Back on the Field

•May 9, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Last Saturday I started my first football game in over a year and a half.

Suiting up in all black for the St. Paul Pioneers didn’t have the same gravity of a college football game, but it didn’t have to. It just felt good to play competitive football again.

We ended up destroying a team that was supposed to be good and who was talking a lot of trash (big mistake). The 35-0 half time lead was extended to 46-0 by the end of the game. I finished with 60 yards on 10 carries, 2 receptions for 47 yds, and 1 TD (video below).

I think I’ll just keep playing football until my body can’t handle it anymore.


Local news station’s short piece on the team: St. Paul amateurs play for the love of the pigskin



I is for Isaac

•April 23, 2012 • 2 Comments


Yep, that’s my name. I’m glad it is what it is.

Apparently when I was a fetus, my name was either going to be Jacob or Isaac, and thank god it’s not Jacob. Not that there’s anything wrong with Jacob, but it’s just so common. I love that “Isaac” falls in that sweet spot between too common and a little weird. My name isn’t Blanket or Jermajesty, but I also don’t meet many people with the same one.

BONUS: my name is getting younger. As you can see from the graph below, the name Isaac has gotten more popular recently, so most people who share my name are kids. This means that when I get older, I’ll still have a name that sounds young. Fantastic.

The only downfall is that everyone seems to spell it wrong, but let’s not even go there ::cough cough:: UMDathletics ::cough::.

So here’s to Isaac. Not me… the name.

Living with regret

•April 17, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Statistically, these are the things people most often regret.

Show me someone who says they have no regrets, and I’ll show you someone who denies their feelings in order to adhere to a widely-held perception that regret is foolish.

It seems so common for people to say they have (or strive to have) no regrets, and it’s become a pet peeve of mine. The explanation is always the same too: even if a decision wasn’t the right one, you learn a lesson from it, and therefore you shouldn’t regret it. Either that or they believe that everything happens for a reason, so any decision—bad or good—was the right one because it led to where you are today.

Why are we so afraid to have regret? Wishing that you’d made a different decision doesn’t mean you can’t still appreciate the lesson you learned. Recognizing that different actions might have resulted in a better outcome doesn’t mean you can’t be content with your life as it is.

I, for one, know that I have regrets. I know that my life would have gone in a completely different (and maybe more desirable) direction if my decisions had changed at a few key moments. However, I also know that you play the cards that are dealt, and I can’t change the past, but I can steer my future.

I recently listened to a TED Talk by Kathryn Schulz where she talked about this exact thing, and it was satisfying to hear someone articulate a belief that I’ve held for so long.

“If we have goals and dreams, and we want to do our best. And if we love people and we don’t want to hurt them or lose them, we should feel pain when things go wrong. The point isn’t to live without any regrets. The point is to not hate ourselves for having them… We need to learn to love the flawed imperfect things that we create and to forgive ourselves for creating them. Regret doesn’t remind us that we did badly. It reminds us that we know we can do better.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Career Arc

•March 29, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Being in the working world for the past few months has had me thinking a lot about the future of my career. I come in contact with all kinds of people within Medtronic and I often think to myself, “Is that where I see myself in 10 years?”, “Is that the career path I imagine for myself?”. I look at what people have done to get to where they are, and it makes me think about what I want for myself.

I still don’t know whether I’m destined for invention, managing, entrepreneurship, or otherwise, but I know one thing: I’m not going to chug along with complacency until I’m 40 and realize I’ve yet to do anything of significance.

Here’s a TED Talk with Simon Sinek. I came across it on StumbleUpon. He’s an engaging speaker, and the concepts are inspiring for both business and life in general. Enjoy.

Challenge Board results

•March 19, 2012 • Leave a Comment

On March 2nd, I made some two-week challenges for myself. Let’s see how I faired…


#1: Skip no workouts

Result: SUCCESSFUL (11 workouts over 14 days)

Reward: 1 foam roller

#2: Stretch after every workout


Reward: 1 pack of V-necks


#3: Spend less than $30 at bars

Result: SUCCESSFUL ($0.00 spent)

Reward: 1 new work shirt


#4: Have 14 training sessions with Gemma

Results: SUCCESSFUL (14 sessions in 14 days)

Reward: 1 dessert with store-bought ingredients


#5: Spend less than $25 at restaurants

Result: SUCCESSFUL ($7.54 spent)

Reward: 1 new work shirt


I’m proud to say I accomplished every challenge I set. The hardest task of the five was #1–not skipping any workouts. Last week I was particularly exhausted for some reason, and there were a couple days that I really wanted to just relax and recoup. I pushed through though, and now I get to reap the rewards :-D

The challenge board turned out to be a good way to make myself stick to some things that I didn’t always want to do, and I only had to use small incentives. I think this is something I’m going to do again every once in a while to keep things interesting and push myself toward improvement.

I wonder how many challenges I would have to complete to justify buying this gadget for myself…

This is what I’ve done with my education

•March 15, 2012 • 4 Comments


I don’t follow basketball very closely, but I think the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament is one of the great events in sports. What makes it so great is the same thing that makes it so difficult to accurately pick the winners: the variability of single elimination.

I’ve finally jumped on the bandwagon and started filling out brackets for March Madness, so naturally I looked to apply some science to the process. What I came up with is a spreadsheet that picks my bracket for me. Nerdy, I know, but this is how I do things! Here’s how it works…

First, I estimated the skill difference between different seeds. Personally, I think skill level is more tightly grouped in the middle of the pack. This means that there’s a bigger difference between a #1 seed and a #2 seed than there is between a 7 and 8, etc.

Next, this skill level is converted into a percentage chance that seed has of winning a game against a #1 seed.

This percentage is multiplied by a randomly-generated fraction, scaled up, then rounded to the nearest digit. That’s how many “points” that team gets for that round.

Then the point values are compared between seeds to decide who wins!

Now this is where it gets fancy. I added something I call the “Chaos Level” which decides how much disorder and randomness there is. This number basically changes how much the skill dropoff affects the percentage chance of winning. With a chaos level of 10, the dropoff effect is eliminated and every team has equal chances of winning a game—regardless of seed. By playing with the chaos level, I can tweak how many upsets are likely to occur in my bracket.

“Isaac, what if I want to pick some of the games on my own?”

I got ya covered.

If two assigned point values are equal, this is labeled as a “User Pick”. Since the points are rounded, you can make ties more frequent by making the numbers smaller. The “User Control Factor” adjusts the magnitude of the numbers and thus how many User Picks will occur.

The point values are compared to generate a table that shows who wins each matchup. User picks are labeled “U”.

This table is then referenced and iterated to generate the entire bracket automatically!

Believe it or not, it’s actually more complicated than it sounds.

So if anyone wants to challenge me in March Madness next year, I’ll crank a new bracket out with a click of a button. Boom.

H is for Hot Chocolate

•March 8, 2012 • Leave a Comment

As far as I’m concerned, there are two seasons: smoothie season and hot chocolate / apple cider season.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved hot chocolate. In some ways it seems like something that would be grown out of, but right now I’m guzzling more Swiss Miss than ever before. You see, I don’t like coffee, but I do still crave a hot pick-me-up every once in a while. In those times, I turn to caffeinated hot chocolate (yes, such a thing exists). It’s become increasingly hard to find in stores though, so right now I replenish my stocks from a rinky-dink grocery store in Rochester. I don’t know why this stuff isn’t more popular or why other companies don’t make caffeinated versions of their cocoa, but whatever.


I’ve probably drank an average of 5 cups of hot chocolate per week for the past couple months, so I should show my appreciation for the sweet concoction before the trees blossom and my consumption turns to frozen fruit.

Here’s to the warm creamy goodness of hot chocolate.