The White House Denies Petition to Build a Death Star

Let me start by saying I am very active in my government… I write my congressmen and senators about key issues and I follow the news closely. I try hard to keep most of my political bias out of this blog, but I thought this was a GREAT way to make sure people knew about the We the People a petition site started by the White House where any citizen can start a petition on any topic and if it reaches the target number of signatures will receive an official response from the White House.  I think it’s worth visiting this site regularly and taking a few minutes to look over what other people think is important and also put your support behind a few worthy causes. Now this being the internet you know this had to get trolled  It is moderated, but somehow the request to the White House to build a Death Star as a job creation plan and defense initiative slipped through so I HAD to sign it! Well here we are several months later… and as a signer I and received a response that made me literally laugh out loud. I hope you enjoy this half as much as I did!

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This Is Not the Petition Response You’re Looking For

By Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

However, look carefully (here’s how) and you’ll notice something already floating in the sky — that’s no Moon, it’s a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sizedInternational Space Station in orbit around the Earth that’s helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts — American, Russian, and Canadian — living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We’ve also got two robot science labs — one wielding a laser— roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.

Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo — and soon crew — to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.

Even though the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we’ve got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we’re building aprobe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.

We don’t have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on buildingLuke’s arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.

We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-everWhite House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country’s future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.

If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

What’s likely to happen over the next 150 years? (infographic)

This is an interesting question and as a person who reads allot and is into sci-fi I find this topic very fascinating. In the following infographic shows  some predictions whats likely to happen and it’s odds over the next 150 years. Interesting topics in here about the singularity (possible in my lifetime!), space bases, genetic research, and cybernetic technology. Take a look and let me know in the comments what you think! I’m curious to see everyone’s thoughts!

A info-graphic covering what thinkers scientists and pundits think is likley to happen over the next 150 years!

My 2013 fitness plan!

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Kristi and I at Survivor Mud Run Seattle 2011

I have to admit over the last two years I have let myself go. The stress of corporate life and my doctorate along with some undiagnosed health issues really got the best of me and I ballooned up to nearly 280 pounds. I thought I carried it well until I had to buy a 3XL shirt! I nearly died! Last year I played a lot with food. I ate raw vegan, I ate vegetarian, and I ate a new way… Paleo.  For me this just works. I dropped about 30 pounds on the HCG diet with my doctor and have kept it off with the exception of a few holiday pounds. So here is the 2013 plan. As of right now I am on day 3 of a 21 day HCG cycle. I should lose another 18-25 pounds and I am REALLY excited about that! Then my birthday, a few weeks of paleo eating and another 21 day cycle. That should put me near 200 pounds and pretty close to where I was when I was married 13 years ago.

In the mean time I am also doing the 100 push-up, 200 sit-up, and 200 squat challenges and trying to get some good long walks in on the nice days. Starting in the spring when it warms up I’ll start my daily runs back up and I’m going to shoot for 250 burpees by the end of the summer. I’m also going to start doing some off-road running races, several mud runs and maybe an off-road sprint triathlon. I know it sounds like a lot of training, but it’s really not. I’m trying to keep it under 30 minutes a day and am only at about 15 minutes right now. as the weight comes down I’ll also pull out my pull up bar and kick off the 100 pull-up challenge plan.

I know that sounds like a lot of exercise, but the core of my health changes are really focused on quality paleo eating. In essence it’s the “cave man” diet. Ask yourself would a cave man eat this? and if the answer is no… skip it. I eat all the fresh vegetables, fruit, and organic grass fed meat I want. No counting calories no real rules to follow other than avoid grains and dairy. At first this sounds very restrictive, but I can assure you I enjoy eating this way better than the crap I used to eat. Tonight we had lemon garlic roasted chicken, raw carrots, fresh strawberries, and a spinach salad. For me there is a LOT to get excited about there! I’ll be writing more about paleo eating in the coming weeks and sharing some recipes. If you want one to get you started try out these awesome gluten free, high protein paleo pancakes! 

I’m only a few days into this, but I feel great and I will keep everyone posted on my progress.

Spoiler alert… I’m considering a late fall marathon. 🙂

What are your fitness goals for 2013?

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2013!

happy new yearWell 2013 is officially here. To be honest, I’m pretty excited. I learned a lot about myself (both good and bad) in 2012 and I am 100% committed to bettering myself this year. So… what do I have in mind? I lost 30 pounds in 2012, but I think I can do better I’m shooting for 50 more pounds gone by year-end! I’m also really focused on finishing my Ed Doctorate… It NEEDS to get done. As for my career, I am committing to being a more focused coach and trainer. I have been active but not to the degree I feel I could be. If I want to move my career forward I need to not only finish school I need to take production to the next level. I’m also placing a big priority on my family this year. Not that it wasn’t a priority in the first place, but I want to make sure I spend the quality time with them that they deserve. So here is my bullet pointed list of priorities for 2013 in no particular order:

  • Eat Palio 90% of the time
  • Drop another 50 pounds
  • Complete the 100 push-up, 100 sit-up and 150 squat challenge.
  • Start racing again
  • Complete and defend my dissertation
  • Spend more quality time with my wife, children, and friends.
  • More games less TV
  • Read for 1 hour every day
  • Write for 1 hour every day
  • When I’m at work be 100% focused on work and when I’m home be 100% focused on home life.
  • Learn to relax!

So that’s it in a nut shell I have a loose plan to be healthier and more successful with both my career and family. The theme of this year is gong to be about balance and that’s tough for me because I tend to be a person who goes to extremes and I’m sure we will be talking about that in the next few weeks.

Whats YOUR plan for 2013 and why?

Google Maps is now available for iPhone!

Google Maps for iOS 6I am an iPhone junkie! I love my iPhone and I love iOS. That being said I am not Such an Apple fan boy that I am unwilling to call them out when they screw up. I have very high expectations from Apple when it comes to quality, service, and user experience. When I launched the Apple Maps app for the first time I was stunned by how awesome it looked. Downtown Bellevue Washington was beautifully rendered and I thought “This is going to be awesome!” Then I used it… and let’s just be honest here… They sucked. Now for all you Android fans out there. I had an Android phone and I liked it. I REALLY liked the maps on Android. However, the Google Maps I had on my phone was NOT The same maps Android users were getting, and that was what Apple was trying to fix. With that in mind, for me if ONE good thing came out of the whole Apple iOS Maps debacle; it was that I now have turn by turn directions on my Google Maps iPhone app! YAY! so head on over to the app store and download it!

From Google:

People around the world have been asking for Google Maps on iPhone. Starting today, we’re pleased to announce that Google Maps is here—rolling out across the world in the Apple App Store. It’s designed from the ground up to combine the comprehensiveness and accuracy of Google Maps with an interface that makes finding what you’re looking for faster and easier.

via Google Maps is now available for iPhone | Official Google Blog.

Lego Galaxy Squad!

Pretty much anyone who knows me knows I LOVED the Lego Alien Conquest series and I was VERY sad to see it go. Luckily I got most of the cool sets before it was out of stores and even picked up a couple on clearance at deep discounts! What made me really sad about this particular discontinuation was that there was not good space series once Alien Conquest was gone (Besides the obvious Star Wars stuff I’m also in love with!) I know everyone says any piece is a space piece and I have done some cool things with Ninjago parts but I really like space Legos. It’s nostalgic for me because I grew up on Lego Classic Space.

The newest Lego space series is called Galaxy Squad, and I’m really excited about it! The creatures are cool because it’s a cool mix of insect looking aliens and more classic looking space ships similar to what you build in the Lego MBA set (That I have yet to finish due to some issues at work). I havent bought any of these sets yet, but I promise I will and as soon as I do there will be pictures!

So what do you think? Id Lego Galaxy Squad an epic win or epic fail?

Do you have a selling system?

sales systemSales managers… What are you doing for your staff? I know you hold training session, set goals, monitor performance, and keep people accountable. We all do that, but what separates great sales managers form the average is the ability to help sales people build good habits, learn discipline and follow a system.

I know we want every sale to be form fit to the customer based on a relationship we have developed and leveraged over time to help us develop an ideal solution for each client. And I also know that most sales people will use this desire for appointment customization and relationship building to fight you on the development of any sort of system, but I am here to tell you this could not be further from the truth. systematization is central to effective selling. It keeps us on track, it prevents us from forgetting key steps in the process, and it ensures we are efficient with our time.

So ask yourself: Have I helped my staff to develop a solid selling system that works? 

This does not have to be complicated, but it helps to have a strategy. Imagine a football team trying to play a game with no pre-set plays? Are they inflexible and unable to customize when playing from the playbook? No, but they do have a set of pre-set strategies they can implement. My goal for my staff is to provide them a strategy in the form of a framework to follow and then give them a series of plays to run based on what they find that way they feel free to do what they need to but they are never far from the known path.

For an appointment setting call for my staff the framework looks like this:

Rapport

Motivation

Qualification

Payment

Start Date 

Referral

I have them write this on a piece of paper and make sure they have covered every point before asking for an appointment… The “Plays” are how we move from point to point depending on how things are going…

So let me ask you this: Does every member of your team have a well thought out strategy or are you letting them shoot from the hip?

Pursue REAL happiness!

It's important to achieve balance in lifeHave you ever realized that what you want is right in front of you and what you think you want is a load of crap? I have been pretty reflective lately and it’s led to some great conversations between my wife and I about where we are in life, careers, and whatnot and we have come to some realizations about some things we were chasing.  Maybe some of those things weren’t so important and that we wanted to focus energy on some new things going forward. I love my girls and I love my wife… but I have given a lot to my career and I sometimes wonder to what end? I make good money, we have a stable life, cool stuff, and I am upwardly mobile; but are we happier than we were 10 years ago? Have our problems and stresses been reduced? Not really. I make literally 3x what I made 10 years ago and none of those things are measurably better so whats it all for? Krisy and I have really been talking about this and it’s kind of awesome… I’m excited because we are trying to get the ball rolling on some BIG life changes that we feel would simplify things, reduce stress and bring us closer together as a family. I’m not ready to spill the beans yet, but it’s HUGE and exciting.

So what got me thinking about this? It’s another edition of Songs That Get Stuck In My Head! This is one I found on YouTube Thanksgiving day while playing with the girls… They loved the song and I have to admit it’s a catchy tune, but the story spoke to me as well… Give it a listen and let me know if it talks to you.

The Duck Song! 

PS: When we DO make those changes you will know because it’s HUGE! 🙂

If you are considering rethinking things in your life I highly recommend: ONO, Options Not Obligations: Enrich Your Personal Life by Rethinking Your Financial Life by Mark Warnke. This book has helped me reshape how I think about things and is a book for people who like the idea of family first entrepreneurship.

What makes a game?

Atari 2600 JoystickEarlier this week I talked about Why Gamification fails. Today I’d like to talk about what makes a game. On the surface I think we all THINK we know what makes a game but many of the things we think of as core features are simply not required to have a game. Games to not have to have scores, points or clear winners. Wow! Who would have thought? A lot of games DO have some or all of those things, but they are not required. So what IS required? Jane McGonigal give us a great list of things to think about in her book Reality is Broken: Why Games make us better and how they can change the world. She says a game needs only 4 things to be complete

  • Goals – A specific outcome you are trying to achieve
  • Rules – Set limitations on how players can achieve these goals
  • A Feedback System – How close are you to a goal? Points, scores, progress bars, players personal knowledge of an outcome, for example the game is over when…
  • Voluntary participation  – This requires everyone to knowingly and willingly accept the rules, goals, and feedback. You can not force anyone to participate, and this ensures that any challenging or stressful work takes place in a manner that is safe and pleasurable.

That’s it… That’s ALL you need! points, scores, winners, graphics, etc are all tools to increase the players engagement in the game but they are not core to the game itself.

Lets look at some examples. In one of my favorite games Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) there are constantly changing story driven goals and the obvious goal of leveling up my gaining XP (Experience Points) You have the dice and Dungeon master as a source of feedback, and lets face it, no one is forced to play something as awesome as DnD! the most important one is no player wins DnD. The party may lose battles, but the game has no real winners and losers the story just progresses.

Starbucks reward points:  After 20 drinks you become a gold member and start getting a free cup of coffee every 5 drinks and other perks. Guess what? it’s a game… You have a goal: get 20 points for the perks then free coffee every 5 points. You have a feedback system with the little stars in the coffee cup of the app (a progress bar of sorts) the rules are quite clear, and again everyone agrees to play.

Other examples are fuel rewards, frequent flyer programs, Foursquare, and Mozilla Open Badges. Games are everywhere you look once you know what you are looking for… They are used in marketing, management  and education on a daily basis. What are some examples that come to mind for you and how do you feel about them? Are you engaged? Why or Why not?

 

What the heck is happening to Foursquare?

Foursquare Overshare BadgeFoursquare used to be my favorite check-in tool, and now I have to say that I still use it, but I’m loosing interest fast. How does a company that beat out it’s competitors and had a solid niche as the only (popular) gamified check-in app fall from grace?

In the beginning everybody fought to be the mayor of their favorite Foursquare hangout but over time the buzz surrounding the social media app seemed to have waned as many users simply stopped caring about the game’s badges and check-ins. Source: What happened to the game mechanics on Foursquare? 

Gamification.co nailed it… I can remember the first few times I saw a social check-in on Facebook and thought “How did they do that?” I immediately saw the value in sharing your whereabouts and was hooked on the game sa soon as I downloaded the app. I checked in everywhere I went and even got my Overshare badge. I was even more excited when check-ins started netting me tangible items like the grocery store that gave me a free doughnut every time I checked in! Pubs gave mayor discounts and there was some cool factor to being the mayor of your favorite locations and battling to keep the title. Unfortunately, things got a little stale and Facebook came out with a check-in system of their own as did Google +, Yelp, Meet-up, and basically every other app on my phone. It makes me sad, because the game was fun and the added benefit of check-in rewards was awesome. but the game never changed and now sadly we are seeing Foursquare pull back further and further from the game and transform itself into another Yelp not that the world needs that.

So what happened? In my opinion the bottom fell out because they did not attract enough mayor or check-in specials early on. This was simply a sales problem and one I think they could have still solved. The demise of Foursquare is going to be them entering into a crowded space and dropping the key feature that made them famous… This kind of gamification is a marketers dream and I can not believe they would walk away from it.

If you are interested in learning more about using games as a marketing tool I highly recommend: Game-Based Marketing: Inspire Customer Loyalty Through Rewards, Challenges, and Contests as a jumping off point. 

What do you think? Is Foursquare on the right or wrong track? 

 

The personal blog of Brad Trnavsky