Category Archives: All About Me

Wild Mushroom Hunting

This past weekend I got a chance to do one of my favorite spring time activities; Wild Mushroom Hunting! I was joined by my wife, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law in the hunt. They have joined in past years and all have a keen eye for Morels.

morel mushroomsFor years we have cruised choice mushroom hunting spots for the ever elusive morel mushroom. This year however was a bit different because I was able to go hunting on 190 acres of our families new recreational property in New Lisbon, WI. What also makes this different than the past is that for the first time in a long time I don’t have any go-to hot spots. Prior to purchasing this new property we did ask the previous owners if they had any history finding morel mushrooms and they informed us they had much better luck finding Oysters and Hen of the Woods, two varieties I didn’t have much experience foraging.

Tip! When I am hunting Morel mushrooms I typically follow the “dead elm rule”. If there are morels to be found, find them by the dead elms.

I have found morel mushrooms in many different places, open fields, along creeks, under pines, but dead elms seem to be the most common place to find them here in Wisconsin. That said, in 2 days I must have checked over 50 dead elms, but no luck. In the end I struck out and didn’t find any morel mushrooms. However, I didn’t walk away empty handed. I was lucky enough to find a nice batch of pheasant back mushrooms. Pheasant Back Mushrooms on a stumpNow normally I am pretty dismissive of pretty much any wild mushroom except for morels, but I had been doing a fair amount of research lately and knew exactly
what I was dealing with as soon as I spotted it. The pheasant back mushroom as also known as hawk’s wing or dryad’s saddle and its formal name is polyporous squamosus. Pheasant backs are very easy to identify (based on looks), has no poisonous look-a-likes (that I have been able to find in some exhaustive searching), and can often be found in large quantities. They also have a very watermelon or cucumber-like smell once picked. The mushroom is actually a tree-wound parasite of hardwoods, and causes white-rot. I have heard people generally have the most luck finding pheasant backs on old or dead box-elder and elm. In my case it was an old oak tree. In all I found over 3 lbs!

over 3 lbs of dryad's saddle mushroomsIf you want to learn more about pheasant back mushrooms I recommend checking out the following links:

Disclaimer: I am not an expert at this. While I have done my share of research and am very selective over what I eat. I hold no accountability over your choices to consume wild mushrooms. Some mushrooms are poisonous and may even result in death if consumed.

What is AdvoCare?

I like to read a lot and because food blogs are one of the things I enjoy reading I had been hearing a lot about body cleansing, juicing, and nutrition hacking. I have also been fascinated by CrossFit, which inevitably led me to hearing about AdvoCare at various times. So flash back to a month ago when my wife tells me that a friend of ours was starting the AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge.
AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge
Being the supportive person I am I told my wife that I thought it was awesome that her friend was doing this (and here is where I really surprised here) I told her that if she wanted to try it out I would do the challenge with her. I figured I love doing challenges like this, I definitely have a health conscience, and I thought it could be fun to be supportive of my wife during her challenge with the foods we ate.
So on May 8th, 2014 we started Day 1 of the challenge. See the first 10 days are a cleanse (not not really a cleanse in the poop your brains out way sort of way); the way I see it the first 10 days is really about 3 things:

  1. Developing a schedule/routine – Drink this first, eat this second, take these third… I think you get the point. Thankfully AdvoCare provides resources like a challenge book and a smartphone app that helps keep track of things nicely.
  2. Following a strict No list – This may have been the most difficult part. Here are a list of foods to avoid:
    • No Alcohol
    • No Coffee
    • No Dairy (milk, butter, cream, cheese, etc.)
    • No Fried Food
    • No High Fat Foods
    • No Processed Foods
    • No Preservative-Based Foods – You know all those crazy things on the labels that you either can’t really pronounce or have no clue what it really is like High Fructose Corn Syrup, Monosodium Glutamate, Sodium Sulfite, Sodium Nitrate, etc. well they are all bad when you’re taking the 24 day challenge.
    • No Soda
    • No Sugar – It really doesn’t matter what kind, try and stay away from all sugars
    • No White Bread
    • No White Flour
  1. Establishing a healthy balanced diet – I don’t know  if I have ever eaten this healthy in my life. 100% natural fresh meats, veggies, fruits, whole grain, etc.

After the cleanse phase you go into what AdvoCare calls the max phase. As I see it this is really about continuing the 3 points above, while adding specific supplements and vitamins in order to support your body.

Being the stat nerd I am I kept very detailed logs of my food, weight, fat mass (thanks to my awesome Withings Smart Body Analyzer!!), and even blood pressure (using a Panasonic Blood Pressure Monitor).

Ok now if you have made it this far in the reading you’re probably wondering, DID IT WORK??? Well I found it did for me! Stats Summary for my 24 Day Challenge:

  • I lost 11 lbs going from 213.5 lbs down to 202.5 lbs.
  • I had a 14.6% reduction in Fat Mass dropping from 54.7 lbs of fat to 46.7 lb of fat
  • I saw a 7 point drop (using first 5 day average – last 5 day average) on both my systolic and diastolic measurements.
  • I lost 7 inches on my BWHT (chest-weight-hips-thigh) measurements (4 on waist/belly and 3 on thigh, my chest and hips stayed the same).

The above data is just a summary, here is a detailed log of my weight, fat mass, fat mass % of total weight, and blood pressure. Days that are identified as n/a no measurements were taken usually because I was traveling for work:

Tenny's Advocare 24 Day Challenge log
 

I don’t want to turn this into a commercial or advertisement, but wanted to realistically address some questions:

Would I recommend AdvoCare?  Overall I think I would. I saw positive results. It really wasn’t that difficult.  I successfully completed the challenge.

How did you feel during and after the challenge? I have heard a number of people who said they feel so much more energy when on AdvoCare, but that just wasn’t the case for me. I had a morning caffeine ritual that worked well for me prior to starting, so if anything I felt less energy due to the change in my habit. I also have felt more emotionally sensitive during and now for the first few days after. It could all be in my head, it could be seasonality (it did transition from spring to summer here), it could be anything, but I strongly feel it was influence by the diet.

Would I do it again? Yes, because in a way I am still doing it. I am taking the AdvoCare Spark (as a replacement to my morning caffeine drinks), AdvoCare Catalyst (before working out), and taking AdvoCare OmegaPlex (as a omega-3 supplement). I have also significantly hacked my diet by cutting out crap that was bad for me and overall I have changed out a lot of the bad foods for good ones.

What was the most difficult part of the challenge? The most difficult part was finding reliable information. What can I eat? What can’t I eat? There is a lot of contradictory data out there. I also struggled to find recipes. It was such a challenge that my wife and I created our own AdvoCare website called AdvoHelp.org where we post helpful hints and recipes that we have enjoyed while on the challenge.

Wordle of my twitter activity

I have been seeing several wordle clouds lately and thought it would be cool to do one of my Twitter posts over the last 2 years. I like that wordle lets you right click on words you want to remove (which I did with my username, months, and other common twitter words like reply, favorite, etc.). This is the end result:

jmtenny's twitter word cloud via wordle

looking now I see a few other common words were still left in (like summary), but overall I think it is a pretty accurate snapshot into my Twitter interactions.

Don’t call it a resolution

I suck at New Year’s resolutions, like so many others I just lose motivation. However, I am good at personal challenges. My last successful personal challenge was to go alcohol free in 2013. I wasn’t necessarily a big drinker or anything, I just wanted to see if I could do it and how it would affect me (weight, emotionally, socially, etc.) and was proud to accomplish the feat with very little issue (I did order a drink once that I thought was non-alcoholic and found I was wrong part way through it). Anyways, in 2014 I think I will enjoy the occasional drink, but don’t feel the “need” to drink as much as I used to. I will however be trying to accomplish a few things this year:

  • Photo-a-day – I tried this once before and failed, but I really want to push myself to see if I can complete a full year taking a picture everyday. While easy for some, for me this is a bit of a challenge, I am not a big photo guy. You can track my progress here: Tenny’s Photo-a-day
  • Pound-a-week – So I have had similar goals in the past and have been pretty good about hitting them. Of course in time and diet I have added some of that weight back. Plus losing 52 pounds would be awesome and would put me right at my target weight. As of 1/1/14 I tipped the scales at 225 lbs. My results will auto-post on my FitBit profile.
  • Be a better logger – No not that kind of logger… as a compliment to my Pound-a-week goal, I am going to make every effort to log everything I eat in a year. I have done a decent job in the past when trying to do this, but  always end up stopping. All food will also be recorded on my FitBit profile.

Happy New Year!

2013 Year in Review

This year has been crazy; a wild roller coaster of ups and downs. At times emotional and draining, at other times overwhelming elation. The year started much like any other year. The first couple of months were slow, but showed great promise. I was in a job that was very taxing, but the prospect of a new opportunity had my spirits up. I eventually landed the new job which has been extremely exciting and rewarding.

However, around the same time I was offered the new position, I learned that my closest brother Joe had passed away very unexpectedly. As I type this I realized I never wrote about this happening on the blog. I guess I internalize things like this quite a bit. Joe was smart, funny, and one of the most social people I have ever known. He could work a room with the best of them. I have always had a very frank view on death; it happens to everyone and after it happens there is nothing you can do to prevent it. I grieve quickly and believe more in focusing my energy on helping to keep the legacy of the person alive. This has never been more true than with my brother, who was expecting his first child with his longtime girlfriend Molly, when he passed away. I will always love my brother Joe, may he rest in peace.

Several months after Joe passed, I received news that my cousin Paul had passed away. As an oldest child I had never had an older brother, but I definitely viewed Paul as an older brother figure. Some of my earliest memories as a kid involved hanging out with Paul. He taught me so many things (some good and some bad) that you would expect an older brother to teach a younger brother. Even though he was technically my cousin, to me in just 3 months I had lost both a younger brother and an older brother. But the sadness I felt for my lose was matched by the sadness I felt for the children of Joe and Paul. I hope they know how awesome their dads were and will do my best to remind them as long as I am living.

However as the year has closed out I was blessed to have two beautiful nieces born in the last few months. On Sept 11, Joe’s daughter Ivy Tennyson Jasper (left picture) was born. Then on Dec 17, my sister-in-law Mandy (and Greg) delivered Julia Irene Gintz (right picture). It has been wonderful spending time with these two little ladies and I am excited to be an uncle to both of them. This is made sweeter by the fact that we have moved back to Wisconsin. As I outlined in the post Farewell Ohio, I’ll miss you Cincinnati, we have moved back to Wisconsin to be closer and more involved with our families.

Other highlights in 2013 include getting a new car, celebrating Gabe’s 8th birthday and Oliver’s 3rd birthday, celebrating 11 years of marriage with Marcia, participating in Stuart and Courtney’s wedding, getting back into curling, finally getting my first deer during deer hunting, and so much more. This year has taught me to do a better job appreciating the people in my life. To keep a positive outlook and focus as much on the now as I was on the future. Here is to a memorable 2013 and an exciting 2014.

Farewell Ohio, I’ll miss you Cincinnati

I can’t believe that I have moved away after only 2 1/2 short years. Cincinnati; you have been good to me. I was welcomed with open arms and honestly felt like I fit in right away. Within our first 3 months in the Queen City we had done so much to embrace the local flavor. Since we have kids we took many trips to the Cincinnati Zoo. We also became members of the Cincinnati Museum Center and spent many hours wandering through the various exhibits; the kids especially loved the Duke Energy Children’s Museum (as an added bonus we even made it to COSI in Columbus a few times). There were many Reds games, a few trips to Paul Brown Stadium to catch the Bengals, and we even ventured to Dayton to check out a Dragons game.

You see, when we came here a few years ago, we knew very little about the area. It was a job that brought us here in the first place. We knew we would need to totally immerse ourselves in order for this to work, since we were leaving our home town, our families, and our entire network of friends. The first month here we subscribed to Cincinnati Magazine and have been getting it ever since (which I highly recommend). We followed many of the leading local tweeters and started venturing out and exploring. We wasted away hours bargain hunting and people watching everywhere from Treasure Isle to Traders World to The City Flea.

We also got to try a lot of foods (Goetta and Cincinnati Chili) and restaurant chains that were new to us; Skyline Chili, Gold Star Chili, Blue Ash Chili, LaRosa’s, Jeff Ruby’s, Graeter’s and so much more. We had our fun too, whether at King’s Island, the Keith Haring Exhibit at the CAC, Trammel Fossil Park, or at the Newport Aquarium.

Add to that, the many incredible friends we gained in the process. Cincinnati will forever hold a special place in our hearts. Thank you for being so kind, I plan to visit often!

 

The new role of Product Manager

Having been in the field of Product Management for the better part of 10 years now, I couldn’t help but appreciate this article on the evolving role of Product Manager in the work place posted by SVPG almost a year ago. While there is a certain inference to the start-up world in their post, it still has much relevance for any Product Manager (especially one that is in a technology sector such as myself). In fact, I enjoyed it so much I wanted to share my revision of their Old versus New Product Manager, I hope you enjoy:

  “Old” Product Manager “New” Product Manager
Where they fit in the Organization:  Marketing  Product (Product Management plus User Experience Design), a Peer to Technology and Marketing
Education:  MBA  Computer Science or User Experience Design
Spends Days:  Writing Requirements Documents  Product Discovery / Pursuing Minimum Viable Product
Learns About Customer Behavior:  With Focus Groups  With User Testing and A/B Testing
Makes Case For Project Funding Based On:  A Business Case  Customer and Product Discovery
Reads:  The Wall Street Journal  TechCrunch, GigaOM, Reddit, and a hundred other blogs
Deep Knowledge In:  How To Use Excel  Customers
Loves:  To Be The Boss  To Apply Technology To Solve Problems
Sits With:  “The Business”  Product Team (Designers and Developers)
When Things Don’t Go Well:  Blames The Developers  Blames Himself
Strives To Please: Stakeholders Customers
Makes Decisions Based On: Opinions Data
Communicates With Stakeholders: With PowerPoint With Prototypes
Attitude: Believes His Ideas Are Great Knows At Least Half of Ideas Won’t Work or will require change in order to work
Worries About: Competitors Taking Care Of Customers
Secret Weapon: Killer Features User Experience / Usability of product
Strives To Create: Profits Value (because it’s the best path to sustained profits)

Almost all of this list is borrowed from the SVPG post, but I did take liberties to throw my own additions where I felt it was most appropriate. I also don’t want to give any misconceptions here; this is not about a right versus wrong approach. This is about showing how the position has changed and is being viewed in up and coming organization. On a personal level I feel I am more of a hybrid of the two types, with an emphasis on the newer values. I feel I have successfully adapted to the old approach (perhaps more to conform than anything), but deep down it is hard to ignore the newer values that are so heavily rooted in customer experience.

Bye Bye Bret….

I know I am a few days late posting this now, but Bret Bielema is gone from Wisconsin. I think my delay has more to do with my being in shock, cause I didn’t see it coming. Let me go on record that I don’t dislike Bret as many in Wisconsin do, however I have been as skeptical as anyone. One of the most frequent questions was why was Bret not loved by so many in Wisconsin? It is purely opinion, but I think I know:

  • We were spoiled by Barry. Wisconsin is the house that Barry built and Bret didn’t like being in his constant shadow.
  • The record when it counts… he was 2-4 in 6 bowl games, with one of those wins in his first year as head coach, coaching a team of players Barry was primarily responsible. (Barry was 8-3 in bowl games, including 3-0 in the Rose Bowl)
  • His record as a closer. As a die-hard Badger fan one of the greatest sources of frustration came into play in games when it felt like we should have won, but didn’t due to play calling. Falling into the same bucket is the consistent criticism of Bret’s clock management skills.
  •  I think there is a sense that he never earned Badger fan’s respect as head coach. Many were shocked by his assignment as head coach in the first place. When he came into the program as a Defensive Coordinator I don’t remember there really being any animosity, but when out of nowhere he was given the Head Coaching job just a few short years later I think it shocked many people.

Overall I appreciated the effort the team under Bret brought. He was responsible for bringing in some of my favorite players, such as JJ Watt, Montee Ball, and Russell Wilson. I think he was under rated overall and the Hogs should be proud to have him as a coach.