Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man


Three Years: Looking Back

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


Today makes 3 years since I was waylaid by a Honda Accord that ran a red light. I never imagined how much it would change my life. As I get ready for bed tonight (taking Aleve because my titanium femur aches when I spend all day walking at my job) I can't help but be thankful that I'm physically as well as I am, and mentally adjusted to deal with what my new "normal" is.

The question is, if I knew I was going to end up in the hospital when I started riding my bike, would I still have done it? How much risk is acceptable... especially considering the massively potential benefits? How do we go through life mitigating risk? Should we live in fear, cowering in the dark every day of our lives?

No. Life is meant to be lived. Pain is a part of life, in varying amounts. Joy, love, exhilaration, and happiness are also part of life, also in varying amounts. We can't only expect comfort and pleasant sailing when we're accomplishing difficult things. It makes me even more thankful for the happiness I do have, and the good things that have happened. A lot of people would be bitter. I am thankful. Not thankful for the pain, but thankful that I lived to tell about it, and realize how much I had taken for granted. Thankful that God allowed me to recover, and through it, brought me closer to Him.

Don't live life afraid. Embrace it fully, experience it deeply, and put forth your best, warts and all. Sometimes it will hurt. You just get up, get back on the bike, and keep riding.



This picture is about 2 weeks post-op. I hadn't eaten in a week, and was down to about 155 pounds.
Yes, that's the same bike I'm still riding to this day. A year after the accident, I did a 75-mile charity ride. On the same bike.



Sleep Deprivation And You

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


I have always struggled with getting enough rest, for as long as I can remember. Through my college years, I would stay awake for days (usually playing ping-pong and video games) and then binge sleep on the weekends (and some Mondays). I never really thought anything of it.

A few years back, I took a job working at a hospital in New Orleans. I had the joy of working the weekend night shift, which meant I worked 7pm to 7am, Saturday and Sunday night, every week. I would get off of work Monday morning when the day crew would come in at 7am. I was alone the whole time. Sometimes late at night I would walk up to the ICU ward and listen to the breathing machines and monitors, just to stay awake. Sometimes I would go up to the NeoNatal unit to watch preemies in incubators. Sometimes I was so tired, I would hallucinate, and fall asleep sitting at my desk, perched on a tall chair. Sometimes between 4am and 5am I would pass out on the floor, with my backpack as a pillow, and sleep for 30 minutes because I couldn't hold my eyes open.

To make things worse, I had to come in for two 8-hour day shifts on Wednesdays and Thursdays, every week. After six months, my body still hadn't adjusted. I was either working, sleeping, or staring into space like a zombie. For six straight months.

Somewhere during that time, I realized that I couldn't function without sleep. That's also when I started drinking coffee to be able to function (and it's been ten years, I still haven't broken that addiction! LOL). Eventually, I quit that job because I couldn't function. Things went back to normal- for a while.

Fast forward a few years. Now I'm working a job I love. I'm eating right, exercising, doing everything right. And yet, I don't get enough sleep. How much is considered enough? How much does a normal person need to function properly? Would you even know what functioning properly would feel like??

The truth is, you can function on limited sleep. I've done it for decades. The problem is, you can't function to your full capacity. Most people will never know what their full mental capacity is capable of because they're crippled from lack of rest. It's been reported that before the invention of the light bulb, people slept an average of 10 hours a night. Today, adults sleep an average of 6.9 hours a night. Our bodies (and brains) weren't made to function through the night. Yet today, it's rare for people to go to bed when the sun goes down.

How do you fix this? It has to be addressed in a structured, logical manner. You need to figure out how much sleep you require (which varies from person to person) and then make a plan to get that much sleep every day. Some people need 8, some people need 9 hours, some people need 6 or less (though I can't imagine your body functioning correctly on less than 6).

How do you figure out how much sleep you need? You need to have a way to track when you're sleeping, record your sleep patterns, and see what the quality of your sleep is. There are numerous ways to do this, many of which are technology based. The Fitbit Flex, Jawbone, and others will let you chart your sleep habits, so you can see exactly what your body is doing. I use a free app called SleepBot that works with your smartphone. It not only records your sleep times, it also records sound and movement using your phone's sensors. You can hear yourself snoring and tossing! Pretty eye-opening stuff (no pun intended).

You'll need to spend a few weeks in your normal routine, recording your sleep habits, before you can come up with a plan. Take this information and apply it! Sleep more, and record how you feel in a journal (SleepBot lets you do this inside the app). You can then improve your quality of life with a simple plan. Get as much rest as you need.

Here's a sampling of the data I get from SleepBot:


Here, you can see I get between 5.5 and 6.5 hours of sleep a night, plus a nap on some days.



The dotted line is where I set my daily goal, at 7 hours. (You can see one day I forgot to log!) But I'm happy to see over a month my sleep patterns are getting slightly better. Over time, I'll have more data, but this is encouraging. My plan is working.

I'll leave you with a few links to read up on the benefits of sleep:

Fierce Gentleman: The Power Of Rest
National Sleep Foundation: How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?


More Live Looping

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

More live looping fun! Major props to Arthur. Without his music, I may never have discovered live looping. Keep doing what you're doing, man.


Approaching Ground Zero

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


In a few days, my "day job" (here's a hint: it isn't blogging) will ramp up for a month or so of crazy production. It will involve copious amounts of overtime, probably some extra days, and lots of overtime pay.

Yes I get paid overtime, because I'm an hourly worker, and I refuse to work another salary job. I've been there, I've done that, I will never do it again. I generally have issues with large mega-corporations (even though the one I work for is one of the better ones) and I also don't like corporate politics, stupidity, wastefulness, attitude, and greed. Pretty much all things I'm sworn to destroy.

Ah, but for the lack of a paycheck...

Anyway, if I don't post a lot over the next month or so, that's why. Hopefully I'll get time to breathe.

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The Myth Of “Abundant Life”

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


"Abundant Life" as we've been taught it, by the modern Church, is a myth.

If you've ever heard someone say "God has blessed me with a new _____! He's given me life more abundantly!" then you've been exposed to the lie. In today's climate of soft theology and relativism, this kind of thinking is rampant, it's destructive, and it's wrong.

I debated on whether to even write this, as it's a hard topic to swallow. Take, for instance, my article on Technology In the Church. I knew as I was writing it that it would ruffle some feathers, because it clearly calls out believers to put their money where they claim their faith is. That makes people uncomfortable. But I'm okay with making people uncomfortable.

The Christian life is not about human comfort. If it were, we could discard the entire book of Job. Or Acts. Or the Gospels. Or pretty much the whole Bible. In the book of Job, the Bible says Job was righteous in every way, and yet God allowed him to be afflicted. All throughout the Bible, there are stories of righteous people suffering and enduring hardship. The thorn in Paul's side. Lazarus' death. Job. King David. The disciples. Even Jesus himself.

If God were in fact trying to make everyone comfortable, then what would the point of that be? We know God doesn't change. We know God allows suffering in righteous people. Therefore, it is wrong for us to assume God wants us to be comfortable. Comfort does not honor God. He allows us to be comfortable, in the same way he allows us to endure suffering. To God, it's just a part of life, not the goal in and of itself. It's not a reward for being "good enough."

"But doesn't God want me to be happy?"


Molten Voltage MIDI Pedal

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

My guitar pedalboard is finally finished! Got a Molten Voltage MIDI pedal to switch presets on my rack unit and also give me tap-tempo MIDI clock for my delay effects. Check it out.

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Tasker And Flowcharts

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


In my quest to simplify, I've ventured into the territory of Information Automation. Since I discovered the app  Tasker, I've challenged myself to find new ways to exploit it to automate tasks that I really shouldn't be wasting time on.

Tasker basically is an automation programming language for your Android device. It allows you to take any number of trigger inputs (GPS position, battery state, apps, network status, emails, RSS feeds, etc.) and then perform any series of tasks you program it to. It has the capability to be a full-fledged programming language, with conditional logic, variables, and so on, which lets you make some incredibly complex "tasks" for it to run.

It also has the capability of using almost anything your device can do as an "action" or output, which means you can automate just about anything your phone/tablet can do. Take pictures, play audio, send texts, run programs, share to social media, control the device's functions, or even speak and listen to voice commands.

So, sometimes I geek out on stuff like flowcharts and such, and programming is the perfect place for it. Flowcharts! Graphs! Logic! Here's how it works.


Why I Bike Commute

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


The folks at the Bike Commuter Cabal were kind enough to let me write up some stuff for you to read about why I decided to start Bike Commuting, and how it changed my life.

Check it out here!
Bike Commuter Cabal Blog


The Way-Back Machine

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


Fortunately, I've been able to find a bunch of my articles from before The Great Server Wipe of December August 2011. This is good in a lot of ways. You can see just how much my writing and thought process has changed over the last 6 years. And honestly, you don't want to see my writing before that. That's pre-Wordpress.... hardcoded HTML... (shudder)

It's pretty entertaining to go back and see what I used to write about, and what I thought was important. Over the next few weeks, I'll be back-posting these articles into the blog's history, and adding redirects to the new posts.

Thanks to The Way-Back Machine for the help!

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Guitarix And Ubuntu For Live Use

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

I'm working on finishing up some articles and videos of demoing Guitarix in a live performance setting. Until then, here's some screenshots of my rig in action! The last picture is what the laptop looks like when you put Guitarix in "Live" mode. The buttons at the bottom light up as you use MIDI triggers to turn on/off effects, so you can easily see what's switched on. Also, if you have a pedal mapped to volume or wah, it shows what position the pedal is at. (That's going to get a video demo as soon as I find the time!)

You can store presets in banks, so you can set up your sounds according to songs and sets.

Guitarix1 Guitarix3