Life Lessons from Chess & Rocket League

I enjoy playing chess and Rocket League on occasion. I have definitely learned about myself from both:

  • Patience – I often am impatient in Chess and make moves faster than necessary before considering all options. I am trying to learn to wait and really think about everything first. Same with Rocket League, instead of just chasing the ball around the map like a little dog after a rabbit I am trying to watch the ball come in and then make a plan for how to handle it.
  • Avoiding negative emotions – Anger especially can lead to poor decision making. I am trying to be careful about this in life and not to make decisions based on emotions.

Nervous about Remote Work

For the first time in seven years, I will be working remotely starting next week. I started the company from home, and after a little less than a year hired people to start working with me in my apartment. Three years of apartment work later, Coalition moved into an actual office in Culver City. I am nervous now about going back to remote work because I want to make sure I am able to keep my motivation up at a high level. I also want to make sure I am effectively able to manage my Culver City team remotely.

Some ideas I have to make this work better:

  • Make a point to call a team member on Hangouts each day and talk for at least a few minutes
  • Try to visit the office at least once a week
  • Have other outside social interactions with people
  • Designate a schedule of work, exercise, social interaction
  • Set up regular lunches with my CEO friends in LA
  • Ask Laurel to help me be accountable
  • Have family visit me so I don’t get lonely
  • Track my KPIs

School Shootings, Gun Laws, and Anger Issues

I was 14 years old, sitting in my room at home. My mom had gotten into meth and alcohol and had gone crazy for the last couple of years and left the family. My dad had withdrawn from his family and just went to work and came home and locked himself in his room to watch tv. I had no friends at school. I was very hurt and very angry about all of the above issues, plus I had the crazy hormones of a teenager. Basically, I was a human time bomb.

I thought about suicide daily. I thought about killing my “enemies” at school and elsewhere. I screamed and yelled and fought my parents and other authority figures in my life. I got in fights at school. I thought I hated everyone.

If I had had access to guns at that point in my life, I think there is a very strong possibility I would have committed suicide and it is likely I could have been a school shooter.

My life was not as hopeless as a lot of the kids who become school shooters though. I had a few friends here and there, though I did not appreciate them. I had good brothers, though I mostly ignored them. I had my grandparents, who I highly respected.

My life still could have ended there if a major blessing in disguise hadn’t happened. My parents got sick of me yelling and screaming and fighting them and so they kicked me out. I moved from a nightmarish home life into a stable, happy home with my grandparents.

It took my Bestemor and Grandpa many years of working with me to help me cool off my anger and channel my energy into more productive avenues. Many nights Bestemor would come to my room at night to tuck me in (yes as a teenager) and talk to me about my anger. My Grandpa put up with me arguing with him on everything and slowly helped to teach me the finance principles, work ethic, and personal integrity that have helped me be successful in business.

When I was 18, attending University of Washington as a freshman, I got drunk with my friends one night and sent an angry email off to my high school. I ranted about a lot of things, then my friend pointed out that since my brother was student body president I might get him in trouble. So I added a note at the end that if they did anything to him I would burn down the school. Horrifying. The police called me and I went down there with my Grandpa and met with the administration. Thank god they let me go with an apology. I could easily have gotten prison time for making terrorist threats, especially since this was after Columbine and other school shootings.

I saw recently that there has been another school shooter, this time a nineteen year old boy named Nikolas Cruz. It sounds like Nikolas also had a lot of anger: his adoptive father died years ago and his mother died recently. He was a bit of an outcast. He had a lot of anger, and also a need to try to impress people – even if that impression was negative. I can relate to a lot of those feelings. He fantasized and talked about being a school shooter and probably it got him some sort of strong reaction from kids around him. He probably thought that reaction was a form of respect, and he craved it and kept doing more and more. He did not have the support around him that I have had and continued to spiral down and down. He killed 17 kids at a South Florida high school and now will spend the rest of his life in prison or be executed.

In a different life, one where I had not had my grandparents there to support me and my brothers and a few friends, a life where I would have had direct access to guns, I think I could have ended up doing a horrifying act like Nikolas Cruz.

For a long time I have thought that it is worth the trade off to have all the gun violence we do in exchange for having the ability to fight back against the government for our freedom if necessary. I thought the 33,594 deaths in 2014 from gun violence in the US was worth it. I still would like to own guns to protect my family and may purchase them if legal. However, I do feel that my certainty here is eroding away.

I think there is no chance anymore that American citizens could fight back against our government like the Founders had intended. The Founders had opposed a standing military – but now we have the world’s largest military by far. There is no gun that can fight and win against Predator drones, fighter jets, ICBMs, nuclear submarines, tanks, nerve gas, or the myriad of other enormously powerful weapons our government now holds. A very, very small group in our government could easily fight and win against every other citizen united with just guns. I think this argument for guns is completely sunk.

I also have wanted to own a gun to protect my family. The statistics don’t seem to support this theory. Owning a gun doubles the risk of homicide and triples the risk of suicide. Most guns are actually used to kill yourself or a family member in a moment of intoxication or anger – not to defend against a home invader.

I did read some interesting statistics pointing the other direction though: There were 3.7 million household burglaries each year between 2003 and 2007 according to the USDOJ. In 28% of these burglaries, a household member was present during the burglary. In 7% of all the burglaries that household member experienced some form of violent victimization.  Simple assault (15%) was the most common form of violence when
a resident was home and violence occurred. Robbery (7%) and rape (3%) were less likely to occur when a household member was present and violence occurred. Offenders were known to their victims in 65% of violent burglaries, and the offenders were strangers in only 28%. Hmm… 7% of 3.7 million is 259,000 burglaries with assault per year. Only 28% of these were strangers – so 72,520 cases per year.

If you look at the statistics on how often a victim with a gun uses it in self defense – there was only 259 justifiable gun related homicides or killings in self defense in 2012. In the same year, 3 out of 4 victims of firearm homicides knew their killers and more than 1 in 3 was a family member or in a relationship with the killer.

I think the fact that we can no longer defend our freedom with guns against the government, and the fact that guns generally greatly increase the gun owners risks means I have lost my justification for supporting gun ownership.

I am not really sure what can be done to prevent school shootings. There are always going to be outcasts in human society and most of them will not have the incredibly supportive grandparents that I did. Limiting guns would help, but my impression of mental health care is that it is generally pretty ineffective. I think a lot of what psychiatrists and psychologists do, especially in prescribing medications, can cause more harm than help.

Run Today

Today, I did the Marine Fitness test again on the treadmill. I do feel like it is much easier to run on a treadmill then in real life, but I am still happy to report that I am improving. This time I was able to maintain a 8.2 mph pace / 7:18 per mile. My goal is to continue to increment this up 0.1 every week or so until I reach 10 mph!

I also did an additional slow jog of 2 miles to cool down and walked another 2 miles on my treadmill desk while answering emails.

 

Heavier

I noticed that even though my physical fitness levels have been rising with my run times on the treadmill, it seems that my waist line is expanding slightly. At one point, my pants were a little loose on me when wearing waist size 33. I have noticed now that even 34’s are a little tight on me. My weight is also up slightly from an average of 200 to an average of 205.

I think I just need to be a little bit more disciplined with my snacking before bed. I have asked Laurel to no longer purchase the snacks I binge on, especially flavored nuts. We are also going to add in several large homemade salads for dinner each week.

I am going to use my treadmill desk again every day, and write down my weight each morning when I wake up.

I am glad to have such a supportive wife helping me with my goals! 🙂

Preventing Changes To My Google Business Listing using Laravel & the API

Recently, a malicious person had started making changes to my business’s Google Business listing. Google actually allows anyone to make edits anytime to any Business listing it seems. I had to keep changing it back multiple times a day. I requested access to Google My Business API and was granted access. I built an app last night that automatically detects changes and reverts the changes.

I also sent a cease & desist to the person making the changes and the attempts seem to have stopped. My app notifies me of attempts to change it and I haven’t seen anything lately.

The code was pretty basic if anyone needs to do something similar. I also set up a Scheduler to run this periodically every day and used Laravel Forge to push it to a $5 / mo AWS server.

If my code is helpful, please leave a comment! 🙂

$this->info('Starting to try to update Google Places');
$credentials = base_path('XXXXXXXXXXX.json');
$scope = 'https://www.googleapis.com/auth/plus.business.manage';
$ctGoogleLocationName = 'accounts/XXXXXXXXX/locations/XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX';

$ctIdealName = 'YOUR NAME HERE';
$ctIdealPhone = 'YOUR PHONE';
$ctIdealWebsiteUrl = 'https://coalitiontechnologies.com';

putenv('GOOGLE_APPLICATION_CREDENTIALS='.$credentials);

$redirect_uri = '<YOUR_REDIRECT_URI>';

$client = new Google_Client();
$client->useApplicationDefaultCredentials();
$client->addScope($scope);

$client->setSubject('YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS');

$googleMyBusiness = new Google_Service_MyBusiness($client);

$this->info('About to check coalition on Google');
$coalition = $googleMyBusiness->accounts_locations->get($ctGoogleLocationName);

if($coalition->locationName != $ctIdealName ||
    $coalition->websiteUrl != $ctIdealWebsiteUrl ||
    $coalition->primaryPhone != $ctIdealPhone
){
    $this->info('Someone changed things! We will fix that');

    $changedToLocationName = $coalition->locationName;
    $changedToPrimaryPhone = $coalition->primaryPhone;
    $changedToWebsiteURL = $coalition->websiteUrl;


    $coalition->locationName = $ctIdealName;
    $coalition->primaryPhone = $ctIdealPhone;
    $coalition->websiteUrl = $ctIdealWebsiteUrl;
    $result = $googleMyBusiness->accounts_locations->patch($ctGoogleLocationName, $coalition);

    $data['changedToLocationName'] = $changedToLocationName;
    $data['changedToPrimaryPhone'] = $changedToPrimaryPhone;
    $data['changedToWebsiteURL'] = $changedToWebsiteURL;
    $data['ctIdealName'] = $ctIdealName;
    $data['ctIdealPhone'] = $ctIdealPhone;
    $data['ctIdealWebsiteUrl'] = $ctIdealWebsiteUrl;

    $this->info('Fixed. Send email notification.');

    Mail::send(['text' => 'emails.notify'], $data, function ($message) use ($data) {
        $message->from('YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS','Google Maps Updater' )
            ->to('Email','Google Maps Updater' )
            ->cc('Email','Jordan')
            ->subject('Joels Google Updater Strikes Again!');
    });

} else {
    $this->info('No changes. They fear our power!');
}

 

Marine Corps Fitness Test Yesterday

I mentioned a month ago or so that I had done the Marine Corps Fitness test for fun on a treadmill in Washington. At that time, I had scored a 23:20 for the 3 mile run. I have done it twice since. The next time I sustained a pace of 7:30 per mile for a total of 22:30. That almost broke me and my body was sore for a week. Just yesterday I did it again and sustained a pace of 7:24 per mile for a total of 22:12. I am pretty sore today, but not as bad as I was last time. My hope is to continue to push myself to do this test every two weeks and show improvement each time. My goal this year is to run one mile in 6 minutes eventually.

I am very happy that I have not had anything to drink in 7 months now. I definitely am reaching the best fitness levels I have ever had and have mentally been sharper then ever before.

An Ex

I was walking home from lunch at Cafe Vida in Culver City today with my wife when I saw a couple with a dog turn the corner ahead of me. The woman dodged back behind a wall in a strange way. The little white dog continued to pull around the corner though… it was a Westie. I put two and two together and realized it was my ex who may have been embarrassed to see me. I told my wife and she thought it must be her too. The couple hurriedly walked off in the opposite direction. Strange that I recognized the dog but not her. I had thought my ex had moved away years ago. Oh well, I will be moving away myself in a couple weeks.