If you do download it, a rating and/or review would be extremely appreciated. Ratings and reviews drive rankings, which increase visibility, and make it so that I actually get paid at least something for the work I did. For more info you can check out my business website. Thank you!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Summer Recap - Hiking

I did quite a bit of hiking this summer.  We did Bridal Veil Falls, Wallace Falls, Barclay Lake, Lake 22, and Bear Lake with the kids.  Cynthia and I did Wallace Lake, and Floyd and I did Mount Dickerman.

Quick Recap:
Bridal Veil Falls- Cool water fall, fairly flat trail till the last bit.

Wallace Falls - Popular hike not too far away.

Barclay Lake -  Nice flat hike to a beautiful lake, but farther away than I remembered it being.  You have to go quite a ways on a forest road to get to the trail head.

Wallace Lake - Longer hike that avoids some of the crowds heading to Wallace Falls.  Parts of the trail are logging roads and not a ton of elevation gain.

Mount Dickerman - This is a tough hike and one that I did before when it was covered in snow.  This time we did it Labor Day weekend and there were wild blueberries on the trail that were ripe and very tasty. Unfortunately it was cloudy so we didn't get to enjoy a view.

Lake 22 - This is out on the Mountain Loop Highway.  The hike has very well maintained trails, but the terrain is still pretty rough.  There is some water on the trail, you go through a rock slide so there is a part with a lot of shale, but the kids did great.  It is 5.5 miles and the scenery is gorgous.  Tons of large old growth cedars and douglas firs and lots of moss and skunk cabbage.  There is a fancy boardwalk around a significant portion of the lake and there are some places with beach area to wade. I was excited when we did this because I spotted a random geocache. :)

Bear Lake - Pinnacle Lake is the main destination for this trail head, but despite its short length the trip reports say it is fairly hard.  You have to take a long forest road (7 miles) to get to the trail head, so we ended up parking a mile away from the trail head and then just doing the short Bear Lake trail. It was very quiet and peaceful, with really large old growth cedars.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Summer Recap - Racing

The girls did quite a few races this year.  There was a 5k fundraiser for Selena's school in May.  Every year we do the Swedish SummerRun for Ovarian Cancer research and we did that again this year. Selena was running around 33 minutes for most of her 5k's.  Pretty fast!  Allie isn't quite up for running a 5k but she did do a combo of running and walking.

The girls did the Mill Creek Kids Fun Run.  Allie did both the 1 lap and the 1k.  She initially wanted to do the 1 lap, but then it didn't quite seem long enough so she did the 1k too.  The combo seemed a bit too long though.   Selena did the 2k and looked good.

Selena also got really excited about doing a triathalon.  She had just learned to swim so she was super excited to do the kids tri.  It was at McCollum park.  It was a 25 yard swim, 1/2 mile bike ride, and 1/8 mile run.  The swim was the biggest challenge.  She can swim, but isn't quite able to do a consistent crawl stroke. She can do a crawl stroke, and flip to her back, then flip to a crawl, etc.  The race day came and she had had a fever the night before so I wasn't sure if she should do it.  I was worried if she did, she might get really sick.  She decided to at least go and watch and if she felt okay then she would do it.  She ended up doing it, but decided to just stick with a straight back float for the swim and did great on the other two legs--and she rested the rest of the day, and didn't get really sick.

The girls also did a community run hosted by my cousin's high school cross country team.  Selena did the 5k and Allie did the 1k.  I wasn't there, but heard that they did good.

Unfortunately we didn't make it to any of the all-comers track meets this summer.  We will have to remember to fit that in next year.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Summer Recap - Canon Beach

We went to Canon Beach with my family during the first week of August.  My parents rented a house just south of Canon Beach and my brother and his family drove up from California.  My grandma came from Texas, and my sister was there too.

We went to the Tillamook Cheese factory and I discovered cheddar cheese curds.  Yummm! Apparently Beecher's makes them too and sells them in the grocery stores.

We were a bit south of Canon Beach which was nice because there were less crowds, but there was a weird mico-climate that made it foggier and windier than it was in town.  But we made lots of sand castles, explored the tide pools and went on plenty of runs on the beach.

There was very little light pollution at night, and a hot tub on the deck, so we could sit at night and look at the stars.  I think that was my favorite part.

I know we took some group photos, but they must have been on someone else's camera.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

I Want to Learn How to Draw

Art class was something I missed out in school.  I did band from 6th grade til my sophmore year of high school, and band took the place of any required art credits.  I did take one drawing class in college, but other than that I missed out on formal drawing lessons throughout my schooling--which is a bummer.

Lately I've been trying to improve my skills in hopes that I can illustrate my own apps more skillfully.  I've picked up some art books at the library, but one that has intrigued me the most has been Carla Sonheim's work.  She has a few book (affiliate links to the right) filled with art lessons and she has online classes as well.  At the beginning of this summer I signed up for her imaginary creatures class.  Her style is intriguing and interesting and learning her techniques have been fun.

Here are some various things I have drawn, some from both the lessons in her books, some from her class, and some on my own.  I really want to do her year long fairy tale class, but the $200 tag plus supplies is a bit much for me right now.  I'll just keep hoping a large fortune comes my way before the end of the year. :)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Healthy Teeth and Sun Protection for Your Skin

*I am not a medical professional and supplements can have unintended consequences.  Please do your own research and consult a health professional for advice.

When Selena was five years old I noticed a big black hole in her tooth.  I took her into the dentist and she had 10 cavities.  $2000 dollars later she had had a lot of work done in her poor little mouth.

I stumbled across some people who swore that Vitamin K2 is the go to vitamin for dental health.  It is a vitamin that is not found in many foods.  The foods with the highest amounts are butter made from the milk of grass fed cows, and fermented soy beans.  The claim is that this vitamin is essential to the remineralization of your teeth.  That just like bones are constantly regenerating and growing, your teeth are doing the same, assuming they have the necessary supplies.  I did not know yhis was possible, but a hygenist friend said it was. There is some limited research that K2 helps with bone regrowth, but overall it isn't a well studied vitamin. Most of the evidence for teeth health is anecdotal.

I decided that I might as well try it.  One recommended supplement is a High Vitamin Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil mix.  It is pretty expensive but after spending $2000 on dentist bills and Selena had yet another black spot on her tooth--I figured it was worth a $50 shot to see if it worked as it could potentially save us a lot of money (what with us not having dental insurance).

Here is a picture of the black spot on Selena's tooth.  She had gone to a free dental cleaning that was being offered to the community and the dental assistant who cleaned her teeth said it was a cavity.  I gave her a small bit of the "chocolate" vitamin every day for a few weeks after that but before she went in for a scheduled cleaning. The spot was gone and she was deemed cavity free.  She also has a small spot on the front of one of her teeth, that gets noticeably smaller when I am consistent in giving her the supplement, but gets larger if I forget.

I too have had some spots on my teeth that I have been able to get rid of by consistently taking the supplement. One year ago some x-rays showed a cavity between the teeth. In the name of science I have refused to get them fixed because I want to see if they will go away.  If they still show up on my next x-rays, then I will have them taken care of.

The other benefit I have noticed from the Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil supplement is that my skin doesn't burn as easily.  I have had quite a few days that I have spent 30 - 40 minutes in the midday sun and have not gotten burnt, which historically has not been possible with my fair, freckled skin. I struggle with knowing what is more risky, no sun exposure, or too much, and I have settled on trying to get as much as possible without getting burnt.  Cod liver oil contains vitamin D, which is supposed to help prevent you from getting burnt (the reasoning on why tanning helps to prevent you from getting burnt), and there are some studies that show that vitamin K2 and vitamin D have a synergistic affect that could explain the positive affects in sun protection.

Overall the supplement tastes and smells awful, which is part of the reason I sometimes forget to take it for a while.  I buy the "chocolate" flavored kind so I can tell my kids it is a chocolate vitamin, but I still serve it up in a bite of applesauce.  That way you can slurp it down without having to taste it.

The positive affects I have seen on both mine and Selena's teeth could be coincidence.  There aren't really any scientific studies on its efficacy for cavity healing and/or prevention, and most of the proponents of it are from single group of people*, but I have had enough periods of me or my kids taking it versus not taking it to make me feel like I do see a positive difference that I am willing to spend 50 or so bucks every six months to buy it.

*Weston A Price was a dentist who did some anthropological like research and determined that populations with the healthiest teeth had some sort of "X-Factor" that he seemed to think was found most often in cow's milk during the spring.  The Weston A Price Foundation thinks that Vitamin K2 is the name of the X-Factor Price discovered as it is found primarily in milk/butter of cows that eat fresh grass.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hacking My Health

*I am not a medical professional and supplements and exercise programs can have unintended consequences.  Please do your own research and consult a health professional for advice.

I have been writing these posts in my head for years, but the concepts are so interconnected that I find it really hard to succinctly explain all the connections and relationships, but I am going to try.

I am 33 years old, which isn't very old, but ever since having kids I started feeling old.  My joints are stiff, my back aches, and I can't physically do things that I used to be able to do, and it doesn't seem right.  If my life expectancy is 78 (or whatever) then I shouldn't start feeling old till I am 40ish, not 27ish.

When I first started this blog I did not think supplements were useful and that eating whole foods was good enough for overall health. But over the years I have adopted a new theory about the difference between surviving and thriving. You can survive on many nutritiously deficient diets, and even a nutrient dense whole foods diet can lack in some areas and supplementation can allow a person to thrive versus just survive.

One major complaint against supplements is that many do not "work" and any results are only a placebo effect.  I do not have an issue with this.  If a supplement can provide someone with a way to use the placebo effect to their own benefit then I think that is a good thing.  Most of the supplements I will use, I have had noticeable positive affects, they have a compelling scientific basis for how and why they work though may not have a double-blind placebo study to back it up, thus I do admit there is a possibility that I am simply experiencing a placebo effect.

Nutrition isn't the only health hack available.  Movement and nutrition go hand-in-hand.  The general consensus is that exercise is good for cardiovascular health, but I go a step further and think there is strong evidence that movement is integral to mental and brain health.  Recently I have been convinced even further, that the simple mechanics of how we position ourselves throughout our day has a real affect on a multitude of common ailments and degenerative diseases.

I plan on doing a series of posts sharing some of the "health hacks" I have discovered, and I am going to start with that last idea first, because it is the one that I have just discovered and the results are mindbogglingly impressive.

Hacking Your Period - Alleviating menstrual cramps, reducing the length of your period, and how heavy it is.
Healthy Teeth and Sun Protection for Your Skin
Sensitive Sense of Smell Could be a Zinc Deficiency

Monday, June 30, 2014

Alleviate Menstrual Pain, Eliminate Heavy Periods and Reduce the Length of Your Period

*I am not a medical professional, supplements and exercise programs can have unintended consequences.  Please do your own research and consult a health professional for advice.

It is so hard to not sound like an infomercial when I talk about this because it is so crazy.  The bottom line is I alleviated my menstrual pain, eliminated my heavy periods and reduced the length of my period from 7 days to 3/4 days by doing calf and hamstring stretches.

I consume a lot of information and I love it, because I find all these weird connections and develop these philosophies, but when I try to explain them it sounds weird. There is so much back story, that it is hard to be coherent.  A small example would be my post about languages, tribalism and the Seahawks.  I also have a theory about high stakes testing, and the observer effect that I have yet to put into words.  So I come across this lady, Katy Bowman, and she has this blog, and at first what I read seemed a bit odd and random, but the more I read, the more excited I get because everything is connected and she explains how.

Katy is a biomechanist whose has dedicated herself to educating the masses on the importance of alignment. Alignment is not posture. Posture is in aesthetic way to hold your body. Alignment is a correct way to hold your body.  She takes principles of biomechanics, kinesiology, physical therapy, exercise, ergonomics, biology, chemistry, physics, anthropology among other things and finds the connections between the fields, and then uses that information in a practical way.  She tells you how to stand or walk, and then explains why you should, and why you don't, and why it is hard, and what will happen if you do, and what will happen if you don't.  It is a lot of information, and sometimes it is technical, but Katy is funny and explains it entertainingly.

Just a warning this will be way TMI about myself in case the title of the post wasn't enough of a hint.  I have always had heavy periods, except when I was on birth control.  My period has never been shorter than 5 days, even when on birth control, and it usually lasts 7 days. I have incontinence problems when I run.  After having kids it became much worse.  I have diastasis recti. After Allie was born my abs split apart which has the unfortunate effect of making me look 4 - 5 months pregnant despite being 5 years postpartum.

Katy Bowman had been floating around my internet for a while. The first time when I heard of her was this interview about how kegels can make incontinence worse and thus I tried to do more squats.  Then I came across a reference to her from the Mutu program which is for diastasis recti.  I read a few of Katy's articles and got her foot book from the library, but had to return it before I had read it all. I had been contemplating buying her Down There for Woman DVD when she wrote a post about how your period works.  The gist being, that painful and long periods are caused because the uterus is never getting enough blood which makes it take longer for your body to repair the lining that was shed.  I had read enough of what she had written to realize that poor alignment can restrict blood from getting where it needs to be. It was an aha moment and I immediately decided to get the DVD. When I went to her site I saw that she had duplicated the DVD in an iPhone app, which I immediately bought. It is $10 (which people inexplicably find too expensive for an app -- that type of attitude needs to be changed. ;) ) and has five stretches and a short informative lecture.

The main goal of the program is to get your pelvis into neutral.  A neutral pelvis allows maximum blood flow to the uterus.  Many women have their pelvis's perpetually tucked.  There are a few main causes of a tucked pelvis.  The first is shoes with heels.  Pretty much every shoe, except the new "minimal" shoes, has a heel.  To adapt to the heel, and not tip over, your body adjusts its angles, and this typically results in shortened calf and hamstring muscles, that then pull on the pelvis and cause it to tuck.  Sitting and running are also activities that can cause shortened calf and hamstring muscles.  Finally many women are told to tuck their pelvis to avoid a sway back.  Unfortunately this is usually a band-aid fix that can end up making things worse.  More often the correct correct adjustment is to drop your ribs.
The DVD/app has five exercises, but the two main stretches of the program are calf and hamstring stretches. There is also a pelvic list stretch that I found very difficult the first few times.  The crazy thing about these stretches was that I had never seen anything like them.  I did gymnastics for years when I was younger. I did soccer, basketball, track in high school and track and cross-country in college.  My sister is big into yoga and barre and we discuss fitness stuff frequently.  I used to work at a company that made software that contained drawings and instructions for thousands of stretches and exercises.  Overall I have a lot of experience with various exercise paradigms, and this one is subtly, but importantly different.
The stretch that seemed to make the biggest difference was the double calf stretch, which involves bending over keeping your hips over your knees, your knees straight, and sticking your tailbone into the air, and relaxing your back into a concave curve. Initially I could not relax my back into the concave position because it was too tight.  Fortunately I am a generally flexible person and wasn't too far off. After just a few days of doing the stretches 3 - 5 times a day my back released and went concave.  It is hard to describe how incredibly good it felt. My hips, butt, and especially my piriformis had been perpetually tight for years. I would get massages or do hot yoga, but never felt like they were relaxed. Essentially it was 10 - 15 years of tension released, and it felt awesome.

I started the exercises right after my period had ended, and did them for 3 weeks before I got my next period. Typically the first day of my period I feel tired, nauseous, and have very painful cramps that cause me to cry. In general I dislike using medicine (I frequently have negative side affects) and do have a high pain tolerance, but after being miserable for months I eventually succumbed and had been taking over-the-counter pain killers for the first two days of my period every month.  This time it was different. While I still felt tired and not well, I was not in pain and did not need any medication.  The amount of flow was significantly lighter. Normally I soak through pads/tampons/cups, etc within a couple hours, this time I was not at risk of soaking through anything. And my period ended after only 3.5 days, instead of 7.  It is a miracle!

From that moment I was on Katy's bandwagon, and spent over a month consuming every book, blog post, article, interview, and free video she offered.  I also ordered a few of her online classes. The cool thing is she has all these little tests you can do to test your range of motion and diagnose the spots you are tight, or areas that could use attention.  Since then I have been able to release my psoas so I can lie flat on the ground comfortably.  I can stand with my knees straight and my quadriceps relaxed.  I have reduced lymph accumulation in my armpits.  I have increased my lung capacity and am able to breath deeper and I have increased the range of motion of my toes. I have changed the way I walk, and stand, and sit.

The nice thing about her paradigm, is that it doesn't involve a lot of time or work.  If I happen to be standing around I just stand differently.  When I am walking the kids to school I pay attention to what muscles I am using.  I do add some stretches to my day, but they feel so good, they don't seem like a chore.

If you have any ailment at all, I highly recommend looking into what Katy Bowman has to say.  Foot, knee, back, hip, and neck pain, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, varicose veins, bunions, menstruation and fertility issues--all of these things have mechanical components to them, and the kinks in the mechanics of how your body works affect your body on cellular and hormonal levels (download for free the first two hours of her Whole Body Alignment course if you want to learn how).

*The links to the app and the books are affiliate links and I will get a small percentage of the sale if you buy  from the link.

Monday, May 5, 2014

My Favorite Blogs

I don't think I have ever done a round up of my favorite blogs so I figured I should do one.  I use feedly as a blog reader.  I am not sure how many blogs I am subscribed to but it is at least a couple hundred.  Serves as a good way to feed my desire to know everything about everything.

Education - 

Teacher Tom -  Cooperative preschool teacher in Seattle.  I kind of have some hero worship toward Teacher Tom.  He posts daily and is consistently insightful.

Not Just Cute - Early childhood education.

Education Rethink - Teacher blog with some tech involved.

Blogging in the Fourth Dimension - Teacher blog.


Crappy Pictures - Funny parenting cartoons.

Free Range Kids -  Advocate to stop having policy being driven by worst-first thinking.

Hobo Mama - One of the first blogs I subscribed to.  She lives in Seattle.  Mostly parenting topics.


Indietutes -  There have been numerous posts that I feel like came out of my own head.  Sewing, parenting, books and learning.

Ikat bag - Lots of sewing and crafting as well as parenting posts.  Love her posts on drafting.

Fashion Incubator - I don't read this one much anymore, but at one point in time I read almost the entire site and learned a ton about sewing and manufacturing.

Food / Health - I am completely obsessed with this blog right now.  I downloaded some of her exercises and they have been amazingly effective.

Marks Daily Apple - Primal eating blog.

Tech - 

mathbabe - Former Wall Street quant turned Occupy Wall Street supporter.

Geekwire - Seattle based tech news

Art -

Will Terry - Children's book illustrator.  He has lots of instructional art videos and shares about being a freelance illustrator and children's book app creator.

Carla Sonheim - I love her art books.

Humans of New York - Photographic documentary of people in New York.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Road Trip To California - Part 2

After spending a week in Los Angeles we headed to Monterey.  Monterey is absolutely gorgeous.  I would love to live there.  It was green, and warm, and the beaches were beautiful.

We stayed with Lisa, a college x-country teammate of mine and Floyd's, and her family.  Her kids are the same ages as Selena and Allie and all the kids had a lot of fun together.  They are stationed in Monteray for 18 months.  Every time they move I always want to go visit, but traveling with kids always seems expensive and stressful to me, but this time it seemed like a good way to visit both them and my brother, and save money by driving.

We visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which was another really cool aquarium.  The kids especially liked the jellyfish exhibit.   We also got to see the penguins walking from the employee only area, to their exhibit.

Other than that we mostly just hung out at the beaches and ogled the fancy houses.  Lisa took me on a run along the beach which was amazing.  A long run with a good friend is pretty much my favorite thing in the world to do, so I was happy.

Floyd got to run with Dan (Lisa's husband) along the beach, and on the Pebble Beach golf course.  I think he would have rather golfed the course, but running on it was the next best thing.   He did get to play golf too, just not at Pebble Beach.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Road Trip To California - Part 1

For the end of March we took a 2 week road trip to California.  Last time we road tripped to California we went in a motor home, towing our car, and drove through the night.  Which was okay for the girls who were almost 3 and almost 5. But our dog did not like the motor home and was freaking out, which made it quite stressful till we finally put her in the car we were towing.

This time we drove in our Mazda 5.  We did a 9 hour drive to Redding, and stayed in a hotel overnight, and then did another 9 hour drive to Los Angeles.  Culver City to be exact, and stayed with my brother and his family for a week.  Then we drove about 6 hours to Monterey and stayed with our friend from college and her family for four nights, and did a 14 hour drive from Monterey back to Everett.

The trip was surprisingly smooth.  I want to say that mobile devices are awesome for road trips.  We had music, movies, tv shows, books on tape, games, and regular books all available and it made the trip pretty reasonable.

In Los Angeles we stayed with my brother which was so fun.  The kids had fun playing with their cousins.  The only bad part, was our timing, as they had just moved a few days before we arrived so their house was full of boxes, and I am sure it was a bit stressful for them.

We did Disneyland for a day (no California Adventure), the Aquarium of the Pacific, visited the beaches quite a bit, and just hung out and let the cousins play.  My nephews are the cutest boys ever.

Disneyland was of course wonderful.  I am kind of regretting not doing more than one day, but on the other hand it was crowded and pretty exhausting.  Allie just met the height requirement, which was great, because it meant we could all go on Splash Mountain and Space Mountain.  I was worried about the kids being scared, but they loved it.  They are kind of crazy.

We spent some time going on rides with the cousins, and we even met up with Lisa and her family (who we were staying with in Monterey), who also happened to be at Disneyland the same day as us.

The Aquarium of the Pacific was cool.  Their deep water exhibit was pretty awesome.  There are some weird creatures way down deep.  They also had some birds to feed, and rays to pet, and even had a penguin named Floyd. :)  

The beaches were fun, and probably the most relaxing, as the kids can spend hours digging in the sand and you don't have to deal with crowds.

We visited muscle beach in Santa Monica where Selena impressed the guys with her rope climbing skills.