Quantified Self Louisville Winter Meetup

Coming off of a Sunday morning spread of our last QS Louisville event, in the Louisville Courier Journal, we threw another Quantified Self Meetup just last Wednesday. This time we were in the World Headquarters of the Beam Bluetooth Toothbrush. I roped Alex Frommeyer, Beam Brush CEO, into becoming a co-organizer with me and together we were unstoppable in tapping into the Louisville Metro’s thirst for quantifying their lives. Here’s the Insider Louisville article talking up the event beforehand to prove it.

I actually shot video of all three speakers, but am running into technical difficulties in post production, so I figured I’d get the post up first and possibly follow with the videos as time permits… In the meantime, here’s is what we discussed last Wednesday:

ASTHMAPOLIS

We totally had Mark Gehring co-founder of Asthmapolis in the house, as he was in town giving a preliminary update on the Louisville Smarter Cities initiative we have going on here between the City, IBM and Asthmapolis.  Mark is a great guy who gave an really inspiring talk on how both use of rescue inhalers has decreased and asthma free days have increased, on average, from month one to month two of the program. A super cool byproduct of this effort is the ability to have the data mapped to look for areas of interest, geographically, and try to gain more of an understanding of how our natural and man made surroundings interact to affect air quality.

Asthmapolis Map of Louisville's Air Quality via Inhaler Use

PIVOTT

Next up we had Wes Brooks, an engineering student at the University of Kentucky, who made the trek to present on a project he is working on called Pivott, a way for people to answer their health related questions using various sources of data so that they may take action on their health. Wes’ project stems from his love for Quantified Self and his interest in understanding exactly what he can do to prevent adverse health affects that seem to run in his family. Wes contends that there are a lot of opportunities to look at data, but he aims to solve the interpretation of that data to answer practical health questions.

Wes Brooks Pivott slide showing all of the dashboards out there.

ADVENTURES IN RISK LOGGING

I brought up the rear to talk about something I’ve been doing since the Quantified Self Global Conference last September… and that is Risk Logging with my friend, Dr. Gareth Holman. When Gareth and I met up for beers at the conference, he introduced me to FAP, Functional Analytical Psychotherapy, as a way to measure and (hopefully) increase the risks that I take, because that was of interest to me. We use a three point scale to rate daily risks and track points divided by points possible each week to come up with a weekly score. This weekly score, then, can be averaged monthly and that gives me a baseline of month one followed by the average scores of subsequent months. It turns out that over a four month time period, I have increased my average risks taken by 26%. True story.  But more importantly, it is now becoming second nature to push myself to do things that I normally would not do.



WRAP UP

Call me biased, but I thought this was a great event. I’m inspired by the new people I was able to meet  and talk with and it is looking like there is a general interest in QS among Louisvillains. Alex and I will put another QS Meetup together in mid to late spring and I’m pumped to get more people in front of the group so that we may learn from their experiences.

 

 

Reflections – 2012

January 3, 2013

I had the fortune of meeting Tony Stubblebine, founder of Lift, virtually in 2011 and in real life last fall. Tony writes an annual post reflecting on his year and after reading five or so of his reflection posts, I thought it was an amazing idea… so I’ve stolen it and made it my own below. Sidenote: I learned this year that reflecting daily really helps me work through issues in my head and focus on what is important to me. I’m hoping that reflecting on the year will help me remember where I’ve been to help me know where I’m going and why.

After experiencing it, I totally recommend this type of reflection:

Family

Hit up the Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival and decided I super love “real” maple syrup

Hit the beach for Spring Break and played frisbee and dolphin taxi with the kids for three straight days of awesomeness

Built a trampoline in the backyard for Cyra’s birthday and spent hours jumping, laughing and getting wet with the kids this spring and summer

Toured Hanover College and downtown Madison, IN with Carrie’s teenage brother, when he stayed with us for two weeks over the summer

Partied with my sister, nephew and niece for a week during the Quantified Self Conference at Stanford.

Hung out with my mom during both Cyra and Cassius’ birthdays this year. Convinced her to speak at the Quantified Self Louisville Meetup I put together and worked with her on her presentation. One of the coolest experiences of the year, for sure.

Bought a big screen TV for the basement and am getting the kids hooked on video games. Lego Batman is Cassius’ favorite

Drove through a blizzard to spend Christmas in Minnesnowta with my mom, sister, niece, uncles and cousins

Professional

Planned six Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement meetings in two months culminating in a meeting with the Mayors of Louisville and Lexington just prior to the UofL vs. UK Final Four matchup

Decided to move into non-profit sector doing software dev project management and standing up a project management office

Consulted on the side under an LLC called OODATRON. Made enough money to completely set myself up with a new media studio and used that studio to:

- Consult with two, awesome psychologists on a web app concept

- Grow ChoreMonster’s beta userbase from 2,000 to 20,000 over the summer and decided to part ways amicably

- Take second place at a local health hack-a-thon – idea lead to creation of Pillfolio app

- Design and not give up on Kantine, a half developed water drinking app

- Plan a successful, Quantified Self Louisville Meetup that got my mom written up in the Louisville Courier Journal

Well Being & Downtime

Sat by Carrie and watched the following shows:

- Game of Thrones Season 1

- Breaking Bad (Actually caught up and watched the past season on AMC in real time)

- Various Bones episodes

- Dexter Season 6

- Fringe Season 1

 

Purchased Fitbits and started being mindful of steps I take (working toward 10k a day) and the amount of sleep I get (working toward 6-7 hours per night)

Watched Batman – Dark Knight Rises in the theatre and loved it

Watched the Washington Nationals clinch their first playoff appearance in over 100 years, or whatever it was…

 

Started tracking the following, on a daily basis, and rating them on a 1-3 scale (FAP). Sharing results with my psychologist friend, Gareth and looking to increase the risks I take:

- Risks I Took

- Challenges I Faced

- Appreciations I Had

- Things That Made Me Proud

- How I Took Care of Myself

- Mood

 

Lost 15 pounds in 6 weeks on the Almased diet

Played a lot of Fallout 3, Skyrim and NBA 2k12 on the Xbox 360

 

Started a couple books but actually finished reading:

- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

- Do More Faster by Brad Feld

- The Honest Truth about Dishonesty by Dan Ariely

Travel

- Seattle, WA
- Sugarbush, IN
- Lexington, KY
- Frankfort, KY
- Pensacola, FL
- Huntsville, AL
- Madison, IN
- San Jose, CA
- Stanford, CA
- San Francisco, CA
- Washington, DC
- Austin, MN

Pillfolio Load Screen

I have a daughter with pre-asthmatic symptoms, and that makes me and my wife care-givers for someone with (a potential) chronic condition. She has an inhaler that she takes two puffs from every night, but I couldn’t tell you the name or dosage of the medicine coming out of that inhaler. She takes gummi vitamins and some nose spray every night, as well. She also has a rescue inhaler, just in case, and takes over-the-counter Allegra as needed.

I’ve given her this prescription drug, over-the-counter medication and vitamin a lot over the last two years, but if a doctor asked me what she was taking, I’d be screwed because I haven’t memorized the names and dosages. Call me a bad parent, but I also never memorize the names and dosages when medications are prescribed to me… Sound familiar?

It turns out that not knowing the names and dosages of medicines is a pretty big problem for patients and caregivers in America, with 30 million Americans taking 5 or more prescription medications… an amazing stat that doesn’t even account for over-the-counter meds and nutraceuticals. This is the problem that me and some friends set out to solve, when we created Pillfolio during a summer, health app development challenge sponsored by the City of Louisville. We took second place in the contest and used the money to push the app out into Apple’s App Store.

Pillfolio Team

If you take a lot of pills or are a caregiver for somebody who does, it’s tough to keep track of everything. What if you could carry all of your pills with you, prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and vitamins, in a password protected application? Pillfolio allows you to do this, and I feel a lot better now that I have everything my daughter takes, in a secure location on my phone.

Download Pillfolio for free and start taking all of your pills with you to every appointment.

Pillfolio All Pills Screen

Quantified Self Louisville Meetup Fall 2012

Two weeks ago I threw a Quantified Self Meetup in beautiful downtown Louisville, and I’m writing this post, two weeks later because I’ve finally come down from the experience… We had a total of four speakers and 13 people show up to the recently renovated iHub co-working space. And I even convinced my mom to postpone her trip back home so that she could speak at it, too. Score.

By all accounts it was a great night. The Coors Light feedback loop cans were flowing like water as was the nerdiness and camaraderie around collecting data to better ourselves. If you missed it, check out the abridged recap below, and show up next time… mmm-kay?

Brushing Ain’t Easy

Our first presenter was my friend and long time Quantified Self Louisville aficionado, Alex Frommeyer. Alex has a local start-up that is building a blue tooth toothbrush called the BEAM toothbrush. The idea is to stick sensors into a toothbrush along with Bluetooth technology so that you can keep track of your or your loved ones (read kids) brush strokes in a mobile application. Alex talked about the Quantified Self movement in general, the BEAM brush in particular, passed around samples and also spoke about the niche for oral care within QS. The talk was really well received, as I had to cut off the question period, and fend off my mom, who kept bugging me to see if she could get the hook up on a BEAM brush, so we could get to the next speaker.

Alex Frommeyer presents the BEAM bluetooth toothbrush

Let Me Ride… My Personal Dashboard

I have to hand it to Nick Such, because he was really the force behind this meetup. Nick lives in Lexington but really wants a group like this to exist in Kentucky and I can’t thank him enough for helping put this event together. Not only is he a super cool guy, his presentation was super cool too… as he spoke of how he started measuring things by tracking the gas mileage he would get on an old beater he drove in high school and college. That love for efficiency later translated to him joining the Solar Car Team at the University of Kentucky, and ultimately to him tracking and creating a personal dashboard that he presented to the group. He uses the dashboard to track sleep, activity and food consumption, and I’m personally hoping that Nick comes back to speak again after having a chance to dig through his data with questions.

Nick Such talking personal dashboards

 You’re a Data Customer

Next up was my old Humana Innovation Center comrade, Shane Regala, who I now owe a big favor. Shane won the unofficial “who’s wearing the most personal tracking devices at the same time” contest, coming in at four. He also handed out a copy of Ubisoft’s Yourshape Fitness Evolved 2012 Xbox Kinect game to a lucky winner that guessed the number of steps he took on a random Saturday as a volunteer soccer coach… The right answer was 18,000. Shane delivered a visionary talk that related his personal experience tracking his sleep with two small children in the house to the bigger picture of how tracking may be used by payers, to help us all lead healthier lives in the not so distant future. It was also great to get a peak at some of the projects Humana’s Innovation Center is working on, as well as soak in some of Shane’s abundant energy, while he presented and DID NOT pitch to the group.

Quantified Self Louisville Fall 2012 Meetup

Last Night a Fitbit Saved My Life

Last but certainly not least, was my very own mother. My mom’s story is that she first felt symptoms related to Multiple Sclerosis in 1985, but wasn’t diagnosed until 1987. She is still able to walk and live a somewhat normal life, fortunately, and has a never give up attitude. But as you can imagine, it’s hard for her to stay motivated sometimes. As the story goes, my wife and I had purchased Fitbits for ourselves earlier this year and then bought one for my mom for Mother’s Day. We got her all set up before she flew back home to Minnesota and two weeks later, I received this E-mail from her in my Inbox:

I just had to tell you guys, I am so-ooo psyched(sp), I got my weekly results for last week, (5-28 to 6-3), I walked 20,724 steps, distance, 7.69 miles, and burned 10,303 calories.  WOW!!!!!  I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday, and I’ve lost 3 pounds since last time I was there.  Not much, but dang, it’s a start.  I told him my kids gave me the Fitbit for Mothers Day, and he thought that was great.  I told him how motivated I am, because I can see the results, as I do them!!  I told him I was thinking about getting a three-wheeled bike too, for exercise, and he really thought that was a good idea!!!  I woke up at 5:30 this morning, and I laid there trying to decide, get up, or go back to sleep?  I got up, got dressed and went for an early morning walk.  I kept walking until I did a mile.  My legs hurt so bad when I got home, I could hardly pick them up, but I did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I know for all you walkers, that doesn’t sound like much, but dang, dang, dang, I am so pumped up, I think I’ll go pull some weeds!!!!  Love you all!!!

I’m man enough to admit that I cried when I read this the first time. The underlined part is my emphasis on why I’m into tracking things. Feedback loops are powerful.

But as we were looking through my mom’s weekly Fitbit summary E-mails, to put some slides together, we noticed something wasn’t quite adding up. She had been accepted to try out a new drug called Ampyra in June, and by her account it made her right leg, which had been giving her a lot of problems, feel great. However, her Fitbit summaries were curtailing month after month showing less and less activity.  When she went to take the Ampyra follow up test, after using it for a month, the drug was deemed to not be helping her enough to warrant continued coverage. She had never looked at her Fitbit E-mails successively to notice that her activity had declined so much, so she was genuinely surprised to see the downward trend.

I personally thought it was super interesting that the Fitbit data didn’t necessarily support my mother’s conviction that this specific drug is helping her, and yet she still loves her Fitbit AND feels that she needs Ampyra because it helps her. A great paradox of the modern health care system. Flash forward two weeks and she has begun her Ampyra retest period, on her own dime, so that she may come to her own conclusions and either appeal a denied claim or move on to something else that correlates with an increase in both activity AND feeling good… but on her own terms. I personally think that is what the future of health care can and should look like in America.

Thank you Fitbit. 

Quantified Self Louisville Fall 2012 Meetup

Sidenote: My mother informed me that she is not a “public speaker” many times before the event… I’m extremely proud that she stepped out of her comfort zone to tell her story to a room full of strangers. Her strength and sense of adventure have inspired me more than she will know. :)

Wrap Up

All in all it was a great experience, and I’m looking forward to the next one in the January/February timeframe. Until then… keep it real.

I had the pleasure of attending this year’s Quantified Self Organizers Meeting as well as the 2012 Conference at Stanford, and was moved by the experience. If you don’t know what the Quantified Self movement is all about, then you can read more about it here. I went into this adventure thinking that I had to throw bigger and better events in my local market, to put Louisville on the proverbial map. That somehow we could prove that we belong among this crowd that regularly throws larger than life Meetups in bigger markets. But I came out of the five day journey with a much deeper understanding of what Quantified Self is all about.

Size Doesn’t Matter

The big take away for me was how I should be measuring success… and it’s definitely quality over quantity. Connection trumps volume. The way that the Organizer’s Meeting was structured, it was impossible to not strike up a conversation with someone who was immensely interesting. And I don’t know when I’ve ever been among 40-50 people who were as open and friendly as they were intellectually stimulating. This is what Alexandra Carmichael, Kevin Kelly and Gary Wolf have created and it has inspired me.

I left the Organizer’s Meeting with a new sense of purpose. I would selfishly like to seek out all of the similar, curious and interesting people, wherever I may be, and hang out with them both individually and as a group. Whether or not I’m able to find enough of them to satisfy my own desire for growth and learning is how I will measure success, not by how many fill up a room… This was a much needed course correction for me and I’m very happy that I made the trek to receive it. Thank you, Gary. :)

If you’re in the Louisville area and want to hang out, feel free to reach out and/or join our meetup group.

 

photo by: rajivzume