Monday, April 24, 2017

A Scary Incident at Twin Cities Code Camp

We had a scary incident at Twin Cities Code Camp this last weekend.

About 45 minutes into Scott Addie's talk on Reusable UI Components in ASP.NET Core, an attendee collapsed, fell out of his chair and hit the floor completely unconscious.  I was looking down at the time, and by the time I looked up, several other attendees were rushing to aid the gentleman who had passed out.

Fortunately, he came to in 10 seconds, though he still complained about being light headed.  Though he was able to talk, he clearly was not right, so another attendee called 911.  Within a few minutes, Campus Safety had arrived followed by paramedics who took the gentleman to a local hospital to run further tests and keep him under observation.  During this 10-15 minutes from the time to collapsed until the time he was wheeled out on a stretcher, the man was conscious, coherent and able to talk.  But like I said above, he clearly was not right.  I do not have any more details on his present condition, but all of us at the event and in the technology community in general hope he makes a speedy recovery and is able to get whatever underlying issues that may be going on addressed.

This was scary, terribly scary.  When I looked up and first realized what was happening, my first thought was that he may have had a heart attack.  I was scared for this gentleman and I felt very helpless at the time.  It was just a few minutes until Campus Safety arrived, but those few minutes ticked by very slowly.  In a moment all of us went from trying to learn something new to wondering what kind of medical help this individual needed and if that help would arrive in time.

It was scary too in that you think of your own health, and in my case, I realize it isn't nearly as good as it should be.  I'm in my mid 40's now, and health isn't something that can be taken for granted.  The last few years, I have been much less active than I used to be, and as a result, I've gained a lot of weight.  When your clothes don't quite fit right or they don't fit at all any more, that is telling you something.  And not just that I have become too sedentary.  It also speaks to my eating habits and how in general, I am just not taking good care of my most important possession, my health.

I don't think I am alone in the technology community.  Like many of us, I sit in a chair all day.  I consume way too much soda while doing so.  And then I go home, eat, and sit in a different chair to code some more.  I know where too little activity and an unhealthy diet leads.  We all do.  Sometimes we need a wake up call though in order to take some action.

What I am Going to Do About It

I had a lot of time to think about this driving back from the Twin Cities, and I decided that I have to change some things.  Now.  These are things that I am changing right away:

  1. I will make sure to get at least 30 minutes of activity a day.  Ideally with summer coming a lot of this time will be on my road bike, and then can be a lot longer in duration.  But no matter what, every day, I need to get out and get some activity.  Tonight, that was a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood after dinner.  That is all it takes.  I'm not looking to be an Olympian, but we all need to be active every day, no exceptions.
  2. I will cut my soda intake in half.  Hate to say it, but soda is an addiction for me like cigarettes are for others.  Yes, I've tried to quit before, and that soda habit comes right back.  I wish I could quit cold turkey today, but I have to be realistic, and I want these goals to be achievable.  Cutting my intake in half will be major progress for me, and my weight and health will improve because of it.
  3. I will sign up for a Red Cross First Aid/CPR class and complete it by the end of summer. The last time I had first aid and CPR training was way back in college.  I hope this is training I never have to use.  But I didn't like that feeling of being helpless.   If a similar situation ever happens in the future, I want to be confident I know what to do and be able to do it.  
On June 1st, a little over a month from now, I'll post again on this topic with my progress.  and I'll post again at the beginning of September.  Mostly that is to help me hold myself accountable.

What I Am Encouraging Everyone Else To Do

I would encourage you to set up your own heath goals like I have above.  If you do, leave a comment here.  Or blog about them or tweet about them.  And then do so again in a month.  In the mean time, hold yourself accountable for them.  We can all do a 30 minute walk each and every day.  Yes, it means a little less time glued to our devices or a little less time hacking on our personal projects.  Its OK.  Our teams, our friends and most importantly our families need us, all of us to be healthy.  Besides, some time away from all of the screens we stare at all day might actually help us improve our creative processes.

On Saturday, everything appears to have turned out OK.  But it was a scary moment.  What we can do is learn from it and take action about it.  We spend a lot of time keeping our codebases healthy.  We need to pay just as much attention to keeping ourselves healthy.  I got that message loud and clear.


  1. I recently upgraded my fitbit to the Charge 2 which tracks your heartrate. This is a great metric for me. It can tell when I'm exercising, so it automatically records it on my dashboard, and I am unable to fool myself and say I got all my exercise in when I didn't. I also bought the Aria scale which uploads your weight to your dashboard (which only you can see). That also is a great way for me to keep on top of my goals and to have that uncompromising feedback when I'm slacking off. On some days, I can't really face the fact I pigged out the night before, and I don't want to see evidence of my failure. I'm not perfect. On those days, I just don't look down at the scale and ignore that on my dashboard. It's still there, and when I'm feeling better, I can look at my performance.

    For me, the feedback I get is what keeps me motivated and on track. When I do get off the plan, I just get back on the next day or so.

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